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Chapter forty

The pub was nothing like what Abbey expected.  It was crowded but not packed.  A dance floor complete with people dancing to the music of a simple DJ was right inside the door.  A long wooden bar lined the far wall.  The wall behind it was layered with shelves and lined with every alcohol imaginable.  Mugs and glasses hung like crystal bats from a rack above the bar.  Neon signs hummed quietly scattered amongst black and white pictures of rugby teams and old pictures of the streets of Ireland.

Abbey scanned the crowd.  She couldn’t be in the right place.  This place certainly didn’t have the opulence associated with Sloan O’Riley.  She pulled her cell phone out of her ski jacket to double check the address Sloan had texted to her.

Sloan wasn’t pleased Abbey found her own way to the pub.  She wished Gordon a Happy Birthday with a peck on the cheek and told him she would see him later.  Assuming she meant he’d see her when he would picker her up, Gordon drove home to get ready for the evening.

Abbey stayed home for twenty minutes, long enough to style her hair in soft, brown curls.  She dug into the hole in her mattress, her “savings account”, and headed into town.

The first stop on Abbey’s agenda was the cute little boutique down the street from the coffee shop.  It didn’t take long for her to find what she was looking for – a white cotton sundress with pearl buttons lined up the bodice.  A patter of maroon and cornflower roses dotted the white fabric.  She found a pair of white strappy sandals near the sundress.  She gathered them and took them to the register then scampered to the dressing room to change once she paid for them.  She would be cold by the end of the night but she didn’t care.

Then Abbey stopped at the bakery a few storefronts down from the boutique.  She had stopped at the window of the bakery several times on her way to the coffee shop, salivating at the luscious scents that floated from inside.  The treats in the window were simply divine.  She slipped inside and bought the only cake left – a three layer black forest cake thick with fudge frosting and topped with cherries.  Abbey slipped the pink box containing the cake into the cloth grocery sack she brought and skipped out the door towards the subway.

Abbey searched again.  This time her eyes stopped at a round table near the bar.  Of course she missed them.  She had never seen the four of them together this way.  Robert sat hunched over his beer in a black hoodie and shorts.  He, like Abbey, was reveling in the unusual warmth of the March day.  Gordon was wearing a green Nike polo and a pair of khakis, looking more suited for a day at the golf course than a night at the bar.  Bartholomew looked classy in a blue plaid button down shirt and a pair of jeans.  Sloan was in a grey sculpted t-shirt and his tight, faded designer jeans complimented with his Italian leather boots.  They were deep in conversation, talking, laughing and taking sips of beer.  One stool sat vacant at the table.

Abbey weaved through the crowd in the pub to their table.  She set the fabric grocery sack on the stool.

“Hi, guys,” she greeted as she slipped her ski jacket off and hung it on the back of her stool.  She turned and met their wide eyed expressions.

“Abigail, you are beautiful,” Sloan breathed.

Abbey blushed.  “Thank you.”  She reached into the grocery sack and pulled the pink box out.  “Gordon, I got you a present.”   She set the box in the middle of the table and opened the lid.  She looked up excitedly for the men’s reaction.  Her heart fell as she watched their stone still faces.

“Everyone deserves a birthday cake on their birthday,” Abbey protested weakly.

Gordon stared at the cake.  A smile slowly crept across his face.  “You are right, Abigail.  This is the best gift I’ve received in almost twenty years.  And black forest is my favorite.  Thank you.”

Bartholomew disappeared into the crowd in the direction of the bar.  Abbey giggled as she watched Gordon slap Robert’s had as Robert attempted to dive his finger into the rich fudge frosting.  Abbey set the grocery sack on the floor then attempted to squiggle onto the bar stool.  She stopped as Sloan offered his hand to help her.  She looked into his eyes, her breath catching in her throat as she did.

Sloan gazed down at her.  The look of immense pride was unmistakable in his ice blue eyes.  Abbey’s heart fluttered rapidly.  Sloan was very pleased with what she did.  With Sloan’s help she slid onto the stool.

Bartholomew returned with a pile of plates, forks, napkins and a large serrated knife to cut the cake with.  Gordon carefully took the knife from the top of the pile and, reaching across the table, handed it to Abbey.

“Abbey, dear, would you do the honors?” Gordon requested,

Abbey nodded and took the knife.  Standing carefully on the rung of her bar stool she slice the cake into large pieces, lifting each carefully with the blade and setting it on the offered plate.  After all five members of their little group had a piece she settled back into her seat.  Abbey didn’t notice Sloan leave the table until her appeared at her side, a glass of Moscato cradled in his hand.  He set it on the table in front of her.

As Abbey relished bite after bite of the sweet moist cake she listened attentively to the men’s conversation.  It was now obvious that the formal business relationship of an insanely rich businessman and his associates these four portrayed was a façade.  These men were the best of friends.  Gordon treated Sloan as if her were his son, not his employer.  Bartholomew seemed to be the little brother, soaking up the other three with awe and reverence and taking the teasing from them good naturedly.  The adventures they reminisced about were legendary.  Being thrown out of bars in Europe, comparing tea houses in the Orient, surfing in Australia – there wasn’t anything these four hadn’t seen or done.

Abbey startled from her trance by the sensation of a large, warm hand enveloping hers.  She looked up for the possessor of the hand, finding Sloan’s beautiful blue eyes smiling at her.

“Let’s dance,” he suggested.

Abbey stared at him for a moment.  Sloan dance?  She slid from her stool and obediently followed him to the dance floor.  Abbey wrapped her arms around Sloan’s shoulders and laid her head on his chest as he held her close.  Intertwined they swayed as the sultry notes of U2’s “With Or Without You” floated overhead.  Abbey sighed quietly as she felt his hard, sculpted body pressed against hers.  She never wanted this song to end.   

As the final notes of the song echoed across the dance floor, Abbey felt Sloan’s fingers under her chin nudging her head up.  As she lifted her head to him, he engulfed her lips with his.  Abbey clung to him, her heart racing, her body trembling as Sloan’s hands caressed her closer.

Their lips parted as silence fell across the dance floor.  Sloan took Abbey’s hand in his and started back to the table.  He stopped when Abbey didn’t move.

With a shaky finger, Abbey pointed towards the bar.  “I’m going to get another glass of wine’” she said.

  “Let me get it for you,” Sloan insisted.

“No, it’s ok.  I will be back in a bit.”

Sloan stared at Abbey for a moment then nodded.  He let go of her hand and made his way through the crowd back to the table.

Abbey leaned against the bar rail, squeaking her order to the bartender.  She could feel her whole body still quaking.  It was why she refused Sloan’s offer to get her another drink.  She needed a moment to herself to calm down.

Abbey didn’t want to want Sloan.  She knew by law he was her husband.  But she had already been burned in love by Michael.  If someone as simple and stupid as Michael could hurt her by leaving, what damage could Sloan do when he was done with her?

There would be nothing left.  Sloan would destroy her.  Abbey couldn’t, COULDN’T, fall in love with him.

Abbey was pulled out of her thoughts by a body pressed close to her.  This was so not what she needed from Sloan right now.

“Hey, sweet thing.  Can I buy you a drink?” a deep drunken drawl breathed in her ear.

Abbey pulled away from the man.  The guy gave her a goofy grin, his blond ponytail bobbing from one side to the other.  His tight fitting New York Mets t-shirt sported a little beer gut.  He reeked of beer and cheap cologne.

“No, thanks,” Abbey answered.

“Aww, baby.  I want to get you know you.  Don’t you want to get to know me too?”

“Not really.”  Abbey glanced down at her left hand, her gold band glimmering in the low light.  Might as well use it.  Abbey raised her hand to display her ring.  “I’m married.”

“I bet I could do things to you your husband can’t.”

Doubtful.  “Thanks for the offer to buy me a drink, but I have to go.”  Abbey turned towards the direction of the table.  She would just have to leave her drink to get away from this guy.  She gasped as she was yanked back around.

“You aren’t going anywhere.”  The drunk pulled Abbey to him, prying her lips apart with his.  Abbey gagged at the taste of cigarettes and beer.  She struggled and beat on the drunk’s chest until she could pull free.

“Let me go!” she screamed.

It was like a stroke of summer lightning piercing the sky.  A fist flew over Abbey’s head connecting with the drunk’s nose.  At the same time an arm snaked around Abbey’s waist to keep her on her feet.  The drunk fell into the crowd onto the cement floor.

Instinctively Abbey spun into the broad chest behind her.  She was shaking again but this time from fear.  The thin material of Sloan’s t-shirt was a huge comfort.  Abbey felt instant guilt in his arms.  What did her think of another man kissing her?

“Are you alright?” Sloan asked, his Irish brogue filled with concern.

Abbey couldn’t find her voice.  She nodded.  Sloan let her go, nudging her behind him.  Abbey noticed the crowd that had gathered around them.  She also noticed Gordon, Robert and Bartholomew flanking Sloan.  It was far more intense than guys having their friend’s back in a bar fight.  The level of protection was confusing.

“Why were you kissing my wife?” Sloan demanded from the drunk who was still sprawled on the ground.

“Duds, she was kissing me!  She started it!” the drunk accused as he mopped at the blood dripping from his nose.

Sloan squatted next to the drunk.  “I know what I saw and I know my wife.  If I ever catch you anywhere near her again you won’t stand up.  Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir,” the drunk whimpered.

Sloan smiled in triumph as he stood.  He took his wallet from his back pocket.  He slipped two one hundred dollar bills from inside and tossed them on the bar.  Sloan glanced at Gordon, Robert and Bartholomew as he took Abbey’s hand in his.

“It’s time to go home,” he announced.

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About triciaandersen

I am the author and illustrator of the children's book "The Peculiar Princess". I am also the author of two adult fantasy romance novels, "The Sorceress of Savon" and "The Woodcutter King of Muladin". Along with being an author I am married to a wonderful guy and have three beautiful children. I coach youth track and field, sew and chase my children around to their various activities.

Posted on June 19, 2012, in author, books, fiction, novel, romance, story, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You can certainly see your skills within the work you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. Always go after your heart.

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