Prologue: April 21st
What was he doing here? Megan thought to herself, hand clenched far too tightly around the cocktail glass she was afraid may very well shatter between her fingers. She was out with some girls from her office – other receptionists that Megan had long ago made friends with – at their usual bar close to work, when she first saw him across the room. She could recognise his tall frame anywhere, even with the numerous drinks she’d had throughout the night and the resulting way her vision seemed to blur just a little.
Across the table, her friends were talking amongst themselves giddily, completely unaware that Megan’s attention had been stolen elsewhere. They were all a little too drunk tonight, more so than usual, a fact that became glaringly obvious the more Megan continued to stare unabashed towards the opposite side of the busy bar, her sights locked onto the man that could render her silent just by his presence.
There, stood with a couple of other guys that fell rather short in comparison to the Adonis they accompanied, was Matthew Wood. Broad shouldered, strong, with caramel brown hair shaved too short and startling blue eyes that always caught her in their intensity. The last time she had seen him had been two months ago, and she hadn’t thought they would cross paths again for another year. And yet it was definitely him.
What was he doing here?
She knew he was leaving the country tomorrow, and she knew he didn’t live near this part of the city. She was supposed to be free of any thoughts of the gorgeous man, and yet here he was, so close she couldn’t keep herself away.
She should have ignored him. She should have looked away and pretended she’d never noticed him, continued drinking with her friends, and returned home to sleep off the hangover that was sure to ruin her Saturday morning.
“Megan?” One of her friends, Sally, called her name, the young brunette frowning as Megan stood to her feet.
Matthew had spotted her; he’d caught her watching him – ogling him. She didn’t wait for him to make a move; she was already stalking across the room like a woman on a mission, trying desperately not to crumble under the sturdy weight of his gaze.
Megan stumbled into her unlit apartment, keys clutched tight in one hand and her purse in the other, Matthew close behind with equal clumsiness. With a sweep of his arm, the front door slammed shut behind them, Matthew not faltering as he and Megan crashed into the narrow walls of the hallway that lead them into the cramped living room. Alcohol was heavy on their breath and guttural groans escaped the lips that kissed a heated path down Megan’s throat. Her breaths were harsh as she clutched at the nape of his neck, her fingertips grazing his short hair, holding him to her.
Slipping from her free hand, her keys and bag fell to the wooden floor with a clatter and a thud, the items discarded as the couple continued to move closer and closer towards Megan’s bedroom.
The curtains of the apartment were open, allowing the soft glow of the street lights to illuminate their entangled figures, but it wasn’t enough to stop the couple from staggering and teetering on their feet into the furniture of the small apartment, too enamoured with each other to pay any attention to their surroundings.
It was with desperation that they clung to each other, legs and arms entwining as Megan was pushed and lifted against the wall. Her legs wrapped around Matthew’s waist as his hands grabbed at her through the tight material of her skirt. With their lips pressed heavily against one another’s, a moan escaped her smeared crimson lips, a colour that now stained Matthew’s mouth too.
All Megan could think of in this moment was how much she should not be doing this. How wrong this was. How, after knowing Matthew for so many years, now was not the time to complicate things between them.
This was so utterly stupid.
Megan hadn’t meant for any of this to happen, for her night to end like this. She was drunk, that was for certain and she had been so surprised to see Matthew at the bar, knowing he was travelling again so soon. She had already been swaying on her feet, intoxicated enough that there was little hope left of any self-respect. She was drunk; and Matthew was far too attractive – very quickly she had crossed the room towards him, and now, a few too many drinks later, they were in her apartment.
This couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time.
All they had was tonight, Matthew would be gone the next morning and she knew he wouldn’t return for another ten torturous months. And yet, Megan couldn’t stop herself from gripping at his shirt as he kissed her so fiercely it had her toes curling. Their time together was limited but the hunger they had for each other would not be diminished. Knowing that this was the last time she would see him before he was deployed only furthered her passion.
Clothes were stripped along the path to the small bedroom until there was nothing left to remove.
When morning came, and Megan awoke from a beam of sunlight shining in through her undrawn curtains, and a splitting headache that had her groaning into her pillow, she had almost forgotten what had transpired the night before. It was just another Saturday, facing the aftermath of a drink too many with the girls. But the moment only lasted all of three minutes before memories of seeing Matthew at the bar surfaced, and she registered his absence beside her in bed.
She shouldn’t have been surprised, and yet disappointment faced her anyway. He had left, without even a goodbye. As sobering as it was to wake alone after their night together, there was a relief from the knowledge that they didn’t have to discuss what had happened just yet.
Instead, she would have ten months to prepare for such a conversation. Perhaps when he returned it would be as if nothing had ever happened between them.