She was already sitting at the back of the pub when he got out of the taxi. From where she was, she had a direct view of the entrance and beyond that the Seven Dials. It was still light at half past seven. He was tall with a full silver head of wavy hair. It was already beginning to thin a little at the top but that was not surprising given his 55 years.
He scanned the pub but did not see her in the dark corner. He approached the bar and ordered. He was wearing a stripy T-shirt and soft brown loafers. She watched him reach into the top of his jeans pocket for his mobile phone. She had left him a message to say where she was. He looked around again, then his eyes rested on her and his face lit up straightaway.
Hello darling, so good to see you again. He had a medium to bass tone of voice with a trace of an Irish lilt. Her ears tingled every time she heard him speak. It infected the rest of her which remained taut with anticipation.
They kissed continental fashion and at the last kiss on her left cheek, he drew her into his embrace, ducked his head down and breathed in the scent of her soap and body lotion which lingered on her neck and shoulders. It was a mild September evening and she could smell the musk like male scent on his upper torso, she being considerably shorter than him despite her high heels.
She smiled her hello and looked up full into his eyes. They were a pale blue, almost grey with a sombre depth to them. And at that searching stare, his lips broke into a smile, revealing crooked upper teeth. The intensity of his emotion was too much for her and she turned away, quickly sinking into her club chair. He drew the one next to it close to her and without taking his eyes off her sat down and took hold of both her hands at the same time. She felt the couple at the next table staring at them and burned with embarrassment.
He was oblivious to everyone else, it was clear, as he continued to gaze at her. Her head was now bent low and releasing one of her hands, clasping it in his other, he lifted her chin up. Hers was an expression of sobriety and she continued to avert her eyes. Picking up her drink she attempted to bring a measure of normality to the tense situation and asked him how he found the journey into the West End. He had to release his hold on her. He leaned back into his chair and there was a long pause.
He did not answer her question and instead returned it with his own – What’s the matter? I sense something has changed.
Yes, I’m sorry. It was going to be a long evening as she thought of how she was going to end this short liaison which had only begun the previous week with a few titillating emails and messages. The thing that sealed the end of the relationship as far as she was concerned had been his last words to her one morning after the night before – See you again babe. Did he even remember her name or could she have merely been any one? She took a deep breath and began:
I think … this has been a huge mistake.