“So I mentioned to Lucy about your birthday coming up and she’s decided you have to have it here. She’s even started planning.”
“You’re like an evil genius.”
“You think I’m evil?”
“No, you’re the evil genius without the evil part.”
“So I’m a genius then?”
“Actually I just meant you were sneaky, I don’t think I’d get that carried away and call you a genius,” Georgia laughed, “It would only give you a big ego.”
“But I thought you loved my big ego?” whined the voice on the other end of the phone line, mockingly.
“That’s not why I love you, silly. That’s what I put up with because of it.” replied Georgia. She was met with a silence which she knew was intended to make her uneasy. “You know I hate it when you do that.” she said.
“That’s why I do it.”
“I love you, Georgia.”
“Much better. Now tell me about my party.”
“I can’t, I promised Lucy that I’d keep it a secret if I spoke to you. Not that she knows I talk to you this much, but that’s only because she doesn’t know about us being together. Well, because nobody does, I suppose. We’ve actually kept it quite a good secret, it’s going really well, don’t you think?”
“She needs to know, Neil. I’ve decided to tell her and I’m not changing my mind this time no matter what you say.” Georgia sat up straight and puffed her chest out, trying to sound as assertive as possible and knowing that good posture would make her sound as defiant as she was aiming to be. Another silence reached her ears and she could imagine to herself what Neil was thinking. Neil wanted their relationship to stay a secret for as long as possible. He had been told too many stories about fights between the girls in high school when they had all gone through a phase of essentially swapping boyfriends every few months. Even now, after having had it all explained to him so many times, he couldn’t remember who had dated whom and who had kissed or swapped or the order in which any of it had happened. He was eager to avoid being the cause of any repeat of any of those falling outs.
“Gee, I get that you don’t want this to be a secret anymore but maybe now isn’t the best time.”
“You never think it’s the best time. Actually, my birthday would be the perfect time. She’ll be happy because it’s a party with all her friends and her new boyfriend.”
“She’ll be stressed out because she’s organising the party and Steve and Claire will both be there, and so will Jill and several other difficult people,” countered Neil, “Not the best time.”
“So Joe can be in charge of peacemaking and Carter can be in charge of distracting her from the organising stress.” Georgia reasoned. Neil sighed.
“You’re really set on telling her aren’t you, babe?”
“Nothing you can say will change my mind. I’ve thought about it.” There was a silence from Neil on the other side. “Come on,” Georgia prodded, “you know and I know that she needs to know. It’s not like she’ll make a big fuss over it, it’s Lucy for goodness’ sake.”
“If there’s really no way to change your mind then fine, but if this all goes tits-up then you can’t stop me from saying ‘I told you so’.” Neil warned. Georgia breathed a sigh of relief. She had been worried that this would have been a lot more difficult. Neil was used to getting his own way and could be the most stubborn person if he thought he wasn’t going to get it. For some reason, though, Georgia seemed to be the only person who was able to get away with whatever she wanted. In the three months that they’d been secretly dating, they hadn’t seen each other all that often, but every couple of weeks Neil would stop in Nottingham to see her when he was on his way to or from his parents’ houses in Yorkshire. His parents put him in a bad mood and Georgia was the best and the only way he could cheer himself up, or so he told her. She pretended to believe him.The truth was, Georgia was afraid that Lucy had always done a better job of cheering him up. In fact, Georgia was afraid that Lucy had done a better job of everything when she was with Neil, and she was just as hesitant as Neil to come clean about their relationship. What if Lucy’s reaction was angrier than Georgia expected? What if it wasn’t even anger, but smugness because Lucy was the longest relationship that Neil had ever had. Everyone had thought that Lucy and Neil had the perfect relationship. Georgia rarely had relationships, she always fell for the wrong people. Guys who already had girlfriends or had no interest in her or a relationship in general. Danger and rule-breaking were what attracted Georgia. Neil wasn’t even her type; he was clean-cut, well groomed and had a rower’s body and discipline, he was nice and polite and he loved her. He wasn’t afraid of commitment and he always shared his feelings when she asked. But every so often, he would say or do something that made Georgia afraid that he was comparing her to Lucy and in her mind, she never won.