I’ve never told you about Mr E, and for good reason – he’s my highest profile customer.
All I can really say is he’s a professional sportsman and he lives on his own in a bloody large detached house between Leeds and Harrogate. I spend 5 hours at his place once a month. When he first contacted me asking for cleaning services I told him to get stuffed. I thought it was someone taking the piss so I hung up on him. He rang back immediately and something about him sounded sincere, so I heard him out. Some of the things he told me about his sport sounded convincing so I decided to follow it through, and I’m glad I did because he’s my highest paying customer. I make as much cleaning his house for 5 hours as I do over 2 to 3 of my regular full days.
He’s the only customer I have as a regular on a weekend, a Saturday, and that was my justification for charging him more – not because of his status. At least, that’s how I rationalise it in my head. Nevertheless, to be quite honest, given the size of his house I feel I really earn it.
After the first time I’d cleaned Mr E’s I had the idea that I’d start looking for other customers like him, so I could work less hours, less days and have more money. However that idea conflicted with my reasoning for starting this way of life in the first place, which was to have lots of smaller amounts of income coming in, so that if I lost one, or even two, the bulk of my income would still be coming in. In other words if you’ve got a job and you get the sack or made redundant, then you lose all your income in one fell swoop. Whereas if a customer sacks off my service, I only lose a small portion of my income, which can more easily be replaced by another customer. Okay, I’m rambling again… However I have to say, being self employed has been one of the, if not the best decision I’ve ever made in terms of securing my overall income. Ramble over!
Anyway, back to Mr E. As I say, he’s a sportsman. He lives in a 5 bed detached property set in 3 acres of land, which means nothing to me, but apparently 3 acres is about the size of 2 football pitches – it’s pretty big; certainly big enough for a helicopter landing pad, which he has because he also likes to fly. So, 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 WCs, a massive kitchen, a dining room, a lounge, a snooker room… and so on. There’s just so much to it. Granted not all of the bedrooms get regularly used, but he does have guests over from time to time, so they need attention as and when required. He also has someone else go in during the week who changes and cleans his bedding and does his washing and ironing, which leaves me free to concentrate on what I do best.
If I was the type to be enamoured by stardom I would be totally smitten by him. He is charming, handsome and as you might have gathered being a pro sportsman, he’s pretty fit, a bit like Jim. I am pleased to say that he’s not the type to let success go to his head, which is surprising given his working class roots. So often in those tittle tattle gossip mags or on the front pages of red headed tabloids, you read about people reaching the top of their game and then losing the plot, which is mostly because they’ve come from a background of poverty and failure, and not one that would have taught them how to deal with success and excessive financial rewards. That might not be true in all cases, but it certainly seems to hit the mark for most. No, Mr E has clearly had some good guidance along the way, and whilst it’s clear he has his vices, they’re not in control of him – at least not at the moment anyway.
I generally drive to his for a 10 o’clock start and most times he’s out doing his sport thing. Today is one of those days.
His kitchen always takes me a good hour to clean, sometimes more if the oven needs some love. Mr E’s house is one of where I bend my own rules a little because the flooring tends to need a lot of attention and takes a big chunk of time, so, after the kitchen I clean the WCs and the bathrooms then, and this is where I bend my rules, I do his floors before doing and wiping down and polishing.
After I’ve got the WCs and bathrooms looking so sparkling they could be adverts in a Bathstore catalogue, I make a start vacuuming. At Mr E’s I use his vacuum rather than carry my own from the car. He has a Bissell Powerglide ‘Lift Off’, which I have to say is a cracking machine. It sucks like Aurora Snow did in her glory days. One of the best features is the option to use the canister as a handheld vacuum come duster, so it saves me a lot of time and means I can vac the house and dust the furnishings at the same time. I’ve been vacuuming for over an hour when, through the window I glimpse Mr E’s Porshe coming up the gravel drive between the hedges on either side. I carry on working; if he wants to see me he’ll come and find me.
I’ve finished vacuuming, I’ve mopped all the laminate and tile floors accordingly, and I’ve started burnishing the floor with the small burnisher he has in the house. I’ve always loved burnishing, or buffing as it’s more colloquially known. There’s something about the gentle side to side action I find kind of meditative, almost therapeutic in fact, and on top of the effect it has on me, there’s the effect it has on the floor itself. When the work is complete you’ve effectively turned a floor from a dull matt finish, to a glossy shine.
I miss doing this.
When I used to work in the commercial sector, buffing was always my favourite activity. There’s a knack to handling the machine which is basically a handle, a motor on top of a fast spinning disc, and a pad held in place under the disc. It’s the pad that does the work on the floor. The knack is to learn to hold the handle at just the right angle so the disc and pad are completely flat on the floor; once you’ve cracked that it takes only minute action lifting and lowering the handle to move the machine right and left. Many inexperienced people positively fight with buffers, trying to force them to go where they want them to, but really, very little effort is needed. Having said that, sometimes they do ‘bite’ the floor and buck like an angry horse. Anyone who’s used one will know what I mean. I’ve always prided myself on my buffing ability, and the only chance I get to keep my hand in these days, is at Mr E’s.
It’s easier to buff a floor working backwards, well, I find it’s easier that way, but some like to go forward. Anyway, I’d buffed the laminate in the lounge and I was working my way backwards down the hallway.
It occurs to me that I can’t keep referring to Mr E as Mr E, so I’ll call him Ed for the sake of convenience.
His voice makes me jump. ‘Jesus Ed! I was miles away then.’ I release the power lever on the handle and the buffing disc comes to a stop.
‘Ha! I could tell,’ says Ed. ‘Why do you think I did it.’
‘You bugger,’ I say. My heart realises there’s no threat or danger and starts stepping down from red alert. ‘How’s it gone today?’
‘Excellent session,’ he says. ‘Coach was chuffed with me and says I should have some fun for the rest of the day.’ He’s wearing casual sports attire namely a branded tracksuit and trainers. He leans back against the wall looking relaxed and pleased with himself. His side parted, brown hair is a little matted with the tell tales signs of recent, sweaty activity, and I guess he hasn’t showered after training.
‘Cool. Have you got anything planned?’ I ask.
‘Nope. I was wondering, how are you getting on?’
‘Pretty good actually. The kitchen and bathrooms are done, including the second ensuite.’
‘Ah. I’m glad you spotted that. My parents stayed over for a few days the other week.’
We make small talk about the health of his parents, and it seems they’re doing well.
‘So,’ he says. ‘You’ve only got the buffing to do?’
‘Well, that and some damp dusting when I’ve finished.’
‘So,’ he tries again. ‘The bulk of the work is done?’
‘And what are you doing after you’ve finished here?’
He’s obviously fishing for something.
‘Going home,’ I say. ‘Why do you ask?’
‘Have you got anything planned tonight?’
‘Jesus, what’s with the Spanish Inquisition?’ I ask laughing.
‘I was just wondering if you’d fancy a flight in the chopper?’
He’s never asked me before, and I feel my excitement brewing in my chest. The prospect of a helicopter flight is thrilling, in fact a helicopter ride has always been on my bucket list. Granted… my bucket list helicopter flight idea is more akin to being flown over the Grand Canyon, or over the Hawaiian Islands… something like that.
‘Ooh, I’d love to,’ I say. I know my eyes are shining with excitement. ‘A friend of mine took me up in a hot air balloon last year, which was one of my bucket list items, and ever since I’ve been mulling over the idea of just booking a helicopter flight at a place near Leeds Bradford airport, just to see what it’s like.’
‘Wonderful,’ he says. ‘Now you won’t need to. And seeing as you’ve nothing to do tonight, we’ll do dinner somewhere.’ He strokes his chin looking thoughtful and paces from side to side in the corridor.
I glance down at my cargo trousers and t-shirt. ‘I’m hardly dressed for dinner,’ I say.
He stops and looks me up and down. ‘You’re right, that won’t do for where I’ve got in mind, but don’t worry. You know the smallest bedroom next to bathroom in the corridor?’
‘Have a look in the wardrobe.’
He’s still looking me up and down, like he’s measuring me up. ‘I think you’re a similar size to my sister, Alice, and she’s left some clothes in there for when she visits. Go and see if there’s something you like that fits.’
‘Won’t she mind?’ I ask, somewhat inanely.
‘She won’t know,’ he says.
‘Well,’ I say. ‘You’d better not be thinking Italian then. I’m sloppy with spaghetti.’
He laughs. ‘Jean can always wash whatever you wear,’ he says, referring to his laundry lady. ‘Now, off you go. It’ll take me about an hour to get Nelly ready.’
‘Yes, Nelly the helicopter,’ he says and starts back down the corridor. ‘Now go… shower if you need to. You know where the towels are.’ With that he disappears through the door at the end of the corridor leaving me stood watching.
Right, I’d better get a wriggle on.
I leave the buffer where it is, reasoning that I can always put it away when we get back, but more so thinking that I’d better get a move on because a shower is a good idea considering I feel dirty from working. I run up the stairs and head towards the small bedroom. The word small is used loosely in this context because it’s only small relative to the other rooms.
I certainly wasn’t expecting this today!
Just shy of an hour and a half later and I’m heading back down the stairs wearing a knee length, black, pencil skirt, a red crossover top and some black, strappy, closed thong sandals. Thankfully Alice was the same shoe size as me and there were a few pairs to choose from. The sandals looked new so I picked those. I’d even been able to accessorise with a small black clutch bag.
I’d been particularly delighted to find some toiletries I could use including a new red lipstick, a packet of razors, shaving crème, and a couple of different deodorants and perfumes. I was especially glad of the razors because it had been a few days since I’d done my legs and I didn’t want my stubbly, stumpy pins showing. Alice had good taste in perfume too – I opted for Issey Miyaki.
‘Wow,’ says Ed following me down the stairs. ‘You look great.’
‘Where did you come from?’ I ask, ignoring his compliment and noticing that he too had changed clothes.
‘Once I’d got the checks done I came back in and heard you still in the shower, so I grabbed a quick one myself and got changed.’
He looked really cool sporting a pair of tight, black jeans and a white shirt with the top two buttons casually undone. ‘I see Alice’s clothes fit you well.’
‘They do, thanks,’ I say, giving him a coy twirl.
‘You look amazing,’ he says, brazenly looking me up and down again, this time a little more slowly.
I blush as his eyes meander north and south then paused in my chest area. The cross over top was quite short, and tied off at the waist revealing a bit of my belly fat. I’d spent a good while looking at myself from all angles in the mirror, before finally deciding I didn’t look ‘too’ fat in it. I didn’t fancy wearing my bra underneath as it was one of my old ones that I only wear for work – it’s comfortable, but not pretty, by which I mean it’s been was white originally, but having been washed so many times with a mix of my coloured clothes, it was now a crappy shade of grey. The last thing I wanted was that peaking out from behind the pretty, red top. Thankfully the top was doing a great job, so far, of holding my breasts in place, nevertheless, there was a good amount of my cleavage on show. Ed fails to hide the fact he’s noticed that.
That was my only shortcoming. Whilst Sarah had left some in the wardrobe, I didn’t feel comfortable wearing another woman’s knicks, so I kept my shabby work ones on. But it was playing on mind.
‘Right, where are we going?’ I ask.
Ed looks up from my cleavage.
‘Right, yes, come on then, let’s go,’ he says, setting off at a pace down the corridor.
His long legs and quick pace soon had him ahead of me and I struggled to keep up, the pencil skirt shortening the length of my gait enough to make it look like I was trying to run to keep up.
‘So where are we going?’ I call out from behind him.
‘Glasgow,’ he says.
He turns and stops in the doorway at the end of the hallway while I catch up. ‘Sorry, I’m marching ahead and leaving you behind. Yes Glasgow, well not actually Glasgow, but pretty close. There’s a lovely hotel on the banks of the Clyde with a helipad. They know me there.’
All of a sudden I feel really vulnerable.
‘I’ve just realised,’ I say. ‘I don’t have any money, and no one knows where I am if we have an accident, and there’s my mum, she’s ill at the moment.’
His eyes get serious looking and I can tell he’s weighing the situation up, weighing me up. ‘Look Carla, you don’t need money, this is my treat. And don’t worry, I’ll still be paying you for today. Do you want to ring someone and let them know where you’re going?’
‘I really ought to tell my brother, just in case.’
‘That’s fine,’ he says reaching in his pocket for his phone.
‘I’ve got mine I say,’ and pull it out of the hand bag.
We walk into the massive lounge and he parks himself in a chair while I ring Jamie. A few minutes later and I’m feeling better.
‘Jamie thinks I’ve gone nuts,’ I say.
‘I gathered,’ says Ed with a smile. ‘And so you have… swanning off in a chopper with a strange man to Glasgow for an evening meal. Who would have thought!’
We both laugh.
It does sound fucking crazy though… how the hell did I end up here!
‘Are you okay now?’ Ed asks. ‘Do you feel better?’
‘Yes, much better thanks.’
‘Good to go?’
‘Good to go.’
Apparently the hotel is just shy of 200 miles away and it’ll take about 2½ hrs in his ‘copter. Some can do it faster he’d said, but his is a mid range one. They all look the same to me, with the exception of those bloody big ones that they use for sea rescues or air ambulances.
The experience is better than I thought, and a hell of a lot noisier than I imagined, which scared me a little initially. When it took off I found myself gripping onto my seat until my fingers hurt, but after I got over my nerves and the noise, my heart rate settled back down and I was able to appreciate the experience.
About an hour and a half later we’ve flown over the outskirts of the Lake District and we’re crossing the Scottish Border. The views are absolutely amazing and whilst we can talk using the headphones and mics, we haven’t said a great deal, mostly because I don’t want to distract him. Every so often Ed points to something for me to look at, like the sun over the mountains and lakes, and I nod enthusiastically as I see what he sees. There’s always something new to notice, and I feel a little like a blind lass that’s suddenly been given the gift of sight.
I am so bloody lucky! Just how did I end up here!
It’s only at that point I wonder why Ed doesn’t seem to have a girlfriend.
Why is he bringing me, his scrubber, to this posh hotel?
Why isn’t he bringing a celeb girlfriend or someone like that?
I must ask him about that later!
Another question pops into my mind and this one can’t wait. Even though I don’t need to, I still find myself shouting into the mic. ‘Don’t we need to stop and refuel?’
‘Don’t worry Carla,’ says Ed. ‘Nelly can do about 300 miles on a full tank.’
‘Is there a fuel point at the hotel?’
He looks round and gives me a reassuring nod. ‘It’s all taken care of.’
‘I was hoping we’d need to stop,’ I say.
‘I need to pee.’
He laughs and shakes his head. ‘Didn’t you go before we left?’
‘Of course,’ I say. ‘I had one while having a shower.’
He turns and looks at me aghast.
‘Of course I didn’t,’ I say laughing. ‘Jesus, I can see I’m gonna have fun winding you up tonight.’
He turns back to watching where we’re going.
‘But don’t tell me you’ve never done that,’ I say. ‘’Cause I won’t believe you.’
His tone says he’s jovially lying. ‘Never,’ he says. ‘Nope, not me.’
‘Yeah right,’ I say laughing.
Silence falls between us again, and I really do need to pee.
I decided to distract myself and fish my phone out of my bag. The indicator light is blinking away so I turn the phone on.
Dammit! I forgot all about John, my new customer.
I was supposed to go round to meet him at 4pm and it’s gone 5pm now. I don’t generally book anything in on Saturdays, so when Ed had asked me to go with him my intro meeting with John didn’t even enter my head. John sent a text at 4.27 –
- Hi Carla. Are you still coming round? Have you been held up in traffic?
I’d better text him back.
- Hi John. I’m really sorry, something came up and I completely forgot. I can’t talk right now, is it ok to call you tomorrow and reschedule? J x
I put my phone on standby and keep it in my hand so I can feel it vibrate. There’s no way I’d hear it over the sound of the rotors. It vibrates within less than a minute.
- Yes that’s fine. I hope everything is ok.
I message him back…
- Everything is fine. Thanks for being so understanding x
Phew, that’s a relief.
I pop a reminder in my phone to ring John tomorrow.
Another hour or so later and I’m making my way as fast as I can into the hotel lobby with
Ed by my side.
‘Toilet!’ I say, my sense of urgency removing all politeness.
Ed points in the direction of the WCs and I hastily head over.
While I’m sat having the best, and quite possibly the loudest pee of my whole life, I notice the condition of my panties.
I look quite good, but they’re just so ugly.
They’re making me feel ugly.
On a rational level I know this is utterly unreasonable because it’s not like anyone can see them. At least fifty percent of the people we see tonight will be looking at my chest, the other fifty percent will probably just think I look like a slut.
Okay that does it, I’m going commando.
The best pee of my life has finally finished flowing so I wriggle my legs and let my pants drop to the floor, scooping them up after I’ve wiped my foo-foo. As I exit the cubicle I make for the marble surround sink units and try stuffing the pants in my clutch bag, but there’s no way my Bridget Jones knicks are going to fit in there alongside my phone and wallet. I’m busy trying cram them in when a poshly dressed lady walks through the door. She glances across, gives me a little not, and heads straight for a cubicle, closing the door behind her. I quickly wash my hands looking round for paper towels and a bin into which I can also leave behind my old knickers, but all I can see is one of those electric hand driers.
What kind of toilet doesn’t have a bin!
I quickly dry my hands and check my lip-stick in the mirror. Alice’s lip-stick is one of those really good ones good and I don’t even need to touch up. I grab my bag with one hand and my conceal my knicks in the other and make my escape before the posh lady comes out.
Ed is loitering in a corner of the lobby casually checking out some of the events literature displayed on a large, very solid looking mahogany table.
‘Can you hang onto these for me?’ I ask holding out my hand.
Involuntarily he reaches out for what I’m handing him and I drop my crushed up panties in his hand and close his fingers around them.
He opens his hand and gives me a questioning look. ‘Is that what I think it is?’
‘Shush,’ I say with a smile. ‘I’ve got no where else to put them,’ I say holding my hands up in a look-no-pockets guesture.
He laughs and says, ‘Well you could have just kept them on.’
‘They were ruining the way I feel about how I look.’
‘What?’ he says, shaking his head in confused disbelief. ‘That makes no sense.’ He quickly stuffs my pants into his jeans pocket before anyone sees. ‘Come on,’ he laughs. ‘Let’s go and eat.’
I can’t explain why, but knowing I’m not wearing my work panties makes me feel so much better, and knowing I’m not wearing any underwear at all makes me feel rampant like a rabbit on Viagra.
I was so preoccupied with needing to pee that I didn’t pay much attention to the hotel, both as we flew in or as I dashed through into the main entrance. Walking down to main hallway to the dining room we pass large period windows with beautiful expansive views of the grounds and surrounding countryside. On the opposite wall there hung what looks like a tapestry depicting a battle, which I guess is probably a famous Scottish one. The seats and tables look like an eclectic mix of restored antiques in various dark woods.
Ed was obviously expected as we are greeted at the door to the dining room by someone who looks like the maître d’ and he leads the way to our table. He pulls my chair out and slips it under me as I sit.
‘Back in a minute,’ says Ed. ‘I’m just going to the bar.’
‘I can fetch whatever you’d like,’ says the maître d’ looking a mixture of flustered and ‘put out’. His accent is pure Scotland but I couldn’t tell you which part it was from.
‘That’s okay thanks James,’ says Ed. ‘I’m glad to stretch my legs.’
First name terms with the staff – he must come here a lot.
‘As you wish sir,’ says James. ‘I’ll come back and take your order shortly.’
‘As you wish James,’ says Ed with a hint of mockery. James nods and gives Ed one of those reserved smiles that makes me wonder if he thinks Ed is really a bit of a dick.
‘I’ll be back in a minute Carla. Do you like red wine?’ He asks as he walks away to the bar.
‘Love it,’ I say nodding enthusiastically, and Ed saunters off in the direction of the bar.
Well Carla, just look at you!
I take a deep breath, settling myself into my setting. The dining room is magnificent and
unlike the main hall, all the furnishings match. The walls are decked with a mixture of ancient and modern art. I do like artwork and I decide I’m going to have a closer look later on. The room is well over half full with people at various stages of dining. I check out the women and I’m pleased that I don’t look underdressed. Whilst there are couples dressed in formal attire, there is also an equal mix of people dressed more casually.
I wonder how many of them are completely commando.
Actually you never know in a place like this – rich people are often the kinkiest. I notice a couple of women clearly not wearing bras which makes me look down and check myself out. I’m pleased to see the girls are behaving themselves and are still well contained within the top, which I adjust nevertheless, just to make sure there’s sufficient cleavage on show, but not so much that I look too slutty.
‘The waiter is corking the wine,’ says Ed returning. ‘He won’t be long.’ He sits down and for the first time today I see him start to relax. ‘What do you think?’ He asks, glancing round the room.
‘It’s beautiful,’ I say. ‘How often do you come here?’
‘Not often, once every month or two.’
‘Alone?’ I ask, wondering how many girls he’s used this place to impress.
‘Sometimes, but usually I have company. It’s a great place to entertain potential sponsors… you know what I mean?’
‘Yes, of course,’ I say, having no clue what he means. ‘So, Ed, why am I here?’ I ask, feeling brazen. It’s about time I found out what he’s after.
‘Are you hungry?’ He asks, sidestepping my question. ‘James will be back soon to take our orders. Let’s order and I’ll answer your question over dinner.’
I know full well that James won’t come back until Ed beckons him, but I accept his ploy and check out the menu.
‘By the way, order whatever you want,’ he says.
This is obviously Ed’s way of saying the price doesn’t matter and to be honest that’s good to know. You know what it’s like when a friend takes you out for dinner and says to order whatever you want – you don’t feel like you can go too high up the price ladder, but not too low either, so you opt for mid range. But Ed’s just flown me up here in his private helicopter, so I figure what-the-hell!
‘The salmon looks good,’ I say. I love salmon, and the menu says this is organic Shetland salmon.
‘Don’t you want a starter?’ he asks.
‘I’m hungry, but I don’t think I can eat both.’
‘You realise what type of restaurant this is don’t you? It’s one of those where you get a sliver of salmon, a few artfully placed asparagus stems and a drizzle of sauce. Trust me… you’ll want the starter too, especially as we’re drinking.’
I ponder his suggestion and then the menu. ‘Okay, I’ll have the scallops.’
‘Sounds good,’ he says. ‘I’ll have the scallops too but I feel the need for something meatier, so I’ll have the ribeye steak.’
The waiter appears and pours a tot of wine in the glass for Ed to sample, which he does with panache. He nods and the waiter half fills both our glasses.
‘I think you’ll find it to your palette madam,’ Ed says mockingly.
I pick up my glass, swish it round a little and sniff it as though I’m some kind of fine wine connoisseur. ‘Full bodied, fruity with a hint of tannins, and oaky with a smooth finish… Cabernet?’
He gives me a look of surprise. ‘I’m impressed. How did you become a wine buff?’
‘Oh, I’m not really,’ I say. ‘My brother used to belong some club or other and he taught me to pick out a few scents and flavours.’
Okay, time to turn my flirt on and see where the land lies.
‘But really,’ I say, carrying on my spiel and adding a little cheekiness to it. ‘I just figured you for a guy who likes a full body.’
For the first time today he laughs. ‘Well, I like yours Carla,’ he says, then he looks over at James and gives him a nod.
Ed leaves his comment hanging while James weaves his way through the tables to ours. ‘Are you ready to order sir?’
Ed orders our dinner and James tootles off leaving us to enjoy the wine. He returns with a small platter of assorted bread rolls and a dish of butter curls.
None of that butter sachet crap here.
We break a roll each, butter them and eat between mouthfuls of wine. Ed refills our glasses when he notices they’re both nearly empty.
‘Hey! It’s just dawned on me that you’re drinking,’ I say. ‘You’re not planning to fly that thing home pissed are you?’
I must have said that a little too loud because the couple at the next table look round, giving me one of those condescending looks you see posh people in movies dole out to the great unwashed. Ed gives me a little frown.
‘Sorry,’ I say a bit quieter. ‘But it’s just dawned on me.’
‘I’ve booked us a room…’ he says. I butt in before he can finish.
‘Well aren’t you Mr Presumptuous!’
‘Each!’ he says. ‘A room each.’
‘Oh. Sorry,’ I say, blushing and feeling a bit stupid.
‘But you’re right, it was presumptuous of me. I didn’t ask if you needed to be back because I just figured with it being Sunday tomorrow…’
A silence falls between us.
The cheeky bastard.
He breaks the silence. ‘Carla, in my game you learn a lot about psychology and how people tick. Let’s be honest here, I made you an offer to come here and you did. Girls don’t just fly off in helicopters with a guy unless they like the guy… or if they’re a bit nuts. You’re not nuts are you?’ He flashes me a rueful grin.
It’s a good job he’s hot!
But I’m not going to make it too easy for him…
‘Probably the latter,’ I say, and then a little louder, but this time on purpose. ‘But I’m not the one carrying a pair of panties in their pocket!’
This time he flushes and shakes his head.
Maybe I’ve gone too far.
But thankfully he throws his head back and laughs. ‘Touché,’ he says. ‘Tou-fucking-ché!’
The couple at the other table look over again, and we both stare back before breaking down in a fit of giggles.
‘I knew this was going to be fun,’ he says. ‘And I could do with some fun after all the seriousness of training and competing.’
‘It’s funny,’ I say. ‘I never really think of you that way – serious. But I guess it is really, especially if you want to stay on top of your game and at the top of the pile.’
‘You bet it is,’ he says.
At that point James returns carrying our starters. After he’s laid the plates Ed asks for another bottle of wine. ‘Is that okay with you?’ He says to me.
‘Yeah, I reckon so,’ I say returning his smile.
For the next hour or so we dine on the finest cuisine I reckon Scotland has to offer. The food is sumptuous and Ed was right about the portion size – a main course on its own wouldn’t have touched the sides. Our conversation flows and we talk about all sorts of subjects. The thing I liked the most was it wasn’t all about him. He asked me about how I got started working for myself and what I enjoyed about it. He was attentive and courteous and the more we talked the more we both relaxed – of course, the wine helped.
‘Dessert?’ He asks.
‘Nah, let’s go find somewhere to relax and sit and talk.’
‘Okay,’ he says. ‘Let’s go.’ He stands up and waits for me to walk round the table to him. He makes a loop with his arm like my dad used to do when walking down the street with my mum, her arm hooked into his loop. I slip my arm through Ed’s and he leads us back to main hall then towards the lounge bar, where we find a leather sofa near the window. It’s quiet with only a few others dotted about, sat chatting.
‘What would you like to drink?’
‘Bacardi and coke please, full fat.’
He laughs realising by full fat I really mean not diet coke. ‘Sounds good to me,’ he says. ‘Large?’
I can’t help admiring his shape as he leans over the bar. His muscles fill his shirt but not in a body builder way, more in an athletic way. His shoulders are broad and his back tapers down in a v-shape to his rather firm, denim covered buttocks. I get a sudden desire to spank his arse and squeeze his muscular cheeks.
He’s confident, charming and good company. It’s good that his success hasn’t gone to his head and made him into an egocentric dick.
‘Hey, I’ve just realised something…’ I say, as he places our drinks on the table and sits down next to me.
‘What’s that Carla?’
‘You never did tell me, why me?’
‘Why you what?’ He says. The look on his face tells me he’s teasing me.
‘You bloody well know what,’ I say. ‘Why me? Why ask me to come here? Surely you must have a posse of possible hot dates, all dying to spend time with you.’
His expression changes, his smile dissipating. ‘Actually, you’ve just summed it up nicely. Girls want to hang with me because I’m successful, not because they want to know me… to know the real me. Whereas you don’t seem to give a shit about all of that. You already know me pretty well. You know I play games consoles and I’m guessing you’ve checked out my bookshelves?’
I had. And yes I was surprised to see a varied mix of reading material – natural history books, philosophy and religious books, pop psychology, and Sydney Sheldon and Jilly Cooper novels. Sheldon and Cooper – what the fuck!
‘You’ve seen me come home both devastated and elated depending on how well I’ve done. You’ve seen how I live and just about everything about me, and you appear neither affected nor enamoured by any of it.’
‘Because I’m not.’
‘I know. And I love that about you. To you I’m just another customer, albeit probably your best paying one, but just another customer nevertheless.’
I shrug, nodding my head. He’s totally nailed it.
‘I can’t deny any of that. Don’t get me wrong,’ I say. ‘Initially I was enamoured with the idea of having a wealthy customer, but that soon wore off when I realised you were just an ordinary bloke, with an extraordinary lifestyle.’
He placed his hand on my bare thigh and sighed. ‘You have no idea how good it is to hear you say that. My life is filled with people who want something from me – agents, sponsors, fans, reporters and so on. You… you don’t want a damn thing from me other than to come to my place, do your job, get paid and then fuck off home. It’s just so refreshing.’
He leans back in the chair, his hand still on my thigh. It feels warm and I like it. He’s holding it firmly but sensitively. I place my hand over his and smile at him.
‘I wouldn’t want your lifestyle,’ I say. ‘All those demanding people. I like my lifestyle. There’s a freedom to it. I answer to know one but myself, and I make my own fun.’ I cock him a coy look and raise an eyebrow.
‘No pressure. No demands,’ he says.
‘No pressure. No demands,’ I echo back and I lean in and kiss him softly on the cheek. He shuffles round so he’s facing me and kisses me properly. His kiss is firm but tender and feels a little restrained. I run my hand up his chest between his open shirt, slipping it round his neck and behind his head. His lips immediately relax and his tongue gently pushes into my mouth. I reach for it with my mouth and suck his tongue as I pull away and sit back.
‘You’re good,’ he says.
‘Thanks,’ I say, ‘I practice on my pillow.’
We both laugh.
I notice him looking intently at my lips.
‘How the hell has that lipstick not smudged?’
‘You’ll have to ask Alice,’ I say.
‘Alice! My sister Alice?’
‘Yup, it was in the wardrobe and new, so I kind of borrowed slash stole it,’ I say making a slow slashing motion with my hand between borrowed and stole it.
‘I want to kiss you again, but not with that on your lips. Apart from the fact I don’t like the feel of it, you’ve just told me it’s my sisters, so now it feels weird.’
‘You weirdo,’ I say. ‘It’s just lipstick.’
‘I know, but really I don’t like the tacky feel of it.’
I look around for a napkin or something else to wipe it off.
‘Hang on, I’ve got hanky in my pocket,’ he says and fishes about in his jeans. He pulls out my panties and looks up at me with wide eyes.
‘Oops,’ he says.
We both laugh. He looks round like a little boy caught being naughty as he stuffs them back in his pocket.
‘You know I’m keeping them don’t you…’ he says. ‘As a memento.’
‘No you bloody well aren’t,’ I say. ‘They’re hideous.’
‘I bloody well am,’ he says with a cheeky grin. ‘Anyway, what are we going to do about that lipstick.’
‘We could always go up to your room,’ I suggest.
‘Actually I’ve got a confession to make.’ He looks down sheepishly.
‘Really…’ I say. ‘Let me guess… there is only one room.’
He looks up at me, like a cheeky little boy hoping for forgiveness.
‘Ha! I knew it. I was right, you are a presumptuous bastard,’ I say laughing.
‘Personally, I prefer confidant bastard,’ he says with a grin.
‘Bollocks,’ I say. ‘Presumptuous bastard it is. Okay, come on then.’
I stand up, grab my drink and tuck my bag under the same arm, and with my other hand I reach for him.
‘Take me to your room you presumptuous bastard. It’s time I showed you how I’d handle your chopper flight stick…’
Oh come on, you knew that last line was coming!