Megan has some fun with Jimmy and Dan and a pack of cards
‘I thought you said you couldn’t play?’ Dan said as I scraped the change across the table towards me.
‘I said I didn’t play,’ I replied and passed my cards to Jimmy to shuffle. ‘I’ve also drunk less vodka.’
Dan raised his hand. ‘That’s…’ He lowered his hand. ‘On reflection that makes sense.’
I saluted him with my glass, my first glass. ‘Nice manoeuvre there, pity you don’t play cards so well.’
‘I’m dazzled by your beauty,’ he said. ‘Both of you.’
I laughed. ‘You’re not that drunk.’
‘I might start thinking your letting her win, Jim.’ Dan slapped his brother’s shoulder. Jimmy didn’t miss a beat shuffling. He tossed the cards through a gap between his hands with barely a glance like a magician prepping for a card trick.
‘Megan’s a beginner.’ He smiled at me. ‘I’m going easy.’
‘A true gent.’ I clinked my glass against his.
We were sitting around the dining table in the kitchen/living room of Jimmy’s flat above the café. His mother had decorated it to rent out while she was running the café in farmhouse style that seemed a bit odd in the middle of the city. Her signature creams and off-whites from the cafe, oak furniture and worktops, and country style sink big enough I could’ve sat in it.
‘Perhaps you shouldn’t have another,’ Jimmy said as he dealt the cards with quick movements and Dan poured himself another drink. ‘You don’t want to lose all your money.’
‘Hey, it’s my…’ Dan leaned across the table to check the change pile. ‘One pound fifty to do with as I please.’
Jimmy slid me an amused look. ‘Breaking the bank.’
‘When you told me about playing cards and losing money I expected higher stakes,’ I said, checking my cards.
‘Sometimes we play for Maltesers,’ Dan said and pulled a red, rattling box from his bag.
I chuckled. ‘Men of surprises.’
Dan looked at me. ‘I heard you had a surprise when your ex turned up here.’
Jimmy dropped half the cards, murmured an apology, and bent down to pick them up.
I took a sip of my drink, a big one. ‘How’d you hear?’
‘Your nan,’ he said. ‘Does she know what privacy is?’
Nan’s lack of boundaries, my mother being my mother, and the general nosiness of our patrons were some of the reasons Jimmy and I were keeping our relationship quiet. I was the main reason, I knew it even though he didn’t say it, he was too kind to point out my relationship shortcomings and I didn’t need him to. I knew there was a protective wall around me, I’d built it too high and thick to come down easily and kept smacking my face on it every time I tried to get out, like the bloody conservatory door at my parent’s house. But there was something a little bit fun about keeping secrets.
‘How’d you meet an arsehole like that?’ Dan sat back.
‘Hm?’ I’d been staring at the centre of the table without realising it.
Beneath the table Jimmy’s knee pressed against mine.
‘I hear he’s a big, brutish bastard but if you need it we’ve got you covered.’ Dan gave me an exaggerated wink.
I chuckled and shook my head. ‘In his defence he wasn’t an arsehole when I met him, so I thought.’ I shrugged. ‘Isn’t a general rule when people break up someone’s going to come out looking like an arsehole?’
‘You’re still BFFs with El,’ Dan said.
Jimmy started dealing, giving Dan a ‘shut up now’ look his brother was too drunk to notice.
‘Seriously though, if you need him sorting.’ Dan gave me another exaggerated wink.
‘I wouldn’t ask you to,’ there was more sharpness in my voice than I intended, but he meant well. ‘He was a boxer so leave it.’
Dan stared at me. ‘You dated a boxer?’
‘A huge musclebound man who…’ My gaze flicked to Jimmy. ‘Was secretly a sweetie? What wasn’t there to love?’
‘From what I’ve heard, sounds like a lot.’
Whether Rick had been a sweetie or not, it was possible I’d let certain instincts and desires get the better of me. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.
Jimmy’s knee bumped mine under the table. ‘This really isn’t your business, Dan.’ He gave his brother a more conspicuous warning look.
‘It’s fine, Jimmy.’ I touched his hand. ‘He’s just concerned and a bit tipsy.’
‘Maybe more than a bit.’ He poured himself another glass of vodka. ‘But I’ve just secured a major contract. Hooray for me.’
Jimmy slapped Dan’s shoulder, grinning, and gave him a congratulatory shake.
I clinked glasses with him. ‘Congratulations.’
‘Thank you, thank you. You could be looking at the next regional manager.’
‘Don’t forget us little folk when you’re up there.’ Jimmy squeezed his shoulder then leaned over and gave him a hug. ‘I’m proud of you, brother.’
Dan hugged him back.
I beamed, their cheer was infectious.
Dan pulled away. ‘Oh no.’ He shoved his chair back, it clattered against the floor, and he hurried to the bathroom. The door slammed but didn’t mask the sound of loud vomiting.
I arched my eyebrows and set my cards down. ‘Sounds like that’s it for the night.’
‘Maybe I should put the vodka away,’ Jimmy whispered and got up.
I twisted to watch him cross the living area to the small kitchen. He put the bottle and glasses on the side and smiled at me, a very wicked smile. I smiled back, got my phone out and texted Nan: Drunk too much to drive. We’re all stopping the night. See you tomorrow xx
Dan came back out the bathroom looking like he was ready to fall over. ‘I’m just going to take a quick nap.’ He lay down on the settee and started snoring, loudly.
‘And Mama always said he was the cute one,’ Jimmy said.
I winced. ‘You know what they say about a mother’s love.’
My phone dinged at a text from Nan: Prime chance to get a vaginal exorcism. There was a cross-fingers emoji at the end.
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