Cougar: Part Three

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Barbara

“Oh hi darling! Come in.” I kiss Kate on both cheeks and take her coat. “Cup of coffee? Or should we have a cheeky midday vino?”

“Just a coffee thanks,” Kate says, wiping her feet on the doormat. I bustle off to the kitchen, humming I’m in the Mood for Dancing. My mini chandeliers twinkle above me, casting droplets of light over my perfect, pristine home.

“Jake not in?” Kate calls from the hallway, probably making use of the large mirror. The words sting me.

“He’s at Paul’s,” I reply, watching the wine glug into my fanciest glasses. “Got the house to myself as usual!”

Kate walks in and perches herself on the sofa. I join her with the two large glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.

“Babs, I said coffee!” Kate moans as I thrust a glass into her hand.

“Oops. Must’ve misheard you,” I wink.

Kate sighs. “You are such a bad influence,” she says, elbowing me.

“Careful! I’ll spill it everywhere! Not wasting the sog-vig-non, it’s my last bottle from France.” Now that was a holiday. Sun, sea, suave French men…

I settle next to Kate and the cool leather instantly sticks to my bare, silky smooth legs. I pull my skirt down a little. I turn the TV on, and the speaker system booms around the room, making Kate jump. I giggle at her. I instantly switch to Channel 4. The Sex and the City theme tune begins playing. It’s so difficult not to squeal with excitement.

“Did you watch last week’s?” I ask as casually as possible.

“Yeah.”

I gasp and spill wine on my faux fur rug. “Oh my God, when Sam got with Jerry! I knew that was going to happen!”

“You don’t think he’s a bit young for her?” Kate asks sceptically.

“Oh God no. Haven’t you seen him? He’s a dream! I would.”

Before Kate can reply, my Blackberry buzzes. I pick it up in my perfectly manicured hands and feel the familiar disappointment.

“What’s up?” Kate asks.

“Jake’s staying out again. I hardly see him anymore. When’s he going to realise his mother needs him?”

Kate swirls her glass. “He can’t stay at home forever, you know.”

“Why not?” I snap. “He’s my baby. I’d be happy to have him.” We sip our wine in silence for a while, watching the TV. Both of us have our phones out, checking Facebook. But I can’t focus on the TV. I can’t focus on anything now.

I sigh and throw my phone gently onto the cushion. “I know why he’s always out,” I say bitterly. “He’s in love.”

Kate sits up and faces me. “Well Jessica is a lovely girl.”

I snort. “Oh, he left her the other day apparently. She’s the ninth girl he’s dumped without giving a reason why.”

“He gets bored easily then?”

“Not at all.”

“Cheats on them?”

“Nope. I feel like shaking him sometimes, it’s so obvious to everyone but him.”

“What is?”

I stare into my glass, tracing a line with my index finger around the rim. “I don’t think women are his type.

Kate gets my drift and tries to hide her smile. “I suppose men as good looking as him never bat for the right team.”

I look at her incredulously. “Dirty cow! Have you got the hots for my son?”

“Not at all!” Kate insists. “I’m just saying he’s handsome for a boy of his age, that’s all.”

I glare at her for a bit longer, teasing her. At that moment the key turns in the front door. My heart leaps out of my throat, and I leap off of the sofa.

“Hey baby!” I say as soon as Jake’s through the door. I wrap my arms around his neck.

“Alright, mum?” He says absently, hugging me back. He looks at the glass in my hand. “On the wine already?”

“We’ve been gossiping,” I say, tapping my nose and giggling.

“I see. Well I’m just gonna grab some stuff. Paul’s waiting round the corner.” Oh, that sinking feeling again.

“Say hello to Kate first!”

“Hi Kate.”

Kate waves back.

“What time will you be back tomorrow?” I ask hopefully. Jake shrugs and takes off up the stairs, three at a time.

I roll my eyes at Kate. “Kids, eh?”

Kate giggles before downing her entire glass. “I think I’d better be off,” she says suddenly. She hiccoughs.

“What? Why? You’ve only been here ten minutes!” I whine. Why does everyone always have to leave me on my own? I’m not even fifty yet, but I might as well start wearing beige and going to Bingo with all the action I get lately.

“Think I left the damn cat in the kitchen. God knows what she’s gotten up to! I’ll call you later.” Kate grabs her coat and shoots through the door before I can even reply.

“World’s gone mad,” I mutter. I sit on the sofa, eyes focused on the screen, but brain wandering elsewhere. Jake comes thundering down the stairs, rucksack swung casually over his shoulder.

“Bye mum,” he calls.

“Jake, wait a minute,” I say, tottering into the hallway and grabbing him by the shoulders. He rolls his eyes. “Look, if there’s anything you want to tell me, anything at all… I’m a cool mum. I can deal with it.”

Jake looks confused. “Anything…” I say desperately. “Anything about your latest relationship?”

His eyes widen guiltily, and I think I’m on to something at last. Finally, he’ll open up to me.

“You and Paul…?” I ask tenderly.

Jake shrugs me off. “Wait a second… you think I’m gay?”

“And that’s fine!” I gabble. “Just because you have fashion sense and like to look good and like men doesn’t mean our relationship’s any different! It means we have more in common for starters… but I’m still your mother! I still love you!”

Jake’s lip curls into a half smile. “I’m not gay, mum.”

“Well why else would you dump all those pretty girls?” I huff, hands on my hips.

Jake smirks. “I realised I prefer a more… mature kind of woman.” He kisses my cheek, and leaves me puzzled on the doorstep.

I close the door and flop down on the sofa, feeling the sudden emptiness of the room. Why is everyone acting weird and talking in riddles? Why is everyone abandoning me? And when did Kate even get a cat?

My phone buzzes again, and I immediately pick it up. It’s Jake. I open the message eagerly, and then my heart skips a beat.

Hey baby. Im round the corner. Cant believe mum still hasnt caught us out! See u in a few 😉 xxxxx

This isn’t my phone. It’s Kate’s.

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