This Man

Page 57

I’m looking very forward to my appointment.

You should be too.


I drop my arms on the desk and bury my head in them, feeling like a hundred tons of shit. He went to all that trouble yesterday, pounding on Mr Baldy Jag, rescuing me from certain assault, and what do I do? I’m a complete loser and ditch him for my ex. I need help. Good Lord, if Kate finds out, I’m a goner. I need to tell him to lay off on the flower deliveries to my office, though. It won’t be long before Patrick starts asking questions.

I leave at twelve forty five to go and meet Matt, after being even more of a shit bag and ignoring ten missed calls from Jesse. I know I’ve made things worse for myself, but I gathered, after I missed his first call due to a genuine toilet break, his second because I was on the landline and then it proceeded to persistently ring thereafter, that he’s not very happy. And now I’m also thoroughly fed up with one of my all-time favourite tracks.

When I arrive, the bar is busy, but I spot Matt in the corner with drinks already on the table.

He jumps up when he spots me, smiling brightly. ‘Ava!’ He grabs me, squeezing me to his chest, throwing me out completely. He’s never hugged me like this, even when we were together. He pulls away and plants a kiss on my cheek, lingering longer than is necessary. ‘Thanks for coming. I got you a wine, your favourite. Is that okay?’

‘Sure,’ I smile. A small one won’t hurt. I break away from him and settle on a chair opposite. ‘Is everything okay?’ I ask nervously, my voice laced with all of the apprehension I really feel.

‘You look nice,’ he says cheerfully on a smile. ‘Did you want something to eat?’

‘No, I’m fine,’ I frown at him. ‘Matt, what have you got to tell me? You said you weren’t okay.’ He’s acting shifty and nervous, and it’s making me incredibly uncomfortable. I take a sip of my wine, watching him over my glass as he fidgets and plays with the rim of his pint. What’s eating him? He eventually draws a deep breath and leans across the table, placing his hand over mine. I halt mid-sip, looking down at his hand.

Realisation hits. Oh, no! I widen my eyes on him and prey he’s going to tell me that Henry, the goldfish, is dead. Please be that, instead of what I think’s coming.

‘Ava, I want you back.’ he says, firmly and concisely.

Well, I didn’t see that coming – not until about ten seconds ago. What the hell is wrong with him?

My glass is still hovering at my lips as he continues. ‘I was a total twat. I don’t deserve any second chances...’

I scoff. ‘Second chance?’

He drops his head in defeat. ‘Yeah, okay. I take your point.’ He lifts his head, his face all genuine and soppy. ‘It would never happen again, I promise you.’

Is he having me on? How many times have I heard the same old bullshit? He’s a serial cheater. ‘Matt, I’m sorry, but it’s never going to happen.’ I tell him evenly and calmly. His eyes widen with surprise. I shake my head lightly to re-affirm my statement.

In the space of three seconds, his face turns from all sorrowful and hurt, to black and suspicious.

‘It’s her, isn’t it?’ he spits across the table. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who her is. ‘She opens her fat trap and you listen. When are you going to start thinking for yourself?’

I’m stunned. In actual fact, Kate kept her trap shut for four years. She made it clear that she didn’t like Matt, but it never interfered with our friendship. I just kept them apart. She never tried to influence me. She was just there, like a true friend, when things went tits up. And they did…often. I pull my hand from under his and take another calming sip of my wine. He doesn’t deserve my time. He’s wasted four years of it already, and I’m damned if he’s robbing me of any more. I cannot believe I’ve dropped Jesse for this.

‘Are you not going to say anything?’ he hisses, his eyes beady and harbouring all sorts of contempt. It makes me boil a little on the inside.

I manage to retain my temper. ‘Matt, I’ve said all I’ve got to say. Was that all you dragged me here for?’

He recoils, his eyebrows hitting his hairline. ‘You’re not prepared to give it another try?’

‘No.’ I reply simply. I’ve never made such an easy decision.

He jumps up from the table in a temper, knocking his drink over in the process. ‘You’ll need me before I need you.’

I laugh in his face. ‘I’ll need you?’ I gather my hysteria. ‘Yeah, that’s why you’re here begging me to come back, and I’ve told you where to go. What’s the matter, Matt? Ran out of birds to shag?’ I watch as he rearranges his cheap, black suit and straightens his brown, floppy hair. Funny, I don’t find him attractive anymore. Actually, he makes my skin crawl. What did I ever see in him? He was a habit, that’s all he was – a very bad habit.

‘I knew it!’ Kate’s high pitched screech makes my shoulders tense. ‘I knew you were seeing him!’ I turn and see her pretty, pale face is bright red with anger.

‘Oh, she’s come to join the party,’ Matt shoots over my head. ‘You just can’t keep your f**king nose out, can you?’

I glance around the bar and notice that people are starting to stare at the little exchange going on, their attention drawn by Matt’s flying pint glass. If I get the opportunity, I’ll save Kate the wasted breath and tell her exactly what just happened. But I suppose, after four years of keeping her fat trap shut, I should let her have her moment.

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