‘I can’t get you out of my head.’ The rain hammered down and bounced off the pavement. It had flattened his hair and was dripping off the end of his nose, but he smiled what he hoped was his best smile nonetheless.
‘Any chance that I can come in. I’m cold and wet and have travelled for about ten solid hours, not including the forty minute taxi journey from the airport to get here.’
‘This is just a bit of light drizzle. All that time abroad has turned you into a big Jessie.’
’Have you ever been to New York in the winter? It’s subzero. Makes your winter positively tropical. My balls literally froze off last year.′
‘Have you flown all this way just to give me the fine details of an inconsequential medical problem? And if I’m being really picky, I’d say your exaggerating to the millionth degree, because your balls were very much there, intact and fully functioning the last time I saw you.’
‘Ok, you win that minor point, and I am sorry about that,’ he said sheepishly, looking up at her from underneath his eyelashes, ‘That was pretty unacceptable behaviour, but please, can I at least come in before I develop trench foot and my balls really do shrivel up and fall off? I swear to god, the damp is seeping into my bones.’
She gave the briefest of nods and moved very slightly, indicating he could come in, but making it obvious that she had no intention of making it easy for him.
He squeezed his body through the small gap between her body and the door frame. He was close enough to feel the warmth radiate from her and to breath in the faint smell of her perfume.
‘Hi,’ he smiled down at her.
She faltered. ‘I warn you, the place is a real mess. Nothing like that minimalist, shiny, sparkly, squeaky clean loft space you call home.’
‘I haven’t travelled all this way to come and check out the tidiness of your flat, although,’ he said nodding in the direction of unopened charity bags stacked on the shelf behind the door, ‘I’m led to believe you’re supposed to fill these with unwanted clothes and donate them to charity, or are you using them as some sort of eco-friendly insulation material?’
‘Why don’t you tell me why have you travelled all this way then? It seems to me it was just to make wisecracks, and just for the record, plastic charity bags would be the most un-eco-friendly form of insulation.’
‘I realise that. I was assuming you’d see the irony and I told you, bizarrely, I couldn’t, can’t, get you out of my head.’
‘In the words of The Great Kylie.’
‘I guess, although I’m not one for plagiarism, especially when it comes to sweet talking a lady.’
Izzie laughed despite herself, ‘Oh my god, what era are you living in? Do people really still call it sweet talk?’
‘I’ve never said it before, it must be the damp seeping into my mind. Is there any chance of me making it to second base, by which I mean through to the hall, maybe even the living room, with a hot drink thrown in, then I’ll be on my way if you haven’t succumbed to my sweet talk and rakish good looks.’
‘Have you seen yourself?’
‘Have you seen yourself,’ he asked, raising his eyebrows, nodding in the direction at her breasts.
Shit! She realised she was wearing nothing but her PJs which consisted of a very short pair of shorts, a vest top, but more importantly, no bra. And it was cold!′
That was the stimulus she needed to usher him through to the living room. ‘Straight ahead,’ she indicated with a nod of her head, allowing him to walk ahead of her whilst she rubbed furiously at her nipples in a vain attempt to heat them up, but she was aware it wasn’t just the cold which was making them stand to attention. She allowed herself the luxury of a fully-fledged grin behind his back. There was no way she was going to make any of this easy for him though.
She watched him as he flopped onto the sofa and rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. Even through his obvious exhaustion, he still looked good. How was that possible? One night without sleep and she looked like Alice Cooper on a bad day.
He looked up and sighed. ‘So, any chance of a very strong coffee?’
She eyed him suspiciously for a moment before reluctantly agreeing. In truth, she really didn’t want to let him out of her sight, but her very correct upbringing wouldn’t allow her to be impolite. The rules of hospitality prevailed at all times.
She left him momentarily to put the kettle on. Instant coffee would have to do for now. She returned as quickly as was acceptable without appearing too keen. ‘The kettle will be a few minutes. I’m clean out filter coffee or I would have made a cafetiere,’ she lied.
‘It’s fine ’ he waved his hand dismissively, ′ right now a cup of hot water sounds like a luxury. Look,′ he sighed, rubbing his hair vigorously to shake out some if the water, ‘I know I messed up a bit back there, but I...’
‘Ok, a lot, but I immediately saw the error of my ways. I panicked ok? I’m an idiot. Men aren’t used to dealing with their feelings the same as women. It takes us longer to come to terms with them. I think I have a sort of emotional dyslexia or perhaps you’re right, perhaps I am on the autistic spectrum.’
‘You’re feelings are not a disease,’ she laughed scornfully, ‘besides, none of this is relevant, you’re not beholden to me.’
He looked bewildered and she could feel herself softening towards him. ‘I know that, but that’s not what I’m saying. Look,’ he sighed, ‘can we start again? How about we go for dinner?’
‘I’m not having sex with you!’
‘I didn’t ask you to! God you’re infuriating! Do you ever listen? I ask you a question, how about dinner? And you answer a different question, shall we have sex!’ he blurted.
‘No, you didn’t ask directly, but the wine, the candles, a transatlantic flight can all very easily turn into sex.’
‘Fine! How about lunch instead then, although to be honest I have no idea what time it is. Are we too late for lunch?’
‘Yes, but there are plenty places we can get food out with lunch time.’
‘Great. That’s a deal. Just some food. No wine, no candles, no sex. Any chance of that coffee though?’
Izzie headed back through to the kitchen to get the coffee. She closed the living room door behind her and hugging herself tightly, jumped up and down on the spot like a small child on Christmas day.
‘Are you ok out there?’ he shouted through, ‘what’s all that banging?’
She’d forgotten about the wooden floors. ‘It’s nothing, I just bumped into the table. I’ll just be a minute with the coffee.’
‘Here we go,’ she said as she pushed the living room door open with her foot. I even found some biscuits, Bourbons, just to remind you of home. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any Tunnocks Tea Cakes.′
These’ll do just fine. Caffeine and sugar, just what I need.′
‘Ok, you give yourself a sugar boost and I’ll just grab a quick shower and get changed.’
‘No worries. Take as long as you need, I mean, not that you need to take ages. You look great as it Is, it’s just that even in Newcastle you might get odd looks going out in such skimpy attire.’
‘Careful what you say. The Newcastle girls can be pretty scary if they think you’re casting aspersions on their good character, although, to be fair, I think I’d pretty much get away with it if I change these slippers for heels.’
She suddenly wished she’d never pointed out the slippers as she saw his eyes move slowly down her bare legs, finally coming to rest on her pink fluffy boot slippers. She felt her insides melt as his eyes travelled down her body.
‘Nice!’ he said as he raised his eyebrows. She could see he was smirking and she realised how ridiculous she must look.
‘I’ll just go then,’ she said backing out the living room door.
Once in her bedroom she grabbed her phone and began typing furiously. OMG!!!. Guess who’s sitting in my actual living room, on my actual sofa? It’s him. The guy I told you about. All the way from America and we’re going for lunch!!!!
She waited for Lyndsey’s immediate response. Her phone never left her side and she could be relied upon for an ITR (immediate text reply). Not so on this occasion though, which could only mean one of two things. She was either ensconced with some love interest or she’d dropped her phone down the toilet again and it was now sitting in a bag of rice.
Izzie couldn’t wait any longer. She headed for the shower. She would have to wash and dry her hair, choose something to wear and apply some subtle make up, but she knew from experience that she could turn this around in ten, fifteen minutes max.
True to form, thirteen minutes later she burst through the living room door ready to reveal what she hoped would be a subtle, sexy, I’m one of those lucky people who don’t need to make an effort, look.
Charlie was fast asleep on the sofa. Head skywards, mouth wide open, legs (long legs, clad in tight jeans she couldn’t help but notice) stretched out in front of him. Thankfully he wasn’t snoring and there was no saliva dribbling from his full mouth.
She sighed, unsure whether to wake him. She knew better than that. This was payback for her, almost identical actions a few weeks ago and if anyone had tried to waken her from her heavy jet lagged sleep on that occasion, she would have quite happily rammed a hot cattle prod up their arse.
No! As much as she felt a stab of disappointment, she knew it was best to leave him sleeping. In fact, that way, she could just sit and look at him. There was no doubt about it, he really was very good looking. Dark, almost black hair with eyes to match as she recalled. Tall. At last five foot eleven she reckoned, broad shoulders and a very nice body. One he obviously looked after as it seemed to be just nicely toned. Not too muscled bound.
So all in all, just her type, although on reflection, she wasn’t really sure if she had a type. Her only real criteria was that he had to be at least five foot ten, not because she was heightest or had anything against short men. She had always found Ronnie Corbett rather attractive if truth be told, but she needed a little height to accommodate her own five foot eight inches. Her last two boyfriends had been just a little short for her. Not that Charlie was actually her boyfriend. Although, if she was honest, she probably would like him to be.
After ten minutes she decided she felt too much like a voyeur to sit here any longer. With a sigh, she rose and went to fetch him the spare duvet. By the time she came back he’d changed his position and was now lying curled up on her sofa looking like he was settled for the night. She lay the duvet on top of him being careful not to disturb him. She closed the curtains and crept quietly out of the room.
Her phone was flashing with missed messages. The last one read, OMG!!! What is he doing in your living room?
Sleeping! She replied and turned the phone off. She needed some time to think.
She knew he’d be asleep for ages, maybe all night and it was only early afternoon. She left a note on top of him to say she’d gone out to get some food shopping and to text her if he woke up.
He was still fast asleep by the time she returned so she decided to go about her Saturday night business as usual, which was a shower, glass of wine and at least an hour trying on different outfits, then out to meet friends for a few drinks. Normally it would be more than two but she deemed it might be rude to stay out drinking all night, although that was nothing compared to what he’d done to her, but the reality was that she wanted to be back if he woke up.
She replaced the first note with a second and locked the door behind her, realising only when she was on her second glass of wine in town, discussing the day’s events in minute detail, that she had in fact actually locked him in. Again, no worse than what he’d done to her!