As she sees Melissa pass the office door, Claire grabs her jacket, twirls it flamboyantly around and behind her, toreador style, then slots her arms into the sleeves in a fluid practised move and pats the pocket to make sure the packet is still in there.
A chilly day, they are alone standing by the ashtray at the "bus stop", Claire's auburn hair is brought to life by the weak winter sunshine, several of the strands blown in the wind warm to red while she vigorously drags on the cigarette, then exhales extravagantly, smoke tendrilling out of her nose.
Claire's earthy brown eyes seem testament to her frank open nature, Melissa thinks, you kind of want to confide in her and of course Claire is always up to date with all the latest goings on; she is talking about Natalie now, relating some no doubt exaggerated tale, but her gossip's instinct stops her talking just moments before someone else comes from the old office block around the corner.
Hendrik walks past them, raises an eyebrow and grins at Claire; even though she is standing more or less still, she still seems so full of life that he hardly notices Melissa, he wanted to walk straight past, but the old impulses kick in and before he turns into the main building he makes a "Call me?" gesture to her behind Melissa's back; he thinks he sees a sparkle in her eyes, a cock of the head but she makes no overt response.
When he is out of earshot Claire nods in his direction and continues, "Natalie's been there an' all, you know, at the last regional meeting in Brussels for sure."
Noticing Melissa's faint blush, she can't help but tease, saying disingenuously "Well, I would too given half the chance, I mean, did you look at that arse?" and she shakes her head to dislodge the vivid but fleeting memories; holds the door open and ushers a flushed Melissa back into the building.