First chapter of The Little Side of Me #2
(The Flamingo Bar)
I stared glumly at my phone as I tried not to think about how many days it had been since Boyd had all but run away from me, from the reality of what was a vital part of me.
“Sawyer…Sawyer, do you want the rest of that pasta?” Theo asked, his face peering down at the plate in front of me.
“Nah, you can have it. I’m not very hungry.” That was the understatement of the year. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt like eating. The plate was whipped away as Theo plonked himself down next to me.
“Cheers! I’m bloody starved. I thought the lunch rush was never going to end. I hate it when we have those small parties in the private dining area, they never seem to want to leave.” He huffed out a loud sigh before shovelling a huge forkful of pasta into his mouth. The fork, that if I wasn’t mistaken, I’d just been using to eat.
“You do know that fork wasn’t clean?” I baulked at the thought of shared saliva.
“Yeah, and? I’m sure you don’t have cooties or anything else I could catch.” He studied me for a few seconds as if looking for something that might alert him to any diseases I had.
Once he'd finished his perusal, he shrugged, and I couldn’t help but chuckle. “What are you like?”
“A loveable fool,” he quipped back through a mouthful of half-chewed pasta.
“Shut your mouth, I don’t need to see what you’re eating, man!” I rolled my eyes at him when he opened his mouth wider. “You’re gross. I’m sure that’s why you’re single.”
The light of humour that had been dancing in his eyes faded as he looked down “Maybe,” he answered, before his gaze returned to mine. “What’s your excuse?”
There was a seriousness to his question that I didn’t often associate with Theo. He was all about clowning around and avoiding any topic of conversation that was in any way serious.
My gaze narrowed on him and I found myself answering truthfully. “People struggle with what I’m into.” Recalling the look on Boyd’s face when he'd seen my outfit, I responded glumly, “When they're faced with the reality, they don’t tend to stick around.”
Hadn’t the lack of contact from Boyd this last week proven that? I sank lower in the seat and sniffed.
“I’m sure that you’ll find a Daddy—”
I lurched forward in my seat. “I thought I said never to mention that at work,” I ground out through clenched teeth. When I’d gone to Adam’s stag do at Lenny’s home, we’d had a few drinks and a game of truth or dare had resulted in me sharing more about myself than usual. Now, as I stared at Theo, I wondered if he’d been blabbing to the other staff.
He shifted closer to me. “Listen, I’ve said nothing to no one, just as I promised. It’s just that you were so happy last week, and I thought maybe you’d met someone. Then you got all miserable and testy and I couldn’t help wondering if something was wrong? You can talk to me. I promise I won't say anything to the others.” He patted my knee, his face wearing an earnest expression that I found hard to resist.
“I did have someone…but he’s not sure about everything…about me.” I inhaled before whining, “It’s been a week and nothing. No message, no call. Nothing. I wish he would just let me know that it’s over.” Tears clogged my throat as I closed my eyes to avoid seeing the sympathy on Theo's face.
“If it’s been a week, and he hasn’t messaged or called, then doesn't it show that he’s taking this seriously?”
Trying to think past my misery, I let what he’d said sink in. Was that why Boyd hadn’t been in touch? Was he taking the decision seriously?
While I was mulling Theo’s suggestion over, my phone rang. Picking the phone up off the seat where I’d left it during my conversation with Theo, I answered it, despite not recognising the number.
The sound of a woman’s voice filled my ear. “Hello, is this Mr. Rowland?”
“Yes, it is,” I answered, trying to figure out why the voice sounded vaguely familiar.
“This is Gloria from Convener’s Construction Company. I’m sorry for the delay in getting back to you to sort out a date for one of the men to come around and discuss your needs,” she tittered, making me wonder what the heck was tickling her.
“Oh, yes, that’s right,” I replied, doing my best not to let the wave of sadness rolling over me suck me under. The call was just another reminder of how I’d got hold of the number for the construction company.
“Are you still interested, Mr. Rowland?”
There was something a little odd about the question, but I couldn’t grasp what it was. “Erm, yes, yes I am.”
“That’s wonderful. What date and time would suit you?”
My heart rate took off as I heard a voice in the background asking Gloria a question. Was Boyd there? You’re imagining things now.
I strained to hear, but there was nothing except the sound of breathing on the other end of the phone. I rolled my eyes at my overactive imagination as I chatted about dates and times. Thinking the universe was out to get me as she offered several different times that didn’t work for me, I was about to give up when she asked if I would be free that evening. “I won’t get home until about five-thirty. It will be starting to get dark. Will that be a problem?"
There was a long hesitation that had me pulling the phone away from my ear to see if it had cut off. At the sound of her voice, I pressed it back to my ear.
“Yes, that should be fine. This will be more of a fact-finding meeting to see what you have in mind.”
By the time I hung up, Theo had finished off the remaining pasta.
His gaze shifted from the plate back to me. “That sounds positive. Does that mean you might actually have found a builder to finish off your home?”
The guys had all come out at one point or another to look at where I lived. I was never sure if it was to see if I practised what I preached, or if they were just curious. “It looks like it, but I’m not going to count my chickens just yet.” I sighed, recalling all the other disastrous builders I’d had.
When Adam popped his head around the door looking for Theo, I checked the time and grumbled, but got to my feet anyway.
A buzz of excitement carried me through the rest of my shift and all the way home. After storing my bike away, I checked the time, my stomach fluttering as I strolled over to the half-constructed house. In the evening dusk, the roofless house appeared sad and forlorn, much like its owner.
The past week had weighed heavy on me, and what Theo had mentioned earlier about me being miserable and testy was probably right on the money. It was exactly how I felt, and nothing seemed to take the edge off, not even wearing my favourite all-in-one.
Maybe getting someone to finish the house would help me to keep my mind off Boyd?
The sound of an engine drew my gaze to the end of the driveway where there was a large black van with Convener’s Construction in silver writing down the side of it. It was being driven slowly over the rocky ground. As it got closer, I put a bright smile on my face, hoping that it was convincing.
My eyes widened and my mouth hung open as the van stopped and I got a good look at the driver. What the fuck? Was Convener’s Construction Boyd’s business?
Of course it's his business. Why do you think he’s here?
To see me?
The flicker of hope that sprang up was hard to push down as Boyd got out of the van and strolled towards me. His hair was windswept, and his caramel eyes held mine captive as if they couldn’t bear to look anywhere else.
His expression was cautious once he was stood in front of me. “Hey. A little birdie tells me that you’re in the market for a construction company to finish off your house?”
Although his tone was light, I could hear the underlying anxiety he couldn’t quite mask. “A little birdie, is it?” I asked, playing along for now, wanting to see what this was all about.
“Yes, a little birdie happened to mention that you needed a builder who knew his stuff when it came to ECO building.” He grinned at me and my heart sank.
Was that the only reason he was here, for business? Did he only want my money? Quelling the pain in my chest with a deep breath, I willed the tears clogging my throat and making my eyes ache to stay put. It seemed like Boyd and I just weren’t meant to be. His next words seemed to confirm my questions.
“Do you want to show me the plans you have and talk through the work that’s already been started?” His expression remained friendly but there was nothing that indicated if this visit was about more than just business. With each passing second, my heart sunk further to my feet and I gave up trying to figure out what Boyd turning up meant.
I waved towards the half-built house. “Come on, I’ll show you what the last builder did before he pissed off.” My shoulders slumped and I walked across the uneven ground.