She had just kicked off her heels when a knock made her start. She pads to the door.
It had been fifteen years, but she’d recognize that angular jaw of his anywhere. Even through a hotel keyhole.
She quickly slips back into her heels, opens the door and gives him a smile, which he returns.
“Hello Margo,” he says. “Been a bit.”
“Matthew,” she replies. “That’s a nice looking suit.”
His suit was navy, the shirt was white, and the tie had a mixture of both. She swings open the door, allowing him passage into her hotel suite. She offers him a plush chair with a gesture of her hand, and he immediately sits down, facing her.
“Thanks girl,” he says, in the off-handed way she remembered from their teenage years. It had, as it did now, made her heart skip a beat.
“Get you a drink?” she asks, leaning over to inspect the contents of the mini fridge.
“That’ll cost you an arm and a leg,” he says.
“I can afford it now,” she replies. “I’m in business for myself. Architecture.”
She hadn’t seen Matthew since high school graduation, and until recently, thought she never would again. He had joined the Navy after school while she attended college. She had tried to track him down before the advent of Facebook, but was unsuccessful. He had dropped out of her thoughts until a few months ago, when his Facebook friend request sat on her profile for weeks unnoticed before she accepted it.
“Not surprised to see me?” he asks.
She wasn’t. After accepting his friend request, she perused his profile. There wasn’t much to peruse. It contained two photos, one of him, and one of him with her, the night before graduation, and the dates he attended high school. Nothing else. He had been a loner, and she, in her estimation, was his only friend in high school.
And she was his only Facebook friend.
She pulls a tiny bottle of gin from the mini fridge and grabs two glasses. She quickly puts ice from the ice bucket into the glasses. Sitting down opposite, she places the bottle of gin in front of him.
“Its like you used to say. Being a bad penny.”
“Always the smart one. I’m glad you went into business for yourself,” he says, flashing that smile again. Her heart skips another beat.
“Thank you,” she says.
He studies her as she cracks open the gin and split it between them. “I’m sorry I don’t have tonic water,” she says.
“I’m here for the paperwork that’s in your briefcase,” he says bluntly.
After years of toil, she had finally built her firm into something bigger than a month to month existence. She had just landed her biggest client yet — work that would take care of her business needs for years. The fact that she had just come from the dinner where she signed said client and having Matthew had show up on her proverbial doorstep was not lost on her. She knew her client had rumored ties to the mob.
She puts the tiny bottle back on the table. “Are you with the agency?”
Matthew gave her the closest thing to a double take. She couldn’t help but smile.
“Your tail is pretty lousy.”
He roars with laughter. “I thought you might have made me yesterday.”
She blinks, momentarily flustered. “You were behind me in the bookstore. Hiding behind a House Beautiful magazine. I recognized your cologne. Old Spice.”
“Tons of guys wear Old Spice.”
She thought about the picture of the two of them, the night before graduation. It was the night he convinced her to drink beer for the first time, and she had gotten silly drunk, so much so that he had to get her home. Even in her drunken stupor, she was aware of him carrying her into her house, past the bedroom of her sleeping parents, and putting her into bed.
Aware how close his face was to hers when he brushed back hair from her face after tucking her in.
“After all these years, I still remember what you smell like,” she says.
Matthew leans forward. “I’ve been staking out the lobby of the hotel for the past two days — “
“I’m the daughter of a cop. I noticed.”
They exchange shy smiles. Matthew leans forward. “We don’t have a lot of time — I am with the agency. What do you know about your client?”
Before she can answer, gunfire shatters their glasses and bottle of gin. They both drop to the floor.
“They probably made you too,” she yells. “On your lobby stake out.”
Matthew gapes at her, finally losing his his steely demeanor. “Why are you so calm?” he asks.
She stares into his piercing green eyes, wishing that they had been something more than friends all those years before. She knew her life would have been infinitely better. But that time had passed — long ago.
She didn’t know what would be worse — him finding out that that she’d lured him to her suite on behest of her client, or knowing that she’d be willing to do as her client asked if he didn’t come willingly.
“Because,” she says. “It pays.”
Architecture didn’t pay much. Outing covert agents to the highest bidder did.