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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 19 – Henry

Having taking my seat on board the plane, I buckled the seatbelt in anticipation of the take-off and turned to stare out the window. Partly because I didn’t want anyone to recognize me, as they made their way to their own seats but mostly so I could reflect on the disaster that had been my dinner date with Ally.

It had been very presumptuous of me to use the good old Cavill charm but use it I had. With it I had managed to finagle Dorothy’s help in getting a message to Ally in order to get a date. I could only hope that the flowers I had organized to arrive on the same day expressed to her just how grateful I was for the help.

I had wanted to call Ally myself but of course I had no number to ring and the phone book proved less than helpful. Showing up to the school again had seemed like my only option but I couldn’t risk it. I mean, hearing her say no on the phone was easier than hearing it face to face.

It was kind of pathetic when you thought about it; a grown man who normally had no trouble interacting with a woman had been too gutless to just approach her and ask her out for a simple meal. The relief I felt when she not only called me back but agreed to the dinner was almost palpable. It had taken all I had not to let out a whoop of excitement while still on the phone.

~*~*~

As the plane finally started to taxi its way down the runway, I had to admit that there was no-one to blame for the shitty way the night turned out but myself. Even now I still had to question why I hadn’t just waited until I returned from LA to call her, when things wouldn’t have been so rushed for my impending trip. Or better yet, maybe not have called her at all.

The phone calls I received as we ate were bad enough but the extra attention – from staff and patrons alike – proved to be just a tad too over the top. I had picked a small and fairly unknown place to take her, for all the good that idea had been. The interruptions and attention were clearly making her uncomfortable but I was so wrapped up in my own head dealing with the calls, thinking about the attention and yes, even focusing on the fans that I never fully stopped to appreciate how it was making her feel.

Had I stuck to my guns and asked after LA, or even just put her out of my mind like I should have and went about my life without her in it, I wouldn’t have made a huge balls-up over dinner. I wouldn’t blame her if right now at this very moment she was thinking I was a complete and totally self-absorbed jerk.

But no, I couldn’t keep my mind off her and so I had gone through a series of unnecessary steps in order to take her out. She might not have known who I was before but I could just imagine she had a fairly good idea now and wasn’t in the least bit impressed. I knew I wasn’t. To make matters worse, at the end of the night she had told me she had had fun, which was clearly a lie for my benefit.

The only shining; and surprising; highlight out of the whole debacle had been the way she suggested we try again once I got back. Whether it was a genuine offer or not I had no idea but it was the only thing I had to hold onto. I at least had the flight to LA to think about our second date and how I could make it better than the first, should it indeed happen. Closing my eyes to try and get some sleep, my mind inevitably went back to the dinner instead.

~*~*~

When I arrived out the front of the block of flats to pick up Ally, it took me a good seven minutes to actually get out of my car. I was nervous although I wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t like this was my first ever date and I certainly hadn’t had a problem before. There was no disrespect to Ally but she was just a school teacher. I had dated an actress, an heiress and had even been engaged to an Olympic hopeful; why was it so hard to be with her?

Maybe I had just answered my own question, in that she was just a school teacher. The other women I had dated had all come from a similar place to me in that we were in the public eye, in one form or another. We each had found our own way to guard ourselves from being affected too much with our own celebrity, which in turn changed how we acted towards others – how could it not?

I had learned to keep a face for the public and one for family and close friends when away from the spotlight. I had found it to be the only way I could get through some days and imagined it was only going to become harder to do once the bigger movie roles put me more into the public arena than it did now.

Ally on the other hand, for want of a better word, was an innocent; a regular person who could go about their lives without the fear of public scrutiny at every turn. This meant that there was no need to come up with a persona for those times, separate to the real person inside. Not that I could presume anything about her life of course; I had no idea what she had to deal with; but I suspected that the theory of her being unaffected was in part what actually held the appeal for me, more than the lady herself.

Then again, what the hell did I know? All that I thought I knew I had learned in the space of those few precious minutes we had spent talking in the classroom and even then, it wasn’t all that much of any real significance. In that time, I had learned she was Australian – the accent was the dead giveaway – she cared about her students and seemed genuine. I especially loved that she didn’t know who I was. People have pretended before but I was always able to tell they were lying. Ally had shown no such signs.

Maybe that was it. A lot of the people I knew (famous or not) are nice towards me but I can never be sure if it’s because that’s who they really are or if they’re playing a part they think I want to see in order to get something. Cynical for sure but it didn’t mean it wasn’t true.

~*~*~

I had no idea what to expect when Ally finally opened the door to the flat but when she did, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The cornflower blue dress she wore accentuated the highlights of her eyes and her hair was down, framing her face in curls that I suspected weren’t always so tamed. Then of course there was also the same smile she had worn the day we met; the very one I had been thinking of often since that meeting. I was more than happy that I had taken the chance to ask her out.

“Hi Henry, won’t be a minute. Please, come in.”

I wasn’t sure if I should shake her hand, kiss her cheek hello or do nothing and though I knew which I preferred, I left it to her to take the lead. In the end she simply closed the door, so it didn’t matter.

“Are you ok Ally? You look a little flushed.” I had noticed her cheeks color once she let me in.

“I’m fine” she countered with a smile, although I suspected that this wasn’t entirely true.

“Are you sure? We can do this when I get back if you’re feeling under the weather.” I mentally crossed my fingers and hoped she wasn’t going to cancel.

If anything, her cheeks flushed a deeper shade of red as she continued to look at her feet, rather than make eye contact with me. I couldn’t understand what might have happened in the last couple of days since we had last seen each other to illicit such a reaction. Just as I thought she wasn’t going to answer, she did.

“No, no; I’m fine. It’s just...” I didn’t think she was going to finish the sentence but in a rush she did. “I had a chance to watch ‘Immortals’ last night. Let’s just say that I’m glad you’re wearing a little more tonight than you did in the movie, or dinner would be awkward.”

That had been the last thing I expected to hear and so in order to cover up for the fact that I was speechless, I actually laughed. Clearly it was something she hadn’t wanted to share but had done so anyway, embarrassment be damned. I was really going to like spending time with this woman.

“Oh, I had to. The weather outside is still a little too chilly to be getting around in little more than a pair of cut-off pants” I finally said when I stopped laughing.

Her own laugh in return was like music to my ears and although I wanted to hear more, she quickly excused herself under the guise of going to get her shoes, or purse; maybe both. I think it was more about her needing a moment to collect herself. I know I needed a minute or three.

~*~*~

“You must be Henry” a voice from out of nowhere asked. Not realizing that Ally shared a flat, I hadn’t expected it and was a little thrown. I turned to find that the voice belonged to a rather tall woman. The twinkle in her eye told me she already knew exactly who I was.

“Yes, and you are...?” I asked, offering her my hand.

“Lizzie. I’m Ally’s flatmate” she returned with a smile and her hand.

“It’s nice to meet you Lizzie.” I wasn’t sure what to say next but it didn’t really matter as my new acquaintance was clearly on a mission to pump me for information.

“So, you’re taking Ally to dinner. Somewhere nice I hope.”

I tried not to smile. I thought it was going to be all about me that she wanted to know; like who I was working with, what famous friends I had etc; but it seemed she was looking out for her room-mate first. I liked that and so played along. “Of course; I made a booking at the Andover Arms.”

“Hmm, very nice; and after the meal, do you have anything special planned?”

I wasn’t sure how I felt about that particular question, although she clearly got a kick out of asking it. “No, just the meal I’m afraid. I have an early flight booked for the morning.”

“Ok, so you don’t have any designs of seducing her then?”

~*~*~

Fun was fun but that was really over the line, even if I hadn’t just met her less than five minutes ago. “I don’t know exactly what you think you know about me but I...”

Lizzie placed her hand on my arm and squeezed. Whether it was to reassure me or she just wanted to squeeze my arm I couldn’t be sure. With a laugh she finally explained “I’m sorry Henry, I just couldn’t resist. I was only messing with you. What you do or don’t do on your dates is none of my concern. I just wanted to have a little fun.”

“Glad I could help” I added a little snippily, although to be fair, it was funny.

Having still not let go of my arm, she added “I really was only kidding about that. I do have to warn you though, in all seriousness, Ally has come to mean a great deal to me and I think on her as family. It might not be outwardly obvious but she’s not as worldly wise as she lets on. I’d hate to think of her getting hurt. I’m not saying you will hurt her but if you do, you will regret it; famous movie star or not.”

Talk about déjá vu! Parts of that speech reminded me of the time I picked up Sarah Cavendish, a friend of the family, to take her to one of our few mixed dances back when I was in school. Her father had pretty much given the same speech, minus the famous part of course. I was 16 at the time and trusted he meant every word of it, which is why I didn’t try anything, even a kiss goodnight.

Although her words were slightly threatening, I could hear in Lizzie’s tone and see on her face that her ‘friendly’ advice had come from a place of love and that she was genuinely concerned for her room-mate. What she thought I was going to do to elicit such advice was up to anyone’s interpretation.

“Understood but believe me, all I want from Ally is a chance to share a simple meal.”

Neither of us had the chance to add anything further as the lady in question joined us, looking slightly taller than she had earlier, thanks to the blue heels she now donned. Happy that her room-mate and I had already introduced ourselves, she asked if I was ready to go. Saying yes, we said a quick goodbye to the protective Lizzie and once she had a coat on to protect her from the cool night air, we headed out. I was actually a little relieved to be away from the scrutiny.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

8/7/20, 23:35 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 20

The ‘Arms’ had been a favourite restaurant for me for years and so it was of course the first choice for reservations once Ally had accepted my invitation. Technically it wasn’t a date we were going on per se and yet I still wanted our first meal together to be special.

I wasn’t ready to rush out and go pick out china patterns together but deep in the back of my mind I kind of hoped this meal would be the first of many. Perhaps a little thankfully, the sensible part of my mind still had some say in the matter and told the rest of the brain not to get too far ahead of itself. Honestly, if my brothers could see inside my head right now, I would be getting a pounding for being so mushy.

When I had called to make the reservation, I asked for a quiet table in the hopes that the chances of us being interrupted would be lessened, if not completely nullified. As luck would have it; unlucky luck; there had been a mix up and although we weren’t seated front and centre, the table we ended up on was situated in such a place that anyone not looking too hard would have been able to spot us or had to go past us to get to their own table.

I was just paranoid enough to think about asking for a different table but on the other hand, I didn’t want Ally to think I was using who I was in order to get preferential treatment. At the end of the day it didn’t really matter where we sat so long as we shared a meal together. I had no way of knowing that by the end of the meal, I was going to wish I had pushed the matter and asked for that different table after all.

~*~*~

No sooner had our drinks been served and our meal ordered when my phone rang. I cursed the timing and politely excused myself before answering, rather than just turning it off. It was my mother.

“Mum, can I call you later? I’m having dinner with a friend.”

“Oh, sorry sweetie” she apologized. Moments later she asked “Is this friend a girl?”

“Yes. Listen, I’ll call you later; love you. Bye.” I then disconnected the call before she had a chance to ask any further questions. I suspected I would pay for that bluntness later but it was worth paying that price if it meant I didn’t have to spend the next 20 minutes being cross examined by my mother, about who I was with and why.

“Sorry, Ally; I know I should turn the phone off but I’m actually waiting on a call from my agent, about my trip and I need to take it. That, however, was my mother. It’s like the woman has radar and knows when I’m dining out with someone new.”

Giving me a warm smile, she replied “It’s ok. Besides, my mother is the same. I’m impressed you managed to get off the phone that quickly. Mine would have wanted all the details.” Taking a sip of her drink she added “Maybe it’s something they learn first day in ‘Mum school’.”

“I knew she was going to ask, which is why I cut her off.” We both laughed. “Now, you were telling me about the class trip to the zoo being cancelled? Did the principal give a reason?”

“Yes. It would seem that any extra money the school has now needs to be channelled towards the repair of the library. They were already organizing a fund-raiser but the School Board, in all its wisdom, agreed that any money being spent on non-essential items or excursions had to be directed back to the library restoration project instead. Elspeth, the principal, isn’t all that happy about the decision either but her hands are tied and she had no option but to comply.”

“That’s rotten luck. How about the parents; can’t they donate the money for the kids to go?”

“I asked that very question. The Board says if they can donate for something as frivolous as a trip to the zoo, then they can donate to get the library repaired. It’s bloody ridiculous. It would cost them less than £9 per child to attend and although the library is important, so is the outing. It’s not just about taking the day off and looking at a bunch of caged animals. There is also more to learning than can be taught from books in a classroom alone but the !@#$ on the Board can’t see past their own agenda to realize it.”

I didn’t say anything for a moment and she picked up on this as she averted her eyes and began to apologize. “I’m sorry, Henry. I didn’t mean to be so crass but stuff like that just ticks me off. It’s ok for them sit up on high and make decisions but then we teachers are the ones left to tell the kids they can’t go. They’re too young to understand the politics of it all and think they’re being punished somehow. It’s just not fair. If I had the money, I’d pay for it myself but it’s not just my class going. One of the Year 5 classes was going as well.”

“It’s ok Ally; I totally get it. It is kind of sad to realize that things haven’t changed all that much since I was in school. Makes you wonder why parents spend all their hard-earned money in fees that are supposed to cover this sort of thing. I wish...”

I didn’t get to finish that thought as we were then approached by a young girl. I had seen her with a couple I assumed were her parents when they entered but didn’t take much notice beyond that. At least not until I had happened to look across the room and found we were being watched, even if they thought it was surreptitiously.

I had clearly been made and from the looks I was getting from the older woman it was my guess she was a fan. I immediately stopped looking and went back to talking to Ally but that proved to be the wrong move. Minutes later, the young girl was standing next to us, an expectant look on her face. I could do little more than smile back at her.

~*~*~

“I’m sorry to disturb you” the girl, who was maybe ten, at a push, began in a voice that suggested she was as terrified as she looked. I didn’t like that she was being used like this and so I softened a little, despite the intrusion. “Could I please have your autograph? It’s for my Mum.”

I looked across the restaurant where she had come from and was given a small wave, followed by a suggestive look from the girl’s mother. The intrusion was bad enough but I really felt bad for the girl now, being used and not suspecting it, although I doubted I would have appreciated the request any less had the woman come over herself.
Taking the pen and paper the girl had brought with her, I quickly signed it and handed it back with a smile. “There you go.”

“Thank you so much” she almost apologized in a whispery voice before rushing back to her parents.

“I’m truly sorry Ally. I had kind of hoped that this wouldn’t happen.”

“I would have been surprised had it not” she replied with a smile. “Between what some of my fellow teachers at St Luke’s and Lizzie have told me, you’re the ant’s pants. It’s only natural that your fans would want an autograph.”

I had no response for that and actually felt a little embarrassed at the praise. In a way it confirmed that she really hadn’t known who I was and that made me happy as I could now show her the real me, and that I wasn’t going to have to try and live up to some preconceived notion of whom she thought I might be.

~*~*~

“Well, you will have to thank them all for me. The ant’s pants is high praise indeed.” She chuckled and that helped relax me a little more. “I guess hoping it won’t happen and knowing that it’s inevitable, despite best laid plans, are two very different things. I’ve been in the business a while now and still find the attention a little hard to take.

“I know it’s not the fans’ fault but sometimes it would be nice if they picked their moments to approach a little better. They have to realize that even celebrities have a real life outside of the being in the movies or on television and might like to eat a meal in peace.”

“I’m sure they do. It’s just that sometimes you get caught up in the moment and all logic and manners run away from you.” I gave her a curious glance so she added “I speak from experience. I was about 14 at the time and out with some friends. I spotted my favourite football player and although it was clear he was out on a date with his very pregnant wife, we approached. He was polite and she smiled but thinking on it now, it was clear we had crossed a line.

“I can’t say it’s the same for all fans. It’s not fair to you of course but as everyone knows, it’s all part and parcel of the life. I can only imagine it’s going to get worse once your new movie hits the big screen, what with Superman being so iconic and all. I don’t mind admitting to you that I’ve always been a ‘Super’ girl and have plans to line up for tickets the minute they go on sale. Now I can also brag about knowing you too” she added with a cheeky wink.

I laughed and thanked her, adding that I could make sure she had tickets ahead of time, to save her the trouble of lining up. I then wanted to tell her she was right, about having to take the good with the bad when it came to my chosen vocation, but once again my phone rang. Before I even had a chance to apologize, she smiled and told me it was ok to answer it.

I did so and once again it wasn’t the call I had been waiting for. I quickly ended the conversation and disconnected, before turning the phone off and putting into the pocket of my jacket. I had been waiting on a call from my agent but didn’t want to spend the next couple of hours fielding random calls that weren’t from him, leading to having a disjointed conversation with Ally. With the phone off and out of sight, my hope was that we might be able to enjoy the meals just served, in peace. I should have known better.

~*~*~

Having finished the last of my swordfish and sweet potatoes, I lay the cutlery on the plate. Ally hadn’t quite finished her own meal of roasted lamb and sautéed vegetables – in fact, she had barely eaten half – but I asked her if she was interested in dessert once the main meal had had a chance to settle.

She politely declined but her next comment threw me, although it really shouldn’t have. Ever since we had walked in and sat down, the whole night had been heading to one inevitable conclusion; not the one I was hoping for; only I had been too stupid to notice. I really had no business being surprised at what she said.

“Thanks, but I might give it a miss, if that’s ok.” I nodded in lieu of a proper answer. Before I could ask if she wanted coffee instead, she asked “Do you mind if we call it a night? I know you have an early flight and I also suspect that you still have a few things you need to do before you go; I normally do the night before a flight. I also know you’re still waiting on your phone call. I would hate to be the reason you couldn’t take it.”

I tried not to show my disappointment. There had been no tone or obvious annoyance and she had even kept the smile on her face as she spoke. Her eyes however suggested that she held a fair amount of frustration in how the evening had panned out, even if she had been too polite to come out and suggest it was because of me. She wasn’t the only one.

“Sure. Listen, Ally; I’m truly sorry tonight hasn’t gone the way it was supposed to. If I had of known that everyone and their dog were going to call me, or that we would be interrupted every ten minutes, I would have planned something a little better; or at least quieter.”

When she put her hand on my arm, I could have sworn I felt a spark. “Henry, it is ok, honest. I still had a good time and the meal was delicious. Thank you for asking me out.”

Now I truly felt like a right bastard. This had to have been one of, if not the, worst dates ever and yet she was still being polite, even generous about it. I couldn’t do any more than tell her she was welcome. Once the bill was paid and we were back in my car, I tried to think of the best way to make it up to her.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

10/7/20, 22:51 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 21 – Ally

Standing on the top step leading into the lobby of my building, I smiled at Henry. I was more disappointed than I expected to be about how the night had turned out, but I knew that taking it out on him wasn’t going to change anything. It’s not like it was a date, date anyway. Besides; interruptions notwithstanding, there had been quite a few moments in between that I had really enjoyed.

Like our discussion over which code of football was better (soccer or Australian Rules), recalling some of the funnier things Andrew had done in class and hearing stories of some of the things he and his brothers – all four of them! – had done when they were younger. Even some of the shenanigans my sisters and I had pulled made for fun conversation points. It was just a shame that the phone calls or interruptions from fans and staff alike, asking for autographs no less, tended to outnumber those moments.

“Thanks again for dinner Henry; I had a fun time.”

He gave me a somewhat sad smile. “You are a fine liar, Ally, but I appreciate you saying so. I kind of wish I had the chance to make it up to you but I’m leaving in a few hours.”

“You can make it up to me by going on your trip and having fun. Don’t worry about tonight; it was just one of those things. Maybe when you get back, we can try again?”

I couldn’t be certain but I thought I saw his eyes brighten a little. “I would really like that” he replied and I could tell he meant it.

“Cool. Well, have a safe journey tomorrow. I hope the trip works out as you hope.” Once he had thanked me in return, I stood on my toes and kissed his cheek. “Goodnight” was all I added, unlocking the lobby door and letting myself in. I didn’t turn back but had I done so I wouldn’t have been able to miss the huge grin on his face.

~*~*~

No sooner had I closed the apartment door and locked it behind me when Lizzie was by my side. “So, how was it? Where did you go? Did you make out? Are you going out again?”

I laughed and shook my head. Anyone would think she was a teenager ready to hear the gossip of her friend’s big date, and not a woman in her late 30’s who is supposed to not care about this sort of thing anymore. “All fine questions, to be sure but if you don’t mind, I need a cuppa. Did you want to join me?”

“Alexandria Miller, don’t you dare leave me hanging! You have just been out on a date with one of England’s finest men and you are going to give me all the juicy details; you know I won’t stop nagging until you do, right?”

“I do, which is why I want that cup of tea and to put my slippers on. Did you want to join me or not?”

“Arghhhh!” was her only response, although she did head off to the kitchen to put the kettle on for me, while I went and changed into some comfy clothes and the bunny slippers I would happily spend all day in if I could.

~*~*~

Joining my friend in the kitchen, I fetched the biscuit barrel as she seemed happy enough to make the tea. It was funny; I hadn’t really been a fan of it until I came to London, now I had to have at least one cup a day, often times preferring it over coffee. As she worked and I took my seat at the small kitchen table, I told her about the night. Well, most of it.

“We ended up at the Andover Arms and although it looks like a pub from the outside, it was really nice inside. The meal was delicious and was actually so big I could only eat half of it and had to turn down dessert. I could probably afford to miss breakfast tomorrow as well and not feel hungry” I added with a laugh. Only part of what I had just told her was true but she didn’t need to know the whole truth.

“Yeah, yeah; the food was great. What about Henry? What did you talk about? Any juicy tidbits you can give me? I want to be able to go to work tomorrow and brag that my room-mate had a date with a movie star.”

I couldn’t do much else but shake my head at her, unable to quite tell if she was joking or not. “Henry was great, the perfect gentleman. We actually had a few people drop over at irregular intervals to get an autograph. He was always polite and friendly, each time it happened. I could see he was both frustrated and annoyed but he never let it show to the people who came over. It shows he has a lot of class, I think.”

“Seriously, you were having a meal and people still stopped by to ask for an autograph? That’s just beyond rude. I would have told them to shove off and not thought twice about it.”

I had no doubt about this being true. I could even picture it happening and was both amused and terrified at the prospect. Thankfully Henry hadn’t been inclined to do the same. “It’s probably a good thing he asked me out then, and not you, isn’t it?” I joked. She nodded and smiled. “Like I said to him, it was almost to be expected. He’s obviously well known enough now to have grabbed the attention wherever he goes and it’s only going to get worse, once the new movie comes out. There doesn’t seem to be a way you can have the fame and not the pitfalls associated with it.”

“True.” After sugaring her newly poured cup of tea, she asked “So, did he kiss you goodnight? What was it like? Did he use tongue? I just bet he smelled nice.”

Again, I laughed and shook my head. “Actually, I kissed him and before you ask again about tongue, it was only on the cheek. He did smell rather nice though.”

“That’s my girl!” was her only response as she dipped a newly acquired biscuit into her tea.

~*~*~

Although I hadn’t quite given her the complete blow by blow description of my evening that she was after, I must have given Lizzie enough details to satisfy her curiosity because once she had finished her tea, she headed off to bed. I wasn’t too far behind her.

I changed into my regular night-time attire; a pair of boxers and my ever reliable but tragically faded (to the point you could only just make out the logo) Superman t-shirt; before going to brush my teeth and headed back to my room. It was late and I needed to be in bed but I found I couldn’t quite switch my mind off just yet. I was going over tonight’s almost but not quite date and wondered if perhaps anything could have been done differently. I came to the conclusion that there were plenty of things as it turned out, but I also realized that it didn’t matter now and I needed to just let it go.

Sure, I was disappointed that it hadn’t been a smooth ride from start to finish but it was naive to think it could have been. Henry was already a well-known celebrity in these parts and was about to become even more so once his movie came out. It was a given that people would not only recognize him but want an autograph or to stop and chat.

It would have been so easy for him to decline all their requests but to his credit, he had not only given them what they wanted but had done so with a smile that never once left his face. I myself could have pointed out how annoying it was to be interrupted constantly but couldn’t bring myself to do so. It was after all an apology dinner and not a date, so I had no business being upset about the interruptions. At least he had turned his phone off although he had been waiting on an important call.

After I finally lay on my bed and closed my eyes, I focused on the positives of the night, the first of which was the fact that he had even asked me out to begin with. And unlike last night with Nigel; who had seemed more intent on focusing the night on himself and his own worries; chatting with Henry had felt more natural.

We had fallen into an easy banter, comparing stories about our siblings and even things we had done ourselves as children. The intermittent interruptions made it hard for the conversation to flow naturally but the topics and the ease in the telling had been easy enough.

In the end I had actually declined the offer of dessert partly because I really didn’t have the room after an appetizer then a huge meal, but also because I was smart enough to realize the interruptions weren’t going to stop. Neither of us had had the good sense to ask people to leave us be and although the smile never left his face as he interacted with the interlopers, I could see the annoyance grow in the shadow that was cast in his eyes. I hadn’t wanted it to be but, in the end, I had been the one to call a time-out for both our sakes.

At the end of the day – or night, in this case – I had enjoyed his company and the meal had been wonderful. I understood it was more because he was Andrew’s uncle and we had found common ground, and not because he was a celebrity. In the back of my mind I kind of hoped we could do it again but I wasn’t dumb enough to hold my breath.

His world was about to change in a very big and very real way, thanks to this movie, and he was hardly going to have the time to stop and think about dinners with a simple school teacher. I was just going to have to treasure the time we had spent together already, the good and the bad, and keep it as a fun story for the grandkids about the time their grandmother shared a meal with Superman.

I finally drifted off to sleep, a smile on my face as I recalled the story Henry told me of the time both he and his youngest brother Charlie embarrassed their mother in Harrods when they were ten and nine, respectively.

~*~*~

The next morning, I had a quick bite of some toast (it turned out I was hungry after all) alone, Lizzie already having left for work. She had left a note to say that she was probably going to be staying with Phil this weekend as she normally did, going straight there from work, so not to worry if she didn’t come home.

I still got a giggle out of each of us leaving the other a note, almost as though we were reporting into our mothers. The fact that we were both grown women didn’t seem to matter. Funny as it was though, it was also a nice feeling to know that someone cared enough to worry about me, especially as I was so far away from my actual family.

With the toast done, I showered and dressed ready for another day with a bunch of rambunctious ten-year olds. I then set out an outfit ready for when I got home, as I wasn’t sure if my weekly meeting with Elspeth would run over, given the events of the week, so made sure I had something ready to slip into for my date with Nigel later today.

As I was finally leaving for work, I had to shake my head at the realization that this was going to be my third date in as many nights. I guess it’s true what they say, about how when it rains it really pours. Not that I was complaining; at least not yet. Hopefully tonight’s date with Nigel would be a lot smoother than our first attempt. Surely he couldn’t be so self absorbed as to dominate the conversation again tonight; could he? I continued onto school and tried not to think about it.

~*~*~

As luck would have it my day went rather smoothly. There were the regular shenanigans from the usual suspects but nothing that warranted a visit to the Principal’s office or a phone call summoning parents to the school. One particular highlight was having a bunch of red and white carnations delivered to my room, with an apology note from Henry. I couldn’t believe he had done it and yet I was secretly thrilled he had.

When I had explained to my class that the zoo trip had been cancelled, the news was met; as I suspected it would be; with a lot of disappointment. Seriously, the look on their collective faces really did make me wish I had enough money to fund the excursion myself but I didn’t. Even if it had been just my class it was already a large amount, so adding Jonah’s Williamson’s 5th grade class to the mass just cemented the fact that it was out of my hands.

I had suspected that they wouldn’t understand the reasoning and I had been right, although I did try my best to explain it again, without condescending to them. They might not have understood the nuances of the Board’s logic but they weren’t stupid either. In the end it was easier to quickly move onto something else and get their minds off it. Not an easy task when you consider that most ten-year olds have a one-track mind.

Thankfully by the end of the day things were back on an even keel and the kids were all happy again. I guessed that it being Friday and the impending two-day break might have helped play a part in this happiness. I myself was looking forward to this evening and although I had no major plans set in stone for the weekend, a couple of suggestive texts that had come through and Nigel’s past attentions had given me a vague idea that this might change.

Elspeth had been called away just after lunch and was yet to return but she had left a message to let me know that we could have our meeting on Monday instead. Having an earlier mark than usual meant I could now go home and take the time to get myself ready for the night’s outing. I was nervous not only about the night but my date’s agenda and yet I still rushed home all the same.

~*~*~

Nigel picked me up promptly at 7pm and five minutes later we were on our way to a destination still unknown to me. I tried to learn from him where we were going but he wouldn’t let on.

“Ok, if you’re not going to tell me where we are going, can you at least tell me if I am under or overdressed?”

“You’re fine, Ally. Just sit back and relax; trust me a little. I have picked out the perfect spot for us to go.” Spoken like a true serial killer, I thought to myself as I tried not to shiver at the very notion.

We had already driven through the centre of town, passing a lot of the finer restaurants heading into, and out of it, which is probably why the killer idea came to me to begin with. We eventually stopped a good 50 minutes later on the very outskirts of town, at an old pub called the ‘Hog and Turkey’. There were several cars in the parking area and the building, while small, still looked inviting and so I found myself relaxing a little.

“What is this place?” I asked Nigel as he waited on his side of the car for me to get out.

“You’ll love it. One of the guys at work suggested it. It’s small but the atmosphere is intimate and has food just like Mum used to make. All the things required for a romantic night out, wouldn’t you say?”

“Romance, huh? You wouldn’t be trying to seduce me would you, Mr Thatcher?”

Giving me a grin that confirmed my suspicions he actually answered “Perhaps. Let’s just see where the night takes us, shall we?”

The way he said this made me feel like the roles were reversed and I was trying to seduce him. I could do little more than accept his arm and let him lead the way inside.

~*~*~

Over our meals of good old-fashioned fish and chips for Nigel and chicken and vegetable pie for me, it was hard not to fall under the spell of the settings. I had been undecided as to how exactly this night was going to end when I first walked in but the longer I sat there, the more I found myself opening up to the idea that perhaps Nigel just might get to have his way after all.

“I wish I knew how to cook more than a stir fry” I sighed, taking a fresh mouthful of the pie that was taking up a good two thirds of my plate.

“It does look a lot nicer than what I ordered. I’m glad you’re enjoying it.”

“Believe me; compared to my efforts, this is heaven on a plate. Would you like a taste?”

“No thanks; I can’t stomach chicken and gravy together. I’ll just take your word for it.”

“Well, then that word is delizioso!”

He smiled at me and topped up the glass of wine I had only half emptied. At least this time around he had taken the time to ask what kind of wine I might like. I thanked him and took a sip. I was just going to ask about his family when his phone started to vibrate. I couldn’t believe it; for the second night in a row a nice meal was being interrupted by a bloody phone!

“Excuse me, I have to take this” he apologized before picking up the phone and actually walking away from the table.

I couldn’t hear what was being said over the din of the other patrons but his facial expressions suggested he wasn’t getting good news. With the call over he quickly moved back to our table and I knew that any plans either of us might have had for how tonight was going to end were no longer valid.

~*~*~

“I’m sorry, Ally; we need to go.”

“Is everything ok?” I questioned and felt stupid for even asking. Clearly it wasn’t.

“It was my sister’s neighbour. She’s pregnant and has just been rushed to the hospital. I need to go to her.”

I stood up and slipped into the jacket I had taken off less than 40 minutes earlier. “Of course you do. I hope everything is ok.”

“I’m sure it will be” he replied in an offhand way that seemed to suggest he really wasn’t as worried as he was making out to be. Taking some money from his wallet to leave on the table with our barely touched meals, he added “it’s just that this is her first child and she’s had nothing but complications all the way through.”

I thought about asking after her sister’s partner but figured it was none of my business. Instead I said “It’s ok Nigel; really. You should be with her. Would you like me to come with you, save you having to drop me off first?”

“No” he replied just a little too quickly and perhaps a tad more forcefully than was necessary. He must have realized this as he immediately softened. “No, it’s ok. I don’t know how long I will have to be there and I can’t ask you to hang around. They probably won’t let you in anyway, not being family and all. Thanks for the offer though.”

“Sure, no problem; but if you need anything just call.”

“I will” he nodded as he grabbed my hand and led the way outside to the car.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 22

Nigel dropped me off, barely stopping long enough for the time it took to get out of the car and open the door for me; unlike earlier in the evening; and walk me up the stairs to the lobby entrance. A quick peck on the cheek and he was gone.

The contrast between tonight and our first date was evident and I couldn’t help but feel like perhaps it was me, or something I had done that made each of these dates, as well as last night’s, not go so well. Naturally Nigel had no control over his sister being rushed to the hospital. Before he got the call, the night had actually seemed to be going quite well but something in the back of my mind did make me wonder.

Maybe this was why it had been so long between drinks, so to speak, for me. Each date I had been on over the years had felt like it was going well but then it would only ever be a one-off date, or if there was a follow up, we never went beyond two or three outings. Each of these men had been different from the last, be it in looks, height, weight, job etc, so it wasn’t as though I was continuing to date to type and not noticing that this type was all wrong for me.

‘Get a grip, Miller’ I thought to myself as I opened the door to the lobby. ‘You’re hardly at old maid status just yet and there is nothing wrong with being particular. You also don’t have the power to control outside forces. If he calls back then you will know it wasn’t you at all and you’re making drama where there is none.’ By the time I reached the flat, I had convinced myself to just let matters be.

~*~*~

About 90 minutes later, I had no sooner changed and donned my bed gear and a robe when the phone rang. It was Nigel. “Ally, I just wanted to call and say again how sorry I am about cutting our date short.”

“It’s fine. How’s your sister; I hope nothing bad has happened, has it?”

“No, thankfully it was just a little cramping. They’re going to keep her in overnight to be sure but she should be ok to leave in the morning.”

“I’m so happy to hear that. I can just imagine how worried you all are.”

“Believe me, you can’t. She’s had a lot of trouble conceiving, already having lost two, so of course now at the first sign of trouble, everyone panics. Her husband Eric is out of town until tomorrow which is why her neighbour called me and I had to rush away.”

“It really is ok, Nigel. I understand. Family comes before dinner every time, especially when something like this happens. Is there anything I can do for you, or her?”

“No, no; but I do appreciate the offer. And so does Merryn. She asked me to thank you for your best wishes and to offer her apologies for being the reason our date was cut short. Perhaps once she’s home and settled, I can bring you around and introduce you. She would love you.”

“I would like that.”

It was silent for a moment or three before he spoke again. “Well, I best go. Thanks again for being so good about this. Perhaps we can catch up again in a day or so, when things have settled.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me. Thanks for letting me know how things went with Merryn.”

“Goodnight Ally, pleasant dreams.”

“You too” was all I could think to say, even though it was hardly appropriate. He hung up before I had a chance to correct myself. Feeling a little better about how the night had worked out, I went and made myself a hot cup of cocoa.

~*~*~

As it turned out, I didn’t get to see him again until Sunday evening. We had spoken a couple of times before that but he hadn’t been able to get away. I really hadn’t expected him to, given the circumstances with his sister, so I was more than a little surprised when he showed up outside the front door, bottle of wine in one hand and a bag full of take-away Chinese food in the other.

“I know I said I would see you tomorrow but I couldn’t wait” he answered my unasked question. Stepping aside to let him come in, he paused just long enough to give me a kiss as he passed.

“How’s Merryn?” I asked as I closed the door before leading him towards the kitchen.

“She’s doing a lot better thanks. The doctor seems to think it was just one of those things. Then again, with her history he didn’t quite say it was no big deal but he didn’t seem overly concerned. At least she was a lot happier leaving the hospital than she was when I saw her on Friday night.”

“I imagine she would be. Did your brother-in-law make it back ok?”

“Yes, just before I left actually. He wasn’t due back until tomorrow but of course he did all he could to rush back the moment he got the call.” I was just going to question this as I was sure he mentioned that Eric was due back yesterday but he continued on before I had the chance.

“I wouldn’t say we have been always been friends but the way he loves and protects my sister, well, let’s just say that I no longer have this insatiable need to punch him in the face.”

I laughed although a part of me was sorry to hear it wasn’t always happy between him and his sister’s partner. I hadn’t always gotten along with all of the choices my sisters had made but I never wanted to hurt them either. When Cate brought Joel home, we all loved him straight away and nothing has changed in all the years they’ve been together. I hoped to be able to have the same luck in my own choice too, should the chance ever arrive.

Grabbing some plates and wine glasses, we were soon seated at the table. I opened the cartons of food as Nigel poured the wine.

~*~*~

Once our meal was over, we went and sat together on the couch. There wasn’t a great deal of anything on the TV but I suspected this was a big plus for Nigel. I was proved right when no more than 20 minutes after having sat down, he moved closer and put his arm around my shoulder.

“You smell good” he whispered into my hair.

“Thanks” I replied, grateful I had thought to shampoo my hair the night before.

“You feel good, too” was his next comment. I wasn’t finding it as easy to respond to that one.

With his one arm wrapped around my shoulder and gently rubbing, he used his free one to run his hand gently up and down my leg. Dipping his head to the side slightly, he leant in and kissed me. At first the kisses were light and quick little pecks but as he moved from my lips down to my neck, his lips lingered longer and harder. His hand never stopped rubbing my leg.

I tried to tell myself I wasn’t ready for this and that I should probably ask him to stop but between his kisses and the fondling of my leg, a tingle began in my toes and was slowly spreading upwards. Maybe it was because it had been a while since I had been with a man and I missed the attention. In the end I decided to ignore all the thoughts and worries I had and just let things happen and go where they would.

To that end, I turned myself in towards him to allow for comfort but to also show him that I wasn’t fighting him, that we were on the same page. Nigel of course didn’t need to have it spelt out for him or to be asked to go further because his hand left my leg and went to my top in the blink of an eye. Within moments he not only had the buttons undone but his hand was fondling a breast.

“I’ve wanted to do this since the day we met” he moaned into my ear, just before he nibbled on the lobe. He then pushed me back so that I was soon lying on my back.

“Mmm” was all I could manage, his lips back on mine. I felt more than I saw just how much he wanted this.

~*~*~

The moment between making out like a couple of horny teenagers and being naked enough for us to have sex came before I had a chance to blink. I was still wearing my top, although it was open and the bra had been unclipped to allow him easier access to my breasts.

Somewhere along the line I had managed to lose my track pants and underwear also. Nigel himself had removed his own shirt and pants, now sitting naked and proud on the couch, save for the condom that had miraculously appeared when I wasn’t looking. He had obviously come for more than dinner tonight.

I had just straddled him and after some more heavy petting, he entered me. We moved together and we were just getting to a place where I could feel the tension rise in my own body when he stopped moving, pulled me in close and came. A quick shudder followed seconds later and then it was all over; for him at least. I hadn’t even had a chance to break a sweat or feel anything worthy enough to justify my being practically naked.

When he let me go, he looked away. “I’m so sorry, Ally; I don’t normally...”

It was clear he was embarrassed and as disappointed as I was that I hadn’t been given the chance to build and find my own release. I kind of felt bad for him. “Its fine, Nigel; these things happen.”

“Not to me they don’t” he replied in a hurt and slightly raised, angry tone.

I couldn’t understand why he was mad at me when I was the one who had every right to feel ripped off, so I made a move to get off his lap. He put his arm around my waist to keep me where I was. “Sorry. I guess because I wanted you so bad, I couldn’t control myself. I promise next time it will be better, for you especially.”

I had no idea how to respond to that so I simply hugged him, pulling him in close with his face nestled into my chest. It wasn’t long before I could feel him stir once more.

~*~*~

Waking up the following morning to the sound of the alarm, it took me a few moments to remember the night before. As it all came back to me, I found I was filled with a lot of disappointment and possibly some anger. The disappointment mostly because although we had had sex at least twice after the first disaster, both times he had come rather quickly and I was left feeling more than a little frustrated.

Nigel had promised to make it up to me after the initial disappointment but it soon became clear that he really was in it for his own pleasure; I was little more than a means to an end to him and that’s where the anger came in. I had put the first rush down to his excitement and I wasn’t really eager to try again but even so, once we had moved to my bed I gave in to his wheedling, only to end up with the same result each time.

I should have stuck to my guns and not rushed into sleeping with him after only two dates but because it had been so long since the last time I had been intimate with a man, his inept attempts at seducing me had worked all too well. Why did I feel like I had just been used?

It was still fairly early and the sun was barely peaking over the horizon as I rolled over, half expecting to find Nigel still there. Hardly surprisingly, I was more than a little relieved to find he was gone, a rumpled pillow and cold sheets the only evidence he had been there a few hours earlier. There had been mention over dinner of some early morning meeting but my guess now would be that this had just been his way of warning me he was going to get what he came for before he left.

I lay there a few more minutes until the alarm went off a second time. I felt like hitting the snooze again but I knew if I did, I wasn’t going to get to work today at all. I would have been more than happy to just bury my head under the pillow and stay where I was all day, hiding both my shame and frustration, but my obligations meant that this wasn’t a real possibility. I finally found the will to get out of bed and pad bare foot down to the shower, yawning the whole way.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 23

Stopping barely long enough to have a quick bite of breakfast before heading out to start my day, I realized that I hadn’t heard Lizzie come in last night and wondered if she had made it home at all. I kind of wanted to talk to her about last night, sans all the details (or lack of) of course but she wasn’t here.

She had been spending more and more time with Phil, no longer limiting their visits to just the weekends and occasional mid-week rendezvous. I wondered just how much longer it was going to be before they both realized just how great they were together and decided to make being together a permanent proposition.

It was obvious to all and sundry that they loved each other more than life so for me, it was the only logical step for them now. They needed to be married, or at the very least move in together. I hated and dreaded the thought of losing Lizzie as a roomie but I wanted only the very best for her; Phil was the best.

Like Lizzie herself, Phil had taken to me like a duck to water and we were friends straight off the bat. Perhaps not to the same extent as Lizzie and I were, but close enough to it. I knew he loved her beyond reason and then there was the little fact about his two girls having come to love her too; it was clearly a sign that they were meant to be together, as a family. If only that !@#$ of an ex Jessica would think about her daughters’ welfare instead of her own, I was sure that Phil would finally pop the question.

Rinsing off the plate I had used, I found myself hoping that I would have that same kind of love and devotion from a man one day. I didn’t need it in order to become a better person or have proof of a rich and full life but it would be nice to have someone who loved me, and wanted to share life’s journey with me.

Something not all that deep down in the pit of my stomach suggested that Nigel wasn’t that person – even before last night I knew this to be true – and I was fine with that. He was at least a starting point, a kick off to getting me started and finally out there, heading in the right direction to finding the man who was.

~*~*~

Real life; as it is want to do; stepped in and somewhat halted the progress of my relationship (if you could call it that) with Nigel and it wasn’t until Wednesday that I finally caught up with him. Not that I was terribly torn up about it, if I was being honest with myself.

Before Sunday night’s disaster, the idea of seeing him again had given me a little joy, with a hint of anticipation. The prospect of seeing him again now didn’t give me any such feeling. I should have just cut my losses and said no to him when he called but I stupidly opted to give him one more try instead. Maybe my conscience was right and I was lonely and desperate, happy to just settle for anything or anyone in order to not be alone.

Aside from his job keeping him busy, Nigel also had his sister to worry about and as a result he hadn’t been free to just pop around whenever he felt like it. At least this is what he told me. I had my own job to keep me busy and so it was silly to expect the rest of the world to fall into line and give us a break and let us get together so we could work things through.

I had asked after his sister yesterday when he called, enquiring if she was up to visitors yet but he explained that she and Eric had gone away for a day or two to relax, to keep her stress levels down. From all accounts she was doing well but still needed to take it easy and a break sounded just like the thing. Even though I had never met her, I hoped all went well for her and in the end, she would be able to deliver a healthy baby.

Lizzie had come home Monday night all loved up and blissfully happy. I wanted a chance to talk with her about what was happening with me but never quite got the chance. Even the ongoing nightmare at work between her and James couldn’t take the smile from her face and I was soon to learn why.

~*~*~

“Oh, Ally; Phil proposed! Can you believe it? I’m pinching myself and I’m awake but I still can’t quite believe it.”

I hugged her tight and we both half jumped and circled around excitedly. This was fabulous news. “Lizzie, that’s absolutely fantastic news! It’s about time that man wised up to the fact that you’re the best thing in the world for him. How did he propose? Did he get down on one knee? What about a ring?”

She laughed with all the giddiness of a school girl, finally letting me go. “Let’s get a drink first and I’ll tell you all about it. Honestly, I still can’t quite believe it. I’m so happy right now I could shout it from the rooftop.”

I laughed with her. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Mrs Campbell is likely to put in a complaint to the Super. You know you only have to think about making a noise and she’s banging on his door, making waves for the whole building.”

“Let her try, I don’t care. I don’t think there is anything that will stop this feeling of pure and utter joy I am feeling right now.”

“Wait until you see the phone bill we got today” I half joked as I put the kettle on. Minutes later we were seated at the table and she was telling me everything.

~*~*~

“Jessica came to take the girls for the night on Saturday and was actually quite pleasant about it” Lizzie began. “I didn’t think too much about it, even though it was supposed to be Phil’s turn to have them both for the whole weekend and not just the Saturday. The fact that he didn’t complain should have told me something was up but I never questioned it.

“I had made a booking earlier that day for all of us to eat out but Phil had called to cancel, although I wasn’t aware of this at the time. When it was time for us to leave, he blindfolded me and led me outside. For a brief moment I had to wonder if he was up for some kinky stuff (we both giggled) but when he finally removed the covering from my eyes, I couldn’t believe what I saw. He had covered the back landing in fairy lights and set up a table, complete with flowers and candles. There was even a hint of soft music playing. I understood then why both he and the girls had been so adamant that I didn’t go out the back all day.”

“Ohh, that sounds so romantical” I sighed. I could just picture the scene in my mind.

“You have no idea” she continued. “Anyway, once he had helped me to my seat, I asked what it was all in aid of. I actually worried that I had forgotten an anniversary or something. That’s when he dropped to one knee. I thought for sure my heart was going to stop. I won’t give you all the details, because some things are best kept private, but he told me how much he loved me and how his life was all the better for having me in it. He also explained that his girls loved me too and had come to think of me as a second mother. With their blessing, he realized the time was perfect to propose. You can just imagine that the tears were flowing by this point.”

“Indeed I can” I answered, feeling a tear or two of my own start to well up. I even had the odd goose bump as well.

“I said yes, of course. Al, I’m so blissfully happy right now, it doesn’t seem fair to have it all.”

“Hey, enough of that; it is more than fair. No-one deserves this more than you two. I can’t even find the words to tell you how happy I am for you both. Oh damn;” I stopped, a thought coming to me. “We need to organize a party so you can share this wonderful news with everyone.”

“We will, don’t you worry. Just let me soak it all in for a few days first. Oh, I almost forgot; there’s more to the story.”

“Don’t tell me; you’re pregnant.”

“Wash your mouth out young lady!” she shot back in mock horror. Once I had stopped laughing, she continued “No, that’s not it. The news is that you’re like a sister to me and I love you. I would love it if you would stand up for me, as my Maid of Honour. What do you say?”

Getting up from my seat I went and hugged her. “I say yes!” All thoughts of talking to her about Nigel were now the furthest thing from my mind.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 24

Wednesday and Thursday nights Nigel came over and each time I was surprised to find him still in my bed the following morning. It was way too early in the relationship; if you could call it that; for sleepovers and yet I found I wasn’t completely opposed to it. Lizzie was out of town on business so I didn’t have a chance to get her read on it all.

Unlike our first few attempts at sex, the next couple of times had improved immeasurably although if I was honest, it still hadn’t been anything to brag about. Nigel was still first to finish but unlike those first couple of times, he had at least tried a little harder to make sure I got something, if not everything, out of the experience.

Did I have earth shattering, yelling at the top of my lungs orgasms – not even close to regular ones – but I appreciated the effort enough to allow him to try again. Maybe it had been in the hope that with each coupling, things would improve themselves to the point where we both got something out of it, at the same time. That was supposed to be the point, right?

With the sex issue being first and foremost in my mind, I hadn’t had time to stop and dwell on the nagging thoughts over Nigel that hadn’t quite disappeared. For the moment I was happy and I wasn’t about to rock any boats and change all that. Even my class had picked up on the fact that my mood was lighter than normal and because of this, the rowdiest of the bunch tried a few times to get away with things they wouldn’t normally try. As hard as it was, I was able to pull my focus back to where it should be and so they didn’t get away with a thing.

Taking it as a sign, I decided to use the fact that today was a half day and start the weekend out with a surprise for Nigel. He had already told me he was going to be working all night and wouldn’t be able to meet up at my place, so I thought it would be nice to make up a basket of goodies and take them to him instead. I hoped that he would not only be surprised, but pleasantly so.

~*~*~

When it was time for my usual catch up with Elspeth, she was on a call so I waited outside her office and had a chat with Dorothy.

“I hope you don’t mind that I offered to pass on Mr Cavill’s message to you the other week. I meant to say something when it happened but didn’t get the chance and then it slipped my mind.”

“It’s ok, Dorothy; I was a little surprised but I didn’t mind at all.”

“As you know, we can’t give out personal details of our students or staff and I was still unsure about giving the message to you, but he was just so charming and persuasive that I couldn’t help myself. Maybe it’s a good thing then that I’m not in charge of the Crown Jewels!”

I chuckled as I agreed it was for the best that she wasn’t. “Yes, he really is quite charming, isn’t he? Even when he’s not trying to be, it seems to be a natural thing. I can definitely understand now the attraction most women have for him. For that reason alone, I’m sure his new movie will prove to be a big hit.”

“You don’t know the half of it” was all she managed to get out before Elspeth called over the intercom that it was ok for me to go in. I smiled and headed into the inner office.

~*~*~

“So, Alexandria; how are things between our two young fighters this week? Are there any new dramas to report?”

“No, things are really quite good. Back to what it had been before the incident, actually. Of course, they are still every bit as antsy with each other as they were before but there is no malice in it. Not like it had been the day of the fight. To watch them now, you wouldn’t know anything had happened at all.”

“Yes, it would seem that the youngsters have one on us adults in that regard. They’re quite happy to go at it like World War 3 and be best friends the next day. We could and should learn from this.”

“Oh, I agree totally. Perhaps the fact that they were already best mates to begin with played some part in it. No matter the reason though, I’m glad things are back to normal; mostly.”

“Glad to hear it. I’ve had both sets of parents call me to check in on the situation so it will be nice to report back that the matter seems to be over and fully resolved now.”

“Mr Mapplethorpe has been doing most of the calling, I’m guessing. I know he wasn’t overly impressed about Jackson copping the detention along with Andrew. Especially as he seemed to be under the impression his son was innocent in all of this.”

Along with what I thought was a snort of derision, Elspeth shook her head. “James Mapplethorpe need only remember back to when he was a student at this school, before he gets any ideas about pointing fingers. Jackson is very much his father’s son when it comes to temper, I’m afraid.”

I smiled. It was nice to know that I hadn’t been the only one to find the man over-bearing and boorish.
 
~*~*~

The rest of our meeting was more like the informal catch up it usually was and so because Elspeth had made her own plans for the longer than usual weekend, we kept it pretty short. On leaving her office I went back to my classroom to gather my things and then headed out.

I stopped in at the local store long enough to pick up all the goodies I would need for the impromptu dinner with Nigel, and a little extra, should any of his co-workers also have stayed behind. I even managed to get a couple of extra things for the next night, should he be free and able to come over.

Had I stopped to think about things I might not have gone as all out in my preparations as I did but I was in a good mood, and I wanted to share that around. I never once stopped to think that perhaps it was a little too over the top. After all, we had known each other barely two weeks and had only shared but a few days of that as dates. It certainly was a little odd for someone who had as many reservations as I did, even if they were buried deep.

I did consider calling ahead but that would have defeated the purpose of the surprise. No, I just had to trust that this was a good idea and that he was going to be pleased to see me and to have a small respite from his ever increasing heavy work load. Surely even he and his colleagues could spare 30 minutes to have a quick bite to eat.

Good or bad decision, I arrived home and prepared the food, packing it in a carry bag before heading off to have a quick shower and put on some fresh clothes. It was still too early for dinner but by the time I drove into town and parked the car, having to walk a couple of blocks back to his office building would take a little of time and it would be just on early evening. It was going to be fine.

~*~*~

It was in fact early evening when I got to the building and while I had expected there to be minimum people around, I couldn’t help but notice as I hopped out of the elevator, how quiet the office felt. I could have sworn that Nigel mentioned he and several others would be putting in the extra hours to get this work done for an important prospective client and yet there didn’t seem to be anyone here at all. He had made it sound like it was a Hail Mary for the business, thanks to the loss of their last big client over a clerical error, so where was everyone?

There was of course every chance that I had misheard him and it was only him staying back and no-one else. That’s why I decided to keep going and at least take the meal to him. If it was just him, then I would stay and we could enjoy it together. Left to his own devices I was sure that he wouldn’t stop and take the time to have a break, such was his desire to do well and get ahead.

Stopping at the front desk, I finally saw the young girl seated behind the computer screen that had hidden her from view until now. This was because she was slouched down, almost as though she was trying to hide. Barely taking a moment to look up from her phone where she seemed to be texting, she gave me something that might have passed as a smile. “Welcome to D’Angelo and Green. How can I help you?”

“Hi. I was wondering if I could have a quick chat to Nigel Thatcher.”

“I’m sorry, Miss...?”

“Ally Miller; I’m a friend.”

“I’m sorry Miss Miler but Mr Thatcher didn’t come in today. Can I take a message for you? If it’s urgent I can forward it to his phone so he gets it today and not Monday when he comes back in.”

“Oh. He told me was working back tonight” I half mused to myself. Speaking up, I asked “Are you sure he’s gone for the weekend?”

“I’m sure. He had plans to take his wife up to their cabin today, for a long weekend.”

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 25

I looked at the receptionist like she was from Mars. It was the only explanation for what I just heard her say; I didn’t understand Alien. “Wife?” I heard myself ask and yet I already knew the answer.

Although it was probably against policy, she seemed more than happy to give me the answers I was after. “Yes, Erin; I’ve only met up with her a couple of times but she’s a lovely woman. Anyway, after the scare she had with the twins last week, he’s hoping to keep her stress free; especially when she’s this close to delivery. Nigel is hoping that a couple of days in the fresh air will help keep her calm.”

When I didn’t answer but just stood there with a stupid look on my face, she went on “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to leave a message? Is there anyone else who can help you? I’m sure one of the Senior Partners is still around.”

“Erin, his wife; are you sure? He told me his wife had passed away a few months back.” Even as the words were leaving my mouth, I knew how pathetic both they and I sounded.

Just as the realization of the truth hit me, it seemingly hit the receptionist at the same time and I could now read on her face that she understood what it was that Nigel had done. I was beyond mortified and while her eyes held a hint of pity in them, her tone was about to become a lot more formal, even a little cold. She even sat up straight for this, suddenly all business like.

“You seem to have been misinformed. I’m sorry, but unless you would like to leave a message or see someone else, there is nothing I can help you with. Would you like to leave a message that you at least dropped by?”

As much as I wanted to, I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to ask her to write down the words ‘die you scum-sucking arsehat’. Instead I barely managed to fumble out “that won’t be necessary” instead. With cheeks that were no doubt flame red at this point, I turned and headed back to the elevator, my head held high. Adding to the discomfort I was feeling was the fact that I had to wait for it to come back up from the ground floor. It felt as though the elevator was taking the scenic route.

Thankfully it finally arrived and once I was in, I looked everywhere else but back at the receptionist as I waited for the doors to close. The last thing I needed right now was to see the look of disparagement on the face of a 19-year-old.

~*~*~

The whole way home I tried to look back and work out if there had been any signs along the way that I was being lied to, used. Well, of course there had been signs; almost neon in nature; but I had been too stupid to notice them. Actually, that wasn’t true. I had thought all along that there was something not quite right about Nigel and yet I had ignored my gut and continued to see him anyway. This was all on me.

He was good at covering his tracks; I had to give him that. The lies rolled off his tongue with no effort at all, making it obvious he had been at this sort of thing a while. So good was he at playing his part, how could I have possibly known? The thing that !@#$ me though, despite the fact that I wasn’t worldly wise in the ways of men, I had picked up from that first day that there was something slightly hinky about him.

Be it desperation or not wanting to end up alone, I had chosen to ignore the bleeding obvious and allowed myself to be seduced by someone who never once cared for or about anyone but himself. Pathetic, they name is Alexandria. I had never felt so dirty. I had been sleeping with a married man and the fact that I didn’t know just made it all the worse.

Had I known he was married it would have made a world of difference. I would never have seen him again after that first shared coffee, for one thing. I wasn’t a virgin before we met and I most certainly wasn’t a prude who waited months to sleep with a guy. No, I had slept with him after the normally accepted three dates, even when I had reservations about doing so. I should have taken my own advice and listened when I told myself not to rush into anything.

It now made sense, his need to fast track and have all of our dates be so close together. He clearly knew of the three-date rule and while it wasn’t a law to live by, most people I knew used it as a way to not rush in and do something stupid. I’m surprised he really did wait that long and didn’t try to push harder to get me into bed, before I learned the truth. Why the !@#$ hadn’t I waited? It wasn’t like when we finally did have sex it was anything to rock my world.

I was feeling all of this hurt and anger, disappointment and even self-loathing, although we had only slept together less than a handful of times. Once or 1000 times with a married man is one too many times as far as I was concerned.

~*~*~

Mentally kicking myself for the umpteenth time in five minutes, I still couldn’t fathom how it was that I hadn’t been able to pick up on the duplicitous bastard’s lies quicker. I had already been privy to such signs, first hand, when my father cheated on my mother, seeing first hand exactly what a man was prepared to do and say, all the while he was conducting a secret life around himself.

I had also borne witness to the aftermath once the affair had been found out. I swore to myself then and there that I was never going to be in that situation; either as the wife or mistress; and yet some twenty years later, it would seem that never had come around all the same.

How sad and gullible am I that I fell for his charms to easily. Had I subconsciously been so starved for male affection that I was prepared to believe anything that came out of one’s mouth? I had had doubts on our first date for coffee and despite the feelings still being there after a subsequent date, I let him charm me into accepting more. His insistence that I drop my plans last Friday night now made a whole lot more sense.

If today’s humiliation has taught me anything at all, it was that the answer to my question is a big resounding yes; I was so needy that I would believe anything. From the moment I literally bumped into him, I fell under a spell, never fully grasping the idea that I was giving up the control I had. Or maybe that was just giving him too much credit. I was weak and he found the right spot to peck at until I caved.

I finally made it home and after dumping everything in my hands at the door, I headed straight for the bathroom, where I promptly threw up. When I was able, on shaky legs I hopped into the shower clothes and all, until the need to get clean was all I could focus on. I stripped off and started to scrub, almost to the point of taking off skin; the need to scrub away my sins the only thing stopping me from falling into a heap on the floor.

~*~*~

“Ally, are you ok sweetie? You have been in there for ages.”

I wasn’t sure how long Lizzie had been home but she had been banging on the door intermittently for a good ten minutes. I had already been in the bathroom a good 40 minutes at least before she started. The hot water had run out some fifteen minutes earlier but I hadn’t been able to move beyond sitting on the toilet, wrapped only in a towel.

“I’m ok, I’ll be out in a minute” I finally replied, grateful the closed door was between us and she wouldn’t be able to see that I had been crying. It was hard enough trying to keep the quiver out of my voice.

“If you’re sure...”

“Yes, I’m sure. I’m just trying to get the knots out of my hair. I won’t be much longer.”

“OK” was all she added before I heard her finally walk away.

I couldn’t hide anything from Lizzie; she had come to know me so well. One look at me and she was going to know that something was up. Maybe it was the lawyer in her and she had learned to spot a liar from a mile away. All I knew was that I was going to have to talk about it eventually; I just didn’t want it to be through a bathroom door, while I was practically naked.

I quickly rushed into my room where I dressed in the first thing I could find. I then turned to look in the mirror to do my hair and audibly gasped. I looked like !@#$, my eyes red rimmed and puffy but I supposed that was to be expected, given I had been crying off and on for more than an hour. After a half-arsed attempt at my curls, I gave up and opened the door.

Heading down the hall, I found Lizzie in the lounge room. “I put way the stuff you...Ally, what the hell! You’ve been crying. And don’t you dare even think about giving me some bollocks story about it being shampoo in your eyes.”
“Oh, Lizzie!” was all I could blurt out, a fresh lot of tears rushing to fill my already waterlogged eyes. She was out of the chair and pulling me into a bear hug before I had the chance to say anything further.

~*~*~

“That goddam sonofawhore! Not only does he lie about his wife being dead but now you find out she’s the one who is expecting twins? I’m willing to bet it was actually her that he was talking about all the times he mentioned his ‘sister’. He probably doesn’t have a sister at all, the slimy weasel. Ally, I’m so sorry babe.”

“Thanks” was all I uttered, taking a sip of the now tepid tea she had brewed and all but forced me to drink. I hadn’t wanted to but knew better than to refuse her when she was in protection mode. It was silent for a moment but then I asked the one question I had been stewing over ever since I found out Nigel was married.

“What’s wrong with me Lizzie? Do I have ‘gullible small-town girl, easy to be fooled’ tattooed on my forehead where everyone can see it? I mean, his wife’s name is Erin and he told me his sister’s name was Merryn. How could I not see that before? I had thought it was bad enough to sit through a dinner with Henry and have all those interruptions but at least he hadn’t been using me for sex, like Nigel. He didn’t want to get to know me; I was just a means to an end for him.”

“Sweetie, it was most definitely not your fault. There is nothing in the world wrong with you and don’t you dare think there is. You have to know this is all on him, right? You cannot blame yourself and I wish you wouldn’t think like that.”

“Ignorance is no excuse. From the very start I had a feeling there was something not quite right about him but I ignored it, hoping it would go away. You know how I feel about this, having seen my father cheat. I swore black and blue I would never find myself in that situation and here I sit; the slut who slept with a pregnant woman’s husband.”

“Bollocks! If you had been given all the facts; the real facts; about his life when you first met, you could have made an informed decision. If you knew the truth and still dated and had sex with him, then yes, you would be in the wrong. He deliberately set out to deceive you and its clear now what his motives were. It was all about him just getting his end away, with someone who wasn’t his wife. To me it seems like it wouldn’t have mattered who it was; it was just that you were the unlucky one who happened to run into him on that day. It could just as easily have been me. Given his deception, I would be willing to bet this wasn’t his first rodeo.”

I knew she was only trying to make me feel better but it wasn’t working; at least not right in this moment. I was still too upset and feeling all ‘poor little me’. At the end of the day, all I had done was have sex with a married man, not killed someone, but for me it was the worst thing I could have done. No amount of tea, hugs or comforting words from a dear friend were going to console me at this point.

“Listen” she began, getting up from her seat and helping me to stand. “Go and lie down for a bit, try and stop thinking about it. I know it’s hard but he’s just not worth the time or energy. You won’t believe me now but you will feel better once you have closed your eyes for a bit.”

I doubted it but I didn’t have the energy to fight her. I allowed her to take me to my room and put me to bed; on top of the comforter as I wasn’t going to sleep under it until I had brought all brand-new linen. I wasn’t tired but closed my eyes all the same. Lizzie closed the door and left me to my shame moments later.

~*~*~

I hadn’t been tired and yet when I opened my eyes again, it was well after 9pm. I probably would have just rolled over and stayed where I was, too ashamed to even go back up the hall and face Lizzie again but the raised voices that had roused me were getting louder.

Not planning to actually walk into the room that was holding this yelling match, but rather just standing near the door to hear what was going on, I didn’t make any effort to fix up my appearance. Passing the mirror on the way out of the door to my room, I was grateful the light had been off. The glow coming in from the hall light had been enough to illuminate the room and the reflection that was looking back at me was like something out of a B grade horror movie from the 60’s.

Curls being all askew and unruly were only half the problem; my eyes were still red rimmed and puffy, making the overall look all the more horrifying. And yet I didn’t give a !@#$. I cared even less when I reached the end of the hall near the front door and recognized the second voice on the other side of that door as that belonging to Nigel. I was surprised Lizzie hadn’t already kicked his arse to the kerb.

“You will get your sorry arse away from here now before I call the cops. Or better yet; how about I call your wife? I don’t know who the hell you think you are but you are going to be sorry. You messed with the wrong girl. No matter how long it takes, I’ll see to it that you get what’s coming to you; I promise on the life of your unborn children.” I wondered how long she had been at it but she was clearly on a roll now, although that last part was maybe a step too far.

“I don’t know what you think you know but it’s not true. Just let me talk to her please? All I want is a chance to explain.”

It was odd that he wouldn’t protest about the threat to his baby but of course he was pathological, so maybe it wasn’t so odd at all. Rather than let Lizzie continue to fend him off, I stepped around her. Nigel had a momentary look of shock on his face but it disappeared within moments as he made a move to step towards me.

“Ally, sweetheart; you have got it all wrong. Please, you have to let me explain.”

The minute he was close enough, I lashed out and slapped his face. Such was the force of the slap, my hand felt like it was on fire but when he didn’t move, I slapped him again. I was going to pay for it later but I was so angry right now I didn’t feel a thing now that it was numb.

“Get the !@#$ out of my house you two-timing sonofabitch. If you come near me again, or it looks like you are trying to contact me in any way, I will not only make your life miserable at work, I’ll call your wife, despite her delicate condition. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I won’t because I will.” I had no intention of confronting his wife as I wasn’t that callous but he didn’t need to know I was bluffing.

I said no more, standing there defiant, waiting for him to utter another word. I needed another excuse to slap him silly. Seeing the pure hatred in my eyes, already red and puffy from crying, he finally left without uttering a word. The only sound in the room after that was the sound of the front door slamming.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 26 – Henry

“LA must be nice” my younger brother Charlie guessed as he pulled out of the parking bay at Heathrow. “Weren’t you only supposed to be gone a couple of days?”

“Yeah but you know how it goes. I figured I’d get in a week of ‘me’ time while I had the chance. If even half of the projections that the producers have anticipated for this movie become a reality, I won’t have a minute to myself over the next ten years once it’s released.”

He laughed, as I knew he would. “You make that sound like a bad thing.”

“It could very well turn out that way. Then again, I might not get another chance at playing a part this big either so I plan on grabbing this opportunity with both hands while it’s there to be taken.”

“And what of the young lady you saw before you left? Where does she fit into your grand plans?”

“What young lady?” I questioned, a little puzzled before I realized he was most probably referring to Ally.

“When I saw Mum the other day, she might have mentioned that you were on a date the night before you left. She also mentioned that you blew her off so you could enjoy the evening so it clearly wasn’t a business meeting. Don’t tell me; it was just one of those one-nighters, right?”

“Actually, no it wasn’t. It was just dinner, with Andrew’s teacher.”

Because we had just stopped at a toll booth to pay so we could leave the parking area, Charlie had a chance to give me a look. Clearly, he wasn’t sure what to make of that statement, although there wasn’t anything to make anyway. He must have been really perplexed because the guy in the booth had to almost yell at him to get his attention; and money; and stop us from holding up the cars behind for too much longer.

“You’re dating Andy’s teacher? What’s all that about and how long has it been going on?” he asked once he had handed over the money and we were back on the move. Cleary his mind was going to be focused on my love life for the rest of the trip. I mentally rolled my eyes.

“I’m not dating Ally. It was a one-off meal and I only asked her out as a means of apology, for the incident with Andrew and Jackson. You must have heard about that by now – nothing in this family stays secret for too long.”

He grinned. “I know, right? I did hear about it actually. Emma spoke to Kat about it. I’m more interested in hearing about this Ally though. From the way Mum suggested you were gushing about her the morning you left, I’m surprised you haven’t come home all excited about seeing her again and the prospect of marrying her.”

Had I been driving we would have swerved straight off the road as I threw a look to my youngest sibling. It was all I could do really, not even sure how or where to begin to respond. Just exactly what the hell had I said to my mother to give her the impression I was coming back to get married; to a woman I had spent less than five hours with?

~*~*~

“Either you’re mistaken Charlie, or Mum is. I have next to no idea why she would think it was me. After what happened with Ellen, she knows full well that I am not likely to rush into anything, or get married at all. Besides, I barely know Ally.” I paused a moment, still stunned at my brother’s comments. “Given the fact that she called our dinner to an early conclusion, I’d be surprised if Ally wanted to see me again, much less marry me after knowing me all of five minutes.”

“Harry, it was definitely you she mentioned; by name. And what did you do that could possibly have caused her to end the date early? It’s not like you to not charm the pants off a date; literally” he added with a suggestive smirk that I didn’t appreciate.

“It’s a long story; one I don’t want to get into now. And don’t call me Harry; you know I don’t like it.”

“Sure thing Harry” he laughed, knowing full well that I could hardly retaliate while he was driving. I’ve hated the nickname since I was a kid and my brothers knew this. It was probably why they still used it every chance they could, in order to give me grief.

When I hadn’t said anything further for a couple of kilometres he asked “So, there really isn’t anything between you and this teacher?”

I couldn’t very well tell him I wanted there to be, especially after just telling him our dinner hadn’t meant anything. I also couldn’t tell him that she had been all I could think about this past week. Not when I knew the confession would only lead to more questions and less than subtle ribbing. Instead I opted for a small truth.

“No, there isn’t. It was a meal, that’s it.”

“Well, when I drop you off at Mum’s to get your car you had better have a good story to tell her. She’s all but gone out and bought invitations to the engagement party.”

Driving or not, this time I did punch him.

~*~*~

So that I wouldn’t have to leave my car stuck in the parking area at the airport, the folks had offered to drive me into Heathrow the morning I flew out. Given I had ended up staying in LA for several days longer than I had anticipated, it was probably a good thing I had. After talking with Charlie and hearing what my mother seemed to think of my one-off date with Ally, I had to wonder if paying the parking fee for a full week mightn’t have been the better option.

By the time we had pulled up outside the house, I still hadn’t been able to recall exactly what it was that I said on leaving that made my mother think things she had no business thinking. When she had called during the dinner the night before, I had been kind of abrupt with her. She asked about it the following morning and I simply told her things were fine and I was only hoping to enjoy a quiet meal. How the woman came to the conclusion that not only was I serious about this woman but that I was also ready to commit I was never going to understand.

There was every chance that Charlie was also messing with me. It wouldn’t be the first time; he did have a seriously weird sense of humour after all. I supposed it came from being the youngest of five boys. Despite that thought however, I couldn’t fathom a reason for him to do so. I had no clue at all and the more I was thinking about it, the more I realized I had nothing to worry about. Mum was going to be so glad to have me home she would have forgotten all the rest. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

“Henry! Welcome home baby. Oh, I’ve missed you.”

I hugged her back and answered that I had missed her right back; and I had. After letting her go, she did as she normally did when he wasn’t in the room and went to the doorway to call out to my father.

“Colin, Henry’s home. Come down for a cuppa; he’s just about to tell us all about his latest flame.”

Charlie snorted a laugh as I could do little more than stand there, mouth all but wide open.

~*~*~

I was still yet to move when my father finally entered the kitchen.

“Goddam it, woman; I wish you would stop yelling. I was only in the next room, not the next county. I’m sure the people in our street don’t need to hear that our son is home.” He tried to sound gruff but of course he had a cheeky smile for his wife and a wink for his sons.

“Never mind that now, sit down.” She then turned to her two youngest, telling us to take a seat too. As usual we didn’t argue but did as we were told, watching as she put the kettle on and then went for the cake tin. Thankfully Dad got in with a question before she had a chance to bombard me with her own.

“So, son; how was the trip?”

“Good, Dad. I really enjoyed it. The first couple of days were all about meeting and greeting with the cast and crew, along with a visit to the wardrobe guys so they could take my measurements and the rest. I suspected the movie was going to be big given the names of the people attached to it, but I now think it’s going to be more than that. I actually pinched myself a couple of times to make sure it was all real.”

“Maybe you were dreaming, Harry. After all, why would Hollywood want you for an American icon when they can have someone like Nic Cage?”

Tapping him a little more than gently on the back of the head, my mother admonished my brother. “That will be enough cheek from you, young man. And I have asked you not to call your brother Harry; you know I don’t like it.”

I tried not to smile but it was hard. Mum hated the name Harry just as much as I did and never hesitated to bring my siblings into line whenever they used it in her presence. Although I had smiled, I did at least draw the line at sticking out my tongue and saying ‘nananananana’. It would seem that one was never too old to enjoy watching a brother being told off by a parent.

“It’s ok Mum, he can joke around all he likes. I’ll just remind him of it next time he asks me for a favour.”

Everyone laughed and we eventually got back to catching up on what had happened in the eight days since I had been gone. Thankfully Mum had forgotten her earlier comment about me and my alleged flames.

~*~*~

Once he had finished his tea, Charlie left to go and pick up his wife so he could take her to an antenatal class. Kat was due to give birth in a couple of months and he was fretting, although the rest of us tried to assure him everything would be fine. He might like to joke and act like a goofball but my youngest brother had a good head on his shoulders when it was needed. Given the way he adored Kat and was fussing over her now, I knew he was going to be a great dad.

Although he didn’t say anything, I could see that Dad wanted to go back to whatever it was he had been doing when we showed up, so I said I had to get going too. It had been a long day and the flight had felt twice as long and it was all starting to catch up with me.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t going to be going anywhere anytime soon as Mum seemingly still had several questions for me. I knew I was going to be stuck here until she got the answers. I should have known better than to think she had forgotten all about Ally.

“Now, son; I want you to tell me all about this Ally. And don’t even think about giving me the shorthand version.”

“Marianne, leave the boy be. If he wanted you to know, you would know. Haven’t you learnt by now that forcing the boys to give up information they’re not ready to give up just leads to a bunch of lies and half-truths?”

“It might have been like that when they were young but they’re men now. They know better than to lie to their mother. Is it such a crime that I care about them and want to see them all happy?”

I knew where this was going and rather than sit there and let them discuss it over me, I realized I was going to have to step in before Dad could answer that question in such a way that he’d be in the doghouse for a week.
~*~*~
“Mum, Dad, it’s fine. There really isn’t anything to tell. I don’t know where you got the impression there was. I briefly met Ally when I went to the school and we later shared a meal. It was my way of apologizing on behalf of the boys, so there’s nothing more to it, end of story. After the night we had I’d be lucky if she even cared to speak to me again, so there’s definitely no budding romance in the air.”

“Oh?” Mum questioned.

“Let’s just say that had I been even half the gentleman you raised me to be, the outcome might have been different. And before you ask, no, I didn’t try anything. I just let a lot of outside influences interrupt the meal and it was like I was only half there. I’m surprised Ally didn’t ask to leave before she did.”

“By interruptions you mean people like me calling you.” It was a statement of fact, not a question.

“Yes. But it was more than that. There were a couple of other calls and I also had several people come over and ask for an autograph or to have a chat, most of whom were the wait staff. I should have said no; politely of course; but I didn’t. I guess I just didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

“Maybe not son but I’m guessing you did all the same; for this Ally girl at least” my father added.

I sighed. I had been over it so much in my own head I had to wonder if I hadn’t put too much pressure on myself to be a perfect date. Or that I might have blown it all out of proportion and that the night hadn’t been a total bust after all. Retelling the story to my folks and hearing myself say it out loud just confirmed that the night really had been a joke from start to finish after all.

I should have let things go, once I heard what the two boys had done but no, I had to step into something that really was none of my business. If I hadn’t of gone to see Ally, or even been smitten like I had, then none of that disastrous date would have taken place in the first place. Can I really say that either of us was better off for my having interfered like I did?

Mum put her hand on my arm and squeezed gently. “Henry, it’s ok sweetheart; you’re only human. People make mistakes all the time but they move on, hopefully learning in the process. I’m sure Ally will forgive you if you go and apologize. The fact that she even hung around as long as she did shows that she was willing to give it a go, for as long as possible. A lot of girls you have dated would have left sooner and caused a scene as they did so.”

I understood with that last comment that she meant Gina but I didn’t get into it with her. She was right about one thing though. I had sent flowers the next day but I still needed to go and apologize again to Ally and hope that she would hear me out, maybe give me another chance to do better the second time around.

~*~*~

As I left the family home, I found that talking to the folks had been therapeutic in a way and helped me to realize that perhaps I wasn’t all that crazy to have feelings for someone I barely knew. We hadn’t discussed her as such but in the back of my mind, it was starting to make sense. I mean, wasn’t there a saying out there about love at first sight? I knew it wasn’t love of course but there had been something. Talking about her brought back all the feelings I had been holding onto this past week, making me know for sure that I wanted to explore some more and work out what that something was.

The first couple of days in LA had been so full on I didn’t have the time to stop and take a breath, let alone sit and moon over a woman like a lovesick puppy. The remainder of my time there however had been different. With no pressure to be at a certain place at a given time or taking a last-minute meeting with people I didn’t know, I had a chance to take a bit of time for myself, to do as I pleased.

Ally hadn’t come to mind straight away of course. I had more or less pushed her to the back of my thoughts as I left London, although she never fully disappeared. It was only when I saw something in a store or called in at any one of LA’s many tourist attractions that thoughts of how she might view it, or what she would think that brought her back to front and centre. Once she was there, she was all I could think about.

I had even gone so far as to pick up something and was about to buy it for her when I stopped myself and put it back. I was sure she would accept it gratefully but how could I then explain the need to buy it for her in the first place? I was hardly going to admit that the blue in the carving reminded me of the blue in her eyes. Her disappointment in our dinner date was bad enough; I didn’t need for her to think of me as a stalker as well.

~*~*~

Keeping myself busy during the day helped and, in the end, I managed to only think of her sporadically. It was only when night came and I was back at the hotel, in bed alone that the thoughts came back unbidden. There was nothing sexual in those thoughts, although I had imagined what a proper kiss would be like. It was more just a sense that I owed it to myself to try and get to know her better, to see where it led, if it did indeed lead at all. If it didn’t then I wasn’t going to die wondering.

Our dinner date had been less than auspicious but I had seen enough to know that she was someone I definitely wouldn’t mind learning more about. She had come across as warm and fun loving and I wanted the chance to explore that, to find out if it was genuine or not. Even if nothing romantic came from the exploration, I wasn’t about to say no to the chance of friendship.

By the time I got back to my own house, the jet lag was truly kicking in and after a quick shower to wash away the in-flight grime, I hopped into bed. The last thing I remembered was making a mental note that first thing in the morning I had to call Ally. I was out to the world moments later.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 27 – Ally

Following the revelation that Nigel was little more than a two-timing scum sucking bastard, I wanted nothing more than to hole up in my room, staying in bed and under the new and untainted sheets and doona that I had bought, the blinds fully drawn. It may well have been just sex; I hadn’t done anything more nefarious; and yet I still felt dirty and cheap.

No amount of pep-talking or cups of tea and chocolate from Lizzie was going to convince me I wasn’t a home-wrecking whore. I didn’t want to give Nigel this power over me, to let him win by having me cower like this but for right now, I couldn’t see a way out with any better options. The only thing I had to be grateful for was the fact that it was the weekend and I didn’t have to go to work for the next two days. The last thing I needed right now was a classroom full of peppy and noisy 4th graders.

Lizzie did her level best to get me out of my room; or to at least crack open the blind and let in some light; and even offered to include me in the plans she had with Phil and the girls but when that didn’t work, she told me it was time to think about planning what dresses we would be wearing for the wedding. Of course, I was too busy sulking and wanted no part in her happiness.

In the end she let me be and went out with her man, leaving me to wallow. At least once she had left, I moved from my room to the lounge room, where I was able to wallow in front of the TV with a huge tub of ice-cream and a bag of Cherry Ripes.

~*~*~

Sunday morning rolled around before I knew it and after I had thrown the recently activated alarm clock into a pile of shoes, I rolled back over and closed my eyes. I had no plans for the day; shocker; and as it had been the day before, I had no real ambition to leave my room either. Lizzie on the other hand had big plans for me.

“Ok lazy bones, up and at ‘em. Today is not a day to be spent indoors.”

“Leave me alone” I grumbled from underneath the doona that I had pulled up over my head.

“I don’t think so missy. You either get up of your own accord or I go and get a jug of ice water; it’s your choice.”

Sticking my head out from under the cover, just barely, I mumbled “Like that is any kind of choice. Why can’t you just go and let me be? I’m not hurting anyone. Don’t you have plans with Phil or something?”

“You’re only hurting yourself and I do have plans, but I’m not leaving until you’re at least out of bed, showered and dressed. I’m not going to have my best friend left to her own devices; especially in this mood.”

“I’m not going to do anything stupid, if that’s what you’re thinking. I might hate myself right now but I’m not bat-!@#$ crazy. The bastard isn’t worth going to that much trouble.”

“Thank you for proving my point! You barely knew him a fortnight. Ok, so you slept with him but surely even you can admit he’s not worth all this pain you’re in. Lying in bed and feeling all sick and sorry for yourself means that he just keeps winning. Don’t let him have the satisfaction. Get up, go out, have fun. Just put it all down to a momentary lapse in judgement. We’ve all done it so it’s not like you’re the first. Listen, if it makes you feel better, write a list of all the ways you can get back at him. So long as you learn from this, then it wouldn’t have been for nothing.”

It was way too early in the day for all this logic and reasoning. I slowly scrambled into a sitting position, squinting a few times to allow my eyes the chance to adjust to the brightness of the sun that was now streaming through the window Lizzie had uncovered. “You must be a nightmare in the courtroom” I muttered. “Fine; I’ll get up, just stop nagging.”

My friend put her hands on her hips and didn’t say anything. Clearly, she wasn’t going to move until I was physically up and out of the bed and walking myself down towards the bathroom.

~*~*~

As I stood in the shower receptacle and allowed the water to run over me as it wished, I thought about what Lizzie had said. It didn’t take me too long to come to the conclusion that she was right; as usual.

I needed to snap out of this mood and get back to normal. Moping around, feeling especially hard done by achieved nothing more than to keep seeing myself as a victim. The arsehole had already taken enough from me; it was up to me to stop him taking more.

I might have been unknowing about his wife but at the end of the day, I had been a willing participant in our brief fling. If anyone had a right to be sad, confused, angry and full of ideas of retribution, it was his wife. The thing of it was that she more than likely didn’t even realize she needed to feel these feelings.

Grabbing the shampoo, I squeezed a little into my hand before rubbing it into my hair. It didn’t take long for the lather to overtake my head. As I massaged and tried to untangle the inevitable curls – a waste of time, despite what the label promised, given they were back the minute my hair was no longer under water – I came to the realization that perhaps Nigel had only been able to fool me because I had been open to it.

He had been charm personified from the moment we literally ran into each other, then over coffee later that same afternoon. A couple of cautionary signs had been there from the first official date but I overlooked them. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was tired of not having someone in my life or I just didn’t want to believe that there was something wrong. Either way, I had to shoulder some of the responsibility for this fiasco.

By the time I had rinsed my hair, applied conditioner and rinsed a second time, I had made myself a resolution. I wasn’t going to retreat or cut myself off from other people, men especially, and end up a bitter old maid. On the flip side, I wasn’t going to just fall instantly for the charms of any man who looked my way, paid me a compliment or seemed too good to be true. I was going to hurt over this for a good long while I suspected but I wasn’t going to stop and let it define me. I wouldn’t give that prick the satisfaction.

~*~*~

Once I was showered and fully dressed, I headed up the hallway. I made for the kitchen, where I found Lizzie had a cooked breakfast waiting for me. I wasn’t all that hungry and I usually didn’t have much for breakfast, if anything at all, but because she had made it especially for me, I took a seat at the table.

“Thanks Lizzie” I began, dusting a little salt and pepper over the scrambled eggs.

“It’s just bacon and eggs; no biggie.”

“I’m not talking about the food, although I appreciate that too. I meant thanks for making me face facts and dragging my sorry arse out of bed. You’re right, of course. I shouldn’t let him win. I’m not going to.”

Coming around and giving me a hug, she smiled and then headed to the bench to pick up a freshly brewed up of percolated coffee. “Glad to hear it babe. I won’t tell you it will be easy and I most certainly won’t downplay what happened; I know about your dad; but the best revenge is to go out and show that this hasn’t stopped you in your tracks, or that it even hurt you.
 
“It clearly did but he doesn’t need to know that. Of course, he won’t be around to see either way but the vibe will be out there. He should be grateful you’re a better person than me because if I was in your shoes, I would not only tell his wife but I would find other ways; possibly legal; to get to him. I’m willing to teach you a few things if you want to try it my way” she added with half a serious smile.

I returned her smile, albeit in a small way. “Had you made that offer last night I may well have taken you up on it. I’m not a violent or vindictive person but I was seriously considering changing all of that.” She laughed a knowing laugh. “Part of me wants nothing more than to go and tell his wife but I can’t do it. She deserves to know what an arsehat he is but she really is pregnant and the complications are real. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened, all because I felt the need to tell her what a tosser she’s married to.

“It’s bad enough for her she’s married to him but to maybe have something happen to the babies too? She doesn’t deserve that. I suspect that my wanting to tell her would be to assuage my own guilty anyway. I might feel better but then I would have ruined her life. How is that fair?”

“Maybe she already knows. Didn’t you say you picked up some kind of vibe from the receptionist where he works? Creeps like him work to a pattern that suits them so my guess is that he’s done this before, more than once. They just can’t help themselves. Could be that the thrill for them isn’t so much the sex but that they could be found out at any moment.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about them and what they can get away with. They never stop to think about the fallout for the other people they’re involving. Makes me wonder why they bother to get married to begin with, because being faithful is clearly something they’re not capable of.”

I had often wondered about that very thing myself, having watched my mother try to live with the consequences of her husband’s philandering. They were in a good place now and it had been more than 18 years since they got back together but it was obvious; to me at least; that something in and about them had changed. How could it not?

I didn’t really have a comment worth adding to her point so I ate a little more of the breakfast she had prepared for me, mostly out of politeness. By the time I had eaten half, I did actually feel a little better.

~*~*~

Lizzie had already made earlier plans to go out with Phil and the girls but only agreed to keep to them when I assured her I was ok, and that I wasn’t about to go and jump right back into bed the minute she was out the front door.

“I promise, Lizzie. The time for wallowing is over now; I’ve had a whole day to indulge myself. We Miller women are made of strong stuff believe it or not; I just forgot momentarily. Go, have fun with Phil and the girls while you can. Jessica might not stay all happiness and rainbows for much longer.”

“Ugh, I know. It’s kind of freaking me out that she is being so nice. I wonder if it’s because she’s heard from the girls about the proposal and is really scared that Phil will sue for full custody. Now that he’s about to have an even more stable home environment, with two parents, the odds are in his favour. Whatever the reason, I’m going to keep going along with it. I don’t want to give her any reason to ruin our big day.”

“She wouldn’t dare try anything because if she did, she’d have me to answer to. I’ve got your back!”

“Thanks sweetie” she replied with a laugh. Nothing was added for a moment but then she tried once more to bring up the subject of my leaving the flat at some point today.

~*~*~

“So, in the spirit of not letting that arsehat Nigel win how do you feel about talking to Henry?”

Well, there was a name I hadn’t thought I would be hearing in this flat again, outside of watching something with him in it. “Henry; as in Cavill; why would I want to talk to him?”

“Because he actually called here yesterday, looking for you, but I told him you were out. I knew if I told you he was on the phone you wouldn’t have taken the call anyway. I did tell him I would pass on the message and get you to call back though. You don’t want to make me out to be a liar, do you?”

“No but seriously, why would you tell him I’d call back? After all of this do you think I want to just up and get friendly with a new guy? I’m not going to let Nigel win but I’m not ready to be pushed into anything new either.”

“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger! Besides, who’s to say he wants anything? I didn’t get the impression he was, from our conversation, as short as it was. If anything, I suspect he wanted to apologize again for the crappy dinner date you had.” I didn’t say anything as I thought about that, so she took the opportunity to add “Listen, talk to him or not. I’m just letting you know he called.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to come off like a !@#$.”

“It’s ok, Ally. I know it’s all still fresh and I get it. You really should call him though. At least listen to what he has to say. What you then do with that information is entirely up to you. If you don’t like what he has to say, hang up and let that be the end of it. For what it’s worth, famous or not, I get the feeling he is a genuine guy and truly sorry about what happened.”

“No pressure, huh?” I half joked. “The thing of it is, I was disappointed on the night but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there really had been no reason to be. Henry certainly doesn’t have anything to be sorry for. I had no expectations going in; it was just a meal, after all; so for me to act all wounded or offended because it hadn’t been perfect would be ridiculous. I told him on the night that it was ok and it was; is.”

My flatmate knew better than to keep pushing me, although she clearly had a lot more on her mind about the whole thing. Letting it go instead, she went to finish getting ready for her own date and left me to do some prep for school tomorrow. Ten minutes later I had forgotten all about Henry or returning his call.

~*~*~

The day flew past a lot quicker than I had expected and by the time I fell into bed that night, I couldn’t believe how tired I was. Once I had finished the work I needed to take into school with me in the morning, I followed up on some housework. This including cleaning out the fridge, which included defrosting the freezer.

I had found some items frozen in the back that I was sure pre-dated Moses, they had been there so long. I threw them out because at this point, I could no longer tell what they had been before they entered the icy storage unit. The last thing Lizzie or I needed was to grab something one night and end up with food poisoning.

When the fridge and freezer were once more all sparkly and clean, I couldn’t help but note how bare they were. For this reason alone, I ended up at the supermarket, buying up supplies – fresh and frozen – to last at least a good couple of weeks. Lizzie was away more often than not and now that she was newly engaged, I expected it would be even less I now saw of her.
Although it was more than likely just going to be me home for meals, by stocking up now I saved myself the hassle of having to stop in at the store every other day in order to get something to eat. There was also the odd chance that I would have Lizzie and Phil both at home to feed, so it didn’t hurt to be prepared.

~*~*~

As I had eaten a proper breakfast, lunch was little more than an orange and a tub of yoghurt. I tried to watch a bit of TV but found I couldn’t concentrate, even if all that was on was a cooking show. In the end I changed into my running gear and went for a jog.

It turned into something akin to a mini marathon, given I was gone more than two hours. I had started out with the intention of maybe going around the block a couple of times but once I found my rhythm, I noticed how it freed my mind of all but the tunes on my IPod and the road ahead. For those two or so hours, it was the calmest I had felt since Friday. I was likely to pay for it in the morning but it was worth it.

Having had my second shower of the day once I got home, I spent the afternoon emailing or calling family members to have a chat, not once mentioning the last couple of days. I didn’t want to go over it all again and they didn’t need to know every intimate detail of my life.

A light supper was all I could stomach once it was dark enough outside to think about food, and then the rest of the evening was spent Googling ideas for maid-of-honour dresses. Lizzie had the final say of course on color and design but she had suggested I have a look to see what I liked, to give us a place to at least start when the time came to get serious.

Unfortunately, I liked a lot of the dresses I saw but knew she would have a pink fit at my choices. Because she needed to be so prim and proper for her job, when she was free to wear what she wanted, it tended to be more on the wild side than sedate. Of course, she always looked great and being so tall and thin, she could pull the look off with no drama. I on the other hand, being much shorter and wider, wasn’t so fortunate. Hopefully we would be able to find something that not only suited me but allowed for her sense of fashion to shine.

It was barely 8.30pm and I couldn’t keep my eyes open a minute longer, the jog taking more out of me than I liked to admit. I decided to go to bed and read for a bit but I was out to it less than five minutes after my head hit the pillow, dreaming of showing up at the wedding dressed in an outfit of lime green and magenta frills.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 28 - Henry

It had been a week since I first called Ally; the day after my return from LA; and I was still waiting to hear from her. This was odd as she hadn’t really struck me as the type of person who wouldn’t acknowledge a call. A couple of days after my initial call I tried again, at least twice and both times her flatmate advised me that she was either not in or couldn’t come to the phone.

Truth or not, it was hard not to take the snub personally. I knew our dinner hadn’t been a rousing success but surely it hadn’t been so bad that she couldn’t even bring herself to speak to me now, even if it was only over the phone. Or had it? Even if she was only to return the call long enough to ask me to leave her be, that had to be better than no call at all. At least then I would know where I stood.

Not wanting to overstep the mark I waited yet another couple of days before I tried again. Had I been able to get her out of my mind and stop thinking about her constantly, her not answering my messages wouldn’t have been so much of a problem. The thing of it was that the more time that went by and I hadn’t heard from her, the more it made me want to see her again. It was almost like a child being told they couldn’t have something sweet, only to make them want it more. I was going nuts; I had to be, surely.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I recalled that during our dinner conversation – when we could actually have more than five minutes uninterrupted – that she mentioned she left work early on a Wednesday. Using this information, I took a chance to call her at home once more. Hopefully I would be able to get her as she was just coming in and not have to leave another unanswered message on the machine or even with Lizzie.

If she didn’t answer, perhaps I should take it as a sign and cut my losses. Not wanting that to even be an option however, I mentally crossed my fingers and dialled. The phone was answered on the fourth ring.

~*~*~

“Hello?” a deep and croaky voice came back to me.

“Hello. Is this Ally?”

“No, it’s Lizzie. Is that you Henry?” I supposed I had called often enough for her to recognize my voice instantly.

“Yes” was all I could come back with, hoping she didn’t pick up on the disappointment in my tone that it had been her to answer the phone and not her room-mate.

“Hey. Ally’s still not home from work just yet but she shouldn’t be too long; she probably just stopped at the store. Can I get her to call you back?”

“Thanks, Lizzie but there really doesn’t seem to be much point. She hasn’t returned any of the other calls yet, so I’m sure this time won’t be any different.” It was hard not to come off sounding resentful.

“She hasn’t? That’s really odd because she told me she had. I’m so sorry Henry. I really did give her your messages.”

“I guess I have my answer then. It would seem that she is a little angrier about the dinner than she led me to believe. She suggested we try again once I returned from LA and that’s why I’ve been calling. It seems to be a pretty safe assumption that she’s since changed her mind.”

It was silent once more, except for the barking cough that came through, although Lizzie did her best to try and muffle it. She was clearly unwell and it at least explained why she had been there to pick up the call and not the machine. Eventually she stopped.

“Sorry about that; I picked up the flu from Phil’s girls.” Then “Listen, it’s not you; trust me on this. Something happened while you were away and she’s taking the fallout pretty much to heart. She’s doing her best to move on but I guess it’s just a show for my benefit so I’ll stop nagging her to leave the house. I should have noticed she wasn’t really back to being herself yet.” Another bout of coughing ensued and I felt bad for keeping her on the line. At least I did until she went on. “Ok, I have a plan. Are you up for it?”

I had no clue where this was going or what Lizzie was about to have me do but if it meant I had a chance to see Ally, to talk with her even if it was so she could say goodbye, then I was all in.

~*~*~

Jogging up and down the same small stretch of footpath for ten minutes had garnered me quite a few strange looks but I didn’t care. Standing on the corner would have afforded me the same, if not more attention but I wasn’t leaving. Not until I had had the chance to ‘accidently’ run into Ally.

The plan had sounded so simple on the phone I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. No sooner had we disconnected the call that I had changed into my running gear, hopped into my car and headed for her side of town. Lizzie had given me the details of the route Ally would normally take and I had picked the easiest point in which to run into her. All I had to do now was pray that she wouldn’t deviate from this route or worse; that she had already passed.

Thankfully I only had to wait a further ten minutes before I spotted her a little ways off. I went back around the corner, jogging rapidly on the spot a few beats to bring up my pulse rate and then headed back around to where I had just been. My timing was a little off and a result I actually had to jog up the road a ways before we crossed paths. Having been seen by her, it would have been too obvious to stop and go back around the corner to try for a second time.

I did my level best to make it not look too much like I had been waiting for her and it wasn’t easy. I actually had to jog past her a little, almost as though we were just two runners passing in the street. When I felt like I had gone far enough, I turned and made my way back to her. She was still running and I thought for a moment that perhaps she hadn’t really seen me at all as we passed. That was when she slowed and eventually stopped. By the time she had turned completely around, I was by her side.

~*~*~

“Hey!” I smiled, all the while trying to sound a little more out of breath than I actually was; I threw in a hint of surprise too, that we had bumped into each other like this. “I thought I recognized you just now. How are you?”

“Lizzie” she mumbled under her breath with a shake of her head thrown in for good measure. It hadn’t been so low that I couldn’t hear her.

“Sorry?”

“It’s ok, Henry; I know Lizzie sent you.”

I stopped jogging on the spot. “What do you mean? I do this all the time.” An out and out lie but I had to at least try and keep the pretence up to protect her friend.

Totally unexpected, she gave me a lopsided grin and that had my heart pumping faster than all the fake jogging I had been doing for the last twenty minutes. “You jog, on this side of town?”

Clearly, she knew I was lying and I had been caught out but I just couldn’t help myself. “Sure I do; all the time. There’s nothing quite like being outdoors in weather that’s a little over chilly to keep you motivated and moving.”

“Hmm. Call me sceptical but I find it rather funny that in the 18 months that I’ve been running around here that we’ve never crossed paths before. Or is this your first time; around here I mean.” She was clearly starting to enjoy this.

“Ok you got me” I admitted with what I hoped was a sheepish enough grin. “But don’t blame Lizzie. I just wanted the chance to talk to you.”

I couldn’t be sure but I thought her cheeks flushed a little darker and she had trouble meeting my eyes. “Fine but do you mind if we finish the jog first? If I stop now, I won’t be able to start up again later.”

Knowing full well that I would pay for it later, I didn’t care. “Deal” was all I said, afraid to say more in case it came out in a gush. I wasn’t prepared to do or say anything now that would have her run away from me again, now that I had a decent chance to talk.

~*~*~

It was close to an hour later when we finally stopped and I for one was grateful. I wasn’t sure about Ally but I was completely done in. Having not warmed up or stretched properly before hand, I knew I was going to be in a world of hurt later and yet at the same time, I was glad I had persevered. Not only because it finally gave me a chance to chat with Ally but it had brought to my attention the little fact that unless I started my training regime for this movie, sooner rather than later, I was going to be in trouble.

We were now both seated on a bench at a bus stop, neither of us quite up to speaking yet. Eventually our breathing became more regulated and words were able to flow more freely. I decided to start, although not on a topic that I wanted. “I’m glad Zack wasn’t here to see this. Had he been around, I’m sure he would have changed his mind about casting me for the lead in his movie.”

As she was bent at the middle trying to get her own breath back, her arms resting on her knees, Ally had to turn her head to face me. The tie that she had used to keep her hair back came loose and her curls burst free like a coiled spring being released from an open can. I had been right when I guessed they had a mind of their own. I wanted to tell her I liked them free but realized that now was neither the time nor the place to say something so personal. Thankfully she spoke before I could say anything.

“Oh, I don’t know about that. You already look pretty fit to me, although there were a couple of times I had to slow down to let you keep up.”

“Hey!” She was right of course but I wasn’t going to let it slide by without half an attempt to save my honour. “Who’s to say that I wasn’t just slowing down to make you think you were beating me?”

“Oh, I don’t know; it could have been the fact that I can probably get up and go for another twenty minutes while you look like you need to wait for the #38 bus.”

I laughed. She had me pegged so perfectly. The very last thing on this earth I wanted to do right now was stand up and start running again, even for her. In fact, I never wanted to run again; ever. “Fair enough” I finally conceded. “I suppose this just proves that I will need to start my training sooner than I had planned to. It’s just not going to be today. Or probably tomorrow either, given the way my body is starting to protest.”

She smiled and I smiled back, the pain not feeing quite so bad now.

~*~*~

Before we had a chance to cool down completely, we left the bench and headed back towards her flat, even if it was only at a moderate walking pace. My legs complained bitterly the whole way but I kept going. It was going to take a good twenty minutes to get there and I was grateful I had thought to park my car just up the road at the end of the block and wouldn’t have to walk all that way back to get it.

Knowing it was going to take us a bit to get to her place, I figured this would be my one and only chance to try and clear the air, perhaps get a feel for how things would progress from here on out. I was a little more than surprised when Ally was actually the one who set the ball off in that direction herself.

“Henry, I need to apologize for not returning your calls. I was raised to have better manners than that and yet I didn’t call back. It was very rude of me but it wasn’t personal, I promise.”

“It’s ok, Ally; Lizzie explained you have had a rough time of late and haven’t really wanted to talk to anyone.”

As I watched her tense up, it was almost like I could actually see the air around her change also. Clearly, I had put my foot in it, again. “Oh, she did, did she?”

I tried to backtrack a little and quickly. “She didn’t give me specifics, just explained that you had a few personal things to deal with and your mind was otherwise occupied. She didn’t offer details and I certainly didn’t ask.”

“Sorry, it’s a touchy subject. It will blow over soon enough but it really doesn’t excuse the fact that I never returned any of your calls. My mother brought me up better than that.”

“It’s ok. I was only calling to apologize again for our dinner date. I know I did so on the night but the more I thought about it the following day, the more I knew a half-arsed apology just wasn’t good enough. It was supposed to be a thank you dinner; for what you did for the boys; and I should have done or said more to make sure that we weren’t interrupted, even if it was only to make it happen less often than it had.”

Although we were still keeping a steady pace, she placed her hand on my arm. “There truly is no apology necessary Henry. I admit I was annoyed on the night but I too mulled it over and came to the conclusion that it hadn’t been as awful as I thought. I had no business being irritated. There had been no expectations going in and I knew it wasn’t a romantic dinner meant for two.

“Before then I had no clue who you were or how well known you are but as the night went on, it was becoming very clear. It’s just one of those things that are bound to happen, no matter how much you try to plan for it not to. It’s a consequence of being well known, I suspect.”

I stopped walking and she did so a moment later when she realized I was no longer beside her. “That’s really not the point I was trying to make, Ally. I’ve been in the business long enough now to realize how things work. Ok, so I’m not up in the big leagues just yet but this type of thing has happened before. I should have known better.” I couldn’t believe I was getting so worked up over this when she truly seemed to be fine. Cleary it had bothered me more than I had originally thought.

“Listen; let the matter go. I’ll do the same. We can both agree it wasn’t perfect and that we both should have been more honest about it at the time. Standing here trying to make sense of it and apologize to each other back and forth is getting us nowhere; deal?”

Looking into her eyes I couldn’t help but notice that they were now a smidge darker than they had been. Undoubtedly the color changed dependant on her mood and although I wasn’t sure what mood was being projected right now, I knew I loved the look. “Deal” I finally manage to answer. Not another word was said as we started walking again.

~*~*~

The rest of the time spent walking back to her building was filled with moments of silence or meaningless chatter about this or that. I spoke a little of LA and she filled me in on Andrew and the rest of her class. I enjoyed the talk but it wasn’t all that conducive to bringing up the idea of another dinner date. No such chance arose before we finally made it to our destination.

“Well, it was nice to run into you Henry, although it was contrived. Running gives me the chance to reflect and get away from real life for a time but occasionally it’s nice to have company too. Although that’s not always the case; especially if that company just happens to run a little too slow for my liking.”

The sparkle was back in her eyes and I was glad to see it there; so much so that I took her jibe at my running prowess as the joke she had meant it to be. “Well, next time we will just have to remedy that.” Just as it looked as though she was getting ready to say goodbye, I took the bull by the horns and quickly got in first. “Ally, did you mean it when you said you would like to try again; going to dinner, I mean?”

I wasn’t 100% certain but I thought for a brief second there that I had seen a flash of terror cross over her face. It wasn’t there now so I couldn’t swear to it but I did note that the sparkle that had been there moments before was now well and truly gone. “Sure, I meant it” she replied, her face not matching the conviction her statement made.

I might not be the smartest of men when it came to picking up on women’s signals but even I could sense that if I pushed the issue now, it would only make things worse. I wanted to see her again, of that I was beyond certain but I wasn’t going to jeopardize my chances by coming on strong. Clearly whatever had happened while I was gone had spooked her good and proper.

“Great. Do you mind if I call on you again? It might not be before another week or so as I really need to start getting my affairs into order, for when I leave for LA but once that’s sorted I should be free for a meal.”

“Sounds good, although can I suggest that perhaps this time, we go somewhere that has no mobile coverage or overzealous fans?”

I laughed. She had joked of course but I sensed that she had also meant it and I couldn’t fault her for that. “Consider it done.”

Once more she made a move to walk up the stairs to the door of the building so I took that as my cue to leave. I wanted to lean over and kiss her cheek, as she had done for me on our date but I wasn’t actually stupid enough to try it. I had made more progress than I hoped for and I wasn’t going to ruin it all in a moment of madness.

Instead we each said goodbye and then she was inside the lobby and on her way to the lifts. I made a move to head for my car, only to actually groan out loud as my body had started to stiffen nicely now that my temperature was down and I hadn’t moved in five minutes. I really was going to be sore later but I didn’t care. I had my second chance – life was great.

~*~*~


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"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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