Chapter 43 – Pimlico House

Caitlin – October 1985
Caitlin felt like she was riding a rollercoaster, which was going too fast with no chance of getting off. Michael’s life was still largely a mystery to Caitlin. They met regularly but their meetings were almost always time pressured. Since the illicit sex had ceased at her insistence it hadn’t been replaced by more affectionate coupling. Michael was always charming and complimentary however and she had seen nothing of the churlish nature that he had once displayed.
He assured her that he couldn’t wait for them to be married and start their new lives together but always veered away from discussing details. After she had spoken to her father she felt that she must really press Michael about their future living arrangements. This evening she introduced the subject over dinner.
The upshot of the conversation was a trip out to Buckinghamshire by helicopter the next day. Michael had he told her that he had purchased a large estate on a whim which he had barely used as it was more convenient for him to be in the city. On this account he had been wondering whether to sell or if she would like to make it into their family home.
Caitlin was naturally a city girl so undertook the trip with some trepidation. The old manor house was vast, constructed of mellowed yellowish stone with mullioned windows, a central curved frontage and two symmetrical wings either side. Behind the house a large courtyard, stabling and garages. It had a lot of charm but surrounded by 100 or so acres was very rural.
It seemed that Michael had subsequently sold his mansion flat and was consequently spending most of his time in hotel rooms; he didn’t add that he had run up unpaid bills of many thousands of pounds. Caitlin wandered around the house thinking that it was probably more suitable as one of Mario’s hotels than as a family home. It was vast and required a lot of work to bring it up to the standard that as an American she would expect (shared bathrooms was not an option).
The idea of Charlotte and the new baby being brought up in the British countryside with ponies to ride and acres of land at their disposal did have a certain appeal though. Perhaps she should keep Pelham Crescent as their family home and do this place up as a country retreat. They could use it a little like her parents used the Hamptons.
Caitlin never thought to ask Michael about his ownership of the property or of his other financial holdings. She had believed implicitly the information that she had gleaned about him from the newspapers and of course what he had intimated himself.
All Caitlin could do at the end of the day was to continue in her indecisiveness. She apologised to Michael saying that it was not usually her nature to vacillate so.
‘It must be the pregnancy’ Caitlin had added, ‘women get funny about nesting.’ Michael’s response was non-committal again making Caitlin think he was in denial about his impending fatherhood.
On the whole Caitlin felt more comfortable having made the visit out to the old manor. At least she could now envisage some possibilities. Her mind started to ponder renovations for both properties. Pelham Crescent would need a bit of a makeover to accommodate the new baby and to make the place more male friendly. She had to admit that the whole place was rather feminine.
Caitlin had not seen much of Charlotte in the past few weeks. Boys were suddenly rude and rough; Charlotte preferred the company of little girls particularly of her new best friend Pandora. Charlie had elected to go to play at Pandora’s house after school most days making Caitlin feel rather abandoned by her daughter. She placed her hands over her expanding belly and day dreamed about her new baby.
Her wedding day was loaming and Caitlin had still not decided what to wear. The occasion was to be low key and informal. Well as much as could be at the Dorchester. She called Rebecca for help.
‘I wondered what you would wear.’ Rebecca responded, ‘I can call some stuff in for you to try if you give me a glimmer of an idea what look you’re going for.’
‘Beyond masking my bump which is beginning to show a little bit I really haven’t a clue.’ Caitlin confessed. ‘Will you sort me out please Becca, my brain is all to pieces.’
‘Come in to Kings Road tomorrow morning first thing; well about 10.30 and we’ll have a try on’ Rebecca suggested, ‘are you OK apart from the brain malfunction?’
‘Well I’m still dithering about absolutely everything. I can’t even decide what I want to eat. I’d read the menu for hours if Michael didn’t step in and choose for me.’
Rebecca who privately thought that letting a man make all the decisions for you was a dangerous precedent to set refrained from saying anything to add to Caitlin’s disquiet. Hopefully the guy was just being caring.
Caitlin’s style preference had always been for simple classical dresses. The challenge for Rebecca was to find something for her friend that suited her petite form, detracted from the bump and was suitable for a formal informal wedding. Not that hard then Rebecca said to herself wryly. The empire line look would work but often signalled pregnancy; at any rate Rebecca wanted to find something that Caitlin would love and feel confident in.
The looks of the day were heavily dominated by Madonna inspired punk waifs, the ever increasing sized shoulder pad influenced by the TV show ‘Dallas’ and acres of Lycra. None of which options were suitable or at all Caitlin taste; she had also left it too late to have anything custom made.
Rebecca’s knowledge of the stock in each of her shops was prodigious. Also she would be able to call in pieces in Caitlin’s size if she was out of stock as it was early in the season. Racking her brain for ideas she remembered a Calvin Klein shift dress in cream silk, knee length and bias cut so that the front draped kindly across the body and into a twist on one shoulder. It would be perfect on Caitlin. Rebecca called Juliette at the Wimbledon shop and kept her fingers crossed; if they didn’t have Caitlin’s size left there may not be time to get a replacement from the States.
When Caitlin arrived at the Kings Road shop the next morning she was greeted by Rebecca brandishing the perfect outfit; classic, classy, and knockout all in one dress. The Palmerstone staff collectively held their breath while Caitlin slipped into the dress and black Manolos. She stepped out of the fitting room to a gasp of approval from all. As Caitlin viewed herself in the mirror her face broke into a beaming smile, she performed a twirl and a mock curtsey for her audience and hugged Rebecca tight to a chorus of warnings not to crush the dress.
‘It’s absolutely perfect. I could have looked for a million years and not found anything so so well perfect.’ Caitlin breathed, turning to view her silhouette again, ‘Thank you so much Becca.’
The dress was swathed in a plastic cover for Caitlin to transport home safely and the shoes placed almost reverently in their dust bag and box with shoetrees in place. Rebecca waved away Caitlin’s credit card, the outfit was to be a present from her. Caitlin hugged her friend once more knowing that to argue with Rebecca would be to no avail.
‘What are you going to wear as a matter of interest?’ Caitlin asked. Rebecca was not only a guest but also a witness at the registry office.
‘Oh y’know the usual jeans and a tee’ teased Rebecca, ‘and my baseball boots of course.’ Caitlin was only half convinced that Rebecca was joking; she had casual rock chic down to a fine art. ‘Don’t worry Caiti I won’t let you down. I don’t suppose I’d be allowed in the Dorchester in my normal clothes.’
Caitlin knew that she should tell Rebecca that she had invited Dylan to her wedding but somehow the moment didn’t seem right, she thought guiltily.

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