She’d found them in the original box buried in her grandmother’s closet when she was only thirteen. Gran had waved a hand when asked about them, but she could swear she saw her grandmother blush before turning back to her vegetable garden. It was hard to imagine the woman now in faded elastic waist jeans, floral print t-shirt and blinding white tennis shoes in anything this fabulous.
Over the years they became a talisman of sorts. A tangible source of comfort and confidence when the world seemed to be baying at the door. She first slipped them on at fifteen when a boy laughed at her new hair cut. She wore them around her bedroom memorizing a poem for English class and when she was packing her things for college they were safely tucked away in her suitcase.
She read the engagement announcement this morning. She remembered when he’d declared his undying love for her just one short year ago. Reaching into her closet she pulled the box out and reverently ran her fingers over the smooth leather and put them on.
The club was crowded and noisy. It should have been the perfect distraction. All she could see were laughing couples, and desperate lonely hearts. And of course it had begun to rain.
She clutched them to her chest when a cab quickly pulled to the curb making her jump back to avoid the spray of water
. She’d not even noticed him until their hands bumped at the cab’s door. He smiled, sympathetic and slightly amused, stepping back to give her the taxi.
“I take two.” The cabbie called in thickly accented English. He spread his palms leaving the decision to her. She nodded and ducked inside, quickly sliding to the far side of the back seat giving the driver her address. He was in and closing the door before she’d rearranged her skirt. A handkerchief appeared under her nose.
“Thank you.” She mumbled, dabbing the water from her cheeks and the treasure in her hands.
“Keep it.” He said when she tried to hand it back.
It was then they truly looked at each other. Silhouetted against the city lights, and glittering rain drops on the windows. The sluice of water from a hundred tires and light patter on the roof the soundtrack of this moment. Broad shoulders and way past five o’clock shadowed jaws angled toward her making her flush at being studied. Loose tendrils of hair begged to be sifted through his fingers and the soft fragrance hinted at an even sweeter scent of woman.
She fidgeted with the hem of her skirt. He tugged the knot of his tie. The cabbie rambled into a cell radio. A dozen or more stolen glances. Were his eyes blue or brown? Did he see a dimple when she hid a grin? She bit her lip and he felt a pull to place a tender kiss upon it.
The rain became a gentle mist, stopping completely a few blocks from her building. The cabbie coughed twice before either noticed he’d stopped. She fumbled for her purse. His deep voice barely whispered, “Allow me.”
“Thank you,” she murmured, afraid to break the spell.
He opened the door and got out of the cab extending his hand in to her. Long strong fingers closed over hers. His free hand reached for her shoes. In a fluid movement he lowered himself on his haunches, cupping her calf and slipping a shoe on her right foot, then the left. His fingers feather light, lingering on her skin.
As she climbed the steps to her door he watched from the open cab and she truly understood Gran’s blush that day in the garden.