Pimlico House – Chapter 5

Penny – September 1978
To Dylan’s credit he didn’t go straight to Francesca and his old life. He went instead to Charles. Penny was excited to hear of her friend’s new arrival and begged Dylan for details. She was concerned that he had left her so soon after the baby had been born and at first was reassured to hear that Rebecca’s mother was with her. Penny was ever sensitive to nuance and soon detected that all was not well with this arrangement and with Dylan’s handling of the birth. She spent some time chatting with him and managed to calm him down considerably by the time Charles arrived home.
Charles was surprised to see Dylan and slightly apprehensive. He knew his old friend’s tendencies and had wondered for some time how Dylan would cope with both the competition for Rebecca’s attention and the responsibility that the child would bring. In the past Dylan had always reacted with jealousy when he was denied the full attention of his object. He was also notoriously averse to taking responsibilities. Charles was once again gripped with anxiety about the role that he had played.
Dylan meanwhile was cursing himself for having thought that Charles would provide any succour. Instead of course he was flung into the everyday life of his friend’s family, which included two demanding children. It was much later in the evening by the time Dylan was able to claim any of his friend’s attention. In some ways his reception by Charles exacerbated the problem. Once again Dylan felt excluded and marginalised.
Later that evening when the children were in bed Charles talked with Dylan as he cooked the evening meal. Dylan drank a couple of beers and spilled out his troubles to his childhood friend. Charles was able to empathise; he too had felt neglected for a short while after each of his children had been born.
‘I think it’s a natural bonding process with mothers and babies’ he attempted to explain his theory to Dylan, ‘Penny could only think about Simon for weeks. I may as well not have existed.’ Penny heard her husband’s words as she entered the kitchen after story reading and good night cuddles.
‘Not weeks surely, Charles’ she smiled remembering the overwhelming maternal feeling, ‘maybe a few days.’ She poured Dylan and Charles another glass of beer and helped herself to some wine. Sitting down at the kitchen table with Dylan she smiled sweetly at him. ‘It is a bit all consuming when they first arrive. Becca will soon get back to normal though. I’m sure she’ll be worried about where you are.’ She feigned idle curiosity, ‘Have you called?’ she asked.
‘Yes’ Dylan lied, ‘Er she sent her love.’ Dylan knew that they knew that he had lied. For the rest of the evening Dylan sought comfort by means of distraction. Charles easily slipped into the old game of reminiscences. By the end of the evening all the tales of their early escapades had been reiterated and all three were laughing merrily.
Dylan, fortified by the evening’s entertainment, made his way back to the flat the following morning with good intentions to be patient with Rebecca and try to bond with the baby himself. He was met by a scolding from Rebecca’s mother, demanding to know where he had been. Before he had time to respond she had marched out of the room carrying his son. Rebecca had gone down to the shop. Dylan was furious; he turned on his heels and stalked out of the flat with a face like thunder.
Penny had intended to call Rebecca as soon as Dylan had left so that she was aware of what had transpired. Unfortunately she had to make an unexpectedly to visit an elderly parishioner. By the time Penny returned to the Rectory and put in the call to Rebecca the damage had already been done.

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Pimlico House – Chapter 4

Rebecca – September 1978
Almost four months after Caitlin’s wedding Rebecca gave birth to a baby boy. Tyrone Alexander was perfect in every respect; Rebecca fell in love. Her mother was with her for the birth Dylan not quite up to the occasion. Mary was delighted with her new grandson. She had given up all hope of Rob, her older child, ever marrying and having children.
Dylan visited Rebecca in hospital soon after the birth clutching a large bunch of Irises. He took in the scene of mother with baby clutched to her breast suckling greedily and felt a rush of jealousy. He tried hard to control the feeling but the two women cooing over the baby made him feel excluded and unwanted. A nurse took the flowers from him with a smile and brought them back minutes later in a simple vase. Dylan shuffled uncomfortably acutely unsure of what to do or say. After a few more minutes the baby finished feeding and after a tiny mewling cry went to sleep. Rebecca cradled him proudly in her arms,
‘Come and see him?’ she offered Dylan, ‘Isn’t he the most perfect, adorable baby you ever saw?’ To Dylan he looked like any other baby he’d ever seen but he obliged Rebecca with a half smile and,
‘Sure, he looks OK, Is he alright?’ he asked meaning was everything present and correct. ‘He doesn’t look much like me though, more like Charles.’ Dylan added referring to the blonde hair and blue eyes. Mary interceded,
‘All babies are blue eyed. He’ll get darker as he matures.’
Dylan examined the child without touching it. He looked at Rebecca hopeful of reassurance scared by his tumultuous feelings. Her head was bent back over the sleeping child her whole being absorbed by it. Dylan struggled with the rejection he felt cursing himself for getting emotionally involved. He managed a question,
‘When can you’ he hesitated not able to say the word home, ‘get out of here?’ the wording reflecting his dislike of institutions of any kind.
‘They have to stay here tonight to make sure everything is alright’ Mary responded on behalf of Rebecca, ‘all being well, tomorrow afternoon the nurse said. I’m going to come and stay for a few days to get Rebecca and the baby settled.’ She informed Dylan.
‘Right, I’ll be off then.’ He bent awkwardly to kiss Rebecca on the cheek aware that he must control his growing temper in front of Mary. ‘See you tomorrow.’ He was off without a backward glance. Rebecca was too wrapped up in her newborn to notice.
The next day Rebecca and the baby were pronounced fit and able to be discharged. Mary arranged for a taxi to take them back to Rebecca’s flat. The small second bedroom had been made into a nursery for baby Tyrone, the decorating having been accomplished by Dylan and Rebecca together over several weeks. Mary would be uncomfortable sleeping on the living room sofa bed but she was keen to get her daughter and grandson settled into a routine before she left. Mother and baby slept for an hour or so in the afternoon.
Feeling refreshed and less tired Rebecca took Tyrone down to the shop floor to be greeted by cries of delight and admiration from the Palmerstone staff. The girls all crowded around and took turns in holding the baby. Never in his life before had Dylan been surrounded by women and been completely ignored.
Suzanne called by in the evening after she finished work. The women embraced affectionately and Suzanne admired Tyrone with little less enthusiasm than had the Palmerstone girls. Dylan realised that he was in an alien world; he was uncomfortable in Suzanne’s company at the best of times. He found her intellect intimidating and she had made small effort to disguise her mistrust of him. Suzanne’s gift of flowers for Rebecca and clothes for the baby were met with far more enthusiasm than Rebecca had shown for the Irises he had brought or, indeed, on seeing him.
Dylan was slowly working himself up into a state of self-justified anger at Rebecca. He had given up his freedom to marry her and now she had the baby she was completely ignoring him. She had led him on and got herself pregnant on purpose to ensnare him. He watched Rebecca and the baby, Rebecca and her mother, Rebecca and her friends through narrowed eyes his mouth twisting unpleasantly reflecting the inner turmoil of his embittered mind.

Four Star Review – LoL!!

Friendship through thick and thin! May 23, 2013
A four star book with action, reflection and delightfully detailed description of places, people and fashion. The story hardly stops for breath. However, the reader is made to think about the intrigue and mystery that connects diverse plots and holds the theme together. The book loses one star because the author chose my name for the villain. I strongly recommend the book to anyone with a desire for living!

Pimlico House – Chapter 2

Ariel – April 1978
Caitlin was completely taken up in the whirlwind that was Mario. Their wedding day was set for Saturday May 28th. They were to be married in the cathedral in the centre of Sorrento and the wedding feast would be in the Palazzo set in the hills above the city that had once been the summer home of her Grandparents. Caitlin remembered the place with nostalgia for the happy time she had spent there with her mother and grandparents in the summer of the year before her mother had been so tragically killed.
Mario had detailed a member of his staff to organise everything that Caitlin wanted. Juliette was a model of organised efficiency Caitlin found. She only had to utter what she would like and the thing was accomplished. In this way the marriage service, the caterers, the florists, awnings, music, transport, flights and hotels for guests, in fact every major and minor detail was organised. Caitlin was able to concentrate on her dress and her bridesmaids. Of course Penny must be Matron of Honour; she would also ask if young Simon could be a pageboy, he would be adorable.
Caitlin thought that she would ask Charles’s sister Jo. She hadn’t seen her for a while but knew from Penny that Jo was engaged to be married herself in the fairly near future. She had liked Jo and they had made a great bridesmaid team for Penny at her wedding. She knew that Suzanne and Rebecca were unlikely to agree to the role so decided to skip the invitation and go straight to cutting the same deal, as she knew Penny had. They would all four spend two days before the wedding at the Palazzo.
Caitlin put in the calls to her best friends as soon as the date had been arranged. She would be so upset if they couldn’t be all together this one last time before she married and committed to living with Mario in New York. Assured that they would be with her, Juliette was asked to book the flights and make all the other necessary arrangements for her friends.
Caitlin and Ariel were becoming firm friends spending a lot of time together while Caitlin was living back at home for the couple of months before her nuptials. Ariel had quizzed Juan about Mario the day after the dinner party. Juan had apologised for his behaviour but rolled his eyes at Ariel who he knew he could always cajole and amuse.
‘Such a waste’ he had lisped, even more camp than usual, ‘so gorgeous!’ He knew not to push the boundaries of good taste with Ariel so declined to add what he was really thinking about Mario.
‘But you don’t think he’s gay do you?’ asked Ariel, still concerned. She understood that gay men usually recognised kindred spirits.
‘Oh yes!’ responded Juan without a hint of doubt, ‘But I don’t think he knows it himself yet.’
Ariel was seriously worried about this declaration and decided at last to mention it to Frank if rather obliquely. Frank’s reaction had been unlike him. He had scoffed at the very idea deeming Juan fanciful and Ariel unwise for gossiping with the servants. Ariel was hurt by his reaction but decided that he was probably right. That Mario was not the ‘Italian Stallion’ of mythology was indisputable but nothing pointed to the idea that he was homosexually inclined. Why would he want to marry and have children with Caitlin if this were so?
Caitlin had considered mentioning her worries about Mario’s hands off policy to Ariel. She would have liked to ensure that they were sexually compatible before they married particularly as she had experiences of both good and bad. Mario always shied away from any intimacy but it was always accompanied with such tenderness for her that she thought he must really believe that she was a virgin and that he didn’t want to press himself on her before they were married. Everything about his demeanour was protective and loving. She was his princess standing far above the world on her own pedestal. Caitlin had no idea how or if she could disabuse him. She also felt disloyal talking about him with anyone so she kept her counsel.
In all other preparations for the wedding Ariel played an active part much to Caitlin’s relief. Choosing a dress for herself and bridesmaid dresses for Penny and Jo as well as two other London society friends was a difficult task. She also needed to choose suitable pageboy outfits for Simon and another little boy about the same age, son of an old friend from her Easthampton circle. Ariel and Caitlin hit Bergdorf’s with a list of sizes obtained methodically by the indispensible Juliette. Caitlin wanted her outfit to be natural looking to suit the garden and terraces of the Palazzo. Something fresh and simple a bit Botticelli’s Primavera Goddess of Spring she had envisioned.
The two women trailed around the shops unable to find anything that fitted the brief. Ariel seeing the tiredness and disappointment on Caitlin’s face suggested that they should visit a designer that she had heard of through her model friends. Word was that she made ravishing bridal wear to order.
The next day Caitlin and Ariel attended a small atelier by appointment. They were not disappointed. Madeleine had listened to Caitlin’s description of her dream wedding dress and immediately sketched the perfect outfit. She pulled out bolts of materials to show Caitlin how the dress would drape in the right fabric. She showed tiny pearls and ribbons for trimming the gown; all exactly as Caitlin would have designed it for herself if she had had the talent she reflected, ecstatic and relieved.
The time scale would be impossible for Madeleine to make more than the bridal outfit however. Once she had measured Caitlin and made an appointment to fit the toile Caitlin and Ariel set off back to the shops to source dresses and suits for the attendants. Finally they struck lucky back in Barney’s. Caitlin picked out long empire line gowns in pale yellow muslin. She proposed to Ariel that they might beg Madeleine to add some pearls and ribbon details to the neckline and under-bust to customise the outfits. The pageboy suits were finally found on a return visit to Bergdorf’s. The two celebrated success, and rested their weary feet, over lunch with a glass of champagne. Raising her glass in a salute to Ariel Caitlin had said,
‘Thank you so much Ariel. I couldn’t have managed all this without your help. I really appreciate it and,’ she smiled tearfully, ‘I feel that I have made a real friend in you and hope that you feel the same?’ Caitlin asked hesitantly.
‘Oh yes I do too,’ Ariel answered unhesitating; ‘I always said to Frank that this is what I wanted. We’re far too near in age for me to be a stepmother to you but I was always desperately keen that you’d like me and that we’d get on well. I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome.’ She finished, beaming at Caitlin.
Ariel made a call to Madeleine’s atelier and magically she had the additional time to customise the bridesmaid dresses and had a contact that would dye the ballet flats to exactly the right shade to go with the dresses. At the next fitting Caitlin was treated like royalty and realised that a bit of name-dropping could go a long way. Unusually, in this case, it was not her father’s name or indeed Mario’s. It was down to Ariel’s ability to conjure up first name relationships with the editors of American Vogue and Harpers and Queen magazines.
The fitting satisfactorily accomplished, the question of Ariel’s outfit was raised. Ariel wanted to know if Caitlin had any ideas about what she should wear.
‘God no!’ Caitlin answered aghast at the prospect, ‘you have such great taste that I couldn’t possibly presume to advise you on what to wear. You’re like my friend Rebecca. You both know instinctively what suits you and you both have that sort of amazing ability to look like you just threw something on that just happens to look perfect and cool!’
‘Well come with me anyway’ Ariel said, smiling at Caitlin’s flattery, ‘we can have lunch after. The Nanny will take care of Sebastian.’ Ariel was enjoying the time she was spending with Caitlin alone as well as the family times that she and Frank were spending in the evenings when Caitlin was home. She knew it meant a lot to Frank that they got along well and it was a real bonus that the relationship between them had blossomed naturally. She was glad that Caitlin was going to settle in New York; she would get to know her half brother and the next baby. When she had her own the children they would grow up to be more like cousins than the actual uncle relationship that her baby would formally have with any child of Caitlin’s.
Ariel chose a typically different outfit. It would be warm weather in Southern Italy at the end of May she surmised. She decided on a divine silk tunic and wide leg pants by Pucci in his distinctive signature print paired with espadrilles in hot pink. Much as Rebecca would have chosen to do, Ariel elected to wear the tunic over Capri pants in aqua linen that toned perfectly for the daytime. In the evening she would wear the wide palazzo pants with a simple white silk blouse. She looked absolutely stunning and perfect for a Sorrento wedding Caitlin thought and expressed that opinion in a genuine compliment. Ariel explained that she would be comfortable and the tunic would disguise the baby bump nicely.
‘Now let’s do lunch.’ She said, slipping her arm through Caitlin’s, ‘Where do you fancy?’ Caitlin hesitated not really up-to-date with the best restaurants. ‘How about Lutece? Ariel asked ‘It’s one of my favourites for a blow-out!’
‘Oh perfect’ answered Caitlin with a grin. ‘A blow-out; just what we need and fortunately our wedding outfits won’t show off the excesses!’ Ariel hailed a cab and weaving through the traffic the cabby got them to their destination in no time.
‘Have a good day!’ He smiled appreciatively at the two great looking broads.
Although the restaurant was busy they managed to secure a good table immediately. Ariel often lunched there with Frank.
Ariel ordered for them both having extolled the virtues of the famed onion tart to which they added side salad and a glass of wine. They chatted easily together through the meal mostly about the wedding arrangements. As they ordered coffees Ariel felt compelled to ask,
‘Are you sure about Mario Caitlin? I mean no last minute nerves or anything? It’s a big step to take getting married.’ She finished, unsure as to whether she should have spoken or not. Caitlin looked up at Ariel and immediately said,
‘Yes, of course I am!’ But as the words left her mouth she questioned herself. Was she sure? Didn’t she lay awake at night wondering if Mario really fancied her? Could she confide her fears in Ariel or would this be a betrayal of her promise to Mario. If her father knew she had doubts she was sure that he would scotch the wedding plans immediately. No she thought she didn’t want that. She loved Mario and he loved her.
Ariel caught the shadow that passed over Caitlin’s face as she struggled with her innermost fears. Should she interfere Ariel wondered. She didn’t want Caitlin to be hurt and she still hadn’t completely exorcised her doubts about Mario’s sexuality.

Chapter 41: Rebecca – March 1978

Meanwhile in London Rebecca had taken Carole into her confidence.  It was the day before she was going to be married.  She needed help to choose something to wear, for the first time in her life being totally at a loss.  Carole took the whole situation in her stride with her customary kindness and efficiency.  By the end of the day she had helped Rebecca to pick out a cream and lilac dip dyed long dress.  The wide square neck and empire line suited her shape and the overall affect was hippy and chic at the same time.

Rebecca decide to wear the silver and turquoise pendant that the girls from Liberty had given to her, ballet flats and an Indian silk scarf in purples, pinks and green tied loosely around her head would finish off the look.  Carole smiled widely and nodded her head in approval as Rebecca stepped out of the fitting room in the full ensemble.  She looked totally herself yet the outfit suited the occasion.  Carole hugged Rebecca spontaneously and wished her good luck with emotion in her voice.

‘Thanks Carole, you’ve been such a help and support.  I don’t know how to thank you.’  She hugged her colleague and friend in return with real affection.  Rebecca took in her reflection and decided that she looked quite good, much better than she had for some time.  She made a mental note to order a few more tunics and empire line dresses; she was not the only expectant mother that Palmerstone catered for.  She wondered what Dylan would wear and for the first time in a while she allowed herself to think about her handsome husband to be.  She felt the familiar stirring of desire that these thought had used to illicit.  Perhaps they could make a go of it.  She would give it a damn good try.

Suzanne called Rebecca that evening to finalise arrangements for the next day.  The civil ceremony was to be at 12.30 and afterwards they would all go to a favoured restaurant in Wimbledon Village for lunch.  This Suzanne had organised after checking with Penny what was intended.   Suzanne would call around for Rebecca at 11.45 and they’d make their way to the registry office together.

‘Are you nervous Becca?’  Suzanne asked, ‘I could come around tonight if it would make you feel better?’

‘No thanks Annie, I’m fine, nervous but I’ve made up my mind to it now and I’m going to do my best to make it work.’

‘Good for you, I’m glad.’  Suzanne wished her friend a goodnight and hung up.  She continued to think about her well into the night, worried that it would all end in tears.

When Rebecca and Suzanne arrived in good time for the service they were relieved and gratified that Penny, Charles and Dylan were already waiting for them. Dylan looked cool and handsome in a linen suit that Rebecca remembered from Simon’s Christening when Dylan had put in such a brief appearance.  She wondered if he remembered too, the first of many stormy scenarios between them.  If he did he showed no signs.  If anything Dylan looked happy.  He smiled lopsidedly at Rebecca in a way that always made her heart lurch, and even made friendly overtures to Suzanne despite the fact that the two were mistrustful of each other.

For the first time Rebecca felt acutely aware of Charles’s discomfort.  He was wearing a grey suit and not his dog collar.  She realised that the situation between his best friend and his wife’s best friend may have been difficult and quite a compromise for a man such as Charles.  He was certainly not particularly comfortable with a registry office wedding.  Rebecca spontaneously gave him a hug and thanked him.  She felt sorry for the difficult situation that she had inadvertently foisted on all her closest friends.

The ceremony was efficient and not totally without ritualistic solemnity.  When Dylan made his vows he turned and looked her in the eye as though he meant to honour them.  She did likewise to him.  They exchanged a kiss and embrace, signed the register and were finished by one o’clock to make way for the next couple.

Charles drove them all the short distance to the restaurant and they enjoyed a merry meal together.  After the meal was finished they all felt in good spirits.  Charles played chauffer again first dropping the newly-weds back at Rebecca’s flat then Suzanne in Pimlico before He and Penny set off for home their hearts lightened by the mission being accomplished.

Dylan manfully carried Rebecca over the threshold joking that she should carry him, as it was her threshold.  He didn’t appear to be concerned about the fact however.

‘Can you er, can we y’know…?’ He asked her awkwardly.  Rebecca laughed at his uncertainty,

‘You mean can we have sex?’  She teased, ‘It’s probably the safest time as I can’t get pregnant can I?’  Dylan laughed ruefully and pulled her into his arms.  They made love slowly and languidly.  Dylan making sure that she was satisfied before he came keeping his rhythm slow and gentle so as not to hurt the baby.  Dylan felt almost complete when he fell asleep his body entwined with hers.

Their marriage had started with more promise than either had dared to hope for.

 

End Book 1

To be continued in Book 2 – The Pimlico House

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Westbourne Grove Book 3 The Friendship Diaries –

St Kew Book 4 The Friendship Diaries