The leaves crunched under Charlotte’s boots as she shifted her weight. From left hip to right hip, and back again. She had that habit, always shifting her weight. Remembering, she stood up straight. Leaves picked up by the wind stuck to her jacket, and she picked them off with a gloved hand, her cellphone in the other. This was where they were supposed to meet. She had the time right, she double checked, triple checked. He had said 11:15 at the fountain. Then again, he was always late. One of his worst qualities, but he was always so genuinely sorry that it was endearing. Charlotte clicked the button on the side of her phone, and it lit up brightly. The time was 11:57. The screensaver of the two of them together smiled back at her from behind the time. That photo was taken a long time ago, back when things were still new. The screen went black, and she peeled her eyes away and looked toward the sidewalk. And there he was.
He was built tough, tall but muscular. His walk was purposeful, he knew where he wanted to go. He wore a lopsided smile and owned it. He strode towards the fountain and Charlotte pretended to answer a message, to be busy, like she hadn’t waited 42 minutes in the cold for him. Like he didn’t have her completely hooked. He nudged her with his elbow, hands in his pockets. “Hey, Char,” when he spoke his breath make a steamy cloud in the chilly air.
“You’re right on time,” she teased, hinting at her mild annoyance at him for leaving her in the cold for so long.
“You know how it is, I just lost track of time,” his grin grew and he shrugged. She wondered what had been so urgent he had to see her in person, yet miniscule enough that he could almost completely space it out. “I’m really glad you were free, I wanted to ask you something.”
Her heart leapt into her throat, and a whirlwind of butterflies twisted her stomach into knots. “Sure, go ahead.” This was it, the moment. He was going to ask her.
“Well, it’s really more of a favor…” his words trailed off and he looked down at his feet, pushing some of the leaves into a tidy pile with the tip of his worn tan boat shoes.
“Oh, c’mon, just ask me!” she demanded a little too loudly, and he looked up quickly, eyes wide. He took a step in and pulled her closer by wrapping his arm around her shoulder and back, leaning forward so their faces were inches apart. Her heart skipped a beat and she looked up into his shining blue eyes, the ones she could drown in, and he grinned. The grin that melted her down into a brilliant mess, and he must have known it, because used that lopsided smile like a weapon.
“Will you help me hide a body?”
She smiled. “I thought you’d never ask.”