Making Out

Lucy – December 2004

Lucy had always loved Christmas.  It had been a special time for her family growing up as she had with a father in the church. There remained always a wistfulness that he were still with them but on the whole the family could all remember him fondly and resurrect his memory in fond anecdotes.  Lucy had thought that she would be able to persuade her mother to spend Christmas with her and David in their snug little cottage. This ambition had been overturned in a more than pleasant way; her brother Simon was to be in London for a special Christmas recital and then for recording early in the New Year. He would be staying in London with Suzanne he had said; much more convenient, but would it be OK for him and Annie to ‘gate-crash’ Christmas in Cornwall?

Simon was very conscious that he hardly knew his 18-month-old niece, Bethan.

‘I’m sure Mum will be delighted’ Lucy agreed with alacrity, ‘and we are too of course’ she added with a grin that Simon could feel over the phone, ‘we’ll have to be at the St Kew House though, we did think Mum might come to us this year but we have no room here’ Lucy rattled on happily making plans. ‘I may even persuade Katy and Susan to come, last time I heard they were planning skiing in Switzerland.’

‘Great that’s settled then’ Simon responded, ‘Mum won’t mind?’ he asked tentatively.

‘Of course she won’t’ Lucy responded with complete honesty, ‘she’ll be really pleased to see you; and Annie.’

‘We’ll come down on Christmas Eve then in time for dinner?  Maybe a bit sooner if we can get away in good time and the traffic’s not too bad.  I’m arriving in London next Wednesday and the recital’s on the following night.’ Simon didn’t add that he would be playing the Royal Albert Hall to a sell-out audience.

‘Good luck and safe journey, can’t wait to see you’ Lucy hung up with a smile lingering on her face.  It was the first time that Simon had actually suggested a visit; usually she had to badger him to come down.  Lucy made a cup of tea and sat down to rest her aching back and make plans.  She only had a few more minutes of peace before her (very) active toddler was up from her afternoon nap.  Lucy felt a strong kick inside as her unborn child moved around; she rested her hands on her bump and smiled serenely to herself. Better call Mum before Bombshell Bethan is up and about!

Penny was thrilled to hear the news from Lucy that her son, Simon and her best friend Suzanne would be coming down for Christmas, which in turn meant that Lucy, David and Bethan would be coming over to stay with her at the St Kew house.  For Penny the ultimate excuse to decorate every room in the house, stock up with firewood, bake additional batches of mince pies and make-up beds and bathrooms ready for the visitors.  When Lucy called a couple of days later to confirm that the twins would be coming home Penny was ecstatic.  A house-full of people was her idea of bliss.

Lucy strapped Bethan into the back of the car and made ready for the short journey over to St Kew.  Bethan wriggled excitedly and chatted in incomprehensible language for the entire journey making Lucy smile.  There was no doubt that Bethan was very much looking forward to seeing G’ama.  Lucy kissed her mother hello and accompanied her to the kitchen from where tantalising smells were emitting.  Bethan trotted alongside her grandmother almost on tiptoe to hold onto her hand.

The house was already looking Christmassy Lucy took in feeling comforted by the tradition of it all.  She had volunteered to help her mother to decorate the tree, a task that took her right back to her own childhood. Lucy had wondered if it would be best to put Bethan down for her afternoon nap rather than risk the mayhem of her helping, however her mother’s recollection of Lucy ‘helping’ her at a similar age stayed Lucy’s decision.  Christmas is for children she reminded herself as she and her mother alternately gave Bethan little tasks to accomplish. So what if it all had to be repaired later. 

By the time Lucy was ready to return home to the cottage she and Penny had rectified the Christmas tree decorations, made up all the beds, strung all the Christmas cards (lots) on red ribbon and dug out some old Christmas stockings that Lucy and her siblings used to have.  One of these would do for Bethan and she would make up another one for her goddaughter Eliza.  Lucy planned to invite Maxi, Damien and Eliza for sherry and mince pies after church, perhaps the rest of the family too.  Must check with Mum first she made a mental note.

David greeted his wife and sleepy toddler as they arrive back home. He couldn’t ever remember being home first; it had seemed empty and unnervingly quiet without his wife and daughter. He was delighted to hear of all the plans for Christmas from Lucy and even the tired and over excited shrieks from Bethan.  He had good news of his own to impart which he did later over supper once he had bathed Bethan, tucked her up in bed and read her a story.

Lucy pottered about in the kitchen putting the finishing touches to a casserole she had taken from the freezer.  I must remember to label things properly she admonished herself, she hadn’t a clue what the dish was until it had defrosted enough to inspect.  On her return home she had recognised the dish as a pheasant dish that she had made after they had been gifted with a brace from one of David’s grateful patients. Potatoes and green beans from the garden and likewise frozen provided the accompaniments.

‘Pheasant casserole!’ she announced proudly as David descended to the kitchen and planted a kiss to the nape of her neck,

‘Yum, sounds worthy of a glass or two of red’ David announced inspecting the wine rack for something suitable.  He couldn’t wait to impart his news to Lucy.

David listened to Lucy recounting the experiences of her day with affection. It all sounded delightfully domestic and foretold of a happy festive occasion to come.

‘You haven’t tired yourself too much?’ he enquired with solicitousness.

‘No not at all, easier than having Bethan all on my own!  She adores her G’ama so Mum really entertains her while I’m able to get on with other stuff.’  Lucy smiled at David serenely, ‘Now you my love, I can tell you’re bursting to tell something.’

‘How well you know me’ David smiled affably, ‘Yep, good news’ he leaned over and took Lucy’s hand, ‘I’ve been invited to be a partner.’  Lucy beamed with pride,

Oh that’s wonderful darling’ Lucy was thrilled that David would not now have to follow up the unwelcome scenario that he had introduced a month or two before; namely that with two children to support he may have to look further afield for a partnership in a medical practice.  She leaned over and planted an affectionate kiss on her husband’s cheek, she knew he’d been worried about the up-keep of his little family now that Lucy had given up work and they would soon have another mouth to feed.

‘I knew you’d be happy.  Not a good time for us to be thinking of upping sticks.  Not that I think there ever will be, we have everything we could possibly want living here; your Mum, Maxi, Damien and family, great neighbours, Alice, the practice…’ David grinned widely and raised his glass to chink with Lucy’s, ‘Perfick’ as Pop Larkin would have had it.

David scrambled up to raid the freezer, urging Lucy to stay put. He had soon whipped up a chocolate ice cream ‘surprise’ for a treat.  Lucy rolled her eyes up in appreciation as she very slowly nibbled her way through the chocolate and vanilla ice cream enjoying the crunch of the flaked chocolate and chopped nuts that David had added to the dish.

‘Mm lovely’ Lucy approved dreamily, only to have her reverie disrupted from a cry from above, ‘I’ll go, she probably needs her nappy changed’ Lucy shrugged and made for the stairs.

“I’ll clear up and make a cup of tea’ David offered, coffee kept the baby awake and consequently its mother.  Lucy crept back downstairs with her fingers crossed; Bethan seemed to have gone off to sleep again without a fuss.  Lucy curled up on the sofa as indicated by the still occupied David. He was soon done with his tasks, delivering the tea to Lucy and sitting himself close beside her. He slipped an arm around Lucy’s shoulders and snuggled up to her, ‘Happy’ he asked, unnecessarily. Lucy snuggled herself into the warmth and security of her husband’s embrace and wondered if he may be up for more than a snuggle.  Pregnancy seemed to make her lustful; she looked up at David under lowered lashes and lifted her lips to his.  David’s smiled with contentment as his mouth explored hers gently parting her lips and teasing her tongue with his.  He ran a hand over her breasts, enlarged by pregnancy and her nipples permanently prominent from breast-feeding, his cock hardening with desire.  David bent his head and slipped Lucy’s breast free of the confines of her bra. He sucked and licked her nipple sending ripples of desire to Lucy’s core.  He knew that she would be wet and ready for him.

‘Downstairs?’ David asked.  Lucy nodded approbation and helped David to pull off her tights and knickers. He slid onto the floor and slid his tongue inside to lap gently at Lucy’s clitoris; she was right on the edge. He quickly slipped out of his shorts and trousers revealing his own readiness to Lucy’s eye. Her husband was gorgeous in every way she thought as she watched him slid his cock home very slowly so that every nerve end thrilled to his entry.  Their lips locked together once more as David ground himself into her body as though it was possible to be more conjoined than they were already. Lucy came in waves of ecstasy her body pulsating around his cock until he came with a groan of exquisite release.

The couple sat cuddled together kissing and exchanging endearments David’s hand resting on Lucy’s bump waiting for it to start kicking in response to the rude interruption.

‘Ah there he goes’ David smiled, ‘sorry to wake you old chap.’

Making Out

Harriett – November 2004

Harriett was rattling around in her mother’s Belgravia town house. She had loved the place as a child and had many happy memories associated with the place. However, much as Hattie liked to party she didn’t feel comfortable inviting folks back here. She would be more than pleased to receive a visit from either her sister or her mother to liven the place up a little she thought one (rare) evening when she had determined to stay in, wash her hair and paint her nails.  She was busy with the remote control and the nail varnish when the house phone rang shrilly from the hall.

Hattie hopped up pleased to have a distraction from the less than riveting TV programmes she had been relentlessly cruising,

‘Hello, Harriett Alexander’s residence’ she answered with a feigned foreign accent of dubious derivation,

‘Hi Hattie’ Charlie responded without a shadow of hesitation, ‘amazed to catch you in I’ve been trying for days.  I only have your old cell number, d’you have a new one now for the UK?’

‘Oops, sorry Charlie; I forgot to send it to you.  Well I didn’t forget really I didn’t get round to it yet. You have so many cell phones, I never know what number to call.’  Hattie complained.

‘It doesn’t matter they all message to each other.  Give me your UK number now and I’ll put it in my phone and send you a message so you can store my number.’

‘OK’ Hattie read out her number and glanced back at the phone as it beeped, ‘Got it thanks Charlie.  Where are you?’

‘I’m in Paris until tomorrow night and then London next week.  I wondered if I could crash at Mama’s with you. We could do something together over the weekend?’

‘Ooh lovely’ Hattie was unequivocally delighted by the thought of seeing her big sister, ‘we could go shopping.  I know, I can take you in to Palmerstone and help you to chose some stuff then we can get dressed up and go out on the town.  I know some great clubs.’

‘You’re enjoying Palmerstone then?’ Charlotte asked unnecessarily, Hattie’s voice was brimming with enthusiasm.

‘Yea it’s really cool.  We get masses of famous people coming in but we have to pretend that they’re just normal customers…Well you’re famous now too Charlie after that feature in Elle Interiors.’

‘Not exactly pop star material I’m afraid’ Charlie deflected modestly, ‘did you hear from Mama?  I spoke to her a couple of days ago and she said she’s planning to come over to London for a few weeks. She wants to keep an eye on her baby I think.’  Charlotte furnished with a laugh.

‘Honestly!’ Hattie rolled her eyes to herself, ‘I’m a grown up workingwoman now.  I actually get paid, real money.’  Harriett added, self importantly, almost causing Charlie to laugh out loud.

‘Great stuff, well drinks are on you then’ Charlie teased.

‘OK we’ll have champagne if you like?’ Hattie responded seriously pleased to be entertaining her big sister.

‘Well I’ll see you tomorrow evening then.  I should be at Eaton Square by 7.30 if the flight’s on schedule. Look forward to seeing you mia bella’ Charlie slipped into her father’s habitual endearment, ‘love you.’

‘Love you too.  See you tomorrow Charlie.’ Hattie bounced back to the TV room to finish her nails with a grin on her face and great expectations for the weekend.

Charlotte arrived at her mother’s house to an effulgent reception from her sister. Harriett looking gorgeous and rather sophisticated in one of her new outfits rushed to the door to greet her sister,

‘Charlie!’ Hattie threw her arms around Charlotte’s neck and kissed her affectionately, ‘come in, I have drinks and deli stuff ready.’  Hattie bustled about hanging Charlotte’s coat and scarf as she chatted non-stop, dragging her sister through to the kitchen cum living room, a large though cosy space replete with a big squashy sofa.  The sisters sat facing each other with their backs leaned against opposite arms of the sofa.

‘This is nice, thanks Hattie’ Charlotte remarked, with a smile as she sampled from the tray of canapés and sipped a little nicely chilled Prosecco.

‘There’s this fab little deli right next to the shop’ Hattie declared happily, ‘too tempting sometimes…’ and added, biting the bullet figuratively, ‘I have to be careful what I eat or I’ll get way too fat to fit into ‘Aunt’ Becca’s amazing selection of clothes which would be a mortal shame.  Not like you.  You’re so skinny Charlie.’  Hattie was proud of herself that she had been able to go near the subject that had haunted her childhood and threatened occasionally to jeopardise her relationship with her older sister.  Charlotte recognised the watershed moment for what it was.

‘I often wished that I was more like you.  That is y’know it’s not that great being skinny.  Men love women with figures like yours, I’d hardly get a glance next to you.’ Harriett took this information in with a slight feeling of disbelief, although she knew that Charlotte’s wasn’t lying to placate her.  It was true then what the girls at work had said.

‘Really! You would like to be more like me?’ Hattie tested the theory in disbelief,

‘Yes baby’ Charlie grinned and reached over to hug her little sister, ‘everyone loves you and spoils you no matter what you do.  And do you know why that is; because you’re so full of life and because you radiate joie de vie and because you’re so nice and open and fun and because you’re beautiful.  You should never ever think yourself as anything less than super special.’  Hattie met her sister’s eyes.  Charlotte’s were soft with affection for her; Hattie’s brimmed over with emotion,

‘Thank you Charlie’ Hattie breathed, hoping that she would be able to hang on to this moment forever, a moment where she loved her sister unambiguously without envy.

The feeling of complete harmony between the two of them was too good for Hattie not to use the opportunity.  She had long wanted to know more about her father; the moment had never seemed right to tackle either her mother or her sister.  Hattie suspected that Charlotte might know more than she had ever let on, she was after all seven years her senior.

‘We are so different, you and I’ Hattie embarked tentatively, ‘and I obviously know that Papa isn’t my real father.  I’ve known that for ages of course’ Harriett’s voice suggested that only a simpleton wouldn’t have known, ‘and that he’s gay’ she added proving her woman of the world credentials.  ‘Charlie, do you remember my father?  Was he mama’s boyfriend?  What happened?’ Charlotte could feel her heart being torn apart.  She didn’t want to lie to Hattie or to be disloyal to her mother and all at the same time the terror and dislike she had felt as a small child surfaced making her feel like she was suffocating.

‘It was a long time ago’ Charlotte spoke carefully, ‘I know that mama always wanted you and adored you from the minute you were born; well we all did.’ Harriett knew that Charlotte had sidestepped her question but she could put herself in Charlotte’s position; wouldn’t she have done the same? ‘If you must know’ Charlotte’s voice was hesitant, ‘you have to ask Mama.’

‘I did’ Hattie furnished with a sigh, ‘she said the same as you.’ Charlotte almost advised Hattie to ask again now she was older, her mother would tell her the truth. No, that would be opening a real can of worms; what good could it possibly do? Charlotte gathered her inner resources and changed the subject,

‘I thought that you were planning to take me out on the town?  I haven’t hung out in a bar or been to a nightclub in eons.’ It was not a prompt to be taken lightly. In a moment Hattie was distracted into revealing her plans for the evening,

‘You must get changed though Charlie.  Wear something eye-catching, you always look so chic but much too sober’ Hattie advised with newfound authority from her experience at Palmerstone.

Making Out

Poppy – November 2004

 

Poppy’s lips curved up in a smile of supreme satisfaction.  She stretched out her long lean limbs and watched her delectable co-star’s back view under her eyelashes as he pulled on his jeans and roughly buttoned a casual shirt.  Poppy was in love; she knew she was, but him?  Ivan’s name had been connected with every major Hollywood actress, sometimes for a few months, sometimes a splash of publicity in the press and then nothing, or denials on both sides.  Which would it be with her Poppy pondered?  She dared to dream only for a moment.  He would dump her like he had all the others.

‘Well beautiful, best get that gorgeous ass outa bed’ he grinned, ‘we’re due on set in ten’ he sat on the edge of Poppy’s vast bed and bent over to kiss her forehead; his smile was relaxed and sexy.  He didn’t look like he was about to dump her.  Poppy sat up and slid towards the bedside proposing to shower and dress for their early start on set.  Ivan put his arm about her as she moved to pass and held her in a grip tight enough to impede her progress,

‘Now I come to think of it, maybe we could cruise in a little latter’ he nuzzled her neck suggestively.  Poppy was torn between her desire for Ivan and her desire to be reliable; she had been brought up to be responsible and dependable.  Ivan won.  He stripped off his newly donned clothes in seconds and flung himself on the bed next to Poppy rolling her over in his arms laughing joyously into her face.  She could feel the hardness of his body against hers and his massive erection pulsating against her belly as he held her.

Poppy had never experienced feelings half as intense as he provoked. Her whole body melted with wanting him. He looked long into her eyes his mouth lifting at the corners as he took in her beauty. His lips reached for hers and held her in a deep lingering kiss that made every nerve in Poppy’s body vibrate with sensuality.  She felt like a cat lying out in the sun with the exquisite expectation of being stroked over and over until she could take no more.

He took her very gently watching her face as he inserted his cock slowly, inch by inch into her wet tight pussy.  She was superb. Ivan very slowly swayed his body savouring every moment as he felt her fold around him and very gradually, as her orgasm built, squeeze tighter and harder until she came with a cry of ecstasy, her whole body arching and bucking as she climaxed taking him with her. Poppy lay satiated in Ivan’s arms wondering through her daze of post-coital bliss whether anything this good would ever happen to her again.

‘Come on sleepy-head’ Ivan pulled at her hand, ‘we’ve gotta go, he pulled her out of bed and led her to the en-suite shower where he soaped her gently as though she were a child.  Poppy obediently lifted her limbs and turned her body for his administrations, very aware that he was getting horny again already.  Ivan grinned and gently pushed her out of the shower.  Poppy watched him transfixed as he soaped himself paying particular attention to his spectacularly erect penis as he performed the ablutions. Poppy was glad of her dusky skin tone; she blushed so hard she was sure he would notice her innocence and inexperience otherwise.

Poppy turned away and tried to concentrate on drying off and getting dressed. She felt weak with desire. Ivan dressed speedily, seemingly with no further thought of sex.  Chivvying her good-naturedly to hurry.  Poppy was delighted that he was waiting for her.  The two would arrive on set together.  Although Poppy knew that this would cause further complications in terms of press coverage she couldn’t help feeling relieved and happy that she was not going to be one of his one-night-stands.  Perhaps things would be different for her and Ivan.

Random Chapters – Making Out

Emily – November 2004

Everything about Emily’s life was going to plan.  She and Nathan intended to marry in July of the following year and she and her mama were busy making wedding preparations.  At weekends Emily and Nathan were employed in seeking the perfect Manhattan apartment.  Near to Park Avenue was preferable. From Emily’s point of view to be near to her mother and brother, for Nathan because it was the ‘right’ address. Nathan favoured traditional architecture; consequently his choice was a pre-war duplex apartment on Fifth Avenue with spectacular views over Central park.  The apartment was spacious and boasted panelled reception rooms for entertaining in style.  The entrance hall was impressive with a glamorous ornate wrought iron and gilt banister curling away to the upper level. The corner master bedroom suite, consisting of two light bright bedrooms each with their own custom designed closets and luxurious baths with windows facing west and south.

Emily’s taste veered towards the modern.  She had always envied Charlotte’s SoHo apartment and realised as she and Nathan house hunted together that she really preferred the open plan loft style dwellings of SoHo, TriBeCa or even Greenwich Village; she didn’t think however that Nathan would be easily persuaded to her point of view.

With a mental sigh and a shrug Emily settled herself to the fact of compromise. Nathan would leave decoration entirely in her hands.  There was a lot that she could achieve, with a little help from Charlotte, with a modicum of structural change, decoration and furnishings to get the clean minimal look that she aspired to.

For the most part the engaged couple had settled into a routine of weekending together at Nathan’s apartment, one or other of their family homes in Easthampton or trips to the Caribbean or to Florida to catch some sun. Emily usually slept over at Nathan’s one day during the week but continued to nominally live at home with her mama. Nathan and she got along together and very rarely argued about anything.  They both enjoyed their respective work, although Emily was aware that Nathan wanted them to start a family sooner rather than later and had expectations that Emily would be a full-time, stay at home wife and mother. Sex was regular if not toe-curlingly exciting but on the whole she had expectations of a harmonious relationship and a lifestyle that lacked nothing.

It was into this agreeable existence that there came a very unwelcome and disturbing intrusion. Emily was awaiting Nathan’s immanent arrival for an opening night when she received a message, expecting it to be Nathan with an explanation for his delay she opened the text.  She felt the blood rush to her face as she scanned the message.  Emily deleted the offensive message her hand shaking slightly. She rationalised to herself that the message was random and not intended to target her though she was aware of an increase in heart rate and sweaty palms.  The sexually explicit nature of the message had upset her.

About a week later Emily received a second message.  She didn’t hesitate to open the text, as it appeared to be from Nathan. The content was shocking and sickening, purporting to be what Nathan planned to do with Emily that same evening. Once again Emily was alone in a public place when she received the offensive message; she looked around uncomfortable that someone was out there watching her.  She never thought for a moment that the perpetrator could be Nathan.

Emily wondered of course who could be responsible; it was a difficult feeling wondering if someone she knew disliked her and wanted to hurt her. Emily was generally considerate to others and had no reason to believe that she had made an enemy. The nature of the messages she had received however indicated the exact opposite of this belief; someone had it in for her.

Sebastian would know what to do Emily thought.  She would call by and ask his help.  She expected that she would have to change her cell number which would be more than a hassle, she had work contacts, all her personal service contacts, and friends galore stored in her address book.  Turning these problems over in her mind Emily turned her footsteps towards the Conde Nast building, she had a story to file and a meeting with the fashion editor before she finished for the day.

Emily sat down at her desk and fired up her PC.  First a quick check of her e-mails in case anything important had landed. Emily opened a message from her editor expecting it to be about their meeting.  She was shocked to read an abusive and sexually explicit message. Emily felt sick and shaky; she deleted the message immediately but a few of the words were imprinted on her mind ‘cock sucking whore’ and ‘dirty fornicating bitch’ set within an abusive monologue intended to humiliate and intimidate her.

Emily struggled with tears of distress.  Her hands shook and her fingers refused to operate effectively so she made repeated mistakes as she tried to type her feature on the secrets of style over fashion. She was sat in a large open-plan office and was uncomfortably aware of colleagues’ observing her; she felt that she had to appear as though nothing was the matter.

Emily was way off finishing her piece when the time came for her meeting. She grabbed a notebook and pen and made her way across the large open plan space on her way to her boss’s office. Emily felt somehow that the atmosphere was charged and she was being eyed in a new and different way. She straightened her back and held her head up in defiance; of what she wasn’t sure, perhaps she was being paranoid.

The meeting was as Emily had imagined; a progress report on her planned feature. Emily detailed her boss on the interviews she had been given, the photographs she had requested from the archives and some new ones she had commissioned.  The older woman, usually rather brusque, nodded her approval and as Emily made to leave looked up from her desk and asked,

‘Is everything all right Emily?’

‘Yes of course’ Emily fired back, shocked at the question, ‘why do you ask?’ she risked, trying to sound nonchalant,

‘Nothing’ Victoria smiled wanly, ‘I thought you looked anxious, that’s all.’

‘Everything’s fine, thank you’ Emily responded with a forced smile, wishing that she spoke the truth, ‘is that all for now?’

‘Yes, thank you Emily.  I look forward to reading the finished piece.  When can I expect to see it?’

‘I’ll have it finished tonight before I leave’ Emily promised, glad that she was returning home to Park Avenue after work.

Emily was glad of the peace and quiet of a deserted office to finish her article. Everyone had gone home or out to fashion parties or opening nights; the media night shift. It was almost nine by the time she had finished to her satisfaction.  The piece had taken her far longer to complete than was normal; her concentration had been continuously broken by her uneasiness.

Emily stretched, rubbed her eyes and rolled her shoulders to ease out the knots of tension.   She was tired; it had been a long day. Her cell phone buzzed and Emily answered as she prepared to leave the building; her mama to say that she had arranged for the driver to collect her.  Emily breathed a sigh of relief; she would soon be in the comfort of her home where she felt sure that nothing could hurt her.

Random Chapters – Making Out

Harriett – October 2004

Life at Palmerstone was proving to be stimulating.  Hattie had been handed over to Carole to be trained in the Palmerstone way.  She was therefore mostly based in the Kings Road shop.  Very conveniently placed for hooking up with all her old school cronies and hanging out with the new cool crowd that she was getting to know.  Hattie met people and made friends quicker than most girls could get ready to go out.  Her natural friendly and gregarious nature not to mention her megawatt smile endeared her to most people of both sexes.

Working in the shop was fun.  Hattie had always loved dress-up and most of the time that was exactly what she did. Rebecca, the boss of Palmerstone and one of her mother’s oldest and dearest friends, was adamant that all the staff should try on clothes by the different designers so that they got to understand the cut and the fit of each different label.  In quiet moments the girls would try clothes that most would never be able to afford; and best of all they got to choose a couple of outfits every season to wear in the shop.

It was on one of these occasions that Hattie got a lesson that she would never forget. Underneath Hattie’s seeming confident nature she had long been discontented with her size.  It was fashionable to be thin; some of the girls who worked in the shop were tiny like her sister Charlotte.  Hattie was embarrassed to admit her size in such company; she had a voluptuous figure that she tried hard to disguise. Carole who had years of experience in fashion as Rebecca’s second in command had seen it all before. Like Rebecca she had developed an unerring eye for picking out the right styles to suit particular body types and to suit women’s colouring.  Carole had watched Hattie’s ability to do the same develop, she had a good eye for what suited customers, but not for herself.

Carole, like most others, had taken to Hattie.  She could see what lay beneath the veneer of confidence and sophistication, and decided to show Hattie how great she would look in some different styles. Fitted dresses and pencil skirts with a neat blouse or cardigan in the ‘Sexy Secretary’ vein that was current would look knock out on her Carole surmised.

Hattie had recollections of the mortification that she had felt one summer when her mother had taken her to Bergdorf’s for a bra fitting as she reluctantly stripped down to her underwear and awaited the administrations of the Palmerstone team. She needn’t have worried, all of the girls were sensitive to customer’s privacy and were only too aware that everyone has hang-ups about themselves.  Even customers who were amongst the most beautiful actresses and models had similar feelings of insecurity.

Prunella and Anna were helping in the shop today.  They happily ferried armfuls of clothes for Hattie to try at Carole’s behest. First a very slim fitting skirt that Hattie feared she’d never get over her thighs; before she had time to have a panic attack Carole advised through the curtain,

‘Slip it on over your head Hattie, then tug the lining down to get a smooth line.’ Hattie did as she was bidden and was astonished that the skirt fitted.  It felt a little tight around her butt and was snug fitting on the thigh. She’d never tried anything like it; she would have expected the below the knee length to look way too prissy but somehow it looked sexy and demure at the same time.  Hattie tried a pussy bow blouse as instructed and stepped into high heels.  She looked at herself in the mirror seeing a stranger not Hattie.

‘Let’s see’ Carole requested, Hattie emerged from the fitting room to a gasp of admiration from her colleagues,

‘Your so lucky Hattie’ breathed Anna in deep respect, ‘you look like a movie star!’

‘Lush!’ agreed Ella in rapt approval, ‘Like Marilyn Monroe.’

‘I agree’ Carole approved with a smile, ‘Hattie has movie star qualities and a certain look that men adore!  Gentlemen prefer blondes and all that.’

Hattie continued to view herself in the mirror taking in the compliments and trying to be objective.  She knew that she must stop viewing herself as Charlie’s ugly duckling sister. Harriett smiled her wide enchanting smile and thanked her colleagues for their compliments.

‘Next’ commanded Carole with an encouraging little push to Hattie’s back. Next was a structured suit by Vivienne Westwood.  Hattie already knew that this Brit designer did the business for her.  Her mother, Caitlin had treated her to a party dress that had turned heads and collected some compliments; rather muted ones from members of her own family, rather shocked by the transformation wrought to their darling ‘baby’.

The hobble skirt complete with bustle was extraordinary, topped with the nipped-in-waist forties style jacket that hugged Hattie’s curves and made her waist appear tiny. It was sensational, even Harriett could see that.

‘If I was a man I’d definitely fancy you’ Anna approved, causing them all to giggle,

‘Is there something you’ve not told us about?’ Ella deadpanned,

‘I should have said that I wish I looked like you’ Anna corrected unabashed, ‘I so wish I wasn’t so skinny.  My boyfriend is always looking at curvy girls and wishing that I were more…y’know, well endowed!’

‘Mine too’ echoed Ella.  Harriett suddenly wondered to herself whether Charlotte had ever thought the same. Did everyone want something different from what they had?

Hattie’s eyes misted a little as she considered the unthinkable. With one last twirl in front of the mirror she thanked Carole, Anna and Ella with her infectious smile and a slight skip of excitement.  Hattie resolved that she was going to embrace her own assets rather than envy those of others.

A Universal Truth Book 2 – The Master of Pemblane

Hello

Finally A Universal Truth is complete and published!  The second part, The Master of Pemblane, completes the modern day (with a twist) take on Pride and Prejudice.  I hope that you like it.

xoxo Sarah

PS  I had no idea that there were so many interrpretations of P&P until I embarked on this adventure.  Naive or what?!  My sincere apologies to the wonderful Miss Austen whose work I have loved for ever.

A Universal Truth – Emerald (Book 1)

Chapter 9

Scarlett had determined on a day’s sailing and coached the sisters to crew for her little sailboat.  They had taken a picnic around to a little beach, which could only be reached by water.  Scarlett knew the coast like the back of her hand having learned to sail many years ago in these very waters.

‘The cove is beautiful and no one can get to it without a boat’ Scarlett grinned, ‘I sunbathe there topless.  No strap marks, look’ she demonstrated with a giggle, ‘I’m going to wear a little sundress with spaghetti straps over my strapless bikini top tomorrow for the barbeque.

The day of the long awaited lunch with the Brooks family finally arrived.  Both visitors had gained a little healthy colour without burning their fair skin.  Jade had assiduously followed the advice of Scarlett’s mother; Factor 30 sunscreen with frequent reapplications after they had swam; hats and long sleeve cover ups went into the beach bag in case of any redness.  Beyond the flattering golden colour they both looked rested and full of energy.

Jade and Emy both helped Scarlett to get ready for the lunch party.  The idea was to look completely natural, which of course took a lot of artifice.  Jade took charge of make-up.  She used a dark pencil to subtly enlarge Scarlett’s brown eyes and applied a coat of mascara carefully so that her lashes appeared a tiny bit thicker and longer than they actually were.  A barest swoosh of bronzing powder enhanced her cheek bones and a little lip gloss made Scarlett’s mouth look lush.  Emy meanwhile plaited Scarlett’s hair into one thick plait, twisted it up loosely and teased out some ends to soften the look.  Three faces peered into the mirror to inspect the result,

‘AWESOME’ was the universal pronouncement.  Scarlett made a little moue at her reflection, grinning delightedly.  The white sundress looked amazing against Scarlett’s chocolate tan, the low back and deep armholes making it necessary to wear a bra.  Scarlett had chosen a boned, strapless khaki coloured bikini to wear underneath so that it looked as though she’d just come from the beach and pulled the dress over her head as she’d gone out the door.  Perfect.

Jade twisted her hair into a loose knot and selected her new maxi dress to wear.  Emy risked shorts as her legs were looking slightly tanned (if she didn’t stand too close to Scarlett) and anyway she’d get a little more sun being outside at the barbeque.  The Brook’s place was also only a walk away and the party set off in time to be fashionably late without giving offence.

If the Bennet girls had been impressed by their accommodation at the Lucas’s cottage they were awed by the size of the Brooks’ place.  Set a little higher than the cottage the party approached via stone steps cut into the hillside.  They party arrived onto a sweep of gravel in front of a beautiful 17th century stone built house. Their feet were guided by the scent of food cooking on the barbeque, the sound of laugher and the clinking of glasses.  Joe led the way scrunching across the gravel towards the lawns that rolled gently down towards the cliff edge.  Into the cliff was cut another set of steps winding down to a private beach, here a large powerboat was moored.  It looked so glamorous like something you would see in the south of France rather than bobbing at anchor in a little cove in Cornwall.

‘Wow, seriously rich’ Emy mouthed to her sister.

‘Come on over and meet everyone’ called Helen Brooks, her rather plummy British accent sounded warm and friendly.  Ashley’s mother introduced Scarlett and her parents and swooped on the Bennet girls,

‘And you must be Scarlett’s friends’ she declared, ‘meet my son Ashley and his cousin Matthew and this is Sam. Er…’ Helen Brooks struggled to recollect the girl’s names, ‘I’m sorry, I’m so bad at names these days.’

‘I’m Emy and this is my sister Jade’ Emy supplied, ‘nice to meet you’ she quietly greeted the men, her voice quite overpowered by Helen Brook’s continued stream of small talk; the weather (gorgeous), duration of stay (five weeks), comings and goings (lots) parties (ditto).

‘Ah here’s Andrew, darling do pour drinks for everyone.’  She introduced her husband to the Bennet girls (incorrectly) and smiled benignly around at everyone. ‘Come and sit over here with me Claire, we have so much to catch up on’ she patted the place next to her on the comfortable looking patio sofa, ‘what will you have to drink? Andrew do pour a glass of white for Claire dear and top mine up there’s a sweetie.’

Emy watched Scarlett covertly as her friend greeted Ashley, shyly at first but soon she had gained the confidence of prior acquaintance.  Ashley bent his head slightly to listen attentively to Scarlett’s account of her recent past and her questions about his.  Emy could see what her friend saw in Ashley he was quite a hunk, though in an approachable boy-next-door sort of a way.  Clad in baggy cut-off denims and a muscle tee his form was easy on the eye, powerfully built, well muscled and broad shouldered.  His hair was dark and rather unruly, curling over his ears and falling across his eyes.  As Emy’s eyes rested on his face a smile lighted his features in response to Scarlett’s conversation, patently she had said something that caused amusement.  He had a lovely smile showing good teeth and his eyes crinkled with warmth.  He likes her too.  There was something in his body language that hinted at a preference.  Emy was certain; she smiled inside delighted for her friend.

Emy turned as she felt eyes observing her in the same curious vein that she had appraised Ashley.  She caught the tail of Matthew’s contemplation as he turned his attention back to the barbeque.  There was a slight family likeness between the cousins; Mathew’s face in profile showed the same strength of chin and his hair was similarly dark.  There, Emy observed, the similarity ended.  Taller and slimmer in build than his cousin, Matthew had less ease about him.  In fact his aloofness rendered him rather angular and off-putting though he was undoubtedly a good-looking guy.  His pallor spoke of long hours inside.  Emy put him down as a high-powered business executive or banker, she already knew from Scarlett that Matthew Brooks Devonshire was a wealthy man.

Emy’s opportunity to observe was broken by her sister’s interruption,

‘Emy, come and meet Sam’ Jade invited warmly, ‘he’s been telling me about when he was at University in Oxford, he shared a flat in Walton Street, isn’t that strange.  I wonder that we never bumped into you’ she remarked to Sam.  Emy added her voice to the debate, privately thinking that it wasn’t at all surprising as there were thousands of students in Oxford at any one time.

‘How long since?’ Emy asked, trying to calculate how old he would be.

‘Must be seven or eight years since’ he admitted, putting his age at 27 or 28 much as Emy had guessed, ‘and I must correct a misapprehension of your sister’s I went to Oxford Brooks, I’m much too dim a scholar to get into the main Uni’ he grinned, in a self-deprecatory way.  Emy liked him immediately and hung around chatting together with him and Jade, mostly reminiscing about Oxford.

Matthew busied himself with the barbeque, and unobserved his eyes wondered back to Emy once again.  There was something about her that attracted him.  He wondered why as his gaze slid over her form.  Sure she was attractive in a tomboyish sort of way, but Matt got to meet attractive women everyday of the week.  In fact many of them threw themselves at him.  Perhaps it was her cool indifference that fascinated him?  Concentrate on the job he admonished.  The methodical process of turning steaks, sausages, chicken and burgers absorbed his attention again,

‘Lee, I think we’re ready to roll’ Matt informed his cousin, laying down his tools and stretching lazily.  Emy turned at the sound of his voice, there was something about the deep slow timbre that reminded her of something forgotten or not yet known.  Puzzled by the feeling Emy shook the thought away and joined the cousins at the barbeque to offer her assistance.

‘Thanks’ Matt smiled slightly, ‘if you hold plates for me I can serve and Lee can ferry them over to the table, OK?’

‘Sure’ Emy commenced her part of the production line subconsciously admiring Matt’s dexterity as he skewered various foodstuffs and decanted them onto the plates that she held.

Soon they were all seated around the table, casually laid on a blue and white check table clothe with chunky blue glasses for water and large wine goblets.  Compliments flowed as the barbequed meats were sampled with crusty bread rolls and an array of salads prepared earlier by Ashley’s mother.  Conversation turned to events in Rock, particularly those planned for the near future.  Ashley was particularly keen that the girls would attend a beach party on the following weekend,

‘I’m hoping that Matt and Sam will return to attend.  It’s on Saturday night’ he raised an eyebrow to his cousin,

‘Not sure, I will if I can’ Matt responded thoughtfully, ‘are you staying down here all week then?’

‘Yes’ Ashley responded, ‘well if you don’t mind’ he added as an afterthought, ‘everything is in hand on the estate.’  Matthew shook his head slightly,

‘What about you Sam?  Can you make it?’

‘I’m not sure yet either but I’d like to’ his glance lingered on Jade as he answered, ‘obviously its much easier for me if you can make it as well’ he answered, ‘Matt flew us down and then we finished the journey by boat’ he explained for the rest of the audience with a smile, indicating the powerboat that Emy had remarked on earlier.  Emy listened to the conversation between the men attentively, it appeared that Matthew had a say in the other’s affairs, she wondered idly to herself why that would be.

That evening her curiosity was largely assuaged by Scarlett and by her sister who appeared to have taken a remarkable amount of interest in Sam Bradford.  Ashley, Scarlett informed, worked for the family corporation, which was headed by his cousin Matthew.

Matthew Brooks Devonshire Senior had died suddenly and tragically almost ten years before, when Matt had only just completed University.  Matthew had stoically stepped into his deceased father’s shoes as manager of a huge and diverse portfolio of business interests that had been started in the eighteenth century by one of Matt’s distant forbears and his brother from whom Ashley traced his descent.  Matt had also taken responsibility for his much younger sister, who could have only been about ten or eleven-year-old at the time Scarlett thought.

‘No wonder he seems so serious’ Jade remarked kindly, ‘how terrible to lose your father so suddenly, and I understand from Sam that his mother died many years ago.’  Emy agreed that it did seem very unfair,

‘But his circumstances do have their compensations’ she laughed, ‘it’s not many men of less than thirty that own their own corporations, airplanes, boats and I guess anything else that money can buy.’

‘That’s so not like you Emy, since when did you care about such things?’ her sister rebuked Emy for her levity.

‘I didn’t mean to be unkind I was just commenting on his situation in life.  He seems to wield authority comfortably; did you not notice how Ashley and Sam yield to his wishes?’

‘Well Ashley does work for him I suppose’ Scarlett interjected, ‘but he speaks very fondly of his cousin, not as though he’s a power freak.’

‘What does Ashley do?’ Emy asked.

‘He manages the family estate.  Farms and such I think, and from what I can gather he’s going out to Australia soon as they have vineyards over there as well as in France and in Derbyshire.’  Scarlett looked rather depressed by the idea.

‘He seems to return your regard’ Emy expressed cautiously, ‘did he say anything about this week?’

‘He’s going to call’ Scarlett answered happily.  Emy smiled warmly in response, she was pleased for her friend,

‘What about Sam?’ Emy asked her sister, she had spent a lot of time in private conversation with him.  In fact Emy had never before seen her sister so taken by a man.

‘Sam and Matthew went to school together, at Eton’ she informed impartially, aware of her sister’s rather left wing views on the subject, ‘they have been friends for many years.  Sam reckons he’s not very academic so he chose to go to Oxford Brooks to study business.  He expects one day to take over from his father but for the time being he works for one of those big consulting companies in London.  I forget the name.’

‘It’s a shame you moved to Oxford just as you meet someone who’s based in London’ Scarlett voiced Emy’s thoughts.

‘He’s very nice but I don’t expect to see him again’ Jade spoke offhandedly.

‘You will if he comes down for the beach party on Saturday’ Emy corrected, watching her sister’s face closely.

‘If he does it will be nice to see him’ Jade rejoined neutrally.