by Lady Holly
James breaks off arguing and turns to look at her. “Did you just snort?”
His Kiss - Part Seven
Thursday evening, Henry dresses in her favourite jeans, a cute, light blue camisole, and her favourite low top converse. For once she's left her hair down, letting it hang down her back in loose curls. Putting the finishing touches to her makeup, she hears Darcy's car pull up outside, and Darcy clattering down the garden path in heels to ring the front door bell.
“Henrietta! Darcy's here!” Her mum yells up the stairs.
“Yeah, I know, Mum! I'll just be a minute!” Henry yells back. Looking out of the window at the darkened October sky, Henry notices that the heavy night clouds have bought a light rain shower with them as they have rolled in. She quickly grabs her coat off the sofa, picked up her bag with her phone and purse in, and runs down the stairs.
“Hey, Darcy, you excited?” Excited was an understatement, her friend is literally jumping up and down. Darcy looks stunning as usual. Her dark hair has been straightened, falling in a sleek curtain to her shoulders. She'd gone for the smoky make up look – black smudged eyeliner that made her pale blue eyes stand out, which she'd paired with a lacy black dress and chunky heeled boots. It was definitely over the top for the cinema, but Darcy can somehow dress up and then make it look casual at the same time. Henry also doesn’t fail to notice Darcy’s lack of a coat; in just a few days the weather had officially turned for good.
Henry smiles at just how different their styles are. Whenever they go out shopping they always get strange looks – from the outside they look like the strangest pair. Darcy in her outrageous eye-catching costumes and stunning beauty; Henry in plain clothes and preferring to stay in the background, out of the limelight.
Quickly shouting goodbye to her mum, Catherine and Zoe, Henry herds Darcy out of the door, grabbing her arm and hurrying down the path into the waiting vehicle and out of the rain.
“Slow down, Henry you know I can't walk well in these heels!” Darcy gasps, climbing into the front seat next to her mum and brushing the raindrops off of her black dress. “So who did you invite to the cinema then?” She asks Henry, clipping in her seat belt and turning to look at Henry.
“Oh, I asked George if he wouldn't mind. I think him and James have already become quite close so I don't think it'll be awkward or anything,” she replies, clipping in her own seatbelt.
Satisfied, Darcy turns back to the front, reaching to turn on the radio and turning up the volume when she recognises the song.
It was only a short journey to their local cinema, and when they got there Darcy bounded in like an excited puppy, dragging Henry after her.
“Darcy! We're already ten minutes early! I'm telling you, no one will be there yet!” But she can't help laughing at how affected Darcy is; normally Darcy would insist that they had to be at least fifteen minutes late, keep whoever it was waiting so that they knew who was in charge. She was the Queen of social rules and etiquette, and it had always amused Henry just how well Darcy knew how to act in every social situation. Not tonight though; her excitement had clearly gotten the better of her and Henry feared they'd have to wait for the boys to arrive.
As they near the ticket booths though, Henry realises James and George are already waiting. Her heart skips a beat when she sees James, dressed casually in jeans and a shirt and looking heartbreakingly handsome. But no, she can't think like that.
When they reach the guys, Henry turns all her attention to George, leaving Darcy to greet James.
“Thanks for coming, George.” She smiles at him.
“No problem, Henry, I've been wanting to watch this film for ages anyway.”
The film they were watching was the latest horror film. Darcy had chosen it, no doubt so that she could hold James' hand and act scared – it's the sort of thing Henry thought she'd do if she had a boyfriend.
The tickets had been brought before Henry and Darcy arrived, so the four of them made their way to their screen.
George leads, walking up the steps to the back, then shuffling into the last row. Henry follows and sits down next to him – after all, he is supposed to be her date.
She turns to her left to point out the crazy old lady her and Darcy have seen up here the last few times to Darcy, and is shocked when she comes nose to nose instead with James. His brilliant green eyes are glowing from the reflection of the bright screen in the dark room. She gulps.
“Yes?” He whispers, not taking his eyes off her.
“Doesn't matter, I thought you were Darcy,” she replies, turning back abruptly to face the front. She is sure Darcy had been following her, how on earth had James manoeuvred himself so that he could sit between them? Or was she just thinking way too much into this? Why would James fight to sit next to her? Darcy is his girlfriend, why would he change things so that he could specifically sit next to Henry?
It just seemed such a James thing to do, though. It made Henry feel very uncomfortable, but there was nothing she could do about it now, she'd just have to put up with it until the film ended, and then make a hasty retreat.
But just knowing that James was inches from her gave her butterflies. If she were to put her arm on the joint armrest now, they'd be touching. And it wouldn't even look suspicious. Of course, she wasn't actually going to do that though. God no.
Instead, Henry turns subtly to George – he looks a bit nervous. What has gotten into him? He had been laughing and joking just minutes ago, what had changed?
Henry sits back in her chair, utterly confused and wishing that she'd never taken Darcy up on this whole double date thing. The film hadn't even started yet, and she could already see so many ways that it could go wrong.
About twenty minutes into the film, a particularly ugly half human half wolf was stalking some poor girl who was sitting alone in her car with all the doors locked.
Henry hears Darcy whimper, and then feels a hand creep over her lap and squeeze her own hand tightly. Only it isn't James' cheating hand, it is George’s. Which shocks Henry even more. She stares down in horror at her lap, wondering what on earth to do. Henry had made it clear to George when she invited him; he was coming as her friend, to even out the numbers. She didn't feel that way about George, and up until just now, she hadn't thought he felt that way about her, either. Why did he have to go and complicate things even further?
Unfortunately, James chooses that moment to turn and look at Henry, probably to see how she reacted to a gruesome scene. When he realises she isn't watching the screen, he looks to see what has held her attention. Then stiffens. What is George doing? Holding hands with his Henry. He immediately sets about trying to break them up. “Popcorn, Henry?” He stage-whispers, yanking the popcorn out of Darcy's hands and holding it out to Henry.
“Yes, thank you.” Henry receives the big bag with both of her arms, thinking it is a good excuse to let go of George. After she's let his hand go, George pulls his own hand out of her lap and shifts in his seat.
Mission accomplished, thinks James as he settles back, satisfied now that George isn't touching Henry anymore.
Henry realises a moment later that it may have looked a bit suspicious – in the queue for refreshments, she had told everyone she didn't like popcorn, and gone to choose some dolly mix instead. But she'd eaten all of them before the film even started, in her head blaming James for making her all nervous. So popcorn it was.
She shovels some of the kernels into her mouth, silently offering the bag to George. She watches as he shakes his head, not taking his eyes off of the film. Oh dear. Henry shrugs, scooping up some more popcorn before returning the bag to Darcy, who glares at her. What? Once again, Henry is confused. What had she done?
When Henry next has the bag of popcorn, she is staring engrossed at the screen. A different, even uglier monster had cornered a blonde girl in the bathroom, and was currently in the process of munching her arm off.
Henry had never been affected by gruesome films. Well, not ones that were unrealistic, anyway. Give her a fantasy horror any day, she loved guessing just how messed up the writers actually were. It was those films that were terrifyingly realistic and that Henry could see happening to her that made her feel sick.
The popcorn suddenly flies into the air as Henry unexpectedly feels an arm drape itself casually around her shoulders.
“Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you, Henry.” George leans across and whispers in her ear.
Oh god! What was she supposed to do now?
The monster finally put the poor girl out of her misery, breaking her neck and killing her.
George pulls Henry nearer, Henry can only assume in anticipation that she’ll find the scene scary and want someone to comfort her.
Henry just doesn't feel right in his arms. Which makes her think of James, and how right she'd felt in his arms the other night... but she can't think about that now. Or ever.
When he thinks Henry isn't looking, George leans forward ever so slightly to see if James can see where he has his arm.
But Henry sees. It looked like George was also playing some weird game. What was he up to? She thinks to herself, watching amusedly as James catches sight of what is happening and glares.
Is he trying to make James jealous? But that won't work anyway, James has a girlfriend, so why would he need to be jealous of George? Just what is going on? Henry can’t figure it out. She can’t keep her attention on the film, not with James acting weird and George behaving oddly.
Henry sighs, leaning her head back in defeat before realising that now she is laying on George's arm and jumps forward, once more jolting the popcorn so that the top bits tumble angrily to the floor.
“Henry?” George whispers.
She turned to face him, then realises it would be more effective if she faced the front but leaned in with her ear.
“I'm sorry about this. Don't worry, I'm not trying to make a move on you.”
Henry nearly spits out her mouthful of popcorn. This was getting too weird. “You're not?” She chokes.
“Nope.” He throws her a silly grin, which she supposes is meant to be reassuring, so she smiles back.
Henry is still clueless as to what is going on, but can't ask George any more questions because the person in front of them turns around and shushes them, throwing in a murderous glare for good measure.
Henry can feel James shifting about in his seat next to her, his leg brushing up against hers. It carries on for a full minute before she bursts out, “Would you please sit still?” It comes out more as a polite command than a question, and when James catches her annoyed look, he stops wiggling, looking like a naughty schoolboy who's just been told off by the headmistress.
“Will you please be quiet?!” A man of about forty hisses, turning around to glare at them. His thick moustache wiggles up and down as he speaks.
Henry and James look at each other and burst out laughing, and Henry clamps her hand over her mouth to smother the sound. George starts to chuckle too, stroking Henry's shoulder gently with his thumb. This is too much for James, and he launches himself over Henry's lap. Darcy stares at her boyfriend, who appears to be making a move, albeit an admittedly poor one, on her best friend.
“Mate, this is a public cinema. Can't you stop groping her for a few hours?” James growls at George. George's bewildered face is enough to set Henry off again. She really shouldn't be laughing, the situation isn't at all funny, especially because she is in the middle of it, but she just can't help it. James knows she doesn’t have a boyfriend, and he has no right to get jealous. Besides, George only had his arm around his 'date'.
Darcy is now sitting ramrod straight in her chair, arms folded. She is clearly not amused at the scene in front of her.
To Henry, James sounded decidedly like stuffy old moustache man in front of them. Who, consequently, turns around to give them another warning. James is still bent across Henry's lap having a whispered argument with George, and neither pay any attention to him.
Henry manages to keep quiet until moustache man has turned back around, before letting out another laugh, which, because she has been holding it in, comes out more like a snort.
James breaks off arguing and turns to look at her. “Did you just snort?” Henry can't shut up long enough to form a reply, so nods. The grin he throws her makes him look so charming that she could've sworn her heart stops. She promptly gets hiccups.
Darcy sighs loudly, elbowing James' legs, which are the only bit of him still left on his seat, and trying to get his attention.
“... Nuts!” George's sentences are getting louder.
Henry cannot for the life of her imagine what they are talking about. Her whole view of the film is blocked by James, so she gives up trying to keep up with which teenagers have been eaten by the monsters and sits back, trying to listen to what James and George are whispering furiously about.
“....Mark Roberts! …... electric chair! ….. not good enough!”
“Hic!” She can't catch all of the words. Where did Mark come in all of this? She shifts a little closer. But before she can get a grasp on the conversation, Darcy's drink of coke comes flying over the chairs. Henry can only guess it was aimed at James.
Obviously, some of it lands on Henry herself, causing her to jump up, which knocks James off balance. He ends up sprawled on his back on the floor. “Hic!”
“What the hell was that for Darcy?” James cries, not even bothering to be quiet now, nor bothering to get up off the floor. Darcy shakes her head in disgust, throwing the empty cup at James' head, which connects satisfyingly with its target.
Moustache man makes another appearance, this time with a drooping wet moustache. He just stares at them. With evil eyes.
Amidst her laughter and hiccups, Henry sees the torch light coming up the steps.
“Would you four please come with me?” The young guy in cinema uniform politely asks them, shining the torch light in their eyes.
“No need, I was leaving anyway,” Darcy says snootily, before smoothing down her dress and storming out, as fast as she can on the wobbly heels.
Henry stands shakily to her feet, gathering her stuff, before stepping over James and descending the stairs.
When she walks through the doors into the harsh lighting of the foyer blinking rapidly, she sees Darcy standing, arms folded across her chest impatiently, with another cinema worker. This guy is older and larger than the one who escorted them out of the cinema, and when Henry checks his name badge, it reads MANAGER.
“Look kids,” he starts, gesturing wildly with his arms. “It's pretty obvious you can't be causing disturbances in the cinema. I can't have people complaining.” Henry finds herself nodding along with the others.
“I'm sorry about this, but I'm going to have to take down your names and numbers. You're banned from here for a month.” Darcy looks devastated. She spends half her life up there, watching film after film. She turns to glare at James.
Henry, meanwhile, wasn't really bothered by this news. At least she wouldn't have to do anymore double dating for a while.
By the time they'd all had their pictures taken and given their contact details, it was nearly ten o'clock.
The cool air outside the complex is refreshing on Henry's skin, and she holds off putting on her coat for a good minute before the October winds cause her to start shivering. At least her hiccups have gone, she thinks happily. None of the others seem to share Henry's positivity though.
As soon as they are a fair distance down the street, Darcy turns on James. “What on earth were you playing at James?! I can't believe you got us kicked out!” She shouts, her voice travelling back to them on the wind above the noise of the traffic driving by.
“Me?” James looks at her as if she were crazy as the three of them catch up with her and come to a stop.
“Don't try and act innocent, it was all your fault.” Darcy shakes her head in disgust, illuminated like a spotlight from the street lamp she is standing under.
James looks at Henry for support, but she was damned if she was going to help him. She agrees with Darcy, James had started it.
“If he” - James points to George - “hadn't started getting dirty with Henry, I wouldn't have had to start anything!”
“What?!” Henry cries. She and George hadn't been doing anything, and James damn well knew that!
“Yeah what?” George echoes, but unlike Henry, who sounded outraged, he sounds quite smug. He steps up to Henry and put his arm protectively around her waist.
Henry knew this was a bad move. What was George playing at? Couldn't he see how furious James was? She sidesteps away from George in order to put her own arm around Darcy’s goosepimply shoulders, letting George’s arm drop to his side.
But as soon as she’s done it she realises she’s now made a bad move; without Henry in the way, James had a clear path to George, and without another thought he steps forward and swings a punch at George's face. Darcy screams.
“James what the hell?!” Henry yells at him bending over George, who'd landed on the wet gravely pavement.
“He deserved it.”
“Of course he didn't!” She shouts, her cry mixed with George’s own protests. He looks as if he wants to get up and return the favour to James, but Henry quickly pushed him back down, deciding it would be best if he stayed sitting on the floor, no matter how damp it was.
Darcy, having finally had enough, starts tottering off down the road, head held high trying to look as sophisticated and nonchalant as possible for someone in a skimpy black dress and heels.
“Darcy where are you going?” Henry yells after her, afraid to move from her position in between George and James in case one of them decides to turn the situation into a real street brawl.
“Home!” Her friend replies without turning around. Henry decides Darcy must be absolutely freezing and takes back her earlier notion that she looked stunning – she would have looked better if she was more sensibly dressed for the weather. Running after her, she says “Here, take my coat”. Darcy accepts it without a word, then carries on walking in the direction of the taxi rank.
Henry desperately wants to go with Darcy, but she doesn't think Darcy will welcome the company, and she can't really leave George and James alone together. Reluctantly she returns to where she’s left the boys standing in the street as more headlights zipped past them; families all on their way home to their warm and cosy homes.
“James, just go home,” she tells him, fed up of standing around aimlessly in the street. She takes George's phone and finds his home number in his phone book for him, before handing it him back as it starts to ring.
“No way. I'm not leaving you.” James folds his arms stubbornly. Unlike the two girls, the cold and wind don’t seem to be affecting James in the slightest.
They wait in silence until George's mum pulls up. Henry explains to her that there had been a bit of a misunderstanding and George had got hurt accidentally. George sat there scowling, clearly thinking this was not the best cover story in the world, but he didn't interrupt her. She politely declined a lift home, then stands in the road watching the car as it retreats into the distance.
“James, what are you playing at?” She asks when the car lights have finally disappeared out of sight, turning to face him. Her anger is keeping her warmer than she should have been in the cold air, but it doesn’t stop her skin coming out in goose bumps.
“I didn't hit him that hard.” James rolls his eyes.
“That's not the bloody point!” Henry yells, taking a step towards him. She really wants to hit him, but knows it wouldn't do any good. She silently dares him to respond.
James unfolds his arms, deciding to come clean. “You can't go out with him!”
“I'm not going to! I don't know what he was playing at but he doesn't actually fancy me, nor I him,” she exclaims. “And anyway, it's really none of your business who I go out with!” She shakes her head, turning to leave.
“Then why does it hurt so much?” His question echoes down the street, unanswered. Henry carries on walking. She can deal with an angry James. What she can't deal with is a heart-bearing James. She just can't face it. She hears his footsteps ringing out as he follows her down the damp street.
“Hennie!” He grabs hold of her arm to stop her leaving.
“Please James!” She begs, turning to face him one last time. She rubs her arms subconsciously, trying to make her goosebumps disappear. “Please don't follow me. Just, please.”
She sounds so broken. With her hair whipping wildly around her face in the wind, all hunched over from the cold, she looks so tiny and delicate, so heart-breakingly fragile.
Henry looks into his eyes, and James' own widen at the pain displayed so clearly. He lets go of her arm, watching as she walks away. She doesn't look back.