Chapter 23 : Very Bad Decisions

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Raul's POV

The Irish-style pub is always cheerily lit, the brass trimmings of the bar gleaming under the overhead lights. It's moderately busy, as it usually is at that time on weeknights, but not loud or boisterous. The clientele here is generally older, and I assume it's because young people prefer whatever is new and hot in the bar scene. I, on the other hand, like a place with history, and at 86 years old, Finlay's has a lot of it.

Nico is waiting for me at a booth along the stone wall on the far side of the pub. His usual cheerful demeanor is gone, he sits looking contemplative and worried. A large glass of foamy red Smithwick's is on the table, untouched. I slide into the seat across the table from him with a weary sigh.

"Hey, primo, you look tired," Nico says. Despite himself, he looks concerned as he looks me over. "You didn't come straight from the office, did you?"

"I did," I say. "I had a few things I needed to take care of."

"Did you have dinner?"

I chuckle. "I look that bad, huh? No, I guess I forgot." A server appears and hands me a menu.

"Try the cottage pie," Nico says.

I ask for two servings and a Guinness. After the server leaves, I say, "You look like you have something on your mind."

Nico takes a moment to reply and I know he's contemplating how to break something unpleasant to me.

"You and Yandra are seeing each other," I say.

"What if we are?" Nico's eyes flash at me. "Will you leave her alone?"

"I'm happy to."

"Is that why you came to see her the other day?"

"I came to see you. I received a text message asking me to drop by your place." My tone is casual, as though we're chatting about something irrelevant. It's clear that my cousin is here to have an argument with me, perhaps even a confrontation. When I'm expecting hostility, I tend to adopt an attitude of mild apathy.

Especially if I'm not sure there's any way I can get through this conversation without looking like an ass.

"Why would Yandra ask you to see me?"

"She didn't. Well, she did. But she sent the message from your phone. I'm guessing it's your work phone, the one you left at the apartment. As to why..." I sigh. This is what I've been dreading— having to explain to my cousin that the woman he's besotted with is trying to get into my bed. To get back into my bed. "Maybe you should ask her."

"I'm asking you."

It's at that moment that the server comes back with the drinks and slices of beef pie. I thank the young man and he leaves.

"You and Yandra aren't dating," I say, picking up a fork.

Nico doesn't reply. He picks up his beer and takes a long drink.

I help myself to a bite of my dinner. Perfect. "Let's face it, primo, you have no say on whether or not Yandra and I see each other."

"So you admit you're cheating on Kate?" He glares at me, but the look in his eyes is more hurt than angry. "I know you've always been a player, Raul, but I never thought you were dishonorable."

"I never cheated on Kate. Not with Yandra, not with anybody." I lift another forkful of beef. "That's all I'm saying about the matter until I finish these two pies." I push the second plate toward him. "Do you want one?"

He shakes his head. Grabbing his glass of beer, he drains it.

I take my time eating. The beef pie was definitely a good idea, as I tend to make very bad decisions on an empty stomach. Kate kept a drawer in my desk stocked with granola bars, nuts, and chocolate for when I got peckish between meals. I'll have to remind Olivia to do the same.

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