Chapter Four

December 15th


Today I’m buzzing with excitement about seeing Theo. I mean, I don’t actually know if we’re doing the hang out thing today, but he did say he’d see me next week, and it’s all I’ve been able to think about. In hindsight, I probably should have asked him for his number, but the way he seemed to be closing off made me think he’d just sneer at me and leave, so I didn’t. I’m hoping to get it today, though.

I’m fixing my hair in Andrea’s living room. Jack is here too, they’re going over wedding invitation samples and whatnot. Wedding stuff. Her sofa comes in handy when I need to crash in London, and it’s free, automatically making it better than any hotel.

Jack clears his throat. I look at him as he raises one of his perfect eyebrows at me, “Going to see someone?”

 “Huh? No, I’m just off to the Club with George,”

 Andrea shoots him a look. “Sam, don’t,”

“I’m not doing anything,”

She rolls her eyes and crosses her arms over her chest like a pissed off mum. “You’re actually parting your hair.”

I raise my eyebrows and continue putting gel on it, trying to make it look fancier. I need a good haircut. Urgently.

“So what?” I drop the comb on the console table. “I’m just bored with my hair,”

She giggles, and then Jack follows. I hate them. They know me way too well. They’ve pretty much figured everything out already. As they tend to do. In a way, they’re my family, always looking out for me when I’m sad or falling too fast. Although I’ve been known to be incredibly transparent, so I don’t think it’s that hard to read me.

I click my tongue, “Besides, shouldn’t you be working tonight?”

Andrea shakes her head and wraps her arms around Jack, nuzzling into his neck. Since he finally moved from America, they’ve really wasted no time in making up for all of the years they lived apart.

“I’m on holiday, remember?”

I grab my jacket and put it on and then I check my pockets for my keys and wallet.

“Yeah. Right. I’ll see you tomorrow. Mum, Dad.”

“Don’t get in too late, you rascal,” Jack yells after me, faking a stern voice. He insists on taking the piss by using British words that just sound weird with his accent, but it’s actually funny.

I used to live here, but now it’s turned into their wedding operation base. Whenever I stay over,  they wow me with a big breakfast and then comes a long chat, until it’s noon and It’s time to grab my backpack, garment bag, and hop on a train back home.

I think that’d be problem number one if I actually dated Theo because I’m fairly sure he’s a Londoner. Most likely. He looks posh enough to live in Kensington or Chelsea. I shake my head as I close the front door behind me. I’m already thinking about distance issues and the bloke hasn’t even shown interest in me. Typical.

George picks me up and the car ride is terribly awkward. He keeps asking if I’ve seen someone I like at the Club and tries to give me advice on how to get girls like I’m twelve and not twenty-four. It makes me want to gag a little. It was the same all throughout secondary school and so on.

I lean my head against the window and sigh. He already called the veterinary hospital I work at a “shop” twice and offered me a job at the Club once, and we’re not even five minutes in. I really don’t know what’s the point of our relationship anymore.


The more we near Christmas Eve, the more effort the Club puts into the music. Ana, my longtime friend, a sweet psychology major comes in and sings with me. This is usually something that happens around the holidays or the few times we’ve been requested to play for a wedding.

Ana and I have our own shared history. We went to Oxford together, and all throughout Uni we were each other’s date for formal dinners and spent countless nights eating greasy pub food during exam season. All throughout it, she’s always talked about moving to America. This time though, she’s already saving up for it. I’m happy she has the balls to go through with it.

These songs are easier to play, giving me room to think about the week. This one was particularly rough. Sometimes, when I’m knee-deep in backbreaking work, I close my eyes and imagine myself with a backpack and a plane ticket in hand, boarding a plane to an unknown destination. Or moving near the coast, away from all the buzz of the city.

 I’ve been in school nonstop for years, and I hate to think that I’ve given up on doing the things I love the most for Academia. To satisfy the idea that success is going to make me happy when it clearly hasn’t. Although that could only be my depression speaking. That’s what I like to tell myself.

Anyway, Ana and I had a lovely day yesterday, putting together a setlist that we both liked,  and of course, including the occasional Christmas song.  We messed around with a few songs and rehearsed all day in my flat, with the obligatory Chinese takeout break in between. Playing music that way always feels new, natural, and I always cherish the opportunity to do so.  It’s a welcome distraction and working with someone is a nice change from the usual. Her voice is angelic and soft, but she can hit high notes effortlessly. It’s a perfect accompaniment for my piano.

I know Sam’s here, I’ve seen him, but I’m doing my best to ignore him. To pretend that our conversation from last weekend didn’t happen. He’s making it difficult. He’s already sent me a glass of rosé, and I’m a disappointment to myself for drinking it and blushing about the fact that he’s clearly watching me. He’s just a stranger, and yet I can’t stop caring about his opinion on the bloody covers we’re playing.

I'm embarrassed to admit that it took me longer to pick out my suit than it usually does, taking particular care with how my hair looked. I know the odds of us talking again are low, and having George hanging around makes it even harder, but I can't help but feel slightly hopeful...

About what?

I don’t know, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to let go of this mess of a human just yet.

At the end of our set, we perform a cover of “Don’t look back in anger”, and I’m relieved to see that people here love Oasis. I can tell how the crowd goes completely quiet and is actually paying attention to the music. It’s not difficult to play, I think the vocal part is the hardest, but Ana pushes on and her sound is breathtaking.

I brave a look to my right, and sure enough, Sam is mouthing the words as his right hand is in a fist over his heart. Lovely. I think even I am quietly singing the words, too. His eyes meet mine and he keeps singing, almost to me.

I can’t help but smile as I return my eyes to the keys, and then to Ana.

I press the last key, and the room erupts in polite claps and the occasional scream from a drunk customer. I snort, bow my head and follow Ana into the staff room.  It’s stuffy and badly lit, but it’s great for privacy. As I am taking a drink of water, George comes in.

He claps my shoulder and kisses Ana’s cheek. “That was good. I think more and more people are coming here just to see you,” he points at me, and then turns to look at her, “But tonight was even better.”

She smiles politely and looks at me, but George prattles on, “My son is here tonight, and I think you should meet him,”

For a moment I think he’s talking to me, but then I quickly realise he’s obviously meant it for her.

She gives him a polite smile, “Sure, yes.”

I’m jealous of her blonde hair and her delicate frame, just for a quick second, truly. I know she’s not even into anyone at this moment in her life and I roll my eyes at myself. I don’t want to be here when he introduces her, so I decide to leave now. I’m exhausted, anyway.

I excuse myself and head out, wrapping my black coat around my body. There’s a slight drizzle now, but it’s thankfully less heavy than earlier. I look around and find myself surprised that Sam is here, leaning against the same lamppost as the first night I met him. I thought he was still at his table.

Of fucking course. I wish he’d just drop it, but he walks towards me, smiling like a giant puppy and I can’t help but let my lips curl into a small smile.

“Ready to head out?”

I frown, “Pardon?”

His smile falters, but he nods, “You said yes. To hanging out, I mean,”

“I meant it vaguely, not next week at midnight,“ I reply, dismissing him and searching my coat for my valet ticket.

“Yeah. You said, and I quote you see you next weekend, so, want to grab a bite?”

I roll my eyes and breathe out. It’s both mortifying and sweet that he remembers my exact words.

I yawn for emphasis, “Wilcox, it’s midnight. I’m sure you’re as tired as I am.”

He runs a hand through his curls, messing up the parting. This beautiful oaf. “Yeah, but you must be hungry,”

I hand my ticket to the valet. “That I am.”

He stays silent and bites his lip at me, l I shake my head, “Okay, sod it. Let’s get something to eat. And then you’ll be on your merry way home, okay?”

How bad can it actually be? In the worst-case scenario, I get him to talk about his pretty girlfriend or something. Then I’ll know and get over him.

He nods, “Yeah. I’m down,”

Good, I reply in my head.

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