Cat was humming to herself as she finished off her and Bella's ironing.
"What are you doing this evening?" asked Bella in her monotonous voice.
"I'm meeting Steve," smiled Cat.
"Who is Steve?" droned Bella.
"Steve is the most wonderful, wonderful thing to happen to me this year," giggled Cat.
Bella's head turned slowly round and she stared expressionlessly at her friend.
"I thought I was the best thing that happened to you this year," she said.
Cat giggled and said that, yes, of course, she wouldn't be anywhere without Bella and that the last four months had been absolutely fantastic. Steve was wonderful in... well, a special sort of a way.
Bella asked for loads and loads of details: what exactly did they get up to together? Where had they met? Where were she and Steve going that evening? The interrogation went on for a while before Cat went to her room to get ready.
Cat wondered whether she should wear the blue dress or the green for Steve? What would he prefer? Actually maybe the red? Yes, he'd love the red, she decided. She removed her day clothes and was about to step into the red when her door flew open and Bella stood there. Cat tried not to show her surprise. Bella did not hide where her gaze was directed and Cat put her dress on as quickly as she could, smiled politely and went out.
* * * * * * * * * *
Steve waited at the restaurant. His new girlfriend was now fifteen minutes late but he didn't mind. He knew women and their long lead times.
Presently he saw Catriona striding gracefully along the road looking an absolute picture in her red dress, long silver earrings and silver high-heels. Her hair had been done beautifully. She had made a real effort for him. Good: maybe he'd get some tonight. He'd put on his suit especially and looked like a penguin.
"Hi!" she said, moving swiftly up to him.
"Hi, baby!" he said, giving her a long kiss.
"Where are we going?" said a dreary voice.
Steve stopped abruptly. There was a badly-dressed young woman standing next to them and staring at the upper halves of both their bodies. Where the heck had she suddenly appeared from?
Catriona turned in surprise.
"Oh, Bella - hi! This is Steve. Steve, this is Bella."
Her boyfriend and her best friend shook hands.
"Bella, what a lovely surprise! I didn't know you'd be down here. Steve and I are just going to the Black & Decker..."
"No," said Bella, "that is far too cheap. I want to take you both somewhere really nice."
Steve and Cat spluttered and objected and thanked... and spluttered some more. What could they say?
All the waiters at Le Gung Chung laughed with delight when they saw Bella. They said how nice that she had brought some friends with her this time. They had a spectacular and exotic meal, complete with Vietnamese bird's nest soup, Malaysian peanut-fried rice and a powerful Latin American punch. Bella even arranged for one of the waiters to sing Cat's favourite song in French.
Her friends were embarrassed, delighted, frustrated and perplexed in equal measure.
After the meal they thanked Bella very much and said that they'd walk her home and then they'd go back to Steve's flat in Chelsea for the night. Bella needed to know exactly where it was (even though she had been told before), what London Borough it was in, what the postcode was, which night 'buses went past it, how many other flat mates Steve had, whether the flat had a London 'phone code and how much the council tax was there.
Once they had seen their generous patron home, the two young lovebirds took a walk, a train, a tube and another walk... and there was Steve's flat. They opened the doors and dived straight for the bed, their passion for each other overtaking them before they'd fully disrobed.
On the pine cupboard and the curtains Cat could see a light moving, obviously coming through the net curtains from the road and she heard the sound of a taxi. There was the slam of a door and the sound of a very grateful taxi-driver. There was then a ring on the doorbell.
"Sorry, baby," apologised Steve. "I don't know who it is. I'd better go and answer it."
"Hello, Steve," said Bella, not hiding her interest in Steve's bare chest. "What are we doing next?"