In Red (Chapter 8, page 1 of 1)

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Roxanne turned her neck. Alan had a happy demeanor.

"Are we very funny?"

The lad sat down by her side, on the backyard steps.

"Maybe I'm smiling because I like what I see."

She stared at him without blinking and then grimaced in pain, caused by a slightly forced posture.

Alan realized and sat on the lawn, opposite her, so that she could be straight.

"I must admit the fact that you've changed your dress and this one is also red… does have something to do with my smile. But… only because it makes me think I found you the right gift."

Roxanne noticed the bag he had in his hand.

"This is for you."

She took several seconds to reach for it.

"I'll help you open it. I hope you don't consider it too personal. I just thought it would be more comfortable for you than sleeping clothed."

The young woman ran her hand over the beautiful red cotton and lace nightgown.

"And a pair of slippers," he said, taking something else out of the bag.

Also red.

"I've seen, though, that you don't take that colour thing so unfailingly when it comes to shoes."

Roxanne took the slippers, caressed them and carefully left them on the step, next to her.

"Make no mistake. I'm not Celeste. She doesn't know anything."

Alan got strangely offended.

They both remained silent for a while, trying to ignore with maturity a feeling of inexplicable anger, unbecoming to near strangers.

"Maybe if you clarified for me what you do know, we'd be able to prevent further misunderstandings. It's true that yesterday's conversation with Joseph was left up in the air so that your sister wouldn't get any more upset. But she's not here now."

"I should remind you," the young woman hinted in a low and quiet tone, "that you were only asked to take us out of the territory. Nobody said anything about giving reasons."

"That's not what it seemed to me yesterday," he countered with surprise.

"I've changed my mind. Celeste and I really appreciate what you both have done, but I think it will be best if we say goodbye and go our way as soon as I feel a little better."

"Your way where?"

He'd known before asking that Roxanne wasn't going to answer.

"Don't you trust us?" he added.

"I don't trust anybody."

"That's not true," he said, standing up. "You don't trust me. But you have all the right not to."

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