The world of internet dating was a new discovery to Cat, nine years in a relationship meant she missed the selfie crazed social media vibe. But her oldest friend had met her second husband online and after a few glasses of Prosecco with the girls, Cat had an utterly fabulous new social profile.
The whole experience so far had been fairly disappointing. Her one attempt to date resulted in meeting a guy whose profile picture turned out to be 10 years younger, and those 10 years hadn’t been kind. One drink was enough before Cat made some lame excuse about how she may have contracted ‘Ebola on a recent African excursion’ and ran for the nearest fire escape. Hoping he would either be too scared to message her again or possibly write her off as being nuts. To add insult to the god-awful experience she dropped her new phone as she legged it for the door, cracking the screen in the bottom left hand corner… bloody brilliant, the worst date of her life had just cost her £50 and at some point, the inconvenience of being phoneless.
That was it, no more dating men till they had been meticulously social media stalked! But this week had been a strange one. Coffee with her workmate and now boss Anthony had taken an unexpected turn. Last year he had split from his wife and Cat was his dutiful shoulder. Their friendship strengthened over lattes and conversations about shit relationships and the joys of being single.
It was the kind of connection that had an undertone of something unspoken, but others picked up on. The kind that brought out a testosterone fuelled fuck with her ex, while he reminded her just where her loyalties should be. So, coffee became more frequent, the work banter was good and Cat knew after meeting him for coffee she was in for a hot heated exchange at home.
Three months passed, and he was back with Beth, it would appear he easily forgot what an utter bitch she was during the break up. Normally the girls tolerated each other but seeing her friend so broken wasn’t easy.
Grey skies outside made for another bloody miserable day, and it had been raining hard as Tony arrived late for their coffee date. He’d obviously just finished a session at the gym, in the hotel where they worked and hadn’t bothered to shower. No matter, he was still looking hot, wet hair dripping on to his blue hoodie, his big hazel eyes and confident swagger always made her smile. Tony had that casually effortless look that she was certain he secretly spent hours perfecting.
He lent in to kiss her hello, but awkwardly their heads turned in the same direction. The intended kiss on the cheek ended up being something a little more lingering, his lips brushed her mouth but instead of pulling away he hesitated, their eyes met. Cat retreated first and chuckled.
‘It’s a bloody good job Beth never saw you do that, I know you’ve wanted to kiss me for years.’ Tony laughed.
‘You wish’. He sat back on the tall stool, running his finger through the shaggy wet hair ‘get the coffees in, it’s your shout.’
Cat stood up to go to the counter catching his eye as she placed the order of over expensive posh coffee. Tony was staring at her with a half-cocked smile, head slightly bent to one side, curious look on his face. She seen that look many times, the kind of look where men get hungry and their eyes can’t hide where their mind is at. But this was new for them; he’d never looked at her like that before. Come to think of it, he’d stopped really looking at her at all recently, favouring his phone or the random passing of people outside the window.
‘Soy, no sugar, cinnamon cappuccino, god you’re a tart.’ their fingers connected as she passed him the coffee.’
‘It’s better than that heart attack your drinking, no wonder you don’t bloody sleep.’ He shook his head in fake disgust and smiled.
‘I don’t sleep coz I’m up all night on my own with kids who never sleep, literally EVER.’ Cat sighed deeply and over dramatically ‘Coffee and sugar are the only way I make it through the day,’ she stroked the takeaway cup longingly in jest, then with big watery eyes fluttered her lashes playfully.
‘Thought you were up all-night coz you were thinking of me.’ Tony glanced at her as the corner of his mouth twitched, one of his perfect eyebrows raised. They both chuckled but he held her gaze for just a little moment longer than normal.
‘What’s the latest with the refurb? Don’t know why they gave you the project, you couldn’t organise a stag night at a whore house.’
‘Whatever, anyway shouldn’t you be heading back, surely there’s some envelopes to stamp.’ Coming from anyone else Cat may have been offended but he’d been telling her for years how wasted she was in their office.
Four long years ago Tony joined the team and very quickly moved through the ranks. On the outside, he was confident, arrogant and ridiculously ambitious. The sort of guy you see in a bar surrounded by beautiful people hanging on his every word, and with that perfect jawline, cheek bones worthy of a perfume ad, Tony was truly beautiful. She’d met men like him before, managed a few and dated a couple. His extroverted ‘nothing fazes me’ attitude didn’t intimidate her for a second. Probably the main reason they got on so well, she didn’t take any of his bullshit. ‘You are absolute right; I’d better run along as the franking won’t get done by itself’, they laughed.
The truth was Cat had a brilliant mind, with a resume of successes in project management, but since having her 2 children had stepped back from the rat race. Her position as office administrator at the Regal Hotel was tedious and boring, but the hours were flexible and her team amazing. She loved her boring job for the time it gave her with her crazy kids and for now she was happy just to have an easy life. At 2.30pm most days Cat partook in the mad dash school run and her evenings were filled with the wonderful stresses of being a mum. The challenges of homework and bedtimes was enough of a challenge at this point in her life, sod having to deal with the pressure of unrealistic deadlines too!
Doing her best to navigate her way through single parenthood hadn’t been easy, not for her and especially not for the children. It was all still new and the adjustment from unhappy family life to exhausted one-man band was tough. The upside was she didn’t have to put up with the shit that came along with a crap relationship anymore, every cloud and all that!
Staring out the window Tony quipped ‘It’s just a quickie today I’m afraid as I’m already late, got places to go and projects to ruin’.
Shaking her head Cat joked ‘nothing new there then, apparently its only ever a quickie where you’re concerned, anyways as your friend and devoted subordinate I feel it is my duty to suggest you better have a bloody shower as,…. er…. you stink’. Cat looked at him with repulsion. Tony rolled his eyes and drank a big slug of his low sugar caffeine fix. ‘So you got plans this weekend? If not shall we do beers Friday’ Tony shifted in his seat looking directly out of the window.
‘Err not sure I can Cat’, he looked uncomfortable.
‘Why busy with better things to do? We haven’t had a beer in ages, to be honest I’ve have more luck nailing jelly to the ceiling than getting you out”
‘I’ve just got loads on hun, you know what it’s been like. All jokes aside, the hours I’ve been putting in are crazy. Then Beth’s on my case about the move in a few weeks.
‘All the more reason to come and have a drink, let that mop of hair down and be reckless for a few hours’.
Tony was slightly serious but couldn’t meet her gaze ‘look Cat, coffee’s fine, just not sure drinking is a good idea anymore’.
Cat was stumped, and felt a bit pissed at the comment, what had changed and what’s more to the point what was he implying? They’d spent countless hours partaking in the end of the week religious ritual of beer. But come to think of it, in the last few months Tony had been really difficult to pin down. Cat’s mind started doing the math and came to the obvious assumption her now single status was a problem for him. Did he honestly believe a few beers would equate to her shamelessly throwing herself at him? Self-assured arse! The coffee date had taken an unexpected and very uncomfortable turn.
Her mind flickered back to the kiss hello earlier, the way he’d been checking her out. If she was honest with herself she had always been attracted to him, the way he could rock a suit and still look hot in gym shorts. But until this moment it had been nothing more than a completely safe work flirt. Cat couldn’t make up her mind if she was more pissed off that maybe something was different or that he’d brought it up. ‘Whatever! You’re being a dick, it’s just drinks, but if it’s too much for you to handle….’ She rolled her eyes and left the sentence unfinished.
‘I know what you’re like when you’ve had a drink and that was before you were single’ The attempt to lighten the mood wasn’t working. In fact, it just aggravated her more.
‘I’m perfectly capable of controlling myself thanks, it just bloody drinks’. She wondered if the statement made her sound slight desperate.
‘Babe don’t get funny, you know what I mean, just don’t think it’s a good idea is all’, Then he did look at her, eyes narrowed and slightly regretful. ‘I’m sorry OK! Look I’ve got to go, got shit loads on. Catch up later’.
Cat mumbled a rather shitty ‘yeah bye’ and watched as he grabbed the takeaway cup and made for the door. Minutes later Cat left for the office a bit bemused by the turn in conversation and hoped she wouldn’t run in to Tony for the rest of the day.
If you would like to catch up with the full story of Cat and her dating disasters here’s your chance –