Disclaimers. This is going to be a somewhat light-hearted effort. But I dare say I can squeeze some angst in somewhere. Probably some sex too.
My thanks as always to my beta reader, Barbara Davies. Her work can be found on her page, Barbara Davies.
Day One. Friday
Dani Collins woke. And for a few brief moments attempted to comprehend why her face was pressing up against the wall, which should have been a few feet from her bed.
Then she remembered. She wasn't at home, she was on a narrow single bed in a caravan on the South Coast of England. Near Bournemouth to be precise.
She and her two friends, Stephanie and Melanie, had driven down from Kent the night before, to take advantage of the sudden and unexpected heatwave the country was experiencing.
They'd left early enough, just giving themselves time to get home from work, change, and jump into Steph's car. But the need to take in liquid refreshment, at just about every pub they passed on the journey, meant they arrived at the caravan site in the small hours of the morning, with Dani driving the last part of the journey due to Steph's weak willpower. So it meant that they arrived safely, and without Steph breaking the law. Dani never was one for drinking too much, so it was no loss for her to stay on orange juice.
The caravan was a large 8 berth static van owned by Steph's father. Unlike most of the other vans on the site, he didn't let it during the summer months and used it himself for his family and friends. The campsite was a large one, with facilities for towing caravans as well. Situated within walking distance of the city centre, it was a lovely place to take a holiday. But the three girls had just four days to enjoy before they would return to their homes and their jobs.
Dani eased out of the small bed, and padded to the door. She heard no noise from her two friends who were sharing the larger double bedroom. They had drunk quite a bit more than she had, so she wasn't surprised that they were still sleeping. She went into the main part of the caravan, and the heat almost knocked her back a step. They'd just fallen into bed when they'd arrived, and now, at nearly 10 in the morning, the sun was beating down on the fibreglass body of the van, turning it into an oven.
She opened the windows and the top half of the door, letting what little breeze there was blow through. Ordering her short blonde hair, she filled the kettle and switched it on. She just had the tee-shirt she'd worn during the previous evening and a pair of panties on, and still she felt unbearably hot. But she smiled at the sounds of children playing filtering through the open window, reminding her of holidays spent with her parents at similar sites.
The weekend had been planned during the previous week. The weather forecast had been excellent and they'd all managed to persuade their employers to let them have a couple of extra days off and have a long weekend.
The kettle began to whistle, so she got out a few mugs from a cupboard above the sink, and rummaged through the box of groceries they'd brought with them to find the tea bags. They'd actually had the good sense to put the large bottle of milk into the small fridge before collapsing into bed, otherwise it would be a curdled mess by now.
She made the tea, and ventured into the other bedroom at the end of the caravan.
Dani stood in the doorway, surveying the mess in the room. Clothes were strewn about; somehow a bra had found itself on the curtain track. The window was closed and the heat in the room was unbearable. But the two women in the bed were oblivious.
The blonde placed the two mugs on the dressing table and reached through the curtains to open the window.
Her two friends were face to face, their noses a hairsbreadth from each other. Both were still semi-dressed, and Melanie's face still bore the heavy make up she'd donned the day before. Both were obviously very hot.
The sheets had been discarded in the night and lay on the floor, and Dani bent to pick them up, folding them and putting them in a corner of the room.
She bent and shook Steph's ankle. "'Morning," she said, and took a step back as her friend's dark brown eyes opened. Those same eyes widened in alarm.
"Jesus Christ!" cried Steph, backing away from the other sleeping woman and disappearing into the small space between the bed and the wall. Her head reappeared, and she stared at the sleeping vision. "She looks like Alice Cooper."
Dani looked from Steph to Melanie, who, with her face streaked with mascara, certainly did resemble the singer, facially at least. Her hair, unlike his, was blonde, from a bottle. And permed, so it never really stood a chance at all.
"Should we wake her?" asked Dani, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"No," said Steph, easing herself out of bed. "She'll just start crying again." She walked across to the dressing table and gratefully picked up the mug of tea Dani had brought her. "Oh, bliss," she said, as the warm liquid eased her tight throat.
Steph gestured to the door and they both made their way out of the bedroom into the living area of the caravan. "This was her bloody idea," hissed Steph. "Why is she blubbering?" She followed the smaller blonde woman to the small table, sitting opposite her friend.
"She misses Mark," said Dani, sipping her tea.
"I miss Jason, but I'm not going to sniffle all weekend." She turned her gaze to the window and the children playing beyond. "Wonder what he's doing now," she said quietly. When she turned back to her friend, there were tears in her eyes.
"Oh boy," said Dani, and cradled her chin in her hands.
A sudden smile crossed Steph's face. "You know she pads out her bra, don't you?"
Dani screwed her face up. "No. It's all padding?"
Steph nodded. "It fell out last night. The padding I mean." She swivelled sideways, putting her feet up on the bench seat. "She always makes such a big deal out of it." She gave her friend a wicked smile. "And it's all false."
"Well, don't make a big thing out of it." Dani nodded towards her friend's chest. "Just because you managed to somehow get enough for all three of us."
Steph glanced down at her own chest, hefting it lovingly in her hands. "This is all natural, which is more than can be said for Mel in there."
"Don’t let her hear you calling her that," chuckled Dani, casting a glance at the closed bedroom door. "You know how crazy she gets."
"Where's the loo?" came the strangled cry from the other end of the caravan.
"Down the road, second hut on the left." Steph couldn't look at the blonde who had just staggered out of the bedroom; her close encounter with Melanie that morning was still too fresh in her memory.
Melanie shuffled towards them, squinting against the bright sunlight pouring through the open door. "Stephanie, you had better be joking, because I'm telling you, if I have to set foot outside this damned caravan each time I need a pee, you will not survive to see Sunday."
Melanie tried and failed to give her friend a withering look; the fact that her eyes seemed to have a problem focusing completely dampened the intended affect. She changed tactics.
"Please?" she said, pulling her tee-shirt down, and knocking skinny knees together.
"There." Stephanie pointed to a small door opposite the opened door.
The Alice Cooper impersonator shot them a half smile and launched herself towards the small bathroom.
"Oh my God!!" came the cry, once she was inside. "Paper!!"
Dani and Steph looked at each other. "You take it," said Dani. "I made tea."
"Did we get any?" Steph looked towards the box of groceries.
"Ooops," said Dani.
It was a gentle walk along the cliff top to the centre of Bournemouth. Not a large town, but during the summer months, especially in the school holidays, the population soared.
It was quite a mix, with the town being one of the most popular retreats of the retired. Mixing with the small children on the beach front were the grannies and granddads. A long row of small beach huts sat at the bottom of the cliff, between the prom and the beach, and people in varying degrees of undress lounged just outside them. Inside, they made tea and sandwiches and did what the British loved to do: people-watch.
The three girls had followed the cliff top path, and found themselves quite quickly in the bustling centre of Bournemouth. It was a little after 2pm by the time they got there, and they scanned the pub fronts to find one that served food all day.
Finally they found The Chieftain, and on the blackboard outside it claimed, "Food served all day."
"This'll do," said Melanie, whose appearance was just about back to normal, her makeup applied and her hair solidified.
Dani stood back, knowing this was a ritual for her two friends. Entering a pub. She waited a moment, and watched.
Melanie and Stephanie entered, scanned the pub, immediately taking in where any interesting unaccompanied males were sitting, and walked near them, but passed by seemingly uninterested.
Dani shook her head, and followed, sitting opposite her two friends as they picked up a menu from the table.
"It's cooler in here," said Dani as she scanned the menu. It was the usual pub fare: steak, chicken, scampi, lasagne. "What do you two want?"
Receiving no answer, she looked up to see her two friends pointedly not looking at the table of young men who were leering at them.
"Steph," she said. "What do you want to eat?"
Steph's dark eyes lifted from the menu and fluttered in the direction of the young men. "Chicken," she said, letting her eyes rake across them for a moment.
Dani turned her attention to Melanie, whose gaze had dropped to her own chest, making sure everything was in place. "Chicken too," she said, unsurprisingly as always following Steph's example.
One of the boys stood and made his way to their table. Both Melanie and Stephanie buried their faces in the large menu.
"Hi. Can we buy you girls drinks?" he said agreeably.
Dani smiled up at him. "Hello. We were just about to order actually." She stood. "I'll get mine, but I'm sure my friends are thirsty."
She made her way to the bar, and settled on a high stool. It was quiet in the pub; the dinnertime rush hour was over, and it was too hot for most people to stay indoors. She looked behind the bar but there was no-one about, so she waited patiently.
A woman arrived from a door behind the bar, a large plastic bag of ice slung over one shoulder. "Be with you in a moment," she said as she dumped the bag on the floor then opened the large ice chest. She hauled the obviously heavy bag up and lowered it into the chest.
Wiping a forearm across a sweaty brow, she turned to the woman sitting at the bar. "What can I get you?" she asked the small blonde.
Dani's mouth opened and closed a couple of times before she managed coherent speech. Before her stood a woman much taller than her own five-and-a-half feet. Long dark hair fell about broad shoulders. Ice-blue eyes regarded her with something approaching amusement.
"A drink?" the tall woman prompted, resting her elbows on the bar.
Dani knew that one day she would meet a man and she would know immediately that he was the one for her. She knew for sure she would gaze into his eyes, and see her very future reflected back at her. He would be tall and handsome, and he would reach out and cup her cheek and tell her that her search was over. Then he would lean down and kiss her. Damn, was I barking up the wrong tree! she thought to herself.
"Yes please," Dani squeaked.
The woman cocked her head to the side, smiling a curious smile. "Should I try to guess what you're thinking?" she asked.
Dani's blush, and the look of mortification that crossed her face, was her only answer.
The woman realised the effect she was having on her customer, and leaned onto the bar, resting her chin on her joined hands. "Will it be a beer, maybe a cider? Or something a little stronger?" She ran her tongue across her upper lip.
A screech caused both women to jump, and they looked towards the table where the two boys had joined Melanie and Steph. Melanie was laughing, in her own unique way, at something one of the boys had said. Stephanie was edging her chair closer to the blonder of the two, though both appeared to have been cloned from some boy band and were almost identical.
"Your friends make friends quickly," the tall woman observed, returning her attention to the blonde on the other side of the bar.
Dani smiled, remembering the tears from her two friends that morning when remembering their abandoned boyfriends. "Yes, they do."
"What about you?" she asked.
"What?" asked Dani, turning back to face the bartender.
"Do you make friends quickly?"
Dani pursed her lips. "Depends."
"Hi, my name's Chris," she said, extending her hand.
Dani stared at the hand for a moment, as if it was something that might burn her. Then she reached across and took it, watching as it folded around her own. She managed to tear her eyes from the vision, only to fall straight into another when her gaze found twinkling blue eyes. "Dani Collins," was all she could manage.
"Good to meet you, Dani." A perfect eyebrow rose, and the blue eyes shifted from her face to their hands.
"Oh." Dani released the taller woman's hand quickly, and was glad when Chris took a couple of steps back.
"So what was the drink?" she asked, leaning down and grabbing a glass from the washer, and polishing it with a cloth.
Dani surveyed the shelves of drinks behind the bar. "A Breezer," she said. "Do you have one in the cooler?"
Chris chuckled at the flushed woman. "Sure," she said, and bent to pick a small bottle out of the fridge. "You want a glass?" she asked, opening the bottle and placing it on the counter.
Dani shook her head, and grabbed the bottle, taking a long swig from it.
Chris watched the blonde, enjoying following a bead of sweat as it made its way down her neck and then on to her….
"It's hot," said Dani, rubbing the back of her hand against her neck.
"Very," said Chris, pushing away from the bar. There were some more customers at the other end of the counter. "I'll be back."
Dani watched her. Staring unreservedly at the woman who kept glancing back at her as she served her customers. Her arms were bare, the skin like silk, glistening with the sweat that the almost unbearable heat produced.
Chris ambled back to Dani as soon as she'd dealt with her customers. "Your friends are ordering food. Will you be eating?"
Dani looked across at Melanie and Steph, who were giving their order to a young man. Melanie was pointing to the menu; Steph was almost in the lap of one of their new friends.
"I'm not sure I'm hungry anymore," said Dani, instantly blushing when Chris raised her eyebrows. "What?" asked the blonde.
Blue eyes slowly surveyed as much of the body in front of her as she could see. "We do good chicken," Chris said. "I'm having lunch soon. Maybe you’d like to join me."
Dani looked from Chris to her friends. She weighed up her options. Taking lunch with her noisy friends, and probably their new acquaintances. Or spending a leisurely hour or so with the charismatic woman she'd met barely ten minutes before.
"I'd love to," said Dani. "What would you recommend?"
Chris bit her bottom lip. Well, that was easy, she thought to herself. "If not the chicken, the lasagne."
"Ok, I'm not a chicken lover." Dani slid off the high stool. "Where will you be eating?"
"On the patio. It's cooler out there; we get a little sea breeze blowing through."
Dani looked back at her friends. They seemed to have completely forgotten about her, totally engrossed with their new friends. So she followed the tall woman out into a pretty and very deserted patio area.
Chris was right, there was a gentle breeze blowing through the place, and she gallantly pulled out a chair at a table.
Dani blushed slightly and sat, then Chris left her again to order their food. She returned moments later with another drink for the blonde and some silverware.
Lunch was wonderful for Dani. She found Chris to be funny, and very alluring. Charismatic in a way she'd never known in another person. She found herself staring far more than she felt comfortable with. Taking pleasure in watching the expressive face in front of her. And those eyes. When Chris laughed they sparkled, and Dani couldn't help but laugh with the dark-haired woman.
"So, how long are you here for?" asked Chris, pushing her empty plate away from her.
Dani was still pushing her lasagne around her plate. Listening to Chris, and finding herself wanting to watch her new friend rather than eat, her meal had grown cold and unappetising. "'Til Monday. Just having a long weekend by the sea."
"You picked the right weekend." Chris leaned back in her seat. "David!" she called, and a young man came and cleared her plate. "You finished with that?" she asked Dani.
Dani nodded, smiling up at the young man. "Thank you," she said as he took the plate, giving her a smile as he went.
"So what are your plans for the weekend?" asked Chris taking a long drink of cider.
"We haven't really made any. Just going to have some fun."
Chris smiled. "Sounds like a good plan."
And so the conversation continued. They talked of their families, Dani slowly getting over her anxiety in the tall woman's presence. They talked of their jobs and of Chris's father, who was currently managing a night-club he'd just bought in Ibiza. They spoke of many things, having no idea of the passing hours. Not really noticing that the pub and the patio area were filling with people venturing back out as the afternoon gave way to evening and the temperature finally began to drop.
Dani was startled by a wavering Melanie, who was framed in the doorway. "Dani?" she asked.
"Ah," said Dani, standing quickly, an irrational feeling of guilt settling around her. "I was… having lunch."
"And?" asked the blonde, tottering towards the pair.
"And nothing," squeaked Dani. "You're drunk," she said, her face creasing into a frown.
"I am not," said Melanie indignantly. "But Steph is," she slurred. "We need to go back to the camp site and get ready for this evening."
"It is evening," said Dani flatly. "It's 7.15."
Melanie peered for long moments at her watch. "Are you sure?" She staggered away from the two women and back into the pub.
Dani turned towards Chris. "Sorry about that. I'd um…." She waved towards the door to the interior of the pub.
"You'd better get them back." Chris finished for her.
Dani reached into her small bag, pulling out a wallet.
"Hey," said Chris quickly. "It's on the house." She lifted Dani's hand and kissed the back of her fingers. "It's been a pleasure." Her dazzling smile stood out vividly against tanned skin.
Dani swallowed hard. "Thank you. And yes, it has been a pleasure." She looked back towards the door, then back at Chris.
She wanted to kiss the enigmatic woman. More than anything else. She didn't care that she was surrounded by people; that fact never entered her mind.
She took a step forward, opened her mouth, and said, "I have to go."
Chris frowned when the small blonde suddenly turned on her heel and rushed into the bar area. She watched as she helped her two friends to their feet and ushered them out of the pub, followed closely by the two boy clones.
The dark-haired woman sighed, looked around the pub, noticing how full it was getting. She spotted a willowy blonde standing near the juke-box, and sauntered over to her. "Hi," she said.
Dani walked a few paces ahead of her two friends. They followed on, arm in arm, making slow progress through the teeming streets of Bournemouth.
Somewhere along the line they had lost the boys, for which Dani was exceedingly grateful. Mostly because they said they had a friend they'd like her to meet. Her mind was replaying the afternoon with Chris, and she was oblivious to her friends' increasingly raucous behaviour.
It wasn't until Steph fell flat on her face, that she turned and surveyed the pair.
Melanie was staring down at her fallen friend, trying to stay still long enough to offer her assistance to stand once more.
"Get up, you silly bitch," said Melanie, as Steph rolled over and sat in the middle of the pavement.
"Oooh," said Steph, pointing at the window of the shop behind Melanie. "Tattoooos."
Melanie turned and staggered towards the window. "Tattoos and body piercing," she slurred.
"I'm sure it's not open," said Dani, hauling Steph to her feet. She looked on in horror as Melanie tried the door, and pushed her way inside.
She gritted her teeth in frustration, and allowed Steph to pull her towards the door. "Oh boy," she said under her breath.