After having such a nice time with the stuntman after the gallery, I decided to get all proactive on his ass, and ask him out. But for more than just a few drinks. A friend of mine owns a bijoux little cottage on the optimistically-named English Riviera and asked me if I wanted to housesit for a long weekend.
Looking back, this was possibly a slightly nutty proposition since in the time we met back in December he has stood me up more times than we have actually managed to get together. But, I told myself, he isn't half fond of a grand gesture - "Come out to South Africa when I'm working there! I'll pay!" - for example. So I decided to call his bluff.
At first he was all for it, to the extent of detailing exactly what I should be packing in my bag - I won't go into detail but there wasn't much provision for bracing coastal walks. But as the weekend came ever closer true to form he became rather more distant. The plan changed from us driving down in style in a flashy borrowed sports car to me meeting him down there since he would be down in that part of the world anyway (I've long since given up asking basic questions like "why, exactly?").
Then he disappeared altogether and I found myself on the train, alone, wondering whether this was the worst misjudgement I had ever made. Thankfully he finally rang me, sounding full of beans, and arranged to pick me up from the station, which was about 10 miles from the cottage. Timings meant I would have an hour to kill before he arrived, so I found myself sitting in some kind of brasserie, hunched over my iPad and two massive glasses of white wine, by now quite rigid with fear about what the weekend would bring. Would we be bored of each other after an hour? Could he actually bring himself to spend an entire night with me, without mysteriously disappearing before dawn? I was aware of the other customers around me chowing down on brunch, staring at me and all thinking, 'Who's that strange, slightly deranged looking girl, drinking alone just after noon and plastering on too much makeup?'
By the time he finally picked me up, in 200k's worth of ridiculous 'supercar' if you please, I was nearing full-on hysteria. This only increased when I noticed that he had absolutely nothing with him apart from a half-eaten Kitkat stuffed in his jacket pocket.
We tracked down our new residence and everyone in the adjoining pub came out to ooh and aah at the car which he absolutely loved and I found mortally embarrassing. Things improved however when we let ourselves in and found that my friend had left out several bottles of champagne that we set about demolishing. For a couple of hours we had an absolute ball exploring each room as well as each other, then falling into a contented pre-dinner nap.
I had booked a restaurant upon local recommendation, and dug out a smart little frock to wear with a pair of dangerous looking stilettoes. It was then that I sensed the first hint of discontent.
"Wear something comfortable if you like", he said faux-casually. "You don't have to dress like you are permanently on show you know."
I was slightly stung but tried to shrug it off, although as I teetered down the quayside I reached for his hand to steady myself, but was proffered only an elbow and I swear I saw his eyes rolling. A man that encourages me to be less high maintenance? This was indeed a first. Things got worse at the restaurant. The food was utterly average and the owner kept coming over to 'chat' like we were some sort of visiting celebrities, whilst in the background women of a certain age shrieked and sloshed red wine around, on their one night out for the week. The tension was palpable. He drank endless glasses of Coke and barely spoke.
When we got back in my worst fears were realised. As we flopped back down on the sofa he said quietly "I did tell you I need to take the car back to London tonight didn't I?"
My heart sank. "I'll be back in time for lunch tomorrow though!" He added cheerily. "Driving back in that car is a pleasure rather than a pain!"
I accepted defeat as I couldn't see anywhere I could go. And so off he roared not the night as I sat and tried to figure out how on earth the TV worked. I barely slept all night as I was in a foreign bed, and there was a birthday party on late at the pub which meant screeching drunk teenagers careering around outside my window and smashing glasses into the wee hours. I was feeling self pity of epic proportions as my friends' words rang in my ears about how insane this whole plan had been.
I woke up feeling even worse though now a wave of anger had kicked in about how on earth I could let myself be treated like this.
I'd worked very hard to wangle a table for lunch at an amazing seafood restaurant down the coast and had had romantic visions of us motoring down there with the roof down, sun blazing; I tried to ring him around the time we should have been setting off and it went straight to voicemail. I made myself a sandwich with a side order of burning resentment. I took myself off for a wander round the town but being Sunday only the petrol station was open. I faced up to the realisation that he wasn't likely to be coming back.
Just as I walked back in the door of the house I now rather hated, my phone rang. Once more he was full of the joys.
"Hey babe I'm on my way! See you in a couple of hours!" he boomed in my ear. I didn't even try to match his enthusiasm as I told him I'd cancelled lunch, but he didn't seem to notice. I fell asleep on the sofa and was woken up by him ringing the doorbell. He swaggered in brandishing more champagne and, rather bizarrely, a pot of clotted cream.
"DYING for a drink babes! Long drive and I ended up racing this mid-life crisis twat in a Porsche for about 50 miles! I won, obviously."
"I thought you weren't coming back" I said flatly.
He waved me aside and poured out two glasses. And did that really annoying thing he does of getting me back on side until we were having a rather brilliant Sunday evening. He revealed that he had done a morning's work which I guessed must have been the plan all along. Amazing. We went down to the pub, tipsy on the fizz, where he proceeded to charm everyone in there, the out-of-towners with the ridiculous car had caused something of a ripple. We must have stayed up til about 4am, dancing on the balcony and marvelling at how there wasn't a single person or light to be seen for miles around. I drank my doubts away and let myself be carried along with the moment. When he is on 'full beam' there are few people I would rather be with. Next morning however, the tension had returned.
On the surface he was still playing the perfect gent, insisting on cooking breakfast and loading the dishwasher, even zipping off to buy a tin of beans. But I was hungover and wracked with insecurity once more, and was having trouble getting myself together. We were half way into town when I remembered that I had left my lovely shoes as well as my phone, in the living room and I saw the eyes rolling once more.
The journey home was less than fun, the conversation didn't exactly flow and we even had a mock argument that turned into a real argument culminating in the ridiculous exchange: "You're such a BOY". "And you're such a GIRL."
As we neared London he made some grudging remark about having to drive over to my side of town to drop me home.
"No really," I replied, "just drop me at a Tube." By now I just wanted to be on my own. We parted hurriedly in White City with a half-heated hug and I pretty much ran to the station without looking back. Once in the carriage I got attacked by a giant bumble bee which caused me to scream and throw my iPad on the floor: it seemed like the perfect end to one of the strangest weekends in recent memory. He'd said he'd call me later but didn't. The next morning whilst idly perusing Facebook it suddenly dawned on me that he'd defriended me in the night.