Games of Aspiration

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The Kingsmen

Day 2 Severn

She slept in till 9, rising in time for breakfast, which she ate at the Poet and Peasant.

She also picked up a lunch of corned beef on rye, pickles, a slab of goat cheese and a small bottle of wine.

She walked out to the edge of the suburb where some ruins of an ancient abbey lay. She spent her afternoon exploring the ruins, including visiting a secret room she had discovered a few years back and had used it as a secret stash. It was by the room, near the river, where she had her lunch.

After lunch she walked along the road that ran along the river, cutting up and sneaking along with a series of alleyways that led directly to her hotel.

There she showered, and prepped for the night’s adventure that excitingly lay ahead!

She went back to the pub again that night for supper, her last evening there if everything played out!

She had dressed it up for an evening out, long black skirt, green, high necked satin blouse, long gold herringbone chain swinging from her throat, and her dangling emerald earrings. She had at first formerly bobbed up her long hair, then rethought it, and settled for a ponytail.

She wanted to be noticed by the regulars so that there would be plenty of whom to recognize she had been around if questioned later on about why she was in the area.

Simply there for a work meeting with a confidential client!

Sitting in the same booth as the night before, she had finished her lite dinner of Welsh rarebit over toasted English muffins, chased down with a glass of Llaethliw Orion wine, and had opened up her booth by heading to again sit at the bar for a final glass of wine/private toast of the evening.

Maggie, the barmaid was again there, and treating her as a regular, started in again on the conversation they had ended off with the night before.

But then, as her new friend Maggie had left the bar to serve on a new table, she was left quite alone.

So, it was not surprising when a male’s voice, speaking from behind her, took the opening and asked if the chair next to her was taken?

She nodded no, looking up with a smile, while out of the corner of her eye she saw that there were actually quite a few open bar stools that ringed the long oak bar.

He is wearing a houndstooth suit, university tie, and a bowler, which he removes, tipping, as he sets it down onto the polished oak bar.

“Not many men can pull off wearing a bowler, but this one does!” She smiles with a bit of inward amusement.

He shyly returns the smile, pulling back the stool and effortlessly sits down upon it.

“He looks like a younger version of my uncle…”

She thinks upon first impressions…

“Especially the neatly trimmed beard!”

But this bloke was wearing glasses with thicke lenses, and probably stood a head taller than her uncle, who himself was a head taller than she.. Even with the glasses magnifying his eyes, she couldn’t of hand say what colour they were, but she suspected they may be greenish-hazel, like both her’s and her uncles…

He orders a pint and when served, he offers it up in toast, saying

“Cheers to this fine evening!”

Smiling(like a schoolgirl she inwardly reprimands herself) she raised her glass of wine in salute, and clinks it against his glass beer mug, saying

“Iechyd da”

He smiles, admitting in all sincerity.

“Never bothered to learn the mother tongue, but it is a pretty saying is it not?!”

She smiles with guilt, also admitting

“That’s actually the only phrase I know in welsh”.

He chortles, looks away and takes a long pull from his mug, examines the reflections in the mirror behind the bar.

The reflection of Erik’s grinning skull clearly stands out…

Setting his mug down, he turns towards her and asks…

“What’s up with the skull?” nodding towards the reflection.

She looked up, figuring that sounding like a local should work in her benefit, though she had only recently learned the story behind the grinning yellowed skull.

“That is Erik!”

“Cheers Erik, nice to meet!” He responds with a silly ass grin as he takes a drink.

She smirked, then continues…

Poor blighter was a 14th-century Welsh poet and balladeer who supposedly was beheaded for making several torrid lyrics about a certain Saxon king. Though the lyrics are long forgotten, Erik’s remains still reign here.!”

Hmmm he said

This pub has been here that long then, who’d of thought!”

She laughed, easily, because of the wine she convinced herself,

“No, there have been several pubs on this spot for about 200 years, but Erik came to us from an old castle that was abandoned and torn down after the potatoe famines…”

“Interesting,” He said, taking another sip, then turning towards her…

She could see his kindly eyes traveling down along her figure.

She didn’t mind and blushed a bit, feeling her usually cautious demeanor breaking down. Quite uncharacteristically under this type of fire.

Was it because he looked like her Uncle?

“So what brings you around these parts?” she asks, more than a bit curious…

“I am a professor of history, finishing studies for my doctorate. I am planning a university ordered lecture series on medieval church architecture, and came here to study a local church. Rather a bore, for my field is not really along those lines”

He smiles winningly….

She smiles back, her eyes wide and happy…

But behind his smile, lies a secret, of that she is sure.

She had certainly noticed that he doesn’t ask her name, and realizes it may be because he doesn’t want to give his! Perhaps he didn’t just come here to study an old church? She looks for the marks of a wedding band but does not see that he has ever worn one.

She thinks, sarcastically, wrinkling her nose as she suppresses an unladylike giggle.

“Two strangers meeting up in a pub, each with their secrets. How often does that happen in a pub!”

He sets his empty glass down.

“It is not far, if you would like a look, closed for the night, but it’s best features are outside.”

“What’s not far?” She asks, already concluding that the church was not real!

He answers with a chuckle...

She winces, it sounds just like her uncle’s chuckle!

in the back of her mind, she is thinking…

“Best features are on the outside, eh mate… and what other outer features you will be studying if I go with along with ye!”

But, not giving any of her thoughts away, she nods and happily accepts.

He leads her out of the warm pub, into the coolness of the late evening.

They walk one block in, then three more in along the river’s path.

“A romantic stroll for love birds!” she thinks, and wonders, again out of her character if this intriguing man is thinking the same!

They first came to an ancient cemetery, the upright headstones looking like the broken, gaping teeth of some monster!

They go around a bend, coming up to the ancient stone church.

He walks her around, explaining in detail the building and the techniques that were used to construct it.

To her, it sounds like he reciting a brochure from the local museum!

So, for a second time wonders if this bloke is a professor. He may be walking the walk, but his mannerisms are more akin to someone like her uncle, sophisticated, but with many depths to his character that lay hidden within!

Finished, he leads her away, cutting up the side road and soon they are back on the main road.

Coming out a block off from where the flat she is planning to burgle, in a few hours, is located.

She smiles, wondering what this charming gentleman would make of that tidbit about

her!

They walk down the block, and to her surprise, he stops directly in front of Steven’s building.

He begins to describe the architectural features of the building, and as he does, in the back of her mind she wonders if stopping here is a coincidence, or not?

But she can still happily see that the top suite still looks deserted!

She askes him about the gables...

And as he begins to cite examples she starts walking away, with him nonchalantly following as he continues with his ‘lecture’!

Soon they are walking down the main road, passing the pub from across the street.

He stops his prattle, asking her...

“So where are we going?”

She smiles sweetly…

“You are walking me back to my hotel, sir. And I greatly appreciate the gesture!”

He Answered, startled...

“Oh, I see, very nice of me to do that then!”

They both smile at each other, continuing on their way.

About a block before her hotel, across the street, was a fancy Italian restaurant, catering to the snooty, was how she thought of it after attempting to check it out on a previous visit.

As they were on that side of the street now, they passed before it, both of them looking inside the large window at the well-dressed people seated d inside.

Her companion snorts with disdain!

Surprised that he shares her feelings about the place, she curiously asks….

What’s that then?”

He nods towards a couple, male and female, seated at a table by the wall.

She follows his lead...

The girl is a long-haired natural blonde, dressed in a burgundy colored taffeta dress, wearing a rather nice diamond bracelet glittering expensively under the restaurant’s incandescent lights! The bracelet is her only jewelry being worn. She appears to be of the easily giggling sort!

He is thin, Weasley faced sleazy gent, pointed nose, thin mustache, dressed in a linen suit, that even though it looks tailored, doesn’t fit him properly!

Nodding his head again towards the oblivious couple, he says…

“Nasty piece of work that one!”

She teases sweetly,

“Who? The lady?”

He smirks, still staring down at the table inside…

“No Lass, I know that bloke, He, um, came down on the same train as I did!”

He turns to her, his face rather grim…

“Appears to me to be the sort who would take candy from a baby, sleeping or not! Someone should warn that silly dish he is with to keep ahold of her jewels, otherwise, he will be stealing them and pawning ’em off by morning!”

She looks, with practiced shock, into his eyes…

“Stealing jewels! My word!

She exclaimed, trying not to overdo her reaction, as she innocently, places a hand on her gold chain, lifting it, like they very idea was out of her realm of comprehension before adding…

“I really can’t imagine a bloke doing that to a lady!... But that bracelet is a rather expensive thing for her to be flaunting about!”

He looked down at her,

“You know jewels then miss?”

She swore to herself for being cocky, it was just that she had felt almost too comfortable being with this stranger like she had known him for ages!

“What girl doesn’t?

She said, smiling at him like he should know that fact!

Then she changed the subject...

“What’s the bloke’s name?”

He stammers for a second before answering with a touch of guilt...

“um, er... I never caught his name… But trust me, avoid him at all costs!”

He says no more to elaborate, and she does not press the issue.

Neither wants to give anything more up to the other…

They both turn and walk on in the silence of their thoughts until they reach her hotel.

“I’m here!” she states stopping and turning to face him...

“Thank you for seeing me home, the tour of the church was smashing!”

She lied to his face, not knowing how to end this unexpected meeting!

He tips his bowler to her, before politely taking leave.!

For some reason, as they part and go separate ways, she is reminded of John Steed from the Avengers telle show, who used to tip his bowler with the same sly grin he had just given her!

With this in mind, she heads up to her rooms, then goes directly to the window that overlooks the front walk….

Curious, she opens the curtains and peaks out.

She sees him walking briskly away, stopping momentarily again at the restaurant window to have another look in.

Then shaking his head, hands in his pocket, pulls out a pipe, gets it going, and, with hands in his pocket, continues walking with a casual step till he is lost to sight in the rising mist…

She turns, and plops down on her bed, still dressed, mulling things over as she begins to snooze for about an hour before she begins her ‘project’

“Just who is he?”

“Not possible that it was Steven, would it?”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Next Up

Chapter 11

king’s Rook, Castled

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