AJ’s bitchiness is only the tip of the iceberg. Delaney wants me to research speed dating for next week’s piece, insisting that I find a good event on Saturday night and go along. This is ridiculous and completely against what I’m standing for! I’d made my decision to stay single to keep myself away from the leering geeks and slimy creeps that frequent the singleton scene. So how do I find myself spending the entire day Googling every speed dating event in the city of London, in the hope that I might find one that I’d be willing to attend? I’m angry at Maria Delaney, pushing me into this situation and I’m kicking myself for not being more outspoken and telling her that I don’t want to write about my romantic rehabilitation. On checking out speed dating I’m shocked at the amount of choice, amazed to discover the extent to which I’ve been limiting myself to meeting guys through friends and friends-of-friends and random bumping into in the ice cream aisle of the supermarket. Well it’s no wonder that I haven’t found anyone decent! By the looks of it all the eligible bachelors are sat at home, getting piles and drinking cans of beer as they log on to the speed dating highway! There are a good proportion of guys who look like their photos have already appeared on Crimewatch, but then there are others who are positively George Clooneyesque! But can they all really own their houses outright and be earning between £50,000-£75,000 a year? If so, what are they doing on these dating sites and speed dating? And if they’re working 23-hour days, when do they expect to have the time for dating? I have 2 nights to figure out what to wear, where to go and to persuade Tamsin to come with me. And what ‘look’ do I go for? As if I’m there as a genuine speed dater looking for a guy that’s excited me with his conversation in only 3 minutes – or do I go ‘arty’, under the guise of journalist on research?
Exhausted, I leave the office at 6 ‘o’clock, with my head spinning, trying to excite myself about going home to an empty flat tonight…
Adrian had spent the last half an hour sitting with Ellie on reception, gazing into her eyes and asking her about herself. It was his most favoured chat up technique, to ask relentless questions to a woman – to get her talking about herself, so that she would be flattered and intrigued at his interest. “Every woman loves to talk. Especially about herself,” he’d laugh with Trev from their desks on a daily basis. He’d taken the chance to pick up Ellie’s copy of Woman To Woman, flicking through until he’d found Sophie Regan’s Relationship Rehab feature.
“Hey, this is new, isn’t it?” he’d asked Ellie, interrupting her mid-flow as she regaled the intricacies of her divorce. She tingled at the smell of him as he leaned toward her, ‘accidentally’ pushing the back of his tanned hand onto her leg as he showed her the magazine. She flushed, “Oh, yes. That’s the new assistant features writer. Looks like she’s taken over Victoria Harris’ weekly column. Mind you,” she went on, “that Victoria hasn’t been in for weeks.”
“Yeah, thought I hadn’t seen her. So, this Sophie one, what’s she like? I haven’t seen any new faces around.”
“I’ll point her out to you if she goes by,” Ellie offered, before taking a deep breath and continuing with her tale of woe about her ex-husband and his new fiancée’s engagement bling. Ade zoned out to her whilst still gazing into her eyes and nodding at the right junctures. But inside he was desperately hoping that this Sophie Regan one wasn’t some fusty, student-type – it would be so much more fun if she presented at least a glimmer of challenge.
It’s time like this I’m relieved that Mum lives in L.A. now. It’s bad enough having to write this column about not just being single, but choosing to, but it would be a million times more mortifying if my mother was here to read it. And thank god I moved from Dublin; at least there’s less chance that all those hideous exes will be witness to my embarrassing portfolio of dating horrors. It would be too much – the notion that all those married men that had chanced their luck with me would recognise themselves – even worse, that their wives would recognise them. But then again, I’m assuming that they have a single conscience between them! It might be lonely here in London, with no family and only Tamsin as my true friend, but at least there’s an element of damage limitation in terms of my reputation. If Tam won’t come with me on Saturday night, then I’ll have to go speed dating alone. And if that doesn’t scream ‘desperate’ then I might as well go wearing a wedding dress and sandwich board advertising for a ‘vacancy’!
I kick off my beaded sandals and leave them in a clumsy ballet ‘position 2’ in the hallway, throwing down my bag and mobile onto the sofa as I flop down beside them. I must call Tam sooner rather than later if I’m going to make sure she can come on Saturday. She’s been acting slightly strange for the last couple of weeks, but insists that it’s simply work pressures. She’s a nurse and gives 200% to her work, so I suppose it’s unfair of me to expect her to be ‘chipper’ all the time. Lying on my back, the leather cool against my bare legs as my gipsy skirt as flicked up onto my thighs, I grapple for my mobile which has slid somewhere beneath my bum. I scroll through and find Tam.
Tamsin loved afternoon sex. It had a thrilling naughtiness to it, ‘doing it’ during the daylight hours, the sunshine warming the bed and making her skin tender and soft to the touch. She’d been in bed with Pete since 3.45, when he’d arrived with a twinkle in his eye and a hard on in his pants that was positively bursting to get to her. Her knickers lay in shreds at the bottom of the stairs, as he’d ripped them from her and lifted her up, wrapping her legs around himself as he carried her upstairs. Once again he was fabulous – knowing just what to do, and when, and how! He had 9 years on her, and 100’s more partners. Pete was man who knew just how hard to bite on her nipple, how slowly she liked to be rubbed and how he got the best from her when he was behind and pulling her long dark hair a little roughly. Laying, spooning in her bed, she could feel his hairy chest against her back and the warm cup of his groin behind her bum cheeks. He was breathing deeply and slowly, indicating that he was sleeping. She slowly raised her arm to check her watch – 6.53pm – he’d been here just over 3 hours and she so wanted not to wake him. If she woke him, he’d scream that it was nearly 7 ‘o’clock and rush into the shower, back into his suit and straight out of her front door. And she didn’t want that. Not yet. She hadn’t reckoned on her mobile ringing. She’d forgotten to set it to ‘silent’ as she usually did whenever she was with Pete. His job was demanding and their time together seemed constantly limited, so any moment that had together was precious. She lost control of things from then. Pete woke with a lazy groan and she’d have given anything to slide on top of him again, but he kissed her shoulder before getting out of the bed. She knew she’d lost him to the shower and so answered her phone. It was Sophie.
“Hey, Tam?” she was light and breezy.
“Hi,” croaked Tamsin, desperate to shake the sex out of her voice, “what’s up?”
“Yeah,” she coughed lightly to clear her throat, and laughed, “yeah, I’m fine. Just having an afternoon ‘sleep’!”
“Em, yeah,” and then she whispered, “Pete’s here.”
Sophie laughed, “Ah, you dirty dog, you 2 been in bed all afternoon?”
“Not all afternoon,” she giggled.
“I suppose you’ll be out with him on Saturday night won’t you?”
“No! I mean, no. Not Saturday. Not this week.”
“Great! You can come speed dating with me then.”
“Jesus, Soph. Speed dating? I thought you were on a mission to stay single! Change of plan already?” she began to laugh a little, “Bloody hell, it’s only been one day and you’ve changed your mind already?”
“Not me. Delaney. She said the piece was a hit and wants me to write about my life and my ‘mission’. Starting with bloody speed dating on Saturday. Please say you’ll come.”
At that moment Pete emerged from the bathroom and strode, naked into her room again. The very sight of his toned body caused her to ache,
“Oh yeah, not a problem. I’ll have no problem coming.”