by Lady H
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 blue stripey t-shirt and black 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 minimal makeup, she hears Darcy's mum's car pull up outside, and Darcy clomp down the garden path in heeled boots 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 shouts 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 a jumper from her chest of drawers, picks up her phone and purse, 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, tights, and a oversized leather jacket. It was definitely over the top for the cinema, but Darcy could somehow dress up and make it look casual at the same time.
Henry smiles at just how different their styles are; from the outside they look like the strangest pair. Darcy in her outrageous eye-catching costumes and stunning beauty; Henry in plain clothes, preferring to stay in the background, out of the limelight.
Grabbing her coat off the peg by the door and stuffing her phone and purse deep into the pockets, she waves goodbye to her family and herds Darcy out of the door. The two jump into the waiting vehicle out of the rain.
Darcy brushes the raindrops off of her jacket. “So who did you end up inviting?” She asks, 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 seat belt.
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 car journey to the local cinema; in warmer weather the girls sometimes walked the distance.
When they arrived 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 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 how Darcy knew how to act in every social situation. Not tonight though; her excitement had clearly gotten the better of her.
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 breathtakingly 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 the scary bits – it's the sort of thing Henry thought she'd do if she had a boyfriend.
The tickets had been purchased before Henry and Darcy arrived, so the four of them make their way to the screen.
George leads, walking up the steps all the way to the back and 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, 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.
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, who looks a bit nervous. He hadn't mentioned being scared of horror movies, and this wasn't an actual date. What was going on?
Henry sits back in her chair, confused and wishing she'd made up a better excuse to get out of this double date thing. The film hadn't even started yet and she could see so many ways that this situation could go wrong already.
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.
Unfortunately, James chooses that moment to turn and look at Henry. When he realises she isn't watching the screen, he looks to see what has held her attention, and then stiffens. “Popcorn, Henry?” He whispers loudly, yanking the popcorn out of Darcy's hands and holding it out to Henry.
“Yes, thank you.” Henry gratefully receives the big bag with both of her arms, pulling her hand out of George's grip. George removes his hand from her lap and shifts in his seat.
James, seemingly satisfied, settles back down.
Henry realises a moment later that it may have looked a bit suspicious – in the queue for refreshments, she told everyone she didn't like popcorn, and had gone to choose some dolly mix instead. She'd already eaten them during the pre-screen adverts and trailers, blaming James for her nervousness and need to keep her mind occupied. But popcorn was better than nothing, especially if it assisted in removing George's hand.
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 glowers at her through the darkness. Henry hastily turns back to the screen.
When Henry next has the bag of popcorn, she is engrossed with the film. 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 flies into the air as an arm drape itself casually around Henry's 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 look at James, seemingly to see if James has noticed.
But Henry sees. What is he up to? She frowns to herself, amused when James catches sight of what is happening and glares.
To Henry, it looked like George was trying to make James jealous. But for the life of her, she couldn't work out the motivation for this, so it couldn't be right. Unless George knew she fancied James and was trying to help? But that seemed like a wild stab in the dark and also didn't make sense. Now her brain is going into overdrive, and she can't keep her attention on the film.
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 turns to face him, then realises it would be more effective if she faces the front but leans in with her ear.
“I'm sorry about this. Don't worry, I'm not trying to make a move on you.”
Henry coughs through her mouthful of popcorn. “You're not?” She chokes.
“Nope.” He throws her a silly grin, which she supposes is meant to be reassuring, so she smiles back. Should she be insulted?
She 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 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?!” The man in front 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.
“... Popcorn!” 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.
“....in class! …... Mark Roberts! ….. 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 popcorn strewn floor. “Hic!”
“What the hell was that for Darcy?” James shouts, not even attempting to keep his voice down, 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 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 fumes, before smoothing down her dress and storming out.
Henry stands shakily, 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 away from the building into the car park, 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 passing traffic.
“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. Her glossy hair whips in the wind.
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. Henry glances around; no one is within sight, they have the car park to themselves.
“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? For whatever reason, now was not a good time to mess about. She sidesteps away from George and links arms with Darcy, letting George’s arm drop to his side.
The move left James a clear path to George, and he stepped forward, squaring up. James had a few inches on George, but George didn't back down, instead cocking his head to the side, smirking. "What are you doing, mate?"
James' thunderous face suggested the situation was about to get messy.
Darcy let out a cry of relief as her mum's car pulls up to the curb. She jumps up into the front seat, then sticks her head back out of the open door. "You coming, Hen?"
Henry glances at the two boys, now exchanging heated words. "I think I better stay here" She wrinkles her nose at the prospect; she'd much rather get into the warm car but doesn't want the argument to get physical.
"Suit yourself." The door slams and the car squeals off. A gentle rain begins to fall, so light Henry can barely feel it, only see it when the street light catches the drops.
"Guys stop, this is a silly misunderstanding." Henry tugs on George's arm and he lets himself be pulled away from the stand off. James is still spitting fire but doesn't make a move to follow.
"I think you should go, George. Before anything else happens." She says it quietly, head bent close to George's.
"Will you be okay?" He glances at his would-be opposition.
"Yeah, my mum is on her way to pick me up." George doesn't need to know that she's not.
"You sure you don't want me to drop you home?"
"No really, it's okay. But thank you for the offer. I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Okay Henry. Goodnight." Before she can stop him he's leaned in for a hug. After a quick squeeze he's thrown up his hood and is jogging off through the rain over to his car. James emits an audible growl as the headlights exit the car park.
“James, what are you playing at?” She asks when the sound of the engine has disappeared into the distance. Anger bubbles inside, keeping her warm in the cool night air.
“I didn't even hit him.” James rolls his eyes. He seems to have calmed down in a matter of seconds.
“That's not the bloody point!” Henry yells, taking a step towards him. She silently dares him to respond.
“Just relax. Everything is fine."
Has he forgotten what's just happened the last two hours? "Relax?!" She doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. He stands, waiting in the rain, expecting her to say more.
"James, just go home." She turns on her heel, cutting through the alleyway onto the street that leads back home.
"Where are you going?" She hears his footsteps following.
"Home!" She doesn't turn around.
"Let me take you home."
"I'm not getting in a car with you."
"Why are you being so stubborn?"
Henry spins on her heel, eyes daggered. "Because of your silly games in the cinema! Darcy is, quite rightly, fuming. George is... well.. I don't really know right now but you nearly got into a fight with him for god sake!"
James has stopped behind her, arms folded. “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 away.
“Then why does it hurt so much?” His question echoes down the street, unanswered. Henry carries on walking. She can't face having a frank conversation about feelings with him right now. He's just ruined things with her best friend, he might have aroused suspicion that they know each other, and he tried to start a fight with one of the loveliest boys in their year. All in less than half an hour.
She hears his footsteps ringing out as he follows her down the damp street.
“I'm not leaving you, Hennie.” He grabs hold of her arm to stop her leaving.
“Please James!” She begs, turning to face him one last time. She flicks her damp hair out of her eyes and shivers. “Please don't follow me. Just, please.”
She hates how broken her voice sounds. Her hair whips wildly around her face and she hunches over, hiding in her coat from the cold.
His eyes widen at the amount of pain he can see in hers. His grip on her arm loosens, and then drops. Henry walks away, knowing he's still watching her. She doesn't look back.