Oh, wow, I have wrestled with this next section. I wrote it. Then I wrote it again with about six different endings. Then I went back to the original ending. It may still not be right yet. But let’s go with it.
“This is nice,” Melissa said, as the waiter offered her a menu.
Bruno smiled. “Wine?” he asked.
“No, no, just a sparkling water for me. Can’t drink on duty.”
Bruno looked a little disappointed but ordered the drinks anyway. Melissa pulled out a notepad and pen, plus a dictaphone, which she placed next to her plate.
“So,” she said, “What’s it like returning to the track as a champion? Has it changed the way you approach things?”
“Perhaps we should order, before the questions start,” Bruno offered, pointing at the menu.
Melissa nodded. “No problem. I just have to make a call first.”
She slipped away from the table, pulled out her phone, and dialled Mitch’s number. It went through to voicemail, so she left him a brief message. She had to finish off a work project before they could meet up. She returned to the table, where Bruno was waiting.
“Now,” Melissa smiled, “Questions.”
“Food,” Bruno said, holding up the menu.
After the main course arrived, Melissa began to relax. Bruno was turning out to be very good company - funny yet humble - and he’d already answered a lot of the questions she had in mind. They both ordered pasta, discussing their similar taste in food, and with the interview out the way, they enjoyed their dessert with more light-hearted conversation.
Melissa had one eye on the clock though, and she soon made moves to go.
“It’s been lovely,” she said to Bruno as they left the restaurant. The brisk air hit them and Melissa shivered as she adjusted to the cool temperatures.
“Do you need a lift back to the hotel?”
“I’ve got a car,” Melissa said. “Thanks.”
There was an awkward pause, and then Bruno leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. “We should do this again,” he said. She nodded without a reply, then headed towards her car. Once inside, she watched Bruno climb into his own vehicle and disappear into the countryside, back towards the circuit.
Melissa started her engine and turned in the opposite direction.
Mitch waved at her from one corner of the pub. He’d comandeered a booth with a table, and from the looks of the empty pub, had had no trouble holding on to it, despite only being one person.
“You made it,” he said. “I got your message. Work all sorted?”
He emphasised the word a little too much and Melissa narrowed her eyes at him. “You know, don’t you?” she asked.
Mitch laughed. “Do you really think Bruno didn’t shout it from the roof of race control as soon as you agreed?”
Melissa slumped down in the booth. “Oh. Look, it’s not really…”
“Hey, I’m not your dad,” Mitch interrupted. “He’s a nice guy. If you like him, that’s cool. I know he likes you. He hasn’t stopped going on about you since last year. Anyway, let me get you a drink.”
He squeezed out from his side of the booth and approached the bar, returning with a glass of orange juice.
“You didn’t ask what I wanted,” Melissa said, accepting the drink. Their hands touched briefly as he passed the cool glass over to her.
“Well, I know you drove here, there’s no other option. And all girls drink orange juice, don’t they?”
Melissa laughed. “I can’t flaw your logic.”
“So, do you want to interview me? Or is that reserved for champions only?”
“I would like,” Melissa sighed. “To talk about something else.”
“Understood,” Mitch took a sip of his own drink. “Apparently it’s going to rain tomorrow…”
The rain started that evening. As the pair went their separate ways from the quaint country pub, sharing a brief hug, the clouds gathered and it began to pour.
Melissa sat in her car for a long time outside her hotel, watching the wipers go up and down. Up and down.
Even if she tried to convince herself that one of them had been purely a business meeting, she couldn’t deny the fact she’d been on two dates in one evening.
“What am I doing?” she muttered, pulling her keys from the ignition. Once inside, and warm again, she transcribed her interview with Bruno and sent over the first draft to Steve.
Her phone rang, and Melissa was surprised to see it was her boss calling her.
“Hi,” she said.
“Burning the midnight oil?” he asked.
“You said you wanted it by tomorrow.”
“That’s today, now.”
“It’s really good work, Melissa, really good.”
“The team at BSN have noticed your dedication, you know. I can’t say too much right now, but when you get back in the office, I think we’re going to discuss a promotion. Is that something you’d be interested in?”
Melissa gulped. Her head was already filled with a lot from the evening’s events. “What kind of promotion?”
“You know, an editor type of promotion. Less travelling. More desk activity. More money. What do you think?”
Does Melissa want the promotion?