Rescue Me - Sarra Manning
Margot Millwood was a cat person. Unfortunately, no one had explained this to Percy, her cat.
It also seemed that no one had explained to Margot’s ex-boyfriend George that after two months apart, they were getting back together.
George had asked to meet for early drinks after work. Margot had imagined that early drinks would lead to dinner then a declaration that, like her, George had seen what was on offer on the dating apps and realised that what they’d had together hadn’t been so bad.
‘I found a few of your things knocking about my place,’ George said, handing over a bulging bag for life, before Margot could take even one sip of her gin and tonic. ‘I can only stay for a quick drink. I have plans.’
‘Plans?’ Margot echoed as she cast a cursory glance inside the bag and saw an almost empty tube of bb cream and a pair of red lacy knickers that absolutely did not belong to her. She was tempted to hand them back to George with a scathing remark, but she didn’t know if they’d been washed or not. ‘These knic—’
‘Yeah, sorry this is so rushed, but I’m sure neither of us want to rehash the details of why we broke up,’ George continued, then downed half his bottle of fancy, locally brewed lager with almost indecent haste.
Margot could never back down from a challenge. ‘We broke up because, after two years together, you decided that you weren’t ready to even have a conversation about when we were going to start a family and you decided to break this to me on my thirty- sixth birthday.’ Nope, she still wasn’t over it.
‘Only because when I took you out for your birthday meal, you told me, no, demanded, that we start trying for a baby that very night. I hadn’t even looked at the menu,’ George recalled with an aggrieved tone as Margot’s phone rang. She ignored it.
‘I didn’t demand that you impregnate me that very night, I just pointed out that at thirty-six, I couldn’t continue to take my fertility for granted,’ Margot reminded George. Her phone beeped with a voicemail message at the same time as George sighed long and loud.
‘Anyway, it’s water under the bridge now. We’ve both moved on,’ he said. ‘Really, there’s no use in holding a post-mortem, Margs.’
There really wasn’t. Margot steepled her hands together so she wouldn’t make any threatening gestures. She didn’t want a post-mortem either, but still, George could benefit from a little advice.
‘Talking of moving on, can I just say that the next woman you get involved with . . . well, it would be better to tell her right from the start that you’re categorically not interested in having kids. Better to be up front than stringing her along for two years on false promises and maybes,’ Margot said coolly and not at all bitterly as, once more, her phone started to ring.
Again, she ignored it, because she was far more interested in the way that suddenly George wouldn’t meet her gaze.
‘You’re already in another relationship.’ It wasn’t a question. Didn’t need to be.
George nodded. ‘There’s no law says that I can’t be,’ he said a little defensively. ‘Are you going to answer your phone?’
‘Never mind my phone,’ Margot said. ‘Like I said, please don’t lead her on if you’re not serious. By the time a woman is thirty-five, her—’
‘ – fertility could be halved,’ George finished for her. ‘Yeah, you did mention that about a few hundred times when we were together.’
But still, it hadn’t been enough to spur George into action apart from vague platitudes about how Margot would make a great mother. Or how it would be best to wait a year or so and a couple of promotions down the line, so they could buy a house for this hypothetical family that it turned out George hadn’t really wanted.
‘I’m just saying. For the sake of your new girlfriend.’ No one could ever accuse Margot of being unsisterly.
‘Not something you need to worry about and neither does Cassie,’ George said, probably not even realising that he was puffing out his chest, proud as the plumpest pigeon.
‘I take it that Cassie isn’t in her thirties.’ It was obvious that she wasn’t, but George’s faux bashful smile confirmed it.
‘She’s twenty-six,’ George confirmed. He didn’t look even a little embarrassed to be dating a woman fifteen years younger than him. On the contrary, he looked pretty bloody chipper about it.
Margot’s phone started ringing for the third time.