A loud clink issues from my bag as it hits the floor.
“That’ll be the booze,” the lady opposite me says, smiling.
“It’s not for me,” I say, “It’s a gift.”
We share a smile: immediately there’s a connection.
“Where are you off to?” She says.
“To see my ex-boyfriend’s family, and their new kittens, the little brothers of my kitten,” I say.
“I’m going to see my sister and her husband in the Isle of Wight,” she says, “spend the day eating and drinking.”
“Not sure if I’ve been there – would my Mum have been on palaeontology field trips there or…”
“Yes, that’s right, there are lots of dinosaurs and…”
“Are you going to see any dinosaurs?” I say. It comes out very excited: I love dinosaurs and I’ve had a mere six hours sleep – again – another late match, third place playoff between Brazil and Holland. Holland smashed three past the hosts.
“Oh no, we’re just going to eat and drink,” she says.
We chat, I tell her about my blog. I am that mad person who tells her life story to random people on the train. It’s nice to have someone to talk to: I’m a bit nervous about seeing Seb and his family and I’m going to have to tell them about this blog because I’m going to be on a major radio programme that his mum is bound to listen to.
And then finally I’m there and I’m waiting for Seb to pick me up from the station and then there he is, pulling up in a implausibly-coloured cornflower blue Range Rover. He opens the door for me and I catch my breath as I see him – his gorgeous golden-brown forearms resting on the steering wheel. He’s tanned – from Thailand and working outside and looking really toned from all the physical work he’s been doing. The bad haircut has grown out. He looks amazing. Immediately I feel bad about all the other boys who don’t mean anything – of course they don’t, but surely he will take a dim view of the whole dating thing, what with being celibate and all that.
“There’s something I have to tell you,” I say as we walk round Waitrose, where we’re picking up some stuff for lunch.
“Go on,” he says. “Do you eat pizza?” He picks one up.
“Of course I eat pizza,” I say, reminding myself not to be picky about food in front of Seb’s Mum, because Mums hate that. I don’t want her to think I’ve got an eating disorder – not that I look like I have, I’m about a stone heavier than last time she saw me, but even so.
“So what is this thing you need to tell me?” he says, picking upsome full-sugar Coca Cola because, in the immortal words of Paris Hilton “Diet Coke is for fat people,” a phrase that haunts me every time I drink one. Seb doesn’t need to worry about his weight. He is absolute physical perfection: his tanned muscular arms bursting out of his grey t-shirt – ah the grey t-shirt, the Marlon-Brando-in-Streetcar t-shirt that he was wearing when I picked him up on the street 9 years ago. It might not be that actual one, he has probably replaced it with a newer model by now, but it is similar. I just want to touch him but I mustn’t because of his celibacy, oh whoops I seem to be stroking his arm. Mmmmmmmm.
“Um obviously I still want us to get married and you are my great love but whilst you are being celibate I am dating some people and, um, writing a blog about my post-breast-cancer-surgery dating experiences,” the words tumble out and I can’t look at him.
But I’ve reckoned without Seb’s sense of humour: he’s not a dry old stick after all, he’s still himself – as he laughs he’s that 24 year old actor again, that naughty e-x-public-schoolboy. His turquoise eyes crinkle with amusement: the most beautiful eyes in the world.
“That’s great,” he says. “What a good idea.”
“It doesn’t mean anything,” I say, putting my arm round his waist, feeling his rock-hard abs. “You’re in great shape,” I say, stroking his tummy.
“All that physical work,” he says, “So, where do you find these chaps then?”
Ah. Don’t want to tell him. It sounds so sordid. It sounds sordid anyway. I love him. What am I doing. “Have you heard of something called Tinder?” I say. “Um, I’m just using that because there are so many of them on there and I need to go on a date most days to have something to write about and…”
“Yes, I have,” he says, smiling, “My sister’s on that.”
“Do you think it’s horrible?” i say. “It’s just for my writing, I’m going to be on the radio and in a magazine and…”
“it’s fine,” he says, putting his arm round me. “Let’s gety back and have some lunch.”
“Great,” I say, relieved. “I’m starving.”
TO BE CONTINUED