I froze on the spot, my gaze never leaving Malcolm. He had stilled too, but a riot of emotion danced onto his features. Surprise made his eyes widen, before anger stormed in and his jaw tensed. Deep lines appeared on his forehead.
Time stood still for a moment before I made myself turn to look at the woman who had spoken. My eyes encountered a sight that left me quizzical. You see, she didn’t look like a real, live woman. No, she resembled one of those perfect, plastic models in bridal shops. Carved out of alabaster, with perfectly smooth cheeks, big blue eyes and a wide, very red mouth. Her hair was dark and severely pulled back from her face, accentuating her perfect forehead.
“I’m calling the police,” Malcolm said, as if through clenched teeth.
Those words startled me and my gaze darted to his to see him already bringing his cell phone to his ear.
“This is still my house,” the doll said. “And I asked you who that whore is!”
“I would control my tongue if I were you,” he replied with a warning glare.
I suppose the police picked up on the other end, because he started talking, mentioning a case of breaking and entering.
This was her house? Oh God. It was Malcolm’s wife.
Ex-wife actually. Or, more precisely, future ex-wife. Their divorce wasn’t final yet.
“I asked, who is this?” she spat as she took a step forward. Fire burned in her blue irises, and I could smell danger as she approached. She stopped a hair’s breadth from me, and before I could figure out what she wanted, her hand had viciously closed on my upper arm.
“Oww.” The pain was staggering, but then she started shaking me. Who knew a slim, bony woman like her could pack such strength in her grip?
Malcolm stormed over and grabbed her arm, jerking her none too softly. “Let go of her.”
“Why? So you can cheat on me?”
“Elise, it’s over between us. Has been for a long time.”
She released me and I stumbled back a few steps. I had never been the recipient of such violence before and the shock propelled me into a misty world where perception was a little warped.
“Prudence?” Malcolm asked. “You’re okay?”
I nodded, noticing he still held her arm in his firm grip. She tried to shrug away but he jerked her back.
“I’ve had it this time, Elise. I’m not gonna let you get away with this.”
The sirens of a police car broke through the quiet, the sound going in crescendo until the engine stopped right outside the house. Two uniformed officers entered the hall and Malcolm handed Elise over to them.
“Breaking and entering, violation of a restraining order and assault on the person of my colleague,” he said.
She started to scream and fight when the officers tried to handcuff her, but they restrained her easily and led her away to the patrol car.
“Sir, we’ll need your statement.”
Malcolm nodded. “I’ll be right there.” He watched them leave from the doorstep before he turned and stared right at me. In a few strides of his long legs, he was by my side where I had slumped on the first step of the stairs.
I blinked, the sudden silence in the house registering on my mind and bringing me out of my stupor. “What was that about?”
Malcolm sat on the step next to me. “That was my ex-wife, Elise. She doesn’t get it that it’s over between us and she’s been hounding me for the past months. It’s the second time she’s broken into the house in my absence.”
A loon as ex. Not exactly a pretty situation.
He gave a small, sardonic smile. “Come on,” he said as he stood. “We need to go to the station.”
I stood too. “It’s okay. I’ll call a cab and head back to the office. The work day is nearly over.”
“No,” he replied. “You’re coming with me, because you’re pressing charges too.”
“I am?” What was he getting at? I wanted nothing to do in his conjugal disputes. God, why did I not know life close to a man like Malcolm Gainsborough had to be a roller coaster?
“She assaulted you, and I’m gonna see if you cannot even press charges for defamation.”
“Wait.” This was real. He meant what he said. “I don’t want to be involved in all that.”
“Too late. You already are.”
To be continued in a fortnight…