It wasn’t him, it was her. After what happened with Mark; the pain of that breakup. She just wasn’t ready for another serious relationship. Not this soon. But give it time and well, maybe.

With the carrot of hope dangling, she looked at him.

Many, many things to say, but he merely looked back at her. She sipped at her wine, looking at him through those big bright eyes across the top of her glass. When she set it down her lipstick left an angry cherry red weal along the rim.

He said, ‘Okay then.’

The way he sat, the way he held himself, he had the look of a man about to say something else. She waited once more, but he said nothing. Just sat and looked back at her.

She drank again, an angry gulp, then set down the glass hard enough that the liquid made a slopping sound.

‘That’s it? That’s all you’ve got to say? God! You’re so passive. Show some emotion. A wobble in your lip. Come on! Something.’

He said, ‘Uh…’ and began to smile, self-conscious in the light of her fierce glare. She did that thing where she closed her eyes, and that shake of her head to show her disdain. She looked at him once more, blew some air through her lips to show her contempt, took another gulp of the wine then began to shimmy her way from the booth.

She reached back for handbag, stood, and then perched on the end of the bench.

She said, ‘This is why it can’t work. You’re like an iceberg. Actually, no. You’re like the man on the Titanic who wouldn’t take a lifejacket just in case some kid came along who needed it.’

‘I thought you said it was you, not me.’

‘Yeah, well. It’s seventy me, thirty you. You’re like that guy in the Arctic, in that stupid film you made me watch. They were going to starve to death, but instead of crying about it, like any normal person, he just went outside. He didn’t even say goodbye to them, for God’s sake.’

He said, ‘Would crying about it make any difference?’

Another headshake, another sigh of disdain, and she was gone.

It was him, not her. Clearly.

Don’t want a serious relationship? Well, how about taking it easy, like they had been?

They went out, they had fun. They went home, they had even more fun.

Her eyes when she looked back from the pillow at him, and he loved them best last thing at night sparkly free of all that makeup goo. Okay, so the naked body beneath those eyes was a bonus, but it was the eyes he was thinking about. How could they be so warm and tender one moment, then the next be rimmed with rage, like the evil eyes of the seagull that liked to torment his cat?

It was sweet, the way she insisted they watched art house films that she didn’t get.The way she said huw-mus, not huh-mus.

Don’t forget the jealousy. No reply till morning. What were you doing? What was her name?

He finished his pint. He took both glasses to the bar.

The barman nodded thanks. ‘Lucky escape there, mate.’

He nodded in agreement. ‘Yes. I think you’re right.’