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Wait Forever Chapter 4 Charlie Part 2

The Traveller’s Rest was quiet for a Saturday afternoon. Most people were probably working or on the beach, lapping up the sunshine and dipping in the bay.

“Take these out with you, Charlie.” Tate said, handing him two pints of lager. “Hudson’s outside.”

“This self service now, is it?”

“Cheeky git,” the landlord laughed. “You having lunch?”

“Cod & chips would be good. Give me a shout and I’ll fetch them too.”

Tate shooed me away and continued to scroll his phone.

As I walked out into the sunshine, the view was perfect. An untainted blue sky met a slow-moving sea filled with kids splashing, swimmers cavorting and sun lovers soaking it up.

Hudson took a gulp of the pint I offered before I could take a seat.

“Been waiting for this, man. Scorching out here.” He took another gulp, then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

“Thanks for meeting, Hud. I’ve a few things on my mind.”

“Ah ha, I spotted the little lady that’s causing you problems.”

I moved back in my seat so Tate had room for the plates and two more pints.

“Pint’s on me, guys.” Tate said, interrupting our conversation. “Mel’s going to be on her own for a few nights. Any chance of working the bar?”

“Just tell me when and I’ll be here.” Hudson jumped in before I could open my mouth.

“What’re you doing, Hud? Are you a masochist?” I asked once Tate was out of earshot.

“We’re not here to discuss me and Melons. Tell me about your worries my son.” He said digging into his fish and chips.

I couldn’t help but laughed. I shook my head while chewing on a mouthful of food. “You live in a fantasy world, Hud. There is no you and Mel, and never let her catch you calling her that name.”

“Oh yeah, what do you think she’d do to me? No, never mind. Let’s talk little Miss Dearly.”

“She’s back. But that’s not why I called.” I slipped the letter onto the table and pushed it towards him. “You might want to take a look at this letter.”

“No, no, no, Charlie, my man. I’m not listening to any other crap that’s floating around that head of yours until you spill the news on the one that got away—literally.”

“Great. Other blokes get best mates. I get a woman mad nymphomaniac.”

Hudson’s mouth tilted into a lopsided grin. “That’s why we’re mates, Charlie. You get me. Now please tell me you’ve swept her off her feet.”

“If only. She was swimming at Pebble Bay this morning, as beautiful as I remember.”

“So, what d’you do?”

I scratched the scattering of stubble on my chin and shrugged. “I don’t know. I just talked to her for a couple of minutes, then left.”

“Come on, Chaz.” Hudson threw his arms up and leaned across the table. “Ask her out. That’s what we agreed you’d do if you ever saw her again.”

I placed my fork on the empty plate. “It’s not that simple.” 

“Oh yes, it is. It’s: ‘fancy a drink tonight?’ easy. I know she’s said no before, but you were younger ten years ago.”

“Of course I was, you doofus, and so was Lola—ten years, to be precise.”

I finished my pint in a mouthful while Hudson pushed aside his empty plate. He picked up the envelope in the middle of the table. “I’ll read this now, but we’ve got to have some serious hard arsed talk about dating Lola.”

The further he read, the more Hudson clenched his jaw, narrowed his eyes, and shook his head in disbelief. He glanced at me as he folded the paper and pushed it back across the table.

“I dunno what to say. She’s got to be bluffing, surely? I mean, when was the last time you saw Mariah in person?”

“It’s been four and a half years since she walked out and, as far as I know, she’s never been back home.”

Hudson drained his glass, “well, there’s your answer. How can she expect to just walk back into your lives? No thought for you or Ruby.”

“No matter what happened, Mariah is Ruby’s mum and I can’t change that.”

Hudson stood and scanned the beach one last time. “My advice? Get yourself a family lawyer, and never forget, you’re the daddy!”

“Yeah,” I grinned. “Thanks Hud, as helpful as ever.”

Hudson winked. “Or you could get yourself a wife, so Ruby has another mother?”

I gawped up at Hudson in astonishment. “I truly don’t believe you.”

Hudson tipped his stetson. “Glad to be of service. Now, back to work for me. Some of us have a living to make.”

I eased back in the chair and tried to enjoy the rest of my pint. Still infuriated by Mariah’s letter, I felt unsettled. She’d infiltrated herself into my life once before and caught me at a bad time. 

Mariah had followed me around like a lovesick puppy since the winter Lola left. Even though I’d been honest with her about my feelings, she wouldn’t take the hint.

I never really knew her, or what she was capable of, not even during the first six months of Ruby’s life, when she played at being a wife and mother.

Why should now be any different?

I finished my pint and left a tip on the table before heading back to the coffee shop.


Photo by MOHANN on Pixabay.com 

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