I lowered and folded my newspaper onto my lap. I wasn’t looking to be interrupted, and I’m sure it showed, right up until I looked into those eyes.
I don’t read a lot of books, but it felt like I had been dropped smack dab in the middle of a dime store paperback. The sky was bluer than I remembered it being before, the birds sang beautiful melodies, and all that. When I say she could have been a model, it’s the truest words to ever leave my mouth. The only reason I could think of to look away would be to figure out where the photographer was hiding.
“Would you happen to know when the next train is due to arrive?”
It took a moment to shift my brain into gear. I stole a glance at my watch and stuttered before I was able to work my lips enough to speak the Queen’s English. “About half-past. I mean, ‘bout five or so minutes from now.”
She smiled and I knew I could die a happy man. “Thank you, that’s perfect.” She motioned a gloved hand to the empty seat beside me. “May I?”
I almost told her I’d give her my last twenty bucks if she would but smartened up at the last second. “Of course.”
I tucked the paper between my leg and the arm of the bench. She sat with her back straight and her purse on her lap. After looking both ways along the tracks, she looked at me from the corner of her eye. “Nice watch, by the way.”
“Oh, thanks.” I shook it on my wrist. “A friend gave it to me.”
“Must be some friend.”
I shrugged. “It was a unique situation.”
“Forgive me, I should have introduced myself.” She held out a hand, like a lady used to. “Rochelle.”
I was as awkward as ever, grabbed the tips of her fingers and bobbed them once or twice. I don’t know about her, but I did my best to pretend it never happened. “Gerald.”
Gerald? Jesus H Christ. Not sure why I slipped up and used my real name. Besides, nobody called me that but my mother.
“Where are you off to today, Gerald?”
“Oh, you know, the city.”
She leaned forward on one knee, raised an eyebrow and gave a mischievous smile. “Business, or pleasure?”
“And what is it you do? For business.”
I had to give my collar a tug so as to breathe right. “A little of this, a little of that. I find things, mostly.”
She rested her chin on her closed fist and bit at her bottom lip. “Intriguing.”
The sensation started in my feet and travelled up to my chest. At first, I thought it might be a heart attack. Turns out it was the south-bound train.
I turned to solid marble when she leaned in and put a hand on my knee. “I do wish we had more time to chat. Perhaps fortune will smile upon us and we will meet again one day.
I nodded but couldn’t manage much else. Lucky I didn’t drool, I guess. She stood and glided along the platform, disappeared around the ticket booth. The train ground to a halt in front of me. The smoke and racket hardly registered. I let out a breath and picked up the paper. When I lifted my wrist to check my watch, it wasn’t there. Pressure rose up in my temples, like a volcano about to blow. I set a hand on the pocket where I kept my wallet. It was flat. I had to shake my head. Taken by a pretty face. Again.
I reached inside my jacket. The ticket was still there, at least. It meant I could get to the job and get paid. After that I’d be in a good spot to take a few days off and go find Rochelle, if that was even her name, and see about getting my watch back.