Eleanor Rigby

by Cincoflex and V.R. Trakowski

Chapter 1


All the lonely people

Where do they all come from ?

All the lonely people

Where do they all belong ?

--John Lennon/Paul McCartney, Revolver


BRASS

I remember how it started.


Not the way you’d think something like this would—with some dramatic news breaking case, some amazing event where I got to be the hero and she was forever grateful to me—nah, that’s my fantasy, and while it’s a good one, it’s definitely make-believe.


The truth? It started small.


Ordinary.


Now those are words I ever associated with her, to be honest. When I thought of her, (which was in fact something I did now and again,) she always had that mystique thing going. Even in my head, I thought of her in those first impression terms: sleek. Unobtainable. Amazingly sexy. All those aspects I wasn’t supposed to notice let along react to.


See, cops aren’t supposed to be impressed by anybody. Hell, that’s the first rule they teach you at the academy right off the bat. Nobody is who he or she seems to be, and you aren’t really yourself behind a badge either, so it’s all a big bluff.


Most of the time I get away with my part of it, and come across as the hardass, the heat, the Man—all those labels that I’ve worn for so many years I can almost feel the weight of them on my skin sometimes.


Anyway.


It started small and ordinary. I was heading home after my shift, thinking about what the hell I’d need to whip up something halfway edible. I pull into Corti Brothers market, grab a cart and slowly work my way up and down the aisles. Out of habit I check the layout, the exits, the other patrons. At this hour of the morning there aren’t too many, and the few that are here are either night workers like me, or insomniacs. The only one worth noting is a woman standing at the wine section, perusing clarets, by the look of it.


Then I look at her again, and realize exactly who she is, despite the jeans and long sleeve tee shirt. She’s got her hair pulled back in a ponytail, and none of the spooky make-up on now, but it’s Ms $3.95 per minute herself, Lady Heather.


I’m stunned. Honestly, I didn’t think she ever left that gothic cathedral of hers, just had things delivered. I sure as hell never thought of her as the type to wander around Corti Brothers like those of us in the mundane real world, but that goes to show you about those damn assumptions. I take a minute to reassess her as I lean my forearms on the handlebar of my cart.


She’s still striking of course. No problem there. A little on the tall side, but the figure’s the genuine article, curvy and trim. Even here in the supermarket she’s got that way of standing absolutely still and letting her eyes do all the moving. No jewelry, and a standard purse of brown leather.


I give myself permission to look a little more. Why not? She’s facing the wine rack, and the view is just as nice back to front if we’re being honest. Normally I try to keep my lecherous instincts in check, not that it’s easy in a town like Vegas, oy! But it’s not everyday I get to ogle a known dominatrix either.


And then she turns. Thank God I have my gaze at eye level and I have some practice in bluffing. Nonetheless I still feel like one of Grissom’s bugs, pinned on a wall when those dark eyes hit me. Recognition first, then a little annoyance and finally amusement, all flickering by in a fraction of an instant before she settles on a nice neutral expression.


I nod.


She nods.


I wish I could say something nice and easy, something that might take some of the awkwardness out of the moment. Mostly I stand there, wondering what the hell Grissom did to piss her off so much. Pulling a warrant on her was pretty rough, but under that I sense some personal issues that I hope to hell aren’t going to bleed through to me. We did what we had to do. At least, I did.


Now I’m thinking Gil did a bit more than his duty.


She nods once more and steps past me, a selected bottle in her hand, not quite dismissing me, but making it clear we’re not going to be chatting. I can live with that, and turn to head to the frozen foods, trying not to smirk cynically, thinking about how I can drop my encounter into a conversation later.


//Hey, you’ll never guess who I ran into today--//


But nah—the only person I could say that to is the last guy who needs to hear it, and while I’m not known for my tact at times, I try not to be needlessly cruel either.


So I finish up my shopping and head for the checkout, contenting myself with the promise of a nice spaghetti feed within the hour. I pay up and head out to the car just as the rain starts.


Rain in Vegas is truly a freaky deal. We don’t get little showers or sprinkles or light stuff like the rest of the country, noooooo. When it rains in Vegas, it’s usually an all out cloudburst. One minute dry, and the next, BOOM, it’s Noah let me in the damn ark. I load the bags and get in, pull out of the lot but I’m still pretty damp, which is not a good look for me. The radio is a screech of static, telling me the storm is right on top of the city, and the highway’s cleared out pretty fast since most folks have enough sense not to hang around places known for flash flooding.


Then I see the little green Miata on the side of the road.


Oh boy. It’s a convertible, and the top’s down. I’m betting it’s stuck because the driver’s out on the far side struggling with it. If it was me, I’d be cursing up a blue streak knowing the interior was flooding; you can suction the water out, but the mildew factor is ALWAYS a bitch afterwards and believe me I’ve pulled enough cars apart in Trace to know that first hand.


I pull over. I don’t want to, but I still do. I’m not wearing my shield at the moment but I can still feel the damn thing sometimes, compelling me to do the right thing, so even though I could just go rolling by, I stop about six feet behind the Miata and climb out, cell phone in hand, ready to render assistance.


“Need some help?” I call through the grey sheets of rain as I get closer. The figure comes into focus, and it’s a woman. My, my, yes judging by the wet cling of her shirt definitely a woman. I don’t need the distraction at the moment, so I blink a little.


“We meet again,” comes a faint mocking tone I well remember. I sigh, and Lady Heather looks up at me from the other side of the car.


Oh man. She’s wet. I mean REALLY wet. Not that I’m drier standing here in the monsoon staring at her. The rain makes her hair almost black as it clings to her skull, and I’m not going to think about how transparent that shirt is now, so I give a nod.


“What’s wrong?”


“I have no idea. The engine died, I coasted to the side of the road and then the heavens opened up. Because the car won’t start, I can’t get the top up.” She replies succinctly. I glance at the back seat, at the lumps of wet paper bags sitting there—her waterlogged groceries.


It strikes me as funny that she’d even have groceries. I mean, she’s the queen of most men’s deepest darkest fantasies—what does she need with paper towels or stewed tomatoes or Ritz crackers, right? But I can see the goods, getting soggier by the minute as we stand there, and the sad sight of them gets me moving. I hand her my cell and start reaching for some of her purchases.


“Get in my car, call Triple A or whoever you need to while I get these out of the rain,” I tell her as I begin scooping things up. Sensibly, she follows my directive and I start hauling stuff to my car, dumping it in alongside my own groceries. A few cars are hydroplaning by, passing us quickly in the storm, eager to get out of the deluge. By the time I’m done, at least two inches have come down, and the ground’s a muddy mess.


So’s Lady Heather, but on her it looks good I note as I climb in the driver’s side and wipe my face. She’s got that wild woman thing going with her hair in wet tendrils on her neck, and drops falling from her lashes. And don’t even get me started on her lips. Grissom wasn’t kidding when he told her she had lovely ones; I’d thought so myself but was smart enough not to get caught staring at them. And here they are, wet and slick with rain, naturally plump and much more appealing than they have a right to be—


“Thank you,” she sighs at me in that kooky formal way of hers as she hands my cell phone back to me, “but the storm seems to have disrupted the service area.”


“Not a surprise I guess. I’m sorry about your car. I can recommend a good auto shop if you want to get the interior redone along with the engine.”


She arches an eyebrow at me, and for the first time I see hints of a genuine smile at the corner of that mouth. Not a cynical one either, but real amusement. She looks a lot younger.


“How very gallant of you, Mr. Brass. I had no idea your sense of duty extended beyond your working hours. This is an intriguing aspect of you.”


I shrug, complimented and slightly insulted at the same time, and grip the steering wheel, gazing out into the grey mist beyond the glass.


“It’s called common decency and I’d like to think everyone has their share of it,” I mutter, wishing I had a towel.


“An optimistic hope, although not a very realistic one, especially for this city,” she replies knowingly.


I shrug.


“Well, I don’t want to leave your car sitting here without a tow coming, so unless you’re in a hurry to get home we’re going to have to wait the storm out a bit and try calling again.”


She lifts her chin, staring out the windshield; still elegant despite the drowned rat look we’re sharing. Now that we’re in proximity like this it’s much tougher not to notice the wet tee shirt. I reach behind the seat and pull out my windbreaker, handing it to her wordlessly.


“Thank you . . .” she tells me, slowly draping it over her front. I try not to be smug about it, but some of that leaks through as I drum my fingers on the wheel.


This is so surrealistic. I’m stuck in a car with a dominatrix.


A wet, beautiful dominatrix.


I sigh and keep looking out the window. Next to me, she laughs softly.


“Believe me, this is as awkward for me as it is for you, Mr. Brass,” comes her low musical voice, “I’m not in the habit of needing rescuing.”


“Now that I can well believe, Lady Heather.”


“Please—just . . . Heather, for the moment,” she shoots back.


“Ah. Well in that case, I’m just Jim then.”


“Jim,” she echoes, as if trying it out. It sounds different coming out of her mouth, and I give an encouraging nod.


“Jim.”


“It suits you. Strong and to the point. Very apropos.”


“Thank you, although I can’t really take the credit. My mother had a hand in it.”


She laughs a little, relaxing against the car seat, and for some reason I do too. I didn’t realize I was tense. She draws a breath and lets it out again, slowly.


“I’m sorry, but it’s hard for me to picture your mother, let alone you as a baby. It’s a very difficult concept to visualize.”


She’s smiling now, and it’s an amazing sight. I can feel myself returning it, draw by the power of her amusement.


“Judging from the photos I’ve got, my hairline is about the same now as it was then, although I HAVE put on a few pounds and have more teeth since my initial appearance.”


“And certainly possess a better dress sense, although—“ she hesitates and I don’t want to lose the momentum of this conversation so I give her a slightly resigned gesture to continue, and she adds, “—I suspect your overuse of brown is an attempt to foster a sense of trustworthiness not always in keeping with your occupation.”


“Busted,” I freely admit. Any first year psych student knows a brown suit is a deliberate attempt to avoid appearing as an authority figure, and obviously Heather here has done her homework.


Heather. Already with the first names. Is this getting surrealistic or what?


She tips her head down a little and murmurs so softly I almost can’t hear it.


“I apologize. I had no right to criticize your personal style. After all, costume and presentation are as much a major factor for my profession as for yours. What are we, really but what we show the world?”


It’s a nice little apology and I turn to look at her while I try to figure out what to say. I notice that sitting, she’s not nearly as imposing as when she stands. That her wet skin smells nice. That her mascara isn’t waterproof.


“Heather, you’ve got my number so let’s not worry about hurt feelings here, okay? I’m pretty easy to read and certainly nothing you haven’t seen before in hundreds of other men, and the only real difference is that I KNOW how smart you are. I respect that, and although you may not believe it, I respect you. I also know you probably don’t particularly care, but it’s worth it to me to let you know that, all right?”


I can see she’s a little startled, since this is not only more than I’ve ever said to her in our entire acquaintance, but also that I mean every word of it.


And I do. I’ve looked at the underbelly of society for a whole lot of years, and while my sense of values has shifted a bit, my pragmatic nature tells me that I can’t take things at face value, not on the streets, baby. Dominatrixes are people too, with soggy groceries and runny makeup and sneaky senses of humor.


She smirks. Those full lips pull back in a quick flash of humor and her shoulder shake silently. I play along.


“What?”


“I wasn’t expecting that. Particularly after the last time we met.”


I have to tread carefully here since I can sense the undertones of bitterness in her voice. I give a gentle shrug. Let my voice stay low and light.


“I don’t hold grudges—they’re counterproductive in my business. Did you want to try the tow company again?”


She takes the proffered phone once again and taps in a number while I take a moment to shift in my seat. Damp down to the boxers—yeesh. Not my shining moment here by any means. Heather reaches someone and mutters soft quick instructions into the phone, her voice precise. Within minutes she hands the phone back.


“Triple A will be here shortly, or so they claim. I’m sorry you’re uncomfortable in your wet clothes but I do appreciate the rescue.”


“Thanks. This only delays my spaghetti marinara by about an hour, so I’ll live—“ I tell her. Across her face flits an expression I catch out of the corner of my eye and it knocks me on my ass.


Wistfulness.


I didn’t get it wrong, I know I didn’t. It’s an expression I’ve seen it on Sara’s face pretty regularly. Sometimes on Grissom’s. Once in a while on Catherine’s.


I look at her, not speaking, just letting my eyebrows go up a tad. On cue, her stomach rumbles and I can’t quite NOT grin. She does too, dropping her face shyly.


Woo, a girlish Dominatrix. This day is just FULL of surprises. Very carefully I make it a point to look back out at the rain as I ask, “You like spaghetti?”


“I adore spaghetti.”


“Me too. I use fresh Italian sausage with oregano and rosemary, then add a nice Chianti in the sauce—but there’s always a problem,” I ramble on, sighing. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Heather fighting another smile, but she dutifully takes the bait.


“I don’t understand how a recipe like that could possibly be a problem . . . Jim.”


She’s making the effort, bless her. This is starting to be fun.


“The problem is that by it’s very nature, spaghetti can’t be made in small quantities. My mother never made it for fewer than six people, and I’m the same way. So I’m going to end up making enough dinner for a week unless you’re willing to take a plate or two off my hands.”


I risk a look at her; after all, what’s the worst that can happen? She says no thank you and that’s the end of it, right? I still get a good dinner either way.


She’s looking back at me with those eyes, and despite the runny mascara, and the wet hair she’s smiling again.


“You’re inviting me to eat spaghetti with you?”


“And bread and salad too although we may have to scrounge for dessert, but yeah. I’m hungry, from the sound of it YOU’RE hungry and I wasn’t kidding about the quantities. You’d be doing me a favor by tackling some of it.”


“I’m tempted,” she replies, still formal sounding, but with a thaw in her tone and I nod slowly.


“I know it would tarnish your reputation to be seen with me, but I won’t tell if you don’t—garlic, mushrooms, black olives—“


She gives a little groan that turns into a chuckle and I know I’ve got her. No chicanery works better than the promise of good food, and in all honesty I actually CAN cook.


“I wasn’t worried about my reputation, but yours, Mr. Brass. However, my appetite is a bit stronger than my common sense at the moment and I would always regret passing up a chance at a good spaghetti dinner,” she decides.


That makes me grin. I manage to get it under control by clearing my throat and striving hard for nonchalance.


“Done deal then.”


At that point I can see the bright lights of the tow truck through the downpour, pulling up just ahead of the Miata, and I shoot Heather a mournful look.


“No point in both of us getting out again—where should I tell him to tow it?”


She mentions a garage off of the south end of Fremont. A good place with a good rep. I wait a beat and speak up again.


“Look, I’ll get you home, so you don’t have to ride with the driver or call a cab if that’s all right with you.”


She looks at me with those serious eyes and waits a moment before speaking.


“I appreciate the choice, Jim. That’s not only considerate, it’s quite kind of you.”


What can I say to that? My parents brought me up with manners, and even though those little courtesies have taken a beating in this modern world they still come through once in a while.


*** *** ***

Thank God the cleaning women came. As Heather and I bustle through the door, trying to hold the dissolving paper bags and avoid any more rain, I’m completely grateful that Dolores and her sister have once again done their weekly magic, turning my house into something fairly dust-free and habitable. The two of them obviously made it in and out before the rain, and I can smell the faint scents of Pine Sol and Air freshener. Heather moves without a moment’s hesitation towards the kitchen, leaving me to trot behind her, struggling not to drop anything.


“I think we may have our groceries intermixed,” she comments, setting things on the breakfast bar. I set down my armfuls just as the bags fall apart, scattering goods everywhere and she hides a smirk at this unexpected slapstick.


I sigh.


“Let’s bring them all in and sort them out, then. I’ve got enough bags so we can repack yours.”


“Commendably sensible,” she agrees, gracefully squatting down to collect cans and boxes.


It takes two trips to load them all in, and in that time Heather’s got the heater going, the lights on, and has started sorting not only her groceries but mine as well. I just shake my head.


Can’t fight that X chromosome I guess.


“In the guest bedroom, first door down the hall—I’ve got some dry sweats that will probably fit you, and we can get your stuff in the dryer.”


She hesitates for the first time, and I can understand. Strange apartment, casual acquaintance who’s supposed to be a good guy, but what do you know about him really—so I hand her the cell phone and move to the bag of tomatoes, sorting them out. She takes the phone from me and turns it over in her hand. I glance up briefly at her.


“If you don’t call someone to let them know you’re here, I will, “ I tell her flatly. She looks at me, cocking her head and the tension goes out of her shoulders.


“I trust you,” she tells me. I roll my eyes to the ceiling, mostly to hide my sense of relief. It dawns on me that for some damn reason I want to make a good impression on her.


“I trust you too, but I’m lousy at chicken soup.”


“Chicken--?”


“Matter of logic. If you stand around in wet clothes you’re going to catch a cold,” I grumble, setting tomatoes aside and reaching for my cluster of oregano. She lifts her chin and shakes her head.


“I have Magyar blood in me. It tends to intimidate colds and lesser viruses, although I call it a draw with allergies.”


A Hun. Yeah, I can see that, particularly in the eyes, the spirit.


“Ah. I repeat—down the hall, first door, help yourself to anything in the dresser or closet, except for the Santa suit or the dress blues.”


She goes off chuckling and I feel better as I set to work on the sauce. I should change too, since I’m dripping puddles on the floor around me, but all in good time. Once I get the sauce to simmering I can think about towels.


Chopping, chopping, chopping. The majority of good Italian cooking starts with chopping. Vegetables, spices, herbs, meat, all of it in neat even bits. Toast the oregano, oil down the herbs, sear the meat. Add the onions to caramelize and put the pasta water on in another pan. Add the meat, taking care to peel the sausage out of the casings. Lower the heat; simmer the meat for a while. Gently add the tomatoes, the paste, and the other vegetables, cover and let marinate together—


I can do this is my sleep, although it’s not recommended. I look up as I finish with the last of the mushrooms and Heather’s back, moving around the breakfast bar, sniffing curiously as I study her.


Now I know why they’re called sweats. The University of Boston top is tantalizingly baggy, offering a hint of nicer features than I ever filled it with, and as for Ellie’s old pants—well, let’s just say they cling. Nicely. VERY nicely. Oy!


“I hope your daughter won’t mind my borrowing these,” she tells me softly. I freeze for a moment, and then shake my head.


“She won’t mind,” I reply in a voice I hope makes it clear not to ask. She doesn’t, and I’m grateful for the moment; not everyone would get the hint. Instead, she lays a hand on the counter and looks at me.


“What can I do to help?”


I know she means more than just the dinner, so I look at her and hold her glance for a moment. Beautiful eyes. A man could fall into that glacial blue and just drift away. I shake my head.


“Salad’s your department, if you’re so inclined. I warn you though, I don’t DO alfalfa sprouts.”


“Neither do I, although the appropriate verb is eat, “ she chides teasingly. I arch an eyebrow at her.


“Moot point since I don’t have any, and I hope that doesn’t break your heart.”


She makes a moue and leans closer to me.


“To be honest I have no appetite for anything that resembles alien pubic hair.”


That’s when I almost gash my thumb with the knife, laughing.



*** *** ***

HEATHER


The only problem in dealing with dragons day in and out is that it doesn’t prepare you for the occasional knight who shows up on your behalf. And it’s clear that Mr. James Brass is a knight of the old school. I’d forgotten men like him existed; kind without ulterior motives, unassuming and yet sharp enough to see the nuances of every situation. It’s unsettling.


Unnerving.


Intriguing.


This is a man I’ve been condescending to and dismissed the last two times we’ve crossed paths, a man I never gave much thought to or about, and yet he’s the one who rescued me from drowning and offered to cook dinner for me, all on turn of serendipity and a change in the weather.


I could have said no. I should have said no. The Las Vegas Police Department and its employees are not on my list of favorite people at the moment, certainly. And yet sitting in that car, looking at James Brass so wetly chagrined, so modestly mild as he made his pitch, I couldn’t turn him down. After all, it WAS spaghetti, and I’ve got my priorities. Let the Lean Cuisines sit in the freezer at home; Mama Marazek didn’t raise a fool for a daughter.


Or maybe she did, but I’ve wised up since then. Certainly Jim Brass is no threat to either my health or wealth, not with that teddy bear demeanor and sly sense of humor. He’s made me laugh three times now, and it feels good, it really does. I can’t remember the last time anyone did that for me.


I can’t remember the last time anyone cooked for me either, and oooooh the scent of garlic and tomatoes is making my stomach rumble.


“Can’t even begin to tell you how flattering that sound is—“ he murmurs as he drains the pasta. I’m blushing, I know I am. Ridiculous! I’ve seen grown men in tutus, couples that wear diapers to achieve sexual fulfillment and my own hunger is embarrassing me.


“I haven’t eaten much today,” I offer lamely. He nods, but I can see a flicker of a twinkle in his eyes.


“I’m sure not many pizza boys make it out your way.”


“Those that do we chain up in the basement.”


Did I just say that? He’s chuckling again, and it’s a good look on him, makes him loosen up. He’s pulling plates from a cupboard and handing them to me, clearly in charge of the dinner. “And on that note—you can set the table while I open the wine,” he asks mildly.


We sit, we glance at each other, neither quite sure who should start, and we smile, picking up our forks together.


The first bite is amazing. I taste the rosemary, oregano, garlic and basil, all of them a lovely symphony of rich flavor and I bliss out a bit. When I open my eyes, Jim is looking at me with an odd expression I cannot quite define; an amused humbleness that reminds me I haven’t shared my opinion yet.


“This is fabulous.”


“Oh good,” he responds. His modesty isn’t for show; it’s ingrained in the man. I twirl my fork neatly in the pasta, trying to coat it with as much of this incredible sauce as I can without looking too much like a pig.


“Is this an old family secret?” I venture, then stop, hoping that it doesn’t sound as if I’m hinting for the recipe. Jim raises his eyebrows and the corners of his mouth go up as well.


“Actually it’s an ongoing experiment. My mother taught me the basic sauce, but I’ve been refining it to my own tastes. Sometimes I’m in more of a garlic mood, sometimes it’s allspice and onion.”


“Variations on a theme,” I like that. It would be so easy to believe a man like this would be the type to simply dump a jar into a saucepan, and yet I keep relearning that assumptions are dangerous.


We talk of little things: where to buy good produce, and how to tell if a zucchini is ripe, and the grocery strike last year, and through it all I sense an odd buoyancy to our conversation. I’ve eaten an enormous helping of spaghetti now, and the salad about does me in.


Jim is looking down at his plate, resting his fork on the edge of it and sighing.


“The rain has stopped, and so has the dryer,” he comments. I cock an ear, startled at his perception. He must have an ongoing sense of acuity constantly on the alert, picking up details around him that most of us miss. My compassion for him rises as I realize what a burden that must be.


It dawns on me that I like Jim Brass. Certainly I like this shy, private side of him, and a part of me hopes, just a little, that this invitation wasn’t just out of pity on his part.


“The meal was wonderful,” I assure him. He pinkens a little, but his smile is mild.


“It was a good batch. And as a door prize, you get to take a generous serving home for making it through the monsoon.”


“Then it was definitely worth the aggravation. I haven’t been this well-fed in ages,” I reply.


Clean up is quick and full of little jokes; Jim relates his ongoing battles with his ancient dishwasher, and efficiently washes everything by hand, his shirtsleeves rolled up, his actions efficient and well practiced.


I dry. I stand next to him, wiping down dishes and pots with a terrycloth towel, feeling younger and more contented than I have in a long time in this little familiar domesticity. Jim shoots me a glance and shakes his head.


“What?”


“Oh just thinking if anyone had told me a few hours ago that I’d have a beautiful dominatrix drying my dinner dishes, I’d have checked them for ingesting illegal substances.”


I smile, wiping down one of the wineglasses.


“And if anyone had told me that I’d not only have dinner with a homicide detective, but also secretly lust for his marinara sauce—“


“You lust for it—wow. I’m gonna have to put that in my diary,” he tells me with as straight a face as I’ve ever seen. I feel the laugh bubbling out of me, and he grins in return.


As he packs up a Tupperware container full of fragrant leftovers I carefully cork the wine and set it into his refrigerator, trying not to snoop too much, but there are touches even in here that are Jim Brass. He chills his bagels. And his peanut butter! I pull out the jar and look at him.


“You know this doesn’t need to be refrigerated, don’t you?” I ask him. Jim looks wary and curious.


“It doesn’t?”


“No, actually. The oil in it inhibits mold and bacteria, and as long as your pantry doesn’t get too hot, it’s much better on the shelf. Stays much softer and easier to spread.”


“I did not know that—“ he mutters, taking the jar from me and staring at it. I fight the urge to laugh again at his wondering expression. He shoots a look at me, one of mild exasperation.


“This little piece of info could have saved me years of shredded bread, you know—“


I reach up and lay my hand on his shoulder, and at the moment of contact we both twitch a little in surprise, but neither of us move away. I give the strong muscle there a light pat, fighting the urge to linger in that touch.


“Jim—“ I whisper softly, “—Deal with it.”


He rolls his eyes.


When the cab rolls up, I almost resent it; the past two hours have been wonderful in a way I never anticipated in the least. I’m back in my newly washed and dried clothes, with my groceries, a container of spaghetti and better outlook on the rest of the day. Jim is smiling at me shyly again, his hands in his pockets. I don’t know what to say, how to thank him for the lovely gift he’s shared with me.


“I had a wonderful time.”


“Me too.” A man of few words, but the sincerity is there. I look him in the eye and suddenly I know just what to do. What I’d like to do.


“Are you free next Friday morning?”


He blinks, not expecting this at all; outside the cabbie is looking at me expectantly and I give him a nod that I’ll be right there.


“Friday?”


“Yes. I’m sure by then we’ll both be out of spaghetti, and I was thinking you might like a change of pace. I’d love your opinion on a particular dish I do . . .” I trail off, waiting to see if he’s interested. Certainly hoping he is.


He clears his throat and I can see faint traces of embarrassed pink along his face, so I hurry on before he can turn me down.


“Please. Then you can pick up your Tupperware too.”


That little practical note is all I need. He nods tightly, a glow in those fine indigo eyes.


“Sure. What time?”


“Around eight is fine. I’m sure you have the address—“ I begin out the door to the cab. Jim escorts me out and sees me into the cab, not speaking but watching with a calm expression on his face. As the cab pulls away I don’t look back.


And it’s odd, because I truly want to.






                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Eleanor Rigby 2




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