A/N: I apologize for the long wait. Thank you for sticking with me through the drought! I hope that the next chapter will come together quicker, but I hope it was worth the wait! After you've read (and reached your verdict) leave me a review, message me or find me on tumblr (anonalece) to let me know what you think! I can't wait to hear from you!
"If you don't stop fidgeting, it's going to be your own fault when I poke you in the eye with this thing," Prim says, gesturing wildly with the mascara wand in her hand. She resumes applying mascara to my eyelashes when I manage to sit still and resume staring up at the ceiling. "I don't know why you're nervous. You're just meeting Madge."
She's right. Madge is a friend from high school that I've stayed in touch with over the years. We typically try to get together whenever I come back to town and since she hadn't been able to attend Prim's party due to conflicting plans, we're meeting for a drink tonight instead. My sister wanted to tag along, but her future mother-in-law has commandeered her evening to begin wedding planning; instead she insisted on doing my makeup the way she often does when we spend a night out on her visits to the city.
My typical beauty routine is simple: concealer to hide evidence of the all too typical late nights at work, a swipe of blush to fight my pallor and a quick coat of mascara are usually all the steps I need to look presentable. Unless my boss has me accompany him to make an appearance with a client, I don't usually bother to try anything more elaborate. Unlike my sister and most teenage girls, I didn't have the time to acquire the skills of makeup application in my teens; I had more important things to worry about. That's part of the reason I'm letting my sister doll me up for simple drinks with an old friend because I managed to use the low-key nature of tonight's plans to talk her out of making me wear one of the ridiculous outfits she had initially suggested. Instead, I convinced her that I would be better off dressing up my dark wash jeans and v-neck t-shirt with the suit jacket and heels I wore on the flight here.
"You're lucky the eyeshadow's dark, it'll hide those little dots," Prim informs me as she plunges the mascara wand into its tube a final time before swiping some additional pewter shadow across my lids. She takes a step back to survey her handiwork. "Not too shabby," she announces with a grin.
I'm relieved to see that Prim has used a light hand not only with the monochromatic shadow and liner, but with the blush and lip gloss as well. She's given me a smoky eye I could never have managed myself, a slight flush and a naturally pink pout. Gathering my hair at the nape of my neck, I give it a good twist before securing it with a band. Prim comes up beside me and fusses over the placement of my long fringe and tucks the pieces of my hair that don't quite reach my less than perfect bun behind my ears. I find her gaze in the mirror and she smiles proudly, "Not shabby at all."
She's right, of course. I usually draw a certain amount of interest when I'm in town, though I can't be sure if it's my appearance or mere presence that attracts attention when I enter The Hob half an hour later. I ignore the individual stares; instead I claim the first empty booth I come across and make sure to take the side facing the entrance so that I can spot Madge when she arrives.
I'm glad that they've dimmed the lights for the evening, it allows me to blend in with my own dark, oil stained wooden bench. I'm separated from the bar by a series of low tables and captain's chairs all stained the same dark color. To keep it easy to clean, the floor is bare concrete and aside from the odd neon sign and a few dartboards in the back corner, the walls are blessedly bare. I enjoy these unassuming qualities of The Hob; though lacking somewhat in character, the place manages to balance a fine line between alienation and anonymity. Unlike the atmosphere that often gets forced upon me at home, there are no pretensions here. The only thing required is that you pay your tab, which is the only resemblance between other establishments and The Hob.
The first thing I spot is my friend's hair shining through the dimly lit room like a halo. As I predicted, Madge is wearing her hair free flowing over her shoulders, but she's changed the style since the last time I was in town. If the lighting were better in here, I might be able to distinguish the equally expected variation in color. Whereas I've never had the inclination to change much about my hair over the years, my friend started changing her hair color as soon as she could convince a clerk she was old enough to buy the box herself and she was constantly getting it professionally done while we were roommates during college. I never know what I'll to see when we get together; but, unlike her hairstyle, the smile seeing her brings to my face is expected.
Loosening our hold on each other from our initial embrace, we remain somewhat intertwined and grin at each other. I lift my hand up, flip her shorter locks over her shoulder and raise an eyebrow. She responds with a shrug. I shake my head, take a step to the side and point her in the direction of our booth asking, "First round's on me, you want the usual?" At her nod, I make my way between tables towards the bar and give the hem of my shirt a quick tug,bringing its neckline down a couple of inches because the way to get a bartender's attention is the same whether you're here or in the city.
I slip between customers occupying two of the tall stools that line the front side of the bar and as I grab some cash from the pocket of my jacket, I lean forward to give the man behind the bar a chance to ogle my cleavage. I rest my forearm on the bar, cash in hand and assume a bored expression as I wait.
"Katniss Everdeen as I live and breathe."
My attention snaps back to the bartender. "Thresh Williams tending bar back in his home town; this one I did not see coming." Thresh chuckles and absentmindedly wipes down the top of the bar, not bothering to respond. He knows that I could ask anyone and discover the truth; this being a sports obsessed small town, news like the return of a former football star who left with a full ride and dreams of turning pro to tend bar at a local haunt wasn't likely to have been overlooked by the local gossips. "Two snakebites, please, barkeep."
He shakes his head, shifts down to the nearby tap and nods down the bar to my left as he begins to fill my order asking, "You here with my buddy over there?" I lean forward and catalog the people occupying the bar. It's not until both my forearms rest on it that I spot him. I jerk back before he can spot me and shake my head vehemently in response to the question, not trusting my voice to remain steady just now. Even though I had told Prim to have him call me, I haven't been able to prepare and therefore, at this particular moment, I'm not ready to see Gale just yet. If Thresh noticed the way that my muscles have seized with tension, he doesn't mention it. "Then you must be here with blondie over there." I follow his gaze over my shoulder back where I can see Madge smiling down at her phone, practically vibrating with excitement.
I'm nodding as I turn back toward him. He sets the glasses filled with half cider and half stout in front of me and I exchange them for the bill in my hand, waving him off before grabbing the glasses off the bar, "Keep it." I catch a glimpse of his brilliant white teeth that stand out against his dark skin for a moment before I turn away.
Only then do I realize that the bar has become significantly more crowded in the time it's taken to get two measly drinks. I'm only able to manage a few steps before I'm being jostled by the crowd. "Dammit." The word escapes my mouth after my attempt to avoid one collision causes me to be the one at fault for another. Even as a set of hands come to stabilize my body, I feel liquid seep under my fingers and it's all I can do to keep a hold of the glasses.
Only once I'm positive that I won't in fact drop the pints, I finally acknowledge the warmth surrounding my waist. Any chance of my apologizing to the guy for my literal misstep goes out the window. My hands might be preoccupied, but that doesn't translate to this guy getting a free pass to cop a feel. I'm mentally preparing to give him a dressing down for his highhanded opinion of himself and his sex when I turn to face him and suddenly, I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me.
I'd put myself out on a limb giving him my number like that and he hasn't even bothered to call. Not twenty four hours ago, I had been excited at the prospect of seeing him, of getting to know him better; now there's a rush in my ears and my pride has me anxious to escape.
I get a thrill of satisfaction when my glare makes him release his hold on me, as though suddenly singed. He rubs the back of his neck with one hand and he's can't look me in the eyes, but I'm stuck in a noiseless void where my fight or flight reaction overrides my other senses. Despite not hearing his exact words, I've calmed down enough to see the apology clearly in his bright blue eyes. With my hands full, my only recourse is to shake my head at him. Peeta stops short of continuing his excuses and I muster up a reassuring smile to put him at ease; it's something I've used with clients countless times and I'm pleased to see its effect when the rigidness in Peeta's stance dissipates. Before he can muster up something to say, I lift my drink laden hands and put him out of his misery, "I'm here with a friend or I'd wait to hear why you haven't called." Even grimacing he's attractive and I continue quickly before he can try to explain, "Good night, Peeta." I don't wait for him to return the sentiment. I know that it's better to make a clean break and yet the stab of disappointment I feel as Peeta allows me to walk away is disconcerting.
I hope the crowd I'm trying to navigate without any additional spillage has obscured my friend's view of the exchange with Peeta. I try to harness my feelings before I reaching the booth, but when I arrive at the edge of the people milling about, some remnant of them must show on my face because I'm on the receiving end of a critical stare from Madge. Quickly deciding that it's my best option, I merely shrug in response and silently hand her one of the pint glasses. I reclaim my spot across from her and pointedly ignore the raised eyebrow that my minimal response elicits.
Patience might be something I utilize in my profession, but it's not a strong suit of mine when it comes to my personal life. Even knowing that Madge is probably using this particular flaw to her advantage right now, I can feel my irritation mounting. I raise my glass in a silent toast and brace myself as my glass joins hers on the table. I know that only the truth will be enough to satisfy her. Madge knows me too well for anything less to suffice; she's always been able to tell when I'm not being entirely honest. It's another area where my proficiency depends on whether I'm practicing it in the personal or professional realm.
I'm surprised when Madge smiles mildly over the table at me and for a moment I think she might let it drop, perhaps trusting that if it were important I would mention it on my own. For anyone else, being interested in someone wouldn't be that important, but if I'm honest with myself, I know that it is meaningful and I should tell her about it. That's right, give me enough time and I can get there on my own.
As with everything else, Madge must be able to see my reluctance to address the topic on my mind because she cleverly averts her gaze to make it the tiniest bit easier for me to bear. I can hear her question in the inflection of her voice when she says, "He's cute."
How kind of her to allow me to choose what to divulge in this moment. I glance over at the bar where I can just spot the back of Peeta's golden head and I concede the point easily because anyone can see the truth in it, "He is." The silent encouragement I see when I turn back to her has me continuing quickly, "We sat next to each other on the flight here. He's one of the Mellark's sons; he and his older brother are helping out at the café, giving their parents a break or something."
"Oh, yeah, I think I heard something about that." She nods and takes a quick drink in a way that I'm all too familiar with, "I thought maybe he or some guy at the bar had bothered you or something."
Trying to reassure her, I insist, "No, nothing happened." I don't need the way that her eyebrows reach her equally fair hairline to tell me I missed the mark. I can't quite strangle the groan that makes its way from my throat and I rest my head in my hands a moment later, anything to avoid looking at her in this moment. "It's Gale; he's at the bar," I admit, my voice is coming out on the edge of a whine and it's a relief when Madge looks that way. I go on before the embarrassment can stop me and once I start, I can't make myself stop; I tell her everything. "I know I'm going to have to talk to him, of course, but I really wasn't planning on doing it tonight. I thought I would have more time! Not that I haven't had plenty of time to think about what I want to say to him when we finally hashed things out, but I just told Prim to give him the green light this morning. I haven't been able to mentally prepare! It's important that I have advanced warning because I really don't want to lose it this time. The last time we were alone together I was a complete wreck and I cannot revisit that moment - I cannot afford to go back there, I have to stay in the present and remember why we're finally having a civil conversation about this mess." I throw my hands up at the end of my rant and they thud lifelessly back onto the table.
Madge smiles benignly at me in spite of my outburst. "Happy to get that off you chest?"
I give an emphatic nod and take a much needed drink from my glass before continuing, "I can never explain it properly to Prim without putting her in the middle or making her feel like she has to take sides. Gale and I need to clean up our own mess in order to be able to truly move past ... everything." I sigh and push the long piece of fringe that's fallen in front of my eyes back until it catches behind my ear, "I've been hung up on it for long enough and I think I might be ready to actually move on."
"Really?" My friend looks as uncertain of my conviction as she sounds and, while I appreciate the fact that we haven't talked about it recently, I can only laugh at her presumption that Gale is the reason for my being single.
"Yes, Madge, really." She still doesn't convinced. "I don't want Gale; I haven't wanted him for a long time." I knew people were going to be wary of the truth and it's up to me to convince them. I sigh before trying again, "I mean, at first I thought that if he would just apologize that we could move past it, you know? But I've realized, admittedly with a great deal of professional help, that when people leave it's not my fault." I look down at my pint and idly draw patterns in the condensation there as I softly reveal the crucial point, one that took months of intense therapy for me to put the traitorous thought into words, "It's not because I wasn't good enough."
When I see her hand wrap around my wrist, I return to the present moment, shaking my head to stop her from saying anything, "Obviously there were issues I needed to work through after Gale did ... what he did," I flip my hand over and give hers a squeeze, "I couldn't even consider starting an actual relationship with someone - you remember how I was back then! Do you think I could have handled that?" I give her a meaningful look and only see the sadness covering my friend's typically bubbly personality deepen; that was obviously the wrong way to go about reassuring her, so I try yet again. "I needed that time to be a little reckless - it was college! We both had our bit of fun and it's time for me to move on and find someone else. Besides," I add flippantly, "I'm sure Gale has; why shouldn't I?"
If anything, Madge looks worse and I really can't think of anything else I can say to reassure her. Except, she doesn't look like she needs reassurance anymore; she reminds me of a guilty client who needs to unburden themselves. Given enough time, they usually do.
"Speaking of Gale ..." My attention rests solely on Madge who in turn can't look me in the eye for more than a second. She keeps looking back in the direction of the bar, over to the corner where I know Gale is sitting.
Instinct tells me that I'm not going to like what I'm about to hear, but she's my best friend. I try to reason that Madge wouldn't want to purposefully hurt me and it will be better to know whatever it is before I meet with Gale alone. She looks concerned which doesn't make sense. I just finished telling her that I'm over Gale, that should make her feel better!
Madge tightens her grip on my hand and I focus my wandering thoughts on the conversation at hand. She doesn't say anything right away and I match the pressure as we sit there with our clasped hands resting on the table until I can hardly stand it. I'm about to prompt her when the words burst from her, her voice laced with trepidation, "We've kind of been seeing each other."
Wait, what? That certainly wasn't what I expected her to say. I start instinctually pulling away from her, shaking my head as if to clear it and straightening my posture toward the back of my seat, away from her. Just as I'm about to pull it away, the unavailing pressure of her grip practically cuts off the circulation in my hand.
"No, that's not true; let me explain: we aren't together or dating." My gaze snaps to hers instantly, but it leaves with her next word, "Yet." I'm not sure how I'm supposed to react to this because I've only just decided to put everything firmly in the past and this is putting an unexpected wrench in that plan.
In an obvious attempt to prevent me retreating even further, Madge starts explaining rapidly, "Gale works at my father's company. His position might be lower-level, but even the grunts get an invitation to the holiday party. I only went to appease Daddy - you know? - because he's always pushing me to have a more public role in the company and we bumped into each other there." Okay, that scenario makes sense. I know all too well about the lack of young people at company parties and it would make sense for them to gravitate to each other because they had been sort of friends through their connection to me. "After that, we ran into each other in the cafeteria and started having lunch pretty regularly which led to us spending time together outside of work. Beyond that, nothing has happened."
My hand is now inextricably linked with hers and I'm worried by the 'yet' that remains unspoken this time. "I couldn't let anything happen until I talked to you - and Gale agreed - that it was a good idea to wait to make sure that it wouldn't ruin our friendship. You are so important to me, Katniss, I don't want to jeopardize us over some guy! Especially someone who was so important to you and who hurt you so badly." I flinch and her free hand covers the top of mine to distract from the flash of that pain I always feel when the subject is brought up. "Just say the word and I'll tell Gale that friendship is all I can offer him; it's what I told him you would say, but after what you just said about being ready to move on - I thought that maybe, that I might be wrong."
Madge looks imploringly at me as her words hang in the air between us. I'm not sure what she expects me to say at this point. She's been spending time with my ex-boyfriend - not just that, my ex-best friend - in an obvious build up to romance. Given both the way they agreed with each other about stuff in high school and their individual experiences with monogamous relationships, if they start a relationship it's likely to last. He would be a shadow, a silent presence in every interaction I had with my friend sitting across from me, but cutting back her role in my life is simply not possible. Frankly, I don't have a lot of friends and there's no way that I can afford to lose one as important to me as Madge.
Sure, I've thought about Gale moving on, but it's always been in the abstract; I definitely hadn't predicted that it would affect me in any personal way beyond hearing about him and whoever he ended up with when I visited or spoke to Prim. We've managed to keep tabs on each other over the years through our younger siblings and, once the wedding takes place, I thought we would continue in this vein. Up until this moment, I didn't see any reason things should change on my part. It appears that I'm going to have to reevaluate the situation.
"I think," I say slowly, "I'm gonna need something stronger than a snakebite if we're actually going to talk about this and in the time it takes for me to get that, I'll be processing this turn of events." Just as slowly, Madge releases her grip on my hand, nods and lets me leave the booth without further complaint.
I make my way toward the bar through a haze of shock. Of course I've considered hearing that Gale was seeing someone; it's been four years! With him being such a family oriented guy, it makes sense for Gale to find someone he could settle down with, but I thought he would think twice before pursuing my best friend! Especially considering that it's the position he held even before we got together. He wouldn't even know her if it weren't for me! As social outcasts, Madge and I gravitated to each other in high school and we became friends; it was out of necessity at the beginning, but it evolved into a meaningful friendship. I was the one who introduced her to Gale, an upperclassman. The three of us had spent a lot of our free time together back then.
I take a deep breath as I finally reach the bar, thankful to have something to lean on. It's more crowded this time, giving me an extra bit of time before I must turn around and face the situation head on. The majority of my thoughts are telling me that I really have no reason to be upset; the situation hardly has anything to do with me, really. The part of me that has been struggling to overcome the past is the same, albeit small, part of me that feels a sting of betrayal at not being told about this new development before now. Before it had time to become an issue of her withholding something so important from me. Surely someone would have noticed and word gotten back to me if they had taken whatever it is they have going on public. At least they've spared me that bit of humiliation; however, the way Thresh had assumed I was here with one of them has me wondering if that is really the case.
They seem to have divided the bar in half which means that another bartender comes to take my order this time. Brushing aside the slight disappointment I feel at not being given the opportunity to question Thresh about his offhand comment from earlier, I order and immediately take a shot of vodka. Tapping my fingers on the bar while I wait for a basic martini with the same base, I hear my name, "Katniss?" The question is inherent in his tone and I've spent enough time ruminating on it over the last few days that I don't need the quick glance over my shoulder to tell me that Peeta has cautiously approached me. Apparently he didn't get closure from our earlier conversation; if I hadn't just received such an emotional curveball, I might have been pleased by his approach.
"Katniss," he sounds more confident when he says it this time, "If you have time, I'd like a chance to explain."
It surprises me that he actually waits for my permission to elaborate. I make a sweeping gesture with my hand which he takes as an invitation to ease into the infinitesimal space between me and the next guy at the bar. If it hadn't felt cramped already, it certainly does now. The heat coming off Peeta seems to pass through my blazer as if it were nothing and I feel a blush rise under my collar as my body responds to being in close proximity to such a potent male presence. Standing this close to me, I'm can't decide where to focus. The way he's leaning his forearm on the bar is putting the muscle definition beneath the edge of his black shirtsleeve on display, the light dusting of hair visible between the sides of the v-neck shirt shines golden under the cast off neon light from the beer signs on the wall leading to the taut muscles of his neck and the jaw that is compressing his lips together in a straight line. The lips that have inspired a number of daydreams since we first met. When I reach them, I can't meet his crystalline eyes for more than a second, worried that he'll see something of my sexual frustration behind in my eyes.
Thankfully he doesn't draw attention to my inability to control my mind and gaze from wandering, instead Peeta continues as though I haven't just blatantly checked him out, "I didn't want to seem desperate by calling too soon." That seems reasonable enough, but the way that he keeps shifting his weight tells me that there's more he wants to say on the subject. When it doesn't seem to be forthcoming, I choose to give him until my martini arrives in front of me to give me reason enough to stay beyond that point.
"I saw the name of your firm on the card, and I, uh, looked it up." He registers my shock and immediately raises his hands in appeal, "Just their website, I swear!" I must look as unconvinced as I am because he rushes to explain further, "I was curious about the type of work you do! We didn't have time to get into that on the plane and I wanted to make sure I could talk to you about your job without sounding like a complete idiot." He rubs his neck and breaks eye contact before muttering, "And I might have read your bio on their website."
"A bit dry, huh?" I grimace when he nods. That bio is merely a list of facts about my undergrad and law school education and my transition from student intern to associate lawyer after passing the bar exam. Just like everyone else's biographical blurb on the site, it contains only academic and professional accomplishments that are meant to inform clients about our qualifications and ability, both individually and as a firm, to handle potential cases. Despite the mounting irritation I feel, I explain, "My boss prefers to keep things as cut and dry as possible until after we accept a case. There's more to me than my resumé, but if you don't want to get to know me better - it's probably better that you didn't call."
"No!" The protest bursts from Peeta's mouth and I swear that the general din of the bar lessens at the sound of his vehemence. I look around nervously, the added attention that an altercation might bring is the last thing I want to handle right now. The pressure of his hand coming to rest on my upper arm shoots the same feeling of pressure to the middle of my chest and I struggle to take a full breath. "No," Peeta insists more quietly this time. He's looking into my eyes with the same kind of intent I've seen from defendants desperate to be believed. I momentarily give him the benefit of the doubt, relying on a gut feeling that's saying I'm not quite ready to pass final judgement on him, that I might want to hear what Peeta says next.
"I didn't not call you. I just hadn't called you yet." His breath comes out in a huff and the hand on my arm raises to rub the back of his neck as he struggles to find the right words to explain himself. Almost immediately, I miss the warmth and the grounding nature that hand gave me, but he continues before I have time to analyze what that could mean. "I guess, I saw the distance in where we're at in our careers and thought that maybe ..." Peeta shrugs in a helpless way that extinguishes my indignation over the assumption that I would care about that despite knowing about his situation before I'd given him my number yesterday.
"Maybe nothing, Peeta. I don't appreciate being messed with; you wanted to call and and you should have called. I knew about your job. Why would you let a misguided assumption stop you?" I reach out to him this time, disliking the way his shoulders slump even further at my accusation; I gently place my hand on his upper arm hoping to lessen the sting of this rebuke. I wonder what something or someone must have done to cause this man - this charming, funny, passionate and downright gorgeous man standing in front of me to think so lowly of himself. He's out there following his dream, working towards becoming an executive chef with the hopes of one day achieving his ultimate goal of opening his own restaurant. "We neither of us are defined by what we do; that's only a small part of who we are despite what my boss' biography limitations would like you to believe."
I've managed to inject just enough levity into that last part because his posture straightens immediately; I spot the corner of that enchanting mouth turning up and I feel mine do the same. Peeta shrugs sheepishly and looks up at me through his golden lashes. It's like he knows it was his mind creating obstacles and yet he needs reassurance that my interest in him is genuine before he'll believe it. Now that he's standing at his full height, even in my heels he has inches on me, so I square my shoulders and look up into his eyes for the first time tonight. They really are devastating.
"Everything okay, Catnip?"
God, just what I didn't need to complicate things further tonight. My hand falls limply to my side and I allow myself a moment to close my eyes and take a deep breath before turning around. Facing Gale, I'm having trouble thinking about anything other than his growing relationship with my best friend; instead, I try to fixate on his use of that dreaded nickname, but I just feel tired. "Not now, Gale," I tell him, shaking my head and gesturing in the air between us, "I'm really not in the right frame of mind for all of this."
I glimpse movement in my periphery before I feel the warmth of a body standing closely behind mine. It's been a long time since I've been able to count on solidarity from anyone other than Prim because as I'm finding tonight, loyalty is changeable for everyone except when it comes to family. Peeta is literally covering my back and I choose not to analyze it. It feels good to not be standing alone.
Gale chooses to ignore the man standing close behind me saying, "Thresh said that there was some guy bothering you over here," he makes a gesture towards Peeta, "I wanted to make sure everything was okay."
"Yes, Gale, yes!" I cross my arms in an effort to not fly completely off the handle, "I'm not being bothered and, not that it's any of your business, he's not just some guy, okay?" I close my eyes in mortification; I'm flustered and it's hard to think clearly when the closeness of the bar atmosphere has increased tenfold standing between these two men. All of a sudden I feel warmth pass through my layers of clothing at the small of my back; it takes me a moment to realize that Peeta has placed his hand there in a tangible show of his support. Apparently the move is impossible to ignore for Gale, now glaring at him over my shoulder, which does nothing to improve my mood. I don't care to think about why I decided to say that of all the things and, instead of trying to clarify the situation, I choose to allow Gale to draw his own conclusions. He'll have been aware that I was meeting Madge here and that she was either planning on saying something from the start or agreed to divulge their evolving relationship if the opportunity arose.
"Everything okay, guys?"
A short laugh expresses my disbelief. It's as though she had no sooner entered my mind than she appeared, looking worried. She seems unable to decide what concerns her more: her boyfriend and I standing off or the fact that we're in the middle of a very full, very public bar in our very small town. Neither of us are known for keeping a handle on our easily provoked tempers.
Gale finally looks away from where Peeta and I are standing, I do the same just in time to catch the way the tension in her shoulders eases when their eyes meet. Even if I were unaware of it, the undercurrent of a connection thrums between them. Seeing their intuitive responses tells me that it's entirely too soon for me to be faced with the picture they present.
My breath comes out of a huff, "It's fine, Madge," I say, "But I've had enough for tonight." And I know they recognize that I'm not talking about the alcohol I've consumed thus far. Reaching into my pocket, I throw a wad of cash onto the bar. I know that I'll have to revisit the subject again soon, but not tonight. Instead, I need time to figure out exactly how I feel about this development, once the shock passes, without either of them trying to sway me in their favor.
As I make my way to the bar's entrance, I hear a version of my own thoughts spoken aloud by a man that seems too good to be true.
A/N: Don't forget to let me know what you think! I realy a