It's no longer a question of if, but when...
"Look, I've changed," he said, suddenly serious again. "I really have. I won't pressure you anymore. We'll take it slow. I promise I I won't jump on you anymore."
I started to laugh. That promise struck me as incredibly funny.
About the Author
Kate Cann lives in England with her husband, daughter, son and dog. She worked as an editor for many years before writing several books, including Ready?, Sex, and Go!, which were bestsellers in the UK.
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I'd arranged to meet Art that same evening, at a pub by the river. I was surprised by how calm I felt as I walked along there'sort of washed up, as though I'd survived a great disaster.
Everything had cracked open between us, and this time I was determined it was going to stay open. This time we were going to talk.
Art was already there when I arrived, sprawled on a bench outside, staring into the river. The sight of him was so good I had to stop for a minute. Then I pushed my hands into my pockets and made myself walk on.
He looked up and saw me, and stood up, a bit awkwardly. “Hi, Coll. Thanks for coming,” he muttered. “I got you a drink.”
We sat down and I snatched up the glass and took a gulp. Inside, I was trembling. It was amazing to be sitting next to him again, feeling that energy again. “That was some coincidence, today,” I gabbled. “Being at McDonald's at the same time. I mean, what are the statistical chances of two people --”
He shrugged. “I knew you'd be there.”
“What d'you mean, you knew I'd be there?”
“I phoned your house'I spoke to your mum.”
So it hadn't been chance, I thought. He came after me.
“You spoke to --? Shit. After the way she'd yelled at you and everything? You hero.”
“I tell you, Coll, I've never felt so scared in my life. I'd been trying to get the guts up to call all week. Then I nearly put the phone down when she answered. She sounded really mad. She said who the hell d'you think you are, ringing up, haven't you done enough damage . . . and then I -- I said I was sorry'and I just about begged her -- I said I had to see you.”
I let out a sigh, wobbly withpleasure. “And then...?”
“She said you were out. Then she said I'd find you in McDonald's, and slammed the phone down.”
“Mum told you where I was? I can't believe it. She loathes you.”
“Well'maybe not loathes. But telling you where I was?”
“Maybe she thought it was our business. Maybe she thought you could handle it.”
“Maybe,” I said doubtfully. Mum wasn't good at leaving me to handle things. “I s'pose if you'd said sorry and everything, she'd have weakened. I think it's your dad she blames most --” “Good. Because last weekend was his fault.”
“Sure it was.”
“Honestly, Coll, your mum was right the way she laid into him. He's a real sleaze. It's no wonder I'm such a shit with a father like that.”
“Oh, right. So you inherited it, did you?”
“Yes. And I was brought up wrong. Other fathers go on about exam results'he wants to know how many girls I've pulled. He keeps a chart up in the kitchen.”
“Oh, be serious,” I said, laughing.
“I am. Sort of.”
I looked at the ground. “Look, Art, it wasn't your dad who'lied to me,” I said.
“Oh, Coll, I didn't lie to you. I just didn't tell you --”
“-- what the setup was. Look, I know I behaved like a real jerk. But it wasn't just to get you to sleep with me.”
“OK, it was. But it wasn't just sex. I mean you were'I was'I was going crazy. And it was so strong between us, and I thought'I wanted to get close to you.”
“You wanted to get close to me. Why didn't you talk about it, then? Find out what I felt?”
“Look, we've been through this. You were right, I was embarrassed, OK? I didn't know what the hell to say.”
I turned and stared at him. I still couldn't get my mind around the fact that, for him, taking all your clothes off and making love to someone for the first time was less embarrassing than just talking.
“I mean -- sex is mutual,” I went on. “Or it should be anyway. Not something you spring on someone without even --”
“Coll, I'm sorry I tried to push you into it,” he said, urgently. “I got it all wrong and I'm sorry.”
“You made me feel like just someone to get laid --”
“Oh, God. It wasn't like that. I think you're great. I'm really'I'm completely gone on you. OK?”
“You didn't act it, Art,” I said faintly, as what he'd just said sunk into me. “I mean I really did have no idea.”
“What d'you mean, act it? Buy you flowers and all that crap?”
“No'no! It's just'you seemed so distant some of the time. Quite a lot of the time. Nearly all of the time, actually. You seemed so shut off.”
“Well, if I was such lousy company, how come you kept seeing me?”
I laughed and turned to look at him, taking in every detail of his face'the line of his eyebrows, the line of his jaw, his mouth -- and it was so obvious, I had to say it. “Because you're a'because you're gorgeous.”
He grinned and moved closer to me. “So are you, Coll. Completely gorgeous. You make me'Jesus, you make me'” He broke off. I'd gone red with pleasure. “Anyway,” he went on, “I thought you were shut off. I mean -- I love the way you talk and all the weird things you come out with, but sometimes it was like talking was all you wanted to do.”
There was a long pause. “I suppose we were both coming in from'from different angles,” I said finally. I couldn't think of anything else to say.“Give it another chance, Coll. Now this has happened we can'we can meet in the middle.” Love Trilogy #2: Sex. Copyright © by Kate Cann. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.