Lucy’s been asked on a second date by Charlie, a tall, charming 40-year-old lawyer she met at a house party.
Although she didn’t fancy him at first, Charlie turned out to be clever, confident, easy to talk to, and surprisingly sexy. In other words, pretty much Lucy’s perfect man. Apart from one minor detail.
He has a girlfriend. It’s an Open Relationship, but still, fuck. FUCK! Why are they ALWAYS FUCKING TAKEN?!
If you missed all of that, click here to read Part 1.
Lucy’s reached a fork in the road. She could politely decline the invitation, never see Charlie again, and save herself a fucktonne of potential future drama and heartache. Or she could go with the flow, enjoy the ride (heh) and deal with the consequences later.
The old Lucy would probably have overthought herself into a vortex of negativity, too scared of taking risks or getting hurt. But, fresh from her adventures in Africa, this is new Lucy: fuck-it Lucy, Carpe-Diem Lucy, almost-40-Lucy, and, let’s be honest, wants-to-have-hot-sex Lucy. So with her new hat of bravery on (though like all hats it’ll probably turn out to be very bad look on her), she accepts the offer.
Charlie suggests going to a photography exhibition at Somerset House, so they agree to meet at Charing Cross station on a Saturday afternoon. Heading there, Lucy’s nervous. She barely knows the guy, and yet last time things escalated alarmingly quickly. Now, in the cold, bright light of day, she’s not quite sure how to behave, or what she really makes of him. She’s not used to being pursued by any man, let alone one who makes his intentions clear in such a decisive manner, and she’s finding the whole thing both intensely flattering and utterly terrifying.
He’s waiting at the barriers when she arrives. Feeling self-conscious, schoolgirlish, and most importantly, sober, Lucy’s not sure if there’ll be a kiss, so she offers her cheek instead, and it’s weird and awkward.
Fuck, she thinks. What am I doing?
But as they wander round the gallery, she starts to relax. Charlie’s just as fascinating and thoughtful as she remembers, making insightful observations about the photos and seeming genuinely interested in her opinion. Every so often he steers her into the next room with gentle pressure in the small of her back, or rests his hand on her waist as they stand together looking at an image, and his touch sets fireflies dancing in her nether regions.
He really doesn’t seem like your typical randy idiot fuckboy, thinks Lucy. But that’s what makes him even more dangerous. A fuckboy she can handle. But a highly-educated, successful, ladykiller who’s set his sights on her and is used to getting his own way? That’s an entirely different proposition, and one that sets 200-decibel warning klaxons blaring in her ears.
It’s a nice afternoon, so when they’ve looked at all the photographs they stroll along the South Bank, holding hands.
“Do your friends and colleagues know about your relationship status?” she asks him. “Aren’t you afraid of bumping into someone hand in hand with a woman who’s not your partner?”
“Nah, it’s fine. London’s a small place, we won’t see anyone.” So Lucy allows herself to enjoy, just for a fleeting moment, that warm glow of walking hand in hand with a handsome man, imagining that he’s hers. Except, of course, he fucking isn’t. He belongs to someone else.
Lucy wants to know more about this. She knows he has a girlfriend, but how many other extra-curricular activities does he have? Does he have regular partners, or does he just go out and pick up randoms in bars whenever he gets the urge?
“Well I have one other occasional partner, who I see maybe once a month.”
“And are there others?”
“Not at the moment, no.”
Somehow this news suddenly makes Lucy feel unique and special, as though this man, who could probably charm the pants off just about anyone with a vagina in a ten-mile radius (and quite a few with penises, too), has chosen her above all the others. And then she loathes herself for being such a pushover. Is she really that fucking pathetic that this is all it takes to make her feel valued: some random serial shagger who fucks around with any Tamara, Denise and Harriet, choosing, briefly, to try to fuck around with her?
Someone needs to give Lucy a good hard slap in the face and make her wake the fuck up.
“And your girlfriend, does she?”
“Not at the moment, but she could if she wanted to.”
Lucy wonders about this mysterious other woman. Can she really, genuinely, be into this whole sharing thing, or has Charlie coerced her into agreeing to let him have his cake and eat it? Lucy knows that there are women who are happy to share, but from talking to her friends it seems the vast majority are looking for love and a lasting connection with one partner, and would get heartbreakingly jealous if their man was out and about merrily sticking his dick anywhere he fancied. Meanwhile it’s been scientifically proven by, like, actual science and stuff, that men are basically just animals and are biologically programmed to sow their wild oats far and wide. So she can’t help feeling that this whole Open Relationship thing is really just a clever way for shitty men to get off scot free, while their girlfriends have to choose between putting up with it or being alone.
Is it better to be with someone you love, she wonders, even if you have to share them, than not to have them at all?
Halfway along the South Bank they stop to look out over the river, and Charlie pushes her back into the parapet wall and kisses her with all the intensity of a highly-sexed man with raging horn who has the object of his desire in his sights and his eyes firmly on the prize.
And Lucy feels her resistance weaken a little more.
They end up in a bar near London Bridge, where they order wine and tapas, and sit in a corner, squished together, laughing and smooching and annoying the fuck out of all the other customers with their unapologetic PDAs. Charlie has his hand on Lucy’s leg, and every so often, almost imperceptibly, he moves it a little higher, till it’s definitely in a place that would get them arrested in a more conservative country, and Lucy’s driven insane by the battle between her sadly neglected lady parts, which are screaming out in delicious agonies of lust, and her sensible head, which is firmly telling her to calm the fuck down and stop being such a twat.
“When can I see you again?” Charlie asks, between breathless kisses. “I’m free tomorrow. I could come to your house, and do naughty things to you… and then we could have lunch, and maybe after I’ve eaten lunch, I can eat you…”
By this time Lucy’s downstairs is so hot it’s giving new meaning to the term ‘bushfire’, and the barman has dialled 999, and firefighters are busy running ladders up the outside of the building and charging in with breathing apparatus and hoses. Though the only hose Lucy’s interested in now is the one inside Charlie’s jeans.
And yet, still she feels awkward. Because it turns out that no matter how much chemistry you might have with someone, the fact remains that kissing them when you know they’re then going to go home and sleep with someone else is the most mindbending headfuck known to humankind.
So with a deep sigh she reluctantly hauls herself back from the cliff edge.
“Look,” she says. “You’re lovely, but I just don’t think this is going to work for me. I want to be someone’s number one priority, and you already have a girlfriend. So there’s no point in taking this any further.”
“But why not have some fun in the short term?” he protests. “Right now YOU are my priority!”
Lucy’s insanely tempted. For someone who’s not used to being pursued, and who rarely meets guys with whom she has such an electrifying mutual spark, the attention is like a drug. But in her gut she knows that just like with any drug, the thrilling high will swiftly be followed by a sickening withdrawal leading to excruciating agony, night sweats and psychotic hallucinations. And no sex, no matter how good, is worth all that.
So Just Friends it is, and they chat about other things, discovering more stuff in common. They both prefer ketchup to brown sauce and hate coriander; they’re both politically engaged and furious about Brexit; they even discover that Charlie used to be friends with one of Lucy’s best mates at university!
But inside she’s Fucking Pissed Off, yet again, with whichever malicious cunty god is in charge of her love life. For dropping Charlie into her lap, with his brilliant mind, and his sexiness, and their amazing chemistry, and their shared friends and family connections, and all the stuff they have in common. And then for taking him away again. Because of course, for all his near-perfection, he’s a fuckboy. So even if he didn’t have a girlfriend, or if he ever broke up with her, it would never work. There’s no way Lucy would ever be able to trust him.
This is a disaster waiting to happen. And so, on the tube home, Lucy sheds bitter tears of frustration.
By the time she gets in Charlie’s already messaged her.
But it seems he’s not prepared to give up without a fight.
The problem is, there’s something so deeply attractive about this man, about his desire for her, and about the calm honesty with which he’s expressing his intentions that makes him very hard to refuse.
The next morning Lucy’s at home getting Shit Done, when Charlie messages her again, asking if he can come over that afternoon. He’s determined, she’ll give him that. Should she be flattered, or is his behaviour getting a bit creepy? Is he just a guy who likes a girl and knows that she likes him too, or is he a predator, stalking his prey, sensing weakness and quietly inching closer, getting ready to pounce?
But Lucy’s resolve lasts all of about six hours. By mid-afternoon she’s bored of being stuck in the house, and wants a reason to go out. So she offers to meet him for a drink near her place.
Lucy wonders if the fact that she’s hard to get is what’s keeping Charlie so interested. If she’d fallen into bed with her legs spreadeagled on the first date, would he have lost interest? Is it the challenge he likes, the thrill of the chase? And if she does end up having sex with him, will he cool off the second he’s achieved his goal?
Over a drink at a gastropub near Holland Park station they talk about relationships and heartbreak. Charlie reveals that his first girlfriend binned him and broke his heart after four years together. Lucy tells him about how her ex dumped her and got engaged to a ridiculous American five months later, and Charlie chivalrously offers to travel to Texas and seduce her to get revenge on The Ex and break them up.
What a weird relationship dynamic this is, thinks Lucy. And yet the honesty and lack of game-playing is so wonderfully refreshing.
What’s also refreshing is how open and matter of fact Charlie is about sex. He wants her; he makes no secret of that. And he loves sex. He talks openly about porn, and a variety of different kinks, and sex parties, and trying new things, and he doesn’t seem to mind that Lucy knows nothing about any of this stuff. Could this be what he’s attracted to? she wonders. That she’s so naïve about sex, and that even at 39 she’s barely scratched the surface of all the things there are to discover. Does he want to educate her, to be Henry Higgins to her Eliza Doolittle?
She rather likes the sound of this. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a confident, experienced lover, whom she trusts and is comfortable with, to gently expand her horizons? Though she feels sure Charlie would probably only end up disappointed.
Every so often he gets up from his seat and comes round the table just to kiss her. It’s as though he can’t wait any longer, his desire for her is too great, and Lucy finds it heartstoppingly attractive.
“I’ve been trying to work out why I like kissing you so much,” he says.
“Why is that?”
“I don’t know, I guess it’s just fundamental compatibility. You know, rhythm, timing.”
“Have you had any bad kissers?” Lucy enquires, wondering how many hundreds of women there must have been.
“Yes of course. It’s so disappointing when you kiss someone you really fancy and it’s bad.”
Lucy knows this all too well. Only recently, at another house party, she kissed a tall and very handsome Italian guy, who stuck his tongue forcefully into her mouth and swirled it round like he was trying to get the last bit of yoghurt out of the pot. It was Not Good
“Do you think being a bad kisser translates to bad sex,” Charlie asks.
“I don’t really know. If the kiss is bad I’d never go any further.”
“Well I really like kissing you,” he says with a naughty look. “So it bodes well.”
Lucy knows she should be put off by his presumption, but his confidence is magnetic, and she can feel her resolve slipping away, little by little.
But every so often, the image of his girlfriend pops into her head. At one point Charlie gets his phone out, and Lucy sees his screensaver: it’s a photo of the two of them on holiday, smiling, happy. Later, he tells her they’re going away for the weekend, and Lucy imagines a dirty weekend away, with romance, wine, laughter and shitloads of sex, and she doesn’t know how to deal with the stab of jealousy that slices her in the stomach.
She’s definitely not cut out for this. She’s simply not wired to be OK with being the other woman. And yet somehow she starts learning how to push the images away, to block out the reality.
Is it so bad if she wants to just enjoy the moment? And what’s wrong with him wanting to take advantage of her? He’ll almost certainly be great in bed, so what’s to stop Lucy taking advantage of him right back?
They finish dinner and walk back to Holland Park station, but before they get to the entrance, as if by some unspoken agreement, they duck down a side street, where Charlie pushes her up against a low wall and kisses her, more intensely this time.
It’s cold, and Lucy tries not to shiver as he unzips her coat and puts his hands inside, but with his body pressed against hers she soon warms up. Charlie shifts uncomfortably as his hard-on starts to grow, and he guides her hand down so she can feel it straining against the thick material of his trousers. Going with the flow now, Lucy rubs the bulge with her thumb as Charlie struggles to get a hand inside her skinny jeans – a valiant effort since they’ve have been made all the tighter by four months in Africa. But he’s nothing if not determined, and he soon manages to get his whole hand into her knickers where he starts stroking her and making little sighs of desire.
An insanely sexy man is demonstrably hot for her: Lucy ought to be in her happy place, but she’s not. She can’t get the idea out of her head of where else he’s been and who else’s underwear he might recently have had his hands in. What’s more, although this is a dark side street, it’s still a public place. The whole thing is too weird.
She opens her eyes to see if anyone’s around and spots a man approaching from the end of the road. He’s too far away to see anything, but she points him out and Charlie removes his hand and kisses her more intently, leaning into her so there’s absolutely no doubt about what he wants.
They head back to Holland Park station where they have the lift to themselves, so they carry on kissing as though their lives depend on it until they realise that the lift hasn’t moved; they’ve been so engrossed they forgot to press the button. Lucy laughs and wonders if the CCTV people are having a good time watching.
Travelling home, Lucy feels happy and deliciously turned on, but underneath there’s a layer of sadness. Sadness that once a-fucking-gain she’s found a man who lights her up like Oxford Street in December, but he can never be hers.
She feels the heat of temptation in her gut wrestling with the cool sensible voice in her head. Which should she listen to?
NEXT TIME: Charlie and Lucy have two more dates in the space of a few days, and things escalate. Click here to read on.