For the allbingo “meet-ugly” prompt “I thought you were my ex so I yelled at you in public. You’re not them”.
Thomas mistakes graphic designer Eddie for his asshole ex, Finn. Luckily, Eddie is more than understanding.
It had been a bad break-up and Thomas was still smarting from it so when he saw Finn, tall red-headed asshole, perusing the second-hand bookstall in the busy market, he couldn’t help himself.
“Thought you were going off to London, you wanker!” Thomas railed, hands balled into fists. “Going to get away from me and my issues! By screwing Gary, no doubt! You scumbag!”
Finn glanced over his shoulder but, to Thomas’s horror, it was not Finn’s face regarding him with puzzlement. Same build, similar long woollen grey coat, but this man was a little older with sea green eyes. Just as, if not more handsome than Finn. But absolutely not Finn.
The blood drained from Thomas’s face. If only the earth would open up and swallow him.
“I’m sorry?” the stranger asked.
“No. I’m sorry. I thought you were someone else.” Since when had Finn carried a laptop bag!
“Some scumbag wanker?”
Thomas nodded, numb. “My ex,” he said by way of explanation. The stranger laughed.
“Well hopefully I’m not a scumbag. Excuse me a moment.” He picked up a book, an action thriller, and handed over cash to the stallholder.
Thomas was slinking away when the stranger, slipping the book into a voluminous inside pocket, said, “I’m Eddie.”
“Thomas.” He shook the proffered hand.
“I’ve got forty five minutes before my train,” Eddie said. “Would you like to get a coffee? I’d like the company.”
Thomas shrugged. He wouldn’t mind sitting down and gathering himself after his outburst. “I guess so.”
He followed Eddie to a small, brightly decorated coffee shop near the station. Eddie insisted on buying their drinks and two giant cookies.
“Where are you off to?” Thomas asked, nursing his cappuccino.
“Meeting in Manchester. I’m a graphic designer and most of my work is done digitally but some clients really want the personal touch,” Eddie said. “They’re paying my expenses so I don’t mind much, though I don’t generally enjoy travelling unless it’s for leisure.”
Artistic. Thomas took a sip of coffee. He’d always had a thing for creative types. Finn was a musician.
“What about you?” Eddie asked. “What do you do?”
“I’m a freelance writer,” Thomas said. “It’s been a rough few months but things will pick up again.”
Eddie swallowed a bite of cookie. “Is that one of those issues you mentioned?”
“Kind of.” Thomas swept back a lock of his hair, lowered his gaze. “I’ve been feeling low. The words haven’t flowed properly for a while.”
“That must be difficult.” The words were said with what seemed like genuine sympathy.
Emboldened by Eddie’s interest and wanting to unburden himself, Thomas took a deep breath. “It got worse. Finn said he understood but after a couple of months he said he was sick of me. That I should quit whining. He didn’t want to be with anyone who couldn’t be positive.”
“Positive all the time?” Eddie asked, brow crinkling.
“Well I think I was allowed to be sad for a couple of weeks but no longer,” Thomas said. “And not be open about feeling depressed; I was supposed to pretend to be happy to please him. That’s what you do in a relationship, Finn said, when he dumped me. You make the other person happy.”
You don’t make me happy, Thomas. Those were the last words Finn had said before he’d left for London. Where Gary lived.
Eddie brushed at a few crumbs that had dropped onto his coat. “Trying to make your partner happy is worthy, but there are some things you can’t fix – you just have to be there for them. Relationships are about supporting each other.”
Thomas shrugged again, took another gulp of coffee. “I loved him. And he dumped me at my lowest point. I guess I’m still angry.”
“I’m not surprised you yelled at me,” Eddie said with a gentle smile. “I’d have yelled at me too. Do I really look like Finn?”
Thomas tipped his head. “From the back, yes. Your hair’s a bit longer but the same colour, and you’re around the same height and build. But not from the front. Your face is not the same at all.”
“I’m glad about that,” Eddie said solemnly. “I wouldn’t want to resemble a scumbag wanker.”
Thomas laughed. “I’m sorry again about yelling at you.” He wanted to move on and let it go but Finn had cut him deep.
“No harm done. We wouldn’t be having coffee if you hadn’t,” Eddie said. He drained his cup. ” I’ve had my share of issues and bad break-ups. My first love, Carl, broke my heart. I know it’s hard but it does get easier.”
“I hope so. Thank you.” Was Eddie single right now? Thomas found himself hoping for that too.
Eddie checked his watch. “Time for one more if you’d like?”
Thomas got to his feet, not knowing if he was going to refuse and leave or accept and stay. He gazed at Eddie, felt an attraction he couldn’t deny.
“Let me get these,” Thomas said and Eddie leaned back in his chair and gave a genial nod.
The misunderstanding had led Thomas to someone handsome and understanding. Maybe it might lead to genuine friendship. Maybe, just maybe, something more.