The last gift in the bag came as a surprise. It was beautifully wrapped; the card read, “From Farukh Aria. Happy Christmas.”
Catherine was a little mystified as she unwrapped the package -- and then surprised at its contents. How could he possibly have known? And then she remembered.
She had been talking with some of the other women in the staff canteen a few weeks ago about perfume. Catherine mentioned in passing how much she liked Ispahan, the new scent at the Yves Rocher shop on the Champs-Elysees.
“It’s lovely, but too costly for my budget,” she’d said.
Farukh had been walking by while they talked. Catherine remembered being very embarrassed when Susan, one of the other English teachers, remarked on his dreadful beard. She’d shushed her dark-haired British colleague, hoping the Farsi instructor hadn’t heard.
And now, in Catherine’s hands, was a box containing a black, domed bottle of Ispahan eau de parfum. She opened the bottle, inhaling the musk, amber and vanilla scent. Then, she dabbed a little on her wrists before composing the last thank-you card.