She had brushed against danger plenty of times, she was sure. Not the split second danger of nearly being trampled by a team of horses, that moment where imminent danger screamed at you to wake up.
Everyone lived a hairs breath from doom, especially these days.
With so many falling for both sides of the fight, it was a reality worn on every face Autumn met in her day. She crossed all classes comfortably, and she felt the sadness everywhere, a case of infection for no cure yet existed.
Now that she was out of the food hall and in the street, she stood close to the building allowing the heavy snowfall to shield her. She could allow herself to wonder in private.
Autumn and the danger of choice itself were getting acquainted.
Those few seconds of just looking at the man across the hall expanded her life. Changed her.
Her heart beat faster with the notion of all the endless possibilities. Possibilities that she felt as vividly as any real moment of her day.
It was not even a spoken invitation, but an entire conversation passed from him in the look the man gave her.
But there was something else.
He actually saw her. The world had slowed to this room, to the steadiness of his eyes on her. She knew he found her beautiful. Interesting. Kindred.
Used to being noticed, but never actually seen as a person, this split second interaction was a first for her.
His gaze communicated a power that was seductive.
She was caught in a bubble where time slowed to such a rate, one slowed to a crawl. One that made her aware of her own pulse. Intensely enveloped in the steadfast way she could not help but return his gaze.
He didn't lick his lips, but he might as well have.
The invitation in his eyes had an illicit tone that made her hand tremble as she reached for the door.
Autumn was already on her way out, but leaving as she had been, now felt like an escape. Cowardly.
She was blushing. The only person who could know and had ever noticed her blushing despite her dark skin was away fighting the war.
Autumn was surprised that she would think of Wolfgang at this moment. Thinking of Wolfe brought a pain and yearning that made her throat hurt.
She blinked and further cut off his connection to her by turning her vision toward the street. Time snapped back to life and then she was out the door.
Autumn escaped the cook shop for the streets as unnoticed as the first real snow of the winter that was falling. This was as familiar to her as her dress and she began to calm again.
The pleasant scent of roasted meat, potatoes, and onions mingled with the freshness of the falling snow in the open air.
On the street the food smelled delicious. Here outside the store the air erased what she'd smelled when she first entered the place; the animal aroma of people. People, too many bodies squeezed into a space, too warmed in their street clothing, and too lazy or too tired to remove their coats in fair of eating as soon as the food was before them.
Autumn checked the street. She looked both ways, blinking away the snowflakes gathering on her eyelashes.
She saw the peddlers who had no choice but to try and survive the night where they worked, slept and lived.
She took in the things that never slept in this part of the city with half of her attention because she always noticed these things. It really didn't matter where she was, but she noticed everything.
Her mind was simultaneously seeing the man again.
He was a gangster. She knew this for certain. There was a subtle flash to his almost all black attire, the plaid of his shirt the perfect color to make his eyes shine across the room. They had almost seemed lavender to her. But the color could have been caused by candlelight reflected in claret.
The likes of his kind were not welcome in this neighborhood, but the war was on and nothing was what it was. There were not many looking for trouble when there was so much about, trouble could be easily found by joining the fight on the battlefield.
Autumn knew the people of this area and she was known to them. It was a part of the city where money was short and she always was good for a supply of love and warmth if she was stopped for a chat.
She looked as always for the danger only a stranger could bring to someone like her.
Most of the men who would have cared that a stranger was making a foothold, so blatantly, in this neighborhood, in this food hall of all places, had been the first to sign up for the fight against the south. This included her older brothers and Papa.
Autumn pushed the thoughts of her family down. There was no good to come from that. Think of something else, she told herself.
She walked with her head tucked down against the tickling soft wind that put the snow to her face, unaware that she was still thinking of that man.
He was blond, tall.
She could tell, even though he was sitting that he was very tall from the length of his thin fingers. The men with him all seemed to be facing him so that she never saw their faces, not that she could remember. Everything that was not him had blurred.
The line of his shoulders gave an air of someone who, from birth, had controlled the world around him as if everything, every thing in existence orbited around him, for his entertainment and pleasure.
Autumn imagined herself just that.
Born for the collision, of life were they meet, and the mess she was sure her life would become because of it.
Where would he leave her when his curiosity and amusement wained? That was the unknown that made her feel weak in her step.
It's not like she would really have gone with the man, but there was something in his light blue eyes.
The blond man had the look of life, a life lived on the edge. She thought for a moment more, pondering just what she felt when her eyes had met his. There was a promise of being taken to a world unlike the one she was living.
Autumn imagined herself with him lost on the avenue where pleasure met up with danger on a daily basis.