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Nearly twenty years later and I can still feel the excitement and anticipation rolling round in the pit of my stomach as I closed down my workstation and skipped out of the news room of Bristol’s Independent News Radio where I was an entry level reporter on the graduate trainee scheme; a massive smile across my face, I wished all my colleagues a nice weekend on the way to the main entrance and enjoyed every single time someone said ‘see you on Monday’ allowing me to say ‘No, I’m off for two weeks, see you next month!’
Not only was I off but Dan, my boyfriend of the last six months had told me he needed to catch up with me this evening after work. We’d got a fortnight booked in Madeira together, flying out from Bristol airport at seven thirty the following morning, we had planned to meet at check in. He lives with his Mum and Dad in Yate, and it seemed a lot easier just to have an evening apart as we had an early start.
After Dan had called me to get together, I was useless for the rest of the morning, I was convinced he wanted to upgrade himself from Boyfriend to Fiancé, two weeks together in the late spring Atlantic sun on Madeira was the perfect time to pop the question, but who could blame him for wanting to get in ahead of the trip?
I explained the situation to my supervisor in the local reporting team and whispered conspiratorially that I wanted to make the trip extra special and planned to pop into Secret Rendezvous, an up-market lingerie shop in the centre of Bristol, to get something uncomfortable that I wouldn’t be keeping on for long.
She sent me off with her blessing, without even making me book the afternoon as leave, my excitement was so infectious. I looked at Rachel as a mother figure in work, although at 36 she was only fifteen years older than me and would probably have been horrified to learn that.
I spent a dreamy couple of hours looking at thongs, corsets, stockings, and bras, the less there was the more they seemed to cost but, in the end, I settled on a white basque with thong knickers, suspenders and matching stockings. The 34C cups were super sheer and almost entirely transparent, the body was boned and shaped and the stockings were lace topped and seamed. All for about two weeks salary.
While I was in the mood for spending, and let’s face it that’s most of the time, I stopped at my favourite charity shop and bit the bullet on a pair of Gina shoes with a four-inch heel. They were only £100, and new would have been six times that, so I was saving money. Even I didn’t believe me, but I didn’t care. By mid-afternoon I was waiting for a bus back to the two bedroomed flat I shared with Sharon Cooke in St Pauls. Sharon’s a junior nurse at Bristol Royal Infirmary and I remembered she was on nights, so I determined to be quiet when I got home.
The shop opposite had a black glass front that reflected the queue, and I looked across the road at my mirror image, shoulder length chestnut hair tied back into a pony tail, a smiling heart shaped face with brown eyes, just over five -four tall but looked five-six with my boots on. My heavy coat disguised my figure but trust me, I’ve got a good one. I run two or three times a week, Sharon dragged me along to the gym with her a few times but I didn’t like the feeling of being on display, there were too many creepy blokes checking out my bum when they should have been working out and I found it was impossible as a girl to sit down on a machine without some slimeball offering to help set it up and ‘accidentally’ touching my tits or arse. So I ran and went to Dancercise classes, both of which helped me keep my stomach flat, my abs toned and my bum looking great. And I’m a great cook. No wonder Dan was going to ask me to marry him.
Mrs Nicola Palmer, I ran the sound of it round my head. I’d keep my maiden name for work, Nicola Walsh, journalist. This is Nicola Walsh, for the BBC live in Washington. Nicola Walsh, BBC, Mr President, will you account for the disappearance of ten billion dollars?
I was snapped out of my reverie by the old lady behind me asking if I was going to get on the bus or not.
“Sorry, I was miles away, I think my boyfriend’s going to propose to me tonight” I told her by way of an explanation.
She gave me a wide berth once were both aboard, I’m guessing she couldn’t actually give a shit about my impending betrothal and was worried I would spend the next twenty minutes telling her all about my wedding plans. Which to be fair I probably would have done.
I stepped off and walked the two minutes from bus stop to front door and tiptoed in so as not to disturb Sharon. I needn’t have bothered, the steady thump of her headboard told me she was awake and entertaining, so I let myself into my room and finished packing for my trip.
Just as I was about to start on freshening up my makeup to look my best for Dan in a couple of hours there was a crash and a thump from next door followed by “OOooh Shaz, that feels great. etimesgut evi olan escortlar No don’t stop…Anhhh”.
I stopped, frozen to the spot. It couldn’t be, although I knew it was. I recognised that voice, I’d recognise it anywhere. I’d been planning on hearing it say, “I Do.”
Un-freezing my feet I dragged myself out of my room and stood, already blocked up and sniffy, tears waiting in the wings ready to burst out on cue.
Grip the handle.
Turn the handle.
Push the door.
“NNNNOOOOOOOO Dan you fucker. What the fucking fuck are you fucking doing. You fucking, fucking, fuck.” My vocabulary deserted me in the heat of the moment, when I sell the film rights to my life I’ll rewrite this bit, so I say something witty and biting, maybe “Sharon dear, I seem to have misplaced something, it’s my boyfriend’s cock. Oh, I see you are using it, why don’t you keep it?” As it was, all I could manage was a stream of fucking, fuckity, fucks, but I think I made my point.
They at least had the decency to look embarrassed. She was kneeling on the floor, he was behind her. and they were fucking doggy style, a little bit of me kept detached and noticed she had a tattoo of a unicorn on her ribcage just below her left breast, it matched the one Dan had on his left shoulder that he’d acquired two months ago. This probably wasn’t a recent thing or a one off then.
Dan came out with the classic “This isn’t what it looks like” which may have had more chance of convincing me if he’d stopped pumping into Sharon’s stinking minge while he’d said it. Then he realised what he’d said and tried again “Actually, it is. I didn’t want you to find out like this. I want to break up with you.” He still hadn’t stopped, either she is a fantastic fuck, or he really is that stupid.
A moment later he followed up with “I guess we won’t be going to Madeira now.”
Actually, that last helped me, I suddenly flipped from anger at the betrayal to a sense of having dodged a bullet. MY GOD, Imagine, if I’d ended up with him. In disgust I turned round and was almost out when a second thought hit me.
“Sharon, I’m moving out. Effective immediately. Find some other mug to pay your rent for you.”
She seemed unmoved by this, and, again whilst my boyfriend, no, my EX-boyfriend was still humping away behind her she looked up and said “Fine, leave your keys by the phone.”
And suddenly I was homeless and partnerless. I dived into the kitchen and took all the bin bags, filling them with bedlinen, towels and clothes. I was saddened by the lack of possessions I seemed to have when I had everything in a pile. The sex noises kept on coming from Sharon’s room, so with a vindictive grin to myself I took the working phone charger and the TV remote control from the living room stuffing them into my holiday suitcase. Then I called a taxi and, leaving the keys on the table by the phone waited outside the front door feeling about as low as I’ve ever felt.
The taxi arrived and asked where I wanted to go. That was a good question. Mum and Dad lived in Guildford, three hours away. I called my friend Lucy, she was great and told me to come straight round and dumped all my stuff in her spare room. She scribbled a post-it note on the fridge.
‘Coco’s life gone badly wrong. In the Beekeeper’s. Order curry for 3 at 9.30’
I should explain. I’ve been called Coco since I was seven when I dressed up in a black dress of my mothers and paraded round the living room like a fashion model, Dad said I looked like Coco Chanel and I insisted on being called Coco from then on.
Ten minutes after arriving I was sitting in the bar of the Beekeeper’s Arms with most of a large Chardonnay inside me and a second lined up. The tears were coming thick and fast as I told Lucy first about catching them at it and then about how stupid I felt at getting it so, so wrong.
“I can’t get the money back on my flight now either. Its less than 24 hours so it’s gone, and I gave him nine hundred quid towards the hotel. I bet that’s gone now too.”
Lucy pointed out that right now that was the least of my problems. “I mean, you can stay for a week or two but the spare room’s actually Colin’s office.”
Colin’s her husband, a sales rep for an industrial adhesives wholesaler who works from home, he’s got a computer and a Fax machine in the spare room, I’d also seen a copy of a girly magazine under the bed when I’d dumped my bags, so I had an idea what else Colin did in the spare room.
Don’t get me wrong, Colin’s lovely, I’ve known them for three years and he’s never even glanced down my top when I’ve bent over in front of him so if he wants to check out Mandy, 19, from Catford as she spreads herself over a Holiday Inn bedroom, I won’t begrudge him his simple pleasure.
“Anyway, I think you should go. You’ve got the time booked, you’ve got the hotel booked, you’ve got the flight booked. Go. Maybe you can find some Portuguese ankara olgun escortlar man to keep you entertained?”
I had to admit the thought of spending time being miserable in the sun sounded better than being miserable in May in Bristol. The plane tickets were in my purse, I hadn’t actually checked if I could cancel Dan’s flight, I was being pathetic and feeling sorry for myself and considering the day I’d had I felt entirely justified in doing so. Lucy persuaded me otherwise, I delved around the depths of my handbag and found the A4 printed ticket information, there was an 0800 number that said 24 hour helpline so I called it, necking half the second Chardonnay while I waited.
Ten minutes later I was speaking to a call centre in Mumbai who stuck to the script but after Lucy grabbed the phone and demanded a manager, we ended up with someone in Hounslow who listened to a censored version of the story and agreed a 50% refund.
“There you go Coco,” Lucy bumped my shoulder in solidarity, “There’s two hundred quid spending money, it’s an omen. I’ll even get Colin to take you to the airport.”
Two more glasses of Chardonnay later and it was decided. Colin would come and collect us from the pub, pick up the takeaway curry on the way home and would take me to the airport in the morning. I can see why Lucy loves him and why I overlooked his copy of Razzle in the spare room.
The curry was a mistake, I mean it was perfect at the time, the spicy mix cutting through the numbness from three quarters of a bottle of chardonnay each for me and Lucy and the half bottle the pub gave us to take home. I realised it was mistake at four thirty the following morning when Colin brought me a steaming mug of tea to wake me up for the airport run. I suffered in their bathroom and suffered in the ladies at the airport. I was fortunate enough to have an empty seat next to me, thanks Dan, so was able to sleep on the three-hour flight and arrived feeling vaguely human.
The instructions I’d been emailed were clear enough so two busses and a short walk later I was queuing at reception in the Hotel Buena Vista. It’s called a hotel, in fact it’s a collection of apartments and small villas surrounding a series of pools and grassy areas, each unit has self-catering options and either a private balcony or garden. Banana trees and Bird of Paradise plants were everywhere giving a lovely tropical atmosphere to the complex.
“What do you mean you don’t have a booking for me?” I was beyond confused, in fact I told them so. “I’m beyond confused, look, here’s your email confirmation that my ex-boyfriend forwarded to me. It says booking confirmed. That’s why it’s called a booking confirmation.” I waved it under the receptionist’s nose, poking sharply at the paper.
Deciding this was above her paygrade the poor receptionist called the duty manager who came over and took me to one side. “I’m sorry Mrs. Palmer.”
“It’s Walsh. Miss Walsh.” I was getting that clear right from the start.
Without missing a beat, he continued, “I’m sorry miss Walsh, we had an email from Mr Palmer on Monday last week cancelling the room, apparently it would no longer be possible to attend. We made the refund yesterday when we re-booked the accommodation.”
My world closed in to the one metre square holding me and Pedro Felipe Soares, or that was what it said on his name badge.
“No, you can’t be right, we only broke up…” The tattoos. The piece of shit had planned this for a while and didn’t have the courage to tell me until yesterday. I stood up and started pacing around the reception area. “You mean to tell me he had already cancelled and had his money back before I found out we were breaking up? He was busy shagging that tart Sharon all the while laughing at me, then he lets me come out here with no hotel room?”
I calmed slightly, “OK, I’ll book another room. What do you have for me?”
Pedro Felipe Soares walked back to the reception desk and tapped on a keyboard, coming up blank “I regret, Miss Walsh, we have no accommodation available. Yours was the only spare room and it was re-let yesterday. The couple concerned have already arrived and checked in. I am sorry but there is nothing I can do.”
I stood by reception and cried, deep down crying, not the pretty sexy type you get in films, this had much more snot involved.
He either took pity on me or has an aversion to snotty women dripping on his desk as he started calling other hotels but there was nothing for at least three days.
I asked if he could check with my airline to see if I could fly home, but they had no seats available for three days either. My misery was absolute, my resolve was broken. I sat on the floor and sobbed, I couldn’t see any way out, my head filled with thoughts of getting myself arrested or being picked up by someone that I could shag in exchange for a bed for the night. Neither seemed particularly attractive and I was right elvankent sarışın escortlar out of ideas when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
A concerned looking woman of about my mother’s age crouched down next to me. “Hello dear, I’m Pam. Can I help?”
I looked through the tears, wiping my eyes to get a clearer view. Short bobbed blonde hair with grey showing at the roots framed a face that was probably dynamite twenty years ago and was still attractive now.
I waved my hands vaguely in the air as if everything was wrong and no one could help.
Pam went on “My husband and I overheard your problem; we would like to help. We’ve got a two-bedroom place, and we’re here for three weeks. Would you like to stay with us, at least until Tuesday when there’s a room free? You can stay longer if we’re not horrible.”
I’m not normally a tactile person but I made an exception, throwing my arms around Pam’s neck and burying my snotty teary face in her hair. I could barely speak as I nodded my thanks.
She detached herself and beckoned over a tall, slim man in shorts and a striped polo shirt. His dark mousey coloured hair was riddled with grey but in a salt and pepper all over way, so it only showed when he got closer.
“Hello, I’m Rob. Let’s get you sorted out, shall we?” he extended a hand and an engaging smile.
They were as good as their word and booked me in under their villa, getting me a key card of my own so I wouldn’t be tied to their movements. It was only just 1 in the afternoon, so Rob suggested I clean up a bit and we all go for lunch to get to know each other.
Showered, changed and emergency patchup job with some eyeliner and lippy and we were under a parasol with a bottle of something cold and a plate of gambas pil-pil.
Rob and Pam were recently retired, he’d sold his dentist’s practice where she’d been his chief nurse and they were planning on spending a big chunk of the proceeds on holidays over the next five years. They lived just outside Bath, so close enough that if we got on, we’d keep in touch, far enough away that if we didn’t, we wouldn’t bump into each other in Tesco, although I doubted they shopped in Tesco. Everything about them screamed “Waitrose”
They’d never had children, not through plans but through something in Pam’s insides not working as required, but the number of nephews and nieces they showed me pictures of suggested they’d jumped into the ‘favourite aunt and uncle’ role wholeheartedly.
I shared the tale of my misery with them, giving Pam the juicy bits while Rob was getting another cold bottle of whatever it was, she was the first person to laugh at the ‘This isn’t what it looks like. Actually, it is’ line and I think that’s when I started on my journey back to being happier.
I’d introduced myself as Coco but Pam didn’t like it. “Coco’s a clown or a silly dog’s name. Or a little girl. Your name is Nicola, own it and be it. You’re a grown woman in control of your own destiny.”
That would be the third cold whatever it was bottle. We were all three of us merry by four o’clock, and I had been awake since 4.30 that morning so we departed the bar, bouncing off each side of the path as we giggled our way back to the room. We had a small balcony that caught the sun all afternoon, there were four loungers, a small table and chairs and a clothes drying tree.
Pam started issuing instructions, “Rob sweetie, can you set up sun beds for me and Nicola? Are you going to sit in the sun too?” Rob said he wasn’t and would be inside reading. I came to realise that was how their relationship worked. Rob did what he was told and was besotted with her, while she did the telling and was equally besotted. It was quite sweet but painful seeing a couple so in love after over thirty years of marriage, painful because I kept thinking of that fucker Dan.
I ducked off to get changed and had a moment’s panic. I’d packed for a fortnight with my fiancé, so my swimsuit was quite small and skimpy, tiny triangles of cloth that barely covered my nipples or smoothly shaved pussy. I wasn’t certain I was entirely comfortable wearing that in front of these two, nice as they may be. I put a T shirt and shorts on over the top to judge the situation better and went back to the balcony.
My fears were unfounded, Pam came out in a white mesh one piece, cut deep on the front showing most of her large 36 D or DD boobs, the thong back showed she clearly spent a lot of time in the gym and was lucky with her genes, despite her fifty-three years she had what I can only describe as a fantastic figure with an amazing bum. Feeling slightly inadequate I peeled off my T shirt and shorts, slathered myself in factor twenty and lay out in the bright sun.
Pam’s voice floated over to me “Are you keeping the top on then, Nicola”
I opened my eyes and glanced over to the other bed, she’d pulled the top of her cossie down so it was rolled around her middle, her boobs were even more impressive in the flesh. Already tanned all over they were firm without standing up like fake ones, her nipples were pronounced without being too big and the areolae were a dark shade of pink.
“Err.. I mean…I wasn’t planning on going topless, I’ve never done it before.”
“Oh, OK. Up to you. I just don’t like Tan lines.”
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