That was a smart decision. He disappears as soon as you hand over the bag.

Winded with shock you walk the first few yards quickly, breaking into a run as you cross the road. You know he’s not going to come after you now he’s got your bag, but you won’t feel safe till you’re off the street and with friends.

You’re panting by the time you reach the Lock and plead with the doorman to let you in, ignoring the dirty looks you’re getting from the 20-strong queue. Flushed and dishevelled as you are, and with a waver in your voice, even this wall of a man can’t resist. With an avuncular smile, he waves you in.

Alice is snogging the face off Billy in the corner of the room when you get there. You turn first to his art school mates. An image of Charlie, how concerned and sweet he’d be, flashes into your mind. You blink back tears, and try to stay calm.

‘I was looking for Alice,’ you say. ‘But she doesn’t look like she wants to be interrupted.’

‘You’re back,’ says Young Bob Dylan. ‘Hi.’

‘Are you okay?’ asks his lanky mate. ‘You look a bit...’

‘No, I’ve had a bit of a nightmare. I – I kind of need Alice really. My bag got nicked.’ The wobble in your voice suggests it was a bit more than that.

‘Bummer’, says Lanky.

‘What happened?’ asks Young Bob Dylan. ‘You weren’t mugged were you?’

As you nod, and your eyes fill up with tears, he puts his skinny arm round you. It’s slightly uncomfortable because he’s an inch shorter than you, forcing you to lean a bit. And while he can’t compare to Charlie’s height and breadth, it’s a protective gesture you appreciate.

‘Jake, go to the bar for us will you. She looks like she needs a drink.’

It isn’t long before Alice sees you, as a bloke in ridiculous copper jeans and a military jacket goes up and punches Billy the Kid on the arm. Her embrace intruded into, she spots you and comes over.

‘What’s up?’

‘She’s been mugged,’ says Young Bob Dylan.

‘Oh love,’ says Alice, and hugs you. You feel a lot more protected than you did by Bob’s arm.

So Alice steps outside for a second to cancel your phone and cards. The art students provide you with a vodka shot and a pint. And the copper jeans man wanders over and says,

‘Hi. I hear you’ve had a shocker.’

You nod, temporarily blinded by his metallic legs. He looks familiar, you can’t think why. But you are in shock, slightly tipsy, and probably just confused.

‘This is Jed,’

‘Jed,’ he confirms, as he kisses you on both cheeks.

‘Sarah,’ you say, taking a deep breath and pulling yourself together. It’s Jed from The Heat. That’s why he looks so familiar – his face, looming out of The Heat’s new album cover, is plastered up on the hoardings opposite your bus stop. You must spend almost as long looking at his face as at your own in the morning.

Alice returns, accompanied by the Dutch boys. They are all cute and concerned and sing a stupid Dutch song to cheer you up. They claim it’s all about being mugged.

‘I don’t think it’s about being mugged at all,’ Jed whispers in your ear.

‘You don’t?’

‘I bet it’s absolutely filthy. I bet it’s all about what they’d like to do to you,’ he says, as he looks you up and down with a smile.

You’re all out of shock for the evening, so the best reaction seems to be a giggle, as you turn away from the singing boys and take a step closer to Jed.

‘Now, Jed. They’re nice boys. I’m quite sure they don’t want to do anything filthy to me at all.’

‘Don’t you believe it. The Dutch are absolutely sex mad.’

‘You sound like you’re speaking from experience,’ you murmur.

He puts his hands on your shoulders, and bows his head in mock shame. ‘A lost weekend in Amsterdam. I can’t say any more than that.’

You laugh knowingly, and stand like that for a moment. His hand rests on your waist as you accept another full shot glass from Alice. Amazing how a group of drunken people can so quickly agree on the best treatment for you: get her drunker.

You stand around swapping stories about crime in London, all of which are told with a sympathetic look in your direction. Alice asks you with a questioning look whether you’re okay. You smile back, partly because you are okay and partly because you can see her hand creeping down Billy’s back to his bum in a classic Alice move.

You know the drinking treatment is working when you find yourself at Bartok, making the most of their late licence. Jed beckons you over to a shady corner, and says,

‘So how about you? Any international experiences you’re ashamed of?’

You give him a coy smile, and lean in close to reply, ‘None I’d care to share with you.’

‘Come on, Sarah, I can keep a secret.’

Jed puts his hands on your waist and pulls you towards him for a long, probing kiss. You respond, pressing yourself to his chest, so he takes a step back and you’re snogging against the wall like teenagers at the school disco.

When you pause to take a breath – and give a happy little sigh – you see Alice waiting to catch your eye. You wonder how long you were kissing for. It could have been days.

‘Hey, Sarah,’ she says. ‘Sorry to break up the party, but I’m thinking it’s about time I took Billy the Kid home. What are you doing? Want to walk up with us?’

‘Yes please. I definitely don’t want to walk home alone.’

‘Well of course not, love. I actually thought you might be about to ask Jed to make sure you got home safely.’

‘Jed? I’m not sure about that. I just met him.’

‘So? I think he’s okay. My little brother’s mate’s vouching for him. That’s got to count for something.’ She gives a wry smile, acknowledging that it doesn’t count for much. ‘Anyway, he’s officially hot. He’s the lead singer in The Heat for God’s sake. I would...’

‘You’d what?’ asks Billy, putting his arm around her.

‘Nothing.’ Alice’s hand goes straight for his arse again, a distraction tactic she learnt in school. ‘Hey, Sassy, if you don’t come with us, take my phone.’

‘My number’s already in there,’ winks Billy. ‘You can call me if Jed doesn’t take care of you like you deserve, eh?’

It’s not that you think Jed is going to mug you or anything. But it’s been a while since you let some guy you just met walk you home. It doesn’t likely either of you will settle for a chaste kiss on the doorstep. Are you ready for that?

Well? What will you do?

If you go with Jed, go to Chapter Five IX to face the consequences.

If you go home with Alice and Billy go to Chapter Five X to face the consequences.