Who is the tall stranger England bumps into on the streets of Sri Lanka? I'm sure you can hardly guess... Read part 1, part 2 and part 3 of this trilogy in four parts, and then continue to the final chapter below.
Kevin landed flat on his back on the pavement, briefcase flying and phone shattering as it landed on the concrete. "I'm so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going!" he heard a familiar voice say as he shook his head to clear his vision.
"Why hello, fancy meeting you here," he said, trying to place a mask of cool indifference over his shocked features. He pushed himself up on his elbows as he regarded England, who had landed squarely on top of him in a most compromising position.
England's eyes went wide with surprise and it scrambled to get to its feet, dusting its clothing with trembling hands as it recalled the strong pecs beneath its fingers. Get a grip, he already thinks you're insane, it reprimanded itself.
England blushed while gathering its thoughts, and Kevin smirked at the effect he was having on his former, and hopefully future, partner. He decided to kick the flirting up a notch, and said with a laugh, "You look great. The Sri Lankan humidity suits you."
England snorted, which Kevin had always found adorable, and replied, "Yeah right. I look like a poodle. You, on the other hand, looked rather dashing on the news the other night. I watched you from my bed in my hotel room."
Kevin quirked an eyebrow at this, making it seem dirtier than it was intended, and England quickly backtracked when seeing his reaction. "I mean, I was watching the news before showering... never mind..." England stuttered, fighting the urge to kiss the smirk off Kevin's face.
"Well, now that things aren't awkward at all, do you want to go for a drink?" Kevin asked, determined to make sure it went better than it had last time, because being around England without being able to touch it was doing his head in.
England smiled, a little astonished at the invite and warm tone in which it was offered. "I'd love to, lead the way," it said. Kevin picked up his case, looked forlornly at his broken phone, before moving down the street.
"I'm suffering from deja vu," Kevin said as they sat down with their drinks, recalling the last time they'd met in a bar.
"Yes, well, Stuart mentioned the other day that he'd have a beer with you if you asked, so I figured it didn't hurt to try this again," England replied.
"Really? I haven't heard from him, or a lot of the guys, in two months..." Kevin said, looking down into his glass. England's heart broke for him, because their mates had pretty much chosen to stick with England when the pair split up.
England cleared its throat, before continuing, "Anyway... How are you? Things going well with ESPN?" England wanted to puke just saying that out loud.
"Oh I'm ok, things are... odd. I've seen you around the city, but I didn't want to overstep the mark by coming to say hi. I was a bit of a dick the last time I saw you, and..." he faltered.
"I was hardly the picture of civility either," England said.
"Yes, well. Anyway, things with ESPN are ok I guess. It's not the same as... you," Kevin admitted, and England's heart thumped a little harder as it looked into his eyes. It took a deep breath.
"Yeah? Not an epic rebound romance like you'd imagined?" England teased, trying to keep the tone light for fear of bursting into tears.
"Hardly," Kevin said, deciding to be honest and see where that got him. "I mean, it's fine, and things are great in the, erm, boardroom, but ESPN doesn't know me like you do.
"It's hard work trying to be happy and upbeat all the time, when all I want to do is crawl into bed and be with you. It was so easy between us. before all this mess. And I know I wasn't the most accommodating person to deal with, and I wanted more than I needed, but I can't do this anymore. I'll do anything you want," he said, breathless from his confession.
England's eyes were shimmering with unshed tears, but said, "What about Protea..."
Kevin could see the insecurity in England's face, and said, "I swear, on my Sharks jersey, that nothing happened with Protea. We're mates, and were we joking around, but I promise I never said anything about you or our mates. I can't prove it to you, but I need you to believe me!."
England decided that while it couldn't quite take all that at face value, it needed Kevin too much to drag this out further. It had a trip to India in a few weeks and needed Kevin there if it had any chance of closing the deal. Also, it loved him, etc.
"Okay," it said.
"What?" Kevin replied, shocked. Apologise profusely (a few times) and swear up and down that he was innocent (a few times), and it was all over?
"I said okay. I need you, and I miss you, and quite frankly, Jos didn't live up to the hype after his initial, uh, explosion. But we need to figure out a way to get you back on-side with everyone else," England said.
Oh lord, here we go, Kevin thought. Just breathe, do what you need to do, and you'll be back home with England by the end of the week. He squared his shoulders and prepared to agree to anything England asked of him.
"But first, "England smiled, putting down its glass, "Come here so I can have my way with you!" Kevin didn't need asking twice.
Two weeks, and a number of sleepless nights, later, England and Kevin stood outside their mate Giles' house. "Remember, it's going to take a while for everyone to get comfortable again, kind of like reintegrating you into the group," England said, taking Kevin's hand.
"You make me sound like a convict being released from prison," Kevin grumped, not happy with the way the evening was starting out.
"That's what James said," England muttered under its breath.
"Pardon?" Kevin asked, not hearing what England had said.
"Nothing, baby! Let's get this show on the road!" England enthused, knocking on the door to the house and smiling at the nervous man. Kevin took a deep breath and prepared to re-enter the life he had left three months before.
Lindsay du Plessis