Harold sat down at a small table with his usual coffee and muffin and was about to peruse the morning paper when he caught the movement of the front door out of the corner of his eye. He stopped and looked over the newcomer as she went to the counter to place an order.
His pulse quickened as he studied her face. My god, she was the nearly the spitting image of Jenny. His mind raced back in time and he felt his face flush. Old feelings, an unhealed wound. He turned away for a moment and fought to regain control of his feelings. When he looked up again she was searching for a table.
The café was full. It was meant to be. He was certain of it. He waited for her to look in his direction then stood up and gestured for her to join him. She hesitated but he put on his most disarming smile and pulled out a chair.
“Hi. Do please join me, it’s so much nicer than dining alone, don’t you think?”
She put her plate and coffee down and he pushed her chair in for her.
“Gee, thanks. It’s very generous of you.”
“I’m Harold. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
He reached across the table and they shook hands.
“April. Pleased to meet you Harold.”
He fell into it so easily. He was like a well-oiled machine, smooth and never missing a beat. By the time they parted company he had her phone number and knew eleven vital facts about her, all of them green lights.
Throughout the day he found it difficult to concentrate. He kept seeing her face in his mind. This time he would have to go slow. There was a danger in this that he had not felt before. Her resemblance to Jenny was uncanny and in the end it could be the sweetest thing yet, but he would have to be oh so wary.
He waited several days before calling her. He made his ritual visit to his secret place and then gathered his thoughts and dispersed them to the four corners before picking up the phone.
She was pleased to hear from him. He could tell. It was in the voice, always in the voice. Long years of practice had made it easy to spot. Some small talk, but not too much, and then to the point, that was the ticket. Dinner for Saturday night was to be the beginning. He hung up the phone with an air of satisfaction.
With the wheels in motion he was back to his usual calm demeanour through the rest of the week, finishing his work reports before deadline and moving through his daily routine with smooth assurance and grace.
He went shopping after work on Friday and bought himself a new outfit for the date. He shined his shoes to a high gloss on Saturday afternoon and laid out his new clothes. When he was ready to go he took a long last look in the mirror, and, satisfied at last, got the convertible out of the garage and drove to her apartment.
He parked out front and stared up at her window, imaging what would be. He felt at once a great calmness and overwhelming anticipation. He shuddered with delight and reminded himself to tread carefully. There was no room for error. He would go slow; perfection was all.
He rang her bell and put on his game face.
Part 3 Tomorrow