The cold weather in Birmingham was far colder than you expected it to be. The two layers of clothing didn’t seem to block out the cold wind from getting under your clothes. The cold was biting down on you; your lips were purple and your fingers and toes went numb. As you looked up, the fog covered the area of the neighbourhood. Droplets of rain sprayed on our face. In your hand, you held a vacancy. You wanted to apply for a job and you had to pay the rent since you moved to Birmingham from London. Your apartment was small but it was enough for a person to live in it.
“The Garrison Tavern.” You whispered.
You walked towards the door, shivering, hugging your coat around you as the wind blew. As you walked in, the smell of cigarettes and whisky hit your face. You out your purse on a table next to you. “We’re closed!” You heard a man from the back room say. “I’m here to apply for the job.” The man popped his head from behind the door with a confusing look on his face and walked out in front of you, towering over you. He didn’t utter a word. “I’m Maria Lawson…I’m here to apply for the job as a barmaid.” You handed him the vacancy and he began reading.
“Must’ve forgot to collect these bloody vacancies back. I’ve already gotten a woman to help me here.” He gave you back the vacancy. You felt embarrassed. All you wanted was a job to start your own life, to make a living. “But…an extra hand wouldn’t hurt. Welcome, Ms.Lawson.” He shook your hand and smiled. “Please call me Maria.” He smiled.
“Well Maria, you need to be careful here. Men that come in here are like bloody hounds and you’re the bone. A place like this is not for a woman.” You looked over his shoulder when you heard footsteps coming towards you. Harry stepped aside and a blonde woman came smiling. “Hello, I’m Grace.” She shook your hand and smiled. “Maria.” You replied.
“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. You see that small window there?” you turned around and followed his finger. “If a man opens it and he wants a drink, it’s always on the house.” You turned back around to face the man in front of you. “May I ask if there’s a reason?”
“They’re the Peaky Blinders…Shelbys. They’re the owners of this pub. I just work here. You don’t want to mess with ‘em.” You nodded in understatement. Harry didn’t give you many instructions to follow but to give the Peaky Blinders free drinks. His voice was somewhat scared when he uttered the words. Soon enough you started cleaning the tables and the floors while Grace helped.
Men started to enter the bar at 7 pm, some of them were half drunk even though they didn’t buy anything from the pub. “Scotch dear.” A man leant down over the counter as he ordered. You filled the glass half way and he didn’t hesitate to pick it up and gobble the liquor down. He handed you the money and asked for another one. “Bloody Hell Jack!” The man opened his arms wide open when a man entered the tavern. He ignored you completely except his shot which he gripped tightly in his hands.
“Excuse me.” You heard someone saying. You turned your head to face the window. His beautiful blue eyes locked into yours. you stomach flipped and your felt your heart stop. “I’d…uhh…” He looked away and tried to hide his smile. “There’s a bottle of wine underneath the counter. Would you mind handing it to me please?” You nodded and grabbed the black bottle of red wine in your hand. “You’re new here.”
“Yeah.” You answered. He got his hand out from the window to shake yours. “Thomas Shelby.” He smiled as he shook your hand.
“Maria Lawson.” You gave him the bottle; his hand brushed against your soft skin, making you shiver a bit. Again, his eyes met yours; you could feel yourself melt. “Come on Tommy! Where’s that fuckin’ wine?!” You were both snapped out of the moment when a man from inside the room where Thomas was, shouted out. “Well, it was nice to meet you Ms.Lawson.”
“Please call me Maria.” He gave you one last smile and closed the window as you turned away. All night long, your mind kept reminding you of that perfect moment. The moment when your eyes locked in his, the way he smiled at you, the feeling of your skin against his harsh skin.
When all the men left the tavern, you grabbed the wet cloth that was in the small sink and started wiping the tables. You were ready to drop. It was a busy night for your first night at the tavern. Grace started washing the dishes. The tavern was a mess but you wanted a job and you got one. You picked up the last few glasses and placed them on the counter. But a man was sitting next to the counter looking at you, with a half-smile on his face. Thomas Shelby.
“Do you-” You stopped in mid-sentence when a tall slender man walked into the pub. He was half drunk, swaying from side to side trying to find his balance.
A younger man was behind him laughing while chugging down on the bottle of booze. “I’m Arthur fucking Shelby!” He yelled out, laughing. He grabbed the younger man’s head under his arm and clutched. They were wearing the same clothes as Thomas so you thought they’re related. You looked back to Thomas smiling. He sighed and looked at the men. “That’s my brother and I guess you know his name now.” You both let out a light laugh. “And that’s my other brother, John Shelby.”
“Maria, tell them that the pub is-” Grace stopped in her tracks when she saw Thomas. Her eyes widened but there was a smile hidden behind them. “Hello, Thomas.” She said in a quiet voice. Thomas smiled at her and bowed his head. “Grace.”
“Do you want something?” Grace asked him as she moved towards the both of you. “I just wanted to talk to Harry. Is he here?” Grace shook her head. She reached out for her coat that hung on the coat hanger and threw her purse over her shoulder.
“Well, Maria I hope your first day was one to remember.”
“It sure was.”
“Good night Maria.” She paused for a moment and looked at Thomas with flirty eyes and a smirk.
“Good night Mr.Shelby.” She said in a smooth voice. Thomas forced a smile.
You looked over to Arthur and John who were sleeping on each other, snoring out loud. As soon as Grace opened the door, a cold gust of wind blew in the pub, making you shiver.
Thomas smiled at her but he immediately looked back at you. “Well Maria, it was nice meeting you.” Thomas got to his feet, put on his grey Ascot hat and popped a cigarette between his pink lips and lot it up. His blue eyes were set ablaze when he lit up the lighter.
“It was a pleasure meeting you too Mr.Shelby.” Thomas let out a light laugh. “It’s Thomas.” You couldn’t help but smile. You went behind the counter to get your things when Thomas asked you a question.
“Do you need a lift?” You looked up and gave him a sincere smile.
“It’s okay. I can walk.”
“But it’s cold outside.” His said in a rush. You bit your lower lip to try and hide the smile. “Sure but I think you need help carrying your brothers.”
Thomas walked up to his snoring brothers and slapped his brothers on their cheeks. They woke up groaning and cussing. “Fuck Tommy! You stopped me from me bloody dream! I was dreaming about that new hot barmaid.” Thomas pressed the bridge of his nose in embarrassment when Arthur saw you looking at him.
The bottle of champagne went back on Arthur’s lips as he sipped the last few drops. Arthur and John dragged their feet to the car while you locked up the tavern.
The whole way to your small apartment was quiet. You sat in front next to Thomas while Arthur and John were in the back throwing up. As you arrived in front of your apartment, Thomas’ warm hand landed on yours. “I’m sorry about them. They’re always drunk.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll have to get used to it now.” Thomas chuckled; his hand pressed yours. You opened the car door when you heard Thomas say “Good night Maria.” You looked at him; his beautiful eyes shone brightly when the moonlight hit them.
“Good night Thomas.” There was a moment of silence between the two of you. You both looked down to your hands. “I..uhh…I’m going to need my hand back now.”
“Right right.” Thomas blinked fast. “Good night Maria.”
Tommy shook his head when he went to knock on your door and
it swung open. Despite his insistence to lock it even during the day you never
did, the only people who associated with you knew the Shelby’s well, so naturally
you assumed no one to troublesome would bother you.
“(Y/N)?” He called and removed the whistled kettle that sat
on the oven.