Chapter 14

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I arrived home late that evening to find Rick naked except for a towel around his waist. This was a first for us.

I'd caught Mitch raiding the fridge in his boxer briefs before. He'd been hopping up and down on the cold linoleum as he cursed our selection of nearly expired delicatessen meats. Mitch had also seen me in just a pair of ice cream sundae patterned knickers, my right foot teetering awkwardly on the edge of the bathtub as I hunched over to shave my leg. The sound of the bathroom door slamming back shut was the sound of us putting a lid on it and never speaking of it again.

However, Rick and I had never had the pleasure. He stopped dead still in his wet, barefoot tracks and I wondered why, for about the millionth time, men always looked sexy coming out of the shower and women always looked like drowned rats.

Whenever I was confronted with a semi-naked man - straight or otherwise - they showed absolutely no sign of embarrassment. Mitch certainly hadn't seemed flustered when I'd seen his body lit up by the dim glow of the fridge. Rick, however, with his black hair plastered to his forehead and his cheeks flushed, looked shocked, as if he'd been caught watching porn - or as if he was gay and had his hand on my boob.

We stood frozen for three or so seconds. I didn't realise he'd been hiding a six pack underneath his graphic t-shirts.

'Sorry Beth.' He cleared his throat.

'It's alright, it's not like you were fully naked or anything,' I called out to his lovely V-shaped back as he scampered into his room.

He looked considerably less tense when he came downstairs 15 minutes later wearing jeans and his favourite green Man-Bot t-shirt. Sheldon Cooper owned one just like it. Mitch and I taunted him about it constantly but he still wore it. We weren't entirely sure which came first - Sheldon's fashion choice or Rick's.

I actually loved Rick's style. In fact, I'd bought him a t-shirt from Notting Hill one day because it looked like one Sheldon wore in an episode we'd watched together. I'd draped it over the armchair on his side of the couch the following Monday morning, so it would be waiting for him when he flopped down in front of the TV after work that evening. He'd slipped it on straight away and sat there wearing it for the rest of the night. Truth be told, I felt a little rush every time I saw Rick jog down the stairs wearing it.

'It was only a matter of time before you caught me with nothing but a towel on,' he said.

'So now it's just the full monty I've got left to look forward to, is it?' I giggled.

'You'd have to break the bathroom door down for that.'

'Spoilsport,' I pouted, casting my arm out like those women on game shows. 'I bring a peace offering.'

I'd ransacked the fridge and come up with a '70s inspired savoury plate. Pickled onions and cubes of cheddar I had clumsily pinned together with toothpicks sat lopsided in a circle pattern. I really was turning into my mother, who still sometimes made the '70s staple meal apricot chicken for dinner.

'Hey, I was saving that cheese,' Rick exclaimed with a laugh.

'I'll replace it,' I responded sheepishly.

'So, did you meet anyone famous today?' Rick reached for a square of his own cheese.

'Billy Lester, the lead singer of Bam. You know? That '80s synth band?'

'Oh yeah, my older brother went to one of their concerts back in the day I think.'

'Yeah,' I continued. 'He kept asking to speak to 'the infamous Beth George.' I think I disappointed him when I just popped my head in to say hi.'

Rick absentmindedly nodded as he chewed.

'Rick?'

'Yeah?'

'What would you play in a band if you were in one? Lead guitar? Bass?'

'Hmm, I'd have to say drums? My mum got me a set when I was a kid. I think she regretted it later, though!'

'Oh yeah? Play me something now.'

Rick knelt down at the coffee table where I sat cross-legged in front of my '70s plate and tapped out a bongo rhythm on the edge of the wood.

'Recognise it?' he asked, smiling at me. 'It's the theme song to Halloween. It was inspired by a bongo exercise John Carpenter's dad taught him. It's not a drum solo, but it's the best I can do with a coffee table and exactly two seconds to prepare.'

'You're just a wealth of useless facts, aren't you?'

'Hey! Halloween is a classic.' As he knelt there, eyes closed, tongue poking out in mock concentration, I thought about kissing him. I could just lean over and press my mouth against his before he even realised what was happening. How would he react? Would he kiss me back or would his mouth respond in an entirely different way and ask me what the hell I was doing? Either way, the emotional and practical consequences of either scenario were too great. Before you tried it on with a flatmate, you had to be 110 percent sure that the kiss would be returned and/or prepared to move out.

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