Summer 2018. It was the beginning of July, and Dennis and his friends (including a few of our mutual mates) were due to fly out to Ibiza for a week long piss up of sun, sea and extreme hedonism. Did I want to see those photos? Did I fuck. Despite liking most of them I unfollowed all of Dennis’ friends, and then deactivated my Instagram for good measure. I prepared myself to feel shitty for the whole week whilst they were there. I’d finally got my money back for the holiday, so I knew I just had to get through the next week and then it would all be over. There would be no ties left and I could finally move on.
For the first couple of days I decided to get out of London and went and stayed in my aunt’s caravan at the seaside for the weekend. It was bliss – sunshine, fresh air and a distraction from Ibiza – just what I needed. I surprised myself with how relaxed I felt. I immersed myself in dog walks on the beach, fish and chips and even enjoyed watching the World Cup quarter-final on the little caravan television. I returned to London on the Sunday evening feeling refreshed.
My flatmate Ella, who had been an absolute rock for me through the last four months, sensed the shift in my mood. “I think you’re ready for the next phase!” she excitedly proclaimed. She suggested we go out to our local pub to watch the World Cup semi-final. In Ella’s eyes, the next phase was ‘getting mortal drunk and shagging random men’ – something I knew she had been patiently (yet eagerly) waiting for me to get to as it meant I would have graduated from the ‘random sobbing followed by bursts of rage’ phase. I was sceptical. I’d spent the last four months steering well clear of anything with a penis and with a self-imposed drinking ban (a decision made on recent experiences that highlighted all too well that alcohol and heartbreak do NOT mix).
Nonetheless I didn’t want to burst Ella’s bubble. So, on the Wednesday afternoon, I part walked, part ran from work, arriving back at our flat sweaty but determined to have an enjoyable evening.
The pub was a social hotspot in the summer for the residents of South-West London. Infamously known for its ‘Sunday sessions’; attracting the local rugby players and about a hundred almost identical home county-raised blondes in tow. A breeding ground for summer hook-ups and pretty much guaranteed to bump into an ex or previous conquest. The heat wave and World Cup euphoria had attracted every man and his dog, and the beer garden was rammed with TV screens and punters. Ella and I grabbed a couple of G&Ts and, after much elbowing, finally managed to squeeze ourselves into a little spot outside. The atmosphere was contagious and, even though I wasn’t usually much of a football fan, I felt giddy with anticipation.
Half time hit and the beer garden exploded into cheers and chanting; England had managed to score a goal. I laughed at all the drunken idiots attempting and failing to start a crowd singalong. Taking advantage of my obvious good mood, Ella suggested playing a game. “I’ve only ever known you with Dennis, so I want to try and figure out your type!” she exclaimed, and promptly started pointing out random men around the beer garden. “What about him?” I shrugged, unimpressed. “Him?” I shook my head. “Him?” I pulled a face. “You’re SO fussy, Jess!” she laughed. She paused, eyes darting around the crowd. “Ok…what about him?” I looked over to where her eyes were fixed wide in question, a cheeky grin on her face.
I blinked. Wow. This man was gorgeous – I mean insanely hot! If I had to draw ‘my type’ on paper it would be this guy’s portrait. Tall, broad shouldered, dark hair and eyes and a Hollywood smile to match, this demi god could only be described as an Adonis. I swallowed, watching him walk over to the bar, the muscles in his back subtly rippling under his t-shirt as he bent forward to talk to the barman. “Yup, that’s my type alright” I murmured. Ella smirked, clearly happy with herself.
The match started again, and Ella resumed pointing out random men. I nodded my semi approval every now and again, but most of my attention was focussed on searching for where the Adonis had gone amongst the crowd. Ella seemed disheartened by my minimal enthusiasm for potential suitors. “Sorry”, I shrugged, “I just don’t see the point if I’ve already seen my ideal man here in the flesh – maybe I should go and say hi…?” Ella looked taken back. I raised my eyebrows questioning her reaction, “What?” I said.
“Erm…nothing…I mean, you do know who he is, right?” she whispered.
“Um, no, should I?” I said.
Ella got out her phone and flicked open Instagram. She searched a profile with the Adonis’ beautiful face plastered across every post.
“Jess, he used to play professional Rugby, he was on a talent show and I’m pretty sure he used to date a famous model,” she said, letting me scroll through his pictures. Yep, it was him. I’d never heard of him before, but it was definitely him gracing the front covers of Men’s Health and GQ, posing with shaving products with the hashtag #Ad.
I mean it shouldn’t change anything I thought to myself. If Ella hadn’t told me I would just assume he was just any other guy (albeit an exceptionally attractive guy) who’d gone to the pub to watch the World Cup semi-final. Just because Ella (and his 90,000 followers) may know who he was, didn’t mean I couldn’t approach him and say hi… What was the worst that could happen? He could politely decline…or laugh in your face, Jess, but surely, I couldn’t feel any more shit about myself than I had done for the last four months? Besides, there was only one thing worse than regretting doing something… and that was regretting not doing something.
“Do you know if he has a girlfriend?” I asked Ella. She slowly shook her head and answered “No, I don’t think he does.”
“Good. I’m going to go ask him for his number,” I resolved, downing the rest of my G&T.
Ella and I located the Adonis in the corner of the beer garden, quietly tucked away in a corner on a step, surrounded by a couple friends. We ‘casually’ edged towards him, pretending to be deep in conversation and not aware that we were moving (or rather battling against the crowd) to get in close enough proximity. I felt silly, like a 13-year-old schoolgirl trying to inconspicuously spy on her crush. Goddamit Jess, you’re a 29-year-old woman! I thought to myself, get a grip and just go up to him.
“Right, I’m going to do it now,” I said. Ella nervously nodded and ran off to the bar leaving me on my own; about to take one small step for Jess and one giant leap for womankind. Sort of.
What happened next was kind of a blur, I think it happened so quickly so that I hadn’t time to overthink it and chicken out. I turned and walked over to the small group of friends surrounding the Adonis. I reached up and tapped one on the shoulder, who swiftly turned and raised his eyebrows up at me in question. I blushed and mumbled something about just wanting to say hi to his mate. The friend nodded and silently moved aside, the rest of the group followed suit, and all turned to watch the screen leaving just the Adonis in the corner looking at me quizzically.
I thrust out a hand in greeting; blurting out “So sorry, I saw you from across the beer garden and I thought you were really attractive, and I wanted to ask you for your number. I’m Jess by the way!” Smooth, Jess. The Adonis blinked clearly absorbing my sudden appearance and outburst and then after what seemed like an agonising 10 seconds, he finally cracked a smile, shook my outstretched hand and introduced himself in return. Thank fuck for that.
“Sure… I’d take your number, but my phone has run out of battery,” he said taking his phone out of his pocket and jabbing the blank screen; showing me that it wouldn’t switch on. Ah, of course. “But I can put my number in your phone,” he said smiling at me. I passed him my mobile, trying to keep a steady hand and the Adonis typed in his name and number (confirming Ella was right). I honestly thought that would be it, I would thank him for his time, apologise for disturbing the football and quickly excuse myself. I turned to leave but the Adonis started asking why I was so tanned and if I’d been on holiday recently. I told him I’d just got back from my sister’s hen do in Mykonos and asked if he had any holidays planned. As we chatted about holidays, our heritages, where we lived, our ages and even Love Island, I was amazed at how attracted I was to this man. I mean he was obviously gorgeous, but for the last four months I hadn’t even entertained the thought of another man touching me; not desiring anyone and feeling undesirable in return. But as I flirted with the Adonis, I felt the heat rise in my cheeks, my mouth go dry and my stomach flutter with nerves. God, I really fancied this guy.
After what could have only been 15 minutes of chat, I made my excuses saying that I should really find my friend as I’d left her alone at the bar. In reality, my mouth had become so dry I had become progressively more aware of my tongue and the fact I’d been holding an empty cup the whole time. It was a miracle I hadn’t said anything stupid yet and felt it safer to leave on a high. The Adonis asked me to come and say hi again after the game had finished if I was still around. I nodded, smiling and kissed him goodbye on the cheek before floating (elbowing) my way back through the crowd to find Ella.
No sooner had I made it to the other end of the beer garden, then Ella grabbed me from around the corner and pulled me to the other side of the bar. “So?! What happened?! Did you get his number?! I got a drink and had a cigarette and you were still chatting to him!” she exclaimed, excitedly.
“Shhh…yes I got his number,” I grinned back at her. “But, first thing’s first – I need water…and some kind of anti-perspirant.” Ella grabbed my hand and marched me to the toilets where she pulled out deodorant from her handbag and passed me a glass of tap water. I briefly filled her in on my conversation with the Adonis as I blotted my face and regained proper use of my tongue again. “Perfect, so we’ll play it cool and watch the rest of the match inside then we’ll casually head back over to him when we’ve lost.” Ella said. I looked over at the screen. Ah yes, some of us were indeed losing that night.
England did lose. And as the match finished and the drunkards started to curse, Ella and I made our way back out to the beer garden. It was 10pm and the place was still heaving. We pushed our way through the crowd until I caught a glimpse of the Adonis near his corner deep in conversation with a group of guys. “Hmm, he looks busy, let’s just hang back here for a bit,” I said to Ella turning away from him. Ella shrugged and we continued chatting. After about five minutes Ella abruptly stopped talking and stared over my shoulder. “He’s coming over,” she whispered excitedly.
No sooner had I registered what she said then the Adonis swooped in next to me and shook Ella’s hand in greeting. She blushed and mumbled hello in return. The Adonis turned and looked down at me smiling. God, his eyes were dreamy.
“I have to pop around the corner to my mate’s house to charge my phone, but will you still be here a bit later?” he asked me. I smiled back and said I wasn’t sure as it was getting late and I had work in the morning. He nodded. “Of course, well it was lovely to meet you and you have my number?” he asked, then cheekily added, “Are you glad you came up to me?” I grinned shyly and said I was, kissing him goodbye on the cheek.
I watched the Adonis walk out of the beer garden and turned to Ella, “Can we go back home now, I really don’t think I can handle any more excitement tonight?” Ella laughed and agreed. We left the pub and headed back home, and I made a mental note to wait until the next day to message him.
To be continued…