[Just a note before you begin: the previous parts of this AU were happy/cute/flirty, this part is not. Spoiler/trigger warning: Kavinsky makes an appearance and Ronan has a mild panic attack and things get pretty heavy.]
It was inevitable that Ronan’s good mood would not survive two minutes in the presence of Declan. By the time they reached the small Italian restaurant (the only one in Henrietta) Ronan’s triumphant high had evaporated and he was back to his usual, surly self. He ignored Declan’s lecture on punctuality and proper dress but it was becoming difficult to reign in his temper. In desperation Ronan sent Gansey a brief text begging him to come to lunch and act as a buffer between him and Declan. (Ronan was only attending lunch because Matthew had asked and it was almost impossible to refuse the younger Lynch brother).
The restaurant was what some would describe as quaint: cozy tables with candles in the middle, red check table clothes, Italian music played at a subdued volume, soft lighting, and the pervasive aroma of good food. Natalie, Declan’s latest fling, was waiting for them on the bench in the foyer. Ronan thought she didn’t look like the usual model that Declan went for, she was too small and narrow, her hair was dark brown and short, she wore all black, she had multiple ear piercings. Definitely not the Declan brand. Ronan gave her a brief nod and then pretended she wasn’t there. He scanned the restaurant but didn’t recognize any of the diners. He shifted from foot to foot anxiously waiting for Gansey to arrive and save him from a fate worse than death: watching Declan and Natalie flirt their way through appetizers, salad, entrees, and dessert. Ugh.