“Are you sure I look all right in this?”
The pile of clothes on the bed was getting bigger and bigger and Amy had twirled around in front of her bedroom mirror in most of them, in an unsuccessful attempt to see her rear view. Normally her rear view was something she would rather forget, or at least wilfully ignore, but she hadn’t left her flat after seven o’clock at night for almost a month and her best friend Chloe was sitting on the bed in a satin top and black trousers looking amazing. Amazing and just a bit pissed off.
“Don’t be daft. You look fab. Now get a move on.”
The emphasis was on get a move on rather than fab. Amy was young, slim and very pretty but that wasn’t what she saw looking back at her in the mirror.
“You’re just saying that.”
Chloe rolled her eyes.
“I might be better wearing a skirt.”
“If you think a skirt is going to turn you into Sienna Miller then get one put on. Otherwise you’re fine.”
Amy shook her head.
“You’re a bloody menace you are. I’d far rather stay here.”
“Well you’re not. You’re off out and you’re going to enjoy yourself.”
There was a sudden silence. They both knew that the chances of Amy enjoying herself were pretty much zero, unless Jack turned up unexpectedly in the club and rushed into her arms declaring his undying love. Since he had done a very thorough job of dumping her almost a month ago, underlining his intentions by moving in quite suddenly with a tall thin blonde, that wasn’t going to happen. It was going to be a long tedious night for both of them.
Amy gave herself one last despairing look in the mirror. At least her hair looked good, long and thick with a bit of bounce in it. Jack would have said that she looked beautiful and she would have believed him. Not that he meant it of course, she knew that now. He hadn’t meant any of it. That was why it hurt so damn much. Chloe saw the tears building up in Amy’s eyes and swung into action.
“Right. Come on madam. Out the door. Now.”
Amy gave in and did as she was told.
Thursday night was lasses night in their lively shabby and weather-beaten seaside town. As usual they started at the top of town and worked downwards towards the harbour, just two more shivering girlies being herded downhill, through the large grubby, open plan pubs with empty floors and vacant flashing lights, towards the clubs on the high street. After four, or was it five, dirt cheap Bacardi Breezers life was beginning to look a bit better. Amy waved her latest half empty bottle at Chloe through the noise of the dance floor.
“You know what? Stuff him. I’m better off without him.”
“Course you are. Do you fancy doing some karaoke in the White Horse?”
Half an hour later Amy was waiting for her turn to sing Never Gonna Give You Up at the White Horse karaoke. Chloe had chosen the song and she was beside herself with excitement. Amy watched her sceptically.
“I have no idea why I am doing this.”
“Go on, it’ll be a laugh.”
A laugh was Chloe’s reason for doing most things, especially if it involved embarrassing somebody else. She was genuinely convinced that standing up there making a complete arse of herself would be good for Amy. It would take her out of herself. She needed to lighten up a bit. When Amy’s name was called it was Chloe who was on her feet first, clapping her hands above her head.
Amy crept up onto the stage, shielding her eyes against the lights and searching for the screen which would scroll the words. Nobody expects you to be good, she kept telling herself. Just give it some welly and you’ll be fine. Which is what she did.
“Never gonna give you up, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna run around and hurt you….”
The howling screech which came out of her mouth was fuelled by what were now almost certainly eight Bacardi Breezers and an almost complete lack of talent. Even so she managed to finish by punching the air in triumph to a huge round of applause. She sashayed back towards a waiting hug from Chloe, who was well impressed.
Amy put her hands over her face and groaned.
“I am so going to regret that tomorrow morning.”
“See that lad over there- he were watching you.”
“He was. Honestly.”
There were quite a few lads to choose from up by the bar. None of them looked like much to write home about but Chloe was beginning to find it difficult to focus so it was hard to be sure.
“The dark haired one. Skinny. Red tee shirt.”
“Oh my God!”
Chloe was always trying to wind her up but Amy realised she might just be telling the truth this time. He looked ok. Dark floppy fringe and long legs. He wasn’t talking to his mates and she was in danger of catching his eye if she wasn’t careful.
“Go and get another drink. See what he does.”
“Do you not think I’ve had enough bother with blokes? Calm down will you.”
Chloe’s mouth settled into a sulky pout.
“Just trying to be helpful. I’m telling you he’s after you. Take no notice if you want- I’m not bothered.”
Their eyes met and Chloe gave a tiny nod.
“Go on. I’m telling you, he was watching you.”
Amy tottered off, in a careful straight line, towards the bar. As soon as she got there she leaned on it as if it were a lifeline. Her feet were killing her. He was standing on her right and she carefully didn’t look in that direction as she ordered her drink. If he wanted to say something that was up to him. She could feel Chloe’s eyes burning into her back.
“Do you do a lot of karaoke then?”
She could see a bright red blur in the corner of her eye. It was his tee shirt.
“Karaoke. Do a lot do you?”
“Can’t you tell?”
“You were bloody awful.”
Something about his honesty punched its way through Amy’s slightly woozy thoughts and she turned to have a good look at him. The face which swam into focus seemed very familiar. She wondered if Chloe had realised who it was and sent her over on purpose.
“You don’t have to talk to me now- your brother dumped me.”
“I know he did. For some daft cow who’s already giving him the run-around.”
Amy would have liked to hear a lot more about that but she didn’t want to seem bitter. Maybe she could get off with his brother and make Jack sorry after all. The thought made her giggle. She clung onto her Bacardi Breezer, swaying helplessly.
“I like you Daniel. I’ve always liked you.”
“You’d better give me that.”
“It’s safe enough with me. If you think I’m going to start downing Bacardi Breezers you’ve another think coming. You’ve had enough.”
“S’ok. I can manage.”
“Go and say goodbye to your friend and I’ll take you home.”
Amy nodded, rather too emphatically, happy that somebody was telling her what to do, and trotted off back to Chloe, who was bursting to know what was going on.
“I’m off home with Daniel. S’that all right?”
Chloe made tiny punches in the air with her fists.
“See, I told you you’d have a good night. Trust your Auntie Chloe.”
Amy shook her head blankly. Chloe wasn’t her Auntie.
“I said s’that all right?”
“Course it is. You get in there girl. I’ll text you tomorrow.”
When she got back to him Daniel put a hand on Amy’s shoulder and guided her carefully towards the door. As they walked out of the pub the cold air hit her and her knees buckled.
“Whoa there. Just hang on to me. You’ll be fine in a minute.”
Daniel sat Amy down on a bench facing the lights of the club entrance. Slowly the cold air brought her to her senses and she leaned forward with her head down. As soon as she had been quietly and thoroughly sick she felt a lot better. She had seen this kind of thing on television, binge drinking culture they called it, but she had never thought it would be her throwing up in the street. Jack was a total bastard and it was all his fault. She hardly ever had more than one drink- that’s probably why she had ended up like this.
“God, this is so embarrassing.”
Daniel produced a small bottle of fizzy water and took the top off.
“Have some of this.”
“Where did that come from?”
“I got it while you were saying goodbye to your friend. Thought it might be needed.”
Amy took it and tried a few tentative small sips.
“How did you know?”
“Let’s just say it wasn’t rocket science. Do you mind if we move on a bit?”
Amy leaned against him and walked slowly, carrying her shoes, until they were a few safe benches away. Daniel felt her weight against him with quiet satisfaction. It had taken him a fair while to get his hands on his brother’s girlfriend and he wasn’t going to blow his chance now. If she hadn’t been in this kind of state he would never have had the nerve. Typical that was. Not much fun in making a move on a lass who was blind drunk.
“Feeling a bit better now?”
“Your bloody brother’s fault.”
Daniel closed his eyes for a moment. That was also typical. It wouldn’t be the first time that he had been stuck with one of Jack’s nice looking cast offs forced to listen to them talk about his brother all night.
“Yeah well, he’s got a lot to learn. I know he’s my brother but you’re well rid. He’s a great brother but I wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole if I was a woman.”
“My dad said he was feckless. Don’t know what it means but that’s what he called him. Feckless.”
“I dunno either but it sounds right.”
Amy snuggled against Daniel.
“You’re being very kind to me.”
“I know I am. You should go home now.”
Amy snuggled harder.
“I don’t want to go home. I want to stay here with you. I like you.”
“No you don’t. How many of these did you have?”
Daniel held up the Bacardi Breezer bottle in disgust.
Amy waved her arm dramatically.
“No idea. No idea at all.”
“You might at least rot your brain with something decent.”
“I’m putting it in the bin. This one here. Ok?”
Amy smiled happily.
“You’re very nice.”
“And then I’m calling a taxi.”
When the alarm woke her the next morning Amy had no memory of getting in the taxi. She crawled through her day at work, filing, photocopying and answering the phone with a bright voice that seemed to belong to somebody else. It wasn’t until she was sitting in front of Hollyoaks with a cup of coffee that she found the note in her trouser pocket.
Let me know how you are this morning, and don’t sing. Daniel. 07794261343
How had she got home? And what had happened when she got there? Amy racked her brains but the last thing she could remember was being horribly sick. In front of her ex boyfriend’s brother. That was bad enough. She could remember singing before that, and she could remember meeting Daniel, just about, but after that everything was a blank. Everything. Exactly what had she done? What had she done that might have led to a note like that in her trouser pocket and who had taken off her clothes? She hoped to God it was her. Nightmare. She would remember, surely? It took a full hour before she rang Daniel’s number, and after a few minutes teasing and polite conversation she managed to ask him.
“So did you bring me home last night then?”
There was a laugh on the other end of the phone.
“It’s a good job somebody did. You were well out of it.”
Amy held her breath.
“When we got back here, did we……do anything?”
There was a long cold silence.
“Give me some credit.”
“No, I mean I wasn’t trying to suggest, it’s just I can’t bloody remember that’s all. I needed to hear you say it.”
“I’m not the sort of bloke who takes advantage of drunken girlies. You were in a right state. I looked after you and got you back home. A thank you might be nice.”
“I know, and I am grateful. You must think I’m a complete Muppet.”
“I’m so sorry. I probably spoiled your night and everything.”
“Not really. I like Muppets.”
A blush spread over Amy’s face as she remembered how safe she had felt leaning against Daniel.
“I’ll see you tomorrow night then shall I? For a coffee.”
Amy nodded happily, forgetting that he couldn’t see her. She liked Daniel. She really liked him. His brother was nowhere near as nice and not half as good looking.
“If you like.”
Both of them stood very still, with grins so wide that you could even feel them beaming their way across space and shining out of a mobile phone handset.