It was a sweet morning, one of those dewy ones that foreshadowed the beginning of Spring, and you were enjoying every last bit of it as you sat outside your favorite diner, a cup of cheap coffee on the table in front of you and a copy of yesterday's newspaper in your hands. The shop down the street gave them to you for free if you waited a day. You usually weren't one to read newspapers, the news in them was much too dreary sometimes but it made you look busy and it reminded you of the way your grandpa used to flip through the paper.
You had just turned to the Opinion page when a man took a seat in the chair across from you.
“Doing some early morning reading?”
He had an accent, almost English but just a bit off. There was a very big, open smile on his face and he blinked big honey eyes at you, clearly trying to appeal to your girlish heart. His skin was very suntanned and it made his ashy brown hair stand out more than it should have. He was leaning forward, the look in his eyes one you hadn't seen before. It was almost like he was there accidentally.
“It gives me something to talk about later.” You looked back at the paper and flipped the page again, wondering how long it would take for the man to lose interest and walk away, if he was interested.
“Does it now? Mind if I take a look?” He didn't give you a chance to say no as he plucked the paper from your unsuspecting hands and buried his face in it. “Oh, yes, yes, I see. The UN is hosting some peace talks, I can see how this would make for riveting conversation.”
Your were too shocked to do anything other than stare, mouth agape, but you were distracted when two men dressed in black jeans and blue shirts walked by, their sunglasses dark and their heads spinning this way and that, looking for something. The man across from you shrunk a little and as soon as the men passed you took your paper back by force. “Are you hiding from those men?”
His eyes widened the tiniest bit and he shushed you. “Lower your voice, sweetheart. Yes, they're hunting me down and it would really mean a lot if you didn't make a fuss out of this. I'll be gone in a half hour, tops.”
He didn't make a very good argument but you nodded and sank back into your chair. You hoped that if you ever found yourself in a similar situation that someone would let you hide out with them.
The two of you settled into an uncomfortable silence and you sneaked a peek at him every few seconds. It wasn't because he was handsome, okay maybe it was, but it was mostly because he was intriguing. Who were the men looking for him? Why was he hiding?
You were so lost in your little musings that you didn't notice the men had doubled back and they had zeroed in on your table. They yelled something out in a different language and your companion was suddenly on his feet. He knocked the table over and spilled your coffee all over your pants before he mumbled a quick apology and grabbed your hand. “We gotta go, sweetheart!”
He pulled you down the busy street, bumping into people without reservation and calling out hasty apologies every now and then. The men were hot on your trail and you looked back constantly as your heart beat in your chest and blood thundered through your ears. You saw one of the men take out a gun and you squeaked in alarm as you went into a full out sprint, your legs moving faster than they'd ever moved before. You could hardly feel the burn on your legs anymore, especially since it was becoming impossible to breathe. If you kept this up you were sure you'd pass out.
You were already seeing little black dots and you could barely gulp in air when the two of you rounded a very sharp corner and the man pulled you into an open store. The clerk stared at you warily but didn't say anything as you were pulled into the women's bathroom. As soon as the door closed behind you, you collapsed onto the cool tile floor and you tried to catch your breath. It was impossible and you laid there, wheezing, counting seconds where all you could feel was the fire consuming your lungs.
“You alright, sweetheart?” The man's voice was rough from the sprint and he gave you the tiniest of half smiles, once more trying to appeal to your heart.
“No!” You cried out just as a coughing fit took hold of you. “I am not alright. We just ran from men. With guns!” You coughed again. “People don't do that! They call the police!”
“Now that is a luxury people like me just don't have.” He chuckled dryly before he walked over and helped you up. He lifted you by the arms and dragged you over to the sinks where he turned on the faucet. “Why don't you clean up a little while I scope out the store?”
He left before you could answer and you sighed angrily as you looked at yourself in the mirror. Your skin was flushed and patchy from the sprint and you were shiny with sweat which only added to your dismay. Your pants were still soaked with coffee and the smell surrounded you without reservation. You dabbed at the stain with a few paper towels and quickly gave up, you'd have to scrub it out with some Oxyclean or something.
You had just begun to wash your face when the man came back in a grabbed your hand again. “Everything's clear! They're gone and we have to go! Come on, sweetheart!”
He pulled you away, your face still wet with water, and straight out the door even as the clerk called out in alarm. The street was bustling and you avoided the curious stares from other people as he led you out onto the street where he hailed a cab. He was just reaching for the door when you finally regained your senses and you asked him the question you should have asked ages ago.
“Who the hell are you?”
He looked at you from over his shoulder and grinned as he opened the door for you. “Roger Blaire, at your service. Now why don't we go before those bad men come back?”