Author Charlie Richards
Love at First Sight?
“Miach, welcome back! How was yer trip to the Americas?”
The boisterous call had Buan dropping his pint of ale back to the scarred tabletop. He turned and craned his head, looking for Miach. Sure enough, the man stood a few steps inside the pub wearing the fakest grin Buan had ever seen plastered across his features. Growing up together, Buan could plainly see that Miach had come to the pub to do one thing, drink until he forgot something.
Lifting a hand, he hailed his brother. “Get yer ass over here, Miach,” Buan ordered.
Miach flashed him a grateful look before waving to the other speakers and making his way as quickly as possible to Buan’s table.
“Ye look like ye could use a pint, little brother,” Buan stated. Before Miach could reply, Buan lifted his hand and caught Old Farnham’s attention. Farnham Avery had owned and operated the pub since it’d been passed down by his own father over thirty years ago, and Buan fully expected to have it passed on to him eventually.
“We’ll need a couple more over here,” Buan told his father. Farnham waved in acknowledgement and turned to pour their drinks.
“Thanks,” Miach muttered.
“When did ye get in?” Buan asked.
“And yer here already?” Buan frowned and stared at Miach. His brother didn’t love the pub like Buan did and had spent the last week in the United States at a marketing conference. That his brother had come to the pub on his first day back meant something. Buan straightened in his chair. “Ye met someone,” he whispered. He knew he'd gotten it in one when Miach blanched and his lips pressed into a thin line.
Two mugs plunked onto the table in front of them, interrupting any response Miach would have made. “I’d know that look anywhere,” the old barkeeper said sagely. “Ye’re heart-sick. Who is she, son?”
Buan just managed to refrain from rolling his eyes. “It wouldn’t be a she, Da. Miach fancies men, remember?”
Farnham shrugged. “I thought that was a phase.”
“No,” Buan stated firmly, trying to be patient with their father. He knew a lot of people felt that way. “Fancying men isn’t a phase. It’s the way his brain is wired.”
Farnham snorted. “Whatever ye say, Buan.” He turned to Miach. “So, then. Ye spent a week with an American lad and fell in love?”
Buan’s brow lifted when Miach shook his head. He would have bet his last Euro that their da was right. Miach’s next words surprised Buan further.
“I didn’t spend the week with him, just last night.”
He frowned. “And he put that look in yer eyes?” At Miach’s frown, Buan added, “The look that says ye believe the sun will never shine again. What happened?”
Miach gulped a long swallow of his ale before letting out a sigh. His eyes took on a faraway look, and Buan realized his brother was remembering the night before. A bittersweet smile curved Miach’s lips. “I finally got the nerve to check out this club that another person at the conference recommended to me. I hid in the shadows at a table and watched the other men dance. When I returned to me table after getting a fresh drink, I discovered someone had taken it over. He seemed to be doing the same thing I was, just sitting and watching, so I asked if I could join him.”
He grinned for a second, obviously reliving that conversation. “It took some work, but I finally convinced him I wasn’t just out for a quick…” Miach paused and glanced at Farnham, “Well, I wasn’t out for a quick hook up.”
“It was tough with the music so loud, but we got to talking. He’d been dumped a couple weeks ago by his boyfriend of six months.” At that Miach glared, and even though Buan had never met these men, he felt his own ire rising. Miach drained his ale and handed the glass to Farnham.
The older man rose from the table, and Buan appreciated that he’d joined them. Everyone in the bar knew that if Old Farnham was at a table, only bother them if invited. Their father had always taken an active, supportive interest in his son’s lives, even when too busy to get out from behind the bar for long, or faced with his son’s attraction that he could never even come close to understanding.
Farnham returned, spreading fresh pints in front of all of them. He waved for Miach to continue. Miach did. “Eventually we went out to an all-night diner near the club. We talked for hours,” he said. “I could have stared at that man’s face, listened to the way he spoke, forever and never tired.” He glanced between them. “We left the diner in the wee hours of the morning. It gave me just enough time to check out of me hotel and catch me flight.” He took another long drink, his eyes glazed as he remembered. “He was kind enough to drive me.” Flushing, he stared into his drink for several seconds. “His kiss good-bye was sweeter than the freshest soda bread.”
Buan exchanged looks with Farnham, knowing his father also realized what high praise that was. Miach loved soda bread. Farnham’s hand on the table drew everyone’s attention. “Well, who is he, boy? When will ye see him again?”
Miach’s smile turned introspective. “His name is Morgan. He has short blond hair and the eyes the color of the darkest chocolate. He stands five foot nine, and has as arse I’d like to…”
“Waxing poetic already, are ye?” Farnham cut in after clearing his throat. “I may need another pint or two to understand all that,” he added with a kind smile.
Miach froze for a second before letting out a snort. From the rosy glow rising up his neck, Buan knew he wasn’t the only one grateful that their father had stopped Miach's ramblings. There was only so much you really wanted to share with your father, even under the influence of a good pint of ale.
Too bad Miach’s smirk didn’t quite meet his eyes. “Then you’d best get another round. I’m just gettin’ warmed up, old man.”
“I’ll give you old man,” Farnham grumbled good-naturedly. He rose to get them another round.
“He’s not coming out,” Miach said suddenly. “I guess I’m to blame for that.”
Buan frowned. “What do ye mean?”
“I didn’t really invite him,” Miach admitted. “Too afraid of rejection, I guess.” He shrugged. “I gave him me card and told him if he ever made it to the Emerald Isle to look me up and I’d show him around.”
Hating to see his brother hurting, Buan rested his hand on Miach’s shoulder and squeezed. “Who knows? Maybe he’ll surprise ye.”
Miach scoffed. “Right.” He rose from the table and downed the last swallow of ale. “I’m gonna hit the loo. I’ll get the next round.”
Buan watched Miach disappear behind a door. Farnham set fresh mugs on the table, and Buan looked up at his father. “I’ve never seen him this torn up over a guy.”
Farnham shook his head. “Neither have I. He’s really in love.”
He couldn’t stop his snort. “In love? He’s known the guy all of one day.”
“Don’t believe in love at first sight, son?”
“No,” Buan replied emphatically.
“It’s what happened to me with yer mother,” Farnham reminded. “Maybe…”
His broken sentence drew Buan away from his thoughts. He glanced up at Farnham before following the older man’s gaze to the front door. “Well, well… How much ye wager that’s…”
“No bet,” Farnham said, cutting him off and grinning down at him. “Give me a moment.”
Buan watched as his father weaved between patrons and hailed the nervous looking young man standing just inside the door. As Farnham drew the guy closer, Buan could just make out their conversation.
“Aye,” Farnham said, “I can give ye directions.” He led the man to Buan’s table. “This is me son, Buan. Have a seat. He’ll keep the local’s at bay,” he added with a wink. “I’ll be back with a bit of paper.”
The man, still looking lost, smiled tentatively. Buan gave him a grin and slid a pint of ale toward him. “Ye look like ye could use a drink, friend,” he said. “My da will be right back. Yer American, aye?”
After a tentative sip, the stranger nodded. “Yes.”
“First time in Ireland?” Buan asked. After another nod, he grinned. “How long ye stayin’?”
“I’m not sure,” the other man replied. “It really depends on… well…”
Buan had to admit, the embarrassed flush really did make the guy too cute.
“Morgan!” Miach’s gasped word from a few feet away confirmed what Buan had figured. This handsome young lad was the man his brother seemed to have fallen for. “What are ye doing here?”
Morgan rose slowly, the red blush deepening even as his gaze ate up the sight of Miach. “I… I… Well, you said…”
Buan shook his head. His damn fool little brother seriously needed help. “Sit yer ass down, Miach,” he commanded. “Obviously yer American friend was struck by the same lightning bolt as ye were,” he added, winking playfully at a shocked Morgan. He rose from the table and pulled the still stunned, and now blushing, Miach to the table and forced him to sit across from Morgan. He handed him a mug of ale and growled, “Don’t fuck this up. He came all this way to see ye.”
Miach tore his gaze away from Morgan long enough to give him a wide-eyed look and a jerky nod. Smiling, Buan squeezed his shoulder and then sauntered away from the table. He went behind the bar, helping his father catch up on orders. Ten minutes later, he and his father stood side by side and stared at Miach and his, from the way they held hands over the table, very soon-to-be-lover.
“See. I told ye it was love at first sight.”
Scoffing softly, Buan smirked at his father. “I still don’t believe in that.”
Farnham shrugged and smiled back at him. “It runs in the family, son. Just wait. It’ll happen to ye soon enough.” Before turning to help a customer, his father gave him a knowing smile that had a shiver running up Buan’s spine.