Affaires de la vie


6. Second Best

She didn't know how to describe it other than warmth, a connection. The electricity between them could have run Las Vegas for a week, pulsating through the silence she swallowed, the sound echoing, making her feel awkward and exposed. The singing penguins were coming to a close, her head on his chest their legs innocently entwined. There was a comfort that grew between them as he realised she was human and she realised she could make him laugh. Her hesitation did not grow from being unsure of his affections. Like the others of recent he had been upfront and honest, taking her by surprise with the strength and depth of his feelings and arguments, because she argued. She always did. She was sure it made her seem ridiculous but she felt like she had to warn them, and then if they proceeded it was at their own risk. A sort of relationship occupational health and safety seminar if you will.

They met ages ago. Well it could have been ages; it was one of those acquaintances that seemed to have always existed. It was nothing out of the ordinary but it was dotted with 'incidences' that meant that they stuck in each others minds. They were quite often the two 'outsiders' at an intimate function. The most noted where they were the last 2 standing at a house party with the host couple having a blazing row in the next room. Comfort generally subsisted between them, more on her part than his as she did her own thing he would sit with her and they would chat about every topic under the sun, him always succeeding in getting the questions to sex. She was a willing participant in the question and answer banter but her forward nature and flirtatious demeanour always seemed to give them the wrong idea and she was sure she always disappointed them by not being as bold or adventurous as they had expected. She was easily embarrassed and routinely bowed out of the conversations when they got too in depth, not to hide anything but because she simply had nothing to add. He had baited her a couple of times after noticing her back away from confronting questions. At first he seemed to think her bashfulness was a game. A clever ruse to cover something or trick him in some way but it didn't take him long to realise that this girl that went insult for insult with him and more importantly stood tall in the company of men even he was intimidated by, was not playing a game. She hardly ever seemed to be playing a game he now realised, and the soft pink flush that spread up her cheeks was, like most things about her, 100% real. She knew that at some point she had passed some test, that he seemed to seek her approval and attention whenever she entered a room. There was a chapter of their history that stuck in her head, when she arrived at the house to head out with a girlfriend she was feeling good in tight dark blue jeans and a flattering loose black top with killer bright yellow stilettos. She surprised him in the lounge where he stumbled and stuttered out a few questions of which she didn't tolerate as the answers were obvious and she didn't allow others to waste her time. She crouched on the floor to greet her friends little boy, and became happily ensconced in a game of 'Trouble' practically forgetting him even as his last word was uttered. Her friend came out dressed at last, petite and gorgeous she always felt and became invisible in her wake, but fought negative feelings, with good humour and a fierce tongue her unusual combination of weapons.
As she stood he complimented her shoes, her claws already out against compliments, a defence mechanism that she unfortunately employed when she was feeling invisible, he could sense that she didn't believe him and fumbling to ensure his sincerity before the opportunity passed him by he said "no seriously, I think you have great style I'd let you be my girlfriend any day." The room echoed with his mistake. He realised straight away that the path he should have taken was silence. "Let me?" She said quietly. IT was the lack of volume in her voice that frightened him the most. "Well sir thankyou for the compliment of allowing me to be your girlfriend, how arrogant are you that you assume every girl sits around waiting for permission to be your girlfriend?" There was a pause and she laughed a short sharp laugh that, while not vicious, hit him like a blast of cold water. Her laugh purely delighted in the mishap he had just befallen. She had barely raised her voice; it was the pure disbelief in the last of her words that cut him the most. That’s not what he had meant at all. But she'd ruffled the little boy's hair, collected her bag and exited leaving behind the slight waft of Yves Saint Laurent and a "seeya" to the general household. He heard the high giggle of the girls as their voices rose in what he imagined to be a mockery of himself. The car started, piercing the air and then they were gone, that short sharp blast of noise and humiliation leaving his ears ringing and a strange hollow feeling in his stomach.

Next time they met some time had passed and, with a lesson learnt, he felt that she surely would have forgotten the incident and that to bring it up would seem as arrogant as he was sure she thought he was. But she never forgot it. She had not been able to let the comment slide without letting him know what she thought, but she felt the full weight of the compliment. She was no fool and although they conducted business and continued with 'not for female ears' conversations when she was sitting reading a book, she had been distracted by and tuned into enough conversations to acknowledge the compliment he had tried to pass on, that she had that something else, that something extra that would encourage him into a relationship, this alone was a compliment, however arrogantly delivered but coming from a man whose 'number' they had lost count of yet had only been enchanted successfully into a relationship once, well it was one of those comments she had never forgotten. No matter who they were, where they came from or what they did she had what many would call a rare characteristic in a female, that if a man took the time to single her out in some way with his interest, whether she reciprocated it or not she felt the compliment of any man, good, bad, ugly or devastatingly handsome. This did tend to get her in trouble as she found herself unable to be rude to anyone that paid her the compliment of attention. Thus accidentally leading on potential suitors. Meaning that for a girl of mean attractiveness, her simple inability to successfully brush off those she was disinterested in meant that she had been the cause of more than her fair share of disappointment. Although encouraged by this her ego had never led her to believing him truly interested, she simply believed, and no one had any reason to second guess her, that yes he liked her, as a mate, and in his arrogance he liked to 'prop up' her ego by giving her compliments. They saw each other through their mutual friends on odd occasions for many months and then, one night he came to the house looking for her housemate who was away. It was a Saturday night; she had 2 friends, a carton of drinks and had just cooked a mountain of pasta. It was a perfect night, the kind of night that was brisk but not cold, there was hardly a breath of wind and standing outside invigorated the skin and energised the mind. She felt sorry for him as the man he had come to see had the tendency to be rude and she knew how she would have felt, alone and there to visit someone who clearly didn't value him enough to keep him informed. She invited him in half expecting him to politely decline and continue with his night. Quite to her surprise he readily accepted and, she noted, joined in and fitted in with her friends as easily as a key into the right lock. A couple of drinks later and the whole group was now larger and all on the same level. Her cheeks burned with his attentions and one too many gin and tonics. She had on a burnt orange shift dress that was just short enough to make her legs look longer than they perhaps deserved, especially as they were in high, black suede pumps. Her first entrance after retiring to dress with a girlfriend, she felt, rather than saw, his eyes follow her across the room. He was awkward in an arrogant way which was something she was only just learning to understand, and he dealt her a few compliments that she misunderstood, having their true meaning explained to her by a girlfriend twenty minutes later as they all piled into the car of their faithful D driver. Designated or Drunk, he was their Driver. They sat in the back together. Their legs touched and his hand brushed her smooth thigh more than once. The third time she laughed and realising he had been sprung he put his whole hand just above her knee and then laughing removed it leaving their legs touching the whole way down, each turn leaving her leg on fire with the heat that seemed to burn and cool her. She smiled to herself in the darkness, giddy with gin and thinking that if nothing happened tonight these initial flirtations were always enough for her. She was shy and delighted in these small pleasing attentions more than any other part of 'courtship'. 

He'd changed his plans to come out with them and as they all got out together the possibilities of the night danced delightfully just out of their reach. The excited bubbles of his interest in her stomach, at the compliment. His affections and attentions were too marked to be missed. He let her roam the club as she always liked to do. This was her familiar; she was not afraid and knew that the cameras were on her anyway, that they could have been on her the second she walked through the metal detectors. Not because she was dangerous or a 'celebrity', she was barely worth watching at all, but they looked after their own. There was something about her that made guys grab her as she progressed through the dance floor, it may have been just what they did, may have been the fact she was alone. It wasn't that she was attractive, she didn't have any of the stand out features that her girlfriends had. One was 6 foot tall with the biggest grey eyes. Another had a platinum blonde pixie cut, a smile that could melt diamonds and a tongue that could emasculate the most arrogant brute. A third was tiny and slim with sculpted thighs and cascading chocolate hair. No, she didn't have any of these features. She had a myriad of skin imperfections, a plump figure and the habit of alienating new acquaintances through her general disinterest. But the one thing that she had figured out attracted the male species was that when out clubbing she rarely wore her glasses, a fact that in itself doesn't seem to carry that much weight, but which resulted in her unwittingly ignoring even the brightest peacock feathers, thus making her seem more attractive. It is a human condition, a fault rather, to want that which we cannot have. This and only this had lead to a couple of incidents when she was working at the club where overzealous customers had to be escorted away as she slipped off through the crowd, hiding shaking hands behind a big smile and a shot, but on this night she felt no fear, the cameras were on her and she knew he was watching her, she knew he was that protective type and was desperately holding it back. She had felt his presence behind her as they moved through the crowd and watched as potential pick up lines hurried away after a look over her shoulder.

The problem was she thought, two weeks later as she ran her fingers over the indent at his sternum, did she like him? Did she really like him? It had been a long time, years really, since she had dated a man that excited her mind as well as her body and spirit. Sure she liked him; he was sweet and attentive while maintaining that rough streak that they all seemed to have to have, for her anyway. But even as he lifted her face up, with two fingers under her chin, as he smiled with one arm securely on her lower back and kissed her gently, his tongue teasing hers, she knew she needed more, was searching for something else, something that may not exist but she had to find out. She kissed him back. Long and hard then playing and teasing, pulling her mouth further and further away as he groaned with the desire to have her, to own her. She knew he could be everything she should want, that she could make him anything she wanted, that he wanted to be everything she wanted, could this be it? She pushed his chest away gently, buried her head into his neck, listening to his heart pounding. No this was not it, she thought as their bodies relaxed towards sleep together, his taking longer to wind down than hers. There has to be something more, the words reverberated around her whole body as sleep closed in around her, 

There               must                be                    something                   more.


She decided not to trifle with him. Once she acknowledged to herself that she was looking for something else her conscience wouldn’t allow her to play games with him. She stopped looking, happy to be single, sure that what she longed for did not exist. Not in this town, not at this age and she was happy to just live and play.


She made friends and moved on from friends fairly quickly, she had a staple few that she loved like family, but the rest could come and go without affecting her. She liked to try new things, one night, about 11pm as she was thinking about going to bed she got an invite to a friend of a friends to chat and for drinks. Tempted by the thought of some fun and new people she left to meet them. 

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