You hear the taxi driver mumble.
Hayley- Sorry, did you say something?
Driver- Yes love. That's 12$ please?
Hayley- Oh yes. Of course. I'm sorry. Here you go.
You hand him 20$ before you sheepishly speak again.
Hayley- Actually do you mind at all if I quickly change here? In the back seat? It's okay if not. I just slightly feel under dressed.
Taxi driver begins to chuckle.
Driver- Yes, dear. I will avert my eyes.
Hayley- Thank you.
You shuffle through your bags & pull out a green dress you bought. Green has always been your color. It brings out your green eyes & goes well with your hair. You shake out of your denim skirt & pull out your blouse. Your pulling off the tags from your dress when you hear a knock on your window. You turn to see Carl staring at you through the window with a bemused look on his face. Oh my Christ. You start to flush bright red & quickly pull the dress over your head. You thank the driver again & get out of the taxi staring at the ground. Carl speaks first.
Carl- You normally get dressed in taxis?
He lets out a belly laugh & you can't help but smile.
Hayley- Shut up.
You snigger. Carl throws his arm around your shoulder & leads you towards the house. He leans in & whispers in your ear,
Carl- You look beautiful, however I prefer you in your inner.
You gasp & a small smile form on your face.
Hayley- Well, Mr Kingsley if you play your cards right, you might be able to see them again.
Carl- Hmm.. I've a feeling you're going to be trouble.
You laugh & Carl takes your hand in his, it feels so comfortable. You walk up to the front door & Carl pushes it open, telling you to leave your bags in the cupboard near the stairs.
Carl- You want a drink?
Hayley- Yes, please, do you have any red wine?
Carl- Yeah, of course, follow me.
He leads you to his kitchen, you could fit your entire flat into this one room. You can't help but look around, your eyes darting to the various pictures hanging on the walls.
Carl- You like the place?
Hayley- I love it. It's huge & so beautifully designed & decorated.
Carl- I'd like to take credit, but my sister is an interior designer, she decorated this place.
Hayley- She's really good. Is she here today?
Carl- Yes. She's out in the garden. Are you ready to meet everyone?
Hayley- Yes, also I'm starving & something smells bloody amazing.
Carl laughs & places his hand on the small of your back, his touch is electric. You walk out into the garden & immediately feel as if everyone's eyes land on you both. You don't know why, but you feel a little embarrassed.
Carl looks down at you & again takes your hand in his, making you feel confident. He begins walking up to groups of people & introduces you.
Carl- You okay?
Hayley- Yeah, everyone seems really nice.
A group of four men strides towards you. One of them playfully slap Carl on his shoulder.
Ian- My, my Carter, have you actually brought a date?
The man chuckles & Carl holds up his middle finger to him. He pushes you slightly forward.
Carl- Ian this Hayley, Hayley this is Ian, My brother in law.
Hayley- Hi, it's nice to meet you.
Ian turns to Carl.
Ian- Christ man.. You've done well.. She's gorgeous.
You feel your cheeks blush, you shuffle your feet a little & try to let out a forced laugh.
Carl- Shut up Ian. Ignore him, Hayley. Where is Caelie?
Ian- She went to get drinks for us. Ah. There she is..
He points behind you & you see Caelie. You can't help but notice how much she looks like Carl.
Carl- Caelie, I want to introduce you to Hayley. Hayley, this is my sister Caelie.
Caelie- Hi, it's a pleasure to meet you. He tells me you like to design bags & I would love to see some of your work.
Hayley- Yeah.. I would love to show you sometime. Carl told me you designed this house & I think it's absolutely incredible.
She blushes slightly & grabs your hand.
Caelie- Excuse us boys.
She swings around & you follow behind her, you glance back at Carl who's staring deep into your eyes, you smile at him & he smirks back with a sultry look. Cailie leads you into the washroom down stairs & starts fixing her hair.
Caelie- You're beautiful. I can see why my brother likes you so much.
Hayley- Thank you, but I don't know about that yet. We've only been on one date.
Caelie- He has been smiling ever since your date & he doesn't usually smile much.
She laughs & begins to pull down her jeans to go to the toilet & you avert your eyes & she giggles.
Caelie- We're both girls Hayley. Don't mind me.
Hayley- That's okay. So does Carl not bring girls often?
You ask as if you're not trying to pry.
Caelie- He hasn't been on a date in over two years Hayley. Not since his wife Laila died, you're the first girl he has dated since then.
You gasp & swing around to stare at Caelie.
Caelie- Oh god! He didn't tell you? I'm so sorry, I shouldn't run my big mouth.
You feel like you've been hit by a ton of bricks. He had a wife? You're his first date in two years? Here you thought you were casually dating & now this feels too serious.
Hayley- Well, we haven't known each other long. I totally understand why he wouldn't want to talk about it.
Caelie- I feel like it's been longer. My brother has been talking about you for a while.
Hayley- What do you mean?
Caelie- I'm not supposed to say this, but he has been building up the courage to ask you out for a while. I actually told him to give you his card. You work at Claytons & he goes there all the time & you caught his eye a long time ago.
Hayley- Oh, I had no idea.
That's all you can muster to say. You begin to feel overwhelmed & suffocated.
There's a knock on the bathroom door.
Carl- Come on girls, food is ready.
Caelie pulls up her pants & unlocks the door. Your eyes shoot straight up to Carl's & he must sense your unease.
Carl- You okay?
Caelie looks back & forth at you both, then hurries off back towards the garden.
Hayley- Yeah I'm fine.
He looks at you quizzically, then pulls your arm back towards him when you go to walk away.
Carl- Hayley, What is it? Come here.
He pulls you off into a little, it's a lot smaller than the rest of the rooms in the house. It has a small table in the corner with a lamp & a computer & some files on it. You let out a sign & stare at him.
Hayley- How long have you been watching me at Claytons?
Carl- Ah, I see. What's my sister been telling you Hayley?
He steps forward towards you & you feel yourself, take a step back. He continues.
Carl- Yes, I have noticed you for a couple of months in the shop. I have wanted to ask you out for a while. I'm sorry I should have said, there is just something about you. I was just finding the courage. You're beautiful & caught my attention. Is there something wrong with that?
Hayley- No, but your sister said you haven't dated since you know.. Um.. Your wife. Um.. I'm so sorry, but this feels like a lot of pressure.
His body goes rigid & he brushes his hand through his hair, frustrated. His whole demeanor changes.
Carl- My sister should learn to keep her fucking mouth shut.
Your mouth drops open & you stare at him, you have never seen this side of Carl. He looks damn beautiful when he's angry.. He continues..
Carl- Please Hayley, you don't have to feel any pressure, we are just two people casually dating. Everyone has a past & I'm finally trying to move on. If you give this a chance I think we could both be happy.
You unfold your arms & stare at him. You know immediately that he really likes you & you're just not there yet. You hardly know this man. You worry with everything that's going on that this is just too much. Before you can air your concerns, he grabs your back & kisses you. You just melt in his arms not really thinking about anything else. You pull away & whisper to him.
Hayley- No pressure?
Hayley- Did you say the food's ready?
He grabs your hand & leads you out of the room. The rest of the afternoon is wonderful, you haven't laughed so much in a while. All of Carl's friends are super interesting & the conversation just flows. You split off from Carl at times feeling more confident but he always has his eye on you, which you like. The food is delicious & the wine keeps flowing. Your topping up your glass when Carl comes & wraps his arms around your waist & whispers in your ear..
Carl- Want to play a game?
You instantly freeze. Your wine spills out onto the counter & you spin around so quickly that Carl looks taken aback.
Hayley- What the hell did you just say?
There are a few people in the kitchen who look uneasy & begin to quickly shuffle their way to the back door. Carl holds his hands up in the air.
Carl- What Hayley? What's wrong?
Hayley- What did you fucking say?
You hiss at him & he looks more than confused. You feel slightly sick & in that instant all the wine that you've consumed hits you all at once.
Carl- I asked If you wanted to play a a game?
Hayley- Why would you ask that?
You realize how panicky your voice sounds as you continue to stare at him.
Carl- I'm confused Hayley. A few of us are going to play a card game So, I was simply wondering if you wanted to play with us.
Tears start pooling in your eyes. What if it's him? Could it be him? He has been watching you for a couple of months. You feel so uneasy & want to go home. You stand still & you don't know what to say.
Carl- Hayley, please tell me what's wrong? I don't understand.
He stands there pleading you, but you can't help but feel like you've caught the culprit, is this all a sick game to him? You breathe in & speak.
Hayley- I don't feel well. I need to go.
You turn on your heels & head towards the door.
Carl- Hayley wait.. I'll drive you.
Hayley- No, thanks. I'll just get a taxi. Thanks for the afternoon, I had a great time.
You lean into him & peck him on the cheek. If it is him, then he is a psycho & you don't want to piss him off..
Carl- I'll wait with you till the taxi arrives.
Hayley- Honestly, it's okay. Please go enjoy your party & tell everyone that I'm sorry I had to go. I just don't feel well.
You head for the front door after grabbing your bags & begin to dial for a taxi. Carl follows you out of his house & you snap at him.
Hayley- Could you please leave me alone?
Carl- No, I won't. I'm completely baffled. It seemed like you were having a good time & now you won't even tell me what's really wrong with you?
You turn back to him while giving your address to the taxi firm & Carl grabs your waist & swings you around.
Hayley- Get off me, just leave me alone.
Carl- Not until you tell me what's going on.
You really don't want to discuss this with him right now, you're drunk & scared & totally out of your comfort zone. But you know he is not going to leave you alone so you snap at him again.
Hayley- Did you do it? Did you send me the note?
Carl- What are you even talking about?
Hayley- Someone has been quite seriously stalking me Carl, leaving me notes, breaking into my apartment. Asking if I want to play a game & I'm beginning to think that's you.
He takes a step back & he softens his body.
Carl- Honestly Hayley, that was just a coincidence. We were going to play a game & I thought you could join us. Do I really look like some psycho stalker?
Carl- I don't know what to think Carl, I know you've been watching me for some time. The police know, you know, so, if it is you, I advise you to stop.
Your taxi comes up into the drive & you, don't hesitate to get straight in, you slam the door hard & leave Carl standing there in a shock.