Three days later, there was a knock on Eli's door and he looked up. Patty gestured at him that there was someone waiting for him, and he left his office to see who it was. Sitting in a chair in the main conference room was a familiar blonde head with a broadly smiling face.
"Eli!" Alex stood up and immediately knocked over the jug of water, spilling liquid everywhere. "Oops… I guess I don't have to explain how clumsy I can be, huh?" She blushed again as she mopped up the water with a handkerchief she had found in the depths of her handbag, and Eli grinned.
"What are you doing here? How did you find me?"
"I wanted to apologise for brutalising your finger. And, not many guys called Eli live in San Francisco."
"I don't understand…"
"I looked you up in the phonebook. Was that a bad thing to do? Should I go? I can go. I get it."
"No, you can stay, it's fine. Do you want to get a coffee? It's my lunch break anyway."
"That sounds lovely."
As they walked into the downtown area, Alex told Eli about the cabaret and how she'd gotten into the business.
"I'd never even thought about being a professional singer. But, I left university with an MA in performance arts and nothing to do with it, because the drama schools wouldn't have me and acting is difficult to get into without a suitable background. And so I decided to do the obvious thing and go to Hollywood!"
"But this is San Francisco."
"Yeah, well, Hollywood was a bit too expensive for my liking." She grinned again and Eli returned her smile, gently taking her by the arm and steering her into the al fresco section of his favourite bistro. They sat down and ordered their food, basking in the warm May sunshine. Alex lit up a cigarette and smiled as the waitress brought her a gin and tonic and Eli a black coffee.
"So what about you, Mister Hot Shot Lawyer man? Any big cases I'm interrupting?"
"I work pro bono, so any big cases are usually given to the people who take the money. I work what's known in the business as 'human interest' cases."
"Oh, that's pretty cool! So how long have you been partner?"
"Oh, only about six months. Wethersby and Stone Associates have only been around since Wethersby, Posner and Kline folded. But before then, I did the corporate big stuff. It wasn't too great though, you only end up feeling used and abused."
"Welcome to showbiz, honey." Alex said, putting on a fake American accent and taking a bitter swig of her gin. She choked slightly and put her hand to her mouth.
"Are you okay?"
"Stronger than I expected!" She giggled, and flipped back a strand of blonde hair from her forehead. "Anyway, I want to hear more about you." She placed a hand on his and grinned, then took it away hesitantly as she realised what she'd done.
"I don't know what there is to say really…" Eli racked his brain for something interesting. I have an aneurysm that could kill me at any time? No. I have visions sent from God? No. "The guy you saw me with on Saturday was my brother, Nate. He's a doctor. He was the one who wanted to see you, actually. I didn't know you were playing… Oh, that came out wrong."
"Don't worry, I don't think anyone was expecting my individual brand of British brilliance."
"You do have quite a voice." Alex stubbed out her cigarette and their food came, and she grimaced at the sight of the side salad next to her steak baguette.
"Thanks, I get told that a lot. You don't happen to like salad do you? My mum always tried to get me to eat it, but I'm like my dad was – I don't touch it if it's green and slimy."
"I hate salad, but I should probably eat it more often. Don't need to grow this one anymore! I'll only end up looking like my dad." Eli patted his stomach and Alex grinned.
"Doesn't look like you need any work doing there." She blushed at her forwardness and attacked her baguette. "I bet your parents are proud you've done something with your life, eh?"
"Well, my mother was. My dad passed away some years ago."
"I'm so sorry… But I can sympathise. Oh hang on, I'm gonna give up on cutlery – it's just not working out for me!" She bit into the baguette and smiled, and Eli laughed. A camera flashed somewhere in the distance, and he realised someone had taken a picture of them. Shrugging it off, he turned towards her again.
"That's one way to tackle a topic shift, Mrs Green."
"Mrs?" Alex looked at her hand and realised what Eli meant – the diamond and sapphire ring sat on her ring finger. "Oh that…" She pulled it off and placed it in the centre of her palm, looking at it with her head cocked to the side.
"So you're… not a Mrs?"
"Not in so many words, no." Suddenly, her phone rang. "Hello? Oh, hi Luke. Yeah, what's up? No I'm not busy." She looked at Eli guiltily and then her face dropped. "Oh my God. I'll be right over there. I love you." She started hurriedly packing her things and threw a ten dollar note at Eli.
"Yeah, I'm sorry. That should cover lunch… Sorry again." And then she left, leaving Eli with the bill, half a steak baguette and a whole salad.