Etiquette

Cold grey air battered her lungs as she tried to fight her way through the crowd, crushed on all sides by the fast-flowing tide of humanity. She did not even see him until it was far too late.
Smack! Her books fell to the floor as she collided with a body.
A startled exclamation.
A hasty apology, running over her own stumbling words in a slick rush.
She was too busy rescuing her precious volumes to look up.
“Oh! Your books! I really am terribly sorry. May I be of assistance?”
He squatted down on his heels until his head was level with hers.
His voice was soft and precise, pleasing to the ear and with just a hint of hidden richness, like an old book trimmed in gold leaf, discovered at the back of a dusty shelf on a rainy day. But it wasn’t just the timbre and sound of his voice that made her look up – in his correct, rather quaint use of the English language, she recognized the distinct possibility of a kindred spirit. Fellow creatures were so rare. She looked up and met his sparkling blue eyes with a smile in her own muddy brown ones.
“Thank you,” she said.
An answering smile echoed across the whole of his face. “You’re welcome. It was my fault anyway. I should pay more attention to my surroundings instead of woolgathering. I’m told it’s one of my greatest weaknesses.” But he twinkled as he handed her the last book.
She took it with a laugh. “If that’s your greatest weakness, you haven’t much to worry about!”
“You don’t know what the others are…” he warned her, extending his hand to help her up.
She hesitated. It was unusual for a man to be so polite to her. She was always in the background, a small, insignificant shadow, and men in particular seldom noticed her.
He looked very unsure, and she overcame her momentary hesitation, placing her hand in his. His fingers closed over hers carefully, and he held her hand as if it were a thing of inestimable value before helping her up with a comfortingly secure grip.
For some reason she was breathless.
“Thank you,” she said again. The thesaurus in her mind had deserted her. His smile was open, friendly, terrifyingly attractive. “Would you like to have some coffee?”
She stared.
He stuttered. “It’s a cold day. I thought-”
But she had made up her mind. “Yes. Please. I’d love to.”
And two pairs of eyes smiled in unison again.

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16 thoughts on “Etiquette

  1. That’s a lovely, sweet moment. I like seeing things like this happening. I loved the way you developed her character. It made the end of the story that much sweeter.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 these two rather took me by surprise to be honest. I often write quite emotion-heavy, dark stuff, so it is nice for me to explore the lighter things, the sweet moments of life that we all wish for and rarely cherish enough when they do come to us …

  2. This is gorgeous writing Natalie:-)Loved the phrase,”with just a hint of hidden richness, like an old book trimmed in gold leaf, discovered at the back of a dusty shelf on a rainy day. “Can’t wait for more of this sweet romantic tale to unfold-hope you are going to write more-please? 🙂

  3. Ooh, there was practically fireworks bursting in the air! I like how you depicted this moment and gave us a little bit of history so we could understand how significant the moment was to her.

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