Chapter One

SOPHIE

Poor little rich girl. That’s me.

I have everything I want yet I have nothing I really want – like:

Number one:
love from my parents who are too busy making money and impressing other rich and famous to notice me.

Number two:
friends who like me for myself not because I’m rich.

I’ve met Richard Branson, I’ve met Elton John, I’ve even met Prince Harry but I want to meet someone who’s not famous and is not impressed by fame or riches.

I’m sitting on the huge deck of my father’s super yacht in Portal Nous Marina in Mallorca, the envy of all the onlookers gaping at me, so, so lonely. If only you knew I wanted to shout to them. If only I could change places with you.

I want to be of use, to have some purpose. Yet I haven’t the courage to leave my world. It seems everyone wants to be rich like me so maybe their lives are even emptier than mine.

“Can I get you anything Miss Sophie?” asks Griff, one of the crew that are there to see I and my father and step-mother want for nothing. I just shake my head instead of just saying what I really feel – a new life. My father and step-mother have gone off with two of their so called friends to some fancy restaurant with lots of Michelin stars.

I hate my new step-mother, simpering blond Tracey bimbo. Spends all her time tarting herself up, pampering herself, bossing all the staff round and crawling up to my Dad. Mind you she gets what she deserves, he treats her just like he treats everyone else. They say its because he’s so single-minded that he’s so successful. And it’s amazing how much power wealth gives, how many doors are opened, tickets to the Cup Final, men’s final at Wimbledon, dinners with MP’s, just to name a few that spring to mind.

To the left and to the right are even grander yachts, making our look small. I thought we were rich but here we don’t really rate. Both sets of owners have abandoned their craft, probably going to the same place as Dad so all I can see in their vast saloons are large TV screens flickering.

I did make some friends at my comprehensive school but never really had close friends as none of them were wealthy like me. They’d come over to my house for my birthday parties but I rarely got invited back. I suppose they thought their houses were too humble for me. I’ve had boy friends, quite a number actually, and I’ve been a bit loose with them really. I didn’t really fancy any of them and yet I let them have their way with me. I haven’t really enjoyed the sex bit and feel ashamed that I’ve been such a pushover. I was seeking attention, I suppose. My friend, Sarah, told me how wonderful making love was, telling me she and her boyfriend of the time had managed to keep playing with each other all night, achieving orgasm after orgasm, often together. My experiences weren’t like that. And I didn’t feel the boys were interested in anything aside from the sex but the glamour.

My self-pitying reverie was interrupted by a couple of tattooed lads calling me from the quay.

“Hyia darling on your own are ya?”

I ignored this.

“Come on love give us a break. A sexy lady like you shouldn’t be on her own.”

“We won’t hurt you, honest.”

I get up to go inside, to get away from these two but inexplicably change my mind and instead go towards the rail.

“Eh, you’re a bit of all right ain’t yer?”

Do I ignore them, go inside or invite them aboard?

“Would you like a beer?”
Am I mad?

“You bloody bet we would.”

“Leave your shoes on the quay and come aboard” I say as I push the switch to lower the passerelle. I then press the intercom button and order two beers for them and a coke for me. As they come on board I welcome them and shake each of their hands. They’re both young like me and one of them is quite good looking although his ultra modern hair style and tattoos make him look cheap. The other one looks like a bit of a thug, which concerned me.

“I’m Sophie.”

“I’m Carl and this dickhead’s Wayne.”

“Hi Sophie, Wayne. Is this your yacht? You must be loaded.”

“It’s my fathers, not mine.” Why do I have to sound so stuck up?

“Does ‘e own it like?”

“Yes.”

“Wow, I’ve never met anyone so bloody rich before. Av you Wayne?”

“Our cousin, Kevin’s gorra garage, init?”

“Yeah, that don’t hardly count, shitface.”

“Watch it, lady’s ‘ere.”

“Oh yeah, sorry luv.”

“What’s that one say?” I say pointing to a tattoo on Carl’s arm.

“Chelsea till death do us part” says Wayne smugly.

“Are you still together?” I ask.

“No the fucking tarts shacked up wiv me big cunt of a brother.”

“Language.”

“Sorry luv.”

“So who’s current?”

“No one, vats why we’re ere. What about you? Bet there’s loads after you, wiv you being rich ‘n that.”

“And nice to look at, lovely hair” chipped in Wayne.

“Thank you Wayne, it’s nice to get a compliment about me.”

Just then Griff arrives with a drinks tray and stiffly places them on the table, his distaste of my companions obvious.

“Fanks mate”.

“Thanks, Griff, could we have a bowl of crisps and some cashews to go with these drinks.” I had to get him back for that look.

“Spect you can ‘ave anything you want, eh?” Says Carl, “bet you’ve a flash motor, no?”

“I’ve a Audi TT, so not that special.”

“Better than my old Fiat and much better than his old Escort” says Carl, the thuggy one, who seems to want to put Wayne down.

“It’s a great old car mine. I don’t care if its old and tatty it gets me about without costing me.”

I was warming to the modesty of Wayne and hating the brashness of Carl.
“So are you two friends who’ve come on holiday together?”

“Yeah, we’re workmates and live in the same town. We come out yesterday for a week. Last night we got real skinned and we aven’t been up that long. Missed the ole frigging day sleepin’ it off. So tonight just one beer.”

“You’re bloody joking. I’m going for it every fucking day of the ‘oliday.” Carl was beginning to depress me. If getting smashed every night was the height of his ambitions I didn’t think he could have much imagination.

Griff appeared with two rather meagre bowls of snacks, touché. “Thanks Griff that’ll be all.”

“Goodnight, madam.”

“Oy, Carl you’ve fucking dropped on ‘aven’t you?” Came from the quay. “You coming wiv us or what?”

There were several loutish looking young men on the quay. I was glad I’d taken the precaution of raising the passerelle so they couldn’t come aboard.

“Nice beer, fanks. I’m off to join my mates now if you’ll let me off. Finish your beer Wayne.”

“You don’t have to rush if you don’t want to. I’m not going anywhere and ..” And what I wondered.

“I fink I’d better go. I need to look after Carl, he’s not hisself when he’s had too many. He could easily get into trouble.”

“Cummon Carl we ain’t wasting any more fucking drinking time,” came up from the quay.

“I don’t need looking after you cheeky sod, anyway I’ll be wiv that lot,” said Carl.

“I think they’re trouble. I don’t want to go wiv them,” replied Wayne.

“Ok suit your bloody self, see ya. Eh, what’s yer name let me off this fucking gin palace will yer. An fanks for the beer.”

As soon as the passerelle touched the quay he was off and there we were just the two of us, both at loss of what to say to each other and both wondering whether being together was what we wanted. It was unplanned and unexpected. I wasn’t sure when my parents were due back and what they would think or say if Wayne was still with me. Then suddenly an urge came over me and I gave him a long hard kiss which he returned enthusiastically. Before I knew it his hands were inside my bra. Just as suddenly I broke off and pushed him away.

“I’m sorry I don’t know what came over me. I’m not a pushover and I don’t do sex till I know someone properly.”

“Yeah it was a bit sudden like but wow you really turned me on.”

“I suppose I found it difficult to talk and somehow I wanted to make contact. I mean we’re worlds apart I mean socially, you know, I don’t mean to be rude. We just are. It’s obvious isn’t it? But I’m a female and you’re an attractive male so we have that in common.”

“It was ace, I’m really glad you snogged me and wow what a body!”

“Listen you’d better go now. My parents might come back anytime and now wouldn’t be the right time to meet them.”

“OK I’ll go then. I suppose I ain’t good enough.”

“No it’s not that. My Dad tends to drink too much and I just couldn’t face a scene. We could meet up tomorrow if you like. Somewhere a bit more neutral.”

“That’d be cool. Where?”

“How about coffee at Paolo’s Bar just over there on the promenade. Do you know where I mean?”

“OK I’ll find it. What time?”

“11 OK with you?”

“Yeah. Can I have anover snog?” And he was on me again but I kept his hands off me this time.

When Wayne had gone I went for a stroll along the quay in the other direction. Yachts, even more voluptuous than ours showed themselves off. Huge decks with fancy dining furniture, lit up with various coloured lights, fancy staterooms with white leather furniture, giant satellite discs on the quay. Whilst impressive it all looked sterile to me. To impress not to enjoy. I knew how competitive it all was.

When I made it back aboard I could hear Dad and his simpering blonde tart, Tracey, in their cabin. He was obviously drunk, loud and overbearing, she simpering “what would you like dearest Pooch”. I don’t know where that dreadful nickname came from but it made me nauseous, as did what I thought I heard him ask her to do for him. I closed my cabin door and switched on the aircon, drowning out any noises from their cabin and went to bed.
So would I make my arrangement tomorrow, I mused? That kiss was amazing. That was the upside, the draw. The downside was, well we are obviously so different. Sleep on it and decide in the morning.
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A new day. I was still undecided whether to make my date. The quay was less busy now, mainly crew carrying supplies to their yachts. I waited until almost lunchtime before I went ashore and walked on the other side of the road from Paolo’s Bar, checking out who was there. There were only a couple of elderly couples sitting at two tables outside and no one inside. So Wayne wasn’t there. Why would he be? I was an hour and a half late. Did I want to meet him? Was this another missed opportunity? I should have had the courage, shouldn’t I? I regretted my cowardliness but knew it was probably for the best. Although I mused what had I got to lose? Wayne was much more of a turn-on than Rob, my current boyfriend.

On the next day Dad decided to take the boat across to Ibiza which was quite an adventure as we were out of sight of land in both directions for a while. The sea was like a mirror when we started off and we saw some dolphins on the way which was really cool. The wind got up later and it became very choppy. I was fine – I’m quite a good sailor – but Tracey was terribly seasick. It took us a while to berth and we had to refuel first so it was getting late by the time we were able to go ashore. Ibiza town is situated across the harbour from the marina so the berth was much quieter than the one in Mallorca. We were taken across to the town in our tender. The view was amazing – the lights reflected in the water. The town is perched on a hill leading up to a castle and it’s exciting with narrow streets lined with lovely boutiquey type shops or the outside tables of bars and restaurants and thronged with the most wayout people, noisy, brash transvestites, scantily clad women; I even saw a few girls wearing only a g-string and high heels, and of course tourists. The three of us had dinner at an outside table, hardly talking, just drinking in the atmosphere, people watching. Although I wondered briefly what might have happened if I had met up with Wayne again the incident was consigned to be just another memory.

Next morning I decided I’d had enough of Dad and Tracy so I took a taxi to the airport and flew back to Manchester leaving them to take boat back to Mallorca. They had another week’s holiday.

I’d sent a text to Rob, my boyfriend, and there he was waiting for me at the airport. It was really sweet of him to come to meet me but I did feel guilty as I’d already decided to dump him. I didn’t know if he’d make a scene so I had to choose the right moment. I’d almost decided before the holiday but the snog with Wayne was the clincher. I needed a bit of excitement in a relationship.

As I came out of the baggage area I could see him waiting for me in a ridiculous blue suit. He did look a prat. What had I ever seen in him? Rob was plain boring, too subservient, too impressed by my flashy car, my dad, our mansion and anyway he had awful dress sense and was embarrassing to be seen with in public. Never-the-less he was reliable, did spoil me and, to give him his due, was quite good looking aside from his clothes.

I gave him a hug and a quick kiss. Luckily he didn’t like displays of affection in public. He took my luggage off me and walked me to his car. We didn’t talk much on the way home. Rob didn’t like to talk and drive at the same time. He was a cautious driver and I wanted to take over as I was impatient to get home but I said nothing. Anyway I was preoccupied with coming home thoughts. These had been on the back burner whilst I was away but they came flooding back on the journey. At least I’d have a few days before I was expected back at work.

Dumping Rob wasn’t the only one reason I wasn’t looking forward to coming home. The other was work – I work for Dad in his retail pet business. Dad was essentially a bully and had insisted. Since I hadn’t really any idea of what I would do if I had the choice I didn’t put up much of a fight and the job paid well and gave me a company car.

Dad told me that I must spend a month in each department of the business so that I’d know every aspect of it before I started the job he had in mind for me, whatever that was. So far I’d just done the office, checking the invoices against the delivery notes and booking out goods to the stores, sitting in with the buyers when reps showed their wares, that sort of thing.

The permanent staff all knew I was the bosses daughter and treated me accordingly. No way could I have a normal relationship with any of them. They were too obsequious. I knew if I found it difficult working with office staff having day to day contact with ‘the shop floor workers’ was going to be even more challenging. I couldn’t be part of their world. I was being paid probably ten times what they earned and really I was just an assistant at best. This was their life, what they did every day, what they were likely to be doing for the foreseeable future. It was different for Dad, he knew he was boss and they were his employees. He’d interviewed and set many of them on. He could have an honest relationship with them and I admired the way he treated them. He knew the names and odd bits of personal information about each and every one of them, unless they were new, and with ten outlets that was a lot of employees. He saw that as an important part of his job.

When we arrived home – I still lived with my Dad I’m ashamed to admit – I thanked Rob but didn’t invite him in. I said I needed to recover from the journey. He said he had booked a table at The Yellow Broom, an expensive restaurant about 30 minutes drive away as he knew I was going to be on my own. That was typical of his thoughtfulness. I offered to drive and he eagerly accepted. I wanted control of the evening and to get the split over as soon as possible so I didn’t have it hanging over me.

I picked him up from his flat in Congleton around 7. He still had his awful suit on but he had changed his tie and I didn’t think it went. I had the radio on and pretended to be involved in the programme so I didn’t have to talk. I was feeling tired and apprehensive about the evening. I’d decided not to say anything until we were on the way home and that I would try to enjoy the evening and be as pleasant as possible.

We were shown to a table for 2 right in the centre of the room which made me feel very uncomfortable. Apparently they were very busy and we were lucky to have got in at all. That didn’t stop me asking the maitre di if we couldn’t move. No joy.

Rob started to talk once we’d ordered our pre-dinner drinks. Before that he’d seemed out of sorts, nervous even, and I was wondering if he’d sensed something in my mood.

“I’ve missed you loads” he said, “Did you have a nice time?”

“Yes thanks, it was fine, considering SHE was there.”

“Oh, you still not getting on?”

“She’s just so …uhg.” I couldn’t think of what she was so … Actually in reality I didn’t dislike her. She was a gold-digger, that was obvious but she did care for Dad. She was very good to him.

“Did you miss me?”

“Of course,” I said, like a hole in the head I thought.

“Did you meet anyone?” Rob was very possessive and became jealous very easily. He stifled me.

“Not really, although a couple of lads came aboard one night for a beer.” White lie, I thought – it’s not my fault he’s jealous.

“Were they nice?”

“One of them was alright but the other was a complete wally. I only saw them once.”

“I missed you.”

Just then the waiter appeared and invited us to order. I really found this difficult as my mind was on how to dump Rob with the least pain to both of us and I didn’t want to ruin the meal. I was a bit naughty as I deliberately chose expensively from the menu and I did rib him a bit without making it obvious that I was taking the piss. The meal was excellent even though I had to restrict my drinking to one glass of wine. I was so determined to enjoy it I ate slowly and savoured the flavour of each mouthful.

I drove very fast on the way back and I could see Rob was quietly terrified. Then when we were nearly home I slowed down.

“Rob,” I said tentatively, “that was a lovely meal, thank you. And thank you for picking me up today.” I was feeling guilty so I forced £50 on him for my share of the meal. I knew I could afford it more than him. But I bottled out and said nothing more. I was going to be home alone for a week and I suppose I thought he was better than nothing.

So my resolve to finish with him had deserted me and it was, in fact, several months before I actually plucked up the courage. I’m not sure why then particularly. It was on the spur of the moment. Funnily enough that was after a meal out as well. I was driving and I just came out with it as we neared his flat.

“Listen,” I said, “I’m sorry but it isn’t working for me.”

“What isn’t?”

“Us, you know, me and you.”

“Why, what’s wrong? I thought we’d been getting on really well I know I’m not the greatest lover but I’m going for treatment and I’ve been told it’s only a matter of time.”

Well that was a gift, an easy way out. Thank you Rob, I thought.

“Well Rob that is only part of what’s wrong, but I’m sorry it is an important issue. Actually I think the reason you’re having problems is because deep down in your psyche you know we’re not right for each other. If you really fancied me – well we’d be at it all the time.”

We were back in Congleton by then and I felt you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. When we’d reached our destination I kept the engine running as I didn’t want to give Rob the chance to drag this out. In spite of my obvious, I hoped, impatience he did put his hand on my knee and made a vain attempt to try to kiss me which I shrugged off as gently as I could although I could feel my levels of irritation rising.

“Well,” he said in a weepy voice, “I’m shocked. I thought you loved me. I was thinking of proposing this summer when I’d saved up enough money for a deposit on the kind of ring you deserve.”

“I’m sorry Rob, marriage to you was never on my agenda. I’m sorry if I’ve given you the wrong impression or led you on at all.”

“You got off with that bloke you met on holiday, didn’t you? I bet he gave you what you want.”

I ignored that and he went into a sulk. Fancy remembering that, I thought, I’d forgotten all about it.

All this time the engine was running and I just wanted Rob to go so I went on the offensive.

“I don’t think you really know me, or are that interested. You just like what I represent – money, wealth, glamour. You see yourself hanging on my coat tails, swanning around, boasting to your friends and so on.”

“That’s not true. I love you for you.”

At this point he started to cry which just made me angry. Snivelling, feeling sorry for himself.

“Anyway I’m sorry but it’s off. Thanks for a lovely meal.”

“You can’t just do this to me. I love you. I’ve done everything for you but that’s not enough. I’m not good enough am I? I’ll kill myself if you leave me.”

“You won’t and I’m not impressed that you even said that. I’m sorry it had to end like this. I was hoping you’d have a bit more dignity.
“Can you leave now. I’ve work tomorrow.”

He didn’t move so I got out of the car, walked round, opened the passenger door, grabbed his arm and pulled him out. He was still blubbing like a baby. I couldn’t believe it. What a prat! I suppose I should have felt remorse, felt sorry for him, but I just felt revulsion. He stumbled towards his front gate as I drove off.

I was still angry when I got home but once I’d got ready for bed my mood changed and without any warning I was crying like a baby. What for I didn’t know. I knew I’d been brutal at the end but what choice did I have? Was there a less cruel way of ending a relationship? Fortunately I fell asleep easily.

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