Nobody notices AJ slide from her chair and head for the corridor. She pulls her mobile from her jacket pocket and dials. She speaks quietly into the phone,
“Meet me in five,” and slips the mobile into her bag as she heads for the toilets to fix her hair and reapply some make up before leaving.
Ade waits for her at one of the small tables that nobody likes to sit at. He’s bought himself a drink and as AJ sashays through the doorway she notices that he hasn’t got her one. Slightly rattled she stops at the counter and orders herself a black coffee, forcing a smile as she heads toward him.
“So?” AJ can’t help but think how delectable Ade’s mouth is, especially when topped with a milky froth moustache.
“What? Oh, yeah. She’s got flowers – and they’re not from you! I thought you were going to mess things up for her.”
She failed to notice the flash of panic as it passed across Ade’s eyes, “Flowers? Who from?”
“It doesn’t matter who from! They’re not you! You obviously have competition.”
“Was there a card? A name? I thought this might happen, what with the spread in the newspapers sparking an interest.”
“Yes, there was a card – but I don’t see what difference it will make. They were from some guy called Trevor. But the fact is Ade, that you have to make some grand gestures now. You’re gonna have to up your game! Or you won’t be the guy that made that uptight bitch make a fool of herself by falling at the feet of the first man that made a fuss of her!”
She didn’t notice the distant look in his eyes as she ranted and sniped about Sophie and her new secret admirer.
But Ade knew exactly who he was.
The flowers were beautiful and completely took my breath away. It was a little embarrassing, having to explain that I don’t know anybody named Trevor and I’m sure that most of them didn’t believe me. For a split second I wondered whether it was Delaney that had sent them – she had a radiance glowing from her as I sat and blushed, reading the card aloud. The tube journey home was funny – me trying not to stick the huge bouquet into passengers’ faces, women cooing at me and asking who the lucky guy was, and men looking at me with a flirty twinkle in their eye. The lilies are huge and look magnificent on my coffee table. I have combed through my contacts on my mobile twice in a bid to determine whether Trevor could be a friend of a friend, and have rang Tamsin, and my other friends Jodie, Susan and Carrie to see whether they can figure who Trevor might be. We all drew a blank. But I have to admit, I’m really excited! I have never received a bouquet of flowers like that before. It’s a great feeling to know that somebody likes you and even more exciting for them to be a stranger. I have butterflies skipping around my tum and have absolutely no desire to eat at all. I jump when my phone rings, nervously staring at it. It flashes, ‘no number’ – it might be ‘him’?
“Hello?” I put on my sweet and sultry voice only to be shaken back down to earth by my Mum’s fake accent,
“Baybee? It’s your mother! You OK?”
“Oh,” I clear my throat, “yes, course I am. How are you Mum?”
“Oh honey-bun, I have some fabulous news. About the wedding? Waylon has been laying a driveway for Tom Cruise and his wife, and he’s only invited them to the wedding! Can you imagine, baybee?? Tom and Penelope at my wedding.”
“Mum, her name’s Katie.”
The Irish accent rushed to the foreground, leaving the faux American one standing, “Fecking Katie? Katie who?”
“Mum. Tom Cruise divorced Penelope Cruz and married Katie Holmes.”
You can literally hear the penny drop in the silence. Then she bursts,
“Oh baybee, silly me. That’s what I meant to say, Kayteee. Anyway, you gotta bringa man. You gonna bringa stud?” her voice is expectant.
I hum and haw, “No, Mum. No stud. I wrack my brains for anyone worthy of that status. I know nobody. Apart from perhaps Adrian, but that’s just ludicrous.
“What about whatshisname? The telly presenter guy?”
“Whatever his name was.”
“No, Mum. We split up a few months ago.”
“And what’s this Jennifer tells me about the Rehab story? Sophie, you do realise that Jen is completely right. And don’t think I didn’t hear about the photographs in the newspapers, Sophie! Honestly, if you wanted celebrity status couldn’t you have come over to L.A and date some decent guys? Not be stuck over there in London and become famous for being dumped by a legion of losers! And Jennifer is right! You’ll be seen as a woman for men to avoid now! Did you never read the books about how to get a man? Acting desperate isn’t one of them!”
“Mum,” I have to cut this off, she’s driving me bonkers, “someone at the door.”
“Oh, OK. Well Sophie, if you’re determined to stay single, make sure you keep it up until after the wedding. Waylon reckons Tom and Penelope will be asking some of their friends to come too. You never know – you might end up with one of the A-listers!”
“OK Mum.” My voice is flat. “Bye Mum.”
I exhale deeply, blowing the white lily petals and watch some more of the orange pollen fall in dusty sprinkles.
My life is a bizarre rollercoaster of being worried about what I’m going to write every week for Relationship Rehab and whether the paps will be at my front door, and then being excited about going on the chat show on Sky and wondering when I’ll bump into Adrian again.
The end of the week is looming like a big black cloud. I’m worrying about the television thing and wonder whether they’re going to question me about Ben. I need to write this week’s column up early, and here it is…
Relationship Rehab – week 4
Flowers from secret admirers? What is it about the male ego? Is it the same gene that renders guys the eternal optimist, convinced that they will be the ‘one’ to turn a gay woman straight? What is it about publicising a decision to stay single, that instigates flowers from strangers and invitations to appear on radio and television? Am I that unusual? I’m interested in hearing your comments. Have you ever decided to stay single? And if so, why? And I have another question. Staying Single. Think of the words. Does that actually mean that if I dated somebody then I’ve broken the promise – or would I need to sleep with them to do that? Or, take it even further, would sleeping with them still render me single? I have decided that the concept of staying single lies in my intentions. If I met a guy and dated him, or even allowed him to wine and dine and all that other stuff that follows when you go back for coffee – if I did that but had no intentions of making him a full-time boyfriend, would that mean that I was still, staying single? The problem now is this. There is a guy that I really like. And it’s typical that this had to happen now – when I’ve made this statement. So please let me know what you think? Am I making a statement only to break it? Or is that a woman’s prerogative anyway?
Look out for me on Sky at 8pm tonight – I’m on the William Montelson show and will be talking about my reasons for choosing to be single and the faux pas and foibles of dating the wrong men.
Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty One