The After Wife
IN THIS SCENE, THE MAIN CHARACTER, ABBY, IS AT THE PUB FOR DINNER. IT’S HER FIRST NIGHT IN TOWN, AND SHE’S JUST BEEN TOLD THAT THE PUB OWNERS, PETER AND NETTIE, WILL INTRODUCE HER TO A LOCAL CONTRACTOR, LIAM WRIGHT, WHO CAN HELP HER FIX UP HER DELAPITATED COTTAGE. ABBY SUSPECTS THEY’RE ALSO TRYING TO SET THEM UP ON A DATE…
Why do I not drink more often? I’m almost through my second pint and I honestly can’t remember feeling so good. I don’t even care how out of place I am. Instead, I happily devour a slice of homemade lemon meringue pie. Dinner service has ended, and most of the guests have filed out, replaced by several locals bearing instruments. A new feeling takes over the restaurant. It’s an easy, relaxed vibe full of inside jokes and laughter as they rearrange the tables into a large horseshoe. I rush to finish my dessert, hoping to make my exit before I attract the attention of every snoopy musician in the village.
Peter gives me a nod. “Liam’s just come in now.”
I turn and see a man standing at the entrance. He looks to be in his early forties. Medium height, with the sturdy build of a fisherman or maybe a miner in days gone by. He has shaggy sandy-brown hair and thick stubble that’s somewhere between needing a shave and needing another couple of months to grow. His eyes, though. There’s something about them that makes me stare a moment too long. They’re the shade of ice blue usually reserved for wolves.
He looks straight at Nettie and Peter, and my gaze follows his. They are standing side by side with matching hopeful grins. They look at me, then back at him, and when I glance in his direction again, I’m met with a look of dread. It doesn’t take me more than a second to figure out he thinks he’s about to be set up and he’s absolutely horrified at the thought of having any of his parts touch any of my parts.
And here I am gawking at him like a moron.
Blue sweater vest woman walks by and touches my arm. “You’ve got a bit of a mustache, love.”
She hurries off in the direction of the ladies’ room while I dab my upper lip with a napkin, confirming that I did, in fact, have a frothy white beer mustache.
Well, that’s that, then. The Millhouse boys it is.
“Liam! Come over and meet Abby!” Peter calls.
No. Please don’t. I swivel my stool to face the bar, and in my overly enthusiastic effort, I swing it too far and bang my left knee on the wood bracket. The force of it causes my body to jar and jerk back to my right and I plant my left hand in what’s left of my pie. I’m a regular Princess Di this evening, all elegance and grace.
Nettie gives me a concerned look. “You all right, love?”
“I’m fine. I just remembered I have to make a phone call. Can you put this on my room?” I smile too brightly as I slide off the stool and start for the side door as fast as my legs can carry me.
“Well, come back when you’re done so you don’t miss the music!” Nettie calls.
“And you still need to meet Liam!” Peter yells.
“I most certainly will!” Not.