"Don't you hate waiting for people who are shopping?"
It was, in fact, something that Peter Burke hated, but he loved his wife too much to admit it, even if it was only to a stranger.
The stranger in question, a lithe blonde dressed in black and carrying a dozen bags from different Fifth Avenue stores, didn't require an answer. She deposited all her bags on Peter's table and took the seat across from him.
Peter glanced around at the other tables, all full, then back at his new companion, struggling to find something to say.
She didn't notice his discomfort. "I just don't get shopping," she continued. "I mean, why would anyone spend money on things they don't need?" She flipped her coffee cup over and calmly poured herself some from the pot that Peter had custom ordered. "Personally, I think shopping is addictive."
"I'm sorry," Peter interrupted her babbling. "Do I know you?"
"No." She took a long drink of the coffee and sighed contentedly.
Peter waited for her to continue. When she didn't, he tried again. "Can I help you?"
"I'm not the one who needs the help." She waved her hand over the bags that crowded the table. "Sophie's the one that needs the help." She took another deep swallow of the coffee. " This is very good, you know."
"Yes, I do. I ordered it."
She smiled at him, brilliant and crazy and Peter suddenly knew he'd seen her before. He fought to place where.
"You have good taste. But I bet they're over charging you for it. Everything's over priced on this street." She grabbed a bag and held it up. "Do you know this cost $4700? $4700!" She dropped it. "What could make shoes worth $4700?"
Peter could have listed what made them different from the knock-offs that his office tracked down, but he knew that wasn't the answer she wanted.
"Sophie says that men appreciate it when women splurge but what I know about men is that they care a lot less about the clothes then they do what the clothes are hiding. Don't you agree?"
Peter managed not to choke on the swallow of coffee he 'd just taken. "I don't think I should answer that. I'm Peter, by the way."
"Parker." She grinned again. "Together we're Spiderman."
Peter wasn't listening. Parker. He knew where he'd seen her: FBI bulletins. Parker was (supposedly) one of the best cat burglars around. Then Sophie would have to be Sophie Devereaux, (alleged) conwoman extraordinaire. There were those in the Bureau who were very interested in them. Peter struggled with how to deal with this new information.
"There's Sophie." Parker stood, gathered her packages, and then smiled at Peter. "I gotta go." She disappeared into the crowded street.
Peter considered chasing her but instead waved the waiter over to refill his pot. After all, there were no active warrants for her and he couldn't very well arrest her for being a coffee thief.