Rick was right. I did need to meet some people. Like Alex, a really cool girl with blue hair, and Vicky, whose older sister had met The Clash.
“Spin the bottle,” Will announced, placing a coke bottle in the middle of the group. The only two people who were hesitant were soon persuaded, and the bottle was spun.
Will kissed Joanna.
Joanna kissed Andy.
Andy kissed Maria.
Maria kissed Mikey.
Mikey kissed Alex.
Alex kissed Rick.
Rick kissed Vicky.
Vicky kissed Will.
And on it went. There were games of truth or dare, Boy meets Girl and other such games.
But by eleven thirty the only people left were Maria, Rick, Mikey and I. And then they decided to introduce me to a game called ‘One word to describe’. And then they decided I should be the only person to be asked.
“One word to describe meeting us,” Mikey volunteered as he lounged in the armchair.
“Serendipity,” Joanna replied, leaning against the wall.
“And what does that mean?” Will asked, yawning slightly, curled up on the sofa. Maria, who was next to him, rolled her eyes. “It means finding something wonderful by accident.”
“Oh.” Will smiled. “Good.” He paused. “One word to describe…Rick.”
Joanna looked across at Rick, who was also sitting on the floor, opposite her. “Um…”
“Don’t hold back,” Will encouraged. “Say what you really think.” Then he closed his eyes.
Rick’s eyes were sparkling with suppressed laughter. “You can say that you hate me. I won’t mind.”
“Loveable,” Joanna said finally, looking at the floor. Will’s eyes snapped open.
“Did you just call him loveable?” he demanded. “Now what’re you gonna use to describe me?”
Everyone burst out laughing. Will looked indignant. “What?” But then, unable to keep up the charade, joined in with the laughter.
It was decided that I would sleepover as I had my stuff and everyone else was staying as well. I couldn’t face going round to Eva’s now.
It was four thirty in the morning and four people were in Mikey’s bedroom. One lay on the bed and three were on the floor. One of these three gingerly stood up and made her way out of the room, heading down the stairs. She stood by a window in the living room, watching the street in the stillness of night.
“Jo?” It was a boy’s voice. And she knew exactly who it was.
“Yeah?” she asked, turning to face Rick who was still wearing his fingerless gloves despite the fact that he was wearing pajamas.
“You okay?” he asked, stepping towards her. She nodded silently in reply as he reached her.
“How come you came?” he asked softly. “I mean I’m glad you did, but you said you couldn’t.”
“I um.” She coughed to clear her throat and curled her arms around herself for warmth. “I had a disagreement with Be- someone.”
“Benji?” he asked quietly. “What’d he do?” She looked at Rick. He was so comforting, so familiar.
“He thought that because I liked him that that meant I’d sleep with him. And I, uh, explained to him that he was wrong.” She smiled slightly. “But it doesn’t matter. I’m here now.”
He nodded. “Yeah.” He took her left hand. “You’re freezing. Come here.” And with those simple whispered words, she stepped towards him and found herself wrapped in his arms. She laughed gently as he held her.
“One word to describe me,” she whispered. He turned her so she was facing him.
She smiled up at him and threw her arms around him. “Happy birthday.”
He hugged her gently. “Thanks.”
She took a step back so she could see his face. “I didn’t bring your present.”
He shrugged. “I don’t care.”
She smiled serenely. “I left it at home. So I’ve gotta give you something else instead.”
He was about to say something but whatever he was going to say was lost as their lips softly met.