This one is the next part of “How I met Mr Wonderful“, which I produced a couple of years ago as part of a different writing challenge and is probably the least ‘me’ and the most fun writing I’ve ever done. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to sustain Stella’s lifestyle for long enough to finish her story, but I’d love to try. And of course, meeting up with Mr Wonderful again is always nice.
He knows what he’s doing. Of course he does. If you ever feel the urge to jump off the Orient Express in the night as it hurtles across France, he’s definitely the guy for the job.
First he drags me back down the length of the train – Mr De Jong apparently being occupied somewhere near the front – allowing me a brief incursion into my cabin to retrieve my handbag. Fortunately I make it a habit never to travel with anything personal in my overnight bag; one too many lost pieces of aeroplane hold luggage cured me of that. So I abandon it and allow myself to be pulled through the rest of the train. We slow each time we encounter a fellow passenger, and Mr Wonderful tries to look less like he’s a caveman in an Alexander McQueen suit and more like a bashful lover taking his sweetheart for a nice walk along the train. Prior to a “North by North West” style night of passion in a railway bunk, presumably.
I keep trying to ask him why exactly he’s so worried about Anders de Jong, but he hushes me with a sound like a pre-whistling kettle, so in the end I give up.
And then we enter the viewing coach, which is fortunately empty, and he puts his hand on the handle to open the last door… and it’s locked. I’m bitterly disappointed. I’d pictured the back of the train being an open platform where you went after dinner to smoke. Or, in this case, to jump off. Instead there was just a normal door, with just a tiny pane of glass in it. Is nothing sacred?
I start looking around for a window to open, which is pretty futile as the whole train is sealed tight so that the nasty plebs we’re rolling past don’t get a whiff of the sweet smell of wealth within.
But as it happens, windows are not required, not with Mr W about. He reaches into his jacket and brings out a weirdly shaped piece of metal, which he proceeds to insert into the hole in the door beneath the handle. Because of course one always carries a guard’s key with one on train journeys.
He grins at me, and my knees do that melting thing again. Then he opens the door, and the tracks are suddenly blurring away from us just a couple of metres distant.
“Come on”, he says, and pulls me through the door. For one horrible moment I think he’s going to jump onto the tracks zipping past at some hideous speed, but actually we squeeze into the oval rubbery bit just beyond the door, which he then shuts again and locks. Leaving us squished together in an area of rather less than a square metre, and with absolutely nowhere to go.
I can see him faintly in the (red) light from the lamps on the back of the train, and he’s grinning again. He moves his mouth down to my ear and speaks loudly enough for me to hear over the noise of the train.
“We’ll have to stay here for a while. At least this way we’re hidden.”
I can feel his warm breath on my neck, and his body is pressed close to mine from head to toe. He smells… well, wonderful. I try to think of something sensible to say but my brain seems to have gone for a coffee break.
“Stella?” he says, putting both hands on my shoulders.
I look at him in the red glow and smile up at him.
“Is that an attaché case full of secrets clamped awkwardly between your legs, or are you just happy to see me?” I ask.
He smirks, a dimple coming and going in his chin. “Both”, he says. And kisses me.