Authors: Victoria Browne
Tags: #Romance, #Erotic, #Fiction, #Holiday, #Chic Lit, #Humor
Instead Dave had clearly planned down to the last detail. The food was divine; he had cooked lots of small Thai dishes that were light and easy to eat, which pleased Ash as she couldn’t have fitted much in wearing her little black dress. After dinner they sat at the table talking and drinking until late.
After a while Ash felt a little tipsy so they left the table to curl up on the sofa together talking. She chatted away nervously for a while—she wanted to tell Dave about the holiday but couldn’t bring herself to do it, and the night was going so well she couldn’t risk ruining it. Finally they fell into silence. She could feel the tension deepen and she longed for him to kiss her. A few times he moved closer but never made the move. It was getting late and she so hoped he would kiss her before his brother came home.
As if he had read her mind, Dave lifted her chin with his hand, looking at her for a second. Ash could feel butterflies in her stomach. Staring back at him she felt her heart pound with anticipation. Moving his hand around the side of her face, he pulled her into him, kissing her slightly harder than he had done before and pulling her close. She found herself entwined with his body, she felt the warm air on her back as he undid the zip of her dress. His hands moved over her shoulder blades, down to the base of her spine; she arched her back, yearning for him, then fumbled with his buttons trying to undo his shirt. Dave slowly eased himself inside her, gently moving in time with her rhythm, and then quickened his pace. He tried to make love to her for as long as possible but the excitement was too much for both of them and before they knew it they were having fast, heated sex, grinding hard against each other, wanting more until finally Ash climaxed with a sharp gasp followed by Dave, moments after Ash’s last groan of pleasure.
Dave lay holding Ash close against his naked chest. If only this night would never end, she thought. Her body still trembling, Ash felt as if she had just got off a fairground ride and needed time to regain her emotions. If only she could freeze this moment forever and just remain in his arms. She knew he would let her stay the night if she wanted, but she preferred to wake up in her own bed, and was conscious that Peter would be there in the morning. The embarrassment would be way too much for her at this early stage in the relationship.
Later that night Dave called a cab for her. He told the cab office that he would be taking the cab with the lady and then returning. Ash protested that she would be fine on her own but he insisted on taking her home. Ash was blown away. He was going to get in a cab with her all the way to the other side of the river just to make sure she got home safe. How romantic, she thought.
* * *
The following day Dave came over to Ash’s flat. She was pleased as most men would have ignored her after a romantic night, trying to play things cool. They sat out on the balcony drinking coffee. She loved the way they got on so well, the fact that they could talk for hours about nothing, just as she did with her friends. His presence, like his deep voice, was powerful yet gentle and caring.
‘Thank you for last night,’ she said after a while.
‘You’re welcome it was amazing, and I’m not just saying that. You really are amazing in every way.’
She blushed and turned her head away, changing the subject. She asked Dave about his brother and his childhood in Cornwall and listened as Dave joked about the pranks Peter would play on him and the trouble they would get into at school. Ash suddenly realised how alike both their upbringings had been, even though she had gone to private school and he to a state school. But the bond Dave shared with Peter was much the same as hers with Kelly as was the closeness with his family. Ash admired Dave’s parents for staying friends after the divorce and not scaring their children with their own burdens.
A small clonk made a noise like a pebble falling on the floor.
‘Damn it.’ Dave bent down to pick something up.
Ash looked down to see a cufflink.
‘You had those on the first night we went out for dinner,’ she noted.
‘Yeah, I was given them by an old mate of mine that died.’
Ash took his arm to look at the detail. ‘Beautiful,’ she said, looking up at him. ‘How did he die, if you don’t mind me asking?’
‘Car crash. He was only twenty-four.’
‘How long ago?’
‘Two years. He gave them to me for my twenty-first birthday. His name was Ben Rodgers. Me and Pete had known him since we were five. He worked for us for a while and was even thinking of becoming a partner in the business. Still, just goes to show you never know what’s around the corner. This one keeps coming loose though—it keeps slipping out.’ He fastened it back on to his shirt.
They carried on talking for a while about his friend and old childhood stories, yet all the time in the back of Ash’s mind she knew she needed to tell Dave about Ibiza. But after last night, and now with the heart to heart about his friend, she was becoming increasingly nervous.
‘Dave…’ Ash hesitated. ‘I’ve got to tell you something.’
Dave looked at her and nodded.
She paused, taking a deep breath. ‘You see the thing is…’
‘Are you OK, Ash?’ Dave looked apprehensively at Ash.
‘The thing is…’ She stopped then blurted it out. ‘I’m due to go to Ibiza in three weeks’ time.’
‘OK. You say that like it’s a naughty thing.’ Dave’s eyes widened. ‘Don’t tell me you’re going with an ex boyfriend?’ He smiled, hoping it wasn’t true.
‘Oh no… no, me and Rachel, my best friend.’
‘Nice… Well, no chasing other men out there I know how you girls get in the sun with half-naked men up for grabs,’ he replied, relieved, then stood up looking at his watch. ‘Anyway, I’ve gotta run, Ash. I’ve got a meeting with a client, hence the suit. Hoping to land myself a hotel contract if he likes us. Thanks for the coffee—I’ll call you later… I meant what I said. You’re amazing Ash.’ He bent to kiss her on the lips before leaving, sending shivers down her spine again.
Ash beamed with delight once Dave had gone. He had taken the holiday so well. There was no bad feeling, he hadn’t questioned why she hadn’t invited him nor did he sulk. It was nice that he was so cool about it all and that he could joke about half-naked men. Suddenly she panicked. What if it wasn’t a joke, what if he meant the comment about half-naked men and was covering his emotions? After all, he did leave immediately after.
Ash slumped on to the sofa. She was just going to have to put it out of her mind. What will be, will be, she told herself.
* * *
The next day at 8.30 pm Dave heard the door open then two voices. One was Peter’s, the other a female voice. He got up from the sofa to meet them.
‘This is the living room,’ Peter said to the girl. ‘This is Dave, my brother. Ignore him—he just lives here.’
‘Hi ya,’ said a smiley girl with long dark wavy hair and green eyes.
‘Hi,’ Dave stood there for a second before it clicked. She was looking at the flat to rent the third room. He smiled and awkwardly offering a hand for her to shake.
Peter continued to show her round the rest of the flat before escorting her out.
‘So what do you think?’
‘I thought a girl flatmate was a joke, Pete.’
‘It kinda was, then she rung up today so I made an executive decision to let her view the place, brov, don’t be so uptight. She’s hot… and get this she likes football and she knows how to cook a curry.’
Dave shook his head. ‘Come on, Dave, she’s perfect. She wants the room—’
‘You’ve already said yes, haven’t you?’
‘Em… well… yeah. But I did say I would clear it with you first.’
Dave rolled his eyes. It might not be such a bad thing, he thought. Does it really matter what sex they are—after all, a flatmate is a flatmate—as long as they pay the rent on time, why should it be a problem. He thought about it for a moment and also briefly reflected on Ash’s take on a female flatmate, and a hot one at that. He paced the room thinking. He trusted her enough about her going on holiday so she would just have to trust him enough if he were to live with a female flatmate, not to mention the fact that they hardly knew each other. Dave had never had such conflicting thoughts before, not over a woman. He wondered how Ash had got under his skin so quickly—not that he minded.
‘Tell her we’ll draw up a contract for a three-month trial first,’ he said, walking into the kitchen.
‘I’ll have a coffee if you’re making one. You have to admit Dave she has a nice arse, perfectly formed breasts—’ Peter rubbed his groin in jest, making Dave laugh in disbelief.
‘She isn’t bad, bruv—not as hot as Ash though.’
‘Yeah, Ash looked very hot from what I saw. Fancy sharing her?’ said Peter, picking up his coffee.
‘Not this one. I really like her. You just stick to your new conquest, mate.’ Dave glared at Peter then smiled, turning back to his coffee. ‘So what’s her name? . . . tell me you know her name.’
‘What do you take me for?’
‘Do you want me to answer that?’
‘Na, no need to answer that one, brov. Isabella, she’s Latino.’
‘I noticed. Just don’t screw this one—she’s going to be living with us.’
ust as Ash sat herself down at the table to eat dinner, the phone rang. Picking it up, she heard a very upset voice at the other end. It took Ash a moment to make sense of who it was.
‘In your own time, Rach. Slow down,’ Ash spoke softly.
Rachel was in floods of tears and spluttered out that her grandmother had died, instantly stunning Ash as she listened.
Rachel had lived with her grandparents since the age of six after her mother and father had been killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of Scotland. She was extremely close to her grandparents. Her grandmother had been battling against cancer successfully for so long but everybody had known that it was only a matter of time before the cancer would take a firm hold upon her frail body and it had become increasingly hard for her to fight it. Mary was a lovely lady and Ash was very fond of her.
Ash still remembered the day when Rachel found out her parents had been killed, and how her grandmother was a tower of strength for them. The weekend that they died Rachel and Ash had both stayed over at her grandparents’ house in the Wiltshire countryside near Salisbury where Rachel and Ash both lived while Rachel’s mother and father went to visit friends in Scotland. Rachel’s father loved flying; it was too expensive for them to buy a helicopter but they flew his friend’s helicopter whenever they visited. Rachel’s parents hadn’t been up to see their friends in Scotland since her mother had become pregnant with Rachel; her father would plead with her mother but Rachel’s mother couldn’t bring herself to leave her only child while she was so young.
‘When she’s older,’ she would promise.
When Rachel was approaching seven, she decided the time was right and Rachel wouldn’t mind so much if they left her for a weekend—they didn’t know that they would never return.
Ash still vividly remembered that dreadful day. It was midday Sunday afternoon when Ash, Rachel and her grandparents had returned from church. Ash and Rachel ran laughing into the house, heading upstairs to play with the big old—fashioned doll’s house they both loved. Ash remembered hearing the phone ringing downstairs then what sounded like crying, but being only six and a half she took no notice, only stopping to listen for a split second.
Rachel’s grandmother didn’t tell them until that evening after she had composed herself in order to be strong enough for her only grandchild. As the girls grew up together they both developed a great respect for Grandma Mary, as Rachel only knew her really as a mother. She was a strong, dignified woman—a hero in both Rachel and Ash’s eyes, who would help any soul in need, often putting others’ needs before her own.
The news of her grandmother’s death had hit Rachel hard and she was not coping with her loss quite as strongly as Mary had over the death of Rachel’s mother all those years before. For Rachel, her pillar of strength had been taken from her and she wanted Ash with her for support.
‘Rach, of course I’ll be there. D’you need me to drive you?’
‘No thanks,’ Rachel sniffed. ‘I’m leaving now.’
‘Are you sure you should drive? I can come with you. I’ll just get my things togeth—’
‘No, Ash, really—I want to go on my own. You stay. Come down tomorrow. I’ll be fine. Promise.’
‘OK, if that’s what you want. I’m so sorry, Rach.’
Ash hung up and broke into sobs on the floor.
* * *
Ash woke before her alarm, then packed some things for the journey. She called work, explaining as best she could before breaking down again into sobs over the phone. Eliza understandably told her to take time off and to be with Rachel and her grandfather, reassuring her that she would manage without her.
Late that morning Ash set off for the countryside.
The journey through London was slow. She drummed her fingers on the steering wheel as she sat sandwiched in between two juggernauts. The traffic fumes she was breathing sat heavily around her as she waited in the queue edging forward bit by bit until she finally reached the slip road on to the M4. Putting her foot down she picked up speed and before she knew it, the juggernauts were far behind her as she whizzed down the fast lane. So many thoughts danced around in her head and she switched on the radio to distract herself, but couldn’t drown them out.
Memories of Mary playing with her and Rachel when they were younger made her smile, thoughts flashed in her mind of riding Tarquini, Rachel’s silver horse, and how Mary taught her to ride bareback. Picnics in the fields with family, and how Mary and Robert, Rachel’s grandfather, would get all the young kids in the village to come over to play rounders on the front garden with them. He had so many scout games for them that they never got bored indoors or out.
Ash checked her speedo—90 mph. Trees and fields flew past her. She had given up trying to listen to the radio and moved into the left-hand lane, slowing the car down to 50 mph to let down her roof, then off she went racing back up to 70, 80 then 90 mph where she stayed for most of the way. Thoughts of Dave kept popping into her head; she thought about stopping at the next service station to phone him, but carried on, not wanting to waste any time. Hearing her mobile ring she hoped it would be him but as she glanced over at the name on the screen she saw ‘Lee’ flashing across her phone.