Peter studied the woman who had caught his eye as he took his seat on the train. She was facing him on the opposite side of the carriage, three seats ahead on the aisle seat, beside a carriage door. Deep auburn hair and lively green eyes. She was an exotic bird among sparrows. Over her brown trousers and cream blouse, she was wearing a beige jacket from Morgan. His sister had bought one of them once, and she hadn’t had much change from five hundred euro. This lady obviously had money as well as good taste. He tried to put an age on her. Her skin and overall image was youthful, but there was a maturity around the eyes and mouth that led him to put her in her late thirties or early forties. She was just his type, in fact. He smiled briefly, then broke eye contact before the situation became obvious or embarrassing. She noticed his gaze and gave a half smile in return, nothing obvious, just a hint of an invitation, or so it seemed to him. He wondered idly what she would be like to date. She had a regal, ladylike sort of face, intelligence and warmth shining out of those lovely eyes. She was a complete contrast to Melissa, who always scowled and found fault with everyone, including himself. At restaurants, she was always the one in the group sending the dish back to the chef because the beef was too cold, the vegetables overcooked. Couldn’t she just eat the bloody thing and say nothing? Did it really matter all that much? Was her palate so refined that anything less than perfection was that unpalatable to her? He sighed and put her out of his mind; he had more important things to think about just now.
He studied the woman again. She really did have a lovely shaped mouth, small but with pretty, upturned corners. It suggested to him a generous heart and pleasant demeanour. He was on business and still saddled with Melissa, but still, she was someone that he could imagine himself having a very pleasant dalliance with. Such pretty shoulders, too, lovely lines. She was twiddling with her hair, he noticed. Good sign. She was preening. They made eye contact again, more lingering this time. It was her turn to drop her gaze… Was she being coy or just ambivalent? He couldn’t decide…
The train slowed down as it reached Millstreet station. Several passengers alighted and a handful got on. Bags were brusquely slung up on overhead shelves, coats hastily dragged off and placed on the backs of seats, all the push and shove of groups of people busily trying to get themselves sorted and comfortable before the train departed. Extra people and all that movement unsettled him. The drizzling rain outside added to the chaos as people were rushing to get in out of it. He liked order and predictability. It helped his focus and gave him peace of mind. The lady who had been sitting beside the attractive lady had left and the seat beside her was now vacant. An opportunity for him, if he wished? Best to bide his time for a little while longer, he thought.
She wiggled her body a little to bring the hem of her skirt down around her knees, and then crossed her legs daintily to show off shapely calves to her best advantage. He knew that she was conscious of being watched and was trying to show herself off at her best. This pleased him. It was nice to be considered attractive, even if he had more pressing issues on his mind. His financial situation had been poor for a while now and he needed to make some money soon. Creditors were not going to wait much longer for their money. In his trade, the people he did business with didn’t use the more gentle forms of money retrieval. He needed to focus on his work and how he was going to deliver over the next short while… She was a lovely woman, though. Another time, another place, he would definitely have tried his luck.
The train was picking up speed. The next station would be Mallow and he would be getting off at that juncture. A lot of people got off there. It would be easy to get lost in the crowds. He stood up and walked towards his exit at the start of the carriage. As he swept past his admirer, he dropped his head slightly to acknowledge her, smiling directly into her face as his hand found its target. Two minutes later, he had alighted, her warm gold purse safely tucked into his inside pocket.