Time: Still the previous day
Place: Still Heathrow
Situation: Still Saffron being Saffron
"What will you have, Miss?" A smartly-dressed bartender awaited Saffron's drink order. Not being a drinker, she had no idea what to ask for but opted to go with her mother's favorite. After all, she'd heard it ordered, mentioned, demanded and begged for a thousand times already as far back as she could remember.
"Gin and Tonic," she said, quickly adding, "Hold the gin, please."
The bartender paused, gave her a withering look, cocked his head and set a rocks glass before her.
"Gin and Tonic," he repeated, pouring in tonic water. "No gin." Turning away, the man rolled his eyes.
Sipping her G&T No G, Saffron scanned the Executive Club. The place was empty, except for the bartender. And her. Nice…, she thought, plucking a thick book from her carry-on bag. The citrusy taste of the tonic wasn't half bad.
Just then, one of the heavy wooden doors to the lounge swung open and a tall, lanky, well-built young man dressed in a worn brown leather bomber jacket, plaid shirt and frayed, faded Levi's sauntered in. Slinging a leather backpack down beside him at a far table near the wall of plate glass windows looking out onto the tarmac, he flopped into a seat, leaned his head back against the cushioning, groaned deeply in his throat and, after a minute or so, straightened himself wearily, scratched at his close-cropped brown hair and rubbed at the stubble on his chin and cheeks. His green eyes took in the room, eventually settling on Saffron. Flashing her a tired grin, he allowed his gaze to travel down the length of her body. Sensing his eyes on her, she stiffened and quickly started back on her book.
As she started a new chapter, the scent of lime and spice hit her from behind. She coughed. Turning, she saw that her admirer had made his way to where she sat at the bar.
"Oriental Jade," the green-eyed man said, as if she knew what he was talking about and should be impressed by it. As Saff coughed and waved away the overpowering smell, the man frowned at her reaction. "You don't like cologne?"
"Not when it's been bathed in."
The man let that remark go. He studied her nearly-empty glass.
"So… what are we drinking?"
He leaned on the bar beside her. Now his eyes met hers and she blushed at his forwardness, not to mention his rugged good looks.
"We aren't drinking anything," Saffron replied stiffly.
"We aren't drinking anything yet," the man said, a sly smile playing at his lips.
"We aren't drinking anything ever," Saffron snapped, turning away to study her book.
"Too bad," the man said, "I was hoping we could have some fun."
"There is no 'we,'" Saffron corrected, whipping around to face her new "friend" again. "There's you. And there's me." Draining the last of her G&T No G, she smartly set the glass down on the bar, replaced her book in her bag, left a tip for the bartender and slipped off the barstool. Looking up directly into the man's face or, since he was almost a foot taller than she, into his chest, Saff smirked before saying daintily "But now that I'm leaving, there's only you. Goodbye."
She attempted to push past him, but he gently caught her arm.
"Aw, c'mon, Gorgeous. Just one drink?"
Now he flashed a knowing smile at her, which she immediately found at once insulting and, oddly enough, exciting. The contradiction angered her; she disliked finding him even the least bit attractive. Also, his calling her "Gorgeous" made her bristle — mainly because she loved the way it sounded coming from him. His voice was manly, but gentle. Still, her pride was at stake and she wasn't about to let him think he was getting to her.
"Take your hands off me," Saffron told him flatly, her own hazel eyes glaring up at the man. And still he was grinning, enjoying their by-play.
"It's just one hand," he corrected, winking. Then, seeing that she wasn't joking, he let her go. "Okay, okay… I'm sorry." Raising his hands and stepping back from her, he suddenly became serious. "Really. I apologize. Please don't be mad."
Saff eyed him coolly. His lack of accent marked him as an American, as did his friendliness and candor. She had nothing against Americans — in fact, she rather liked them. But their openness with strangers and lack of reserve was anathema to her as a Brit. People shouldn't just present themselves as if they knew you when they didn't have the faintest notion of who you were. They shouldn't be so revealing and willing to share personal details as quickly as the average American seemed to be comfortable doing. It wasn't right. It wasn't done.
Also, the way Americans mangled the meanings of simple words bothered her. Please don't be mad, she thought mockingly.
"I'm not insane," she shot back, pointedly. She knew the man meant "mad" in the American sense: angry. And it nettled her.
"No, but you're mad at me," the man replied. "I can tell you're pissed."
"I'm not drunk, either," Saff retorted, folding her arms defensively against her chest.
The man couldn't keep from laughing.
"If I promise to leave you alone, will you let me buy you a drink?"
Saff raised an eyebrow at this.
"That's a terrible line. And I've heard the lot of them."
Now the man was beaming. He had a wonderful, engaging smile. She hated that.
"Heard them all, huh?" Mimicking her stance, he folded his arms over his chest.
"From guys in airport bars?"
Saffron appreciated his taking a swipe at himself. As a reward for his willingness to come down a peg, she offered him the faintest hint of a grin.
"From my mum and her so-called friend."
"Ah. So guys in airport bars used those awful, terrible lines on them."
"No. They used those awful, terrible lines on guys in airport bars."