“A BURGER?” yelled Jenny, “After you paid for a first class meal and wine, all he did was buy a sodding Big Mac?” sarcastically followed by, “Hold on to him, he’s a keeper, Ruth!”
“No, no, Jenny,” said Vikki. “It’s a start, and the toiletries and stuff . . . that’s good right?”
“A razor and some dirty Y-fronts hardly say commitment. Least of all that marriage is on the horizon,” Jenny snapped. “So what else has he promised?”
It had taken all my self-control not to open up with my next news. “Tonight, Justin is coming to Ester’s birthday dinner.”
“Look I know you hate Justin, but tonight can you make an effort for me please, Jenny. Anyway, Danny says—” Jenny spat out her cappuccino. Vikki began to choke on her blueberry muffin.
“Yankee Doodle Danny?” questioned Vikki, as if she had incorrectly heard me.
“He popped by my office on Monday, we had lunch together,” making it sound as simple as a sandwich in the office, when in fact it was a little more than that.
This had been our third lunch date, but today Danny had chosen the restaurant. A cosy table in the window at Brown’s. Danny had taken the liberty of ordering before I arrived. Smoked salmon with horseradish crème fraiche to start followed by a grilled chicken breast with prosciutto, taleggio, and basil oil, and salad. Courteously saying he had ordered two glasses of Chablis rather than a bottle. Afterwards we took a leisurely stroll down by the Thames, both deciding it was too late to now go back to work. We spent another hour in a tiny coffee shop in Covent Garden, before Danny walked me to the tube station, arranging lunch for the same time next week.
I could not stress the next point strongly enough. “We’re going to have a platonic friendship.”
“Is that what you kids call it nowadays?” mocked Jenny.
Disregarding her comment, I continued, “Danny has just gone through a whole commitment thing. Admittedly his didn’t turn out,” I said, filling them in on the whole Maria saga.
“But, he says this is a good start for me and Justin. At least he is making an effort, however small it is.”
“And Justin is okay with this companionable relationship with a man you’ve not told him you had sex with?” enquired Vikki.
“Well, I haven’t actually mentioned him to Justin just yet. I thought I would break Danny in gently.”
“From all accounts, you’ve already done that,” sneered Jenny.
“And pray tell, how in the world are you going to do that? You’re hardly the world’s best liar, Ruth.”
I performed my next move like a true thespian. Nonchalantly, I picked up two sachets of sugar and dramatically flicked them with my fingers, “I sort of introduced him to the girls at the office as an old friend. Not very well, I must admit.” Explaining the mix up in names. “We thought it more convincing to carry the story on. So tonight at dinner, if I mention Danny, will you act as though you know him?”
Vikki took my hand. “You know I think Yankee Doodle is good for you. He’s bringing out a whole new Ruth I’ve never seen before, and I’m beginning to like her. What do you think?” She turned to Jenny.
“You know me, I call a spade a spade.” This was embarrassingly true. Jenny’s Yorkshire bluntness had indeed caused many heated confrontations over the years, in shops, nightclubs, and restaurants. It was hard to believe she was a guest relations manager at one of London’s five-star hotels. “To be honest, Ruth, Justin is a prick. He’s as good as a twig holding up a building: snaps under pressure. Mark my words, it will all end in tears.”
“Jenny!” Vikki shrieked.
“Stop being a Southern softy, Vikki, and strap one on. Just admit it, you feel the same.” Looking over at Vikki to see if this was true, she kept her eyes firmly locked on Jenny. “And I’ll tell you something else for free.” Like I am going to pay her to abuse my boyfriend. “If he turns up tonight, I’ll run around Camden Lock naked. As sure as eggs are eggs, you’ll be dateless again tonight, Ruth.”
Ruth Jones appears to have it all. Great job, wonderful friends and a boyfriend any woman would kill for. Good looking and mysterious, Justin seems like a dream come true - until it occurs to Ruth that he's unwilling to commit to moving their relationship forward. He persists in making plans and breaking plans without thought, to the point her work colleagues think Justin is a mere figment of her imagination.
So, when Ruth finds herself once again at a loose end and after having little too much to drink, she wakes up in the arms of the average-looking New Yorker, Danny and decides it's best for all concerned that their dalliance is kept a secret. It isn't long before she runs into Danny again, and from that moment on, the two of them strike up a friendship. Danny offers to fill in as Ruth's date for any social occasions that happen to crop up while Justin is away for work...as friends, of course.
I found myself unable to put this book down the moment I started reading it. Justin is Ruth's perfect match on the surface, but as we peel back the layers, all is not what it seems. This story is about being true to oneself, discovering love and friendship in unexpected places, and finding the one who makes your heart whole. My favorite scene? When Danny meets Ruth's family. Brilliantly funny. I also loved Ruth's brazen but lovable friend, Vikki.
Great story with a wonderful British wit.
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About L.J Harris
L.J. HARRIS is a mother of teenage twin boys who she loves with all her heart. Her family is her life, her soul, and the very reason she gets out of bed every day. Coming a close second to her family is her writing.
She only just discovered a passion for writing in the past five or so years. She'd always written little poems in birthday cards for family members, but that was as far as her writing aspirations went...until she decided to write poems and give them to family members as homemade gifts.
It was then a spark was lit, and ever since, she hasn't been unable to switch off the urge to write.
After a close family member fell ill, she began questioning what she wanted and searching for answers. Unable to sleep one night, she sat up and typed out her feelings on the laptop. Her husband read what she'd written and encouraged her to write more. It was then she knew she wanted to share her thoughts with others. She began with writing what she knew--her life story, but couldn't get into it. Instead, she decided to write about something not based on fact, but fiction, and wrote a dream sequence which she showed to her family. They encouraged her to expand on it, and she hasn't stopped since.
L.J. Harris discovered that as much as enduring pain, loss, betrayal, or any other negative thing in our lives can be devastating, if she hadn't experienced them for herself, she not only wouldn't have found some lifelong friends, she doubts she would have been able to write the feelings of anguish and loss that some of her characters have had to endure.
L.J. has been previously published and has shared several online stories and looks forward to continuing to share her work.
L. J. Harris can be found at: