The 4x4 glides round the corner and he flashes his head lights to let me know it's him. Like I don't know what his car looks like by now! He slows down and I catch sight of him leaning over to unlock the door. I attempt to hoist myself into the passenger seat with dignity, but it's an art form when you're wearing very high shoes and a perilously fitted dress. His eyes flicker all over me, a habit that used to make me feel uneasy in the early days, but now I rather like it. It's like he can't decide which bit to look at first.
"Hello gorgeous!" Serge says brightly, and I greet him back in what is supposed to be a seductive tone, but it just ends up coming out sounding a bit strangled. I silently curse him for being able to make me feel this covertly excited. Even though it's dark I recognise the twinkle in his eye that suggests he is not in a platonic mood. We've not seen each other in a while and this does tend to make the heart, not to mention various other body parts, grower ever fonder.
He parks up in a deserted square and continues to chat.
"Have you got a boyfriend yet?" he enquires like he does every time I see him, in wheedling, faintly mocking tones.
"Well there has been a man in my life recently, but I wouldn't call him a boyfriend." I simper in reply.
His curiosity is piqued and he immediately asks if I have slept with him, albeit in rather cruder terms.
"Well, we've shared a bed twice and there was some 'petting' shall we say, but the answer is no," I reply, truthfully.
"Who is this guy?" he asks, with an incredulous expression.
"His name is Callum," I reply pertly. "He's a very lovely man. And rich. He invited me to his house in the country for the weekend. We've been spending a lot of time together, but I think we're better as just mates. The chemistry isn't really there."
This appears to be the right response as he releases his seatbelt and leans across to nuzzle my neck. His hand goes to my leg and to his delight he discovers I am wearing stockings. (Not for any wannabe sex goddess reasons, I just really hate tights).
"Why don't you wear these when we...?" He asks, his face still buried in my clavicle.
"Because I don't tend to get much notice about when we are going to..." I reply.
Is there a hint of triumph there? Is he pleased because I'm still, in his selfish little world view, all his?
He pulls back and wants to know more about Callum's riches. He is more impressed by money than anyone I've ever known, so I make sure I rub it in, in a thinly veiled attempt to get one over on him. The cars, the houses, the tasteful designer wardrobe, the euro bonds. He hits back, telling me about some new monied acquaintances he has made, and how he looked them up on the internet afterwards to find out more.
"Do you Google everyone you meet?" I ask. "Have you Googled ME?"
"I don't need to," he counters glibly. "I know you inside out". I laugh, perhaps a bit too loudly. This really is the most toxic 'relationship' I have ever had but I do enjoy our warped badinage.
"Anyway," I interject, "I've got to meet my friend now. We're going to the opening of a new bar. Drive me over there please".
He complies, whilst racing to get in a few more jibes about my inability to form any kind of normal relationship. The irony is breathtaking.
We inevitably get stuck in traffic and I text Lu to tell her I'll be late. He eventually drops me off and says goodbye with a lascivious pantomime wink.
Lu is waiting for me and we both burst out laughing because we realise we are both wearing near identical outfits. Once we're inside and are kicking back with revolting 'experimental' cocktails she puts on her disapproving face. She knows me well enough to know why I was late, so I sit through the usual lecture then swiftly change the subject to Callum - the man all my friends immediately approve of despite never having met him.
I tell her about the first 'proper date' we went on, when he took me for a posh dinner in the west end and how I took him to my friend's slightly sleazy tequila bar for afters.
"As I walked up to the restaurant he was waiting for me outside and my heart sank just a little as he was EVEN SMALLER than I remember," I confide. "He is such a lovely man though. I'm just not attracted to men with smaller feet than me. (I've tried, god, I've REALLY tried, but I'm just not.) Anyway, at my friend's bar afterwards we got chatting to these annoying studenty types on the next table and he ended up buying them a round of margaritas! They were so grateful it was embarrassing. One of them invited us to his birthday party next month and stood over me whilst I tapped it into my phone. It was all a bit weird to be honest. Callum was completely smashed because he doesn't appear to have any tolerance for booze like me. There was no way he was going to get home in one piece so I let him stay at mine and he ended up falling asleep on the toilet."
Lu shrieks with laughter, and maintains that she is more Team Callum than ever. I tell her about him inviting me up for the weekend to his amazing house but then telling me that I shouldn't get there before 4pm, so it was more of a 'Saturday night' than a weekend. How we got mildly tipsy on expensive wine and ended up watching TV on his bed. How, when he announced it was time for lights out I accepted that this was all we'd ever be - two periodically lonely singletons with great banter and a shared fondness for spendy dinners and the X Factor. But then, in the pitch dark, his arm had snaked around me and we had 'made out' for quite some time. I think we both realised fairly quickly that the spark really wasn't there, not to say it wasn't enjoyable. It was almost like we had to get it out of the way.
"The next day neither of us mentioned what had happened, and after a really awkward breakfast we went for a walk and got embroiled in the search for a missing dog, which was quite good as it meant we didn't have to dwell upon the 'unsaid' you know? He then informed me he was going shooting and would drive me to the station in time for the 4 o'clock train. I'd thought that would be the end of that really, but we carried on messaging and keeping in touch and, bizarrely, we are closer then ever."
I sit back and realise that Lu is just as confused as me about it all.
"It has reassured me though," I conclude. "There ARE nice men out there, who aren't married, or sleazy, or game-playing. I'm even thinking of inviting him to be guest of honour at my birthday." Lu seems happy with this, if a little perplexed by all the recent developments.
My new positive outlook doesn't really last that long though. Within a week Serge was back in my bed.