Chapter 41

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 “He was hilarious!” Maude screeched. “I thought I was going to fall off my seat.”

“You almost did. Good thing I caught you,” Matt laughed.

They were walking on the Pont des Arts bridge over the glistening waters of the Seine River. The rails of the bridge were covered with locks that couples from all over the world brought to symbolize their everlasting love. The Eiffel Tower could be seen sparkling in the distance, watching over lovers taking an evening stroll in the peaceful Parisian streets. The Tower, though impressive in the day, is a superb queen of the Night. Her cloak of many colors defies the light of the moon, shines brighter than the stars, and makes them look pale in comparison, thus confirming that Paris is indeed the one and only true City of Light.

“I’m so glad I saw him!” Maude gushed.

“And getting his autograph was nice too.”

“You can thank me for that. Whose idea was it to follow him backstage?”

“We didn’t go backstage, Maude. The guards stopped us before we managed that feat.”

“Yes, but he heard us calling his name and came back to give us an autograph and a picture,” Maude said flipping through the pictures in her phone. “Had I listened to you, I wouldn’t have this picture to cherish. ‘Maude, don’t you know how tired artists are after a show?’” Maude mimicked.

“They are!” Matt insisted. “You’ll learn that yourself tomorrow after Taratata.”

“We’ll see. It is just two songs after all and an interview.”

“How are you feeling about that?”

“I’m fine, but I wish everyone would stop asking me that.” Maude paused and leaned over to take a closer look at the lovelocks.

 “Would you look at all these locks?” Maude mused, detailing one particular lock.

“Lovers are fools,” Matt said bitterly.

Maude laughed and turned towards him.

“Matt, have you ever been in love?” she asked a certain shyness falling over her.

Matt looked away from Maude and gazed intently at the profound river that flowed underneath the bridge.

“What was the most foolish thing you ever did for love?” Maude asked, a bit bolder.

“Nothing!” he protested a little too much. “Because I am not stupid.”

“Come on, you have to be honest. Pretend we’re playing Truth or Dare.”

“Okay, then I choose dare.”

“Pretend we’re playing Truth and More Truth.”

“All right,” Matt chuckled. He hesitated before admitting in a single breath, “The stupidest thing I did for love was wait hours in a museum for a girl.”

Maude couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy towards this unnamed, supernatural creature who had bewitched Matt long enough to make him wait for her, for hours no less, in a museum.

“Seeing how much you hate museums I would say that is probably the most foolish thing you’ve done for love. I hope she was worth it.”

“She never showed,” Matt went on, looking at Maude intently. “She was on a date with a total loser, not half as handsome as I am.”

Maude burst out laughing as they left the bridge and continued their walk.

“Sorry,” she said between giggles. “You have to admit it is kind of funny as well as terribly cruel.”

“Glad to be of service,” Matt joked. “I should become a stand-up comedian myself.”

“I would most definitely pay to see your show,” Maude giggled.

They walked in silence for a while, enjoying each other’s company, the summer night breeze caressing their skin.

“So now it’s your turn.”

“My turn to do what?”

“Tell me what’s the most foolish thing you’ve done for love.”

Maude laughed before saying “Do I really look like the kind of person who would kiss and tell?”

“I told you my most foolish, idiotic, embarrassing moment. Now you tell me yours!” Matt insisted.

“No one forced you to tell me anything!” Maude protested playfully.

“You dared me to tell you the truth!”

“There is no such thing as daring someone to tell the truth. You either choose truth or dare, and you chose truth,” Maude shrugged. “I admire your honesty by the way. Can’t say I’ve got a similar moral compass.”

“Obviously,” Matt snorted.

They neared the Louvre and entered its main courtyard, the Cour Napoleon. There, the large Pyramid made of glass stood, full of illuminating grace in the center of the courtyard surrounded by the adjacent wings of the palace. Maude looked at the beauty that surrounded her and thought for sure, no city possessed a more romantic, enchanting charm than Paris.

 “Matt,” she said turning to him. “Thanks for the evening. I had a great time.”

Matt looked at Maude under the moonlight, and he thought she had never looked so beautifully radiant.  Head slightly tilted, her eyes shone kindly, a mild smile on her lips. Matt took a deep breath and decided to take a risk.

“What are you doing tomorrow afternoon? I thought maybe we could go check out the Ragtime café. I’m sure you’ll like it.”

Maude’s eyes widened and she was about to say yes, but remembered her appointment with the CNAOP.

“Yes! I mean no, er—” she stopped. “ I- I have something to do tomorrow, I can’t. I’m sorry,” she stuttered helplessly.

Matt wanted to kick himself. So much for taking risks. He had made a complete fool of himself. Of course she would turn him down, she was with Thomas Bradfield. She hadn’t even found a good excuse to turn him down other than having ‘something to do’.

“It’s fine. Don’t be sorry. I’ll just go with Ben,” he said hurriedly, trying to hide his embarrassment.

“With Ben? Eleven year-old Ben?” she asked puzzled.

“Er no. I meant my friend. I have a friend in Paris called Ben and . . . that’s who I meant,” he finished lamely.

“Okay,” she said, hesitantly trying to hide her discomfort. “Maybe we should head back to the hotel.”

“Definitely,” he agreed, heaving a deep sigh of relief tinged with regret.

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