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‘Mrs Sterling…’ Franny freezes, tightening her grip of the bottle of wine in her hand; if she drops it, it’ll be deducted from her pay and wouldn’t that be ironic. This was the same wine she’d sold to Logan on his mother’s birthday.
‘Francesca, is it?’
Franny mentally takes a deep breath to steady herself and get her wits about her. ‘Yes, it is Mrs Sterling. Do you need any help?’ her tone says, oh I have your number.
‘Do you have time for coffee?’
What planet is this woman on? ‘Now? In the middle of my shift?’
Leila’s look seemed to challenge Franny, she had left the middle of her day, following the recent update from Jibril about Logan and the family’s near miss with a media shit show if those pictures had surfaced on the internet. She should be on her way to Milan to the factory but here she is. ‘Get someone to cover for you.’
‘No. If you want to have coffee, I finish in one hour.’ Franny would be damned to have this woman ride in on her high horse and expect her to jump through hoops because she in a relationship with her son. She could have tried, Franny knows she could have, but Leila Sterling is that woman who will never like her, and she will not waste any efforts trying to get her to. She and Logan are having a good time, a fun time that will not lead to much, though they have lasted longer than she anticipated. Still, his mother or not, nobody gets to disrespect her, not even if she is earning minimum wage.
‘I’ll wait. I’ll be in the café next door.’ And just like she came in, Franny watched Leila Sterling glide out of the store, head held high, certain no one here, in their collective dream, would ever amount to her net worth.
‘What did Leila Sterling want with you?’ Jasper, deputy manager and work friend surfaces from where he’d been observing the interaction with Franny and Leila.
‘You know her?’ That was a rhetorical question.
Jasper gives her a look, does he know her.
‘I guess I’ll find out after my coffee with her once I clock off.’ Franny did not believe it was nothing, nothing does not bring a woman like Leila Sterling to stoop below her level. This is trouble. She could contact Logan, but she puts it off; she’s a big girl and she can handle herself.
Franny wasted enough time keeping Leila waiting but in the end decided it was best to rip the bandage off and quickly, so she was only a half hour late.
Her predator was sitting ever so patiently in the corner.
‘Please sit.’ Leila points her to the chair opposite. She would have waited the whole day to have this conversation with this girl her son is obviously in love with.
‘Not unusual.’ Franny answers.
‘The usual for you Fran?’ Misha the waitress approaches the table.
‘Oh no Mish thank you.’
‘What’s good here?’ Leila directs her gaze to Franny.
‘They do really good coffee, generally.’ God she is wired and uninterested in entertaining this prickly woman, ‘the matcha latte was named the best in London by Time Out recently.’
‘I’ll have that. Thank you.’ She turns to Franny, ‘are you sure you don’t want anything?’
‘I’ve had two cups of coffee today, that’s my limit.’ Franny said through that tight smile on her face.
‘No classes tonight?’
Franny heard the condescension, maybe she wanted to, maybe Leila didn’t mean to, but it was there. ‘None just assignments.’
Misha serves Leila matcha latte with a side of biscotti and leaves them to it.
Leila takes a sip of the latte and smiles, ‘you’re right it is good.’ She hates it.
‘I know.’ Franny resists the urge to ask her the pressing question, she will not take the bait.
‘You’re probably wondering why I’m here.’
‘You would be right.’
‘You’re in love with my son.’ That is a statement of fact.
‘If you say so.’
‘Are you or are you not?’ Leila has a tsk to her voice.
‘You came all this way to ask me that question?’
‘I came all this way, which is not a long way by the way, to find out what you feel for my son.’
‘But you already know, as you have just pointed out, so what is this really about Mrs Sterling?’
‘It’s about your relationship with my son.’
‘Then you should be having this conversation with your son.’
‘I’d rather have it with you.’ Leila’s tone brooked no argument.
‘I’d rather not talk about my relationship with your son. It’s our relationship, but if you are so interested in it, you should speak to your son.’
Leila pursed her lips. ‘Do you love him?’
Franny could have kept up the game, but she’d had enough. ‘I do.’
‘And he loves you?’
‘I’m not answering that Mrs Sterling. We’ve dallied enough and I have a tonne of work to get done tonight after my second shift.’ Franny makes to leave.
‘You’ve just gotten off work.’
‘I work two jobs to save up for Law School whilst taking some remedial classes. I have to put in a shift at my local before heading home to complete my assignments. You would forgive me for not indulging in this any longer. For the record, as stated, I do love your son. Very much.’
‘I know.’ There is a coldness to Leila’s tone. ‘And that’s a pity.’
‘Why is that?’ Franny finally bites the bait, this woman is good.
‘Francesca this isn’t going anywhere with you and Logan, and you must know that.’
‘Yet here you are. A woman I’ve met just once, took the time to track me down where I work to have this…what is this? whatever it is, á têtê? Mrs Sterling this is juvenile even for you. Have a good evening.’
Franny walks out of the café head high, so much for being in love with Logan. She knows Leila doesn’t like her, has known it from the very first moment they met in Starbucks and whatever this little trip of hers was, it did not bode well for them today.
Leila stares after Franny, she’ll give the girl props, she has gumption, too bad she doesn’t come from a family that can back up all that lip. Logan will not marry her; she has other plans for him and he will toe that line. Her phone vibrating distracts her, but she sends the call to voicemail, her mother. She would rather not have this discussion with her just now, she knows exactly what she wants to say. She has a plan; she simply needs to put it in action. Phase one was getting this Franny girl out of the way, she’ll see to that. In the meantime, phase two; Getting Logan to the altar.