Michael, who was about to enter his place of work, turned around in surprise. Behind him stood a tall, broad shouldered man with short brown hair, wearing a grey business suit. He carried a black briefcase, his black shoes were well polished and his face reminded Michael of that of Charles Oakley from Shadow of a Doubt.
"I'm looking for Clive Beechcroft. I've been to his house but he's not in."
"He's at work right now. Follow me. I'm his boss."
"Thanks". The man followed Michael. Michael noticed that the newcomer had an American accent.
Clive was busy working when Michael and the American came in. He stopped for a moment to look up.
Clive got up and gave the man a brief hug before clapping him on the back.
"Good to see you again mate. Why didn't you let me know you were coming?"
"I wanted it to be a surprise."
Michael took this opportunity to make a quick exit. Clive took a spare chair and placed it opposite the desk.
"Sit down Charles. How are things in the States?"
Charles sat down, crossing his legs. "Things are grand back home".
After a pause he said gently, "I was sorry to hear about your wife".
Clive lowered his eyes.
"How are you bearing up?"
"Yeah - well that's good. Time can heal most wounds".
Clive nodded in agreement.
After a conversation during which Charles gave all the news from America, Charles leaned forwards.
"I say mate, part of the reason I came over..."
"It might be too soon of course, it's only been six months but if you wanted a change of scenery..."
"I was thinking of inviting you out to America again."
Clive leaned back, thinking. At last he spoke.
"Last time I was on a year's contract and it was work. This time I can only manage three weeks off and it'll be vacation."
"Sure, no problem Clive. I totally understand."
"And I've got to run it past Michael."
"Yeah, of course".
"In the meantime, why don't you stay over at mine? The spare room's free."
"Thanks for the invitation."
Clive went out of the room then to speak to his boss.
"Well, here we are." Charles dumped his case on the ground outside the door and started searching for his key. "Last time you came on your own and I met you at the airport and brought you here, remember. This time, we are both arriving together".
He found the key and unlocked the door.
"We're here" he announced, hauling in his case. Clive followed, also lugging his.
The woman who approached the door looked like an exact double of Clive's dead wife. Some of her long straight black hair was tied back and the rest hung loose. Her brown eyes were bright with anticipation. She was wearing a dark green dress.
"Clive, you remember my sister Jackie?"
Clive put his case down and turned towards Jackie. Somehow all his pride, his controlling nature, everything, fell away.
"Jackie..." he said, his voice passionate. He stepped towards her and grasped her hand, his eyes lingering on her gorgeous hair.