A/N: Hello, happy new year. That's the niceties out of the way, but obviously it means I haven't updated for ages.
Ok so maybe that doesn't quite mean I'm forgiven but here's an update. I'm a bit rusty so it might be a bit rough and ready in places but hope you like it.
As always, I throughly appreciate all of you who take the time to read, favourite and review my stories. Thank you so much for sticking with this.
I pushed the door of the shop open and was immediately greeted by a cacophony of sound. It was packed and Emily was rushing from table to table then back to the counter, sometimes with food, sometimes taking orders. I briefly thought about leaving as it clearly wasn't a good time but she looked so frazzled I thought I'd offer my assistance instead.
"Hey, you look like you could do with some help?" I called out.
She stopped and smiled gratefully, "Oh God, would you mind? It's mad in here today and Katie's disappeared."
"No problem, I'll take the counter and leave you to do the table service?" I suggested.
Em nodded, "You're a bloody angel."
I glanced up, "If I look closely enough, I think I can almost see the halo."
She rolled her eyes and threw me an apron, "Take this and get serving wench."
I grinned as I put it on, "Em, we're busy, now's not the time for fantasies..."
We stared at each other and I noticed the plate wobble in her hand. Both of us reddened.
I walked to the counter and took the first order, I was barely listening but somehow managed to put it together and take the money. I was on auto pilot as my brain spiralled off. Why the fuck had I said that? I mean, it wasn't like either of us needed any help to make our thoughts take a distinctly sexual turn. Ever since our trip to the seaside the tactile nature of our relationship had increased. Some of it was just flirting, the suggestive remarks were definitely more plentiful now, but there was also an element of tenderness that wasn't exactly missing before, it was just that now both of us seemed more comfortable admitting it was there.
Take the other night for example, I'd gone round to Emily's after work, we'd helped Danny with his homework, I ranted a bit about a seven year old being put under pressure but stopped when both Danny and Emily stared at me like I was some sort of mad woman. Afterwards we'd eaten dinner and put him to bed. I was about to suggest I went home but Em got in first and asked if I fancied a glass of wine and maybe we could see if there was anything good on telly. I'd been a bit surprised when instead of taking the other sofa like normal Emily sat next to me. We found some crappy psychological thriller and Emily snuggled into me at the scary bits, I obviously put my arm around her and it seemed to help. In the end I found it easier to leave it permanently around her shoulder. Hey! There was a lot of scary stuff in there.
Look wasn't like that ok? It was all perfectly innocent, Emily was frightened and I was just making her feel better, like any good friend would. I harrumphed, Effy had pissed herself laughing when I told her that too, apparently I was 'so delusional, I was beyond help'. But then Effy always was a cow. All I'm saying is that Emily and I had reached a nice point in our relationship, shit, I didn't meant that, I meant friendship. Honest to goodness friendship.
I paused and smiled at the redhead, she smiled back and my stomach flipped. See? As ever, all perfectly innocent.
We cleared away the dishes when the shop had quietened down, "Christ, you were busy."
Em nodded, "Always are before the 'business women of Bristol' events, can't get enough of SandFitches."
I smiled wryly, "I can understand that."
We paused and then carried on clearing away.
Emily's phone beeped, she picked it up and frowned, "Oh fucking perfect."
"What's up?" I asked as I stacked plates.
She sighed exasperatedly, "My babysitter's cancelled. She's not well apparently."
"And that's a problem because?" I asked.
"We always get a lot of business at these things. I know it can't be helped but Katie and my Mum will be there too so my normal Danny childcare avenues are closed. Dad's away at 'testosterfest' or whatever these gym conventions are called, so I'm stuck. I won't be able to go, and God only knows what Katie will say." Emily replied exasperatedly.
"She might be ok." I responded.
Emily gave me a withering look, "you have met Katie right? My sister, the one who constantly fails to turn up for work because something shiny has distracted her?"
I laughed and stared at the dishes in my hand, "That's a fair point I suppose."
"Honestly Naoms, I love her to bits but I'm more than aware of her shortcomings. Katie'll strut about boasting about how glamorous owning the shop is, it won't actually be about the business." Emily said with a sigh.
"I could do it." I blurted out.
Emily stared at me, "Naoms, I really appreciate your help and everything, but you don't know about the figures and the projections..."
My eyebrow raised, "Err, I was saying I could babysit Danny..."
Em blushed, "Oh right, so I could got to the event? That'd be great, I'll pay you the going rate."
I tried not to look disgusted, I could tell from Emily's expression I failed miserably. But seriously, why would she even think about paying me? Did she pay Katie or her Mum? No she fucking didn't. I didn't need the money, I was trying to help.
"Naomi, I didn't mean to insult you..." She started.
"Well you did. I'm not some charity case Em..." I started indignantly.
"No, no of course not..." Emily interrupted.
"Jesus, I was trying to help, you know doing you a favour?" I continued.
She looked contrite, "I'm sorry, I am grateful for the offer, honestly. It's just I don't want you to think I'm taking advantage. They're family, you're just a friend..."
"Yes, I am, and in my book that's what friends do. They don't expect to get bloody paid for babysitting." I said incredulously.
Emily bit her lip and stared beseechingly at me, "Naomi, please. I'd love it if you looked after Danny and he would too."
I stared into the sincere eyes and my anger dissipated, "Well ok then, so long as we're both clear that this is because I want to, not because I expect anything in return."
She reached up and stroked my cheek, "Crystal clear, Dan's going to be thrilled."
We stared at each other and I found myself moving towards her. Suddenly we were interrupted by the bell.
"Hi, can I help?" Emily uttered.
She proceeded to get on with the order as I tried to gather my thoughts. Part of me was still smarting from being insulted but it was easier to focus on that than, we'll you know the other thing. Whoa Naomi, keep hold of the self righteous indignation, it's a nice and safe emotion. Definitely far safer than the image of the full, soft lips leaning invitingly towards me. Right that does it, I needed to get out of the shop quickly and definitely before Emily and I found ourselves alone again.
"I need to get back to work." I stated as I made my way to the door.
Emily looked up and smiled shyly, "Ok, thanks for your help."
I waved as I left, "See you around 6.30?"
"I look forward to it, see you then." The redhead said with a wink.
I shut the door slightly too forcefully and paused to take a few breaths. I checked my watch and that nearly gave me a heart attack of an entirely different kind. I'd been gone ages and Mandy was going to kill me. Ah well, at least if I had to spend the afternoon defending myself from a Mandy attack it meant I wouldn't have time to think about anything far more scary to do with Emily.
I sat at my desk and glanced at the clock, again. I was gasping for a cup of coffee and 'the useless Naomi' had gone to lunch ages ago. Ok so no, I hadn't lost the use of my legs, but you don't have a dog and bark yourself do you? She was paid to be my assistant, to do menial things like make me coffee, photocopying and get my dry cleaning. In fact I needed her to pick something up for me for tonight. I'd put my best pulling dress into the cleaners in preparation for the 'pussy gala' tonight. Alright so it wasn't really called that, it's correct title was business women of Bristol, but believe me a hall full of women and shed loads of alcohol was always rich pickings. Obviously that wasn't the only reason I went, of course the networking was important and I'd made some very useful contacts, but the fact I'd rarely, if ever, left an event alone was a big bonus in my book.
I was still in two minds whether to take Naomi with me. On the one hand it didn't hurt my credentials to have a gorgeous woman accompany me to these things; I'd often caught a few envious stares which made it a lot easier to work out where to focus my attention later in the evening when inhibitions were lower. It did mean I had to deal with the 'won't your girlfriend mind?' question, but as it was often asked in a slightly jealous tone it was usually a far bigger indicator the girl was interested.
The downside of taking the blonde along was that she was totally socially awkward and useless it sometimes backfired. Watching her make small talk was painful and you could guarantee I'd just be getting somewhere when she'd interrupt with a drink or something I'd asked for ages ago. I'd swear she did it on purpose if she wasn't too fucking stupid to be that devious. Ah, speak of the devil.
"Where the fuck have you been?" I screeched.
"Sorry Mandy, I had a few things to do." She replied.
My sneer could have been seen from outer space, "A few things to do? Did you now Naomi? I don't recall giving you any errands."
"Er, no, but something came up..." She responded unsurely.
My eyes narrowed, "you work for me, I employ you, so you don't have anything to do on my time unless I say so. How fucking hard is it for you to understand that?"
"I do understand. Can I get you a coffee?" Naomi muttered in a placatory tone.
"Thank you, I'm parched." I said sarcastically as she took the cup.
I watched her scuttle away muttering something under her breath. You think she'd be grateful to still have a job, most employers would have sacked her by now. Apart from one feeble sorry at the beginning she didn't even seem that apologetic. Right, well that'd finally made up my mind, as a punishment for her insolence I was going to make her come with me tonight. I don't care what excuses she made, she was going to be at my beck and call.
I smiled sweetly as she returned, "So I need you to be my bag carrier tonight, there's a business women from Bristol thing."
I took great satisfaction as a look of panic spread across her face, "I can't..."
"Excuse me? After what we've just been talking about, I don't think the word 'can't' should feature in your vocabulary." I said with a raised eyebrow.
"Please Mandy, you know I normally love going to these things with you, but there's something important I have to do. " There was a pleasing hint of desperation in her voice.
I folded my arms, "Go on then, what's this thing that's so important you're prepared to defy me?"
Naomi reddened, "I'm... erm... I'm babysitting."
I stared at her as she shifted uncomfortably. This was far more fun than I'd hoped, I thought she was going on a date or something else enjoyable. The idea of Naomi being forced to spend the evening with a brat was a much better punishment than even I could think of.
In the end I couldn't help laughing, "Babysitting? You?"
She glared at me, "what's so amusing about that? Emer's kid is staying and her usual babysitter let her down so I said I'd do it so she could go to the same thing you're at."
"And this Emer trusts you with her child?" I questioned.
"Of course she trusts me, I can be a responsible adult you know Mandy." She responded huffily.
"So you keep telling me, personally I've never seen the evidence. So what exciting things have you got planned?" I asked.
Naomi shrugged, "I promised I'd teach her to make pasta."
I smirked, "Oh my God Naomi. Turning into a right little wifey aren't you?"
Her frown deepened, "Oh fuck off. I'm just doing Emer a favour."
"So she didn't want to show you off then?" I questioned.
"I'm not some trophy. Anyway she's going to get more business, it's not for fun." Naomi replied sulkily.
"Believe me Naomi, these events always end up about the fun." I said with a wink.
Her eyes narrowed, "Maybe for you, but Emer uses them to get contacts, nothing more."
I paused, "I thought you said she was some superstar chef?"
"Er...yeah she is.. but she runs her own catering company." Naomi replied hesitantly.
Hmmm I thought sceptically, so little miss marvellous isn't as great as Naomi made out after all. I might have to check her out tonight, because quite frankly she was sounding less impressive by the day. I'm not sure why but suddenly Emily popped into my head.
"Speaking of catering, I wonder if Emily will be there? Maybe she'll be be single again." I replied thoughtfully.
I'm sure a small choking noise escaped the blonde's throat, "Emily?"
I nodded, "The hottie we met in the bar that time, my ex? She owns a sandwich shop so mentioning Emer's company made me think about her for some reason."
Naomi exhaled, "Oh right, yeah, I remember now."
"On second thoughts I'm glad you can't make it. It'll be so much easier for me to turn on the charm with Emily if your gormless face isn't lurking in the background." I stated.
"She seemed pretty into her girlfriend when we met." She said slightly coldly.
I laughed loudly, "Oh sweet little Naomi, how innocent you are. Do you honestly think something as trivial as her having a girlfriend is enough to stop me? They can always be persuaded darling."
"Not everyone has your low moral standards Mandy, some people think fidelity is quite important." Naomi sneered back.
"Believe me, get them drunk enough and morals fly out of the window." I replied smugly.
I'm sure Naomi's teeth gritted, "I'm sure your friend would love to hear you speak about her like that, maybe it should be your opening line."
I stared at the blonde strangely, why did she care about how I treated women. Suddenly something clicked in my brain.
"Don't worry Naomi, I'm sure Emer's different, it'll all be about business. I'll keep my eye out for her, if you like, make sure she doesn't get into any trouble." I replied with a wink.
"I've already warned her to avoid you like the plague..." She said huffily.
I started to laugh, "Jealousy is such an over rated emotion, Naomi. In any case I'm joking, I've got much bigger, Emily shaped fish to fry. Your precious Emer is safe."
Naomi was still glaring at me, "Emer was always safe Mandy, she's got taste."
I looked the blonde up and down, "That's debatable. Now go and pick up my dress and bring it straight back, no detours or jaunts off elsewhere, is that clear?"
She picked up the ticket, "No problem, I won't be long."
I smiled to myself as she stormed out of the office. All traces of my earlier bad mood were gone. Who knew this afternoon would be so amusing? I'd got to shout at, wind up and boss Naomi about all in the space of an hour, it was one of my better days. Now let's see if tonight could be one of my better nights as well.
I'd just finished putting the final touches to my make up when I heard a frustrated wail coming from one of the other bedrooms. My first instinct was Danny had hurt himself but we'd left him downstairs, so it must have come from Em's room. Sure enough I wandered in to find her scowling at a bed full of clothes.
"This is hopeless, I can't find a thing to wear." She moaned.
My brow furrowed, "What about the blue dress?"
She shook her head, "I wore that last time. We don't want people thinking business is so bad I can't afford new clothes."
"This one?" I held up another.
"Already tried it, I'm having a fat day and it looks lumpy." She dismissed it.
I held up a few more, they were all greeted with the same negative response, "For fuck's sake Em, just choose one, we're going to be late otherwise."
She smiled sarcastically, "Thanks K, that's clearly where I've been going wrong. I didn't realise I had to choose one."
I looked at her oddly, "What's the big deal? You never normally stress about what you wear to these things."
She spluttered, "Yes I do, it's important to create the right impression Katie."
"Right impression on who?" I questioned.
Emily refused to look me in the eye, "Prospective clients of course..."
I nodded, "Of course. So none of this panic has got anything to do with the fact that Naomi is babysitting then?"
Em snorted, "Don't be ridiculous, it's purely professional. I'll only see her for a couple of minutes before we leave..."
"Even more reason to make first impressions count then." I challenged.
She shot me a dirty look, "Are you going to help or not?"
I sighed, "Em, you could wear a bin bag and Naomi would say you looked stunning, stop stressing and get ready, please."
Emily was about to reply when the door bell went, a look of panic crossed her face, "Shit, is that the time? What about this one?"
I nodded, "Perfect, I'll get the door. See you downstairs in five, the taxi's booked for quarter to."
I made my way to the hall and was nearly knocked over as a whirling dervish passed me, "I'll get it."
Danny flung the door open and threw himself at the blonde, "Naomi! I was so excited when Mummy said you were going to look after me. You're much better than my usual babysitter, I've already made a list of things we can do..."
Naomi smiled, "I've brought the pasta machine and you've got homework I expect, so I hope the list isn't too long."
His smile faded slightly, "But there's games, and the Wii and stories..."
"Dinner then homework. After that we'll see if there's enough time to play before bed. I wouldn't be much of a babysitter if I let you stay up half the night now would I? You'd be too tired for school." Naomi said firmly.
You could see Danny's mind working, I cut him off quickly, "Excuse me young man, a day off school isn't an option."
He tutted, "Alright, maybe the other babysitter is more fun after all."
Naomi rolled her eyes as he shuffled off, "Don't worry, I'll make sure he gets to bed at a reasonable time, no matter how unpopular it makes me."
I smiled wryly, "I bet he manages to blag an extra half hour."
Naomi followed me into the kitchen and placed the carrier bag on the work surface.
"So Emily's not around then?" She asked casually as she tried to locate somewhere to put the machine.
"Still getting ready, for some reason she's taking extra special care." I teased.
Naomi became fascinated by the pasta clamp, "I suppose first impressions are important at these things."
I snorted, "Did you and Em rehearse that line?"
"No, of course not. I just understand why Emily would want to make an effort to attract business." Naomi replied.
My eyebrow raised, "I think we both know it's not business Emily is interested in attracting."
Naomi glanced at me and completely glossed over what I'd just said, "If I don't get the chance can you warn Em that Mandy is going to be there tonight and is in full on stalker mode."
I shivered, "Oh Christ, that's all we need."
"Tell me about it, I've had her banging on about her Emily seduction plan all afternoon." Naomi said bitterly.
"Over my dead body. I thought she knew Em was seeing someone?" I replied in disgust.
Naomi shrugged, "A minor, apparently irrelevant, detail to Mandy. You know what she's like."
I nodded, "But she doesn't know about you and Emily right? She's still in the dark there?"
The blonde shook her head, "she thinks I'm dating a chef called Emer and I'm babysitting her daughter tonight. I had a heart stopping moment earlier when I thought she'd worked out that Emer and Emily were the same person, but nope, Mandy really is so thick she didn't make the connection even when it was right under her nose."
I was about to question the blonde further when my phone beeped.
"Em," I screamed up the stairs, "Taxi's here."
I stood impatiently in the hall, I mean I thought I took ages to get ready but this was ridiculous. Danny joined me to say goodnight and unsurprisingly the blonde also emerged from the kitchen. Emily came rushing down the stairs, apologising profusely. A sneaky glance at Naomi's expression confirmed that any effort my twin had made almost certainly had the desired effect.
Emily quickly kissed Danny, "Be a good boy for Naomi sweetheart and go to bed when she tells you. I'll tuck you in when I get back."
He nodded and wiped the lipstick from his face, "ok Mummy."
Seemingly without thinking, Emily reached out for Naomi and kissed her too, "I'll see you later babe, I won't be too late."
Naomi stood rooted to the spot as both she and Emily realised what just happened. They both blushed and I could see us stuck here all night unless I did something.
I grabbed my twin's arm, "Em, the cab?"
She pulled her coat on and followed me out the door. I turned to her after five minutes of silence, she was staring out of the window and occasionally she'd tut or shake her head.
"What's up with you?" I asked.
"I can't believe you have to even ask." She replied incredulously.
I racked my brains, "We don't have to stay that long, Dan will be fine with Naomi."
"Katie! You were there, you saw what happened." Emily spluttered.
I thought again, "What the kiss thing?"
She grimaced, "Yes, the kiss thing."
"But it was nothing, barely more than a peck on the lips." I said in confusion.
Emily took a deep breath, "That's not the point. I did it without thinking Katie, like it was normal for me to kiss Danny and then Naomi before I went out."
I still didn't understand why that was a big deal, "And that's bad because?"
"What if she thinks it was planned, that I meant to do it?" Emily replied exasperatedly.
"It didn't look premeditated." I frowned as Emily seemed to get into more of a panic.
"Actually, I don't know which is worse. Either I meant to do it all along and that makes me look manipulative or it was totally impulsive, which makes me look like the desperate perv I clearly am." Emily's voice rose as her stress levels increased.
I grabbed her shoulders, "For God's sake, calm down. It was a kiss, I'm sure Naomi realises it didn't have a hidden meaning and anyway from the look on her face I don't think she had any complaints. You two are a fucking nightmare and we have a business event to go to, so stop thinking with your fanny and get out there and sell SandFitches."
My verbal slap seemed to work as Emily became more composed, "Sorry, hissy fit over and done with."
We paid the driver and walked into the venue, there was the gentle hum of conversation accompanied by the odd burst of laughter. I picked up a couple of drinks and we circulated, stopping very now and then to chat to clients or people we knew. These things bored the arse off me but Em always insisted we turn up together. I suppose the free bar made it just about worth the pain of listening to bores going on about future projections.
We'd been there about 15 minutes when I heard Emily groan, "Mad mother at one o'clock, brace yourself."
Sure enough the room was quickly filled with air kisses, "Darlings, there you are. I love these events, don't you? So inspiring."
Emily rolled her eyes, "I think of them more as a necessary evil."
"Emily, it's important we celebrate the success of women, in all sphere's of life. We had a woman on the show the other day, she'd lost everything, but with my help to refocus her energy she's turned her life around. Now she runs a successful on-line business supplying organic products from her farm. It's marvellous." Mum lectured.
"She didn't exactly lose everything then did she? She's still got a farm to grow things, she can afford to do it organically and she's got a computer to sell them." Emily scoffed.
"Oh Emily, you know what I mean, don't be so literal all the time." Mum retorted.
Emily took a sip of her drink, "One of us has to live in the real world."
"Right you two, please stop bickering. How's Dad getting on at the convention?" I interrupted.
Mum nodded, "Very well, he's already had a number of expressions of interest in the gym franchises and some of the equipment. He's thinking of staying out there longer to follow up some leads."
"He's still back at the weekend though isn't he? He promised Danny he'd take him to the football." Emily asked.
"Don't worry he hasn't forgotten, he'll be back. Although why on earth they find sitting in the cold, watching grown men kick a pig's bladder around exciting I'll never know." Mum replied with a grimace.
Emily smiled, "Me neither but hey, that's blokes and their bonding for you."
"Speaking of my little ray of sunshine, who's babysitting him tonight? I don't like that Kylie girl, anyone with a name like that is far too flighty in my opinion." Mum asked Emily.
I saw Emily bristle, "Mum, she only looks after him when no one else is around and she's perfectly fine. But she wasn't available tonight so a friend of mine is doing it instead."
Mum looked shocked, "What friend, you don't have any friends. Please tell me my precious grandson isn't in the charge of a total stranger."
"Mum, of course he isn't. Emily wouldn't just hand Danny over to anyone you know." I attempted to keep the peace.
"What do you mean I don't have any friends?" Emily said with a glare.
Nice one Em, that's the bit to focus on, "Emily has known Naomi a while now, we both have. She's very nice and Danny really likes her too. He was very excited when he found out she'd be looking after him."
Mum began to calm down slightly, seriously did hysterical females run in my family or what?
"I see. So this Naomi is just a friend then?" She questioned.
Emily paused, "Yes, well sort of, I don't know."
Oh God, now Mum sensed blood, "which one is it Emily, either she's a friend or there's something more going on, you must know."
I saw Emily grip her glass more tightly, normally Mum didn't have to try very hard to get a rise out of her but this had the potential to really explode, especially given how vulnerable Em felt about it.
"Naomi and Emily are taking things slowly, building up a friendship first. Naomi doesn't want to rush into things because of Danny." I interjected.
Mum looked pensive, "she certainly sounds more sensible than the normal women you go for Emily. It makes a change for you to pick someone with common sense. Perhaps you could bring her over for lunch one Sunday."
I rolled my eyes at my twin, even when she tried to be nice Mum always had to be a bit back handed in her compliments. Emily smiled gratefully back and I breathed a sigh of relief a crisis had been averted.
"Oh great, after that, this is all I need." Emily said in a resigned tone.
I followed her line of vision and found Mandy making a beeline towards us, "By the way she's on the prowl and you're her number one target."
"Who is?" Mum said in confusion.
"Emily, so lovely to see you again." Mandy purred as she took my sisters hand and kissed it.
"Hello Mandy." Emily said as she immediately pulled it away.
"Katie, you are looking well." Her voice dripped with insincerity.
I smiled sweetly, "Wish I could say the same."
"Katie! I didn't raise you to be so rude." Mum chastised.
Suddenly Mandy realised she was there and the falseness returned, "Mrs Fitch, how lovely to meet you at last. I'm an old friend of Emily's."
"Please call me Jenna, it's always a pleasure to meet friends of my daughters. So how do you two know each other?" Mum smiled.
I glanced at Emily who smiled and nodded quickly, "actually Mum, Mandy is an ex-girlfriend of Em's. Don't you remember Danny mentioning her a while back?"
I could see the connection being made and my Mum's demeanour totally changed, "oh, yes of course, I remember now. My grandson doesn't like you and he's an excellent judge of character, which means I doubt I'll really like you either."
Mandy looked taken aback, but Mum hadn't really started. She looked the woman up and down, "I must say Emily, you don't normally go for such hefty girls, what possessed you? You can do so much better. Anyway, I'm glad you're mixing with far more suitable people these days darling. I'll see you both later."
With a final waft she flounced away leaving Mandy bewildered and me and Em trying not to laugh.
"I did tell you there was a good reason you never met her." Emily stated.
Mandy snorted, "Yeah, but not because she was that rude."
"Oy, that's my Mum you're speaking about." I said through clenched teeth.
Mandy shrugged, "Anyway ladies, having a good time?"
"Not really, you?" Emily engaged her in conversation.
Mandy stared her out, "So no Loire tonight? I thought she'd be glued to your hip."
I clearly looked puzzled but Em shot me a look that told me to go along with it, "She's babysitting Danny."
Mandy sneered, "how very domesticated, so the supreme ruler likes her then?"
Emily sighed, "Yeah Mandy, he does. Actually, he really adores her, she's kind and doesn't treat him like he's an inconvenience."
"So Katiekins, how do you and the wonderful Loire get on?" Mandy asked.
I was still in the dark, "Loire?"
Mandy stared at me, "Emily's girlfriend, the one babysitting your nephew?"
Emily silently pleaded with me and finally I understood, "Oh Loire? Sorry I call her Lo so many times I forget her real name. She's great, brilliant with Dan and totally fucking gorgeous, I mean really, really hot. If I was ever going to be a lezza, it would definitely be with someone like her."
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Emily flinch. Was it to much? Had I gone a little bit over board?
"Jesus Katie, steady on. Maybe you're finding your inner gayness after all?" Mandy smirked at me.
I sneered, "No, all I'm saying is if someone could turn me it'd be someone like her, not you."
Mandy frowned, "isn't that sweet. So she's babysitting, seems to be the night for it. My assistant Naomi is being all domesticated too."
Emily held her breath and I wondered if I should change the subject.
"Anyway, I'm going to try to find this mythical creature who has monopolised my assistant and then I need to find someone who's not so obsessed with bloody children so I can get a screw. Later losers." Mandy said with a tut as she walked away.
Emily exhaled, "Thanks, I thought you might not work it out."
"Loire? That was the best you could come up with?" I asked in amazement.
"Katie, not now eh? There was a wine map of France on the wall, what else was I supposed to say?" Emily replied.
I thought about it, there wasn't that much that Naomi could be substituted for, "Fair enough, let's go mingle."
Emily sighed, "How can I already tell this is going to be a long night?"
I sat in the cab home, tonight had been a total disaster. First off, there was the kiss with Naomi. I still couldn't believe I'd done that, I mean what was I thinking? Oh don't start, I hadn't actually meant to do it, it just happened. Fine, it not being intentional wasn't better but at least I could pretend it was. Then there was all the shit with my Mum, I knew deep down we loved each other, but it was hard to keep hold of that sometimes when all she seemed to do was criticise. Then Mandy and her stupid, snide remarks. It was like the universe was throwing crap at me and all I could do was try to dodge it.
I paid the driver and walked wearily towards the house. I unlocked the door and went inside. The kitchen was a total mess, flour and pasta everywhere, the lounge wasn't much better. I heard voices upstairs, oh fucking great, Naomi hadn't even managed to put Dan to bed on bloody time. I took off my shoes and climbed the stairs. As I got closer to the bedroom I stopped, intrigued by the conversation, I tiptoed up further and listened in. What? It's my house, I can eavesdrop if I want to.
"But that's stupid. If the man hadn't lied in the first place he wouldn't have been caught out." Danny said exasperatedly.
Naomi chuckled, "Well Dan, it took you about five minutes to work out something it took some people I went to uni three years to solve."
"When I grow up I'm going to be a lawyer, like you Naomi." He stated.
"You'll be very good at it." She replied. "now you need to go to sleep otherwise we'll both be in trouble. Night, night sweetheart."
I sensed Danny pause, "Naomi?"
"Yes." She replied.
"It's nice you treat me like a grown up, other people Mummy liked treated me as if I was a stupid kid." He stated.
I heard Naomi sigh and the bed springs creaked, "Danny, I don't treat you like you're a grown up, you're not, you're a child, I do understand that."
I could almost sense his scowl.
"I just don't treat you like you're stupid, because you're most definitely not." Naomi said softly. "And you're not some inconvenience either, you're one of my favourite people to spend time with."
My heart felt like it was going to burst.
"Naomi?" Danny said again.
"Right, this is the last question ok?" Naomi said, pretending to be exasperated.
"Are you Mummy's girlfriend?"
I heard the blonde inhale sharply, whoa, this was certainly an interesting development in the conversation.
She breathed out, "I don't know. How would you feel about it if I was?"
There was silence and I panicked.
"I think Mummy would like it if you were, she stares at your bottom a lot when she thinks you're not looking." Danny said sagely.
Ok, let's put that down to the fact that my seven year old is observant beyond his years, not the fact I'm a total perv.
Naomi laughed, "First off, she stares a lot when I am looking."
Not a perv, definitely not a perv.
"And I asked how you'd feel, not your Mum." Naomi continued.
"I'd like it, we could play Wii and the law all the time then." He stated.
"Yes we could, which is why you should go to sleep now, before she kills me." Naomi replied.
I made my way back downstairs, put on my shoes and exited the front door. I walked back in and shut it loudly. I smiled as I heard a scuffle upstairs, suddenly Naomi appeared.
"Hey, you're back early. Danny had a bit of a bad dream, which is why I was upstairs, not because he was only just going to sleep or anything." She clarified.
I raised my eyebrow, "Of course not, this was probably the second or third time you'd been up right?"
Naomi looked startled, "Er, yeah. That's it. Oh shit, that's why the kitchen is a mess too, I'll clean it up, sorry."
I pointed upstairs, "I'll help when I get back down. I need to say goodnight to Dan and then change into..."
"something more comfortable?" Naomi said with a smirk.
Shit, that was exactly what I was going to say, I blushed, "See you in a bit."
I went upstairs and found Danny clutching his duvet as fake snores came from his mouth. I leaned down and kissed the top of his head, as expected he stirred and blinked a me.
"Mummy, you're home. Night, night." He uttered.
I narrowed my eyes but smiled, "Goodnight sweetheart, now please go to sleep properly."
He thought about arguing, but instead sighed, "You do know everything that happens don't you?"
I stroked his hair, "Only where you're concerned because that's my job. I love you."
He gave a weary sigh as his eyes closed, "Love you too Mummy."
I went into the bedroom, what was I going to change into? Normally it'd be pjs or trakkies, but Naomi was downstairs. I put my jeans and a slightly low cut but still modest top on, not comfortable exactly but better than my slobbing around wear. I could hear Naomi humming as I made my way back into the kitchen.
She smiled at me as I re-entered the room, "I really am sorry about the state of the kitchen, the pasta was good though and I think Dan enjoyed making it."
"I can see that for myself." I stated as I picked up a cloth.
Naomi tutted, "Em, please, I made the mess, I'll tidy up. How was your evening?"
I shrugged, "Excruciating. My Mum was on top form and then there was Mandy."
I saw her tense, "Did she try it on again?"
"Look why don't I get us both a glass of wine and then I'll tell you all about it?" I suggested.
Naomi nodded, "Ok, I can wipe and drink at the same time."
I poured the wine and placed Naomi's glass down before I perched myself on a clean section of worktop. I definitely saw her sharp intake of breath, that wasn't my imagination.
"Mandy was far less insistent than normal, although that might have been mostly to do with my Mum's bitchy form." I said with a grin.
"What do you mean?" Naomi asked as she filled the dishwasher.
I shrugged, "Mum was doing all of her usual crap, and I was beginning to get annoyed."
Naomi frowned, "Don't you get on?"
Ah the six million dollar question, "We don't always see eye to eye, no. But I'm quite tired so I'll tell you about that some other time. However, she was worth every penny when Mandy rocked up. They were getting on ok until Mum realised she was the 'Danny hater ex' after that, not such great friends."
"Sounds like a good night to me. Why did you say it was excruciating?" Naomi questioned.
I took a sip of my drink, what did I say? Naomi, it didn't exactly start out well when I made a total tit of myself by kissing you?
"You know why."
I looked up into a pair of blue eyes staring at me in confusion. "I wasn't even there."
"Not at the event, earlier than that." I clarified.
Naomi put down the cloth and slowly walked over until she was standing in front of me, "Looking that beautiful is excruciating hey?"
I blushed, "That's not what I'm talking about but thank you."
"So it must be kissing me that's excruciating?" Naomi continued.
I gulped, "I think not kissing you is worse..."
She leant towards me, our mouths connected and all I could focus on was those lips, oh God I'd missed them. The softness, the absolute mind blowing feel of them, the way nothing else seemed to matter. Her hands ran up and down my thighs and mine roamed freely through her hair as I pulled her closer. Naomi's lips parted and immediately I found her tongue, twisting and teasing, desperate with longing.
Suddenly we heard the front door closing and Naomi pushed herself away.
I leapt to the floor, "Naomi..."
"I should go." She uttered with barely a backward glance as she left.
Katie entered the kitchen, "Why was blondie in such a rush?"
I shrugged, "She was tired, it's been a long day."
"Em, are you ok?" Katie questioned.
I nodded, "Yeah fine, like I said a long day."
Katie stared at me, "Did something just happen?"
I rubbed my temples, "Maybe, I don't know..."
"Emily, don't bullshit a bullshitter. What was going on when I came in?" She pushed.
"We were kissing." I said with a sigh.
"And?" she enquired.
I shrugged, "That's it, we were kissing, the door went and Naomi ran away again."
Katie smiled wanly, "Oh Ems, I'm sorry, I should have given you more warning."
I laughed bitterly, "Not sure it would have made a difference K."
"Are you ever going to talk to her about this? I mean you guys have been tiptoeing around all this shit for ages. Don't you want to know?" Katie asked.
I exhaled, "What if it's never going anywhere? What if all Naomi ever wants is for us to be friends? I promised I wouldn't push her Katie, what if I ask the question and that's it, it's over?"
On the table, my phone buzzed. I picked it up, it was a text from Naomi asking me to meet her outside. I made my way to the front door and opened it.
"Hi, I didn't want to wake Danny." She said shyly.
I put the door on the latch and stepped out, I didn't say anything, the ball was in her court not mine.
"I didn't want you to think it was like before, that we kissed and then I ran away." She started.
I shrugged, "it feels a bit like that."
Naomi sighed, "I know, but it isn't. I wasn't scared about kissing you, I was scared in case I couldn't stop myself doing more."
I smiled. "I don't think either of us are quite ready for that Naomi."
"Look Em, you know I really love spending time with Danny right?" she continued. "I mean he's a great kid..."
I panicked, "Is this leading up to a but? Because he's really fond of you Naomi, I thought you were ok with me having a child..."
I stopped as her finger pushed against my lips, "I just wondered if, for a change, you fancied doing something when it's just the two of us? You know, like dinner, on a erm date maybe?"
I smiled and nodded, "I'd like dinner, on a erm date maybe, very, very much."
"I know you need to sort out a babysitter for Dan, just let me know when you're next free. " Naomi stated.
"Does this weekend sound too keen?" I suggested.
She shook her head, "Not at all, I wasn't really looking forward to being kept waiting. I'll phone Matt and see if they can fit us in if that's ok?"
I nodded, "It was the place of our near perfect date."
"Maybe I can go one better this time." She replied.
"I have high hopes..." I responded.
She kissed my cheek and walked away with a wink, "Me too Em, me too."