Disclaimer: I own no part of A Single Man.


Present Company

"You know this will never work out, Charley," George says, even as she lingers kisses about his collarbone. He wonders how much he believes his words, though, because they keep trying.

She giggles.

"Why ever not?"

She pouts, then giggles some more.

"Come on, George." She curls closer to him. "You may be an absolute bore, but you're my absolute bore."

George smiles at Charley. Pretty, silly, and halfway happy, Charley.

"No, you know I'm not."

Charley's eyes twinkle as she asks, "Not what? A bore, or mine?"

George stokes her hair because he knows she wants him to.

"I don't love you, Charley."

Her tiny hands find their way between the buttons of her shirt. She tickles him, and he squirms to get away. But he's laughing too hard and finally he gives in, wrapping his hands around her waist.

"Of course you don't, George. Of course you don't love me," she murmurs, tracing his lips with her finger. "Kiss it," she whispers. He complies, because it's Charley.

She could be a seductress in her own right, but she depends too much on genuine human affection, George realizes. She never believes him when he says no.

"I mean it, Charley."

"You always mean it, George."

"Yes, but this time I mean it."

She sighs, leans her head upon his chest. He leans his cheek into her perfect hairdo.

"You irritating puff," she mopes.

"Don't be nasty."

"I'm always nasty; you always say so yourself."

George laughs; Charley is funniest when she tells the truth.

"Yes, but this time I'm asking you not to be."

Charley sits up suddenly, sliding from George's arms.

"Let's not make promises we can't keep," Charley says. She's echoing his words, they both know this.

"I think I'm in love," George finds himself saying.

Charley looks startled, even though, of course, she already knew.

"Not with me, you mean."

George only smiles. "Maybe," he says because all his life he's done nothing but lead the poor woman on, "Maybe not. You'll never know…"

"Well, I only want your children anyway. So dance with me now, and nine months later I'll name the little thing after whatever Tom, Dick, or Harry you're swinging with at the time."

George looks stern. "You will not name our lovechild Dick."

Charley laughs loudly, as though the thought never once occurred to her, the liar.

"What about George, then?" she recovers.

Charley's such a romantic she doesn't realize it.

"So I can have a George all to myself when somebody else has you."

Maybe she does realize it; maybe that's why she drinks so much.

George takes her hand. He kisses it, and then walks across the room to mix her another drink.

"Here," he says, thinking another drink is what she wants. Instead, she curls into his lap, leaning her weight against him until he falls back into the sheets. "Charley," he says, even as she fiddles with his buttons. "Charley," he says, "I'm not going to sleep with you again."

"Who said anything about sleeping?"

"Charley," he warns.

But this doesn't stop her. She loves the way he calls her Charley.

He tries another approach.

"You were absolute rubbish; worst shag I ever-"

"You liar," Charley laughs. "Don't try to talk me out of this."

"Once was enough."

She bites her lip, for the first time offended. He doesn't love her like she loves him, so he doesn't realize how much his teasing hurts. He doesn't realize how much Charley loves it.

"Once is never enough, George."