They swap books.

The emails begin in November, as they always do.

How are things?

Are you still working at Speers?

And the inevitable,

have you read anything good lately?

The arrange to meet for coffee, as they always do. As always she arrives early and he arrives dead on time, as he does every time.

And he’s clutching a paperback.

Thinner than usual.

He greets her with a cheerfulness that he still has to practice in the mirror at the age of thirty four.

“Hi Derren,” she replies.

They swap books.

Complementary mumblings, each reveals tempting plot details and they order more coffee and each has a slice of cake (the second that day for her).

Cara always wonders whether the people around her think they’re together. Together in that way.

She’d love to be together in that way with someone.

The coffee isn’t finished but they’ve run out of things to say.

They always do.

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