STUPID Christmas parties! Idiot! I let a few drinks get the better of my well-balanced brain, and I actually cornered him at the office party. I put one hand up to my weary head, throbbing from too much booze and the knowledge that I have an amazing amount of stupidity running through my veins. Liking him for a year, escaping his notice, but finally allowing it to get the better of me. I never knew this sort of crush could actually take over my life. Wondering what to wear the next day before you even go to bed the night before, worrying about every little blemish, every bad hair day, and every bloated fat day that you have. I feel like fucking Bridget Jones!
My mind is a thumping mess as I stumble out of bed and stub my toe on the leg of the bedside cabinet. I yell out in pain as I hobble over to the bathroom.
“Shit, shit, shit.”
I look in the mirror, only to wave my appearance away with one hand. I get into the shower, reaching blindly for the shower knob, and turn it. Going to work is the last thing on my mind. I want to just fall back into bed and forget that I exist. I actually want to forget that I have just made a damn fool of myself with my friend, Tom.
We’re friends, plain and simple, but now… well, by my guess, he’ll be running in the other direction. And who could blame him? I am a fucking moron. Why did I think “friends” would turn out to be anything more? Had he ever given me any indication that he felt differently? Um, no! Had he ever said in a seductive, come hither manner, “Let’s grab a drink and then have rampant, disgusting, lustful, full out, horny sex?” Um, no! Had he ever, ever said, “Hey, I fancy the arse off you; let’s make a go of it, you gorgeous being.” Um, no, no, noooo!
I dress slowly, trying to make sense of what happened last night, shaking my head the whole time. If I could punch myself in the face as punishment, I would. I try to figure out what to say when I see him. Maybe I could just say it was a bet; he may go for that, yeah, he may well do.
I make my way down the empty street to begin the very early day I agreed to work a week ago. I realize I need to finish something for the presentation today, which I refrained from doing last night, abandoning the final touches to it with the hope that I would bed the guy of my dreams. Seems ridiculous now. I feel drowsy, stupid, heavy-headed, drowsy, yeah, said that already! Still, making a fool of myself is something I’m clearly very good at.
My need for coffee is overwhelming. If I smoked, I would probably be on my second pack by now. I make a detour to a coffee shop that we—meaning he and I—always used on our way to the office when we were friends.
I open the door, the ding of the bell making an almighty racket inside my skull, and head over to the counter—luckily in one piece. The look of sticky buns and sandwiches makes me want to walk in the other direction.
“Latte, please. Extra strong. Extra sugar. Thank you,” I say, unable to make a complete sentence. My head is pounding, and my legs feel almost heavy in their struggle to keep the rest of me up. Bed, God, bed is such a good idea right about now. I’m waiting for what seems like an eternity for the person behind the counter to make up his mind how to work the coffee machine. Why do you always get someone like that when you are in a rush, or have a hangover, or made a fool of yourself at the fucking Christmas party?
“There you go. Anything else?” I’m lost in a world of my own, and my thoughts are no longer on coffee as I sigh and take it, giving him a twenty pound note, which he “tuts” at.
“If you have any dignity back there,” I say, “I’ll take some of that.”
The guy behind the counter looks bewildered as he hands me my extra-strong, extra-sweet latte and my change. I wave away my comment that he doesn’t understand and has no wish to. As I open the lid to inhale the sweet aroma, I look up and see him, yes, him, walking out of the toilet. Oh, just great!
Luckily he’s not looking in my direction. My lips hover above the coffee cup, the steam scalding my mouth. With hot coffee in hand, lips burning, and looking like some idiotic fool… again, I try to slide out of the coffee shop without being seen. That works super well until I clumsily replace the lid and scald myself again. Like a fugitive, I duck behind the counter to avoid being seen by my cute friend—the one I hit on last night.
To say I was drunk as hell is not exactly the whole truth, either. Pretending to be a lot more drunk than I was is more accurate. Considering we’ve inhabited the same nightclubs, he generally knows how much I can take, and that I really don’t like to drink. What I did have to drink last night—more than usual—has left me with a raging headache this morning. I am so lame.
I am still in a crouched position; I have a throbbing headache, probably due to the lack of sleep as well; my hand and mouth are burned from the coffee; and then I hear him say, “Hi.”
Latte in hand, I raise my head with, I’m sure, a stupid look on my face. I’m bent into a position as if I’m on the toilet with a queue of people waiting to be served! Have I completely lost my mind? I slowly stand up and look at the adorable brown eyes, the strong athletic frame, and the face that could melt a thousand hearts, and then I wince at the memory of last night… yet again.
“Thought I saw you! What you doing down there?”
Good question, but I have no logical answer. “Oh, thought I lost some change. Trying to find it.” I move away from the groans and moans coming from the people behind me and stand, exposed, in the middle of the coffee shop, wanting the floor to just swallow me up.
“Good night last night, don’t you think?” he asks.
“How do you mean, um… I mean, yeah… good night. Excellent.” I feel like an absolute arse, knowing he knows I tried my moves on him last night—moves that got me nowhere. Good night? Oh yeah, I feel fucking brilliant this morning.
“Head feels like it’s been sawed off,” he says. “Surprised at you, Charlie, you can’t drink to save your life. Shit, how much did we have ?”
“Um, can’t remember… a lot, though. God! Major fuzzy head this morning!” I swipe my hand over my head, trying to show I have a major headache. Am I actually sweating now? God! I’m waiting for the punch line as he moves toward the door, opening it, allowing me to pass by him first.
“What you doing up this early anyway?” He closes the door after him, no mention of the kiss—yet. Please put me out of my misery.
“Work to do, presentation to finish off. You?”
“Early meeting. I should have thought things through last night. Early meetings after a Christmas party don’t mix.”
“You got that right. Um… did you have a good time, though? That’s the question.”
“To be honest I can’t remember a great deal, I think I had one too many tequila shots. Who ordered those?”
“Can’t remember.” Um… guilty, guilty, guilty, trying to relax you so I could stick my tongue down your throat; shit, he has to remember that!
“Well, all I can really remember is Kathy getting me a cab and taking me home. Shit, can’t believe I’m actually coming to work, still feel a bit drunk.” He laughs, oh God, that laugh. I’m so horny. His mouth is open; maybe I can just stick my tongue down his throat now. That would make him remember, surely! “Where did you get to, anyway?”
Oh, I hightailed it out of there after sticking my tongue down your throat. Everything was going so well, until you realized who I was and what I was doing; surely you must remember that!
“Oh, felt sick, so I went home early. So you don’t remember anything else?”
“I think I may have been hit on, but it’s all a bit fuzzy. Anyway, we better hurry; I’ve got a lot to do when I get to the office, and I have to say, the way I’m feeling, I’m not going to make it past lunch time.”
We get to work, both looking like shit, and part company. I sit at my desk, feeling completely confused. He actually doesn’t remember that my tongue had taken a firm and lustful root in his mouth last night? How is that possible? Am I that bad a kisser? He had pushed me off, clearly slightly worse for wear, but he had pulled me forward, toward him in the beginning. It seemed that was what he wanted.
My head is a complete and utter garbled mess. My presentation is not finished, but I decide to make my way up to the third floor, needing to speak to him, to clear the air. Maybe he’s just being kind, knowing I’d feel awkward if I thought he remembered the groping and the kissing.
Suzy, his right hand girl, is sitting at her desk eating toast, which she always brings into the office.
“Um, is he in?”
“Yes, Suzy, in.”
“He isn’t in today. Day off.”
I smile, thinking he has taken himself home after all. “What about his meeting?”
“Yes, Suzy, his meeting this morning, has he canceled it in favor of nursing his hangover?”
“Um, he doesn’t have any meetings today, Charlie, he has a day off. You know, holiday! His nephew’s first birthday or something; it’s been booked for ages. Can I give him a message?”
Confused and completely dense, I stare at her for what seems to be a very, very long time, absorbing the information just given me. Why would he say he had a meeting when he doesn’t? Get up at that ridiculous time when he doesn’t have to? The only person that has to do that today is me, because I had been reluctantly dragged away from finishing the presentation by my ridiculously drunk friends. I told him that last night when I was clear-headed and pissed off.
“Thanks, Suzy, no message.”
My head hurts, and I’m tired, and I have a long day ahead, and all I can think about is Tom, getting up for a meeting he doesn’t have, bumping into me at our usual coffee shop, knowing that I have an early start. I begin to wonder if he does remember something after all. I smile as I make my way back to my office.