He couldn’t be a spy. Why would she even think he would be?
“You’re not the first one to make that joke,” he smiled, deftly deflecting her parry.
Perhaps it was the twinkle in his eye as he listened intently to her tales of her days. Or his cosmopolitan and soigné attitude whenever he escorted her to dinner or a play, his hand so warm in the small of her back guiding her as if she were Cyd Charisse in a Hollywood musical. Or how great he looked in either a tuxedo or a black leather bomber jacket. Or how every bartender in town knew to start a Manhattan the minute they saw him walk through the door.
Or maybe it was his unexplained absences. His smiling shrug as he regretted his inability to attend something on a long weekend. His various travel plans, and charmingly salacious texts from wherever he might be. There was something enigmatic about both ends, his hazy plans and vague explanations. Of course, why shouldn’t he live several double lives when he obviously lived them so well?
He probably wasn’t a spy. He had family spread all over the country. He had friends and business connections everywhere. He dismissed the outdoorsy, sporty personality of the city they both found themselves employed within. And oh, he loved to fly. First class.
Still, it amused him to play the part, she believed. The bespoke suits. The silk sheets. The gabardine raincoat. The razor-sharp memory and wicked sense of humour. The ability to blend agreeably into any crowd, the ease exuded in every room. The talent to melt away entirely.
Did it bother her? She had to admit, not really. He was utterly present when they were together, and his focus brought out her own A game. His occasional disappearances provided her with an equal relief in his lack of neediness. She could focus on her own work, relax into assignments, connect with old friends without jockeying times and priorities. When he came back, when they were together, it was because they wanted to be. They desired each other’s company. And that desire could burn up all the oxygen in the room.
He was the perfect partner for her, at this stage in her own particular game of chutes and ladders. She was a woman who enjoyed a certain sense of autonomy, but when he appeared on her horizon, his self-assurance captured her attention. Their senses of humour meshed. And no matter how often they met up, in those first few moments when she looked into his hand-some face, he took her breath away.
She wasn’t after a constant companion. He wasn’t looking for a housekeeper. They came together to enjoy themselves and each other. Each of them had lived other lives. Neither of them felt the urge for fetters. They recognized in each other a kindred sense of style, and an epicurean joy for what the world had to offer.
So, of course he couldn’t be a spy. At any rate, he wasn’t one of theirs.
Best known for the Randy Craig Mysteries, the first detective series set in Edmonton, Alberta, Janice MacDonald has also produced non-fiction, short fiction, a children’s book, drama and music. Janice spent more than a decade teaching literature, communications and creative writing at Grant MacEwan, and now keeps the Government of Alberta safe from dangling modifiers.
This article appears in the October 2021 issue of Edify