Chapter Fifteen: Drowning

Oh my God, what have I done? What the hell did I think I was doing last night? I’ve made a complete fool of myself and will never be able to face anyone again.  Stupid, stupid, stupid… Maybe if I write down what happened I’ll be able to feel a bit better about it, I can’t see it working, but anything seems to be worth a try in the harsh light of Sunday morning.

  Last night was Flora’s birthday, and we went clubbing to celebrate, we being me, Flora, Fliss, Katy, Nat, Violet and Fergus.  It was all planned weeks ago, before we heard about One Way Or Another going under, before I found out about Fergus and Nat, but Flora refused to un-invite anyone.  I didn’t mind seeing Nat and Fergus as much as I thought I would because, lets face it, I have to face them both at some point, but Katy was furious that Fergus was invited, she nearly didn’t come, only the threat that Flora’s feelings would be hurt if she didn’t changed her mind.

  The first club we stopped off at was Fab Café.  Fliss and I agreed to meet the others there at 7:30pm, but Nat and Violet were the only two people who had got there before us.  Violet and Fliss went over to the bar, and I watched as Nat got up and made her way through the maze of tables towards the toilets.  As she walked, the waistband of her jeans and the thick leather and studs belt moved slightly along with her t-shirt and jacket to reveal the tattoo of an eagle emblazoned with the legend ‘Freedom’.  As she pushed open the monochrome door, emblazoned with the iconic image of Emma Peel, which led to the girl’s loos, I got up from my seat and followed her.

  She saw me in the mirror, “Something on your mind?” she ventured as she turned around to face me, both her expression and tone politely interested.

  “Yes actually.”

  “Well, don’t keep me in suspense,” the light in her eyes, and the smile on her face, seemed to suggest that she had no idea of what I was about to say.  Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.  It doesn’t matter anyway.

  “You and Fergus,” I began, “I know about it.”

  She shrugged, casually, and there was a long silence before she said, “We slept together.”  It felt as though she had punched me, and I realised that, deep down, I had been telling myself to believe a lie: that it had been a bit of harmless flirting, and that nothing beyond what we had seen on the video had happened.

  “You, you didn’t know?” asked Nat cautiously, “I thought you said…”

   “I saw you dancing with him and kissing him,” I hissed, “I didn’t know you’d fucked him!”

  She groaned, and then rolled her eyes in exasperation, “And I promised him that I wouldn’t tell you.”  She winced as I glared at her accusingly, “It was a mistake,” she explained, “a stupid, silly mistake.”

  I didn’t say anything.

  “It was a one night stand!” she protested, “He doesn’t love me, he loves you!”

  “Then why…”

  The frustration made her interrupt me, “Because everything happened at once! The label collapsed, you rejected him, Dew signed to Hardpop, he got a pay cut at work… he was depressed, feeling sorry for himself, he needed someone; it didn’t matter who.”

  “And you?” I asked quietly, afraid that I would cry.

  She sighed, “I was lonely; I was drunk… I think I needed someone that night too and that, like him, it didn’t really matter to me who it was.”

  I nodded in subdued silence.

  She laid a hand on my shoulder, “I wasn’t exaggerating when I said he loves you, he told me himself.”

  “I don’t care what he said…”

  “He thinks you’re an ice queen.”

  “What?” If I had been angry before, I was furious now.

  “He thinks you’re an ice queen,” she repeated, gently, “It infuriates him because you won’t let him get close to you.  He thinks you’re really sexy, and it annoys the hell out of him that he can’t have you.”

  “That’s not love,” I clarified, “its lust.”

  “But he likes you as a person too” she added, hastily “he said he feels comfortable with you, but that you freeze on him whenever he tries to get too close.  He wants things to be like they were when you were on tour; he wishes it could always be like that… You put barriers up, you scare him off.”

  “He doesn’t let me scare him off!” I protested.

  She smiled, “Still, you frighten him…”

  I laughed, “Me?”

  “Yes, you!” she was still smiling, “and you know why, you’ve made it your life’s work! That whole ice queen, don’t – fuck – with – me exterior, never letting anyone get close to you; you learnt it all from your mums Siouxsie videos!”

  “Apparently she isn’t like that,” I said quietly, “in real life.”

  “Which only proves my point!”

  “What point?”

  “If you want him, let him in!”

  I couldn’t believe that I was having this conversation with Nat, of all people, “I never said I wanted him,” I said cagily, unable to meet her eyes.

  “Then why are you blushing?” she demanded.

  There was an awkward pause, during which I met her eyes at last.  She seemed amused, and vaguely exasperated by the whole situation.  With a sigh, she took me by the arm, and said, “Come on, let’s get some drinks down us.  That’ll loosen you up a bit.”

  The others had arrived, I noticed, as Nat and I made our way over to the bar. “Two vodka and cokes please,” she said as she reached into her bag for her purse.  I was about to argue with her, but decided against it.  Maybe she was right; maybe I did need a drink to loosen me up.

  After a couple of drinks, we moved onto a new club that’s just opened in Piccadilly, called Juvenile Hell.  It’s quite small, but it’s cheap to get in, and it was absolutely rammed by the time we arrived.  The neon lights of the dance floor were complemented by red walls, which had been doused in red and gold glitter, and a couple of black PVC sofas were slung about the place, along with some benches and chairs.  The bar was decorated with fairy lights, and the cocktail list was long and creative.

  The vodka and coke that I had drunk earlier had made me feel sleepy, so I bought myself a Red Bull to wake myself up again.  A plan was beginning to form in my mind.  I had to seduce him, I had decided, but the problem was how.  I couldn’t do it sober, sober I was scared, so the only thing for it was to get hammered and seduce him before the alcohol wore off.  But would it work? It’s a tricky thing to pull off, getting drunk in order to do something, because too much drink renders you incapable of the task ahead.  I had to get the balance right; I had to be drunk but capable, aware but not frightened.  Having finished the Red Bull, I wandered over to the bar and bought a Blastaway, this would enable me to get pissed quickly, I decided, whilst not knocking me out.  Next down the hatch was straight cider (Blackthorns) followed by Snakebite and Black.

  The evening was beginning to feel like fun at last.  Fergus joined me at the bar, “You’re knocking them back tonight, aren’t you?” he observed with a degree of admiration.

  I smiled in what I hoped was an enigmatic fashion.  I probably looked pie-eyed, but I was convinced at that point that I looked alluring, “If you’re good, I might dance with you later.”

  “I’ll look forward to it.”

  Dancing seemed like a good idea, so I hopped down off my barstool.  The ground suddenly seemed to be further away than it had a few minutes ago, and I stumbled upon landing.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Fliss and Flora exchanging worried looks as I righted myself and weaved my way over to the dance floor.

  I have no idea which records I danced to, or how wildly I was dancing, but hopefully I didn’t make a total arse of myself; I’d like to think I danced brilliantly, but hopefully I’ll never know.  Soon I was hot and thirsty, so I made my way back over to the bar, and to my new best friend the barman.  I asked him to prepare me four shots of Foxy Lady, (Amaretto and Crème de cassis, I think) which he dutifully did.  He watched as I downed each one, and then mixed me a Malibu and coke, which I was quick to finish in order to get back to the dancing.  Someone caught me this time as I stumbled off my bar stool, but I shook them off and staggered back to the dance floor unaided.

  The D.J had just begun to play Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s ‘Take Me Home,’ and I noticed Fergus.  He was watching me from behind one of the pillars that marked the dance floor.  I held his gaze as I danced.  I wanted him to come over and dance with me, but he was wary; I would have to make him dance with me.  I worked my way across the floor to him, and took hold of his hand; I can’t remember what I said to him, but it was mercifully brief as I was beginning to slur my words.

  He held me up as much as I held onto him, and I was aware of running my fingers through his hair.  That is, until one of my nails got caught and I had to disentangle it, which rather spoiled things.  I kept gazing at his face, just staring into his kind brown eyes.  There was a concern in those eyes last night that lasted throughout the evening once he realised just how drunk I was.  But that didn’t stop me from kissing him or him from kissing me back.  It happened at the end of the Sophie Ellis-Bextor record, after he had successfully steered me away from the dance floor.  I didn’t want to leave because I was having such a good time, but he had his arms around my waist and seemed determined to make me sit down on one of the sofas, which I did.  Then I hit him, harder than I intended to, and called him a bully.  I was being sulky and petulant, and he said so.  And that was when I kissed him.  I don’t remember too much of what happened after that.

  He was shaking me when I woke up, and I remember looking around the room, and blinking because the lights had been switched on and the club was emptying.  Fliss and Violet had already left, so he escorted me to the taxi rank.  He had his arms around me the whole time, and I leant against him as he guided me towards my destination.  I had thought that he would put me in a taxi and then catch a bus home, but he got into the cab with me, and my heart soared as I remembered my plan;  not for long though because I was soon asleep again.

  The next thing I remember is lying on the sofa with him and stroking his face as he ran his hands up and down my body.  I was aware of thinking that, whilst my knee high black heeled boots had seemed like a good idea earlier, they weren’t really suited to feverish sofa groping sessions, and the buckles were digging into my legs really painfully.  I was also aware that the short, tight black skirt I was wearing was riding up to my crotch, but then, I hadn’t dressed for this, had I? He was toying with my necklace, which is a silver and onyx pendant on a silver chain.  “Pretty,” he remarked, “like you.”

  “I’m not pretty.”

  “Really?” he kissed my neck, and I began to unbutton his shirt.  He followed my example and began to unbutton mine; too late, I remembered that I wasn’t wearing a bra, but if this surprised him, he didn’t show it.  As I leant over him, I could sense his fingers, lightly stroking my breasts, as I lowered my mouth onto his.

  Suddenly, I felt my stomach lurch as though it was trying to twist itself into knots, and I knew that I was going to be sick.  I stumbled to my feet and, forgetting that half my clothes were missing, half ran, half fell along the hallway and into the bathroom.  I sank to my knees by the toilet just as the bile rose to my throat, and vomited into the bowl.

  It seemed to go on forever, and when it was over there were tears in my eyes, and I was shaking; I felt terrible.  I sensed him put my shirt around my shoulders, and he helped me to put it on.  Then he passed me a glass of water and made me rinse my mouth.  I was sick again.

  When I had finished, we sat down on the edge of the bath and he put his arms around my waist as I rested my head against his shoulder.  I must have been crying because he told me to stop, which I must have done I suppose.  Then I remember trying to kiss him again, but I must have leant too far right because I overbalanced and fell backwards into the bath, pulling him with me.  I don’t remember feeling particularly perturbed about this at the time, and in a strange way it amuses me now, in fact I carried on as though nothing had happened, and re-commenced kissing him.  But he didn’t seem interested anymore.  He pushed me away and climbed out of the bath.  I heard him sit down on the floor and rest his back against the bath.  “What’s the matter?” I asked through a faceful of bath mat.

  “I won’t take advantage of you,” he said quietly, “it’s not right.”

  “Is that what you said to Nat?”

  He was a stream of fire and anger as he hauled me out of the bath, I struggled with him and slipped as he let go, and I felt an incredible pain in my left side as I fell against the airing cupboard.  I covered my face with my arms, convinced that he was going to hit me; but he didn’t.  He knelt down in front of me and waited until I had lowered my arms, then he brushed my hair out of my eyes with his fingers, “I don’t want to hurt you,” he whispered as he stroked my cheek.

  “You already have,” there was a slight tremor in my voice.

  “I know,” he whispered, “and I’m sorry.”

  And then I don’t remember anymore.

  I woke up in bed a couple of hours ago.  He’d removed my boots, but other than that… nothing.  As I turned my head towards the clock that sits on my bedside cabinet, I noticed a piece of paper, which had been propped up next to it.  It had something scrawled on it, my name, in Fergus’ handwriting.  He had gone, but he had left me a note.

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