As they stood, she gave him a hug.
At the next table, Cathy’s Information Assistant had overheard Cathy’s name being mentioned and saw Marjorie hug Steve.
Sunday lunchtime 1st May A hotel restaurant South of Codmanton
Steve had ordered food and drinks at the bar, identified their table and had paid. He returned to their table and placed the wine glasses on coasters. Cathy looked up from the menu and smiled.
“I’ve just been looking at the desserts,” she said, “I won’t have one, but it’s nice to be reminded of the times when I could get away with eating one.”
“Come off it,” he said, “Don’t tell me that you’re dieting. You’re virtually skin and bone.”
“Pwff!” she exclaimed, “You’ve not seen me yet without foundation garments.”
“Is that a threat or a promise?” he asked.
“The day isn’t over yet,” she said laughing. “Anyway, how did you get on with Marjorie?”
“Surprisingly well,” he admitted, “ She wanted to know what I meant by my change in beliefs, and she was suspicious about the timing. I admitted to her that I was now in a semi-deferred relationship with you, but that it had begun since I last spoke to her. She said that she knows you from her pupils’ reading visits. Then she quizzed me about how it had come about – were you a churchgoer or something? I put her right on that and she was in hysterics laughing at the idea of me being in love with an atheist. She felt that bit of news had made our meeting worthwhile in itself. When she left she even hugged me.”
“Well that’s got to stop – ex or not,” she laughed.
“You obviously know her,” he said, “Have you ever thought that you aren’t too different in appearance?”
“Really?” she said, “How do you mean.”
“Height, build, hair colour and length, complexion – even age. It made me wonder if I get attracted by a certain type of woman.”
“I’m not certain that I like the sound of that,” she said.
The food arrived and they thanked the waitress.
“Does that mean,” she asked, “that if we fall-out, in a couple of years, that you’ll feel free to waltz off with the first identikit female who crosses your path?”
“Of course not,” he assured her, “I just found it interesting.”
“I notice that you must have been giving her a good inspection,” she said.
“I noticed because I was waiting for her to arrive. She was late. I recognised her when she got out of her car, and it was as she walked towards the coffee place that I picked up on it. Even her walk was similar.”
“You’re not thinking of going back to her, wooing her away from Julian, are you? Better the devil you know and all that?”
“Come on,” he said, “It just seemed a bit weird.”
“Anyway,” Cathy said, “her hair colour could come from the same make of sachet as mine.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” he said.
“And she gave you a hug?” she asked again.
“I’m sure that it was just her way of showing that I was forgiven – or thanking me for making her laugh.”
“Whichever way it was, don’t go making anymore appointments with my doppelganger anytime soon – do you hear?”
“She said that next time she saw you in the Library she’d give you her best wishes.”
“Maybe, but depending on what she says I may be issuing a No Trespassing warning,” she said.
“Be careful,” he said, “Marjorie might just see that as a challenge.”
“I’m sure that it won’t come to that,” she said, “but I’m going to have to trust you to resist temptation.”
“Hey!” he said, “What were we saying about trust as a red line yesterday?”
“You’re right,” she said, “I do trust you. I’m being stupid.”
“Not stupid,” he told her, “just marking your territory – and it’s nice that you feel protective. It makes me feel valued.”
The remainder of the meal passed with pleasant conversation about their respective families – exchanging histories and so forth. At the end of the meal, Cathy suggested that they return to her place – it was on the way back to Steve’s anyway.
Steve had brought her in his car, so they travelled back together.
The opening photo of a restaurant seemed to fit in with the text of the story, so I looked for another one from my archive that might fit. See what you think. It’s a shot I took while walking around an arcade in Manchester one lunchtime. Okay, it doesn’t show a couple, but let’s not fall-out about details.
I took this image with my Fujifilm X-T4 26 MP cropped-sensor mirrorless camera plus Fujinon XF 10-24 mm f/4 lens.
EXIF data were: 1/30 secs @ f/4 and 24 mm. ISO was 320.