Continued from Part I.
Pierre gripped the bicycle brakes hard and skidded to a stop, screeching along the road until standstill. He dropped his feet to the ground on either side, and looked forward, pretending not to hear the clop, clop, clop of the horse approaching him.
He looked idly at his fingernails as the horse drew up and came to a stop next to his bicycle. His heart beat loudly in his chest, but whether from the exertion or his impending new acquaintance he knew not.
“Good morning,” said a calm, firm, feminine voice.
“Good morning,” he replied, as neutral as he could muster. He looked up, and his gaze met blue eyes and yes, a delicate nose, framed by smooth skin and a helmet that almost eclipsed the sun. Most of all, a frown. Not a real frown. A frown that hid a smirk, and an amused twitch of the lips.
“Did you like my song?” he asked.
“No,” she said.
“Oh,” he said.
“A gentleman exerting himself fully on a bicycle would not be able to sing,” she explained. “Therefore the song was a signal of underachievement.”
His eyebrows hiked upwards. “I see,” he said. “That sounds very serious indeed. You believe I am capable of more?”
“One should always aim to excel oneself,” she said.
“Do you bet?” he said.
She sniffed, perhaps hiding a chuckle. The horse grunted quietly.
There was a pause. Then a genteel finger extended, pointed down the road, circled like some winged fairy, and returned to the reigns. She took a breath, then let it out in an exaggerated sigh, and Pierre imagined himself floating on top of the sea, drifting in and out with the tide.
Then, at last, a true smile. A smile of challenge.
“Race you,” she said.
To be continued…