The sun was shining cheerfully in direct contrast to my mood, as I waddled un-gainfully down the high street feeling tired and achy. It was the leather jacket that caught my eye with its familiar painting of a red dragon on the back. For a second my heart stopped and my blood ran cold.
An old lady walking behind me cursed when she had to swerve to avoid me. I stood blocking the pavement for a frozen moment, suspended in shock. When I had recovered a little, I glanced at her briefly in apology. I looked back straight away but you were gone. For a second I thought maybe it was my imagination playing tricks on me, (God knows I'd thought about you often enough in the last few months). But then you appeared once again like a mirage, your familiar face smiling down at a child I could only presume was your daughter, as she stood laughing next to you.
All the hurt and the anger of the last few months rose up in a hideous wave of nausea and I staggered a little, bile threatening to erupt from my throat. I reached out unsteadily to grasp the door frame of a gaudy card shop for support. A kind lady passing looked at me with a worried frown,
"Are you okay dear?" She asked with some concern. I supposed in my condition, she had every right to be concerned.
I pasted a grey smile on my ashen face and nodded firmly. I was fine, I assured her confidently, although I felt anything but fine. Avoid stress and sudden shocks, the books all said. What they didn't advise on, was how to avoid the low life bastard who had gotten you pregnant and then decided to abdicate all responsibility after conception had taken place. No, that was all my own problem and I had to deal with it.
"Hey Lucy, want a vodka?"
I spun round to see who had yelled the question at me over the throb of the music, and found myself staring at a muscular chest wearing an old AC/DC t-shirt. Two deep blue eyes twinkled down at me in amusement and my stomach lurched unexpectedly.
"Erm sorry!" I muttered idiotically, blushing slightly much to my chagrin.
"No problem..." The stranger grinned at me disarmingly and I melted helplessly into a pool of warm jelly. This guy was seriously gorgeous and I was helplessly smitten.
Suddenly, an arm grabbed my wrist and pulled me back into the throng of dancing people against my will. I lost sight of my blue-eyed god and was unexpectedly distraught for a moment, but then a cold bottle of Vodka Ice was thrust into my hand and I drank deeply. My head spun with the potent alcohol and my senses blurred in a foggy haze.
For the next couple of hours, I played 'party girl' to the hilt, chatting to people I knew and people I didn't know. I drank, laughed, danced and generally enjoyed myself. I didn't stop looking for Mr Blue eyes though and occasionally I caught brief glimpses of him across the crowded, smoky room. He knew I was watching him and he smiled whenever he caught my eye. We both knew I was interested.
At around midnight, I was stood in the kitchen on my own for the first time and wondering why I still felt relatively sober, despite all the booze. The crowd had thinned out and a few had already gone home. The music had changed to chill-out stuff and more than a few guests were heavily inebriated.
"Hey Birthday girl!" a voice whispered hypnotically in my ear.
The fine hairs on the back of my neck stood up and prickled slightly. Although I couldn't see who had spoken, I just knew it was him. He placed his hand firmly around my waist and turned me round slowly to face him. My skin burned where he touched me and my senses tingled in anticipation of... what?
I didn't know what; I just knew I wanted it.
His eyes were like deep pools of azure and I immediately dived in uncaring of the consequences. I would have stayed like that, drowning ever so slowly, but convention dictated that some kind of response was customary.
"Hi." I said. Hardly the most original reply I could have come up with, but about as good as it got under the circumstances.
With both hands on my slim waist, he stood within millimetres of my slightly trembling body. I was almost embarrassed at my animal reaction to him and he smiled knowingly at me, arrogantly sure of his obvious charms.
"Shall we go and stand by the fire - you're shivering?" he said with a faint laugh.
"No that's okay," I grinned inanely. "What's your name, I don't remember seeing you before tonight?"
"Chris." He replied. "I am a friend of Helen and Lee."
Oh, I thought hazily, vague recalling Helen saying she was bringing some friends with her.
"How does it feel being twenty one?" he asked cheekily.
"I'm not sure yet - I'll decide when I've sobered up tomorrow!"
Somebody pushed past me with a hasty apology and I was propelled forcefully into Chris's arms. The moment passed but Chris kept hold of me tightly. I could feel the staccato beat of his heart in his chest, and the hard muscles of his body pressing against the soft curves of mine. We breathed the same oxygen for several long moments, tension building, until a woman shouting above the music broke the bubble,
"Chris! We're going now, where are you?" He released me reluctantly. "Be seeing you Lucy..." he promised, before vanishing out of sight and leaving me floating on my own little cloud nine.
Almost three weeks went by and I had nearly forgotten about Chris. I say nearly — only thinking about him every second minute or so counts as nearly in my book. I had intended to ask Helen about him, but we hadn't seen each other since the party so when I got a text message from him on my way to work one Thursday, I nearly drove my car into a ditch in surprise.
Fancy a drink tonight? Chris.
How did u get my no?
I'm clever. Yes/no?
7 @ Nags Head, Lampton. Ok 4 u?
Yes, c u there :)
My head was spinning and I thought of nothing else all day. No work got done and I probably made a hundred and one mistakes on the invoices. By ten to seven, I was sat in my Renault in the car park of The Nags Head pub, dressed to kill and nervous as hell.
I had had dates by the dozen, some of them had even been relatively normal — but this seemed more important to me. This was the first guy in a while I really wanted. The others were just a dress rehearsal for tonight — the main act. I knew I was pinning an awful lot on this one man, but I sensed that he was special. I just hoped it wasn't wishful thinking.
My heart thudded so loudly in my chest when he stepped out of his car, I wondered if he could hear it. He spotted me almost straight away and walked over to meet me with a huge smile.
"Hi Lucy," he grinned warmly. "I wasn't sure you would meet me..." he added cryptically.
"Why wouldn't I?" I asked puzzled. "It's not like you're married or anything is it?"
We both laughed at such a ridiculous idea and the tension dissipated. Chris took my hand and led me into the pub and we talked the evening away, oblivious to the rest of the world and his dog.
I was actually shocked to realise, when I sneaked a look at my watch later, to find that three and a half hours had passed without me even noticing. That's how quickly I was falling for him. For a brief heart-stopping minute I was scared, it all seemed to be moving too fast. But he returned from the bar with another round of drinks and dazzled me with his charm. I was soon lost again, caught up once more in the charismatic web he wove.
That first night, he left me at my car door with a chaste kiss on the cheek. I had to admit I was rather disappointed, I had been expecting a slow seduction, whereby I could enjoy the first few moments before regretfully pushing him away and escaping with my feminine pride intact. Instead I was the one left wanting more and intensely frustrated when I didn't get it.
He left it three days before he got in touch again and by then I knew he was playing a subtle game with me. I was cool and friendly, but not overly so. He asked me out once more and I told him I'd think about it and let him know.
He laughed and said, fine, he would wait for my answer. I made him wait for a further two days before I replied to say yes, I would like to see him again. It nearly killed me to do this, but I thought with amusement, two could play that game.
I tried to call Helen once, I was curious to find out more about Chris. I got no reply however and although I left a message on her answer phone, she never got back to me. I wasn't too bothered; I could find no fault with Chris so far.
He told me he worked as a self-employed Electrician; he worked hours to suit himself and he had two daughters from a previous relationship. He also told me his relationship with his ex was pretty acrimonious and they were currently fighting over access to their kids. This was the reason he gave for keeping our relationship secret for the moment.
"I can't give Cindy any more ammunition to use against me," he sighed sadly. "If she thinks I'm seeing anyone else, she'll just make my life hell," I felt so sorry for him when he told me this; it sounded like his ex was a total bitch, using his kids to hurt him.
"You know how much I like you Lucy, but I think it's better if we keep it to ourselves for now. When this crap is all sorted out, you can tell who you like about us." He looked at me seriously, cupping my face in his hands. "Are you sure that's okay? I know it's not ideal and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to see me any more..."
.... There is more of this story ...