Chapter 4

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Art hated Saturdays. People who worked the traditional Monday through Friday workweek were off Saturdays, and they got in his way when he needed to go anywhere, like to the supermarket. Tuesday was his favorite day to shop, around eleven in the morning. He had studied the patterns. Old-timers who tended to get up before dawn would come and go by eleven, finish their shopping, and hurry home to putter around in their gardens, eat their oatmeal, or whatever. Of course, he didn't consider himself to be old. He was in too good of physical shape and his mind, still sharp as a tack. But, Tuesday was senior citizen discount day at the grocery store, five-percent off his total order.

He had enough money saved up to not worry about discounts, but Art was a man of principles, and it was the principle of the thing. If a five-percent discount was offered, then by gum he was going to take advantage of it.

The fateful day he got into trouble at the store had been a Tuesday. Now it was Saturday, and he still didn't have his yogurt. Worse, he had run out of eggs and English muffins. To remedy the situation, he drove to the store, fought his way through the mob of shoppers clogging the aisles and bought what he needed.

He loaded his grocery bags into the back of his Mustang and settled into the driver seat.

Another thing he hated about Saturdays, there were less pull-through parking spots. On Tuesdays at eleven, he could always count on a near-empty parking lot with plenty of pull-throughs. Today, there had been none.

Good fortune smiled as the car parked in front of him was in the process of leaving. No need for him to back out. He despised backing, all those blind spots and people driving too fast. He shoved the shifter into first gear. Just as he was about to ease up on the clutch, a Jeep wheeled into the vacated spot in front of him.

Art cursed under his breath. He glared at the driver who had blocked his path. The other driver glared back at him.

He jolted upright in his seat. Was that? No, it couldn't be.

Except it was.

Mrs. Natalya Henson.

"Hells bells," he mumbled. Of all the parking spots at all the supermarkets in this city, what were the odds? He moved the shift lever from first gear to reverse. He needed to make a quick exit.

Art maneuvered his car from the spot and shifted into first. Before pulling away, he was startled by a rap at his driver window. It was her. Ah, man, what the hell did she want?

He powered down his window. "What?"

The Mustang sat close to the ground. She bent at the waist to get eye level with him. "I'd like to talk to you."

"You have got to be kidding me."

"Please?"

Something in her expression, a desperation gave him pause. "I don't think it's a good idea. Besides, what could you want to talk with me about?"

Her expression changed to a smile. She had perfect, bright white teeth. Art figured she was using her smile as a weapon to win him over to get whatever the hell she was after. It wouldn't work. He wasn't some desperate teen looking for female attention.

A car pulled up behind them, and the driver honked the horn. He was blocking the lane and needed to move. He was on the verge of saying no to her when she pointed toward the row of stores adjacent to the supermarket. "There's a Starbucks over there. I'll buy you a coffee." She moved away from him toward the coffee shop.

The impatient driver behind him tooted the horn again.

Art pulled back into the parking spot he had just vacated to let the driver pass. Would it be rude of him to just leave, drive away, and leave the woman hanging? Well, she had been rude to impose on him in the first place. He remembered the advice his son had given him about steering clear of her. But then he also remembered how youthful she appeared for a fifty-five-year-old, and how she had lost her husband to that bus accident. The two of them had in common the loss of a spouse.

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