You Can Trust Me

You Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie

Book: You Can Trust Me by Sophie McKenzie Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sophie McKenzie
over and I order a white wine—I’m driving, but one drink is fine; I need it to steady my nerves. The barman brings it over and lays it down on a small white circular napkin. He doesn’t look at me. I drink the wine. More people arrive at the bar. Most of the girls are in pairs or groups. They are all dressed to the nines in low-cut tops and thigh-skimming skirts. They cast excited glances around them. Some of the men are in groups—hunting packs. Others pace the perimeter of the bar—lone wolves.
    I shake myself. I’m being far too cynical. This is just mating and dating at its most naked and obvious. Of course the people here are looking at each other hopefully—it’s a singles bar.
    It’s ten forty. Surely Shannon must be here by now? I’m cursing myself for not realizing that a bar was a hopeless place in which to identify a total stranger. Does that mean Julia had met Shannon before? What I don’t understand is why she ever agreed to come here. She hated places like this. At least she always told me she did. I sip my wine, overwhelmed by the sense that I’m being watched. I look up. A middle-aged man across the bar is staring at me. I look away quickly. The last thing I need is to be propositioned.
    The fear of getting hit on spurs me into action. Shannon clearly isn’t going to arrive with a name badge hanging around his or her neck. And I’ve come too far to give up this easily. I hold up my glass and wave at the bartender. A minute later, he appears in front of me.
    â€œAnother wine?” he asks. He has undone the entire front of his shirt, and I can’t help but stare at his six-pack as he speaks.
    â€œEr, no, thanks!” I have to shout to be heard over the music—something tuneless with a heavy bass thump. “I was just wondering if you know anyone who comes here called Shannon?”
    To my amazement, the barman nods. “Sure.” He jerks his thumb across the bar to where a round-faced, curly-haired young woman is sitting on a stool, legs neatly crossed.
    As the bartender wanders away, I watch her, my heart drumming against my throat. This is Shannon. She’s dressed less provocatively than most of the girls here. Her dress is skintight, but it comes down to her knees and there’s no cleavage on show. As I watch, one man after another approaches her. Shannon flicks her gaze toward them for just a second, smiles, then mutters something. In the space of thirty seconds, she’s fended off three of them.
    Well, whoever she is, I’m impressed. I ease myself off my stool and walk around the bar toward her. There’s no seat next to her, so I stand. Now that I’m closer, I can see she’s really pretty in a soft, baby doll–type way. Big blue gray eyes and long, highlighted hair in soft curls.
    â€œAre you Shannon?” I say. I’m gripping my wineglass tightly.
    She nods, her eyes wary. “Yes,” she says. “Why?”
    â€œWhat’s your secret?” I ask, affecting a casual laugh. “For getting rid of the guys.”
    She stares at me curiously. I guess it is a strange question to be asking in a singles bar. “I tell them the bartender’s my boyfriend,” she says. “He’s not really, just a mate. He’s actually gay.”
    I follow her gaze over to the muscular bartender. A beat passes. I take a deep breath. “You’re here to meet Julia Dryden, aren’t you?”
    Shannon says nothing, but her eyes betray her recognition of Julia’s name.
    â€œI’m Julia’s friend. I saw your name in her diary,” I gabble on. “I had to meet you, to find out—”
    Shannon frowns. “Julia’s not coming?” she says.
    I bite my lip. So she doesn’t know. Which means I have to tell her. And it’s still hard to say the words, to face the truth. “Julia died,” I explain. The music blares out around me.

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