It was a sultry August night in a small Maine town. A lazy breeze barely flirted with the humidity. It was too damn hot to cook.
Having showered off the grit and salt accumulated during a hike followed by a swim in the cold Atlantic, we were hungry to eat outside. A local pub with outdoor seating beckoned. We picked a choice table on the flagstone patio and perused the menu while sipping a nice, chilled rosé.
Behind a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees the sun was dipping toward the western horizon. The bugs hadn’t noticed it was show time yet, which was fine with us. The mood was sweet and so were the tomatoes in our hyper-local salads.
Life was good.
The interloper waited until a couple of other tables were occupied before she made her low-key entrance.
Ultra casual, like she belonged. Aloof, but in an appealing kind of way. Flying under the radar. A relatively recent mom, it appeared, out on the town by herself, a little summer’s evening jaunt.
Her nonchalance told me not only had she done this before, she could have written the quintessential book on how to crash a party with style. The secret? To make everyone think you’re with somebody else.
She wandered by our table first, offered a quick hello then moved on to our neighbors. Again, a brief greeting, not looking to linger, much less share a nibble. She was far too smooth for that.
As the crowd grew, so did the buzz. Who was she? Where did she come from? Was she alone? Something in her beautiful brown eyes hinted at mischief. Was she going to cause trouble?
The servers were puzzled. She wasn’t a guest at the inn, they said, much less a member of the family.
We found ourselves unable to take our eyes off her. Such a mystery! We began to speculate. What was her name?
Diane thought she looked like a Stella, but to me, something in about her attitude−it screamed je ne regrette rien−told me she was an Elaine.
She never let on, just kept circulating, as though she owned the place.
Brenda Buchanan is the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a contemporary Maine newspaper reporter with old-school habits who covers the crime and courts beat. Her three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available through Carina Press or wherever fine ebooks are sold.