Sophia Ricotta

Simon Wendell is fighting a losing battle with acloholism and de-motivation. When his old friend Gilbert turns up, and wants to move in for a while, Simon dreams up the perfect excuse for turning him down. But the lie quickly spirals out of control...

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5. The Date

Sophia flicked her dark hair, perched on a bar stool and ordered a glass of red wine. 

  That must be him propped against the fruit machine at the far end of the bar as they'd arranged.  He was drinking some sort of colourful cocktail and trying to look as if he hadn't been stood up.  His face was deep pink.  He'd loosened his tie and slopped some of his cocktail down the front of his suit.  Sophia eyed him over the rim of her wine glass and decided she'd left him suffering long enough.

  She slipped through the crowd, keeping out of his field of vision and approached him from behind.  She slid her hand over the curve of his bum, and blew on his ear. 

  He straightened, pulling his shoulders back and his stomach in, making himself erect.  He leaned into her as she licked his ear, emitting a playful laugh. 

   He rolled his head and groaned. "Sophia?"

   "Hello," she whispered, running a fingertip his cheek and over his lips.  He licked it, sucking it in and rolling his tongue around it.

  "At last."  Slowly, he turned.  It seemed to take him several seconds to focus as he looked her up and down.

  But he seemed less enthusiastic than she had expected.

  Confused.  Taken aback, even.

  Then his expression darkened.  He stepped back, looking at her coldly now, and with visible anger.

  "I don't fuckin' believe..." he began, then laughed.  "It's a joke, right?"

  Sophia felt the burn of humiliation.

  Gilbert spat on the floor.  "Fuck!" he barked, and wiped his mouth.  "You fucking arsehole.  Why...?"  He was visibly struggling to calm himself as people began to stare.  "Think I'm some sort of shirt-lifter?  I though you were a mate!"

  "You're drunk.  Sssh."

  "Don't fuckin' 'shush' me, you fuckin..."  But his fury went beyond words.  Suddenly he punched her full in the mouth.  She staggered backwards, but she didn't fall.  She straightened, and dabbed her split lip with the back of her hand. 

Gilbert was panting, red faced and savage.  They had an audience now, and one of the barmen was shouting.  Sophia had hesitated long enough.  She returned the punch, spinning Gilbert round and sending him sprawling across a table.  The people around her gaped.  She turned, pivoting elegantly on her toe, and the awestruck crowd parted before her as she strutted towards the door. 

 

*

 

  I woke, naked, in Sophia's bed.  How the hell had I got there?  The last thing I remembered was that bizarre phone call from Gilbert followed by the opening of a new bottle of Bell's.  The room wheeled slowly, and my head was tender and empty.

  I sat up on the edge of the mattress and rubbed my face.

   Something hurt.  I probed around my mouth with my fingers, exploring my swollen lip and wondered how on Earth that had happened.

  I stood there for a timeless while, trying to remember.

  Later, I took a shower, and when I'd finished dusting myself down with talc, I got dressed, squeezed herself into her favourite skirt, and put her face on.  Perhaps she’d go into town this morning. It was a beautiful day, and there was that strappy pair of Jimmy Choos in Selfridges that she’d had her eye on for ages.

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