by Lucy Felthouse
eBook ISBN: 9781607356226
When Jonathan and Lauren met at University, it should have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Years later, Jonathan shows up unexpectedly throwing Lauren into turmoil. The pair start talking, and all the old feelings come back. But will this time be different?
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When Kat had called to tell me about the five-year university reunion, my reaction had been “So?”
“Whaddya mean, so? You have to come! It’ll be a laugh. We’ll be able to find out how everyone’s getting on, what they’ve done with their lives and stuff.”
“Why do you want to know how everyone’s getting on? You’ve never bothered before, and nor have I. I’ve only ever kept in touch with you and Alex, and there’s a bloody good reason for that.”
“Stop being such a stick in the mud! Come on, not everyone was that bad. There might be some interesting stories to hear. Somebody could be rich or famous. Or both!”
I stopped resisting. When Kat had a plan, it was futile to object.
So there I was, with Kat and Alex, heading into the Student Union bar. I pushed open the double doors. It was as if we’d walked into some kind of time warp. The bar itself looked almost the same, a lick of paint here and there, but nothing major. As for the people, they seemed to have changed even less. Sure, they were better dressed—well, some of them were—and a little older, but everyone was the same.
The loner was still loitering at the very end of the bar, not engaging with anyone. The geeks had gravitated toward one another. The popular kids were strutting their stuff, their conversation no doubt as mindless and dull as it had always been. Kat, Alex and I were still hanging around together.
Nobody seemed to have brought partners. I hadn’t actually seen any information regarding the event. My intel had all come from Kat, so maybe partners weren’t invited. Or, perhaps, everyone just wanted to come alone and re-enact their young, free and single days.
Either way, it was going to be a looong night. I headed for the bar, with Kat and Alex close behind.
“What’ll it be?” said the barman, obviously a current student earning some extra cash. I suddenly felt old, despite not looking that much older than him.
“Make mine a vodka and Coke, no ice please.”
As I turned to the girls to find out what they wanted, I saw the class busybody walking toward us. She smiled and waved at me.
“Better make that a double,” I amended. Then, under my breath, “I think I’m gonna need it.”
Soon, I remembered why I hadn’t been up for this in the first place. The busybody was driving me up the wall. My face and neck were starting to hurt from all the smiling and nodding. Jenny, or whatever her name was, was currently on maternity leave from her wonderful job. Her perfect husband had stayed home to look after their delightful children so she could come to the reunion and see how everyone was getting on. Despite this statement, she hadn’t asked any of us a single question. She was too busy talking about herself.
I zoned out of Jenny’s inane chatter and stared into space. Suddenly, something moved into my eye line and snapped me back into the land of the living. Or should I say someone.
“Fuck!” I exclaimed, gaining a disapproving look from Mrs. Busybody and puzzled ones from the girls. “He’s fucking here!”
Jenny, subtle as ever, started spinning her head around to see who I was talking about, all the while muttering to herself about “unnecessary bad language”. She’d always been a stuck-up bitch. Kat and Alex, though, knew exactly who I was talking about. Huddling close to me, they started barraging me with questions:
“How does he look?”
“Is he still hot?”
“Has he seen you?”
“Are you going to talk to him?”
I held up a hand, silencing them. Then, I brought the other hand, which was clutching my glass of vodka and Coke, up to my mouth. I finished the contents in a couple of gulps. I paused to let the alcohol go down and hopefully settle my nerves then replied, “What is he even doing here?! The last I heard, he was working abroad. Dubai or something.”
“Well,” said Kat, ever the practical one. “Why don’t you go and ask him?” She gave me a little shove.
“I will,” I said decisively, resulting in confused looks from both girls. “After I’ve been to the toilet.”
Before any of them could contradict me, I dashed off, leaving my empty glass on a table. Once in the safety of a locked cubicle, I dropped the toilet seat—which was mercifully clean—and sat, head in my hands. I had not been prepared for this. Not one bit.
The guy in question had been in most of my classes during my three years at University. He was also “the one who got away”. The “one” so many of us have, still loitering in the back our minds years after the event. In this case, though, his sudden appearance had thrust him so violently to the very front of my mind I was surprised the inside of my cranium didn’t hurt.
I’d fancied him almost as soon as I’d set eyes on him, during our very first day at Uni. With his shaggy hair, more-lazy-than-designer stubble and cheeky blue eyes, he was most definitely on my radar.
By happy coincidence, I ended up next to him in the line for induction as we queued to sort out our student IDs, library cards, fee payments and the like. As I stepped up behind him, I checked out his rear view. And boy, was it a view. This guy knew how to wear a pair of jeans. He rose even further in my estimation.
I stood there, trying to think of a cool and interesting way to get his attention and introduce myself when that luxury was taken away from me. A group of people pushed past the line, and one of them accidentally caught the edge of my bag, propelling it forward so it fell off my shoulder and smacked him in the back of the leg.
He spun round just as I bent down to retrieve my bag, meaning that as I started to straighten up I came face to face with his crotch. My face grew so hot you could have fried bacon on it. I stood abruptly, wishing the ground would swallow me up.
“I’m so sorry,” I blurted. “Those people walked past, and one of them knocked my bag off my shoulder.”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “It was an accident. Are you okay?”
I nodded, aware I probably still resembled a tomato. Sensing my obvious discomfort, he said, “Honestly, it’s fine. I’m Jonathan, by the way.”
He smiled then, revealing dimples in both cheeks, little crinkles around his eyes and not-quite-perfect teeth. In that moment, he went from being on my radar to wiping everyone else off it. I was smitten.
I smiled back then realized he was expecting me to speak. I struggled to get my brain to engage with my mouth. For some reason, all my blood appeared to have rushed elsewhere. “Hi Jonathan. I’m Lauren.”
“Nice to meet you. Though you could have just said hello in the first place, rather than throwing things at me, you know.”
I opened my mouth to give an indignant retort then realized he was struggling to repress a smile. He was teasing me!
And that was how it started. We spent the entire day doing dull admin stuff together and getting to know one another. It should have been the start of a beautiful relationship, but sadly, it wasn’t. Because, unfortunately, Jonathan had a girlfriend. We continued to be good friends—albeit with lots of hot and heavy flirting and one hell of a spark—but by the time his relationship came to a natural close, I had a boyfriend. And so a vicious circle continued for three long years, dotted with lots of horniness, longing looks and double entendres; until graduation put an end to the whole sorry state of affairs.
We’d kept in touch sporadically, which is how I knew we’d still never been single at the same time. I’d think about him during my bouts of singledom, wondering what could have been and imagining the hot sex we’d definitely have had. I knew that given the chance, we’d have been perfect for one another. But by the time I heard he was going to work abroad, Jonathan was nothing but occasional fantasy fodder.
So my surprise when I saw him in the Student Union bar was amplified by the tumult of feelings that suddenly washed over me. Shock, regret, delight and the one reaction he’d always managed to get from me; arousal. As I hadn’t been prepared for any of those emotions, I needed some time out.
Which was why I was hiding in the Ladies toilets, head in my hands. After a few minutes of wondering what to do, I mentally kicked myself. What on earth was I getting so worked up about? Nothing had ever happened between us; we’d never fallen out or stopped being friends.
We’d simply drifted apart. So there was absolutely no reason in the world I shouldn’t just go over and say hi. That was what any normal person would do.
I resolved to be normal, for a change. I lifted the lid and used the toilet while I was there then came out and washed my hands, splashed some water on my face and touched up my lipstick. A quick spritz of perfume and I was ready to face the world.
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