When we first met, I can’t say I was overly impressed. I wasn’t, but he certainly had an impact. In a weird way, I felt fear. Oh, not the terror type of fear, but something akin to a deep understanding of how he might ruin my life.
At the time, my reaction wasn’t as clear as I make it sound, but I recall thinking, keep away, he’s dangerous. A tiny voice buried in my subconscious whispered, that’s ludicrous, and immediately my rational mind leapt into action, drowning out what I now assert was a kind of karmic knowledge. I can’t explain it really, except to say it was like looking at a wolf and knowing you will walk willingly into its jaws.
I get ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning when I walked up the stairs from the street and entered the wrong office. The door was open and a man stood behind a desk engrossed in a sheaf of engineering drawings. His knuckles pressed flat against the desk’s wooden surface as he scanned the documents.
He hadn’t heard me enter and remained oblivious to my presence as I watched him. Dark hair streaked with caramel sun-bleached strands flopped forward over his eyes and curled at his neck. He needed a haircut. His shirt sleeves were rolled to below his elbows and fine golden hairs glinted against a deep tan on sinewed forearms.
Had I, for one moment, stopped to think, I would have realised that such a tan does not come from sitting behind a desk. This was a man of the outdoors, not the insurance salesman I had come to see. But of course it didn’t occur to me at the time.
I cleared my throat to get his attention. His chin lifted slowly as if reluctant to break away from the papers, but when his gaze met mine, the silence seemed to suck gravity from the atmosphere. A muscle jumped in his jaw, and his finely sculpted mouth lifted at one corner in appreciation. Lines crinkled about his eyes; eyes that would leave me drowning in turbulent seas.
I could see he liked what he saw, and that was when fear hit me. I twisted my wedding ring and hung back wondering what to do with my limbs, which suddenly seemed too long and gangly. Instead of telling me I was in the wrong office, he indicated I should sit in the chair opposite his desk. I sat on the seat’s edge, my handbag held on my lap in defence, and dropped my gaze under his scrutiny.
It amused him; the cat playing with a canary. ‘Would you like a cup of tea while you wait?’ His voice was educated, but northern in intonation.
‘Wait?’ As soon as the words were out of my mouth I felt gauche, like a school girl. ‘What am I waiting for?’
I assumed you were here to see the insurance agent. He’s not back until five, but we have a game of squash scheduled, so he will call in before he locks his office next door.
I glanced at my watch. It was four thirty.
‘Oh.’ I felt the blood creeping into my cheeks as I glanced up at him. I had mistaken him for the agent. ‘Okay, thanks.’
I should have fled then, but I didn’t. His slow smile drew me into the void and I was lost.