Leither in London – Issue 68

Posted by in September's Magazine

I found myself on a date with Mr. Stripe last week, he’d slept with one of my closest friends, and yes, I’d slept with his but despite the seedy circumstances, I managed to turn the whole scenario into a romantic ‘star-crossed lovers’ thing.

‘What if he’s the one?’ I wondered. Should I just walk away out of a misplaced sense of loyalty? Or should I take a chance? After all, if we were to end up getting married, it’d make for one hell of a best man’s speech for Matt. Maybe fate had got a little muddled – like in Midsummer Night’s Dream when everyone ends up with the wrong partner until the fairies intervene to sort the mess out. Could I really argue with fate… and Shakespeare? Of course not.



Plus, while initially I knew little about Tom except he looked damn good in stripes, he’d charmed me in the days leading up to our rendezvous with a series of near-perfect texts. I’m notoriously harsh at judging people by their text-ability and he was coming out with gold stars all round. Good grammar – check. No text speak – check. Hilarious banter – check. Admittedly there had been a few misguided emoticons but perhaps I’d judged these too harshly. What’s the harm in a little wink or a smile to pep up a sentence?

Winning striped top
Still, as I walked to our meeting, all sorts of doubts were flitting round my head. Was I a terrible friend for doing this to Laura? She’d said she was okay with it but we both knew that wasn’t true. And what about poor Matt? He knew nothing about his flatmate’s clandestine date and should I really trust a man I knew was lying to his best friend? What if it was all an elaborate practical joke and I was going to walk into the pub to be faced with the pair of them laughing in the face of my naivety? After all, Karma’s a bitch – and I’m not sure who’d win in a fight between her and her romantic cousin, Fate.

Pushing the door of The King’s Head open, I took a deep breath and prayed for Fate. And for once, my prayers were answered. There sat Tom, wearing a sheepish grin and another winning striped top. Phew. Standing up to give me a kiss on the cheek, he laughed: “Oh god, I’m so glad you’re on your own. I’ve been sat here thinking you were about to come crashing through the door with Laura in tow and throw a drink in my face.”

“Ha, of course not – I can’t believe you’d think such a thing,” I said, inwardly thanking god that he was as nervous as I was.

“Now I know I’m safe, I’ll get you that drink.” His trip to the bar gave me the few seconds I needed to regroup and the perfect opportunity to reappraise. All I could really remember about him from our first meeting was that he was tall, dark, and had a nice smile. On closer inspection, he might not have been the hunk I’d imagined but there was still something about him I found completely disarming. And when he returned from the bar and we got down to the business of actual conversation, I was as charmed by his personality as that smile.

The evening continued in the same vein until Tom’s phone interrupted. Reluctantly reaching for it, he looked dismayed by what he saw: “It’s Matt…” he said, bringing us back to reality with a bang. “I can’t blatantly lie to him about where I am!” I helpfully shrugged as he sent the call to voicemail and switched the phone off. “I feel awful about doing this to him,” he continued, “I just really wanted to see you. I feel like things didn’t go the way they were supposed to the other night – I could have killed him when he jumped into that cab with you, and he’d kill me, if he knew I was here now.”

Definitely in trouble
“So are you going to tell him?” I asked, not sure quite what the right answer might be.

“Well, I guess that depends on there being something to tell. If we were to see each other again, then yes, I’d tell him – but I didn’t think I should rock the boat before we knew if there was really any reason to.”

“And…is there?”

“I think you know the answer to that. I keep hoping you’ll say something stupid. It’d be so much easier if I didn’t like you…”

“I think you’re going to have to tell him,” I offered as he leaned in for a kiss.

“Yep, we’re definitely in trouble…” he concluded. “Give me the weekend – I’ll speak to Matt.”

And with that, we both headed home, with shared feelings of guilt, confusion, and hope that all the drama was going to be worthwhile.

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