(A Work In Progress Excerpt)
(A Work In Progress Excerpt)
A bewildered grin flickered across her face as she moved swiftly into the dining room to join the main party of guests, who were now attacking the buffet table with fervour. As the hostess of this New Year’s Eve soiree, her absence had been hardly inconspicuous; she noted a few raised eye-brows and halted conversations as she entered the room. She managed to force a smile while endeavouring to make light of the conflicting emotions battling for supremacy in her head. In one sense she felt smug, enjoying the obvious effect ‘their moment’ had inflicted upon him. This wasn't unusual; she possessed a naturally flirtatious personality, and revelled in the way a few well-chosen words or a sensual gaze could leave a man hungry for more. But this was different. She had experienced a chemistry so real, so unexpected, that she was now the one hungry. This stranger, walking a few steps behind her, had stirred previously untapped emotions, and as a consequence she found herself in a state of confusion and frustration.
Scolding herself for allowing these feelings to dominate her thoughts, she sauntered over to her husband and felt his arm protectively fall about her shoulders. She slipped one arm around his waist and held him tight, deliberately catching the eye of her protagonist. How dare this stranger make her feel this way? A stranger who commanded her body and captivated her mind; a stranger who both baffled and inspired her, not through conversation alone, but through his eyes, his movement, and his simple touch too. A man who made her tingle with excitement, had penetrated her tough exterior, destroying the protective walls as though they were made of paper. A man who had reached out and touched her naked soul.
The evening continued in a whirl of canapés and background music. Guests mingled freely, and as the alcohol flowed, the atmosphere became more raucous. She chatted with friends, but would intermittently steal a glance in his direction, and their eyes would lock once again. They studied each other intently as though trying to determine their next move. Midnight duly arrived to the jubilant cries of ‘Happy New Year!’ The annual ritual of hugging and kissing friends, as well as complete strangers, began in earnest as every permutation in the room wished each other all the best for the coming year. She looked on as he prised Jonathan from his latest girlfriend and gave him an almighty bear hug. How long had they been friends, she pondered? In all the years she’d known Jonathan, he’d never spoken of this man.
The room was alive to the sound of celebration; party poppers and streamers, the popping of champagne corks, and drunken choruses of Auld Lang Syne, many of which sadly out of tune. Fireworks exploded from the gardens of neighbouring houses, and several guests made their way onto the terrace to watch the night time spectacle. She sipped her champagne and congratulated herself on a successful evening, while half-listening to friends discuss their New Year’s resolutions. It was then that she noticed him, tentatively shuffling towards her; with each step the music and guests disappeared in a haze, until he stood before her. He raised his glass, and she reciprocated; a faint chink of crystal that only they heard.
“Happy New Year,” he whispered. His voice was warm and inviting, and drew her closer.
“May all our dreams come true,” she replied, realising she had spoken before considering her words. She was once more lost in another world, where time stood still and events were of no consequence.
A thunderous explosion suddenly lit up the night sky through the French windows, bringing her to her senses. The last of the guests in the room made their way hurriedly out onto the terrace. He smiled at her. They both knew there was little more to be said. Instinctively, they turned to join the others.
The party continued long after the neighbouring pyrotechnics had fizzled out. Drinks continued to flow, and lively dance music now pulsed loudly throughout the house, providing it with a heartbeat. She cavorted with friends, doing her best to avoid him, conscious that her large intake of alcohol could easily lead her into trouble. He seemed equally occupied with Jonathan, who was beginning to look worse for wear. She pitied his new girlfriend; she doubted she’d be seeing any more fireworks tonight.
Once the New Year had been officially seen in, revellers began slowly departing, and by three in the morning, festivities were on the wane. The last remaining guests were assembled in the large hallway, gathering their coats.
“It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” His words were deliberately brief and somewhat hesitant, while awaiting her response.
“Thank you for coming,” was all she could muster, desperately trying to conjure a witty remark, berating herself when her confused mind refused to co-operate.
He took her hand, lifted it slowly towards his mouth and planted a soft kiss upon it, unaware of the effect such an action stirred within her. She felt light-headed, the combination of chemistry and alcohol mixing well. She found herself wishing the moment would last forever. He read her mind while gazing into her eyes, then reluctantly let her hand fall to her side as he nodded in the direction of her husband, who was making his way towards them.
She watched as he took her husband’s hand and shook it firmly, made his farewell and headed for the front door, supporting a rather inebriated Jonathan, much to the relief of his girlfriend. Within seconds he was gone, along with the remainder of the guests, who had now spilled out into the early New Year’s Day morning to the sound of a mixture of stifled giggles and hushed conversations.
A Few Facts About A S Wilkins (aka Charming Man)
Music is my passion, I love to play drums, in several bands and I love The Smiths, Morrissey, The Cure and Echobelly, to name a few. I can often be heard drumming at my desk when I’m supposed to be hard at it, working on my latest project; I also tap away incessantly to music on the steering wheel of my car too!
I love comedy and wish it was something I could’ve broken into in a professional capacity when I was younger. I’m inspired by the likes of Woody Allen and the Monty Python team. I often make my kids laugh with my silly sense of humour. I have a habit of creating my own characters and voices, and act them out while I’m in the kitchen; my children fall about with laughter, although I often question if they’re laughing with me or at me.
I have a passion for red wine, cheese and Danish television dramas. I love to combine all three of an evening after a hard day at my desk, although my children often place bets as to how long I’ll stay awake once I’ve sat down; it’s tiring work being creative all day!
I’m a die-hard West Ham United supporter.
From a purely physical perspective, Keira Knightley is my ideal woman, and I hope one day to bump into her at a West Ham game.
I’ve lived in many different places around the world including Denmark, France, Italy and Belgium to name a few. I still have a house in rural France, and I hope to one day retire there and see out my days writing in the tranquillity of the scenic French countryside.
It was often said I bear a resemblance to the actor Christopher Lambert. I may have done once, but I think we’ve both moved on in recent years.
I’m not a huge fan of cooking, but I’ve been told I possess exemplary baking skills. Apparently banana cake and Baileys (Irish cream) cheesecake are my forte!
As a young boy, I had a huge crush on Hayley Mills, but who didn’t?