Human Nature - #2
Dr. Henri Rousseau check himself in the mirror as he knotted his tie. He played with it, but he couldn’t get it to were it was comfortable around his neck.
“Geez,” he muttered, taking it off and haphazardly throwing it on the bed. “You’d think I had a date with Cher or something.”
Who was he kidding? Madeline Jace was drop dead gorgeous! He ached to run his fingertips through her long, thick, blonde hair. He desired to dance his lips over hers, which were deliciously pouty and full – lips longing to be kissed. He wanted her. Her most appealing trait was her shyness. He wasn’t used to a gorgeous woman who seemed not to realize just how good-looking she was. She could have any man she desired and he hoped she desired him.
He unbuttoned the top button on his shirt and decided to go on his date like that. While it hinted at his broad chest and finely layered chest hair, he had a feeling Madeline truly wouldn’t mind. He double checked his appearance and grabbed the piece of paper with her address on it. She didn’t live too far away from his apartment building, which was nice. He planned to take her to Washington, D.C., to a small Italian restaurant. He liked the romantic ambience of the establishment and he hoped Madeline would too.
Next to the paper with Madeline’s address was the monthly FSD newsletter. A brief bio of her was listed toward the back with a picture. He’d never noticed it before simply because it was in black and white and Madeline’s attractive features failed to stick out. He dismissed the paper and headed toward the door, excited to meet her.
Henri was young, twenty-five, but he had two things going for him. He was a genius and he had luck on his side. He had lucked into a lot of the good things that happened in his life.
He never really considered himself handsome, but numerous women had told him that. Biology was his first love and while women openly admired him, he had only gone out on a handful of awkward dates. Madeline was the first woman who had really caught his attention.
He grew up in Toronto and as early as he could remember he was fascinated with the human body. As a precocious three year old, he wanted to know what made his toes wiggle. Why did certain people have blue eyes? Why were certain people skinny and others overweight? He became intrigued with the body’s metabolism and how it played a role in one’s growth. He graduated from one of the best universities Canada in an accelerated learning program, after writing a definitive paper on a newly discovered enzyme, which, if present in the body, greatly accelerated one’s metabolism.
He accepted a position at a well-known civilian research firm in Toronto and after a year, his work drew the notice of FSD. Ambitiously, he accepted the position hoping it would bring further recognition to his work. He was placed with Doctor William Teague and they enjoyed their job.
Enough about him. He pulled up in front of Madeline’s apartment building and parked, gazing up to the second floor. He had a feeling tonight would be special for both of them.
Madeline looked in the mirror and nervously smiled. Henri would be there any minute and she wanted to make sure she looked nice.
She left work early just so she could stop by a local clothing store to buy a skirt. Samantha went with her and helped her pick out a matching skirt and blouse outfit.
Her tan skirt fell down to her knees and showed off her shapely legs. She wore a light blue, thin blouse with long sleeves and a simple birthstone necklace with matching earrings. Her soft blonde hair neatly fell down past her shoulders. Her makeup was subtle and her eyeliner made her eyes appear round and doe-like.
She sighed and nervously ran a hand through her hair as she walked toward her kitchen. Here she was, a successful scientist, a major experiment about to come to a satisfying conclusion, and she was a jumble of nerves waiting for the handsome Henri Rousseau. She blushed, thinking of the masculine chest which was hidden by his polo shirt earlier in the day. She would love to run her fingertips over every inch of him.
She glanced out of the window, trying to get a handle on her dangerous thoughts. The doorbell rang. Anxiously, she ran to the door, taking a deep breath as she crisply opened it.
“Madeline! Hi!” he exclaimed,with a pleasant smile.
“Henri,” she grinned. “Hi, back.”
She began to walk out and Henri reached over, boldly taking her hand in his.
“You look…” his voice trailed off, as he admired her. She was gorgeous! Her blue shirt brought out her exquisite eyes and her skirt showed off her exquisite legs.
Madeline felt a jolt of nerves flood her body and she began to fumble with her free hand. Did attraction always make a person feel unreasonably warm like this?
“Beautiful,” he finished, with an adoring smile.
“I, ah, thank you,” she said, rapidly blushing.
They longingly gazed into each other’s eyes before leaving the apartment building together.
Dinner seemed to fly by for Madeline. Henri took her to a nice, romantic Italian restaurant where they shared a pleasant meal. The ambience of the establishment was very relaxing. The lighting was low. On the walls were booths and in the middle, tables. A candle adorned all the places to sit. Painted scenes of the Italian cities lined the booths. Garland and lights decorated the banners and pillars of the restaurant.
They shared a bottle of fine Merlot over the meal.
Madeline found Henri engaging, sweet, and attentive. His eyes were a dazzling blue-hazel and sparkled in the candlelight. His smile was gentle and inviting. He hung on her every word, and to her surprise, she found herself very open with him.
They started out talking about work and at first, Madeline was surprised to learn that Henri had composed the enzyme solution she had used for her ground-breaking discovery. They talked about their jobs for a while before Henri diverted the conversation. He started talking about his background and soon Madeline could feel herself really relaxing around the enticing man.
Madeline’s father was also a scientist. He was an Army Captain who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Her mother was a renowned pianist. They met while he was working on his infamous project and after the war married. Madeline was their only child, born while her father was stationed at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama.
Sadly, when Madeline was four, she lost her parents in a plane crash. She went to live with her mother’s sister in New England. Madeline’s Aunt Stacy was kind and generous, and loved her just like she loved her own children. Her husband owned a fishery off the coast of Connecticut.
At an early age, Madeline exhibited an amazing ability to learn. She couldn’t satisfy her thirst for knowledge fast enough. She went to the best schools as her aunt and uncle furnished her with a nurturing environment. She attended Harvard in an accelerated program, getting her doctorate at a time when most people got their associates degree.
While Madeline’s quest to succeed academically was fulfilled, her personal life and relationships suffered. It was hard for her to relate to people her age. She never went out to the movies and while she enjoyed running, she never really participated in team sports. She got along well with her aunt’s family, but she hadn’t visited them in a while. Every so often she would miss them, but her work was so demanding, it was hard to find the time to visit, let alone call.
Madeline recalled that growing up, she enjoyed science fiction novels. She loved how what wasn’t possible in life came alive in a make believe world. However, it was one book that changed the direction of her life, Nicholas and Alexandra.
The book was about the last Czar of Russia. His son suffered from hemophilia, which was a genetic blood disease. Madeline was fascinated with the story. In 1917, genetics brought down a family and overthrew a government. She delved into the study of chromosomes and genes, her mind devouring everything there was to learn about the human body. This fascination led to her successes in genetics and to FSD’s cloning project.
Henri was enthralled as he listened to her. They had a lot in common. As he paid the check and admired her smooth facial features, he was convinced he’d found his soulmate.
Before they left the restaurant, Henri gave her a single red rose which he bought from a young man selling them as he filtered his way through the establishment one last time before it closed. Madeline held the rose the entire time as they drove back to the base. She was reluctant to part with the lovely flower, sniffing it every so often as she stole almost flirtious glances of Henri.
Like a gentleman, her escort walked her to the door and hesitantly they shared a shy kiss before Maddie went inside. It was a kiss that spoke of longing and promise. As she closed the door, she leaned back against it, closing her eyes and bringing her rose up to her cheek, softly rubbing it’s petals against her skin, thinking of how she wanted more from Henri and how it scared her. She’d never been so attracted to a man in her whole life!
The next day
Madeline walked into her lab and put down her purse. She went to the coat rack and put on her lab smock like any other normal day. She was eager to check on her experiment to see how her mutated cell was doing. As she walked into the lab itself, she found Samantha glaring at a memo.
“Sam? What’s up?” she asked, immediately struck by her colleague’s grimace.
“Minter’s off his rocker!” hissed Sam, “You won’t believe what he wants!” She thrust the paper at Madeline.
Madeline took the paper, reading it out loud, her good mood quickly plummeting.
“There is a legitimate concern coming from some of the staff here at FSD that their projects might interfere with their body’s reproductive system at a later date. It is due to this concern that every scientist employed will have their sex material gathered and stored here at FSD for safe keeping. Should a staff member scientist desire to have children and is unable to conceive because of their FSD employment, this would allow them the opportunity to procreate.”
Madeline’s mouth dropped in horror as she flung the paper onto the island in the middle of the lab.
“He’s crazy! Minter wants to harvest my eggs without my willing consent?! Who does he think he is!” cried Madeline.
“It’s not just you, Maddie. This directive is for everyone. Me. You. The handsome Dr. Rousseau. Everyone,” said Samantha coldly, as she crossed her arms in a disapproving stance.
Madeline’s eyes narrowed. “This is crossing the line, Sam. I know that FSD has pioneered the cryogenic procedures needed to save one’s eggs and sperm for long periods of time, but there’s no need to do this unless an individual person wants it done!”
Suddenly the door opened and General Adolphus Minter walked in.
“Well, hello, Doctors Runyeon and Jace,” he purred with smug satisfaction.
“What’s the purpose of this?” cried Samantha, waving his memo in the air.
Minter crossed his arms, “You mean it’s not clearly stated?”
Madeline glared at him. “The choice to harvest my eggs is mine to make – not yours!”
“Why, Dr. Jace, everyone is required to submit to the procedures. It’s just a safeguard measure. You’re of child bearing age. I’m sure you understand the need for an insurance policy should something go wrong. Heaven forbid something happens to you at FSD and you can’t conceive…the natural way.”
He sounded so cocky and sure of himself. Madeline couldn’t stand him – his arrogance, his sneer, how smug he was. The self-righteous bastard was a prig to work for!
“It should be an individual’s choice,” insisted Jace.
“It’s not and you have by the end of the week to comply with that memo.”
“And if I don’t?” pushed Madeline, glaring at him with contempt.
“You’ll be released from FSD – quickly and cleanly. I can always get another scientist to do your work.”
“You’re despicable,” hissed Madeline.
“So they say. How’s your experiment?”
Madeline was caught off guard by his change in topics. She hesitated. What was she going to tell him? She wasn’t quite ready to brag of her success to him.
“Fine. It will be done in a day or two,” said Samantha, speaking up as she walked up beside Madeline. “We’ll give you the results then.”
“By the end of the week?” He practically gloated.
Madeline sighed. “Yes, it should be done by then.”
A pleasurable smile grew across Minter’s face. “Good.” He turned around to leave, pleased with how events were unfolding.
Madeline was upset. She had no desire to abandon her project, but she was loath to comply with the General’s intrusive request.
“Oh, General!” she cried out.
“Yes, Dr. Jace?” he asked, quickly turning around. Their eyes met as they squared off.
“There will come a day when you don’t get what you want,” said Madeline icily.
He laughed. “I’ve all ready got what I want.” Briskly, he walked out.
Madeline turned to Samantha, “He’s up to something.”
“But what?” asked Samantha.
Madeline nodded her head as she walked up to the window and gazed outside. She didn’t know what to think of Minter’s latest game. If it had come from anyone else, she wouldn’t have doubted it’s ulterior motive.
© S.G. Cardin, 2004