Find the rest of Kissing Fish here.
Which was how we wound up sitting in The Central on Market Street all afternoon, slowly getting pissed on cider. We were still there by the time dinner rolled around, which resulted in the excellent discovery that The Central offered absolutely fantastic burgers. The evening rolled on until both Faye and I were well into our cups, and even drunk there weren’t any particularly eligible looking men. There were a few students, although as it was still a week from the start of term most of the students had yet to turn up. The majority of the patrons were older. And I had no intention of chatting up a man in his fifties. Or sixties. Thirties? Yeah, sure, hit me up. Twenty? Erm. That just makes me feel like a skeevy cougar and quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for that stage of my life!
“So,” Faye said eventually, leaning back against the seat, “what’s with you and Alex?”
I managed to swallow the drink I’d just taken without choking, and said, “What do you mean?”
“Oh, come on,” she said, sitting up and leaning across the table, “I fell asleep on the couch last night and I saw Alex coming out of your room this morning. Come on, tell me what happened.”
“Nothing happened,” I said. “He carried me to bed, I fell asleep, he fell asleep next to me. We both woke up in the morning.”
Faye looked disappointed. “Seriously?”
“Well, his arm was around me, but it didn’t mean anything.”
“Hah,” she said. “I doubt that. I bet he’d have shagged you if he thought he could have got away with it.”
“What? It’s no secret you two have had the hots for each other for years. Everyone knows it. Except Nate. Because Nate is an idiot.”
“Gee, Faye, tell me how you really feel,” I murmured into my pint.
“Okay, maybe not everyone knows it, but it’s really obvious if you’ve been paying attention. Come on, Fish, don’t tell me it’s not true,” she said. “I’ve been friends with you for over five years and I’ve lived with Alex for two. I know the two of you better than anyone else.”
“Yes, and that’s grand, but it doesn’t mean it’s true,” I said. Denial. Denial was good.
“What about her?”
“He’s dating her.”
“Erm, yes. Yes, he is.”
“Is that why nothing happened?”
“Nothing happened because there’s nothing there,” I said. Lying. Lying is good. “Also because I was unconscious.”
Faye sighed. “Okay, fine, you don’t want to talk about it. But if something could happen, you’d want it to?”
“Hah! Knew it.” She grinned. “Okay, I’ll stop pestering you now.”
Faye and I stumbled back to mine at about eleven, leaning on each other heavily for support. In the back of my mind I knew that this was probably the most fun I was likely to have all year, and that was a horribly depressing thought. I liked St Andrews. It was pretty. It was small. It was quaint. It was small. It had a beach.
Did I mention it was small?
“See if anyone’s messaged you,” Faye said, kicking off her shoes and collapsing on the sofa with a sigh. She stuck her feet beneath Gatsby, who grunted, lifted her head briefly, and then put her nose back on her paws and went back to sleep.
“Do I have to?” I flopped on the floor and rested my chin in my hand. “Don’t wanna.”
“You promised,” she said sleepily. “There sure as hell weren’t any men I’d fancy at the pub, and you didn’t make any awkward moves — ”
“ — and since you weren't getting it on with Alex last night I guess that means it’s online dating for you.” She grinned at my expression. “Go on, check.”
With a sigh, I dragged the laptop over and logged in. While waiting for it to load I glanced over at Faye, whose head had drifted down to the back of the couch. She appeared to be asleep.
“Right,” I said to the computer. “Let’s see how much of a failure I am.”
It dinged cheerfully at me, informing me that I had two messages in my inbox.
“Seriously?” I clicked on the inbox and opened the first message.