“How are you eating that?”
“Huh?” I ask, absentmindedly eating whatever my fork happens to find as I stare at the girl across the room.
“Jes!” Jade yells at me.
“Yeah?” I ask, shaking myself. Jade’s talking. Focus.
“Bloomin’ hell, Jes. Just go talk to her,” she says, shaking her head. “You’ve been staring over there for the last 20 minutes.”
“I have not,” I say defensively, though we both know I’m lying. “Also, is your tongue tingly? My tongue is tingly,” I say, opening my mouth and sticking my tongue out in what I’m sure is the most unattractive way possible just as the hot blonde from two tables away chances a glance at me. She looks at me just a second, seemingly confused, before turning away.
“You know, for someone who is usually such a great flirt, you’re really mucking this up,” Jade says, sipping her drink. “Also, you’ve been eating straight wasabi.”
“Well, I’m used to flirting with boys, and they’re quite stupid, so it’s not exactly hard.”
“I resent that,” Jed says jokingly, sliding into the booth next to his girlfriend.
“Aw, she’s only telling the truth, babe,” Jade says far too seriously before leaning into her boy and pecking him on the cheek.
“She’s right though, Jes. Perrie and I have a mutual friend, and she says she’s quite into you,” Jed says. “She’s a big fan.”
“Perrie’s her name?” I ask, liking the way her name rolls off the tongue. I’ve always been a fan of double letters. Perrie. “What’s she do?”
“She’s an entertainment lawyer, I think? She also does a bit of song writing. Killer voice, if memory serves, but a bit afraid of performing in public.”
“She probably thinks I’m an idiot,” I grumble, dropping my head in my hands. “I’m a barmaid turned dancer. I barely went to school. How’m I supposed to compete with a lawyer?”
“You’re a hell of an arguer,” Jade says, sipping her drink. I glare at her.
“What? The make-up sex would probably be great,” she says.
I mull the thought over in my head. Poor Jed looks mortified, but he’s trying to stay in the conversation, bless him. I’m about to commend him on his being an excellent boyfriend when I feel someone tap my shoulder.
I whip around and come face to face with the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.
“Hi,” She says with a shy smile. “I know this is kind of rude, but my friend Leigh threatened to drag me over here if I wouldn’t come say hi. I’m a bit of a fangirl, I’m afraid.”
Wow, she’s pretty.
I realize that I’m meant to respond, but I’ve gone tongue tied.
“Do you wanna sit with us?” Jade asks sweetly.
“Sure, thanks,” Perrie says, sliding into the booth next to me. “Jed, how’s it going?”
“Well, Perrie, thank you. Ah, this is my girlfriend-”
“Jade, right?” She says. “I may have been a big fan of the BBKMV dance crew before you all split up. You and Jesy were my favorites, though, so I’m quite happy to see you still get on.”
The way she says my name. Not so geordie as Jade, but still a little funny. I can’t seem to get over anything she does, apparently, no matter how small.
“Yeah, Jes and I got on straight away, and we’ve been best mates ever since. Now, how do you know Jed?”
“Ah, well, his stylist? Leigh Anne? She’s my best friend,” She says, pointing over to where Leigh Anne sits on the lap of a well-built tattooed man.
“Oh, I love Leigh!” Jade says, happy to have made the connection.
“Wait, I’ve met Leigh,” I say, remembering something. “At your birthday party last year, maybe? She did karaoke to Rihanna, I think?”
“Sounds like Leigh,” Perrie says with a laugh. “She loves Rihanna.”
“Who doesn’t?” I ask, giving my best cheeky smile.
Perrie and I monopolize the conversation after that, trading flirty smiles and making small talk.
“Do you wanna dance?” I ask a bit later, suddenly finding my courage again.
“Maybe I could buy you a drink? I’m afraid you’ll show me up on the dancefloor. I may need a bit more liquid courage first.”
“Sure, sure,” I say with a laugh. “Jade, Jed-” I start, looking across the table before I realize they’re gone.
“Guess they got bored of us,” I say.
“Ah, I think I know what’s going on,” Perrie says with a little smile. “Look over there.”
I look over to where she’s pointing and notice Jade and Jed talking quickly with Leigh Anne and the man she’s with, shooting Perrie and I a glance every now and then.
“We’ve been set up,” I say with a laugh.
“Leigh always teases me about my little crush on you,” Perrie says, her eyes going wide once she realizes what she’s said. “I-I, um, I-”
“It’s alright,” I say, covering the hand she’s laid on the table with my own. “Jade’s been teasing me about you this whole night. I kind of couldn’t stop staring at you earlier and may have accidentally eaten straight wasabi-”
She just laughs, entwining her fingers with my own. “I was wondering why you made that face at me.”
I cover my face with my free hand. “Yeah, I’m usually a bit smoother than that,” I say, taking on an Australian accent.
“That’s quite alright,” Perrie says, mimicking me, before sieging back into her natural accent. “I thought it was proper cute.”
“Glad to hear it,” I say, smiling.
“Do you wanna go out tomorrow?” She asks me abruptly. “Sorry if that was too much too fast.”
“What’s wrong with right now?” I ask, just as eager.
“I like the way you think,” She says, hopping up out of the booth before reaching to pull me up. She doesn’t let go of my hand once I’m on my feet.
We wave to her friends and mine on our way out. Leigh starts audibly cheering once she sees us hand in hand, which is quite the feat, considering we’re in the middle of one of the loudest nightclubs in London, and Jed joins her after a beat. Jade just laughs, waving at us and planting a kiss on her silly boyfriend’s cheek.
“Ready to go?” I ask Perrie, peeking down at our joined hands.
“Born ready, babe,” she says, planting a bold kiss on my cheek before leading us out the doors and into the city.