The Duel -Part 2

He didn’t show up.

Arriving into the party after having consumed several pre party prosecco’s with my work wife I scanned the room hungrily for him. In the corner I spied all his fellow coders dressed in black t-shirts looking non-chalant and bored swigging from their IPA’s.

Sidling up to them I tried to sound as breezy as possible “Hey guys, having a good night?” I squeaked. They looked at me as though I was the annoying girl from sales who regularly bothered them with inane ‘tech issues’, which of course is exactly what I was.

‘So… um… is the rest of your team coming?” I asked hopefully.

‘Nah just us’ replied the Scottish guy who thankfully turned away before he saw the disappointment wash all over my face.

For FuCks SaKe!

He didn’t show up to the Christmas Party either, or the end of quarter party.

Turns out he doesn’t like going to work events he admitted to me over our 150th cigerette break ! Everytime I had asked him if he was going to one he always gave a vague and non-commital ‘yeah maybe’ allowing me to get my hopes up only to have them dashed again and again.

We had been IM’ing more frequently. Our cigarette breaks had been getting longer and more banterfilled but he still didn’t make any move towards asking me for a drink and I was far too into him to suffer the rejection if I had bit the bullet and asked him and so it went going nowhere.

I had effectively given up on him by the time March rolled around. Walking into the work kitchen one Monday morning I heard my friend and fellow Irish colleague discussing her weekend with one of the girls from accounts.

“oh my god it was a mad weekend” she said with an air of defeat that only a Monday morning could bring.

“My mate was visiting from Dublin and we met up with my friend Z in shoreditch and ordered so many cocktails that we drank ourselves sober”

The girl from accounts who’s idea of a mad night out involved two white wine spritzers looked back at my friend as if she were speaking a foreign language.

I interjected as I popped my nespresso pod into the machine.

“Drinking yourself sober is a throughly Irish phenomenon” I explained “it’s like alcohol immunity” . L my Irish mate laughed, grateful to have someone who understood.

“True but I’m not immune to the hangover I’m feeling today” she confessed

“The guys we were out with are mad” she gushed “they ordered 24 cocktails in one order for four us. We literally tried every cocktail on the menu it was insane”

“Sounds like my kinda night” I replied as I warmed my milk

“Oh my god Ari, I actually think you would love this guy Z, he’s Irish and so fun and single, I’m totally gonna set you guys up” she exclaimed.

“Ooh really ! I’m game” I replied as I plopped two sugars into my frothy coffee and reached for a crossaint “What does he do?”

“He’s hot Ari, and a personal trainer”

“Pah” I guffawed stopping the crossaint centimetres from my lips “Would ya feck off I am not going on a date with a personal trainer are you mad”

“What?! Why?!?” My friend replied genuinely suprised by my response.

“Look at me” I said running my arm down my side “I haven’t been to a gym in years, I drink like a fish, I love my food, a personal trainer would be disgusted by me”

“Oh would ya stop ya eejit, you’re gorgeous and Z loves curvy girls and he is great craic I swear, he’s not your typical PT”

At this point the girl in accounts was looking at us as though we were zoo animals.

“Hmm I dunno” I said doubtfully “Is he on on FB”

“Course he is I’ll send you his link, trust me I think you’re gonna like him” she assured me with a twinkle in her gorgeous blue eyes.

Back at my desk I brushed the crossaint crumbs off my lap and opened my emails to see she hadn’t wasted any time in sending me his profile. He was definitely cute, shaved head, stubbled chin, great arms, nice clothes and a cracking smile. Ultimately he had what could certifiably be called a kind face.

“Ooh he is cute” I typed back “Go on so…. set us up”. What had I got to lose I figured HNGIT was a lost cause at this stage and a distraction would do me good.

About 23 minutes later my inbox pinged again. The subject line said “tap that shit up”

“Hey Z, how’s the head? I’m still dying! Anyway I’ve cc’d that chick Ari I was just messaging you about … you need to tap that shit up 😊👏🏼😆”

He replied about 5 minutes later

“Nice L! Subtle as ever I see 😂. Hi Ariana nice to meet you L tells me we should go for a drink, I’m game if you are?”

He seemed cool and straight to the point which I liked. And I was excited by how fast it was all moving.

“😂 yeah nice one L, no messing around with you eh ! Hey Z nice to meet you too! L had nothing but good things to say about you, but before we arrange a drink why don’t we take poor auld L off cc and have some chats first? Spare her our lame chat up lines 😊. Thanks L ye mad thing! Z I’ll drop you a mail in a bit!”

God this was weird! I’d never been set up on what was effectively a blind date before albeit having seen his pics and presumably him mine. Shit what was my profiler like I panicked immediately clicking into my profile page.

It was one of me in a purple dress smiling broadly with a giant purple quality street dangling from my fingers. (One of the guys in work told me when I wore that dress I looked like the sweet so I posed for the pic exclaiming I had found my chocolate twin…. god I’m such a spa 😑)

Anyway it was a nice pic which I think gave a fairly accurate representation of me. It was unfiltered and spontaneous and if he fancied me in it then chances are he’d fancy me in real life. Well hopefully anyway.

I didn’t mail him straight away. I had some actual work to do and also I didn’t want to come across too eager so after lunch I dropped him a line.

“Hey Z, hope your mornings gone well? L tells me you’re PT, where are you based?”

He mailed back almost straight away.

“Hey again ! Oh god I can only imagine what else L has been telling you about me! She’s a mad dog that one. We had some craic on Saturday night ! But yes I am a PT based over in Shoreditch. How long have you been living in London?”

And so it went, back and forth as we got to know each other a little more. He was from Dun Laoghaire, lived in London for 10 years, he was 6 months younger than me. He was cool. I liked him. He didn’t seem to be playing any games and came across as super geniuine and so after almost two weeks of sporadic mailing and texting we arranged a date. It was to be a Friday night, he was going to take me for some drinks around Shoreditch I excitedly told L as we walked to the local salad bar one morning a couple of days before the date.

“Amazing! He’s so lovely Ari I swear. I’ve a good feeling about this” she said squeezing my arm.

At 5.30pm on the Thursday I switched off my computer and headed for the door. My plan was to go home and prep myself for my big date. I was actually so excited to meet him, if a little apprehensive, I mean he was a PT after all despite what L said about him and I had been over indulging on all the expensive client lunches of late.

“Hey Ari where are you going” called my work wife

“Heading home babes, why where are you going?”

“It’s Gary’s leaving drinks tonight are you not coming?”

“Oh fuck is that tonight ! I completely forgot?”

Gary was one of the senior ad ops guys. He’d been with the company for 10 years and everyone loved him. His leaving drinks were a pretty big deal and it would look bad if I didn’t at least show my face!

“Aww crap I forgot. Shite I was supposed to have a quiet one ahead of my date tomorrow” I said wriggling my hips at her in delight

“Ooohhhh Ari’s got a daaatteeee” she teased even though she knew full well as I had talked of little else all week! “Come on just come for one or two, you’ll be home by 8pm I promise” she said linking my arm as we headed to the work local.

As I walked in and fought my way through the throng to get to the bar I stopped dead in my tracks. For there, leaning against the wall, pint in hand and with a rollie lodged firmly behind his ear was HNGIT. He looked up, saw me, smiled a wide smile ….and winked.

To be continued…..

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