I’ll be writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the first one – The Reunion. I hope you enjoy it.
I wasn’t prepared to see him, that was the problem. Only I don’t think anything could have prepared me really. Ten years is a long time, long enough to persuade myself it didn’t matter.
I walked into O’Shea’s, like I do every Friday, at half past five. Glad to be out of the cold Spring evening and looking forward to a large glass of red, I made my way to our usual table at the back of the pub, knowing that Sarah wasn’t far behind me.
Shrugging my coat off, I threw it over the back of the booth and started unwrapping my scarf, thinking how ridiculous it was that I’d had to root it out again this morning after the warm spell we’d had last week. I was always too optimistic putting away my winter woolies.
My phone beeped with a text telling me to get the drinks in because my best mate, Sarah would be here in ten minutes. I dutifully grabbed my purse and headed for the bar, side stepping and shimmying my way through the after work crowd. I managed to squeeze my curvy frame through until there was only one line of bodies in front of me.
I came to a stop behind a lovely set of broad muscular shoulders and when my eyes travelled down I was rewarded with a gorgeous arse on top of a lovely pair of long legs. Nice scenery while I waited. His blue dress shirt was hanging out at the side, the sleeves rolled up over wide, corded forearms dusted with light sandy hairs. He looked more suited to a rugby pitch than an office.
I’m not sure when the first hint of recognition struck.
Maybe it was when I smelled his familiar scent as someone pushed me forward and my nose ended up practically on his back. Or maybe it was the deep laughter that vibrated through his body or the way he ran his hand over the back of his neck. Either way, I had a shocking moment of knowing.
Jerking back away from him I instantly began to panic.
Jack. Oh God – it was Jack. Here… in O’Shea’s. What the hell was he doing here? I had an irrational moment of possessive anger over my favourite pub. How dare he invade my space like this?
Long buried memories started to push back into my mind. There had been so much anger and frustration at the end. So much hurt. I wasn’t proud about the way I’d behaved and I think that was part of my reluctance for him to see me now. Would he see me and remember the good times or the way I’d lashed out at the end, unable to contain my pain and anger when he decided to take a job offer overseas?
It didn’t matter that I understood now why he’d made that decision. It didn’t matter that I knew he’d made the right choice. What mattered is that he instigated the split – in short – he dumped me.
It had taken a long time to get over that, over him. I’d learned not to go digging around that particular sore spot and I didn’t appreciate the way it was stinging now.
I was seriously debating retracing my steps and meeting Sarah at the door so we could go somewhere else. It grated a bit, but I was tired and not feeling up to any kind of reunion tonight. Ok, that could be construed as running away, but quite frankly I was alright with that.
I began to turn around, jostled by the crowd I stumbled back a step hoping to God the pressure I felt at my back wasn’t Jack.
Please don’t turn around.
I closed my eyes for a moment and exhaled.
“Tash, is that you?”
A little shiver of awareness went down my back. Damn his annoyingly sexy deep voice. I pasted a smile on my face and turned to face him. What else could I do?
I wasn’t prepared though. Seeing his beautiful face again after so long made my eyes prickle. I blinked rapidly. There would be no tears, not if I wanted to walk out of here with any pride left in tact. I coughed to clear my suddenly tight throat.
“Hello, Jack,” I managed to get out. I’d forgotten how his eyes, vivid and blue, could smile without the rest of his face moving. I’d forgotten the slight crookedness of his nose that he was a little self-conscious about. I’d forgotten his full bottom lip. A sudden shocking image of me licking it, then sucking it into my mouth nearly blind sided me.
I tried to catalogue the changes instead, looking for some new flaws. There were a few more laughter lines around his eyes, some grey hairs that only made him sexier (so bloody unfair), and an inch long scar along his right temple that just made him more intriguing.
I sighed to myself, admitting defeat and suddenly realised that his eyes were roaming my face in just the same way. I felt exposed and vulnerable for a moment as I saw my own need for caution reflected back at me.
What did he see? What had ten years of living done to me?
Then he said the words that I didn’t realise until that moment I wanted to hear.
“It’s been too long, Tash.”