“Hey, Emily!” Jordan snatched up and shook her hand with fervor. “How are you?”
Flexing her hand surreptitiously after Jordan released it, Emily called up her most convincing smile and replied, “I’m—I’mfine, thank you. And you?”
Jordan, about to sit down, exclaimed, “I’m great; thanks for asking!” With a start, he jerked his head up and stood again, rushing around the table to pull out a chair. “Please sit!”
Emilia sat. “So, Jordan…” She opened and closed her mouth a few times, grasping for conversation starters. “Um, you have a cat, right?”
“Oh, yes! I’ve had Jack for years, and he hasn’t quite been holding up that well lately.” With that, Jordan launched into a comprehensive explanation of his cat’s health problems.
Fortunately for Emilia’s state of mind, a waitress stopped by their table to deliver menus and take their drink orders, forcing Jordan to halt his never-ending stream of dialogue. When the waitress left, Jordan turned back to Emilia and took a breath. Before he could begin again, Emilia interrupted him.
“Well,” she said, “I suppose that’s all very unfortunate for Jake.”
“Right,” Emilia said, “Jack.”
There was a pause.
“Here you go, darlings!” Emilia looked up to see the waitress setting their drinks down onto the tablecloth.
“Thanks.” Emilia swallowed. “So, like I was saying, all those health issues are very quite unfortunate for Jake—um, Jack.” Just then, the Duck Song began playing from the depths of her purse. Perfect timing, Laila. Emilia quickly pulled out her phone and answered the call. “Sorry, I’ve got to take this.”
Hurrying into the bathroom and leaning against the sink counter, she pressed the phone to her ear. “Laila, you’re a lifesaver! You called at just the right time.”
A laugh sounded from the other end. “I’m guessing this Jordan guy isn’t the greatest date material?”
“Are you ditching?”
“That’s one of your better ideas. I’ll head over in just a few.”
Emilia stuffed her phone into her pocket and headed out. Trying to look like she was in a hurry, she grabbed her purse from where it was hanging on the chair and slipped her jacket over her shoulders. “I’m so sorry,” she lied, “but I really have to go. Maybe another time? I hope Jake gets better. Bye!”
She slapped a few dollars onto the table to pay for her untouched lemonade and dashed out the door.
Jordan stared, stunned at her retreating figure. “It’s Jack…” he mumbled.