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‘Hey, Jake my man, how’s it hanging?’
‘Good thanks, Lee. Can I have a, err coffee, please?’
Lee laughed. ‘This is a coffee shop, Man. You ain’t been to many of these before no? Look at my menu; you’ve got Cappuccino, Latte, Mocha, Americano, Espresso.’
‘I don’t know,’ I said, feeling like a junior school kid, ‘just an ordinary coffee with milk and sugar.’
‘Don’t worry, Jake my man. Sit down and I’ll bring it over.’
Lee was alright as far as older brother’s mates were concerned. He wasn’t what you’d imagine as a typical coffee shop owner, though. With his six foot, body builder form and shaven head, he looked like he’d fit in better at a boxing club.
When Lee brought the coffee over, he sat down for a chat. I couldn’t help noticing that his massive arms were completely covered in tattoos.
‘Is Mattie coming home soon? Or is he too good for us now he’s at University,’ Lee said.
‘I think he was going to try and come home for a bit over the summer,’ I said. ‘But he’s spending most of it in Cornwall, where his girlfriend comes from.’
‘Ha, I can just imagine him trying to surf. I bet he’s crap at it.’
‘Yeah, well you know what Mattie’s like, he’ll try anything that calls itself a sport.’
My brother and Lee had been in every team possible at school. They lived for sport. I wasn’t surprised when Mattie went to Uni to study Sports Science. I was more surprised that he’d had time to study for his A-levels in order to get on the course. Lee, in contrast, had worked at the café since he had been at school, but by the look of him, was still heavily into keeping fit.
‘Did you see the posters up everywhere showing all those missing kids? I said, changing the subject.
‘Yeah, Man, one of them is Aimee Land. She used to work here on a Saturday, just like me; we started at the same time. Mattie used to fancy the pants off her, that’s why he was always hanging round. She was having none of it though; was too into Woody.’
‘Was that her boyfriend?’
‘Yeah, Dillon Woods. He came to pick her up after work every week, even though she only lived down the road on Willow Street.’
‘What was he like?’
‘He was obsessed, man. They used to argue and split up all the time; Aimee couldn’t handle his jealousy. He’d go crazy if she even talked to another guy. My money’s on her fleeing to get away from him.’ Lee paused for a moment and looked at me. ‘So, you turning detective like your old man, Jake?’
‘No chance,’ I scoffed.
Lee laughed and went off to clear some tables. When he had gone one of the waitresses came over. She looked about my age.
‘What do you want to know about Aimee Land for?’ she asked.
I looked down awkwardly, wondering what to say.
‘I…I don’t,’ I stuttered, ‘I just saw the poster that’s all, why, what’s it to you anyway?’ I said, taking a sip of my coffee.
The girl sat down opposite me, not bothering to ask if I minded.
‘Because I’m her sister,’ the girl whispered. I choked on the mouthful of coffee and almost spat it at her. I could feel my face burning.
‘Well, my dad is the DCI in charge of the missing person’s campaign,’ I said, feeling as though that would explain things.
The girl glared at me for a moment.
‘You’re DCI Marshall’s son?’ she said in disgust.
‘Yeah but don’t hold it against me. I’m Jake,’ I said offering out my hand.
‘Sophie,’ the girl said, not bothering to take it. ‘I take it you don’t want to follow in your dad’s footsteps?’ She said.
‘What makes you say that?’ I asked, suddenly on the defensive.
‘I overheard you talking to Lee just now,’ Sophie said.
I nodded but didn’t bother to offer an explanation about how I felt about my dad.
‘Judging by your reaction, you don’t think too much about my dad then?’ I asked.
‘He was the one in charge when Aimee went missing. The Police said they would do everything to find her, but here we are five years later and still no Aimee. Does that answer your question?’
I nodded but my face was burning again. It was typical of my dad to make false promises, though I thought those had only been reserved for his own family. ‘My dad’s only interested in the big high profile cases that get him a name for himself. If it had been me I would have left no stone unturned looking for Aimee.’
‘But you don’t want to be a detective, right?’
‘Yeah you’re right. You got me there,’ I said, beginning to relax as I detected a hint of a smile on Sophie’s face. She was teasing me. As I watched her I could see that her face was similar to Aimee’s, with the same piercing blue eyes, except that Sophie had dark hair and it was scraped back from her face in a ponytail. Realising I was staring at her, I quickly averted my gaze.
‘I can’t believe it’s been five years,’ Sophie said. ‘Do you think they’ll find her this time, Jake?’
I don’t know,’ I lied.
Sophie looked over at Lee and I could see he was glaring back at her. ‘I have to get back to work now,’ she said, standing up.
‘What time do you finish work?’
‘4.30, why’s that?’
‘Can I come and meet you?’
Sophie hesitated for a moment and then to my relief she smiled. ‘OK,’ she said. ‘See you later.
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