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Chapter 10 : Chapter 10
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“Is she asleep?” Pete asks me from his perch on the couch, eyes glued to the TV in the corner the remote in his hand.
“Down for the count.” I reply, from the doorway of the sitting room.
He pats the spot on the couch next to him.
I smile and slowly pull away from the doorframe to take said spot. I curl my feet up underneath myself, and lean into Pete my head resting on his shoulder.
After a few moments of serious channel flicking, he sighs, “Nothing on as usual, you really need to get some kind of cable set up, going on here.”
I almost quip about how I can barely afford the five I do get let alone a few hundred more, but instead decide on, “Well, we’ll just have to amuse ourselves some other way.”
“Oh yeah.” He says hopefully.
“Yeah, how about a... board game?” I suggest , “Galleons for Glory, that’s quite a good one.”
He quirks an eyebrow.
“What?” I ask, “Have you got a better idea?”
“Well, now let me see,” He replies one of his hands reaching over and brushing few strands of hair away from my eyes, “we’re all alone in this dimly lit sitting room, what could we possibly do that’s...” he pecks me lightly on the cheek, “more interesting...” another peck, this one on the corner of my mouth, “than board games?” He finishes with a proper peck to my lips.
Needless to say there’s not much need for a response.
My hand reaches around his neck, as I press my lips to his.
Definitely better than board games, is pretty much the only thought I have for quite some time, until I realise that somehow I am now laying down on the couch, with a gorgeous man on top of me, who has managed to undo almost all... all the buttons of my shirt and is now trailing a line of warm kisses down my stomach, as I subconsciously bury my hands in his hair.
I’m aware of where this leads and if I were to listen to the warm squishy feeling in my tummy then... then...I would be breaking all the rules, I remind myself, and then quickly forget as the feeling of his lips near my bellybutton cause a sigh to escape my lips.
Rules, my brain screams at me, after my momentary lapse of concentration, and I...I must listen.
“Stop, stop.” I say, slightly breathlessly, removing my hands from his locks and placing them on his shoulders pushing him gently away from me and pulling the two sides of my shirt together.
“Seriously.” Pete looks at me incredulously.
“I... The...There are rules and she might wake up and Merlin knows she’s probably already got daddy issues, she does not need to see... to see... that...and –“
“This isn’t about her,” Pete interrupts me, his frustration obvious as he sits up,” it’s about us, you and me and the fact that you still don’t trust me enough to be intimate with you.”
“I’m just... I’m not ready.” I say quietly, sitting at the opposite end of the sofa to Pete.
“I’m not ready yet. I just...just need you to wait, just a little bit longer.”
There’s a breath of silence and then Pete sighs and stands up, “ I’m tired of waiting Ab’s.”
I watch as he turns his back on me and heads out into the hallway. He’s shrugging on his jacket and the front door is already open by the time I too am able to peel myself off the couch and join him.
“Don’t go.” I plead pathetically, I reach for his hand but he pulls away from me, “Please we can watch the film... or talk or...just please don’t go.”
He fights with the collar of the jacket, pulling at it furiously to adjust it.
“Look, the last person I slept with was James and he... he...was really shitty and...well, not shitty in bed ...just really shitty and-“ I take a breath, pinching the bridge of my nose and trying to get the ramblings under control, “and the point is that I slept with him for really the wrong reasons and...and with you I just...I just-“ I take another breath, before meeting his gaze, “I need you to wait for me.”
He shakes his head and turns to the door then back to me, “If I were James would you sleep with me?”
“What?” I ask taken aback.
“You heard. Would you?” He asks coldly.
I look at him and then the floor, my mouth, brain and heart all trying to form some coherent response.
“That’s all the answer I need.” Pete says, taking the final step out of my flat, and the slamming the door behind him.
“Pete..” I try as I close my eyes in resignation.
I stare at the closed door a “No” finally forming on my lips.
At least I hope it’s a “No”.
“No thanks.” I say to the waiter who holds a plate of questionable looking canapés before me, and for the umpteenth time ask myself what I am doing here. This was not how I wanted to spend my Saturday evening, I thought as I leaned against the bar. I hated these launch parties, the fake pleasantries, mingling, being seen with the right people, the falseness of it all. This is why I am tucked safely into a corner of the bar, a glass of spring water in my hand. I know lame, but I’m strictly Tea Total now, you see alcohol makes me...well...it’s an excuse for me to do stupid things.
I sigh, thinking of all the things I could be doing right now, like playing Wanda witch with my daughter. I shake my head, who would have thought that playing Wanda witch would be more enticing than a celebrity filled party. From my perch I can see the lead singer of the Crude Crones, an up and coming alternative wizard band, the editor of Witch Weekly, Liza Baker, who is being shamelessly thrown around the dance floor by the Keeper of the Tornados, Bob Thomas. And trust me there are many, many, many more, all more dull than the last.
As I continue to scan the room I catch sight of Jen talking to...I don’t know, some Italiany looking type with too long dark hair. I watch as she flirtily, flicks back her hair and touches him lightly on the top of his arm. Poor soul doesn’t even know he’s being played, I think.
Just then she looks up and catches my gaze, she bites her lip seductively and makes an excuse to leave Italian dude’s side. Jen sashays through the crowd, greeting a few more acquaintances as she performs her best model walk, well you never knew who might be watching.
She finally reaches me, and orders a white wine spritzer from the bartender.
After taking a sip, she looks up at me through her lashes, “Having fun?” she asks.
“Loving it.” I answer dryly. She doesn’t notice.
“So who was that then?” I ask lightly, not expecting a straight answer, Jen is all about games.
She feigns innocence, “ Who?”
I point out the Italian Stallion with a nod of my head.
She has the decency to flush, just a little, “Oh him, he’s just someone in the industry, you know.”
“Right...so are you ready to go?” I ask hopefully, draining my glass.
“You’re such a joker.” She hits me playfully on the arm, “Oh look there’s Betty Dune, I hear she’s scouting for a new face for her line after Sophie Miller went and got all fat. How’s my lipstick?”
I barely have a chance to respond, before she’s gone again.
I sigh and slump down onto my barstool again; it was going to be a long night.
I breath it in sleepily. No I don’t want coffee, my brain tells me subconsciously. I want sleep. I roll over pressing my face into the pillow.
I hear a sigh and then her sugary sing song voice, “James, it’s time to get up.”
I grunt in response. It was time to sleep.
Just as I begin to drift again, her cold fingers latch onto my shoulder and she shakes me.
“Jamesie we need to go.”
“It’s Sunday there’s nowhere to go.” I tell her into my pillow.
There’s a moments blessed silence and then she’s all over me, literally. She straddles my waist, peppering my neck with kisses, her sickly sweet perfume making my nose itch.
“Jen...Jen just stop... Jen it’s only ten thirty.” I protest hopelessly, having just caught sight of the time.
She sits up pouting, “But we have something to do today.”
“Can’t it wait, we didn’t get back ‘til nearly four this morning...I just want to sleep.”
She sighs, her pout deepening as she clambers off of me and stroppily heads towards the bathroom.
I sigh, Jen in one of her moods was not a good thing.
“Will it make you happy, this thing?” I ask, knowing that her answer will be...
“Yes.” A victorious smile begins to cross her lips.
“Fine then.” And I push myself up from the bed.
“Excellent!” She exclaims and then commands, “ Now I’ve already laid you out an outfit, so just put that on and I’ll meet you downstairs in say...” She checks her watch,” ten minutes.”
I’m down in twenty much to Jen’s toe-tapping disapproval.
And I am quickly dragged through to the living room and shoved into the fireplace.
We floo to the Leaky Cauldron, where I would normally sit and have a beer, but not today. No sooner had I dusted of the soot than Jen, who had as always stepped out looking immaculate ( I swear the girl just repels dirt or something, and poor people come to think of it), slipped her arm through the crook of my elbow and I was being dragged out into the sunlight.
With my free hand I hook my shades of the neck of my shirt and slip them on, hoping not only to keep the rays but also the fans at bay.
We whizz pass familiar shops such as Quality Quidditch Supplies and head instead to the posh end of Diagon Alley, more commonly referred to as Diamond Alley, because even a sandwich in this part of town costs the same amount as a small country.
Jen’s pace slows and she comes to a stop in front of window full of puffy grey creations.
“Aren’t they just beautiful.” She sighs.
“Mmm.” I agree.
She looks over her shoulder then, “I’m going to try one on.”
“Ok I’ll just go to the...” I try to say before I am swallowed by the insides of the shop.
I am pushed into a chair as Jen hurries into the changing room, three salespersons behind her laden with the grey creations.
After what feels like an age and a day Jen finally steps out and strikes a pose.
I register a strange flash of light, but think nothing of it as Jen asks,” So what do you think?”
Obviously not too pleased with my response she places her hands on her hips, “ James take off your sodding glasses and tell me what you think.” She commands.
Ah there she is, bad girl is back.
I do as she says.
And before my eyes the innocent grey puffy dress transforms into a nightmarishly white marshmallowesque creation.
There’s another flash of light. I glance towards the window but see nothing untoward.
“So?” she asks.
“I need some air.” I say, springing to my feet and darting outside.
Jen joins me ten or so minutes later, back in her good girl outfit a decidedly sour look on her face.
Through pursed lips, she tells me,” I have something to show you.”
Merlin, I hope it’s not another one of those things.
She drags me further up the alley way as my head spins. A wedding dress, she tried on a wedding dress.
Consumed by thoughts of a puffy white Jen I almost bump into her as she comes to a stop before a big window with gold lettering and shiny, shiny rings within.
“Look, James isn’t that one beautiful.” She says pointing down at the ring with the biggest (naturally) diamond.
There’s another flash, followed by ten or so more in quick succession.
And a cry of, “Jennifer, James look this way.”
Jennifer turns to face the photographer her pursed lips having been replaced with a heart winning smile.
And all I can do is stare, because there behind us is the Italian stallion himself, camera in hand as he snaps photo after photo.
“Have you set a date?” An annoyingly familiar voice asks, perhaps the second biggest bane of my existence (Jen has now taken the number one spot) Tara Tattler a gossip columnist, “Have you got a venue?” “Will it be a summer wedding?” she continues to fire questions, as Jen stands there smiling for the camera against a backdrop of engagement rings. Whilst I stand there like a fish out of water, my mouth hanging open because she set me up. And I should have known something was up by the way Jen was dressed. A knee length skirt and summery blouse, like bad girl suddenly gone good, Sandy in reverse (Victoire had through a long, long, long Grease phase), no tighter than tight jeans or bodysuits she calls dresses.
And then the finally the rage began to build.
“You set this up.” I accuse angrily, well aware of the fact that I am causing a scene and strangely enough not caring, because she bloody set this up.
“Just smile for the camera James.” She says.
I wrench my hand away from her, “You set this up.” I state again.
“I-I...” She stammers as, this was obviously not how she had envisioned things. In her mind I was probably down on one knee, confessing my undying love and preparing to make her the next Mrs Potter. Over my dead and mutilated body, I privately thought.
“I just wanted to give a push in the right direction.” She tells me, “Mummy just said you needed a push, we’ve been together a year now so...”
“So you thought what?” I yell, unconcerned by the spectators who have stopped to watch the show.
“If I’d wanted to marry you don’t you think I would have asked?”
“But mummy said that...” she tries, her smile long gone.
“Forget what ‘mummy’ says,” I tell her,” Listen very carefully. I do not want to marry you.” I clearly state and the growing crowd that is surrounding us. “In fact we’re done-“, there’s a shocked gasp from the spectators, “- I’m going to my parents and when I get back this evening you and your shit will be gone from my house.”
I turn to Tara Tattler, whose Quick Quotes quill is scratching furiously at her notepad, “Got all that?”
Then I push through the crowd leaving Jen, with tears streaking down her perfect face to face the continued flashes of the camera alone.
And as I walk away a curious lightness settles upon me.
Freedom. I think.
Sunday morning and the doorbell rang shrilly. I look up from my plate of scrambled eggs and toast. I decide to ignore it, but then it chimes again.
I sigh tiredly and push my chair back, hastily running my fingers through my hair.
“Who is it?” I call.
“Delivery.” Is the response I receive.
“I haven’t ordered anything...” I begin as I open the door, to be confronted by a bouquet of roses, not my favourite but nice all the same.
“I’m sorry.” Pete says as he hands me the flowers, “I was an arse last night and well...I’m really sorry.”
I don’t really know what to say. We both linger in the doorway before we both begin at the same time.
“Well, I’ll be off.” He says.
Whilst I offer, “Would you like some breakfast?”
We smile at each other, “Breakfast would be great.” He states, “And you’d better get those in some water.” He adds nodding towards the flowers.
I agree and then move aside to allow him into the flat. He shrugs of his jacket and hangs it up before heading into the kitchen.
I hear Alyssa’s excited squeal as he greets her and I can’t help but smile as I close the door.
As I prepare to join them I take a quick sniff of the roses.
Not perfect, I think, but pretty close.
A/N: Sorry for the exceptionaly long wait. Well I kinda like it, kinda don't, but I hope you enjoyed it all the same.
Oh and just for the record, no I do not own Grease or anything you recognise
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