The name ticked through Evan's head, turning gears of recollection as it went. Something about the juxtaposition of Arabic and English stirred vague memories.
"I feel I've met you somewhere," he confessed. "I can't really remember, though."
Her eyes never wavered from his face, their gaze sharp and disconcerting. "No, I don't think so."
"You're sure about that?"
She nodded. "Yes."
He leaned back in his seat and watched the city crawl by for a moment. Across the street, soldiers were piling wearily out of a dilapidated, fabric-covered truck, battered rifles slung across their backs. They dropped down from the wooden benches in the back one by one in a disorderly line, marshalling out slowly and without much effort. Put it in black-and-white, Evan thought, and you had documentary footage from the Second World War.
"If you insist, then, Ms. Crane. I guess we haven't met, but I'm not going to stop trying to figure it out."
The smile pulled at her lips again. It had a transforming effect on her face - from a sharp severity anchored by those inescapable eyes, her expression became momentarily open and inviting, her eyes looking almost surprised, they opened so wide.
"Good luck to you in that...Evan, was it?"
"Yes, Evan Rochester. Here, take my card. Evan fished through his wallet and handed one to her, slightly battered and dusty from kicking around the chaos in his billfold. "I've been here a while, if you need any tips. Places to go, not to go. Things like that."
This time she actually laughed. "I think nineteen years in this city more than prepared me. But thank you, Evan."
"Nineteen years?" Evan looked critically at her. They sat in silence for a moment. "But you've only just arrived."
"Hrm?" She raised an eyebrow at him.
He reached over and tapped the slim silver watch on her wrist. "Your watch is on..." Evan twisted his head sideways. "It looks like Greenwich time."
It was strange to see a brown woman blush the way, like someone had poured red wine into a cup of coffee. "Well, you've got me there, Mr. Rochester."
"So when was the last time you were here?"
She sighed. "Almost ten years. We left when my father died, and my mother moved back to England to write for a magazine."
The gears stopped turning in Evan's head and clicked together so clearly he could almost hear it in his head.
"Samira Mohammad Crane Rahman? As in Lena Crane and Khalil Mohammad Rahman?"
She nodded slowly.