‘Excuse me could I trouble you for some help with Champagne please?’ Logan was running late for his mother’s birthday dinner and no question he will hear a lot about it for the next twelve months where it will be brought up at the next birthday shindig, as a reminder. Still, to turn up without a present, of any kind, even if his mother needs nothing, would be the death of him. He will never live it down. She’ll never let him and she’ll be snide about it too. Cold.

‘Of course sir. How may I help you?’ The man behind the counter turned to Logan ready to help. He’d just been stocking the shelves with bottles of wine, winding down to close.

‘Do you have any Dom Perignon? Two thousand and eight vintage preferably, please? I’d like a case.’ He was grasping at straws and showing up with a case of expensive champagne was pushing it, but he was in a bind. His mother would find it tacky, but she’ll get over it.

‘Er… I’ll have to check that for you sir. I won’t be a moment let me get my manager.’

‘Thank you.’ Logan looked at his watch, one hour and counting late. Brodie rang his phone again but he sent it to voicemail. He was the one that convinced his brother to come for the dinner; Brodie and their mother don’t see eye to eye, but he’d managed to do the impossible; get Brodie home on her birthday. He and his siblings are tight and they love each other fiercely; it was their secret weapon. They have a fucked up relationship with their mother; their parents are divorced, and they are better with their father and his wife, but together deal with the mess of their messy family. And the dramatics of dear old mum.

‘Hello sir. I understand you’d like a case of Dom Perignon o-eight?’

‘Ye…es. Yes please.’ Logan lost his trail of thought the second he set eyes on the manager. Damn. She’s beautiful. Stunning. A face cut to perfection and smile that brightened up her incredibly beautiful face.

‘We sold out of the last case this morning unfortunately. What’s the occasion?’

‘My mother’s birthday.’ Fuck that he’d skip the entire thing if he could spend time talking to this woman.

‘Does she like champagne?’

Logan laughed a little. How did she know?

‘Sorry, I don’t meant to be presumptuous.’ Franny said with a hint of a smile. Truth is they don’t have Dom Perignon, they haven’t had any for the past couple of weeks.

‘You weren’t. And you’re right she doesn’t care for champagne, this is a last ditch effort. Can you suggest something else?’

‘Not champagne, she can have that for any other occasion. What kind of wine does she like?’

‘She prefers red, but she also has an extensive wine cellar.’

‘And you want to get her champagne?’

‘It’s Dom Perignon, I know, but I was going to get a case.’ Logan shrugged; he was hopeless at this.

‘I’m sure she’s had it several times over. I’m not knocking it, it’s a fabulous bottle of champagne. You know, S’ok. Personally I prefer Ruinart but this is about your mother. We want something fine and aged. I have just the thing.’

‘I’ll bet you do.’

‘Chateau Margaux 2010. The finest bottle in the store, but also one of the best wines in the world.’ They mistakenly received the bottle this morning and she was meant to send it back on the truck tomorrow but if she could sell this they’d make their target. One bottle of this wine was the price of half a case of Dom Perignon .

‘I’ll take a case.’

‘What!?’ Franny corked her head slightly to look at him. He didn’t even give her a chance to sell it to him.

‘I’ll take a case of Chateau Margaux, you’ve sold it to me.’

‘No I haven’t and it’s really expensive wine. Like really expensive.’

‘Okay… I’ll still take a case if you have it.’

‘I have a bottle. The only bottle in the store.’ Damnit she was going to miss a much-needed sale.

Logan smiled, the way her face fell thinking he was going to walk away from her without seeing that smile of hers again. She had no idea of the effect she had on him. ‘I’ll take the bottle.’

‘Don’t you want to know how much it is?’

‘No. Like I said, you sold it.’

‘Thank you.’ Franny rang it up; one thousand two hundred pounds. She went through the process of wrapping it up in a lovely velvet box. ‘Do you have a birthday card for your mother?’

‘Do I need one?’

‘It’s your mother’s birthday of course you need one.’ Franny reached for a card from the rack beside the desk. ‘Here, sign.’

Logan smiled and did as he was told with the pen she handed him. Happy Birthday Mum.

Franny inspected the card, and added an x at the end, ‘that’ll do.’ She handed over the boxed up wine and Logan handed over his card. She processed it, printed the receipt and handed it to him.

‘Thank you very much…I didn’t catch your name.’

‘I never gave it.’ Franny smiled, ‘I’m Francesca but everyone calls me Franny.’

‘Logan. Nice to meet you.’

‘And you. I hope your mother has a lovely birthday.’

Logan looked at his watch, ‘one I’m very late for. Shit. Sorry to… yeah- thank you.’

‘You’re welcome.’ Franny watched her favourite customer of the day hurrying out the store to make his mother’s birthday dinner and she would be going home soon to have her own dinner for one, having just made target. She’ll stop by her local Chinese to get some food, she could afford the splurge of a tenner on dinner thanks to him.

‘Do you know who that is?’ Amanda, her colleague, who’d been watching the entire encounter, came up behind her.

‘I need to get you a cow bell.’

‘Whatever. Do you know who he is?’

‘Who? The guy who bought the wine?’

‘Yes.’

‘Who is he?’

‘Logan Sterling. On fifth of the beautiful Sterling children, heir to the Sterling fortune.’

‘Really?’

Amanda rolled her eyes; trust Franny not to know him because her nose was always buried in her law books when she was not working here or at her second job at the pub. ‘And he was totally flirting with you.’

‘No he wasn’t. I sold him a bottle of really expensive wine that’s it.’

‘Okay.’ Amanda shuffled back to the butcher’s counter to man her station. She’d observed the encounter and knew a good flirtation when she saw one; Logan was totally charmed by Franny if only her friend would allow herself to have some fun.

*

‘You’re late.’ Brodie was on his way out. He’d been waiting a while for his brother to arrive, the only reason he was here was because of Logan.

‘I know. I’m sorry. Where are you going?’

‘Home. Where do you think? You were meant to be here two hours ago.’

‘Dude come on. I’m sorry. It’s your mother’s birthday you can’t just leave.’

‘I’ve been here two hours that’s plenty.’

‘Brodie come on. We give mum two days in the year, her birthday and Christmas Day. I’m late. It was a long day at the office but I’m here now.’

Brodie sighed, dinner was testy, his mother kept making jibes at their dad and his new wife even though they weren’t there and it was exhausting. His siblings hung it out but with him and his mother it was more miss than hit so he said his goodbyes. ‘I already put in my one day-’

‘Let’s go in and I can tell you all about this woman I met just now.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes. She sold me a bottle of good wine for mom and put it in a box too.’

‘A gift bag and a card too huh?’

‘Damn right.’ Logan opened held the door open, ‘so come on let’s go ensure our mother’s dinner party.’ He laughed as they both walked back into the house. Armed with that precious bottle of wine, he’ll be fine.