At 1:30 the next day, Lucy’s phone rang. As “Pocket Full of Sunshine” filled the room, three groans emanated from the bed, the floor and – unusually – the wardrobe. Lucy resisted the urge to kick the large pile of blankets on the floor that was concealing Steve as she made her way out of the room. Fully dressed, having already been awake for a while, and without the colossal hangover that she knew her friends were suffering from, Lucy answered the phone and went downstairs to seek out a quiet spot.
“That depends on who this is.”
“It’s Carter. Remember, from yesterday?”
“Carter! Hi there, how was your Friday night?”
“Good thanks, how was yours? Did your friend get drunk?”
“Which one?” Lucy laughed, “They all got absolutely smashed! I was the one serving them, so I know exactly how much they all drank!”
“You’re a bartender? Where?” Carter sounded impressed.
“Tipsy Tillie’s, down on the bridge on Mill Lane.” Carter now sounded even more impressed, which Lucy didn’t begrudge him. Tillie’s was a feat of engineering, built by extending the bridge across the river so wide that it could fit the road, a pathway and a bar. Strategically placed, near the university sports and social club and the Mill pub. The second pathway was on the other side meaning that there were two queues for entry. Parts of the floor were glass, so that you could see the water below. It was one of the most popular bars in town, especially since it was near more colleges than any other. What some bars struggled to make in a month, Tillie’s made in a weekend.
“Wow, that place is incredible! My friends and I tried to get in there last week but the queue went all the way up Mill Lane and it would have been shut by the time we got to the front.”
“I work alternate Fridays and Saturdays there. I’m not working tonight, so Neil will probably drag us to Revolution on Downing Street. What it is about chilli-flavoured vodka that excites him, I will never know.” Lucy poured herself a glass of milk and sat down on the sofa, taking advantage of the sitting room while all her housemates and friends were in drunken stupors.
“Well if you don’t want to go to Revolution, you could do something else.” Carter ventured, and Lucy hoped she knew what he was hinting at.
“What else could I do that is worth my time and attention?” she probed.
Lucy spluttered and nearly spat out her milk in surprise.
“I mean, not literally, just as in you could come out with me instead. If you wanted to, I mean. It’s up to you. You probably don’t want to now. That came out completely wrong, I’m so sorry!” Carter was rambling. Lucy collected herself and laughed, “Carter, calm down! I know what you meant.” Carter breathed a sigh of relief and began to apologise again.
“Sorry, usually I’m a lot more aware than that,” he explained.
“Don’t worry about it,” Lucy chuckled.
“I realise you probably don’t want to go out with me now. I’ll hang up and leave you alone forever. Sorry again.”
“Carter, wait! If I hadn’t wanted you to ask me out, why would I have given you my number yesterday?”
“Were you looking for a pen-pal, maybe?” Carter suggested.
“Well as much as I’m sure you’d be an excellent pen-pal, I’d rather go on a date with you,” Lucy giggled, “I think that sounds like more fun, don’t you?”
“Definitely.” Carter responded immediately, “I’ll pick you up at 6, then?”
“Sounds brilliant,” Lucy said.
“I’ll see you then, um, then! Bye!” and with that, he rang off.
Just then, Lucy heard movement and turned to see Steve making a beeline – albeit a rather slow, pained beeline – for the kettle. Lucy sprang up and headed over to him. Having been put in a good mood by Carter’s call, and being slightly stir-crazy (She’d been up since 11:30, amusing herself on Facebook while her friends remained comatose), she decided to speak rather more loudly to Steve than she needed to. She was still slightly angry at him for his antics at the bar last night, anyway.
“How’s the hangover?” she inquired.
“Sh,” Steve grunted, “coffee first.”
“I was thinking about making a fry-up to celebrate my sobriety,” Lucy informed him, “feel like some lovely, greasy, fried bacon and gooey eggs? Think of the lovely smell.” Steve groaned and looked at her in what she assumed was his version of a malevolent glare. Funnily enough, it looked nothing like his sober glare. Her phone rang again and Steve moaned more loudly than possibly he needed to at the ringtone.
“I don’t have your address.” Carter’s voice explained apologetically, “I was in such a rush to hang up because I thought you might change your mind after my accidental outburst.” Lucy giggled, Steve looked up from where he was staring at the kettle, willing it to boil faster and silently cursing whoever had last gone shopping for buying rubbish instant coffee.
“Why on earth would I have changed my mind? I’m sure you’ll find a way to make up for your slip-up later,” she flirted. The kettle boiled, Steve poured himself a mug and gulped the first sip of the drink that had saved his life (and his 2-1 average) more times than he could count while listening to Lucy flirt and give her address to the caller.
“See you later, then?” Lucy was saying by Steve’s second gulp. The other person replied and Lucy hung up. Steve grumbled his way to the sofa, feeling slightly better but acting slightly worse. Lucy sat beside him and looked at him expectantly. He said nothing and reached for the remote.
“Don’t you want to know who that was?” she asked after a while.
“Probably not.” Steve replied, “Was it your pimp?”
“Yes, actually. He was asking where your mum had got to; she’s been skipping clients again,” Lucy countered. Steve looked at her sarcastically.
“Go on then, tell me who it really was.”
“It was Carter. He rang up and we’re going out tonight” Lucy burst out, clearly excited. Steve sipped his coffee, cringing at the poor quality.
“Who?” he asked.
“Carter!” Lucy repeated. Steve stared at her blankly. She sighed. “The rower from yesterday. The one who knew Neil. He’s picking me up at 6.”“Oh, him. Good for you, then.” Steve was unenthused. Lucy sighed again. Steve was hopeless when she wanted a reaction. Especially when he was hung-over. She would have to wait for Joe to wake up. Ironic, really, that he was still sleeping in her wardrobe.