IT’S a heck of a downpour,” he said. He had an accent. American?
“Yes,” she said. “Yes, it is. It may pass.”
He looked at the sky.
“Well, I don’t think so. We could be here for hours. Even days.”
“I don’t think so. It won’t last long.”
He shook his head.
“That’s what the folks said to Noah. Look, over the way there’s a coffee shop. Let me buy you a cup of coffee. You sure look as though you need it.”
“I bet I look awful.”
He looked at her for a long moment until she began to blush.
“No,” he said. “You don’t. Quite the opposite, in fact.”
A few minutes later, after a splashing dash across the road, they were sitting opposite each other by a steamy window with hot coffee before them.
He held out his hand.
“I’m Michael Cavendish,” he said.
They shook hands shyly.
“Kate Flynn. That’s a nice name. Even nicer than Zara.”
Her eyes opened wide in surprise. He laughed.
“I saw you coming out of the theatre. And I’ve seen the show. I was in Huddersfield searching for some ancient English relatives. I thought it would be a change from stumbling round crumbling graveyards. You are one clever girl. That mind-reading act is sensational.”
She blushed slightly.
“It’s just a code, really.”
“Well, I know it’s a code, but it’s a clever one, and to operate it in front of an audience, wow!”
“So you’re not English?”
“See! You are clever.”
She laughed. When Johnny West had made her laugh she had felt happy, but not like this. She felt light-headed, wonderful.
“I’m from Nova Scotia.” She looked uncertain. He shook his head in pretended dismay. “It’s part of Canada. Off the east coast. Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’m a solicitor there.”
“Canada,” she said, nodding happily. She suddenly remembered what her friend Maggie Brown had said, that lovers had a destiny to meet, moving towards each other day by day, until one day their paths crossed.
“Mother died a couple of years ago and after Dad died last year I thought I’d come to the old country and have a look at my roots before setting the legal world alight in Halifax,” Michael said, “Now, Miss Flynn, what about you? You must lead a very exciting life, travelling around with a group of troubadours, rather like a gypsy girl.”
She laughed. She began to tell him all about the Jolly Goods. He showed great interest.
“So the Great Nesbo isn’t really as forbidding as he appears on stage?”
“Not always. He can be kind and understanding.” I hope he can, she suddenly thought.
“And the soprano lady is your particular friend?”
“Oh, yes,” Kate said. “Delia is lovely. Like a mother. My own mother died when I was fourteen.”
They were silent for a moment. Raindrops trickled slowly down the window. Michael gave a nervous cough, then he said, a little anxiety in his voice, “Look, Kate, I know we’ve only just met, but I’d be so happy if you would have dinner with me this evening. Will you, please?”
She looked at him across the table, his face serious, his grey eyes on her, eyes that reminded her of someone. He was waiting for her answer.
“I’d like that very much, Michael, thank you. But we have to eat early, or late, because of the show.”
“That’s terrific. We could eat early at my hotel, the George. It’s in the Land of Green Ginger.”
“The where?” she asked in surprise.
“I know. Strange, isn’t it? It’s an old district of the city. I guess it’s where they used to land all the spices.”
“I see.” They gazed happily at each other across the table. A short while ago she hadn’t known he existed and now, brought together by a gust of wind, she was going to have dinner with a handsome young Canadian in the Land of Green Ginger.