Lauren pulled her sunglasses down over her eyes as the sun broke out between pewter grey clouds. Sipping her drink, she glanced around at the few other people sitting in the beer garden, trying to pretend it was nearly summer and warmer than it actually was. She refused to give in and go back inside the quaint 18th century pub where it was degrees warmer. It was May for heaven’s sake, they should be sitting outside enjoying sunshine.
Her gaze caught a tall man coming out into the seating area, he was alone, a pint of ale in his hand. He wore jeans, a white shirt and a brown leather jacket. He took the table opposite Lauren’s. Her heart fluttered. She looked away as he glanced across at her, but she noticed his dark eyes, the clean shaven jaw. A handsome man. A confident looking man. She was always attracted to that type.
From the beer garden’s seating area, grass sloped down to the River Avon. Trees hugged the banks and a few ducks swam in and out of the shallows, brown ducklings following in their wake. On a much warmer day the scene would be worthy of a painting. But not today. The sun disappeared again, the clouds were growing darker.
She caught the good looking guy from the other table staring at her. She pretended not to notice. She drank some more of her Pimms and lemonade and sneaked another glance at the man. He was doing something on his phone, his attention gone from her and focused on the phone. This irritated her.
She watched the ducks again, crossing her legs, her foot swinging, showing her annoyance. The sun disappeared behind a blanket of clouds. Lauren shivered, slipped off her sunglasses and popped them in her bag.
‘Not a day for sunglasses, is it?’ The cute guy said.
‘It’s not a day for sitting out in a Pub’s beer garden either.’
Wishing she’d brought a warmer jacket than a thin cropped cardigan, she gave him a cutting glare. ‘I wish summer would hurry up and get here.’
‘It’s not going to happen today.’ His smile seemed tired, as though it was too much effort.
‘Not a lot has happened today!’
The first spots of rain dropped on them, splatting the table like paint from a brush.
Lauren stood at the same time as the man did.
He waited for her, his eyes soft and kind. ‘I’m sorry.’
She didn’t answer him.
‘I’ll make it up to you.’
‘It’s ruined. You ruined our anniversary.’ She ignored the raindrops that landed faster now. ‘You promised me you would be home in time. The meal I cooked is in the bin now. You know I never cook, that’s your job!’
‘I saw the evidence of it when I got home.’
She ignored him and pushed past, storming off into the pub, where it was drier and warmer.
‘Lauren.’ He stood behind her at the bar. ‘I didn’t mean to be gone so long.’
‘Just one day. One day I wanted you to put me first and the restaurant second.’
‘I had a few things to sort out.’
She shrugged and stared down into her drink. ‘Our first anniversary is important too. You know I don’t like cooking, but I did it for you. I tried, for you. If you were going to treat this day as nothing special, then I would have too. I could have done loads of things on my own, like I normally do.’
‘Look at this.’ He held up his phone for her to see.
‘I’m not interested.’
‘Please.’ He thrust the phone in front of her face.
She glanced at the photo, not caring. ‘So?’
Lauren peered closer at the photo of the front of a restaurant, in a cobbled street with huge window boxes of colourful flowers and a curved green awning over the entrance. ‘Why am I looking at this photo?’
He grinned. ‘Where is your favourite place in all the world?’
‘Positano,’ she said without hesitation. It was where she had worked as a waitress in the summer holidays while at university studying archaeology. Every year as soon as uni broke up for the summer, she’d fly to Italy and beg archaeologists to let her help them on digs as a volunteer. Then, at night to earn money she’d waitress in restaurants.
‘That is a restaurant in Positano,’ her husband told her, still grinning.
She frowned. ‘And?’
‘What is your dream?’
She blinked at the change in topic. ‘My dream?’
‘The dream you’ve always had. The dream you told me when we first met five years ago.’
Sighing, she drank the last of her drink. She remembered the first time she met him at his family’s Italian restaurant, when he came out to greet some of the customers. And, because she loved everything Italian, they soon got talking. That night she told him what her dream was. ‘I wanted to be an archaeologist in Italy.’
‘But then you met me, and we got married and my career was here, and you settled for a job at the museum. And you never got to go work in Italy.’
‘What is this all about?’
‘I was late today because I was handing in my notice at the restaurant.’
He held up the photo on his phone. ‘Because I have bought this restaurant in Positano. And while I’m running my little restaurant, and working all hours like I normally do, you will be digging in dirt in Italy, as you’ve always wanted to.’
‘We are moving to Italy?’ Happiness burst through her. Was he serious?
‘We are. My anniversary present to you, my darling wife,’ he paused to kiss her, ‘is for you to live out your dream. Happy Anniversary.’
(c) Annemarie Brear 2016