The first Jubilee Park Pride is in full swing and Kate’s soaking up the carnival atmosphere and energy of the flamboyant crowd. Although she’s there to support the event organizer, her best friend Danny, Pride has a special place in her heart.
She loves being a part of it, but doesn’t expect to find love. Never having had a girlfriend, Kate lacks confidence and can’t imagine meeting a girl and falling in love on the same day. That happens to other people. Certainly not to her.
But Candy’s different: beautiful, confident, yet down to earth and easy to talk to. Kate’s never met anyone like her. Has Fate brought her and Candy together? Or will Kate be broken-hearted when the festival ends?
“Candy sent a text, she’s waiting. Yeah,” said Danny, nudging Kate, “told you she liked you.” Seeing her waver, Danny slid an arm around her waist. “Just relax and go with it. There’s no pressure, just be yourself. That’s what tonight’s all about -- what this whole day’s about.”
Kate nodded but the knot in her stomach tightened and her knees felt weak. Wriggling from Danny’s grasp, she fanned her face.
“You sure you’re okay?”
“Bit lightheaded. Too much beer.”
“Lightweight. Pizza van,” he said. “See?” The van was at the park entrance with a queue in front of it. Delicious smells wafted on the light breeze growing stronger as they approached. “Eat whenever you want, don’t wait for me. And if you lose me tonight, I’ll meet you by the van at eleven-fifteen. Okay?”
“Why would I lose you?”
“No reason. We’re heading there.” Danny pointed to a squat brick built pub at the top of High Street. It had rainbow bunting strung all over it. “The Mitre, though there’ll be nothing righteous happening inside tonight,” he said smirking. “It’s quite small and it’s going to be packed. If it’s too much for you, there’s a beer garden out the back.” He suddenly nudged Kate. “Look.”
“What?” Peering over Danny’s shoulder, Kate saw purple and pink hair and an off the shoulder white T-shirt. Kate swallowed hard as Candy fluttered her fingers and walked towards them.
“There you are,” said Candy, all smiles. “I was beginning to worry.”
“Bands overran,” said Danny. “Didn’t you see?”
“I didn’t get back to the park, sorry.”
“That’s okay. I filmed the best bits on my phone, I’ll show you sometime.”
“Thanks, I’d like that.”
“Look, I’ve got to go.” Danny tapped his wristwatch. “Sorry to dash off like this.” He licked his finger and smoothed his eyebrows. “Do I look okay?”
“Perfect,” said Kate, finding her voice again. She gave a thumbs-up. “You’ll be fine. Great. All you have to do is make the announcement. You managed all afternoon.”
“This is cabaret, they want jokes and stuff.”
“So give it to them, like you practiced,” Kate said, thinking back to the routines Danny had honed in their London flat.
Danny nodded. “You’re right. Thanks. Okay ... I’m going.”
Shoulders back, chin raised, Danny squeezed through the crowded doorway into the heart of the pub. Kate watched him go before turning to Candy. Goodness ... She was so beautiful, her eyes framed by long dark lashes and smoky eye makeup with a hint of glitter on her lids. Bright red lipstick made her lips shine like ripe cherries and body glitter twinkled on her olive skin. With her hair loose and tousled, ringlets framed her heart-shaped face. She took Kate’s breath away. She was wearing the same outfit but with the addition of a silver locket around her neck.
“Didn’t have time to change,” said Candy, following Kate’s gaze. She tugged at her T-shirt. “I didn’t spill anything down it at work, though, so it’s okay.”
“You look nice.” Nice? Kate blushed. “I haven’t changed either. That’s pretty.” She gestured to the locket.
“From my mum. Look, there’s a picture of us inside, see?” Opening the locket and leaning close, Candy showed Kate a tiny photo.
“Cute picture,” she said, though she hadn’t looked properly. Her gaze had wandered to Candy’s freckles and a particular group on her forehead that formed a horseshoe. Candy’s floral perfume filled her nostrils when Kate inhaled.
Candy fidgeted. “Oh, look, Danny’s on the poster.”
“Is he? Where?” Kate squinted at the poster taped to the pub window: For one night only, Danny Jessop hosts a night of Cabaret and Comedy with Liverpudlian Drag Superstar Anita Bigwan.
“Anita Bigwan?” Candy giggled. “Shall we go in?”