Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The First Date Faces the Mask of Zorro

A few minutes later, they found their way blocked by a line of people queuing up in front of the Lighthouse Cinema for the first showing of The Mark of Zorro, a motion picture Penelope had been anxiously waiting to see. Hank stopped and stood in silence.

“I’m sure we can get around them,” Penelope said, pulling his arm gently, around which hers was once again wrapped.

“I’m sure we can too,” Hank said, trying not to grin or look at her.

“I don’t understand.”

He lifted an eyebrow and looked at her.

She gasped. “You mean? … Really?”

“Really,” he said. “Zara said you’re mad for motion pictures and for weeks have talked about nothing but Douglas Fairbanks and masked men swishing swords.”

“Well … I don’t know about that.”

“Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy the picture … and everything else as well. You have Zara to thank for all of it. She clued me in as to all your favorite diversions.”

“It’s you I have to thank, Henry,” she said, rising onto her toes to give his cheek a peck.

As she lowered back down on to her heels she felt her face instantly go red-hot with embarrassment. “I … I apologize … I don’t know what came—”

Hank cut her short by pointing to his other cheek, masking his own amorous embarrassment. Her mouth dropped open in surprise at the invitation, then, her bashfulness giving way to playfulness, she dutifully obliged.

“Now, what should I know about this Zorro fellow?”

Penelope dove into a litany about the masked hero, complete with mimed swordplay. Before they knew it, the line had started to move. Hank adjusted an errant lock of her hair, and she breathed hard from her animated exertions.

“Popcorn?” Hank asked as they entered.

“Pie,” Penelope answered, shaking her head.

“Good idea … but can you wait that long?”

“Hard to say. Depends how good the picture is, I suppose,” she said, growing ever bolder with him.

The couple took their seats in the crowded hall, sandwiched between a man who Penelope was sure was the loudest popcorn eater on the planet and a woman who was hard of hearing and felt the need to engage in loud and constant conversation with her companion. When the lights dimmed, Penelope shifted in her seat for maximum comfort, and placed her gloved hands in her lap. Hank gently lifted one of her hands and held it in his own atop the armrest that separated them. She breathed deeply. Yes, there was no doubt this had been the best day of her life.

[WIP excerpt: Reading Between the Leaves, book 2 in the 1920s Tea Cozy Mysteries series, set to release early 2017]