Greeting: Write a story or poem that starts with the word “hello” or other greeting.
“Hey!” was the first thing she ever heard him say, and she wasn’t even paying that much attention.
He had caught up to her at the RER station, right as she was reaching the last step. When she turned around and took a look at him, she realized she didn’t know who he was, but he had her credit card in his hand.
“Sorry to bother you,” he said, “but you left this when you paid back at the store.”
Only then did she notice the logo on the top left side of his chest, and the lanyard hanging around his neck. She must’ve been distracted, thinking about making it to the RER on time, but it was fortunate that he would find it and follow her all the way just to give it back.
“Head in the clouds,” she said, then, when he smiled back, she added, “you didn’t have to come all the way here.”
“Well, you don’t look like you’re from around here, and I wouldn’t want you to get worried about your card later on.”
She realized he was speaking to her in English, and had made no attempt whatsoever to have a conversation in French. And there she thought she had done a great job playing the local girl. Well, she had visibly failed.
“Thank you,” she said, taking her wallet out. “But you really, really, shouldn’t have bothered.”
She expected him to turn around and leave but, instead, he stared at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. His eyes, of a light blue that was kind of disturbing, seemed to linger more than welcomed. Since he wouldn’t move, she just looked at her watch, pretending to be late.
“How about coffee?” He said then, stopping her in her tracks.
She’d loved to pretend that she hadn’t heard him, but his voice had been loud enough.
“I’m late already, I need to get back,” she told him with a thin smile.
“That’s okay. I have a car, I’ll take you back.”
“No, thank you,” she said. Then, thinking it might be a bit harsh, she added, “That’s very kind of you, but I really need to go.”
“There’s a café just down the street that I think you’d like. There aren’t a lot of tourists that go there, it’s kind of a hidden gem.”
“Thank you, really. But right now I need to go.”
“Trust me,” he insisted. “You won’t regret it. And I promise I’ll take you back to your hotel right after.”
She let out a long sigh, and he didn’t seem to mind. No, she didn’t want to go with him, but she also didn’t want to keep coming up with excuses. So she finally nodded and agreed to follow him.
Even though the bags she had weren’t heavy, he offered to carry them for her as they walked out of the mall and into a ruelle. She didn’t like the look of it, and she immediately thought about how easy it would be for him to kill her, or worse, all because she didn’t want to be rude.
But they made it to the other side, and when they did, there was the little café he had mentioned. He was right, there was no way tourists would ever venture to get there. It was a little café with a front terrace that had a little fountain. Around the fountain, there were a couple of cats laying down in the shadow, while one or two were trying to play with the fish weirdly swimming in the fountain.
“I told you it was pretty,” he said, pulling out a chair. “I really thought you should take a look at this place before you head back, Anna.”
Hearing him call her by her name startled her at first, it had been long since anybody had called her that. How did he know? But then she realized he must have gotten it from her credit card. Granted it was only her middle name initial, but how many more names were there with an A? He probably tried his chances and got it right. It had to be that.
“It’s almost five in the afternoon, so cappuccino, right? You like your expresso in the morning to wake you up.”
Anna was confused, she didn’t know what to do other than nod. Yes, he was right. Past noon all she drank was cappuccino, before then only expresso would do. But there was no way he could’ve known this from a credit card, could he? And that’s not the type of information she’d inadvertently put out in social media or any other place.
He left her there to go order inside, and in spite of the fact that the wisest thing would be to stand up and leave, Anna stayed there, glued to her seat, looking at the cats playing together. There was something about him, though, something familiar. And though, at first, she couldn’t really tell, not at the store and definitely not at the RER station, now she had a feeling that she had met this person before. She couldn’t just quite tell where.
“Here,” he said, handing her a little silver tray with her cappuccino and a small fruit tart.
That was another detail that he couldn’t possibly know. She wasn’t the type to go around posting pictures of her food online. Nobody knew that this was her preferred combination, unless she’d ever had coffee with him, which she knew for a fact she hadn’t. It was the first time ever she was seeing him, wasn’t it?
“I know you don’t like sugar, but I’m going to leave it here just in case you change your mind.”
Change her mind? That’d never happened. She’d always had her cappuccino without sugar. That was what she liked. Except for that one time… and then it all made sense all of a sudden, and she knew.
“You’re Alex’s brother, aren’t you?” She said, a little nervous, and he nodded his head.