This scene was in the original version of the book, but I decided to remove it as I felt it slowed the pace of the book down.
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The pub had been crammed, the noise deafening as a football hurtled across the huge television’s screen, thudding into the back of the net. Chaos erupted all around them; voices roared, bodies leapt into the air, arms flung around friends and strangers alike, drinks sloshing from forgotten-about glasses. But Gavin didn’t join in the triumph. He was still, silent. His drink remained in his glass and not down the back of the bloke standing in front of him.
‘What’s wrong?’ Ally wasn’t celebrating either, but that was because this was a football match they were watching and she didn’t give a hoot about it. Gavin, on the other hand, should have been right there in the thick of the jubilations.
‘What? Oh, nothing. Nothing’s wrong.’ Gavin took a sip of his pint before returning his gaze to the television. He blinked rapidly and turned to Ally. ‘Did we score?’
Did we score? Yes, they’d scored! Everyone within a two-mile radius of the pub knew they’d scored from all the fuss that little ball had caused.
‘Something’s wrong.’ Ally put a hand on Gavin’s arm. ‘What is it?’ Her stomach clenched. Something had happened. Something bad. Had Gavin lost his job? No, that couldn’t be it. Gavin worked for her father and Bob wouldn’t fire his son-in-law. Unless Bob knew something that Ally didn’t. Oh, God. Ally’s hand flew to her mouth. He’d cheated on her. Gavin had cheated on her and Bob had found out. Why hadn’t he said anything to her? Warned her?
‘Nothing is wrong. I promise.’
Ally didn’t believe him. Why else would Gavin be acting so strangely? Come to think of it, he’d been acting strange for a week or two now. Shifty. Like he was keeping something from her. Ally had assumed he was planning a surprise for her birthday or something, not that he had another woman on the go.
How could he do this to her?
‘I want to go home.’
Ally pushed her way through the crowd, who grunted at missing a nanosecond of the game as she passed. She would go home and demand some answers from her father. Then she would deal with Gavin – if she could bring herself to look at him after his betrayal.
She growled, frustrated that she couldn’t get away quick enough. She was still caught up in the throng when Gavin caught her by the elbow.
‘What are you doing?’
Ally shook herself free and made a final surge towards the door, sucking in the fresh, uncluttered air as soon as her feet touched the pavement. She made it a mere three paces away before Gavin caught her again.
‘What’s the matter? Aren’t you feeling well?’ Gavin looked genuinely concerned, which only made Ally feel worse. How could he do this to her? To them?
‘I just want to go home.’ She couldn’t do this here, on a damp street with strangers milling around.
‘You can’t go home. We’re supposed to be going for a meal. Everyone will be waiting for us.’
He was right. Ally’s mum had organised a family get together at a restaurant in town. They’d only popped into the pub – at Gavin’s insistence – for a quick drink before they’d been distracted by the football. Could Ally really sit in a restaurant, surrounded by her whole family, pretending she was fine? No, it would be torture. She had to know now.
‘Are you cheating on me, Gavin?’
The words sounded absurd as they left her mouth, especially when Gavin’s face fell, his eyebrows drooping in confusion. This was Gavin she was talking about.
‘Cheating on you? Why would you think that?’
‘You’re acting weird and… and…’ Ally was no longer sure how she’d come to the conclusion. ‘You’ve been acting weird for a while.’
‘I know. It’s because I have something very important to ask you. Come here.’ Gavin took hold of Ally’s hand. She put up a little resistance – but it was just for show now – as Gavin led her to a nearby bus shelter and sat her down on the little metal bench. ‘I wasn’t going to do this here. We had it all planned so it’d be romantic.’
‘Do what?’ But Ally already had an inkling, which was confirmed as Gavin dropped to one knee and reached into his jacket pocket to pull out a small black velvet box. He proposed to her right there, on the damp street with strangers milling around. A grubby bus stop wasn’t the most romantic setting but it didn’t matter to Ally. Gavin was asking her to marry him and she was throwing her arms around him and saying yes.
‘So you were going to propose to me in front of everyone? What if I’d said no?’
‘I knew you wouldn’t.’
‘Since when did you become so arrogant?’
‘It isn’t arrogance. It’s confidence. In us.’ Gavin didn’t add that he’d been a nervous wreck for the past week as his plans came together. That he’d insisted on stopping off at the pub for a good dose of Dutch courage. ‘We’re supposed to be together, Ally. Forever.’
‘Stop being so soppy.’ Ally grinned as she stretched her hand out in front of her brand new fiancé. ‘And put the ring on my finger so we can go and celebrate.’
Everything Changes But You is available from Amazon now