The butterflies in your stomach are in an absolute frenzy by the time you sit down with a cup of tea and your phone, to call Brad. It’s bad enough someone thinking badly of you. And it’s much worse when they’re justified in doing so and you can’t even feel indignant and hard-done-by.

You might not be able to defend yourself but you can try to wriggle out of it at least. That’s your plan anyway. So you dial Brad’s number and take a deep, calming breath.

'Hey,' he answers. He clearly recognises your number and isn’t exactly excited to hear from you.

Hi Brad. How’s tricks?’

‘Um, yeah, not bad thanks.’ He sounds surprised to be asked, and lapses into silence, waiting for your next question.

‘That’s good,’ you say. You hoped he wouldn’t be such hard work. ‘I had a great time on Saturday night.’

‘Yeah, me too.’

‘That’s good,’ you say, again.

Impatient with the small talk now, Brad finally comes out with it. ‘To be honest I’m surprised to hear from you after that. I mean, didn’t you get what you want?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Well, you won your bet, right?’

‘Wh… what?’ you flounder, your plan for wriggling out of it suddenly forgotten.

‘I heard you and your flatmate talking about me. I know you only did it for a bet. And I’ve to got tell you, I think it’s pretty low.’

‘Wait, no, Brad, that’s not it at all. I didn’t do it for a bet. I promise you. I wanted to see you again because I thought you were hot.’

Silence from Brad.

‘Okay, I admit, I did have a stupid drunken bet with Alice. Only because it’s so rare for me to meet a guy at a party I actually like – so she bet me that I wouldn’t see you again.’ (This isn’t strictly true but is a master stroke, flattering Brad and making the bet seem more innocuous.) ‘I swear that’s not why I saw you again. I’m really not that desperate for a free dinner!’

‘Oh yeah?’ He sounds like he wants to be persuaded.

So you press on. ‘Hey, seriously, Brad, I like you. I had a really great time, and it had nothing to do with a stupid bet.’

‘I hope not, I really do hope not,’ he says.

‘Listen, why don’t you let me prove it to you?’

And so it is that your call to set the record straight with Brad ends up with you begging him to see you one more time. It’s not the most dignified behaviour but the outcome is good. He won’t be wandering around telling people you slept with him for a bet. He wants to believe you. And you get to see him and his fabulous body again soon.

 

Fate seems to be smiling on you and Brad. You get a great table, on the terrace at the Queens, overlooking the park. You sit and toast to long summer days as you watch the joggers and commuters criss crossing Primrose Hill in the early evening sun. For a while you think you’ve got away with it. He makes no reference to the bet, and you wonder if he’s decided to forgive you, or is so stupid he’s forgotten already. I know Brad isn’t the greatest mind of his generation, but he can’t have that poor a memory, surely? No, you decide, he’s forgiven you. This is good, because he’s even better looking than you remembered. He’s the epitome of sexy scruffiness, all surfer blonde hair, and perfect pecs pressing against his washed out t-shirt.

Never mind if you have to talk about sport to keep him amused. He’s worth it. So he bangs on about the Ashes and the Sydney Olympics and you smile indulgently, sneaking a glance at his legs, thick thighs encased in faded denim. You tell him you’re a London 2012 sceptic, that the logo was the last straw for you. But he’s, unsurprisingly, a big fan about the London Olympics. For a moment you catch his enthusiasm about the cool new buildings, a city full of world class athletes and excited spectators. Most of all, he’s excited about the building of a new velodrome.

‘That’s a great sport!’

‘A velodrome? That thing they cycle and round and round in circles? You’re kidding?’

‘No, it’ll be awesome. I love velodrome racing. I could watch it all day.’

Brad appears to be entirely without irony in his enthusiasm for watching bikes go round in circles all day. As he goes into one about the velodrome race, you remember the first and last time you saw one on TV. It was the Athens Olympics, and you spent the week in a Dorset cottage with Charlie and Alice and the usual crowd, nursing your hangovers with scones and clotted cream while Simon debated if it was too early in the day to start drinking again. Ah, that was a great holiday. You managed one cliff top walk, five lock-ins at the village pub, and cream tea every day.

You are lost in your reverie when Brad says, slightly tetchily, ‘I said, do you want another drink.’

Embarrassed, you volunteer to get the round, and while you wait to get served you resolve to focus on Brad a little harder. He is a bit dull but maybe you need to flirt him out if it. You greet him with your best coquettish smile as you return with the drinks.

‘Your beer, sir.’

‘Thanks.’ Brad frowns. ‘So tell me. Did you call in that bet?’

You chuckle. ‘Hell yeah!’

Oops. That was the wrong answer. Brad’s frown morphs into a glare.

‘What? I can’t believe you cashed in.’ He shakes his head.

‘So it was a win-win! What’s wrong with that,’ you giggle, flirtatiously. ‘I wanted to make another bet with her about tonight but she doesn’t back herself anymore...’

You take his hand in yours, kiss him lightly on the cheek and say, ‘I promise I’m just kidding.’

As if he’s decided it’s more trouble that it’s worth being peeved with you, Brad cracks a smile. And you breathe a sigh of relief. Caught up in a wave of relief, and a weird desire to seal your innocence and wipe out the stain of the bet, you wind up in bed with him

It was always going to happen, you think, looking back on the night. The lovely evening sun, a couple of bottles of wine, the slightly charged atmosphere, the flirting, and his unbelievable body. You were swept away by a force greater than you. He’s lying there next to you, sleeping like a baby. Like a simple, velodrome-loving boy in the body of an incredibly fit man.

You wonder whether you can continue seeing Brad. Is it sustainable, this lust? It’s more fun than a night in front of the telly with Alice. Not that that’s all single life has to offer, of course. There are plenty more fish in the sea. Maybe you could find someone who had Brad’s physical attributes and the mind of... well, someone smarter.

 

What do you think? It's your final choice now...

 

If you see Brad again go to Chapter Seven XIV to face the consequences

If you give Brad the brush off go to Chapter Seven XVIII to face the consequences