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Even before Virginia Shepherd got mauled by a werewolf and turned into a creature of the night, it had been a lousy evening.
* * *
The heady blend of spices wafting up from the bag of takeaway curry in her hands made Gin’s mouth water as she sashayed down the street towards Graham’s house, her new shoes clip-clopping loudly on the uneven paving. Gin loved the way high heels looked, but mostly she stuck to something less life-threatening because she never had quite acquired the knack of wearing them. Or at least, not sober: she had a theory that the alcohol-induced wobble somehow cancelled out the inherent instability of high heels, making walking in heels easier when plastered.
Surprisingly, most of the time it seemed to work.
The fact that she was striding over dodgy paving stones without stumbling once despite the four inch spikes strapped oh-so-sexily to her feet was a pretty clear indication of how many tequilas she’d inhaled by this point in the evening.
This, Gin reflected, as her stomach growled, had been one of her better ideas. Sure, she’d been tempted by the prospect of test driving her fabulous new Little Black Dress around the clubs with the rest of the girls, but surely a hot boy in the hand was worth two in the bush? Or – well, no, upon reflection that sounded a lot more pornographic than she’d been intending, and now she was conjuring up the kind of vivid images that were just going to lead to a broken ankle. Focus.
Anyway, she was pretty damned certain that Kate wouldn’t even notice her absence at this point. There had been a manic gleam in Kate’s green eyes as they downed tequila slammers; she was already drunker than Oliver Reed in a distillery and she seemed hell bent on doing her liver as much damage as possible, and snogging as many random blokes as she could before she finally said ‘I do’ the next day, regardless of their levels of personal hygiene. Which was all well and good, but the only person Gin wanted to be getting horizontal with was at home. Alone. Available. Which was a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of thing these days. So what the hell, Gin finally asked herself, was she doing in Soho when she could be licking parts of Graham that one couldn’t lick in public?
When she thought about it like that, everything seemed suddenly simple. She made her apologies, bought Kate another drink and legged it to Graham’s.
Thus her belated presence on Aspadistra Terrace with pillar box-bright lipstick, fabulous fuck-me shoes and hot little black number under a lightweight scarlet summer coat, bearing a bag of biryani and beer. Not the picture of elegance, perhaps, but what self respecting British bloke could resist his fiancee showing up in a balcony bra and hooker-style heels, carrying fresh curry and a couple of cold beers? Surely that was the very definition of irresistible? The kind of thing that Englishmen fantasized about? When they weren’t dreaming of their team topping the Premier League, at least?
Truthfully, though, Graham had been finding her charms entirely too resistible of late. But then, he hadn’t seen the shoes. Gin felt sure that nobody could resist the shoes.
One hundred and fifty three. The lights were on; Graham was probably watching the Sports Channel again. Gin felt her mouth curl into an involuntary Cheshire Cat grin as she pushed the little wrought iron gate open and stepped up to the front door. In the darkness the green paint looked almost black. She pressed the doorbell, feeling like a naughty schoolgirl bunking out of class to smoke illicit cigarettes and snog behind the bikesheds.
Footsteps pounded down the staircase inside. Gin raked a hand through her red hair and bounced a little on her toes at the thought of the look on his face. She glanced back at the empty street, abruptly feeling self-conscious. This particular look was more appropriate to 2am in a club than nine fifteen on a quiet suburban street, and she found herself pulling the coat a little closer around her shoulders. It was quite a little little black dress, and Graham’s mum really wouldn’t appreciate it if the neighbours started gossiping about him having strange women over in the middle of the night. She wasn’t Gin’s number one fan in the first place. The woman was a teacher, and somehow every time Gin spoke to her she ended up feeling like a thirteen year old faced with the task of trying to explain that her dog really had eaten her homework.
"Hurry up, hurry up," she muttered, on the brink of giggling as she heard the bolt draw back. The door opened and Gin blinked in the sudden flood of light, and for a baffled and mortified moment she thought that somehow she’d got the wrong house.
She was a hundred times more baffled and mortified when she realised that she hadn’t.
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