Anywhere But Here: Part II

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(Continued from Anywhere But Here: Part I)CC Image courtesy of Xeusy on Flickr

Lucy and I chat over cheese.  Benedict sits in silence nearby, occasionally eating from the plate of brownies at his elbow.

Just as Lucy turns to say something to Freddie, Benedict slides the plate across the floor until it’s right in front of me.

‘Thanks, I’m still on the cheese.’

He slides it away from us, then back towards himself.

‘It’s like a Ouija board!’ I say, laughing.  ‘A more exciting version.’

His face creases into a devastating smile.  He picks a bunch of grapes off the cheeseboard, puts it on my plate, then does the same with a piece of brownie.

I laugh again.  ‘I feel like a dog!’

He too laughs and takes a grape.  I wish I knew what was going on behind those eyes.

Our conversation becomes more flirty.  As the level in my wine glass drops, so does my guard.  I have no point of reference.  That is, people have told me things about him, about how he’s hopelessly in love with someone back in London who doesn’t return his affections (aren’t we all?), but nothing concrete.

He’s asking if I’ve been to an exhibition of etchings which he’s heard is good.  I haven’t, but it’s near where I live so I should check it out.

‘We should do an organised outing!’

The suggestion comes from a girl who’s overheard the end of our conversation.  She gives me a significant look. Yesterday she talked about being my wing woman.  Today she feels like a rival.

Benedict looks struck by the idea, as if it hadn’t occurred to him.  I’m not entirely convinced, but give a non-committal smile.

*

People are piling into the car, everyone except Benedict who has a train to catch.  We hug.

‘I hope to see you in London,’ I say.

Or Camelot, or Narnia…

CC Image courtesy of Velvet Android on Flickr

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SIX MONTHS EARLIER…CC Image courtesy of niallkennedy on Flickr

‘They’re like paving slabs!’ I say.

We peer in at the display of tarts, cupcakes, and giant brownies.

Would it be weird if I said it matters which brownie you choose?

‘You have to choose the right one,’ he says.  ‘That one there, top left.’  He points.

I laugh.  ‘The corner?!  No!  You want a middle bit!’

‘You’re not serious?!’  He gives me a playful shove.

We argue all the way to the bakery opposite, where I’m buying a present for my mother.

‘One sec,’ I say, ‘I’m just gonna have a look in the window.’

‘Which one is it?’ he says.

I point.

‘“Vanilla, chocolate and pecan brownie”,’ he reads.  ‘Sounds good!’

‘Yep, except,’ I feign a disapproving look, ‘it’s not vanilla, it’s Valrhona.’

‘What’s that?’

‘A very expensive chocolate brand – one of the best.’

He looks sheepish.  ‘I should know that, being a Swiss national.’

Inside the shop, I ask to have a closer look at the brownies, before choosing a centre piece.  Swiss National makes tutting noises.  Laughing, I pay.

CC Image courtesy of EverJean on Flickr

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