PROLOGUE

Thursday, 4PM, the Wimbley's Chelsea flat

"You're over-reacting, I hope you know," my best friend and constant companion Derek Wimbley commented upon hearing the end of my emotional tirade. And he said it dead patronisingly, I might add.

I pouted at him, but that just made him roll his eyes at me.

Alright, fine, I admit it. Being perpetually dateless isn't really a big deal; in fact it's something that doesn't really bother me at all. But only because I'm madly in love (or madly obsessed, in Derek's condescending words) with Daniel Evans – the hottest of hot and coolest of cool person to ever breathe in the same air I breathe (which completely discounts the likes of Brad Pitt and Hugh Grant and even Robert Pattinson, because quite obviously, they have to breathe in a different sort of air to be, look and smell the way they do – and yes, I do mean smell, as I once passed by Hugh Grant whilst walking down King's Road and he smelled positively divine).

Daniel Evans, while completely drop dead gorgeous, make your toes curl and saliva slither down your mouth, he's still that sort of reachable person – the kind you see on a day to day basis, which pretty much separates him from the celebrities. He has a perfect set of teeth, dark chocolatey eyes and wavy blond hair that sticks into different directions when he's on the field playing. He's not just hotness personified in a human being sort of way, he's also prefect, football captain of our school team and the one guy I've been drooling for two years now, ever since third year.

And it was him again that I was moaning about. Sarah Dreams (seriously, that's her last name) holds her annual welcome back to school ball every Saturday, before the actual start of classes. And that Saturday was fast approaching. Two days from now, in fact. And anyone who is anyone in our school must make an appearance. And while Derek and I always make the guest list, I never make it with an escort. Only because I keep hoping that Daniel would be my escort, and so far, he never has been. Obviously.

"Nicola Ashforth, listen to me: you so have to get over him," Derek said, seeing me glower at him at his lack of attention over my distress. "He cares nothing for dates. The boy has football programmed in his mind, nothing else matters for him."

"I was so sure I made quite an impression on him last term! I mean, come on, I was the only female specie in bio lab last semester who didn't squeal over having to dissect a stupid pig," I continued to grumble. "And I was his partner. And what does he do when he saw us at Harvey Nicks? He nods his head! What am I, a bloody male that you just nod at?"

Derek gave out a bark of laughter. "I still can't believe you chose Zoology II last semester, when you could have just gone to basic Botany or something equally less gross."

"It was a good idea at that time, okay?" I retorted, though looking back, I can't believe I actually did a stupid thing like that. I made a mental note never to pick classes just on the sole basis of Daniel's timetable.

"Look, maybe you should stop obsessing over the guy. Let's face it, other than being the next David Beckham – who is so gay, if I may just reiterate as I've lost count of the number of times I've stated this fact – he's also on the road to being a man of the cloth."

I shot him a weird look. "You're saying he's gay?"

"No, though that thought has been running through my mind for quite some time now," he answered, grinning at me saucily. "I'm saying he has a likely possibility of becoming a priest. The next pope, maybe."

"He's Anglican," I responded automatically. I once stalked him on a Sunday afternoon and saw him attend church with his parents. "But I like the gay theory. That would mean I'm not as repulsive as I'm beginning to think I am."

Derek looked at me haughtily. "If you're asking for compliments, you're not getting them from me today, darling. If you're looking for answers, I can tell you right now that Daniel Evans is as straight as I am gay. He's not making his way on my gaydar."

"Maybe there's just something wrong with your gaydar. Or that he's really good at hiding it," I implored.

He shook his head at me. "Sorry. Not happening. I've got the sharpest gaydar in town, and he's most assuredly not registering. You have to focus your obsessions on someone else. Like Paul Temple, for example. I know for a fact he quite fancies you."

I wrinkled my nose at the mention of his name. Paul isn't really ugly. In fact he's quite good-looking, although several notches below Daniel's league, but I never really liked him in that way. First of all, we practically grew up together as my mum and his mum are inseparable. Since age zero until eleven, we always spent the summer holidays in Wiltshire with his family. Until my parents divorced. I now spend summers in Italy, where my mum lives with her second husband. Or in Kent, where dad bought a summer home right after their divorce. And secondly, he's also a little bit of a weakling. He once tried out for rugby in second year, and ended up black and blue. I told him he should've tried out for polo instead, something less brutal. His answer? Horses made him feel queasy. Which suddenly explained all those past summers when I'd ride horses and he'd ride tiny Shetland ponies. And if you've never seen one, they're about the same height as a six-year old girl.

So no, Paul Temple was unquestionably not an option I'd ever consider.

"Well at the rate you're going, you'll be reaching middle-age without a single date."

I gave my best friend a withering look and 'accidentally' tipped his glass of Barq's causing it to spill all over his custom-made Versace chinos.

--

Saturday, 8:30PM, Dorchester Hotel, Sarah Dreams's Back to School Ball

"Who the hell is she?" I demanded, seeing Daniel make an appearance with a red-headed girl glued to his arm like there was a massive piece of Velcro sewn to his side that would make her tacky purple velveteen dress stick on him the way it was doing now.

Derek and Megan Sheffield, another good friend of mine, exchanged wary looks. They seemed to expect me to blow up like Mt Vesuvius, and seeing that red head (which looks so fake, by the way) slither her hand to his hair, it wasn't unlikely that I would.

"Well?" I practically screamed.

There I was, impeccably dressed in a Vivienne Westwood one of a kind, hair and makeup done at one of the most expensive salons in London, hoping he'd finally take notice and realise I was precisely the girl he's been looking for all this time, and he's finally came out of the non-gay closet with a fake red head.

How bloody cruel.

"Her name's Natalie Carter, fourth year –"

"A year below us?" I was close to hyperventilating. "And named after a bloody Backstreet Boy?"

The world was cruel. And was definitely laughing at me.

"How did they meet?"

They shrugged.

"I vaguely remember seeing them in the Henley Regatta. I think they were introduced by their parents. Their companies merged just this summer, you know," Derek said matter-of-factly.

I wanted to strangle him. I knew that. He constantly kept me in touch with any Daniel Evans news whilst I was suffering in Italy with my mum and creepoid step-father who wanted nothing to do with anything else other than decorate the guest room-turned nursery for my new half-brother or sister. I was now churning in the thought of not going to the blasted regatta. If I only stayed with my father and disregarded all ethical feelings of spending time with my mother, this should not be happening right now.

I grabbed a flute of champagne from a wine waiter passing by. It was certainly not strong enough for this situation. I downed it before going to the bar to order a stronger drink. Preferably one with vodka in it.

"So what, are they boyfriend and girlfriend now?" I spat out bitterly, looking across the room to see the horrible couple dance to some Bach music, title unknown.

"Apparently so," Megan answered, ordering a martini for herself. She looked at the bottle of Grey Goose I forcefully peeled from the hands of the waiter behind the bar. "Are you going to be okay with that?"

I took a long swig from the bottle and made a face. It did not taste good, but I needed it to stay sane. "Yeah," I finally let out.

"You know you always make a spectacle of yourself when intoxicated," Derek said, trying to take the bottle away from my grasp, but I stubbornly held on to it.

"You take this, and I tell all on your little Prague incident," I threatened. That shut him up and made him glare at me.

--

Still Saturday, 12MN, Dorchester Hotel

Hours later, I tossed the almost empty bottle of vodka back to the other side of the bar and vaguely heard a crash and an "Oy!" coming from the person behind the counter.

Stumbling through my way of the throng of people dancing to a much more modern and upbeat song than Bach, I saw that horrid Carter girl dancing with Daniel. My Daniel.

What was it with her that he somehow, after years of my latching on to every class he took, he took a liking to her? And in such a quick span of time, too.

I'll be the first to admit, I'm nowhere within the ranks of Gisele Bündchen, but it's not like I'm chopped liver either. My friends, who would never hesitate to say how horrible I look in brown or point out any flaw I have (and sometimes revel in criticising me), would often compare me to Natalie Portman on a good day. Only with a fuller cheeks, a less pointy nose and green eyes... And straight hair.

A horrible wave of nausea spreading in me at the mere sight of them together. I needed to get out.

I moved quickly through the throng of dancing bodies but was stopped by a clear, familiar voice.

"Nicky!" someone called out. Someone sounding like Daniel. Daniel Evans.

I slowly turned around. And surely enough, there he was: tall and blond with his hair all gelled up, Daniel Evans. I sighed.

"Alright?" I said, false cheer trying to make its way to my voice.

"Yeah, I'm good. Are you going home?" he asked.

"Erm, yeah," I said, wanting to get out of there immediately but not wanting to be rude. What if he suddenly proclaimed his love for me right then and there?

"Oh."

"Why? What's up?"

He took out a pale white (I think, the lights were a bit dim) envelope from the inside pocket of his suit and handed it to me. "My dad wanted to give this to you, it's for the annual charity he's having next weekend. You know that he's not really in good terms with your father and you're mother's in Italy… so…"

I nodded. So this was his proclamation of love. I wanted to throw the envelope to the ground, stomp on it and shove it up his mouth.

"Yes, yes, of course," I mumbled, not knowing what to say because at that moment, I really just wanted to call him a damn handsome freak with a loser for a date.

"Nicky!" Shilpa Kapoor called out, turning me around and giving me a tight hug, one that threatened to squeeze all my innards out. It did nothing to help my intoxicated state.

"Shilpa," I said weakly, trying to force a smile but tiny drops of vodka were on the verge of spilling. I swallowed it back up.

"How are you?" she asked, pushing her dark black hair back. "I haven't seen you around, have you just got here?"

"No, no, I've been here for quite some time. I was just hanging out by the bar," I say flippantly.

"So, Nicky, here's your invite," Daniel said, pushing the envelope to my hand. "I hope you don't mind, but my date's waiting for me…"

"Yes, yes," I growled at him, giving him the look of death. "Go back to your Backstreet Boy and may you spend the rest of eternity rotting in pop songs," I said, wishing I said something cleverer than that. But honestly, given the state I was in, it was a miracle I even managed to construct a full sentence that obscurely made sense.

"Sorry?" Daniel asked, puzzled. Shilpa gave me the same look bafflement, not knowing how to make out my words or even how to react.

I opened my mouth, trying to find the right words to say to make them forget about my last statement. But one huge wave of alcohol surfaced instead.

I clamped my mouth shut and tried to push back the vomit desperately wanting to relieve itself from me. But I couldn't.

And right there in front of him, instead of hearing his words of love, I threw up. And not just any ordinary vomit that would be gross enough as it is, it had to be projectile vomit of pure putrid liquid. And right smack on his fresh new outfit.

--

A/N: Hullo! This is my first dabble at original fiction (I'm more often found on fanfiction dot net ) so I hope this doesn't suck too bad. Love to hear from you guys (I'm with deep hope someone actually found this and took time to read), so please leave a review. Cheers. xx