As I walk back into the studio, I smile as the ladies from the class Amalia took for me.
“Shame we weren’t able to see you today,” one of my regulars smiles, her teal blue mat slipping briefly from her shoulder.
“Yes, but next class, promise,” I smile to her as they all leave.
Amalia turns from her studio, one of the many mats she owns rolled in her hands.
“So— how was it?”
“It was— well,” I say but stop when I hear the door open, the bell ringing just above it but smirk when I see a white handkerchief being waved quite vigorously.
“Is it safe to come in? I come in peace I promise,”
“Come in Ollie,” Amalia and I both call out.
“I’m not going to get hit with one of those cushions or what was it, a cork brick,”
“Block,” we call out again simultaneously.
The door swings open, Oliver walking in, his charming smile beaming from underneath his dirty blonde beard. As he tucks the handkerchief back in his pocket, he looks between us but his eyes eventually settle on me.
“What’s up?” I ask, sitting down in the seat, and resting my chin against the palm of my hand.
“Well—,” he smiles again walking a little closer to me, “It depends if I get to keep my balls this time,”
“Ollie,” I warn.
“Ok—ok,” he replies, his hands held up in defence, “I was wondering seeing as I daren’t actually call you, I figured I could come here and ask you out for dinner,”
With wide eyes, my mouth falls open just a little as I sit straight, my hand falling against the desk.
“O-Ollie,” I stammer and see his smile drop.
“Look,” he steps forward again, “I know—, I know we didn’t get off to the best start and I know that you would have been infuriated with Mali for giving me your number, but in her defence, I kinda pestered her to give it to me, so to shut me up she did, but then I heard how you were when she rang you, and since then I figured I best keep my distance, but now I don’t want to wait, I’ve thought of nothing else since that night, so please— will you have dinner with me? If you hate me, then that’s fine, you can erase me from your memory and I promise never to walk into this studio again,”
I must admit, even when he irritated me, I wasn’t blind at just how attractive he was, but then again, I made myself the vow to never fall in love again, never be with another man, and here I am, sat in the studio, with not one man asking me out but two.
“Sure she will,” Amalia chimes.
“Oh— she will, will she?” I say sarcastically, my eyes burning into hers.
“Don’t talk to me in the third person, it creeps me out,” she mocks, fighting back a smile.
“So will you?” Ollie asks, his eyes watching me for my reaction.
“Sure— when?” I smile back politely, my eyes soft and my tone in no way sarcastic.
“How about Friday?”
I suck the air in through my teeth and say, “How about Saturday?”
He nods, his eyes darting to Amalia quickly and then back to me, a smile wide on his face. With a spring in his step, he almost bounces as he begins making his way back to the door, “Great, that’s— great, I’ll ring you, or maybe you could ring me, no— I’ll ring you,” he rambles, waving gently as he opens the door and spins out, one last cheesy grin on his face as the door closes behind him, and I smile watching as he practically skips across the street.
“He likes you,”
“No, he doesn’t, he just thinks he does, once he gets to know me, knows how awkward and unlikeable I am, he’ll lose interest,” I sigh, turning my attention back to the screen in front of me. However I’m spun around quickly, Amalia leaning just above me, her hands either side on the armrests and with an expression completely serious and dare I say it a little terrifying she watches me, her breathing steady as she simply says, “Shut up,”
“I’ve never known someone to be so self-conscious, someone who can belittle themselves and not care that they do it or how it offends someone else,”
“You’re offended,” I chuckle, a snort sounding out for good measure.
“Yes,” she says, her face completely deadpan, “Have you even met you? You’re amazing Sunday, you’re kind, loving and generous. I’ve never met someone who is so selfless, despite not truly knowing you all that long, but I know you well enough to know that you would do anything for anyone, even if it meant disregarding your own feelings,”
I blush, embarrassed by the praise I seldom receive.
“Precisely, you barely know me,”
“You got that from everything I just said, you drive me crazy!” she exclaims, standing up straight and standing back, her arms folding in front of her chest.
“Look, I’ve been so used to being told all the things that are wrong with me, and when someone, anyone, gives me even the slightest hint of praise, or in your case a rush of praise, I can’t take it, I’m not one for compliments, I never really have been,” I tell her.
“Well, that one you’re taking. I’m sure Jake thought so too,”
“He said I looked nice, that was all,”
“What else did he say?”
Do I dare tell her that he told me he missed me, or the hug he gave me outside the restaurant or the hug I gave him? My cheeks burn a little but I pull my hoody up, hoping that the heavy fabric will hide the redness glowing from my skin.
“How was it? The lunch?”
“It was— well it was lunch,” I vaguely reply.
“Oh— just a lunch hmm,”
“Yes Mali, just lunch,” and a surprisingly soothing embrace.
“So are you going to see him again?”
“Friday?” She whines, “Are you sure? I mean he was number five for a reason, why on earth would you want to get involved with him again?”
“It’s just drinks,”
“Oh it’s just drinks she says, next you’ll be in a taxi on the way back to his apartment,” she sighs, her arms rather dramatically swiping through the air, “and then the next thing you’ll know, your panties will be around your ankles and you’ll be spread over his marble countertops,”
“Amalia,” I gasp disgusted.
“What?” Her eyes widen.
“Firstly, I’m not that easy, and second he’s my ex, just because I agreed to drinks does not mean I’ll be doing anything with that man. As you say, he’s my ex for a reason, so— if it’s ok with you, I’d quite like it if you didn’t make me out to be some sort of easy lay who will willingly throw herself at a man or—, that I’ll spread my legs because believe me, that won’t happen,”