Frenched Series Bundle(6)By: Melanie Harlow
“Jesus Christ, Mia. It can’t be that bad.”
“Oh, yes it can.”
He leaned forward onto his elbows. “Try me.”
I took a deep breath. “OK. But wine first.” Lifting the glass to my lips, I took a hefty drink. It was delicious—big and earthy and velvety on my tongue. “This is incredible,” I told him before taking another sip.
His smile deepened. “I’m glad you like it.”
After a few more swallows, I set the glass on the bar with a clink, but I didn’t let it go. I stared at my fingers on the stem as I admitted, “This trip to Paris was supposed to be my honeymoon. But my fiancé called off the wedding.”
Without a word, he walked to the end of the bar, grabbed the wine bottle from the shelf and poured more into my glass, replacing what I’d drunk.
I looked up at him gratefully. “Thanks. It’s been rough.”
“I’m sorry. Was it a total shock?”
I sighed. “Yes and no. If I’d been honest with myself, I think I would’ve realized that things weren’t perfect. But I was so caught up in planning the perfect wedding that I didn’t want to admit the marriage might be a mistake.”
Lucas nodded, leaning on the bar again. “Did he give you a reason? I’m sorry, I don’t mean to pry.”
“It’s OK.” I paused to drink some more wine before going on. “It’s nothing earth-shattering, really. He said he loved me, but that he wasn’t ready to get married yet.”
“And you were?”
“Sure. I mean, I’m twenty-seven, almost twenty-eight. I’ve always planned on being married by that age, and, you know…” I lifted my shoulders. “We were in love. We were the perfect couple.”
I narrowed my eyes. Was he making fun of me? “All I meant was I thought we were a good match at the time. I could totally see our life together.”
“You had that all planned out too, huh?”
I didn’t care how good the wine was, Lucas was starting to get on my nerves. While I wondered how to respond, several customers needed his attention and then more people came in the door, keeping him busy for the next twenty minutes. I didn’t mind, though—his last couple remarks had pissed me off. And I had bigger problems than a rude bartender, like what to do with my miserable self for the rest of the week.
Trying to be positive again, I made a list.
Things I Like About the Trip So Far
1) Seeing the Eiffel Tower.
2) This glass of wine.
And then I stopped, because I couldn’t even think of a third item for the list. Earlier I’d told my mother that I needed the alone time, but now I wasn’t sure I could handle it. But what could I do? Go home tomorrow and admit to Coco and Erin that I wasn’t as strong as they thought I was?
After another gulp of wine, I considered giving in to my mother and letting her fly over here and join me—maybe having someone to see the city with would help me feel less alone. Just as quickly as it came to me, I tossed out that idea, knowing that I could not tolerate my mother’s nervous nagging for a solid week. If Coco or Erin could fly over I would stay, but I knew that was impossible. Coco was running Devine Events on her own while I was gone, and Erin was a teacher. There was no way she could drop everything and come to Paris. But who else was there? My dad?
I considered it as I rolled the last sip around in my mouth. My dad lived outside Detroit too, and he and I got along great, but he was remarried with young children. For that reason alone, I couldn’t see him taking off for a week, even if he could get time off from his law practice, which wasn’t likely at such short notice. But knowing my dad, who didn’t say anything to me when I told him about Tucker, just held me and let me sob, he’d rearrange anything he could to in order to get here and be with me. I couldn’t do that to him.
An Imagine Dragons song that Tucker and I had both liked came over the speakers, and I slumped lower on my barstool. That’s it—I’m just gonna go home. This is too painful. And it wasn’t like I’d be out any money. Tucker had called Coco, who let it go to voicemail but played me the message, telling her that he wanted me to take the trip and I could use the credit card he’d given me for any expenses while I was here. He really must have been feeling guilty, because he also said I could stay in the townhouse as long as I needed to. He’d be in Vegas for another week and then he’d stay somewhere else until I moved out.
God, moving out…
Tears filled my eyes and I hunted in my bag for a tissue. Lucas returned and wordlessly refilled my glass before being called over to the register by a waitress in a tight t-shirt. I wiped my eyes and blew my nose, embarrassed to be blubbering in front of strangers in public.
But at least I had wine.
I drank the second glass even faster than the first, but I was still surprised at the buzz I had when it was empty. Maybe French wine had a higher alcohol content or something? I knew nothing about wine; mostly I just knew how to describe what I liked best—big, full reds like this one where the fruit isn’t overwhelming and there’s a hint of something earthy or smoky. Maybe I’ll take a wine course when I get back. Knowing more about wine would be helpful for work. And Coco had always wanted me to take that gourmet cooking class with her. I could do that as well. In fact, all the time I’d spent planning my wedding, I could now spend doing new things, meeting new people.
Feeling better now that the decision had been made, I dug my credit card out of my wallet and signaled Lucas that I was ready to go.
He smiled at me as he approached, and it was so friendly and apologetic, I forgot that I was annoyed with him.
“Give me one second.” He filled a tall glass with beer from the tap. “Don’t go anywhere.”
Where the hell would I go? I still had no idea how to get back to the hotel from here—I’d have to ask him. A few more minutes passed before Lucas got a break, but by then another bartender had shown up to work.
“Sorry about that.” Lucas dried his hands on a towel and came back to my end of the bar. “Can I pour you another glass?”
I bit my lip. “I probably shouldn’t. It’s really good, though. What is it?”
“It’s a wine from the Rhône Valley, where I’m from.”
“I wondered if you were French. You speak English so well, you could almost pass for American.”
“French mom, American dad,” he explained. “I was born here but raised in both places.”
“Where in the U.S did you live?” Maybe it was the wine, but I was curious about him.
“In upstate New York mostly, but I live in the city now.”
I smiled. “I love New York City. But I hate flying, and New York’s a long drive from Detroit.”
“You hate flying, yet you want to get on another plane first thing in the morning?”
“I have to.”
“No, you don’t.”
Shaking my head, I insisted, “Yes, I do. You don’t understand.”
“Sure I do. Your fiancé called off the wedding and you’re angry and sad or whatever because you’re getting close to your marriage deadline or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time here. You came all this way, even though you hate to fly. There must have been a reason.”
Oh, yeah. That’s why I was annoyed with him.
Aggravated anew, I sat taller on my seat. “The reason was that I’ve always wanted to see Paris. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I had every day planned out, I knew exactly what we would do, the things we would see. And I thought I could handle it on my own, but now that I’m here, I can’t, OK? I can’t handle all the love and romance and fucking happiness all around me when I was supposed to be here on my honeymoon! It isn’t fair!” My voice was rising and several people glanced my way, especially since I thumped my hand on the bar with my last word. But how dare he ruin my buzz and the tenuous peace I’d made with myself about going home!
He shrugged. “Lots of things in life aren’t fair. Doesn’t matter what city you’re in.”
I rolled my eyes as all the attitude progress I’d made during my second glass of wine came undone. “Spare me the platitudes. I’ve heard a boatload of them in the week since I was unceremoniously dumped—via text message, mind you—seven days before my goddamn wedding.”
Lucas regarded me carefully. “You’ve got a problem.”
Brilliant, this asshole. “Yes. My problem is that I’m on my honeymoon, alone.”
“That’s not your problem.”
My jaw fell open. Who the hell was he to tell me what my problem was? He went on before I could protest.
“Your problem is that you thought things were going to be one way and they’re not. You’re not even telling me you miss the guy who was supposed to be here with you. You just don’t want to be here alone because that wasn’t the plan.”
“That is not what I said!”
He laughed. “That’s exactly what you said.”
“Well…” I flapped my hands. “That’s not what I meant. I’m flustered. And drunk.”