He watched from the shadows, studying her, relishing her discomfort. Time stretched on, he smiled. It felt sweet to witness her fear about being let down. This was the first time he was late to meet her. He inched his way forward. With a sudden burst the last few feet were covered in a rush of thundering footsteps.
The sound sent her spinning about. Panic fled, relief flooded her face as she said, “Oh it’s only you.” Then Karen continued. “Sorry, Joe, I didn’t mean it that way. You gave me such a fright. I was miles away.”
“Somewhere nice?” His teasing tone prompted an answer.
Karen’s smile reached her eyes and lit up her whole face. The transformation was immediate. She changed from being ordinary to extraordinary.
It had drawn Joe to her. Her quiet beauty and his secret game. But she didn’t know about it yet. He would reveal all at the right moment. A tingle of anticipation shot through him.
He remembered vividly the first time they met. His orchestrated loud sneeze interrupted her battle with the many bags containing her afternoons shopping. With a loud clatter they dropped to the floor. He had been apologetic and kind, quick to pick them up.
Conversation had been light and easy. Before she knew it Karen had impulsively agreed to go for a coffee with him. He was well aware of his powers of persuasion and suspected that her usual answer to sudden invitations was a stiff thank you followed quickly by a soft refusal.
However, she later confessed, she was tired of feeling lost, a nobody in a vast swirling pool of people that was the city. His invitation had been like a breath of fresh air, changing everything.
Karen said, “I was thinking of how much we have in common. It is really remarkable to find someone who has the same interests and views on life.”
Joe looked into her eyes searching for some indication of suspicion. What he saw made him relax. “It was fate. Do you agree? I mean, why else would you have said yes to coffee with a complete stranger so quickly?”
“How could I refuse a handsome knight?” She smiled tentatively.
The truth was Joe had planned everything from the start. He had caught her at a moment when her defenses were down. He imagined her life was tedious and she longed to have the bravery to step outside her box. He wondered if she had been tempted to end the boredom everything swiftly and cleanly. He hoped not, he had other plans for her….