“Wow, how did you find this cafe, I’m sure I’ve walked past this alleyway everyday and never noticed it,” Ellie said, nervously, as they made their way to a window table, which basked in the, dull early spring, sunlight. The cafe’s decor was industrial chic, and their window table looked out on a busy lane in the West End with similar cafes and restaurants, all quaint and modern with a similar rustic/vintage look.
“Gosh, I don’t know, I’m a regular here, they are really friendly and it has a nice atmosphere, don’t you think?” Noni responded.
“Well as long as the coffee is good! So how are you finding the new job? I guess you’re finding Betsy difficult to work for?”
“She’s not so bad, just a perfectionist, but I have found the team really supportive and welcoming. How is your department? I can’t believe you are on the editorial team, I would love to do that!” Noni, gushed.
“Yeah, not too bad, having to keep authors happy, which most of the time isn’t too bad but some of them are a little precious.”
“I would love to work for some of the famous authors you get to meet. I’m sure I would constantly be asking for autographs and taking selfies! I bet you’re really professional, you always look so polished and beautiful.”
Ellie was enjoying the conversation, she felt that Noni was certainly going out of her way to compliment her, and this was nice, especially in such a high pressure environment as publishing, everyone was so busy rushing to meet deadlines, it was difficult to even notice what others were wearing let alone compliment them.
“I’m sure you would be fine. I can’t believe we went to school together and I don’t remember you! What have you been doing since school?” Ellie asked, trying to even the balance of the conversation, she looked for a suitable compliment for Noni, but struggled to find anything sincere to say. Noni had mousy coloured hair, which hung lankly, touching her shoulders, her heavy framed dark glasses bore thick lenses. Her features were pleasant but there was something about the way she spoke and moved that drew away from that. Her clothes were last seasons, or perhaps the season before, neat enough but just not ‘hitting the mark’. This seemed to be the phrase for Nina, in all aspects, she just didn’t ‘hit the mark’, Ellie summed up.
“Oh, you know, it’s always the younger students who remember the older ones, I remember you were in the cool gang, two years ahead of me, you know, with Hugh, Emma, Kate, Susi and Jules. Whatever has happened to them?”
“They’re still around, we catch up, on occasions, you know how it is when your lives go in different directions! But we haven’t caught up as much since that tragic incident with Rhys, last year.” Ellie’s voice faded a little. “But, tell me what you have been doing with yourself since school?”
“Gosh, this and that, mostly freelance stuff with different companies, publishing houses, events management, advertising, you know. I have a good feeling about this one, though, I think I will make this one my long term job.” Noni said, smiling at Ellie.
Ellie’s phone began to ring, “Oh wow, talk about the devil! It’s Emma! Do you mind if I take this call?”
“No that’s fine, say hello to her from me!”
“Hi Emma, how are you? We were just talking about school and how we all hung out.” Ellie said into her smart phone, “Oh, I’m having a coffee with Noni, do you remember her, she was two years below us at school?”
Noni sat, her head tilted, only hearing one side of the conversation. Suddenly Ellie’s face fell.
“Oh, my. Is she serious? Ok, I’ll meet you at the hospital, I can be there in less than an hour!” Ellie hung up. “Sorry, I have to go, apparently Kate has been involved in an accident, at her flat!”
Noni and Ellie stood together. “I hope everything is okay with Kate. We’ll have to do this again and actually have coffee,” Noni said leaning over to air kiss Ellie’s cheek.
* * * * *
“Hi, Royal Free Hospital, Primrose Hill.” Ellie directed the driver of the black cab, it was early enough to catch a cab within five minutes along Shaftesbury Avenue.
“No worries, love. Visiting a loved one then?”
“You could say that.” Ellie responded pulling out her mobile phone, she had to call Morgan and she had no intention of getting involved in a deep and meaningful with a cabbie.
“Hi, Morgan, look there’s been a family incident and I’m on my way to the Free Hospital.” Ellie said to her supervisor, telling a little white lie. Kate was one of her oldest friends, she might as well be family after what they had been through together.
“I hope it’s not too serious but don’t forget we’ve got that deadline with Gregory James this week, we need to make sure all of his book signings are confirmed and his itinerary is finalised!” Morgan reminded her.
“Yes, I’m on top of it, it’ll be done but this is really important. Look it’s not far, I’m not planning to stay too long, I will let you know how things are when I get there!” Ellie hung up and thought about what could have happened to Kate and so soon after the tragedy with Rhys. It was not a good time for a personal drama, not after winning the publicity account of Gregory James, the horror novelist. His new book promised to be bigger and better than his last two and after all the hard work both Morgan and herself had put into winning the account from Pigeon Books.
Spying the cabbie watching her, she decided to call her boyfriend, it went straight to voicemail, “Hey Max, Kate’s been in an accident, I’m on my way to see her, I’ll call when I know more!”
* * * * *