It’s Thursday night in Kenya, and Lucy and Brad have gone back to his fancy hotel. Even though they only met a week ago, tomorrow they’re off for a sexy weekend away in a scenic lakeside retreat a few hours from Nairobi, and Lucy’s both nervous and excited.
Right now things could hardly be looking more perfect. Lucy’s living her best life in Africa, and finally she’s met a cute boy who seems just as into her as she’s into him. But Sod’s Law dictates that if something can go wrong, it will, and in this case that bastard Sod has decided now’s the perfect time to give Brad a cold sore. Yes, dear reader, the very day before they’re heading off for what she’d been hoping would be a rampant two days of snogging and shagging till both their faces and all their bits are rubbed the colour of third degree sunburn, Brad’s lip has sprouted a virulent infectious weeping pustule. Ok, to be fair, it’s barely noticeable, but from the fuss he’s been making you’d think his entire chin had developed a flesh-eating bacteria. Lucy is not impressed.
Back in Brad’s hotel room, Lucy flings herself on the bed and lies there in an open and inviting posture. Well they can’t kiss on the mouth, but they can still cuddle, right?
But no. Frustratingly Brad doesn’t seem remotely interested in touching her, and instead busies himself with packing.
“D’ya want a shower?” he throws out as he folds clothes and shoves them in a small suitcase.
“I’m good, thanks.” Though now Lucy’s worried that was some sort of hint that she’s smelling less than fragrant. “What I’d prefer is a cuddle.” She reaches out her arms to him like a needy baby. Is this too keen? She really needs to start reining this stuff in. But then she wouldn’t need to bloody well ask if he would just behave like a normal fucking bloke and jump on her like he’s supposed to. All those gushy texts are useless if he won’t back them up with actions. So is he lying? Is he losing interest already? Did she do something wrong?
Without the reassurance she needs her overthinky brain goes into a tailspin, until eventually he has the good grace to join her on the bed for a brief cuddle. Not for long, though: he soon complains he’s hungry and gets up again, so they go down to the pool bar for pizza.
Over pizza, they chat about travelling, and Lucy tells him she’d love to go to the Galapagos Islands.
“Is that the place where they have Komodo dragons?”
“Nope, but they do have iguanas.”
“I love lizards,” he reveals. “I used to have some as pets, and snakes too. I had a pair of breeding iguanas that grew to be two metres long – they were so awesome!”
Lucy has a horrifying flashback to Beardy Al, who used to keep a bearded dragon. What is it with men and reptiles?! she thinks. Or is it just something about the type of guys she keeps picking, or who keep picking her?!
Brad gets out his phone to show her some photos, first of the iguanas, and then, as he continues to scroll through his Facebook albums, of his friends and family. He scrolls confidently from one photo to the next, not in the least bit worried about what photo will come up next, a man who clearly has nothing to hide. His children are pale skinned and dark-haired just like him, real mini-mes, and for all that he moaned about not wanting kids, there’s no mistaking the paternal pride as he shows Lucy the images.
There are photos too of both his ex-wife from years ago, and of the kids’ mum, Karen. Both appear to be, like Lucy, tall, sporty-looking blondes. He clearly has a type.
“How old is your ex?” Lucy asks.
“You like an older woman, hey?” she jokes. “Are you looking for a sugar mummy?”
“I dunno, maybe,” he laughs. “Are you rich? To be a sugar mummy you really need to drive a flash car.”
“I have a 14-year-old Ford Focus, will that do?”
“Where do you keep it?”
“Just in front of my building.”
She gets her own phone out to show him photos of her building, and he marvels at how quaint and British the whole thing looks.
“Now show me your family?”
She finds an album from Christmas, when the family were all together, and he takes the phone and starts swiping with interest. It’s nice that he’s interested in her life, she thinks, but she wishes he would give her phone back. Twitter and WhatsApp are both logged in, and if a horrifying notification flashes up while he’s looking, she’s going to have some difficult explaining to do.
He returns it just in time, seconds before this message from Josh, the Geography Teacher, flashes up on the screen. That was close!
Lucy feels a sharp pang of guilt for this kind and decent man. Here he is, concerned about her feelings even though they parted as friends with no commitment at all, and there’s Lucy, already banging another guy and about to go away for a dirty weekend with him. Was she supposed to have told him? Surely that wasn’t necessary. Should she now? But she can’t, FFS, it would be too obvious she’s only confessing because he has. She settles for a gracious thank you.
Josh is a sweetheart, but Lucy doesn’t feel the slightest pain at the thought of him dating another girl. It wasn’t meant to be between them. As for Brad, well, there’s everything still to play for.
And it’s clearly something that’s on his mind too, because, as they finish the last of their pizza, he has a question.
“So, what will it take to get you to stay out here at the end of the three months?”
Lucy’s inner self does a celebratory Gangnam-style booty-shake of joy. Brad may not be as physically affectionate as she’d like, but the fact that he’s already thinking about what might happen at the end of her trip is intense. They only met five days ago and he’s already planning the future? What is happening?!
“Well,” she smiles, “if things work out with us, then maybe I could rent my flat out for longer, and see about staying on…”
A vision pops into her head of the two of them, a year down the line. Brad’s still working on projects in Africa. Lucy’s quit her job and has moved out to live with him, working remotely as a freelance writer. And then she remembers that they only met a few days ago and clips herself briskly round the ear for getting far too carried away with the daydream. And yet… you know… it could happen… can’t hurt to think positively… can it? She’s never quite sure if she’s supposed not to project, to avoid daydreams that won’t come true and will only lead to her being disappointed, or to follow the ‘Law of Attraction’ rules and put her desires out into the Universe. It’s all too confusing.
Being ever pragmatic, she settles for caution. “But who knows what will happen in three weeks, let alone three months,” she caveats. “Let’s just enjoy getting to know each other, have a lovely time, and cross that bridge when we come to it? I don’t necessarily have to go home in three months, after all, I might be able to stay, but by then you may well not want me to! Let’s just concentrate on the here and now, and see what happens.”
They sit together companionably and she rests her head on his shoulder. The urge to kiss him is so intense, his cold sore so frustrating, that she lets out a groan of annoyance.
“Man! This is maddening! I just want to kiss you, dammit!”
“I’m sorry.” He strokes her arm.
She peers at it suspiciously. It really doesn’t look that bad, you know. It’s tiny! Are you sure it’s even a cold sore at all?
And then, suddenly, inspiration strikes. “Hang on a sec, I already have the virus! So I can’t catch it! I might catch a cold sore, which wouldn’t be ideal, but you can’t infect me because I’m already infected! It’s fine!”
Lucy looks at him, flushed with the brilliance of her problem solving, but Brad looks decidedly unconvinced. “Are you sure?”
She grabs her phone and asks Dr Google, but for once the highly-qualified medical experts of the world wide web are undecided. There doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer.
Fucking internet, she thinks. Totes delighted to cheerily assure me my random spot is definitely skin cancer, but can’t confirm if I can catch a cold sore if I already have the virus. What is the internet even for if not to reassure people that it’s ok to do things they weren’t quite sure about? FFS!
Dinner over, Lucy’s sure that finally now they’ll be able to go back to the room and, if not kiss, then certainly get naked and cuddle, but Brad has other ideas.
“Let’s go to the bar and play pool!” he suggests, excitedly. “I’ve been staying here for weeks and I’ve never had anyone to play with before!”
Lucy, who is tired and fucked off, not to mention legitimately atrocious at bar games, would rather watch the entirety of Love Island back-to-back than play pool now, but she doesn’t have the heart to turn him down, so to the bar they go.
The place is entirely empty, but the music is louder than next-door’s builders at 8 am on a Saturday morning. Lucy makes a beeline for the barman and asks him, without a hint of embarrassment, if he can turn it down. She’s clearly getting old, but what’s the point if doing so if you can’t take advantage of the not-giving-a-shitness that comes with it?
Brad racks up, breaks, and pots two balls. Oh joy, thinks Lucy, this is going to be fun. She can think of several things she’d rather be doing with a hard stick and some balls, but it appears she’s just going to have to wait her turn.
He swiftly trounces her; the frustration of not being able to get a single ball into a pocket alleviated only briefly when Brad makes this impressive shot.
As he racks up for the second game she starts to lose interest. At first she kind of enjoyed watching him showing off, playing the big man and happily winning, but now the joke’s getting tired. It’s late and all she really wants to do is go back to the room and get naked, but instead she has to stay down here with the loud music and the not-being-touched, getting tortured as he thrashes her (and not in a kinky way).
Again she wonders what the fuck is wrong with the man. Here they are: late night, fancy hotel, wine has been drunk, supposedly they are hot for each other, so why the actual fuck are they down here dicking about with bar games when they could be upstairs playing a much more interesting sport? Unless he’s planning on bending her over the green baize in the empty bar like Richard Gere did with the piano in Pretty Woman, Lucy’s not the least bit interested in this bloody table. She tries to draw his attention with casual touches, little kisses on the neck, flirty comments, but he seems not to notice. What does a girl have to do to get laid round here?
After two games the thrill of winning easily seems to have paled for Brad, so he finally agrees it’s time to go upstairs. Stopping first, of course, for a fag on the way up. Lucy’s forced to stand with him while he blackens his lungs, sours his breath, and takes another few minutes off his life, and she wonders how the fuck she, who is violently allergic to anything tobacco-related, ended up with a guy who’s determined to poison himself and those around him with noxious fumes. Will she even want to cuddle him after this? she wonders. But Brad does always smell delicious, the fumes miraculously don’t seem to cling to him, and apparently it’s amazing what you can put up with when there’s not just smoke, but chemistry, in the air.
Back in the room, Brad has a shower and brushes his teeth, and emerges damp and shiny clean, wrapped in a fluffy white towel, and looking and smelling like heaven on a stick covered with chocolate sprinkles. A freshly washed, towel-clad man, she decides, will definitely be her desert island luxury item. And after so much waiting, there’s absolutely no way she can restrain herself any longer. She pounces.
If Lucy’d been hoping for a Pretty Woman moment in the bar downstairs, she’s finally about to get her wish – but not in the way she’d imagined. Because with Brad’s cold sore, kissing on the mouth is banned, and so just like Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, they’re forced to have sex with no oral contact. And let me tell you, folks, it’s not nearly as exciting as it looked in the movie. Maybe partly because Brad is not as hot as the charming businessman, and Lucy’s certainly no captivating hooker, but mostly because kissing is Lucy’s favourite thing to do in the whole world, and not being able to lock lips with the man she desires when he’s right there in front of her, naked and squeaky clean, is more maddening than trying to log into your online accounts with two-step verification when you’ve lost your fucking phone.
Just because he can’t kiss her, of course, doesn’t mean that she can’t put her mouth on him. And while normally she might object to having to put in all the bloody effort while he pretty much just lies there and gets pleasured, his shiny fresh nakedness means that she has absolutely zero problem with that. Not today the issue of day-long crotch sweat and stale flavours in hard-to-reach places. Now he’s as sweet and suckable as a freshly-poured milkshake – and just as delicious.
She gets stuck in with gusto, which delights him in turn, and everything is going brilliantly until Lucy realises that she doesn’t want any of the actual, um, milkshake in her mouth – not after the struggles last time. So she stops, and invites him to put the straw to better use instead.
Since she’s the one in charge tonight she gets him to sit up against the headboard, and then she straddles him. This puts her not-terribly-impressive boobs on his eye level, which makes her a little self-conscious, but Brad doesn’t seem to mind at all.
“These are perfect!” he praises.
“What? You’re kidding, right? They’re too small!”
“Oh fuck off,” he laughs. “Learn to take a compliment. I don’t like them too big anyway.”
Lucy wonders if a more perfect man could exist anywhere in the world. At this point in time (but yes, she’s probably sex-addled), she really doesn’t think so.
He inclines his head forward and begins kissing and sucking her left breast.
“Wait… you won’t kiss me but you’re happy to suck my nipple?”
“Well, you already have the virus, you said, so it’s fine, right?”
She pulls a thoughtful face. “Yes I’m sure it is. If it isn’t then you’ve probably just given me nipple herpes – if that exists. Does it exist?”
She makes a mental note to google ‘nipple herpes’ later.
(For those who are worried, don’t be. It’s not a thing.)
With Lucy on top it doesn’t take long before Brad’s milkshake is, um, exhausted. She climbs off and cuddles up next to him, encouraging him to return the favour by gently guiding his hand southwards. But he seems confused.
“You didn’t come?”
“Nope, it won’t happen for me that way. Never does.”
He’s puzzled. “What, never?”
Yet again, Lucy’s gobsmacked that so many men seem able to get to their late 30s without realising that the majority of women can’t reach the finish line without a helping hand (or tongue, or whatever…). What the actual fucking fuck are their girlfriends teaching them? Are the guys she meets only sleeping with the tiny minority, or is there an entire crowd of women out there doing the sisterhood an enormous disservice by faking it every single bastarding time? She feels a stab of pity for Brad’s ex-girlfriends – no wonder their relationships didn’t work out.
“Maybe you just haven’t tried hard enough,” Brad suggests. “Maybe you’ve just decided you can’t, so you don’t. It could be just a matter of adjusting your mindset.”
Oh FFS, she thinks. Typical guy, mansplaining my own orgasms to me like he’s the bloody expert, thinking he can just stick it in and wiggle it around a bit and then the earth will move and magic will happen. Seriously how the Actual Fuck does he not know this shit?!
But of course she doesn’t say this. “Well maybe you’re right, but it hasn’t happened, yet, so I think I would know by now. I do have a fair bit of evidence after all. But sure, if you want to make it your mission to prove me wrong, we have 3 months…”
They cuddle up to sleep. Brad appears to drift away instantaneously, while Lucy just lies there, senses buzzing, heart hammering from the nearness of him, loving the skin-to-skin contact but absolutely unable to relax while he’s touching her. Tomorrow they’ll be getting in the car and driving off for their first weekend away together as a couple, just seven days after they first met.
The entire thing is totally batshit crazy.
The next morning Brad goes to work for a few hours, and Lucy heads to the nearby shopping mall. Tomorrow is Brad’s 37th birthday, and she wants to get him something. But what? What the actual fuck do you buy for a man when you’ve only known him a week? Just a card? Would a small present be appropriate, or would it freak him out? Back home Lucy wouldn’t dream of buying a birthday present for a guy she’s only just started dating, she’d probably just give him a card and a blow job, but this feels different. They’re going away together, and she wants to make it special.
She racks her brain. What says ‘I like you a lot, but don’t worry, I haven’t picked out our children’s names just yet’? What sort of gift fits nicely in between ‘We’re just mates and I only got you a present out of obligation’ and ‘I’m obsessively in love with you and if you screw me over I will cut your heart out with a spoon’?
She spots a bookshop. A book is good: small, inexpensive, and relatively impersonal. Plus if she gets one that she wants to read, she might be able to borrow it back later. Win! She goes in, and because it seems appropriate, she buys a copy of ‘Born Free’, the famous story about Joy Adamson and Elsa the lion, set in Kenya. Everyone loves a heart-warming story about people bonding with animals, right?
She wonders about a cake – is it even a birthday if you don’t have one? In the past, Lucy’s always baked something gooey and impressive for her man on his birthday – home-made cake being, as any fule kno, a guaranteed way to make someone love you. Obviously out here baking a cake is out of the question, but surely she can buy one? Though how she’s going to get a cake all the way to Lake Naivasha without (a) destroying it and (b) him seeing, is anyone’s guess.
A solution presents itself when she looks at the selection of cakes on offer in the supermarket. The iced ones are impossible: enormous, sticky, and as garishly coloured as Mr Motivator in a children’s ball pit. But she can buy a pack of lemon muffins that look both edible and portable. It might not be the world’s best birthday cake, but it’s still cake, and it’s the thought that counts, right? They even have candles shaped like numbers, so she buys the 3 and the 7, and squirrels everything away in a Tupperware in the bottom of her backpack.
Present: check. Cake: check. Condoms: check. Sexy underwear: nope, but what can you do? Lucy’s ready for her big weekend.
Next time: What happened on Lucy and Brad’s weekend away.