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 Two. Saturday
Chris placed her empty glass on the bar and glanced at her watch. It was a little before 11. She turned to the woman sitting on the stool beside her.
"You going to be okay now?" she asked, rubbing the redhead's arm.
"Yeah, I think I am." She looked up into blue eyes. "Thanks for listening."
"Hey." She snaked an arm around the girl's shoulder. "Anytime, you know that."
Her companion sniffed and nodded.
"Come on," said Chris. "Let's find you a taxi."
After making sure her friend was safely in a cab, Chris made her way to the pub, wondering if they'd managed to survive the evening without her. She chuckled to herself, however, realising that they'd managed perfectly well all day without her. And then she smiled, remembering why.
She'd spent a wonderful day with the small blonde she'd met only the day before, and she looked forward to meeting her again that night. She knew they'd only have another day or so together, but that was how it was. Holiday romances. What an old cliché. She shook her head slightly, chuckling again. She'd always sworn she wouldn't get involved like this again, with someone who would be gone in a couple of days. But she fell into those green eyes, as the blonde sat on the opposite side of the bar, and she was lost.
She slowed as she approached the pub, and wondered if she should just keep walking on past. She knew she was losing her heart to the lovely blonde, and she knew that, come Monday, she'd have to say goodbye. Maybe it would be better to finish it now, end it here. It had been a long time since she'd felt the sort of emotion that Dani had dredged up from her lonely soul.
"Hey, Boss!" The shout brought her out of her musings.
"Paul, sorry I took so long," she said to the young man approaching her.
"It was ok; we managed." He had a grin all over his face.
Chris frowned. "What?" she asked. Then she walked past him to the pub.
Paul hurried to catch up with her. "Did she find you?" he asked, giving her a nudge.
"Who?" she said, scanning the interior of the pub, which was still quite full.
"The cute little blonde."
Chris turned back towards him, knowing exactly who he was talking about. "She was here?"
"Yep, came looking for you. The one you spent the other day on the patio with." He collected a few empty glasses from a table full of loud young men. "I told her where you were."
"And she did what?" asked Chris, taking the glasses from him and shouldering her way through the crowd to the bar.
"I suppose she went down there." He walked around behind the bar and took a couple's order. As he poured a pint of John Smiths he watched his boss closely. "She didn't find you?"
Chris was placing the dirty glasses in the washer. "Nope, I didn't see her." She stood and regarded him for a moment. "Just going to check the cellar," she said, before disappearing through the door behind the bar.
The coolness of the cellar was welcoming, and Chris sank down to sit on a barrel. "Dammit," she hissed, thinking back to what Dani would have seen when she entered Donnall's. The feeling of irrational guilt surprised her. She had nothing to be guilty for. Did she? She'd known Dani for all of two days so owed her no explanation. But she could almost picture the look on the blonde's face. One thing she'd learned during her short time with Dani was that the girl was lousy at hiding her feelings. Every emotion was plain to see on the sweet face, and the look of adoration she'd seen when Dani had crawled onto her lap when they were on the island had stirred long forgotten feelings in her. Chris wanted her. Wanted to see those green eyes looking at her as she aroused the blonde's passions. But their time would be so fleeting. She'd promised herself, no more stolen nights. No more brief affairs that left her wanting. Needing.
No. She decided she'd try to forget the blonde. She was sure Dani wouldn't come to the pub again. After tonight the girl would want to stay well away. She'd think Chris had used her, and that would be for the best. The best for both of them.
Her mind made up, she started sorting through her stock. It was a hot weekend, wouldn't want to run out of anything.
And so it was nearly an hour and a half later that Chris found herself at the front door of Bumbles, the nightclub she thought Dani and her friends were going to visit that night. "So much for my resolve," she said to herself as she approached the doorman.
"Andre," she said as she sauntered up to a stocky man in a black suit, crisp white shirt, and bow tie.
He smiled, showing a small gap between his front teeth. "Chris." He had to rise up on his toes a little to give her a quick peck on the cheek. "It's been a while."
"Can I just pop in? I'm looking for someone." She looked through the people waiting in line to enter the club; Dani and her friends weren't among them.
"Of course," he said. "Anyone in particular?" While talking to her he stopped two rather inebriated young men, pushing them away from the entrance.
"Blonde, about this high." She held her hand up to her chin. "Probably with another two girls."
"Lots of girls have been through these doors tonight."
Chris chuckled. "I'll bet."
"Go on," he said. "And good luck, it's crazy in there tonight." He turned back to the two young men, who obviously didn't appreciate his decision not to admit them.
'Crazy' wasn't the word that Chris would have used to describe the club. She decided it must be illegal to allow the numbers that currently occupied the small dance floor, which was sunken with a barrier all the way round and tables beyond that.
She leaned on the rail and looked down at the heaving mass that swayed and clashed together. She had thought it would be easy to spot Dani, but the flashing lights and artificial smoke made it hard to see.
Chris started a slow walk around the club, shaking her head occasionally at the drunken antics of many of the club-goers. It was like some huge adult playground, and she wondered if the sun was responsible for some of the more outlandish behaviour. Certainly it seemed that the suntans that most of the girls had required them to wear as little as possible, which the young men seemed to appreciate.
A shriek of laughter, heard even above the pulsating music, drew her attention to one corner.
She first saw Dani's friend, the blonde one. She remembered her name was Melanie. A little way away, connected by the face to a boy, was Stephanie.
Chris eased her way through the crowd, peering into the half-light.
There, sitting on the lap of a strange-looking boy, was Dani.
The boy, or rather young man, was making the most of having an attractive woman on his lap. His hands were wandering, and the grin on his face was fixed into some comical leer.
Before she realised it, Chris was standing right in front of the pair, her foot bumping that of the seated Nigel.
He looked up, and up, until he found himself pinned by pale blue eyes. "Hello," he squeaked.
Chris ignored him. "Dani," she said, waiting for the blonde to look at her.
Glazed green eyes took a moment to focus on her, then the slightly sweat-sheened face broke into a smile. "Chris," she said, trying to disentangle herself from Nigel. Dani managed to stand, and took a stumbling step forward, Chris's sure hold on her the only thing stopping her from crashing to the floor. "Hey, you're tall," she said, looking up at the brunette. Then a frown marred her features as the memory of Chris sitting in the other pub came back to her. She tried to push away from the tall woman, and was gently let back down into the chair that Nigel had just vacated.
Chris turned to the bemused boy. "What has she been drinking?" she asked him.
"Bacardi Breezers," he said.
Chris pushed him backwards so that his back was against a wall. "That's more than booze. She looks stoned," she hissed. "What is it?"
"It's only E," he protested. "Not even a whole tab, just half."
"Did she know what it was?"
He squirmed under the angry woman's glare. "I broke it up, put it in the Breezer bottle."
"And that's how you get your women, is it? You pathetic little toad!"
She wanted to hit him. More than that, she really wanted to hurt him. She'd seen the effects of Ecstasy on friends, and knew that for some the brief high could result in death.
Dani had regained her feet. "This is Nigel," she said winding her arms around his neck. "He likes to be called Nigel."
"Come on, I'm taking you home," said Chris, trying to untangle Dani's arms.
Nigel did the honourable thing, and backed away. He watched the reluctant blonde being pulled through the dense throng, and thought briefly of following. Then he decided life was too short, and cast his gaze around the club.
"I don't want to go home," said Dani as she feebly attempted to release her arm from the grip Chris had on it.
They were almost at the door, when Chris heard Dani's name being called.
Melanie rushed up to them. "What's going on?" she asked, looking from one woman to the other.
Dani was swaying after the brisk walk through the club, trying to focus on the two women standing toe-to-toe in front of her.
"I'm taking her home," said Chris, putting a firm hand on Dani's shoulder to steady her.
"We're having a good time; she likes Nigel," said Melanie, taking Dani's hand.
"She's high. Look at her." Chris turned Dani's face towards her friend, and Melanie peered at the short woman.
"She looks okay to me," she said after studying the unsteady woman for a moment. She looked back up at Chris. "Who are you anyway?"
"I work at the pub you had lunch at on Friday?" she said, watching the blonde taking in the information. Seeing a blank look, she sighed and continued. "Dani and I got on well, and we spent the day together."
Melanie thought about that for a moment then rolled her eyes. "And we thought she'd fallen for someone." She thumped Chris gently on the shoulder, laughing to herself. "We thought she'd found herself a boyfriend." Melanie looked back at Dani, who had a dreamy look on her face. "She's high?"
"Yes, she is. So I'm going to take her out of here and get some water into her." She took a firm hold of Dani, winding an arm about her waist. "I'll get her back to the caravan tomorrow."
Melanie sighed dramatically, "Oh, alright," and immediately dismissed them both by turning on her heel and striding back to her friends.
"Come on, you," said Chris, and hauled Dani out of the club and into the much cooler air of the night.
Andre was sucking his knuckles. He waggled his eyebrows, seeing the legless blonde swaying at Chris's side. "You found what you were looking for then?"
Chris shook her head slightly. "You've got E going around the club, Andre."
"It's hard to stop, Chris. You know that. Don’t tell me you know everything that's going down at the pub."
She ran her free hand through her hair. "Yeah, you're right." She looked down at Dani. "Come on then. Let's get you home."
Chris had parked the jeep a couple of streets away, and was relieved to finally ease the inebriated woman into the passenger seat.
She got into the other side and turned to the blonde. "Hey, how are you doing?"
"Why?" Dani asked. She curled up in the seat, facing the brunette.
Chris sighed. "That idiot gave you a drug, Dani."
Dani's face was a picture of concentration. "Nigel?" She struggled to remember the ginger-haired boy, and with the memory of him came the memory of why she was with him.
"I saw you," the blonde said. "You were with someone."
Chris closed her eyes, knowing now that Dani had seen her. She held the smaller woman by the shoulders. "I'm sorry," she began. "Nancy is an old friend. She's just broken up with her partner. She needed someone to talk to." She reached out for Dani's hand. "I should have called you."
Glassy green eyes regarded her for a long moment. "Chris?" she said quietly.
The taller woman smiled down at her. "Yeah?"
"I'm going to throw up."
Chris managed to get around the front of the jeep and open the passenger door, before a couple of hours' worth of Bacardi Breezers hit the pavement, and her shoes.
"Oh damn," she said, as she held the now limp woman in the seat. She pushed Dani back into the passenger seat, and reached into the back of the car where an old tee-shirt was crumpled on the floor. She used it to wipe the smaller woman's face and then her shoes.
Disgustedly she threw the tee-shirt away, not seeing it land in a hedge.
"I hope you're not going to leave that there," said a voice behind her.
Chris turned to see a policewoman approaching.
"I would have to book you for littering." The tall and rather gangly woman looked from Chris into the jeep. "What's wrong with her?" she said, pushing back her spectacles, which had slipped to the end of her nose.
"She's had too much to drink. I'm taking her home."
"Are you the owner of this vehicle?" the policewoman asked. Chris noticed that a piece of white tape held the two halves of her spectacles together over the bridge of her nose.
"I am." Chris looked beyond the woman to see another policeman exiting a patrol car.
"And have you been drinking tonight?"
Chris sighed. "I had one small drink earlier in the evening."
The woman's eyes lit up. "As you have admitted to drinking, I'm going to have to ask you to take a breathalyser." She hurried back to the car, returning with a small device and pulling a small white tube from its packaging.
She attached the tube to the device. "I want you to blow into this for as long as you can. One continuous breath." She approached Chris, and the taller woman noticed the officer's hands shaking slightly as she held out the equipment.
Chris blew into the machine.
"Now we have to wait a moment for the result." She handed the small device to her colleague. "Do you have any drugs or weapons on you?"
The other officer joined them. "Can I have a word?" he said to the policewoman.
"Don't you move," she said to Chris as they backed away.
"Barber, we don't want any more trouble like last time," he said, looking down at the device to check the results. "She's under the limit."
"But she might have something hidden," she hissed.
"We have no reason to believe that."
"I want to search her." She pushed her spectacles back up again.
"I don't think that's necessary. Remember the last time."
"Just a quick search. I won't take long."
"No," he said, and turned towards the pacing brunette.
"I'm sorry for the delay. You're free to go." He smiled, removing the white tube and handing it to the bemused Chris. He held up the kit. "You've got a green light," he explained. "You're under the limit."
Chris nodded and bent down to buckle the quiet blonde into the seat. Behind her she felt the policewoman approach. She straightened up and faced PC Barber. "Was there something you wanted?"
PC. Barber hesitated, wanting any excuse to detain the statuesque brunette longer. "I'll be looking out for you," she said, before turning quickly to return to her car.
Chris shook her head and walked around the jeep. A turn of a key and they were heading towards Poole and the harbour.
The night was still, and an almost full moon cast an eerie glow across the small vessels bobbing gently on the sea.
Chris walked around the front of the jeep and opened the passenger door. Dani had passed out quickly after the encounter with the police officers, and Chris quietly worried about what effect the drug Nigel had given her would have.
Ecstasy usually brought about a feeling of well being. A feeling of being able to dance the night away, and of general affection for all those around you. But Dani had been very drunk as well, and she worried that the small blonde would become dehydrated. She wanted to get her to the bungalow, get some water into her, and hopefully get her to rest.
She pulled Dani up by her arms, bent, and let her fall across her shoulder. She decided she wasn't going to waste time trying to get her to walk under her own steam.
Dani was light, and Chris hurried down to the small dock, making her way gingerly into the boat. Throwing off the ropes, she steered for the island, hoping no large vessels failed to see her in the darkness. Sailing in such a small craft so late was not the best idea, but she didn't want to be disturbed in the morning, and knew she would be if she went back to the flat above the pub.
The most difficult part of the operation was getting the completely limp girl out of the boat once they'd reached the island. But, after a few choice exclamations, she was wandering along the narrow path towards the bungalow, an oblivious blonde draped across her shoulder.
Dani bounced slightly as Chris dropped her onto the king-size bed. The brunette regarded the sleeping woman for a moment, as she kicked off her ruined shoes. Then she bent and tugged off Dani's shoes, and started to unbutton the faded jeans the blonde wore. The buttons didn't come loose easily, and part way through the operation green eyes opened and regarded her blearily.
"Just getting your jeans off. You'll be more comfortable," she explained as she watched the eyes flutter closed once more.
She sighed, and completed the unbuttoning before tugging the tight jeans down across slim hips and legs.
"Thirsty," the blonde croaked.
"I'll get you some water." Chris threw the jeans onto a nearby chair, and left the room, returning moments later with a glass of iced water.
She sat on the edge of the bed and pulled Dani to a sitting position, holding the cool rim of the glass to her lips.
The water was drained quickly, and Chris eased the girl back down onto the mattress. Dani curled up on her side, pulling a pillow to her chest and hugging it fiercely.
Chris sat for a moment, gently running her hand across the blonde's back, and Dani quickly fell asleep. Then she stood, and pulled a sheet across the slumbering form.
She padded out of the bedroom and into the lounge, making her way to the bar. There she found a half bottle of Scotch. She chose a small glass, and tipped a small amount of ice into an ice bucket. Then she rooted around further and found a crumpled packet of cigarettes. Taking the items, she made her way onto the patio and eased herself onto a sun bed.
The night was still and clear and pleasantly warm. And as she sat, a glass in one hand, a burning but barely used cigarette in the other, she watched a large tanker move across the horizon beyond the mouth of the harbour.
She could see the lights on the mainland twinkling faintly, and imagined the families that lived in the houses that produced those lights. She'd never known that. Never had a real family. Just a father who moved from one moneymaking establishment to the next, feeling the need to teach his daughter the ways of business rather than the ways of family.
The cigarette burned her fingers, making her jump, and she bent and stubbed it out on the floor. She drained her glass, feeling the Scotch burn a path to her gut, warming her insides. Then she leaned her head back, and closed her eyes.
And as she fell asleep she chuckled to herself, feeling a strange familiarity at sleeping under the stars. A gentle breeze, as soft as a lover's touch, ruffled her hair, and she smiled, thinking of the beautiful woman asleep in her bed.
"Goodnight, Dani," she whispered, before falling asleep.