The rain had finally subsided, making it easier for Claire to drive. She used the back roads to avoid demonstrators. Sadness came over her when she saw the coffee house in the distance. Tony should have been there the night before. Now she knew why he didn’t show up. “Well, at least I’m ahead of Rachel tonight.”
Claire slipped into their normal booth, her eyes on the back wall of the café. When Donna walked by, she quickly put out her hand to stop her. “Listen, Donna. Have you seen Eve at all? I desperately need to discuss some things with her.”
Donna smiled, knowingly. “I’m sure you do, Dear. I’ll bring your coffee. Scones too.” She winked.
Damn, she’s a frustrating woman. Claire took the gift out from her purse and set it across the table for Rachel. There’s so much to tell her. I need to organize myself so I sound cohesive. Her thoughts drifted to Eve and the life she must have. God, I need to hear more about her, I barely know what her life is actually like. And my vote, if my vote can change her future, then why does it matter what I do? If I vote for this monstrosity and remain a Senator, can’t I change her world by using my power? Rachel’s voice made her jump, she’d been deep in her thoughts.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to scare you.” She took the seat across from Claire. “I am sorry about your loss, Claire.” She looked at the hot pink bag next to her. “What are we celebrating?”
“Open it, Rachel. I think it will help with some of your questions. I know it helped me.”
Rachel smiled, “Well aren’t you mysterious tonight.” She pulled the colorful tissue paper out of the bag, and unwrapped it to discover the book. She looked up at Claire with confused eyes.
“I know you want to get some remodeling ideas. This is the best book I’ve found.” Claire reached across the table and opened the cover. She tapped her index finger on the Cd that was glued to the page. “This is why. It’s full of photos. Don’t you think it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words?” Claire winked at her. “Look at me, I’m taking on the habit of our winking waitress.” She laughed.
Rachel wrapped up the book and placed it in the pretty gift bag. "I’ll be sure to take a look at this. I know I could use some help.” She saw the stern expression in Claire’s stare. “I promise. I’ll do it before I go to bed tonight.”
Claire sat back, feeling relieved. “Good, and if you have any questions, call me. I don’t sleep very well anyway. But call my cell, not my home.” Claire put her head down and almost whispered her next words. “Oh, and Rachel? You might want to surround yourself with people at all times for the next few days.”
She could tell that Rachel was working to understand her code talk. Then, she continued. “If I have shocked you, then good. Tony was supposed to be here last night. Let’s see, what were the last words he said to me?” She raised her head, as if thinking. “Oh, yes. Eve’s the biggest phenomenon he’d experienced in his lifetime.” She looked at the back wall. “I don’t think she’s coming again. But we can’t give up, Rachel. We must be here every night, do you understand?”
“You are good with enigmas, Claire. But I think I’m beginning to understand.” She handled the pink bag, wondering about its contents.
“Ladies. Boy am I glad to see some familiar faces.”
Looking up, Claire’s eyes met Bill’s. “Senator. I didn’t realize you came here.”
“Oh, first time for me, Claire. It was tough tagging you tonight, with the crazy route you took and all.” He looked across at Rachel and stuck his hand out. “And what an honor it is to finally meet you face to face.”
Rachel didn’t reciprocate, said nothing.
Bill chuckled, and withdrew his hand. He sat next to Claire in the booth. “Well, that’s ok. I really wanted to see you, Claire. That little stunt you pulled tonight didn’t work. Yes, it was embarrassing to get a call from your detective friend. And I didn’t appreciate having to go down there and be interrogated. But, I shouldn’t be so sensitive, should I? I just told him the truth. That I found my prize baseball in a pawn shop. No problem. It’s obvious that some thug murdered your friend. And ladies, that’s exactly the kind of thing we will stop after this bill passes.”
Claire’s voice was strong, firm when she replied. “Did the detective ask for a receipt from the pawn shop? Is he going to check out your lie?”
Bill put his head back and laughed. And then, he addressed Rachel. “You’ve gotta love this woman. She doesn’t mince words, does she?”
Rachel found the Senator disgusting. She had been analyzing the man since his arrival. “Senator, we’re in the middle of a coffee and would prefer to be left alone. If you need to be here, kindly find somewhere else to sit.”
Bill slid himself off the booth and stood over the two of them. “I thought you ladies would be more fun. But, seeing that you’re both a stick in the mud, I believe I’ll go find me some real ladies. You had your chance to be nice to me.” He saw the pink bag and picked it up by its handle. “Well, isn’t this cute? Women can be so girly.” He let it fall back on the table top and walked away.
After he disappeared outside, Claire told the story about Tony’s prized possession that Bill now owned. “I believe he’s dangerous, he’s threatened me, Rachel. Well, not me, but you.”
“Don’t worry about me, that jackass won’t get near me. But thanks for the warning. Let’s go, Claire. She’s not coming tonight, and besides. I have some research to do for my remodel job that can’t wait any longer.”
They stepped out into the night only to discover a new rain storm. “This is crazy weather. Get in, I’ll drive you home.”
Rachel stood, pointing down the block. “Thanks, but I’ve got a rental. Drive careful, Claire.”
“You too, and remember. If you have questions, call me tonight. I don’t care what time.”
They said goodbye and Claire watched Rachel walk down the street to her car. She waited until her friend was safely inside before turning on her engine and heading home.
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