'I'll see you tomorrow,' Joe smiles, kissing Ava goodbye. 'Sleep well.'
Ava squeezes his hand and heads towards her front door, while Joe climbs back into the taxi.
'So things are going well between you two, are they?' Paul asks Joe as the taxi pulls away from the kerb.
'Oh, everything's great. You'd hardly believe it's only been two weeks. It feels like I've known her my whole life, you know?'
I drift into my own thoughts, sandwiched between Joe and Paul. I'd heard all about her, but tonight was the first time I'd actually been introduced to her. The worst part of it was that she was the most likeable person I'd ever met. I didn't blame Joe for falling head over heels for her. I didn't know why I was complaining... aft4er all, I'd made my choice long ago. It was never going to happen. Despite that, I couldn't avoid the sickening feeling every time I saw him touch her, every time they looked fondly at each other.
'You OK, Nell?' Paul asks me suddenly.
'Yeah, yeah, I'm fine,' I smile weakly. We pull up outside Paul's house and as he kisses me affectionately I wonder what Joe's thinking. Does he feel the same way as I did watching him and Ava? I doubt it.
And then Joe and I are left alone.
'What do you think of her?' he asks me.
'She seems... nice,' I reply. He appears to detect my abruptness, but doesn't say anything.
We sit in silence for the rest of the journey. Then, as we reach my flat he gives me a hug.
'You've always been such a good friend, Nell,' he says quietly. He seems to want to say something else, but I've pushed a fiver for the taxi in his hand and half run towards my front door before he has a chance. He waves goodbye and I let myself in.
It's a three-storey climb up to my flat but tonight seems ten times longer. As soon as I get inside I crawl straight into bed and cry.
OK, let me explain. I've known Joe most of my life. We lived down the street from each other since we were seven and were always best friends. The trouble started when I fell in love with him.
And now, at twenty-three, I'm still completely and utterly in love. But Joe's never been interested at all. He's perfect in every way imaginable, and I've always known deep down that he's just too good for me. Every girlfriend he's ever had has been perfect, just like him. It started with annoyingly perfect star of the school play Lucy Wallace in Year 9 and was now annoyingly perfect, high flying television career Ava ten years later. He's dated models and dancers and gymnasts, all of them slim with dazzling smiles and perfect flowing hair.
I'd lost count of how many he'd introduced me to. Every few months I'd get a phone call from him, inviting me out for a drink with him and his new girlfriend. I was his best friend: short, chubby, single and above all clearly not perfect Helen Miller.
I'd tried everything to get over him. Everything. But nothing seemed to work.
Then, eventually, I came to a decision. I'd decided that it was no use pining after Joe for the rest of my life. I was never going to deserve him.
I ran into Paul shortly after. We were sitting next to each ohter in a cafe on our lunch breaks and he asked to borrow my salt. Not the most romantic encounter, but it was enough for him. We went on a date the following evening and he was, in all honesty, everything I wanted. Funny, smart, caring, sensitive... But, although it sounds callous, and I hate myself for thinking it, he was nothing compared to Joe.