So you do everything but, and it’s a lot of fun. Slightly unsatisfying, but fun nonetheless. Afterwards, Mark falls asleep almost immediately – or makes a convincing pretence of it. For a moment, as you drift off, you wonder if this was a huge mistake. What will you say to each other in the morning?

Mark saves you from that dilemma, by disappearing while you are still sleeping. You wake as he shuts the bedroom door, and by the time you have blinked the sleep from your eyes and made it to the window, he is already halfway down the front path. You peer out blearily as he walks hurriedly away down the street.

The question of what you’ll say to each other has to be faced at some point this morning. So you decide to grasp the nettle. You stop at his desk to ask if he wants to come with you to grab a coffee.

With a classic Mark wink he says, ‘Need something to fight the hangover, do you?’

‘No, I’m not feeling too bad. Are you?’

He grimaces. You smile, and shrug, and wonder why he isn’t getting out of his seat to join you. It turns out he’s got a lot of work to do, and can’t stop.

‘Would it be pushing my luck to ask you to get me a cappuccino?’

You smile, and say, ‘Just this once, I suppose.’

‘Ah, you’re an angel Sarah. Thanks babe.’

You dust a tenner on coffee and cakes at Starbucks and deliver Mark’s cappuccino with a smile. The cakes are for you and Joan though. It was true that you didn’t feel too hung over. But your encounter with Mark left you slightly queasy. Why didn’t he want to go for a coffee with you? Surely he could have spared you ten minutes, after last night? Ridiculously, you almost feel as if he’s rejected you – as if you had propositioned him, or asked him for a date.

Still, you console yourself, at least he asked you to bring him something back. If he was really uninterested he wouldn’t have done that, would he?

By the end of the day you’re none the wiser about what Mark makes of last night’s events, and what will happen next. That is, if anything at all is going to happen between you. On some level you had assumed that you were sort of starting something between you. Something that would go beyond a single night of passion. The chemistry between you is undeniable. Isn’t it? Yet Mark is behaving as if you were just two work mates who had a drink together.

You decide to play along with it. At least, that’s what you tell yourself. The fact is you can’t see any options other than to go along with the ‘nothing happened’ routine. You spend the weekend trying to forget about it, brushing off Alice’s inquiries with a nonchalant shrug. It’s no big deal, you’re just work mates who went to bed. It doesn’t have to lead to anything necessarily. From the look on Alice’s face you know she doesn’t buy it, but is kind enough not to press the point home.

 The next week at work you maintain a breezy attitude, smiling casually at Mark as you pass his desk on an unnecessary lap around the office floor, in your killer heels. You wear a great outfit every day, rolling out your favourite pencil skirt, the great grey trousers that fit really nice on your bum and thighs, and that shirt dress (restored to latte-stain-free gorgeousness by your dry cleaner).

‘You look nice today,’ says Joan. ‘Do you fancy someone in the office or something?’

‘No, don’t be silly. Why?’

‘I don’t know,’ she says with a cheeky smile. ‘The way you’re wearing full make up every day and keep doing laps around the floor as if you’re trying to bump into someone.’

‘Yeah, that’s it, I fancy someone. Wingnut. I love the way his ears catch the light. I’d like to grab hold of his ears and pull his lovely big face up really close for a sloppy kiss.’

‘Yeuch.’ Joan winces. Wingnut, eh? And there was me thinking it was Budget Boy.’

You blush, and shake your head unconvincingly. Fortunately Joan is distracted by her MacDonald’s, leaving you to your own thoughts. You don’t fancy Mark, you tell yourself. He’s almost certainly bad news. You just want him to fancy you, that’s all.

It seems to be working. Mark stops by at your desk on Friday afternoon, runs his eyes up and down your body, and asks if you’re going for a drink tonight. You certainly are now. You tell him you’ll definitely stop for one at least, hoping to give him the impression of a packed social life with plenty of Friday night options.

Two drinks in and your mask is starting to drop. You manage to create a little space around you and Mark, and he responds with some mildly flirtatious banter. The events of last week remain completely unspoken. You decide this has gone on for long enough.

‘Listen, I had a good time last week,’ you say.

‘Yeah, me too,’ Mark replies. ‘It was a lot of fun.’ He smiles broadly, and in a way that suggests this topic is now closed, asks you if you’d like another drink.

You could stay, and have that drink and maybe try to find out more about what’s going on in Mark’s head. Maybe he could be persuaded to repeat that night together, it might remind him of what he’s missing out on. Perhaps he just doesn’t realise you are happy just to get laid, that you’re not looking for any commitment. It’s just, you drunkenly think, that you don’t have much else on the horizon and you would really like to go home with someone. Gosh, you’re pissed.

 Time to make one last decision

If you stay for another drink, go to Chapter Seven XIII to face the consequences

If you go home go to Chapter Seven VI to face the consequences<