While Count Harecula turned this dilemma over in his head, he completely lost track of time and jumped awkwardly as he felt a hand tapping him on his shoulder.
“Excuse me”, said a silky voice.
He turned around and right before him stood – SHE!!
Before he could think of something funny or clever to say, she went on talking to him.
“I don´t want to be intrusive, but are you here for the meeting? ´Cause it´s just ended, but if you´re interested, there´s going to be another one next week.” She gazed up at him, a tentative smile on her lips.
“Uh…yes, sure. I mean, of course! The meeting…uh…”, Count Harecula stammered.
“Great!” she answered and beamed up at him.
If he weren´t at a complete loss to know what was going on here, he would have lost himself in that smile forever. Literally.
“Uh…er… How did you know that?” he asked instead and immediately hated himself for beginning every sentence stammering like an idiot.
Now her smile lost some of its intensity and he instantly regreted asking.
“Well… because of that”, she said and pointed with one slim finger at his chest.
Bewildered he looked down at his vest, which by the way was made from the finest silk. Surely it was no crime to present oneself exceptionally well dressed?
But then he saw what she´d meant and tried to laugh it off with a wave of his hand.
“Oh, this?! That´s just a little bit of ketchup. I admit, I have horrible table manners.” Even he could hear the slight tint of hyteria in his voice. Of course, it wasn´t ketchup.
But now her smile completely vanished, and although he didn´t know why ketchup would make her feel so sad, he again wished he hadn´t said it. Before he could think of a way to minimize the damage he´d done, she interrupted his thoughts.
“No, it´s not”, she said matter-of-factly. “It´s blood. If you´re not willing to admit that, you´re probably not ready yet.”
“No, I am ready!” he nearly cried out, though he still didn´t know what was going on. He only knew that he didn´t want her to think bad of him in any way.
She considered his reply for a moment.
“Well, you´re always welcome to visit us. Just try to be on time. And here, take this as a reminder”, she said and handed him a leaflet.
Now she smiled again and he suddenly felt funny fluttery things in his stomach.
“I would be happy, to see you again”, she said.
He couldn´t believe his ears! She wanted to see him again?!
“Me, too!” he squeezed out, and then, more confidently, “I will definitely come to the meeting next week!”
“Wonderful”, she said. “Bye!”
He watched her going away. Then he took a look at the leaflet in his hand:
Now, it was definitely time for Count Harecula to lose his cool.
To Be Continued…