Authors: Kate Britton
Jennie waited until nine a.m. to call Lucy. She was so close to tears it was shameful. Here she was, a supposedly sophisticated woman of thirty-eight, close to tears.
“Hello?” Lucy’s voice was sleepy.
“Lucy, Jennie. So sorry to wake you, but … “
“No, I was just lying here, dozing. What’s going on, Jen? The weekend going alright?”
“No. Lucy, it’s awful. Just awful. Allan’s been drunk since we got here Friday night. Hit the bar as soon as we got to the hotel and he hasn’t stopped drinking since!”
“Oh, no! And you had such high hopes for a romantic weekend away…”
“I know. Dated him for a month now, and never a sign of this kind of problem. I really thought that when he invited me away for the weekend, he had romance on his mind. Told me to bring my sexiest nightie. I thought, finally, I’m going to get some action…it’s been months since I’ve had sex, seems like a year! But what do I get? A drunk, passed out beside me. Sexiest nightie bedamned! I could be wearing a suit of armour and a chastity belt for the all the difference it would make! Would you believe, he’s lying beside me now, snoring his head off, and he doesn’t even wake up with me talking to you? I’ve never been so insulted in my life. Last time I looked in the mirror I wasn’t ugly or obese, and I don’t think I have stinky breath or bad b.o….Oh Lucy, what is wrong with me that I attracted such a loser?”
Lucy was sympathetic. “Never mind, Jennie. At least you aren
’t emotionally invested yet, are you?”
Jennie had stopped crying. “No, Lucy, I
’m not. But it’s been such a disappointment. I expected romance, and I got a drunk! No action at all…”
“Where are you?”
“Torquay. I’ve already called down to Reception. They’ve got a car and driver coming round in a few minutes to take me to the bus station, to bring me back to London.”
“Good for you. Leave the loser there, and block his number from your mobile.”
“Exactly. Do you want to have dinner tonight?”
t, Jennie. I’m in Berkshire. I’m having dinner with my friends Bertie and Penny tonight. But lunch tomorrow would be good…”
s go somewhere nice, maybe Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant. They’re supposed to do a very nice lunch…”
“Sounds good. Twelve?”
They rang off.
Jennie took her case and went down to the lobby, to wait for the car and driver that would get her to the bus back to London. Instead of flying down the motorway in Allan’s sports car, she would now have to spend a good portion of the day on the stinking bus back to London. And busses always made her a little motion sick. She just knew she’d have a blinding headache by the time she got home.
Safer than driving with Allan, though. The amount of alcohol he’d consumed, he’d probably be drunk for the next two days….
Oh, well, it could be worse. “Look on the bright side, Jen,” she told herself. “You’ve only gone out with the man for a month.
How many times? Three dinners, two plays and that cocktail party. You could have wasted six months on him before you found out he’s a binge drinker…and face it girl, he can’t have a very high sex drive. I mean, he’d never done more than kiss you, and no tongue at that. Never patted your bottom, or felt your tits. And you have a nice bottom and good tits, you know that. So he probably got drunk to avoid sex.” She laughed at herself. “I should have brought my trusty vibrator with me,” she giggled.
When she finally got home, after taking another bus from Eust
on Station, she sank into a hot bath filled with lovely bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. An hour later, she felt human again. Got organized for the next week. Lined up all her outfits for work, checked her email, and glanced at her calendar for the week. Not too much on. Lunch with Lucy tomorrow, of course. She booked the table online. A publishing workshop Wednesday evening. That was it. She could hit the gym at least three times this week and make sure her bottom wasn’t getting flabby.
Not a man on the
horizon thanks to that that sot Allan taking up the last month….the next man she dated had better display some virility from the beginning, or he wasn’t going to have the pleasure of her company a second time! Perhaps she should audition their bedroom talents on the first date? Hmmm, not a bad idea. It would have saved a month of messing about with Allan, being frustrated as hell. Jennie giggled at her brash thought. She loved sex, but she’d never been a
give it out on the
type of girl. Perhaps it was time to change that?
Monday morning, Jennie got to work as usual, just on nine give or take a few minutes. It was quarter past before she really settled into editing an article. This one was from Rebecca, one of the junior writers. It was so bad, Jennie wondered not for the first time who Rebecca was banging, to keep her job. That was totally ridiculous, the Editor-In-Chief had a very strict non-fraternization rule between staff and management. But Jennie couldn’t see how else she kept her job. Jennie sighed, and basically rewrote the article. She was ready for a cup of tea when her friend Susie, the head of the Layout Department, came and collected her at ten fifteen.
They sat in their usual Monday morning group
in the canteen chatted about the weekend’s events.
Susie’s boyfriend had been surly all weekend. He was a Tottenham supporter, a huge Tottenham supporter, and they been badly beaten by Man
United, again. So he’d sulked all weekend and drunk far too much beer. “He’s so totally useless when his team loses,” she finished up. “He drinks too much and falls asleep on my sofa. I’m seriously thinking of dumping him. I think we’ve just become a habit.”
Rachel’s flat mates had thrown their usual Saturday night party. It had been loud and late, with tons of girls and not many men…
Rachel was thinking about finding a Saturday night job somewhere. She was sick of the parties that were devoid of interesting males. Not that she was really looking. She had a hopeless crush on the Editor-In-Chief that she never told anybody about. Well, she knew she wasn’t alone. Probably half the females in the office had a secret crush on the Editor-In-Chief. He was handsome, rich, in the middle of a divorce and so masterful…
Rebecca looked down her nose at Rachel, and coolly remarked that
been to a house party for the weekend in Buckinghamshire with lots of rich, eligible young men, sons of dukes, earls and industrialists, and two of them,
, not one, were taking her out for dinner this week.
told of the weekend’s debacle in Torquay. Jennie had a way with words when she wanted to, and soon had Susie and Rachel in gales of laughter, especially when she bemoaned the fact that she hadn’t taken her trusty vibrator with her to Torquay.
was shocked that Jennie would talk about vibrators on Monday morning at tea.
Rachel had laughed long and loud and admitted that she too had a trusty vibrator.
Susie then admitted to taking the edge off with hers while the drunken boyfriend snored the night away on the sofa. Rebecca’s face got very red and she jumped up and hurried away.
On the way back to their offices, Jennie said to Susie. “Sometimes I wonder how these junior reporters keep their jobs. I don’t edit some of the articles, I rewrite them…”
Susie looked at her sympathetically. “You mean Rebecca, specifically, don’t you?”
“Jennie, I thought you knew why she has a job here. She’s Geoffrey’s soon to be ex-wife’s niece. Geoffrey didn’t want to hire her, but Amelia pouted so much, he gave in. Now he’s divorcing Amelia because he found out she was playing around, and he’s stuck with Rebecca.”
“Oh. That explains a lot.”
“It does. I think you might find that once the divorce is final, Rebecca is moved along. Just as soon as Rebecca gives Geoffrey a valid excuse to sack her.”
“I hope so. I’ll have gray hairs soon, having to deal with her flights of imagination. Sometimes the article has nothing to do with the subject assigned to her.”
But you know, Jennie, I think Amelia has something on Geoffrey, because even though she was the guilty party, word is she’s getting a generous settlement from him anyway.”
“Maybe he’s just a nice man.
Or they had a pre-nup that gave her so much for each year they were together? That would make sense, with his money. They were married for seven years, weren’t they?”
“Yes, seven years, and then she got the itch…” Susie laughed.
Jennie rewrote another of Rebecca’s articles and left at quarter to twelve to get to the restaurant to meet Lucy.
This was supposed to be Lucy’s birthday lunch. She was five years older than Jennie and had turned forty three last Friday. Jennie wished she’d stayed in town and taken Lucy to dinner, rather than go off to Torquay with
d read in the
art column that Lucy’s old love, Dan was back in London. Dan and Lucy had split eight years ago and Lucy hadn’t bothered with anyone since. Jennie found that very odd. She couldn’t imagine going eight years without a man. Instead, Lucy had concentrated on her business, restoring old farmhouses close to London and reselling them for very good profits. Lucy had kept one of the projects for herself last year, spending the weekends there. She kept inviting Jennie up to Berkshire for the weekend. One of these weekends, Jennie would go. Maybe next weekend…
Half way through the meal, Jennie glanced over at Lucy. “I read that Dan Foster is back in England, Lucy. The
art columnist mentioned it.”
the columnist is a good friend of Dan’s,” Lucy replied. Then she blushed. “I…er…actually saw Dan yesterday, Dan and our friends, Tom and Gloria. They were up visiting him. It turns out that Dan lives quite close to my farmhouse. He rented the property when he came back to Britain a few months ago. They were out for a walk down my lane, and I was in the garden and saw them. The three of them came in for tea…and I went with them to look at a property Dan was interested in buying.”
’s eyebrows shot up.
“How was it, seeing him again?”
“Nice. Very nice,” smiled Lucy wistfully. “I hope we can be friends…”
“Did he kiss you?” Jennie got straight to the point.
Lucy turned even redder. “Eh, yes, he did.”
“How did you feel about that?”
“It was wonderful, Jennie. But I told him not to do it again. I couldn’t handle another broken heart. He understood.”
“He wasn’t in bed with you when I called yesterday morning was he?”
“No, I didn’t see them till the afternoon when they strolled down the lane as I was messing with the rose bower in the front garden.”
t be friends with a man who walked out on me, Lucy.” Jennie was very firm. “I think it’s stupid of you to even contemplate being friends with him.”
ve never been deeply in love, Jennie, or you wouldn’t say that. Sometimes half a loaf is better than none. Don‘t forget, Jennie, that he only walked out because I couldn‘t commit to marrying him.” Jennie knew the only reason Lucy wouldn’t marry Dan was the age difference. Lucy was ten years older than Dan, and she had worried it wouldn’t last.
Jennie had known Dan only briefly. She
’d met Lucy about six months before Dan left, and the two women had drifted in to a close friendship over the years since.
Dan was a good man, she conceded and sexy as hell. She suspected he would have improved with age. Very perceptive, was Dan. Good with people…and incredibly talented at painting. She suspected he was inc
redibly talented in bed as well.
“Are you going up to the farmhouse again next weekend?” It was at the back of Jennie’s mind to invite herself along, if Lucy didn’t mind. If it wouldn’t interfere with Lucy and Dan.
“I’m going up Tuesday, actually. Taking a few days off to work on the garden.”
“I miss my D
ad’s garden, Lucy. I spent so much time in Oxford, working on his garden over the last ten years. Now he’s dead, and my brother has the cottage, I hardly go there. And my sister-in-law does all the gardening now anyway. I envy you the garden in Berkshire.”
“Well, Jennie. You can come up any
weekend, there’s always something to do in my garden, and you enjoy it all, don’t you?”
Grubbing about, weeding, planting, pruning, it’s all most enjoyable,” agreed Jennie. “In fact, I think that’s why I went out with that dud Brian for a year. He had a garden I could muck about in every weekend. When he sold his house and moved into a flat in town, I broke up with him.”
Jennie walked back to her office, and thought about Lucy and Dan. If Dan was persistent, Jennie thought Lucy would take him back.
Lucy hadn’t looked at anyone since Dan left….
Jennie wished she would meet someone like that, but older, closer to her own age. Jennie was nearly thirty-eight. She
’d given up on Mr. Right. She’d settle for a Mr. Sexy now. She was using a lot of batteries in that trusty vibrator.