Twelve short stories wit.., p.3
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       Twelve Short Stories With A Twist, p.3
 

          
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movements, Vincent took care to exit gracefully. He straightened up, threw back his shoulders, and walked briskly around to the front of the car, then up the short concrete walk to the colonial's door.

  He rang the bell and waited, peering through the door's curtained window. Just as he was beginning to wonder if there was a problem, he discerned motion within the house and saw a figure scampering toward him

  Vincent was immediately captivated by the beautiful woman who opened the door. He stammered a greeting, grinned weakly, and extended his hand. Susan had instantly met his every hope. She was brunette, just as she had stated. Her hair was shoulder-length. It undulated gracefully as she tilted her head and greeted Vincent with an expansive smile. Her blue eyes were of an even deeper hue than he had imagined. She had on a simple, sleeveless, black, knee-length dress that hugged her trimly sculpted figure. On her ears, she wore long silver earrings with pink stones. Around her neck were two strands of pearls, one larger than the other. Vincent noticed that her neckline plunged daringly. Glancing downward, Vince observed that Susan wore a silver bracelet on one ankle. Her feet flowed into black, high-heeled shoes.

  "I've hit the jackpot!" Vincent exulted inwardly. He and Susan exchanged pleasantries, then agreed that they should be on their way. As Susan scrambled here and there picking up keys, black purse, and matching cloak, Vincent kept his eyes riveted on her figure. Thoughts that he would not have dared share with Susan at this early stage of their relationship occurred to him. Reluctantly, he thrust them from his mind.

  Vincent waited until Susan had locked the colonial's door, then he regally escorted her to his car. He opened to the Continental's door on the passenger side, and waited until she had entered. Then he lifted her seatbelt from its hook, leaned over, and attached it securely in the belt's receptacle. "The car complains if the belt is not attached," he said. He swung the door smoothly to a close, then nimbly darted to the driver's side, opened the door and swooped in. "Very nicely done," he commented mentally to himself.

  "Stunning car!" Exclaimed Susan. "It's newer than mine. I'm impressed."

  "I'm glad you like it," Vincent responded. "It has custom everything." Events couldn't be proceeding more favorably!

  The auto's clock indicated there were still almost three-quarters of an hour to fill before seven. The drive to the Vauxhall should require no more than ten minutes or so. Vincent realized that he should have thought about this discrepancy earlier. A thought occurred to him he could take care of the time problem, and make it seem that there had been a plan all along. He turned right on Michigan Avenue and drove steadfastly eastward.

  "Where are we going, may I ask?" said Susan.

  Vincent smiled broadly, and responded with a lilt in his voice, "I'm kidnapping you."

  "Kidnapping, you say?" She giggled. "Might I be so bold as to ask why?"

  "I'll tell you later," he teased.

  Vincent drove to the Pioneer Mall and parked his car in one of the spaces for the disabled. He turned on the radio and positioned the dial to the first classical frequency he found. "I'm sure you like the station," he commented, then added, "I'll only be a moment."

  "You're acting very mysteriously," Susan observed.

  "It will all be clear very soon!" Vincent responded grinning.

  He exited from the car and locked the door. He sprinted into the mall through one of the large glass doors. Just a few feet inside was Frederick's Flowers. He entered hurriedly and was pleased to see that the shop was nearly empty. He caught the eye of one of the salespeople and scurried to where she was standing.

  Speaking brusquely, he asked, "Have you any corsages already made up?"

  "Yes we do, sir."

  "Please give me your best one that goes with black," he demanded. "I don't care what it costs."

  The clerk led him to a showcase, and opened the sliding door.

  "Here is the one for sixteen. It's…"

  "I'll take it." Vincent whisked out his wallet. "I'll take it just as it is."

  Vincent handed her a twenty in exchange for the flowers. "That's sixteen plus tax. I'll ring it up, sir," she said. Vincent couldn't be bothered with change or paper work. He took the package, turned and fled the shop.

  "That didn't take very long," Susan remarked.

  "I called ahead," he declared. "I hope you like this." He handed her the corsage.

  Susan gasped. "Oh, how lovely," she cried. "And look, the carnations match my dress perfectly. How did you know what I'd be wearing?"

  "Planned ahead," he boasted with a smirk. "When I called the Florist, I had them prepare three different corsages for the basic colors that you might be wearing. All I had to do when I arrived was tell them what you actually were wearing and picked up the one that suited you best. I asked them to send the other two to a nursing home."

  "Oh, you're such a darling," Susan cooed, "and so thoughtful!" She grasped his hand and squeezed.

  "Thank you, ma'am," Vincent said with mock gallantry. "All I ask in return is the privilege of helping you put on the corsage."

  "With pleasure, sir!"

  Together, they fastened the corsage on the collar of her cloak. Studiously, Vincent avoided any semblance of approaching forbidden areas, but privately, he was making plans for next time.

  Vincent's time calculations have been accurate and they arrived at the Vauxhall at exactly seven. The valet took Vincent's car. Arm in arm, Susan and Vincent walked through the entrance. They approach a tuxedoed individual stationed at a podium.

  "We have reservations for two," Vincent announced. "The name is Bradshaw."

  The maître d' glanced at a large leather-bound book, then, conspicuously satisfied, elevated his nose and said, "Certainly, sir. This way please."

  He led the couple to a cozy-sized, tablecloth-covered, table in a corner of the elegant dining room. A tall vase with three roses dominated the center of the table. There were two places set, each with a white dish lying within a larger, flowered one. There were arrays of gleaming silverware at each place, and tall champagne glasses and goblets for wine and water. A flame sparkled atop a long white candle set in a silver holder. There were upholstered armchairs at both ends of the table. A stainless steel wine bucket was positioned at one side.

  Almost immediately, a waiter arrived to take their drink order. Susan ordered a Sombrero, and Vincent, a Whisky on the Rocks. He also ordered a magnum of vintage champagne.

  "Tell me something about yourself," began Vincent. He had heard that a fine way to make a hit what a woman is to seem interested in her, especially her mind.

  "There isn't much to tell," she replied "I'm an ordinary person with simple desires." She leaned forward, opening the V at her neck. She placed both forearms on the table, one crossing the other.

  He averted his eyes. "Do you have special interests, hobbies?"

  She smiled. "Well I like good music and live theater. I enjoy gardening."

  They touched grasses when the drinks arrived.

  "I also like hiking," she continued. "I've been doing this for several months. I used to weigh a bit more than I do now, and I find that hiking is a good way to stay trim."

  "You're so slim, you don't look as if you could ever have had a weight problem."

  "Oh yes, I do have a problem. I like to eat, but I keep my appetite under control. But you couldn't guess what my greatest weakness once was."

  "What?"

  "Chocolate covered cherries!"

  Vincent winced. It was Tom who had supplied the chocolates that Nancy Beth had eaten that night. Tom had had easy access to arsenic and had laced the candy with enough poison to do the job several times over. Later, supposedly, he had responded to her frantic call for help. But, upon arriving, Tom had found her dead. He certified that her death had been caused by a cerebral hemorrhage.

  The waiter took their orders. Susan ordered broiled sole with a light lemon dressing; Vincent, a large T-bone smothered with mushrooms. Each requested escargot as an appetizer.

 
; The dining room began to fill and became more noisy. The two had difficulty conversing. Vincent didn't greatly mind. He spent a good deal of time staring into Susan's beautiful eyes. He marveled at the contrast between Susan's and Nancy Beth's eyes, which had been of a nondescript hazel cast.

  Vincent had asked that the champagne be served last. Neither diner had wanted dessert opting to linger over the effervescent wine.

  On the drive back to Susan's home, Vincent wondered whether she would invite him in. This would indicate how she felt about him.

  At her home, Vincent assisted Susan from the car, then walked her to the door, the porch light shone casting a warm, romantic glow.

  "Would you like to stop in for a cup of coffee?" Susan asked.

  Would he! Vincent made no pretense of hiding his exhilaration.

  Seated at the kitchen table, Vincent and Susan chatted animatedly. An hour passed, then it was time to part. Vincent and Susan walked to the door. He took her hand and pulled her slightly toward him. He would have been satisfied with a peck on the cheek, but Susan surprised him by throwing her arms around his neck implanting a fervent kiss on his lips. Instinctively, Vincent put his arms around Susan and pulled her closer. He initiated a kiss of his own. Susan blended into his arms. She placed her arms on his back, then raised them to his shoulders, fingers pointing upward, as the kiss matured. Suddenly, she broke away.

  "No more; not now, Vince. It's too soon," Susan murmured. "I like you – maybe too much. It would be best if you left now."

  Vincent
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