She was waiting in the hall when they both staggered down the stairs a few minutes later. Gordon had Jenny’s arm over his shoulder and Karen could see that she still wasn’t yet close to fully awake. “Good look with trying to explain the state she’s in to her parents. I know her father, and if you tell him that you’d let her tie you naked to bed …. any bed not just mine … and that she’d misjudged the effects of the brandy she was drinking to get up the courage to …. well, do whatever it was you two were going to do before I got back…..”
Her voice tailed off again like it had done upstairs as she held the door open for them to go thru. Gordon stopped partway out of the house with Jenny limp in his arms and turned towards Mrs Hughes. “I don’t really know how to say this, but I must’ve dropped Jenny’s headband upstairs somewhere.”
Karen suddenly felt as puzzled as Gordon had looked earlier. “Do you want me to run upstairs and go find it now?”
“Oh no,” replied Gordon, “Not unless you really want to. I’d really rather not put you to any trouble. I was just wondering if maybe… err… maybe you’d be okay with me coming back to look for it. And then possibly … um… possibly make it up to you for not getting the painting done … it was all Jenny’s idea .. I’ve never even thought of doing anything like ….um… well….but when she started drinking your brandy … things sort of….um….so if you can think of anything you’d like me to do by way of an apology?”
Karen Hughes smiled and whispered very softly into his ear “Oh I can probably think of lots of ways Gordon. Next Saturday afternoon I’ll leave the back door key under a plant pot and go for a run. And I promise: ways in which you can apologize will be the only thing on my mind.”
Gordon Lister didn’t speak, he just nodded. He left the house with one hand under his semi-conscious girlfriend’s armpit as he tried desperately to keep her upright, and with the other hand pushed firmly into his pocket as he tried even more desperately to prevent a damp, yellow, foot-long strip of material from falling out.