The days were shorter as winter came, and it was always dark by the time the bank closed. One Monday was a usual busy commercial day with all of the local businesses coming in to drop off the weekend’s money and picking up coin orders. When it was 10 minutes to close, he came in. The girls at the teller lines knowingly looked at each other and struck up a conversation with him.
“Sorry mister, Leah isn’t here today.” Jen said, trying her best to keep a straight face.
“Oh? Well then I’ll have to come back tomorrow. Tell her I stopped by,” Gabriel smiled at them as he played along and went to leave, but caught the manager just as she was getting out of another room.
“Mr. Evans! You’re late today.” She noted as she looked at her watch.
“I’m sorry, work went long. Am I keeping all of you here? Cause I really need these through today.” he said motioning to his case full of bonds and checks.
“No you’ll only be stuck with me. Unless you need something else?”
“Oh no. Just the transfers.”
“Awesome. Please have a seat in my office, I’ll be right with you,” Leah directed a hand to her office and he walked himself over.
It took them 30 minutes after closing to put his money where it needed to go, and all the security measures that came with it. Beyond the required inquiry, Leah never asked, only accepted his transactions as you would expect from a large business. Gabriel waited in the lobby for her as Leah went behind the teller side and made sure everything was properly closed off for the night. He sat on the armrest of the sofa seat, watching as she came out with her coat in hand. He smiled at Leah as she walked to the doors.
“Here, let me help.” Gabriel offered and Leah put her purse on the chair as she let him help her with the coat. He smiled at her as he stood behind her, and she ruined the moment when she went around around him and grabbed her purse.
“I do apologize for keeping you in after hours. But this transaction really couldn’t have waited long.”
“It’s no trouble at all, just doing my job.”
“And going above and beyond. How are you going back home, I don’t see a car here.”
“Oh, no. My car’s at the shop. It was overdue for maintenance. But one of the benefits of the job is that I get a house nearby,”
“That’s nice of them. Can I drive you home, I have no urgent place to be.”
His persistence amused her and she laughed.
“I’m sure you don’t but, it’s barely more than 10 minutes on foot. And anyway, it’s seems nice out tonight.”
“Well, then I must find another way to repay you.”
“You do know you’re already paying me, right? As I am your personal banker?”
He laughed embarrassed.
“That wasn’t so smooth, was it? But that’s just an excuse, I’d love to take you to dinner sometime. Do something not based on work.”
“I’d very much like to look forward to it!” Leah said, grabbing her purse strap with both hands.
Gabriel chuckled at her insistence to object and took his cue by reaching for her hand.
“Goodnight, Miss Walters.” He said as he kissed her hand.
Leah didn’t wait to see if Gabriel drove away, and started her way up the gradual hill. The shadows danced as the string lights swung to the gentle breeze. A motorbike zoomed by, going down hill, fastening her heart rate, and her pace. It didn’t help to see two shady looking guys eyeing her creepily from the opposite footpath. Leah quickly returned her attention to walking ahead, but the lump in her throat made it hard for her to ignore the men who were starting to follow her.
The men began whistling and laughing, at times throwing a comment or two, which she knew was about her. Amidst their laughs she heard footsteps behind her, on her side of the road. She hugged her purse to her chest and dug in a hand to find her can of pepper spray. But as soon as her hand touched the metal, an arm wrapped around her waist and a hand held hers, stopping her from using the spray.
“There you are sweetheart! I thought I asked you to wait for me?” Gabriel’s voice was louder than it needed to be had he just been talking to her. She could tell the boys on the other side had heard him from their loud wails of disappointment and jeers directed to him.
“It would help if you acted the part,” he spoke, just to her this time, his voice more suggesting than commanding.
Leah rest her head on his shoulder, and he drew her more closer into his side, even kissing the top of her head.
He only let her go when she had thoroughly convinced him that they were at her place.
“Maybe I should’ve driven you home after all,” he said as he held her hand in his.
“Maybe you should’ve. Would you like to come in for coffee, I guess now I have to thank you for being my hero tonight.”
“You can thank me by going out to dinner with me some night. But I’m afraid as it turns out, I do have some urgent matter to attend to tonight.”
She blushed at his worry for her.
“I’ll be fine. I have a great security system. And a can of pepper spray!” she joked as she finally took out the can.
“At a better time, perhaps I can teach you some self defense.”
“It’s a date!” Leah exclaimed as she put out her hand for him to shake. Instead he took it around his neck and pulled her close for a hug. When they broke, Leah spontaneously kissed him, cupping his head while his hands held her close to him. She could sense the effort it took of him to break away.
“I’ll hold you to it,” he breathed as he kissed her forehead and pried himself away and back down the hill.
Leah quickly closed the door behind him, but kept looking at him till he was in sight, then he disappeared below the hill and she walked into her house, wondering what had come up.