Megan Shepard was not looking forward to Christmas. Now divorced, all she had to look forward to was spending Christmas in Derbyshire, with her sixty four year old, bisexual, hippie mother, and a scrawny little sapling tree, overdressed with cheap decorations from the pound shop. However, her friends had other ideas, like taking her to Pinkie’s Night Club, their old stomping ground as teenagers. This brought back memories of rah-rah skirts, fishnets, and legwarmers dancing to Madonna, until the DJ played The Power of Love, whereupon Richie King would take her hand and lead her to the dance floor.
Seeing Richie leaning against the bar in his unforgettable Danny Zucko pose, she knows the right thing to do would be to walk in the opposite direction, yet finds herself walking straight to him, and taking the advice of her unconventional mother. Swept off her feet to the winter wonderland of Manchester’s Christmas Market, romantic walks in the snow of the Derbyshire Peak District, and fireside dinners, she has to wonder if Richie really changed, or has he something to hide?
SNIPPET 1 ANGEL OF KINDNESS
Switching on the coffee machine, I waited until the dark brown liquid slowly trickled into the jug, before looking out of my mother’s kitchen window. All the other houses on this quiet Derbyshire cul-de-sac had turned into an explosion of life and colour, with decorated windows, ready for the forthcoming Christmas festivities. Customarily, by now my house in Leightonstone East London would be fully dressed with lights, tinsel, and foliage. A large tree chosen with great care and attention would take pride of place in the living room. The house would smell of cinnamon and spices from endless nights after arriving home from my job at the advertising agency, I would play corny Christmas songs filling me full of Christmas cheer and spirit, while cooking puddings, mince pies and biscuits that we would still be eating well into the New Year. I haven’t a clue why. It wasn’t as if we had a house full of children, in fact, children had never been on my agenda; well, hardly surprising, if you knew my background.
My mother, Lois, had me while she was studying art in Paris. She returned home to Derbyshire just long enough to pop me out and leave me with my grandparents, then fled back to her ménage a trios—a sculptor and his artist wife, my mother’s lesbian lover. Three years later, she returned only to scamper away again, after eighteen months, to live in a commune. So the whole cycle started again, until my grandparents grew old and my mother was forced to return to Derbyshire.
Looking at the garden, there was no plastic Santa Claus, no lights in the conifer tree, not even a wreath hung on the door. Instead of the large spectacular tree, hidden in the corner of mum’s living room, skulked a scrawny little sapling that still looked overdressed with cheap decorations from the pound shop; this Christmas, everything looked bare, unimaginative, and dowdy, a mirror image as to how my life felt at this moment in time. Here I was, Megan Shepherd, forty- six, spending Christmas with her sixty-four year old, bisexual mother.
Come on! Surely, my feelings were justified. For sixteen years, I thought I had had the perfect marriage to Ian, a history lecturer at the local college. How wrong I had been.
* * * *
Since Ian had turned forty, six years ago, there had been a succession of embarrassing midlife crisis hankerings. It all started with the motorbike, speeding around the countryside like a boy racer, clad in black leathers that did nothing for his podgy middle-aged spread. Every time Ian left the house as he put it, ‘to burn some rubber,’ my heart would come into my mouth when the phone rang, expecting a call from the local hospital. However, his accident was closer to home when one Sunday afternoon, Ian raced down the road, misjudged the entrance to our drive, and ended up smashing into the neighbour next door’s closed garage door. For months, his friends branded him with the nickname, Evil Kineval.
Eighteen months later came the reformation of his old college rock band, which ended after their first gig in the college student union, as five over the hill rockers were booed off the stage. Then last year, when I thought there would be no more revelations of his misspent youth that I would have to deal with, came a surprise. One day I thought I would surprise my husband by picking him up from work. I had a surprise all right. Walking into his tutorial room, at first I thought he was strangling one of his female students, her jumper tugged around her neck, moaning, when I realised it was Ian moaning blissfully as he groped her pert boobs, with nipples like juicy cherries, snogging like a rampant teenager.
Of course, Ian assured me there was nothing in it, purely a misinterpretation, he said, after telling the young woman her essay was perfect. She thought he had said, “Your ass is perfect,” whereupon she threw herself at him.
“So,” I replied, “in an attempt to fend her off, you rammed your tongue down her throat and groped her boobs. Yes, I can see how it was misinterpreted.”
Ian became alarmed as his normally placid wife strung together whole sentences of profanities that he never realised I knew, ending with a cutting comment of—“Quite frankly, Ian, it’s the girl I feel sorry for, having to fall to such levels as having to kiss a balding, flabby, old man, old enough to be her father. For God’s sake, who do you think you are, Michael Douglas? Just take a look in the mirror Ian. I can assure you you’re not.”
A week later, and still not talking to Ian, and while sorting through the laundry, a packet of Easy Rider condoms fell out of his trouser pocket. It all became apparent that Miss cherry nipples was from a misinterpretation. Confronting Ian that night, he openly admitted that he had been having an affair, not with cherry nipples, but to my horror, with a twenty-year old named Patsy, who worked in the college cafeteria.
The next morning, he awoke to find his bags packed, and soon to be branded by his friends as the oldest swinger in town.
Now we are divorced and Ian has shacked up with Patsy, in a two bedroom flat above a newsagent. Am I pissed off? Sure as hell I am, I mean if he was going to have an affair, then please, why not another lecturer, a mature student, but a glorified dinner lady? Please give me some credit.
My tension eased when I saw my old school friends, Pam and Helen walking up the drive, laughing and joking just as they had done when we were teenagers. Perhaps they had it right, and I had it wrong. After leaving school, Pam trained as a secretary and now was an office manager for an insurance company and married to Pete, her school sweetheart. Only last year we all celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Helen took numerous catering courses at the local college and now she and her husband, Kevin, own a lucrative bakery and café in town. Perhaps I should have come back home from college like them and married a good old down to earth Derbyshire man. Before I had time to ponder about what options I’d had all those years ago, Pam and Helen charged into the kitchen. Hellos, hugs, how are you, and I missed you, all surged into one wave of delight and love, of three close friends.
“Look at you.” Helen holds my hands and takes a step back. “You look amazing since you’ve lost so much weight. What is your trick?”
Helen had always termed herself well built, and now, after having three children and confectionary on hand twenty-four-seven, termed herself as spongy. Nevertheless, she was flawless, eye-catchingly beautiful, perfect peaches and cream complexion, only needing a stroke of mascara and a lick of lipstick, and the darkest waviest hair that fell seductively over her shoulders.
“Tell Kevin to run off with a woman old enough to be his daughter.” I laughed.
“I’m sorry, I never thought.”
“Oh don’t worry about it, Ian certainly isn’t. Now tell me what are we doing tonight?” Not about to let Ian spoil my night out with the girls—hell I wasn’t going to let it spoil Christmas and the next year ahead.
“Well,” Helen gave a childish chuckle, “Oh, you tell her Pam.”
Pam, tall, lean, and chic, had just come from work. Immaculately dressed in a smart black suit, sensible flat court shoes, her long brown hair tied back in a snug chignon, made her face look harsh and prickly, when actually she was the kindest, sweetest person you could meet. Jigged up and down like a child needing to pee, she said with glee, “We’re going to Pinkies!” then they both screamed.
It took a moment for me to process. “You mean polka dot rah-rah skirts, fishnets, and legwarmers, dancing to Madonna, Pinkies? You do know we are in our forties and not seventeen anymore?”
Helen beside herself could hardly speak. “No. It’s—not—Pinkies—anymore.”
“It’s now called the Black Note,” said Pam. “Do you remember Richie King?” I nodded. Do I remember Richie King; there was a blast from the past, I hadn’t thought of in a while. “He bought it a few years back. Anyway, this year he is having a Christmas reunion for our old high school, our year, and two years above and below.”
Amused, I shook my head. “So that is why you told me to bring my red dress was it? I thought sexy and slutty was a little OTT for the locals at The Cock and Bull.” Pam and Helen stood smiling like two Cheshire cats.
“It will be just like the old days,” said Helen. “Lots of wine, and with a bit of luck, for you, Megan, some kissing under the mistletoe.”
SNIPPET 2 Angel of Kindness
Not sure if I was drunk on too much red wine or Christmas spirit, we danced to a melody of Christmas songs. Richie had gone all out, as artificial snow cascaded down over our heads, party poppers and hats distributed by the waitresses had everyone in a festive mood. I left Lee dancing with Greg Mullen’s, he wasn’t gay, but Lee was adamant, it would only take one more Santa Sling cocktail, and he’d have Greg, on his knees, where he liked his men.
Teetering off the dance floor, I couldn’t help noticing Richie leaning against the bar in his unforgettable Danny Zucko pose. Knowing the right thing to do would be to walk in the opposite direction, I found myself walking towards him. My heart leapt into my mouth. He looked so debonair, with his thick head of salt and pepper hair, black jacket, a crisp white evening shirt, open at the neck, and without doubt designer jeans that showed off a body of masculine perfection. He could give Richard Gere a run for his money any day.
“Megan,” he murmured his eyes rolling up and down admiring every inch of my body, until they firmly fixed on my cleavage. “You look amazing, how long has it been?”
“Gosh, I don’t know. Which sounds worse? I was eighteen or twenty eight years ago?”
“Really, you seem to have forgotten The Manor House Hotel, after Pam’s wedding, and then again at Helen’s.”
“Oh yes,” I laughed nervously. “It must have slipped my mind.” I hadn’t forgotten, I just chose not to remember, because after each wonderful night we had spent together it had tortured me for weeks later, knowing how much I loved him, but also aware how far apart our lives were at that time.
I just knew, as we stood there, I was vulnerable and tipsy, a lethal combination for me when around Richie King. And then it happened. My legs went weak at the knees, my tummy fluttered, as if a thousand butterflies had encased my body. It was the same feeling I used to have when I stood near him, a sense that no matter what, with Richie by my side I would be safe. No, no, this was not going to happen to me, I was not going to be pulled in again. Remembering to breath, I sucked in a lung full of air. “Richie,” I tried my best to sound calm and collective “This place is amazing.”
“It is, and it could be better. Helen says you are in advertising. After she gave me your card, I did a bit of research, and it seems you are a very talented woman, Megan. Big accounts, excellent credentials, you’re just what I am looking for. By the way, I was sorry to hear about the divorce.” His dark eyes sparkled with roguish amusement that I knew so well, knowing by his last statement the stakes in our meeting again had just gotten higher.
Oh, dear lord, what has Helen gotten me into? I knew that coming here tonight would be a mistake. In just a few minutes of being with him, I was in complete unrest. Emotions I thought I’d laid to rest had just woken. “As flattered as I am, Richie, I couldn’t possibly commit myself.”
He didn’t look convinced. “Because you don’t want to, or are you frightened where this reunion might lead?”
He slipped his arm around my waist, and I was spine tingling aware of the close proximity of his body as he pulled me into a tight grip. “Have you ever done anything on impulse, Megan?” My stomach churned as he softly pulled away a strand of my hair, tucking it behind my ear, trailing his finger down my neck.
Dizzy with excitement I said the first thing that came to mind. “I bought a doughnut today.”
The moment the words left my mouth, I knew how stupid I sounded.
Ignoring my comment, his hand slipped dangerously down to my butt, letting it fall away just before it reached my butt cheek, he moved so his lips were inches away from my ear. I could smell the musky fragrance of his aftershave as he stood his ground, declining to move.
“We’re too old to play games, Megan, so let’s get out of here. You know you want to.”
Flustered for the next few seconds, not helped by the thrill of electricity that shot through my body, my power of speech seemed to have vanished. Clearing my throat my voice came out in a husky whisper and I backed away and out of his arms. “Thanks, but like you said we are too old to play those games anymore.”
Walking away, I could feel him still watching me, I wanted to turn around, but I knew if I did, I would walk right back.
Spotting Helen and Pam sitting with Lee, just a feet away from where we had been standing, I hoped to god they had not seen Richie and me, but by the raucous laughter, I could see Lee had them entertained.
“Here she is.” Helen looked rather worse for wear as she hissed. “Where have you been?”
“Just catching up with old friends. You know how it is.” I slipped onto the black leather sofa, glancing over to Richie who was still watching me.
As much as I tried to engage myself in the conversation, Richie, casually leaning back against the bar, sipping a drink distracted my attention. I knew it was Southern Comfort; it had always been his poison, a double shot, and two ice cubes. No, don’t remember the ice cubes. However, it was too late. The memory of Pam’s wedding was as clear now as it was the next morning I lay in bed next to Richie, recapturing every moment of our sensual lovemaking. I had never had a lover as intense as him, so responsive to my body’s needs.
There had hardly been any surprises with Ian. A quick fondle over my nightgown, two groans from him and perhaps three half-hearted ones from me, to say I was still awake and it was over. Perhaps it was time to listen to the advice of my unconventional mother. On leaving the house tonight, she had said, “With a smile on your face and your legs in the air, put caution to the wind.” Handing me a pack of condoms, she instructed me not to come home until at least midday.
The Beach Boys began to sing Christmas Comes this time of year, and seeing as I hadn’t come since last Christmas, to hell with it, I think it’s about time to give myself an early Christmas present. As if on cue, Lee called over a waitress to order more drinks, allowing me to make my excuses. I was tired and I still had Christmas shopping to do in the morning, I left my friends, oblivious to the fact that shopping was far from my mind as I joined Richie at the bar. “So, you still fancy doing something on impulse?”
He placed his drink on the bar. “I’ll get Max to bring the car around.”
* * * *
Still high on an adrenaline, the reality of what I had done did not hit home until I walked through the door of Richie’s plush town house, and I heard the bolt pulled across, and the key turn in the lock. Instantly, I became sober, my heart began to pound and suddenly I felt overwhelmed with vulnerability.
Richie on the other hand seemed totally at ease as he kicked off his shoes, informing me to make myself comfortable, he would fix us a drink. I had no doubt in my mind that he was used to bringing home nameless females to share one night of carnal sin. Left alone in the living room, I stood in amazement and looked at his impeccable taste in furniture.
A large white couch scattered with an assortment of black and grey cushions, and two matching black easy chairs, seemed to be the focal point of the room. A deep shag rug lay on a dark wood panelled floor in the seating area, and an enormous, flat screen TV had been mounted on a dark grey wall. It was a masculine room, yet the soft lighting gave off a seductive, rich, ambiance.
I ran my finger along a rack of CDs surprised to see his choice of music, soft jazz, and blues. Clearly, he had outgrown his Madness and Boomtown Rats days. A large bookcase stretched down the length of one wall, one shelf filled with classics that I doubt he ever read at school. A whole section was devoted to business management, the last three sections containing thrillers and suspense. I was not at all surprised to see autobiographies of the Kray Twins, Ronnie Briggs, Freddie Foreman, and Capone, to name a few of the gangster titles. However, I wondered if I should be worried when I saw Gangsters Moll.
It was then I realised, Richie was no longer the young Flash Harry I once knew. He had matured into a successful businessman, and was still unscrupulously fetching. Now seeing how his life had changed from the small council flat he shared with his mother and drunken father, I knew leaving him this time would be the toughest thing I had ever have to do. Unexpectedly I shivered. How could I have ever doubted him, when he told me he was destined for a better life? I jumped, startled when a pair of strong arms wrapped around me, but relaxed when Richie whispered in my ear. “Are you cold?”
Instantly, the warmth of his body, pressed firmly into my back, melting away any uncertainties. “Mmm, that’s better,” I purred. Slowly gyrating my hips so my body pushed deeper into the contours of his, feeling the strength of his arousal.
Holding me tightly, he released one firm strong arm and with his index finger he lifted my chin and instinctively I turned my head as his lips touched mine in a kiss so soft and gentle. Pulling me around to face him, he folded me into his arms, devouring my mouth in a hungry kiss. The more passionate our kissing became the more our desire for each other intensified. His hands roamed the curves of my hips, as mine caressed the firmness of his chest through his shirt. As his hands slid up my back, his fingers expertly traced the zip of my dress; my fingers nimbly undid the buttons of his shirt. In perfect unison, I dragged his shirt off his shoulders as my dress fell to the floor. Richie’s hands were shaking, as he placed them on my bare shoulders, I could see his eyes glaze over with tears. Panic-stricken I cupped my hands around his cheeks. “Are you okay?”
“I’m wonderful. It’s just I have been waiting so long for this moment, I was beginning to give up hope. I just want to look at you, feel you, to make sure this is real.”
Standing before me was a man who gave the impression he was tough, unemotional and selfish; I was touched by his heartfelt meekness. “Oh, baby it’s real alright, a lot older, and a little saggy in places.” Without any shame, I took a step back and saw a single tear trickle down his cheek.
“You’re absolutely perfect.” His fingers reached out and traced the rounded mounds of my breasts, cupping them he bowed down; I emitted a velvety moan of delight as his tongue teasingly rolled around my nipple, first one and then the other, giving each his undivided attention.
Running his hot wet tongue from my breastbone to my navel, I arched my back as electrifying shocks exploded down my spine.
Working down my stomach, Richie gave a deep moan of pleasure, when he saw my black hold up stockings, feeling his hot breath as he placed hot, open mouth kisses on the tad of white flesh above, my lace garter tops, his lips rimming the edge of my panties. I felt my legs tremble as he slipped his fingers under the elastic. My fingers ran through his hair, gripping it tight as little by little, with each tender kiss, he removed them. Feeling that my body was about to humanly combust, I dropped to my knees; Richie one-step ahead of me was frantically unbuckling his belt, unzipping his jeans, then with quivering fingers protected himself. Wrapping my legs around his waist, I couldn’t help crying with joy as he rocked my hips gently back and forth. Richie was patient, taking me higher and higher to a pleasure zone I never knew existed, before giving way and our bodies shuddering passionately together.
Richie heaving for breath gasped, “So now will you do my advertising?”
“You could have saved us a lot of time and effort by leading with what you just did, and by now we could be negotiating my fee.”
Tossing me backwards onto the rug, he growled. “I’m ready for negotiating if you are, Shepard.”
Snippet 3 Angel of Kindness
True to his word, Richie had been about an hour in his club, a trendy establishment for Manchester’s affluent and by all accounts, the in place for celebrities and footballers. Lush was the place you went to, to get yourself noticed. As I watched in astonishment as six-foot angels were suspended from the ceiling, white columns were entwined with masses of golden foliage. Waitresses were dressed in sexy white and gold cherub costumes and the men as cupids, getting ready for their night ahead for tonight’s celeb guest list, a theme party, Christmas Heaven. I wondered what Richie could possibly want my advertising expertise for, since this place was amazing. He was truly remarkable. Reluctant to leave as the paparazzi began to gather outside, I didn’t want to disappoint Richie by suggesting that a Christmas market seemed somewhat of a comedown, when I could be meeting Manchester’s famous celebrities.
It was just a short walk from the club in Castlefield to Albert Square where the scene set in front of me was breath taking The Gothic style architecture of the Town hall was amazing, and perched on the top of the Town Hall, Father Christmas was an impressive backdrop to the rows, and rows of little wooden huts set out like an Alpine Village. As I stood in awe looking at the giant revolving nativity scene, Richie slipped his hand in mine. “You like?”
“Like, I love it, thank you so much for bringing me here.” I planted a kiss on his cheek.
Slipping his arm around my shoulder, he said, “It’s amazing isn’t it, it really puts you into the spirit of Christmas.”
“It really does.” Taking in the fantastic food smells, and the twinkling lights, there was a great sense of excitement as I looked at the faces of people passing by. “It’s like Santa’s wonderland store, all these little huts, with Santa’s little helpers selling their wares.”
Richie laughed. “I do declare that you, Megan Shepard, are a closet Christmas junkie.”
“I have to admit, normally, this time of year I am so hyped up on Christmas, I just adore it. But this year I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm until now, thanks to you. Come on.” Grabbing his hand I pulled us into the throng. “I want to see everything, and sample everything.”
No stall went unmissed as we walked at a snail’s pace around the market, buying a few last minute gifts for mum, Helen, and Pam, I could not resist. We gorged ourselves on German sausages, Hungarian goulash, and Dutch pancakes, so much so we had no room left for dinner. Walking hand in hand and chatting as if no time had passed at all, Richie suddenly pulled me into a department store. Dragging me by the hand, he seemed to know where he was heading, weaving in and out of shoppers. This man was on a mission.
“Richie, what on earth?” I tried to keep up with his long strides.
“All will be revealed in just a minute,” he said, cursing as he took a wrong turn into the luggage department. Retracing our steps back through women’s wear his pace slowed as he began waving, noticing Max standing by the washrooms.
“Gosh your cutting it fine, boss.” Max handed me a black leather suit holder and a small tote bag.
“I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand…” I looked at the suit holder in my arms.
“Do you really think, Megan, that I would let you come here without letting you meet, what was it you call them? Oh, yes Manchester’s famous celebrities. It wasn’t hard to plan since you had already left your dress in the boot of the car. It was just a matter of picking up your shoes, which you kindly left at the bottom of the stairs. Now slip out my suit and shirt, we haven’t much time. For a moment, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “We’re going to the party at the club.”
“We’re really going to the party?” Laughing, I reached up, pulled his face down, and kissed him. “I have a feeling this is going to be the best Christmas ever.”
* * * *
Things could not have been more perfect when, Richie woke me the next morning to look out of the window and, scrambling out of bed, I shrieked with joy when I saw a beautiful blanket of snow. Togged up in my mum’s wellington boots and Paddington Bear duffel coat, we headed for the Peak District. Arriving at the Tissington Trail, we appeared to be the first to brave the weather, as our two sets of footprints left a trail in the blanket of virgin snow. With our arms wrapped around each other, we would stop every few yards, leaving behind our footprints facing each other, showing evidence of a shared kiss.
Trees on either side of the trail, reached out their bare branches to touch each other, and dusted with powder, they formed a veil of white lace, beneath which we walked. The sun was now breaking through the white heavy clouds, melting the white lace, and diamond-like crystals began to fall. A small hamlet, which would have normally been surrounded by green pasture, was now a wonderful picture of cottages with their rooftops covered in glistening snow. It reminded me so much of my grandmother's snow scene Christmas cake with peaks of royal icing, and right in the middle the plastic snow covered houses. Everything around us looked so sharp and clear and that was when I put my life into perspective.
We walked and talked until our feet and fingers became numb, and our cheeks tingled with cold, before we returned to the welcoming warmth of the car heater.
* * * *
“Oh my, this is so beautiful,” I exclaimed as we drove into the small village of Hartington. Small stone cottage shops and cafes bordered a village green carpeted in snow, and a duck pond glistened like a mirror in the watery sun. It truly was a picturesque setting for a postcard, or lid on a tin of Christmas cookies. “How on earth did you find this place?”
“It’s one of my secret little haunts,” Richie said, taking his eyes off the road for a moment to look at me, his dark green eyes sparkled like emeralds.
When the car came to a stop, Richie jumped out, ran around, and opened my door, taking me by the hand. “Last night, at the Christmas Market, I happened to notice how you ate every sample of cheese and with such relish, so where better to bring you but here.”
I looked to where he was pointing. “A cheese shop! I feel like Gretel seeing the house made of bread and cakes, but instead its cheese!” Giving him a big bear hug, I added, “Last night I was transported to Lapland, then Cinderella did go to the ball, and now a house of cheese. How can I ever thank you for making the last two days so special?”
Enfolding me in his arms, he laughed. “Oh Megan, just seeing you smile and so happy is more than enough for me.”
Once inside, I pondered on the vast selection before me, the attentive staff waiting while I made my choice and then quickly changed my mind. Eventually after a good half hour we left, bags bulging with every cheese the shop sold, along with savoury biscuits, chutneys, a selection of wine and a huge hamper for my mother.
“Are you sure we have enough?” Richie teased as we packed our wears in the boot of the car.
“Well, I would have loved that wedding cake of cheese, but seeing as I’m not planning on getting married in the foreseeable future, unless you are planning on marrying again, then I could be your official taster.” The smile on his face suddenly seemed to vanish. “I’m sorry; that was uncalled for.”
For a moment, he just looked at me. I might have been mistaken, but there was almost a look of fury in his eyes. “We’d better get going, it’s starting to snow again, and it will be dark soon. Best we get home.” He slammed down the boot and with a definite march walked around to the driver’s side of the car. Silly stupid me, why did I mention marriage, after three disasters no wonder he looked annoyed.
No sooner had I opened the car door and put one leg inside he set off, hardly waiting for me to close the door. The five minutes of silence seemed like hours, until his hand reached out and patted my thigh. “I don’t know about you but I am starving-hungry. I know this great place in Risley, run by my friend, Mike, not far from your mum’s, so I won’t have far to drive after, shall we go there?”
Great, he’d taken the hump. “Or you can just drop me off at my mum’s house first if you wish.”
He glanced sharply at me. “Why?”
“I thought maybe you needed some time on your own, I mean we have been rather in each other’s face for the last two days.”
His eyes darted from the road to me. “Is that what you think? I suggested there because it’s near to your mum’s house so I can get rid of you?” His words were blunt and snappy.
Gosh I’m just digging myself in deeper here, my best bet is to smile apologetically.
“I suggested it because I had offered to take you and your mum food shopping tomorrow, and with the Risley Park being so close I thought I could have a few glasses of wine, and then perhaps stay with you, I didn’t mean anything sinister.”
“I’m sorry, again. Yes, it would make sense to stay over at ours, and now you mention it, I’m starving hungry too.”
* * * *
We decided to eat in the chic contemporary bar, finding two leather chairs next to a roaring fire. After a fantastic meal of Moules Mariniere followed by honey roast duckling, we sat back and full and satisfied, we finished off our bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.
As I sat staring into the flickering flames of the fire, my thoughts wandered back to earlier today; when I thought I had put my life into perspective, but had I really? It all seemed to come back to the same question I’d been asking myself for the last two days. I knew I had to ask, even if I liked the answer or not. “Richie, can I ask you something?”
“What have these last two days been about?”
“Two friends meeting up after years, sharing some quality time together, getting to know each other again.”
“And when I’ve gone back to London?”
“Well, that all depends on you, Megan.” He took a drink of his wine, observing me over the rim of his glass. My heart was pounding. Is this the part in the conversation where I tell him I don’t want to leave? Because as each day goes by, I am falling deeper and deeper in love with him. I tried to look into his face to see what he was thinking but it was expressionless. Jeeze, I bet he’s a good poker player. So if I tell him the truth, and he just wants to be old friends who are just sharing some quality time, I go home broken hearted. Then again, if I agree it’s just a friendship, then I go home broken hearted anyway, so I can’t win either way.
“You seem to be deliberating, Megan, perhaps I should say something. I am selfish. My main goal in life is to build business to make money, but I’m the kind of man who needs a woman, and over the years it is fair to say there have been a few, some have lasted a few weeks, some have lasted one night. I have had three disastrous marriages, and why? Not because none of them has understood my business came first, it’s purely because I know I’ve never really loved them. Then when I saw you walk across the dance floor on Friday night…” He paused for a moment to catch his breath I could see tears welling in his eyes. “Megan, I don’t want to be just friends, and I think neither do you. How we work this out I haven’t a clue. You have a successful life in London and I have one here. I have been thinking of nothing else these last two days, and I’m sorry if I was sharp earlier, when you spoke about marriage, it was because I love you too much to lose you a second time.”
Oblivious to the fact we were in a public bar, I stood up from my chair and knelt down beside him. Taking his hands, I clasped them tight, lifting them to my lips softly kissing them. When I looked up I felt tears sliding down my cheeks. “When I said I could never thank you, I was wrong. I can give you something, from today and for the rest of my life I want to give you all the love in my heart.”
Linking his arms around my neck, even though he was now crying too, I could see when he gazed deep into my eyes, the same love, and understanding. “That was so beautiful, Megan, and I promise to do the same too.” A murmur of how enchanting came from the next table.
“Perhaps it’s time we went home, Megan?”
* * * *
Chic-Lit Holiday - Christmas Short
Heat Level: Boiling Sensual, yet more explicit love scenes, and the language may be more graphic and direct.
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