“You’ve really worked out your banter, haven’t you?”
“No, this is a different thing. It’s spontaneous and it’s called wit.”
We wandered out into the hotel reception and found a couple of big armchairs to sit in.
She leaned back and took a deep breath.
“I don’t really understand you Mr Boss Man.”
“And why is that?”
“Well you know I like you, don’t you?”
“I like you to.”
“No not in a back slapping, down the pub kind of way.”
“Does that mean, ‘OH, I would rather poke my eyes out than be anywhere near you’, or ‘OH I can’t believe how lucky and flattered I am?”
Victoria paused for a moment; her alcohol filled head making sure that was the right answer.
“Good. But you won’t kiss me.”
“Not here. But it is not because I don’t want to. I just don’t want to be the object of office gossip.”
“Don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining.”
“I have no idea what that means. So I’m gonna say I’m not. Maybe we could go out one evening next week?”
“Maybe we could.” She smiled. “That would be very nice.” And giggled. “You see, that wasn’t that difficult, now was it?” Of course it wasn’t difficult. She made it seem like the most natural thing to do in the world.
A chance coffee and a few texts did not prepare me for this moment.
People were starting to filter away.
“How are you getting home?” Damn, I was on a roll. Eat your heart out Rhett Butler, I was swooping in. It was nearly one o’clock. We had been talking for two hours.
“I thought you would never ask.”
“Are you going back to Marcus’s tonight?”
And I crashed and burned.
“OK.” I tried not to sound disappointed. “I’ll give you a lift.”
“Don’t say it like that. You’re not single either.”
She stood up and we walked out to the car together. Before I had even got to the car there was a text. ‘Good work, mate. Let’s see how long it takes you to screw this up.’
The journey home was quiet. Victoria stared at the window and I tried to think of a reason why I shouldn’t throw myself at her.
And why the hell I was taking her back to her boyfriend’s.
“It’s just left here.” I pulled in at the side of the road. “Thank you for the lift.”
“I will see you on Monday.”
“You will. Take care.”
There was a pause. One of those ‘what do I do now?’ pauses. I bumbled and went red.
“I better go then. Goodnight.” She kissed me on the cheek and closed the door behind her.
I watched her totter off through the alley, a little unsteadily. She was gone. I was sat there.
“You are a total bell-end. You only had to kiss her.” I banged my head onto the steering wheel in frustration. The evening was complete as my forehead set off the car horn and the sound resonated down the road. “Idiot.”
I got home and made as little noise as possible as I went upstairs into the spare bedroom. up the stairs. The house was totally silent and I turned the TV on quietly. I settled for a documentary about turtles.
It didn’t matter; I couldn’t get the evening out of my head.