The first time Bitsy met Gabe, he leaned forward and playfully tugged at her mop of wild, unruly hair and demanded with insouciance, 'what kind of silly name is Bitsy?'
The gesture was so familiar that it immediately annoyed her, yet she was unnerved by just how natural it had felt too.
'It's short for Elizabeth actually.' She replied coolly.
'It sounds like something you might call a cat,' he mused to himself.
Bitsy gave a small, grudging smile. That's exactly what she secretly thought herself. 'The only person who calls me Elizabeth is my great-grandmother.' She raised her eyebrows warningly at him.
'Oh I see. And you're way too modern for that, are ya?' he teased.
'No, I just hope you are not ancient enough to call me that too,' she shot back crisply.
He laughed, 'So it's like that, huh?'
She smiled back. 'I would probably think of you as a fossilized relic if you called me that, in fact....' she nodded solemnly.
There was something vaguely familiar about him, yet, try as she did, she could not remember where she knew him from. She was struck by his two front teeth which were so close that they overlapped slightly in a way that gave his face a cocky, boyishly mischievous look, as though he was always a second away from playing a naughty prank. She had seen this face before...but where?
'It was on the night of your brother's party,' he said, as though reading her exact thoughts.
'Yes, we've met before,' He looked like he was considering whether or not to put her out of her misery and jog her as yet dormant memory.
There was a teasing, challenging glint in his eye that dared her to deny forgetting about their first meet. Bitsy did not like teasing, challenging glints in people's eyes.
'I know we have met before,' she managed smoothly, injecting the right note of disgust in her voice so it could translate her apparent displeasure at having her memory questioned. Her smile masked the frantic search going on in her mind. Something in his eyes made her not want to admit to having completely forgotten.
He regarded her. 'You don't remember,' he said slowly. Was that a triumphant look on his face..?
Bitsy remembered little about the night in fact. She had been tottering about in a pair of unusually high heels that her best friend, Funmi, had persuaded her to buy. A teetotaller, she had unwisely crowded around the bar in the living room with the party crowd, and while her brother's friends laid down shot after shot for the birthday boy, Bitsy too explored the heady, intoxicating world of alcohol. She remembered stumbling blindly into her bedroom, an urgent need to kick off the shoes and lie down carrying her drunkenly to her destination. Had he slept over at their house that night? More importantly, had she run into him sometime during the night while she padded around the kitchen in just a t-shirt? This last, she suddenly remembered disturbingly.
Gabe was staring at her. The teasing smile was gone. 'Do you have any idea what you look like in the morning?' His voice had gone soft. So she definitely run into him then...
'Like I slept in the barn,' Bitsy answered promptly. If this guy spewed any nonsense about her being the most beautiful thing to behold with the rising of the sun, she was so out of here.
It's not like she would have minded hearing that she was the most beautiful thing to behold with the rising of the sun.
'You look warm and sweet. Your voice is a little husky and your eyes are barely open. And you smell good...like lazy, sleepy perfume.'
He met and held her gaze longer. 'It's very lovely to meet you properly...Elizabeth,' His eyes danced with amusement.
'Bitsy,' she snapped automatically.
That was the beginning.