Linda, Wednesday…

Sorry that we missed a day yesterday! I wonder what you think of Linda…

I found the Rose and Crown too smoky.

Pushing open the door, I remembered Brian had thick, blond hair, a crew cut back then, dark blue eyes. Making my way to the bar, trying to look without swivelling my head too much. Wouldn’t want anyone to think I was about to spew pea soup across the bar or speak in tongues.

It was the eyes I noticed at the corner table. I sat opposite Brian, holding out my hand. He stood, shaking my proffered hand.

‘I’m glad you came.’

The blond hair had vanished, a shiny dome in its place. That makes it sound as if he was doing an impression of St Paul’s. I remembered the whispering gallery when mum took me. I wondered what thoughts were running around inside that dome that will never get said that evening.

He ordered drinks, reminiscing about the old times. The past doesn’t interest me. I could feel boredom creeping over me like unwanted ivy.

About an hour in, I made my excuses. ‘I have a big lunch meeting tomorrow; I need my shut eye. Been nice catching up.’

I stopped myself from saying we should do it again. He stood; I could feel him watching as I left.

It wasn’t exactly a lie. I do have a meeting my boss wouldn’t want messed up.

On my way home, I scolded myself a little. I could have given Brian more time.

I didn’t have to be in work that morning, the boss wanted me fresh for the meeting with Peter Westwood. I chose to wear my pencil skirt, long sleeved pale blue blouse, three buttons undone, showing just enough cleavage. If his eyes drop below my face, I will know something about him. A gentleman never lets you notice his eyes wandering. He is practised, he can do it without staring. This one knew the rules. Not once did I see his eyes wander. Deep brown, like chocolate buttons. Thick black hair with a slight kink trying to be a wave.

He is polite, stood shaking my hand, letting me sit before he did. His voice is deep. Not down in your boots deep, just enough to be sexy. Which I very much found him to be. ‘Would you like to order? I have to admit I am ravenous.’

He spoke naturally, which put me at ease.

We spoke while eating, which surprised me. I had to admit his book idea didn’t go down well with me. A teenage story of murder come whodunnit with a prize, if you entered of a replica of a jewelled dagger.

Knives and guns are all wrong, I told him. I couldn’t in all consciousness work with his ideas. I wondered what my boss would say if he was standing right behind me. I could almost hear him screaming between clenched teeth.

‘Maybe it could be a magical mystery tour around London where the reader could track the perpetrator, and the winner could have lunch with you.’

He must have liked the idea, for he stopped chewing, took a swig of his white wine. ‘That a much better idea. I could run them all over London, then back to Mayfair to the Silver Spoon.’

Before leaving, he gave me his card and his ideas for the sketches he wanted in the book. A young man with a book and pencil in his hand, roaming through London, hoping to win a lunch date with his favourite author.

He offered me a lift back to work.

I told him I was working from home today.

‘Home it is then.’

He sat in the back with me, my skirt riding up more than I would normally like. This time I didn’t tug it down. I couldn’t tell if he noticed the amount of leg on show. ‘Ask your driver to turn left here. I’m the one with the monkey puzzle tree out front.’

Turning to face me, he asked if he could come in for coffee. ‘I think there is more we can do.’

I will let you know tomorrow what he had in mind…

© Anita Dawes 2021

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