Excerpt: Novel in Progress (title not yet released)
“I’m sure you’re pretty busy, not easy being the REYONLDS,” Geoffrey joked awkwardly.
She had that look and he knew it. Oh crap! I’m such an Idiot; she’s coming to Paddy’s! He panicked, knowing he didn’t have the skills to handle this kind of damage control. His peers, tensions were high; they didn’t need any help hating him and making his life miserable. Missy could ruin his day as soon as she opened her mouth, and Cindy, well he couldn’t stand the sight of Cindy. Bob the golden boy, knew everything, and Kevin, just a smart ass. Geoffrey read her face. Glancing at her eyes without staring, it was coming, he could feel it and then it did!
“What the hell,” she blurted firmly as if she were doing him a favor. “After all I had to salvage the mess you guys made. You’re on my first string, and you’re supposed to be better than that!” She hesitated, “You know, sometimes I honestly can’t believe you guys are part of my team. It’s ridiculous that I have to bail you out the way I do. Now that said the result was a success, but it’s pretty clear who saved the account. That would be me, of course!” She was pleased with herself.
Shaun didn’t mind telling him and he knew she would be sharing the same information with the team. Sucked. It was supposed to be their night. What in the hell had he been thinking asking her to join them, stupid dumb ass. He could hear them now. They would be brutal and Geoffrey was dying. The tone had been set. She was going to be her typical bitch self, and everyone was going to hate him for inviting her and ruining their night. Their celebration for a presentation that was phenomenal. Shaun had waltzed in at the end, as usual, trying to take credit for it. Fortunately the client knew how hard the team had worked and that they had pulled off the account. Yep, he was dead meat all right, and all he wanted to do right then was kick his own ass. He deserved it.
“Are you ok?” Shaun asked as she glanced toward the door, “You look weird or something.”
He was ready to get the hell out of there. She knew where to find them, if she could make it, no worries if she couldn’t. Problem was he knew that she would show and he had to beat her to the pub. Maybe it would look like a coincidence that she had shown up there. He took a deep breath and exhaled. Hell, he wasn’t that stupid and as much as he disliked his team at times, they weren’t either. He needed a drink, a strong one. Better make it a double, he thought as he stepped onto the elevator.
Surrounded by modern high rises and concrete towers, Paddy’s pub, was like stepping back in time. With beautiful worn wooden floors and uneven thick stone walls, crooked arched windows, wooden tables and chairs, the atmosphere welcomed whomever walked through the door. It was the place to stop and have a drink, and age didn’t matter. It was everybody’s local. Its magnificent oak bar stretched the entire length of the place. A one of a kind hand carved mirror, placed perfectly behind it, added just the right touch to the pub. The mirror purposely placed at eye level so anyone perched at the bar could see themselves, though they always pretended they weren’t looking. Even the faded green sign welcomed people in as it flickered on and off, yep, Paddy’s pub was definitely the staple of the neighborhood. It would be absurd to think the team would celebrate their successes anywhere else; they had been planning it all day!
“Hurry up, I’m freezing,” Cindy whined as she shoved Bob through the heavy door.
“All right, already, can I at least take my coat off?” Bob replied as he motioned across the bar to an empty table. “This woman needs a drink, Sully,” he yelled across the room, “Hey Kevin, for goodness sakes buy this chick a drink, she’s freezing,” Bob chuckled knowing Kevin would.
Kevin nodded at Sully, “Yo Sully, when you get a chance. Cindy needs the usual since this loser over here, Bob, isn’t buying yet!” He shoved Bob and added, “I’ll have a pint and so will he, and I guess while I’m at it what do you two losers want,” he asked then shook his head, “Ah forget about it, Sully. Just pour a couple of pitchers and keep them coming, if you don’t mind.” He pulled out his wallet and threw a hundred dollar bill on the bar. “We’re celebrating tonight and we’re not driving!” He threw a wad of twenties on top of the hundred, “Let me know when that runs out. We’ll be adding a few rounds of tequila for sure but that’s my contribution, right there, Sully!” Kevin lifted his glass. “Time for a toast I think, don’t you? For a job well done!”
“It pains me to say this but Geoffrey isn’t here yet.” Cindy laughed as she sipped her vodka tonic, though not sipping it very slowly Kevin noticed. She was shocked she had given Geoffrey a thought at all, let alone held up a toast for him. Must be good vodka, she thought as she took another sip to make sure. Yep, that must be it!
Bob handed her another drink and sat down next to her. “And when you’re done with that one, I’ll get you another one. I can walk you home later?” He motioned to Sully for another round even though the table was still loaded with drinks.The game never got old. They had been playing it for nearly two years. He’d try to get her drunk, put the moves on her, she would shoot him down and he would realize she really had had too much to drink. He would back off and take care of her. She would thank him for taking care of her, blame him for getting her drunk and making her feel like crap in the first place! Bob would take offense and get defensive, insisting he never forced her to drink the drinks that he bought. Bob never won that argument and eventually they’d make up over a drink!
“Thank you Bob,” Cindy giggled. “I’ll accept that drink, and not just no, but hell to the no! You may not walk me home tonight or any other night for that matter. In fact, after you’ve loaded me up with liquor you can walk me over to Sully who will call me a cab.”
Sully was wiping down the bar. He glanced up and nodded, “Got it Cindy, just like I all ways do!” He went about tending his bar. He loved this group. They were good people, his people, and he liked to take care of them. Return the favor for their support of his beloved bar or hole in the wall, depending on whom you asked.
Geoffrey struggled with the door as he entered Paddy’s, the wind was working against him. A stranger stopped and held it open for him as he struggled with his coat, the door, and his bag. Everyone was staring at him as he walked toward the team and Cindy smarted off about the door. Geoffrey was not amused; any humor at his expense was irritating. Bitch, he thought, but managed to hold his tongue.
Sensing the tension Bob stood up, “Grab a glass, preferably with something in it; it’s time for a toast.” He handed Geoffrey a glass and the pitcher of beer that sat on the table. “Here Geoffrey fill this, you have to have a toast with us whether you like us or not. We’re still a team!”
Geoffrey filled the glass to brim, “Well what are we toasting then,” he asked sheepishly knowing what it was. His attempt at being funny, didn’t work. It never worked. Geoffrey’s mind was preoccupied. He was still thinking about Shaun. He was hoping against hope that she wouldn’t show up. That his invitation would be brushed aside and that she had accepted a better one. He knew it was wishful thinking. She said she would show and so she’d be there. He was frigging screwed! He sipped his drink as his eyes scanned the bar. Maybe he could leave before she got there, be a coward and run. That would be very Geoffrey.
“Geoffrey’s turn to make a toast,” Kevin hollered across the table, “Make it a good one!”
Geoffrey thought about it for a second and then raised his glass. “To the next big, no huge campaign led by our team. May it be bigger, better, and even more profitable for both the firm and for us of course!” He laughed, “Well you all know what to do. Lick it, down it, and suck it… team!”
“Team,” they said in unison. They licked the salt of their hands and downed the tequila. One by one, the shot glasses slammed down onto the table as everyone bit down on a lime. “Again!” they all said at the very same time.
Bob grinned and put his arm around Cindy’s shoulder. “Here’s some water and you’ll thank me in the morning,” he whispered. “Hell, I might be able to walk you home, for my gentleman like behavior. What do you think Cindy?”
“No my friend, you still don’t stand a chance,” She leaned on his shoulder, “But thank you Bob, for taking care of me!” She giggled. She was the life of the party and didn’t even know it, her laugh so contagious that everyone just had to join in, even Geoffrey.
Missy noticed it first. Geoffrey seemed uncomfortable and kept looking at his watch. She tried not to stare but she couldn’t help it, something was definitely amiss. It was as if he was waiting for something or someone.
“Geoffrey do you need to go?” she asked him so softly he could barely hear her over the noise.
“To Alice,” Missy repeated, “Alice, do you need leave, to go home?”
Missy pointed to her watch, “You keep watching the clock that’s all; I thought you had to be somewhere.”
Geoffrey shook his head no and dug into his pocket for his wallet. It was his turn to buy and for once, he had no complaints. He stood in line at the bar. He would be the nice guy buying the next round and maybe, just maybe, that would help to soften the blow if she showed up. Truthfully he knew it didn’t matter how many drinks they had in them, they were going to hate him if the Reynolds invaded their space and for good reason. It happened as Missy was reading the karaoke menu. Kevin tugged at her elbow. He was in shock, stunned by what he saw. It was clearly Shaun Reynolds, standing in Paddy’s pub, what the hell!
Geoffrey acted as if he hadn’t seen her,and he almost died right there on the spot. Knowing in advance she was coming, extending the invitation himself, had not helped his initial reaction. He suddenly panicked. In a weird way, now she was there, he was glad. He liked to look at her; he liked knowing what he knew and knowing that no one else did. He admired her. He was in awe of how discreetly she lived her life. Shaun Reynolds a powerful, confident woman, in control of everything, yet she had a secret. A secret so big, that it could destroy her. A secret that Geoffrey was obsessed with, Shaun’s secret mesmerized him.
Kevin grabbed the menu out Missy’s hand, “Missy look, but don’t look to your left,” he whispered as loud as he possibly could without drawing attention to himself, “Look without looking, but seriously frigging look already!”
“What the hell! Kevin, shit. Give me that menu! Hide me, frigging hide me now!” She said to loud as soon as she saw her.
Kevin put his hand over her mouth, “Nothing discreet about that Sherlock,” he snapped. “Oh my God, she’s headed this way. Shit, do something now!” He grabbed the menu from Missy and put in front of both of them, needless to say, they looked noticeably ridiculous. Missy was panicking. Fortunately, the ladies room was calling her. She jumped up and grabbed her purse but Kevin grabbed her sleeve, “Oh no way in hell Missy,” he said as he looked around the pub for Bob, “You do not get to abandon ship!”
There she stood, Shaun, waiting patiently to be invited to sit down. It was actually her. The Reynolds, Shaun Reynolds, in their local and it was so wrong, on so many levels. How did this happen? Why in the hell would the Reynolds be here?