I was practically vibrating with excitement as I walked towards the restaurant.
Jane was inside, the receptionist at her hotel had been sure of it.
‘Red-hair, short-ish, serious-looking but really friendly?’
That was Jane to a T.
‘Yes, I called the taxi for her, she said she’d be meeting someone. Was that you? You’re quite late!’
It wasn’t me. Jane was meeting a client, the reason we couldn’t be together on her birthday, the first since we’d been each other.
‘You should go...’
I thanked her and asked if she could call me a taxi to the same place. The cleaner who’d been lurking nearby waived his litter grasper impatiently at me, so I moved away to the door.
We’d only been together a few weeks, but Jane had looked so sad when she’d rolled over in bed and declined my offer to take her away for her birthday. She had a meeting she couldn’t get out of and we’d just have to celebrate when she got back she sighed, before dropping her hand under the covers and picking up where we’d left off.
I sat in the taxi, chugging on a can of nerve-steadying beer, and thought about how easy it had all been. Jane hadn’t specifically said York, but she’d said Yorkshire, so when I saw she’d been asking for hotel recommendations on Twitter it had fallen into place quite quickly. It only took a few calls and a cunning sidestepping of GDPR to find the one she’d booked, and that was that.
Arriving to find she was out was a bit of a set-back. I’d never considered her meeting might be in the evening, it was the image of Jane spending her birthday night alone in some hotel which pushed me to surprise her in the end. Still, I got the details and was on the way.
I hadn’t thought through the next part. She was in a meeting, should I wait at the bar for her to finish, catch her eye as they were splitting the bill? Maybe I should have, but by the time I walked through the door, I was fizzing too much to hold off any longer. I told the Maitre D’ I was meeting a friend and stepped passed before they could stop me. I scanned the room for her glorious red hair. There she was, in the middle, clinking champagne flutes with her client, and glowing. I’d never seen her so dressed up and I was stunned with how incredible she looked. I practically floated until I was stood by her table, looking down, tingling, as I waited for her to register what I’d done and stand up to embrace me.
The colour flushed from her face until she was white and shaking. I held one arm out, the other hiding the roses behind my back, and watched her swallow.
‘Gerry…’ she stammered.
‘Who’s your friend, darling?’ the man at her table said.
It was then I noticed they were holding hands, and saw the rings, the ring Jane had never worn before. My heart turned into a boulder, and my arms fell to my sides.
‘What…’ Jane tried to speak as I saw her eyes dart to the flowers in my hand, now quickly rotting in the poisoned air.
‘Shit,’ I caught escaping in her breath, as the tears swelled under her eyes.