As he moved beside her, Stephanie tried to remember his name. Matt? Marcus? Mark? Something. She sat up in the bed and stroked his forehead. She finally saw what Peggy had been talking about, a lasting relationship was better. A one night stand is still fun, she thought. She decided that she would start small and stay for breakfast. She got out of the bed and pulled on her underwear – crossing gingerly to the door of the flat. His coat was hanging there. She hoped to find a card or something that would tell her her his name. Aware that what she was doing could easily be misconstrued she was quick. It was Mark, one of these days I’m going to start trusting myself, she thought.
“Do you always answer the door top-less?” Mark suddenly asked standing in the bedroom doorway, “a show for the postman?”
She blushed. “No,” she said walking back towards him, “I was looking for my phone and I’ve just remembered it’s in my jean’s pocket.” She smiled at him as she passed into the bedroom, pleased that she had come up with a cover story so quickly. Squatting she checked for her phone, which she knew full well was their.
“Will you stay for breakfast?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Do you want a shower?”
“Yeah, but I’d prefer to shower alone.”
“Oh hay,” he said holding up his hands, “I wasn’t suggesting anything. Just asking. Then I’ll get breakfast together while you shower, just let me us the bathroom.”
For the first time Stephanie’s mind floated to other possibilities. Not marriage-kids, nothing so grandiose as all that; but she could see a second date-okay technically a first date-in the offing. She beamed as she stroked her wet hair down as the water gushed over her body. She envied Peggy.
Peggy had told her once that she used to look at a potential girlfriend and imagine the future relationship. Like a rushing vehicle she would see the destination of the relationship. As if prophetic, Peggy could tell where the hiccups would come, she was most circumspect about who she asked out. Stephanie hadn’t done that. A relationship was not what she had been after. She got talking to people and only imagined a relationship of a night and sometimes a morning.
“It’s nearly ready,” Mark said calling her back to the present.
“Be right there.” She squirted some shower gel onto the shower ball and creating a lather, finished her shower.
She emerged a short time later in a black bathrobe of Mark’s.
“You don’t mind do you?”
“Not at all,” Mark placed two plates of food on the round table, “have a seat.” He indicated an empty chair with both hands. “I’ll admit I’ve always found it very sexy – a woman wearing the guy’s stuff the morning after.”
“Have you?” She grinned taking the seat. “They all say that.” The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. “Dam it,” she said under her breath.
“They all?” he asked, “no, scratch that, its non of my business.”
“Thank you,” she said taking a sip of juice, “this looks wonderful.”
“Hope so,” he said, “I’ve always been able to cook. I love it.”
“Even in this day and age it can be rare to find a guy who cooks, and cooks well.”
There was silence for a few moments as they enjoyed their food. Then Mark spoke. “I have a horrible confession to make,” putting down his fork, “I can’t remember your name.” He braced himself expecting to be doused with apple juice, instead a broad smile crossed her face almost erupting into a laugh.
“That’s what I was doing this morning.” She grinned flirtatiously. “Checking to make sure I had your name right.”
“I think maybe we’re doing this all backwards,” He stood.“I’m Mark,” he offered his hand.
“Stephanie.” She shook his hand, they laughed and sat back down.
“We’re a right pair aren’t we? I’ve never done this one night stand thing before.”
“I came on to you,” she said matter-of-factly dipping some sausage in the egg yoke.
“I could have said ‘no’,” Mark said, “frankly I think my fantasy brain kicked in. You know people always has certain fantasies, things they wouldn’t think possible in really life.”
“That’s the classic fantasy? No strings?”
“Stereotypically yes. Well probably not the main one.”
“No matter,” she said smiling, “we can take it slow from now on. That is if you want…”
“Sounds good,” he said with a nod before she could finish.
“Doesn’t mean we can’t still do stuff.”
They laughed again as they ate their breakfast.
It was two o’clock in the afternoon when Stephanie arrived back at her flat.
“Have a good time?” Peggy asked getting up from the sofa.
“He was great.”
“I don’t want the sex news,” Peggy said, “tea?”
“Sorry Freudian slip. Tea sounds great. No, no. There was more to it than that he was one of the good ones.”
“I know how you define that,” Peggy said as she waited for the kettle.
Stephanie rolled her eyes. “I know what I’ve said before, but Peg this was different you know what it’s like when two people click.”
“You can tell that from one night?”
“I think I can,” she said excited as she took the mug of tea, “he is a one if not the one. We’re doing things backwards and going on a date tomorrow night.”
They came into the living room and sat on the sofa, Peggy folded her legs to the side. “No offence but I though you weren’t interested in a relationship that you…” she struggled for phrasing.
“Fucked them and left them?”
“Yes.” Peggy’s face contorted as if the word was painful to say.
“That was the way of it, tinker, tailor, barman – was looking for a solider and a spy,” she joked, “but today it felt better. It was like we were making love. That it wasn’t just…”
It was almost four o’clock as she arrived at the coffee shop that Sunday. Mark was seated at a table for two as she came in, he waved. She waved back.
“What would you like?”
“Chi latte,” she said.
“Chi latte it is.” He smiled heading to the counter.
He came back over and placed her drink in front of her, “there you go.”
“Did everything go okay with what you had to do today?”
“Yeah,” she said, “no trouble at all. What about you? What have you been doing?”
“Looking forward to this.”
“I speak of course of coffee.” He winked taking a sip.
“Funny,” she said. “Where are we going to go today? I have never really been on a proper date, with food and candles or movies or bowling or picnic or whatever people do.”
“Really,” she said trying to hide surprise, “how long has it been since your last date?”
“Many years ago. We went to a restaurant, but my parents and hers were nearby.”
Stephanie raised her eyebrows.
“Oh,” he said, “we were eight.” He paused thinking, “no actually I tell a lie. I had another date when I was fourteen we went to see a film. The date wasn’t so good anything I asked her received a monosyllabic answer.”
“How did that end?” Stephanie asked, “if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Of course not,” he said, “she dumped me two weeks after her birthday. I remember I bought her a bracelet.”
“Still bitter about that?” Stephanie asked, sipping her drink.
“No.” He dismissed the question with a shake of his head.
“So she stayed with you long enough to get a gift and left you?”
“That about sums it up,” he said smiling, “what doyu know. I can look back and laugh.”
“So,” Stephanie said, leaning forward with her hands around her mug, “if you haven’t had a date in all that time does that mean that.” She moved her hands awkwardly. “Then you were…I mean you hadn’t.” She rolled he eyes at her own difficulty. “…with anyone before.”
“Yes,” he said, “you were my first.”
She took a large gulp of her drink. “In our own way we have each rushed it.” “Is that a problem?”
“I think so.” She pointed to herself. “We should have taken our time. While it may be leading the cart before the horse we should take our time. Let us today have a proper date, a movie, dinner and the rest and take our time, like in those god-awful movies about such things.”
He smiled finishing his drink, “sounds excellent.”