Page 46 of Hero Next Door

“She has,” I reply proudly. “Where she is working now, they really recognize her talent.”

It’s amazing for her to be in a place where she is so appreciated, but to me it’s no surprise. I knew that she was incredible when I first met her, it was never a worry to me, but I suppose for Esme she had been put down for such a long time that it was hard for her to finally realize that she’s actually incredible. And these endless promotions… well, they are doing wonders for her self-confidence. I couldn’t be more pleased for her.

“Well, she will have to come out for a drink with us next time, then I will buy her one.”

This is another thing that I find awesome. The fact that my friends at work not only accept her but actually adore her is awesome and a great sign that she is the one for me. We are such a tight knit group that it’s hard for any partners to make their way in to our group, but she has. Jane didn’t. Not at all. No one liked her, so this is very important to me. I love seeing them all hang on Esme’s every word when we hang out together.

“Will do. I’m sure she’ll be keen to come out with you. She always likes your tales…”

“She’s a great wing woman as well… much better than you ever could have been.” He winks playfully in my direction. “So, it’s probably good that you were never single for long enough to come on a night out.”

God, I forgot that I even agreed to that at one point. That would have been dreadful, I haven’t ever been the kind of person to meet a woman in a bar. Frankie is right, I would be a terrible wing man and even worse at trying to chat someone up myself. Thank goodness I fell for the girl next door. I will always be grateful for that.

“Well, I will pass on the message.” I wave my hand in Frankie’s direction. “See ya.”

As I step in to the car and I start to drive away, something makes me stare in to the rear view for a moment and there I see what has the hairs on the back of my neck standing on edge. Lots of people that I work with are staring at me and talking excitedly as if they know something that I don’t. I rack my brain desperately, trying to work out what I might have missed out on, but I really don’t think that there’s anything. Unless something’s being kept a secret from me… but there aren’t any birthdays coming up or anything, only my anniversary today, but I know about that much.

This day one year ago, me and Esme made it official. That isn’t something I will ever forget.

By the time I get out on to the road and I drive away from the station, I decide that they must think I’ve forgotten or something, which is just dumb. And thanks to the lot of them for reminding me! Honestly, now the banter is moving on to practical jokes and I don’t know if I like that. I might have words the next time I’m in work…

But the weird sensation creeps back through me as I pull up in front of the house. As if I really have forgotten something. But nothing comes to mind. Not even when I get inside the house, which started off as mine but six months ago became ours. Now a lovely family with an adorable dog have moved in to where Esme used to live.

“Esme?” It’s quiet. Much too quiet. I’m sure that she must be back from work now. “You here?”

“In the back yard,” she calls through the house. “Come out here. I want to talk to you.”

I practically tip toe through the building, my pulse speeding rapidly as I go. My heart might as well be pounding in my mouth by the time I see my beautiful girlfriend and the smile on my face. I definitely feel like something is happening now and it’s something that everyone else in the world is aware of but me. Certainly the people from work which is troubling. If I’m not careful I’m going to end up freaking the hell out in a moment…

“What’s going on?” Esme is stood in the middle of the yard with a stunning dress on and a gorgeous smile playing on her lips. Even through all of the anxiety, I can see how lucky I am to have her. That’s something that I will never take for granted. I’m reminded every single day and I always let her know as well. “Is something happening?”

“Happy anniversary,” she says to start things off. “It’s been a crazy year, hasn’t it?”

Tags: Mia Ford Romance