Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chapter Twenty-Five

The following evening, I’m slipping a pair of diamond earrings into my ears while listening for the sound of Connor’s car.

After our trip to Brighton, we’d spent a lazy – and yes, admittedly sex-fueled – evening at his flat, and during a breakfast of tea and toast, Connor had suggested we go to the theatre this evening. He’d bought tickets to see a production of “The Mousetrap” by Agatha Christie at the Devonshire Park Theatre, and I’d agreed to go along, despite my misgivings.

A theatre was full of people. And would be an easy place for an assassin to hide.

But then, I always did love a challenge, I think wryly, checking my lipstick in the mirror.

“Don’t you want to go out?” Connor had asked, seeing my reluctant look across the breakfast table.

“I do…” I trailed off, not sure what else to say, but he’d simply smiled.

“I thought it would be a good excuse to dress up, and for me to show off my beautiful girl.”

Okay, well, it’s hard to turn down flattery like that.

I hear a honk from downstairs, and grabbing my purse, I quickly wrap a pashmina across my bare shoulders and hustle downstairs.

Connor gives me a wolf whistle as I step outside, where he is waiting to open my car door.

Dressed in a swingy red dress, high strappy sandals and with my hair swept up in loose updo, a few tendrils curling around my face, I have to admit I don’t look too bad.

Nothing as good as Connor though, who stands in a sharp black suit, his hair tousled and holding a red rose out to me.

Tucking the bloom behind my ear, I press a kiss to his freshly shaved cheek. “You look handsome,” I say demurely, stepping away to admire the cut of his suit. “I had no idea you would clean up so pretty.”

“You look…” Connor swallows hard, looking at me, first up and then down. “Maybe we should skip the theatre after all…”

I laugh and climb into his car, smiling as he closes the door behind me.

Minutes later, we are walking hand in hand through the front door of the beautifully restored theatre, and finding our seats – which are front and center. Connor is relaxed and happy – whereas I’m wound tighter than a pocket watch.

I keep scanning the area, noting exit sites, potential sniper points, and watching as the other theatre attendees file in to find their seats, looking for anyone who appears to be out of place.

Or like they are out for the blood of my boyfriend.

Sitting down, Connor presses a kiss to my hand, and then begins talking about other productions he has seen here. I nod and smile, but continue to scan the area, nervously watching for anyone who might want to kill the man sitting next to me.

This is going to be a long night, I think with a small sigh.

“Sweetheart? Are you all right?” Connor asks solicitously, making me jump at his words.

“Sure, yes, why?” I ask, too quickly.

“I don’t know…” he says, watching me. “You seem… preoccupied.”

“No,” I say, shaking my head violently. “No, not at all. I’m just, you know, enjoying the… view.”

And watching for gunplay.

“You sure?” Connor asks. “Are you not feeling well?”

“I’m fine,” I say brightly, starkly relieved when the lights dim and the production begins. The darkness provides cover for us, and for the first act, I’m able to relax slightly, enjoying the fantastic production, Connor’s hand warm in mine.

When intermission comes, we stand and make our way to the concession area, where Connor retrieves two glasses of white wine for us while I continue to watch the crowds for suspicious folk.

We make small talk, then down our drinks to return to the theatre as the lights flash, indicating the second act. As we walk through the door, a man bumps into Connor’s shoulder, causing a small commotion. And then he begins to reach into his lapel pocket…

Shit, SHIT.

I immediately go on alert, half reaching for the small snub nose pistol in my purse, thinking this is a distraction that will line up Connor for a shot between the eyes.

I push Connor out of the way, putting him behind me protectively, my eyes locked on the man who bumped him, who is pulling something out of his pocket...

Dammit. I knew someone was waiting for him…

“Emme!” Connor exclaims, confused and a bit off kilter. “What’s going on?”

I watch as the man slowly removes his hand from his pocket… and brings a handerchief to his nose, blowing soundly into it. I quickly remove my hand from my purse and then stagger a bit, to try and cover my moves from a moment before.

“I’m so sorry…” I say apologetically to Connor and the nose blowing man. “I just… whew, I felt a bit dizzy there for a minute.”

“Should we go?” Connor asks, slipping immediately into doctor mode. “Tell me what hurts, or how you feel?”

“I’m… I’m fine,” I say, still trying to cover my actions. “I just… I think I must have drunk the wine too fast. Sorry about that…”

Connor puts his arm around me, steering me to the seats, his eyes still watching me carefully while I give him a bright smile and explain again and again that I’m fine – just not used to mixing white wine with four inch heels.

And though we enjoy the rest of the play, and the slow walk back to the car, I can feel Connor’s eyes on me, watching to see what’s really going on.

He’s not stupid, I’ll give him that. He knows something is going on, but is too much of a gentleman to ask.

Thank god.

We manage to get back to my flat, and I heave a sigh of relief as I snick the door shut behind us, locking it soundly.

At least I know I can protect him here.

No more theatre trips, I resolve, slipping off my sandals and padding into the family room where Connor is waiting for me.

Way, WAY too stressful.


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