“Those are the exact words that you used? You said nothing else?” He glanced down into the cup of tea in his hand. The brown liquid had slowed in its movements. His eyes suddenly flicked from the cup to the woman who sat across from him.
“The train has stopped and there is smoke on the tracks.” She said. ” Looks from here like the tracks are crossed or something.” She leaned closer to the window, her blue eyes narrowing and her long neck careening as if to get a better view of things. Under different circumstances, Michael would have made his play to touch the milk white of her flesh. It was so inviting. And the way her soft perfume filled their train car…He had always found her to be so tempting.
He pushed the errant thoughts aside. There would be no play with Ms. Hines, not today, not ever.
He said her name, the question of his tone and yet the hint of force made her click her tongue and turn her face to him with an icy glare. “I have not cause to lie, Mr. Howard.” She sat back and folded her arms tight across her chest.
Michael swirled the liquid in his tea cup. He didn’t care for the stillness. “I am not so sure about that,”
Ms. Hines’ ruby lips parted to offer a curt reply, he was certain, but he cut her off with the wave of his hand. “You did leave without word, and things did turn a bit sticky with the authorities shortly thereafter.”
“Be that as it may, I am not responsible! I told you what I said. Verbatim.” She pointed her finger at him. Michael offered a smile. Ms. Hines was clearly agitated and with good reason. No one liked to be found at all in the midst of their escape, especially not on the first leg of it. He had certainly ruffled her feathers by his being there. He picked up the teapot. The silver of the metal was still hot to the touch. It smelled just as inviting as Ms. Hines’ perfume, more so if he were honest. He always loved Earl Grey. He poured her a cup and waited silently as she sipped from it.
Her blue eyes wondered up to meet the deepness of his brown, her lambskin gloved hand finding its way to his knee. The woman was forward. Michael kept his face straight.
“Did he send you here to kill me, Mr. Howard? Mr. Ward want you to fill me with bullet holes for skipping town on him?”
Michael allowed a smile to bloom across his face. “I’d never think of filling you with bullets, Ms. Hines, never in a thousand lifetimes. Not to mention the fact you seem to have kept your hands clean as far as Mr. Wards business dealings are concerned, even though it was very foolish of you to stick your nose in them in the first place. You should have known better than to do that.”
Ms. Hines dabbed her lips. “But no harm was done.”
No harm was done?! Michael could smell the fresh notes of money along with the tea and perfume. Ms. Hines may not have tipped off the cops, but whoever she had sung her canary song for had. She was a sly fox if ever he saw one.
“So you see, Mr. Howard, there was no cause for you to follow me. Mr. Ward and I were due to go our separate ways and you and I both know me asking his permission was not a wise thing.”
“Neither was running, but what’s done is done, I suppose.” The wheels of the train screeched against the tracks. The smoke was clearing and the train would be moving along soon. Ms. Hines yawned and leaned forward touching her forehead. A green haze had washed over her. She was suddenly sick.
Michael knew then it was time he take his leave. He stood up, buttoned his jacket, adjusted his hat. “What are you doing?” Ms. Hines choked out before unbuttoning the top button of her dress. She was beginning to sweat. That was a side effect.
Michael stared at her bags before quickly deciding which one contained her payoff. He grabbed its handle and slid it from its place. Ms. Hines stood but dropped back down to her seat. “You-you,” She groaned and took up the cup of tea, gulping it down greedily. “What are you doing?” She finally managed. They would probably be her last words. It was a shame really. Such pretty woman she was. “I am not well…”
“You’ll be fine soon.” Michael lied and Ms. Hines understood, her eyes following his to the teapot, the one he had offered her drink from but had never tasted.
Ms. Hines’ fist clenched. “I thought you we–were not going to kill,” Michael leaned forward and touched her lips.
“Save your strength doll. I didn’t lie to you. I told you I wouldn’t fill you full of bullets. Tea was never part of the bargain, but then neither double crossing Mr. Ward like you did.” The train lurched forward again. The smoke from ahead passed by their window. Micheal moved along with it.