Her name was Sue. I got this from her name badge. She was about forty, and I thought she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. Her fingers showed no sign of a wedding ring, though of course I hadn't had the courage to ask about that.
I'd first seen Sue at the Hertz desk when I arrived in town after a business trip on a late flight from Brisbane. Now I found myself approaching the desk to rent a car for no other purpose than to see her, and to talk to her again, and hopefully to find the courage to ask her out.
I'd picked a time late in the day. The airport was almost empty, and there were no other customers. I approached the desk quietly; too quietly. Sue was concentrating on cutting out some labels. I coughed politely to get her attention, and gave her such a fright she swore and cut her finger with the scissors. She seemed more embarrassed than hurt, though it did draw blood.
"Sorry," she squeaked as she hurried out the back, "I'll be right back." She returned in a few minutes, with a bandaid on her finger. "I'm so sorry," she said. Her face was still just a little flushed, though her silvering blonde hair still sat perfectly on her shoulders. I wanted to tell her she was beautiful, but that wouldn't have been proper. Instead I said, "Do you have any cars free at the moment?"
"You don't have a reservation?" Her tone was professional.
I shook my head. "Not at all," I said, and shrugged, trying to pull off nonchalant. "It's just a spur-of-the-moment thing."
Sue started to go red again. "I'm sorry, but we do only bring a limited number of cars here into the airport office, over and above those required to meet reservations. It's late in the day, and they've all been taken. I could call the downtown office, if you like." She reached for the phone with her hand that didn't have a bandaid, or a wedding ring, on it.
"No, don't do that. It doesn't matter." I turned to go, took a few steps then turned around again. She was still looking at me. "Thank you anyway," I said, "Thank you." Again I turned away, took a few steps and turned to face her. She hadn't stopped watching me, but she looked more amused than anything now. I shuffled back to the desk. "And sorry about that," I said. It was my turn to blush now, as I pointed to her injured finger. She had such elegant fingers.
"It wasn't your fault," she said. Her voice was softer now, less businesslike and efficient. It had huskiness to it.
I wanted to lean over the counter and kiss her softly on the lips, but that wouldn't be right at all. I cleared the thought from my mind, and turned again.
This time Sue's voice made me turn back to her. "Not that it's my business," she said, her voice still gentle, but firm, "but this must be the third time you've come out to get a car on a whim."
I said nothing, but I was conscious of the heat in my face. It must have been glowing.
"Is there anything else you'd like, that I could help you with?"
I didn't want to kiss her any more; I wanted to turn and run. I forced myself to stay, look into her eyes and nod.
Sue looked at her watch. "I close up here in twenty minutes. Would you like to hang around till then, and we can go get a late dinner?"
The relief made me feel a little dizzy. I hung onto the counter for balance, and nodded again. I coughed, to clear my throat. "Yes Sue," I said. "I'd like that. I'd like that very much."
Edit: typos as per Matt's comments.