by Sue Ann Connaughton
A downpour was just the excuse she needed to approach her target, the fine-looking man who emerged from an office building.
“No umbrella, no raincoat. Didn’t your mother teach you how to dress for rain?” She offered a dimpled smile and extended her umbrella to encompass him as they sloshed across the boulevard among a multi-colored parade of umbrellas.
He jumped and focused his eyes on hers.
“Uh oh, I startled you.” She stepped back. “I’m Lucia. You must be new in town to be caught so unprepared for our weather.”
He regained his composure and smiled. “I’m here temporarily for business. Nice to meet you. I’m Bradley. It’s kind of you to share your umbrella. Here, let me hold it.” He switched his briefcase to his left hand and assumed control of the umbrella. “Are you headed to the subway?”
Handsome, gentlemanly. What a catch. “Yes. I’m travelling uptown. You?”
“Downtown. Good thing the subway is close. A person could drown in this deluge.” With both hands now free, she tightened her trenchcoat belt, accentuating the curviness of her hips. She stroked her long, wavy hair before tucking it under her lapel. “It’s so slippery. May I hold your arm, Bradley?”
He nodded. “It sure is a soggy day.”
Very cute, he’s sticking to the weather topic. When they approached the subway station, she made her move. “I could use a cocktail. How about you, Bradley?” She squeezed his wrist ever so gently as she retrieved her umbrella.
He faced her directly. “Thank you for the invitation, Lucia, and for sharing your umbrella, but I must decline.”
The contrast of his blue eyes and shock of yellow hair against the grey wetness of approaching dusk nearly stunned her. She held one more ace in her pocket, her calling card. She thrust it into his hand. “Please take my card. You never know.…”
“Of course. You never know.” He managed a slight bow. “Goodbye, Lucia.”
As he descended the subway steps, she saw him slip her card into a trashcan.
She had done all she could. It was time to make the phone call:
“I observed Bradley for several weeks and interacted with him today. He was a gentleman, but refused to pursue a relationship with me. Lord knows, I tried to persuade him. What’s that? No, he didn’t socialize with any women, just attended to business. I feel confident telling you, Ms. Harrington, that Bradley will make an excellent husband. We’ll insure him for the rates you and I discussed for the seven year plan: if Bradley proves unfaithful to you during your first seven years of marriage, we’ll reimburse you for the cost of the wedding. If he seeks a divorce during that time period, we’ll double the payout. No, no, we guarantee that Bradley will never discover that you investigated or insured him. Our continued success as the preeminent partner insurance service depends upon that guarantee. You’re welcome, Ms. Harrington; it’s a pleasure doing business with you.”
Sue Ann Connaughton is a New England-based writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One of her short stories recently won an honorable mention spot in the Seventh Annual International Ultra-Short Competition, sponsored by the University of Maine at Machias.
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'Hung Out To Dry'
'Tears Fall Like Rain'