She'd seen him. There was no fading away into the crowd now or watching from a discreet distance to try and figure out how she was doing without her ever knowing he was in town.
Lucy had seen him, and if she was even half the woman he remembered, she wasn't about to let that go without comment. And probably argument, knowing them. They'd been best friends almost since birth, and there'd never been a disagreement Lucy hadn't faced head-on.
True to form, she was already striding towards him. Jon forced himself not to take a step backwards and muttered, "Brace, brace," under his breath.
Lucy Hillier was a force of nature—stronger than the tides or the autumn wind that whipped in from the sea. And Jon had long known that he was powerless in her path.
She looked a little thinner than when he'd seen her last, as if she'd lost the last of the teenage roundness of her face, her cheekbones sharper—and her raised eyebrows accusing. Her blonde hair had grown out from the shoulder length bob he'd last seen it in, too, and now hung in waves halfway to her elbows. But the way she put her hands on her hips as she stopped before him, the assessing glance that whisked across him and took in everything—that was definitely the Lucy he remembered.
"Had a sudden craving for Wishcliffe cider, did we?" Her voice was sharp, too, but she still made him feel like they were merely continuing a conversation they'd left unfinished when he'd left for the States two years ago.
Everything had always felt unfinished between him and Lucy.
Maybe this was his chance to find some closure.
"I'm just back in the country for a visit." His voice stayed even, thankfully. "Figured I'd stop by and relive some childhood memories."
Memories that all included her, he realised too late, as Lucy's shoulders stiffened. "Right. Well, enjoy that, then."
She turned to go and Jon knew instinctively that, if he let her, she wouldn't ever come back again. That he'd have blown his only chance to fix everything he broke between them two years ago. A lifetime of friendship, and one night of something so much more…
He couldn't just let that go without a fight. Not this time.
So he fell into step beside her, smiling a little to himself when she didn't push him away again. "So, are you playing here tonight? I saw the caravan."
"We were," she replied shortly. "I'm just about to find whoever's running the stage and tell them we need to cancel."
"Cancel? Why?" He could tell from the bitterness in her voice that it wasn't because they'd had a better offer somewhere else.
Maybe Lucy's prickliness tonight wasn't entirely due to his return. That was something.
"Does it matter? We can't play. We lose the slot, the exposure, the fee—and the chance of landing more gigs. Why is kind of irrelevant."
"Well, maybe I can help." Maybe it could be their first step back to being friends again, if nothing else. And suddenly, Jon wanted that chance more than anything else. "What do you need?"
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