"I'm glad to hear it. You look well." His eyes ran over her features as he thought that something about her manner had changed. Mallory had always been an attractive girl, but there was now a hint of severity to her face; a touch of authority that suited her and made her appear more confident. He liked it. For a brief moment, his mind snapped back to their shared childhood in Dublin and the exasperated looks she'd given him when playing make believe. She'd never wanted to be the evil witch to his dashing hero, but, somehow, he's convinced her to play along anyway.
"I know I don't have to," Declan countered warmly, "but has it occurred to you that I might want to, Mal? And I figured I owe you one, oh, Great Sorceress of The Night, Summoner of Wind and Sea, Supreme leader of the Foreign Invasion." He snorted a laugh recounting her imaginary titles, and cheekily slinked ahead of her in the queue.
"A coffee for me please, whatever the lady is having and, what do you think, Mal," he looked at her briefly, "two slices of that apple cake? It looks delicious, doesn't it?"
The girl behind the counter agreed, extolling the virtues of county Kerry apples and their perfect tanginess. Really, as far as Declan was concerned, she was preaching to the converted. He couldn't wait to settle down with his slice and dig into the cake with its buttery streusel topping. A piece of nostalgia on a plate.
Declan dutifully paid then looked for an empty table for them to settle down. There was a nice spot free besides the window and with that the matter was decided. "I'm in a bit of a pickle with Christmas shopping," he confessed conversationally. "Have you got something for your parents yet? I could really do with some advice as to what I should buy for my mom."
He plopped into the empty chair and then looked up at Mal. "Come on, settle down. Ugh, and listen to me going on about my silly problems when what I really want to know is what you've been up to. Tell me everything!"