Chapter 24

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I came home half-expecting Rick to still be on our couch watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He and Mitch watched entire seasons in one day. The flat, however, seemed empty.

'Rick!' I hollered up the stairs. No blues music wafted down, no voice replying, 'Yeah?'

I checked my phone again for a message from Izzy. I'd sent one to her on the way home to ask if she was okay but, as with Rick, silence was the response. Leon, however, had sent a message that was loud and clear.

'Want to come over gorgeous?'

Well, my silence would be loud and clear to him. I looked around the living room at the empty couch and switched off television, and listened to the children shrieking as they played outside. I stood like that for a while, wondering, literally, what my next move would be. I kept surveying the room until I noticed a scrap of paper on the coffee table. I picked it up and recognised Rick's handwriting.

'Beth, you're right. We should talk. Rick.'

Great, I would now spend the entire afternoon and night wondering about the meaning behind those words and what was going through Rick's head. Had he decided that it had all been a mistake? I needed to do something that required as little thinking as possible. I took my phone out again.

'Hello?' answered Scott.

'I slept with my flatmate.'

'Which one?'

'The one with the glasses.'

'Oh!' His voice seemed to ping with recognition. 'The one you told me about who watched The Bachelor with you?'

I laughed. I'm sure Rick would be thrilled to know that that was how a third party identified him.

'The very same.'

'The one that Dee said had a thing for you?'

'Yes!'

'You filthy woman,' he drawled teasingly.

'Do you want to hang out?'

'God yes, Izzy hasn't called and I'm going stir crazy at home.'

'Same,' I replied. 'Meet you in Soho in an hour?'

It was the Sunday before the UK May bank holiday, so an afternoon beer in Soho turned into dinner in Chinatown, wine in Leicester Square and, finally, shots at Roar in Vauxhall. It turned out that my grey t-shirt dress took me from uncomfortable morning conversations to dancing in a club surrounded by waving glowsticks. Admittedly, Scott and I had done some inebriated shopping before dinner and I'd bought a necklace and a pair of wedge heels from New Look - closed toe, of course, in case we ended up in a gay club. I'd folded up my pumps and shoved them into my handbag. No doubt they'll come in handy when I try to find a taxi at 4am.

We'd also managed to stop off at a department store makeup counter to get my face made up. We'd been tipsy and threatened to smear each other's cheeks with bright blue eye shadow. I think the makeup artist rushed through my free consultation to get rid of us as soon as possible, rubbing the foundation in short, vigorous movements and already serving another customer as she offered me the hand mirror so I could inspect her handiwork.

I'd giggled as I'd bought a tub of blue eyeshadow named 'Pizazz' as an ironic gesture. She'd taken my debit card with a fake smile and a look that said, 'Don't come back.'

I tottered beside Scott as he strode up the bouncer, cutting in front of the line of people snaking its way down the street, all animatedly waving cigarettes. I glanced at some of their impatient faces with guilt.

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