The two of you spend Christmas in the Alps. Both of you can only spare three days for the hols, but it goes truly brilliantly. There’s a fireplace in the chateau; you eat, shag, and chat. He reads you books; you tell him of your childhood. It’s as sincere and as real as it gets.
You even go skiing. Once. He endeavours to teach you; you’re pathetic. The two of you laugh, and topple over into the snow. His bright blue eyes – like a husky dog, as if outlined with black – are shining. You lean in and kiss him.
The nights are as amazing as they ever are, and feel new and exciting. After the skiing, you complain that everything hurts. You get a massage – and three orgasms.
You wake up in the morning, and you just can’t get enough of him. He’s guffawing, insincerely battering your hands away, whining that he’s an old man with a weak heart. The two of you shag against the wall, and then again and again – and then there’s a breakfast, and you go back to bed. Soon, it’s hard to separate cuddling and reading – and it is Khayyam after all – from sex. You’re straddling him, and your hips are moving in the rhythm with the ten century old poetry. And then afterwards, he’s nodding off, his cheek pressed to your buttock, his head heavily pressing your pelvis into the sheets, and you close your eyes, feeling the acute and definite happiness.
When you’re back home, there’s so much to do that you even stay at Lan and Killian’s couple nights. They live closer to the lab.
And then one evening you’re chewing Thai takeaway, and John makes that funny throaty noise of his. It means he remembered something he needs to tell you. You snort. This ever growing feeling of knowing him well, and loving it – is ace.
“What?” he asks, and you give him a wide grin.
“Go ahead. What is it?” you say and encourage him with a wave of chopsticks.
“You know me too well, and it’s discouraging,” he answers with a smirk, and you snort again. “Graham has a favour to ask, and I said I’d inquire.”
“His Canadian gyno is lonely,” John announces, and you know he’s paused to let you appreciate the statement.
“He should put it on a t-shirt.” You giggle. “Does he want me to take her for a walk?”
He nods, and you roll your eyes.
“I’m the worst possible option here,” you remind John. “I’m introverted, constantly busy, and alcohol intolerant. I assume I’m not expected to take her to an art gallery? After those time I’ve seen her, she doesn’t strike me as an artsy type.”
“He meant a pub,” John answers with a chuckle. “And you should take Martin.”
Ah, Thea. That makes sense. Thea can organise a satisfying night out for the Pope.
“OK, I’ll ask her.”
“Thank you.” The two of you chew for a while, and then he yawns. “Can we go to bed early today? We’re having this cocktail party tomorrow, another book signing of another professor whose dull work no one will read…”
You pretend to be very busy grinding a baby corn with your teeth, while in reality you’re trying to unclench your suddenly spasmed jaw. Another party that you’re hearing about in passing; and for some reason feel like you’re being politely excluded out of? Is Wrennie mental? Aye, she is. Should she be? Hm… Eventually, you jerkily nod, and he leaves for the kitchen to get some water. You’re staring at his plate.
It takes you three weeks to find an evening when Thea and yourself can finally introduce Candice, the Canadian gyno, to the joys of a pub bender.
She shows up, all perky and bouncy, in a jolly pink jumper. Her blonde curls look almost unnaturally golden, shiny, and even. They remind you of cup-a-noodle, or buttercream in Mary Berry’s Victoria sandwich.
There’s a small moment of awkwardness, and then she offers to buy the first round.
You’re still on yours second virgin Pina Colada – and you do know how pathetic this drink sounds – when the ladies switch from lager to ‘something with a kick,’ as Candice puts it. Somehow a kick in Candice’s understanding gets best delivered by rum. Thea doesn’t mind at all.
Candice gets arsed up astonishingly quickly. And chatty, she gets very chatty.
“God, girls, you’re awesome!” she hollers, and her arms lie on your and Thea’s shoulders. “So awesome… I’m so glad we went out together. It really sucks here, without my girlfriends…” She gives you a shaky smile. “I had friends I went to med school with, and we would always get drinks on Friday, and I miss it, you know? So good to be here with you.”
Thea gives you a sardonic look from under a hiked up eyebrow. She had as much as Candice, but Thea Martin is a hard chicka. For her, it’s just an appetizer.
“So, what is it that you do, Thea?” Candice asks, and starts waving her right hand in the air, trying to catch the attention of the waiter. Her left hand is still tightly gripping your shoulder.
“I’m dabbling,” Thea give her usual answer.
“A what?” Candice blinks her large blue eyes.
“She’s good at a lot of things,” you explain. “She tries different things. She sings too. Like a siren.” You salute Thea with your glass, and she winks to you.
“Oh wow! We should go to karaoke next time then.” Candice takes a deep breath in, her lovely round tits rise in the tight jumper. “I’m rather OK myself. Have the right apparatus, you know?” She laughs and pats her cleavage. You believe her. She’s short, curvy, and all and all delicious. Graham is a lucky duck.
“I’m in computer science right now,” Thea explains lazily. “But I won’t last. It’s dull.”
“Wow, looks and the brains, all in one package!” Candice throws an admiring look over Thea. “You’re so cool! You both are!” she rushes to reassure you, and you laugh at her eagerness. “No, no, no, I’m serious!” Her words are a bit slurred. She’s as bladdered as a poached pear. “You, Wren! You’re a genius! Graham told me, and my Graham knows what he’s saying, you know?” Her round pretty face gets all loved-up, and Thea shakes her head and topples another shot of rum into her throat.
“Thank you, Candice, that’s very nice of both of you,” you answer, your voice shaking of laughter. You’re properly in the dark how to respond to this exuberant friendliness.
“I mean, with your studies, and your work… And you’re a fucking pixie, Wren!” She gestures an inch away from your nose, and you shy away. “I mean, the eyes and the cheekbones. You’re like an elf, or something.” Did you just hear a hiccup? “And your head is… Just wow. You deserve the best, Wren. All the best! And you too, Thea. Do you have a guy? Does he treat you well?” the Canadian asks in a strict tone, and Thea barks a throaty laugh.
“Chicka, you should ask whether I treat him well. I’m the bad one here.” She gives Candice a salacious wink.
“Good, very good! Let’s drink for it!” Candice finally catches a waiter – by a sleeve no less; and orders three shots, apparently having already forgotten you don’t need one.
“Men need to be kept under control, you know? Not all of them are as nice as my Graham.” She shakes her finger somewhere in the space between you and Thea. “And we deserve all the best, right? Especially you, Wren, you need to take it under control, you know?” She focuses her peepers on you. “I mean, it’s your man, after all, you can’t let that slut just steal him. You need to fight for him!”
You know how they say ‘like a bucket of cold water?’ That’s exactly how it feels. Scorching wave all over your skin, first like a burn, and then cold; then pain, in all joints, and full petrification. You have trouble breathing, and the glass starts shaking in your hand frozen mid air.
“I mean…” Candice continues, so clearly full of good intentions. And we all know where that sodding good intention pavement leads. “I’d just go and pull her hair out. Kick her skinny ass! Tell her to keep her hands off him. I get it, you guys might things differently here.” She lifts her hands in a defensive gesture. “Maybe you can talk to him too – but I say, what can a guy decide, right? They think with their dick, and this one is clearly a goner. I mean they left that book signing party together, and Graham agrees that she’s got her claws in him…”
Thea’s drink falls on the table, and rushes across the table, and pours onto Candice’s lap. The Canadian swears loudly and jumps off her chair.
“Oh shite, sorry, darling.” Thea starts pushing napkins into Candice’s hands.
“It’s OK,” Candice laughs. “I guess, you’re a bit tipsy too, heh?” She gives Thea a wide grin, and Thea nods.
“To be honest, I think I’ve had enough.” Thea’s as smooth as ever. “How about we call it a night, Candice?”
“Only if you promise me we’ll do it again soon.” She wraps her arm around Thea’s waist, she wouldn’t reach Thea’s shoulder. “Yeah?”
“Definitely.” Thea gives her a brilliant smile. “I’ll get you a cab, love. You’ll be here, Wren?” She throws you a quick look, and you’re still in the same pose as before, your eyes on the slowly expanding puddle of lager on the table. You give a short nod, and the two of them disappear.
“Be right back.” Thea’s whisper is the last thing you hear.
You don’t notice how time passes, and suddenly Thea plops back on her chair in front of you.
“What the fuck is going on, Leary?”