I lay back in bed, tossing and turning for half the night. I needed to talk to Afric again, make certain that she’d keep my secret, but I didn’t even have her number. I could ask Michaela for it, but that would lead to questions. She might even decide to quiz her friend, and I had no clue how good Afric was at keeping secrets. She could be a blabbermouth for all I knew. Going by what I did know of her, she likely was a blabbermouth.
What was I thinking?
In the end, I didn’t need to get Afric’s number from Michaela because she found me first. I was working at a café near the gym where the cast trained daily, laptop open, when someone slid into the seat opposite me. Glancing up, I found Afric with her elbows resting on the table, hands steepled under her chin as she studied me. Her hair was different from the last time I saw her. She’d somehow gotten rid of the blue and dyed the ends to match the natural blonde of her roots.
“You changed your hair,” I commented. She’d actually look normal if she weren’t wearing an overly large Minnie Mouse jumper and enough jewellery to drown a person. Every finger sported several rings, and around her neck were a number of silver chains.
“What?” she questioned, then her hand went to her head. “Oh, right. Yeah, I did. Made a video of the process and everything. I was mostly just trying to get Brad Mondo to notice me.”
I scrunched my brow. “Brad Mondo?”
“Never mind about him. I came here because I have some questions for you.”
“How did you find me?”
She twirled a strand of hair around her finger. “Michaela mentioned you come here most mornings for breakfast. Speaking of which, I’m starving. I’m going to order something to eat. Be back in a sec.”
With that, she left and went up to the counter. I watched as she relayed an order then returned to sit across from me. “You know,” she began, eyeing my set-up. “Maybe it’s a poor person thing, but I’ve always been fascinated by people who are comfortable enough to sit in a café and work on their laptops without a care in the world. Aren’t you afraid of getting robbed?”
I glanced at my MacBook then back to her. “Not really. I have everything backed up to the cloud.”
She waggled her eyebrows. “Do you now?”
“Yes, and I’m not sure why you’re acting like I just made a double entendre because I definitely did not,” I replied in a flat tone.
Afric shrugged. “I’ve just always found the term ‘backed up’ to be very provocative. It evokes images of well-endowed ladies shaking their arses on night club dance floors.”
“Personally, it makes me think of toilets in need of plumbing,” I countered and she barked a laugh, her blue eyes sparkling.
“Ha! Oh my God, you’re right. I stand corrected. Anyway, what was I talking about before? Oh yes, you with your MacBook out begging to be robbed. I just find it so extravagantly confident. It’s like you’re daring the gods to defy you.”
“I assure you, I’m far from extravagantly confident. My lack of confidence and self-esteem is half the reason you’re here.”
She clapped her hands together. “Right, yes, we should start discussing that. So, you really like this Annabelle girl, huh?”
I nodded, my shoulders tensing as I glanced about. Like I said, this café wasn’t far from the gym, and one of my bosses could decide to pop in at any moment.
“How much do you think she likes you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, do you think she has real feelings for you? Feelings that are strong enough to counteract the deception of finding out who you really are?”
I frowned at her question. I really liked Annabelle. In fact, our chats were the highlight of most of my days (pathetic, I know), but was I the highlight of her day? Hard to say. She thought I was Callum Davidson, a man who was more or less my polar opposite, so even if she did like me, she liked the me that looked like Callum.
“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully.
Afric’s eyes softened, and I bristled. I didn’t need her to feel sorry for me.
She drew in a deep breath and unfolded a napkin before placing it on her lap. “Well, in that case, we should try to find out, because if her feelings aren’t strong enough, then there’s always the danger that she’ll throw a tantrum and out you to your bosses. That’s the last thing we want to happen.”
Just like that, the eggs I ate for breakfast turned sour in my gut. Afric voiced a worry that had been gnawing away at me for months.
“Fuck,” I muttered under my breath. This whole thing was stressing me out.