Nancy speed-dialed. Bex’s ring tone commenced. Brian Ferry had now finished. A trance anthem from the Ministry of Sound now cannibalized the air. Nancy knew Bex’s ring tone now sang, ‘an idiot’s trying to call you, pick up, you jerk!’ Bex’s ring tone droned on. Nancy’s irk grew. Bex was a pathological poacher of male attention. She was probably snogging some creep from the bar right now. The ring tone kept on. ‘Come on,’ Nancy uttered between her teeth. ‘Stop head-butting the headboard and answer the ruddy phone.’
That’s when Bex’s ring tone cut to voicemail. Nancy ended the call, not bothering with Cora. Judging by her condition on leaving the Nexus, she would be cavorting a coma by now.
Dennis’s frontage remained deserted. Rain began to fleck the windows. Suddenly, the idea of calling a taxi little appealed. At this time of night, the fare would be dear and she would have to walk alone on unfamiliar streets until she was out of range of the limo.
The reality of talking to celeb mags began to sink in. At some point, her phone would start ringing; knocks would come to the door. She would have to formulate a story, some answers. Her account of this evening would lie somewhere between the harsh truth and the embellishments she had nearly dished out to Bex. Yes, they had chatted – a little. Vince had been polite and courteous, and yes, he had expressed a wish to one day tame his playboy lifestyle and settle down. He had dropped her home after pecking her on the cheek. And no, she will never want to wash her cheek again.
It began to dawn on Nancy that her evening may yield limited interest to the tabloids. She may appear on page twenty of the Post. Chat et al may include a small photo of her and Vince within a montage of other celeb snaps as they exited nightclubs. She might be found on the front page of the Nuneaton Telegraph or the Coventry and Warwickshire News. Her life before and after the event may continue to look much the same.
Or no. Perhaps not entirely. Her mother would take an interest in her daughter. She would don her best dressing gown, hobble down the stairs in her best slippers and pour herself a cuppa fortified with Southern Comfort. And then her dogged inquisition would commence. ‘Ow did you meet him, then?’ she would croak. ‘What did ‘e say to yous?’ And then she would cadge what little credit Nancy could glean from the event. ‘Yous a pretty gal,’ she would declare, ‘just like me when I was your age. I turned a few heads, I c’n tell you. But you got your gran’s eyes, lovely eyes. Dark. And us Hutchens clan know how to hold our own with the upper classes. We ain’t all scrubbers.’ She would slurp her tea. ‘This could be a good thing for us, Nance. You could spruce yourself up good. I could get us an appointment with that photographer bloke next to the brokers. He’s cheap, he is, did our Carla’s christening. He could put together a fab portfolio for you. Then we could go round Cov, put the word out to agents and that.’
Nancy closed her eyes and groped for the door handle. She pushed the lever down and let herself out. The drizzle on her face provided a welcome diversion from her previous thoughts.
A rush of warm air and herb marinade bathed her skin as she pushed the doors open. The place did indeed appear fully booked. Collective exchanges interspersed with the clinking of plates hung over the tables. A string rendition of a Beatles number, which might have been the Long and Winding Road, played out in the background. Robbie Probert would have called this place a faggot’s den. He would have ordered a curry and get slowly pissed as a kick out against this elitist establishment that prohibited jeans and were the offspring of Thatcherism. He would laugh at these fascist bastards. Deep down, Nancy knew he nursed a deep resentment towards the prosperous. Or was it a progressive society?
Nancy primly straightened the skirt of her cocktail dress as she dodged her way through the tables. Her eternity earrings swung as she moved. She could see no sign of Vince or of Leon within any party. God, what was she doing? A lozenge-faced man with frazzled hair watched wryly as she squeezed between two tables. From nowhere, a maitre d’ stepped her way. Nancy quickly veered off towards an archway bearing the signs, la femme and l’homme.
Although she had done her best to look the part for the shoot, Nancy still wondered if her makeup was too heavy and her dress too cheap for a place like this. Even so, she thought she looked better than some of the muttons overdoing the costume jewellery.
Nancy swiftly sought out the sanctuary of the ladies’ before the maitre d’ could catch up with her. The door presented a tiled access way, but only to the men’s room. Leon’s voice on the other side of the door stopped her in her tracks. At that instant, she spotted a sign for la femme just around the corner. Only now, Leon’s voice had snagged her to the spot. The door to the men’s room was already ajar. A slither of light streamed through, and with it, a splinter of indignation. How could they be chatting away like this knowing she was sitting in the limo like a prize idiot?
She brought an eye to the gap, careful not to nudge the door and could just see them standing at the urinals.