Madeline's Miracles

Madeline's Miracles

by Warren Adler

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781931304627
Publisher: Stonehouse Press
Publication date: 12/01/1989
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.67(d)

Read an Excerpt

It was the last sentence the woman uttered before she left the beauty shop. “Don’t worry. He’ll come home.” Virginia Sargent looked at the fragile Vietnamese girl sitting across from her at the manicure table. Intense in her concentration as she put the finishing bright cherry glaze on Virginia’s right-hand nails, the girl hadn’t moved a hairbreadth in reaction. Of course, Virginia decided, the language barrier. During the entire extraordinary conversation between the woman and Virginia, the doll-like manicurist had remained, except for her diligent nail work, impassive. Well, then, Virginia wondered, to whom were the woman’s words directed? A panning glance in either direction of the beauty shop did not reveal anyone who reacted to the remark. And since neither Jack, Virginia’s husband, nor Basil, their dog, were among the missing at last roll call, Virginia dismissed any thought that the words were meant for her. Then why did the woman’s words trigger a sense of ominous expectation? Face it, she addressed herself, that woman knows more about my personal life than it’s possible for a stranger to know. Virginia had met the woman only a short while before. She had been sitting at the manicure table, her nails just finished by the same girl who was about to do Virginia’s nails. The woman had remained seated, waiting for the polish to dry while Virginia, obeying the marching orders of the tyrannical shop owner Mel, had planted herself on the chair next to her. In a beauty parlor women engage each other in conversation. It is commonplace, coincidental, banal. When the woman had said, “You have beautifulhands,” Virginia was flattered, of course—her hands were, indeed, one of her greatest assets—but not surprised. “My grandmother’s legacy,” she had replied. “I’m sure she wanted you to have them,” the woman said. It was an oddly original remark that sparked interest. “She was a lovely lady,” Virginia had said. “Beautiful in every way.” “Yes,” the woman said, “she is a grand lady.” Surely, Virginia decided, she had misunderstood the tense. Often people made little slips in describing time. Her grandmother had died nearly a decade ago. “She certainly was,” Virginia said, noting that the woman continued to observe her hands. In the brief silence, she felt a strange sense of intimacy. Virginia studied the woman. She was impressive. Big brown eyes flecked with bright yellow that did not waver when she spoke, two intense beams, hot with the kind of observation that might make a woman press her thighs together. God knew what a man’s reaction might be. Her face was miraculously unlined, barely a squint wrinkle to be seen and her teeth were the kind of sparkling pearl white Virginia hoped her dentist could equal through the bonding process she was undergoing. Physically impressive, yes, but just short of exquisite, Virginia had concluded with her artist’s eye. Neck too long. Lips not full enough for dynamite sensuality. On a scale of one to ten, only a solid nine. Only? she sighed, repressing a giggle. It was the kind of judgment befitting the time and place. After all, in a beauty parlor one judged beauty.

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