After that first kiss it seemed that Toni and myself couldn’t find more than fifteen minutes to spend together. With Eddie being on holiday, we were both working the weekend behind the bar. It was all we could do on the Saturday to fit in meals between shifts, let alone anything else.
On Sunday afternoon I found myself alone in the flat lamenting Toni’s absence. I was sitting on the floor browsing her record collection when the sudden ringing of the phone interrupted my self-absorbed thoughts.
“Isobel! I can’t believe it’s you.” I had never before had the opportunity to talk over the telephone with my sister. In the letter I had sent just a few days ago, I included Toni’s home number as well as the number for the club.
“I want details, Shona! Your letter only hinted at something happening.”
“I know, I was afraid to say anything more as I feared father might read it.”
“Yes, well I can understand that. So come on, stop holding out on me!”
I could imagine Isobel standing in the phone box bouncing with excitement, I feared a little of her was rubbing of on me as I had the wicked thought of prolonging her agony.
“I kissed Toni.” I almost whispered.
I heard a scream on the other end of the phone. “I’m so proud of you, Shona, I worried that you might never find the guts to do it. So, what was it like?”
“It was…” I stopped momentarily lost for words; I wasn’t comfortable discussing this aspect of my life. All things related to sex and romance were alien to me. I finally managed to find the courage to voice my feelings about the kiss that I had shared with Toni. “Oh, Isobel, it was amazing. I never knew I could feel so much from just a kiss.”
“Ohh, my sister is a romantic! I always suspected that you would be. So have you had sex yet?”
“Isobel!” I chastised, she could be so blunt at times.
“What? I told you, Shona, this is the biggest news to hit this boring Island in forever. Tell me everything.”
She was also prone to exaggeration. “Alright.” I knew she wouldn’t give up until I gave her the details. “Toni has been nothing but patient with me. She won’t push me to do anything I’m not ready for, but she has been very open and honest with me, Isobel. I know she would never try and take advantage of me.”
“Oh, Lord! She must be crazy. Does she realise how long she could be waiting for you to take that step? Shona, you have to take the bull by the horns, you can’t do this to the poor woman.”
“I don’t know, Isobel, the thought terrifies me.”
“Its just sex, Shona! You don’t want to be a virgin forever. Sleep with Toni, if you love her you could never regret it.”
Isobel’s words gave me pause for thought. Did I love Toni? I hadn’t considered that before. These were uncharted waters for me. I had never felt like this about anyone, could it be love?
“Shona? Are you still there?”
“Yes. Sorry, I was thinking about what you just said.”
“About sleeping with Toni?”
Did she have to sound so enthusiastic about me losing my virginity? “Yes, I mean no. I was thinking about what you said…about love.”
Isobel’s voice took on a reverent quality as she spoke her next words. “Do you love her?”
“I…I don’t know. I want to be with her and I know I care deeply about her. She makes me laugh. I feel safe when I’m around her, having her in my life makes me feel happy. I can’t imagine not having her in my life. She means so much to me.”
“Oh, Shona, that really sounds like love to me. I’m thrilled for you, I really am. Toni sounds like a really special person.”
“She is, Isobel, she really is.”
At work that Sunday evening it was difficult to stay focussed. My mind kept returning to the conversation that I’d had that afternoon with Isobel. My thoughts constantly drifting to Toni and the possibility that what I felt was love. Isobel seemed sure it was but everything was so new to me, I was uncertain regarding the true depth of my feelings.
I was pulled out of my daydream when Toni called my name, while simultaneously shutting of the lager tap. I glanced down at the pint in my hand and noticed that it was already full. I had been so deep in thought that the lager had been spilling over into the drip tray.
Toni gave me a concerned look, “Is everything alright?”
I blushed, in part at my lack of concentration and also at the nature of the thoughts I had been having about the woman standing next to me. I nodded to Toni that I was fine, not trusting my voice at that moment. I spent the rest of the evening trying extra hard to stay focussed.
When the shift was over, Toni drove us home. We were both a little quiet on the short trip back. In the flat Toni made us some tea and served it with biscuits. We sat on the sofa listening to Simple Minds while sipping the hot beverage and munching on our chocolate digestives. Toni put her socked feet on the coffee table to rest her weary legs. I quickly followed her example.
“What a weekend, huh?” Toni finally broke the silence.
“Yes, it was hectic. I’m not used to working days and nights, I don’t know how you do it.”
“You get used to it. When you work full time in a bar, you get used to having little to no social life over the weekend.” Toni looked at me, “it’s been tough being around you all weekend but not having any time alone together.”
“I feel the same,” I admitted shyly.
Toni leaned towards me slowly, looking for any sign of hesitancy on my part. There was none and I willingly met her lips. It had been too long since our last kiss, and we broke apart too soon for my liking.
“You want to tell me what had you so distracted tonight?” Toni enquired, as she sipped her tea.
I felt myself blush and quickly looked down at my lap. I wasn’t yet sure whether I loved Toni, so I couldn’t reveal the real reason for my lack of focus.
“It was just something Isobel mentioned this afternoon in our telephone call.”
“Ah, sister stuff is it? Must have been really interesting judging by the colour in your cheeks.”
I knew Toni was teasing me and sure enough when I looked up at her she had that little half smile on her face, with a raised eyebrow for added effect.
“A girl’s entitled to some secrets, Shona, I was just a little worried about you.”
Toni yawned, “guess it’s time for bed, I’m back in tomorrow morning. You have any plans for tomorrow?”
“Well I’m going flat hunting, that will probably take up most of my day. I have a couple of appointments set up to view properties.” I was also going to be doing a little shopping in the hope of finding a suitable gift for Toni’s upcoming birthday. Cath had mentioned it to me in passing, but Toni had said nothing.
“You know you can stay here as long as you need to?”
I didn’t doubt the sincerity of Toni’s words, but I couldn’t help feeling concern that I was intruding upon her. “I know. I just don’t want to overstay my welcome.”
“Trust me, that could never happen,” Toni replied in a serious manner. She kissed me softly on the lips then wished me goodnight.
“You’re spoiling me, Shona, what am I going to do when you find a flat for rent? I’ll have to go back to beans on toast!”
I had cooked for Toni again. I really enjoyed doing it, especially on the days when she worked both shifts at the club.
“Speaking about that, did you have any success today?”
I shook my head, my good mood deflating as the memories from that afternoon returned. “No, I couldn’t find anything suitable. One of the flats I knew was wrong almost immediately. It was three guys and I just didn’t feel comfortable around them and that was before I saw the pyramid made from beer cans and the assortment of road signs and traffic cones scattered around the sitting room. I’m not sure it would have been a good place to get some quiet time to study. I think the three of them did a lot more drinking than studying. The second flat was a mess. Half the kitchen ceiling was missing due to a leak. The wallpaper was peeling in the sitting room. There was damp in the bedroom that would be mine, I could go on. I’m sorry it’s taking so long, I’m sure I’ll find something soon.”
“Don’t worry about it. Take all the time you need. I mean that.”
“Thanks. You’ve been so good to me, I don’t know what I would have done without you these last few weeks.”
“You don’t need to thank me. I love having you around.”
We both sat at the small kitchen table staring at each other. Toni seemed to be considering something, I wasn’t sure what. The moment passed and she stood up and began to clear dinner dishes from the table.
“Well, I’d better get moving or I’m going to be late. You coming with me?”
“Of course. I really enjoy our Monday nights.”
That night was a little busier than usual. It was the turn of the Railwaymen’s Club to host the domino league, which meant more customers and more noise from the clatter of the dominoes being mixed at the various tables. I helped Toni out occasionally when the bar got busy and we chatted in the quieter spells.
“I have all of Thursday off, now that Eddie is back at work. I was thinking we could spend the day together. Maybe go to the pictures and then have a meal?”
“Oh, that sounds wonderful.” I was delighted with Toni’s suggestions. We had only been on one date and it had been such good fun, I was looking forward to more.
“Are there any movies that you want to see?”
I looked at Toni blankly. I had absolutely no idea what films were showing. “I’ve never been to a cinema before. At home on the island, we only have the mobile cinema and my father never allows us to go.”
“You have never been to the cinema?” Toni asked, clearly aghast at the idea.
Glancing towards the back of the bar, a frown marring her lovely face, Toni asked, “You don’t have a television either, do you?”
I shook my head.
She looked back at me, “You know you can watch T.V in the flat whenever you like?”
I smiled. “Actually, I have been watching some. I like a show called Eastenders, which is about people in London. I love the accents, and there is an Australian one too, called Neighbours.” In truth, I had become quite hooked in the short time I had been watching them, eager to find out what would happen in the next episode.
Toni laughed. “You like the soaps!” she declared.
“Soaps?” I quizzed.
“Yes – sorry, soap is short for soap opera. It’s a term used for an ongoing fictional T.V show.”
Toni considered that. “Good question.”
She reached for a large, thick yellow book that was lying flat on the bottom shelf where there was a ledger and a telephone book. I watched intently as she flicked through the pages, noticing it was an encyclopaedia.
“Ah – here we are. ‘Soap Opera refers to their origins as radio broadcasts in which various soap manufacturers were the shows sponsors. Programmes were broadcast in weekday, daytime slots when mostly housewives would be available to listen, thus the shows were aimed at a predominantly female audience.’ That would explain the soap adverts then.” Toni added.
“Fascinating.” I loved gleaning new information and was pleased Toni had taken the time to answer my questions.
“There you go – you learn something new everyday.” Toni closed the book and returned it to the bottom shelf, “Do you have any preference for the type of movie you would like to see?”
“No, I really have no idea.”
“What about a comedy? There’s a film called Crocodile Dundee, it’s supposed to be really funny.”
“That sounds good.” I would have gone to see anything Toni suggested just for the opportunity to spend more time with her. My week was looking a lot brighter now that I had a day with Toni to look forward to.
Toni walked to the cupboard in the bar. “Shona, can you come in here a moment?”
I followed Toni into the cupboard where she promptly pulled me into a warm hug.
“I had to do this, you just look so adorable,” she whispered in my ear.
I snuggled up to her, sharing her warmth, I decided I wanted to do more than cuddle, so I kissed Toni’s neck, which made her shudder. I tried it again just to make sure it was my actions that caused her response.
Toni captured my lips and we were kissing passionately within moments. I’m not sure how long we stood in the cupboard, but I had completely forgotten where we were until I heard the familiar sound of a pint glass being put on the bar. I tried to break the kiss to allow Toni to go and serve the thirsty customer, but she immediately captured my lips again.
“Shhh, I don’t want to stop just yet. They might go away.”
She started to kiss me again and this time I went with it. We heard the glass being thumped down again with the clearing of a throat. We broke apart giggling.
“Is anyone there?”
Toni put her finger to her lips gesturing for me to keep quiet. I was trying so hard not to laugh my body was shaking. She tiptoed out of the cupboard then walked towards the back of the bar where I washed the glasses. She then strode back again towards the main part of the bar. I wondered what she was up to.
“Ah, Bert, what can I get you?”
“I’ve been standing here for ten minutes.” I heard Bert complain. It was a blatant exaggeration. He was one of the committee members and the more I was around these men, the more I realised how difficult they could be.
“Pint of export? Yes, sorry about that, Bert, I was out the back taking care of something.”
I watched from the cupboard as Toni calmly poured Bert’s pint then took his money.
“Are you feeling alright, Toni? You look a little flushed.”
I let out a snort from the cupboard when I heard Bert express concern for Toni’s wellbeing.
“Oh, I’m good. I was just rushing about back there.”
Toni walked back to the cupboard when Bert left the bar and gave me a menacing look. “You are in so much trouble,” she growled.
I let out a yelp as Toni tickled me, and then we both burst out laughing at our own antics.
Thursday couldn’t come quickly enough for me. I had spent a lot of the last three days debating what to wear. I was really excited about my second date with Toni. The plan was to travel into the city centre to see the movie then we would come back to the flat and get ready for the restaurant, which was within walking distance. I had made up my mind on my wardrobe the night before. I would dress casually for the pictures then wear the dress Toni said I looked lovely in for the meal. I thought it was strange that I could spend so much time with Toni both in the flat and at work, yet could be so nervous about a date.
Toni drove to the cinema, which was very near the university, I had passed the building many times, but never been inside. We got our tickets some popcorn and Coca-Cola’s, and then headed in to watch the movie.
It was quite empty due to it being an afternoon showing. We chose seats in the middle of the cinema to watch the film. The screen was giant sized and the sound incredible. I had never imagined how different it would be from sitting watching television. The experience was so much more enhanced in the cinema.
Toni held my hand throughout the movie, no one noticed since the place was dark. The film was really good. Very funny at times and it was romantic.
Afterwards we headed back to the flat to get ready for the evening. It was at these times in particular that I noticed the lack of space in the flat. It was fine for one person, but when two people were trying to get showered and dressed while trying not to invade the others privacy it became very apparent that the flat was not made for two people to exist in this way. I was really encroaching on Toni’s space, despite what she said and would be making a bigger effort to find my own place and get out from under her feet. Not that I minded seeing them, I had been taking enormous pleasure from watching Toni wander around her flat barefoot, listening to her favourite music.
The walk to the restaurant was pleasant. Toni was wearing a pair of navy dress trousers and a white cotton shirt with the collar up. It was a fashionable look, I had never worn my shirt collar up, but it was a look Toni chose often. I had been tremendously pleased when Toni again commented on my dress saying that after she had suggested I not wear it to the funfair, she really hoped to see me in it again.
Toni ordered a bottle of wine with the meal, I wasn’t even aware that she drank alcohol. I had never seen her drink before. When I commented about it, she explained that when she is driving she doesn’t bother to drink any alcohol at all. When the wine arrived the waiter poured some into Toni’s glass then gestured with the bottle towards mine. I hesitated briefly before nodding my assent. I had never tried alcohol of any kind before, but tonight I intended to rectify that.
“Will you tell me about your family?” I asked Toni, I was curious since she had never mentioned them before.
“I have a brother and my dad is a train driver.”
“Really? Does he ever drink at the club?” I wondered if I might have met him.
Toni nodded, “Yes, often.” She looked pensive, “Look I haven’t mentioned this before to you because I was pretty embarrassed I suppose, but you should know that Keith is my dad.”
I’m sure the look on my face must have been pretty comical. I just couldn’t imagine Keith being Toni’s dad. I was utterly shocked.
“I know it’s hard to believe. Look, I’m really sorry that he grabbed you, Shona. He really is harmless; he just gets carried away when he drinks too much. Which I have to add is more of a problem since we lost my mum a few years ago. He’s always sober at work, but when he is off, he just goes on one of his binges.”
“I’m really surprised to hear that Keith is your father, I just can’t see it.”
“Trust me it’s true,” Toni said wryly.
“What happened to your mum, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Toni immediately looked sad. She swirled the wine around her glass, looking pensively at the liquid before settling her moist eyes on me. “She had breast cancer.” She stated softly. “I still miss her, we all do. My brother and my dad really struggled to cope with her loss. I did too, but they both seemed to find her passing extra hard to accept. I don’t know why that was, perhaps I just got some genes that made it easier for me to hold it together. Ross went into a downward spiral, I tried to help him, but at the time there was just no reaching him. He was in his final year at school and applying for university. He wanted to be an engineer. He quit school and did whatever he felt like, which was anything from alcohol to solvent abuse. You know glue sniffing, inhaling lighter fuel, that kind of thing. He got into petty crime, mainly house burglary and shoplifting, to support himself. Had a couple of short stints in prison but it was never a deterrent. With no job and little to no chance of getting one he turned to crime again. He robbed a shopkeeper at knifepoint, was caught and this time the judge showed no leniency at his trial, which I agreed with. He was getting more out of control. The judge sentenced him to five years in prison. He will be up for parole in a year. I’ve visited him often and he does appear to be more positive about life. I think he might make it this time around. I’ve seen him mature while in prison, he has been studying and generally putting his time to good use. I really hope he can get his life back together.”
“I’m really sorry about your mum’s passing and the problems your dad and brother have experienced as a result of her loss.”
“Thanks.” Toni smiled at me, but she looked so sad, “Now you know why I haven’t mentioned my family.” She blew out a breath. “I’m sorry this is supposed to be a date. I don’t mean to sound so depressing.”
“You’re not. I really want to know all about you and what matters to you.”
“You matter to me.” Toni held my gaze making sure I really understood the seriousness of her statement. The moment ended with me blushing profusely, and Toni smiling at my predicament. This was becoming a habit!
“You look adorable when you blush.”
“You seem to have a habit of inducing this reaction in me.”
“Good. I like it.”
I knew I was blushing harder and Toni decided to show me some mercy by changing the subject.
“How is the wine?”
“Mm, good. I really enjoy the taste.” Toni picked up the bottle and offered to refill my glass, which I merrily accepted. She then topped up her own glass.
“You should be careful since this is your first taste of alcohol, it can really go to your head.” Toni warned. I just waved my hand and told her I would be fine. She chuckled, at my antics. If I had still been in possession of my powers of observation, I would have noticed the early warning signs. I was already a little drunk.
After the meal, we walked back to the flat, well Toni told me later that I may have thought I’d been walking, but in reality I had needed to lean on her to even keep in a straight line. I do recall giggling a lot. My memory of that walk seems to have me more floating along than leaning, I think I prefer my version to Toni’s.
When we got to the flat I immediately seemed to lose all sense of proprietary, not to mention all my sexual inhibitions. Toni had barely had time to close the door behind us when I pounced on her lips. I recall kissing her passionately and my hands seemed to be taking on a mind of their own.
“Shona, we have to slow down,” she protested.
“No, I don’t want to.” I continued my exploration of Toni with renewed enthusiasm.
Had I been sober, I would have noticed that Toni’s voice sounded strained, but due to my alcohol addled haze I didn’t pay any attention to her protests, instead attempting to manoeuvre us into Toni’s bedroom. I got us inside the door and Toni was still saying something, but my mind was fully focused elsewhere. I had decided I was ready to make love.
Toni wrapped her arms firmly around me and pulled me tightly to her, effectively trapping me.
“Shona, listen to me. We have to stop.”
“But I don’t want to. I’m ready. I want to do this.”
“And so do I, desperately, but I don’t want you to have any regrets.”
“I won’t, I promise you.” I attempted to kiss her again.
“Shona…” Toni seemed to groan out my name. “Listen to me. I can’t take that risk. The last thing I want is for you to wake up tomorrow and regret anything we do. You had wine tonight for the first time and though I’m loving your enthusiasm, I can’t take advantage of it.”
I went limp in Toni’s arms and she released her hold on me. I recall slumping down onto the side of her bed and crying.”
“You don’t want me,” I sniffed.
“Of course I do,” Toni assured me. “I want you more than anything, but I can’t take advantage of your disposition. Please, Shona, if you were sober we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. We would be sharing my bed.”
I sniffed and nodded my head. Toni lay down on the bed and pulled me down beside her. The last thing I remember is her holding me in her arms and whispering soothing words to me. I drifted off to sleep with her comforting voice and the warmth from her body both acting in tandem to lull me into slumber.
I woke up in a strange room, on a strange bed, fully clothed and alone. I couldn’t recall immediately how I got there and then the memories of the night before started to come to me in bits and pieces. I was at once both mortified and grateful that Toni had remained sensible the night before. I turned my head into her pillow and groaned aloud.
“Morning sleepy head.”
I couldn’t look at her after my wanton actions the night before. I had thrown myself at Toni.
“Morning,” I managed to mumble into the pillow.
“How’s the head?”
I took a moment to consider the question. My head felt fine, I was a little tired though, and my mouth – it was so dry and what was that taste? Ewww!
“It’s good thanks.”
I felt the mattress dip as Toni sat on the bed beside me. She put her hand on my shoulder.
“Are you going to look at me?”
“No,” I whined.
“Come on, look at me,” she encouraged.
I gave a slight shake of my head, indicating my reluctance. I knew I was being a coward, but I was so deeply embarrassed about my actions the night before.
“You have to face me sometime, might as well get it over with,” Toni teased lightly.
I turned my head slowly to the left and peered up at Toni with one eye. She pulled a funny face at me and I ended up laughing. With the tension broken, I was able to turn and fully face Toni.
“See, it’s not so bad.” She ruffled my sleep-tousled hair.
“I’m sorry about last night.” I really did feel very ashamed.
“Don’t be sorry. You have nothing to apologise for.”
“Then I want to thank you for keeping a sensible head, when I was clearly not thinking straight.” I considered what and I had just said. It wasn’t all that I wanted to say. “I really do want to make love with you Toni, but you were right. I would far rather be sober, but not because I might regret my actions the next morning.”
Toni looked at me curiously and waited for me to continue.
“I want to be sober because then I will be able to remember our first time together with absolute clarity.” I paused for a moment considering my next words before giving voice to them. “I think I acted the way I did because I am afraid that you may get fed up waiting for me to make the next move.” That had been worrying me since my chat with Isobel.
“I don’t want you to feel any pressure to sleep with me, Shona. You take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”
Toni leaned over and placed a light kiss on my lips. I had managed to find the correct words to say what I felt and be honest with Toni. I was beginning to fully understand the merits of talking any issues through with her. She had once again been able to put me at ease. I was beginning to wonder what I had done to deserve such a wonderful person in my life. Toni was thoughtful, caring, patient and understanding. I suddenly wondered how any of her previous girlfriends could have let her go. I also vowed to myself never to act upon Isobel’s advice while drunk!
The following Wednesday I found myself working with Eddie for the bingo night. Toni had the night off to attend a friend’s Birthday party. She said she had wanted to invite me along but with Cath being on holiday that only left Eddie to tend the bar. I was pleased with the knowledge that Toni had wanted to take me, even if I couldn’t actually go.
Eddie was hilarious to work with. He was charming to the ladies then would say something completely funny about them after they went back to their seats. Tonight he was dressed as smartly as always in a pair of neatly pressed dark grey pin-tucked dress trousers, with a slim leather belt. His mint coloured shirt, also crease free, had the collar open and the cuffs turned up twice. He reminded me of the character in Eastenders, Simon Wicks, especially when he ran a hand through his hair, repositioning the ‘flick’ that was styled into it. His aftershave smelled nice too.
“Hello, Myra, might I say you’re looking lovely this evening.”
This woman scared me. She always wore a scowl on her face. I couldn’t believe Eddie had just said that to her.
“Don’t get fresh with me son, I’m old enough to be your mother. I’ll have a brandy.”
Eddie sniffed the air around Myra, “Is that a new perfume you’ve been getting yourself?”
“Away with ye, ya daft edjit!” Myra declared while swatting at him.
“You smell lovely, Myra.” He grinned at her, oozing charm. My gran would say that Eddie was a silver-tongued devil.
I couldn’t believe the woman actually smiled a little. I had never seen anything but a scowl on her face. I had once heard Eddie claim that she must have been chewing a wasp to perfect her look.
“Get off with ye and get me my brandy.” She was totally flustered due to Eddie’s attentions.
He winked at her and I swear she blushed. I loved working with Toni, but Eddie was a close second because he was just so much fun.
As the ladies settled down for the second half of the bingo night, Eddie and I chatted quietly behind the bar. I saw an opportunity and decided to seize it with both hands.
“Eddie, what did Toni do before she worked here?” I enquired casually.
“She started here straight from school.”
“Oh, I heard her mention college, do you know what she studied?” I feigned indifference, but Eddie saw straight through my facade.
He got a big grin on his face. “She won’t tell you will she?”
“No,” I answered with a little exasperation in my voice. “Why won’t she tell me? What could be so bad?”
“Aww, I wish I could tell you, Shona, but it’s more than my life’s worth. If I told you she would make my life here miserable.”
“Please?” I gave him my most innocent look.
Eddie started laughing then abruptly stopped as he was hushed by some of the bingo players. He continued on in a lower voice.
“Shona, it’s a long time since you had that look on your face. Now you’re trying to use it to extort information from me. You’ve come a long way from the naïve girl that walked through these doors nearly a year ago.”
I was extremely pleased about that, even though I wasn’t getting the information I wanted.
“You’ll find out Toni’s secret in good time. It’ll all come out in the wash.” Eddie walked away laughing to himself, which just made me more curious than ever.
That weekend behind the bar had a kind of strange atmosphere to it. Toni seemed to be glowering at Eddie. He was walking around with a smirk on his face. I knew something was up, but I just didn’t have a clue what it was. More than once that evening I caught them whispering to each other in dark corners, only catching snippets of their conversation it was hard to piece it together. There was something about a date and Toni stating “All right! I’ll do it” After that the conversation between them stopped, but not the dirty looks Toni cast at Eddie, or the smug look he taunted her with. It was very intriguing. At one point I remarked to Toni that Eddie had a really sharp wit to which she sarcastically replied, “Oh, aye. So sharp he just might cut himself…with any luck!”
In the next couple of weeks, Toni and I had been on two more dates, one to the ice-rink and another to the zoo. Cath was back from holiday and I was back washing glasses. I still giggled every time I thought back to the Saturday night when Cath came rushing into the bar late. She was looking very healthy, with a lovely tan and wearing a gorgeous red jacket. I was behind the bar helping Toni and Eddie serve customers, since there was little else to do till the glasses emptied. Before Cath had a chance to explain why she was late, Eddie turned to Toni and said, “Oh, Toni, I forgot to tell you Cath is late because she was arrested for disturbing the peace.” Cath looked at Eddie as though he had lost his mind, while Toni and I stopped serving to listen. “Aye, she was arrested because her jacket was too loud.” Eddie walked off, his shoulders shaking, with Cath following him and beating him over the head with her clutch bag, calling him a cheeky git. Eddie and I grinned at them, it was so very funny and great to have everyone back behind the bar, but as the night wore on and I was once again by myself out the back, I found myself envying the other three bar staff.
When the weekend was over I found that for the first time, I was unhappy at my job. I really missed working behind the bar and serving customers. I was once again feeling detached from everyone else. Now the feeling was even stronger since I knew you could have fun while you worked behind the bar. I felt even more isolated and lonely as I took on the demanding work of washing the glasses again.
On Monday night I was as usual spending my evening with Toni while she worked.
“You were miserable weren’t you?”
Toni didn’t have to clarify what I was miserable about and there was no way I could deny it. I had been in a funk for the last couple of days.
I sighed, “Yes. I was.”
“I thought that might happen. Shona, have you thought about working somewhere else? I could ask around, there are lots of pubs around here looking for experienced bar staff.”
“I don’t know, Toni, I would miss you guys.”
“But I can’t give you any hours behind the bar now that everyone is back from holidays. You’re back washing glasses which is hard work for low pay, not to mention a lot less fun.”
“I’m not sure.” The truth was I didn’t know if I could cope with working somewhere else. I was really comfortable in these surroundings. It would be difficult to go somewhere else. I would also see a lot less of Toni.
“Think about it. Let me know if you change your mind.”
The following days were a little lonely for me. With no bar work to fill my week anymore, I was left with a lot of free time on my hands. I didn’t want to turn up at work with Toni all the time. I wanted to keep saving money, but without work during the week I wouldn’t be able to do that. I decided by Friday to take Toni up on her suggestion to work in another bar.
When Toni returned home for dinner that evening I told her of my decision.
“I think you’re doing the right thing, Shona,” she said around a mouthful of spaghetti bolognese. My cooking repertoire had been improving over the weeks. “I already know of a couple of places looking for staff. I know the pubs and they aren’t too bad for trouble. I’ll take you to see them tomorrow.”
“Thanks…Uhm, you already started looking for me didn’t you?” I accused gently.
Toni grinned, “Yes, I ah… I was hoping you would decide to do what was best for you and not what was best for the club.”
I nodded, “You’re right. I didn’t want to leave you guys without a glass washer, but I also have concerns about working somewhere else.”
“You’ll do great, trust me I know these things. And don’t worry about us. I’ll get someone to fill the job.”
And that was that. By Saturday afternoon, I had a new job working behind the bar of a pub called The Fern. It wasn’t too far from the Railwaymen’s club, only about a five-minute walk. Sunday was my last night at the club and I was a little sad to be leaving. At the end of the night Cath and Eddie stayed behind a little longer and had a couple of drinks to celebrate my new job. I stayed away from alcohol and stuck to softies after the last time. I still cringed at the memories I had of me throwing myself at Toni.
The Fern was a lovely little pub. As with the Railwaymen’s Club, it had a friendly atmosphere and the staff, were being helpful and accommodating to me. The one notable difference was the interaction between the staff and customers. Where as at the Railwaymen’s, many of the customers had a lot to say about the running of the club and were almost territorial about it, here in The Fern there was a more reserved, but polite interaction between the staff and patrons. Much more laid back. I was enjoying this new experience even after only a few days.
The major draw back was seeing less of Toni. She would drop me off if we were both on an early shift but regardless of what evening shift Toni was on she insisted on picking me up at night. I told her I didn’t mind getting a staff taxi, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer, finally saying, “Will you please just humour me?”
Things were working out well, however I was still left with the problem of finding new accommodation and I still hadn’t found a suitable birthday present for Toni. Now that I was pretty much working full time, it was more difficult to find time to go flat hunting and to fit in shopping.
I mentioned this one afternoon to Marie who worked behind the bar at The Fern. She told me about a jewellery shop nearby that specialised in unusual pieces, so I decided to take the bus into work early on Friday to have a look. I was there for mere minutes when my eyes fell upon the perfect gift. I enquired about the engraving service and paid for my purchase, which I would be picking up tomorrow. I just knew it was the right thing, but it wouldn’t stop me worrying over it for the next three days. Toni hadn’t said a word about her Birthday, so she clearly had no plans to celebrate it. That meant she would be working as usual in the club. I was working the early shift on Monday but, unlike the club, The Fern didn’t close from 4pm till 6.30pm. When I finished my shift at 6.30pm, I would walk down to the club and spend the evening with Toni.
After finishing my shift at The Fern, I popped into a local café to get some dinner. I ate my cheeseburger and chips, and walked down to the club. I really couldn’t wait to see Toni and spend a few hours with her, even if she was working, but decided not to let on that I knew it was her birthday until we got back home tonight. Though we had managed to fit in a couple of dates recently to the zoo and the ice-rink. I think Toni was determined to introduce me to as many new experiences as possible, and while I thoroughly enjoyed both outings, I had particularly fond memories of the walk we had taken last week. The weather was pleasant, and Toni suggested we get out for a while before she was due back at work. We took the short walk into the centre of Musselburgh, where we went to Luca’s ice cream shop. Toni assured me that warm sunny days and a Luca’s ice cream, were what summer was all about. After we got our cones we made our way leisurely back towards the harbour. It was a perfect afternoon; there was hardly a cloud in the sky as we watched the boats on the river forth, while children played in the sand, soaking up what would probably be the last of the good weather.
I practically burst through the doors of the Railwaymen’s club in my enthusiasm to see Toni. I tapped lightly on the bar door before entering. Spotting her leaning against the closed side of the bar reading a magazine, I unceremoniously grabbed her arm and pulled her to the back of the bar for a deep kiss.
“Wow! Now that’s a great hello.”
“I missed you, I feel like I’ve hardly seen you,” I said beseechingly.
“Mmm, I know. I’ve missed you too.” Toni lifted me with little effort and sat me on top of the low counter where the dirty glasses were stacked at weekends. We continued to kiss enthusiastically for several minutes until being rudely interrupted by someone knocking at the bar door. Well I considered it to be a rude interruption, but I suppose Toni was working!
Toni groaned, “I better go see who wants me.” She gave me a parting kiss on the lips then walked back through to the bar.
I decided to wait for Toni where I was. I heard her open the door then greet her dad. Well she called him Keith, which was a little strange to me. I wondered if it was just here in the club that Toni used her dad’s first name. I heard Toni thank Keith, then stop at the cupboard before making her way back to me.
“Now, where were we?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“Right here,” I replied as I invited Toni back to the spot she had just vacated, so she once again stood between my legs as I sat on the counter top. It was a bold decision for me, and I felt decidedly decadent for having made it.
After a few more kisses I decided to ask a question that had been nagging away at the back of my mind ever since Toni had told me Keith was her father, “Why do you call your dad Keith?”
“Hmm, dunno,” Toni shrugged. “I’ve called him Keith for as long as I can remember.”
“Isn’t that a little odd?’
“Not to me, but I can understand why other people would think so.” Toni thought about it, “I don’t have any other answer, Keith never seemed bothered by it, so there was no reason to stop.”
We broke apart when we heard the bar door open. Toni looked through to see who it was. I could tell by the way her eyes narrowed she wasn’t pleased to see them “Be right back,” she whispered, then walked through the bar to greet them. I listened in shamelessly to the conversation.
“Can I help you, Henry?” I immediately detected an edge to Toni’s voice.
“I just thought I would take a look at the back, get a feel for the place.”
“I thought you already did that yesterday?”
“Aye well, I fancied another look.” I had no idea who Henry was but his tone held a note of challenge, I wondered why he would talk to Toni that way.
“You know, you will only be working three nights at the weekend. That doesn’t permit you to wander in and out of the bar as you please.”
“Why no’? Everybody else who works the bar can.”
“You, Henry; do not work the bar. You clean glasses on the weekend, what possible reason could you have to be behind here at any other time?”
“There’s no need to be like that, Toni!” The man sounded like a petulant child that had just been told off.
“I’ll see you Friday, 7pm sharp.” Toni waited for him to exit the bar before returning to me, “Bloody pain in the arse!” Toni stood with a hand on her hip and a scowl marring her beautiful face. She let out a slow breath to calm herself.
“That was Henry, the new glass washer.” She pointed in the direction she had just come from.
I was a little confused as to why Toni had employed him if he was going to be trouble.
“When did you hire him?”
Toni snorted, “That’s just the problem, I didn’t hire him.” She shook her head, “He’s the brother of one of the committee members, when I said I would be looking for a new glass washer, he mentioned how his brother had lost his job and could do with the extra cash. He isn’t even through the books, he claims his dole money and gets cash in the hand here.”
“Isn’t that illegal?” I may not have known a lot about it, but even I was pretty sure that claiming social security money from the government while working was against the rules.
“Uhuh, but that’s the committee at their best. Henry’s brother gets a favour, and I have absolutely no say in the matter.”
“That stinks.” I wasn’t quite sure where that declaration had come from, but it certainly felt appropriate.
Toni laughed, “It does, I would never have hired someone under those circumstances. I don’t even think he’s going to be any good at the job. Let’s face it, you are a really difficult act to follow.” She pulled me in for another kiss, all thoughts of Henry gone for the moment.
We finally got home just after 11pm, the night had seemed to drag on, and I had thought it was never going to end. I instructed Toni to sit on the sofa while I made us a pot of tea. I could hardly contain my excitement over finally being alone with Toni and the prospect of giving her the gift I had purchased. I still had nagging doubts over whether she would like it or not, but deep down believed I had chosen the right gift.
We snuggled up together on the sofa relaxing and drinking our tea. Toni had put on some Hipsway, which was one of her more relaxing choices as she had a preference for guitar bands. As we listened to the soothing tones of ‘Honeytheif,’ I decided it was now or never. I wanted to give Toni her gift while it was still her birthday.
I excused myself and got up from the sofa to fetch the parcel I had carefully wrapped yesterday, along with her birthday card. When I sat back down beside Toni, she gave me a slightly puzzled look.
“I know, you wanted to keep it quiet, but I found out that today is your birthday so I got you a little something.” I handed Toni the card and gift, “Happy Birthday, Toni.” I lightly kissed her on the lips.
“Oh, Shona, you shouldn’t have…but thank you.” She smiled coyly.
For all Toni wanted to keep this day quiet I was pleased with the smile on her face. The hard part was still to come though. I waited patiently for Toni to open her gift. She politely chose to open the card first, which she thanked me for with a quick kiss. I took a deep breath as she started to remove the wrapping paper from the gift, suddenly flooded with self-doubt.
I watched pensively as Toni opened the jewellery box, which revealed a hand made silver pendant. She carefully picked it up and looked at it closely for a few moments, taking in all the detail.
“Shona, it looks beautiful, I’m sorry to say, that I don’t recognise it. Can you help me out?”
I wasn’t surprised to hear this; I just hoped that my explanation would go down well with Toni.
“It’s a handmade silver pendant of the Clan MacLeod badge crest”
“It’s lovely. What does the writing say, its Gaelic isn’t it?”
“Yes. It says ‘I Birn Quil I Se’, which means ‘I shine, but I do not burn’. That’s the Clan motto.”
“Do you speak Gaelic?”
“Yes, I do. We were taught in both Gaelic and English, so I’m fluent in both.” I paused waiting for Toni to inspect the pendant further; she flipped it over in her fingers then looked at me.
“What does the inscription on the back say?”
I swallowed hard knowing this could be a pivotal moment for us.
“It says, ‘Is gradhaich leam thu, Toni’.”
“It sounds wonderful, but what does it mean?”
“It means I love you.” I swallowed hard due to my extreme nervousness.
Toni sat absolutely still, eyes locked on mine. She tentatively reached out to stroke my cheek. “Then I’m the luckiest woman alive.” Her voice sounded husky from the emotion she was feeling.
I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks at Toni’s acceptance of my love. She pulled me to her and hugged me tightly, running her fingers through my hair and kissing my head. She took my face gently in her hands and looked deeply into my eyes.
“You, Shona MacLeod, are a special person, a very special person. I’ve loved you for a long time. I would have told you before now, but I was concerned that it may have been too soon for you to hear. I love you, Shona, I love you so very much.”
We moved together almost desperately, kissing each other hard. Breaking only when the need for air became a necessity, just to start all over again. Toni’s hands began to roam over my body, she briefly moved over my buttocks only to suddenly break contact, moving her hands back up to my waist.
“I’m sorry,” she rasped into my ear.
I knew I didn’t want her to be sorry, I didn’t want her to stop. I had to let her know.
I shook my head lightly, “No, don’t be sorry.” I pulled back to look into her eyes, “Don’t stop.”
Toni’s head jerked up as she looked at me, searching for something, waiting.
“Please,” was the only word I thought to utter and it must have been the right one because Toni took my hand and led me to her bedroom.
I was nervous, but there would be no turning back for me. I didn’t want to. I felt that I had been at a precipice for so long and this time I was going to take the step that would propel me into the unknown. Toni switched on her bedside lamp, illuminating the room in a soft glow. She slowly walked back to her door where I was standing just inside. Reaching for my hand she gently tugged me towards her.
“Are you absolutely sure, Shona?” She whispered the question tentatively, sounding almost afraid, although of what I couldn’t imagine.
“I’m absolutely certain,” I replied, with much more confidence than I was feeling. I was most certainly afraid in this moment, but I knew that I was ready to be with Toni in every way. I had finally found the courage of my convictions. I knew there would be no turning back from this point.
Toni slipped her hands onto my hips and gently pulled me to her. Our mouths met again. There was no urgency from Toni; she took her time kissing me slowly. I think I was honestly surprised at that. I’m not sure what I thought would happen from this point, but this slow tender caress from Toni was wonderful. Her hands moved leisurely over my back and shoulders. I could feel the heat from her palms through the cotton of my blouse; feel myself melting into her touch.
For some reason my hands were totally inactive, my arms hanging loosely by my sides. I had instinctively handed all control of this moment over to Toni; such was the strength of my trust in her. As her hands mapped out my shoulders, her thumbs gently massaged my tense muscles, helping to relax me.
Toni began to kiss and nuzzle my neck and her long fingers found the buttons of my blouse and started to slowly undo them. I heard myself gasp as she started to reveal my bra but she didn’t touch my breasts and carried on till my blouse was completely open. She stepped back a little and smiled at me, running the backs of her fingers over the smooth skin of my stomach. “So beautiful.” I heard her whisper, as she reached to my shoulders to gently push my blouse down my arms and off my body. I swallowed hard, I was nervous, but there would be no going back.
Toni’s hand trailed to the top button of my trousers, she went no further. “May I?” she asked softly, at my nod, she proceeded to undo the button and slowly pull down my zip. Toni eased my trousers over my hips and they slid down my legs to pool at my bare feet. I stepped out of them as she held my hands, offering support and encouragement. Leading me to her bed, I sat on the edge and looked on, a spectator, while Toni removed her own clothing. A part of me lamented not being the one to undress her, but I knew on this occasion, she was leading this encounter, which was just as well. I was so nervous we could have been standing all night waiting for me to pluck up the courage to remove her clothes.
I was truly memorised as I watched Toni take off her shirt and jeans. As she stood before me in only her underwear, I was treated to my first glimpse of her beautiful flesh. I knew she would be aesthetically pleasing, but it was so much more than mere aesthetics. She looked glorious, all long limbs and sinewy, corded muscle. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Her skin looked so smooth, I felt my fingers twitch with the urge to touch it. I glanced up towards Toni’s face; the look of sheer intensity there continued to hold me in rapt attention as she reached behind to unhook her bra. I felt my eyes naturally drop from her face to her chest. Watching her breasts bounce and ripple as she released them from the confines of her bra. I could feel heat flush my cheeks as I got my first look at this part of Toni. My eyes tracked back up to hers, both of us were breathing faster, now that the reality of the moment was truly upon us. The intensity had increased tenfold. I reached a hand out to Toni and with two strides she was there, engulfing me in her warm embrace. I wasn’t even aware of standing up again to meet her.
Standing fully body-to-body with Toni, I was acutely aware of the last barriers of clothing between us, Toni must have been sharing similar thoughts as she reached behind me to unclasp my bra, slowly drawing it down my arms while looking at me for any sign of doubt. Seeing none she continued, moving her hands to my hips to remove my underwear.
The next few minutes were just a blur of sensation as Toni led me to her bed and proceeded to kiss me deeply, her body moving with mine as we lay together naked. She cupped my breasts, squeezing them lightly as we continued to kiss passionately. After a while her mouth moved from mine to kiss along my jaw line towards my ear, softly whispered reassurances helping to soothe my apprehension.
She gently sucked my earlobe and I whimpered at the sensation. Kissing her way down my neck, she nipped and sucked at my pulse point. I began to caress the smooth skin of her back, allowing my hands to wander over flesh that I had longed to touch. Suddenly I was aware of my own sharp intake of breath as Toni’s mouth replaced one of her hands on my breast.
The sensation was unlike anything I had ever known before. My want and arousal seemed to increase in direct proportion to the moans now emanating from Toni as she sucked my nipple into her mouth.
Suddenly abandoning my breast, Toni began to kiss her way down to my navel. I could feel myself panting for breath, my chest rising and falling rapidly, my body trembling with both fear and desire.
Toni stopped and looked up at me, “It’s alright, Shona. There isn’t anything to be afraid of.”
Her words offered me some comfort and I nodded in response. She moved back up to look at me, her body hovering over mine, but not resting her weight on me.
“If you want to stop just say, I’ll understand completely. I don’t want you to feel any pressure to do this.” Tenderly stroking my cheek, she awaited my response.
“I don’t want you to stop…please.” I whispered, hoarsely.
Toni smiled and, with a parting kiss to my lips, began once more to make her way back down my body.
What happened next was totally unexpected, in truth; I had never even considered the possibility.
Before I could fully comprehend what was happening, Toni had nestled her head between my thighs and, when she began to use her mouth on me, I was momentarily shocked…until it became far too pleasurable to care anymore!
I woke to find Toni holding me and stroking my hair. I realised that I must have fallen asleep shortly after experiencing the most wonderful sensation of my young life!
I smiled in reflex at that thought. I knew I was looking dreamily into Toni’s eyes, but I just couldn’t help myself. I felt like I was floating along on a warm breeze without a care in the world.
“Hi,” Toni husked, as she continued to stroke my face and shoulders with gentle hands.
“Hi,” I replied in a voice that sounded strange to my own ears
“How are you doing?”
“Great, I feel…I don’t know, but I feel fantastic.”
Toni laughed gently at my reply and bent down to kiss me on the lips. I wasn’t prepared for the tangy flavour there and after a moment I realised that the taste was…me. My essence.
The kiss quickly escalated as our passion grew once more. Toni rolled onto her back and drew my smaller body on top of hers. I felt my thigh slip between her legs and she gasped at the contact, her hands grasping my buttocks to pull me closer against her.
We began to rock together and I could feel the pressure begin to build once more between my legs. Our pace quickened and I could hear some grunts and moans. I really wasn’t sure which one of us they were coming from, I felt as though my body had been taken over as I became totally absorbed in moving against her.
I let out a sound of protest when Toni rolled of my body and lay on her side facing me. Encouraging me to do the same, she continued to kiss me while she languidly stroked the length of my side from shoulder to knee, and back again.
Raising my leg over her hip, she began to caress my inner thigh with her long fingers. There was no hurry to her movements as she slowly inched her way closer to my centre. My hips jumped when her fingers made contact with the sensitised skin. Easily locating the hard bundle of nerves again, Toni began to move her fingers in a circular motion and I felt the sensation begin to build anew, my hips again taking on a rhythm of their own volition.
Within minutes I was experiencing my second orgasm and, my over stimulated centre screaming in protest, I found myself unable to endure Toni’s touch a moment longer, so I rolled on top of her, effectively stilling her skilled digits in the process.
Burying my face into the soft skin of Toni’s neck I waited patiently for the feelings to subside.
Sometime later I shifted against Toni as I tried to move of off her, only to hear her groan and hold me in place. I looked down at her to see a look of pleading on her beautiful face. It was in that moment that I suddenly realised that everything Toni had done to me, I could do to her in return, giving her the same pleasure that she had given to me.
I tentatively reached out to touch her breast. It was so soft. I could see even in the dim light that her nipple was hard and I wondered what it would be like to take it into my mouth, the same way Toni had done with mine.
I squeezed her breast, which elicited a moan of pleasure, encouraging me to go further. I slowly bent my head down and took her erect nipple into my mouth. I could hear words of encouragement coming from Toni and I felt her hips surge against me as I began to suck on her nipple.
“Yes...that feels so good, Shona,” Toni whispered breathlessly, her hand moving into my hair, gently holding my head to her breast.
I continued to suck on Toni’s nipple as my hands began to wander over her body, mapping out new territory. I took Toni’s neglected breast in one hand while the other moved slowly, tentatively towards the juncture of her thighs. I knew I was trembling, but with what exactly I wasn’t sure, fear, desire, anticipation, a mixture of all three. I could feel Toni’s desire, her wetness coating my inexperienced fingers as I began to move them through her pubic hair and into the soft hot folds that lay beneath.
I truly wasn’t confident in what I was doing. I tried to search out Toni’s clitoris, but seemed to be all fingers and thumbs. Just as all seemed to be going wrong I felt a strong sure hand cover mine, guiding me. I quickly picked up the rhythm that Toni was showing me and she released my hand to hold me again.
“Oh, yes, Shona, just like that.”
I could feel Toni moving beneath me as she approached the precipice, her hips picking up speed as my fingers danced against her. I was concentrating so hard on what I was doing I almost missed her request.
“Go inside…please?” She asked between gasps for air.
I slipped two fingers inside Toni and she cried out in pleasure, her orgasm taking hold immediately, I could feel her inner walls constricting and squeezing my fingers.
“Oh, God…Yes!” Toni screamed as she arched beneath me, lifting us both with her long legs. We seemed to be suspended in mid air until, suddenly Toni flopped back onto the mattress with a long expulsion of breath. We both lay still, and all that could be heard was the harsh breathing as she awaited her body to slow down from orgasm.
I gently removed my fingers from inside her unsure what to do with the digits liberally coated with Toni’s essence. I wondered what she would taste like. It seemed odd that I had already tasted myself on her lips. There had been so many firsts for me tonight. Things I had never even imagined could happen between two women. I heard Toni sigh beneath me and contentedly mumble into my hair as she pulled me closer to her. We both fell asleep.
I awoke some time later to find myself still moulded to Toni in the same position I had fallen asleep. I turned my head towards the digital clock next to her bed; it was four in the morning and still dark outside. I felt Toni stir beneath me.
“Toni?” I whispered into the dark, as my head lay on her shoulder.
“Yes,” she mumbled sleepily as she began to rub my back.
“Am I…” I stumbled over the words, but was determined to get there. “Am I still a virgin?”
Continuing to rub soothing circles near the base of my spine, she took a moment to consider her response. “Well, technically you are because there was no penetration.” Toni replied softly, sounding more awake.
“Why?” I asked, curious as to the reason for Toni not taking my virginity. In truth, it had been one of my greatest fears. What it would be like, would it hurt? Would I enjoy it? I had thoroughly enjoyed everything Toni and I had done tonight, but was curious and maybe a little confused.
“I wanted you to know that sex - making love, isn’t all about one act. I didn’t want your first experience to be one where you hurt or felt discomfort. More than that though, I think I was as scared as you were about losing your virginity when the time came. I’ve never…uh, I’ve never been anyone’s first.”
The knowledge that Toni was as nervous as I was made me all the more determined to remove this last barrier between us. Feeling bolder than I had before, I made the decision to complete my experience this night. With the woman I knew for certain that I loved.
“I would like to share that with you.”
I could feel Toni nod against my head, “Whenever you’re ready.”
I could feel Toni turn to face me. “You mean now?”
I nodded, “Yes,” and very soon afterwards, we were experiencing a ‘first’ for both of us…
I awoke to the most wonderful sensations. Toni was lying naked behind me, with her front pressed to my back, her legs tucked up to mine and an arm resting on my stomach gently caressing my skin. I felt so safe and loved it was amazing.
“Good morning.” I said, sounding a little hoarse.
“It certainly is.” Toni replied as she kissed the back of my head.
I turned in her arms to face her. Her eyes sparkled and danced as she looked back at me, a smile on her face.
“Toni, last night, it was…amazing.” I couldn’t find enough words to express just how wonderful it had been.
“So, you don’t have any regrets?” she asked tentatively.
“Just one…” I could see the smile slip from her face and decided not to tease, “I only wish I hadn’t waited so long!”
Toni tickled my ribs, “Imp…don’t do that, you had me worried for a second.”
I squirmed away from her hands, laughing as my head lay back against the pillow. I looked at Toni, her head resting in her palm as she looked down at me.
“I love you Toni,” I whispered. She bent down to kiss me, it was soft and warm and wonderful. When the kiss ended, Toni continued to stroke my cheek with the backs of her fingers while looking deeply into my eyes.
“You’re so beautiful, Shona. You melt my heart.”
I could feel the tears begin to gather behind my eyelids and I fought to keep them from falling.
“Shhh, what’s wrong,” Toni cooed softly.
“Nothing. Really, it’s just that no-one has ever said anything like that to me before, it’s a little overwhelming.”
“In a good way I hope?”
I nodded, “Yes, in a very good way.” Toni pulled me into a hug and I must have dozed off, as the next time I awoke it was to find myself alone in bed. In the distance, I could just hear the sound of the shower, as I lay awake listening to the woman I loved as she moved around in the bathroom.
That led to thoughts and memories of the night before. It had been amazing, just nothing like I had imagined. I had never considered that sex could entail so much pleasure. I had amazed myself on more than one occasion with the sounds I had made and the want that I had exhibited. Even now, I could feel a pleasant ache between my legs just thinking about what had happened. I was tender, but I enjoyed that feeling, simply because it was Toni’s doing. She had taken all I had to offer with such gentleness and kindness that my heart swam with the memories. I snuggled further into the duvet, able to smell Toni, her perfume, her essence. The smell of our lovemaking, it was everywhere, surrounding me. I felt giddy with joy.
“I have to get going. I wish I could spend the day with you, but I’m opening up.” Toni had a look of regret on her face. I would have loved for her to be able to spend the day with me, but it wasn’t going to happen.
“Its okay, I understand.”
“I’ll see you at teatime?” she asked hopefully.
“I’m working tonight,” I sighed and Toni let out a little snort.
“Looks like we are going to have to plan our schedules better, that is if we want to spend more time together.”
I nodded my agreement.
“I’ll pick you up tonight, after work?’
I smiled, “See you then.”
Toni leaned down to kiss me, I was amazed at how quickly the kiss escalated, it was clear we both wanted more, but there was no time. She pulled away, her pupils dilated as she gave me a long look. “Later,” she mumbled and quickly left.
I got up shortly after Toni left. I showered and had a late breakfast. Dressed and feeling refreshed, I sat down with the intention of writing to Isobel. I was so desperate to share my news with her. I chewed on the end of my pen as I considered what I wanted to put in my letter, I hated chewing pens, but I just couldn’t seem to break the habit. My old school mistress, Mrs. Murray must have told me off at least twice a day to get me to stop. Obviously it never worked. I started the letter as I normally would, hoping the words I needed would come as I wrote:
How have things been at home? How is everyone? Well, I hope. I wish I could telephone you today to share my news. You always said you wanted any details so I’m sharing them with you. Toni and I, well we have moved our relationship to the next level. Oh, Isobel, it was wonderful. I never knew it could be so amazing. Why didn’t you tell me!?
I’m in love, Isobel; I’m really truly in love, with a woman! I could never have imagined this in all my wildest dreams. Yes, I know, they were never that wild to begin with, but I bet even you could never have imagined it! I’m so happy, Isobel, will you call me? I just can’t wait to share everything with you. Speak to you soon little sis’.
Lots of love,
If that doesn’t get her to call, then nothing will! I sealed the envelope, taking care to address it to my grandmothers home, before I headed to the post office to send the letter first class.
Work that night was slow, but I was in such a good mood I didn’t really mind. Susie was at the bar, a regular customer; she was really nice to chat to. Since starting work at The Fern, I had immediately struck up a friendship with Susie. She popped in most lunchtimes for some food with a couple of the girls she worked with at the bank. Then, one Tuesday night, alone and sat at the bar reading a book. We got talking and it turned out that Susie lived just a few doors down from the bar, above the Chinese take-away. Our friendship grew from there. Knowing I was working that evening, she decided to pop in for some company.
“Hi, Susie, can I get you another?”
“Just a coke for me, Shona, it’s a school day tomorrow.”
“Huh, but I thought you worked in the bank?”
“I do, Shona,” she said laughing. “It’s just an expression.”
I rolled my eyes at my own stupidity and groaned.
“When is your next night off?
I wasn’t sure why Susie was asking but the thought dampened my spirits a little. I had Friday night off and Toni was working. She had tried to get the time off also, but Cath had a party, so she had to work that night.
“Friday,” I sighed. Susie gave me a strange look, obviously expecting me to be more enthusiastic about it.
“How about you and me having a night out?”
In truth it didn’t sound like a bad idea, I would be at a loose end anyway.
“What did you have in mind?”
“Misty’s, the night club.”
I knew where she was talking about. I passed it every time I came into work. I did wonder what it would be like inside.
“I’ve never been.”
“It’s pretty good. I’ve been once or twice with the girls from work.”
“I meant, I’ve never been to a night club.”
“You haven’t? Well, I think we have to change that as soon as possible.”
“I don’t know, Susie. I’m not sure about a night club.”
“It’ll be fine, Shona, I promise. You would be doing me a really big favour, please say you’ll go?”
“What kind of favour?”
“I just feel like I’m ready to start dating again, enjoying myself. I’ve been living the quiet life ever since David left. It’s time for me to start getting out more.”
Susie had told me all about David, her ex fiancé. Engaged to be married they had bought a flat and moved in together. Three months later David had broken off the engagement, saying he wasn’t ready to get married or to be in a committed relationship. Susie had found the break-up very hard to get over. If she was ready to move on then I was ready to help…and try my first night club.
“Alright, I’ll go.”
“You will? Fantastic!”
“You have to tell me what to wear? I have no idea what to choose.”
“Don’t panic, Shona, you’ll be fine, I promise.”
We spent the rest of the evening chatting about fashion and music.
“I could pop into Misty’s after I close up tonight, give you a lift home…or you could just call me when you’re ready for a lift?”
I lifted my head from my dinner plate to look at Toni. “Oh, you don’t have to do that, I can get a taxi home.” I watched Toni’s face closely for any reaction to my suggestion. I really did appreciate her enthusiasm to make sure I was safe, but tonight I felt like being independent. “I don’t want you to go to any trouble for me.”
“It’s no trouble, Shona. I’m more than happy to give you a lift home.”
Toni words seemed a little short to me, it could have been my imagination, but I got the feeling something about my night out was bothering her.
“Is everything alright, Toni?” I watched as she blew out a breath and ran one of her hands through her hair.
“No, not really. Look I’m sorry, Shona, but I’m feeling a little over protective towards you. I know you’re a big girl and can look after yourself, but…damn, I’m just not handling this well.”
Toni shook her head in disgust, got up from her chair and paced over to the bay window that looked out over the harbour. I knew she was having an internal struggle with her own emotions. Battling against her instincts to protect me, but knowing that she was being a little overbearing. I slowly walked up behind her and slipped my arms around her waist, snuggling into her back. Her hands automatically covered mine, her gesture conveying acceptance of the comfort I offered her.
“Actually, I would love to see you later tonight,” I wasn’t convinced that I was selling my sincerity to Toni, “I’m sure Susie won’t mind you joining us later.”
Toni turned in my arms to face me, she kissed me lightly on the lips, “Thanks, that’s sweet, but we both know I just have to get over it and stop being a baby.” We stood holding each other for a few moments longer, absorbing the others comfort and warmth.
“If I have any trouble at all, I’ll call you, I promise.”
Toni smiled ruefully then kissed my forehead. “That’s good to hear, it makes me feel a little better.” She glanced at her watch, “I have to get going otherwise I’ll be late opening up.” She tipped my head up to look into my eyes, “You have a really good night, and I genuinely mean that.”
We shared another quick kiss and then Toni was grabbing her keys and rushing out the door. I took my time getting ready. I had chosen to wear a pair of pin stripe dress trousers with a pink silk blouse. I applied some light make-up and a little Ysatis perfume. I selected a pair of gold studs for my ears and a light gold chain to put around my neck, finishing of my look with a pair of black two-inch heels and a black dress jacket. Glancing at the clock above the fireplace, I had fifteen minutes to spare before the next bus into town. I checked that my small black leather bag had everything I would need in it for the evening, then shouldered it and made the short walk to the bus stop.
I walked into The Fern, which was situated on the main high street in Portobello, my eyes adjusting to the sharp change from light to dark, it took a moment to spot Susie over in one of the corner seats. She smiled and waved and I made my way over, returning her wave.
“Hi. You been waiting long?”
“Oh, no, I’m a little early, you just don’t strike me as the type to be late so I made an extra effort,” Susie answered cheekily. Though we both knew she was right.
“What would you like to drink, Shona?”
I glanced down at the table and noticed that Susie had her usual half-pint of cider and blackcurrant, I very briefly entertained the notion of trying one, then quickly quashed the idea. If I had something to drink this early I would never last the night.
“I’ll have a coke, thanks.”
“Sure I can’t tempt you to try something a wee bit stronger?” She asked with a slight tease to her voice.
“No, not just now, but maybe later,” I added, on a more upbeat note, though I wasn’t sure if I would drink at all. I watched as Susie made her way to the bar. I found myself absently considering Susie aesthetically. She was pretty, with lovely deep red hair and a light dusting of freckles that covered her fair skin, two characteristics that ran in my own family, but had skipped me. Susie was a couple of inches taller than myself, I was confident that she wouldn’t have any trouble attracting male attention, especially with her warm brown eyes and sweet welcoming smile. She was definitely a catch.
I sipped my coke and we chatted about our plans for the immediate future. I told Susie of my love of history, particular early Scottish history. She asked what I intended to do when I finished university, it was a question which had been put to me many times in the past year. I was still uncertain of what I wanted to be. A historian for sure, I just loved learning about the past. I never wanted to stop.
“Do you want to teach history?”
“Maybe, but first I want to keep on learning from others. I want to travel to places that are steeped in the past where I can get a real sense of what things were like. I do like the idea of passing on knowledge and my love of history to others; I don’t have any set plans at the moment though.
“What about you, are you wanting a career in banking?” I asked.
“I think so, it was a job I took straight out of school. It has good prospects and it pays fairly well. I got a good mortgage rate out of it, which is just as well because it’s difficult enough meeting all the household bills on my own now that David has left.”
Susie had bought out his part of the mortgage and continued to live in the property. I could understand how going from a double to a single income would be a drain on her finances.
“I’m really lucky that Toni has been so accommodating, letting me stay at her flat over the summer. The prices for renting a room in a decent flat are very high. The student flats tend to be cheaper, but are cramped due to multiple tenancies and often in need of repair. Since I’m looking so late it seems that those are the only options available to me, I’m beginning to despair.”
“Which areas are you considering?” Susie asked as she sipped her purple coloured drink.
“I don’t want to live on the other side of town, it would be so far from work.” Not to mention Toni, but I would keep that information to myself. “So, I’ve been looking at anything from the centre of town out to here.”
“You can’t stay on at Toni’s?”
“Well, yes I could. Toni said I was welcome to stay as long as I needed to, but it’s only a one bedroom flat and I already feel bad about how long I’ve imposed on her. I, ah…. had a bit of trouble with my father when I returned home for the summer. Toni helped me out in an emergency, it was never meant to be a long term solution.”
“I see,” Susie paused considering something for a moment. “I have a spare room that I could rent to you, Shona, that is, if you wanted it. I think we get on well enough to be able to share the same space. What do you think?”
I was momentarily stunned by Susie’s suggestion. In truth it could be an ideal solution to my accommodation problem, but I didn’t want to take advantage of Susie’s good nature, what if she were only offering the room because I was in a spot? I had to be sure.
“Are you positive you want a lodger, Susie?”
“In truth, Shona, I could really do with the extra cash from the rent and someone to share the bills. Like I said, since David left, making ends meet has been tough. Seriously, if you’re interested, I definitely would like to offer the room for rent. I’ve been thinking about it for a wee while, but I didn’t feel too comfortable at the thought of sharing my space with a stranger. I know we haven’t know each other too long, but we get on pretty well.”
That was certainly true; we did get on well. I already considered Susie a good friend in a short space of time. This could really work out well for both of us, but I knew I would have to give it a little more thought.
“It sounds like a great offer, but I think I would like some time to consider it a little more.”
Susie nodded her agreement. “How about you come to visit the flat tomorrow, see what you think? That might help you come to a decision. And, Shona, if it’s not what you want, don’t be afraid to say so. There will be no hard feelings if you decide not to rent the room.”
We clinked our glasses together and drank up. It was getting towards 10pm, the time when the club started to get busy. We said our goodbyes to the staff behind the bar and some of the regular customers. Working behind a bar and drinking in the same place on your nights off, I noticed, could certainly have its benefits. I had been offered many drinks in the hour and a half I had been in The Fern. As it was I had only had two cokes and not paid for either drink. When I went to the bar for our second round, Jimmy, the owner had refused my money. When I insisted he said my money was hard earned and he wouldn’t take it back over the bar. I thought that was really sweet of him, he was a nice guy.
We made our way on to the High street; it was less than a ten-minute walk to Misty’s, which was on the way back out of town towards Toni’s flat. Susie was certainly more merry than when I first arrived, I think the cider was beginning to go to her head. It was almost dark outside as we made our way along the pavement. We got to the main junction in the seaside town and Susie grabbed hold of my arm.
“Shona, could we stop by the Railwaymen’s club?”
I looked at her curiously, wondering why on earth she wanted to go there.
“I don’t work there anymore, but I’m sure I would have no trouble getting a member to sign us in.”
“Great, lets go!”
She started to practically drag me down the street towards the club.
“Can I ask why you want to go there?” I enquired, as I tried valiantly to keep up with her.
She stopped so abruptly we almost collided. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Eddie?” I was puzzled.
“Yes, Eddie. Dear God, Shona, you can’t tell me you haven’t noticed how good-looking the guy is? When he does the banking instead of Toni, all the cashiers are practically drooling over the counter looking at him, including Alan, he thinks Eddie could be gay, but I don’t think so.” She grabbed my arm suddenly, “Is he?”
“Is he what?” The conversation was moving so quickly I was struggling to keep up. Susie rolled her eyes.
“Is Eddie gay”
I blinked, “I don’t think so.”
“Is he seeing anyone?”
I shrugged, “I don’t think so.”
“I hope not, he is gorrrrrgeous.”
I couldn’t be imagining the purr that Susie just affected. I blinked at her in wonder; this was no longer my sweet friend who seemed a little shy at times, though certainly not in my league. This was a woman on a mission! I needed a plan and fast.
I opened the door to the club and we ventured inside. As luck would have it John, whom I had got to know very well from my Monday nights at the club was walking out of the gents.
One of the principle problems with people drinking alcohol for several hours was their inability to control the volume of their voice. I was sure that the entire club now knew I had entered the place.
“Hi, John, could you uhm, do me a favour and sign myself and my friend into the club?”
John glanced at his watch, “Ah, you see it’s just after 10pm and strictly speaking, you’re not allowed to sign anyone in after 10pm, but since it’s you ma’ bonnie lass, I’ll make an exception.”
We walked into the main hall and approached the bar. I was overcome with a sudden nervousness. I must have slowed my pace, as I felt Susie gently nudge me along. I glanced behind the bar and there she was, I could actually feel my stomach flutter, she looked incredible. She turned around and looked right at me, it was almost as if she sensed I was there. I watched as Toni smiled reflexively, then her smile turned to a frown and she approached the two of us.
“Hi, Shona, what brings you two in here tonight? Is everything okay?”
“I…uhh…” That was all I managed and to make matters worse I could feel the blush burning my cheeks.
“Hang on a sec…Eddie,” she called, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Toni left the bar and walked into the main hall, she gently guided me towards the hatch where the dirty glasses were stacked for washing. I noticed there were a quite few and it was the quietest night of the weekend, not a good sign.
“What’s wrong?” Toni asked with concern.
I shook my head, “Absolutely nothing, honestly.”
Toni frowned, not convinced with my answer.
“Susie asked if we could come in here on the way to Misty’s, I had no idea she was going to do that.”
“This place isn’t even on the way, I thought she was on a manhunt?”
“She is.” I pointed to the bar, where she was chatting to Eddie.
Toni smiled, “Ah, I get it, she has the hots for him and dragged you down here so she could have an excuse to see him.” Toni laughed.
“I was thinking, Toni…”
“Go on.” She answered sounding as though she knew exactly what was coming next.
“Well, perhaps you and Eddie would like to join us when you’re finished here?”
“So you’re playing match maker now, you’re just full of surprises, Shona MacLeod.” I watched as Toni fingered the pendant around her neck. I glanced down shyly.
“I’ll speak to Eddie and see if he wants to come along, either way I’ll pop in to let you know, alright?”
“Great, Susie will…” I was stopped mid sentence by the sight of a mass of aqua and purple. Toni glanced towards where I was looking and I could hear a low growl emanate from her throat. I turned to look at her, wide eyed, my mouth open trying to find the words. Toni shook her head slightly and led me back past the bar to the foyer. I heard her mutter a curse under her breath she pointed a finger back towards where we had just been standing.
“That was Henry, sporting his own idea of the weekend dress code.”
“Toni, he was wearing a shell suit.” I was stating the obvious, but it was just too unbelievable.
“I think he’s in training for a new cult, because it sure as hell isn’t the marathon!”
“I had to wear a skirt.” Even I was outraged.
“I know and you looked so cute in it. Now I have to look at Henry wearing a stained shell suit that is too tight over his beer gut.”
“Have you said anything?”
“Damn right I have. He seems to have this strange notion that Friday is dress down day.”
I actually giggled as I thought once again of the sight of Henry in a shell suit. He certainly did have a considerable beer belly and with his unruly hair, thick glasses and stubble, he truly was quite a sight.
“Don’t you dare laugh, it’s not funny.” I peered up at Toni, I could tell she wasn’t quite ready to see the funny side, “He better come in dressed properly tomorrow night or there will be hell to pay at the next committee meeting. The man is a slob!”
“He could do with taking a bit more care of himself.” I agreed only to have Toni glare at me. She started ticking off Henry’s faults with her hands.
“He needs a bath, a haircut and a shave. He needs to wash and iron his clothes and he needs to…arghh…get out of my bar!” Toni finished her sentence with her voice becoming more forceful with each word.
“Maybe I coul…”
“Don’t you dare even mention coming back here to wash the glasses,” Toni cautioned.
I was about to do just that, even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
“This is my problem, I’ll deal with it. You don’t have to worry about what happens around this place anymore.” Toni smiled to soften her words. “I’m sorry, you just caught me at a bad time. Go to Misty’s with Susie and I’ll try my best to talk Eddie into coming along.”
“Okay, I will.”
“And, Shona?” I looked at Toni expectantly. “Have fun.”
“Thanks.” I blushed and turned quickly in search of Susie. When Toni mentioned having fun, the tone of her voice and the look in her eyes had me picturing myself, not at the nightclub, but naked in her bed. I blushed even harder.
“What’s wrong with you, you look a little flushed?” Susie enquired.
“Nothing,” I mumbled. “C’mon, we better get going.” I grabbed Susie’s arm to help usher her out of the club.”
“Bye, Eddie,” she called. I waved towards the bar staff and received a knowing wink from Toni, which made me blush yet again.
“Are you sure you’re feeling alright Shona?”
“Yes, really, I’m just a little flustered.” I changed the subject of my colouring as quickly as I could. “Toni is going to try and talk Eddie into joining us at the club when they finish.”
“Oh, great! You are a sweetheart, Shona!” She then proceeded to kiss me soundly on the lips.
We arrived at the club just minutes later. According to Susie, a few years ago Misty’s used to be a cinema. She had taken to telling me any history she knew about the town on the short walk to the club, I really appreciated her efforts, no matter how disjointed they were. I couldn’t quite understand how kids could pay the cinema admission fee using a jam jar, but Susie assured me her grandfather said a “clean jeelie jar got him intae’ the picture hoose!” The way she mimicked her grandfather made me giggle.
We walked up the expansive marble steps to the glass doors of Misty’s, where two burly looking men stood. I wasn’t surprised when I was asked for identification. Though nineteen, I was often mistaken for being younger. I showed him my student identity card, which confirmed I was over eighteen and old enough to drink.
As soon as we entered the foyer of the club I could immediately hear the dull beat and feel the vibration of the music. We paid the entrance fee of £2 then checked our jackets into the cloakroom. Susie had been here before so I just followed her lead. She led us through some double doors, which opened out into the main part of the club. The heat and volume of the music immediately assaulted my senses. It was so loud! I recognised the song playing, it was the current number one, Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. I looked out onto a busy dance floor. It took up a large portion of the centre of the club, with all the seating and tables around the sides. You had to walk down a few steps to get to the dance floor. A large bar was on the opposite wall from the doors we had just walked through. I could see blue and red neon signs. The club looked really plush, especially compared to the Railwaymen’s club and The Fern. There were chandeliers on the ceiling and the bar staff were really well dressed all wearing black trousers or skirts with crisp white batwing collar shirts and black bowties.
The décor looked state of the art and I had never seen so many different drinks and mixers behind a bar before. There was a promotion on a drink called Biarritz, which Susie decided to try. I opted to try a half-pint of cider with a dash of blackcurrant. The drink Susie normally had at The Fern.
We chose a table with a good view of the dance floor. Susie explained that she wanted to see the action. I let my eyes wander over the people dancing. They were all dressed to impress and dancing to attract attention, I was suddenly nervous and opted for a gulp of my cider. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste, the blackcurrant removing any hint of alcoholic flavour from the cider, making it taste more like a sweet fizzy drink. I glanced back out to the dancers moving so assuredly, I wasn’t certain I would make it onto the dance floor tonight. I didn’t have that sort of confidence, so was shocked when Susie grabbed my hand and pulled me towards it!
“C’mon, Shona, I love this song!” she declared loudly as she half dragged a reluctant me down the three steps onto the dance floor. I never even had time to utter a protest before I found myself standing there moving awkwardly to the sound of M/A/R/R/S Pump Up The Volume with Susie screaming ‘This is gonnae be the new number one!” I nodded, who was I to argue with Susie’s musical predictions. I knew enough to know what I liked, beyond that I was out of my depth. I hardly recognised any of the music Toni ever played, but she kept assuring me that decent music was coming back, and we would move on from the electronic nightmare we were currently enduring. Whatever that meant?
As the night wore on I danced a few times with Susie, feeling more confident and a little tipsy. I was beginning to really enjoy the atmosphere. The loud beat of the music and the alcohol both mixing to pleasantly affect my mood. The only downside was a very persistent guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer. After my third refusal to dance with him, Susie gave me a funny look. She had occasionally danced with his friend while he hung around our table.
“Why don’t you just dance with him?” she asked, puzzled.
“I don’t want to encourage him. What if he gets the wrong idea?”
“Then just tell him to get lost.”
I looked at Susie feeling my eyes bulge at the prospect of being that rude. She laughed and patted my thigh.
“Sorry, Shona. I forgot you could never do that, you’re far too sweet.” She pondered for a moment, “but listen, if you want to dance with him, just to dance, go ahead. If he gets the wrong idea, I’ll give him short shrift.” We both chuckled at that. It wasn’t the main reason though. I just didn’t feel right about dancing with someone else now that Toni and I were lovers. I wasn’t sure what she would think about it.
Funky Town came on. I loved this song and for a change I got Susie up to dance. We had been on the floor less than a minute when two guys cut in to dance with each of us. I really had no option but to go with it, or leave the dance floor. I gave a strained smile to my new dance partner and briefly took in his appearance. He was dressed similarly to many of the men there that night. A bright shirt with a suit, the jacket sleeves rolled up. Slip on shoes with white socks. This seemed to be the ‘in’ look. His hair was in a side parting and flicked back, exposing the many layers cut into the style. It was a very similar haircut to Eddie’s and I briefly wondered if they used the same barber.
“Hi, my name’s Sean, nice to meet you.” He continued dancing and smiling at me, obviously waiting for me to respond.
“Nice to meet you, Sean, I’m Shona.”
“That’s a lovely accent you have, Shona. Where are you from?”
“The Western Isles.”
“Oh, The Western Isles.” He mimicked my accent, which happened a lot. “And what’s a lovely looking lassie like you doing in a place like this?”
“I’m here with my friend. She wanted to have a night out.” I was straining to be heard over the loud music, conversation, not that I really wanted one, was almost impossible on the dance floor.
He briefly glanced over at Susie then continued dancing. He bent close to my ear, “you’re gorgeous, Shona.” I smiled politely, unsure how to respond to that.
When the song finished Sean and his friend followed us back to our table and sat down beside us. This was what I had been dreading ever since I recognised the possibility. We were now stuck with two guys who wanted to chat us up.
“What would you girls like to drink?” Sean’s friend asked. I looked to Susie, hoping that she would handle the situation. After all she wanted to see Eddie and he might be here soon.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that, we have a drink.”
“No, we insist, come on, just one drink.” Sean’s friend was persuasive.
“What’s that you’re drinking, Shona?” Sean asked.
“It’s cider and blackcurrant.” I answered politely.
“Sweet, just like you.” He smiled and I couldn’t help but blush. I was hoping it was too dark for anyone to notice.
“So that’s two cider and blackcurrants. Be right back ladies.”
They had guessed correctly at Susie’s drink. She had given up on the Biarritz, declaring it disgusting after one mouthful.
“Shona, he is so cute!” She grabbed my arm and squeezed exuberantly.
I looked at her puzzled, “I thought you liked Eddie?”
“Not Pete, you dummy. The guy you are with. What’s his name?”
“He looks like Marti Pellow.” I looked even more confused. “The lead singer of Wet, Wet, Wet...Oh, never mind, anyway he’s gorgeous.”
“I hadn’t noticed.” It was the truth. I hadn’t considered whether Sean was good looking or not. I only had eyes for Toni.
Susie looked at me like I was mad. “Are you not interested in dating, Shona?”
How to answer that question? I realised I had a decision to make. Hide my relationship with Toni from anyone who asked or tell them the truth. I didn’t like the thought of hiding it. It made it sound like I was embarrassed and I wasn’t. However, I didn’t like the idea of telling just anyone my business. I had a right to my privacy. How selective could I be? I just wasn’t sure what the answer was. On this occasion I decided to go with my instincts, Susie was a friend who was offering me a room in her flat. I decided that if we were to share a flat, she would have to know. If it were going to be a problem, I would rather find out now, before I moved in. With that decided I opened my mouth to reply…
“There’s Eddie!” Susie grabbed my arm giving it squeeze. I turned in the direction she was looking to see Eddie walking towards us. I looked around for Toni and saw her at the bar. I smiled in pure reflex even though she wasn’t looking my way.
“This is great!” I nodded an absent reply to Susie as I continued to look at Toni.
“Hello, Shona, Susie. Fancy meeting you here.” Eddie teased as he stood at the table. Just as he was about to sit down Sean and Pete arrived back with our drinks. The timing was terrible. Ignoring Eddie completely they sat on either side of Susie and myself, acting like they had been there all night. Without another word, Eddie turned on his heel and walked away.
“I’ll be right back.” Susie declared and took off after him. Leaving a puzzled Pete to stare at her departing figure.
“Boyfriend trouble?” Sean enquired.
I wasn’t sure what to say. “Not exactly, but she likes him.”
“Ah, I see and Pete just made things difficult for her.” I nodded.
“Pete, do one.”
“The lassie’s no interested man.”
“Ah, got you. I’ll see you later.”
“Pete’s no’ exactly quick on the uptake, you know.”
‘”Ehm, I’m waiting for someone too.”
“Boyfriend?” Sean asked.
“No, she’s at the bar, she will be here in a moment.”
“Phew, you had me worried there, Shona. I’m sure your pal will no’ mind me sitting here chatting with you.”
Seems that Pete wasn’t the only one not quick on the uptake. I groaned internally at my current plight. I looked towards the bar and saw Susie chatting with Eddie while Toni was being served.
“So, lovely, Shona, what brings you to the city?” Sean asked as his arm snaked along the back of the seats. I leaned forward to keep well away from his wandering limbs.
“I’m a student.”
“A student, eh. What are you studying?”
“So you’re a clever lassie then, not just a pretty face.” Sean smiled. He did have a kind of cheeky grin, which went with his personality, but it was doing nothing for me. I glanced again towards the bar, very relieved to see Toni walking towards us. She had a smile on her face, which turned a little forced when she glanced at Sean. I really wasn’t sure what Toni’s reaction would be so I sat quietly and waited, what happened next was truly unexpected. Toni put her drink on the table and leaned past Sean.
“Would you like to dance?” She was looking straight at me holding her hand out and smiling.
Sean clearly wanted to object but I don’t think he knew what his objection would be.
“Yes?” Toni asked Sean.
“I’m sitting with her.”
“Does that mean she isn’t allowed to dance with anyone else?”
“Well no, but…”
Toni raised an eyebrow at him, awaiting his objection, when none was forthcoming she turned to me again.
“Yeah,” I nodded vigorously. “I would love to dance.”
As I moved past Sean to dance with Toni, she looked back at him, “Bye.” She delivered with one of her winning smiles.
The poor guy sat there with a stunned look on his face, totally deflated. He numbly lifted his drink and went off, I assumed in search of Pete. Maybe they could find a clue together. I giggled at that thought, then felt a little bad. Sean was nice, just a little too sure of himself.
“What are you giggling at?”
“Poor Sean, going off to find a clue.” I giggled some more.
“Well poor Sean shouldn’t try to chat up my girlfriend…” Toni stopped to look into my eyes. “Who is obviously a little drunk. C’mon, let’s dance hot stuff.”
As Toni drove us home, the short journey couldn’t be over quickly enough for me. My hands itched to touch her. She had already removed my wandering hand from her thigh a couple of times, glancing over at me with a puzzled look upon her beautiful face. I sighed, Toni was a truly stunning woman, I wasn’t sure if I had told her that, but I intended to tell her tonight. As we got to Toni’s street she slowed down and looked for a parking space, it was always a nightmare trying to find one later at night after everyone else was home for the evening. Cars lined both sides of the street, some leaving barely enough space between them for a person to walk between, others leaving a space frustratingly not quite large enough for another car to park.
“There’s a space.” I pointed across the road to what I thought looked like a big enough space to park.
“There is no way I can park in that.”
“But it looks the same length as your car.” I affected a pout, I was sure the space was big enough.
“It is, but there’s no room to manoeuvre.” Toni replied in a practical tone, which just irritated me further. I crossed my arms over my chest and sat quietly while she found a suitable space. Unfortunately it was in the next street down and I was becoming more impatient and frustrated by the second. Once the car was parked I got out, locked the passenger side door and walked quickly back towards Toni’s flat. She used her long strides to catch up with me.
“Where is the fire?”
I glared at Toni, my breathing a little ragged, she looked into my eyes and obviously saw enough there to realise what this was all about.
“Oh,” she swallowed hard taking me by the hand to make sure I kept up with her!
We practically ran up the stairs, I don’t know if it was my imagination, but they really seemed to be much easier to ascend after a few glasses of cider. We were both breathing hard as we reached the front door. Toni had her keys in her hand and was fumbling with the lock. I couldn’t wait any longer and pounced on her lips, kissing her soundly. I felt exhilarated.
“Mhphh…the neighbours,” Toni gasped, looking mildly shocked. I don’t really think she cared about the neighbours, I think I had stunned her.
She smiled wickedly as she finally got the door open.
As soon as Toni closed the door behind us I was all over her again, kissing her deeply while my fingers worked at the buttons of her shirt. I think at some stage in my alcohol-addled brain I briefly recall a mild protest from Toni, but I was too far gone too react to it. I wanted her naked and underneath me and I wanted it now. In the cold light of day, I would never believe I was capable of such thought or actions.
We stumbled down the hall towards Toni’s bedroom. She seemed to have done a better job of undressing me than I had of her. She was still wearing way too many clothes. I set about changing that fact as quickly as possible.
Finally, both naked, we tumbled onto the soft mattress. At some point in the proceedings, Toni had decided to relinquish all control to me, allowing me to lead and now, as she lay underneath me, I began to kiss my way down her gorgeous body.
I suddenly became aware of my destination, and, it was at that moment that I finally realised what my urgent need this evening had really been about. I wanted to taste Toni.
I had been thinking about this since the night we first made love.
When Toni used her mouth on me, I was in absolute awe, not believing that she could do such a thing. It had been a shockingly wonderful experience. Now I wanted to complete that experience, by doing the same to Toni.
“Oh my god,” I heard her whisper, when she too became aware of my destination. I felt her tremble beneath me, her stomach quivering under the attention of my lips and fingertips. I felt her hands move into my hair, wanting to urge me on, but trying not to be forceful. Her hips bucked up to meet my mouth as I drew nearer to my goal and then I was there. My first taste of her was warm and salty. I plunged my tongue into her hot depths and heard her cry out my name. My arms instinctively wrapped around her thighs, palms coming to rest on her taut stomach. I began to move upwards, towards Toni’s clitoris. Tentative at first, I began by slowly moving my tongue over the area and then, as Toni’s words encouraged me to become less inhibited, I increased my pace and applied more pressure. Toni’s legs began to tremble and her hips thrust into my face until, finally, I took her entire clitoris into my mouth and sucked on it until she screamed her orgasm into the night.
As she lay spent and recovering, I slowly made my way back up her long body, deliberately keeping my weight off her as she recovered. Her eyes opened when she sensed me above her.
“You are amazing,” she purred.
“And you are beautiful.” I replied reverently.
She pulled me towards her and held me in a strong embrace. Her thigh snaked between mine and rose to meet my centre. Without conscious thought I found myself thrusting happily against Toni’s hard muscled thigh. She grasped my hips aiding my movement and helping anchor me in place. It wasn’t long before I was sobbing my pleasure into her shoulder, and biting down as I did so. It caused her to yelp a little in surprise but I think both of us had been very pleasantly surprised that night.