one || leslie's valentine's night

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Leslie sat at the coffee table in the quaint tearoom, trying to look alive while her two best friends exchanged their romantic plans for Valentine's Day. Idly slurping from a giant mug of black coffee, she shifted her position and glanced around the room at the aging clientele, sipping from teacups. She sighed and uncrossed her legs. Though now more comfortable, it drew attention to her. The first of the terrible two widened her eyes.

"Doesn't that sound lovely?" she said. Leslie looked up.

"Sorry, what?" she asked, undoing her cardigan. It was unseasonably warm for a London February. Her friend, Molly, rolled her eyes, maintaining her grin and nodding over at the third member of their group.

"Mark's taking Lucy out to that new restaurant, the one that's been booked up for months. Isn't that nice?" She nudged Leslie under the table.

"Lovely," Leslie said, forcing a smile. She couldn't be doing with cutesy romance but the least she could do was feign interest. "How about you? Is Paul doing anything for you?"

Molly giggled like a teenager. "He said he's got plans. He's been acting sneaky for weeks and I'm sure he's roped my mother into it."

Leslie slurped her coffee again and smacked her lips. "Unless he's got himself a mistress," she said with a laugh. Neither of her friends found it funny. "Come on, guys, I'm kidding. Gotta let us single gals have our fun."

Lucy narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips. "How about you, Les? Got a hot date?"

Leslie wrinkled her nose and set her mug down, leaning back in her chair with her elbows on the arms. "Can't say I have."

"You're not going out at all?"

She shook her head. Both of her friends looked forlorn.

"But it's Valentine's Day," Molly said, sounding lost. Her voice was small. "What're your plans?"

Letting out a long breath, Leslie tapped her nails on the table. "I was just going to have a glass of wine and masturbate."

Molly gasped, clamping her mouth tight shut. The table went silent, as did four or five surrounding them. Twenty pairs of septuagenarian eyes were fixed on her and she flashed them a grin, holding it for a few seconds until they turned back to their own business.

"Get a load of them!" she cried. "Like my sex life is any of their business."

"It's not exactly the sort of conversation people have over tea," Lucy said, her cheeks a furious pink. Molly was frowning.

"Your Valentine's Day plans are ... that?"

Leslie shrugged. "To be fair, I kind of forgot it's Valentine's Day so that's just what I want to do tonight."

"That's kind of sad," Lucy said. Leslie snorted.

"Are you kidding? What's sad about alcohol and mind-blowing orgasms?" She pushed her hair off her shoulders and returned her mug to her mouth, leaving a lipstick stain on the rim and ignoring the old women who had begun to stare again. Lucy had paled somewhat, her cheeks even whiter than usual.

"Plural?"

"Hell yeah." Leslie eyed her friends. "Don't tell me you've never ... oh, God. What're you doing with your lives?" She shook her head at her friends' blank faces, bouncing her foot against her calf. "You had both better go home and tell your fellas that they're getting nothing until you've cum at least twice."

The entire room was silent. Leslie remained unfazed. Molly finished her tea and stood, hitching her bag over her shoulder as she tried to hide her embarrassment. Everybody stared at her and her friends.

"I think that's enough," Lucy murmured, patting Leslie's shoulder. "We should go."

"Suit yourself," Leslie said. "Remember what I said. Let me know how it goes."

Molly and Lucy left while she lounged in her seat, finishing her coffee at her own pace. A few of the old women snuck glances at her and muttered to one another while she drank. She took it in her stride, making sure to keep her head high and her chest thrust forward when she left.

***

Nine o'clock. Nice and early, so she wasn't too tired. With the lights dimmed, Leslie lit a few scented candles in each room and slipped a smooth jazz mix into the CD player in the living room. Her flat was small but perfect for a singleton like her. There was no-one around to scold her for walking around naked or for not tying back her hair while using matches. Doors didn't need shutting and there was no need to hide the video set to play in her bedroom. Leslie went old school, preferring to make use of her television rather than the tinny sound of her laptop. She had nothing to be ashamed of, the curtains only drawn to create atmosphere.

Scented candles and an incense stick made for quite a heady aroma, perfectly matched to the glass of red wine Leslie sipped as she prepared herself for the night. Given her friends' behaviour over tea, she was sure she was having more fun than they were before she had even started. Having made her bed that morning, the sheets were crisp and clean and her blow-dried hair made for a nice cushion. The jazz floated through to her bedroom, doing wonders to loosen her shoulders and relax her mind. No matter what her friends said, it was the perfect night. After all, there was no-one she loved more than herself.

***

Just as the moment she had been leading up to arrived both for Leslie and the girl on the screen, her phone rang and without thinking or stopping what she was doing, she reached over with her reluctantly free hand and answered.

"Leslie?"

It was Lucy.

"Oh, God," she moaned as she sailed past the point of no return, writhing on the bed. "Oh, God, I'm cu-"

"Holy shit, Leslie, are you...now?"

Leslie shuddered, her legs quivering, and panted down the phone, pushing her hair off her forehead. Breathing heavily, she composed herself. "Give me a second," she said, pausing the video.

"You are disgusting, Leslie."

"Oh, like you've never had a fiddle."

Lucy said nothing for a moment. "Why the hell did you answer?"

"Because you'd have been waiting all night otherwise. Why are you ringing me at ten o'clock?"

"Mark got called into work."

Leslie shuffled up, holding the phone between her ear and shoulder as she wiped her hands on a towel by her bed. "Ah, the perks of marrying a doctor," she said, stealing a glance at the frozen screen. "Well, I'd invite you over but I'm kind of busy right now. You know, Valentine's Day and all. Romance trumps friends tonight."

Lucy sighed.

"You're free to come over tomorrow. To be fair, you could come now but I'm in the middle of something."

"I don't want to hear about it," Lucy said, her voice laced with disgust. "I'll speak to you tomorrow. If you're able, that is."

"Bye," Leslie said, hanging up and finishing off her wine before she returned to her video for one last gambit before she ran herself a hot, luxurious bath. Her cupboards were stocked with bath bombs and bubble bath for exactly the kind of night she was going for: unadulterated, romantic fun without the hindrance of a partner. In the past ten years, she had spent eight Valentine's Days and hundreds of uncelebratory occasions in the same manner and it had yet to fail her. There was no need to think of anyone's satisfaction but her own, and that was running sky high.

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