I felt guilty as I went for lunch with Sam, but I knew that Anna was really trying to be a stronger person. I also knew she wasn’t coping brilliantly, but I hoped she’d pull through.
“Are you alright? You’ve been distracted all the way through lunch.”
“Sorry. It’s not you. It’s just; I’m trying to be strong and not give in to looking after Anna. But it’s... well I guess old habits die hard.”
“They do. But it’ll be better. Besides, you can spend all you free time with her tomorrow.”
“I’m not seeing you?”
She paused in the street and looked at me.
“Wow, you really weren’t listening were you? I told you I have to go away this afternoon. I won’t be back until tomorrow evening.”
“Why? Where are you going?” I asked curiously as we began walking again.
“I have to go to a big art do in London. Get some new pieces for the gallery, keep up acquaintances, and make new ones, that sort of thing.”
“Oh. Well that sounds fun. I’ll miss you.” I realised I’m in love with you last night and now you’re going away. Even for a short time, it seems painful. But then, it’s supposed to be isn’t it? Love is supposed to be hard.
“No. But if I told you what I felt I think you’d never come back.”
She stopped again and took my hand.
“I’ll always come back to you.” Then she leaned in and kissed me gently. “So, tell me.”
“Last night... and this morning. I realised something about you. And it scares me and it worries me and I don’t know what to do.” I could feel a choking feeling rise in my throat.
“What? I snore?” She chuckled but her eyes were serious.
“No. I love you. That is to say... I’m in love with you.”
Sam said nothing, and for a moment every part of my consciousness thought she was preparing to run away. And then she wrapped her arm around my waist and pulled me to her, lifting my feet off the floor to kiss me so heatedly I thought I was being thrust in to a fire.
“I’m in love with you too.”
A bubble of laughter burst from my lips before I kissed her and then she let me slowly down to the floor.
“Thank god. Now I know that, I can let you go without worrying about some hot Londoner stealing you away.”
“Never.” She chuckled. “Come on, walk me back?”
I collapsed on to my bed and pressed my hand to my cheek. Still warm. Sam had such an effect on me.
It took me a moment to realise that the bed next door was squeaking. Was Ali finally getting some? There was a giggle and I heard the door open in the corridor.
I rolled off the bed and went out to get a drink. And to spy. I'm not ashamed to say that.
Ali was in the kitchen, boiling the kettle.
"Hi." I grinned. "So... what's going on?"
"What do you mean?" She asked innocently. Too innocently.
"Oh my god Ali. Spill the details. Who is she?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'll go in there..."
"No you won't."
"I will." I pretended to head to the door and she started after me. I laughed. "No, if you want to keep the secret. Have you seen Anna?"
Ali's cheeks reddened.
"What?" I asked. And then slowly, like the pieces of a jigsaw, it all came together in a sudden rush of understanding. "Holy shit. No way." I rushed to Ali's door and threw it open. Anna was sat on the bed, clothed, but still. She looked up in shock as I burst though the door. Ali's voice came from over my shoulder.
"Sorry Anna. I didn't know whether you wanted her to know. I didn't tell her."
"Anna? You and Ali?" I asked and she just sat there. "Well I'm happy for you. Stunned. But happy." I smiled. "I'll just... leave you two alone." I slipped out, a bemused grin on my face.
Well... stranger things have happened... I think.