This is Part 3 of the series told in reverse order, so it takes place before Part 2. The brief for this section included: a mirror, a conversation with a child, and an unforeseen consequence.
“Yes, Hannah. I promise I’ll bring you back a present from my trip to America,” Michael said, speaking into his laptop screen. The little girl on the other end of the Skype call grew excited.
“What kind of gift, Daddy?” she said.
“Well, that depends on you. If you’re a good girl for Mummy, I’ll make sure it’s extra special, but you have to behave.”
“I’m being have!” she announced. “Today, I put away all my toys, and I took my nap the first time Mummy told me to.”
“The first time?” Michael asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Ok, the second time. But I promise I didn’t get up even once.”
“That’s very good. I’m glad you’re being a good girl. Now put your mother back on. I have to go soon. Good night, sweetie.”
“Good night, Daddy,” Hannah said, then disappeared from view.
“Hey honey,” said Elizabeth as she returned to Michael’s screen. “Was she able to con you into getting her a gift?” she asked with chuckle.
“Maybe,” he laughed. “And maybe I’ll have something special for you too.” The cryptic tone in his voice piqued her curiosity.
“Oh really? What have you done?”
“Nothing. Yet.” The evil smile on his lips made Elizabeth laugh. “But I have to go. It may be bedtime on your side of the Pond, but I have one last business meeting on mine. I’ll be home tomorrow. Love you.”
“Love you too. Have a safe flight,” she said, and Michael disconnected the link on his computer.
He stared at the blank screen for a few moments. Am I really prepared to do what I came here for? She deserves to have that watch back. But can I really go through with this? he thought. He pushed himself up from his chair and checked himself in the mirror. To make this work, he’d have to look his best.
He positioned himself at the end of the bar which gave him a perfect view of the door. The private detective’s instructions had been perfectly clear: Target, MT, short, sandy hair, blue eyes, average height, won’t turn every head, but attractive and perfectly dressed. Works in midtown. Visits same pub every Thursday after work usually around 6:30pm. Rarely goes home alone.
He looked around the room full of people. The conversations were soft and subdued. Michael wouldn’t describe this as your normal pick-up joint, but that’s what it would be tonight. Never in my life have I considered cheating on Elizabeth, and this is how it’s going to happen? he thought to himself. “Gin and tonic,” Michael said to the bartender, hoping the cocktail would strengthen his resolve and lower his inhibitions. He chastised himself his thoughts. You knew what you had to do before you even made the arrangements for this trip to New York. Why are you letting guilt get in the way? This is the only way to get Elizabeth’s watch back!
Michael spent the next half hour working on his drink but never letting his gaze leave the front door. He watched a few more people come in, analyzing each one. Since meeting with the private detective, he’d studied the picture of his target to make sure he knew who he was looking for. So far, no match. Too tall. Too short. Dark hair. As the bar filled up, he began to wonder if this Thursday evening would be the one variation in routine. He hoped not. This was his only chance before returning to London.
At last, he spotted the person he’d come to New York to see who walked in the door and headed straight towards the bar. Michael downed his drink, fixed his jacket and worked his way to the other end of the bar. The bartender chatted with a few other customers while he finished mixing their cocktails, giving Michael the opening he needed as he slid in beside the thief who’d stolen his wife’s watch those many years ago.
“The bar’s full tonight,” Michael said.
“Sure is. Going to take forever to get a drink.”
“Let’s hope not. I could really use another one.”
Michael caught the bartender’s attention who came over and asked, “Another gin and tonic?”
“Absolutely, and one for my new friend here,” he said, throwing on his sexiest smile.
“Rum and coke would be great. Thanks so much.”
“My pleasure,” Michael said. “It’ll be nice to have some company. I hate drinking alone.”
“I couldn’t agree more. It’s been a long day. Some company would be nice.”
The bartender placed their drinks in front of them, and Michael picked his up and took a drink. He steeled his nerves and extended his hand. “I’m Michael, by the way.”
“I’m Matthew. It’s nice to meet you.”