Brielle - Once Upon An Oceanside Town
to buckle but stood strong. Only one person used that nickname, only one person really knew what the nickname was about. Brielle turned, wanting to sink right into the fur of her coat and disappear forever. Her eyes locked with luminescent green ones. And Brielle could tell from the twinkle within them that it was Ronan and he was happy to see her. She wasn’t happy, but indulgent as she raked his figure with her eyes, drinking in the very sight of him. He was standing before her in a clean cut suit, his gnarly curls gelled back from a freshly shaven face.
“Ronan . . .” Brielle closed her eyes, his name on her lips sweet yet morbid. When she opened her eyes, he’d taken steps towards her. She took a few back. It was dangerous for him to be close. He was too close. She went rigid.
“What are you doin’ in London, Bennet?”
Ronan hesitated, sensing her utmost shock. He rubbed a hand against the back of his neck, and she remembered what his hands felt like against her skin. In the cold. In the rain. Calloused smoothness.
The awkwardness spread like a disease between the two, and Brielle wanted to scream. Ronan was never awkward. She wanted to ask so many questions, yet none managed to fall off of her tongue. Her cheeks stained a bright red, and she kept having to gulp down nervous bile. Only he was able to do these things to her, and it was not fair. She wanted none of it, none of him. George was waiting.
The busy London Street around them faded into the background, blurring into a large mound of grey, she could only see Ronan. Brielle hadn’t known emotions before Ronan.
He smiled crookedly. “You look . . . different. So different. Wow. Um-“
“It’s been a long time, Ronan.”
As if hearing her voice was a remedy to the awkward atmosphere, it was shunted aside when Ronan scooped her up in his arms and twirled her around. She screamed at first, out of fright, then out of excitement. She then was aware of him holding her. Just being encircled by his arms was enough to sedate Brielle. She let her head fall against his shoulder as he slowed.
“You still smell the same, though,” Ronan’s voice was a husky undertone against her earlobe.
Brielle had to force herself to break away from his embrace. She smiled gently, toying with her gloves. They stood a long time staring at each other, Ronan and Brielle seemed to make a habit of this, even when they were together. They would do nothing but lie underneath the stars and admire one another, familiarising themselves with every part of each other. She could see the planes of his face clear as day in her mind even a whole year without seeing him. It was a curse.
“I can’t get over how different you look, if it weren’t for all that staring at you back in the day, I’d say it wasn’t you.”
It was like he could read her mind. Brielle said nothing.
“I – I’m not saying it’s bad, you look amazing. In a different sort of way.”
“I’m not offended.” She offered, shaking as she pulled a cigarette from her purse and tried to push it into the holder. “Please, save your flattery for another day.” Any other day.
Ronan lit up the cigarette just as she nestled it within her red lips. Such a normal notion seemed to rouse many mixed feelings in her stomach. Brielle wondered if Ronan felt it too. She breathed out the smoke, averting her eyes. “Well, I’m expected somewhere. It was nice seeing you.”
When Brielle went to leave, Ronan caught her arm and swung her back into him. She looked up at him as if he were insane, when, in fact she was used to Ronan doing this. He was aggressive and liked to get what he wanted. It was one of the things that attracted her to him. He was never unkind or hurtful. His eyes were soft, speckles of forest green littered through his bright irises. “Have dinner with me tonight.”
“I have plans.”
“Bennet, look at me.”
Brielle wasn’t even aware that she’d looked away. Ronan tilted her chin upwards, he brushed a crisp lock of brunette hair back from Brielle’s face. She didn’t want to look at him. She couldn’t refuse him then.
“Just – Dinner?”
Brielle didn’t want to risk all she’d made for herself. She’d rekindled her relationships with her mother and father and George had accepted her back into his life. Even after all the trouble she’d caused them. She didn’t have long, the physician had said so. Why waste it trying to find something that just wasn’t there. But when she thought this way around Ronan, it seemed like she was cheating. She wanted the perfect life of laughter and babies, she wanted marriage, and to write a novel. An adventure novel based in all the places she would never be able to see. And she wanted to accomplish all these things at Ronan’s side, despite all the protesting in her mind. Her common sense said no, society said no.
She couldn’t keep falling back on Ronan, she couldn’t burden him with the news – not ever. But if they were to be together, it would be like trying to avoid the inevitable. To damn him to an eternity of hurt and longing.
She remembered his bewilderment in Pateo. At how he’d returned home to find her nestled in a blanket on her grandmother’s beach. How he’d refused to let her go when she said she didn’t want to see him anymore, and that he would never understand. He had sarcastically retorted that now she would probably just want to be friends. ‘Well no,’ he had said. ‘I don’t want to be friends. I can’t stand to be near you without really being with you.’