"I'm very pleased to meet you Brian." Okay, okay. That might have been excessive. After all I'd thrown my phone at the guy's head but after all the swearing and abuse a little courtesy probably wouldn't go astray.
"Likewise." There he went fiddling with his ring again.
"So maybe you should put my number into what I assume would be your fully functioning phone and you can call me to get my cousins insurance details." There I was, babbling again. Brian gave me a strange inscrutable look. Oh god. Did he think I was chatting him up? Not that I wouldn't, he was hawt, but I really wasn't at that moment.
"Sorry. Shit. Unless you want to give me your lawyers number? Not that I'm implying you're a litigious American because I know that that's just a stereotype. Although my dad, who is an American sued his boat builder for putting in the wrong type of keel, but anyone would do that you know? No one wants to die at sea." It was as though I couldn't stop myself. Inane babble just flowed out of my mouth like lava from an Icelandic volcano. Yeah that fucker had left me trapped in Tromso a few years back. Norway is bloody expensive!
"No more of a stereotype than us being gun toting rednecks..." he raised an eyebrow at me. Shit was the dampness of the grass soaking into my knickers or vice versa?
"Well to be fair my dad, already established to be an American, has been known to shoot cane toads on more than one occasion."
"A feral species of toad introduced to Australia by mistake. Much like my family." I scrubbed my hands across my face I really was going to fall asleep in the middle of this cemetery. I needed to wind shit up soon.
"You're a toad?" Was that laughter? Was he laughing at me? I tried to ignore the tiny burst of warmth in the centre of my chest because damn it, I was such an approval seeker and his laughter at my lame joke fed my addiction.
"Based on my behaviour today? Yeah, probably."
The sound of giggling drifted across the turf. I opened my eyes and turned on to my side to see three girls, probably mid-twenties looking our way. They all wore some kind of freaky bat t-shirt that simultaneously made me bemoan the unoriginality of the youth of today, give me a break I was over thirty it was my privilege to think that way, and stirred a memory in the dark recesses of my dissolute youth.
I heard a sigh behind me and flipped back around to look at Brian.
"You know them?" I asked. Now that I looked more carefully they were mostly focused on him and were doing that weird kind of step bob thing people did when they were trying to decide whether or not to do something.
"Nope." He popped the P.
"Are you some kind of weird famous on Instagram cemetery caretaker or something? Maybe that's where I know you from because I spend a stupid amount of time on Instagram and I'm going to be honest, this cemetery isn't that great." He looked at me in wide eyed astonishment. "Um, but I'm really glad that my cousin Cathy, who's car I smashed into yours, arranged for my brother to be buried here. So sorry if you are a famous on Instagram caretaker." Bloody hell. You'd have thought that tired as I was my tongue would have run out of steam by now.
"I'm not a famous on Instagram caretaker." It wasn't a smirk nor was it a smile but it was hot.
"Are you sure? They're looking at you like they're stoned as fuck and you're a bag of Doritos."
He laughed out loud at that. I wanted to jump him and that meant it was time to get back to Cathy's to get my delirium under control with some sleep. Although her daughter Harper was most likely to use my limp and jetlagged body as a trampoline again. She had the night before because three year olds were cruel like that.
"Look, sorry once again for going all crazy on you there for a bit. I truly can only plead jetlag as my excuse. Take my number and either use it yourself to get the insurance details or give it to your lawyer. I'm beyond caring. I apologise for keeping you from whoever it was you were visiting here. I need to go before I strain my tongue with all the shit that's currently falling out of my mouth." Goddammit! I couldn't even extricate myself from the situation without blurting out some kind of stream of consciousness shit.
Brian stood up brushing off his jeans. He extended a hand in my direction. I just stared at it until he gave me a 'what the fuck are you doing' kind of shrug and then I grabbed it as he pulled me to my feet. The callouses on his fingertips felt rough against the skin of my inner wrist. His hand engulfed mine and although I have long fingers his made mine look like stubs. He released me and slid a hand into his pocket producing a phone. He tapped at it quickly before handing to me saying, "Put in your number."
I took it from him and had begun to type when a thought hit me, "Shit I'm sorry, you can't even call me straight away to check I haven't given you a fake number!"
That earned me a chuckle. "That'd be a new one." Arrogant much? Obviously he was hot and he'd have to be an idiot not to realise it but wow, he'd never been turned down? Pffft.
"Hey Brian?" I looked up at him as he handed him back the phone.
"Yeah Stephanie?" he answered as he glanced at my contact details.
"I'm really sorry I backed into you. You were right, I really shouldn't have been driving after so little sleep. I should have waited." God, it killed me to admit he was right. Admitting I was wrong was way out of my comfort zone although repeated exposure to the process during my break-up with Eli should have given me some level of tolerance for it.
"He was your brother right?" Brian offered a sympathetic smile. I nodded and he continued, "I get that then. Sometimes you just need to see them, even if you can't see them if you know what I mean, just see some symbol of them." He shook his head like he was trying to clear his thoughts. "So I guess I'm saying I understand why you needed to be here. Sorry I was harsh."
"Well I'm sorry I threw my phone at your head," there was no way he was going to get in the last apology.
"Okay, thanks, that was uncalled for," he grinned.
I rolled my eyes. "I'm just gonna go." I stomped toward the car and grabbed for the door handle.
"Uh Stephanie?" his voice came from behind me. I turned to look at his laughing face and then turned back to the car and face palmed.
"Fuck! Wrong side of the car again!" This time I did the adult thing and stalked around to the driver's side door. "I'll leave you to your visiting," I said over my shoulder to him as he watched me with unholy amusement.
"Nah, I'm going to get out of here too," he gave a side-eye to the group of girls who still stood off in the distance giggling and watching him, "talking to you seems to have cleared all the shit that sent me here from my brain for the moment."
"You're welcome?" Was I pleased by that? It didn't sound entirely complimentary, more like the shit in my life is small fry compared to your levels of crazy. I slid into the car with an awkward wave, started it and took a deep breath as I checked the gear, because wouldn't that have been perfect? Me reversing into his car again? I yelped at the knock on the window and turned to see his smirking face leaning in toward the glass. I powered open the window but didn't say a word. He waggled his phone at me and said, "I'll be using this number," before he strode off in the direction of his own car.
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Lonely and TiredFanfiction
Dear God Series - 1 A visit to her brother's burial site sets Stephanie on a collision course with her past. A lot of things have changed since the last time she saw Brian. Are either of them ready to look toward the future? Fan Fiction Fun