The meal was exceptional, as expected and Ellie and Morgan were loosening their waist bands in anticipation of the desert.
“I really like this decor, it’s spacious yet warm.” Ellie commented looking around the room.
“Mmm, I especially like the chandeliers, I’m going to get one in our entry way, if I can get Georgie to agree. Don’t look now but there’s a guy seated over your right shoulder that keeps looking at you! I’ll tell you when to look, perhaps you know him?”
“Oh, ok. Must be difficult to compromise all the time with everything?” Ellie asked.
“No, not too bad, we have similar tastes so it’s actually a lot of fun, looking for things. The only time we don’t agree is when I want to go clothes shopping and he wants to go to B&Q! Ok, quick look over your right shoulder, now.”
Ellie spun around and as she did, Mike also turned his head, their eyes met. Ellie quickly turned back to Morgan. “Mmm, yep, I know him!”
“Oh cute, he seems very interested in you. Oh, look out, he’s coming over!”
“Hey, hi Ellie. Long time no see!” Mike said bending down to Ellie to peck her on the cheek.
Ellie’s face went bright red, “hhhhi. This is Morgan, my bbboss!” she stammered.
Mike extended his hand to Morgan, “Hi, I have heard a little about you, I’m Mike!” Mike said introducing himself.
“Oh, really, well I haven’t heard about you!!” Morgan said, giving Ellie a sideways glance, “nice to meet you.”
Ellie was thinking she should have taken the champagne off Morgan a couple of glasses ago.
“So how have you been Ellie? How’s Kate?”
“Umm, Kate’s fine. She’s out and about, in true Kate fashion. I’m fine, busy at work. This is a work do!” Ellie answered, snatching a look at Mike’s face and then looking down at her hands.
‘Oh, are you Jonnie’s publishers?”
“Yes, we are.” Morgan responded, a little too heartily. “I picked up his first book and we haven’t looked back since, as I said to Jonnie, I know winner when I see one. So how do you know Ellie, you’re obviously not in publishing!”
“Oh, Ellie and I met at the Royal Hospital, I was Kate’s surgeon.”
“Ooh, surgeon,” Morgan looked at Ellie and then back at Mike, “well, it’s always good to have a surgeon in the family.”
Ellie now knew she should have taken the champagne away from Morgan, three glasses ago.
“How do you know Jonnie?” Ellie asked, trying to change the subject.
“We went to school together, he went to chef’s school to learn how to cut up sides of beef and lamb and I went to doctor’s school to learn how to stitch people’s cuts back together!” Mike said laughing with Morgan, who thought it was extremely funny.
“So you’re here with your girlfriend.” Ellie asked, turning in her seat to look at the table he had just come from.
“No, nope, no girlfriend, here with some of the gang from school, getting a little rowdy over there, actually. I think you may have met one or two of them, Ellie.” Mike said, looking directly at her with his blue eyes.
“Oh, Ellie, go over and say hello!” Morgan offered.
Ellie gave Morgan a pained expression but it didn’t matter as Morgan was cooing over Mike, “Actually, I think we can have our dessert over there, shall we?” Morgan added, as she stood picking up her jacket and bag.
“Thanks for asking,” Ellie said under her breath as she followed her and Mike to the big table in the middle of the room.”
“Hey, nice to meet you. My name is Morgan and some of you have met Ellie, editor extraordinaire!” Morgan said flourishing her arm across to Ellie.
Ellie cringed as she nodded at the familiar faces saying hi to her.
“Here you are,” Mike said getting a chair for her and Morgan.
“Thanks, sorry for this,” Ellie said as she sat beside him.
“No not at all, my pleasure! She’s a hoot!”
“Hmm, a hoot with a sore head tomorrow!” Ellie said watching Morgan talking animatedly to the young man beside her.
“Hey, guys!” Jonnie came over to their table, arms wide open, “I thought you had left,” he said to Morgan.
“No, no we wouldn’t do that, the food is amazing and there is no way I’m leaving before dessert!”
“Oh, so you know Mike and the gang?” he asked looking from Morgan to Ellie.
“Yeah, Ellie knows Dr Mike!” Morgan began.
Ellie shrunk in her seat and Mike interjected, “Um, yes I worked on one of Ellie’s friends at the Royal a couple of weeks back.”
“Oh, nice.” Jonnie said looking Ellie up and down. “Well, that’s good news because after dessert I’m finished for the night so that means I won’t have to spread myself across two tables to celebrate!”
“Great, we’ll see you soon.” Mike said.
Mike topped up Ellie’s champagne glass, “so how have you been. I won’t say I was disappointed I didn’t hear from you again.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s complicated!” Ellie began, “I have been thinking about you but I need to sort things out first, I didn’t want to lead you along!”
“Mmm, bit late for that!” Mike responded, “I have already been led along. What’s complicated?”
“Well I’m sort of seeing this other guy.”
“Sort of? You’re either seeing him or not!”
“Look, I don’t really want to talk about it here!” Ellie hissed as one of Mike’s mates leant over and slapped him on the back.
“Hey, Ellie, good to see you again. This big guy’s been moping around for the past couple of weeks!” he slurred.
Ellie topped up her champagne glass and bunkered down. She looked at Mike speaking to his mate, he was so different from Sergio, so open and honest, she watched his jaw move as he spoke, the muscles tensing and releasing and thought about his lips on hers. She quickly gulped her champagne and poured another, looks like it will be the two of us with hangovers in the morning, she thought looking over at Morgan who was still animatedly talking to the guys beside her.
* * *
Outside it was cool and the effects of the champagne really hit. Ellie swayed slightly, bumping into Mike, standing beside her.
“Hey, you ok?’
“Yeah, think I had too many champagnes!” Ellie responded, looking up at Mike, who was steadying her.
“Look, I’ll hop in the cab with you and Morgan, ok. Make sure you get home in one piece.”
“No, that’s ok. I’ll drop Morgan off first then onto mine.” Ellie looked over to Morgan who was also looking a little worse for wear.
Mike followed her gaze, “Nope, I’m taking you both home!”
* * *
“Good night, Dr Mike and Ellie. Thanks for a great evening.” Morgan slurred as she leant over to give them both a peck on their respective cheeks.
Mike got out the cab and helped Morgan up the path to her front door, greeting her husband. Georgie must have asked where Ellie was as Mike gestured back to the cab. Ellie waved at Georgie before he closed the door and switched the light off.
Ellie watched Mike walk back toward the cab and felt a twinge, she wasn’t sure why but knew her heart had begun to beat faster.
“Ok cabbie, Camden thanks.” Mike instructed the cab driver.
“Oh, you remembered,” Ellie said.
“Of course I did!” Mike responded.
They sat in silence for most of the journey until Ellie had to give the cab driver instructions to her basement flat.
“Ok, well thanks for dropping us home, here’s my part of the fare,” Ellie said rummaging around in her wallet.
“Don’t be silly.” Mike had already handed the driver his card. “I’m walking you to your door anyway.”
“Why, I’ll be ok.”
“It’s pitch black out there, you don’t know who’s hanging around.” Mike insisted as he got out of the cab. “I can get another cab up on Camden Road.”
They walked down the stairs into the basement area of Ellie’s flat. “This used to be a garage for the apartments above,” Ellie explained.
“Yeah, I can see that.” Mike looked up at the three storeys of white Georgian apartments above.
“Do you want a coffee or anything?” Ellie asked fumbling with the keys in the lock.
“Ah, no I don’t want to put you out. And you said you had to get up early for work tomorrow.”
“That’s ok, I’m going to have one to try and sober up before I go to bed. Hopefully reduce my hangover for tomorrow.”
“Well you know the best thing is to take some aspirin, but you’ll have to eat something with it.”
“Ok, Doctor!” Ellie replied, opening the door to her flat. “I’ll put the kettle on then, how do you have your coffee?”
“Mmm, white, one sugar!” Mike said looking into Ellie’s small kitchen, he opened a cupboard door and produced two coffee cups then opened another to find a sandwich maker, pulling it out and plonking it onto the counter, “bacon sarnie? You need to eat something before you have your medication!”
“Ok, I’m not sure what the bacon situation is like, though!” Ellie said spinning around to look into her fridge at the same time that Mike leaned across to open the door of the fridge.
Their faces were inches apart as Mike caught her, stopping her from falling into the fridge, he leant down and kissed her, taking Ellie’s breath away, she felt that tingle and allowed him to kiss her.
“Perhaps the sarnie can wait?” Mike said as he picked Ellie up and carried her out of the kitchenette and into the bedroom.
“Mmm perhaps,” Ellie repeated.
* * *