Gabrielle felt Seth’s eyes questioning her as she reached out for her phone and keys.
“I guess I knew you’d be back.” He admitted and settled on the stool he had alighted from to answer the door.
Gabrielle felt a blush start creeping up under her blouse, “Well I didn’t want to come back tonight…” she hesitated, “Saturday nights probably get really busy here and I, um, I just didn’t think that that would be the best time…” she trailed off and then started again eager to get the words out, “I guess I should have called first, I mean when I think about it now, what bar is open at 8:30 in the morning?” She forced a smile then to cover up her mortification with her own verbal diarrhea.
She blushed even more when Seth forced his own lips to curve up.
“Well” he started, “here we are. Can I offer you a cup of coffee or would you prefer a shot of whiskey?”
“Very funny.” She chuckled, “I’m still recovering from the champagne Bud forced on me in the back of the limo last night….” Her voice trailed off when she saw the dark cloud fall over Seth’s brown eyes at the mention of her future father in law.
“Oh. I’m sorry.” Gabrielle said reaching to touch Seth’s arm and while he flinched he let her hand rest there.
“Ah, it’s ok.” He said waving her off and getting off the stool while shutting down the conversation. “So coffee then? He asked holding up the pot from behind the bar.
She hesitated, her thoughts jumping from a strong urge to flee to an even stronger one to just sit here in the quiet of the pub and talk to this man she barely knew. Tipping her arm to glance at her watch she decided to follow her head.
“I really should get going; I have a 9:30 appointment.”
Seth put the coffee pot back on the burner and shrugged, “your loss. So you work on Saturdays too? “
“I do.” She said starting to tap at her phone, scrolling through the missed emails, trying to ignore the small 8 highlighted next to Steven’s cell number indicating the times he’d called.
Now Seth chuckled, “You’d think the future first lady of New York State could sleep in on a Saturday morning.”
Gabrielle felt a flicker of anger lick at the corner of her thoughts, “Well Steven isn’t governor yet and we haven’t decided if I’m going to give up my career if he wins. I happen to like what I do. “
Seth just looked at her.
“Besides we’re not married yet.” She whispered as an afterthought and wouldn’t meet his eyes, making herself busy with the screen.
“Well then” he said matter- of- factly, “you should probably go.” He came around the bar and started toward the door of the pub.
Gabrielle followed, unable to find the right words to break the sudden tension.
“Listen” she said as she walked behind him. “I’m really sorry about what happened last night. First Shadow and then Steven showing up. I swear I had no idea about you and Justine….”
Seth turned to her, fire in his eyes, “Look Gabrielle, I don’t really know you but you seem like a decent person. So I’m asking you to never bring Justine up again. Okay?” She watched Seth take a deep breath and level his gaze at her.
Her face stung as if his hand had connected with her skin but in a way she couldn’t explain she decided to press her luck.
“Now that I think about it, I think I’d love that cup of coffee.” She said as she pivoted on her heels and made her way back to the bar and the stools.
Tapping her phone, she fired off a quick text, “Please reschedule my appointment with Mrs. Meadows, Libs. I’ll call and explain later. Thanks. Xo”
Seth was still standing by the door just staring at her, his feet apart and his hands resting on his hips when Gabriele waved him over.
“Isn’t this the best saxophone riff you’ve ever heard?” she said pointing to the invisible music playing quietly above them. “’Jungleland’ is one of my favorite Springsteen songs.”
His smile was like ice melting on a warm spring day, “You like the Boss?”
“Of course!” she said, “it’s so sad that Clarence won’t ever play that solo again.”
Seth started toward her, “I know. I cried the day he died. The E Street band just isn’t the same without him.”
“I saw Billy Joel at the Garden a few years ago, he was incredible too.”
“I caught one of those concerts ” Seth said, moving behind the bar and filling a mug for her, the tension evaporating like the steam rising from her cup. “Did he play ‘Scenes from…”
“…an Italian Restaurant’ ?” she happily nodded. “Yep. I didn’t sit down for three hours.”
The laughter floated above them, mingling with the music.
“Milk and sugar?” Seth asked setting the cup down in front of her.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to everyone.
Find her installment here.
and thank you for coming over to read my fiction today.