Despite the earlier promise, Lillian hadn't managed to sneak away early with Richie.
"You don't mind, do you?" she asked, squeezing his hand. They were stood at the bar in Galactica, a private members club in Royal Exchange Square. Galactica's rooms took up the second and third floors of the building and its rooftop bar looked out over the square.
Night-time made it glamourous. Fairy lights strewed the surrounding potted mimosa plants, their bright yellow blooms just starting to fade. Large, squashy armchairs dotted the wooden floors and waiters moved quietly among them, picking up empty glasses and setting down bottles of champagne in ice buckets.
The club had been Kippy's idea. He was a long-time member, despite professing Groucho Marx style that he hated the place and everyone who belonged there. Once, membership brought you into contact with useful people. Now, it came in useful only when you didn't want your night to end.
Kippy held court at the table closest to the bar. John was curled up fast asleep in one of the huge armchairs next to him. Gareth had sneaked Lorraine in and the rest of Lillian's award night guests gathered around too, their table loud and noisy.
"No," Richie said, returning the squeeze. "This makes a change. I'd always wondered who came here."
"Now you know. No-one worthwhile."
He congratulated her on the win again and Lillian smiled. That and the way he'd dealt with Mick earlier meant Richie kept improving.
And he'd been high in her estimations, anyway.
The night was warm, and Fedde Le Grand urged them all to put their hands up for Detroit. Richie took a sip of his beer and she watched his profile—big nose, five o'clock shadow and an asymmetrical jawline that made him look better sideways than face-on.
The artist in her wanted to draw him. A first, she realised. In all her years of dating, she'd never wanted to draw anyone. That was Kippy's thing. They'd both been students at the Glasgow School of Art fourteen years earlier. He always drew or painted his friends and lovers, however fleeting the relationship.
To Lillian, it always seemed too permanent—a giant gesture that so few people deserved. And the last time she'd painted someone she... No point raking up that old history.
They should go though. As her mind had imagined herself painting Richie, it had whipped off his clothes. The imaginary chalk drew the outline of his torso, lingering over the chest and stomach, shading in contours and hair.
"Let's get a taxi to mine," she said. "I want to..." The rest she whispered in his ear, gratified by the enthusiastic response.
Galactica's services included ordering taxis for their privileged customers. The barman told her tonight was exceptionally busy. All of Glasgow's inhabitants appeared to be out on the town. A taxi couldn't get there for another hour. She suggested they chance the taxi queue at Central Station, but a woman nearby called out that the queue snaked its way half-way down Gordon Street. They'd be lucky to reach the front before the dawn chorus started.
"I'll get you another drink," she told Richie. "Another beer?"
The bar up top was crowded, and Lillian needed the loo. She made her way downstairs. The reflection in the bathroom mirrors astonished her. Lillian wasn't classically beautiful, her nose too big and her face too square to satisfy conventional feminine standards. But now, her skin glowed, the shine of it highlighting cheek and collarbones. She'd gone for a shorter haircut last time too. It emphasised her neck as did the long dangly earrings she wore.
YOU ARE READING
The Artist's History (18+) #WATTYS2018 LONGLISTRomance
Love. It's never as easy as the books and films make out, right? Lillian and Richie are about to embark on their first weekend together. She's always found relationships difficult, and he has a troubled past. Sex, getting to know each other and shar...