Chapter Three, Part Three - Crumbs

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Joseph checked his wristwatch. "Half past nine, Florence."

"Joe,"

He crossing his legs and leaned back in his armchair. "She's the one who wants us to meet him."

"And, we will." Florence's even-tempered response contrasting with Joseph's annoyed tone.

He sat up straighter, motioning comically with his hands. "When? I'm an old man, Flo. Time isn't my friend."

Florence smiled, opening the pastry box on the coffee table. "Have a piece of cake." She suggested, picking up a serving knife and cut into the sour cream crumb cake.

His eyes widened. "Before our guest of honor has arrived?" He asked jokingly, picking up a plate and held it out.

She placed a slice on his plate. "If it'll get you to behave." Florence handed him a fork.

"It's you that will need to be on your best behavior, not me." He countered, pointing his fork at her.

"As long as she's not," She paused thoughtfully.

"What?" He cut into the desert with his fork, eating a large portion.

"What if he's more than a friend, Joe?"

"You're getting ahead of yourself. He's just some boy Annette met while she was in England. He'll go back home, and that'll be the end of that."

"For the sake of argument,"

He placed his plate on the coffee table.

Florence continued. "She likes him."

"It doesn't mean it'll go anywhere. A simple infatuation. If it's even that. It'll be over before it began." He picked up his plate and resumed eating.

(————)

"Nice," George looked out of the car window. The passing urban landscape similar to Liverpool.

"How can you tell? It's too dark out." Annette pointed out.

"Yes, well," He spoke hesitantly, surprised by her abrupt tone. "What I can see of it reminds me of home. Don't you think, Lou?"

Louise didn't answer him.

Annette felt herself growing hot. They were only a few short blocks from the brownstone where she lived. She pulled away from George, undoing the buttons on her coat.

"I could have the driver turn down the heat." George offered.

She shook her head, Annette's damp hands becoming unsteady, causing her trouble with undoing the last few buttons on her coat.

His eyebrows lowered. "What's the matter, love?" He wrapped his arm around Annette, and gently squeezed her shoulder.

"Nothing." She half-heartedly smiled, looking over at him. Annette knew he was genuinely concerned. She didn't want to hurt him with the truth. "It's just - it's just been a long day. I don't know how you do it."

"There's no way to really getting used to it."

His voice sounded far away to Annette.

He continued. "Those shots helped to make it all a bit more bearable." George coughed, he was beginning to feel under the weather again, but he'd been trying to hide it from everyone, refusing to let on that he was sicker than he appeared.

Annette was sweating, wrestling to shrug off her heavy winter coat. "You're too close." She raised her voice, earning the attention of their police escort, Officer McClain at the front of the car in the passenger's seat.

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