“Abby, you gorgeous creature.”
“Mr Kanakaredes, good morning,” I stood and held out a hand. “I trust your flight was pleasant.”
“George, please,” Mr K held a hand to his chest as if he was hurt. “Why do you insist on this formality between us?” He stuck a finger in his ear. “I hate helicopters. Always have.”
“Well,” I shrugged. It was all well and good for some people. “Might I offer you a drink?”
“Nothing for me right now, thank you. But if the offer still stands, we can go for one later. You should stop saying no. You are breaking my heart. Here these are for you.” He produced a bunch of flowers from behind him.
“Oh, you shouldn’t have, Mr K…” I reached for the flowers. No need to be rude now.
“George,” I conceded. “My Foyles will be with you in a moment. He is just taking a call.”
The bouquet was monochrome. Well, almost. It was mostly white and dark blooms. I could see that some were blue and some crimson but they were so dark they could pass for black. “Oh.”
“Yes, a black rose for the black rose. Run away with me. Make me as happy a man as you have made Nigel. My life is cluttered. I need you to restore order.”
“I’m sure your staff is more than adequate to handle all you need, Mr George.” He made a face.
“You make me sound like a slave owner.”
“Who’s the slave in this equation?” I asked forgetting that this was a man whose wealth could probably pay his country’s debts more than twice over.
“I will gladly be, if you will let me,” he said, hand on heart again.
I laughed, checking my watch. “Mr Foyles will be with you in two minutes.” George whistled.
“If that’s the kind of present you get from Nigel, it’s no wonder you don’t want to come with me. Just FYI, I’m richer. I can buy you ten of those.”
“Stop making a fool of yourself you rascal. Is he trying to steal you again, Abby?” My boss appeared. I dumped the flowers on my desk as they pumped and clapped each other on the back. “George, you should drop the act now, we’re no longer is school.”
I walked past them into my Nigel’s office, setting the cut crystal glasses and coasters in order. My boss was particular. I heard them walk in, still joking. “Would that be all?”
“Yes thank you, Abby. Are the girls done with the Hottenham report?”
“It’s ready for your three o’clock,” I said. Nigel riffled through his drawers and George mimed a beating heart at me.
“That’s enough, George,” Nigel said without turning around.
“I still don’t know how you do that,” I heard George say as I left.
I looked at the flowers lying on my desk and sighed. Pulling the black rose from the centre, I split the bunch into two and rearranged them as best I could. Then I walked to the outer office.
“Hey girls,” I said. “We got flowers again.”
Friday nights on the tube are a nightmare. Open containers of alcohol are banned but somehow, the group standing to my right managed to pass a small bottle of something between then. The train jostled and one of their party, the man that stood on the outside of the more boisterous members, knocked me off my balance.
“Sorry,” he said, “Putting his hands about my waist. I righted myself, holding on to the pole for support as people brushed past me to get out at Green Park. The doors closed and the train started up again. The man’s hands were still about my waist.
“Excuse me,” I said turning to look at him. There was a quirk to his mouth. “Get your hands off my waist, cheeky bugger.”
“I was only being chivalrous. What if I take my hands away and you fall down again?”
“I didn’t fall down the first time.”
“Only because I held you up. You’re welcome.”
“Well, I’m fine now, thank you.”
“Are you sure? Those heels look pretty precarious to me.”
“They are fine,” I stood on one leg. “See?”
“I see. They are fine.” I put my leg down. The train jostled me again and the man steadied me. “What would you do without me? Now I’m not going to let you go.”
“What colour are your eyes?” I asked. “It’s been bugging me ever since I turned around.”
“I don’t know, what colour do you think they are?”
“If I knew, I wouldn’t ask.”
“They are a bit unusual, I know. When I was growing up, the other kids used to throw stones at me because they thought I was creepy.”
“What I get from that is that you’re a crap listener,” I said. “I don’t need your sob story. I just wanted to know what colour you’d describe your eyes. I think they’d make an excellent pair of shoes, that colour.”
The man roared, startling his friends into silence. Their looks turned inquisitive. One or two of them smiled at me. I smiled back and turned away. “Ah, good. You’re nice but you don’t want conversation with other people right now. I know the feeling. I don’t want to share you with anyone either.” He leaned into my back. “I rather like you in fact.” I shrugged and said nothing. “My eyes are a bit of grey and a bit of green, but that’s not why they are weird-looking.”
“Why are they weird-looking?”
“You think they’re weird-looking?”
“You said they were weird-looking.”
“Stop saying ‘weird-looking’.”
“You started it.”
“It’s the brown in the centre. See? That ring of brown?” I turned again. He leaned closer until he was almost nose-to-nose.”
“Weird-looking.” He laughed again, lower in volume this time.
“You hands are hot, you’re cooking my waist,” I said. He said nothing, fixing his eyes on mine. “I see. That’s not the only part of you that’s cooking.”
“Are you a mind reader?”
“No, you’re just very predictable.” I shook my head. “Unique eyes but that’s just about it.”
“Hey, don’t write me off. Give me another chance.”
“No, you had your chance.”
“Ok, ok,” he raised his hands. “I admit, I was thinking of doing naughty things to you. But have you seen you? You can’t blame me.”
“At least buy me dinner first.”
“At least,” he nodded. “Does that mean I get your number?”
“Why wait?” I asked waiting. The train pulled into London Bridge and his group piled out. He stood looking at me.
“Wes?” One of the guys asked from outside.
“Yeah, Wes?” I mimicked. Wes pulled his eyes from mine and looked at his friend.
“Sorry, Bud. I’ll get the next one,” he looked back at me. His eyes twinkled and the doors slid shut.
“Dawg!” His friend pumped the air. The rest of them hollered.
“So, shall we have that dinner now?” Wes asked.
I nodded. “I know a place.”
“Good,” he said, licking his lips. “Cos I could eat.”