Thirty-Eight : Numberplates...

Andrea refused to wait on the front steps of the house. She felt quite ridiculous in being pushed out of her own abode. But it wasn’t her home, in the end. Andrea rolled her shoulders back and cut an end to her selfish initiatives. Instead, she trudged down the driveway. Keith’s car must have been in the garage (she reasoned that he had walked to the shops and back), but a second, silver Mini took up the shape it could. With no other idea, this must have been Lea’s.

Andrea wandered her way over to her faithful red car parked on the curb. The only other car in the street was navy. Andrea had given it one glance and had meant to walk on when something caught her eye: Gorge. At least, that’s what the number-plate looked like from a distance. The 60R6E could easily have been misleading.

Squinting in the glasses she hadn’t worn for a while, Andrea blushed profusely. To think she hadn’t recognised the large foreign vehicle. Instead of relishing in the change of emotion, Andrea blinked.

There was someone in the driver’s seat. Someone – but not Lucas. Under her gaze, the engine started up, the purring sound more threatening. Andrea stared. Lucas would never let a stranger dressed like that drive his car.

It roared past her, burrowing through the wind. Not at that speed, either.

It took Andrea only seconds to jolt into action. She had her phone with her – in a pocket of the coat she still was wearing – and she punched in 999, gritting her teeth as an electronic woman went through each routine of the emergency service number.

After she requested the police, a firmer voice picked up from the other end.

“Hello?”

“Someone’s stealing a car,” she called down the phone.

“Are you sure?” said the patronising voice of the policeman.

“Of course I know when my boyfriend’s car is being stolen!” she screeched. The little Opel was probably far gone now.

Her boyfriend. It had slipped out. Her existence came with duties to him, still, one indeed being saving his car from a thief.

The policeman had been speaking. She gave him the numberplate, memorable with its fancy code, and the street name against her will. These policemen were idiots. They’d never get the car back quick enough. Maybe she hadn’t described it well. She should draw Lucas’ car for those policemen; that would make them understand.

Her thin work-clothes stuck to her skin as she hurried along the road. The cold air did nothing to pacify her hurried thoughts. She needed to get to a police station. Any taxi. Just one.

A few roads along, when Andrea was just getting tired of pulsing along the streets, a taxi pulled into view from one of the side-streets. Andrea jogged.

“Hey!” she panted, waving her hands in its direction.

But then the passenger rotated to stare at her. Andrea stopped. She jolted. What was he doing there? Wasn’t he supposed to be chasing the culprit of car-theft, as she was? The eyes caressed gently. He blinked, turning to the front.

“Lucas!” cried Andrea, sprinting across the road to him. The cab revved in irritation. Andrea didn’t care. She couldn’t care less how her wild arms flailed or her thighs flopped in ripples. All that mattered was the man who eyeing her.

Andrea stood her ground, shaking between the headlights and the driver’s window.

“Hi.”

Lucas leant forward and whispered hurried messages to the driver. He flashed a ten-pound note in his direction. The engine cut off. The passenger window rolled down in two sharp slides. Lucas Gorge looked at her with those introspective turquoise-like eyes.

“Those are old glasses,” he observed.

“Yeah, my black ones broke.”

“Well, they bring out the brown in your brown eyes.”

Andrea blushed, but said nothing.

After a moment of studying her work-outfit further, Lucas asked, “why are you here?”

Andrea folded her arms. “I could ask you the same thing. Why were you not in your car?” For a moment, Andrea was swept along in panic. Had he actually sold that, too, and left her with no reminder of his old life? Her call to the police was some cursed hoax!

Now it was Lucas’ moment to turn his infamous shade of pink. Oh, Andrea remembered that face well.

“Outside of Keith's house, you mean? You must have seen something to know. I was there in case my sister needed a hug,” he remarked.

“I saw your car being driven away. But that wasn’t my question.” After jogging so swiftly, she had no energy to argue with himself. Instead, she dropped her original question and recalled inside her mind his answer to his own. “Oh, yes?” Andrea found herself saying, before she could think again. “You'll spend so many moments with arms around your beloved sister, but you won’t offer an embrace to a fling of yours.”

At that word, Lucas’ face formed a scowl. No doubt he was thinking of how much his departure had changed her. Goodness, she hoped so. Andrea bit her tongue; she had no wish to blaspheme in Lucas’ presence – even if the sin was just in her mind. What was happening to her soul?

His cab passenger door sprung open. Andrea tensed and relaxed.

“Get in,” said Lucas, tight-lipped.

She did so, fingers smoothing over the neatness of her tight blouse. Eyeing his full body, too, Andrea noticed that Lucas had come straight from work just as she had. There could be no other reason for him to wear a blazer and tie, she bitterly conceded.

“Lucas,” Andrea said, just as he himself called her own name. A hard determination lingered in his eyes.

“It’s not worth arguing over; I’m here now,” she declared.

Lucas gave a curt nod and he leant forward again. “Sir, thank you. Please drive to the station now.”

The driver nodded, albeit with eyes more narrowed than before, and put the engine into gear. Off they headed.

The End

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