Chapter Five


At first, it’s incredibly awkward as we trudge together to my car. He waits until I’ve clicked my seatbelt on to follow me inside.

Sam more or less stumbles into my car and grins at me from the passenger seat. He's lovely in his brown suit that compliments his curls, the perfect picture of formality, yet he carries the clothes like he isn’t used to them. As the rain starts falling harder, he shivers.

“One I’d think these stiff suits would be thicker, but no, I’m freezing out here,” he says.

I bite my lip to hide a grin.

“That’s why you're meant to wear a coat over it. Seriously, Wilcox, how have you survived this long?”

“Wearing comfy stuff. Sweats. Mittens and all the nice fluffy jumpers,” he replies like it’s obvious.


My heart is racing with the endless possibilities this night is offering. I mean, I was tired, but I’ve been going to bed so late this week, grading papers, that I don’t think I could even sleep right now if I tried.

“So, do you know of any good spots nearby?” I ask, glancing at him as I pull away from the Club. The last thing we need is George finding us outside.

“Um, I don't think we’re going to be able to leave the car soon, but yeah, there’s a chippy a couple of streets over, and a kebab shop too.”

I nod, “Hmm. Seems like the rain won’t cooperate tonight.”

He shrugs, in that infuriating way of his, “I mean, it’s fine. We could just talk for a bit.”


I scramble my brain for any possible place I can take this bloke in the middle of the night. There is a sandwich shop I used to hit up now and then whenever I was in London after a rough night out.

I still can’t decipher if he proposed this because he thinks we’re on our way to hookup. So far, he's kept his hands to himself.

As soon as we’re off the street, he starts asking questions. I wanted to get to know him, so it works out. He asks about where I live, and then a little about my family. I try to give him the minimum possible, but then again, I kind of do want him to know me. Then, it’s my turn.

“So, Wilcox. Oxford or Cambridge?” I ask as we stop at a red light.

He huffs, “What? Neither. Couldn’t afford them,” he laughs, a deep, confident chuckle that warms my cheeks,

“Couldn’t get in, either.”

Immediately, I feel ashamed for even assuming he went there like I did, but it’s just logical. I mean, George is pretty well off, and this is his only son, so it’d make sense. Besides, he seems smart, even if he’s not well-spoken.

He shifts so now he’s leaning on the car door, watching me intently. The streetlights are dancing in his face, giving it a nice dimension in the dark, “I, uh, got out of Uni just last year. I had to work for a bit before I could afford tuition,”

I graduated from Uni three years ago. Only because I was fortunate enough to get in my first try, and then I did my best to take as many credits as possible each semester.

Always rushing through life.

I glance at him, “But George didn’t pay for it or…?”

He shakes his head and looks down at his hands. I force myself to focus on the road as I take a right, “No, he kicked me out. It was a huge fight. He wanted me to be an accountant or something posh like that. And I couldn’t.”

My heart aches for him already, picturing him having to choose between his only family and doing what he loved, and I realise how lucky I’ve been, with parents who’ve supported me even when I didn’t deserve it.

I can’t help the wobble in my voice, “Sam.”

“S’fine, really. It’s all in the past.”

I stop the Jag outside the shop, “Wow. You’re mad brave for that. How did you get through it, alone?”

“I had my best friend, Andrea to share a flat with, so it made it cheaper. I was a bouncer when the money was tight, and I worked in a flower shop during the week,” he shrugs, his smile returning, “I guess I also ate a lot of porridge and ramen.”

I shake my head and turn in my seat to look at him. We’re so quiet, that the rain hitting furiously on the roof is the only sound for a moment. It feels somehow like we’re already naked.

“I’m sorry for assuming you had everything handed to you,” I clear my throat, and quietly I add, “Just like I did.”

It itches at me, the feeling of being too inadequate. We’re just too different. I think of all the debauchery, of my lame little privileged life, with take-out dinners and overpriced cocktails available at the snap of my fingers.

He places his hand on top of mine on the armrest and it takes work to refrain myself from jumping. He brings me back to the present.

“S’okay. It’s obvious, George is loaded, yeah? It’d make sense that I would be like him.”

“Yeah. I'm still sorry anyway.”

He spoils me with a shy grin, and somehow I believe him. That he doesn't see me as a spoiled brat. Only because he doesn't know me yet.

The knot in my throat is getting bigger by the minute, and I’m afraid I’ll cry of shame, or compassion in front of him, so I slide my hand out from under his and grab my wallet, “Wait here, I’ll get us something okay?”

He shoves his card at me, “Here. I don't have cash but pay for mine, the pin…”

I cut him off and hold his gaze, it bothers me that he’d be irresponsible like this, giving a stranger his PIN.

“Sam. Don’t do that ever again.”

“But, I, uh,”

I climb out of the car, and before I close the door, I say, “I got this. And I meant it, don’t do that.”

How trusting and naive can he actually be? Yeah, he might be sitting in a year-old Jaguar, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t be a scammer, or something worse. I head inside the shop. It's as crowded as it ever was back then, when I'd stumble in drunk out of my mind. It's nostalgic to go up to the counter, underneath the fluorescent lights and order for two now.

The smells of flour and sugar, the vinegar scent from all the pickles... the display case with the pretty cakes brings back a flood of emotions within me. Nostalgia, for the old me. Pride, for how far I've come. I wonder if he'll like the food as much as I do.

I end up getting us both a Salted beef bagel. I add a doughnut for him, and then, because I don’t know what he likes for dessert, I buy a couple of peach pies. I remember my mum used to be fond of them.

I can’t make up for all of those years he lived on skimp dinners, but I can make sure he goes to bed with a full belly tonight.

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