The Rebound List
by Hedonist Six Publication Date: February 24, 2017 Genres: Adult, Women’s Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
After nearly four years with Jeff, everything fell apart. I found myself single, scared, but somehow liberated as well. Rather than stumble into another ill advised relationship, my best friend Sally helped me find focus. I would spend the next few months “finding myself” sexually. That’s how The Rebound List was born. My journey begins with the first item on my list – a virgin. But it’s not easy to go from squeaky-clean committed girlfriend to wanton sex goddess. Hopefully I’ll have the guts to follow through! What (or whom) would you do to celebrate your freedom after your first serious relationship breaks down?
Throughout my train journey I keep running through different potential outcomes. What if it's a disaster? What will I say to him when we meet? Shaking hands would be an odd greeting, wouldn't it? I should move in for a hug. But what if I don't like him in person? Crap, he hasn't even seen a proper, picture; what if he doesn't like me? I’d call Sally for a much needed confidence boost but typically, I’ve no network.
I feel like a cigarette even though I don't smoke and I know that'll make things worse. Damn, if I'm this freaked out, how scared must he be right now. We're surely doomed if I don't get myself under control. I'm the one in charge, I tell myself. I've got this. Ugh.
The hotel looks just like every other Etap I've ever visited, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. At least it's impersonal and clean and not so small that we'd feel too overlooked.
The short walk to the cinema feels like it lasts forever and yet not long enough. I'm five minutes late according to my watch. Stupid public transport. And of course in my efforts to keep things simple and anonymous, we didn't exchange mobile numbers and as such I couldn’t let him know of the delay.
It suddenly hits me that we don't even know each other's names. Should we?
With jelly for knees I walk into the bright, glass-covered entrance and spot him immediately standing off to one side. He’s looking at the floor and hasn't noticed me, giving me the chance to check him out first. Wow, I really do like what I’m seeing.
Clearly he has been paying attention to my instructions. He looks great, a crisp white shirt, not too formal dark trousers. He’s big, yes, but I already knew that and I still don’t understand why others consider that a negative; it’s different but not in a bad way. I do adore a bit of facial hair and am pleased that he’s kept it like in his pictures, carefully trimmed. Fashionably unruly hair completes his style. Yes, this is what effort looks like and it suits him wonderfully.
I am already imagining what the fabric of his shirt might feel like under my touch... Fuck. He’s looking right at me.
Immediately I can feel my face burn up as I hurry towards him, already late and now caught staring shamelessly without even doing the decent thing of saying hello first. God, this is embarrassing.
“Uhh, hi.” I try my best to straighten my shoulders and look at him, but the urge to inspect the floor is almost impossible to fight.
He gives me a strange, vacant look.
I just nod, forcing myself to look into his eyes momentarily. He has really nice, greenish eyes.
“I’m sorry for... you know...” Clearly my vague hand gesture isn’t doing the job of completing my apology for me. “Being late, staring rudely, that sort of thing.”
I can’t read him and it’s driving me insane. How do people do this without falling to pieces?
“OK.. this is awkward,” he says finally, taking the words right of my mouth.
I let out a sigh in an attempt to sound agreeable. So much for my plan of greeting him with a hug, things are already way too weird as they are.
“Anyway, you look great!” I say with a smile. He shrugs and suddenly I can detect a glimmer of emotion in his eyes when he looks back at me. It’s not positive.
Shit, he hates me.
“Kind of odd to say that now.”
“What do you mean?”
“If I hadn’t noticed you, you’d have just turned around and walked back out again,” he says.
His interpretation of events is unexpected.
“No way! I mean seriously that’s what you think just happened here?”
I put my hand on his arm and feel the intensity of my heartbeat surge instantly; a sensation not lost on him because he twitches slightly as if I’ve just given him a static shock.
“I was just nervous, is all,” I say.
“You’re nervous?” he asks. I nod slowly in response, feeling my lips tense together and eyes widen significantly.
“OK, fuck it. Let’s start over.” I take a deep breath. “Hi! I’m really sorry I’m late, my train was delayed.”
“Hi...” A hint of a smile plays on his lips as he plays along and stretches out his hand as if to greet me.
Still thinking that’s a very weird way to start a date, I instead put both my hands on his shoulders, tiptoe and give him a light kiss on the cheek. I’m intoxicated. Don’t think I’ve ever been one to swoon before but here we are.
“You smell lovely,” I whisper, before letting go of him and stepping back to where I started off.
After a few seconds of shyly grinning at each other he clears his throat and produces two cinema tickets from his trouser pocket.
“I think we should probably head upstairs or they’ll start without us,” he says.
It’s a relief to walk off towards the escalator together where he shows the attendant our tickets. He gestures at me to go up ahead of him. I hadn’t realised how much of a sucker I am for simple gestures like that; Jeff never gave a shit. I have got to stop thinking of Jeff!
Rushing to the correct floor and finding our seats in the last row of the theatre, he suddenly turns towards me.
“Totally forgot to ask, would you like me to get you anything, a drink, snack, whatever?” He looks so apologetic it makes me chuckle.
“Don’t worry, I never go to the cinema unprepared,” I respond, patting my handbag. Indeed, I do have a compulsive need to keep sweets in my purse whenever I go out for the day. I don’t necessarily end up eating them but it’s nice to know they’re there.
We get comfortable in our seats and immediately the lights dim and the movie starts after a few obligatory trailers. I can’t decide whether he’s chosen a horror film because he suspects I’d enjoy it, he’s trying the classic ‘scare the girl in order to get cosy on a date’ move or he likes the genre himself, but I’m probably going to find out soon enough.
The opening credits pass and we’re only into the first scene when I remember the one thing I dislike about cinemas. They keep them too cold and my lack of comfort certainly isn’t helped by the dress and heels I chose to wear today. In my efforts to impress, I chose an outfit not suited to the late autumn climate. My hands previously clammy and cold due to nerves, are now practically frozen, sending chills up my arms and around my back.
Rubbing the skin on my arms through the light sleeves, I try desperately to fight the onslaught of goose bumps without drawing too much attention to myself. I fail on both counts and he leans towards me, asking if I’m cold.
Oh my, I do love his scent even though being this close to him is making the shivers worse. Even so, I decide to fold away the armrest between us and wait to see what he’ll do. Neither of us are paying much attention to the movie at all, completely ignoring the gasps some of our fellow audience members let out at something undoubtedly scary happening on screen.
I subtly scoot a bit closer to him and he does eventually put his arm around me. He’s blissfully warm and I’m so excited to feel him against me, I have to fight every impulse to not start cuddling. It’s way too soon for that, isn’t it?
ABOUT HEDONIST SIX
Call me “H.” or Hedonist if you prefer. I’m a Romance writer based in London and I’ve always been a dreamer, though it didn’t occur to me to write down the stories I kept dreaming up until 2012. You’ll not find flowery language and poetry in my work. What you will find though is believable characters, none of whom perfect, going through life and trying to find happiness. Just like the rest of us. I first started writing because I craved to see more of “my kind of books” on the shelves. In any scenario, you’ll find me rooting for the underdog. The (emotionally) scarred hero who hasn’t really had much (or any) luck in love. The shy office worker who wants to pursue the man of her dreams, but hasn’t quite mustered the courage yet. All my characters are beautifully flawed and messed up, in a way that makes them perfect for one another.