Now for a bit of light entertainment.....
GIRLS' NIGHT OUT
Cindy stubbed her cigarette out in the small metal ashtray, then looked across the canteen table to where Jen sat opposite. "You can count me out," she said.
"Why?" Jen raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "It'll be a laugh."
"Yeah, sure. I don't think Nick would see it quite that way. He'd go mad."
"He'll only go mad if he finds out, and I've no intention of telling him...have you?"
Cindy sighed, relaxed back in the moulded plastic chair and folded her arms across her chest. She glanced around the canteen. Lunch break was almost over and people were filtering out.
She bit her bottom lip.
Jen was right...it would be a laugh...
Seeing the expression of indecision on Cindy's face, Jen grinned. "Suzy's going."
Cindy scoffed. "And that's suppose to sway me?" she said. "If Nick knew I was going to spend an evening in the company of Floozy Suzy Sinclair, let alone go where we're planning on going...well...he'd probably leave me. And," she added, "I'm only half joking."
"So? That a yes then? Shall I tell Suzy to get three tickets?"
Cindy nodded. "Yeah, I guess. You only live once after all...just don't tell Nick."
"Attagirl," said Jen. "My lips are sealed."
Later that night Cindy stood in the bedroom doorway.
Nick was standing with his back towards her. She watched with appreciative eyes as her husband peeled off his clothes. In the soft glow cast by the bedside lamp his naked skin looked smooth and ethereal. Cindy's eyes alighted on the strawberry-coloured birthmark on Nick's left shoulder. She smiled. It always reminded her of the shape of Ireland. A little pink bear. She walked over and dropped a kiss in the rough location of Dublin.
Nick turned to her, a smile playing on his own lips. "What was that for?"
"Cindy Lewis," he said, holding her at arms length. "I have been married to you long enough to know when you're after something."
Cindy grinned and stuck her hands in the air. "Guilty as charged milord."
Nick took off his watch, set it down next to the alarm clock. "So?" he said. "Out with it."
"Well, Jen at work...you know?...Jen Adams?"
Nick nodded. "Yes, I know Jen. Tall girl, glasses, brown curly hair."
"That's the one. Well. She's got these tickets for a show at some pub on Tuesday night...a live band I think...she asked me to go with her, on account that she's just split up with her boyfriend. I don't think it's going to be a late night. And as it's your pool night, I'll only be stuck here on my own anyway..."
"Okay. Okay." Nick interrupted. "I get the picture."
"You don't mind?"
"What's there to mind? As you said, I'll be out anyway." Nick paused. "Suzy's not going is she?"
Cindy's stomach performed a slow barrel roll. "No," she lied. "Suzy's not going."
"Good," said Nick. "I can't stand that woman, she's a right flirt." He bent forward and dropped a kiss on the tip of Cindy's nose. "You deserve a night out."
Cindy grinned. "But I enjoy a night in best." She pulled Nick down onto the bed and switched off the light.
The Feather and Bat was crowded as Suzy, Jen and Cindy stepped through its doors.
Suzy glanced at her watch. "There's still a good twenty minutes before it starts. Time enough for a drink. Follow me."
The three women pushed their way towards the bar, Cindy bringing up the rear. She gave the pub a quick once over, checking for anyone she knew. Even though The Feather and Bat was fifteen miles from their home town, she still felt nervous and edgy. She was beginning to wish she had never agreed to come.
"Penny for them?"
"It's okay you know," said Jen. "He'll never find out."
Jen snorted. "Nick of course. He's written all over your face. Just relax, enjoy. It's only a bit of harmless fun."
Hearing these words, Suzy turned round. "What is? What's only a bit of harmless fun?"
"This," said Jen. "Ole worry guts here is afraid Nick will find out and tell her off for being a naughty girl."
Cindy frowned. "Jen!"
"I don't know how you put up with Mister Ice Cold Alex," remarked Suzy. "I'd soon tell him where to get off if he was my guy."
"God job he's not you guy then isn't it?" bristled Cindy. "There is such a thing as mutual respect you know."
"Yeah? That why you're here then is it?"
"Hey, hey," said Jen. "Cool it. We're all friends aren't we?"
"Sure we are." Suzy grinned and punched Cindy playfully on the arm. "What's your poison? I'm paying."
When the overhead lights dimmed twenty minutes later a loud cheer went up in the pub. All eyes turned to the make-shift stage.
Through the half light Cindy could just make out two broad-shouldered male figures. They were standing with their backs towards the audience. Both had their fisted hands placed on their hips. Legs straight and apart. Both were clothed in nothing more than tight leather trousers.
At the exact same time the men turned their heads to the left and the rich strains of Hot Chocolate's I believe in Miracles drifted through the air.
The lights went up.
Cindy narrowed her eyes and brought a hand up to her mouth.
At first she thought it was a tattoo, but as the lights brightened even more, she ralised she was wrong.
The man on the right, the man with short dark hair, had a birthmark on his left shoulder. A strawberry-coloured birthmark.
A strawberry-coloured birthmark in the shape of Ireland.