Chapter Nine

SOPHIE

I felt a bit put out when Tim cut our second date short.  He said a good friend of his had phoned with a cry for help and he felt obliged to rescue him.  I was feeling insecure anyway after finding out he shared a house with another very attractive woman so when he left me for a male friend I was upset.  I think he sensed my distress as he straight away invited me to dinner at his place the next night saying he wanted this friend, Gordon, to meet me.  I was pleased to be asked and wondered if he wanted any help with anything or if I should bring anything but he declined my offers. He was very secretive about what he would be cooking, saying he wanted to surprise me. I wondered if it would be a vegetarian dish as I wasn’t sure whether he ate meat. I thought he said his parents were veggies.

Chakka opened the door when I rang the bell. I hadn’t really taken much notice last time I’d seen her as I was so surprised that she was Tim’s housemate, although I did notice how attractive she was. This time I studied her more dispassionately, now I knew she and Tim weren’t an item. She was very black, her black hair was a mass of tint plaits and her teeth, as she smiled, were dazzling white offset by bright red lipstick and blue eyeshadow. She was dressed in a long brightly coloured African kaftan dress with matching head wrap which made my clothes seem very uninspiring in comparison. She welcomed me by kissing me on both cheeks and hugging me.

“Come in. Lovely to see you again. Tim’s still busy in the kitchen.”

“You look great. I love your outfit.  What a wonderful smell. Oh, I’ve brought this,” I said thrusting a gift bag containing a bottle of ice cold champagne I’d pinched from the fridge at home.

Chakka took it from me and pulled the bottle out deftly.  “Ooo lovely. I don’t think we’ve any champagne glasses but I’ll dig something out. Tim, look what Sophie’s brought.” She disappeared into the back, where I presumed the kitchen was, leaving me standing in the lounge with my coat on feeling bereft. Just then the door bell rang. I went to answer it as neither Tim or Chakka appeared. A tall, swarthy man with a black moustache was standing a bit back from the front step with a bottle of wine in each hand.

“Hi,” I said, “you must be Gordon. Come in.”

“And you must be Laura , Tim’s girlfriend.”

“No I’m Sophie.  I don’t know Laura.”  I was quite put out by this.  Tim lived with an attractive girl and then there was Laura.  Where did I fit into the picture?

Just then Tim appeared in an apron, looking a bit hot and flustered. He came across and kissed me, shaking Gordon’s hand at the same time.

“Sophie, this is Gordon. Gordon this is Sophie. Make yourselves at home. I’ll be with you in a minute. Oh you can put your coats on my bed, at the top of the stairs on the right.”

Gordon then asked me if I minded taking his coat up with mine. I didn’t think too much of it at the time but afterwards I found his request fitted into a pattern. He loved to get everyone else waiting on him. Most men would have offered to take both coats up.

Chakka appeared with four odd wine glasses filled with bubbly and we all sat down, three of us on the low tired sofa and Tim on one of the dining chairs that he turned round away from the table. Gordon immediately made it obvious he fancied Chakka without actually doing anything out of order. I think I have a sixth sense for this kind of situation. 

Tim also must have sensed it.

“Chakka, show Sophie your engagement ring,” he said, making a point to let Gordon aware to back off I suppose. This didn’t, however, have the desired effect and Gordon was more attentive to Chakka than ever.  As he queried her we discovered that she was originally from Malawi but, as her father was a diplomat, had been to Abbots Bromley school in England since she was 13. She then studied social science at South Cheshire College, doing her work experience with Cheshire County Council and they were so impressed they offered her a full time job when she qualified. Gordon then went on to question her about her work, her fiancé, her fiancé’s house, her plans for the future. Tim and I exchanged glances as we were sitting there like a couple of lemons.  To change the dynamic he suggested we sit at the table as food was ready.  He produced a large casserole of chicken thighs and vegetables. There were two thighs each, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots and I think peppers and onions.  As  I was trying to learn about cooking as I felt totally inadequate in that area I asked him what the spice was – cumin he said.

Gordon opened one of his bottles of red wine and we used the same glasses from before.  Gordon seemed to be drinking quickly but I could have been wrong as I was being careful not to drink too much.  A second bottle of red wine appeared and was consumed almost as quickly as the first, again with Gordon drinking most of it. He became more objectionable as he got drunker. His voice got louder and he continued to dominate the conversation. He was entertaining and quite funny but because it was like he was showing off I just wanted him to shut up and give someone else a turn. Also I could see that Chakka was not enjoying the attention she was getting.  

“I hear you a fan of the Royal Family,” he said quite aggressively.

“I suppose so,” said Chakka.

“They’re not all as nice as they seem, you know,” he continued, “How do you think Princess Diana died?”  He didn’t wait for an answer.  “I bet you think it was an accident, don’t you.  It was planned.  Diana was an embarrassment to the rest of the family and her affair with a foreigner was the final straw.  Somebody drugged the chauffeur and the rest is history.”

“I don’t believe that story,” said Chakka, “and I think it’s quite offensive to repeat it.  We don’t murder people in this country when they are a nuisance.”

“Oh yes we do,” said Gordon, “Do you really think Dr David Kelly committed suicide?  He was the expert in the Iraq weapons of mass destruction who was not towing the Government line, in case you’ve forgotten.”

No one said anything for a while and then eventually Tim said something – told Gordon he was drunk and that he was out of order. Gordon seemed to take it on board. I was impressed he didn’t take offence but his behaviour didn’t really change for long.   I couldn’t believe anyone would say such things and was quite shocked.

Chakka had done a pudding she called ‘lemon surprise’, a chocolate mousse under lemon cream and a strawberry on top.  The chocolate was the surprise.  As soon as we’d finished that Chakka excused herself, saying she had work that had to be done before the morning. Once she’d gone I decided to go myself. I didn’t fancy staying as a threesome with Gordon behaving like that.  So I made an excuse and left even though it was only 10 o’clock. Tim came out to see me off and apologised for Gordon’s behaviour.  I was quite angry and upset as this was the second time this week that I’d left early due to Tim’s supposed friend Gordon.

Tim phoned me next evening and said that he’d sat listening to Gordon until the early hours, feeding him yet more booze.  At about 01:00 he went off for a pee and when he came back downstairs from the bathroom, Gordon was fast asleep, with his head back, his mouth open, snoring loudly. So he went off to bed and when he came down in the morning Gordon had gone.

I was curious about the friendship as somehow I didn’t see why he would choose Gordon as a friend. Apparently they had met on a children’s adventure holiday when they were both 12 and they’d immediately clicked.  Gordon has a sharp mind and keen wit and Tim had liked the fact that he was completely irreverent.  After that they’d holidayed together, going camping round Wales each summer and hitching round the continent when they were 16.  Gordon was now an accountant and lived in Manchester.

“Drink doesn’t do him any favours. I keep telling him. He’s a lovely guy, it’s just he was spoilt as a boy, his mother thought the sun shone out of his backside, if you’ll excuse the expression, and he can be overbearing at times. He loves to be the centre of attention. He’s very bright and quick witted too and he’s very fond of me and doesn’t take offence when I tell him when he’s gone too far.  We’re both keen sailors and we sometimes go sailing together on one of his friend’s yacht.  At the moment he’s having a hard time. His girlfriend has just thrown him out, having practically bankrupted him and he’s lonely and depressed so I feel I have to support him when I can.”

“Well he was very amusing even if he did rather overdo it. I could see why Chakka left in a hurry though. He was a bit over attentive. I suppose you can excuse it in the circumstances. You don’t always behave as you should when your relationship has cracked up. Talking of which, when did you finish with Laura? That was Gordon’s opening gambit, calling me Laura.”

“Well, Laura and I finished over a year ago as Gordon well knows. I’ve told him about you, probably gone on too much.  I think he called you Laura quite deliberately. He’s like that. Tries to be clever and tries to unsettle people with his comments. Sorry about that.”

“Thanks for phoning.  It’s lovely to hear your voice.  You couldn’t come out tonight could you?  I’ve been a bit unsettled with Gordon cutting our last two dates short.  I’ll pick you up if you like.  I could be there in 10 minutes.  We’ll decide what to do then.”

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A lot has happened in the last two weeks. Tim and I have made love and it was beautiful, amazing, wonderful and I‘m sure he enjoyed it as well, hopefully as much as me. He claimed as much anyway. I’d decided I wanted to spend the night with him, Apparently he wanted the same thing. Great minds and all that! I insisted in showering and cleaning my teeth and he did the same. I let him know that I was on the pill but he insisted in using a condom.

“No need to take any risks,” he said. “We’ve both had lovers in the past three months or so.”

I didn’t argue although I did think he was being extra cautious.

Afterwards we cuddled and chatted intimately for ages enveloped in that wonderful after sex glow. I don’t know why but I confessed that I’d been a bit promiscuous in the past and hadn’t always enjoyed sex or felt good afterwards. I claimed it was because I wanted to be recognised for something other than being my father’s daughter or my wealth. He didn’t get jealous or upset that I wasn’t completely innocent. Rob had always been a pain about that. In turn Tim confessed that he’d been very nervous and when he explained why I could see he had good reason to be.  He had problems with a bleeding dick last time he made love and I can understand why he was a bit uptight.

Fortunately we didn’t have any upsets like that but of course he was wearing a condom. When we make love without, and I hope that’s soon, we’ll both be a bit on edge I imagine but we’ll tackle the problem as a couple.

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