The Uninvited Guest
I felt him come in; through the noise and colour and lights of the party, I felt him come into the room and stand quietly to one side, not mingling, just waiting and watching. We have such a deep connection he didn’t need to tell me he was there; I knew. Maybe there was a change in the air, maybe I smelled him, his scent distinct as the ozone smell before a storm breaks. Whatever it was, I knew he’d arrived and I felt a brief flare of rage that he should just turn up here, uninvited and unwanted, when I was trying to enjoy my party.
The heat of the room was pleasant still and I was passing from guest to guest, making conversation and laughing, but all the time I could feel his eyes follow me round the room. He wouldn’t do or say anything yet; from experience I knew he could be trusted to behave for a while longer. He might even be decent company for some guests but if that were the case, as I shut the door on the last few to leave, there’d be hell to pay for ignoring him all evening. I had to act.
I sidled up to him; he’s an expert sidler so he appreciated that, and grinned at me as I took his elbow and guided him into the kitchen. With my foot wedged against the door, to stop anyone else coming in, I looked at him sternly and felt furious that he just laughed.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded. “I didn’t invite you.”
“You never do,” he said, his mouth turned down in a quirky mock frown. “You never do.”
“Well, what do you expect? You’re a right royal pain when you’re with me. You make my friends hate me,” I said.
“No,” he said and I saw that the joking was over. “They don’t hate you. Honestly. They don’t even know about me, most of them. Or care. I know I make you different when I’m with you, but is that such a bad thing?”
“Yes,” I said.
Someone rattled at the door.
“Just a minute,” I called.
“Look,” I said. “You can stay, all right, but please don’t upset anyone.”
“Deal,” he said and held out a hand.
Reluctantly I took it and he squeezed it.
“We do need to talk,” he said gently and I could see he meant it.
“Later, when everyone’s gone,” I said.
“You always say that,” he said.
“Maybe this time I mean it,” I said.
He kept his word and behaved like a perfect gentleman. I’m not sure anyone really noticed him among the guests; he certainly didn’t stand out as anything out of the ordinary. Nonetheless, I was glad when I shut the door behind my last guest and knew there was nothing more he could do to spoil my party.
I was collecting glasses and he came up behind me, making me jump and drop glasses. I scrabbled to retrieve them and set them down on a coffee table.
“We need to talk,” he said again.
“Then talk,” I said. “I have all night now. What do you need to tell me?”