Chapter 7

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Kyle had just got back from an afternoon run around the city walls when the message came through. He got messages daily, most of which he didn't respond to. He heard his phone bleep, ignored it, and headed for the shower. He had more important things to think about than dating. Like how he was going to afford the rent on his apartment now that he was out of work.

The tepid water felt refreshing against his sweaty body. Although summer was drawing to a close, it was still hot in the city. He stood under the water for fifteen minutes. "I can't afford to do this much longer," he thought. "I won't be able to pay my water bill, unless I get a job. And fast."

When Kyle walked away from the wedding with Ruby, her father had terminated his employment with immediate effect. What was worse though, was the fact that Steve was one of the most influential men in the industry. When he had said he was going to make sure Kyle never worked in the industry again, he had meant it. Every office Kyle had applied to had turned him down. Even a few in Manchester. He didn't know what Ruby's father had said, but it was sufficient enough to make sure no one wanted to employ him.

He walked out of the shower and dried himself. "I'm going to have to look further afield. Leave York, go down south, probably. But until then, I need to get money. Bar work, factory work, shop work, I'll just have to do anything." He went into his bedroom and put on a T-shirt and shorts. He lay on the bed and picked up his phone.

"OK, let's see who it is this time." He clicked on the message and opened it. The first thing he looked at was the woman's photo. "Oh wow," he thought. "She's cute, and...she'd like to meet up." He searched for more information on her, but there was little. Her profile just said that she was living in York and was interested in meeting men.

"Why not?" thought Kyle. "She's a lot more attractive than some of the others who have contacted me. And anyway, it's not as if I'm looking for love. She might be just the right person to have a bit of fun with."

"Sure," he wrote back. "When is good for you?"

He closed the app and opened up a job search site. He was scrolling down a list when a message came through. He looked at it. "Ruby," he thought. "Again."

Since the breakup, Ruby had been messaging him regularly. Most of the messages were pleas to meet up, to talk about things, to fix things. To tell him that she forgave him for what had happened, and that of course, it was fine to live together in the village outside York. He didn't need to move in with her parents. But he knew they were lies. She was just trying to get him back. As soon as they were back together, she would change again, he was sure of it. So, he had been ignoring her messages, which made her even keener. It seemed like she was in denial over the whole thing. That he had walked away from the wedding because he had cold feet or something. She was also trying to win him back by writing messages like "Daddy said you can have your job back if we get back together." Those were the messages that stung Kyle. He was desperate for a job, and the thought that he wouldn't work in his field again unless he moved, upset him.

His phone rang. "This better not be Ruby," he thought. He looked at the caller ID and answered it.

"Hi Mum."

"Hello love, I was just wondering how you were getting on."

"Well, things could be better."

Kyle's parents had been keeping a respectful distance since he had cancelled the wedding. They had been due to travel down from Edinburgh the day before, and Kyle's phone call, telling them not to bother, had come as a shock to them both, and his two younger brothers, both of whom were married, one with children.

"I'd come and see you, but I thought it best to give you some space. You're thirty-five, not a child. If it was Greg I might have come down, because he's only twenty-eight, and a bit delicate. But you, well you're a grown man now, aren't you? And you know what you are doing."

"Yeah, I know what I'm doing."

His mother paused. "No regrets?"

"About Ruby? None whatsoever. About my job? Yeah, I have regrets there. I need to find a job, but her father seems to have taken care of that."

"You mean he found you one?"

"I mean he's doing everything in his power to make sure I don't find one."

"Oh love. Come back to Edinburgh. You'll get a job up here. What's keeping you in York now that you're not with Ruby anymore?"

Kyle sighed. What was keeping him in York?

"I don't know Mum. Going back to Edinburgh seems like I failed somehow."

"Don't be daft. Coming back home where your family and friends are, where you'd get a job, there's nothing wrong with that. It's the sensible thing to do. Not that I can tell you what to do. You're thirty-five. A grown man."

"That's the second time you've said that," said Kyle. "I know I'm a grown man, and that I should have sorted myself out by now. I don't need reminding."

"Oh love, I didn't mean it like that. You know what I meant."

Kyle knew exactly what she meant. Her other sons were both happily married and moving on in their careers. One was a policeman and the other worked for the government. His mother was proud of her three sons and what they had achieved. She enjoyed telling people that her three sons all had careers of which they could be proud. And now, here was her eldest son, suddenly single and practically unemployable in his field of expertise.

"I'll think about it. I might have no choice but to leave York if I can't find anything. But for the immediate future, I need to find something here and now. Something that will pay the bills while I'm thinking what to do."

"Do you want me to come down and do anything?"

Kyle smiled. "No, I can look after myself. But thanks anyway. How's Dad?" he asked, keen to change the conversation.

"He's alright. Just spends most of his time in the garden now that he's retired. He's always got his fingers in soil."

"How is he about...you know...what happened?"

"Well, he doesn't talk much. He was surprised, of course, but I think he just wants you to do what's best for you. We all do."

"And Greg and Simon are OK?"

"Yes, they're OK. I thought one of them would have called you. Don't forget it's little Sarah's birthday in a few weeks. She'll be five. We're having a little party. I hope you can make it."

"I'll make the party if I can."

"Oh she'd love it if Uncle Kyle came. We could keep it quiet, so it would be a surprise. Aww! I can just see her little face!"

Kyle smiled. "I'll see. I have no idea what my life will be like in a few weeks, but if I can get up there, I will."

"If you're struggling for money...."

"No, I'm not struggling for money." Kyle cut his mother off before she could offer to pay his train fare back up to Edinburgh.

"I'm fine. And I will be fine."

He said goodbye to his mother, and saw the notification from the dating app.

"How about Friday night? 8pm? The Blue Bar?"

"Sure," typed Kyle. "See you there. I'll be standing at the bar."

He pressed send and then opened up the job search siteagain.

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