Home > Don't You Forget About Me(13)

Don't You Forget About Me(13)
Author: Mhairi McFarlane

Devlin is a Devlin McCarthy? Lucas McCarthy is out there?

Jesus Christ. How? What? Why?

I recall Lucas having some looming threat older brother who’d left school, but he was that many years ahead I never even knew his name. Our mouths were usually fastened on each other rather than used for swapping family biographies.

Oh God, oh God. I wish I’d had some warning. Someone of his significance shouldn’t be able to simply walk back in without fanfare, without a build-up. It reminds me of that line about death just being another room. Lucas was dead to me and yet he’s in this room. It’s impossible.

I mean, I’ve always known it could happen. But after twelve years, you’re convinced it won’t happen.

After a forced wee – strategy: as now I can’t plausibly need a real one in five minutes’ time – I rinse my clammy hands in cold water and inspect my reflection, my vanity overclocking. I grit my teeth to check there’s nothing in them, furiously rub away some make-up that’s drifted from above to below my eye.

I’m shaking slightly. And look at him now?!

In my mind’s eye, Lucas McCarthy was still the skinny eighteen-year-old I once knew. The idea he’d blossomed into some sort of stunning leading man in the interim hadn’t once occurred to me. He’s turned from an underfed, slightly hunted-looking slender indie boy into fully fledged Byronic poetry.

And me? I’ve certainly not transformed into some femme fatale. I fear I’m the same fruit, gone mouldy in the bowl.

I hear Tony’s voice: ‘Julie Goodyear.’

I tuck my hair behind my ears and stand up straighter and try to think positive thoughts. I’m fine. It’s fine. I feel the waistband on my jeans pressing into soft flesh and wish I was hard-bodied and defiant, polished up like a gemstone, and oh God, do I have jowls?

Thing is, I’m fretting – but Lucas didn’t recognise me. Of this I’m virtually certain. I’m good at reading people. I know what it’s like to have people looking at you, talking about you. To be covertly observed.

With Lucas there was no microscopic tell – no whisper of awkwardness, or apprehensiveness, no acknowledgement whatsoever. His expression was the fixed absent-polite-neutral of someone going through the motions with a person who has nothing to do with you. His eyes were flat, they said nothing.

Is that possible? Georgina’s not a rare name, but it’s not one you meet everywhere either. It’s been twelve years. Is that long enough to forget someone entirely? A voice whispers: you have your answer. And you don’t know how many ‘someones’ there are, do you. Losing a Georgina in a huge playing field of other Georginas ain’t so difficult.

I don’t want Lucas to know who I am, yet the idea is also utterly gutting.

I decide to be pragmatic, wailing can wait. At least this earthquake has happened as the wake passes into its final hours.

Back out on the floor, and behind the bar, I get a crick in the neck from studiously not looking at whatever Lucas McCarthy’s doing. My customers are a trickle, then they dry up completely.

Devlin’s wife Mo says I can ‘probably get off’ and I crush her into a hug of gratitude, moving fast enough not to be asked how I’m getting home. Over her shoulder, Devlin makes the ‘I’ll call you’ sign with finger and thumb to ear at me and I respond with a thumbs up, and a hard weight inside.

There’s the exit, don’t look left or right, stay on target, door shut behind you … And breathe.

I smoke a much-needed Marlboro Light as I wait for the taxi I ordered to sweep round the corner, stamping my feet in the cold. I don’t care about the temperature, just relieved to have escaped. I check the tracking app on my phone: my driver Ali is 4 MINS away.

I pace around, ostensibly to warm my body up, more to cool my brain down. The music throbs through the door and I wonder how late they’re going to stay up with the remaining bottles of scotch, reminiscing.

Lucas McCarthy is Devlin’s brother. Devlin is Lucas McCarthy’s brother. I can’t get my head round this.

I clutch my elbow with my free hand and pace and watch figures flitting across the non-misted spaces in the patterns in the windows. If I can see them, they can see me.

What if someone asks why the barmaid is lurking, mentions it? It’s daft to think they will, but seeing Lucas has left me edgy as a stray cat. I wander round the side of the pub, out of view.

An open window nearby is letting heat from the kitchen escape. As I draw near it I can hear a conversation. Voices come in and out of range as they move around the room. I idly listen in, fiddle with my phone. Tracking app: your driver Ali is 1 MIN away.

‘Pick that up. No, it goes there. Look.’

‘Which …’

‘… Luke! No, there, look.’

I straighten. One of these disembodied voices is Lucas? I give their dialogue my full attention. I strain: they’re speaking rapidly, with forcefulness, but I can’t make out the words.

And suddenly, they must move so they’re positioned right by me, as I can follow it perfectly.

‘… Not a doubt. It was bedlam at times and she handled herself well. She’s got no attitude. Exactly what we want.’

‘Based on what? You’re spannered.’

The sound of a heavy weight being dropped, with control.

‘Yeah because she kept my glass full!’

The guffaw that follows is unmistakably Devlin.

‘Pouring liquid into glasses isn’t astrophysics, is it?’

‘Nor is running a pub.’

They’re talking about me?

Oh, no … my taxi is here. I make a silent, frantic, ‘yes coming, just finishing my cigarette’ mime and the driver looks unimpressed.

‘… Great, our recruitment policy is whichever blondes happen to catch my brother’s eye. It’s not Hooters, Dev.’

I can’t believe this is about me, and yet it’s clearly about me.

‘She’s obviously a nice, sound lass. There’s a way about her that I like a lot. I don’t see your problem.’

‘We don’t know anything about her, we don’t know she’s nice. You’ve gone over my head and promised her, is my problem. Where’s my tick?’

‘Give her a chance, you cynical twat. The lesson of tonight was not to be a cynical twat.’

‘I thought the lesson was about not doing stupid things when you’re heavily intoxicated. Also, who puts shamrocks in Guinness? To be sure to be sure. Let her go work in Scruffy Muffy’s or whatever it’s called these days.’

A howl of laughter. ‘Ah God, I wonder how we’d fix a flaw in her like that, Luc, I mean it’s IMPOSSIBLE …’

The driver shouts: ‘I’m starting the meter now, love, come on!’ and I startle and rush over, trying to pick my footsteps carefully so the brothers don’t twig to me having been nearby.

I just heard Lucas McCarthy equate the wisdom of hiring me with killing yourself.

When we pull up in Crookes, as I get money out to pay, I find Devlin’s given me fifty quid more than we agreed. Usually you’d put that down to inebriation but I get the sense that Devlin is always this garrulous and generous.

Damn. For a brief, blissful moment, I thought I’d fallen into a job that I’d like, for a person I like. But he’s Lucas McCarthy’s brother.

And since when was he ‘Luke’? I bridle at this, ludicrously, as if he’s committing a fraud. A betrayal. Betrayal. I turn the word over. It has pointed edges that cause lacerations. It’s like swallowing a Sticklebrick.

I walk, trance-like, from kitchen to bathroom sink to pulling on my pyjamas, not present in any single task, mind floating elsewhere.

We don’t know anything about her

Oh, really.

It’s not Hooters, Dev

Supercilious arsehole! How sexist is that?! Would any place hire you because of your hair? It may be lustrous but I’m thinking not. OK, he’s also possibly referring to the DD cup. Pig. Like I chose this pair in the Grattan catalogue.

So Lucas is now a grown-up who owns and runs places. I’m thirty and begging to work in them. The indignity.

I don’t want your job anyway, so the joke’s on you.

But oh God. I do want the job. Before this encounter, I’d have said that working for Lucas McCarthy would’ve been what my dad called a cheese-before-bed nightmare.

Now the initial encounter is over with, my feelings are more conflicted. I’ve heard him saying I’d be trouble – or that they ‘don’t know I’m nice’ – and my pride wants to face that down.

Was Lucas only pretending not to recognise me, then ruling out my working for them as a result? That’s the version that suits me, so I’m suspicious of it. It would mean he hasn’t forgotten, it did matter. Even if nothing like as much as it does to me, I’m not that deluded.

That beats being Some Blonde.

I scour the memory of our reunion for the smallest twitch of discomfort on his side and conclude: no, there was none. No one’s that good at a poker face, outside international poker tournaments.

But I didn’t hear who won that debate about me. I may yet not have the job.

I weigh up alternatives.

Devlin calls: Oh dear, my mistake, the vacancy is filled. This, when he sobers up, seems a likely outcome of what I overheard. It was unfair to impose me on Lucas, even without our history.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
Most Popular
» Don't You Forget About Me
» Daisy Jones & The Six
» California Girls
» I Owe You One
» Normal People
» Make Me Bad
» Surprise Delivery
» A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark