Rain was falling gently outside as Josh hurried through the door of the café. He pushed his wet hair back off his forehead and manoeuvered his cello case past the tables, careful not to bump his brand new instrument. Squeezing into his usual table in the back corner of the café he leaned the cello against the wall.
The café was dimly lit, which was exactly why Josh liked to come here. He could hide in the corner and watch the world passing by without anyone noticing him. Plus he loved the Belgian hot chocolates and marshmallows they served here.
Josh slung his backpack onto a chair to claim the table and then made his way to the counter and ordered his hot chocolate. The girl behind the counter didn’t even bother to look up at him as she took his money. He picked up the table number and turned to walk back to his table when he noticed Bea and Emily sitting at a table on the other side of the room. He recognised them from class, even though he had never spoken to either of them.
He slipped back into his chair and pulled a book from his bag. Throne of Glass. He had been enthralled by the book for weeks. He opened the book and started reading, but his eyes kept being drawn toward Bea and Emily.
He had known Emily as a classmate for years. She was kind of quiet and kept to herself. A strand of dark hair hung down over her forehead and partly obscured her face. Josh had never seen her in the café before.
He watched as Emily reached across the table and squeezed the other girl’s arm. She seemed to be upset about something. Josh looked at the new girl more closely. Her long red hair was tied up on top of her head. The frizzy hair that escaped caught the light and gave her a reddish-golden halo. He found himself drawn to her round face. Josh wasn’t usually attracted to girls but he couldn’t help thinking that Bea was one of the prettiest girls he had ever seen.
He wondered why she was upset. Even from this distance he could see tears forming in her eyes. He felt a lump in his throat and had an urge to help her, whatever it was. He didn’t move of course. Josh often had these urges but he was too shy to ever act on them.
Emily squeezed Bea’s hand and Josh looked away. He had to find out what had happened to the beautiful assassin in his book. The next time he looked up the table was empty. Bea and Emily had left.