BEE: To Bee or Not to Bee
Asshole, asshole, asshole! I could’ve killed Nick for the way he shrugged his shoulders like he cared less who the hell I spent my evening with, as long as we spent the night in bed together. At this moment, I felt like a whore. And it was also at this moment that I knew my feelings for Nick Reid ran deeper and stronger than I cared to admit.
When I looked over at Nick for “permission,” I didn’t think he’d give it to me. I thought he’d tell me we needed to get back to the flat, or make some excuse like, “Bee and I have plans this evening.” But nooooo! The jerk made me flinch when he gave his noncommittal shrug.
“Hey, Beau.” I gave my excuses before we caught a cab, on our way to this not-so-happy reunion. “Could we catch up back in the States? I’m technically here as a helper for my future in-laws, and I feel bad that I’m out having a good time while everyone else is packing and trying to contain three babies.”
Beau would always be Beau. This was reason number one million why it didn’t work for us. “Uh, sure. No problem. I’ll see you around.” He went about his way without feeling an ounce of remorse for what he’d done to me years ago. He didn’t even have the decency to catch a cab for me.
It was still early so I caught a ride to the local stores that I knew carried my line and went to see what they looked like on mannequins and on the hangers. I was pleased with the way my Spring/Summer collection was selling.
Having not a freakin’ thing to do in this city, I thought about pulling a Laney and watching a show, but decided instead to call on my new friend, Ruby. She and I got along well at tea, and by the look she gave me when Nick gave his non-answer, she knew what I was going through. I knew she’d be willing to go have a drink with me.
“Um…is this Ruby’s phone? I’m sorry, do I have the wrong number?”
“No. This is Ruby’s phone. Bee, this is Michael.”
“Hi Michael. Is Ruby not around?”
“She went out with some friends but forgot to take her phone. I picked up only because I saw your name on the screen. Can I help you with anything?”
“I thought she might want to go have a drink with me, but since she’s not there…” I didn’t know what else to say. Shit! I hated how pathetic I sounded.
I could tell Michael was grinning, close to laughing, on his end. “Didn’t work out with your Beau?”
“Even before we caught a cab, I remembered the reason I dumped him to start.”
“If you’re willing to commiserate with a different Bennington, I’d be happy to be your drinking partner.”
“Can you point us to a great bar with music that won’t hurt my ears?”
Michael was now fully laughing. “Are you more of a pub girl, or a fancy bar girl?”
“Probably a pub girl, but I don’t want to fight a crowd for a seat and I don’t want to shout and strain to listen to our conversation. If you can accomplish all that, plus take us to a place with great fish and chips, dinner and drinks are on me.”
“Now what kind of English gentleman would I be, allowing a lady to buy me dinner and drinks?”
“The same kind of English gentleman who let his girlfriend go find her happiness with my nephew.”
“If you promise not to carry-on about how ‘freakin’ gorgeous’ your nephew is, dinner and drinks are on me.”
Traffic in London was no joke, and the restaurant Michael picked had a line outside.
“Bee.” Michael greeted me with a wave over to the side of the restaurant.
“Where the hell did you bring me? This place is happening.”
“A friend of mine owns this place, and not only do they have the best fish and chips in London, but they also have an extensive bar and a good dozen beers on tap.”
“Is it warm beer? You know we Americans don’t do warm beer.” I let him know what I didn’t like before we sat in comfy chairs at this snazzy bar.
Michael explained, “If we sit here, it’ll be quiet, with a bar vibe, and comfy, with full dinner service. And the beer is the coldest in town. Once you get a taste of cold beer, it’s hard to go back.”
“How have you been doing since summer? Have you started dating again?”
Michael put in our first round of drinks and let out an unintended sigh. “You like oysters as much as Laney? You want me to order a dozen?” This man was still very much in love with the woman who was soon to be a Taylor.
“Let’s cut the formality tonight. Think of me as your drinking buddy, your older sister, your best friend. Tell me what’s been on your mind and in your heart.” Just because I was frustrated about relationships, that didn’t mean everyone else had to be in the same state.
“Laney Reid is who is on my mind and in my heart. What are the chances she and that nephew of yours won’t get married?”
“None! Negative! Nicht! You and she dated for a short two months. Is she that unforgettable?”
Michael swished his drink before gulping it down in one shot. “I believed she was going to be my wife the second I laid eyes on her.”
“You and she have that in common, huh? You knew she thought the same of Donovan?”
“Yeah, but she was ten at the time. What did she know?”
“Obviously she knew more as a ten-year-old, than we do as late-twenty-year-olds. Have you spoken with her or seen her since she left?”
“No. I’ve refused to see her or answer her calls. I can’t help but read her emails and texts. She gets all melodramatic or completely poetic whenever she sends her emails that look like school essays.” Michael smiled, finally. He was a handsome man, especially when he smiled. “She tells me about every facet of her life, except for the part about her fiancé.”
“Have you been out with anyone since Laney?”
“A few…no one exciting.”
“How about that girl, Lily, we met today? She had a Laney-esque aura about her.”
Michael grinned. “But not nearly as beautiful…” Then he trailed off. “Let’s leave the maudlin in the closet and talk about you. Tell me what’s been happening with your collection and how sales are going.”
“Well, since you’ve introduced me to a Mr. Whippy and those damn Flakes, I’ve gained ten pounds hoarding boxes of Flakes in my suitcase every time I visit London. Aside from the ten extra pounds I didn’t need, sales are through the roof. You English have a great sense of style and you’re rich enough to afford my clothes.”
“God, I love the way you say that. ‘That’s fantastic!’” I mimicked. “It doesn’t get much sexier than a man with an English accent.”
Michael sighed again. “That’s what Laney said when we first met.”
“Buddy! Wake up!” By this point, we’d both done our share of drinking and not much eating. “Be like your grandfather and move on. There are plenty of women in the country of England and if the English girls are blind to your charm, good looks and wealth, cross the Atlantic and try another American girl.”
“Since it looks like you and I have both been cast aside by a Reid, perhaps we should give it a try?”
Was he serious?