“Summer... what are you doing here?” I stared open mouthed in the mirror at the reflection of Charlie, who had just appeared behind me. She was staring in just as much shock, although a smile crept on to her face as she looked me up and down. “You look amazing.”
“Thank you,” I managed to blurt out, and turned to face her, handbag still in hand, “You do too.” She was in a slim fitting little black dress, and her hair was buffed up. What I loved about her appearance was that she, just like me, had not put any more makeup than usual on. She looked her naturally beautiful self. Her grin widened at my compliment.
“So...what are you doing here?” She repeated, coming to stand next to me and wash and dry her hands.
“I’m celebrating. My book got published.”
“Congratulations!” She looked as though she would throw her arms around me, but thought better of it and instead clapped her hands three times in celebration. “I’m so happy for you.”
“Thank you.” My voice came out quiet, and I realised it was because most of my energy was being spent on trying not to hug her, even kiss her in exultation. There was a silence, and then I decided it was time to break the moment. “So, are you here with anyone?”
“Just Gemma, Kieran, you know, the group.”
“Oh dear, Kieran’s here? I’d better avoid him else he’ll be wanting a dance.” I giggled in spite of the situation I was in, and she followed suit. Then I jumped as someone came in to the toilets and went straight in to the cubicles, without so much as glancing at us.
“Maybe I ought to leave? I wouldn’t want whoever you’re with coming in and seeing us together. You are with someone?” She asked. I detected a hint of jealousy which should have worried me but only made me smile. I was in deep.
“I’m here with Miss Richards and Mr Lythe.”
“Then I’d better make myself scarce.” She began to back away. Then what happened next, whatever it was, was something so unexpected that I looked back on it and thought it must have been the drinks, or the euphoria of my good news. Whatever it was, it caused both Charlie and I to move together in the swiftest of movements, and to fit together like the last jigsaw piece in the puzzle. Our lips touched, and I felt a warm spark shoot right through my body, and when our lips moulded together in a deeper kiss and our limbs stopped flailing long enough to grab on to each other and push our bodies closer, my heart was beating so fast I thought it might leap straight out of my chest and become fused to Charlie forever. In the last few seconds as we broke apart, I felt dazed and pleased with myself, but when our lips finally stopped touching, an overwhelming sense of dread washed over the firework of emotions that had just exploded inside of me. I’d just committed a crime. What I had just done could put me in jail; cost me my career, my reputation. Charlie’s eyes told me she knew what I was thinking, and she stepped quickly backwards and checked her makeup in the mirror. I copied her actions, giving myself time to think.
“Don’t. It never happened. It was beautiful, but it never happened. We still have one month before...” She looked at the cubicle which was occupied “... before that can happen again. Until then, just know that I thought that was, incredible.” She was breathless, and my admiration for her attitude towards the situation grew inside my heart.
“I’m sorry for putting you in that situation.”
“And I’m very glad you did.” She began to leave and, as she drew level with me, she leaned in and kissed my cheek briefly, before leaving the room to return to that vast room of noise and darkness. I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding, and tried to cool my heated cheeks with some water. I knew I had to go out there and pretend like nothing had happened, but right now I had to control my heart, which was both leaping out of my chest in a victory dance, and sinking in to my stomach at the thought of what could have happened if anyone had seen us.
It was the worst thing that had ever happened to me, and yet somehow, it felt like the best.