I have a bit of a treat today. Over in the Less Than Three Press Goodreads group, one of there editors does little prompt challenges. This week's challenge was "Give me one more shot." Here is my response to that prompt. Enjoy!
One More Shot
By Kathleen Hayes
“Give me one more,” I said as I signaled the bartender to refill my shot glass. One more shot and I would go home and pour myself into bed. I had just enough alcohol in my system that the crap hill that had been today was fuzzily out of reach.
It didn’t last long. By the time I got home and collapsed on my bed, the nice haze I built up at the bar had begun to fade. It felt like someone had died. A bit melodramatic, I know – but the person who has been there every day for the past fifteen years, through ups and downs, heartaches and happiness, regular days and crazy days, was gone. And it was all my fault.
I’d been in love with Bas since about five minutes after I met him. Granted I was 14 years old at the time and what I thought was love was probably more like a bad case of lust. However, over the years I had never had cause to change my opinion.
Bas’ bastard of a boyfriend had given him an ultimatum – marriage or break up. Bas had come to me to talk it out and I couldn’t take it a moment longer. If he had been happy, if he had wanted to get married, I would have let it go. I wouldn’t have said anything. But marriage is so final and he looked so miserable, I had to give him another option. That’s how I rationalized it to myself.
I had leaned across the expanse of my couch and kissed him. For just one breath it was glorious. He tasted like nothing I could have imagined and his lips were soft but just a little chapped. Heat and joy and sense of rightness spread through me in a fraction of a second. And then it was gone, shattered, when Bas pushed me away.
The look of pain and anger on his face was clue enough for me of his thoughts on the matter. I stammered an apology and fled. That was six hours ago. I’d turned my phone off and was too afraid to check it. Unfortunately, I used my phone as my alarm in the mornings. If I had any hope of being on time to work I would have to turn it back on and set the alarm.
I steeled myself. Three missed calls. Four text messages. All from Bas.
What the hell? Call me.
Tor – Don’t you dare ignore me.
Don’t make me come and find you.
Damn it – I’m coming to your place – you better be there.
I blanched at that last one and checked the time stamp. It had been sent only 20 minutes before. I swore under my breath. He would be arriving any minute. From the bottom of my bed where I was standing I looked at myself in the mirror over my dresser. My brown hair was disheveled from running my hands through it all evening. My green eyes were blood shot and red rimmed from too alcohol and a bout of self pity tears. My face was haggard, my clothes were a wrinkled mess and I smelled like a seedy bar.
When I heard his knock just a few moments later I contemplated ignoring it. But Bas could be stubborn with the best of them. Knowing him he would just stand there and keep knocking until either I answered the door or one of the neighbors complained to the cops.
I swung the door open and growled, “What?”
He barged in, anger flaring in his eyes. “You look terrible.”
I scoffed in disbelief. “You came all the way over here to tell me I look terrible? Thanks. I could’ve figured that one out for myself. If that’s all you can go now. I’d like to go and cry in peace.” I winced that I let that last bit out.
He was pacing around my living room. The overstuffed couch, battered coffee table and huge flat screen television were probably as familiar to him as his own apartment. He spent almost as much time here as he did there. He was able to swerve to avoid the protruding edge of the coffee table without pausing his pace or paying any attention to his course.
He paused long enough to glare at me. “That was a piss poor thing to do you know that.”
“Yeah, I know.” I spoke at a normal tone but he ignored me as he spoke over me.
“I’m trying to decide if I am going to get married and you just come off and kiss me. What in the hell were you thinking?” He hadn’t raised his voice at all but by the end of his little speech, he had reached that scary quiet voice – when he was so angry, every word was extremely precise and barely audible.
“I said I was sorry.” A look of pain flashed through the anger – barely visible and then gone – at my words.
“I didn’t ask if you sorry. I asked why you did it. You had to have a reason. People don’t just kiss each other for no reason. At least I know you well enough that I know you don’t kiss people for no reason. So… why did you kiss me?” Each word was punctuated by a brief silence that only emphasized his question.
Fear sped my heart. His eyes bore into mine and I knew I had no choice but to give him an answer. My mouth started speaking before my brain was able to figure out what that answer should be.
“If you were happy I wouldn’t have. But you’re miserable. He makes you miserable. I couldn’t let you marry him. I wouldn’t have done anything, I would have kept it to myself but I couldn’t let you marry him and be miserable and never had given it a shot. It was fine as long as you were happy. But he was sucking the joy out of you and you didn’t even notice. And then he wanted to marry you. “ I had to stop to breath and noticed tears streaming silently down my face.
I turned away from him and began tidying the practically empty kitchen table just to have something to do with my hands. “I really am sorry. I never thought I would lose you.” At that though the tears I had been doing my best to keep at bay couldn’t be held back any longer. My shoulders shook with my emotion.
I felt his hand on my arm. He tried to turn me to face him but I resisted. It was easier if I couldn’t see him. His grip became a little more forceful and I was forced to turn or actively break his hold. I turned.
Nothing could have surprised me more than his hand on my face. It was only then that I noticed the red rims around his eyes and the moisture clinging to the edges of his brilliant hazel eyes. “Who said you were losing me?”
“I just figured with how you reacted, I would never see you again.”
“I was angry and confused and hurt and a whole lot of other things. And you kind of dropped the whole thing on my lap like a ton of bricks – when there was already quite a bit on there. It just took me awhile to process.”
“And what was your conclusion?”
“I went to see Rick and told him to shove his ultimatum where the sun don’t shine.”
I gave a weak chuckle at that. “Yeah?”
“Do you think you could give me one more shot at that whole kissing thing?”
He grinned. “I think you can have as many shots as you want.”
He drew my face to his and this kiss was everything the first kiss was and so much more.