Oh my god.
Oh. My. God.
Becca resisted the urge to twirl as she stood in front of the pub that was underneath her hotel. For one thing, the uneven cobblestones made it more likely she would trip and topple over, even though she was wearing the comfy ballet flats chosen specifically for trekking around London, and for the second, she was a grown person of twenty-five years and she should not twirl.
That she had also twirled that morning in her hotel room was not something she would mention, should twirling come up.
The sign overhead had painted corgis on it with lettering reading the hound, and Becca smiled at how perfectly it fit into her fantasies of visiting a London pub. It was a nearly windowless bar that nonetheless looked inviting. Probably because Becca knew, she just knew, that there were real British people inside drinking real British beverages, and tomorrow she would get the chance to see the royal wedding for herself. Well, not in person maybe; she wasn’t exactly on the guest list. But she’d stand among the crowd and wave her novelty flag with the rest of them. But first, she had decided, she would go to a real pub and drink some real British beer.
She had something to toast to, after all: Meredith Bast and Prince Richard were getting married, and it was the love story of a lifetime. An American singer, a British prince, and nobody to stand in their way. A real-life The Crown, only with less heartbreak.
Just the thought of it made her sigh from happiness. And made her want to twirl. Again.
Just being here was worth every sacrifice she had made, every bowl of packaged ramen she’d eaten to save for the trip. When news of the engagement had first come out, she’d known right away that it wouldn’t be enough for her to get up at an ungodly hour in her small Minneapolis apartment to watch it. She’d need to be here for it, to experience all of the pomp, circumstance, and love firsthand.
That it would be her and thousands and thousands of other people lining the streets was something she would endure gladly. Nobody back home understood her enthusiasm; her best friend, Nancy, just rolled her eyes every time Becca mentioned the wedding, which meant that Nancy was in perpetual danger of spraining an eye.
She chuckled to herself as she opened the door to the pub, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the darkness.
It was exceedingly British, so much so that Becca suspected it was a tourist trap for—well, for people like her.
It had dark wooden beams overhead, battered chairs set haphazardly around small circular tables, and a long, highly polished bar. TVs were set in the corners of the room and over the bar, each screen showing scrolling news items about the upcoming wedding. There were framed pictures of sweaty men playing soccer—or football, she should say—interspersed with cardboard posters highlighting the pub’s specials: fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and ploughman’s lunch, whatever that was.
She knew she had a goofy grin on her face as she made her way to the bar, hoisting her short self up onto one of the stools, wriggling to get comfortable and hooking her feet on one of the wooden rungs.
“What’ll it be?” The bartender spoke in an accent that differed remarkably from the ones she’d heard on The Crown. Much rougher. He slid a cardboard coaster proclaiming take courage, with a rooster striding cockily (ha!) on top of the words in front of her.
“Uh—what do you recommend?” God, she sounded so American.
“You’ll want the bitter.” A low voice to her right spoke so definitively, she nodded before she even realized she was doing it. “What kind you want depends on what kind of beer you like.”
Becca glanced over to see the man who was speaking, resisting the urge to blink in shock at his appearance.
Not that he was hideous—far from it, in fact. As far from it as a man with a thick beard surrounding a pair of full, expressive lips, lake-blue eyes, and a cocked eyebrow could be.
Oh. My. God. Right out of central casting, if the part called for A Very Handsome, if wild, Man in a Pub.
“Bitter?” she echoed. She looked down at the coaster. “Like Courage Bitter?”
“Mmph,” the man grunted in agreement. “Bitter is where you start with British ale.”
Oh, she liked his voice. He spoke in an accent filled with rolling r’s, making bitter sound as though it went on forever. Just Scottish enough to get her all trembly, but not with so much of a burr she couldn’t understand him.
“Don’t confuse the lady,” the bartender said to the man, grinning. Then to Becca: “I’ll get you something to ease you into it, and you can tell me if you like it.”
“Oh yes, thank you,” Becca replied. “Not that I don’t appreciate the help,” she said to Mr....