'Can you smell that?' she said, sniffing the air. 'Ozone.'
'Ridiculous,' he replied. 'Utterly impossible.'
He knew she was lying. She had always had a keen nose but this was taking it too far. She turned around.
'You mean to tell me you've never smelled ozone before?'
Her hazel eyes glinted in the dimmed lamplight, and he was suddenly reminded of brilliant topazes.
He shook his head, afraid of her knowledge.
'And you have?'
She laughed. 'Obviously.'
There was something in that laugh of hers, something hidden and cruel. But her eyes remained radiant, inviting.
He had never revealed his true feelings, suppressing them deep within whenever she entered the laboratory. Whilst peering through a microscope observing a minute and fully-functioning bacterial universe, he had wondered what her skin felt like, whether she preferred soap or body wash, and stopped himself from pressing his body close to hers.
Now he looked at her long and hard, trying to discern whether she was telling the truth.
'What?' she said. 'What is it?'
His mechanical stare was making her increasingly uncomfortable. She tugged at her collar.
'Remember Chris, I have more experience of these things. I live and breathe my work.'
She emphasised breathe and as she did so he watched as her nostrils flared like a mare's.
'What's a bit of competition between friends eh?'
So, according to her they were friends. Shame he never saw it that way.
'I'll soon get the hang of things,' he said. 'How hard can it be?'
'Course you will,' she said and patted him on the shoulder.