That drew a smile from me. Ruth was always wonderful at cheering me up. "Thanks."
"No problem." Her expression turned cheeky. "You know if you want, we could go out tonight. Lou is away at her mum's, so it would just be us two single gals. Maybe we could find ourselves a couple of willing young gentlemen to take our minds off our troubles?"
I sucked in a sharp breath. I'd really been hoping the conversation wouldn't go down that path, but I should have known better with Ruth. I wasn't sure how to respond. I hated the idea of lying to my friend, but I didn't feel comfortable talking about Sebastian just yet. I barely had a handle on the way he made me feel. I didn't need the challenge of trying to describe it to someone else.
I opened my mouth to brush her off, but I must have waited a beat too long, because suddenly her eyes lit up. "You sneaky little hussy! You're already getting some right now, aren't you?" I turned red. "Yeah, busy with work indeed. You're busy getting banged all night long. No wonder you look so tired."
There wasn't much point in lying now. The jig was up. "I wouldn't describe us as busy exactly. We only just met." A small grin slipped onto my face. "It did last most of the night though."
Ruth laughed. "That's a promising start. Well, don't keep me in suspense. Who is this mystery Casanova?"
"Well, remember the other night when I snuck into that party..." I trailed off, waiting for Ruth to fill in the blanks.
It didn't take long. "Oh, you didn't? You did!" She laughed. "That guy you were telling us about? How? When?"
And so I told the story. In typical Ruth fashion, she did her best to extract the more pornographic details, but I managed to keep Sebastian's kinkiness largely under wraps.
"Sounds like quite a guy," she said when I was done.
I nodded slowly. "That he is. Honestly, it's a little intimidating. Every time I'm around him I seem to lose my head completely."
She flashed a knowing smile. "They're dangerous when they're that gorgeous."
"It's not just his looks." I shook my head. "I don't know if I can really explain it. There's just something about him that pushes all my buttons."
"Is it the accent? Fuck, I love a good accent." She leaned back in her chair and gazed up at the ceiling, a dreamy grin blooming on her face. "Remember that Spanish guy I was seeing a year or so back? God damn. He could read out the shopping list and I'd still get off."
"You did mention he had a talented tongue, but I didn't think that's what you meant."
She laughed. "That man had a variety of skills, most of which cannot be discussed in polite company. Anyway, it sounds like you're living the dream. Exclusive, casual sex with a gorgeous, mysterious millionaire. I dare say I'm a little envious."
"Yea it's pretty awesome." I tried my best to sound enthusiastic, but some part of my uncertainty must have leaked through, because her expression fell.
"So why don't you sound happy?" she asked.
"I am!" I sighed. It was frustrating how little I could hide from her. Who said best friends were a good idea anyway? "It's just, I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know?"
"Jesus. You really know how to look a gift horse in the mouth, don't you?"
"I'm not trying to. I just want to keep things in perspective. After what happened with Connor, I want to be a little more careful, that's all."
She grimaced and leaned in close, taking my hands in her. "Soph, listen to me. Connor was a one of a kind psychopath. He was a serial cheater who seemed to get off on lying to you. I've told you before, men might be assholes sometimes, but he was a special piece of work. They aren't all like that. You can't let that one experience cause you to shut up shop forever."
I nodded slowly. "I know."
"You need something to do besides work and drink, and if you ask me, this sounds perfect. A casual fling with a guy who is as busy as you are. Just take it slow and enjoy it for what it is."
"That's the plan."
"Good." She took a drink and then shook her head. "I swear, you don't know how lucky you are. This sort of thing doesn't come along all that often."
I thought back to our bizarre courtship. In the rational light of day, it barely seemed plausible at all. "I think I agree with you there."
The next few days were uneventful. A little of the Wrights case work trickled down to me, but nothing significant. I debated confronting Alan again, but I got the sense I'd already made a mistake complaining the first time. Pushing any more was likely to just make the situation worse. So instead, I swallowed my pride and focused on the tasks that were given to me.
I didn't hear anything from Sebastian. When we'd parted, we'd made no concrete plans to see each other again and that was fine with me. After all, what was the point of a casual fling if it filled your diary with obligations?
But as the days became a week, I began to grow uneasy. I wasn't expecting daily phone calls, but it felt like there should be some kind of communication. To make matters worse, I realised that I had no way of contacting him. I might have been able to find his building again if I really wanted to, but he'd never given me his phone number or even an email address. Our relationship effectively existed entirely on his whim.
"It's partially my fault I guess," I said to Ruth on the phone one night. "I should have asked for his number. But that doesn't make the situation any better. It's like I'm just lying around waiting until he feels like fucking me again."
"Isn't that what a casual relationship is?" she asked.
"I guess," I replied slowly, "but it's not supposed to be this one sided. What if I decide I'm in the mood?"
She laughed. "Feeling a little hot under the collar are we?"
As much as I hated to admit it, I was. My sex drive had never been much more than a low buzz in the background before, but my one night with Sebastian seemed to have kick started my libido something fierce. I found my eyes wandering much more than they used to, and my dreams had taken a notably erotic turn. It was quite inconvenient really.
"Maybe a little."
"Well," she continued, "I'm sure he didn't keep his number hidden on purpose. Just ask for it next time."
Knowing the sort of man Sebastian was, it wouldn't have surprised me if it had been intentional, but I didn't argue.
"What really bothers me is... what if there isn't a next time?" I said. "What if my gut was right and he was just looking for an easy lay?"