Melissa sat on the bench of her second-story bay window and stared out into the dark night that cloaked her city in its quiet solitude. She saw no stars shining through, but flurries of snow drifted lazily down from the heavens, reflecting the light that shone from nearby streetlamps and the strands of twinkling bulbs that already wrapped the trunks and lower branches of the elms that lined the streets and sidewalks below. The snowflakes melted the moment they hit the pavement, but Melissa suspected by morning it would have covered the ground.
Although her bedroom was cozy and warm, she wrapped a throw blanket around her as she hugged her arms to her aching and hollow chest. It had been a long, excruciating day, and the memories of it replayed in her mind, the sound of Roan’s voice following her in haunting recollection.
“I met someone,” he had told her. It was a bomb that he had dropped on her world, desecrating her heart in three simple words. Delivered insensitively, and at the most inopportune time, no less, as he had already made her late waiting on him before he was to go meet her family for the first time at Thanksgiving Supper.
She’d been looking forward to introducing Roan to her family all day, all week really. The fact that she had made his favorite dessert to bring with them, and that he had taken the damn thing with him when he left without her was another punch in the gut. Worse still, she had to face her entire extended family who had all been awaiting their arrival to meet her new “Mr. Wonderful.”
Wonderful, indeed, she thought, as a tear streaked down her cheek.
She looked up at the digital clock that hung on the wall beside her that read 11:11. She could hear her friend, Rachel’s cheery, southern voice in her head saying, “It’s eleven-eleven. Make a wish!” Her silent wish was one she wondered would ever come true, but she thought it with all her heart and soul, just the same. Was it really too much to ask at thirty two years old to find that one, all-consuming, heart-pounding, time-stopping, butterflies in the stomach, special kind of love that you always saw in the movies?
She took in a deep lungful of air and let out a sigh.
“Please,” she begged aloud to some all-powerful being, breathed it really, as her warm breath created a wet patch of fog on the window pane in front of her.
When the fog cleared, she noticed movement on the sidewalk below. A couple walking hand in hand, huddled closely together as they hurried along down the street to get to where they were going. A pang of hurt and regret shot through Melissa as she observed the obvious intimacy between the couple, who she guessed were both at least a few years younger than her.
When her phone rang from the bedside table across the room, she stood and padded her bare feet over to see that the incoming call was from Rachel.
“Hey, Rach,” she answered in a sullen voice.
“Aw, come on, now, darlin’, don’t tell me you’re sittin’ ‘round sulkin’ when there’s a whole town full o’ men just a waitin’ to sweep women like you an’ me right off our dainty little feet,”
“It just happened! Don’t I get at least a day or two to mourn?” Melissa asked with a defensive tone.
“Mourn tomorrow, honey. Tonight, you and me’re goin’ down to O’Shea’s, havin’ ourselves one of those hot alcoholic beverages, and seein’ what kind of trouble we can get ourselves into.”
Melissa groaned as she hung up the phone and curled up on her bed where she was still lying when Rachel came barging through her apartment door.
“Come on, honey. Get up,” she ordered as she rummaged through Melissa’s closet. She held up a low-cut, body-hugging sweater and nodded. “This’ll do nicely,” she said as she flung it in Melissa’s direction before heading across the room to the chest of drawers that held Melissa’s jeans.
Melissa sat up and decided it was useless to argue with her persistent friend and began changing into the outfit that Rachel had pulled out for her. A fresh layer of makeup and a quick brush through her hair later, Melissa found herself rushing down the sidewalk in the freezing cold with Rachel, down to the Irish themed bar just up the street.
Once inside, they let the heat of a large, wood-burning fireplace soak into their skin as they located a table at the nearly empty establishment and sat on either side, shrugging out of their coats.
“Brrrr! Since when did it get so cold this early in the year? It’s colder than a witch’s titty out there!” cried Rachel in exaggeration.
“Welcome to the North,” Melissa laughed. “And by the way, how exactly do you know how cold witches’ titties are? Is there something you’re not telling me?”
Rachel swatted a hand at the air in front of Melissa. “Oh, honey, it’s just a sayin’ for when it’s real cold out. You know, like colder than a well-digger’s shovel.”
Melissa laughed again, thankful she had such a fun and laughable friend in times such as these.
“There’s hardly anybody here, Rach,” she said, looking around the room. “It doesn’t look like your scheme of finding any guys to sweep us off our feet is going to work tonight.”
Rachel gave a knowing look and nodded. “I guess you didn’t notice that fine specimen of a bartender who was eye-ballin’ you soon as we walked in.”
Melissa looked over to the bar where said bartender stood. As soon as they made eye contact, he winked at her as he stood wiping down a spot on the bar counter. She couldn’t help but marvel at the dark waves that framed the attractive but dangerous features of his face. A dark stubble covered his jaw, and his mouth curled up in a mischievous grin.
Both women watched as the man grabbed two clear coffee cups from a shelf above him that he had peered at them from beneath. He poured steaming coffee, filling about two-thirds of each cup. Then he added a shot of Irish whiskey, cream, and spooned brown sugar into each before sliding them in their direction and pointing to them as if gesturing for them to come and get it.
Melissa and Rachel looked at each other, smiled, and stood to make their way to their drinks at the bar where they decided to take up residence as well.
“Good evenin, ladies,” the bartender greeted in a heavy Irish accent. “Care for a sip of Irish coffee, would yeh?” he asked as he pointed his chin in the direction of the drinks.
The women just nodded their silent assent, both dumbfounded by the bartender’s hotness that had just increased ten-fold at the sound of his ethnic voice.
“The name’s Conor,” he introduced himself.
“Well, hi there, Conor. My name’s Rachel, and this here’s my best friend in the whole world, Melissa.” Rachel placed a hand on Melissa’s shoulder as she introduced her friend.
Melissa remained silent, unable to speak from being stricken by the green eyes of the delectable Irishman standing before her.
Yes, she thought they had indeed found trouble to get into tonight, and the name Roan was now the furthest thing from her mind.