Janet Pywell ellie BravoMaria and Elly and the Harley…

I park my Harley outside the office in the August sunshine. The temperatures was still high when I came back from work yesterday so I spent time polishing the chrome and now it glitters against the black, low-slung leather seat.

I park, duck into the coffee shop on the main street and order a bacon bagel for breakfast. It is light and airy and the atmosphere is calm so I sit thinking until I can procrastinate no more. I pay the bill and head outside toward the office.

Just in front of me, Maria turns down the side street toward the front door of our office.

Her pace slackens so does my own.

The street is empty. There is no one around.

She circles my Harley cautiously and slowly like a trained bullfighter watching its prey. Tentatively she reaches out and strokes the leather seat. I imagine it is soft and warm from the sun. She stretches her arm to the high handlebars. The chrome is shining and bright; inviting and alluring.

Can she imagine the sensual power of the throbbing engine beneath her?

She strokes the front light. Her hand is caressing and caring. Her breath is coming in short easy bursts and when she turns her head in my direction I duck into the doorway of the estate agents and watch her through the glass pane of the office window.

She throws her handbag over her shoulder and with her right hand she reaches the handlebar. She bends her knee and swings her left leg over the seat.

She is astride my bike.

It’s time for me to move.

“Hey!” I call out, “Are you admiring my Harley?” I walk as though I have just turned the corner and seen her for the first time. “I call it my Fat Boy,” I explain.

She jumps quickly from the bike, straightens her trousers and adjusts her handbag. I stand beside her on the pavement and inhale fresh lemon scent from her hair.

“S- Stuart said it was fantastic to ride on the back,” she stammers, her cheeks are flushed.

I am happy that she is embarrassed. It makes me feel more confident.

“Would you like to come for a ride with me?” I deliberately make my voice throaty. I remove my sunglasses and place them on my head. I want to be teasing and tempting like my Harley but Maria refuses to be seduced.

She straightens her back and challenges my direct look.

“Why not?” Her voice is defiant. She stares at the bag in my hand from the coffee shop. “I hope you’ve got a croissant in there for me.”

I laugh. “Now Maria, I do believe you are getting quite cheeky.”

“That’s a death trap that bike.” John is suddenly beside us. He has come down the stairs of the office. He pulls a cigarette from his jacket and lights it sucking the smoke greedily into his lungs.

“That’s rich coming from you with that in your mouth,” Maria replies.

“This is a necessity,” he replies, “all the stress in there.” He points the burning tip to the door. “Simon’s cancelled the meeting again. I don’t know what he’s playing at.”

It’s the first time I agree with John. Simon is an enigma but I’m not going to say anything.

He continues speaking, “He’s staying on in Germany for another week.” He sucks hard and flicks ash to the ground. “He’s said nothing about this mystery contact. It doesn’t make sense. He should be concentrating on things here at home. I’ve been speaking to Liam about finding more leads but without some support…” His voice trails off and as he looks at Maria, his gaze brushes mine with a silent knowing look.

“I’d be happy to help,” I say, “I just don’t want to–”

“You’re either a part of the team or you’re not.” He spits a sliver of tobacco onto the ground. “If you want to be involved you’d better start pulling your weight. We’re not a charity.”