FOYLE'S WAR- FAUX PAS- CHAPTER ONE
Disclaimer- Foyle's War is the creation of Anthony Horowitz. It is brilliant television and the actors are wonderful. However, Rachel Roberts is a product of my own imagination.
I want to say a big thank you to Giulietta C for answering a question that helped me in writing this story!
Although Christopher Foyle went to America for a specific reason, what else might have happened to him while he was there? Possibly something like this…
Early 1946- New York City
Rachel Roberts ran like mad to board the train before it began to move out of Grand Central Station. The final call for her train had been made as she paid for a book at one of the terminal's several newsstands. She'd spent far too long looking for just the right one to buy. She jumped up into her assigned passenger car just before the conductor closed the door and the train pulled away from the station.
Rachel landed in her seat with an un lady -like "plop", loud enough to draw the attention of the man seated across from her. He looked over the newspaper he'd been reading to see a breathless, young woman with dark auburn hair holding a handbag in one hand and a book in the other. Her hat was askew and long tendrils of hair had escaped from its confines. As her breathing slowed, she closed her eyes and gave thanks to Heaven that she hadn't missed the train.
"Green, her eyes are the color of emeralds," the man observed to himself. "Probably the same age as Sam." Unlike Samantha Stewart, this young woman was short, probably no more than 5 feet tall. An amused half smile spread across face for the briefest of moments when he noticed that the toes of her shoes barely touched the floor.
Without intending to, Rachel fell asleep. As her body relaxed, her hands released their hold, first on the book and then on her handbag. Any minute gravity would gain the upper hand and they would certainly fall from her lap. Unsure of how soundly she was sleeping, he was afraid he might startle her if he tried to keep them from falling.
The train rounded a curve and put the matter beyond question when both the book and the handbag hit the floor. The book slid around and came to rest under his seat. The contents of her handbag – a tube of lipstick, comb, embroidered handkerchief and wallet- made a rolling procession down the aisle of the car. He put the newspaper down and leaned forward to rise from his seat to reach under it and retrieve the book. His effort was met by a stunning smack to his forehead by a hard object. A few seconds passed before he realized that the hard object was the young woman's forehead. She had leaned forward at the same instant and collided with him.
Too stunned to speak, Foyle's head began to throb and he hesitated to move lest it start hurting more than it already did.
"Ow! What the he…heck?" Rachel opened her eyes. She was nose to nose with a stranger and a man at that! "Uh…ah…wha…happened?" She blinked several times but didn't move away as an odd thought raced through her head. "Mmm…his eyes are a lovely shade of blue. Oh my God! What am I doing? He must think I'm an idiot!"
As she backed away from him, the young woman stammered, "Oh Sweet Jesus! I'm so…so sorry Mister…"
"Foyle," he responded, leaning back into his seat while rubbing his forehead.
His voice was pleasant and kind, considering what she'd just done to him and she noticed that his accent was British. Rachel wondered if she had really butted heads with him or fallen down a rabbit hole. "Huh?"
"Foyle," he repeated, growing concerned that the young woman had gotten the worst of their cranial collision. "Miss, are you alright?"
She rubbed the goose egg that was beginning to form on her forehead. "I guess so. My daddy said I was hard headed." When Rachel noticed that Foyle's gaze had remained steady on her, she felt her face grow hot and red with embarrassment. Tears began to form in her eyes and she blinked hard to keep them at bay.
"Quite an interesting shade of crimson. Never saw anything like it before. Wonder if she always blushes like this when embarrassed?" He handed her his handkerchief. "Here, I think you might need this. Your name, by the way?"
She answered with a muffled and barely audible, "Rachel…Rachel Roberts" and then wiped her moist cheeks with his handkerchief. Once finished, Rachel held the linen square in her hand, uncertain what to do with it so she began to nervously twist it around her fingers.
"An aspirin would not go amiss right now. I wonder if Rachel Roberts' head hurts as much a mine." He gingerly touched his forehead and felt it for any swelling. It was tender, but not swollen. "Miss Roberts?"
Not ready to look him in the face, she made a close study of her hands and answered, "Yes?"
"Do you need an aspirin?" He rubbed his head and continued, " I know I do. I'll look for the conductor and see if he can get us some."
Rachel finally looked up at him. The embarrassment she felt started to recede, the heat of it finally leaving her face. Just as it seemed she'd finally calmed down, an unbidden hiccup betrayed her. She saw him trying to keep a straight face to the hide his amusement and closed her eyes tight, willing her face not to turn red again. "Yes, thank you. I could use an aspirin."
After he got up to search for the conductor, Rachel opened her eyes. What once promised to be a pleasant train ride from New York to Washington had turned into a disaster. She wondered what Mr. Foyle's opinion of American women must be now that he'd literally bumped heads with one. What was the worst part of the whole sorry little episode was that he was, at least by her guess, a good deal older than her and probably thought she was just a clumsy kid. If he'd been a man her age, she felt she might have been able to laugh and joke about what happened. Well, there was little she could do about it other than apologize, which she'd already done.
Foyle returned a few minutes later with the aspirin and two glasses of water. Rachel took two of the aspirin tablets with one gulp of water and sputtered as one of the tablets didn't quite make it down her throat. Finally, the cursed thing went down and she took a long, slow sip of water to make doubly sure of it.
"Wonder if she does everything so suddenly? Could come to harm that way." He dismissed the thought with a slight shake of his head. Why should he be so concered about a young woman who accidentally bumped heads with him?
"I was wondering where my book went?" Rachel's question stirred him from his thoughts.
Foyle bent over and retrieved the book from under his seat. As she reached to take it from him, he noticed a long, puckered scar on her right hand. His fingers accidentally brushed against it and she pulled back. He inclined his head toward her hand. "I'm sorry Miss Roberts, have I hurt your hand?"
"No, it really…doesn't… hurt anymore. I guess I'm just self conscious about it. Don't know why, it's been there for nearly five years." Rachel immediately let the subject drop; it was too painful to relive the memories of how the scar came to be. "Now that I've got my book, what about my handbag?"
He chewed the inside of his cheek before answering her question. "May not be quite as easy to locate as the book. When it fell out of your lap it sprung open and the contents are scattered all over this car."
She stood up and swayed, almost falling in his lap. Foyle reached out to grab her, but Rachel righted herself without his assistance and then went out into the aisle to search for her handbag and its contents. She found the handbag first and proceeded to look for the other items. As she knelt down in her search, he lost sight of her a moment and was beginning to wonder if she had passed out on the floor. To his great relief, after a few minutes she popped back up, triumphantly holding her handbag. "I found everything but the lipstick. No great loss. Didn't like the color anyway."
Foyle quickly got up and lead Rachel back to her seat. He wanted no more falls, bumps or accidents of any kind that involved the young woman in his proximity. Maybe they could both sit in their respective places and simply converse. Or he would return to reading his newspaper and she would…What would she do?
She waited for him to say something, anything. When she opened her mouth to speak, Rachel promptly clamped it shut, petrified of making a verbal faux pas to compound the physical one she'd already made by bashing heads with the man. "Oh say something Mr. Foyle. Anything. Like "nice weather we're having" or "good thing that the train's on schedule".
Anything that Christopher Foyle might have anticipated happening that day had been eclipsed by his sudden encounter with the young woman seated across from him. The copy of the New York Times he'd been reading before she bounded onto the train lay neglected on the seat next to him. What on earth could he talk to her about? With Sam he had something in common- police work. Making casual conversation with a woman half his age and an American at that had not been on his agenda that morning as he boarded the train; there were more serious matters calling for his attention.
Rachel decided to relieve him of the burden of starting the conversation. She decided that she'd already made a fool of herself with the man, why worry about how he would respond to her? "I'm headed to Washington. What's your destination, Mr. Foyle? If you don't mind me asking."
"I don't. And I'm going to Washington as well."
"I see. Will this be your first visit there?" As soon as she finished the question, Rachel could have kicked herself. What a dumb question!
"Me, too." Rachel now wished she'd kept her mouth shut. "Oh God, this is awkward. Should I continue to ask him questions or just hush? Oh well, I give up. I tried. Best not make things worse." She closed her eyes and wished that she could evaporate. Why did she feel so nervous around him and why should she care what he thought of her? They would both be off the train and out of each other's lives forever soon enough.
When Rachel closed her eyes, Foyle took it as a sign that she had nothing more to say. For some reason, this disappointed him. Her simple questions held the promise of an easy, casual conversation; something he desperately needed to take his mind off the reason he'd come to the States, if only for a little while.
This was certainly a memorable meeting for both Rachel Roberts and Christopher Foyle; one they are not likely to forget!
Thanks for reading my first foray into the world of Foyle's War fanfiction.
More to come.