“Buy me another beer and I’ll tell you why I did it”, she smiled at him across the table. She was trying to be enigmatic, but she wasn’t entirely sure it was working.
She watched as he obediently stood up and wandered over to the bar. He looked slightly dazed. With a good view of his broad back and swimmers’ shoulders as he tried to get the barman’s attention, she reached for her phone to send him a text.
– Changed my mind. Red wine please. Big one.
He scuffled for his phone in his pocket in response to its buzz. He turned around, gave her a thumbs up, then turned back to the bar.
“So, tell me then?” he said, returning a few minutes later, carrying a bottle of red wine and two glasses. “I thought it might take a while,” he added, sheepishly raising the bottle in his hand before he set it down on the table.
“Well, I did it because I could, really. It’s hard to resist when it’s there on a plate. I could make excuses, about being vulnerable, I could say he took advantage of me. And yes, I was, and he did, but I still made a conscious choice. He flattered me, and I liked it. He was the boss, he told me how brilliant I was all the time. I was sufficiently insecure to fall for it, and yet I sort of knew I was falling for it as it was happening.” She took a gulp of wine.
“But he was married! And to another colleague! You must have known it would end in tears,” he said.
He sat back in his chair and pondered the situation, watching her drinking her wine and trying to come up with a response. It didn’t surprise him that this guy had wanted her. In much the same way as he himself wanted her right now. But she was keeping him at arm’s length; she always had done, since the moment they’d met, even though the chemistry was undeniable.
“Well, yes of course. But ever since I was a kid, I’ve had this weird self-destruct thing going on. I used to call it the “fuck it” button. It was almost like a test – how bad can I make things, before I finally break everything?”
“Well, you nearly did break everything. You nearly got sacked. Thank god you didn’t, though. Where would we be without you?”
“Now you’re flattering me… honestly, don’t go there!”
He sighed. If only he’d met her five years ago, before Ingrid. Before Niall was born. He fingered his wedding ring absent-mindedly. It was all starting to feel a bit inevitable.
She watched him, smiling and sipping her wine.