Ella returned to the restaurant’s reception desk in time to meet the last large group, five men and three women. While his companions chatted, one man approached her. He wore a high-collared jacket, the current fashion for male formal attire, not a uniform, but Ella would have bet a month’s pay this man was military. The way he stood, the air of authority, she supposed.
“Ibbotson,” he said. “Table for eight.”
“Of course, sir. Welcome to the Imperial.” She glanced over her shoulder to where the two attendants waited. “If you’ll come this way.” She hovered while he gathered his party, then led the way to the table. As usual, there was some discussion about where everyone would sit.
“The top end, Admiral,” Ibbotson said, gesturing at a chair.
The man he addressed laughed and shook his head. “It’s your birthday. You can do the honors for a change.”
Ella’s heart thudded. She knew that voice. She knew that man. Maybe not as well as she would have liked. Goran Chandler. She fought the heat coursing up her body. It was all in the past, ancient history. He didn’t even recognize her as the attendant helped him to his seat. Two of the women sat on either side of him, another opposite him. Ibbotson took the end seat, as directed, while the other men claimed the remaining chairs.
Mechanically, Ella introduced their two attendants, the new girl, Sara, and Timon, an older man with years of experience. One last smile. “Enjoy your evening. If there’s anything you need, please don’t hesitate to ask your attendants, or me.”
She walked away, her mind racing. Goran Chandler. Ten years ago he’d been a senior commander, and captain of the frigate Antelope. She had been Lieutenant Bulich then, and he’d kicked her off his ship.