Chapter 1

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 people 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 ordinary folk who are not famous and 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 gawping 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’m trapped in a world I haven’t the courage to leave. It seems everyone wants to be rich like me so no-one will understand why I’m complaining. 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, showing off how loaded they are.

I hate my new step-mother, simpering blond Tracey bimbo. She 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.

I wondered if I’d made the right decision staying living with Dad.  I still loved Mum and missed her terribly but I really couldn’t get on with Derek, her new partner.  He was so critical of me.  And I didn’t want to move away from my home.  I was 17 when my parents divorced and I imagined I would be moving out to my own place before too long so I didn’t want the wrench of leaving home.  At least Tracey has make an effort to be nice to me and she never criticises me either.

To the left and to the right of us are even grander yachts, making ours 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 flickering TV screens, no-one in sight.

 

I did make some friends at my comprehensive school but never really had proper close friends, friends who would understand me, as none of them were wealthy like me.  They were jealous, I suppose.  They’d come over to my house for my birthday parties and that was good 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, but I’ve had the same problem with them.  They liked me for the glamour of going with a local wealthy celebrity.  I’ve been a bit loose with men really. I didn’t really fancy any of them and yet I let them have their way with me.  I was seeking attention, I suppose.   I haven’t really enjoyed the sex bit and feel ashamed that I’ve been such a pushover.  My friend, Sarah, told me how wonderful making love was, telling me she and her boyfriend 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 and the glamour, not in me per se.

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 lads 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 rum and 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 a bit of a thug.

“I’m Sophie.”

“I’m Carl and this dickhead’s Wayne,” said the thuggy-looking one.

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

“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 knowingly.

“Are you still together?” I ask Carl.

“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.”

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 said 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 we both 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 more 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 me 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 too. 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 were a bit sudden like but wow you really turned me on.  You’re hot.”

“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.

  • * *. *. * *. * * * * * *. *. *. *. *. *. *. *. * * * *. *. * *. * * * * * *. *. *. *. *. *. *. *. *

A new day. I was still undecided whether to make my date. The quay was less busy now, mainly crew carrying supplies to their owners’ yachts. I waited until almost lunchtime before I went ashore and then walked on the other side of the road from Paolo’s Bar, checking out who was there.  There were only two elderly couples sitting at 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.

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.   She went green and managed to throw up four times.  We had to refuel when we arrived at Ibiza town marina and it took us a while to berth so it was getting late by the time we were able to go ashore.  Tracey recovered straight away.

Ibiza town is situated across the harbour from the marina so the berth was much quieter than the one in Mallorca.  Griff took us across to the town in our tender.  The view as we whizzed across the bay was amazing.  The town is perched on a hill leading up to a castle and the lights from it were reflected in the water.  We were dropped off seemingly right in the centre. The place was buzzing  with narrow streets lined by lovely boutiquey-type shops and rows of tables of bars and restaurants and thronged with the most way-out 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 briefly I wondered what might have happened if I had met up with Wayne that morning 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 booked.

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 he wasn’t the one. I was on the verge of dumping him but I didn’t know if he’d make a scene so I had to choose the right moment. I’d almost decided that there was no future in the relationship before the holiday but the snog with Wayne was the clincher. I needed a bit of excitement from a man.

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 home.  At least I’d have a few days before I was expected back at work.  

I wasn’t looking forward to coming home.  I work for Dad in his retail pet business. Dad is essentially a bully and had insisted that I should do this.  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 some time 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. He imagined, I suppose, that eventually I’d be one of the Directors. So far I’d just been in 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.   I was expected to go into the stores for the next stage and I wasn’t looking forward to this.

The other 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. 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.  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. I was an impostor in their world.

We arrived home mid afternoon— I still live with my Dad I’m ashamed to admit.  I thanked Rob but didn’t invite him in saying I needed to recover from the journey. 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 but 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 so I offered to drive.

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 that helped. 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 had considered ending the relationship then and there but decided not to say anything until we were on the way home and that I would try to enjoy the occasion and be as pleasant to Rob 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 to somewhere less exposed. 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 could be possessive and became jealous easily. I found this stifling.

“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.  He didn’t like my driving.  I parked up outside his flat with no plans to go in.

“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.

After breaking off with Rob I felt lonely and wondered if I’d been stupid.  He was devoted to me – a bird in the hand – and all that.

I was back at work, back to Cannon Pet Supplies – Where Pets Are Family, according to the marketing.  I had been told to go to the Crewe branch and as always felt apprehensive before starting at a new place.   I arrived just after 9 o’clock, feeling guilty as I was 10 minutes late.  The manager, called Tom, was expecting me and showed me round.  It was a big outlet – I think it had previously been a Comet store – and already there were a few customers.  On the mezzanine floor there were live puppies, kittens, guinea pigs and so on. I was particularly drawn to the pet rabbits sitting in their cages, their little noses twitching. I’ve always loved rabbits and when I was little I had one as a pet. Unfortunately it was always escaping and eventually it escaped and never returned.

My current assignment was to be in the goods-in department which was through a door at the back of the store.  This is the place where stock is booked in and priced up.  Tom introduced me to the two lads, Geoff and another Tom, who I would be working with.  The space was quite cramped and there were boxes piled high in all directions.  The warehouse accepts the goods from the suppliers, allocates them into portions for each store and then forwards the unopened boxes. We opened each box and checked the items against the warehouse docket.  Some of them were already barcoded but for those that weren’t we printed out our own barcodes and stuck them on the items. Once the items had been checked and, if necessary bar-coded, they were returned to the boxes they came in and put ready for the store staff to take into the store and place on the shelves. The work was quite interesting, unpacking the boxes and handling the goods and it tied in with my spell in the accounts department.  Dad had said that the work would increase my product knowledge, essential if I was to be any use to the business. The two lads worked hard and were good fun and didn’t suck up to me so I felt comfortable working with them. Geoff was a Pet Shop Boys fan and we had his music blaring out most of the time. He said his choice of music was nothing to do with the fact he worked in the pet industry.

After a couple of hours I took a coffee break. Coffee breaks and lunches could be challenging as I never knew who I’d be sharing the staff room with. The staff room in this store was adjacent to where I’d been working and was more of a passageway to the loo than a room. When I arrived there two girls off the shop floor were also taking their break.  One of them showed me where the stuff was to make a coffee and then she ignored me and carried on taking to the other girl as if I wasn’t there.   I was used to this kind of treatment and let it wash over me.  I used to let it upset me and had told Rob about it and he thought that it wasn’t that they were being deliberately rude just that they didn’t know how to deal with me.  That had made me feel a little better about it.

I met more of the shop store staff over the next few days. Obviously they all knew I was the bosses daughter. Some of them were subservient and sickly sweet and others were aggressive, in a sort of subtle way, putting me down, completely ignoring me or just cutting me out of the conversation. So I didn’t think I’d make much headway with friendships there. Still I was enjoying Tom and Geoff’s company so work wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.

Amazingly one lunchtime, though, I did meet someone. Actually I’d seen him around in the store a few times before I actually met him.  He was tall and gangly with shoulder length hair and was quite sexy.  He was a student working as a shelf stacker and he’d popped in the back where we were working a couple of times just to get stock.  I took a shine to him immediately. It wasn’t just his good looks, it was his confident manner and the matter-of-fact way he went about what he had to do. So I couldn’t believe my luck when we were both on our lunch break at the same time and that the others on their break had gone out. We had three quarters of an hour together in the staff room to get to know one another. His home-made sandwiches looked better than the ones I had picked up from Boots on the way in.

I discovered he’s studying horticulture and is in his final year and his name is Tim. His parents live in North Wales and are into self-sufficiency, whatever that means. He’d been taken on as a temporary staff member to cover staff holidays and was earning as much as he could to pay back money he’d borrowed from his parents for his education. I had to tell him I was the bosses daughter just there to learn about the business from the bottom up.

“Funny,” he said, “I didn’t think you were permanent staff.”

I think he already knew who I was and was just being polite. Anyway we got on so well I was on a high all afternoon and found it difficult to concentrate. I was so distracted, Tom, one of the lads I was working with, wondered if I was feeling all right!

That evening I was feeling positive, pleased I’d had the nerve to finish with Rob and buoyed up with meeting a man I actually liked. So I rang up one of my girl friends from school days, Sarah, and told her I was footloose and fancy free. Although she was surprised to hear from me after such a long time she was obviously pleased and suggested we meet up that same evening. She wanted to see a play at the New Vic and suggested I join her and that we have a meal there before the performance. Sarah had been one of my school friends that I hadn’t kept up with because she had a man and wasn’t interested in much else. It turned out that her long term relationship with that man, Clive, a chap we’d both met years ago at a Tennis Club Dinner, had finally broken down just a few days earlier. She didn’t seem that upset about it, in fact rather the opposite. She explained that really she’d known for some time that she didn’t love him but just hadn’t had the courage to do anything about it.

“I am a bit worried about him though,” she said, “he’s a moody bugger and can get very depressed. I hope he doesn’t do anything stupid.”

“I’m sure he’ll Be OK.” I said. “Coincidence or what?, I finished with Rob yesterday, so I’m in the same boat as you. Oh, you probably didn’t know Rob did you? Well he’s in television and we’d been together for about 10 months.”

“OK. So how did he take it?”

“Don’t know, don’t care. He’ll get over it. I don’t think there was ever much between us. He just liked going out with me because I’m rich and my Dad’s famous and I liked the way he fawned over me, always sending me flowers and buying me stuff.  He was hopeless in bed  problems keeping it up.  Sorry too much information; forget I said that.”

“OK forgotten,  So we can start going out clubbing together eh? See who’s out there. Cool eh?”

“Maybe,” I said doubtfully, thinking that I knew the type of men we might have to put up with if we resorted to that line of action.  “Anyway I met someone today and well, early days, but, to tell the truth, I really liked him. So if all goes to plan well who knows.”

I hadn’t really formulated this thought properly and surprised myself by saying this.

“Tell me more.”

“Well he’s tall and slim with long hair, blue eyes and wears sort of hippyish clothes. And we just clicked, somehow. He’s a student working at one of our stores as a vac job.”

“Oh! Doesn’t really sound your type.”

I could see where Sarah was coming from and sensed also that she was disappointed. I think she had hopes for us as pulling partners.

“Anyway,” I said, “I’ll see you at the theatre about half six.”

I enjoyed the New Vic. It was a welcoming place even though the architecture was quite brutal – all brick, rough concrete and glass. The food was good too, almost like home cooking. Sarah hadn’t changed much since school days and treated me like a long lost friend.  We chatted amicably until the three minute call for the theatre performance was announced just giving us time to visit the loo before finding our seats.

The play was really good.  I love the atmosphere of theatre in the round.  Somehow it’s more intimate than conventional theatre.  We sat on the front row and the actors were within touching distance of us so we could see their facial expressions clearly.  Afterwards we went back upstairs to the bar for a drink.  Sarah said she fancied one of the actors and we knew that the cast usually came into the bar after the performance. We were there a while before they did appear and then they came in in dribs and drabs and gathered together in a huddle. It soon became obvious that not only were they not interested in interacting with us but the guy she thought she fancied was gay. He kept touching one of the other male members of cast and his body language made his inclination obvious.  Sarah wasn’t terribly put out though.  It had only been a passing fancy.

It had been a good night out and I was pleased when Sarah suggested we repeat the performance when the next play was on.

“And don’t forget, if you fancy a debauched night out sometime, we could troll the clubs.”

“OK thanks, I’m not sure that’s my scene anymore, but I’ll think about it.”

“Good luck with Tim. I hope he’s all you want him to be.”

“Thanks, bye.”

That night I couldn’t get to sleep for ages. I felt a little guilty about how I’d treated Rob. I knew I’d made the right decision but I just wondered if I’d been a bit brutal, if I could have let him down more gently.  Is there ever a good way to end a relationship?

Then I was worried about Dad. I’d eavesdropped on him talking on the phone and was sure he was arranging a romantic meeting for his scheduled trip to New York next week. He was awful like that, always had to have a secret liaison in his life. It was like an addictive drug. Much as I despised Tracey, my step-mother, I hated the thought of my father cheating on her. He’d cheated on Mum so many times.  Usually short term.  The only serious affair I knew about was the one he’d had with Tracey and I suppose she must know what he’s like and how to deal with it. I worried because I knew how much this cloak and dagger stuff took out of him. He always got wound up and drank more than he should. At times he embarrassed me. Not that he often appeared drunk but his breath smelled of alcohol and people must have put two and two together. Fortunately Cannon Pets Supplies was too important to him so he was never drunk at work.

Then I was thinking of Tim, wondering if I’d imagined the chemistry I’d felt, wondering how to progress the relationship. I knew I could be a bit forward and I didn’t want to show him that side of my character. But he might not think he had a chance with me – a student asking the bosses daughter out.

Eventually I dozed off and next morning was in a deep sleep when the alarm went off.

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