The Chaperone

“Louise. There you are.”

They both straightened. Louise moved the bottle away from her mouth. The boy, Cora saw now, was actually a young man, in his late twenties at least, blond stubble on his chin. His light eyes took in Cora with an expression of utter disappointment.

Cora looked at Louise. “I worried you’d gotten lost,” she said, and then regretted it, the obvious lie.

Louise nodded. Without another look in the man’s direction, she walked quickly toward Cora. She was wearing an ivory calf-length dress with a Peter Pan collar, no hat, and very high heels, so high, in fact, that her head was almost level with Cora’s. She smiled, but her dark eyes were trained on Cora’s face, clearly trying to read it. “Are you going to make trouble?” she seemed to ask. “Right from the start? When we could get along so well?”

“He’s just an old friend from school.”

Cora gave no response. It seemed far more likely that in less than half an hour, Louise had met a perfect stranger, perhaps from out of town, and let him buy her a pop. But there was no way to know for certain, and it seemed unwise to start an argument she could not prove.