If the main character seems like a jerk, just remember that I don't do perfect people. Some of my characters are very flawed, including this one.
Richard had little use for his wife anymore. He couldn't even remember why he had married her, aside from it being a naïve college sweetheart thing. He had been a bright young ROTC cadet, on his way to a commission in the Army, while she had been an ambitious marketing major, seeking a career in advertising.
Well, Uncle Sam had dragged him around the world in 19 years of service. He had no choice in where he was stationed. This was something that Lacey had never grasped. She had constantly blamed him for staying. Hell, this was his career! It was no more right for him to give up his chosen profession, even in this PC age, than it was for her to do so. She could be an ad exec anywhere, no matter how inconvenient changing jobs might be. She always had good references, after all. When the military gave him orders, however, he had to comply or risk court-martial.
When she refused to move this time, and he went to England, that was enough. He officially mailed her the divorce papers 2 days after arriving in the UK. He just hoped that it would reach her in time. She threw a hissy fit when he informed her that he had to relocate again. It was rather disturbing to see in a 41 year old woman, who was supposed to be mature enough to grasp the reality of things.
So be it, bitch, Richard thought to himself. I gave you 20 good years of marriage. We have 2 kids, 17 year old twins now, turning 18 right before graduation. I tried to be a fine husband and father. Do I get appreciation and respect for doing my part to provide for us and keep a steady job? No, that would be too much to ask from Lacey Mason, driven, corporate cunt. She was obsessed with becoming a CEO, which she would possibly get now, at the price of her husband and a healthy relationship with her children.
He didn't blame her for being ambitious, but surely she could be less narcissistic and realize that he had made sacrifices as well. He had limited visits to the Officers' Club at times when the budget was tight. He had cut out poker altogether while she pursued a Master's degree in marketing. He had watched the kids on Saturdays while she went on business trips to Boulder and Lake Havasu. He had drunk domestic beer when he preferred imported lager. He had lived off the base, when she had asked, so she would be closer to her workplace. He had given up his mid-size pickup so that they could have a part-time maid.
Nevertheless, the time for giving and consideration was over. She was determined to only take and not care about his needs at all. His guilt over the damage to her career from his occasional change in stationing was gone. That guilt had been a major advantage of hers in previous arguments. That was over. Richard Mason was going to think of himself for a change.
He was well aware that the overseas nature of the assignment meant that she would get sole or primary custody of the children. He had no choice in this matter. It sucked, it was unfair to him and his kids to have their close bond disrupted in such a way, but that was unavoidable for the next year. The last semester of high school, including graduation, would not see him there unless he got leave. Well, he would do that if he could.
He would also have to pay for the mortgage, at least in part. Damn, that sucked too! However, it was easier to handle because, as a divorced man, he would live in the Bachelor Officers' Quarters. It was inconvenient and cramped, but it was free housing in a country with a perpetual housing shortage. He didn't wish his kids to be without shelter, even if it was with their twisted and self-obsessed mother.
So, what next? He had free health and dental insurance, so that was not an issue. He would still provide for his children, so that was taken care off. He had free housing. He lived in a country where things were more expensive, but he didn't need a car to get by in the UK. It was a small township 3 kilometers NW of London. He had beer money, and now that expensive foreign ale was not so pricey, because it was local.
What did that leave? Women were all that was left, and he wasn't interested in anything permanent at the moment. He had just separated and wouldn't be in Great Britain for more than a year. A few flings with local women would be great. Fellow officers were out of the question. They just complicated things and risked trouble with his superiors. He was a Lieutenant Colonel, after all, so most of his female comrades were of inferior rank.
Thinking of this, Richard decided that he owed himself a trip to the local tavern. It was a Saturday, he was thirsty, and he wished to eat something classically British: fish and chips. He entered the pub at the closest street, and found himself seated by a waitress who couldn't possibly be more than 20 years old. She had a small frame and hair so light brown that it was almost gray. Her eyes were bright blue, and they struck him as being those of someone feigning innocence. She was more educated and aware of life's experience than she pretended. She was mature for her age, to put it mildly.
"Good afternoon, sir. You are clearly not a local, so you must be a Yank," she teased him a bit.
"Gee, and I thought that I was a Brit! Bloody hell! Have I been singing 'God Save The Queen' all of these years for no reason?" he sarcastically replied, but clearly in good enough humor for the waitress's taste. Then again, sarcasm was widely accepted in the UK.
"I meant no offense, sir," she replied, winking at him.
"Of course, you didn't. So, how are the fish and chips?" he probed.
"Not half-bad, if I may boast. My cousin Minerva makes them herself. Care to order a few with your ale, sir?" she needled him again. It was still good-natured, but the "sir" part kept nagging him. Why was she calling him "sir"? Was it his age? Was this simply a polite Briton, more so than most? She did seem courteous, but she had made no effort to learn his name or mention hers, which was bizarre to him. She had mentioned her cousin, however.
"Might I ask you a very nosy question?" he finally snapped and inquired.
"Very well. What would that be? I'll try to answer it if I can, before I place your order with Minerva and your drink order with Tommy," she agreed.
"Are you always so polite to Yanks that you tease in taverns? You called me 'sir'. I assumed that it was a courtesy, but you have also been caustic and failed to introduce yourself. I'm not complaining at this point, because you're intriguing, but I am curious about it and it will not let me ignore it," he explained.
"Well, it's not something that I can share in public, at least not while working for Minerva. However, if you'll follow me to my flat, I shall illuminate you about it," she responded cryptically.
"Ah, a mystery, then? Very well, I'll make that bargain with you. I wouldn't mind the company of a local anyway, particularly a lovely one like you," he agreed at last.
"Thank you, sir. Now, if you'll excuse me, I shall place your orders," she reacted to his decision with just a suggestion of pleasure and impatience. Evidently, she was now in a hurry to take him back to her place and demonstrate what she meant.
While he ate his fish and chips, drank his ale, and interacted more with the girl, she continued to call him "sir" and be smarmy with him. He wondered why she was being both polite and smart-assed with him. However, the mystery didn't continue much longer.