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Soft Brown Eyes







Soft Brown Eyes






The reception had started a couple of hours before I got there. Drinks were free, the bar was heaving; the noise level rising and most people had reached the stage when whatever was said resulted in raucous laughter. I picked up an Americano and managed to get most of it to a quiet part of the room where I switched my phone off, lent against a pillar and watched. Nobody asked why I was there although the odd person smiled politely as they passed. After maybe a quarter of an hour of folk coming and going, she came to the edge of the crowd and stood and looked around. Although she was on the sad side of 35, she was slim, unfashionably elegant and stunning. She spotted me and walked over in a rather lazy way.


“Hello - are you a solicitor?”


“No. Why do you think that?” She thought for a moment.

“The suit. You look like one.”


“No, not a solicitor.” She ran her fingers through her auburn hair. “What’s your name?” I asked. She looked me in the eye and giggled; it was a beguiling sound. The sort of sound that could easily become an addiction.

“Catrina.” 


 “Really?” She giggled again.


“No, not really. I never tell a man my real name at parties.”


 “Now, why’s that?” She leant towards me; too close. I could smell her perfume. She straightened my tie like we’d been dating for ever.


“It gives a girl an air of mystery.” She finished her drink and handed me the glass. “What’s your name?” She asked.


I looked around and pretended to make sure we weren’t being overheard.


“It’s a secret.” Someone across the room dropped a glass and it shattered on the stone floor. Laughter.


“Ohh – do tell,"


“It’s Lord Lucan.” She grinned and steadied herself by placing her hand on my chest. Her nail varnish was a subtle shade of champagne. She raised her eyebrows and gazed deep into my eyes and way beyond. Her soft brown eyes were the most beguiling I’d ever seen; the sort you could spend a lifetime getting lost in. It was all I could do not to put my arms around her right then.

“So, what do you do Lucan?” She asked in a near whisper.


I didn’t answer and had little difficulty in changing the subject.


“Has Catrina found any interesting people here tonight?” She smiled, bit her lip and thought. A psychologist could have written a thesis on the contents of that smile.


“The fellow over there,” she said waving vaguely, “was talking about life. Says there are two sorts of people, those who follow their feelings and those who follow their heads. Which are you Lucan?”


“Head.”


“Me too - for all the good it’s done me. You plan, figure things out, take care, be sensible and life still comes unstitched at the seams. Might as well live by the heart and hang the consequences. Is your head making you happy?”


“I’m far too busy to think about it.”


“Sounds like you’re on a tread mill – the faster you go, the faster you’ll have to go.” I held up her glass.  


“Something like that - your glass is empty; like another?”  She shook her head.

“No, I’m trolleyed; I should go, I’ve got a long day tomorrow”


“What do you do during your long days?”


“Art director – advertising agency.”  I was disarmed by her self-assurance and bewitched by her personality and what else we spoke of I don’t recall; time stopped and the room faded to oblivion. As we talked and laughed, she became unsteady and her speech slowed a little and I realised she’d drunk way too much and without realising it, I felt concerned about her; she shouldn’t drive. 


“Would you like a lift?”  The question eventually soaked through and she shook her head.

“I live near.” 


For some time she didn’t speak then eventually she opened her bag, took out a note pad and felt tip, wrote her number and tore out the page. Her writing was bold and confident. Then looking deep into my eyes again, she smiled.


“Phone me Lucan. Come around and we’ll have a glass of wine.” As she handed it to me I noticed a band of pale skin on her forth finger where a ring had been. She turned and walking a little unsteadily said ‘Ciao’ and headed for the exit, then stopped and looked back.


“By the way, you didn’t say what you did, Lucan.” It was the last question I wanted to answer and uncertain of where it could go, I answered with a deal of reluctance.


“I’m a Private Investigator.” She stiffened, turned to face me and took a couple of
paces nearer. Her tone changed.


“And are you working now?”  I couldn’t think of a way of stalling, so I answered.

“Yes.”


“Are you good at what you do?”


“Very.”


“And can one ask who you’re working for at the moment?” Before my head could hide behind client confidentiality, my heart let it slip:


“Your husband.” She thought for some time before she spoke again.

“Do you like your work?”


“Mostly yes, sometimes not.”


“And now?”


Right now, I loathe it.” Looking at me with a straight face, she said in a firm voice:


“So Lucan, what are you going to do?” Of all the women who had passed through my life, she set my pulse racing like none other. My head and heart went into blitzkrieg and not wanting to see which would win and after years of doing the sensible thing, I handed the note back.

“Nothing.” 


She stood absolutely still, those bewitching eyes not leaving mine for a second. After an eon, she handed the note back again.


“Phone me Lucan, come around and we’ll have a glass of wine.”









Anthony Billinghurst







Tony Billinghurst lives in the West of England and is partial to smooth jazz, impressionist art, old buildings and the countryside. He has recently published in The London Journal of Fiction, Fiction on the Web, The Ham Free Press, Fiction Pool, CommuterLit, Scarlet Leaf Review and has been accepted for the 2019 Fantasia Divinity's summer anthology.

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