I am currently sat watching Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (with adverts, arrgghh. We never watch adverts, that’s what Sky Plus is for.) I’ve been searching my brain all evening for a blog topic, but it’s been such a busy day, my brain is asleep.
The day started with a thirty-minute tantrum from the eldest child, because I told her off for not sharing. Is this normal? I know I can be a tough parent and she craves my approval, so I do worry that I’ve broken her. Hubbie thinks it’s fairly standard fare for a nearly-five-year-old girl. Joy.
After everyone had calmed down and eaten breakfast, we went to the local woods to walk the dog and have a wintry picnic. It’s been a gorgeous day – warm for the time of year and sunny. The woods were quiet and the dog had a brilliant time chasing sticks for an hour. Unfortunately the trip also revealed that the kids needed new wellies. The son has only had his two months and they’re full of holes. The daughter’s feet just keep growing. What is it with kids and shoes?
So I heroically took the children to the shopping centre on the third weekend before Christmas to procure new boots. Arrgghh. The son, of course, chose the most expensive ones. After trying on five pairs in three other shops I had to admit defeat. I had hopes the daughter would settle for the half price ones but was wrong. Sigh. Of course we had to battle back through the crowds to find her best winter boots which had been left behind in one of the stores. This is why I do all my shopping online and in charity shops.
We got home with just enough daylight left to put up the outside Christmas lights and for the kids to burn off some steam in the playroom while I did the ironing. Definitely a divide-and-conquer day, with hubbie taking bath time while I cooked dinner. And low and behold it’s nearly Monday again. Where does the weekend go? At least it’s only two weeks until the shortest day. Something to look forward to. 🙂
P.S. On the way in on the school run this morning, I asked them what their favourite part of the weekend was, like I normally do – you know, to remind them we actually do fun things – and my daughter said her least favourite bit was Mummy being grumpy while shopping for wellies. And I thought I’d hidden it so well!
Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:
Pain throbbed behind Claire’s eyes: a steady staccato beat of agony that increased in severity when she tried to raise her head. Slowly her other senses came into focus. Without analysing them, her brain sorted through the various inputs. The sound of steady breathing, close by. The scent of aftershave and sweat. The feel of tangled sheets against naked skin. Finally the pieces of the puzzle clicked together and Claire sat upright, before collapsing back onto the bed as the room span around her.
She groaned, and heard the rhythm of the gentle snores change as the form next to her shifted. Her body froze; every nerve zinging. The fog in her brain cleared instantly, like a gale had swept through and brushed the mist away.
With a snuffling sound, the breathing returned to its gentle rhythm. Claire exhaled and lay still, staring at the ceiling, trying to decide what to do. The events of the previous night were sketchy at best. She remembered the wheelbarrow and the dress, the wig and the blown kisses. A vague image of standing over a fan in the iconic Marilyn Monroe pose flashed into her head and she winced.
Slowly, as if building up to the final reveal, her brain skipped forward to the kiss outside the Black Swan. Then, speeding on fast forward, she remembered Conor’s whispered suggestion that they go back to his place. The taxi ride, more kissing, stumbling up to his top floor apartment.
The memories became blurred again at that point, whether from self-protection or alcohol she couldn’t say. Her position now, naked in Conor’s bed, told the rest of the story.
Don’t sleep with the boss. Wasn’t that a rule as old as time? Claire tried to feel bad about it, but found she couldn’t. Instead, despite the hammering in her brain and quivering in her limbs, she could tell a broad smile stretched her numb and tender lips. She put her fingers up to feel them.
I must look like I’ve had Botox. Please don’t let me have to face any of Conor’s colleagues today.
The thought reminded her of something else. It was the last day of the Carnival: Conor would have things to do. She probably had things to do, if she could but remember what they were. She looked over at the sleeping man beside her. His face lay in the shadows, with only a glint of light coming through the dark curtains. It looked peaceful, though. Too peaceful to wake him just yet.
Claire carefully rolled off the low bed and pulled on a t-shirt lying next to her on the floor. It smelled of him. With a smile she padded from the room to explore. It didn’t take long. The apartment was tiny: just a bedroom, kitchen diner and a bathroom the size of a small cupboard. The ceilings sloped above her head, making it feel more compact, despite the bright white walls and cupboards.
With a frown, Claire wondered why someone would choose to live in such a tiny apartment outside London. The quality of the finish suggested it wasn’t cheap lodgings. Why not have something a bit more homely, with room to breathe?
She walked over to the patio doors, up two steps, and on to a tiny balcony. As she stepped out, she gasped. The sun peeped over the horizon, it’s light reflected in the sea. Beneath her, the beach stretched out, with pristine sand glistening in the morning light. She could just make out someone walking a dog in the distance. There appeared to be a path leading down from the apartment to the beach. Over to the left she could see the barrow, where she had walked from Old Harry Rocks. It was stunning.
I thought Conor hated being out in nature, away from the steaming pile of humanity? That’s what he always says.
After a while she became aware of a breeze on her legs, and realised she was standing on the balcony in only a t-shirt. With a mortified blush, she turned and went in search of coffee.
The tiny kitchen yielded instant coffee and old milk that more closely resembled soft cheese. Claire eventually found some sugar, behind the tins of beans and packets of pasta. With a shrug she made two mugs of black coffee and heaped sugar into both. She left one by the kettle, and took the other back out to the balcony, making sure she was covered up.
The cup was almost empty by the time she heard footsteps. The scrape of the mug against the granite worktop was followed by the sense of someone coming up behind her.
“You’re up early. Thanks for the coffee.”
Conor came to stand beside her on the balcony, without touching her. Claire looked at him, trying to analyse his mood. His hair stuck up at all angles, and he’d only stopped to pull on his trousers. His bare chest was more contoured and tanned than she would have suspected when it was hidden by a shirt and tie.
They stood in silence, sipping at the strong black liquid. Fire rippled across Claire’s skin and her head swirled with words. Eventually she chanced another glance at Conor, and the look in his eyes fanned the flames, burning a trail down her body. She became acutely aware of her lack of clothing.
“You’re still here.” He smiled as he stated the obvious.
“Yes.” She smiled tentatively back.
“That’s good.” He leaned over, as if he might kiss her, and she pulled away. His expression dropped like a chastised dog and Claire felt an urge to stroke his face and kiss away the hurt.
“I need a shower first. Please.”
Relief flooded Conor’s face and he nodded. “Of course. It’s not a very big one, I’m afraid.”
“That’s okay.” Claire drained the last of her coffee and walked back into the apartment. She could feel Conor’s eyes on her as she left. When she reached the door she stopped and turned. Forcing herself to speak before her head overruled her desire, Claire gave an arch smile and called back to Conor.
“Is it big enough for two?”
He grinned and jumped down the steps into the room.