“Isn’t it?” Ian’s eyes twinkled. “We’ll be going out on dates. Dinner. Dancing. How does that sound?”
“Depends. Are you a good dancer?”
“You’ll find out soon enough.” He straightened a spoon lying on the table. “I promise to show you all the sights of London. All that haven’t been bombed, that is.”
“I love the sights of London.”
“In a few days, we’ll be going to a formal affair. There you’ll meet your Spanish mark.”
“Don’t tell me. I’m going to choose him over you?”
“Yes. And no. Even though I’m amazingly irresistible, I’m limited in my entertaining potential by my captain’s salary. I’m afraid I just can’t provide all the fineries that your little scheming heart desires.
“I have a scheming heart?”
“The schemingest.” Ian’s eyes danced with mischief. “Sometimes we argue. I’m sorry.” He forced a frown.
Marie laughed. “Me, too.”
“Now your Spaniard isn’t nearly as frugal as I. He loves spending money.”
Ian shook his head. “Deeply in debt. So he spends money to keep anyone from finding out.”
“You expect him to shower money on me?”
“If you do your job, yes.” Ian made a show of scrutinizing her appearance. “You merit at least a diamond necklace.” He threw up his hands. “How can I possibly compete with that?”
“You can’t,” Marie said, imitating haughtiness. Then she became serious. “In exchange for his gifts, I give him information.”
“That’s the general idea.”
“Information I get from you.”
“Yes. So you see, I’ll still be hanging around, mooning over you, trying to get you to come back to me.”
“And I’ll pretend to come back. Just to use you.”
“That doesn’t make me a very nice person, does it?”
“Don’t worry. I know your heart really belongs to me. At least, for the purposes of this mission.”
“I’m surprised your heart is free,” she said teasingly.
His eyes deadened, and he glanced away for the briefest of moments. When he met her gaze again, the warmth had returned. If she weren’t so skilled at noticing such things, she would have missed his pain.
“I’m sorry,” she said, placing her hand on his arm. “I obviously said the wrong thing.”
“No harm done.” He picked up the script. “Right now, you need to learn these lines.”
“You’re right, I do. Colin says I already have the part. But I don’t want the rest of the cast thinking I didn’t deserve it.”
“I don’t have to be back to HQ for another couple of hours. Let’s find a quiet place and get started.”
Ian looked at her in mock horror. “I trust your intentions toward me are honorable, young lady.”
“The honorable-est,” she said, laughing.
“Then let’s go.”
When they arrived at the flat, Marie put on a kettle for tea and changed into a more comfortable dress. Ian hung his jacket on the coat tree and sank into an upholstered chair. Butterflies flitted through Marie’s stomach as she studied her lines and practiced the audition scene.
In just a little over an hour, she knew the lines well enough to perform them.
“That was perfect,” Ian said. “Even with nothing but the hearth as your stage, I see you as Titania.”
Marie curtseyed. “Thank you, kind sir.” She sank to the floor, drawing her legs up beneath her.
Ian moved from the chair to join her on the floor. “It amazes me how quickly you memorize. It’s good that you do. This script isn’t all you have to learn.”
“Memorization has always come easy for me.”
He glanced at his watch. “I need to get back to HQ. How about dinner tomorrow night?”
“I’ll pick you up at the theatre after the audition. Remember to be thrilled to see me.”
“I will be,” she promised.
He grabbed his hat and jacket. “Till tomorrow then. Break a leg.”
“Thanks.” She closed the door after him, then plopped in an upholstered chair. What a strange life she was leading. Her real self was going to be a fairy queen while her actress self was playing her identity, a scheming woman juggling the hearts of two men. And aching for a third.
She glanced at the bag tucked beside her chair. Late yesterday afternoon, she had retrieved it from the locker at the train station, but she hadn’t opened it yet.
Unlatching the bag, she removed the jacket and checked the pockets. Both were empty. Pressing the soft leather against her cheek, she inhaled the fading aftershave. She drew it across her shoulders as Frost had done and imagined he sat beside her before the dying fire.
Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current works in progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman. Click here for a full list of rules and suggestions.