While Lucy waits to see if there will be a fourth date with Josh, the Geography teacher, let’s take a little detour and talk about something else for a bit…
One of the things Lucy regularly struggles with is the fact that, as much as she loathes the fuckwittery and cuntishness that surrounds dating apps, there seems to be no alternative. Even though she’s out and about all the time, and has an outward-facing job, she literally never meets cute single guys IRL, or at least not ones who are single and interested in her too. As she’s quite fond of pointing out, the last time she had even so much as a fling with a real life boy was in 2004. That’s literally longer than Facebook has been around. Because Lucy is basically ancient.
But then, one day at work, while Lucy is just minding her own business and getting on with her day, a new guy joins her team. And fuck me if he isn’t just about the dreamiest thing Lucy’s ever seen in her entire life.
Yet again, our heroine’s in trouble…
His name is Jack. Lucy doesn’t notice him at first because she’s out of the office when he arrives and is introduced to everyone, and by the time she comes back he’s just sitting at his desk, quietly doing all that pointless admin stuff you have to do on the first day in a new job. So while she’s vaguely aware that something has changed, she doesn’t really register what exactly, until later when Georgia, who sits next to her, starts talking to Jack, and Lucy looks up to follow the conversation, and after that she’s unable to be aware of anything BUT him.
Because Jack is just dreamy. Did I mention this? A sporty 6’2, with chiselled features, and sparkling blue eyes, and thick brown hair that’s just begging to have fingers run through it, and the cheekiest smile that ever won fair lady (or at least made her melt into her knickers), and no wedding ring. Lucy takes all this in and thinks, Wow, cute. WAY too cute for me. And probably too young. And in all likelihood super dull or narcissistic. And DEFINITELY won’t be interested in me.
And then she gets back to work.
The next day, Jack speaks to her. They’re doing the same role, and he wants to pick her brains about how the systems work here, and how she manages her workload, and it turns out that not only is he cute to look at, but he’s sparky and funny and deliciously charismatic and not a boring prick AT ALL, and Lucy is fucked. And not in a good way.
When he talks, he holds her eye contact just a fraction longer than is normal, and Lucy finds herself wanting to vault over the desks and jump on him right then and there.
Could there be a spark here? she wonders. Could it be even possible that he might be single? And, even more unlikely, interested? She’s heard mythical tales of such magical things happening: when a girl meets a guy at work and they like each other and neither one is gay or taken or on the run from the law, and they get together and fall in love and get married. Such things do, apparently, happen – Lucy even knows people it’s happened to. But such things do not happen to Lucy, so she puts these fantasies out of her mind.
That evening Lucy’s been invited to go with a friend to a board games party attended by a bunch of people she’s never met before. Frankly she thinks that board games + polite chitchat = the worst kind of death by dullness, but she also feels that she ought to say yes to stuff, and be more open to meeting new people, so she asks the team for their advice. Should she brave the scrabble and monopoly night of death, or go to her British Military Fitness class as usual?
Opinion is divided, but in the end Lucy just can’t face it, and after all, there may be hot men at BMF, so she pops to the bathroom to put on her gym kit.
“What did you decide to do in the end?” asks Jack when she returns.
Lucy indicates her Lycra leggings and trainers.
“So, going to the party then?” And he laughs, a delicious slightly dirty chuckle that gets Lucy right in the feels because not only is he cute and sparky, he’s also cheeky and funny and basically just perfect in every possible way.
But of course there’s a catch, because of course there is. When she stalks him on Facebook later that evening, she finds that as well as photos of him looking handsome and adventurous, there are several profile pictures of him grinning happily with a beautiful blonde with perfect hair and perfect golden skin and perfect gleaming white American teeth.
After she’s finished hyperventilating, she pulls herself together. It’s ok, it’s ok, she tells herself. Maybe that’s not his girlfriend. Maybe she’s just a mate, or his sister?
Oh who the fuck is she trying to kid. Lucy would raise her eyes to the heavens and shake her fist at the cruel Gods, except that she’s too weary of this kind of thing happening all the fucking time to even bother. Of course he has a perfect girlfriend. Of course he does. Why did she even think for a second that he might not?
She goes to the bathroom and punches herself repeatedly in the face for being such a dick.
Even so, by now Lucy is totally smitten. As she finds out more about him she discovers that he’s worked on some really impressive projects, and they have a friend in common, and that basically they are perfect for each other. So what if he has a girlfriend?, she thinks. Relationships break up all the time! Maybe they are having problems. Maybe she’s a bitch? Maybe she’s just really dull? Maybe now he’s met me he’ll realise there are better options out there…
At lunchtime Lucy stands up and asks the team if anyone wants to come and grab a sandwich with her.
Most of them are too busy or already have their lunch. The only one who doesn’t is, you guessed it, the very edible Jack.
Lucy suggests they go to a nearby Japanese place where you can get sushi and noodles, and the plan is to get takeaway and bring it back to the office, but when they get there Jack suggests eating in, and that’s how Lucy ends up having a romantic lunch à deux with the man of her dreams.
She’s keen to find out what the score is with the Perfect Blonde, so while they wait for their food to arrive she works the conversation round to the subject of relationships.
Jack tells her the Perfect Blonde is indeed American, and that he met her on a FUCKING PLANE. Like really, honest to God, he spotted her in departures and thought she was cute, and then lo and behold she’s sitting next to him all the way from New York to London and when they board they are total strangers and by the time they land they are basically in love.
“Before I met her I was single for 3 years,” Jack tells her. “I was a bit of a player if I’m honest. But I’m 35 now, it’s time to grow up, that’s all behind me now.”
Lucy’s taken eleventy billion flights in her life thus far and not once, not even fucking once in that entire cunting time has she EVER been sat next to a hot single man. She literally always gets the frazzled parents with the screaming kids or the hugely obese people who should have bought two seats or the nervous 18-year-old exchange students who don’t speak a word of English. THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS! wails Lucy to herself in between mouthfuls of ramen. This sort of stuff only happens in movies! Why is life so fucking unfair?!
But then she realises there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Relationships break down all the time! Maybe they will discover they’re not right for each other after all. Maybe she’s got tonnes of fucking annoying habits that are still endearing now but in time will become kill-me-now grating, like she bites her toenails or clears her throat every 2 minutes or puts hot sauce on everything. And what’s more, Perfect Blonde is American. That means they are doing a ridiculous long-distance NY-LON relationship, and everyone knows those things don’t work out. Things might be fine between them now, but give it a few more months and maybe the cracks will start to show.
So while Lucy would never dream of making a play for another girl’s man (and wouldn’t have the first idea how to even if she wanted to), she’s not ready to give up hope just yet. Maybe if she bides her time, her turn will come. It’d only be fucking fair after all: she’s certainly had more than her fair share of dating disasters and disappointments. She’s bloody well owed a fucking break.
They get the bill, and Jack insists on paying. As a thank you, he says, for helping him settle in. Is this strange? she wonders. Why would he pay? This wasn’t a date! (Much as she achingly wishes it were.)
But she accepts graciously, and takes the opportunity to promise to buy him several drinks after work another time.
That opportunity comes far sooner than she could have hoped. That very afternoon, in fact, when Jack issues a general invitation to the office to join him for a swifty after work in the pub next door to the office. A few people accept, including Lucy (come on, what did you expect?), but by the end of the day most have changed their minds, and so the merry band of drinkers ends up being just Lucy, Jack, and Georgia, who sits next to Lucy. Lucy wishes Georgia would just fuck the fuck off.
But she doesn’t, so she and Lucy head to the pub while Jack finishes up.
He’s asked for her number (so he can find the place, apparently), and texts about 20 minutes later.
Lucy’s not sure what the random emojis are all about, but they make her laugh, and finding a man who can make her laugh is one of Lucy’s main goals in life.
Jack arrives at the pub a few minutes later and joins Lucy and Georgia. And within moments, it’s clear that Georgia, although a nice girl, is completely superfluous to requirements. This is the Jack and Lucy show: sparks are flying hot and fast and their cheeky flirting lights up the bar like the Fourth of July. When Jack goes to get a round, poor lemon-like Georgia turns to Lucy: “Should I leave? I feel like I’m gatecrashing a date here!” and Lucy, much as she would dearly like to be alone with her One True Love, is forced to fake a welcoming smile and encourage her tiresome colleague to stay as long as she wants.
Conversation turns to Lucy’s love life and Jack has a sudden brainwave. He’s just remembered he has a hot single friend he could set her up with. “He awesome, he tells her,” showing her a photo. “And so are you. You’d be perfect together!”
Lucy is more than a little put out that Jack now wants to palm her off on his mate, but she looks at the photo anyway. Ali is definitely hot: tall, sporty-looking, with dark hair and eyes. But he’s too young, surely?
“He’s 32,” reveals Jack. “Why, how old are you?”
There is no fucking way on God’s green earth that Lucy’s telling him that now.
“Um… a little bit older than that…?” she mutters.
“What, 32 and a half?”
Lucy wonders if it’s possible to get away with pretending to be 7 years younger than your real age for the whole of the rest of your life.
Jack writes a text to his friend Ali and shows it to Lucy.
Hey mate, are you still single? it reads. I’ve just met this really hot girl, she’s fantastic, she has a great sense of humour, I think you’d get on really well. Can I set you up?
If Georgia weren’t sitting right there, Lucy would probably rip off all her clothes and jump on Jack right then and there. He feels it too! He does! It’s clearly only a matter of time before he dumps the Perfect American and then they can be together and live happily ever after, for ever and ever Amen (or at least until he finally gets a glimpse of her passport).
Ali replies about ten minutes later. He’s actually just started seeing someone, and apparently ‘she’s awesome’. Normally Lucy would be disappointed, but this time she doesn’t give a flying fuck. She only has eyes for one man now anyway.
Alone At Last
Finally, after failing to get the hint for nearly two hours, Georgia goes home, and Lucy and Jack are alone together. They get more drunk and more flirty.
“I can’t understand why you’re single,” he sighs. “You’re amazing!”
Lucy shrugs. Now’s probably not the time to reveal that she hates the size of her boobs and the lines on her forehead, is anal about stacking the dishwasher correctly, and frequently wakes in the middle of the night gripped by dread and anxiety.
“I mean, if I wasn’t taken I’d be in there like a shot,” he confides.
For once, Lucy’s consumed just the right amount of alcohol to deal with this revelation like the confident adult she’s supposed to be. She locks eyes with him. “I guess I just have really bad luck when it comes to timing,” she says. And then, because she’s full of Dutch courage: “It sucks that I didn’t meet you sooner…”
They hold each other’s gaze for a moment , and then Lucy’s courage fails and she blushes and laughs and looks away.
Fucking bastarding cunting hell, she thinks.
But what does it mean? she wonders later. Is there hope? Would a guy say something like that if he was madly in love with his girlfriend? And if he is, should he really be saying things like that to another girl? If she’s honest, though, she doesn’t really care. It might have been just about the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to her, and even if it was just a bit of harmless drunk flirting, she will carry those words in her heart until the End of Time.
They carry on drinking and talking and laughing until they are the last people left in the pub. Even the barman disappears and Lucy, who is properly drunk now on wine and on Jack’s attention, at one point even gets up and dances on the table. Under his gaze she’s become the person he sees her as: sexy, funny, smart, youthful and cool. It’s exhilarating and wonderful and she never ever wants it to end.
They walk to the end of the road together, where they part ways. Jack leans in and gives her a long, full-body hug. They hold each other there in the street for way longer than should rightly be allowed, and then he gives her a kiss on the cheek and walks away.
Moments later, her phone buzzes. More random emojis.
Lucy’s reply is less random: the dartboard is the closest thing she can find to an image of Cupid’s arrow piercing her heart.
To find out what happened next, go to Part 2 – Weekend.