When Paul arrived only a couple of minutes later, Amalia had to wonder whether he hadn’t been in front of her building all along, even when he called her. She barely had time to put on a pair of old jeans and a pink sweater, her face still flushed from the hot bath, her damp hair hanging on her shoulders, emanating the sweet smell of conditioner. Her opening the door like that, looking so natural and her image unencumbered by makeup and carefully chosen outfits had a strong impact on Paul’s imagination and audacity.
Her voice sounded cold and distant when inviting him to have a seat and quickly tell her what his visit was about, and her pretty face was devoid of the usual warm, friendly smile. But Paul wasn’t observant enough to wonder if by any chance that image she put on was nothing more than the socially acceptable mask for such situations; all he knew was that his determination was fading away quickly and he wanted to run away, so her piercing eyes wouldn’t drill any more pits of shame and uncertainty into his soul.
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