"Thank you for coming to this symposium. We've booked the room above the pub so if you'd all like to head over there, your free drink is waiting." Alex finished.
"Okay, that was equally fascinating and confusing." Raph muttered.
"I loved it," I shrugged.
"Of course you did."
We got up from our chairs and started heading out with everyone else; most of the students that had appeared were probably here for the free drinks. But it had actually been a very interesting and informative hour, filled with different theories and dissections of the book. Raph threw his arm around my shoulder as we followed Beth out. I could hear Alex talking to another lecturer right behind us, but I didn't turn around.
Upstairs in the pub is filled with really comfy chairs and sofas, for people to sit around and chat and enjoy a slightly more private place. We all crowded around the table where the free drinks had been placed and grabbed one each. I got a beer, but there was only one bottle opener, which was being fought over. I rolled my eyes and knocked the top from the beer on the wooden table. Someone else did the same next to me, and I glanced at them.
"Hi," Alex smiled at me. "Did you enjoy the symposium?"
"Yeah, it was actually really interesting."
"Good. Your boyfriend seemed like he might doze off." She took a swig from her beer and leant against the wall. She seemed casual, but the glance she threw me when I didn't answer straight away told me she wasn't as chilled as she seemed. Was she checking if I was single? Suddenly I felt like the jokes Beth and Raph had been making might not be far off. But then I realised I was being an idiot; she was my lecturer and she was waiting for a reply.
"Raph?" I motioned to where he was standing with Beth, laughing.
"Have you got more than one?" She raised an eyebrow.
"I haven't got any. Raph is one of my best friends."
"Well that would explain why you're so close. Sorry, I shouldn't have assumed."
"Well, tit for tat. Did your girlfriend come and watch you?"
She stared at me over her beer bottle and raised her eyebrow again. I mean how can an eyebrow make someone sexy?
"What makes you think I like women?"
"Call it a hunch." I shrugged and grinned at her. Finally caught her out; she blinked a little before her face returned to its usual calm.
"A hunch? Hmm. No. We broke up before I moved here."
"Maybe I should ask you the same question then."
"You sound surprised."
"You seem like a well put together woman, with a great career ahead of you, a love of books... I just assumed you would have someone."
"You seem to assume a lot about me."
"Sometimes people aren't who they appear to be, and you have to assume to see their other layers."
I copied her signature move and raised my eyebrow with a grin.
"You want to remove my layers?"
She choked a little on her beer and then rolled her eyes.
"Not exactly appropriate Helena."
"No, but then neither was the conversation. Look I get that you're an incredibly intelligent psychologist; I mean I'd have to be an idiot to not see that. But I would prefer if you didn't try to analyse me. My gut response when people do that tends to be to push back. So it would probably be better if you saved yourself from witnessing that."
She studied me again, and I was just about to protest, when she spoke.
"Alright. I'm sorry for making you uncomfortable. And I appreciate your honesty. Not many people have self analysed enough to be able to explain concisely why they act the way they do. You obviously have."
"Years of therapy."
"No!" I chuckled. "I should go see my friends. Glad we... sorted that out."
"Yeah..." I'm pretty sure she watched me walk away, but I wasn't going to turn around and check.
"And what were you two love birds talking about?"
"How she thought Raph was my boyfriend." Raph almost choked on his drink.
"Seriously? I mean I love you and all but if this is you coming out as bi or something I'm going to have to stop feeling so at ease with you."
"Oh please. I've seen you with barely any clothes... come to think of it I've seen you with no clothes, and if that didn't turn me then nothing will. Can we go already?"
"Why? I thought you'd want to stick around and see your wife a bit more."
I gave him a thump to the arm and glared at him.
"I thought I said cut it out? I don't care. Let's just finish the drinks and go."
"Alright alright, jeez." Beth exchanged a look with Raph. "What happened?"
"She's gay and she promised to stop analysing me."