Afric: Quills. And I know, okay? I was duped by a top 100 list.
Neil: How could anyone categorise a film about the Marquis de Sade as a romance anyway?
Afric: Agreed. Whoever made that list needs their head checked. I’ll be haunted by images of Geoffrey Rush’s bare backside for weeks.
Neil: Weeks? It’ll take me years to get over it.
Afric: LOL. Disturbing scenes and lack of romance aside, you have to admit it was a good movie, though.
Neil: It was decent, but I insist on choosing the next one. It might be a while before I can trust you again.
Afric: Billy’s gone home, and now I’m lonely.
Neil: I’m sorry.
Afric: I wanted him to move here, but he says he has too much going on in Dublin.
Neil: Do you miss your family a lot?
Afric: Yes and no. I love them, but growing up in a house with so many people was claustrophobic at times. I need my own space nowadays. I do enjoy going to visit them, though.
Neil: I feel the same way. I love my grandma and Rosie, and I like seeing them most days, but I don’t think I could live with them, not at this age anyway. My flat is my sanctuary.
Afric: Speaking of your flat, you need to invite me over when you get back.
Neil: Invite you over for what?
Afric: To watch period dramas together. Our nightly ritual still needs to be maintained.
Neil: Yes, but we don’t have to stop doing it via video call.
Afric: Are you afraid to watch romances with me in person, Neil? Will you be overcome by the sexy scenes and try to ravish me out of sheer horniness?
Neil: Aside from Quills (which I’m still not sure I’ve forgiven you for), nothing we’ve watched has contained graphic scenes. And no, I won’t be overcome. There’s this thing called self-control.
Afric: Well, I still want an invite to your flat. You’ve seen mine. It’s only fair that I get to see yours.
Neil: I’ll take it under consideration.
Afric: If you don’t invite me, I’ll turn up when you aren’t expecting me.
Neil: You don’t know my address.
Afric: I’ll wheedle it out of Michaela.
Neil: I won’t open the door.
Afric: You’d leave me out in the cold? :-(
Neil: For Christ’s sake. Fine. You can come over some night when I’m back.
Afric: Yes! I can’t WAIT.
Neil: Why do I feel like I’m already regretting this?
Afric: Don’t regret it. I’ll be a saint. I won’t even sneak a peek in your knicker drawer.
Neil: You’re the worst.
Afric: I’m the best, and you know it.
It was my final night in New York. In the morning, we all flew home to London, and I couldn’t wait to sleep in my own bed again. I missed the familiarity of my flat, even though it could be a little lonely sometimes. Aside from eating meals alone, I mostly enjoyed living by myself, though. Sure, one day I wanted to have a big house and a family of my own, but for now, my flat was where I could relax and be myself.
At the very least, it was where all my stuff was.
I’d just finished yet another room service dinner when a video call came through on my laptop. After the craziness of the final day of shooting, I’d almost forgotten about my nightly ritual with Afric. Yes, it was an unusual arrangement, but I’d become attached to it. We seemed to be in almost constant contact these days.
No one could be more surprised by how much I’d ended up enjoying her friendship than me.
I enjoyed the random thoughts she messaged me about at all times of the day and night. And I enjoyed how much it amused her to tease me. Sometimes I had the urge to reply to her messages with something a little less stiff and uptight, but it was like we’d taken on these roles, with her being the provocateur and me being the irritable grouch who reacted.
I’d gotten so used to interacting with her virtually that I was slightly apprehensive about seeing her in person again. I feared it was going to be too intense. I’d developed a real affection for her during these weeks apart, and it was very different from how I’d felt about her before I left. I wasn’t sure how to handle the change.
Not to mention, there was Annabelle to deal with when I got back.
I definitely wasn’t looking forward to that.
Walking over to the bed, I sat down and accepted Afric’s call. When she filled the screen, I blinked. Then I did a double-take.
“Hey, so I actually think we might have watched every decent period drama out there. I’ve been at a loss to find something new that has good reviews,” she said, but I barely heard her. I was too struck by the sight of her.
“Neil?” she said, frowning. “Are you okay?”