Will stares at his bike, then peels himself out of his leathers. No matter what Lissa thinks, he is not a man who believes in taking unnecessary risks. He unlocks the top box of his bike and places the leathers inside, locking it and throwing the keys at Mick, who catches them neatly with one hand. "Stick those through my door, will you?"
"No problem. You want me to call a taxi for you? "
"No. No point both of us getting wet."
Mick presses the button to open the automatic barrier and Will steps out, lifting a hand in thanks. The early morning is dark and thunderous around him, the Central London traffic already dense and slow despite the fact that it is barely half past seven. He pulls his collar up around his neck and strides down the street toward the junction, from where he is most likely to hail a taxi. The roads are slick with water, the grey light shining on the mirrored pavement.
He curses inwardly as he spies the other suited people standing on the edge of the curb. Since when did the whole of London begin getting up so early? Everyone has had the same idea.
He is wondering where best to position himself when his phone rings. It is Rupert.
"I'm on my way in. Just trying to get a cab." He catches sight of a taxi with an orange light approaching on the other side of the road, and begins to stride toward it, hoping nobody else has seen. A bus roars past, followed by a lorry whose brakes squeal, deafening him to Rupert's words. "Can't hear you, Rupe," he yells against the noise of the traffic. "You'll have to say that again." Briefly marooned on the island, the traffic flowing past him like a current, he can see the orange light glowing, holds up his free hand, hoping that the driver can see him through the heavy rain.
"You need to call Jeff in New York. He's still up, waiting for you. We were trying to get you last night."
"What's the problem?"
"Legal hitch. Two clauses they're stalling on under section . . . signature . . . papers . . ." His voice is drowned out by a passing car, its tires hissing in the wet.
"I didn't catch that."
The taxi has seen him. It is slowing, sending a fine spray of water as it slows on the opposite side of the road. He spies the man further along whose brief sprint slows in disappointment as he sees Will must get there before him. He feels a sneaking sense of triumph. "Look, get Cally to have the paperwork on my desk," he yells. "I'll be there in ten minutes."
He glances both ways then ducks his head as he runs the last few steps across the road toward the cab, the word "Blackfriars" already on his lips. The rain is seeping down the gap between his collar and his shirt. He will be soaked by the time he reaches the office, even walking this short distance. He may have to send his secretary out for another shirt.
"And we need to get this due diligence thing worked out before Martin gets in"
He glances up at the screeching sound, the rude blare of a horn. He sees the side of the glossy black taxi in front of him, the driver already winding down his window, and at the edge of his field of vision something he can't quite make out, something coming toward him at an impossible speed.
He turns toward it, and in that split second he realizes that he is in its path, that there is no way he is going to be able to get out of its way. His hand opens in surprise, letting the BlackBerry fall to the ground. He hears a shout, which may be his own. The last thing he sees is a leather glove, a face under a helmet, the shock in the man's eyes mirroring his own. There is an explosion as everything fragments.
And then there is nothing.
Reprinted by arrangement with Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Copyright © 2012 by Jojo Moyes.
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