I stared down at the rock that was delicately positioned on my finger. It danced and glimmered in the midday sun, but it wasn't its beauty I was thinking of, it was its promise. I was going to marry Jeremy.
The feelings inside me were all fighting for control, first, there was obvious satisfaction. It was my life goal to get married, and now I was half way there. On the other hand, something about the proposal wasn't quite right. I lifted the camera from Jeremy's bag and replayed the recording. Then it hit me. There it was. The thing that was wrong. Declan. I watched him start to leave, and then I saw as he turned and was gone, he had that same look that he'd had on the bench when he thought I'd left without him.
That evening I lay down to sleep, but every time I did, I dreamt of Declan. I thought back over how I'd felt closer to him than I ever do with Jeremy, and I'd only known Declan for a couple of days. Every time I blinked, I prayed that I'd suddenly wake up with him in the bed beside me instead of my fiancée.
This wasn't how it was supposed to be. This wasn't what it was supposed to be like. But I'd invested years of my life into my relationship with Jeremy, I wasn't about to throw all my work away. I lay still, unmoving, it felt like that night went on for years… but it didn't, and if this night was long… what would the rest of my life feel like?
Eventually, dawn showed its head and I got up, the possibility of sleep was gone. I went to the kitchen and found very little food but I managed to scrape together some toast and a cup of coffee. I sat at the breakfast bar in the middle of my new kitchen and instead of feeling quietly satisfied, I felt like an intruder. Like I really belonged in Dingle and was trying to fit the mould of the old Anna, who no longer existed.
A few hours later I heard Jeremy's beeper go off accompanied by a mass of rummaging and moans coming from the bedroom. A few minutes later he appeared, fully clothed and buttoning his last cufflink. After it snapped in place he gave me a pitiful look and I knew it meant he was going in to work. I tried to look less pleased at the news than I felt, a day alone was exactly what I needed. He gave me a kiss, my heart sank, and he left.
A few minutes later and I too was ready to go. I lifted my regular purse but suddenly had a change of heart so I switched all my things in to my Louis Vuitton bag. I patted it gently on the side and whispered 'Hello, Louis'. I smiled to myself and then left.
I did the only thing I knew how to do when I was sad and took to the stores, I didn't buy much, when I felt this terrible I knew that not even Channel could make me feel better. The only upside to the day was when I had a brief argument with a shop attendant and finally got my mind of Declan for the first time since I'd got back. I didn't think about him again until I sat down to lunch. I stared down at the menu and was taken aback by the effect seeing the words 'chicken stew' had on me. I ordered it. I figured, if I couldn't ever think about him again, I'd give myself one last lunch.
A few hours later I returned to the apartment and got ready for our housewarming party, I'd been excited to show everyone the new place for weeks and that hadn't changed. I was proud of what I'd done to the space and, even for me, I was impressed at how well it had come together.
It wasn't until my Dad arrived that I was once again finding myself dreaming of Ireland. A few minutes after he arrived, he took me into the bedroom and set me down. 'Are you alright?' he asked. I gave him the most convincing smile I could manage, but he raised his eyebrow in a way that told me he knew I was lying.
'Sweetie,' he continued, ' a girl who just got engaged is meant to be happy. Especially when she's showing off her new home to her nearest and dearest.' Something about the sentence stopped my response.
'Home' I repeated aloud. 'Home… this isn't my home.' After I'd said it out loud I knew it was true, I leapt off the bed, grabbed Louis and shoved as much of my warm clothing as I could manage. I also took my purse and passport. That was all I needed. Well, that and a certain someone.
I kissed my Dad goodbye, and he smiled, for the first time in a long while seeing me genuinely happy.
A few hours later and I landed in Dublin. The ride to Dingle was less eventful that the last, but I still remembered Declan at every turn on the road. My the evening, I'd arrived at the Caragh. I stayed outside for the longest time and just watched him through the kitchen window. I had no idea what to say. What was I thinking? I'd really hurt him and now here I was asking him to take me in to his home and be with me. God, I was stupid. This was never going to work… but I had to try.
I gathered all my courage and entered the pub. I removed the card from my pocket and went to the payphone. I dialled the number.
'Hello,' was the reply. Oh, how I'd longed to hear his voice.
'Hello,' I replied, 'I would like to hire you for a few days to take me to Dublin.'
'When,' I could hear his knife chopping as he spoke, which explained the short replies.
'Right now.' I responded, trying to mask my voice as much as possible.
'That all depends on where you are sweet heart.' He replied, this time in a softer tone, but with a little more venom behind it.
'Oh of course, I'm in Dingle. In this little pub called the Caragh.' The voice on the other end of the phone stopped and I heard the distinctive beep which signalled he'd hung up.
'Alright' I heard him say as the door to the kitchen swung open. 'Who was it that called for the bloody taxi?' The room went silent and I took the opportunity to speak up.
'I did.' I said, this time not trying to mask my identity. I saw his body tense and he registered my voice. Slowly he turned and I saw a smile play in his eyes, sadly it didn't make it to his lips though.
'Oh, so will that be a journey for two then?' he said, the softness of his voice gone, but the venom still there.
'Two?' I repeated,
'You and Mr Boston, is he with you?' I could see the hurt the sentence caused him and I wanted to stop that as quickly as possible.
'No,' I replied softly with a brief laugh, 'we didn't work out. It turns out I had to come home.' I watched as his eyes brightened, but then were overcome by a look of confusion.
'Declan,' I said, walking to close the distance between us, and feeling relieved when he did the same, 'I have been sitting at home in my huge apartment with my chiwawa and my duvet and all my shoes and clothes and my cardiologist fiancée. But I've been sitting the whole time and I've felt like an intruder. I don't belong in Boston. I belong in Ireland, where it's too cold for fashion and it rains all the time and the names are unpronounceable and the food is inedible, except when you cook, and there is no one who needs their home 'staged' in order to sell it. Come to think of it, Ireland has nothing I want. But it does have one thing I need. It has Mr O'Braidy-Callaghan.' I had another section of this speech prepared, but I didn't get the chance to say it, instead a moment later I found Declan's lips on mine and my arms encircling my waist, I threw my arms round his shoulders and he deepened the kiss when he felt me respond.
This was it. I was home.