Doug held onto the metal hand railing as he gingerly approached Lucy’s door. The metal stairs slick from the relentless rain of the last few days. He knocked against the frosted panel, chuckling at Lucy’s distorted shadow.
“You’re early,” she said adjusting her robe.
“Have you got plans for us Luce?”
“Not yet. I was about to get in the bath actually.”
Mischief flickered in his eyes. “So we’ll both be wet.”
Lucy groaned as he finally entered the kitchen, watching her lock the door once more. He followed up to the lounge. “I won’t be too long. Help yourself to anything you want.”
He wrapped his arms around her waist; kissing the side of her neck knowing the full effect that one thing has on her. “As nice as this is. I meant help yourself to a cup of tea or something. Surely you’ve had enough of me Douglas.”
Doug chuckled sheepishly. “Er, well, that’s the thing Luce,” he said as she faded from view.
He drank his third cup of tea while waiting, becoming ever impatient of clock watching. Carefully lifting a few books he glanced at a Mills & Boon that was out of place between the various biographies, Shakespeare plays and psychology texts. He went to the music centre running his thumb down the titles on the same stack; he stopped when he saw Oasis nestled between Miles Davies and Shirley Horn.
He quickly went back to the couch when he heard Lucy’s approaching footsteps in the near distance.
She came down wearing grey pyjama bottoms and a black vest top, towel wrapped around her head like a turban. “Took you long enough,” he teased.
“That’s what you think,” she responded. “I still have to pluck my eyebrows, blow dry and straighten my hair and then there is still my make up to do.”
“You look great as you are Luce.”
Lucy smiled warmly at the compliment. “You’re not so bad yourself you know.”
They briefly glanced at each other, laughing in unison at their ‘what would Charlie do?’ the message conveyed without words, like so many of their interactions.
“I love you, turban an all,” Doug said lightly kissing her lips.
“Doug, have you noticed any change? With us, I mean,” she enquired.
“A little bit, why?”
Lucy shook her head. “It’s nothing darling, I’m being silly.”
“You can tell me love.”
“Have you noticed that whenever someone mentions Simon’s name I don’t react at all. It’s weird.”
“You’ve always got me Luce, you know that.”
Lucy twiddled Doug’s tie between her fingers. “What I meant about Simon was that where it used to stab me in the heart. It just doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“It’s called moving on.”
Lucy shifted closer to him, curling beside him. “So how long have you got?” she teased.
“It depends on what you have in mind.”
She lightly hit his belly. “Ha ha! I meant did you want another cup of tea, I’ll make it.”
Doug got up instead. “I’ll make it; you can put that CD on.”
Staring at her extensive yet scattered collection, she asked. “Which one?”
“It’s near Shirley and Miles.”
Lucy beamed when she realized what CD he was talking about. It was the one that he bought her for Christmas, along with the earrings she planned on wearing tonight. She pressed play, skipping it straight to track eight. He returned with their teas. “You know that this song always reminds me of you Doug.”
“Ssh! Listen to it.”
He walks along the open road of love and life. Surviving if he can (surviving if he can). Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say. Chained to all the places that he never wished to stay.
As the song drew towards its finale, Lucy looked at Doug’s watch. “I best get a move on,” she said, springing into action.
“Do you need a hand with anything?” he asked hopefully, softly brushing his hand against her exposed shoulder.
“I’ll tell you if I do.’”
“Now I need some help.”
Doug looked up at Lucy awestruck by her choice of outfit, although he wanted nothing more than to leave them strewn across the floor; he quickly brought himself back to reality. “Want help with what love?”
“My earrings,” she said stepping off the last step.
She held onto his love handles while he fiddled with the fishhook fasteners, gently breathing against her ear when he finally got one fastened.
A few minutes later they were both ready to leave, neither of them wanting to.
Doug opened the door, letting Lucy leave before him. “Careful, steps are a bit slippy.” Once they made it to the footpath they ran to the car. He opened the passenger door for Lucy. “I can open a door myself,” she protested, secretly loving the attention that was receiving from the man who had become so much more over the past five months.
“Luce, I made a promise earlier,” Doug admitted.
“The car. I told him if he got up that hill to your house, I’d let you do the driving if we get called in.”
“And so you can have a pint.”
“Well yeah that too.”
Doug pulled in behind Helen’s taxi. “This is it,” he said getting out and opening the passenger door for Lucy “I’ve already told you once I’m not incapable of opening a door.”
Helen turned and smiled at the faux show. “Cinders got to the ball.”