Chapter Twelve

TIM

I dug out my only suit, one I’d had for Teresa and Jock’s wedding, polished my shoes, ironed a shirt and generally spruced myself up for David Cannon’s birthday bash.  I definitely felt overdressed on the public bus on the way to their house.  This was on the outskirts of the village in a wonderful setting by a lake up a tree-lined drive.   The house itself was gross.  It wasn’t too bad from the outside as it was single storey and lots of glass but inside it was nouveau-riche personified.  All the furniture was flash, white leather sofas, white marble-topped coffee and occasional tables with gold trimming, hideous modern art on the walls and all offset with a shaggy PURPLE (yes it shouted) carpet.  One wall was glass overlooking an illuminated swimming pool.

A tall, imposing, overweight man with a champagne glass in one hand answered the door.

“Welcome, young man,” he intoned, thrusting out his right hand, “you must be Tim, my daughter, Sophie’s young man.”

“Thank you and happy birthday,” I said as we shook hands, “we meet at last.”

Sophie then appeared and kissed me on both cheeks.  She was dressed for the occasion in a rich girls outfit.  What I mean by that is a dress that’s designed to impress with its expensiveness rather than to flatter.  I guessed she’d chosen that for her father’s benefit as she hadn’t worn clothes like that for our dates.  The three of us went through into the main room where the other guests were.

“You look nice,” she said to me, pulling me away from her father, “come and meet my brother, Craig.  Sorry dad, I didn’t mean to interrupt.  Oh you need a drink; come and we’ll get you a champagne.”

Craig was not as tall as his father but nevertheless still cut an imposing figure.  He was very welcoming but I didn’t really take to him.  I thought he seemed insincere. His lady friend, Jacqui, though was very good-looking and seemed brighter than Craig.  She was very heavily made up and too flashy for my liking.  I must give them a chance, I thought, I’m too quick at judging people on first appearances and thus, often wrong.  I should be glad that they were friendly.  If I’m going out with Sophie I must get on with her family.

Sophie then took me round and introduced me to her step-mother, Tracey, her aunt and uncle and her cousins.  It was lovely because she was obviously proud of me and wanted to show me off.  There were a few more people there who Sophie said were business associates of her father, his bank manager and his accountant and their wives.

After a couple of glasses of champagne I’d begun to relax.  I’d been quite keyed up before, worried that my long hair would make people judge me badly and that my clothes wouldn’t be good enough but everyone had been very friendly.  I had the feeling that because they could sense how happy Sophie was they automatically accepted me, whatever my appearance.

“The limo is here,” Craig shouted, and we all trouped outside into the twilight.  A blackbird was singing away and I marvelled at the beauty of the setting.  I noticed a tennis court below the house, close to the water’s edge and an extensive reed bed to the left of it.  Sophie and I were first on and sat in the front seats just behind the driver.

The limo journey took about half an hour through the Cheshire countryside.  The destination was an old country house hotel with a large extension at the back.  We were let off just by an imposing front entrance.  We walked through a wood-panelled hallway with a grand staircase leading up to a minstrel gallery into a large room set with tables already occupied with, what Sophie told me later, employees of Cannon Pet Supplies and their wives.  They all stood up as we went in.  We were directed to a table set higher on a sort of stage at one end of the room.  I was told to sit between Sophie and her aunt Susan.

We were served a magnificent meal.  I chose avocado and prawns for a starter and rack of lamb for my main course.  They were both delicious.  David Cannon had a fillet steak as a second main and insisted a growing lad like me needed more so I had one as well, before going onto creme caramel and cheese and biscuits.  I also managed white wine with my starter, red wine with my two mains and port with my cheese.

Towards the end of the meal, whilst we were being served coffee David Cannon made a speech.  By then he was quite drunk, though probably not as drunk as I was.  He said a bit about how he’d come up from humble beginnings to where he was today through his own hard work:

“People say how luck I am.  I tell them you make your own luck.”

He then said how fortunate he’d been to have come from a loving family, how that had given him the confidence to take the risks he’d had to take to make Cannon Pet Supplies the success it was.  He then went on to say that a lot of the success of the business was due to the hard work of his employees and he singled out a couple of names of people who’d worked with him since the start of the business.

All in all I thought it was an excellent speech and what impressed me more about the man was that after the speech he went from table to table, shaking the hands and chatting to each and every one of the guests.  I could see a couple of people down there that I’d met in the fortnight I’d worked there but didn’t feel inclined to join them.  Instead I leant across Sophie and asked Jacqui what she did for a living.  Apparently she was a model who worked for Tracey.  I hadn’t cottoned on before that Tracey had a modelling agency, although I remembered that Sophie had told me that Tracey had been a successful model when she was younger.

After the meal I was moved and ended up next to Tracey. I found her good company although quite nosy, wanting to know about my family in some detail.  She seemed particularly interested in my parent’s way of life and said that that way of life had always interested her.  I noticed that Sophie was looking agitated and sensed that she was feeling a bit left out.  She was sat next to her dad and he seemed to be talking motor racing to Craig across Jacqui so she just had his back for company.  I did my best to involve her in the conversation.

On the coach back I was sat across the isle from Craig and tried talking cars with him as I’d worked out that was a big interest of his.  Sophie distracted me by putting my left hand at the top of her thigh and then in an even more intimate place.  It took me a few minuted before I realised what she wanted and I gave up trying to conveyors with Craig.  I was really turned on by my actions and amazed at Sophie’s forthrightness and lack of concern that she might be spotted.  I was so happy that she was so confident of my feelings, so relaxed with me that she could just ask.  I knew I would find it difficult if it was me who felt randy in that way.

When we got back to her house she asked me to stay with her and we went to her bedroom straight from the coach.  I thought I should have thanked her father and said good night to everyone but Sophie just pulled me away.

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