"Oh, yeah," Tom agreed. "The world is smelling both good and interesting. You, especially. What's that fragrance?"
"Jo Malone, Wild Fig & Cassis. I got it in the divorce settlement."
"Good deal. But..." He paused, considering... "the cologne, not the car? This is the bus shelter you've rescued me into."
I zoomed away from the car question. "Yes. The bus shelter. I thought you might need a minute to regroup. And I do have a car. It's...ah...being worked on right now."
This was kind of a lie. Well, technically, a total lie. My salsa red VW bug convertible, which was one of the handful of things I had salvaged from my sojourn among the affluent, needed a big, fancy, upscale repair job. I was saving to get it worked on. I figured this was going to take about two years of bus time.
I'm not sure why I was embarrassed enough to lie, since at that moment I still believed this Tom the Third was living in public housing and wouldn't be shocked by my car-deprived situation. I felt off-kilter, like he was somebody I didn't want to disappoint with my ordinary self. I mean, anyhow, who was I these days? Plus again, he was way above average in the hot department.
But he saw right through me.
"Could be it's you working on it? Saving up for repairs, maybe?" There was that dimple again. In his wonderful, smooth-shaven cheek. "God."
"Yeah. You got me." I felt my ears warming. "You're rather insightful—" I stopped myself.
"For a blind man? Oh, let's not worry about the sight metaphors. There are about a billion. And I don't want all the apologies and awkwardness to get in the way of our being friends. You can't hurt my feelings about this, I swear. Okay?"
"Sure." I added another "Mmm Mmm" to myself on the "our being friends." He was handsome. He used impeccable grammar. He thought we could be friends. The trifecta.
What was I doing? I'd known him for maybe ten minutes. Two of which I'd spent rescuing cans and getting badmouthed via lip-synch. Where had my five years of total monogamy and the two ensuing years of absolute celibacy gone, that I could so easily start scoping out this guy's dazzling white tee-shirt, his nice, tanned, well-defined arms? The way his dark glasses made him look stealthy like a sexy spy. How nice he smelled...?
What the heck?
I made up my mind not to go overboard with the brakes. First of all, how many blind serial killers did I think there were in Cleveland? And, second, wasn't it non-monogamous behavior on the part of Mr. Tall, Dark & Unfaithful, Esquire that had landed me here at this bus stop in the first place? Six flavors of Jo Malone, a small but lovable red car, and a ridiculously insignificant amount of cash wasn't much compensation for half a decade of Big Mistake. The universe owed me something, for goodness sake. How much could it hurt to ask?
"You were going to make chili?"
He shifted the torn bag he was now cradling on his knees. His hands played over the contents and he frowned. "I was. But apparently some tomatoes got away."
I glanced out onto Lake Shore. Sure enough, there was a flattened Red Pack can, bleeding onto the pavement. "Oh, there's a can out there that can't be saved, I'm afraid. But listen..." I focused myself on sounding casual. "...why don't you ride the bus with me to my house? I'll throw in some of my tomatoes and you can share your chili stuff. I have Coronas and limes, too. If that works. And I can borrow a car from a friend to drive you home—"
I was struck by the audaciousness of inviting this man to come home with a voice he'd never heard before. I knew me, and I could see him, but what did he have to go on besides the odds against meeting a female serial killer at the bus stop? I backpedaled. "Or I could run into Joe's and get you another can. And you could finish up crossing the street."
He needed to decide. The next Number 30 was an ugly gray square in the distance.