Fishing by: Raye

Stepping into the chilled water he felt the muscles in his cheeks
tightening as his teeth set to chattering. He'd been in the water once already, but the chill could still go straight through to his bones. The
soft pliant bottoms of his shoes didn't help the chill, but ruining his
hand-cobbled shoes for a single ballistic test didn't make much sense either. Even though they lacked in warmth, the lighter-weight slippers he's acquired in China were a perfect protection against the muck that lined the
murky depth of the pond.

Four slow plodding steps into the pond his feet slid unexpectedly and he nearly cursed under his breath. The last thing he wanted to do- " end
up neck deep in this... this... pond!"

"Mr. Finch?"

He froze in his place at the sound of her voice. Girding his courage and his pride, Latimer Finch turned around slowly, the rifle gripped in hands
with his knuckles rapidly turning white from the cold. Still, he could hardly contain the blush that threatened to steal into his cheeks. "Miss
Chang, how delightful to see you again. You're looking well."

And so she did. Buttoned up in her prim walking dress with elegant lace adorning the sleeves, she looked like quite the picture of womanly grace.

She bowed her head in a humble gesture. "Thank you, Mr. Finch. You look
quite well."

He saw her eyes dip to the water's edge just below his knees and he almost smiled at her attempt to hide her own amusement at his unusual predicament.

"Well, yes.. thank you... I" 'Goodness, why I am so tongue tied around this woman?' He struggled to clear his throat and sound less like a bullfrog and
more like a man. 'Perhaps,' argued his nagging inner voice, 'it has
something to do with the fact that you've been thinking about her
constantly.' "I am, thank you." He grit his teeth together to keep from
blithering on like a drunkard.

She looked confused, torn. The town was beginning to mill about and even here at the edge of town they both knew that prying eyes would always be
watching. Her fingers clutched at the length of her skirt, lifting the
edges from the ground. "I must be going-"

"Miss Chang," he had to stop her from leaving, for even just a moment.

She looked at him over her shoulder and he nearly froze with joy. She was magnificent in any light, but poised just before flight the way she was, it captured her fragile quality. "Miss Chang, I have a few duties to perform this morning," he indicated the barrel laying in the waters of the pond,
"but perhaps, later..."

"Later?" she echoed with a note of apology coloring the tone of her voice.
"I am sorry, but I will be away for a few days, taking care of family

"Oh, I see." 'Stiff upper lip, Finch.'

"However," she began and he looked up into her eyes and saw hope, "I will
be back on Tuesday."

"Tuesday." Finch felt a smile stretch his lips at the corners. "On Tuesday,
Miss Chang, would you care to join me for supper?"

"Yes, please." She smiled and bobbed her head before she turned and walked
away down the street.

Finch turned back to his work with a lightness in his chest. Tuesday.