Max knew it had to be her as soon as he saw the woman waiting outside his front garden. Of course, it was impossible to see anything beneath her heavy dark veil or her long coat, but that only made him more certain. However, by the time he’d seen her, it was too late, he couldn’t turn around, go back into the house and hide.
He would just have to walk straight past her, ignoring her as if she was a stranger. But as he passed her, a gloved hand slipped itself gently, but firmly, round his arm.
“Aren’t you even going to say hello?” Her voice didn’t sound so strange now, coming from under the veil instead of out of thin air.
“Hello!” he snapped sarcastically, pulling his arm free. “What are you doing here, anyway?”
“I just thought I’d be friendly and walk with you to the station.”
“Well, don’t.” He gestured towards her hat with the veil hanging from it. “People are going to stare at us, with you wearing that thing.”
“They’d stare a lot more if I took it off.”
For a moment, Max thought about pulling it off her head, embarrassing her in public. But the chances were she’d just continue walking beside him, and he’d be the one to be embarrassed.
“Why don’t you wear a rubber mask, like they do in the films?”
“Ok. You find me a shop which sells totally lifelike rubber masks.”
“There must be something you else could try?”
“Like what? It’s been over five years since the Incident, and this is the most practical solution I’ve found.”
The conversation fell back into silence after that. Diane took Max’s arm again and this time he was surprised to find that he didn’t resist. They walked together like that until they reached the station.
“Have a good day, Max.” She hugged him, and he
found himself hugging her in return.
Diane hummed to herself as she chopped the fresh basil, carefully making sure she didn’t cut her fingers by accident. The scent alone was enough to make her mouth water. She hoped Max would appreciate the result.
She smiled. The pursuit was going far more smoothly than she had dared hope. Although she had known that they were two kindred spirits, she had never dreamed that Max would start coming round to her way of thinking so quickly once Becky was out of the picture.
Diane gathered up the chopped basil and added it to the chicken and the rest of the ingredients. She noticed her fingers were slightly stained from preparing the food, an uncomfortable reminder of what she had lost. Once she had finished stirring the ingredients, she went over to the sink, and washed her fingers back into invisibility.
The chicken could be left to marinate until Max returned home. Diane removed the borrowed yellow apron, and wandered into Max’s living room, hoping to watch some TV to pass the time.
When she finally had Max all to herself, she could cook for him whenever she like. She relaxed a little as she sank down onto the sofa. Yes, when she had Max all to herself… But first she’d have to make sure he didn’t get back with that manipulating wimp Becky this weekend. And that left her with only a day and a half to win Max over.
Well, she could worry about that when the time came. She reached for the TV remote, feeling her way slowly across its buttons with her unseen fingers. What she wanted now was a heavy dose of soap opera, to take her mind off things.
The closing titles of EastEnders were finishing, when she heard the front door open. She crept quietly into the hall, not wanting to make her presence known in case Max had somebody with him. When she saw that he was on his own, she gave a sigh of relief.
He must have heard it, because he looked up. When she saw his face looking so nervous, Diane couldn’t resist throwing her arms around him, comforting him in a big invisible hug.
“Hello, Max,” she whispered into his ear. “Don’t worry, it’s only me.”
“Yes, I was thought you’d be here again,” he replied in that sexy German accent.
There was something on his breath. So, that was why he was late home. He must have joined the others in the pub after work. Diane felt disappointed that he could prefer mere colleagues to her, but she didn’t say anything. There’d be plenty of time to change that once she’d won him completely.
“I’ve got a treat for you,” she said as she ran across the hall and pushed the kitchen door open.
She paused to make sure he was following her and then removed the apron from its hook and put it on. She turned her back towards him.
“Can you tie this for me?” she asked.
“Erm, alright.” He hesitated and then began to tie the apron strings. “Why aren’t you wearing any clothes with that? It looks really strange seeing it making the shape of your figure inside-out from behind.”
“I prefer the freedom of total invisibility, but I’ll put some clothes on later to keep you happy, Max. If you don’t like seing me backwards, is this any better?”
She turned to face him once more.
“I suppose so.”
Diane smiled to herself. Max was even getting used to her invisibility now. This was the best news she could have hoped for.
“Now, see what I’m making for you; my fried chicken with peppers, basil and balsamic vinegar nestling in a bed of pasta. Just wait until you’ve tasted it. You didn’t eat at the pub, did you?”
“No, just a packet of dry roasted nuts.”
From the tone of Max’s voice, the question must have taken him by surprise, but it was the answer she’d been expecting. She’d spied on the gatherings down the pub in the past, and she knew that they took most of their calories in liquid form.
“Good. Now I’ll have to face the cooker while I’m cooking the meal. If you don’t like seing inside the apron, maybe should wait in the other room until its ready.”
The meal itself took only a few minutes to cook and serve. But before she called Max back into the kitchen, there was something else she had to do. She used the water from the sink to clean her feet, then she pulled her large holdall from where she had hidden it under the kitchen table, unzipped it, and started to remove its contents.
First came a pair of sheer tights, which she slipped onto her legs. Then, a figure-hugging pale-blue sleeveless dress with a keyhole front and criss-cross straps at the back. Once she had put that on, it hung just above her knees. Next she removed a pair of black platform sandals for her feet. Some bangles, also pale blue, on her wrists completed the outfit.
“Max,” she called. He came slowly into the kitchen, but his reaction when he saw her showed that he clearly liked what he saw.
She didn’t say anything but just gestured with a bangled wrist, towards the food on the table. Max obediently sat and she joined him.
“Go ahead, Max. You’ll like it.”
She watched as he nervously took his first taste.
“Mmmm… This is delicious. You’re a great cook.”
“Thank you. I have to be. I love good food, but I can’t eat in restaurants without causing a riot.”
The rest of the meal passed quickly, making the usual small talk. Max was starting to relax and feel comfortable in her presence, which is more than most men would have done. To Diane this was more proof that they were two of a kind.
After the dinner she insisted on washing up the dishes again. Then, taking her coat, gloves and veil from the holdall, she told him that she had to be going home again. He just nodded and mumbled an “If you must…” in reply.
Before putting her veil on, Diane reached forward and gave Max a gentle kiss on the lips. She was pleased to see he seemed disappointed that she didn’t go any further…