Thursday morning at 11:23, just as she had for the past two months, Alexia tucked a book under her arm and left, she assured Gaston, for time to be alone.
He wondered about her new habit. Was their ten-year marriage cooling? After a month, he started following her. He had lost her on the Metro the week before, but today he trailed her down rue de Cotte where she entered a cafe. He stood watch from behind a delivery van.
Diners arrived. A matron with a shih-tzu in her purse, three business suits, a mother grasping her toddler's hand, a man wearing a leather motorcycle jacket. The biker was taller, more handsome than Gaston, in a rugged way. Gaston rushed to a wedge of sidewalk shaded by the awning and peered through the cafe window.
The biker read his paper at a corner table. Gaston spotted Alexia opposite a gentleman with gray hair-tinged yellow, combed straight back and brushing the collar of his black velvet jacket. His cape hung over the seatback exposing its red lining. She listened and laughed. The old man's face grew younger, his eyes brightened.
He brought a spoon to his mouth and sipped, a bit of cheese clung to his moustache. Alexia leaned forward with her napkin and wiped it away.
His long fingers graced the back of her hand. He pulled it to his lips and kissed her palm.
Gaston paced the block. He recognized the red-lined cape, the velvet jacket and the long hair, but the hair had been black then. Was he an actor? A musician? A conductor? Gaston took up his post and searched his memories as they played out upon the cafe windows.
A slim woman pushing an empty wheelchair entered the restaurant. A few moments later, she reappeared and rolled the old gent away.
Alexia sat at the bar and sipped a cafe creme.
Gaston went to her. "Who is he?"
She stared across the bar past her reflection. "My mother's lover."
"But your mother passed... two months ago."
"Not for him."