“Mocha-twirlie?” I take a sip from the long red straw.
“It’s a Mocha Tornado,” Jane reminds me. I raise an eyebrow and study the clear plastic cup in my hand. Whatever she calls it, this frosty chocolate/coffee/milkshake thingie is fantastic. Especially on a hot summer day.
“You are a genious,” I tell her.
Jane flashes me a demure half-smile, her shy response to any compliment. I’m still surprised this woman, a beauty in every sense of the word, isn’t used to the endless praise she receives. People comment on this coffee magician’s thicker-than-humanly-possible hair and her perfectly toned arms all the time, but Jane’s ego remains unaffected. I bob my head to the right, indicating the direction I plan to walk. My chit-chat time is up and I have to get to work.
But Jane has something on her mind.
“I could have found him, you know.” Jane nods to emphasise the importance of her statement.
“Him?” I look around the cafe, wondering who we are talking about.
She points to a middle-aged banker sitting near the front window. “Zak.”
I open my mouth to respond, but what could I say? I know Jane is talking about the short story I just finished where boozy card-shuffling Lolly helped find a missing husband on board a Caribbean cruise ship. Like the rest of the gang, Jane wanted to have her story told first, and I’m feeling pressured.
Before I can think of something soothing to say, Jane continues, “I know, I know,” she says with her hands up. “It was Lolly’s story. I didn’t want to have a part in it anyway.”
Of course not, I think.
“I’m just telling you that I could have had that mystery wrapped up in under five pages and saved you some ink.”
I smile sincerely and reach out to touch Jane’s strong hand. “Your turn is coming,” I assure her. “I have more research on your project than all the others combined.”
“You are scheduled for a novel, not a short story. You’ll have hundreds of pages.”
I sense Jane relax and I’m treated to one of her half-smiles again. She knows I have pushed all plans for lengthy novel projects to the fall calendar because they deserve special attention and the kind of time commitment that can only happen when my kids are back in school. “Okay, I get it,” she says nodding. “But if you want to run through some pages together sometime, just for practice, let me know.”
“I will,” I say, and bob my head to the right again.
“Enjoy your twirlie,” she says as I turn to go.
“It’s a tornado,” I say with a smirk.