Max stared into the mirror. How could he have been so mistaken? He thought about the roses he had held, only a few seconds ago — they were now at his feet — scattered across the concrete floor.
Questions raced through his head. Why? How?
How had he missed the signs? Why had he not felt something was wrong? How could he have been so blind? Why was he such a perfect fool?
Blinking several times, he refocussed his attention on the other attractive face that was also reflected. The woman’s head was turned towards him — dark silky hair and electric blue eyes mesmerised him for an instant. She was so nearly the one. He shivered and gazed down at the couple of petals resting on his shoe.
Vivian had been on her maiden flight as a first-class attendant on the prestigious New York to Dubai route, when they first met. Max loved to fly and made that journey regularly. She had been very attentive, although slightly nervous and had spilt a couple of drops of vintage champagne on his pale trousers. He had smiled forgivingly and, when at the end of the flight had asked her out to dinner, Vivian had consented quite charmingly.
They had both enjoyed several months in each other’s company. Max smiled as he recalled the pleasant evenings and counted all the occasions when he had honoured her with his perfect-pink blooms. They were his favourite flower and — as a man with quite a fortune — he had his own named rose, which he always gave to his special women.
Max struggled to understand where or when or how the love had soured. He gazed again at Vivian. There was only one person to blame. Being an extremely arrogant man — it was inconceivable — for any fault to be his. He scoured his memory for what Vivian did or said and found what he was searching for. There they were — nothing major — just lots of insignificant moments.
Vivian had — so nearly — been the woman that Max had been searching for.
He touched his thumb, which was still slightly bleeding, and mildly aching. Both irritated him. Well, roses, lovely though they are, do have sharp thorns — he rubbed the scratch and smudged a vivid red mark across his skin.
Vivian remained motionless.
It was remarkable, he mused, that a man with all his advantages had been so disappointed in true love. He caught his reflection once again and was surprised by how pale and vulnerable he appeared.
Max breathed deeply, the cut was stinging now and he was trying to concentrate. He shook himself — this was no time to show any weakness. No — this was not the first occasion when a woman had failed to meet his impossible standards. They had all been dealt with — with heartless finality. He could never allow anyone to know of his flawed choices.
Vivian’s eyes stayed fixed on him.
He looked down at his expensive watch. Never mind Max thought, there was a flight due in another couple of hours — he had plenty of time. He would just rest his eyes for a moment.
At last, Vivian rose from her chair. She crossed the room and stared down at the crumpled heap on the floor.
Max would have been pleased — he had met her exacting standards.
They always looked so different when life left them. Vivian removed her gloves — you could never be too careful. She had made sure that the thorns from the vile pink roses had caught Max’s hand — it was the quickest way for the poison to enter the bloodstream. Very attentive she had been to the tiny puncture.
Time to meet someone new. There was always another flight and more vintage champagne.