Chapter Four - Be Sociable

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"Cilla." A young man called out, holding up an empty cup. "Another coffee, love."

She smiled, taking a cup of hot coffee from her tray, and placed it on his table. Cilla had a talent for anticipating the needs of the Zodiac's patrons. Waitressing in a coffee bar wasn't her passion. She had dreams of making it big as a singer.

"Thanks." He appreciatively stated.

Placing the tray underneath her arm, Cilla slipped her hand onto his shoulder. "Thank me by giving me a good tip." Her words came out in playful sing-song tone. She made her way through the room, stopping to check with customers before heading over to the bar.

Waiting for his order, Ringo was standing off to the side of the bar. Cigarette pressed between his lips, blank expression on his face. A cup of frothy espresso and a plate with a couple of bacon butties was set down on the counter in front of him.

Cilla placed her orders, leaving her tray on the countertop, and moved down the bar to join Ringo. "Can't say hello to an old friend?" She jokingly asked.

Ringo grinned, mumbling around the cigarette. "Hello, old friend."

She gently patted his hand. "Where have you been?"

He briefly pulled the cigarette from his mouth. "I'm having me portrait painted. Your friend Joan is making art out of me."

Cilla's eyes briefly widened. She didn't have any reason to believe Ringo and Joan were spending time together. 

Picking up his cup and plate of food, Ringo walked over to the sofa, leaving his surprised friend standing at the bar. 

"Your orders are up." She headed down the counter, grabbing a tray topped with coffees. She moved swiftly through the coffee bar, handing out drinks, intending on continuing her talk with Ringo.

"You and Joan have gotten together?" Cilla smiled.

He washed down his bite of food with a couple of sips from his cup of coffee. "We haven't gotten together. She's just painting me portrait."

"That's how it all starts." She winked.

Ringo good-naturedly waved off her words. "Birds like her already have boyfriends."

"Not all of them." She shook her head, thinking of John's last steady. There'd only been a couple of blokes afterward, but nothing serious. It was difficult for Joan to date, based on her mixed race.

"Even when they don't know there's always a bloke around."

She smiled, a knowing look on her face. "They don't," Cilla replied, walking away from Ringo.

(————)

Joan climbed the narrow flight of stairs, passing by several people on their way down. Reaching the top of the stairs, she faintly heard the sound of the jukebox thumping and turned the corner stepping inside of the dimly lit coffee bar.

She made her way through the smoky room, and over to the bar, ordering herself an espresso and a couple of bacon butties. Joan leaned against the countertop, looking around as she waited for her order. Dark brown eyes momentarily stopping on Ringo, sitting on his own. She thought about going over to chat for a bit, but she decided against it. She turned to face the bar, wondering if he'd seen her and decided against coming over.

He'd noticed her the moment she stepped into the room. Joan was the sort of bird who stood out without having to do anything. She didn't look like the other young women he'd known and didn't easily blend in. 

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