It was getting late, Layla called a taxi. I said that I should head home. Matt walked me to the door as Nina was topping up Layla and Patts glasses while they waited on a taxi. He had his hand on the small of my back as he opened the door, it made me hold my breath.
“You’re walking?” Matt asked as he saw me out when he noticed no taxi waiting.
“Yeah, back to the shithole part of town.” I twirled around.
“I thought you would have ordered an uber?” He looked confused. “I can call you a taxi if you want?”
“I know you could but I’ll just get home, I need to rest for work tomorrow you know my bitch boss right?” I joked raising my voice as I saw Nina coming up behind him, she smiled at me. I took a few steps down telling her that I’ll see her in the morning and thank you for the amazing dinner.
“Hey you bitch!” she called from the top of the steps, tossing her head back laughing and giving me the finger.
“Get an uber, it’s a twenty minuite walk!”
“It’s rough! No offence.”
“It’s fine I have nothing for them to nick.”
“Unless the robbers like chanel.”
“Oh yeah!” I looked down at the black quilted bag. “It’s fake! From the market.”
I swayed a little contemplating this for a moment.
“Matt!” Nina stuck her finger into Matts chest. “Walk Janey.”
He sighed, but gave me a side eye.
“Its ten munuites there and back!” Nina slurred. “Oh my god, you can get me a kebab!”
Her eyes widened as if it was just the best idea she had ever had. Nina? Modelesque thin Nina? A Kebab?
“We’ve just had a three course dinner,” he argued.
“Fuck it, you owe me anyway for getting pissed last week and missing our meeting,” she gantly pushed him out of the door and closed it behind him. Meeting? Counselling.
“I’m sorry.” I said, to him. But he didn’t look at all pissed off.
“It’s fine, I could eat a kebab actually Ninas trying to be posh with those little portions.”
“She is posh.” I said matter of a factly. He laughed but I didn’t know what was funny. He left my swaying while he went back in to get his jacket and his wallet.
“You’re not that steady on your feet are you” he asked, looping his strong arm under mine so we were walking with arms linked like children. His strong arm made mine feel small and delicate. I could feel the warmth of him beneath the layers of his leather jacket and my trench coat. I got that usual flood of warmth I get with human contact, considering how rarely I get it.
“I’m just a little tipsy, it’s cool,” I say, instantly cringing to myself.
“You say cool, I have never heard you say cool.”
“You don’t know me I could say cool, but you have me nailed, you’re right I don’t ever say that.”
This is true, I normally don’t really speak around him. I’ve always felt intimidated by him? I couldn’t form sentences, it was that nervous butterfly feeling you get public speaking for the first time. Now at least I was a little more cohesive, the wine giving me the confidence to at least say something rather than freeze and stare at him until I found how to use words. I looked up at him.
“Sometimes, I forget words when I talk to you,” what was I on about? Why were the weird swirls of drunken thoughts in my brain actually coming out of my mouth?
He laughed, no no no.
“You’re a funny little thing aren’t you?” he asked.
“No, I’m out of my league,” I admitted. Why is this still spilling out, oh god he looked really confused.
“With my job, fancy people like you and Nina, posh wine, look at my fake bag!” I stopped in my tracks and presented the bag by holding it high up in the air, as if it was evidential proof I don’t belong. I looked so stupid.
“You have a lot going for you!”
“I’m not fishing.”
“Nina always tells me how funny you are,” the bubble popped at the mention of her name and the bond of attraction linking us broken.
“I’m just drunk and lonely.” Now he would just feel sorry for me and see me as pathetic. I wondered again if the looks and touches he gave me were all in my head. Well, even if they weren’t, I have fully embarrassed myself now.
We stopped outside the Kebab shop, he got me a cheesy chip wrap. I handed it over to me, instead of taking it with my hands like a normal person and letting him hand it to me. I just leaned down a bite as he held it out, leaving the wrap still in his hand munis a bite, as I walked laughing. He was laughing as well, I went back and retrieved the wrap giggling like a schoolgirl.
“Aright, you are batshit.”
“Thank god you said that, that’s better than when you called me ‘quirky’.” I teased.
“Don’t flatter yourself.” He smiled down at me. “Wait a minute. Weren’t you just feeling sorry for yourself.”
“It comes in waves.”
“Do you not enjoy your independence though?” He looked at me seriously. “Don’t tell Nina I said anything.”
He paused and thought about this for a moment. I held my breath still feeling unnerved by how attracted I was.
He continued. “But I can tell you I think because I’m hammered and you’re hammered so it’s all good. Sometimes, I think that I’d like independence. I’ve always gone from serious relationship, to serious relationship, ever since school I’ve always had a girlfriend. Good to have company and support. And I’ve always wanted an easy life, being able to see the boys, go down the pub, whaver, so I’ve always just given women what they wanted in exchange for an easy life. My girlfriends, and Nina now. Have always pushed me around because I’ve always let them. For a quiet life. I’m pretty fed up with my quiet life now.”
Matt held me by the waist. His arm felt strong and steady like an anchor.
“Steady there girl,” he laughed, I could feel the warmth of his torso against mine, he felt strong and protective like a big shield. I felt embarrassed for being so unsteady on my feet, I felt my cheeks reddening.
“It’s these fucking shoes! I look like I have stumpy legs without them.”
“What the fuck is wrong with your legs then?”
“They don’t look stumpey or shitty. They look lovely.”
Hmm was he flirting? Lovelys not a sexy word, and why was I even thinking this? Stop, stop, stop.
We walked in an awkward silence for a bit, before my hiccup broke the tension.
He looked down at me again, so close with his arm around me. I was pulled in. I kept on staring back up at him.
“You look like you could use a steady hand,” he explained.
We were on a quiet street, nothing around us, no traffic. The terraced houses that lined the streets living room lights off in the terraced bay windows and just a gentle glow of streetlights making his eyes sparkle and highlighting his strong cheekbones.
We stopped walking. He turned to face me, arm still around my waist so that we were really close now, I could feel my boob against him. Jesus christ what was I doing?
He was so close, I could feel the heat of our breath together and the warmth of our bodies close due to the cold. The warm glow of the streetlight on his skin made me want to run my hands down the side of his face.
“You have huge eyes,” he was staring at me as if he was examining every inch.
“It’s all eyeliner.”
“Stop fucking putting yourself down.”
He brought a hand up to my face and held the back of my neck. So close. Our faces so close.
I lifted my chin a little, inviting him in. He kissed me, he held a soft gentle kiss while pulling me in closer. I let go and let it happen, kissing firmly back.
I could feel wetness on my cheeks. It was raining.
I pulled back and looked up at him. I kissed him again, firmer. He held me closer against the rain, squeezing my body into his. Adrenaline and excitement was rushing through me.
As we kissed I wrapped my arms around the back of his neck. He bent down and looped his strong hands under my thighs, lifting me up so my legs wrapped around his waist. I grinded my hips against him and clawed at his neck, kissing him harder, deeper.
He pushed me up against the side of the bus stop and we kissed more and more.
We kissed until a car driving by beeped its horn. Some lads shouted ‘wheeyyy’ out of the car window. Oh Shit.
Matt gently dropped me back to my shaky feet.
“Oh my god.” I said, my face hot and my heart racing.
“Shit!” he said, his eyes still on me.
I felt sick and dizzy and full. I bent down and I threw up. Probably with all the nerves.
“This is my fault, you had too much wine I took advantage!” he said, his head in his hands.
“I’m just stuffed, I’m not that drunk. You didn’t take advantage. I wanted you to because, well, I have a stupid thing going in my head,” I admitted.
“What’s in your head?”
“I’ve wanted this since I first met you.” I let it out. I’ve already fucked it now so may as well be honest. He smiled.
“I thought it was just me. The works do. You were in that black dress. I wanted you so badly I haven’t stopped wanting you since.” He said, his hands now on both of my shoulders so we were face to face.
“It’s wrong, but it was something in my head and I felt guilty enough about that!” I said, probably a little too loudly. I turned and carried on walking home. Matt followed me.
“Can we just keep it in our heads then?” He asked, while I was rushing away. He hardly had to chase to keep up with me in my heels.
“Well I don’t see any other option, but I’m worried it’s going to eat me alive.”
“We can only try.”
“Fuck my feet hurt.”
“Can I piggyback you the rest of the way then?”
“Jesus no! No more touching!” I batted him away. I was struggling though.“Okay, yes, thank you.”
After a few minutes of him carrying me and doing little jogs and bouncing up and down, I let my guilt go and I giggled the rest of the way home.
He dropped me at the front steps of my building.
“I want to kiss you.” I said, still smiling. He stuck out his bottom lip comically. I laughed and let myself in the door leaving him outside. I felt bad then for making light of the horrible thing I had done.
Probably not as bad as I should have felt.
I groaned in relief as I took my heels off and threw my bag onto the floor.
Matt, Matt fucking Matt. I pulled out the gin from the freezer and burned my hand with the cold, I glugged a bit into the glass and pulled out a bit of juice from the fridge. I made my little drink and wiggled out of my jeans.
I slumped down on the sofa and drank in my knickers before pulling my phone out of my clutch. No messages, no one seeing if I’ve had a good night, how my day was at work.
I climbed into bed with my little cocktail and thinking about what the fuck I had done for an hour.
I woke up head pounding in my scratchy blouse and lace underwear. Fucking hell, I turned the alarm off my phone and could taste nothing other than stale gin and wine.
I moved in slow motion out of bed, with all the force I had, grateful for my “time for run and breakfast” alarm giving me the time to get slowly and methodically ready. I really wanted to use the time for a bit more sleep but I knew that I would feel worse for it so I tried to keep in mind crawling into bed after work.
I downed a pint of water with a sachet of hangover cure vitamin stuff, turned on the coffee machine and heated a cup, checking my phone for any texts I sent and didn’t remember sending, my absolute worst nightmare. Thank god none!
I dug around in the fridge, finding some leftover pasta with pesto and had a few mouthfuls out of the fridge to give my acidic stomach something. Dry and horrible, I glugged water.
I washed, blow dried and stuck a few loose curls in my hair and applied my uniformed everyday makeup, foundation, bronze powder, thin winged eyeliner and red lips. As if having clean hair would make me feel better.
I chose a black lace bodysuit, a cream silk t-shirt and tailored trousers, with black boots ready by the door.
I was going to leave early and sit at my desk with a coffee and avoid eye contact with anyone.
I looked back at the flat though as I was leaving. It looked minging. Nothing worse than coming home from work hungover to a filthy flat.
I wiped down all the surfaces with lemon spray, washed the glasses and mugs, hoovered and pluggen in an air freshener, I sprayed some cleaner on the floor and dragged a dry mop around for a few seconds.
I still had time, too much time. I could run round the rest of the flat. I wiped down the bathroom quickly and changed the sheets and towels before sticking the washing machine on and heading out with a water and a few paracetamols down with it and mints shoved in my bag.
My head was pounding and I felt as if I was doing everything in slow motion.
Having my neglected flat looking clean, together and organised made me want to get through the day a little more so that I could go home and relax without the distraction of mess.
I still had a paranoid feeling that everyone would be able to tell how hungover I was.
I came in to an empty reception, nice and early but nervous.
Just a few keen to impress newbies still enthusiastic and keen to impress milling around, and Nina in her corner office tapping away. “How are you feeling, Janey?” she called out as I dumped my cream trench coat.
“Like shit,” I raised my eyebrows at her. “You?”
“Fucking terrible, we really shoudln’t get so pissed on a school night, I am not capeable of it nor am I setting a good example,” she had the back of her forhead held dramatically.
For all my effort she looked amazing with no effort, you could tell she twisted her dark hair into that bun in seconds and threw on that pencil skirt and blouse readily lined up in her immaculate wardrobe. I wanted to go to my desk and hide. My stomach wrapped in guilt and my throat tightening. I sat myself down on the other side of her designer desk.
She had just a little pale tinted moisturiser and her lashes were always professionally tinted curled and extended. She had very very natural lip fillers, you wouldn’t know, she’s had a very slight chin implant to make her already defined jawline even more so, she had a very dramatic but natural face with high strong cheekbones and cat eyes.
You wouldn’t know that she had anything done at all. No one did, she told me one night over a few wines, she showed me a few old photos, but you couldn’t point out what she had enhanced. She just seemed slightly more sculpted.
“Yeah it was a lot of wine, god that stuff was good though,” I laughed. “No wonder I got so pissed, I’m used to middle shelf supermarket wine.”
“It’s lovely, Matt’s favorite seems to be the only case he ever wants to order.” Matt and Nina have travelled the world and they always go out of the way to do a vineyard tour, they have wines they’ve tasted right from the vineyards around the world in their cellar, and they can always tell you something about the place, vineyard, or people they came across on their travels.
Nina looked me up and down. “Other than your piss eyes you look the same as any other day.” “Yeah I’m trying a new thing,” I announced. Nina raised her eyebrows at me.
“So I’m seeing if I get ready properly, and have my flat nice, I’ll feel like the rest of my life is in order, and I won’t have that horrible hangover paranoia.”
“What’s wrong with your life? Job, friends, successful writer, mortgage?” she eyed me. “You can’t badmouth your job. I’m your boss.”
“Thank you and I know. I can’t moan about myself any more, it’s not all about me and that’s not the point really,” I didn’t want to discuss family at all, she knew that.
It slipped out as next in the line of general questioning that you give someone when they complain about how shit their life is, friends, job, house, hobbies, family... not Ninas fault, but I still felt a knot twist in my stomach.
“I’m sorry,” she said sincerely. She must have realised. “I didn’t mean to bring up your family. I know its sensitive and, well, upsetting for you. It would be for anyone. It’s not your fault for having been born into crazy.”
After my Dad went to prison and my Mum kicked me out, I didn’t really have contact with any of my family members. My Mum couldn’t stand having me around her little house, in case I was in the way when her scruffy mates came round to party. She liked me even less when I was in the way of her boyfriends.
My dad would be in prison for a very long time. He was sentenced for killing the woman he was cheating on my Mum with. He claimed self defence, he said she was coming at her when they were arguing on the bridge and he defended himself. The cameras from the tolls on the bridge told a completely different story. It showed the aggression was one sided.
I never spoke about it, but everyone knew, and everyone knew that I didn’t want to talk about it. Especially after the time Nina told everyone about my family history. She said that she didn’t think that I would mind her telling people. She said it was something that made me interesting. I didn’t really want to be considered interesting for having a murderer for a father.
“I never gave you the whole picture anyway, we need a whole evening and wine for that,” I could see Nina eyeing out of her floor to ceiling glass wall, as everyone started to trickle in. I wasn’t going to give her more information, I was just filling the silence. I knew now that she would use the details for entertainment, her posh friends would find the rough girl that has a murderer for a father fascinating.
“Friday?” she asked.
“Yes, Keira as well?” I asked hopefully. I was Ninas preferential wine friend, however seeing them both Friday gives me room to do what I want on Saturday.
Oh God I had forgotten what I had done with Matt already. I got so caught up the day to day I made plans with her for God’s sake.
Maybe this was good. Maybe in time I could push it so far out of my mind that it never even happened.
“Fine, but she will be the one to leave if she starts acting childish again,” Nina sighed.
I remembered back to our last night out, it was drinking and chatting and laughing kind of night but Keira had a bit too drunk before she got there and spent the whole time wanting to do stupid videos, demanded we spend the whole night taking photos and very loud about it. Myself and Nina were used to just going out having a drink and eventually a dance, we didn’t really have a clue what was going on.
Nina was appalled, she was used to turning heads from her looks and not from screeching.
It was not a Nina kind of night out, not that she’s a prude, you can get her dancing about to a band or even in a nightclub at the end of a night but she was not up to being embarrassed in a nice cocktail bar.
“I think she was just a little pissed.”
"You don’t shove your phone in my face for hours when you’re pissed,” Nina smiled. “We’re always on the same level anyway, high tolerances from weekday wines.”
“True, she is a big personality, bless her. You know what? I had an idea walking here. We could do something about paranoid hangovers, asking why it does it to our brain after binge drinking. You know like waking up and feeling embarrassed, or not remembering and filling blanks with worse case scenarios?” I pitched. Then feeling the stab of guilt for what I had done to her.
“Yes!” She paused. “What regret?”
No, God, I kissed her husband, that regret.
“Anything and everything that comes out of my gob.” She laughed, safe.
Nina I’m regretting imagining your husband in bed with me every day since I met him. And acting on it.
“Get on the socials, get readers to send in ‘missing blanks’. Things they’ve done drinking but can’t remember and found out down the line. And also biggest drinking regrets. That can be a segment. Oh. And. Erm. At the end, remember a paragraph on the dangers of drinking or whatever, I’m not getting my balls kicked again for ‘promoting an unhealthy lifestyle’.”
“On it. Coffee?” I asked
“No I feel sick, I’m hungover.” She smiled. I laughed chugging at my water bottle and retreating to my desk. At least I had an idea for something to write about today, either despite or because of my hangover.
I gave into coffee after an hour of struggling, despite it turning my empty stomach. I had the article over halfway in a few hours.
I had a very funny drunk story from a reader about a trip to Ibiza.
She got up to have a wee in her hotel. Instead of going to the ensuite, she went outside to the hallway, thinking she was going into the toilet. She was completely naked and didn’t remember her room number.
She started trying all of the doors and found an open one, her drunken mind told her it must be her room. She went in and had her wee and heard a scream.
A couple on a romantic holiday had found a random, dunk, naked girl having a wee in her bathroom. She ran out terrified. She forgot that she should have grabbed a towel.
She ran around the hotel trying to find a cupboard with towels or sheets or something but could find nothing.
She had to go down to reception to find her room number and get a key fully naked.
The people working the front desk tried to find her a towel as quickly as possible. They didn’t get round the desk with one fast enough for the next coach of arrivals from the airport to arrive, with their suitcases they were greeted by a startled naked girl.
The next day she thought that it was a nightmare, because no way that could have happened. She did wake up safely in bed.
She found out later that day that it actually happened when she was being stared at by the people around the pool, and the man on reception asked if she was okay and told her what had happened when she came downstairs.
She later ran into the couple later on on the holiday whose bathroom she had a wee in, so that filled in another blank.
She said that she was still paranoid to this day about what else could have happened when she ran around the hotel naked. This was the perfect story for the website.
I had gotten a few answers from readers and had got two written and edited, sending them round the office so I had the room’s reaction as well as mine.
Keria bounced over.
“Imagine being naked in a hotel reception!”
I was busy typing and clicking all day, but the hangover made the minutes tick by slower and slower. I was so relieved when six o’clock came around and I could pack up and go home. I hadn’t eaten anything all day and was suddenly starving and remembering the guilt in my gut. I was feeling very sorry for myself.
I stopped on the way home and bought a pizza. The wait in the hot pizza shop was unbearable with my dehydration.
When I got home I found my comfiest pyjamas and laid on the sofa with my pizza and trashy TV. Pints of water, bread and cheese made me feel so much better. I got into bed as it got dark and tried to sleep.
I was exhausted, but I couldn’t stop thinking of what I had done last night and the repercussions. I was going over scenario after scenario of what could happen. Me being sacked mainly.
I made no plans for the weekend, I would normally go out with Nina or Keria, but made no plans this weekend, only for the next weekend. I couldn’t face it. I just wanted to feel sorry for myself.
I would stick on Netflix, trying to escape into something with a glass of wine and make the possibility of Monday feel nice and safely far away.
Saturday I laid around, ate and drank nearly everything in my fridge. I got on pintrest and tried to make some cocktails out of what I had in the cupboards. Wasn’t great.
I knew I was already not well liked in the office anyway, I was younger than most. I didn’t have the degrees they had. I was outspoken and had an open friendship with the boss.
Nina once told me I didn’t make friends with them because most people in the office were married with kids, they had different interests and couldn’t relate to me swanning off for dates and nights out. That they were jealous because their married life wasn’t what they expected, it wasn’t full of fun couples travel, renovations and dinner parties. I agreed that they are bored of three bedroom semis, bifold doors and children that didn’t want anything to do with them. And yet I sat thinking that stability and misbehaving pre teens sounded really good. From the windowI could hear the street noise and the neighbours arguing, a young couple that screamed at each other daily.
I pulled on my trainers and a thick coat and went two streets down to the nice corner shop, I was freezing by the time I burst into the little shop.
“We’re closing sorry tills locked!”
“Aww come on, the doors open!”
Ramesh lifted his head from his phone.
“Janey, go on then, make it bloody quick though.”
“Can you get me twenty posh-ish fags and a lighter, I forget the nice brands its been a while, please?” I asked as delicately as I could picking out a bottle of malbec, a six pack of larger bottles, a bag of mixed nuts and a huge bag of pretzels and some crisps.
“Saturday evening party?”
“No, just a pitiful night in.”
“Oh.” He put his phone down completely and was looking at me with concern.
“Sorry, too much personal information.” I laughed, rolling my eyes at myself.
Thankfully he changed the subject.
“You’ve been coming here for years you’ve never bought fags,” he said placing down a pack of L and B.
“Not smoked since I was eighteen, I can’t remember why I stopped.” I was flattered he took notice of what I bought, at least I had a friend in the local corner shop owner. He packed up my booze and snacks in silence and as I paid he gave me another pity look.
“What’s with you, you were a lot happier last week.”
“I’ve behaved very badly and I think it’s catching up with me.”
“Don’t we all every now and then, and I’m sure you’ve spent more than your fair share of time trying not to.”
“Thank you, I’ll try not to dwell.”
“Have a good one, girl.”
The comment on how he was sure I’d spent a lot of time trying not to do the bad thing stuck with me. Did all my trying very very hard not to touch Matt count for anything? Well no, clearly it didn’t.
I’m sure if I said to Nina, ‘Well, It’s not that bad that I shagged your husband, Matt, because I’ve wanted to do it for such a long time. I’ve restrained myself for so long, so, I’m a saint really’ she would tell me to fuck off.
I felt another pang of guilt hit me and a sink on hearing his name in my head.
I imagined them at home, laughing, chatting and cooking and felt jealousy rise.
I could be happy in my lovely little flat on my own. Why did I have to go after this and complicate everything.
With a newfound determination, I lit candles and made the flat cosy. I poured a large wine and put on some nice music. I found a delivery service online where I could buy some house plants and some plants for outside. I ordered a load and some nice planters. And some pots and baskets for my little balcony. I ordered some waterproof seats and a rug, some outdoor twinkle lights and waterproof cushions out there. I could have a nice home, even if it was just me.