Like an executive, well tailored grey wool just above the knee, a handsome turn to her calves in dark stockings, a sense of thigh and ample buttock against the skirt. Handsome ebony cross of a sleekly modern design. A scent, not perfume, rather fruit soap or perhaps powder.

Sure footed across the cobbles. A surprising smile returned to that of the half-flirting stranger. "Bon soir," though it is mid-afternoon and no evident indication or occasion to speak French. He replies in the guidebook approximation of the local greeting. They each smile a second time.

The eroticism of them so often mistaken. A cartoonish blasphemy or stag film burlesque. Her thin tongue just briefly moistening her lip before the second smile. She would greet her savior so.

He considered following her at a distance, as one would a bird, not stalking but observing. Watching her climb up a curb, perhaps extricate a stockinged toe from one of the low-heeled shoes just briefly, scratching against the opposite ankle perhaps or pouring out a pebble as another woman might pour out champagne.

It isn't one then two, she said, it's one and one point three, one point five and you never get there, and then she sighed, not discontented merely defining.