|22| Tagliatelle

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|22| - "We hooked up." -

Groups of excited friends filled the streets of London, some of them already stumbling from having started their drinking earlier on in the day. Stone cold sober, I bobbed on the spot and rubbed at my arms in an attempt to beat the chill of the icy wind that battered my freshly-straightened hair.

"Where the hell is he?" I said under my breath.

Nathan stepped up behind me and pulled his coat around my body, enveloping me in warmth. I smiled as I leaned back against his chest, temporarily forgetting my frustrations.

"He'll be here soon," Nathan said. "The trains are probably busy."

When Jack finally did emerge from around the corner of the street, his unhappy expression stood out among all the joyful faces of our fellow Londoners.

He rolled his eyes when he caught sight of Nathan and me huddling together. "Let's get this shit over and done with," he said, striding past us towards Jess' street.

"Excuse me." I caught up with him. "Nathan and I didn't have to wait in the freezing cold for you. Try being a little more grateful that we risked hypothermia for the sake of saving you from this horrible awkward encounter that you're convinced is going to happen."

"She doesn't talk to me anymore, Izzy. I couldn't turn up to her house alone. What if nobody else is there yet?"

"Then it would've given you the chance to talk things through properly," Nathan said.

I smiled. "That's exactly what I said the other day."

"I don't need you two ganging up on me, as well," Jack replied.

Grabbing his wrist, I stopped him from storming straight past her front door. Then I slipped my fingers through his and gave his hand a comforting squeeze.

"It'll be fine. I promise," I said.

He forced a smile. "Thanks."

I released his hand and trotted up the steps to knock on her door. There was a long pause and I was about to knock again when it opened to reveal Jess with one hand on the door and the other one holding up a dress against her body.

"Shit," she said when she noticed Jack.

He frowned. "Nice to see you, too."

"No, I meant... Izzy, can you help me, please? I'm having zip issues."

When she turned to step around the corner, away from the door, a flash of her bare back was visible where she couldn't do up her zip. After she'd disappeared out of view, I glanced at Jack, whose eyes were transfixed on where she'd been standing.

"You've got no shame," I said under my breath, shoving my bag against his chest until he returned to his senses and grabbed it from me. "Go and make yourself a drink while I help."

Jess was still struggling by herself when I caught up with her, muttering about the dress' stupid design and dysfunctional zip.

"I don't usually wear strapless," she said to me, "and it's literally impossible to hold the dress up with one hand and do the zip with the other. Every time I let go, it slides back down the bottom and I have to start again."

"Jess, relax," I said, taking hold of the zip and easing it up the tracking. "You're going to be a great host."

"Yeah, I'm sure everyone will think that if I greet them at the door in just my underwear."

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