The bacon was tolerable; no-one really understands it like the United Kingdom do and it was closer to crispy pancetta – which I happen to like – than to real bacon. The sausages were more Germanic than anything else, I thought, and the eggs were definitely Spanish, I could taste garlic and chorizo in there. A thorough hodge-podge of a cuisine then, still intended to keep where we were a mystery.
James was unhappy with the bacon but cheered up when he got to the eggs and hash browns; Irene seemed quietly happy with her bacon rolls, but then she put more ketchup on them than anything else. After she asked for a second bottle I figured she was making ketchup sandwiches and the bacon was just there for a little bit of texture. Isabella's omelette was crepe thin but filled with buttered new potatoes, slices of ham, slivers of garlic and something green that I think was leek.
The coffee was excellent though, and I was on my third cup when Isabella looked at me warningly and told me that we had at least an hour's drive to the safe-house still. I paused, the cup half-way to my lips, steam rising from it and making me blink.
"I'll pop to the toilet now then," I said, unwilling to stop drinking the coffee.
When we were all done Isabella paid with a credit card that appeared to be a jet-black plastic slab, no numbers, no name on the front; just a way of transferring funds in unlimited amounts. I was envious. Then we were leaving by the doors and, to my astonishment, walking to a different car than the one we'd arrived by.
"Our actual car has arrived," said Isabella, leading the way. "It has all our luggage from the plane."
"We had a little extra luggage in our boot," I said, trying to be discreet.
"Don't worry about him," said Isabella. "I mentioned it back in the café. He'll get a breakfast, on me of course, and reassurance that he just slipped on some oil in the car-park and banged his head."
"Efficient," said James sounding pleased. He opened the rear door of the long black car with, I noted with a little dismay, tinted windows. I got in, and discovered that the car was long because the back contained a little horseshoe of seats, enough for six people to sit in comfort, eight to sit if they knew each other well, and anywhere up to twenty students to squeeze in.
The car moved off as soon as the back door was closed, and not only could I not see out of the windows, but the window between the driver and the passengers was up and there were no visible controls for it. Irene sat forward and slid a small table out from one of the unoccupied seats. "Scrabble?" she said brightly.
We drove for probably an hour and a half, but my guess was based on us playing three games. Irene and Isabella were tough opponents, but James was out of his league. When I set down BOLUS, making six words and a little over fifty points in the first game his jaw dropped, and when Irene followed that up with SPICY making three words but sixty-three points I thought he was going to stop playing. His final scores were usually a fifth of what myself, Irene and Isabella obtained, and a couple of times he clearly wanted to challenge a word he'd never seen before. When Irene finally played EUOUAE he actually did lay his rack down and announce he wasn't playing any more.
"Well, we're almost there anyway," said Isabella, her eyes not leaving the board. "We should really put this away."
Almost as she finished speaking the car slowed and I heard the crunch of tyres on gravel.