Alla Prima- Chapter 2
“So, wait, what time are we going to dinner?”
“4:30, Marsali said.”
“Are we planning on getting a senior citizen’s discount?”
“She said she wanted to give us plenty of time afterward to get ‘piss drunk.’ Her words.” The phrase ‘piss drunk’ sounded wrong coming out of Mary’s sweet, teacher voice.
Claire cringed. She was not so young as she used to be, and being ‘piss drunk’ did not entice her as it once did.
“Ugh. All right. Come to my place at 4. We’ll ride together.”
“Okay. I’ve got to go. Got to pick up the small children from lunch. See you, Claire!”
Claire hung up the phone with a sigh. She was not particularly thrilled with the evening’s planned activities. But, she felt it her duty as friend of the bride and cousin of the groom to make an appearance at all wedding events, including this bachelorette party. Even if her wallet didn’t agree.
She gazed out into the empty lecture hall. Vacant seats echoing the beating of her heart. Was she so lonely that this sight should sadden her?
It was more than that, she knew. Visions of red curls filled her mind, paint stained hands dancing across a page, dancing across her body…
She wouldn’t get to see him today. Her artist.
Had this stranger become so integral to her happiness?
She was afraid of the answer.
Whiskey. Her eyes. They were whiskey. Amber. Resin. Her hair the bark, her eyes the liquid amber that flowed out of it.
He swirled his own a liquid amber, contemplating colors. Brown and yellow definitely. Maybe some orange? Not too much, though…
“What’s wrong, Jamie?” He was surprised to see that his brother had crept up behind him. “Yer staring at that glass like its telling ye secrets.”
Jamie couldn’t tell him the truth: that he was fantasizing about some woman in the park. He would never live that one down.
“Ach, just tired. I woke up early. To paint, ye ken? The lighting— “
“I gotcha.” Willie was as thrilled about the mechanics of painting as Jamie was about the hardware of a computer. “I invited a couple lads. Just Rupert, and Angus, and Ian, if Jenny’ll let him.” The mention of their sister brought a smile to Jamie’s face. They were thick as thieves growing up, and he missed her greatly. But she and her husband Ian had been expanding their family rapidly, which kept her busy. He usually only saw her once a week, for Sunday dinner.
“Weel, Rupert will sure bring the good times.” Jamie glanced around the pub, The Usual Place. It was the Fraser men’s favorite, and was unusually quiet fir a Friday night, save for a few straggling drunks and a small group of women tucked in a dark corner.
“Aye, they should be here anytime. I told them 8:30…” Willie craned his neck, scanning the large room for their friends.
“Dinna fash. When Rupert and Angus show up, we’ll ken it.”
Claire pulled at the hem of her dress, trying to stretch it. It was an older dress, worn during the wild days of cheap liquor and strangers’ lips. Since then, her hips had rounded considerably, and it felt like her arse was showing with each step.
“Where are we going, exactly?” Claire wondered to the bride-to-be. Marsali flipped her corn-silk hair, and turned around.
“It’s called The Usual Place. It’s nothing special, just a regular pub. But the drinks are cheap, so we can get in the right state o’ mind for the rest of the night!” She twirled, her silver dress sparkling under the florescent street lamps.
“Weel, I hope we get there soon! My heels keep getting stuck in the grates…” Geillis bellowed from behind, waddling as if she were in quicksand. “I dinna ken why we couldna get a cab…”
“We’re here!” Marsali led her ladies-Claire, Joan, Mary, Geillis, and Louise-into the dim pub.
Jamie heard them before he saw them. Always one to make an entrance, Rupert flung open the doors with a mighty bellow.
“FRASERS!” He sauntered to them with the cockiness of a man that knew he was the biggest in the room. Which he probably was. Behind him trailed two smaller men- Ian and Angus. “We hear ye’ve pleased another man today.”
“Why does everything that comes out of yer mouth sound filthy?” Jamie asked as Rupert clapped a paw on his shoulder
“Dinna ken. Ye’ve got a filthy mind, probably.” He winked.
“How will we be celebrating tonight?” Angus asked, scratching his scraggly beard with a look of false contemplation. “Shots?”
“Nay!” Ian spoke up. “Ye’ll ken what happened last time…”
“It’s no out fault ye canna hold yer drink,” Rupert teased.
“Yer company is celebration enough, lads,” Willie appeased, placing a hand on both their shoulders.
“Speak fer yerself,” Jamie muttered and waved the bartender over. He tried not to see her eyes in the bottom of his glass.
The pub grew steadily louder, and Claire found it more and more difficult to concentrate of her friends’ conversation. A mixture of the noise and alcohol.
“And, when are we going to see ze dancers?” Louise’s question caught Claire off guard.
“Marsali, you didn’t…”
“I only plan on getting marrit once. I’m doing my bachelorette party right.” She giggled, disarmingly sweet compared to the plans she had. “We should leave soon, though. So we can get a good seat.” The twinkle in her eye made Claire shake her head in mock disgust.
Much to Claire’s surprise, she was having fun. Not what she would have normally done on a Friday, she was glad to be out with these women. Her friends.
As they filed out, Claire saw a flash of red by the bar. A trick of the light, probably.
Jamie knew he was drunk. Was he hallucinating? He saw his stranger, wild hair trailing behind her as she walked out of the door. Perhaps he should call it a night.