For some reason, I decided Libby would be able to impersonate Lady Gaga – I don’t know why, I just thought it’d be a cool quirk to have. Gaga’s You and I makes quite a cool theme for Patrick and Libby so when our Broken Ballerina gets tipsy and sings in the local pub, what better song for her to belt out to the guy who’s driving her potty?
‘Where the hell have you been?’ Scott asked.
‘Grace’s. Had some–’ Patrick shook his head, dragging Scott away from Clara’s gossip-mongering ears. ‘It doesn’t matter. Where’s Libby?’
‘Gone home. It’s fair to say she was shitfaced.’
Patrick swore. ‘What happened?’
‘She drank a lot of wine. Did you know she can play the piano? She also does a very good Lady Gaga impression and can do pirouette things with a shot of vodka in each hand and one on her head. That girl has some top party tricks.’
Patrick perched on one of the outside tables, staring at the dark windows at Maggie’s cottage. ‘When did she go?’
‘Hour ago. Xander had to carry her home.’
Patrick folded his arms, desperate not to show his jealousy. Bloody Xander.
‘Did you tell her?’ Scott asked.
‘Didn’t get chance.’
‘Well, you’ve missed your opportunity tonight.’ Scott clapped his back. ‘Gotta go.’
Patrick wandered across the Green, past his own house, down the lane to her garden. Maybe she’d be sobering up with a mug of tea. She wasn’t. Sod it. He crossed the lawn. Okay, this was borderline stalker territory. There were no lights on in the house. This would be classed as breaking and entering. Or checking she’s okay, not choking on her own vomit. A public service really. He smiled at himself. No, this was stalking. He wanted her to be awake.
‘Libby?’ he called softly, not wanting to freak her out. ‘Libs?’
In the living room, she lay curled up and unconscious on the sofa, her hair covering her face. Trust Xander to do a half-arsed job of taking a girl to bed. Hyssop sat at her feet, watching over her as Patrick lifted her hair off her face. Still breathing. Still wearing her biking gear. Christ, that seemed a week ago. He should go, but he rubbed Hyssop’s chin. Libby didn’t look very comfortable. He could put her to bed. When he picked her up, would she wake up?
This had to be the lamest tactic ever.
‘Libs?’ He gently shook her shoulder. ‘Libs, you need to go to bed.’
No response. She wasn’t waking up. He sighed, disappointment coursing through him, but scooped her up. She was as light as a feather. Carefully, he picked his way around the furniture and headed upstairs. Her head lolled against his shoulder. How the hell did she still smell… pretty? She hadn’t had a shower after the ride. Neither had he, but he bet he didn’t smell like an English summer’s day. There was something odd about the roses.
A stair creaked and she stirred, wrapping her arms around his neck. Oh, this was a bad idea. Her fingers laced into his hair at the back of his neck. A very bad idea.
‘…must be dreaming…’ she mumbled.
‘Yes, you’re dreaming. Go back to sleep.’ Was this the kind of dream she had? He quite liked it.
It wasn’t difficult to tell which bedroom was whose. The first one he came to smelled of that bloody awful, cloying perfume Zoë wore and high heels were scattered around the floor. In the other room, several books were piled up on the bedside table, photos of horses were stuck to the dressing table mirror and it smelled of roses and sweet peas.
He laid her down, drawing the line at even the idea of removing any clothes. Gently he stroked her hair back.
He kissed her, barely brushing his lips against hers. But sleeping beauty didn’t wake.
She was a habit. An addiction.