"Taxi!" Maria shouted, waving her free hand in the air like a mad person while trying to balance the open magazine over her head to avoid the worst of the downpour that was currently soaking through her borrowed tennis shoes.
"Oh, please let there be another one soon," she prayed, daring to take her phone out of the back pocket of her jeans and glancing at the time. "Late. I'm going to be so late," she mumbled, eyes turning back to the traffic rushing past her. There was a loud thunderclap in the distance and she jumped in surprise, then laughed at herself and the ridiculous picture she must be making. Squinting through the raindrops threatening to drown her eyelashes she spotted a taxi coming her way and she edged out as far onto the curb as she dared and waved her arm again.
"Taxi!" she shouted against the rain, and gave a triumphant little squeal when she noted the cab flicking on his turn signal and slowing down right in front of her! She just might make her interview after all! Delighted with the turn of events she reached down to adjust the strap of her messenger bag as the cab pulled up to the curb. Just as she reached her hand out to grab the handle she felt a shoulder push into hers and an elderly gentleman force his body between her and the cab, holding his cane in front of him as he slithered into the seat with speed belying his obvious age.
"Are you kidding me!," Maria shouted.
"This was my cab! It's bloody pouring out here! You can't just push someone out of the way you mannerless ass! You think I won't pull an old man from a cab, well, you're right, I wouldn't, but that's beside the point! Have you no decency at all you selfish mean old-"
"Save your complaints for someone who cares," the old man gave her a dirty look and shut the door in her face. Maria rapped on the window trying to get the man's attention or the taxi drivers, she wasn't sure which, but surely there were rules, finders keepers and all that. But as the cab accelerated off the curb she realized that clearly there were no rules, or manners that applied.
Seething, she squashed the desire to flip the bird at the fading red taillights and swiped at her face and through her soaking wet hair. She didn't hear the tall man behind her chuckle at her antics as he flicked his collar up against the rain and stepped out onto the sidewalk.
"Chivalry truly is dead," she mumbled, trudging back onto the sidewalk and feeling the wet slosh of her shoes and hearing the loud squelch as she stamped her foot and turned back to taxi hunting.
Digging her phone out of her pocket again she looked at the time and sighed. There was nothing for it, she was never going to make the interview unless a miracle happened. She'd have to text the agency and let them know she needed to reschedule, which was unprofessional at this last minute but there seemed to be no hope.
Thumbs flying over the little keyboard buttons on her phone and her tongue poking out in concentration Maria didn't see the man standing a few steps to her right, watching her with an amused smirk.
Glancing up from her furious texting she spotted another taxi in the distance and decided maybe God had heard her prayer after all, one more try, three was the magic number after all, right? Reaching back to shove her phone into her back pocket again Maria hadn't realized her fingers had gotten so wet and she watched the phone slip down into a puddle as though it was slow motion.
"Sod it all!," she groused, bending down and fishing it out of the puddle with grimace, wondering if the rice trick she had read about on the internet really did work at drying out phones. She could not afford a new one right now. She couldn't afford anything right now, which is why she was on this blasted curb trying desperately to get to her interview.
Squatting by the puddle and rubbing the phone against her shirt she heard a piercing whistle beside her and turned to watch a tall man in a suit hail the taxi that she had been so certain God had sent just for her. Closing her eyes against the sting of frustrated tears she straightened up only to find the man looking straight at her, his hand on the door handle of the taxi.
"I'm sorry, Fraulein, I hope I'm not overstepping but I saw what happened to you earlier, with that, what did you call him, oh yes, mannerless ass," he pulled open the door and gestured to the interior. "If you will just tell," he peered into the cab and squinted a bit, "Ernie here where you would like to go I'm sure he will be happy to take you."
"Thank you," she breathed, knowing that she was grinning like fool at a total stranger in the street, knowing that she should be getting into the cab and not staring at the bluest eyes she had ever seen, and not wishing that he would say something else in that fantastic accent of his. Was it German? Shaking her head to clear it she gathered herself together.
"I'm headed to the Aigen Building, Ernie. Thank you again sir, you've restored my faith in gentleman," she flashed him a smile and started to climb into the cab, her shoes making a loud squelch that she was certain the handsome stranger had heard.
"Uh, I don't mean to be forward but I am headed to that building as well, would you mind terribly, sharing the cab with me. I would be happy to pay the fare in exchange," he offered in that wonderful voice that made her want to slip into a durndell and yodel. What was wrong with her? The stress of finding a job to pay tuition had finally cracked her. Realizing he was waiting for her permission she slid over.
"Of course," Maria agreed, deciding to be pleased that she might be able to afford lunch today if she didn't have to pay for the cab. She gave the man a smile as he slid into the car. Oh good Lord, she closed her eyes briefly, he smelled obscenely good, crawl into his lap delicious. She wondered how long she could hold her breath so she could resist the temptation of sniffing him? Why wasn't he soaking wet with squashy socks like her? It was unfair that someone should look as though they had stepped from the pages of magazine in this weather.
She studied him under her lashes, there was something vaguely familiar about him… Maybe it was because he looked like a Bavarian Ken Doll? Suddenly remembering the story that Sister Berthe had told her about Ted Bundy being such a handsome man in his youth she grew wary. He really was too pretty to be true. She felt herself scooting all the way over the door on the other side and pressing herself into it. After all, tall dark and Nordic here could be a serial killer too, and Ernie looked to weigh even less than she did.
Watching her try and melt herself into the opposite door the gentleman smirked again as he settled into the seat. "Fraulein, I assure that I only want to get out of this cursed rain and onto my next meeting. I have a daughter not much younger than you, I assure you I am not interested," he sneered, smoothing down an invisible wrinkle in his vest and flicking a stray raindrop off his shoulder.
Maria let out a little scoff, unsure why she was offended by his claim to be interested in her, after all was that not what she wanted? Assurance that he wasn't a crazed sex pervert? She rolled her eyes at him and clutched her bag tighter to her chest as the taxi began to move.
"Thank you for assuring me you're not interested, sir," she snipped, turning back to rubbing her phone against a dry patch she had found on her shirt. It appeared to still be working and she sighed with relief. If they didn't hit to much traffic she could make her interview, a minute or two late but at least she would have shown up.
"Is it broken?"
"Is what broken?"
"Your mobile, was it damaged in the puddle?"
"No, it appears to be working alright. And if this taxi would move just a little faster then I just might make my interview. I am hoping to land a summer job. So all in all the day is looking a little brighter."
"You have an interview? At the Aigen building? Are you planning to change when you get there?" he asked, his eyes taking in her sopping wet hair, her dinosaur t-shirt, soaked at the cuffs jeans and tennis shoes that were dripping steadily onto the floor of the cab.
Disgusted and suddenly exhausted, Maria furrowed her brow and blew her stringy bangs out of her eyes, "Is there a language barrier here or are you trying to be rude on purpose?"
"I assure you I am not trying to be rude. It is the simple truth that you look less than professional right now and I know that most of the offices in that building are, uh, more formal than what you are wearing."
"Well, for your information I did look professional this morning, Mister Three Piece Suit. But I made a stop at the children's home where I intern to see my mentor for a little last minute pep talk and one of the boys spilled a giant container of fruit punch all over me and so I had to grab whatever I could from the donation box."
"The Donation Box? Is this a store?"
"No, it's where people drop off unused clothing and shoes for the less fortunate and the nuns at the convent oversee the distribution. This was all that was left in the box that would fit."
"I see. Most unfortunate for you that this shirt was all they had left," he pointed to the giant Tyrannosaurus on her shirt that was grinning and winking.
"Yes, that's why I am wearing this jacket with the unicorn patch on it, to cover the back of the shirt," she turned her back toward him and shrugged her shoulders so the jacket would fall a bit.
"Ah, I can see why you wouldn't want to walk into an interview with 'I've got a fine Tyrannosaur-ASS' written on you," he smiled fully, revealing his even white teeth. Maria sighed, he really was a Ken doll. Why couldn't she have met this man this morning, when she was in her blue suit and her makeup didn't look like she might have done the walk of shame the night before?
"I don't know," she wondered aloud, running her fingertip across the fuzzy unicorn mane, "I rather thought the unicorn jacket was the real low point to the outfit. But I haven't the time to change and I need the job, badly. I'm getting my doctorate and tuition isn't free. If the outfit doesn't impress then I shall have to dazzle them with my sparkling personality," she gave nervous laugh and made herself unclench the fabric of her bag.
"Mmm," was his only response.
Maria decided that she really hadn't the energy to continue this conversation further and tried to look very busy and important on her phone. What an odd man. One minute offering her a cab and the next insulting her. She couldn't wait to get out of this little torture chamber. She glanced at the advertisements scrolling by on the taxi's little screen. Ah, the Lonely Goatherd was hiring exotic dancers, she laughed to herself before starting to hum the opening bars to an old Tina Turner song. Probably not a place someone who had been raised in a convent orphanage by nuns would feel comfortable working. Maria was startled out of her exotic dancer fantasy when his mobile rang.
"Von Trapp," he answered in a harsh tone. Maria winced and felt bad for whomever was on the other side of that call. She gazed out the window and tried to turn a bit to give him privacy for his call, of which she would hear everything.
"Max! Max, slow down. I can't understand you when you screech like that. What? Is that-are there chickens in the background? I hope to hell you are outside of the house!"
"You're not. Are you fuc-pardon me Fraulein," he nodded his head in her direction in apology.
"Are you kidding me? How many chickens?"
"Can you catch them?"
"I don't know, put them in a box and take them back outside?" Maria gave a snort of laughter but tried to pass it off as a coughing fit at his sharp glance.
"Where did the boys get them from?"
"Dressed them? The chickens are in the girls old baby clothes?" Maria watched as Bavarian Ken squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose. Taking pity on him and the exasperated and sad look that had crossed his face as he listened to the Max person on the other end of the line Maria put her hand on his arm to get his attention.
"Pomegranates," she whispered.
"What? Pardon me for a moment Max," he placed his hand over the end of the phone and gave her hard stare.
"I don't have any pomegranates. Do you need Ernie to stop?"
"No, sir. Tell your Max that chickens love pomegranate seeds. Do you happen to have any in your kitchen?"
"Max," he barked into the phone, "Are there any pomegranates in the kitchen, go and see if Cook has any," he said, glancing back at Maria who was mouthing the words "he just needs the seeds" and doing a little pantomime of leaving a trail of them.
"Really?" He whispered to her, "That will work?"
"Yes, Max I am still here. She had some? Wonderful, uh, the lady in the cab with me says to lay down a trail and the chickens will follow it. She claims they love them."
"No, it's not Elsa," he said, lowering his tone so that Maria had to lean over to hear him, without looking as though she was hanging on his every word and trying to hear the man on the other end as well.
"No, I'm not on date. I am simply sharing a cab back to the office." Maria heard the man on the other end laugh and ask her taxi companion if the lady he was riding with was pretty.
"Max, stop. I won't dignify that with an answer," he said, glancing over to make sure Maria was still looking out the window. Maria hid her smile behind her hand as she heard Max claim that not dignifying it was the same thing as saying yes.
"Focus, please. The chickens Max? Are the pomegranates working?" He ran a hand through his hair and Maria suppressed another sigh. Alpine Ken was just as handsome with hair that looked like he might have just had a tumble in his bed.
"Splendid. Tell the boys that they shall be having a long and uncomfortable conversation with me when I get home."
"Yes, thank you Max," he mumbled, jabbing a button on his screen and laying his head back against the seat.
"How did you know about the pomegranate seeds?" he asked.
"Oh, farm girl. When I was younger I lived with my uncle and he had chickens. They love them."
"Oh. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. You saved my house from wild chickens apparently, let in by my sons, who dressed them in my daughter's old baby clothes. Never a dull moment," he gave her a shug and slid his phone back on and began to scroll through what looked to be about seventy five new emails.
"Glad I could be of help," Maria said, sneaking another look at him. "Von Trapp? Did you say your name was Von Trapp?" She tapped her lower lip as the reason for his familiarity finally hit her.
"I know about you! I knew you seemed familiar to me, I cannot believe that I didn't notice it before-"
"Yes, look that Twenty Hottest Bachelors Over Forty article they printed was frankly ridiculous and half of the scandalous rumors you have heard aren't true. I have never dated twelve woman at the same time and I don't spend weekends at Hugh Hefner's house-"
Maria burst out laughing, "I am not sure what article you are talking about but I think after this ride I should probably Google it. I was talking about your last name, it was familiar. Your late wife, she was a wonderful benefactor for the convent orphanage and the children's hospital where the nuns work. Where I was raised. Her picture is up in the oncology ward, the one you built in her memory. It is lovely to get a chance to thank you in person, sir."
"Oh, right then," he ducked his head but not before she caught the emabrrassed blush staining his cheeks.
Maria sat quietly for a moment before she let loose another peal of laughter, "I'm sorry. I'm not having a laugh at your expense, but you don't look at all like someone who would date twelve women at once."
"No. I don't suppose I do," he smiled a bit at that at fidgeted with his perfect tie before looking up at her and catching her watching him. He watched her back, both of them simply sitting still as the air grew heavy around them and Mara felt her skin start to tingle under his gaze.
"See," interrupted Ernie with a loud throat clearing, "This is the part where I tell you we're here and you pay me. Sound like fun? Good," he held out his hand and wiggled his fingers just in case they forgot what he has just said.
"Of course, thank you Ernie," Maria said as she watched Mr. Von Trapp stuff a handful of bills into Ernie's greedy palm.
Maria stepped out of the cab and looked up at the looming glass building and felt a sharp moment panic, "Oh help," she muttered. Glancing back into the cab to make sure she hadn't left anything behind Maria politely held the door for him as he slid over and got out on her side.
"Well," she said brightly, "Thank you Mr. Von Trapp for the taxi ride."
"Your welcome, Fraulein, and thank you for chicken advice. I do hope that you have good luck in your interview today. I am sure you will wow them with your sparkling personality was it?"
"And if that doesn't work I can always show them the back of the shirt."
He held open one of the glass doors to the building and Maria felt his eyes on her as she went to the left and he to right. When she reached the bank of elevators she glanced back only to see that he was still watching her. She gave him a shy wave and he gave her a two fingered salute before walking through the door on his left and out of her life.
She sighed. At least she would have a wonderful story to tell the girls tonight. She was betting that none of them had ridden in a taxi with a millionare Alpine Ken Doll and lived to tell the tale. She pulled her damp phone out one last time to check the floor number of her interview and the name of the person she was to ask for when she arrived. She reached up to try and smooth out her hair and straighten her unicorn jacket using the reflection off the walls in elevator. She was glad to have a minute alone to calm herself down and try and think of a witty thing to say about her outfit to whomever she would be interviewing with.
The elevator gave a soft ping and she spilled out into an immense waiting area, all glass tables and sharp angles. Straightening her shoulders and reminding herself that she had confidence Maria approached the desk. Hoping the soft jazz music might covering the squelching sound of her shoes.
"Good morning. I am here to see Miss Watson for an interview. I'm from the Nonnberg Agency, about the summer nanny position?"
If the lady at the desk thought her outfit was odd she made no comment on it other than to let a small smile quirk her lips. "Right on time. I'm Miss Watson but you'll be interviewing with my boss, just head right through those doors. I'll buzz you through"
"Oh, thank you," Maria said, gathering her bag strap in a tight grip and setting off for the formidable looking doors to her right. She took a deep breath and turned the knob and stepped into the office.
"You!" She exclaimed, her mouth hanging open at the man leaning his hip on his desk and giving her an equally shocked open mouthed stare, his coffee cup frozen halfway to his mouth. Maria suppressed another sigh and felt herself blush. Mr Oktoberfest had removed the jacket and she had the overwhelming desire to run her palms across his shoulders just for the pleasure of feeling all those muscles ripple under her skin. Shoving a hand up into her hair in frustration she started talking to herself whilst digging in her bag for the sheet of paper from agency and muttering about the text being incorrect.
"I'm sorry, Mr. von Trapp. I must have the wrong office. I was supposed to be on this floor for my interview for the nanny position but-"
"You needed the nanny?"
"I do. Rather desperately. And one with expertise in poultry wrangling is very hard to come by," he smirked.
"Just like that?"
"It was the unicorn jacket that sealed the deal, my Gretl will love you."
"I really have the job?"
"Mmm, on one condition." She tilted her head and raised her brow in question.
"You tell me your name. I was up here about to call security to find out where you went after we parted but I didn't want to seem like a stalker or worse. But I-I, very much regretted not getting your name. I behaved badly in the taxi and I wanted to apologize if I offended you, about your clothes-"
"Maria, my name is Maria", she smiled and stuck out her hand.
"Georg von Trapp. Nice to meet you."
Hope you enjoyed the silliness!