"And I waited outside for maybe two hours hoping I could catch a glimpse of the Queen or one of the princes, but I was out of luck." Sarah tilted her phone screen slightly to rid it of the reflection from the outside street lamps as she walked down the street. "Did you know she's only a few years older than me?"
Sarah watched Simone Walker rubbed her eyes and refocused on the screen. "No, Sarah. Really? And you may not want to say that out loud, or people will start to think you're crazy."
"Ha ha. I sense the sarcasm even half a world away." Sarah smiled. "There's always tomorrow."
"That there is." Simone's image flickers slightly. She stifled a yawn as she adjusted on the pillows in her bed. "You are getting the hang of FaceTime pretty quick. Too quick, in fact. Do you know what time it is here?"
Sarah came to a halt outside of a local pub. "I'm sorry, but there's so much to talk about! I just arrived at this pub down the street from my hotel. Last night, they were showing episodes of this amazing television show with kings and queens and dragons, everyone is fighting for this throne, and 'winter is coming" is a very popular line."
Simone covered her mouth to disguise another yawn. "Sarah, you have been in London for almost a month and the one thing you are excited about is a television show that you can easily see in your hotel room or here in the States. Aren't you ready to go someplace else?"
Sarah sighed. "Sort of. But I'm scared that if I leave, I might miss something."
"Sarah, give it up. They're not letting you into the palace to meet the Queen."
"Oh please. They don't know me well at all." Sarah exhaled loudly. "Fine. Can you contact Kyle and have him book me a flight and hotel accommodations to Rome for the day after tomorrow? I think I'm going to make some time in Italy. And I also sent you an email. Did you read it?"
"Last thing I worked on before I left. I'll shoot you a confirmation when I get in." Simone pouted. "If I didn't have this very profitable development company to oversee, I would be there with you."
"Make some time. Your boss commands it, and I would certainly love to see you." Sarah leaned in close and grinned. "But your new guy might not like that. How are things going with the chef?"
Simone smiled, displaying a look of a pleasing thought. "Things are going great, and no, he wouldn't. But since you encroached the subject of a love life, have you met anyone there? You certainly had enough time."
"Simone, I … I didn't come here for that. I came here to see the world, experience new things, new cultures." Sarah glanced through the window of the pub. "I want to do those things first before even thinking about meeting anyone."
"I know, I know." Simone looked over at something off-camera for a second. "Time for me to get a shower and off to work. You get some rest, okay? I'll have the travel team email you your itinerary by the time you wake up."
Sarah smiled and waved at the screen before disconnecting the call. She slid her phone into her jacket as she opened the door to the pub. A wave of loud music, conversation, and cigarette smoke assaulted her all at once.
A minute later, after pushing her way through the crowd standing about, she seated herself at the end of the long bar where she could see American football on the TV hanging close by on the wall.
A coaster dropped neatly in front of her. She looked up at the bartender, a tall, blonde-haired male wearing a Miami Dolphins jersey. He smiled at her. "Miss Whitley, I didn't think you would be back so soon."
Sarah smiled back. "I'm a woman of my word, Aaron. I honestly didn't think I would come across an American bar here in London. I was happy to find this place."
The bartender popped open a beer and set it front of her. "Many tourists, they always talk about wanting to see a different side of the world, but the majority of them misses home just a little bit the entire time. That's why they come here."
"Well, judging from what I've seen of this place, you don't miss Florida much." Sarah glanced around the bar. "This is the exact opposite of Florida, actually."
Aaron popped open two beer bottles and handed them to a waitress who appeared at the end of the bar. "Well, I miss the beaches, the Dolphins during football season, and my girlfriend most of all."
"I'm glad you brought her up." She took a sip of her beer and set it back on the coaster. "That bet you lost last night?"
Aaron laughed "A bet is a bet, Miss Whitley. You have no tab tonight."
"First of all, it's Sarah, and second, like I can't afford to pay for my drinks. You lost to me at pool, but it was closer than I'm used to. You had me on the ropes."
She reached for his hand. "So call your girlfriend and tell her to make sure her passport is up to date, because she is going to be flying first class to London very soon."
The bartender stopped what he was doing to look back up at her. "Are you serious?"
Sarah nodded. "It will be an open-ended ticket, so you two can get your schedules together and she can come when everything is ready."
Aaron was overcome with joy. He quickly came around the bar and scooped Sarah up in a bear hug. She laughed in his arms until he gently set her back down. "I don't know what to say."
Sarah poked him in the arm. "Say you restocked the Jagër."
Aaron nodded, circling back around behind the bar and reached for two shot glasses. After pouring the alcohol, he set the glasses on the bar and slid one close to her. "You know it. And your drinks are definitely on the house. Your money's no good here tonight. Just do me a favor and don't buy the bar a round like last night, please?"
She picked up her glass and connected with his. They both downed the contents and replaced the glasses on the bar.
"Well, I better hit the pool table and see whose money is good," said Sarah, scooping up her beer and sliding off of her stool. "Bring by another shot in about thirty minutes?"
She stepped away from the bar and into the expansive billiards room off to the side of the bar area. A dozen tables were spread throughout the hall, most of them occupied. Several serious games were being played, with spectators milling about.
Sarah casually surveyed the area until she spied an open table close to the front bay window. She walked over and sat her beer down on a side table before reaching for a pool stick from the wall rack and turned around.
There he was, standing at the opposite end of the table in a black leather jacket and dark blue jeans, wearing glasses that were slightly tinted, smiling at her as his right hand palmed the cue ball.
Sarah's mouth gaped open at the sight before her for an eternity. She finally moved her feet, slowly walking around the table, stopping mere inches from him.
He continued to look down at her, smiling as he finally spoke. "This place is ten times better than that biker bar you were shutting down every night in L.A. And here, I don't have to worry about assless chaps."
Sarah found the words to speak. "Josef, what are you doing here?"
Josef sat the cue ball on the table and rolled it into a pocket. "I was out and about, and decided to drop in and see what was going on with the Clock Tower. Doesn't make sense shutting it down for four years."
"Josef." Sarah stopped herself before she reached for his arm. "What are you doing here? How did you even know I was in London?"
Josef pulled two pool balls from the nearest pocket and rolled them to the other end. "Oh, a few phone calls with the FAA works wonders sometimes. Though it would have been easier if you had simply bought a ticket. You are a hard woman to track down."
Sarah stared into his eyes. None of the wounds he had suffered weeks ago were visible. She almost reached up to caress his face.
The motion stopped before it even started. She backed away a step, clasping her hands in front of her. "It was good seeing you again, Josef."
She turned away and began pulling balls from the pockets and rolling them to the far end, gathering them with the rack. Josef sighed and leaned over the table at her.
"Look, Sarah, I don't want to push you into any kind of decision when it comes to you and me. I came here hoping to talk to you, see where you are leaning, et cetera et cetera. If I lived around the corner, I would wave good night, and be on my merry way."
He walked around the opposite side and pulled a ball from the side pocket, banking it against the rail to roll neatly into Sarah's waiting hand. "But before I leave, I need to know. I deserve to know if … we have a chance."
Sarah looked up from her work racking the balls. "I … I don't know, Josef. I honestly don't know. But ambushing me will not help you get an answer any time soon, so you may as well go."
She refocused her attention on her task, mildly aware that Josef walked away from the table for a few seconds, but was still close by. The balls finally positioned for a eight-ball game, she reached for her stick. "Josef, I'm serious."
"Well, I'm serious as well, Sarah." Josef had a pool stick in his hand. "And to show you how serious, I'm willing to play you in a game for five minutes of your time."
He chalked up his stick, never taking his eyes off of her. "You beat me in that speakeasy in New York that one day, remember? The only human who has ever beaten me. I always wanted a rematch. One game. You win, and I'll get on my plane and fly home and will leave you alone. I win, I get my five minutes."
Sarah considered his words. Her eyes lowered to the table as she leaned on her pool cue, shaking her head. "When I finish mopping the floor with you, you go home. Agreed?"
Josef stepped to the side of the table and gestured for Sarah to take his place.
Standing across the street, Mick winced as he took in the game Josef and Sarah started. Josef sat in a chair to the side rubbing his temple, clearly agitated. Sarah sipped on beer and Jagër, completely amused by his discomfort.
Mick shook his head and turned to head down the street to the corner where stairs leading down below the surface to a tube. He almost began his descent but looked back at the pub. He hesitated, debating whether to stay to wait for his friend or leave as Josef had instructed. Deciding on the latter, he continued on his way.
Fifteen minutes, he entered a brightly lit park. Several dozen men and women filed about in various stages of conversation around a large splash fountain. Streams of water shot up in small, narrow streams, splashing down on the concrete surface to create small puddles.
Mick began scanning the area as soon as he entered the park and almost immediately spotted her reading from a tablet on a bench on the other side of the fountain.
She must have felt the scrutiny she was receiving as she looked up from the item in her lap and saw him. Either a thought occurred or the sight before her was pleasing, for she smiled and rose to her bare feet. Her shoes swung from her finger by their straps.
Before Mick could move, she began walking across to him, careful to avoid the larger water streams but still walked along the edge of the fountain. He grinned as she made her approach. "Hello, Miss Turner."
Beth laughed as she hooked her arm into his. "You are up to no good. What are you grinning for?"
Mick paused just outside of the park. "Oh, I was thinking about a night that seemed like it was yesterday. The night when we first met."
"You mean the night we first met … again," corrected Beth. "That is a running joke that we can only have with a few people. Still, I'm happy that it's still a pleasing sight for you."
She sat down on a nearby bench and strapped on her shoes. "I hope Josef and Sarah are talking. Flying halfway across the world following a girl is almost stalkerish. They arrest people for that."
"They're not talking." Mick checked his watch. "They're playing pool."
"Pool? Can Sarah play?"
Mick pulled Beth to her feet. "Judging from the five ball run she went on after her break, I would have to say yeah. In any case, Josef said not to wait for him, and that the plane was ours to go anywhere in the world we want to go."
Beth looked up at him expectantly. "You're don't mean … "
Mick stopped and turned to face her. "Remember when we were talking about taking a vacation? Getting out and take some time for ourselves?"
"Yes, I do." Beth nodded. "I believe it went along the lines of finding a place where we can take midnight swims -"
"Or someplace like that where we have plenty of excuses to stay indoors," finished Mick. "And I have just the place. Or rather, Josef has the place. A villa he owns in Hawaii with a secluded, private beach. What do you say?"
Beth hooked her finger and gestured for Milk to come closer. He bent down into a passionate kiss, which he reciprocated in kind, oblivious to passersby entering and exiting the park.
When their lips parted, Beth cupped Mick's face in her hands. "It doesn't matter where we go, as long as we're together," she whispered.
Mick nodded and leaned in close until their foreheads touched.
After more than five years, this finally brings my "Moonlight" trilogy to a close. I appreciate the great reviews I received for "Containment," "Purge," and "Darkest of Days," and I hope that I gave this television series the respect it deserves.
Please favorite me as your favorite author, as I will be working on several other stories, including one based on BloodMeld, the Archivist's anti-vampire unit of my own creation. I'm looking forward to putting my ideas down into story form for your enjoyment, so be sure to favorite me so you will be notified of my future releases.
Mike aka Goodfella73