A Christmas Gift, But Not for Me Ch. 01

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It’s official: Sarah Cosgrove is the Grinch that stole Christmas. From me. Dressed in a Santa hat and nothing else, she took the one time of the year where I can be truly happy, and obliterated any semblance of joy. At a little after 1:30pm on Christmas Eve, I walked into our bedroom to see Sarah, on her knees with my mate Alex fucking her from behind, while she relieved my other mate Alan with her mouth. I was just in time to see Alex pull out and shoot his load all over Sarah’s arse.

Unbidden, the line “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” popped into my head. If I wasn’t so catastrophically dumfounded by the scene unfolding before me, I may have found it funny. But there’s nothing funny about heartbreak.

They hadn’t even noticed me.

“You’ll want to clean that up, Alex. Sarah doesn’t like a mess on her bed. And Alan – not in the mouth, mate – she’s not a swallower.”

I was surprised to hear my voice – utterly devoid of emotion, and cold beyond words. It cut through the atmosphere immediately, and three sets of eyes were fixed on me. Shock, worry, embarrassment, even fear registered on the features of the misbehaving trio.

“You boys had better get your things and fuck off, I think.” I said quietly. They did as they were told, in record time, not meeting my eye, leaving Sarah sitting demurely with her hands in her naked lap.

She finally looked up at me, her eyes red, her glossy dark hair messed up, her lipstick smeared. Such beauty. Such a slut.

“What do you want me to say, Ben?” She was way too centred for my liking.

“Um. Well, let me think – my girlfriend, who never likes sex with the lights on, who won’t do oral and who won’t refer to her “down there” as a cunt because it’s just too vulgar – was just having her cunt fucked by one guy in broad daylight, as she deep throated another. You must have something to say.” I ventured.

She looked at me for what felt like an eternity.

“I do have something to say, actually.” She said quietly, but firmly. “He had finished fucking my cunt, and was instead fucking my arse.”

So calm. So serene. In her well rounded, home counties accent, such terminology seemed to carry a touch more sting. Me? I was losing grip on reality. I was shaking, not with rage, but with the onset of the most immense grief. I looked away from her eyes that were seeming to challenge me. This was when I noticed the 50 pound note scrunched up on the dresser, next to the makings of a joint. She saw where I was looking.

“They bet me 50 quid that I wouldn’t fuck them both. They got me stoned. I got their money.”

“But Sarah, you don’t do…weed, or drugs…”

“Yes I do, Ben. I just don’t do it with you.” She sighed, closed her eyes and leaned back on her hands, revealing her nakedness with a nonchalant confidence I had never seen before. She seemed unburdened, somehow. Even in my shock I noted her reserved beauty, the small swell of her breasts and the beautiful pink nipples. Her flat tummy leading down to a well-tended patch of hair, complete with the remnants of another man’s seed.

“Ben, I love wild, wicked, sinful sex. Just not with you. I love being stoned, I love a line of charlie every now and then, I love being off my tits. I love people cumming on my tits, for that matter, and I would have let Alan come in my mouth if you hadn’t interrupted us.” She stared me down some more. “God, you have no idea how relieved I am that you found me out.”

Somehow she knew what question was running through my mind, the one I dared not ask, for fear of hearing the wrong answer.

“And no, Ben, I do not love you. I love the idea of loving you, but in practise, it’s just not for me.”

“Sarah, how can you go from…who you were this morning, to being…this cheating whore?” As soon as I said it, I knew it was a mistake.

She chuckled quietly before saying “Oh this wasn’t the first time, Ben. I’ve been a cheating whore for ages. It was my first time with the two Als though.”

I walked into the kitchen and sat down, unsure as to what my next move should be. I didn’t have to wait long, because Sarah came into the kitchen dressed for the cold weather outside, hair now tied neatly away, no sign of the rampant slut I had been unwittingly introduced to just minutes before.

“I’m sorry you found out this way, but it’s for the best. I’ll move out on Boxing day.”

I looked at her and thought I could detect a flicker of shame in her eyes, but then I recognised it for what it was: pity.

“Anyway – for what it’s worth, Merry Christmas, Ben.” And then Sarah was gone.

——

As a self-proclaimed romantic, Christmas is a big deal. I tried very hard to be that cynical guy that hates on the commercial fakery of the season, but at heart I’m just that kid from the Polar Express movie. I desperately love the spirit of Christmas, the essence of togetherness, and just that…feeling. Sarah, on the other hand, was always a pragmatist, and a tolerator of Christmas, rather than a willing participant.

Every year, when I hear Bing güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri Crosby and David Bowie’s Little Drummer Boy, I’m always stopped dead in my tracks. There’s a longing, a yearning, and I’m seduced by the hope in the song. As I sat at my parents’ house in Kent, listening to the Christmas songs with Mum and Dad, the lyric seemed to change.

“Peace on earth, can it be, a cheating whore, just for me.”

It’s an odd thing wearing a party hat, playing at being festive when inside you’re falling apart. I spent many long moments just staring at nothing, all around the house, and Mum would find me, give me hot, sweet tea, say nice things and make sure I was as okay as I could be. Word got out incredibly quickly, friends were divided up – some of her friends consoled me via email and text, some showed their allegiances by unfriending me on social media.

In short order, I had gone from being a confident, happy writer in an ad agency to a crushed husk of a man with half as many friends, a whole list of places I could no longer go and a future I could no longer plan for.

Looking back, Sarah wasn’t just reserved, she was cold. I now realise the relationship was one way traffic, but when I was in it, I felt it was perfectly fine. Now though, I doubted I could maintain my reputation as the guy that wrote the touchy-feely headlines and came up with the ideas that women in particular loved. I had grown up wanting desperately to be in love, to do the things that couples did in the movies – my imagination was a rom-com montage of delirious happiness and…sex. Lots and lots of sex. On tables, chairs, trains – and beds.

I went back to work, hoping that the busy world of an ad agency, deadlines, responsibility would drag me out of the blackness, but the decline had reached deep within me, into my very corners, and it turns out clients don’t like their ads to be depressing. My Creative Director took me out for lunch and suggested I consider my options because my spark as a writer had disappeared. His broad cockney accent was in full flow as he gave me both barrels.

“You’ve lost your mojo Ben, mate! You were my best writer, the man with the quick headline, the ideas to make clients moist. You need to go away and lick your wounds, write a blog, write a book – I dunno – write a fucking recipe book for all I care, but you can’t be this pathetic excuse for a man any more. We all knew Sarah was bad for you, but we had no idea how bad. But – Ben, you’re simply not the man you once were!”

I sat and took it in, and found it hard to disagree.

“Listen, my mate in New Zealand runs an agency. He’s in Auckland, and he needs a writer. I think I remember you telling me that you’ve got an uncle out there, right?”

I nodded.

“Go and live in Auckland, be a writer, and get over Sarah. Please. Fuck a load of girls. Fuck a load of guys, I don’t care – just get that ‘orrible little cunt out of your system.”

———

My friends who’d traveled around the world loved to talk about how terrible the long haul flights to Australia and New Zealand were. I wouldn’t know – instead of a year out or a good look at the world before settling down, I was too busy building my career and planning to do things with Sarah Spitroast. But in my newfound relationship status, numb to much of the world, 27 hours sitting doing nothing suited me quite nicely. I watched bad movies, I ate tasteless food, I drank wine, and I slept.

I made several starts at a letter to Sarah, but in the end I never knew what I was trying to say.

“Too soon” I thought to myself, and went back to the wine. Being away from the routine, from the reminders, from the common ground Sarah and I had shared, it made things easier. So instead of experiencing several jolts of realisation per day, there was just a dull ache that I could manage.

When I arrived in New Zealand, the air, the sunshine and the relaxed people immediately improved my spirits, but I decided to keep myself to myself, do my time and get over Sarah. It turned out the agency was great, my salary was a good one, and I was in the middle of a hot, dry summer.

My “uncle” was actually Dad’s cousin, one that he hardly knew, who had turned up at some wedding in England and by the end of the night of heavy drinking, had offered to play host to anyone prepared to make the southern pilgrimage. The great news for me was that Uncle Jon was a very wealthy man, and insisted that I pay nothing more than token rent. He and his new wife Angie had a beautiful house overlooking the harbour, so, with money coming in and nothing to spend it on, I bought the kind of car I never would have in London – an all wheel drive sports vehicle that chewed through petrol and went very fast. I began to clock up the miles as I learned to ski, walked around volcanoes and drove hours up north to beaches English people could only dream of. I also began to develop a reputation as a copywriter who could push the limits and bring some dark humour to my work.

One night Angie asked güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri if she could have a moment of my time, and I wondered whether I’d outstayed my welcome. I already felt bad about how little I was paying for an amazing lifestyle, so I wasn’t overly surprised to be called out on it.

“Angie – look, before you start, I just want to say how fantastic you and Uncle Jon have been to me, and I hate that you’ve felt it necessary to talk to me about the money – I should have done said something sooner.”

Angie looked confused. “Ben – what are you talking about? What money? We wouldn’t care if you paid nothing, it’s lovely having you here.”

“Oh” I responded.

“All I wanted to say is that my daughter Clarissa is moving in for a few months because everyone in her flat has gone their separate ways and she wants to cadge off us like you do.”

My expression made her laugh out loud.

“Ben – you need to relax. Remember, you’re not in London anymore, and we would love for you to use this as a time to get yourself back together.”

She looked at me with a touching tenderness, and even though we hadn’t talked openly about Sarah, the kindness in her eyes said it all.

————————————

I got a parcel of mail from England and realised just how refreshing it was to be free of reminders, bills and bullshit. When you live in a big city, you have to play by its rules, and those rules stipulate that you rent until you can own, that you spend a lot of money, and that you never really relax. At the bottom of a pile of bills was an envelope with hand-writing I would recognise anywhere. My chest tightened as I opened it and took out the letter.

Dear Ben,

I want to ask how you are, but I think I’ve lost the right to ask such questions. I’m writing to let you know that you chose the wrong person when you chose me. I’ve always been weak, but I’m a very good actor. Thing is, I really, really wanted to be the woman you thought you were with, but I think I really wanted the other side of my life, too. That part of me could not be in a relationship with you.

I stand by what I said on that horrible afternoon. I loved the idea of being in love with you. You’re the closest I have ever come to love, but in truth I simply don’t run too deep. I know I have hurt you, and for that I am very, very sorry – just not sorry enough to change the way I am. I have to come to terms with my true nature, and that is someone who needs a lot of stimulation, someone who loves taking risks, and someone who will burn others in pursuit of what I want. I wanted depraved, guiltless sex, and I got it, but it’s you who was burned.

In the interests of being honest, because it’s the least you deserve, I slept with at least 10 different men when we were together, and a number of women. Every occasion involved a drug or stimulant of some sort – I’m not proud, I’m just being straight up. I have been tested for STDs and came back clear.

Ben, you’re a good person, and I am not. I’m ok with that, but I’m not ok with the thought that you are hurting because of me. I’m a wanton, hedonistic slut, but I’m not totally heartless.

I am sorry, but you’re better off without me. Go and love someone worthy of it.

Sarah.

I read it over and over, and got angrier at myself with each read through. My anger wasn’t directed at Sarah, it was focused inward at myself. I realised that I had been quietly building this idyllic life that you might see in a Richard Curtis film, but I hadn’t stopped to really see what was going on.

In that letter, Sarah had woken me up to myself and somehow set me free. I realised the life was nothing that could be written down on a page with scene suggestions and beautifully crafted language.

I had tears in my eyes, but for the first time since I caught Sarah being serviced by my former football friends, they were not tears of pity. I wiped my eyes and was considering my options when I heard Angie calling me from downstairs, announcing the arrival of Clarissa.

I was expecting her to be a driven career type who wanted to fix the world. I knew that she was 23, single (way too busy for romance, Angie said) and out to be the world’s most successful human rights lawyer. When she walked in with her suitcases I was pleasantly surprised to see a smiling, effervescent blonde woman who was all warmth and giggles as she greeted her mother and step-dad.

“Hello, new step-father-type-character, how are you treating my money-grabbing mother?”

Angie squealed in shame and set about diffusing the situation by trying to take the young woman’s bags. But Clarissa was having none of it. She hugged her mum before looking over her shoulder and seeing me. Uncle Jon did the honours.

“Clarissa, this is Ben – my er – nephew from London, remember I said he’d be coming to stay for a bit?”

Her eyes went wide in recognition. “Oh, he’s THAT Ben? The one that…” She left the sentence hanging, making me wonder just how much my uncle had told her. I didn’t wait for güvenilir bahis şirketleri the awkwardness to intensify, deciding a quick introduction was required.

“Hi Clarissa, nice to meet you, I’m Ben Jennings.” To my ears, I sounded like a pompous English gent, a perception that was not helped by me holding my hand out to be shaken. What a cock, I thought, filled with self loathing.

Clarissa disengaged from her mother and shook my hand formally, in a parody of an official meeting.

“Ah yes, Jennings. Heard a lot about you, old chap. Good things, I can promise you. Glad you made it.” She was taking the piss royally. Her put-on frown dissolved into a delightful smile as she pulled me in from the handshake and hugged me.

“Sorry, Ben – you’re just, sooooo awkward!”

I wanted to scream “Nooooo, you’re all wrong, I am VERY cool, VERY funny, I’ve just forgotten how to be that person right now.” What I did do was blush like a vicar and embarrass myself. I excused myself and went out on my mountain bike for a ride down to the waterfront, willing myself to get a grip, to be the normal me. I mean – from the outside, I was relatively passable, 5 feet 11, green eyes, not uneasy on the eye…problem was that I had an aura about me that said “avoid this one, he’s damaged goods.”

When I got home, I showered and was changed into the standard shorts and t shirt Kiwis wear almost all year-round, despite the fact that it’s as cold as England some days. There was a knock on the door and Clarissa poked her head into the room.

“Ben, Mum wanted me to tell you that it’s dinner in 5 minutes.”

“Oh, cool, thanks – tell her I’ll be right down.” BE NORMAL. BE YOU!! “What’s for dinner?” Without missing a beat she replied.

“Oh, you’ll love it, Ben. Mum’s doing a spit roast.”

Her hands flew to her mouth in disbelief at what she had said.

“I am so, so fucking sorry, Ben, I…” She stopped in shock at what happened next. Instead of being offended or telling her to fuck right off for being such an insensitive arse, I threw my head back and laughed for the first time in four months. She stood there not knowing what to do, with a smile playing across her now relieved face. She began to laugh with me until we were both in hysterics. When it all died down, I realised my face was wet with tears, from laughing.

“Clarissa, you are a horrible person. But Christ you’re funny. Spit Roast for dinner. Fuck me, that is priceless.”

“I’m glad you think so. I think I’m going to ruin my career as a lawyer unless I can curb saying the shit that comes into my head. I really am so sorry.”

“All good, honestly, I feel like a weight has been removed from my chest.”

She grew quiet and then asked quietly.

“Was it as bad as Mum said it was?”

“What did she tell you?”

She seemed to look at me and try to gauge my resilience before responding.

“Well, she said you came into the bedroom to see your girlfriend being serviced by your friends.”

I nodded. “That’s pretty much it. Turns out it wasn’t the first time” I picked up the letter and showed it to her.

“Whoa”. She said, after reading the letter twice. “Got to give her props for honesty.”

“And for her multi-tasking ability” I responded with a smile in my voice. Clarissa laughed out loud.

“Now who’s funny? So it turns out you do have a sense of humour – who knew?” She teased.

I realised that I felt good.

“Thanks for that, Clarissa, seriously. You’re a godsend.”

She stood and hugged me tight, and spoke quietly.

“I know how broken you’ve been, Ben. But while I’m here, let’s do some mending, hey?”

Before I could respond, we were called down for dinner – which I’m pleased to report was a pasta bake and nothing involving a roast of any sort.

—————————————-

Next morning I got up late and wandered through the house, calling out to see who was still home. I saw the french doors to the patio open so walked out to investigate. Clarissa was looking out over the harbour wearing a long white linen shirt. Her feet were bare and her long blonde hair hung in waves down her back.

“Morning” I said.

Nothing.

“MORNING” I said, a little louder this time. Still nothing.

I reached out and touched Clarissa gently on the shoulder and started to bid her my third good morning when she screamed and spun around, swinging a punch that narrowly missed my head. The momentum of the lunge pulled her around and off balance, causing her to collapse in a heap on the hard tiles of the deck. Her hair was covering her face but I could see her shoulders shake and hear what I thought were sobs, and I was worried how badly she’d been hurt. I was about to lean down to help her when I heard her speak in between giggles.

“I’m such a fucking doofus. I’m not sure what’s worrying me more – my grazed knees, my slaughtered pride, or the fact that I am wearing way too little in front of someone I have only recently met.”

The comment made me look closer, and sure enough the linen shirt had ridden up, exposing a tiny portion of her naked bottom. Clearly my libido had not received the memo that things were returning to normal, because I quickly stepped over her and looked out at the water, allowing her time to right herself, unobserved. I heard herself sit up gingerly, checking her injuries.

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