'I love Thornton's chocolates!' Delta crooned. Oscar regretted what he'd said, hoped upon hope she wouldn't ask him about his work. But he was in luck: she asked no questions and began to talk at length about her love of chocolate, how she likes to be bought chocolate as a gift, how she buys personalised chocolate gifts for friends. Oscar wasn't listening to all of it. He was enraptured by the way her face lit up, her bright, wide eyes, her ecstatic expression, her smile when she sighed contentedly. After about a minute, he realised what he was doing, that he was watching her speak but not listening to a word. What am I becoming? he thought, that I'm captivated by this woman I've only just met? It was unusual for Oscar to warm to someone so quickly, and for him not to be listening. He was a businessman, set in his ways, who make formal, professional relationships, not emotional connections. This was new and different. He was a little scared but mostly excited.
He came out of his reverie just as Delta was finishing a story about the personalised chocolate hearts she'd given an old school friend on the occasion of her wedding. Oscar laughed with her at the end even though he didn't know what he was laughing about.
'I'm so glad you understand,' Delta sighed. 'Not many people see my side of the story.' Oops, what had he agreed with? He smiled non-committally.
'Tell me more about yourself,' Oscar suggested. 'Why are you travelling from Salzburg to London alone?'
'I was visiting a family friend,' she said. 'What about you?' she asked.
'Business,' Oscar said shortly. 'I usually travel alone. I quite like it.'
'Especially when you get to meet people like me?' Delta said with a smile.
'It doesn't happen as often as you'd think,' Oscar said truthfully. The truth was that this had never happened before. He'd never struck up a conversation longer than Is this seat taken? or Coffee please, two sugars.
'I feel honoured,' Delta told him.
The bus began to move. As the driver manoeuvred it out of the airport and towards the motorway, Oscar and Delta silently looked out of the window at the distant planes and passing cars. Oscar considered getting his newspaper out of his briefcase and continuing to read.
'I was kind of here on business, too,' Delta said quietly as the bus gathered speed.
'Kind of?' Oscar asked. Delta was silent for a moment, her face turned towards the window.
'Have to ever been to Canada?' Delta said, turning back to Oscar.
'No,' he answered. 'Never. I've only travelled around Europe. My company hasn't spread as far as Canada yet. We're looking to expand there next year actually.'
'If you do go there, look up a place called the Glass Plains. They're in dire need of some good chocolate.'
Oscar was about to ask why she was talking about chocolate when he remembered that she believed he worked for Thornton's. Then he thought of a more pressing question.
'What does that have to do with why you were in Austria?' he asked.
'The Glass Plains is where it's based. There's a branch in Salzburg, in the big castle on the hill. I was there sorting out some problems with a nearby restaurant.'
'So you're in the restaurant business?' Oscar was a little frustrated that she wasn't being more explicit, but was pleased with himself for working it out.
'No,' Delta replied.
'Something in hospitality or entertainment?' Oscar ventured.
'Wrong again,' Delta replied.
'Are you going to tell me or make me guess?'
'It's fun making you guess,' she decided.
After Oscar had run through everything he could think of, from journalist to pirate, Delta told him the nearest he'd been was with pirate, but that she wasn't evil.
At this point, the bus slowed down and Oscar looked out the window, know that they must be near the German border now. He noticed a row of toll booths ahead. He also noticed that Delta was looking a little agitated.
'Don't worry, it's just a toll booth. They're not going to ask for passports or anything,' he assured her. Nonetheless, she picked up her handbag from between her feet and started rummaging for something.
'What are you looking for?' Oscar asked.
'Hairbrush,' she mumbled. 'Here, hold this,' she added, handing him a small tin which fit neatly into his palm. He was about to ask what it was when she instructed, 'Open it.' He obeyed and took off the lid to find a pile of neatly stacked hair bands inside. He blinked. Yes, he'd definitely seen right. Why was this woman pulling out a tin of hairbands and a hairbrush?
'I knew I shouldn't have let my hair down,' she chided herself as two men in blue uniforms boarded the bus.
What's going on? Oscar thought, trying desperately not to panic. I thought we were at the toll booth. Just as this thought had finished travelling across his mind, Delta stood up to pass him, her hair now up in two bunches, each with five hair bands running down them, holding the hair down in two straight ponytails. Past Oscar, she paused in the aisle. She raised her hands to head height, elbows bent, hands facing the floor. She brought her hands round in a slow circle, about two feet in diameter, breathing in deeply and closing her eyes, until her hands rested in front of her, palms up. When she opened her eyes a second later, Oscar, who was transfixed, was sure her eyes glowed red. She took two steps forward, put her arms up to the sides, elbows bent, hands sticking to the sides, raised left knee, then kicked one of the blue-uniformed men hard on the chin. He fell backwards. Oscar, wide-eyed in amazement, realised that her high-heeled boots could really do some damage. He was amazed at how well she kept her dignity in the skirt she was wearing. Next she began to spin on the spot like a ballerina. It was amazing really, considering the boots she was wearing and the small space she was in. Her hair spun out around her, glowing, and caught the second blue-uniformed man in the face. He, too, fell to the ground. Delta turned and rushed back up the aisle.
'Budge up,' she said shortly to Oscar. 'I'll have the aisle seat now.'