Her head was throbbing as she slowly opened her dry, tired eyes. Christ! Why do I let him talk me into these things?! The daylight was illuminating the room just enough for her to do her morning check. I'm in my room, in my bed. Good. She tested out her level of hungover-ness. Turn head to the left. Not bad. And to the right. A bit squishy between the ears, but I don't think I'm going to be sick. Excellent.
As she scanned her brain for any memories of the previous night, she was quickly interrupted as she realized that it was not only her head that was throbbing, but also her right wrist. Must have scraped it on something. Lord knows I've suffered my fair share of drunken bruises, bumps, and blisters. Still under the covers, she lightly touched the skin on the inside of her wrist with her fingertips. Fuck! The blonde bolted upright and pushed off the covers. She held her right arm with her left hand and stared down in disbelief.
The sudden movement sent a shock wave of pain to her already sore head. She blinked once, twice...No, no, this can't be. This couldn't have happened! As reality sunk in and the possibility of this all being a dream slipped away, Naomi stared down at her soft, pale wrist and all she could see there was the letter E tattooed on her skin.
"How could you let me do this?!" Naomi was up and out of bed pacing around the room in nothing but her knickers and a t-shirt. Modesty was not high on her list of priorities at the moment and besides it was only Cook. "I'm not a 'tattoo' kind of person! I get straight As and do volunteer work. I have a career and a future to think about!" Naomi stopped pacing suddenly, "I'm going to have to wear long sleeves for the rest of my life."
Cook propped himself up on his elbows from his makeshift bed on the floor next to Naomi's bed. He was still half asleep, but he knew better than to complain about the shrill and startling wake up call he received just moments before.
"This can't be real! It just can't! Look at this, Cook! Look at it! An E? An E?! Why on earth would I get the letter E tattooed on my body?! What the hell kind of irresponsible, dimwitted person wakes up with an E tattooed on their wrist and no recollection of how it got there?!"
Naomi was in full freak out mode and Cook had no words to ease her mind. He watched her as she spun around the room in a panic, every few seconds looking down at the new addition to her epidermis. Cook shifted himself onto one elbow and rubbed the back of his head. As he lowered his hand, he caught a glimpse of something on his own wrist that wasn't there the last time he looked.
Naomi continued on with her rant, which was now starting to lose steam and she finally stopped pacing, "...and to add insult to fucking injury, this hurts like a mother fucking cock sucker!" She dropped her arms to her sides in surrender and looked to Cook for help.
"I feel you on that one, Blondie." Cook lifted his own wrist and turned it for her to see. Naomi's jaw dropped to the floor as she stared wide-eyed at the new ink on his wrist! The letter E.
Cook and Naomi sat side-by-side on the edge of Naomi's bed. Neither had spoken a word in quite some time. This was not the way Naomi had envisioned spending her weekend with Cook when he first told her he was coming for a visit.
It had been nearly seven months since they had seen each other. Cook had stayed in Bristol and was now running his Uncle Keith's pub. Naomi had, of course, moved to London to start her first year of university. She hadn't even come home for the Christmas holiday and instead, Gina and Kieran had spent a few days with her in the city.
She had no desire to go back to Bristol. That town had nothing to offer her, never did. She did her time and got out as fast as she could. She had spent her college days keeping her head down and her nose in her books. She got top marks and even ran for student president. She would have won it too if the wanker now sitting next to her hadn't turned it into a circus! The memory of those days put a slight smile on her face. Cook was a bastard, but she loved him.
They were the best of friends after the election. He was the rough-around-the-edges, bad influence that she secretly wanted in her life, something that was definitely lacking, and she was the clever, sharp-tongued and sarcastic mate that he'd never had. He loved that she never let him get away with his typical bullshit, but he would never tell her that.
Naomi was the perfect ying to Cook's yang. Like tea and biscuits. Sweet and sour. And now...tattoo buddies?! "There's got to be a reason that we both chose the letter E." Naomi looked down at her wrist for the ten thousandth time that morning. "It must stand for something, something we share. Something we both care about and have in common. When you look at it, what pops into your head?"
Cook looked down at his new tattoo. His was in a different script than Naomi's. His was done in an elaborate Olde English fashion, which seemed to compliment the giant cross tattoo that stretched down his side over his ribcage. Naomi's was much simpler…a capital E that reminded her of a typewriter's font. She wouldn't say it out loud, but the more she gazed at it and, if it wasn't actually permanently tattooed on her body, the more she would have kind of liked it.
"A smokin' hot, sexy brunette," Cook nodded his head. "Yep, I shagged her. I'm sure of it."
"What the fuck are you on about?!" Naomi was more confused than ever.
"When I look at this, that's what I remember. Hot brunette on my dick. My pants are getting tight just thinking about her." Cook grinned from ear to ear.
"Disgusting! You are such a pig." Naomi punched Cook playfully in the shoulder.
"I'm just being honest, Babe. You asked. I answered. In fact, I met her at the club over by that library you made me look at after we left the second pub." Cook was starting to piece the evening together as images of the dark haired girl flashed through his mind. "She was dancing, like, in the middle of the floor. No one was trying to dance with her, but they were all lookin' like they wanted to." Cook chuckles, "Fucking pussies these university types. So I went over and asked her to dance. We hit it off! All the girls want some Cookie in their milk."
Cook wagged his tongue at the unimpressed blonde beside him. Naomi just rolled her eyes, "And where the fuck was I during this whirlwind romance?!" The missing pieces of the evening were definitely not coming back to the bewildered blonde.
"You were at the bar, I guess. Shit. We must have been out of our fucking skulls if that's all I can remember. Not one for blacking-out, me." Cook let out an amused snort.
"Well that's great. That's fucking great, Cook." There wasn't anger in her voice, more like defeat. "I've got no memory that extends past...the second pub, and all you can recall is a great shag with a hot brunette."
"We were in a weird chair-thingy." Cook snapped his fingers at the recollection. "She must have tattooed me and then fucked me in her chair!" Cook was wide-eyed and grinning again. "Fuck, that's hot."
"And what? I sat in the waiting room until it was my turn?" Naomi let out a pathetic laugh.
"Must have. Unless she did you first." Cook raised his eyebrows at Naomi suggestively. "God knows you could use a good shag, Babe."
"Shut it, Wanker." Naomi had to laugh a little bit. It had been way too long since she'd had even a proper kiss. Seven months to be exact. It was a goodbye kiss from a very lovely girl that she had met at her farewell party at Uncle Keith's pub. The girl's name was Jennifer, but she went by Jenn, and Naomi had noticed her right from the start.
She was with a group of girls...gay girls...or so Naomi deciphered after several hours worth of side-glances and a general curiosity for the game of darts they were playing. Cook even tried to get her to go talk to them, but Naomi had refused and threatened Cook's manhood if he went anywhere near them. It was Jenn who finally approached the terrified blonde.
"You're either pissed that we've been hogging the dart board all night or interested in something you see." Jenn smiled widely at Naomi who was in danger of falling off her seat. "I will give you some insider information. The two on the left, not gay. Shocking, I know. And the other two...well, Kat and Lily have been loved up for years. You're not going to get anywhere with either one of them. So I guess that leaves me. I'm Jenn."
Naomi was impressed and grinning like a fool. She looked down at Jenn's outstretched hand and took it in her own. "Very nice to meet you, Jenn. I'm Naomi."
After several rounds of Uncle Keith's finest, Naomi was plenty relaxed and even let herself flirt with Jenn...just a little. Naomi had always known she was interested in girls, but had never met one that perked that interest. The idea of liking girls was just that, an idea. She thought about girls, she looked at girls, she even fantasized about girls at night as her fingers dipped beneath the waistband of her knickers, but as far as actual girls, the ones that were real and in front of her. No, she'd never thought about any of those. Until now it seemed.
It didn't take long before Naomi was in need of a cigarette and Jenn was more than happy to accompany her outside and down the alley along the pub. "Do you want one?" Naomi lit her cigarette and inhaled deeply.
"No thanks. I don't smoke." Jenn grinned at the now blushing blonde as she took a step closer.
Naomi was leaning against the brick wall of the pub. "Then why on earth did you come out here with me?" Naomi pretended to play dumb. Jenn took another step towards her. "I mean, you've basically abandoned your friends in there. Shouldn't you be getting back to your darts?" Naomi smiled as she took another drag off her cigarette.
Jenn leaned in even closer and gently touched Naomi's arm letting her hand slide slowly down until their fingers were intertwined. As Jenn leaned in towards Naomi's lips, she suddenly stopped. "You're right. I should be getting back to those darts."
Jenn made a move to pull away, but Naomi quickly dropped her cigarette and wrapped her fingers around the back of Jenn's neck and pulled her into her wanting lips. The kiss was heated and passionate. It was soft, but full of strength and desire. It was nothing like the kisses Naomi had shared with boys, all tongue and no style.
Jenn pressed her body against Naomi's and held the sides of her face with her hands. Naomi melted into the kiss. This is what it should feel like. This is what I've been missing. This is what I've been wanting.
The front door of the pub swung open and the loud sounds from within the walls shook them from the kiss. Jenn took a step backwards and dug her hands into the pockets of her jeans. Naomi held her ground, but did not attempt to shift her weight from the wall; her knees were feeling a bit weak at the moment.
Jenn's friends appeared from around the corner. One of the not gay ones spotted Jenn and yelled to her, "Oy! We're leavin'. These two can't keep it in their pants a moment longer. You comin'?"
Naomi held her bottom lip between her teeth and waited for Jenn's reply. It came after a pause and was directed at her, "Have a wonderful time in London." Jenn turned on her heel and was gone.
Naomi lit a second cigarette and inhaled deeply. She couldn't help but smile to herself as she touched her lips with her fingertips. London. There will be lots of girls in London.
Naomi shook herself from her memory as Cook started moving about the room folding up the blankets from the floor and putting on his shoes. "Well, thanks for a lovely evening, Blondie. It was a blast from what I can remember."
Naomi stared at him like his head was on upside down. "Are you fucking kidding me?!"
"What?" Cook frowned at her not understanding the question.
"You can't just leave! We have to figure out what happened last night!" Naomi got to her feet and started collecting her discarded clothes from the floor. "Let's just find the shop where we got these and ask them."
A smirk appeared on Cook's face. "Naomi, Babe. I'd love to help you out with this, but I've got to get back to Bristol. I know I'm just some tattooed, uneducated, no career loser, but I do have responsibilities...even if they are just tending to my Uncle's pub."
Naomi realized that her earlier comments about "tattooed" people were offensive and instantly felt bad. "Cook, I'm sorry. I was just-"
"Say no more, Love! I'm already over it and moved on. You should do the same." He gestured to her new tattoo. "Let's just chalk it up to a wild night and a fun story to tell the grandbabies." Cook pulled on this jacket and headed for the door. "Be good."
Naomi heard the door close and he was gone. She looked down at her wrist again. It really did hurt and looked kind of scabby and dry. Aren't they supposed to give you instructions on how to care for these things?
Naomi crawled back into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. She looked over at the clock on her nightstand. It was only 9:36 AM. I could use some more sleep. I'm sure the tattoo parlors don't even open until nighttime, right? I'll sleep some more and then take a walk. Even if Cook doesn't give a shit, I still need to find out.
As Naomi closed her eyes she imagined what her mum would say when she saw it. Lovely tattoo, dear. What does it mean? Gee, I don't know, mum. I was blackout drunk when I got it and can't remember a fucking thing! In reality, Naomi knew that her mum wouldn't care and would most likely feel about it the same way Cook seemed to, but she was not her mother. And she was not Cook.
I can't just not know. I can't just go about my life with this thing on me that I can't explain. I have to find out what happened last night. I've always been so careful, so in control. Naomi realized that she wasn't angry about the tattoo, or angry at Cook for allowing her to do it. She didn't need his fucking permission or babysitting. She was angry that for the first time in her life she did something completely without thinking about it for hours and days on end. Reckless, spontaneous, adventurous...and she couldn't fucking remember what it felt like.
Naomi awoke with a start. Red. Bright red flashed behind her eyes as she gasped for air. She was having a dream, a very vibrant and brilliant dream, but without meaning or connection to her now conscious state. As she looked over at the clock, she realized she been sleeping for most of the day. She climbed out of bed with determination etched on her face.
Thanks for reading. More to come soon!