“I am far to sober to be doing this,” I told myself as Aislinn weaved her way elegantly through the dancers with me following much more clumsily behind her. I didn’t think she’d heard my muttering over the music as she ploughed straight on.
“Can you see him?” Aislinn asked as we crossed the entrance hall and entered another room with yet more people. “I’m going to make you keep looking until we find him so you might as well save yourself the trouble and tell me the truth now rather than later.” I could tell Aislinn was enjoying this just a little too much, her voice growing higher in pitch with excitement. I obliged by scanning my eyes across the people gathered, searching for Lloyd’s face. There were so many people in the room and the light was so low I doubted I would be able to recognise him if I did see him.
So I was very surprised when I saw his face looking across the room at me and exclaimed, “that’s him.” Aislinn followed my gaze to where Lloyd had hastily looked away from me and back to his friends.
“Come on then,” she said, pulling me towards him.
“He’s talking to someone else,” I protested. “I don’t want to disturb him. He might not want to talk to me again anyway.”
“Nonsense,” Aislinn insisted. “You’ll never know if you never try. Now stop dragging your heels and behave like a normal person or he’ll definitely not want to speak to you.” I knew Aislinn was right. If Lloyd was watching me as I resisted Aislinn he must have thought I was completely insane.
But Aislinn finally managed to drag me up to Lloyd and his circle of friends and then there was no turning back. We both looked at each other for a moment, me feeling beyond embarrassed and him trying to pretend it wasn’t happening.
“Hello again,” I finally said, unable to bear the silence any longer.
“Hey,” he replied awkwardly.
“Sorry about what happened earlier,” I said sheepishly. “I don’t know what came over Owen; he can be a bit strange sometimes.”
“Not at all,” Lloyd said shrugging. “If you were my new girlfriend I wouldn’t let you out of my sight, let alone go around talking to strange men at parties.”
“Owen isn’t my boyfriend,” I exclaimed, hurriedly trying to put Lloyd back on the right track. “He’s just a friend from my flat on campus. He’s lovely but I don’t see him as any more than a friend.”
“Oh,” Lloyd said, his eyes lighting up slightly. “Well I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. I thought a girl as pretty as you must have a boyfriend.” I blushed reluctantly at Lloyd’s comment, not sure what to say next. Luckily for me Aislinn wasn’t going to let the conversation halt for very long.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me?” She asked.
“Of course,” I stammered, “this is my room mate, Aislinn, and this is Lloyd.”
“Wonderful to meet you,” Aislinn said, shaking Lloyd’s hand and bobbing a small curtsy as she did whenever she met someone new, much to Lloyd’s surprise.
“And you,” he replied. A friend hit him on the shoulder to catch his attention and turn him back to the group, but as soon as Lloyd’s friend caught sight of us, his focus immediately changed.
“Who are these lovely ladies?” The friend asked, smiling smoothly at us, his eyes appraising both Aislinn and me, making me feel very self-conscious.
“This is Nessie, who I met earlier, and her room mate, Aislinn.”
“Aislinn?” The friend repeated. “What an interesting name.” He spoke with a hint of an accent that I couldn’t quite place, maybe from the north but I couldn’t tell which area.
“People always say that,” Aislinn replied, completely oblivious to the fact that Lloyd’s friend was blatantly trying to flirt with her.
“Well it’s very exotic,” he persisted, raising his eyebrows but still received no satisfactory response from Aislinn.
“So what are you studying?” I asked Lloyd, leaving Aislinn to chat to her new friend.
“Oh, I replied. That sounds…interesting.”
“You don’t have to be polite, it sounds as boring as hell,” Lloyd laughed, “and you aren’t far wrong. I often wonder what on earth made me choose Politics, I would have been much better off with a Law degree like my parents wanted me to.”
“You can always convert,” I suggested. “Things like that are very flexible, so I’m told.”
“I’m not sure I’d ever live it down if I did. I insisted before I applied that I wasn’t going to be a lawyer and I’m not going to give my family the satisfaction of knowing that they were right.”
“I’m sure everything will sort itself out,” I said encouragingly. “I always find that they do.”
“And what are you studying?”
“I’ve already asked you that, haven’t I?” Lloyd said, his handsome face crumpling as he realised his mistake.
“Not exactly,” I replied, “but I did tell you I was in the same History lectures as Lily.”
“I remember now. That’s me, memory like a goldfish.” We both laughed nervously at Lloyd’s attempt at humour, neither of sure where to go from there.
“Come and dance with us,” Aislinn said, touching my arm and pleading with me.
“I don’t really dance,” I confessed. “I usually end up embarrassing myself.”
“I’m sure that’s not true,” Lloyd said smiling down at me, his eyes glistening in the low light. “I bet you’re a great dancer.”
“I wouldn’t want to prove you wrong but I don’t think I have the talent to prove you right,” I replied, trying as hard as I could to wriggle out of being forced onto the dance floor.
“Come on, dance with me,” Lloyd said, putting down his empty bottle and taking my hand in his. “I promise I won’t laugh.”
“How do I know you’ll keep that promise,” I said hesitantly.
“You’ll just have to trust me,” he replied with a wink. I couldn’t think of anything to say in protest so allowed myself to be blindly led back towards the room full of dancers and the thud of the music.