Happy St Patrick's Day everyone. In the spirit of the day that's in it - I am serialising my short story 'Wearing the Green' over the next few blog posts... Enjoy!
Wearing the Green
“It’s only for the weekend.”
Amber’s tone was wheedling, she tossed back her long blonde hair and fluttered her mascara caked eyelashes. She was a woman used to getting what she wanted, but her feminine wiles were wasted on her flatmate.
“He’s your brother, and he’s coming all this way…” Eve Arden replied. It wasn’t every day that someone took a transatlantic flight, and if he was going to go to the trouble of visiting his little sister, it seemed only right that said sister should be there to meet him.
“Coming all this way without an invitation, and at short notice.” Amber added, eyes flashing. “It’s just like him, springing something like this on me,” she pouted. “And expecting me to drop everything to show him around for a week.” She crossed her arms over her chest, like a small child in full grip of a tantrum. “When Bill has finally made hotel reservations and invited me away.”
She leant towards Eve and grasped her arm, staring into Eve’s eyes with an intensity that would melt a lesser woman into a compliant pool on the floor.
“I think he’s going to propose,” she confided.
Eve knew when she was beat. “So, how long are you in Galway for?”
Amber smiled and blinked her eyelashes rapidly. “Friday to Sunday night. I’ll take over then, promise.” She threw her arms around Eve, crushing her. “Just the Patrick’s Day weekend, you didn’t have plans anyway did you?”
How was it possible that her tall American flatmate could make her feel such a lonely loser with just one sentence? It had only been a month since her last relationship had crashed and burned, but it still hurt. Eve rubbed her chest as she stepped back. Well maybe showing a strange American Ireland during St Patrick’s weekend was just what she needed. It had to beat lying around in her pyjamas, watching TV and eating ice-cream while wondering whether her flatmate was being proposed to yet. Anything had to be better than that.
“When’s he arriving?”
“The day after tomorrow.” Amber said.
“I’ll pick him up at the airport, give me the details.”
Dublin Airport had never seemed so busy, the halls were thronged with crowds of people, bustling to the departure gates with hand baggage, and a thick swathe ringed the arrival gates, staring at the glass doors as they opened. She checked the monitor, his flight had just landed.
Eve smoothed a hand over her riot of red curls, and bit her lip nervously. Amber had dug out a photograph of her brother before she’d left that morning, and handed it over. A picture of the two of them at some function or other. A tall, dark man in a sober suit, glaring into the camera as he stood stiffly next to his golden haired sister.
Great, he looks a barrel of laughs. Her heart had fallen as she examined his expression. It was going to be hard enough, spending the next few days with a total stranger, without him being a grouch.
The gates opened and a flurry of passengers walked through. She straightened her shoulders and stared at each one in turn. A woman struggled out, arms laden with a sleeping child, smiling at a man who pushed the trolley next to her.
“Ali!” Her face broke into a wide grin, and the harried look disappeared as a man broke ranks with the waiting, slipping under the rope separating passengers from their families, walking towards her quickly. He lifted the child into his arms, and pulled her to him tightly and Eve felt the prick of tears behind her eyes. It was always like this, seeing families united after time apart always had the ability to make her cry. She looked down at the floor, blinking for a moment, then glanced up. The little family were gone, taking their trolley of suitcases with them, leaving a tall stranger searching the crowd. Aha. Not the woman’s husband after all, but the man she’d come here to meet.
“Adam!” She waved, and his eyes swivelled immediately to her, dark green eyes assessing, then dismissing her. He glanced around.
“Adam.” She nodded at him as one dark brow lifted in query and he strolled to her. The photo hadn’t done him justice. His broad shoulders were encased in a heavy sweater and he was wearing jeans that looked as though they were made for him, they fitted him so well, clinging to every inch of his long legs. Her mouth was suddenly dry and she swallowed as he stopped in front of her.
“Are you talking to me?” His voice was deep, and his drawl sent shivers down her spine as emerald eyes looked into hers.
“I’m Eve.” She said, and a corner of his mouth twitched. Good, at least he had a sense of humour.
“Well good guess on the name, Eve, but I’m meeting someone.” He stuffed his hand into his pocket, scanning the crowd. “My wife.”
“You’re not married!” She glowered at him. For some reason he must think she was trying to chat him up. Maybe he thought she spent her time staking out the airport, trying that Adam line on all the gorgeous men.
“Do I know you?” His expression said clearly that he didn’t, and she crossed her arms across her chest, tapping a foot as she always did when she was irritated.
“I’m Eve,” she reiterated slowly. “Amber’s flatmate.”
Dawning realisation flickered in his eyes. “Ah.”
He glanced around. “Where is she?”
Eve closed her eyes as the full reality of the situation hit. She should have known it wouldn’t be this easy, with Amber it never was.
“Did Amber tell you I’d be picking you up at the airport instead of her?” As expected, he shook his head. “I guess she didn’t mention that she’d be away for the next three days either.”
His mouth compressed into a thin line. “No, she didn’t. Just where did she tell you to take me?”
“Back to the flat with me. I’m your designated tour guide for the weekend.” Her mouth twitched up in a nervous smile as he frowned. “Let’s go to the car, I can explain on the way.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a mobile phone.
“I’ll book into a hotel.” He glanced around. “I don’t need babysitting, and it’s outrageous of Amber to put you in this position.” He smiled and her heart thumped in her chest. Scowling he was good looking, smiling… well, he was a heartbreaker for sure.
“Although knowing Amber I’m not surprised. What’s her excuse this time?”
“This time?” she echoed, surely Amber hadn’t stood him up before?
“She’s not exactly reliable.” He lifted his bag onto his shoulder, and slipped under the rope to stand next to her. “She does what she likes, when she likes, and if she thought I was going to be upset about her not being here it makes perfect sense for her to just not tell me.”
“Right.” She nodded. She’d shared a flat with Amber for six months, not enough to know about this less than charming facet of her flatmate’s personality.
“I’m sorry you’ve been put out. Maybe you could take me to a hotel?” His voice was softer.
Eve looked around the crowded concourse.
“It’s St Patrick’s weekend. You haven’t got a hope of getting a hotel room.” She looked up into his eyes. “Amber’s room is all made up, and I’ve got everything ready for you. You’re just going to have to accept it, Adam. You’re spending the next few days in the flat with me.”