âIs Brett a close friend?â she asked.
âHeâs my brother-in-law.â
âOh, your wifeâs brother?â
âNo â my sisterâs husband.â
The music pounded away through the brief silence between them.
âNiamh, I want to apologise for yesterday â for losing my temper like that.â
âYou donât need to apologise,â she told him. âI met a lot of angry people yesterday. Itâs an understandable reaction to the circumstances.â
âYes. But I should know better. I work in HR, I know you were only doing your job.â
âDonât say any more.â She stopped him with a smile. âItâs forgotten, okay?â
His eyes held hers. âOkay.â
The crowd chose that moment to surge and she was pushed up against him. He reached out a hand to steady her. It was just a brief innocent touch but it sent shock waves through her body.
What is wrong with me? she thought for the second time that day and looked around to see where Brett was at with the beer. He was handing cash to the barman â heâd be back soon to act as a badly needed buffer between them.
âI feel a bit old for this place,â Scott remarked, looking around at the twenty-something crowd.
âMe too,â she admitted. âMind you, Lucinda seems to like it â¦ and apparently Chris, my husband, comes here sometimes.â
âDoes your husband work close by?â
âYes, heâs with one of the law firms.â
âOh, a lawyer.â
âYes, one of those, Iâm afraid!â
They had a quick laugh at the expense of all lawyers.
âHow about your wife? What does she do?â she asked, starting to relax a little.
âMy wife?â He seemed taken aback by the question. âWeâre separated, soon to be divorced.â
âOh, Iâm sorry, I didnât mean to ââ
âDonât worry about it.â
Niamh had another look for Brett. He was edging through the crowd, one step forward and two back.
âHeâs taking his time, isnât he?â Scott said, following her eyes to Brett. âI should have ordered two beers instead of one. I have the urge to get very drunk tonight.â
She giggled. âYou couldnât get drunk here if you tried. It takes too long to get served.â
His lips twitched in amusement. âProbably just as well. My little girl wakes at dawn â not good if you have a hangover.â
Niamh couldnât resist the opportunity to find out more about his home life. âDoes your child live with you, then?â
âYes â her mother isnât part of the family picture.â
Brett made it back with the beers before she could ask any more questions. He shouted over the music, âHey, this is a happening place!â
Scott and Niamh shared a smile; it seemed they were the only ones who felt out of place.
âWhatâs so funny?â Brett asked, looking from one to the other.
âPrivate joke,â Niamh told him.
He gave her an odd look and then muttered something about needing to get some cash from the ATM.
âIs he all right?â she asked, watching him dart through the crowds as if he was being chased.
âYeah. I suspect that, somehow or other, heâs come to the conclusion Iâm hitting on you â so heâs trying to make himself scarce,â Scott said with an embarrassed laugh.
âThatâs very considerate of him. Pity his efforts are wasted on this occasion.â Niamh raised the bottle of beer to her lips.
âItâs my sisterâs fault,â Scott explained. âSheâs obsessed with finding me a girlfriend and itâs rubbing off on Brett. The two of them need to be taught a lesson about interfering in other peopleâs love-lives.â
He started to talk about his family â Deb, his big sister, and Jenny, his little girl. Niamh