The mask intrigued her. A good man wouldn’t need to hide behind one. He had been nothing but a gentleman to her.
They had stepped out of SG Bank at the same time and found a sudden downpour. He smiled at Beverly and put up his umbrella, prepared for the weather in trenchcoat and hat. Her car was at the parking garage, but he was kind enough to say it was no trouble. He gave her his card, a twinkle in his eyes. “In the event you need my umbrella again.” He even waited until she started the car. My lucky day, she thought.
She waited until Wednesday to call, hoping for a Sunday brunch at Salletano’s. “I’d be delighted to join you, Beverly,” he replied. He sounded delighted. She smiled, a little quiver in her belly. She was distracted all afternoon.
He wore the grey trenchcoat and hat when he arrived. She already gave the butterflies one mimosa to settle them. The gloves he tugged off seemed out of place. They were forgotten in the brightness of his smile. He led a leisurely conversation. Beverly told stories of childhood memories. She was surprised hours passed. He walked her to her car, kissing her knuckles, looking into her eyes. Her heart trilled.
As she nuked her Lean Cuisine that night, she heard the news report. “… trenchcoat, hat and gloves. SG Bank, one of few open on Sundays, reports a loss of $240,000.” Frowning, she tried shake it off. It didn’t work. A search of news websites showed both a sketch and the bank surveillance footage.
Beverly called him the next morning. “I need your umbrella,” she said. “Although we should avoid the bank, yes?” Silence. She squirmed.
“Salletano’s at noon?” Was there an edge in his voice?
He was attractive in a blue suit. “No gloves?” she smiled at the gentleman.
“Warm day,” he replied, smiling back. She nodded and pretended to look at the menu. They were quiet, small talk over salads. He was relaxed, even casual. Anticipation sizzled through her.
“Beverly, my dear,” he finally leaned forward. “What are we to do?”
“A business venture.” She smiled at him again with a coolness she forced herself to feel. Her heart pounded deafening staccato. The slight widening of his eyes was gratifying. “You need a partner.”
“Do I? I hadn’t realized. Kind of you to keep me apprised.” He tilted his head slightly. “Busy Friday night?”
“I am now,” she answered.
He led her around the hedge of a stately home. “The family’s away, neighbor checked the house. Let’s go.” He climbed up to a window and came to the back door, letting her in. She followed him, heart hammering. Without flourish, he opened the safe behind the Picasso. Holding out a bag, he nodded to the safe. She reached in to gather the cash. A cold, hard pressure at her nape stopped her.
“Pity. You had promise.”
Mask dropped, he fired.
© 2010 Jessica Rosen