Lunch With Turnbull
Shirley wanted something nice for Turnbull.
Francesca leaned her cheek dreamily against the palm of her hand and watched Turnbull dish out a portion of the gourmet meal he had brought for their lunch. He was talking all the while, babbling something or other about country music. What he was saying was boring but that didn't bother her. Most of what men said around her was boring. What she did find interesting was that whenever she tuned in, she understood every blessed word he said.
Somehow she had decided that since Fraszh and the Inspector always used big, fancy words she couldn't understand, then all Mounties must do the same. Maybe something they learned in Mountie school, or maybe they just tested them for that before letting them become Mounties in the first place. This was clearly not so. Turnbull wore the same uniform as Fraszh, but the two men were so very different.
Taking a good look at Turnbull, focusing upon him for the first time as he jabbered away, Francesca observed that he wore the uniform quite well. Fraszh had put on some weight and was bursting out of his lately, while Turnbull was quite trim and so very tall. Nowhere near as cute as Fraszh, hell, nobody was, but neither was he exactly hard on the eyes.
Then Turnbull said something that startled her. "You were always on my mind."
How poetic! How romantic! Why couldn’t Fraszh say stuff like that? "I was always on your mind?" she repeated in surprise, trying to take it in. But Turnbull just kept talking about country music and Francesca realized this hadn't been a declaration after all. Another surprise for herself – she was disappointed.
When the foreign but tasty lunch was done, Francesca watched Turnbull pack the used dishes away, expertly and automatically, into the picnic basket. I'll bet he can clean as well as cook, thought Franscesca with admiration.
Turnbull then thanked her for the lunch, as gratefully as if she had been the one to cook and serve it, and called her Miss Vecchio. It was so sweet the way he doted. What a pleasant change from the other Mountie's constant, annoying, scared rabbit routine.
She knew Fraszh liked her. She also knew he had been hurt by that awful Victoria. Ray hadn't told her many details, but Francesca knew the signs of a man afraid to be hurt again. She had been patient all this time, waiting for him to relax and to trust. He never did. When Ray went away, she hoped he would at least turn to her, Ray's sister, for comfort. That didn't happen either.
Just before leaving the station, Turnbull asked if he could see her again. It was a hard decision for Francesca. She had been remaining loyal to her original Mountie, waiting for him to come to his senses. Turnbull – his name was Renfield - was so charming and attentive. And so very tall. What would one date hurt?
"Sure, I'd like that," she said, "But, let's not talk about country music. We'll talk about you. And me."
"Oh, yes . . . if you're sure you don't mind . . . " stammered Turnbull, "I'll make you dinner tonight . . . no, maybe that's too soon . . . tomorrow night . . . unless you have plans . . . Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that a woman as beautiful as you could be free two nights in a row . . . "
"Bend down here to me," she ordered him. Turnbull bent his long body and brought his face close to hers. She grabbed his face, one had on each cheek, and planted an impressive kiss on his lips. "Thanks for lunch, Rennie. I'm looking forward to dinner – tonight AND tomorrow."
He was still formal with her while serving her dinner at the Consulate that evening. She called him Rennie, but he still called her Miss Vecchio. Only after they were finished the meal proper and having coffee did she say, "You know, I've got a first name."
"Oh, yes. And a beautiful one. If you would let me call you by it, I would be so honoured."
*Nobody ever talks to me like this, with so much affection and respect.* , she thought. "You may as well. Fraszh calls me that all the time and he never makes me dinner."
As soon as she let that slip out, the look on Turnbull's face told her it had been a mistake to say it. He dropped his fancy cloth napkin on the table (he had been holding it like such a gentleman), got up and walked over to look though the window, out over the city's lights. Francesca rushed to his side and took his arm.
"Are you okay, Rennie? Did I say something wrong? I said something wrong, didn't I?"
Turnbull took a deep breath. "No, you didn't say anything wrong. It's my own fault. We were having such a nice time together, I let myself forget that I’m not him."
"Him? You mean, Fraszh?"
"Who else?" he shook his head sadly. "It's all right. I'm used to it by now. I'll never be like Constable Fraser. And you'll never look at me the way you look at him. I know I should just accept it, but it never quite loses its sting."
He was so hurt.
"No, Rennie, you're not like him. You make a girl feel like a queen."
Turnbull startled her by dropping to one knee and grabbing hold of her hand. He clasped it to his breast in a way she had never seen outside of a movie. It made her shiver and sweat, both at the same time.
"Then, let me serve you. I'll be your knight. No, that's too presumptuous. I'll be your slave. Just give me a chance!"
The second dinner never happened. They eloped instead.