‘What do ya do?’ Alex asks me.
‘Interior design, you?’
I inwardly groan. I have an aversion to estate agents – cocky, over confident, gold plated salesmen. Alex is all of these, with the added bonus of a dodgy cockney accent.
‘Nice.’ I say, because he’s just lost all of my interest, not that there was any in the first place.
‘Yeah, got myself a few grand bonus taday. Give me a shit pit and I’ll sell it, nah problem. I’m living it large in Landon and laving it.’ Oh God, slime ball! ‘Ya fancy going out samtime?’
NO! ‘Thanks, but I’m in a relationship.’ It’s a good job Cockney doesn’t know me and my bad habit. I’m twiddling my hair frantically.
‘Ya sure?’ he asks, inching closer and stroking my arm.
I pull away, planning my escape. ‘Positive.’ I smile sweetly, looking around for Kate.
Within the space of time it takes me to raise my glass to my lips, Cockney quickly disappears from my line of vision. It takes me a few seconds to piece together the events that are unfolding before my eyes, but when I do, I’m appalled.
Jesse has Cockney in a firm grip around his neck and pinned up against a pillar.
‘Keep your f**king hands to yourself.’ Jesse snarls at a poor, startled Cockney. He doesn’t know what’s hit him. I feel bad; he was only trying his luck. I would have dealt with it. Where did he come from? This is all I need on my night out, supposedly free from arrogant men. Or not so, it would appear. He’s left me for four days wondering what happened, and now he’s turned up, out of the blue, raging like a wild bull. Has he even calmed down from Tuesday?
‘I’m sorry mate. I didn’t mean any offence. Your girlfriend and I were just chatting about shit, ya know.’ Cockney explains, completely panicked.
Girlfriend? Oh! I want to advise poor cockney that I’m not even the girlfriend of the maniac pinning him up by his throat, but judging by Jesse’s obvious mood, I’ll decline at the risk of pissing him off further.
‘Jesse, let go of him, he wasn’t doing anything.’
Cockney looks at me gratefully. He knows I’m stretching the truth. A few more seconds, and I’m pretty sure I would have been throwing a drink over him. I gently stroke Jesse’s arm in an attempt to calm him down, ignoring his warm firmness. He looks like he could explode with anger. I’m pissed. How dare he turn up and trample all over my recovery night.
‘What’s going on?’ Kate arrives next to me.
‘Nothing,’ I snap. ‘Jesse, let him go.’
He doesn’t appear to be listening. What am I supposed to do with this? I don’t want to see him. I’m feeling derailed already, and he hasn’t even looked at me yet. I can hardly walk away and leave poor Cockney to bear the brunt of Jesse’s unjustified rage. Where the bloody hell has he been for four days?
I’m beyond relieved when Sam turns up on the scene. ‘Sam, please sort your twat of a friend out,’ I turn towards Kate. ‘Come on.’
Kate’s eyes light up like The Blackpool Illuminations at Sam’s unexpected arrival. I hear Sam calmly coaxing Jesse from Cockneys throat as I drag Kate away, heading for the dance floor.
‘What was all that about?’ she asks.
‘Don’t. What happened to Greg?’
‘He was a total dick. Come on, let’s dance.’
Tom and Victoria welcome us with waving arms as we join them on the dance floor. I’ve been thrown off guard by Jesse turning up. Is this a coincidence, or did he know I would be here? How could he know? I was having a great night, not having thought about him for at least an hour. That’s a record for the last four days. Damn it!
I push Jesse out of my mind and soon let The Source & Candi Staton take me to a better place. I love this track.
After half an hour and a string of some great tracks, I haven’t seen or heard from Jesse. Sam must have ejected him, or maybe the doormen did. Either way, I’m free to resume the great night it had been up until Jesse crashed in. I signal to Kate that I’m going to the toilet, smiling when she acknowledges with a shimmy and a laugh.
As I exit the cubicle, I fish my nude lipstick out of my bag to re-apply, and check my phone to find ten missed calls from Jesse. What? Oh, he’s angry all right. But what on earth has he got to be mad about? Any pangs of Jesse withdrawal have been extinguished by his unreasonable behaviour. Who does he think he is? I don’t dwell on it, though. I clear the missed calls, making my way back to the dance floor, only to find the others making their way to the bar.
‘Drink!’ Tom clenches his throat in an exaggerated signal of thirst.
It’s Victoria’s round. As I wait for her to get served, a wave of unease washes over me. He’s still here. I know it.
She hands me my drink, her mouth gaping open. ‘Oh…my…God!’
I take my wine. ‘What?’
‘That guy, the one in Starbucks I was telling you about,’ she explains, nodding over my shoulder. ‘There he is. I told you he was yummy.’
I turn in the direction of Victoria’s stare and find her looking at Sam. But that’s not what catches my attention. Every fine air on the back of my neck prickles when I see Jesse leaning against the very pillar he had poor Cockney pinned up against, not an hour ago. His severe stare is piercing me, while Sam and the other guy from The Manor, Drew, are busy chatting and drinking. Jesse’s not engaging in the conversation, though. No, he’s stood there looking as angry as he did earlier, drilling holes right into me. Victoria’s information suddenly filters into my brain.