Steph was dangerously close to scoffing a whole Chocolate Orange to herself by the time her housemate returned home from spending Christmas Day with her boyfriend and his family. Steph thrust two segments of chocolate into her mouth at once before scrunching up what little remained of the Chocolate Orange into its foil and shoving it under a scatter cushion. Kat was bound to come floating into the sitting room, rosy-cheeked and brimming with love and Christmas spirit while Steph lamented her own lack of romance and festive cheer. Steph hadn’t spent the day with a gorgeous boyfriend. She’d spent it with her family, which was enough to have anybody reaching for a fortifying sphere of chocolately goodness. She’d left early, leaving behind the screeching of her squabbling teenage sisters and the malice of her great-uncle Nigel, who thought Christmas was the perfect time to bully his long-suffering wife. She’d changed into her pyjamas as soon as she’d arrived home and attacked her chocolate stash.
‘Pyjamas already? Was it that bad?’ Instead of wafting into the room like a Christmas angel, Kat shuffled into the sitting room and perched on the edge of the sofa. Which was lucky as Steph’s Chocolate Orange was hiding in that corner. If Kat sat back and relaxed, she’d squish it.
‘It was horrific.’ Steph cringed as she recalled her great-aunt bursting into tears as Nigel told her that she was much fatter this Christmas. What are you trying to do? Turn yourself into a Christmas pudding? ‘But it doesn’t look like yours was much better either.’
It had been Kat and Spencer’s first Christmas together and they’d decided to spend the day with his family, which had caused major miffed-off-ness for Kat’s mum. Who cared about next Christmas? Kat and Spencer may not even be together by then.
Oh no. Was that why Kat was looking so forlorn? She’d left the house that morning brimming with merriment but now she looked as though her bum had just been compared to a saggy, defrosted turkey. Poor great-aunt Betty. Nigel was a nasty little man.
‘What’s happened?’ Steph reached for Kat’s hand, preparing to comfort her friend when she broke the news that she’d been dumped over Christmas dinner. What a beast Spencer was. Yes, he was gorgeous and toned and stupidly romantic, but he was an absolute bell-end for breaking Kat’s heart. And at Christmas too!
‘Nothing’s happened. Nothing bad, really.’
Steph was confused. ‘So why do you look like you’ve been told to lay off the trifle in case it makes your thighs spread even further?’ Great-uncle Nigel was a beast too.
Kat gave a sigh and slumped back in her seat. Steph feared the fate of her Chocolate Orange. ‘It’s the present Spencer got me.’
Steph pulled a face. ‘Was it really slutty underwear?’ Steph didn’t mind a bit of kinky dressing up (when she got the chance to show it off), but it wasn’t really Kat’s thing.
‘No.’ Kat took a deep breath and Steph prepared herself for the worst. ‘It was a box of chocolates.’
Steph was not prepared for that. ‘A. Box. Of. Chocolates.’ What a pig! A box of bloody chocolates? For his girlfriend? For Christmas? ‘I hope you dumped him on the spot.’ It would be quite poetic, really. Their relationship had started with the box of chocolates that Spencer had left mysteriously on their doorstep. It would be quite fitting for their relationship to end with a box of chocolates too.
‘I didn’t dump him.’ Kat squirmed in her seat. The Chocolate Orange was done for.
‘I would have.’ Sod it. Steph reached behind the cushion and retrieved the slightly squished chocolate. They were both in need. ‘Who buys their girlfriend a box of chocolates for Christmas? Was there at least a Tiffany bracelet in there or something?’
‘No.’ Kat took a segment of the proffered chocolate but didn’t attempt to eat it. It sat in her fingers, melting onto the tips. ‘There wasn’t a bracelet. But there was a key.’
Kat placed the chocolate on the coffee table and licked the tips of her fingers clean. ‘Yes, a key. To his place.’ Kat’s brow furrowed. ‘Spencer wants me to move in with him.’
Steph paused, her own chocolate that had been half-way to her mouth now suspended in the air. ‘He’s asked you to move in with him?’ Kat nodded her head, her lips pressed into a thin line. ‘Then why do you look like you’re about to burst into tears? Don’t you want to move in with him?’ Ten minutes ago, Steph would have bet her last piece of Chocolate Orange on the fact that Kat would want nothing more than to shack up with Spencer. She’d assumed her loved-up friend wanted it all; shiny diamond ring, big white dress and a house full of babies.
‘I do.’ Kat still looked on the verge of tears. ‘But it means moving out of here. It means I won’t live with you anymore and I don’t want to leave you on your own.’
Steph’s eyes widened. Her mouth drooped. She fought the urge to fill it with chocolate. ‘Is that why you look so miserable? Because of me?’ Steph dumped the chocolate on the coffee table and threw her arms around her friend. ‘Don’t be so daft! I’m so happy for you, Kat.’ At least one of them should have a happy, healthy relationship. ‘I know how much you love Spencer and he’s obviously crazy about you. Did you think I’d be upset?’
Kat gave a shrug. ‘You’ll have to find a new housemate to help with the rent.’
‘Good.’ Steph gave Kat a playful nudge. ‘Maybe I’ll find one who doesn’t leave toast crumbs all over the kitchen. Or one who remembers to buy milk. Should I warn Spencer that you’re pretty crap to live with?’
‘Hey!’ Kat picked up the cushion and swung it at Steph. ‘I’m not that bad.’
‘I know.’ Steph turned serious. ‘And I am going to miss living with you.’
‘I’ll miss living with you.’
‘Don’t worry, you’ll have hunky Spencer to take your mind off me.’
‘He is pretty hunky, isn’t he?’
‘The hunkiest. You’re a lucky girl.’
‘I know.’ Kat smiled briefly before the sadness returned. ‘Are you sure you’ll be alright?’
‘I’ll be absolutely fine, I promise you. Maybe I’ll get a male housemate this time. A gorgeous one I can “accidentally” catch mid-shower.’
‘And maybe you can hide all of his tops so he has to walk around topless.’
‘Fab idea!’ Steph leapt from the sofa. ‘I’ll write that down. Got any more tips?’
Over a bottle of wine, the last two measly segments of Chocolate Orange and a slightly out of date mince pie each, the girls concocted a plan of action for Steph’s new housemate/love interest. Kat was looking much more relaxed by the end of the evening and could finally look forward to the new year of living with Spencer. And who knows? Maybe Steph would find someone to woo her with chocolates. There were certainly worse ways to be wooed.
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