In celebration of my upcoming Sin Bin release, Haka Ever After. I decided to do a small flash fiction event. Today’s the first one, titled Nice Arse. It features two characters I get asked about a lot — Remi Chardin and his lovely wife, Sarah Chardin.
“Who’s he, then?” Sarah leaned forward in her seat to see over the rows of rugby fans in front of her. “He’s a hairy beast. Nice arse on him.”
“Remi Chardin. Captain of the French team.” Ivan reached a hand out to drag her back into her seat when she stood up. “Heard he’s taking up a coaching position in the next year or so in England. Supposedly he’s friends with some of the British team. He’s a brilliant player.”
“I thought you hated the French team.” Sarah had been shocked when Ivan actually accepted her invitation to the Italy vs. France game in Paris. She hadn’t been surprised when he spent the entire time complaining. “If you’re going to grumble at me under your breath again, why’d you bother coming with me at all?”
Each year, she’d watched her brother turn more and more into an angry recluse who closely resembled their father. The trip had been her idea to goad him into a better mood. It hadn’t worked.
Ivan was as unreachable in Paris as at home. Her gaze returned to the bearded Frenchman with a sigh. Well, at least I have someone to ogle with Mr Rain Cloud sitting beside me.
By the time the game ended, Sarah had realised she’d spent the entire time watching Remi Chardin. He stood taller and broader than most of the men on the filed with long, wild dark brown hair that bled into his beard. The French Captain seemed more ancient warrior than rugby player.
“Want to go—”
“No.” Ivan cut her off instantly. “We’re going to the hotel.”
“Already?” She’d assumed they’d see the city a little. “It’s barely four in the afternoon. It’s Paris. I mean, Paris. We can’t spend the entire day in the hotel.”
“And?” Ivan shouldered his way through the throngs of fans trying to exit, leaving an easy path for his sister in his wake. “What’s to see?”
“The Eiffel Tower? Museums? Shops? Actual French macarons and patisserie.” Sarah planned to eat her weight before returning home. “Don’t you want to explore with me?”
Once they made it safely out of the stadium, Ivan stormed off toward the hotel to brood. Moody twit. Sarah had no intentions of wasting the day inside. In the end, she thought it a blessing in disguise since her brother would’ve ruined her fun.
Not wanting to get lost in a crush of other tourists, Sarah wandered the streets around their hotel after seeing the Eiffel Tower. She indulged in an embarrassingly large number of pastries and more coffee than was probably good for her. It had been a dream in her teens to spend weeks in Paris, but she thought she had a better appreciation for the city now in her twenties.
As the sun started to set on the city of lights, Sarah wanted a warm meal before dealing with her brother. Ivan tended to play the protective older brother almost as badly as their eldest brother, George, did. She needed more than coffee and sweets to put him in his place.
She found, of all things, a cosy Irish pub. Midway through her half glass of wine and salmon, a crowd of boisterous men came stumbling inside. Their accents made her think they’d come from London, and she groaned internally when several of them spotted her sitting alone.
Not now, please don’t ruin my beautiful day with your nonsense.
“Buy you a drink, love?”
Sarah lifted her glass. “I’ve got one. Thanks.”
“Buy you another one?”
“Stuck up twat.”
Sarah got to her feet, appetite gone. She started toward the door only to find her path block. “Could you move?”
“I just want to buy you a drink.” He had definitely had more than enough liquid courage. “What’s the harm?”
“I don’t want any trouble.” Sarah tried to back away from the drunks only to find herself in a far corner of the pub out of the view of the staff. She cursed her decision to visit a pub and not stick with a fancy restaurant. “Let go of my arm.”
The aggressive drunk leered toward her only to be yanked away from her a second later. He was sent careening into his friends. They stumbled into a wall of sober, muscled men who seemed familiar to her.
With a lot of shouting in French and English, the drunks cleared out fairly quickly. Sarah gripped the table to her left with her hands shaking. She breathed through her need to vomit up her dinner.
“Tout va bien?”
Sarah found herself face to chest with Remi Chardin and her half a glass of wine gave her the idiotic courage to blurt out her first thought. “You’ve a really nice arse.”
His dark brown eyes stared intensely at her. “Merci.”
“Can I buy you a drink?” She hoped the dark lighting in the pub hid the faint tinge of pink on her cheeks and the slight trembling of her fingers. “As a way of saying thanks for being my hero.”
“Are you in Paris for long?”
“No.” Sarah found herself being led across the pub to a different secluded corner that had couches. She waved at what appeared to be most of the French rugby team. “Just another day.”
“Pity.” Remi ordered a fresh glass of wine for her and a beer for himself before guiding her to sit with him on one of the leather sofas. “Can I change your mind? I haven’t had enough time to tell if you’re as vibrant as your hair.”
“Red. Not ginger.” Remi made the word red sound sexual in a way that had Sarah chugging down her wine. “Surely another day won’t matter?”
And he said day as though he meant week.
Sarah bent forward, with the impulsive courage that had run in her family for years, and brushed her lips against the corner of his mouth. “Want to show me Paris?”
Nice Arse © 2018 by Dahlia Donovan