Sinking back into a seat at an empty table, Rob adjusted his top hat to what he imagined was a suitably jaunty angle. He surveyed the mixed throng of revellers on the dance floor, now vacated by the bride and groom who had returned to the unending tasks of greeting guests and somnambulant small talk.

One of the bridesmaids, who was almost certainly named Jess (they had shared the best part of a bottle of Champagne earlier but their intense conversation had overshadowed the brief exchange of names that preceded it), separated herself from the crowd and headed towards him. She stumbled slightly, catching herself with impressive elegance given the improbable height of her heels.

He watched her hips sway smoothly as she approached, wearing a half smile that was both open and a little suggestive. He found his gaze involuntarily slide down, following the creamy skin of her neck before falling across the curve of her small breasts. The impressively cut dress, its blue silk shimmering in the shifting lights, managed to be revealing yet demure; it did nothing to hide the alluring shape of her body but showed little flesh beyond her arms and a single exposed shoulder.

He caught himself then, realising the alcohol was allowing his mind to run away unfettered. Rob had sworn off women and romance after his last relationship imploded a year earlier. The two of them had seemed perfect but the cracks appeared the moment they moved in together. Somehow they had lasted another year and a half, mostly through a mutual inability to extricate themselves from an obviously failing situation. It left them both resentful, yearning to recover the wasted time. There was no prospect of friendship.

Besides, a relationship with a bridesmaid he met at a wedding – that seemed a little too cliché, even for him. Although why, he wandered as she drew closer, did he assume she was interested in anything of the sort? This was just one night out of 28,000. Who knew if she wanted anything more than that? She reached his table.

Jess – he was sure of it now – tilted her uncovered shoulder towards him, swaying gently to the music, her eyes locked on his, her lips moving silently to the lyrics of the song. Her heavily shadowed eyes peered from beneath the golden locks of her fringe as she looked down at him. She held out a hand.

Rob opened his mouth to decline the outstretched invitation but paused, uncertain quite how to vocalise his reticence. Something clicked. He thought he heard the music skip but it may have been his imagination.

He smiled, and took her hand.