(Continuation of All's Well That's Not Well)
"So why are you going to Blackpool?" Jo asks as she lounges on the sofa.
And for the tenth time this weekend I'm about to tell her, "There's a students union conference and I've been asked to help out. Remember?" I roll my eyes as I see her concentrating on the TV remote. By the time Hole in the Wall starts, all will be forgotten again.
"I thought you were working this week," she says, swivelling around and resting her chin on the sofa.
"I take it Mel wasn't too happy about it,"
I get a memory flash of Mel's angry expression when I told her that I'd be busy this week. The shouting was fine. It's the spitting I had problems with.
"Well, she shouldn't have assumed that just because I'm on the Easter holidays that I want to spend precious studying time dressing up old ladies. She didn't even ask me. Just put me down on the schedule,"
Jo groans at something then flicks the channel.
"And I worked all last week. What more does she want!" I slump down on the sofa next to Jo. But I'm far too restless and get up as soon as Dale Winton shouts "Bring on the wall!"
I leave the kitchen and head to my room to pack for Monday.
"Call me when Doctor Who starts," I shout from the corridor.
This is my first time up north, and in the fifteen whole minutes I have been here it is rather pleasant. Although I don't think I've held on to my handbag quite so tightly before.
The university has put us up in a big, blue hotel right on Pleasure Beach (which incidentally is called The Big Blue Hotel). At first I thought I was incredibly lucky to be placed in the room overlooking the rollercoasters, but after the fifth swoosh of a rollecoaster and it's screaming passengers went past, and the continuous choo chooing of a miner's train, I realised that I had pulled the short straw. I had also taken a travel sickness pill when we left in the morning, which now was making me incredibly sleepy, and as I fell asleep to the soundtrack of Neighbours, and woke up to the excited screams of a northern chav three minutes later, I started to think that working as Mel's lapdog for the week was perhaps a better option.
And it would have been nice if I was actually needed. The conference which required everyone else's presence from 9am to 7pm, only required mine for the first two hours. The rest were down to me and the big, blue hotel. All of this for absolutely nothing. And what's more is that I have to endure another full day of northern delights. On my own.
"Why don't you explore the Pleasure Beach. You'll have fun on the rollercoasters," one of the presidents says.
Why bother? I can experience it all from my bed.
So I made my way back to the hotel restaurant, ignoring my room. I might as well use this time wisely and revise. Exams are looming ever so closer.
The restaurant is nice and spacious, with not a single other person here, apart from a waitress who occasionally zooms past and magically tops up my coffee.
Bliss. More places should be like this.
I'm so busy swotting up on monopolies that I don't realise two men have entered the restaurant. They sit themselves a couple of tables behind me, but they're not being quiet. I'm about to turn around and give them a disapproving look when I hear one of them say:
"I'm not sure this is something I'd like to invest in,"
I'm tuned in. Monopolies are now forgotten. Surely this practical side of business is much more useful than textbook theory.
"I understand, but if you just look at these figures-" I hear the sound of paper being pushed around the mahogany table, "- you'll see that it'll produce a more than generous net profit in only two years time,"
"It's not for me," the older gentleman says.
I'm so involved in their conversation that I almost say, "Oh, just give him a break. He seems like a lovely chap. Just invest," like I'm still at my uni flat watching TV and this is Eastenders.
I hear the younger guy letting out a frustrated sigh. His voice sounds terribly familiar.
"Look, good luck with it. I'm sure it'll take off. In fact, I have no doubt about it. But I'm a family man. I can't be spending money on such risky investments," and with that, he leaves. I pretend to click clack on the keyboard so he doesn't notice I was listening in. Somehow I've managed to type 'Swittle loo poo'.
The younger guy stays behind. I should really leave him to it, but I have this uncontrollable urge to see what he looks like. He's just been let down. I want to see if he looks angry. Or disappointed.
So casually I pretend to be transfixed by something out of the window. Slowly, I rotate my head until I'm looking straight at him.
And my head has never snapped around so quickly.
I'm so shocked by this that I immediately shut the screen of my laptop (or lid as my brother would call it) and haphazardly gather my notes. If I just keep my back to him I can easily sneak out.
But I'm only three inches away from my seat when I hear:
As if I'm completely surprised, I turn around, "Oh, Anthony. How odd. What on earth are you doing here?"
He comes over and kisses me on the cheek.
"It's so great to see you," he says. "Why are you here?"
"A university thing," I wave my right arm about to emphasise that it's insignificant. My left arm is still clutching at the laptop and notes. "So how are you?"
He smiles widely, "I haven't really had the best day,"
"I gathered," I say and immediately want to slap myself. Now he knows I was eavesdropping.
His lips form a straight line and he looks at the floor. "I drove all the way up here for what I thought would be the final step to clinch a deal. It turns out it was a complete waste of time,"
"Me too. I apparently came up here just to hear a 'choo choo' every ten minutes,"
"What?" he looks perplexed.
"How's work going?" he asks. We're now seated down at my table. The laptop and notes have been freed from my grip and are now lying in a forgotten pile to my left. The word 'monopolistic' occasionally grabs my attention as my eyes swing towards my notes, and I feel the need to trace it out at the roof of my mouth with my tongue.
"Same as always," I shrug.
"Your boss still giving you a hard time?"
I nod, "She told me to cover my mouth when I yawn because it looks ridiculously embarrassing,"
Anthony just laughs.
"So how are the entrepreneurial schemes going?" I ask him.
"You should know, little Miss Nosy," he smiles.
"I didn't realise it was you," I defend myself.
"I have at least three that are doing well. Nothing special yet, but with time, you never know,"
A sense of pride swells within me.
"How are you feeling about your first ever university exams?"
I pull a 'fed up' face. "I'm terrified, but I'll be fine,"
"Good girl. Of course you'll be fine,"
Our eyes linger at each other a lot longer than they should do. Awkwardly, I sit back on my chair, and Anthony averts his eyes to his phone to look at the time.
"I should get going. Long drive ahead of me," he says.
We hug, and I watch as he gets in his car and disappears out of Blackpool. Meanwhile, I'm left to wonder why he didn't take my number.