“I need a favour. Will it be OK to meet tomorrow?” Matthias asked over the phone.
“Yea, sure,” Zach replied. His boss was asking for a favour, how could he say ‘no’?
“Meet you at Axis Mall? There’s this coffee house at the main entrance.”
Zach didn’t know why he answered the call. He could have pretended to be asleep. It was already four-thirty in the morning after all. Still, he was not the kind to avoid phone calls. Having agreed to lunch with Matthias, Zach set his alarm before hitting the sack.
The following morning, he was awakened by an early phone call. Prying his eyelids open, he grunted at the sight of his bedside clock. It was just beeping 9 a.m. For a brief moment, Zach contemplated on ignoring it. But despite his desire to return to dream world, his hand reached for his phone.
“Hello?” Zach answered dryly.
“Still asleep?” the familiar voice asked.
“Do you know who’s calling?”
Zach took a quick glance at the screen. The caller was his ex-colleague.
“Yea. What’s up, Josh?” Zach asked.
“Want to have lunch today? Andy and I are meeting up.”
“I can’t. I have an appointment.”
“Ah, another time then.”
After the line clicked, Zach attempted to return to sleep. Unfortunately for him, it only made him more sluggish. Deciding it was better to get the day going, he pulled himself out of bed and got ready.
The coffee house was a popular joint. But it was merely a blur in Zach’s peripheral vision whenever he visited the mall. That Sunday afternoon, he found it full of people. After finding Matthias in the crowd, he had to slide between chairs just to get to him.
“Oh hey! I ordered for you already,” Matthias said.
Matthias had a habit of ordering in advance. It was a good thing Zach wasn’t a picky eater.
“No problem. What do you need me to do?” Zach asked.
“I’m supposed to meet Jodie after this. I need to hand her something. Could you stick around longer and give it to her instead?” Matthias asked while he took out a flash drive.
“Sure,” Zach said. He did not bother asking what was in the drive and pocketed it.
Shortly after, their food arrived. Zach wondered why it was necessary to have lunch over a simple request. It was not that Zach didn’t like Matthias, it was because Matthias was his boss and fellow contestant. Spending time with him outside of work felt strange. Didn’t Matthias feel the same way? They weren’t friends.
“So, what do you think about last night?” Matthias asked.
“Tiring,” Zach replied with a chuckle.
“I agree. Did you meet the hosts?”
“No. Who were they?”
“The Rogers of Rogers Talent Agency. You know them?”
“No.” Zach had not even heard of them.
“Well, they seem to know us. They even recognised me.”
Zach nodded. It did not dawn on him how strange it was, until Matthias continued.
“I heard them talking about you. Mrs Rogers said she wanted to meet you.”
“Why?” Zach asked. What made him so special?
“I don’t know. She talked about how Mrs Dune gave you a free pass as well.”
“Yea, that was a bit strange.”
“Mrs Dune gave me a hard time after you left.”
Recalling that day and what Matthias said about Mrs Rogers, there was something similar between those two encounters. Both ladies not only knew who they were, but they recognised them too.
“She knew us,” Zach stated.
“Coincidence?” Matthias said with a raised eyebrow.
Zach shrugged. He wanted to tell Matthias about his conversation with Mrs Dune, but then decided it was better to hold his tongue. If it had something to do with him, he wanted to be the first to know. And with that, the topic came to a close. There were several times when Matthias tried to bring it up again, but Zach was quick to end it. Perhaps that was why Matthias wanted to have lunch.
When they were done with their meal, Matthias said he would tell Jodie to meet him in the coffee house. Zach was fine with the plan and ordered himself a cup of coffee while he waited. During that time, he thought about what Matthias had said. Almost immediately, he had a sinking feeling. The only thing that managed to pull his attention away from the newfound knowledge was the conversation behind him.
The voices at the table behind his sounded familiar. After hearing the guffaw and the tsk-ing, he knew it was Andy and Josh. Zach wanted to turn around and greet them, but then they began talking about him.
“I know this sounds weird, but someone called me asking for information about Zach,” Josh said.
“Oh…” Andy simply replied.
“They said they would pay me.”
“I got the call too.”
“You did? I turned them down, of course.”
“Who was that person, though? Should we tell Zach?”
“No! I mean, Zach doesn’t need to worry about this.”
“What do you mean? If someone is digging information about me, I want to know.”
“Tell me you didn’t betray our friend.”
“He isn’t really my friend,” Andy immediately replied. “Look, it’s not like I know a lot about him anyway. What could I say that would hurt him?”
Zach had the urge to confront them and find out more. What was the stranger’s name? How did the stranger sound? He could not find himself being angry with Andy at that moment. He was more curious and he was also afraid.
As he struggled to come to a decision on his next action, his phone beeped. Checking the message, he found Jodie asking if he was at the coffee house. Should he ask her to come over or was it better to meet her someplace else? Zach had to choose.
The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2015 by Jeyna Grace.
All rights reserved. No part of the series may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from Jeyna Grace.