It was a short walk to Will’s parents’ place. It was in a leafy avenue of big, expensive houses, and not at all like my idea of a student house.
‘This is it.’
We stopped outside a huge, white-painted three-storey Victorian place. It was like something out of Mary Poppins. Ash gazed in awe, finally mur- muring, ‘Spoonful of sugar or what?’
I looked at her and laughed. ‘I was thinking the exact same thing.’
She hooked her arm through mine. ‘C’mon then, let’s go and violate Mr Banks.’ I made retching noises and we ran, giggling, up the front steps.
It was heaving. There were people everywhere: sit- ting on the stairs, lounging against the walls, dancing around the living room, sitting around a dark wooden table in the dining room, leaning against the work- tops in the kitchen. Everyone was drinking and loads of people were smoking. I wondered what Will’s parents would think about the stench of old fags. No one stopped to ask who we were. I felt massively out of place.
‘Cool party,’ said Ash, nodding her head apprecia- tively to the music coming from the living room. It was some indie band I’d never heard of, but Ash obviously recognized it. She led me into the kitchen. ‘Let’s get a drink.’
An expensive-looking white and metal table was laden with wine and vodka. Under the table were two dustbins full of ice and bottles. I spotted a glimpse of white through all the brown and picked out a Smirnoff Ice. That’d do. Ash sloshed a generous mea- sure of vodka into a plastic cup and topped it up with Coke. ‘Cheers,’ she said, holding up her drink while looking around the room. ‘Whose place did you say this was again?’
‘It’s mine,’ said a voice behind me. I watched Ashley’s eyes widen at the sight of the voice’s owner. I looked round.
‘Hi, Will,’ I said.
He smiled at me briefly. ‘Hey, Sarah, how’s it going?’ But he was looking at Ash. How does she DO that?
‘I’m Ashley,’ she said, sticking her hand out. ‘Seems you’re Will.’ She gazed up at him with huge eyes and a dirty grin, a mixture of pure sex and little-girl-lost. It was highly effective. Will nodded once, as if to say, Ah yes, my reputation as a Greek god precedes me.
‘Where’s Joe?’ I asked quickly.
Will gestured through the wall to the dining room. ‘In there.’
‘Right. Well. I’ll go and find him then.’ I started to ask Ashley if she’d be OK, but it was a stupid ques- tion. She briefly caught my eye and mouthed, Have fun. I knew she would.