LEX PARKED in front of the Gare du Nord, purchased a parking meter ticket and tossed it on top of the dashboard. He looked at his watch—another thirty minutes to Linda’s scheduled arrival. The prospect of seeing her again woke him at dawn, and he’d counted the minutes since. Lex hadn’t seen her for a few months, with no intimate contact for more than ten. As much as he longed to hear her deep and resonant voice and to caress her beautiful body, he’d awaited the day of her arrival with equal measures of excitement and dread. He felt like a schoolboy on a first date.

Lex entered the station and checked the platform number on the giant display—the Étoile du Nord arrived at platform four at 12.05, which gave him another twenty-five minutes to kill. He bought a newspaper and headed for the counter at a tabac with a view of the platform. He ordered coffee and considered asking for a shot of Calvados to calm his nerves, but thought better of it. Linda could most likely do without the smell and taste of alcohol. About to light a cigarette, he thought better of that too, as she could probably also do without the smell and taste of tobacco.  

He did his best to read the paper, while regularly lifting his head to gaze towards the platform and checking the time on the white clock above the main exit. He turned to the sports section; Paris Saint-Germain had drawn 2-2 at Marseille in the first leg of the quarter-finals in the Coupe de France the previous evening. According to the match report, Marseille had managed to squander a two-goal lead in the last thirty minutes, allowing the local club favourites to reach the semi-final in the return leg the following Tuesday. He made a mental note to catch the game in a café somewhere and hoped to persuade Linda to join him. His mind drifted back to the previous July when they’d watched the World Cup final between Holland and West Germany at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam. It was the last afternoon they’d spent together before she’d turned herself over to the police. He’d appreciated having Linda hold his hand during the tense affair and comfort him when the brilliant team in orange had lost. After all, he was half Dutch, and the loss to West Germany had been a personal and national trauma. 

Lex looked up from the paper and saw the Étoile du Nord’s massive grey locomotive blocking the view of the platform. He folded the paper and navigated his way through the crowd. In the great confusion of people, Lex didn’t spot her at first, but then noticed her in the distance. She stood out in her tight black outfit, and he recognised the familiar red and white plaid handbag that hung from her shoulder. Linda was struggling with two big suitcases, and he rushed towards her. She looked up when he was about ten metres from her, and seeing him, she froze. Her long, lean legs were slightly apart, and her hands clasped in front of her. For a moment, they stared at each other, and like that June Sunday morning when her persistent ringing of his doorbell had dragged him from his couch, her beauty stunned him—she still looked like a clone of Raquel Welch and Jacqueline Bisset, with a dose of Jane Seymour thrown in for good measure. The smile on her face outshone the sun in the sky—and the stars at night.

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