Can the evening get any worse? Of course it can...

Thanks again to Launa Alvara for help and soothing words of advice.


Rhiannon and Martin are standing outside the house in Nelson Street.

Rhiannon's worried: Martin's been quiet - almost withdrawn - for most of the evening. She tries to take his hand, but he pulls away.

'Martin - are you angry with me? What have I done?'

Martin says, bitterly, 'Angry? Not at all. Why should I be angry?'

'But what have I done?'

Martin turns away.

'I don't s-suppose you want to see me again? I'm not surprised - there's n-no reason why you should.'

'Martin! Whatever it is, whatever's happened, can we talk about it? Please?'

It's starting to rain.

'Martin, we can't stand here - will you come inside and we'll talk about it there? Please?'

She opens the door, and he follows her inside. The girls are in the lounge - she can hear them laughing about something.

'We can't talk down here. I'll make some coffee and bring it upstairs. You go on up.'

He climbs the stairs slowly, reluctantly. His shoulders are slumped. She's never seen him like this.

Whatever it is, whatever's gone wrong, it's important, and it's up to me to put it right.

-o0o-

He's not surprised. He's always wondered what she sees in him, why she bothers. But he really thought - hoped - his luck had changed this time.

Of course it hadn't.

Oh God, why can't you let me be happy?

Oh God, Rhiannon, why did you have to let me know like this?


-o0o-

When she brings the coffee upstairs, he's sitting on the little hard chair by the desk, staring at the floor. He doesn't even look up when she hands him his mug.

They sit in silence for a few minutes.

'Martin, whatever it is that I've done, I'm sorry. I really am. Please tell me what it is.'

Martin flushes red. Without looking up, he says angrily

'I -I think you could have had the decency to tell me before now. How do you think I felt tonight?'

Tell you? Tell you what?

She thinks back to her conversation with Carolyn. That must be it.

'I should have, cariad. I should have told you a long time ago, when we met. But I was embarrassed. It sounds so stupid, but I can't help it, I really can't. And I thought you wouldn't want to know me any more, that you'd be so embarrassed by me, but Carolyn talked to me about it, and she said that lots of people are the same and therapy really helps, and I don't want it to come between us and I'm so sorry all your friends were there when you found out but -'

'Rhiannon, what are you talking about?'

'About me being scared of flying, of course.'

Martin says dismissively that doesn't matter, that's not what it's about, and Rhiannon thinks thank you God , thank you for not letting me tell him about me being so scared that something will go wrong, that'll he'll die, that I'll never see him again.

They fall silent again. After a while, Martin says in a tight little voice

'So why didn't you tell me about Herc?'

'What about Herc? I told you, I hardly know him, he just comes into the pub: he's a dreadful flirt, but I've never done anything to encourage him. I wouldn't do that Martin, I really wouldn't, honestly. I don't even like him very much - he's just a customer.'

Martin looks at her.

'He seemed to think he knew you pretty well.'

'He's like that with all the barmaids. Thinks he's God's gift to women. I didn't know that you knew him, or I'd have told you about him.'

Martin looks at his feet again and says 'Oh' and Rhiannon thinks she knows what this is about.

'Martin, he's nearly old enough to be my father! He uses those spray tan booths and dyes his hair, you can tell! You - you don't think - oh Martin, you're not jealousof him, are you?'

She can't help it, she starts to laugh. It's so ridiculous. But Martin isn't laughing.

'Of course I'm bloody jealous! The way he kissed you, the way he tried to put his arm round you - what I am I supposed to think?'

'Oh Martin, there's no need - do you really think I'd look at anyone besides you?'

He doesn't answer. She holds out her hand to him, but he ignores it.

'Martin, don't you trust me?'

He looks at her and says quietly ' I did.'

She never thought he'd say anything that would hurt her that much, that anything could hurt her that much any more. Her face falls, and she says sadly 'But if you don't trust me, there's no point, is there? In you and me?'

Martin's angry: angry about this evening, angry about Herc, angry about the fact that Rhiannon looks so - alone, as if everything's been taken away from her. Most of all he's angry with himself with himself because he's made her look like that.

'I want to trust you, Rhi. But I didn't realise that you thought I was - what did you say? A jumped-up little nothing who tries to impress people with how important his job is?'

If that's how people see me, no wonder they laugh at me at all the time.

'Martin, I never said that! Not about you: I said it about that man in the pub, and about Herc. I'd never say it about you: you're not like that!'

'When - when we met, did - did you think I was trying to impress you then? Boasting about what I did, about being a Captain?'

'When we met, you told me you were a man with a van! You said that flying was your hobby. You didn't tell me you were really an airline Captain, I had to worm that out of you. And I'm the one who's been doing all the boasting- to the girls, to people at university, to the other barmaids - about how handsome my boyfriend the airline Captain is.'

'But Herc didn't know about us. You didn't tell him, obviously.'

'Oh, sod bloody Herc! The only things I ever say to him are 'Your usual drink, Sir?' and 'Really?' as he goes on and on about how successful he is. And anyway - '

'Yes?'

'You don't know me very well if you think I could ever fancy anyone called Hercules, for goodness sake! I can't imagine shouting out 'Herc' in moments of wild passion!'

It wasn't the right thing to say. She'd hoped it might make him smile, might start to put things right, but he doesn't seem any happier.

'There's something else, isn't there, Martin? Please tell me what's upsetting you.'

He focuses on the wall behind her, not meeting her eyes.

'I didn't know you thought I was - what was your charming phase? A right saddo?'

'What?'

'You knew, didn't you? When we met - you knew I'd been speed-dating, didn't you? And you - you knew I was humiliated and ran out of there, and you said yourself that only saddos go speed-dating.'

Rhiannon sighs.

'Oh love, I said that some of the people who go speed-dating are saddos. But not you. And yes, I did know where you'd been: I saw you running out of the entrance. But I didn't say anything because you didn't, and I guessed that you didn't want me to know. So I pretended I didn't. And there's something that I haven't been honest with you about.'

There's real fear in his eyes.

'Martin, I know there's some strange and sad people go speed-dating at the Fitton because - well, because I've been there myself. Speed-dating. With Emilia - just for a giggle. And it was really horrible, and we walked out. But there were the two of us, so we could walk out together, laughing as if - as if we found it funny. But it wasn't funny at all. It was horrible. If I'd been by myself, I'd have run out of there like a scalded cat. I don't think I'd have even been brave enough to walk in there in the first place.'

'Were - were you really going to ask me out if I hadn't asked you first?'

'I really was. It was me who asked you if we could see each other again, remember?'

She reaches out her hand to him, and this time he takes it. She's starting to cry. It's relief, because everything seems to be coming all right again, but Martin doesn't know that.

No, no, don't cry! Martin, you stupid, selfish idiot! Look what you've done!

He reaches out his other hand and gently brushes the tears away.

'Hush, Rhi. Please don't cry. Please don't. I'm sorry I hurt you. I didn't mean to hurt you. Please don't cry, Rhi.'

'Are - are we all right now, cariad? Is there anything else that worries you?'

He shakes his head.

'And - and do you trust me? Really?'

'I do, Rhi, I really do. Honestly. I'm so sorry I said I didn't. I shouldn't have said that. I was frightened.'

He leans forward to kiss her.

'I don't ever want to make you cry, Rhi. I'm a stupid, thoughtless idiot, and I don't deserve you. Can you forgive me?'

She squeezes his hand.

'Forgiven. It was only a misunderstanding.'

-o0o-

Much, much later, Martin starts to laugh quietly.

'Rhi?'

'Yes, cariad?'

'When you said, earlier, that you couldn't imagine ever shouting out Herc's name in moments of hot passion - '

'Oh God, Martin, I've never tried to imagine being passionate with him, honestly!'

'No, I didn't mean that - but do you know his brothers are called Wellington and Harrier?'

'Dewi Sant! Wellington Shipwright? Sounds as if he should win Best of Breed at Crufts!'

They start to giggle. Perhaps everything will be all right after all.

-o0o-

'No more secrets between us?'

'It wasn't a secret, Martin, only a misunderstanding.'

'But no more secrets? Promise?'

'Promise.' Only the big ones, my love. Only the ones I daren't tell you about, because then I really would lose you.