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probably fall all over you when you warn them that you're too dangerous for them.""Have I ever mentioned you have this annoying habit of seeing through my ploys?" he asked conversationally, and they both laughed.They weren't the only people in the hallway. They passed several guests, all of whom had to speak to their host. One gentleman looked familiar, and he swept her with a knowing look. It took her a moment to place him as the horse-racing afficionado she had met at the prime minister's ball. She smiled at him and asked how his horse had finished in the weekend's race."You have a slave for life," Ronsard said as they continued down the hall. "He bores everyone with his talk of horses and racing.""I like horses," she replied serenely. "And it doesn't take any more effort to be nice to someone than it does to be nasty."Getting from one side of the huge villa to the other took some time, especially when he was continually stopped. At last, however, they passed into his private wing, which was guarded by heavy wooden double doors. "My suite is here," he said, indicating another set of double doors on the left. He showed her a family dining room, a den that surprised her with its coziness, a small movie theater, an enormous playroom filled with all manner of toys and games, a library so packed with books she doubted he could get another volume on the shelves. The titles were both fiction and nonfiction, with an amazing variety of children's books mixed in."This is one of Laure's favorite rooms," he said."She loves to read. Of course, she has outgrown fairy tales and Dr. Seuss, but I make certain there is always a selection of reading material appropriate to her age.""How old is she?""Twelve. It's a delightful age. She's hovering between childhood and adolescence, unable to decide if she wants to play with her dolls or experiment with lipstick. I've forbidden the lipstick for another year, at least," he said, his lips quirking.He turned to her, a smile still on his lips, but his eyes were somehow looking beyond her. "Laure is small for her age," he said. "Very small. I want to prepare you. Her health is ... not good. Every moment I have her is a gift from God."An odd thing for a man like Ronsard to say, but then again, perhaps it wasn't. He opened a door into a room so cheerful and charming Niema caught her breath, and they stepped inside."Papa!"The voice was young, sweet, as pure as the finest crystal. There was a whirring sound and she came rolling toward them in a motorized wheelchair, a tiny doll with an animated face and a smile that lit the world. An oxygen tank was attached to the back of the wheelchair, and transparent tubing ran from the tank to her nostrils, held in place by a narrow band around her head."Laure." His voice was filled with an aching tenderness. He leaned down and kissed her. He spoke in English. "This is my friend, Madame Jamieson. Niema, this is my heart, my daughter, Laura."Niema bent forward and extended her hand. "I'm very pleased to meet you," she said, also in English."And I you, madame." The young girl shook Niema's hand; her fingers were painfully fragile in Niema's careful clasp. Ronsard had said his daughter was twelve; she was the size of a six-year-old, probably weighing only about fifty pounds. She was so very, very thin, her skin a bluish white. She had Ronsard's eyes, dark blue and intelligent, and an angel's smile set in an alabaster face. Her hair was a silky light brown, brushed to a careful smoothness and tied back with a festive bow.She was wearing lipstick.Ronsard noticed it the same time Niema did. "Laure!" he exclaimed. He put his hands on his hips and gave her a stern look. "I forbade you to wear lipstick."She gave him a long-suffering look, as if she despaired of ever making him understand. "I wanted to look nice, Papa. For Madame Jamieson.""You are beautiful as you are; you don't need lipstick. You are too young for makeup.""Yes, but you're my papa," she said with unassailable logic. "You always think I'm beautiful.""I think the shade is very flattering," Niema said, because females should always stick together. She wasn't lying; Laure displayed an intelligence beyond her years by choosing a delicate shade of rose and using only a light application. Anything more would have looked garish in such an unearthly pale face. She ignored the girl's tiny size; what was important here was her mind, not her body.Ronsard's eyebrows flew up in disbelief. "You're taking the part of this . . . this disobedient hoyden?"Laure giggled at hearing herself described as a hoyden. Niema met Ronsard's accusing look with an innocent expression and a shrug. "Of course. What did you expect me to do?""'Agree with him," Laure said. "He expects all of his women to agree with him."This time Ronsard's astonishment wasn't feigned. Stunned at hearing such a statement issuing from his innocent daughter's lips, he stared speechlessly at her."But I'm not one of his women," Niema pointed out. "I'm just a friend.""He has never brought any of the others to meet me. Since he brought you, I thought perhaps he wants you to be my maman."Ronsard made a little choking sound. Niema ignored him to grin at the child. "No, it's nothing like that. We aren't in love with each other, and besides, your papa is allergic to marriage.""I know, but he would marry if he thought that was what I want. He spoils me terribly. He will get anything I ask for, so I try not to ask for very much, or he would be too busy to do anything else."She was an alarming blend of childlike innocence and trust, and an astuteness far beyond her years. Whatever her physical problems were, they had forced her to look inward much earlier than young people usually learned to do. "While he is recovering," she said, briskly turning the wheelchair, "I'll show you my rooms."Niema strolled beside the chair while Laure gave her a guided tour of her suite. Everything had been specially outfitted so she could reach it from a wheelchair, and attached to one side of the chair was a long pair of tongs so she could pick up anything she dropped. A middle-aged woman came forward, smiling, to be introduced as Laure's nurse, Bernadette. Her bedroom opened off Laure's, so she was available during the night if she was needed.Anything that could possibly interest a young girl had been made available. There were books, movies, dolls, games, samplers she had made, fashion magazines. Laure showed all of them to Niema, while Ronsard trailed behind, bewildered and bemused at being made to feel unnecessary.Laure even showed Niema her makeup case. Ronsard made choking noises again. This was not a little girl's pretend makeup, but the real stuff from Dior, stunningly packaged in a silver train case. "I ordered it," Laure said, unperturbed by her father's horror. "But nothing looks right when I put it on. Even the lipstick is too . .. too much like a clown. Today, I rubbed my finger on the stick, then on my lips.""That's good. It's called staining," Niema said, pulling a chair over to sit beside the girl and taking the train case on her lap. She began pulling out the sleek containers of makeup. "Makeup is like anything else, it takes practice to use. And some things will never look good because they don't flatter your coloring. You learn by experimenting. Would you like me to show you?""Oh, please," Laure said eagerly, leaning forward."I forbid it," Ronsard said, with more desperation than sternness. "She is too young-""Louis," Niema interrupted. "Go away. This is girl stuff."He didn't go away. He sat down, a charmingly helpless expression on his face, watching as Niema demonstrated how to use each item.A pink blush was much too dark for that white face. Niema took a tissue and wiped most of it off, leaving only a delicate tint. "Remember, none of this sets into stone when you apply it. If it is too much, wipe part of it off. I always have a tissue and cotton swabs with me when I put on makeup, so I can make the effect more subtle. Do you see my eyeliner?" She leaned closer, and Laure nodded as she stared hard at Niema's eyes."I use a black pencil, like this-very soft, so it doesn't pull my skin. Then I use a swab to wipe most of it away, so it's barely noticeable. But my coloring is dark, while yours is fair, so black would be too harsh for you. When you are old enough to start wearing eyeliner, use a soft gray or taupe-"The makeup lesson went on, with Laure hanging on every word. Under Niema's tutelage, very little was actually applied to the small, skeletal face, just the merest hint of color. Laure peered in a mirror, studied herself, and smiled. "Now I don't look so ill," she said with satisfaction. "Thank you very much, Madame Jamieson. Were you watching, Papa?""Yes, I was watching. It looks very nice, but-""If I die, I want you to make certain someone puts makeup on me just like this. I do not want to look sick when I reach Heaven."All the color drained out of Ronsard's face. Niema felt stricken on his behalf, but also for this little girl who had never in her life known what it was to enjoy good health, to run and play like other children."I won't wear it now, I promise," she said. "Not even lipstick, though I do like it. But... if. Promise me, Papa.""I promise." His voice sounded hoarse, strained, unlike Ronsard's normal suave tones.She reached over and patted his knee, the child comforting the parent. "You may take the case," she said, "and keep it safe for me. That way you will always know where it is."He lifted her out of the wheelchair and settled her on his lap, taking care not to dislodge the oxygen tube. She was so frail, so tiny, her legs dangled like a kindergartner's. He couldn't speak for a moment, his dark head bent so that his cheek rested on the top of her head."You won't need it for a long, long time," he finally said."I know." Her eyes, though, held a different knowledge.She seemed to be tiring. He touched her cheek. "Do you want to lie down for a while?""On the longue," she said. "There is a movie I wish to see."Bemadette came over and pushed the wheelchair and its container of oxygen while he carried Laure to the plush chaise longue and carefully placed her on it. Under the rose

  • 软件类别:游戏类目
  • 软件语言:简体中文
  • 软件大小:750878M
  • 更新时间:<2021-07-04 05:58:06>
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