In which Leslie turns into a protective mother hen and Nate forgets that Adelie is a former racer.
Leslie sat in one of Adelie’s armchairs, ready for another night shift. Her uniform was starched and ironed, and her nurse cap throned between two perfect blonde victory rolls. Her mouth was twisted in disapproval. “I wish I was your mother, so that I could say ‘No, you’re not going on a date with him.’ Seriously, have you lost your mind? Aren’t there any other cute boys worth your attention?”
Adelie adjusted her earring in the bathroom mirror and took a step back to see through the door. “Frankly, no. Nate is a wonderful human being, once you get past his womaniser shell.” Returning to perfecting her appearance, she picked the bottle of her favourite perfume and dabbed the fluid carefully behind her ear. “I like him; I like him a lot. He cares, he’s never dull, and I’m happy to tell you, he has never stepped out of line once.” She walked out of the bathroom to put on her shoes. As she shimmied into her stiletto heels, she heard Leslie gasp.
“You’re going to start a bar fight in this get-up.”
Adelie laughed. “That’s why I’ve chosen Nate for protection.”
“I wish you’d chosen a more reliable bodyguard than Mr Havisham, but okay…”
She could tell that Leslie was not only miffed but seriously upset. She put her hands on her friend’s shoulders. “Leslie, please. You don’t know him, and you shouldn’t judge him only from hearsay. I’m in good hands.”
“Oh, I’m sure he’s going to have them all over you.”
Adelie rolled her eyes. “How many times do I need to tell you that he’s an honourable man?”
“He hasn’t seen you in this dress yet.”
Oh yes, the dress. It was a slip made from multiple layers of organza in a rich chocolate brown, flaring out from a narrow bodice into a swingy skirt. It was a dress made for dancing; it’s non-restricting cut allowed plenty of movement.
“Do you think it’s too risqué?” Adelie gave herself a worrying once over in her mirror. Behind her, she could see Leslie’s face split into a huge grin.
“Risqué? Na, it’s gorgeous. Classy. It somehow manages to be modest even though it’s made from all these see-through layers. And it fits you so well. You’ll turn heads.”
“Thank you.” She beamed at her friend through the mirror.
There was a distinct chill in the air, and it smelled of wet leaves rotting on the ground. Nate reclined against the hood of the little midnight blue car. Eddy had given him a once over as he’d adjusted his collar in the hallway mirror and said, with a little smirk: “Take the Speedster. It matches your outfit.” His outfit was a royal blue, fitted shirt and black slacks, usually a favourite with the ladies. He had no idea what Adelie liked.
“Hello!” He looked up as he heard her voice, and his breath got caught in his chest. She looked like a movie star. Her red coat covered what she was wearing, but her legs in shimmery tights and high heels were promise enough.
“Hi,” he whispered, as she came to halt in front of him. Her hair was twisted up into an elegant updo, leaving room for dangling earrings to draw attention to her neck.
Words failed him. She wore makeup. Smokey eyes and red lips on porcelain skin. He was staring like a little school boy, he knew it, but there was also a satisfied smile from Adelie as her eyes swept over him.
“Meet my noble steed,” he gestured towards the car. Her eyes went wide.
“That’s a gorgeous Speedster! Great curves. Look at the chrome details! Wait… Is this last year’s model? The six or the eight-cylinder version?”
He stared at her dumbfounded as she circled the car excitedly. Then he remembered her racing history. Of course, she knew cars. Especially fast cars. “It is, and I believe the six-cylinder model. Why are you asking?”
“Oh, just out of interest. I didn’t recognise it at first, because of the custom grill and lights. Gosh, it’s beautiful. And I get to ride in it!” She beamed at him while he still tried to come to terms with the fact that Adelie could get giddy about cars. Remembering his manners, he opened the passenger door and held it while she stepped inside. She still marvelled about all the little custom features as he had walked around to the other side of the car. Adelie stopped admiring the die shaped lock knob of her door and turned towards him. Her eyes were alive in a way he’d never seen them before. The girl thrived on gasoline.
“I’ll report your reaction back to Eddy. He will love you forever.”
She giggled. “Is that in your own interest?”
“No.” He winked and started the engine.