Clare rolled to one side and her bare nipples brushed briefly and sensuously against the hair of a naked man's chest. At first she thought nothing of it and almost rolled back, to face away as she normally did, but then she wondered.
Who was this man? And where was she?
She turned back with alarm and studied the figure sprawled next to her, one arm and one leg free of the sheet that covered him and a gently breathing mouth that faced towards her. His short hair was ruffled and he had a small ring through his nose.
Clare was still none the wiser.
She lay on her back and studied the ceiling and walls around her. This was definitely not her flat. No way would she have plastered it with so many pictures of semi-clad women featured on night club posters. Nor would she have dreamt of buying such a purely functional lampshade. And all those CDs cluttering up the surfaces of the utilitarian furniture!
This could only be a man's bedroom.
Clare squeezed her eyes tight. She was definitely feeling ragged. She'd mixed too many drinks with too many drugs. Although she didn't have that horrible nauseous feeling that often accompanied the morning after, she wasn't feeling at her best.
She remembered going to the night club. But she couldn't remember the name of it. Even though she had queued up for ages outside with Joanne, Phillippa and Louise. But once inside, with the DJ caning the funky techno and hard dance, it became one disconnected blur of recollections. Most of her time, she was sure, was spent on the dance floor, gyrating, swivelling, stomping and sweating under the strobes, the E kicking in and the speed driving her faster and more delirious. And didn't they snort some charlie earlier in the evening?
That was cool!
And between the dancing, the four girls sat together by the bar, swigging a few coolers and puffing at their ciggies. And giggling and chortling and shouting and measuring up the talent. Some good looking boys. But, be honest, after enough E, let alone the alcopops, a boy had to be fucking ugly not to look half-way decent.
And back on the floor, the four girls going their separate ways. Phillippa with the shaven-headed guy with the weird Maori tattoos. Louise and Joanne in a huddle with some guys who insisted they'd met them once at the Zap Club in Brighton.
Which was possible.
And Clare herself with the guy with the little goatee, the funny beret and the cool tee-shirt he'd got at Glastonbury that time. He was a fucking good dancer. And, as she soon established, not a bad kisser either, as they manoeuvred towards a pillar and got into some strenuous tongue-play.
So, was the bloke she was with the same guy?
She turned her head back to look at him.
No fucking way!
So how had she managed to hitch up with him?
And then it came back to her, fragments of memory coalescing bit by bit into a coherent picture.
It was when Clare was leaving. She had no idea what had happened to her three friends. They'd been with her and some boys and some other girls they'd met when they collected their coats from the cloakroom. But somehow outside, it was so confusing. Taxis everywhere. People sponging ciggies. Bouncers standing with their arms folded outside the club.
"You want this taxi?" asked a guy, as one drew up to the kerb.