All standard disclaimers apply: No Money Made, No Harm Intended. Please ignore all the Americanisms, I beg of you.
Rain beat at London, saturating anything on the streets within five minutes. Phillipa Hamilton glanced at her watch; still over two hours before she had to meet Bodie. She stared out the coffee-shop window, seeing something other than her blonde-haired reflection in the storm-darkened window. Rain pelted down, blanketing the city in a near-freezing waterfall. No use trying to catch the bus yet, she thought.
What the hell was she going to do about Bodie?
Her coffee lay before her, untouched in the last fifteen minutes. A spark of light from an overloaded transformer rattled her, bringing her attention back to the deserted cafe and her current problems.
He rang her up last night. Her first thought had been to slam the receiver down hard--but she'd also wanted to hear his voice. So she'd listened while Bodie charmed her, promising dinner and drinks, a night on the town. He'd been so funny--joking about the number of forms he'd filed to get a replacement phone installed in his flat--that she'd agreed. Thirty seconds after he rang off, she remembered why they hadn't spoken in so long: Bodie had left her panting in bed when his partner had called. She wasn't sure if she was ready to forgive him for that or not. After all, Doyle had been calling from hospital, which Bodie hadn't bothered to explain at the time. He'd simply left.
It was always like that. Any time the phone rang when they were together, it was Ray Doyle. Or someone from work calling about Ray--or for Ray. That really cheesed her off. Why did her bloody-minded boyfriend have to be his partner's answering service?
Bodie spent most of their `foursomes' chatting with Ray. The evening was either hilarious as the two boys tried to out-do the other, or it was a dirge, with Bodie trying to cheer Ray up.
Some nights it was hopeless; not even his date's tasteless jokes raised a smile. Ray usually drank too much then. Bodie did too. `Keeping Doyle company,' he said.
At least booze didn't make Bodie morose, and he was twice as enchanting whenever they all went out together. A bit like a pet owner with a new kitten actually, catering to the old dog so he wouldn't be jealous.
She discovered that her coffee had grown cold, the cream coating her tongue like automobile sludge. Pippa shoved the cup away to the far end of the table and threw down some change as a tip. She'd try that bookstore up the street since she still had a few minutes before the bus arrived.
The rain had lightened to a steady mist, not enough to bother her through the thick layers of her winter coat, but enough to make her want to run anyway. Yet, no matter how briskly she moved, she couldn't escape her thoughts.
Bodie. Odd that a man his age insisted on being addressed only by surname. Even in the height of passion, he hated it if she called him `Will' or `William' or any of his other given names. Hated honey, baby, and darling as well. In fact, about the only pet names he tolerated came out of his partner's mouth, and those were non-committal ones. Somehow "great fuck, mate" wasn't part of her post-coital vocabulary.
She pushed open the door to the shop, sending the bells strung across its back to jingling. Bodie wasn't that bad, surely? He could always make her laugh. Plus the sex was fantastic. What did it matter that he wouldn't hold hands in public? He was very affectionate in private.
She picked up the book closest to her and almost laughed aloud: the Peter Pan Syndrome. Well, that fit Bodie to a `T' all right; he certainly didn't want to grow up. She held on to the book as she continued through the self-help section. `Co-Dependency'. Now there was one to help him deal with that bloody partner of his. She rounded the corner to the next set of shelves. `The Path of Least Resistance.' Well, that one summed up Bodie's philosophy on life: if you can't live with it, run away from it.
Or don't think about it. She found herself staring at `Children of Abuse.'
A few more books found their way into her pile, including `Smart Women, Foolish Choices.' She looked at her watch. She'd just about make it to the restaurant on time.
Startled, she looked up and found herself staring across almost a dozen hardback and paperback books to the clerk at the check-out counter.
"47.85. That's how much for the lot." He gestured at the pile, and glanced at the titles. He stopped, then, and really looked at them before looking back at her. "Wouldn't it be easier to get a new boyfriend?"
Pippa looked at him thoughtfully. Blue eyes regarded her seriously. The eyes weren't as deep a blue as Bodie's, nor was he as tall or as muscular. Yet he wouldn't be paged when they were in the middle of making love. He wouldn't have a partner than commanded more of his attention than his girlfriend did. He might even want to marry.
Bodie might make her laugh, but he'd never settle down. A dozen books wouldn't change that.
She looked back at him and smiled. "You know, you're right."
The bells jangled behind her as she left, feet splashing though puddles left by the winter's rain.
-- THE END --