(This is Part Two. Here's PART ONE)
Edward was lost, but unafraid. He hadn't expected to meet anyone at the club, and had not for a second thought that his heads-or-tails request for a dance would lead him outside into the cool spring night, hand in hand with a pretty stranger. He had never actually picked up a woman, and had never excelled at small talk, but a couple of drinks, her smile, and a huge looming decision all combined to put him strangely at ease with the prospect of talking to her.
The first important fact Edward and Callista learned about each other was revealed as they tried to converse among the smokers loitering outside the club. "You don't smoke, do you," they asked in unison. Thank God, they both thought. They strolled down the two blocks that separated the club from a riverside park, part of an area that was in the late stages of transition to nice from not-so-nice.
The walk was just long enough for her to learn that he was a sales manager for a company that made teleconferencing software, and that he was divorced with no kids. He learned that yes, he had heard her name correctly, and that he was not to put a "Flockhart" after it, or he would never see her again. She was a corporate trainer for a cell phone manufacturer, and had been laid off that afternoon. Also, she promised she wasn't a hooker, not that the thought had crossed Edward's mind.
A lazy rain began lightly spritzing them as they walked, but neither wanted to be the first one to acknowledge it. Edward knew the park, and steered them to his favorite bench, knowing that one way or another, they wouldn't be there long.
"So," Callista said, "You're a Kate Bush fan?"
She smiled, assumed an English accent and softly sang, "'Heads, we're dancing?' That's a Kate Bush song. You found the only woman in that club - maybe in the whole city - who knows that song. So, ten-out-of-ten for style, but minus several million for... luck, I guess."
Edward shook his head. "Man. Busted. I really like that CD-- Wait. Are you paraphrasing who I think you're paraphrasing?"
She tilted her head at him. "I don't think I've ever heard a sentence with 'paraphrasing' in it twice. Also, what?"
He thought for a moment. "Well, when you were getting hit on by that big blonde guy, what would have happened if I had walked up and said, 'Hey sweetheart - is this guy boring you? Why don't you talk to me instead? I'm from a different planet.'"
"Hey doll," she corrected.
"It was 'Hey doll, is this guy boring you.' At least, in the book it was. I can't bring myself to see the movie. And I would have left with you on the spot."
A multitude of electrical impulses surged through Edward's brain, and in that millisecond he saw himself, decades later, sitting in a rocking chair, telling his grandchildren that this was the moment he fell in love with their grandmother. A woman who knew The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and obscure 80's musicians? And who seemed interested in him? And who didn't seem to mind a little rain? Ridiculous. Too good to be true.
"Well, the heads-or-tails thing was all that came to mind," he sighed. "Next time, I'll know to quote Douglas Adams at you."
"Nah. The outcome's the same," she said, looking up at a nearby streetlamp to check on the gradually intensifying rain. "So. Not to sound too much like some wretched twenty-something on a dating show, what does a software sales manager do for fun?"
"I'm in a Leon Redbone tribute band," he answered matter-of-factly.
She stared at him.
"What? It's fun."
"How old do you think I am?" she asked.
"Not old enough to remember Leon Redbone," he countered, "but there are tons of Beatles tribute bands whose members weren't born yet when the band was still together."
"I had a weird roommate in college, and he used to play all these old vinyl Leon Redbone albums, and I just got into it, I guess..."
"No," Callista interrupted. "I get that. I'm just wondering how you're in a band that covers a guy who used to sit alone on stage - just Leon and his banjo."
"You do know Leon Redbone!"
"Probably not as well as you do, but yeah. I'm familiar. Look, it's really starting to rain, and it's been a long day. Would you mind walking me to my hotel?"
"Not at all," Edward said, rising from the bench and offering her his arm. "It's about time for old Hobo Jack to be getting here, and this is apparently his bench. Wait. Hotel? You're not from DC?"
"Nope. I live in Philadelphia."
"So, they laid you off when you were traveling?" Edward was equal parts confused and incredulous.
"Yep." She nodded in the direction of the hotel. "I won't be surprised to find my suitcase in the lost-and-found, and my train ticket canceled. But whatever."
"That sucks. I was going to ask you out on a real date."
"So ask. I got a great severance package. Maybe I'll stick around for a few days."
"Would you like to have dinner with me, tomorrow night?" Edward asked. "Please?"
Callista laughed at the "please," and promptly felt bad about it. "I would love to."
They were nearing the front steps of the hotel. A wave of nervousness finally caught up with Edward, who didn't know what the protocol was, here. To the front door? To the elevator? To the room? Ack! He heard himself stall for time with, "So, I told you about my hobby. What do you do for fun?"
She stepped in front of him and took his hands. "I seduce unsuspecting men and trick them into assisting me in high-level international espionage, crimes, and assorted capers."
"Like Angelina Jolie in 'The Tourist?'"
Crap. I picked up the only guy east of the Mississippi who's seen that movie, she thought. "Yes. Like that."
Edward played along. "Oh my God! Are you going to 'Tourist' me?"
"Well, that depends, Edward. Are you a tourist?" she tried to raise one eyebrow at him, but both went up, resulting in an awkward, surprised look. Edward saw only a pretty woman, suppressing a smile.
"You're safe for now, then." She handed him one of her now-obsolete business cards. "The cell number is my own, so they can't have turned that off. Call me tomorrow afternoon. Good night, Edward." She kissed him, quickly but softly, before he had a chance to kiss her, then scampered up the steps toward the hotel lobby.
"Good night," he said, nearly overcome with happy hope.
She turned around on the top step. "Hey. Are you really in a Leon Redbone tribute band?"
Edward smiled guiltily. "No. But I've always wanted to start one." He soaked up the smile she left him with, and watched her lean into the revolving door and disappear. He knew he was late for his nightly chat with the old homeless man whose bench they had borrowed, but right now, standing in the rain with Callista's card in his pocket, he didn't care.
Another fine writing prompt (SHOWER) from my friends at STUDIO 30 PLUS !