Back to Monday Morning and I can’t help but take a deep breath as I pull open the door and take in the beautiful scent that hits my senses. I literally float to the counter and place my order to the barista. “Morning, can I have a large Cappuccino with an extra shot of caffeine?” Gaby smiles at me before making the much-needed caffeine hit I need before heading into the office. I’m standing at the side waiting for my coffee, quickly checking my work emails, when I see someone out of my peripheral vision. I look up and right away I notice a fantastic-looking guy. I hear him ask Gaby for his coffee and it makes me bite my lip. Oh god, an American accent. I try to contain the heat I feel travelling up my body. I don’t even realise I am still staring until he smiles at me. Oh, shit, act normal.
Just then Gaby shouts my order, breaking the spell he clearly placed me in. “Large Cappuccino for Flic.”
I quickly grab my coffee and smile. “Thanks very much, Gaby.”
Trying to ignore Mr Tall, Dark and American as I take my coffee and head towards the door. I finally get out of the shop and finally breathe. I am about to turn towards the office when some guy knocks into me; he doesn’t even stop. I look down and find my coffee is half over me and half over the ground.
“Oh fuck off,” I angrily say out loud. I try to tidy myself with tissues I found in my bag when I hear that voice.
“Large cappuccino for Flic?” I turn around pretty sure I am the colour of tomato to find Mr Tall, Dark and American give me the biggest smile I have ever seen.
“Hope you don’t mind. I saw your coffee accident and felt bad,” he offers.
I clear my throat, “Thank you so much, you didn’t have to do that.”
“Well, there may be a motive?” he says.
I look at him and can’t help but think what he could need from me. “Ok hit me with it?”
He leans in and I can just smell his aftershave. It almost makes me let out a sigh. It’s been too long in that area. “Can you tell me how to get to city hall?”
I instantly feel my body deflate. Of course, he isn’t interested in me. I straighten up and give him his answer. “Yeah, of course, go down that street and take a left that will bring you onto Donegall Place and she sits right in front of you. You have timed it well as the Christmas Market is on and they do incredible food and drink.”
I watch as he looks in the direction I gave him. “Any tips?”
“Yeah, if you’re looking to get a drink, go early before all the city workers clock out!” I smile at him.
“Thank you Flic.” his gaze lingers on me a little longer than I expect.
“You’re very welcome.”
I am stunned when I hear his voice again as he puts his hand out. “Noah.” I feel butterflies in my tummy as our fingers connect, I feel something I haven’t felt in a long time, electricity courses through me.
“I’m really sorry but I’m going to be late for work, thank you for the replacement coffee.” Noah finally lets my hand go and I instantly miss his touch. “Have a nice day, Flic.” I give him a smile and walk off, disappointed that I didn’t offer him my number. I make my way down to the office where I find my best friend waiting.
“What time do you call this?” Jules taps her foot on the floor and I hold up my hand. “Please don’t start some asshole knocked into me and my coffee went everywhere.” Jules points to my hand. “Then how are you holding a coffee?”
“Alright detective Jules, it’s called a replacement!” Jules gives me a smirk and points at my cup.
“Yeah, with a name and number on the cup.”
I instantly feel my heart rate spike. “Wait... what?” Jules raises her eyebrow at me.
“So who’s Noah?” My friend’s interest was clearly invested.
How did I miss the guy’s information? I look up to find Jules still watching me, waiting for my answer. “He is a guy that saw me drop my coffee and asked me directions.”
Jules shakes her head. “And?”
I shake my head. “and... he is American and very good looking!” Jules jumps up and down and claps like a fucking seal. “Are you going to call or text him?”
I shrug and feel myself blush. “I don’t know?”
Jules nudges my arm. “Well, I for one think you should, come on we are a little late and I need to hear everything.” I get into my office and stare at the coffee cup. Maybe I should text just to thank him again for the coffee, or maybe I should just leave it altogether. I decide to leave it be and throw the cup in the bin. Was I crazy… Yes, but I am not ready.
I broke up with my fiance a few months ago; we grew apart and I couldn’t go through with the wedding. I just couldn’t bring myself to marry Rich, we were together since I was sixteen; I fell out of love with him and it wasn’t what I wanted. We weren’t the same anymore; holding onto the people we used to be; struggling to accept we wanted different things. It would have ended somewhere down the line. When I get married, I want it to be forever.
I completely lose track of time before I know it is clocking out time and everyone is getting ready to leave. Jules pops her head around my door. “Ok, how about a wee drink at the Christmas market we haven’t had one yet?”
I smile up at her collecting my things. “Sure, why not one or two won’t hurt?”
We walk towards the market. The city is bustling with people; I love this city, it’s home, and it amazes me each day. We arrive at the beer tent and find a table to sit at. Jules hasn’t let up about Mr Tall, Dark and American when I finally break it to Jules that I didn’t text Noah. The look on her face says it all, she’s disappointed in me and this conversation isn’t over.
“Ok, what’s your poison,” I ask. Jules looks up from the menu. “Just a glass of white please and an explanation to why you didn’t text Mr Tall, Dark and American?”
I nod and smile at her, “Ok, large white and an explanation coming right up.”
I make my way up to the bar, wavering around the crowd trying to find a clear spot. I’m about to order my drink when I hear an American accent beside me.
“You weren’t lying about getting here early.” Noah smiles.
“I warned you, this is actually quiet tonight.” I look around to find him staring at me. “So you didn’t get lost then?” I smirk.
Noah takes a sip of his drink, “no your directions were spot on.”
I let out a little laugh, “I hear you’re picking up the lingo already. Thank you for earlier, I was going to message you but, yeah, I kinda chicken shitted out.”
Noah rubs his chin, “I will not lie I was disappointed but look here you are.”
I give him a brief smile before turning back to the bar. “Hi Johnny, can I have 2 large whites ..... and... Would you like a drink?” I ask Noah.
“That’s really nice of you, a pint of Guinness.”
I turn back around to Johnny, “and a pint of Guinness, please.”
I turn around to find Noah studying me. “So what brings you here tonight, bad day at the office?” I give a little laugh. “I’m actually here with my friend Jules. She’s very much a bad influence drinking on a school night and all that.” I watch as Noah grabs the back of his neck.
“Well, I’m glad I bumped into you. You may have not messaged me, but it’s so nice to see you again.”
I do not know where my new found confidence has sprung from but the words tumble out of my mouth. “Would you like to join us?” Noah gently touches my hand.
“Are you sure Jules won’t mind?” I smile and gently squeeze his hand. “No, not at all.”
We grab our drinks and make our way back to the table. Jules watched me with curiosity. I give her a megawatt smile, knowing this is going to blow her little mind. “Jules this is Noah, Noah this is Jules.”
She practically jumps from her seat. “SHUT UP! Are you the coffee boy?”
Noah lets out a deep laugh, “Yeah, that would be me,” Jules smacks my arm. “Jeez, Flic, look at him. I should have stolen your phone and text him for you.”
I feel my face turn bright red. “Jules, really? I don’t normally text random men I meet.”
I quickly turn around, giving Noah an apologetic look, “No offence.”
He smiles at me and gently takes my hand, calming me instantly. “None taken.”
I look at him and I can’t work him out. He seems sincere, but why would a guy who looks like him give someone like me the time of day? I try to push my insecurities to the side and enjoy myself. We keep drinking and chatting before Jules lets us know she’s leaving. “Right guys that’s my work night limit, I’m going to head home, Flic I will see you tomorrow bright and early!”
She leans in and gives me a hug goodbye before whispering into my ear. “Don’t you dare pass him up, he is hot and funny?” Jules straightens back up, turning her attention to Noah.
“It was lovely to meet you Noah, hope to see you again!” Noah looks at me, “So how about one more?” I smile at him and give him a nod, not trusting my voice to not give away how excited I was that he wanted to spend more time with me. We sit for ages just chatting, I just can’t stop looking at him. He gives me tingles.
“So what brings you here?” I ask him.
“Well, you said it was a good place.”
I shake my head. “No, I meant here in Northern Ireland, it’s not exactly a dream destination. It rains most of the time, it’s cold and grey.”
Noah rubs his chin. “Well, it’s a long story?”
“I have time” I quickly sip my drink, embarrassed that I sounded too eager. Noah looks at me, sensing my embarrassment before telling me why he is here.
“I lost my dad when I was really young, my mum raised me by herself, she was originally from here and well when she passed away earlier this year she told me I had to come here, visit some places. So here I am!”
“I am so sorry for your loss,” I take his hand.
“It’s ok being here. I don’t understand why she never came back when my dad passed away?”
“Maybe she didn’t want to uproot your life,” I say.
Noah’s gaze lingers on me. “Yeah, maybe, so here I am with a list of places to visit and I have two weeks to do it. I only arrived last night and I do not know where to start?”
I smile at him. “Ok, well first our wee country is tiny. You could see it all in that time and have some spare time. So where is she sending you?” I enquire.
He reaches into his pocket and lifts out a piece of paper with all the places she specifically said he had to go to. Belfast Castle City Hall, Newcastle (Portaferry-Strangford route) Dunluce Castle, Barry’s Amusements, Whiterocks Beach, Ballintoy Harbour, Botanic Gardens, Giant’s Causeway, Carrick a rede, Mount Stewart. I look over the places in the letter, these are all places I grew up with. When I turn around, I realise just how close I am to him; I turn my head, not able to take my eyes off him. Noah leans over and I’m so sure he is going to kiss me. I pull back when I hear a voice I don’t recognise.
“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” I smile at the guy and let him take it.
“No, go on ahead, take it.”
I see the disappointment in Noah’s face. The moment has passed and deep down I’m gutted I didn’t get to find out how his lips tasted and felt. The moment is gone, I get back to our earlier conversation.
“Well, you’re going to need a car for your travels, have you rented one?”
He shakes his head, “No, I haven’t rented.”
I hand him back his list.
“Good luck with that one, some of these are quite remote, your mum must have loved the Antrim and North Coast. The majority of your list is that direction, nothing from the west at all. I have an idea and it’s going to sound mental considering we barely know each other.”
Noah looks at me, “Ok go!”
“I have a car, I know where all these places are, how about I help you on your quest and I can be your own little personal tour guide?” I excitedly offer.
“I couldn’t ask you to do that,” Noah declares.
I smile. “You didn’t, I offered, plus as luck would have it, I actually booked time off work. My plan was to get some Christmas shopping done. Relax and live on my sofa, but this could be fun. I live here so some of these places I haven’t even seen in years.”
Noah arches his eyebrow at me. “You’re serious? You really want to help me?” I simply nod my head at Noah.
“Thank you so much. In that case, Flic will you be my tour guide?”
I finish the rest of my drink and smile. “Noah, it would be my pleasure to help show you all the places your mother wanted you to visit. I might even throw some of my own into the mix.”
I am still a little jetlagged, which is why I’m standing in the first coffee shop I could find. Ordering my coffee, I turn to find a stunning girl who instantly catches my eye. I catch her looking at me and I can’t help smiling at her. I watch as the blush creeps up her neck; the barista calls her name and with that, she walks out the door never looking back, I’m busy watching her when a guy bumps into her, causing her to drop her coffee. She panics, trying to clean herself up. I quickly ask the barista for a large cappuccino and a pen. I get the cup and write my name and number on it.
I make my way outside, and the attraction is palpable between us. We chat for a few minutes and I ask her for directions to city hall. What she doesn’t know is I already know where it is, but I just want to keep talking to her.
I wait all day hoping to hear from her constantly checking my phone, but she never messages and I can’t help but feel a swell of disappointment. Not to sound arrogant, but it’s never happened before. Taking Flic’s advice, I go to the Christmas Market. Heading to the first beer tent, I find and head in for a drink. I’m people watching when I see the most beautiful blonde again. My heart hammers, it’s Flic. I feel like a magnet to her because she has a pull I can’t explain.
I watch as she gets to the bar and I don’t want to miss this opportunity. I walk up to her and gain her attention. She is the most beautiful woman I have seen, and what makes her different from the rest is that she doesn’t even know it. She invites me to sit with her and her friend. I can’t say no, I need more time with her, after a while, it’s just me and Flic left. She asks me why I’m here and I tell her why, but I hold back a huge part of the truth.
This girl is something else she offers to be my tour guide for my time here. She’s friendly, funny and likes me with no hidden agenda. I swear I feel my mum is looking down on me, pulling some strings here.
I have had a wild few years, some in which I can say my mum wasn’t particularly impressed with. She really wasn’t pleased with the women I was surrounded by, she wanted me to come here for soul searching or something. When the funeral was over and the will reading was done, it shocked me.
My mums will had come with two strict stipulations. Once I did as she wanted, I would become New York’s Hottest bachelor with billions in the bank. There was one doable condition and a second I was not happy with. I had to come here, visit the places on the list and find myself. I was an asshole, highly arrogant and a twat as she called me in the letter. It wasn’t a lie, but hearing it from my mother, well, I wasn’t exactly proud.
The second when the lawyer told me I thought what a joke! I took the letter and read and reread it, letting the words sink in.
To my darling son, I love you; you are my flesh and blood, but you have lost yourself caught up with elite socialites and loose women. This is not the future I had in mind for you, you have become arrogant, selfish and a bit of a twat. So I hope you do as I ask. If you don’t do as I ask, you will give up your right to your inheritance.
I wish for you to travel to where I was born and travel around to certain areas that I grew up in my childhood; the people are friendly and will welcome you with open hands and hearts. I hope this trip will allow you time for some soul searching and change the error of your ways. My second and most important condition is that from this letter reading, you have exactly one year to marry someone you are truly in love with. There will be no prenup allowed in place and no divorce allowed for a minimum of ten years. I hope you take this seriously; you need to grow up.
So choose with your heart, not your head. I failed you as a mother and let you away with your playboy ways. I am now asking please make me proud and start doing the right thing. Your womanising, extravagant spending and arrogant ways need to stop. You have heard my wishes, now please don’t disappoint me.
I love you always Noah
I watched as my mother’s lawyers took in my reaction, waiting for an impending blow-up. I struggled as the lawyers talked me through the terms of the will. While I sat dumbfounded questioning everything.
She couldn’t do this to me.
Why would she want this for me?