Reads: 52

I place my hat in the empty seat beside me while we laugh at Anastasia complaints about Bar Boy's shortcomings. They were gone all of ten minutes and according to her eight of them were finding somewhere private. 
I struggle for breath as I reach for my drink. Cadence sending me over the top as she taps her temple and saying, “I told you, the radar never lies.” 
“Rue, it’s not that funny,” Ana scolds me. 
“Then why am I crying,” I press my elbow to my eye. 
“Because you’re drunk,” My laugh makes Cady laugh. 
“I’m not—” I’m interrupted by a smooth deep voice from above me. 
“I thought that was you,” He says and I freeze. 
I stare into my dark glass as the familiar voice reverberates in my bones. I can see him without looking. That boyish smile and those glowing hazel-green eyes.
“You know what. I think I did drink too much.” I admit to my friends. “Um… Question, is there a hot guy standing behind me? About six feet, painfully handsome?” 
Their starstruck expressions tell me it’s definitely Fallon. Gage is gorgeous, he’s intellectual, rugged, yet refined but Fallon Lynch has to be the most beautiful person I’ve had the pleasure of having sex with. 
His very essence defies any available measurement of hotness with golden skin, an angular face and heartbreaking brownish-green eyes. Fallon leans in close, his warm breath sending a tingle down my spine as he says, “I’ve been six one since I was fifteen,” before pulling away. 
I snap around to see my distant memory has done this man an injustice. Fallon is clean shaven with soft dark brown wavy hair finger-brushed away from his face like the mobsters in the old movies we used to love. 
It's been almost six years since I've seen Fallon and it's the first time I've ever seen him in a suit. It's a blue French-cut that complements his golden skin; making his chest and shoulders look a lot broader than my memory serves truly bringing out his eyes. 
A perfect smile at bow-shaped lips accentuate his high cheekbones, but it’s his eyes that have me breathless. I’ve always loved Fallon’s eyes. Deep-set hazel-green pools with flecks of gold that dance in the light. 
They’re a lot sharper than I remember. More calculated, almost like Gage and Yaran. I know like me, Fallon had seen death first hand early in life but you could never see it while looking at him. I can see now, though. 
“Well, six one and a half but only assholes count that half an inch,” he smiles, at our stupid inside joke. 
My identification says I am five foot five inches tall with sneakers on. Without, I’m five foot four and a half. Fallon always claimed it was my napoleon complex that makes me round up. 
“Are you calling me an asshole?” My voice is distant, trying to make sense of the darkness in my first love's eyes.
“I’d never.” his perfect grin is infectious. “Hi,” Fallon’s voice is breathy, as if almost relieved to see me.
“Hi,” I sigh, trying to ignore the fact that this is a bad omen.
Fallon Lynch has this innate ability to come into my life just as shit is about to hit the fan. It's like something within me is calls to him and no matter how much we know we should stay away, he always answers. 
“Who is he and can I have him?” Ana hisses but doesn't whisper.
“No...” I eye the familiar stranger standing in front of me.
There's something different about him. I can feel it but can't put my finger on it. The amused squint in his eyes tells me Fallon knows I’m searching for it. That thing that feels like Yaran. Before I can find it, he pulls me up into his arms; a riot of emotions I had forgotten crashing into me.
God, I've missed this man.
I take a deep breath, engulfed by the scent of the custom bath oils I used to love. Lemon, bergamot, orange blossom, oris, patchouli and mint. Not a whiff of nicotine as I melt into him.
I wrap my arms around Fallon's waist, enjoying the comfort it brings me as the room fades away around us. “You don't smell like cigarettes,” I hum, my body feeling right at home while I rest my head on his firm chest.
“I haven't touched one in years. A beautiful girl told me it made me ugly,” he gives me a light squeeze. 
Fallon’s three years older than me. We were best friends before we were a little more and so when we bumped heads we held no punches. 
“I don’t remember that,” I lie. 
“I’ll let you have that,” Fallon pulls away slightly, gazing at me like I am the most stunning person in the world. 
It makes me feel funny, sinking my teeth into my bottom lip hoping that I’m not blushing. Fallon’s smile softens, using his thumb to pull my lip free. We gaze at each other while his hand lingers for a moment, the other caressing, my side. 
Maybe it's the liquor. Maybe it's going from sex twice a day to not being touched in weeks; but something about the way he's holding me, looking at me, pulls at my core. 
“You got rid of your teeth,” Fallon notes, bringing his face to a tempting distance.
I wonder if his lips feel as good as I remember...
Cadence clears her throat, bringing me back to my senses. “I wanted to look pretty in my wedding photos,” I internally panic, ripping from Fallon's arms.
“You're beautiful, either way, Kid,” Fallon assures me, his words setting my face ablaze. 
Kid, why do I miss that?
The way Fallon licks his teeth does something to me. I know he's trying to fight the urge to mention that I'm blushing, but I'm like a dog in heat and I can't help but remember how good that mouth felt on mine.
And other places...
I choke on air, leaning down to take a sip of my drink before realizing maybe I've had enough. 
I meet eyes with my intrigued friends. A large grin on Anastasia’s face telling me I’m in for a long questionnaire on the ride and Cadence clearly judging me. 
Though we’re best friends, she’s known Gage since he was ten years old. In her mind he’s at home waiting for me, and I’m flirting it up at a bar.
“Fallon!” I declare, swinging around to the guy I'm sure was just checking out my ass. “Were you just...?” I squint with a playful smile.
“Can you prove it?” He counters.
I can't so I move on. “These are my friends Cady and Ana,” I tell him, my voice a few decibels higher than it should be.
“Best friends,” Cadence corrects me. “and you are?” 
“I guess I'm an ex.” Fallon looks to me for confirmation.
“Really?” the girls say in scandalized unison.
I don't know why they're so shocked. Though Gage is my world, I never claimed him as the only man I had been with. My friends just assumed my life began and ended with my husband not knowing about the universe standing in front of us.
“I wouldn't call you that,” I respond.
Ex feels dirty. Kellen is an ex. So are Yaran and Daegon Carpenter if I'm being generous. Exes are a list of regrets, but I can never regret Fallon. 
“What would you call him?” Ana gleefully inquires.
“My friend.” I smile watching his eyes soften.
“Friend.” Fallon smirks, testing the word. “You haven’t called me that in years.” 
“We haven’t spoken in years.” My smile is bittersweet. 
“It's weird, but I'll take it,” he says, pushing my long hair behind my ear. “This is weird too, brown’s a nice look. I wasn’t sure when I saw you but I heard that loud laugh from across the bar and just knew it had to be you. I’ve missed you Rue.” 
“I've missed you too,” I admit, sad I let Kellen be the reason we stopped speaking.
“Aw, how sweet,” Anastasia teases.
I open my mouth to tell her to can it when a small blonde walks over calling for Mr. Lynch. “Isn't she formal,” I mock, reminded of Fallon’s inclination for hot blondes.
“She's my assistant.” he gives me a knowing look.
“I didn't say she wasn't.” I playfully turn up my nose.
“You didn't have to.” Fallon laughs before telling me he was having a meeting over drinks. “God, you look amazing,” he distractedly sighs in disbelief.
“You say that like you’re shocked,” I try to contain my smile while ignoring Cadence’s judgy eyes. 
“More like mesmerized,” he looks me over. 
God, he's doing this on purpose. My face is on fire when the blond impatient calls for “Fallon.” 
We look back to the woman in the slinky black dress. She’s pushier than any assistant I've ever met. Even Sienna waited until Yaran was done speaking to open her mouth and they were fucking long before we met.
“Just a minute Liz, I’m having a chat with Miss Bianchi,” He says my name as though it should mean something to her and the way her eyes snap in my direction seems like it does. 
“They’re waiting,” she says before rushing away. 
“That was…”
“I have to get back.” Fallon interjects. “My company is expanding, and one of our assets invited me to make some deals over drinks. Should be wrapped up in an hour or two. Would you like to meet up after? Maybe... have one of our nightcaps like old times?” he suggests, and I wonder if he means the ones where we stood up talking all night or the ones that ended with my legs on his shoulders.
Thoughts of soft, slow kisses warm me from head to toe and cloud my mind. “Um…” I hesitate, Fallon taking my hand in his.
“Sorry, she can't,” Cadence interjects, saving me from my trance. “We're leaving in an hour.” 
“Yeah,” I shake the fog from my head as I pull away. “Um… Yeah — I — can't. I actually live a few hours out of the city now.” 
“Too bad.” Fallon looks at me as if thinking about something important. When he comes to his decision, he reaches into his pocket, pulling out a vertical black card engraved in gold. “Here - Office, email, direct line,” he watches me curiously.
I feel like I’ve seen this logo before but I can’t place it. It's a weird watermark of a circular leafy branch with ES at its center. “Chief Acquisition Officer. Look at you Mr. Lynch,” I tease, rubbing my fingers over the embossed lettering.
“Yeah, look at me,” Fallon doesn’t seem impressed with how far he’s come. “You should give me a call the next time you’re in town. We could catch up.” 
“She would have to check with the ball and chain!” Cadence declares, holding up the large rock on my finger.
“The hell she does!” Anastasia slaps her hand away.
Anastasia Moy, the devil on my shoulder. 
Fallon ignores my friends. Like when we were younger when we’re in the same room everyone else is ornamental. “The Rue Bianchi I remember doesn’t let men tell her what to do,” he declares, backing away.
“Rue Medina is a little more domesticated.” I reply. 
“No she's not.” he smirks, turning to walk away.

Submitted: November 22, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Ana Wryneck. All rights reserved.


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