That night, Rhyley had a vivid and beautiful dream about Sandra. She did everything he most liked a girl to do, in a long sequence of mental video clips. He woke up unwilling to face the colder, duller reality that existed and deduced that he was very sexually frustrated. When he next thought of his soulmate, he was filled with annoyed resentment at the role she was playing in the prevention of the realisation of his desperately wonderful fantasies.
Later that Sunday morning Jonah called to ask if Rhyley wanted to play football on The Common - a long island of grass surrounded by streets lined with houses used for local football and cricket matches, located near the town centre. He suggested that Willis and Amelie could be invited along - the four of them had played together on weekends and during holidays in the past. Rhyley thought it was a good idea - an easy way to have fun with no consequences like Sandra’s irritation and hurt - and told Jonah he’d ring Amelie and meet him and Willis there. Amelie, when rung, was also not opposed to the proposition and Rhyley picked her up in his car.
“How are things?” she asked as she buckled her seatbelt.
“Not really great,” Rhyley replied truthfully, trying and failing not to let his eyes wander downwards from her face
Amelie reached out and lifted his chin with her index finger so that his eyes met hers again. She was grinning.
“Eyes up here, mister.”
Rhyley wanted to touch her; he really missed touching.
“She doesn’t want to go anywhere,” he said, a little desperately. “Friday evening she aroused me and she got scared.”
“Some girls like to go a bit slower,” Amelie said, deciding she could trust Rhyley now and moving her finger away. “You have to respect that. Plus, you’ve only known her for two weeks.”
“We were at fourth base after two weeks,” Rhyley pointed out.
“I’m not the girl you’re meant to love for the next sixty years or so,” Amelie reminded him.
Rhyley started driving.
“I loved you,” he said into the steering wheel. He wasn’t sure where he was trying to lead this conversation... or lead Amelie.
“No you didn’t,” Amelie said calmly.
“I did,” Rhyley insisted. “Not like how I’m going to love Sandra, but it was a kind of love.”
“Yeah - the ‘let’s fall into bed whenever it’s possible’ kind.” Amelie’s tone was playful, not resentful - she had been as comfortable with the type of relationship as Rhyley. Rhyley thought that they would have lasted until Christmas (having started about a fortnight before the school year began) if he hadn’t had the Wolf Dream.
“I loved you more than anyone else - except Mia. You never forget the first. But you... - you understand me. You know me better than even Jonah and Willis. I almost wish that you were my soulmate.”
“But I’m not,” Amelie said gently. “There’s no point in ‘What If’s’ - you know that. You and Sandra have just got to work it out.”
“Do you love me?” Rhyley asked suddenly.
“No,” Amelie replied honestly. “I care about you as your friend, but you were never more than just a guy I slept with.”
Rhyley sighed slightly.
“I guess that’s good.”
“Of course,” Amelie said, in a devastating tone of conviction. “You have Sandra.”
“I’ll just find another guy to sleep with.”
Jonah brought the football and the four of them kicked it around, dropping their jackets for posts and making teams of two (Jonah and Willis v Amelie and Rhyley). Amelie got effectively around Jonah and Willis to score many goals. Rhyley couldn’t help but watch her while she was in possession - the focus in her face but also the quiet smile each time she got the ball past Willis and Jonah’s jackets. She was so beautiful...
After a while Willis suggested going to buy drinks in a café. Everyone agreed. They walked into town and found a table for four in the nearest one.
“You were on top form,” Rhyley heard himself tell Amelie quietly while Jonah talked with Willis. He was looking into her deep brown eyes and it was like he was falling for her all over again. Though it was given their history that the comment sounded sexual.
Amelie lightly kicked his foot under the table.
“Well, I had to be - you were making me do all the work.”
“D’you remember, we used to do this in the summer and then go back to my place?” Rhyley murmured.
Amelie looked down at the café table, frowning slightly.
Rhyley gently stroked her ankle with his foot. He couldn’t help but remember Sandra’s miscommunication, wonder if the two of them would ever work and think of his sexual frustration, shown so clearly through his dream of making love to Sandra. On top of all that, he was beginning to see in his mind’s eye a montage of beautiful, vivid memories of Amelie.
“I miss it,” he told her truthfully. “I miss knowing that when I wanted, I could have. My bed feels empty and cold, and I can’t do to me what you did to me.”
“Rhyley, you’re being a fool and an ass,” Amelie said flatly.
“I don’t care,” he said desperately.
Amelie’s gaze intensified.
Rhyley looked into her eyes, his reason slipping away as his fingers, his tongue and his crotch remembered her.
Amelie’s expression became carefully guarded, but all that mattered was the quiet words that she spoke next: “My parents are out.”
Rhyley looked at Willis and Jonah, who thankfully hadn’t been listening to their conversation.
“Me and Amelie are going to take a drive, okay?” he told them.
Jonah frowned in confusion. On the other hand, Willis didn’t seem to find this strange, perhaps having forgotten that Rhyley had a soulmate, since he smiled and said “Have fun.”
Rhyley got up and led Amelie to his car. He drove her wordlessly to her house, his total thinking capacity taken up by a mental photograph of her completely unclothed. He parked in front and followed her inside. Ben was playing on the games console in the living room.
“Hey, Am,” he called, hearing their footsteps.
Ben glanced casually over at his sister as she took off her shoes and did a double take at the sight of Rhyley.
“Rhyley?” he said shocked.
“Hi, Ben,” said Rhyley vaguely, as he took off his own shoes and promptly followed Amelie in the direction of the stairs. It felt just like the good old days, and he didn’t care to reflect on the past fortnight of his life.