November 19th, 1990
At home, England
I felt an equal mixture of guilt and glee waking up to the sight of Ben’s gorgeous head on the pillow, next to me.
“Oops,” I mouthed, slipping out of bed, just as the phone started ringing. “If this is David,” I muttered, descending the stairs two at a time, “I’m in deep doo-doo!” Quick deep breath before,
“We have a twenty-two day trip for you. Report time is eighteen hundred this evening.”
“What?” I shrieked. “I’m not on standby!”
It was the laugh that gave her away. “Oh, Annabel,” I sighed, with relief. “You almost gave me a bloody heart attack!”
“So sorry, ah, not really! How are you?” She asked, just as Ben appeared at the top of the stairs, wearing only boxers.
“Ehm, very well,” I stuttered at the sight of him. Not realizing I was on the phone, Ben made his way downstairs, groaning, “Ooooohhhh. Headache.”
“I say Miss McGarr, sounds like you have company. Male by the sounds of it.”
Cupping the receiver, I whispered, “Ben.”
“Oh, you naughty girl! I thought that was all over.”
“I thought so too.”
Because Ben was within earshot, I made sure to share every detail of my upcoming trip.
“I hope he heard every last word,” Annabel giggled. “I was actually ringing to invite you to my Christmas Eve soiree, but since you’re otherwise occupied, I’ll pop an invitation in the post. Please say you’ll come! Ta ta for now darling, byeeeeeee.”
“Sounds like you’re well and truly in,” Ben remarked, from the couch.
“What’s that?” I asked, feigning an air of mild surprise.
“With him. Lover boy. You’re going to meet his family?” He shook his head. “He’ll be proposing to you next.”
I flashed my best fake smile as he continued. “What if he does?”
“Does what?” I asked, joining him on the couch.
“Proposes.” He looked so crestfallen I almost felt sorry for him but not enough to give a different answer.
“I’ll say yes!”
The truth is, I only told Ben I’d say yes for the sole purpose of hurting him. I know it’s petty, but after all the crap he’s put me through I felt the need to give him a taste of his own medicine in the hope that maybe, if only for a moment, he’d feel the pain of what it’s like to lose someone you care about.
Resting his hand lightly on my thigh, he said, “It’ll be really strange if you get married first.”
“You can say that again. Especially since you’re the one about to move in with your girlfriend, stroke, fake fiancée.”
“Hmmm,” he grinned, reaching for me, which I did nothing to resist. Burying his head into my neck, he murmured, “I already know what I want for breakfast.”