As she sat down, he was suddenly aware that he hadn’t showered in days. She was immaculate, and just as stunning as he remembered. She didn’t say a word. It was a trick he used himself: say nothing, and the mark fills in all the blanks. Yes, he was the mark. He’d known it almost from the beginning, but knowing hadn’t made him stop. Even now, the only rational part of him that remained was begging him to just get up, but his hand was moving to his breast pocket.
He laid the tiny box gently on the table and pushed it across. He saw his fingers were trembling and snatched them back before she could touch him, but she hadn’t moved. He wiped his palm on his pant leg. He hoped she hadn’t noticed, but her eyes were locked on the box. It didn’t look like much, just a gray pressboard cube a few inches high. They were in a corner booth in the back, near the kitchen. No one was looking. There was nothing to see. Still it felt like a spotlight was heating the skin of his face and neck. He fought the urge to drag the back of his hand across his forehead, a nervous gesture, a sure sign of weakness. He’d already given too much away.
“That’s it. I’m done.” His voice was steadier than his hands. She lifted her eyes to his and smoothly made the innocuous little package disappear. She carried no purse. Her tight white blouse and knee-length charcoal skirt held no hiding places to secret it. It was gone, though, and for that he was grateful. He slid awkwardly from the booth and stood, steadying himself for a moment before leaning close. The familiar smell of her made him dizzy. “And remember: if things fall apart, I had nothing to do with this. As far as anyone knows, I’m clean.”
She smiled. He turned quickly, willing his legs to step, and step, and step.
Thank you. Again.
4 hours ago