Lucy’s been chatting to a boy from Twitter. To catch up on what happened last time so you get the references, read Part 2 – Escalation.
In spite of her reservations about talking to so-called ‘DM sliders’, and about the idea of risking her anonymity by meeting up with someone from Twitter, Lucy’s been won over by Ben’s wit, his intelligence, his cheekiness, and his open and honest vulnerability. Despite her best intentions, she’s found herself coming to like and trust him; so much so that in a moment of intense bravery – or possibly naive stupidity – she’s now handed over her phone number and revealed her true identity.
No going back now then. Victory or defeat. Cake or death.
After an intense evening of quick fire WhatsApp banter, Ben messages her again the next morning as she’s on her way to work.
Buying the first round? Is this a hint that he’d still like to meet her? In spite of the fact that he’s quite openly told Lucy he’s been on four fucking dates with a girl from Bumble and has a fifth in the diary?
Lucy is still not sure if she has the courage to actually meet Ben. She’s enjoying the banter very much, but a bit of Grade A banter over WhatsApp is vastly different from actually meeting and hitting it off IRL. What if their amazing connection online doesn’t translate in reality? What she accidentally does something so heinous on their date that he ends up mouth-frothing with rage and in a murderous fit of loathing decides to tell everyone on the internet who she really is? What if their differences in background, education, and interests mean that they just won’t be able to sustain a relationship. Is it really worth the risk?
That evening Lucy also has a date, but even though she’s with another guy, every so often her thoughts flash back to Ben – what it’d be like to meet him, whether she’d fancy him in person, whether he’s still chatting to The Other Girl. At one point she’s so distracted that she forgets to pay attention to what’s going on right in front of her, and later when she goes to write down what happened on the date she realises there’s a whole chunk of time missing. Ben appears to have really got under her skin.
Gotta be cautious, though, she thinks. He’s not real. Not yet anyway. She must be really careful not to project, not to imagine, not to make up things that aren’t there. She doesn’t know him, they’ve never even met, so the things she’s starting to feel may all vanish into thin air the second she claps eyes on him and finds out he’s not the stunning model of wit and brilliance she’s imagining him to be, but instead just yet another flawed and mediocre beta male.
In spite of the distraction the date goes well and Lucy stays out late, but it appears Ben has been waiting up for her, because no sooner has she got home than he messages.
Pretends not to care? But clearly he does care, and wants to know how the date went. Is he feeling threatened? Lucy’s not sure what to make of this. He’s clearly told her he is going on dates with another girl, so he has no right to expect anything less of her. Plus she can hardly put all her eggs in one basket when she’s never even met the guy!
Still, it’s nice that he appears to be feeling the same way about her as she is about him. This is A Good Sign.
Lucy goes to sleep with a smile, and the next morning decides to pre-empt him.
Lucy goes to her meeting, and is having a generally pretty good day, until she gets a rather worrying message from Ben.
Lucy knew this would happen, but all the same it’s rather disconcerting. Ever since she told him her full name she was expecting he would stalk her, but she’s not sure she’s too happy about it. Personally she feels it’s better for people to get to know each other organically, but in this world of LinkedIn and Instagram and all the rest, it only takes a few clicks for someone to find out pretty much everything about her and then all the mystery is gone.
He’s right. He is pretty cool. And if knowing more about her has made him more interested, or at least hasn’t put him off, then Lucy is very cool indeed with that.
But now she wants to know more about him. It’s only fair. And the first thing she wants to know is what he sounds like. Recently she’s met a couple of guys who had terrible voices, either with offputting accents or with a quality of tone that she found particularly grating. It’s made her realise just how important a nice voice is to her as part of the package.
So she asks Ben to send her a voice note so she can hear what he sounds like.
But in spite of his objections he goes ahead and does it anyway. The note is just 8 seconds long. “Lot of pressure to get it right over one voice note,” he says. “Don’t fall in love with me, will you?”
His voice is deep and strong and slightly husky. No trace of any particular accent. Lucy feels all her spidey senses tingle. This is good. This is very good.
But of course she’s not going to let on just yet that she thinks his voice is super sexy. “That is waaaay too short!” she replies. “There is absolutely no way I can fall in love with you over six words, I’m afraid. Sorry!”
She sends another voice note: “It was too short to tell, I’m afraid!”
Definitely not letting him get away with it that easily!
She waits, nervously. Will he call? What will they say to each other? And even though it probably only takes him a handful of seconds to dial, it feels like the longest few seconds of her life.
And then he calls.
“This is weird.”
“Yes, it is rather!”
At first they are both nervous. She can hear it in his voice. He can probably hear it in the way she chatters at double speed about random crap. But gradually they relax, and soon they are talking like old friends. About dating, about Twitter, about relationships and life. About what else he has found out about her online. She tells him she’s going to stalk him now as well, and while he’s there on the phone she finds his LinkedIn profile and some more photos. He tells her a bit more about his background, which he seems rather shy about, and he tells her he she’s intimidating because she has many more qualifications than him.
But Lucy doesn’t care about this. Qualifications won’t hold you when you’re sad, or support you through difficult decisions, or have great sex with you. And right now Lucy is hoping for all three things with lovely Ben.
They end up talking for over an hour and the time flies by. But it gets late, and Lucy decides she should probably end the call. Keep them wanting more, right? So she says goodnight, and hangs up, and after she does so she can feel her heart racing and her stomach doing little backflips.
Can she really be getting feelings for a man she’s never even met?
Careful, Lucy, she thinks, not for the first time. He’s not real. Don’t get too involved. This could all go horribly wrong.
But she can’t help it. It’s too late. The feelings and the hope are already there, that terrible beautiful hope that this time, maybe this time, it will finally work out. That terrible hope that always, always ends in crushing disappointment. But maybe this time it won’t.
Maybe this time…
Reliable as clockwork (another tick) Ben messages her the next morning.
They reconvene that evening, and Ben tells her he’s been watching more Grey’s Anatomy and crying at a particularly sad scene. Lucy reassures him that it’s perfectly normal; everyone cries during Grey’s Anatomy.
He’s on her team? Lucy wants nothing more in life than to find her person, the one guy who will have her back at all times. Could that really be Ben? She doesn’t dare to hope, and yet, at the same time, she can’t help it.
He has a cute way with a compliment, does Ben.
The conversation continues the next day, when Lucy is off to the gym.
But when she gets back, he has a question for her.
Possibly got someone coming over? Lucy feels the flippy butterflies in her stomach drop to earth like a stone. Is this The Other Girl?
She tries to play it cool.
And then even though she’s been playing it cool, and doesn’t ask anything about who might be visiting him, he brings the subject back round to The Other Girl.
Lucy is gutted. If Ben is taking the other girl on a date to meet his friends, then things must be getting serious! And yet he’s still saying he finds her aloof and she doesn’t say much. So maybe he’s not really feeling it, and it won’t work out.
Lucy feels a bit sick and nervous, but there’s nothing she can do. She just has to let him get on with it, and hope that fate, and love, will find a way.
Sometimes Lucy really fucking hates modern dating.
If he doesn’t have ‘feels’ for this other girl, then this is promising. Maybe Lucy just needs to let him go on his date with The Other Girl so that he can be sure, and then start dating Lucy with confidence instead.
She’s staying over??!!!! This is Not Good.
For all that Lucy has been trying to keep her feelings in check, she can’t help it. She has feelings for Ben now, and if he goes on another date, and this girl stays over, and GOD FORBID something should happen, she will be gutted.
But from the sound of what Ben’s saying, it doesn’t seem likely. Surely he realises now that Lucy is a WAY better option! He should just bin The Other Girl right away and stop bloody wasting everyone’s time!
All she can do is play it cool and hope for the best.
“What do you mean?” she asks.
And so it’s decided. In spite of all her valid reasons not to meet, they’ve agreed to meet. Just as soon as the weekend – and Ben’s date with The Other Girl – is out of the way.
And he’s gone. All Lucy can do now is wait nervously, and hope that the date goes badly.
To find out if it did, go to Part 4 – Missed Chance