Merlot, if you're lonely. Whiskey, if you're game.
"You only want one night, and I only have one night to give. It seems we were meant to cross paths, love."
I took a long sip and closed my eyes.
Admittedly, it was a decent Merlot. But the glass could have been filled with Ambrosia and I would’ve been struggling to muster up a spark.
Tom and I had been married for 10 years and our once a month date night had become nothing more than a chore. It’s hard to conceive that the man that once set my heart on fire was now the bucket of ice water to douse the flames.
The longer we were together, the more I began to doubt the whole marriage thing. You read about it, the couples that stand the test of time. The insane connections that overcome all obstacles. The attraction that never wavers, after all those years. I once believed Tom and I were destined for that fate.
It’s my fault really. I’ve only ever been able to maintain an interest in something for a temporary amount of time.
On paper, Tom ticks every box. He’s handsome and intelligent. He has a stable job and is a good provider. He’s a wonderful father. Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of how lucky I am to have him. How so many would dream to be in my shoes.
But I crave more...
“Honey, are you done?”
His voice breaks me from my trance.
“Yeah, sorry babe.” I mumble, as he hands me my coat and bag.
Suddenly the thought of going home causes a pit to form in my stomach.
“You know what, it’s still early. Kate and a few of the girls were going to the Tin Shed for a few drinks. Do you mind if I join them?”
“Sure babe, no worries” Tom winks at me before getting in the car to head home, alone.
As the car pulls away I can’t help but think about how that wink would’ve made me weak at the knees 10 years ago.
I sigh and take out my phone to text Kate and let her know I’m on my way when a smooth voice interrupts me.
“Excuse me, miss? I’m sorry to bother you but I’m looking for Cobblestone Lane?”
I’m paralysed by the most piercing set of emerald eyes. Framed by a mop of dark hair draped around chiseled features. My breath actually hitched in my throat.
“Uh.... oh yes, of course. Cobblestone Lane. You’re close, it’s just around the corner” I point toward the restaurant I had left only minutes before.
“Thank you” he said with a megawatt smile.
“You’re welcome” I smiled politely before attempting to return to the text I started. I felt a pair of emerald eyes still locked on me.
“Is there something else you need?” I asked, confused.
“Actually, yes.” A playful smirk appearing at the corner of his mouth. “I’m a little early for my... appointment and I was wondering if you might join me for a drink?”
“A drink?” I spoke mainly to myself. Is this guy for real?
“Yes, a drink. You helped me out just now and I’d like to thank you”
“Do you answer every question with a question miss....?”
I briefly glanced back at my half-composed text contemplating my answer, and I realised that I wasn't wearing my wedding ring tonight. I had taken it off earlier in the day when I was cleaning and in the chaos of the evening routine with the kids and trying to get ready for date night, I must have forgotten to put it back on.
“Andrews. It’s Grace actually, Grace Andrews. But call me Grace”
A fake name? Really Sophie? It was at that moment I realised I had made a decision. I wasn't sure what exactly was happening. But I was willing to explore it and take it as far as I could without crossing a line I couldn't come back from. At this exact moment, I was accepting an innocent invitation for a drink with a handsome stranger. I wasn't technically doing anything wrong...
"Well then, Grace." The fake name I had given him rolled off his tongue like velvet... "Shall we?"
As I clasped his outstretched hand I knew I was in trouble. I had entered a dangerous game that I never thought I would be bold enough to play. I was walking a tight rope and this impulsive move could make everything that I have built come crumbling down.
The butterflies in my stomach were at war, the nerves versus the excitement. But the closer we got to our destination, the excitement started to take over.
It had been years since I'd felt the thrill of anticipation in this way. It was instantly addicting.
As we took our seats at the bar, he graciously removed my coat and draped my bag over the back of the bar stool, his fingers grazing my shoulders ever so lightly in the process.
"What can I get you?" the bartender asked with a raised eyebrow that suggested he recognised from only an hour earlier when I was dining with my husband. Or maybe I was being paranoid...
"I'll take the 18 year Glenfiddich, on the rocks"
Swoon, he ordered a drink like an old pro.
"And for you, miss?"
Well, i'd come this far. I'd normally play it safe and go for a simple glass of red, a Merlot perhaps. But my actions this evening had more than proven I was feeling bold. Too bold.
"I'll take the same, thank you." I smiled confidently and the bartender.
The man with the emerald eyes looked at me in a way that was half impressed and half sceptical. Hmm, i'm missing something. Ah yes, his name.
"I'm sorry, i've been so rude. I never asked your name?"
"Thomas, but my friends call me Tommy"
I smiled as a contemplated how firm my resolve really was. If he kept smirking at me like that, I'd wager it about as impenetrable as a fence made of tissue paper. I took in his slight accent, British but has been here a while I decided. I'm jolted from my haze when his name finally registers. Tommy... Tom... my husband. Surely the universe is just messing with me now.
"So, how long have you been married Grace?"
My shocked expression must have said the words I couldn't seem to make a sentence out of.
"No offence love, but it's written all over you. But the way your finger keeps tracing that empty space where your ring usually sits is the biggest giveaway."
"I...um. Oh god, I should go..." I started to make my way out of the bar stool when a warm hand found its way to my knee.
"Stay Grace. You've ordered a damn good whiskey. It'd be a shame to waste it. And you did agree to a drink, did you not?"
I had. And a whole lot more. And somehow he knew it.
"Sophie.." I almost whispered.
"My name is Sophie. You've already guessed my big secret so there really isn't any point trying to hold onto the fake name, is there?"
"I guess not" he said with a thoughtful smile. No hint of annoyance or anger at my admission. I'd known him less than half an hour and he'd caught me out in two lies. Yet here he sits, staring at me like I'm the most perplexing thing on the planet.
"Look, I'm sorry to be so... blunt. But you kind of started it so, why am I still here?"
"Because Sophie, I asked you stay for a drink, and you stayed." He pointed out matter of factly, but I didn't miss the seductive way my real name sounded coming from him.
"Very clever. What I should've said, was why do you still want me to be here?"
"Like I said outside, I owe you a thanks. The drink is on me regardless. There's no reason why we can't enjoy a little conversation while we enjoy our drinks is there?"
I took a sip of my drink and let the smooth fire make it's way down my throat and gave it a moment to turn itself into the courage I so desperately needed.
"One night." I looked up hesitantly to see him staring at me, eyebrow raised.
"I just... need a break. From my life. For one night. That's why I agreed to have a drink with you. I can only imagine what you must think of me. I've never done anything like this before."
And I hadn't. Tom and I hadn't been intimate in 2 years. Not since our daughter was born. Sure, the spark was gone, but I didn't hate him. I might not love him the way I once did, but he really was my very best friend. And I couldn't fathom hurting him. Until tonight.
"Perfect." He said, that knee weakening smirk returning. Now it was my turn to raise an eyebrow.
"You only want one night, and I only have one night to give. It seems we were meant to cross paths, love."
Only one night to give? What on earth did that mean?
"What about your appointment?" I remembered he said he only had a little time to kill.
"Postponed." I hadn't even noticed him send the text...
"Dancing." I blurted out. What is wrong with me? He's going to think i'm nuts.
"That is, if you're open to it. I'd really like to go dancing..." Am I blushing? And did I really just ask a tall, dark and handsome stranger to take me dancing?
His eyes lit up and his smile grew genuine.
"Finish your Whiskey Sophie. I know just the place."
As we got out of the cab I was expecting to have pulled up at a club of some kind.
Instead I was staring at small, speakeasy style bar.
"We just came from a bar?" I took some time to take in his perfect features as I asked the question.
"So many questions, love." He teased as he took my hand and led me past the bar and booths and out a back door.
I couldn't hold back my smile. It was like stepping back in time. The room smelled of cigars and whiskey as Glenn Miller blasted in the background. The men wore suits and the women were elegant in the classic way you would expect. And they were dancing. And I mean, dancing. Not that sweaty, grinding mess you find on a nightclub dance floor. They swayed romantically in each other's arms in perfect time.
Suddenly I felt very underdressed. I clutched my coat together and sighed.
Without a word, he gently pried apart my hands and removed my coat. Staring intently into my eyes. He leant forward and I felt his lips brush against my earlobe.
"There's no time for hesitation, love. One night, remember?"
His smooth voice sent a shiver down my spine.
"One night.." I agreed, my voice far more breathy than I intended.
With that, he whisked me out onto the dance floor. It had been years since I'd moved this way, but the confident way he held me and took the lead meant that didn't matter.
I couldn't help but notice that he didn't feel like a stranger. My hand fit perfectly in his and although he was tall and muscular, our heights seemed to compliment each other as he held me close and we swayed gently to the rhythm.
After what felt like hours, the music stopped as they called last drinks. I did an awful job of hiding my disappointment. I didn't know a thing about this man, but I was already questioning how I could possibly keep my promise of only one night?
"What do you say love? One more for the road?"
Tommy wasn't ready for the night to be over yet either. I could tell. His words were light and playful but there was a soft pleading behind is emerald eyes and I found myself unable to deny him.
We clinked our glasses and sipped our Whiskey. I'd ordered mine with dry ginger ale this time, in the hope I might at least keep a portion of my wits about me.
"Why do you only have one night to give?" The question was out of my mouth before I had a chance to fully process it.
He stared at me thoughtfully, a hint of sadness behind his half-smile.
"Why do you only want one night?" He countered.
"Because I'm afraid." I admitted.
"Of leaving what's comfortable and safe. I think until about 3 hours ago I had myself convinced I could be happy enough there..."
I shouldn't have made eye contact with him. I couldn't fight what happened next as his lips crashed against mine. I kissed him back like it was the last kiss I would ever have. He tasted like sunshine and whisky on a spring day. A warmth flooded through me as I wondered how one could experience this kind of euphoria and not want it, no, need it, over and over again.
I forced myself to break the contact of our lips but did nothing with the rest of my body which had entwined itself with his.
We stared at each other in silence for what seemed like forever, catching our breath. Suddenly he broke eye contact as he began to look at our surrounds, with astonishment overwhelming what I had come to realise were beautiful, yet stoic features.
"It can't be...." he narrowed his eyes before looking at me.His trademark smirk in full bloom. "I knew it."
Before I had a chance to turn and look at what had caught his attention, he kissed me again. Softer, this time. Less urgency. He cupped my cheek with a tenderness I refused to believe was meant for someone you only intended to spend a night with.
As he pulled away, he spun me around so my back was pressed against his chest. He wrapped his arms around my waist as he whispered in my ear...
"We're home, love."
Author's note: I intend to publish part two of this piece. If you want more of Tommy & Sophie, drop a heart to let me know <3