8: Napkins and Nerves

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C H A P T E R    E I G H T

Napkins and Nerves

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                   LOUIS SHOOK HIS head like a dog before going inside. He knew Molly was working tonight and she was a perceptive little thing. The last thing he wanted was for her to know that something was wrong. Not that she'd pry, probably, but he couldn't be too cautious.

                   It didn't seem to matter. As soon as the little bell that signaled his arrival rang out, Molly's eyes widened at the sight of him, her mouth forming a small 'o' shape. After that expression dissolved, she looked sort of pissed, which was...unexpected.

                   Was it closing time already? He checked his watch. Nope. He still had an hour to cool off before returning home, where Lottie was surely going mad. He hoped she wasn't too worried. He was, after all, a grown-ass man even if he didn't act like it sometimes and he was allowed to be out as late as he wanted to be, goddamnit.

                   "Louis," Molly hissed as he approached the counter.

                   There was garbage at his feet that he made a mental note to pick up for her before going to sit down, but for now he made sure not to step on it. "Molly," he mimicked her. "What did I do?"

                  "Where the hell have you been? Your sister was here a little while ago looking for you. She's – "

                  "Terrified?" Louis sighed. Typical Lottie.

                  "No, she's pissed. She's going to tear your head off the next time you're within arms' length."

                  He didn't necessarily expect his sister to actually wander the streets looking for him, but now that it's apparently happened, he's slightly annoyed. What was she doing out alone so late? He'd have to have a word with her about that. It's not that this part of London was very dangerous, but you never know.

                  Louis knew this was all his fault. He hoped Lottie was back at his flat waiting for him. He'd give her a call as soon as he assured Molly that all was well.

                  "Guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it then, yes? The usual, please, love," he said, shrugging nonchalantly.

                  This seemed to annoy Molly further, but without a word she went to work making his drink. When it was finished, she slid it across the counter and looked sternly at him until he met her gaze.

                  "At least call her."

                  "I'm going to," Louis frowned. "Thank you for the tea."

                  He didn't like to shut down like this to acquaintance-friends like Molly who never got to see any other side of him apart from his gentle, friendly, people-person front, but he really wasn't in the mood to discuss his personal problems with her right now. He paid her for his tea and then bent to pick up the litter by his feet.

                  On his way to the trash cans, he realized there were words written all over the napkins. Curious, he unfolded one of them with the thumb and index finger of his free hand, squinting at the blotchy scrawl.


I'm entirely convinced that

Like lightning and love songs

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