She hated events like these. Loathed having to worry about whether her dress showed too much cleavage or too little, whether her hair was behaving, whether she would spill her drink, or if her shoes matched her goddamned jewellery- or was it the other way around?
She lacked her mother’s inherent sense of style- hell, even her father with his penchant for bright colours and mismatched patterns did “style” better than she did.
Well, when in doubt, go with black- that’s what Oro always said.
And, they all knew, Oro was usually right.
She looked nice. He’d never seen her quite so dressed up- well, not for a few years and certainly not like this. This was Achlys dressed to impress, her usually bare feet in pointy-toed heels that clickety-clacked as she walked towards the car. It was the Achlys walk in a way he’d never seen before. Clickety-clacks weren’t a sound he associated with her- that was reserved for the City types who never smiled, who never looked a stranger in the eye on the Tube, and certainly never walked like that.
It was an Achlys he hadn’t realised existed. Poised, confident, adult.
He leaned over and opened the door.
He avoided looking at the length of leg that flashed as she slid in.
“This has officially knocked studying Mechanics off the top of my ‘most boring’ list.”
“It’s been exactly seven minutes since we walked in.”
“Seven minutes of torture. You can’t actually be enjoying this-”
“Ah, Mrs. McClean. How are you? You remember Andrei Jenkins.”
He turned slowly, his hand briefly squeezing her wrist; promising comeuppance.
“Of course! My, he does clean up well; doesn’t he?”
“It’s a wonder what a hot shower can do.” she muttered.
“Mrs. McClean. How have you been?” He shaking her professed hand politely.
He found her lounging against the car, a plastic cup in one hand and her phone in the other. Her hair was coming undone, curling in the slightly humid air; her dress had snuck up showing off more leg than she’d have been comfortable with, had she realised. Her clickety-clack shoes were lying abandoned on the footpath.
“Getting my SOS messages yet?” he called out.
She straightened up, slightly guilt-faced as he walked over.
“You threw me to the wolves!”
“It wasn’t that bad!”
“Mrs. McClean introduced me to all her friends from the Bridge Club.”
“You always did charm the ladies.”
“And by ladies you mean blue-haired geriatrics?”
“It can’t have been that bad…”
“Says the girl text messaging outside the 1920s time-warp she abandoned me in.”
She laughed at him then.
“So much for some sympathy.”
She laughed harder.
The corners of his mouth lifted.