Tomorrow Will Be Too LateBy: Ellen Wolf
Kate hated every second of it, she truly did. What had seemed like a relatively ok idea yesterday had turned into a disaster, and she had to force herself not to slip off the high bar stool and run for the exit. She sat perched awkwardly, her short, poppy red skirt riding up even higher and offering anyone interested a good look at her long, slim thighs. She tried to pull it down inconspicuously, ridiculously aware of the few stares she had already attracted. Maybe it was the skirt, or maybe she could blame it on her top, the plunging neckline exposing plenty of her full, perky breasts and leaving barely anything to one’s imagination.
She hunched over her drink, desperate to hide some of the so liberally displayed assets. He wasn’t there yet, and she was slowly losing whatever courage she had left, her body frozen in shame and anger alike. Damn, but she was stupid. She glanced cautiously across the room to the cloakroom. Her salvation was there, hanging on one of those pegs. Her coat was long enough to cover most of her from the neck to her knees, and she yearned to grab it and wrap it around her slim frame, the belt preferably tied in a double knot.
She couldn’t do it, of course. She had come here on a mission, and chickening out now was not an option. She sipped her drink, grimacing lightly as the burning taste of alcohol ran down her throat, setting it on fire. She was a very light drinker, something her best friend had tease her about ever since they both turned sixteen ten years before. She had ordered gin and tonic now, hoping for some Dutch courage to help her get through this evening. It wasn’t working so far.
She was sure he hadn’t arrived yet. She allowed her glance to travel across the rather dim interior of the pub. The old-fashioned paneled walls and the modest décor puzzled her. It was certainly nothing posh or fancy, as she would have expected. After all, they were talking about Justin McBryndon. A man like him would prefer more splendid surroundings, wouldn’t he?
She sighed and put her glass down, the ice cubes making a clinking sound that grated on her nerves. The bartender was watching her from his place behind the long, old-fashioned slab of wood countertop polished by countless elbows of people trying to drown their sorrows in alcohol. She could tell he was trying to figure her out, just like some of the men sitting at the low tables divided from each other by high partitions made of dark wood. The burgundy upholstery of the furniture fit with the overall outdated décor, the light from the low-hanging, old-fashioned lamps doing a poor job of cheering the place up.
She had to think about yesterday once again. She had mulled it over most of her sleepless night, too. She could almost hear Victoria’s voice, soft and sad as they sat in the latter’s office.
‘Kate, you have no idea what the last few weeks have been like for me.’ Wafer thin and impossibly elegant, Vic watched her with large brown eyes under a fringe of long, curly eyelashes. Her simple, sleeveless dress in aubergine did wonders for her pale complexion and brought out the reddish hues in her long, wavy hair. She got up and walked around the spacious room, her restless pacing that of a trapped panther. Victoria certainly had the grace and sinuous beauty of a feline.
‘I mean, it’s bad enough that our romance didn’t work out.’ She sniffled delicately, a pristine white hanky appearing out of nowhere in her long-fingered, manicured hand. She dabbed it against her eyes cautiously, her mascara untouched as she looked at Kate again. ‘I can’t tell you how much it hurts, Kate. Just like a dagger in my chest.’ Two slim hands went up to her breasts, pressing against the fabric of her dress. ‘Justin McBryndon had been the love of my life, you know.’
She sat down at her large, off-white desk, a perfect replica of an eighteenth-century baroque piece, carved and opulent. The outburst of emotions was over, the serene face back in place.
‘I am so glad we got to know each other a bit better, Kate.’ She smiled now, her perfectly even white teeth dazzling. ‘It’s hard to believe that you have worked here for half a year, and I had never met you. It’s plain silly.’
Kate didn’t state the obvious, of course. The advertising company Victoria Marshall was running was not much more than one of her many pet projects, a gift from her doting parents who never hesitated to make their only daughter happy, be it with a sports car, clothes, or a company. Vic wasn’t a frequent presence here, leaving most of the decisions to Jacques Lamarc, a young Frenchman she had hired for the position of the director. She came to all the functions, of course, and her signature finalized any plans, but otherwise it wasn’t every day the employees would get to see her lovely face.