I hated and loved nights like this, probably in equal measures too!
It wasn't that I didn't want to be there, I wouldn't have brought the ticket otherwise. It was just more the fact it was one of them nights, the kind where everything could (and most times would) go wrong. I was not the most confident girl in the world, the pressure of making an effort was sometimes all too much for me; especially when it came to the Mayor's Gala night. I knew I would have to make an extra special effort, I knew that far too many people I knew; liked or even loved would be there. Yep, there was no getting away from it; tonight would be one of those nights!
Fifteen outfit changes later and I had chosen the first one I had tried on, why do we girls always do that? Smoothing down the hem of my LBD; (or little black dress as it is better known) I took one last look in the mirror on the landing, heading downstairs to do my makeup ~ not something I would normally do either!
"You look lovely..." Mum said, smiling; knowing it was the last thing I felt.
"Thank you..." I mumbled quietly, trying not to look like a fish as I tried to put my mascara on.
"Ready?" Dad asked, clearly getting bored of sitting there for ages waiting; secretly I tried not to giggle at the thought he was going to miss part of his soaps!
"Yep, I guess." I answered, checking my bag (a beautiful little red leather number I brought back from Italy a few months back) for everything I needed. The car journey there was done in its usual silence, my thoughts filled with "would he be there?" and the classic; "I hope he isn't there!"
My stomach was doing somersaults by the time we had pulled up outside the hotel, so much so that it gurgled involuntarily and with easy. Stepping out of the car, I said my goodbyes and headed slowly inside. I was always early, no matter what time the thing would start you could bet your bottom dollar I would be there early. And tonight was no exception to the rule, heading to the bar for a steadying drink; non alcoholic of course mind you ~ last thing I could do was get drunk and show myself up!
I'd only just got myself sat down when colleagues, friends and even enemies began to arrive. I had barely managed to get up to greet my friends when "he" walked in, the man who was meant to be a colleague; that I wished was a friend but was more like an enemy. My first thought was not the one I wanted to have, being faced with someone I was accused of fancying looking really handsome in a tux was not going to end well. All thoughts left me as I tried to speak, something witty and cutting would have done; but no nothing was coming out from my mouth. All I did was stand there as he looked me over and turned his nose up, turning his attention to others in the group.
Not so much a put down as a never was down I guess, at least I was thankful that Sally-Ann and Richard were there; my two friends and a pair I could rely upon.
"You look stunning Gabby, doesn't she Richard?" Sally-Ann commented, nudging Richard to gain a response. There was history between us; I could tell the last thing Richard felt comfortable doing was commenting. He was about to reply when we all heard the commotion going on outside, most of us heading towards its general direction.
What confronted us was not something you saw everyday, well any day if we were honest. There out in front of the hotel was a beautiful white horse, on its back was a tall figure dressed in full Knight armour; even from where I was stood I could tell it was Knights Hospitallers regalia.
"It'll be for you Gabby..." My frienemy Anthony said, gesturing towards the figure on horseback.
"Why on earth would it be for me?" I replied, partly wanting it to be true and partly unsure what was happening.
"Well who else wants a Knights Hospitaller to come save them? You're the St. John lady after all..." He answered back, trying not to look interested.
Of course he was right, I was the St. John lady; I was the one that always talked of finding some Knight in shining armour. But I could still not shake the feeling that I would never be that lucky, it was just not the norm for me to get what I wanted without something going wrong.
"Well, we're about to find out." Anthony said, not allowing his mind to picture the thoughts forming in his mind. As the figure dismounted and headed into the hotel the chatter and whispers were getting loud, swallowing hard I wanted the figure to head in my direction. I could not believe my luck as they did so, moments later there I was stood; face-to-face with a real live Knight in shining armour.
Without a word the figure held out their hand for me to take, sure that if I saw their honesty I would accept. I was about to say something witty like; "My Mum told me to never get onto a strangers horse..." But then I saw the figures eyes, the bluest of blue eyes; ones I was sure I knew. I must have stood there, transfixed by these eyes; a million and one thoughts and questions going through my mind. Of course I wanted to ask, but it was more than that. Shock and stunned silence had hit me, wanting to believe that it was the man I thought it was; maybe part of me wanted it to be him too? The words to his name formed many times upon my lips, never really forming the word fully though.
He could tell I wanted to ask and nodded his answer to my unasked question, gesturing that his hand was still there for me to take. It wasn't so much that I didn't want to take his hand, or that I didn't trust him; more that I didn't want to screw it all up. I had known 'John' for years now; we had met through St. John and had become instant friends, I just did not feel ready to lose that.
"I think he wants you to go with him!" Anthony butted in, disturbing my thoughts and stating the bleeding obvious. Anthony all over; I snorted quietly to myself, not allowing my smile to show.
"No, you think?" I replied curtly, was as curtly as I could while I stared into the most perfect eyes.
"You gonna take it or what then?" Anthony's curtness showing through again, almost angry but not showing through enough to make me ask questions.
"Why, you jealous?" Richard piped up, throwing in a great comeback that I would not have thought of. Anthony's flustered reply was lost on me, as my eyes became lost in the sea of kind blue quietly studying me; patiently waiting for an outcome. Cocking my head to one side, I could see his thoughts through his eyes. It was as if he was speaking to my soul, silently telling me all I needed to know. And it was as if my soul was doing all the talking for me, giving the unspoken answers it had held deep inside all this time.
"Is it you..." Was the first and probably only thing I could manage to say fully, I quickly realised he was nodding and trying not to smile; laugh or speak. Within seconds my mind had been made up and I was taking hold of his still outstretched hand, allowing him to lead me away from the room. In the background I could almost hear a cheer, friends and colleagues happy I finally took the hand that was held out to me. I also thought I heard Anthony's voice, maybe it was too faint to be heard; or maybe it was in the back of my mind. Either way, none of it mattered; my Knight was leading me up off to a room in the hotel. We entered the room in silence, I knew he hadn't brought me here for nothing; yet I knew it was not for the obvious reason either!
Stood in front of me, I took in the sight before my eyes; it was not everyday you got to be this close to a real live Knight in shining armour... I wanted to enjoy this moment, yet I wanted to know who my Knight was too. As he knelt before me, I felt the most natural thing in the world was to place my hands gently upon his shoulders.
"John?" I finally felt able to ask; sure my thoughts had not betrayed me. Nodding softly, he unwrapped the scarf type garment obscuring his face; allowing me my first real look at my Knight in shining armour. Now he was finally able to show me his face fully, his beautiful blue eyes shining through. It was like everything fell into place, the many times we had spoken of this exact thing; I never knew all those conversations were being taken notice of. It all made sense, even down to the fact he had asked to meet the Mayor!