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Old 02-20-2006, 04:34 PM   #1
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Up Close & Personal Chapter 11

All fiction, as usual. Yes, that's ALL fiction. This is a bit longer, so I hope you enjoy.

**************************


Chapter 11

Why is being a girl such hard work? There’s so much to do before you even think about going out for the evening. Now, normally I’d be ready in five minutes flat to go down the pub and sit around in jeans, but as we all know, tonight is entirely different. And so I’m forcing myself to do dull girly things like straighten my hair and put on a little make-up (not loads, as I don’t wear it that much) and find some jewellery that will go with my lovely new dress. Because it is definitely lovely, even if the person wearing it is not.

Once I’ve had my shower, dried and sorted my hair, made sure my legs are shaved and smooth and put on my prettiest underwear (strapless bra, eek, I’m scared of these things, what if it falls down?), it’s drawing ever nearer to seven and I am in danger of a major panic attack. Molly, sensing danger, has taken refuge under my bed, only venturing out occasionally to pass a miaowing judgment on my outfit. I think she likes it, but then I’d take any sort of compliment right now.

Just as a note in case any of you find yourselves getting ready for a date with a member of U2 – don’t try to get ready to their music. It makes everything worse! I turned off my ‘Achtung Baby’ tape ages ago and now the radio is blasting out some inane dance beat that would ordinarily cause me to yank out the plug, but it’s anonymous and strangely soothing as I arrange myself in the dress and try to work out the logistics of the shoes, which seem to be to be far too high.

Altogether, though, I am ready by five to seven and I am amazed. Good job, Rachel! Now comes a worse part – waiting for Larry to show up. I’ve learned via my friends that waiting for boys to arrive is torture. Now it’s my turn, as I go downstairs, small handbag (borrowed from my mum’s wardrobe) in tow, and dig my long black coat out of the cupboard. Once that’s done, I get myself a drink in the kitchen and perch by the window, trying not to peer out every two seconds, but it’s so, so difficult when my heart’s thundering in my chest and I’m feeling rather dizzy. Maybe I put too much perfume on after all.

Guess what? It’s now ten past seven, I feel no less sick, and Larry is still not here. If I didn’t have mascara on, I’d be crying. I look stupid, I feel more stupid, and this whole thing is just…

The doorbell rings and I jump with fright.

“Oh God, oh God,” I mutter to myself, wondering if maybe I should have let Adele come round so she could push me out of the door. My legs don’t seem to want to take me their on their own.

The bell rings again and I realise I’ve been hovering in the hall for about two minutes. I take a deep, deep breath, perhaps two, and check my reflection in the mirror as I head for the door. I wish I hadn’t, because it just reminds me how I shouldn’t be doing this. It really isn’t me and Larry is going to see right through it.

I open the door and just about resist the urge to shut my eyes against what I am sure is coming. The gentle let-down, the apology and excuses.

Except none of that happens. Larry is there, smiling a little, looking quite nervous too, if I’m not mistaken (and I might well be). He’s wearing a grey suit with an open-necked shirt and he looks so gorgeous I could melt. I don’t, though, and instead I try a smile.

“Hi.” I actually want to add a ‘you’re late!’ but I imagine that’d get us off on the totally wrong foot.

“Hi,” he says back. “You look beautiful.”

Did I just hear correctly? I’m not quite sure. I blink.

“No I don’t,” I reply on reflex. I am not good with compliments. Not that I often get them, but when I do they make me uncomfortable.

Larry grins. “Yes, you do.” He holds out an arm and I can’t help smiling back as I close the door, take his arm and let him lead me to the waiting taxi which is sitting at the end of my drive. “It was either this or my Harley,” he adds as he opens the door for me, and I try to get in without showing any parts of my body I’d rather keep hidden.

“I’m glad it’s this,” I answer when he’s sitting next to me in the back. “I don’t think I’d get away with this dress on a bike.”

“Oh, I’m not sure,” Larry chuckles, leaning in, making my skin tingle by his mere presence. “I think you’d look pretty good.” He drops a light kiss to my cheek, I blush, he takes my hand and we sit in companionable silence as the taxi takes us to downtown Dublin.

Right here and right now I have to apologise. I’d like to think I’ve put across the impression that I am down-to-earth and not the sort of girl who’d act silly around men and make other girls hate her guts. And truly, that isn’t me at all. I’m going to try my best to stay that way but I’m aware this might not happen with Larry by my side. It’s impossible to act entirely normal. I’m so unbelievably nervous and he’s just… well, Larry, and I’m sure you understand if I start behaving less like myself. I’m already giggling at a lame joke Larry makes as we head into the restaurant, but I don’t want him to think I don’t like him. God, this is so hard!

The table we’re sitting at is, by the looks of things, the best in the house. I don’t know why I am surprised, considering Larry’s status, but I am. I’m not used to it, I suppose. We have a great view of the river and the sky above is filled with twinkly stars, which makes the setting even more romantic. I order soup and a chicken dish which sounds nice, and Larry orders a vegetarian thing, I don’t know what, I am not even listening because across the room I have spotted someone who is fast becoming our relationship nemesis.

Bono.

Larry sees me looking and follows my line of vision, sighing when he spots him. “Oh, yeah,” he says, turning back to me. “This time it’s an accident. He mentioned coming here tonight but by that time it was too late and, well, I didn’t let him know we’d be here too.” He smiles apologetically. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I reply, because it is. I’m sure Bono’s got more right to be here than I do. And it’s not as if he isn’t a nice person. Maybe too nice, but that’s my own issue. “Is he bringing Ali?”

“Don’t know,” Larry says into the menu, and I frown until I look over again to see Bono has been joined by – yep, you’re right – Edge and Adam, in a weird sort of U2 threesome that most girls would drool over. Not me. I’m suddenly feeling under more scrutiny than I already did, and Larry seems to realise because he takes my hand across the table.

“They’re not sitting anywhere near us,” he insists, his eyes beautiful and blue. “Honestly, none of us realised. They don’t know we’re here, I promise. And if we sit quietly, they’ll never find out. It’s just my bloody bad luck, that’s all.” And he looks so annoyed that I laugh.

“Oh, don’t worry, it’s fine,” I tell him, squeezing his hand. That feels nice. “I’m sure we can give them plenty to talk about if they want it.”

Larry’s eyes widen a little at me, and I wonder if I really just said that. Either I’m getting better at this flirting thing, or I’m more relaxed. Even in this dress I think it’s the latter.

By the time our food arrives there is no sign of the other three anywhere, and it appears Larry was right. Normally, of course, I’d be more than ecstatic to see the other members of my favourite band, but this isn’t normal. I haven’t even met Adam, for a start, and anyway I’m here to get to know Larry.

I am getting to know him, too, over our delicious meals. He isn’t a big talker, at least not yet, but he’s at ease telling me about his school and various stories about gigs and tours. I love listening to him speak, his accent is just to die for, but he seems to want to hear me more, so when he asks questions I answer as best I can, despite knowing I am not the most interesting of people by a long way.

“Adele and I have been friends for years,” I’m telling him over the main course. “She helped me choose this outfit, actually. Leave it to me and I’d be in a pair of jeans.” I’m about to kick myself for saying that when Larry smiles.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, although I think you look perfect in that dress.”

I meet his eyes and I can see he’s challenging me to accept the compliment, teasing me not to automatically say ‘no, I don’t, I look terrible’. What hits me more, though, is that I can see he means what he says. He isn’t just passing off words in an attempt to make me like him. He does think I look perfect, and I realise I can’t reject that, whether I believe it myself or not.

“Thank you,” is what I say, and we smile shyly at one another.

Then, just as I am daring to hope the evening is going well, the unimaginable happens. Well, it is imaginable. In fact it’s typical. I reach over for the salt and knock over my big glass of water. The water spills across the tablecloth, soaking not only most of the dress which I have grown to love, but Larry’s shirt as well. I daren’t even look up as the glass clatters to the floor and several guests pause their conversations to peer over nosily.

Completely forgetting my ‘best behaviour’, I cry, “Oh, shit,” and jump up from the table, still not looking at Larry, not wanting to see how disappointed he must be that I turned out to be a stupid, clumsy fool.

In the ladies, I stare in the mirror and despair at the state of my dress. A couple of women walk past; one gives me a haughty sort of glare, but the other stops.

“Use the hand-dryer,” she suggests, in a not-unkind voice. “That’s what I do when I spill stuff. Which happens all the time. Me husband’s forever saying he can’t take me out anywhere.”

I try to smile but I’m too emotionally-scarred. “I’m on a first date,” I moan, stepping over to the hand-dryer and positioning the nozzle at the wettest part of the dress. “I wanted to make a good impression and now look at me. I’m a bloody idiot.”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” the woman says sympathetically. She’s dark-haired, in her forties I guess, and she has a pretty Dublin accent. “Accidents happen. If a man likes you, he won’t be put off by something as small as this. You’ve a sweet face, love, I doubt if he’s running away any time soon.”

“That’s very kind,” I reply, “but he’s, well, he’s really gorgeous. I mean, really. He could have any girl he wanted.”

“Ah, but he’s here with you, isn’t he?” the woman says wisely, and I nod, the feeling of dread in my stomach loosening a little. “Well then, that would suggest it’s you he wants. C’mon, just dry a little more and then go back out there and show him what you’re made of.”

I’m very glad I met this woman, whose name turns out to be Grainne, because by the time I exit the toilets I feel better, not quite as scared, and even though my dress remains damp I am less bothered about it. All I want is to get back to the table and continue my date with Larry.

That thought is rudely interrupted when I see that Larry’s vacated his seat. I sit back down and try to finish my chicken, but I keep glancing around, wondering where he’s gone. Honestly, what do you do when your date disappears? Mind you, I suppose that’s what he was thinking when I ran off to the bathroom without a word.

Two minutes later, all is well as Larry returns and we smile at each other.

“I’m sorry,” I say quickly. “I was just so embarrassed, I cannot believe I did that. Sorry for ruining your shirt, too.”

“It’s not ruined,” he replies, looking happy to see me. Which is quite cool. “But I was a bit worried. You’ve been on edge all evening. I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”

I nod, maybe a bit too enthusiastically. “I am, this is great. I’m just not used to being in such a nice restaurant with a nice guy and wearing a nice dress…” I sigh. “I’m sorry. I suppose I feel a bit weird because usually I’m in front of the TV in my pyjamas eating chocolate. I didn’t want you to see that, so I’ve been doing my best to act natural but well, this whole date thing is scary for me. Never been on one before.”

“Really?” Larry takes a sip of wine. That’s another thing I never do. Drink wine. “I wouldn’t have known, Rachel. But you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. Not with me. I hate all that. I see it all the time in my line of work and I can’t stand when people aren’t being true to themselves. Look.” He leans forward and takes my hand in his. My skin shivers. “I realised last week that you were an interesting person and I wanted to get to know you better. I still do. The real you, though.”

Not only is that the sweetest thing anyone has said to me, but it’s the most Larry has said in one go this evening. I like it. It makes me bold.

“Well if that’s what you want… I’m warning you though, the real me can be a right bitch.”

Larry laughs. “No problem. I’m sure I can handle that.”

“We’ll see.”

We smile at each other some more, and then Larry asks if I’d like to go. I tell him that would be fine (I’ve had plenty to eat!), and he pays the bill before helping me with my coat, putting his on and leading me out of the restaurant, our hands still linked. I can’t resist a glance back over my shoulder and catch sight of Edge, Adam and Bono watching us make our way out of the door. I give them a little wave, cheekily, bolstered by the fact Larry’s holding my hand.

Larry’s holding my hand!

Not only that, but outside where it’s cold and threatening more rain, Larry takes me just around the corner from the front door, where the light from the restaurant casts shadows across the cobbled street. I can barely breathe when Larry takes my other hand as well.

“Rachel, I’ve had a really good night. I don’t… do this a lot, y’know. I haven’t been out with someone in a long time. I don’t even know why we’re here now, really, except… I think you’re making me feel alive.” I realise he’s not looking at me, just at my hands, and I wonder exactly how hard tonight has been for him. I’ve been so utterly wrapped up in my own daft insecurities that I haven’t given a single real thought to how Larry might be feeling. After all, he’s the one in the vulnerable position, being well-known and easy to take advantage of if he gets involved with the wrong person. He’s decided I’m worth the risk, and it’s that which makes the breath catch in my throat properly.

“I had a really good time, too,” is all I say. Then I’m looking up at him, he’s found my eyes, and he’s kissing me.

I don’t even have brainpower to think oh my God Larry is kissing me, at least not much, because the greater part of me is given over entirely to the experience of being this close to him – his hands are on my waist, my arms around his – as he kisses me gently for a long time before eventually his tongue meets mine somewhere in the middle and I sigh, sinking against him.

Vaguely, I feel rain hit the back of my neck, probably wrecking my hair, but you know what? I couldn’t care less!


Now, here is where you guys decide if I continue or not. I'm enjoying writing it, no question, but this is quite a nice ending. However, I'm sure I could go on for a good few more chapters at least especially if you all wanted some, um, intimate action, but I don't want to overstay my welcome. So, please, opinions, would you care for any more? I'm not after compliments, lol, I genuinely do want to know your views! I'm up for continuing but yeah, whatever you guys want.
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Old 02-20-2006, 04:51 PM   #2
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me likes! me really likes! please continue. i think a few more chapters will work. ;-)
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Old 02-20-2006, 05:09 PM   #3
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I think you should continue, it would be nice to see the relationship develop further now its just got really interesting
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Old 02-20-2006, 05:40 PM   #4
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I think that this is a nice ending, just as you said, but this story is too good to end here! I want to read more! Please?
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Old 02-20-2006, 07:16 PM   #5
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its a great ending but it could go for a few more chapters

it'd be wonderful to see their relationship evolve and develop through the problems that come along in a normal relationship and also U2 in general

great chapter
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Old 02-21-2006, 12:38 AM   #6
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Oh, you should definitely continue writing more of this story ...
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Old 02-21-2006, 01:16 AM   #7
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and yes.. CONTINUE!
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Old 02-21-2006, 01:19 AM   #8
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I would LOVE to read more! This is an awesome story, and I love your writing. Larry...
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Old 02-21-2006, 04:56 AM   #9
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Gimme more please
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Old 02-21-2006, 10:53 AM   #10
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Please continue!
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Old 02-21-2006, 11:02 AM   #11
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You should make Larry work a bit to get the girl.......
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:06 PM   #12
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more more MORE. I've loved every chapter, you can't go wrong.
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Old 02-21-2006, 04:39 PM   #13
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I love this story! keep going


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Old 02-21-2006, 04:41 PM   #14
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awww poor larry! Everything workin' against him....
great story sofar! ^^ larry's soooo cute when he's not the tough ass bloke he usually is.
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