If Only..., page 9
I call up the nearest company and tentatively book it for next Saturday. Then I send an email out to the whole department with some voting buttons on it. I can’t help but notice Cole is one of the first ones to email back with a ‘yes’ to the rafting and a ‘yes’ to staying over.
Doesn’t he have to go back to wherever it is he’s come from to see his fiancée on the weekends?
It’s Valentine’s Day, which means it’s nearly been a whole year since I took Evie on our first date. Not that it was really much of a date, but still, it’s the date we remember and that’s what’s important. Last year I didn’t want to be a cheesy bastard, but this year I do. I’ve paid over the odds for a table at a nice restaurant and I’ve secretly passed my driving test, so I’m surprising her by taking her out and paying for it all.
I pull the car up to the kerb outside her house and text her to let her know that she needs to look outside. Sitting back, I relax my fingers against the steering wheel. I can’t afford my own car, but Simon has agreed to put me on the insurance for his beat-up old Corsa if I promise to put the petrol back in after each time I use it.
I’ve already texted Evie earlier on to tell her that we’re going somewhere nice, and she doesn’t disappoint as she bounds down the path wearing a little black dress and strappy high heels. “You passed your driving test?” she squeals as she pulls the door open and climbs in.
I nod and lean over to kiss her. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Well done!” She kisses me back, but she’s too excited to do it properly. “Wait until Nico finds out; he’ll be so jealous.” She buckles her seatbelt and asks, “Where’re we going anyway?”
I check my wing mirror and slowly pull away from the kerb. “I’ve booked us a table at the steak house near the top of Monster,” I tell her.
She turns to look at me and grins. “Really?”
“Yup,” I say.
“Wow.” She turns the heater up and settles back in her seat. “You’re a very good driver,” she says. “How’ve you been practising?”
“Simon took me out a few times, but I mostly practiced when I was on the farm last summer.”
“We can go places,” she says excitedly. “Anywhere we want.”
I nod and put my hand on her knee. “I’ll take you wherever you want to go.”
She laughs and places her hand on top of mine, then gently strokes the top of my hand with her thumb. “I can’t believe it’s been a whole year,” she says. “I bet no one thought we’d last this long.”
“It’s been the best year of my life,” I tell her honestly. “And I know it’ll only get better.”
She lifts my hand and kisses my knuckles. “I really hope that’s true.”
Why wouldn’t it?
We push our plates to the middle of the table and sigh. Those were the biggest steaks I’ve ever seen, and we each ate every bit, along with chunky chips and onion rings. We’re both stuffed, but we still ask to see the dessert menu.
I watch Evie as her eyes scan the list of puddings. The sun is weak at this time of year and it’s just about to dip below the horizon, but a few rays stream in through the window and touch down on the top of her head, making it look like she has a halo surrounding her. She’s wearing more make-up tonight than I’ve ever seen her wear, but I like it. Her face is smooth and her eyes are smoky and smouldering. Her lashes are long and black, and her hair is piled up her head with a few soft curls hanging round her face. She’s put tiny little diamond clips in it too. She’s beyond beautiful.
“Stop staring at me, Cole,” she says, but I catch a smile forming on her lips.
“I can’t help it,” I say. “You’re too pretty.”
“Is that so?” she asks, looking up at me. She smiles, showing me all of her perfectly white, straight teeth and both of her dimples, and then she blushes.
“I’m so in love with you,” I tell her. “Completely and utterly head over heels in love with you.
She drops the menu and stares at me. The sun chooses this moment to fully disappear, and her face lights up from the glow of the soft lighting in the restaurant. I can just make out her chest that’s rising and falling with her quickened breaths and her nipples that poke out from underneath her dress.
“I know what I want for dessert,” she says.
I raise an eyebrow at her. “And what’s that?”
“Pay the bill, Cole,” she says, her voice thick with lust.
I can’t get the waiter’s attention quick enough. He seems to take ages to bring the bill back, and by that point I don’t care how much change I’m owed. I slat fifty quid down and pull Evie out of her chair.
“Thank you!” she calls to the waiter as he watches us run out of the restaurant.
I drag her across the darkened car park and slam her against the car. I’ve always wanted Evie, but what I’m feeling right now is beyond want. I push my cold hands under her top and slip my tongue over her bottom lip.
She pants and groans into my mouth as I nudge her legs apart with my knee and then rub it against her.
“Get in the fucking car,” I tell her.
“I love it when you talk dirty.” She giggles, pulling the door open. It’s a two-door car, so she has to flick the switch to make the front seat fling forward. I climb in behind her, pulling the door shut behind me, and then situate myself on the back seat as she straddles me.
This isn’t a time for being gentle or making love. This is a time for me to quickly pull her dress up and push my trousers down, roll on a condom, pull her knickers to the side and bury myself as deeply inside her as I can. She cries out my name and throws her head back as I buck my hips to make sure I’m fully in. I place my hands on her hips to pull her down onto me.
“You feel so good when you’re sliding in and out of me,” she whispers.
“Now who’s talking dirty?” I ask.
She leans forward, placing her hands on top of the seat behind me, and pulls herself up until she’s almost completely off me before slamming herself back down. “Harder,” she says.
She’s killing me. I push her off and twist her around, then nudge the back of her knees with mine so she’s kneeling on the seat. I wrap my fingers around her hips, ripping her knickers off, and slam into her from behind. I love doing it this way, being able to feel her tits, kiss her neck and see her toned arse as it bounces in front of my cock, all at the same time.
“I fucking love this,” I say. She grunts with each of my thrusts, and I love knowing that I can elicit those sounds from her. I’m close to coming but I can tell she isn’t yet, so I push my hand over the front of her and play with her clit.
“Oh,” she gasps.
“You like that, babe?”
“Cole,” she breathes. “Fuck.”
I smile against her as I feel her tightening around me. I don’t let up with my hand as I continue to push into her, the sound of our skin smacking together and our tumbled breaths all that I can hear.
“Faster,” she mumbles.
I use my other hand to grip her hip and slam into her as hard and fast as I can. It’s only a few seconds before I feel myself pouring out inside her. She clenches and groans as she orgasms, and then she flops forward, forcing me to slip out of her.
“That was incredible,” she says with a sigh.
I drop a kiss to the top of her shoulder as I roll the condom off and pull my trousers up.
“Happy Anniversary,” I say.
She laughs and pulls her dress down.
“Just so you know,” I say, walking down the steps of my building, “this is a stupid time of morning to go for a run.”
It’s just after four A.M. and we’ve had to meet at this time because Aiden was on a stag do in Budapest for the whole weekend. Apparently, this is the only time we could fit in a ‘big one.’ I’m surprised he’s fit enough to run at all today, never mind at this daft time.
“Quit your whining,” he says, laughing
We do our stretches and then start to walk down Angel high street for our five-minute warm-up. “Where’re we going?”
“I was thinking Buckingham Palace and then loop back over the river,” he says.
“How far is that?”
“About six miles each way.”
“I thought we were doing a long run?” I ask.
He taps his head. “I’m feeling a bit rough for a long one. How about we just do twelve miles today and then we’ll meet Wednesday night for an eighteen miler? I’ll plan the route beforehand.”
“Okay,” I agree. “So how was your weekend? Sleep with many prostitutes?”
He stretches his arm across his chest and frowns at me. “I don’t have to pay for sex, Evie.” His tone is serious, but his eyes are playful.
“I’m sure you don’t,” I reply.
“So how’s work been?”
I should probably tell him about Cole, but that’s a conversation for when we’re not out running at four in the morning. “Boring,” I tell him.
“I like your hair, by the way,” he says. “Suits you.”
I grin at him as we start to jog and cross the road.
“Have you heard anything off Fabio and Lucca this week?” he asks.
I shake my head. “They said they’d try and find somewhere with Internet this week, but they were travelling through the Alps over the weekend.”
“I bet they’re having an amazing time. You missing them?”
I nod. “Like mad. But I know they’re enjoying themselves. I bet they hardly think about me at all.”
“I’m sure they think about you every single day.”
“Yeah, right. But they’ll be back before I know it,” I say, more to myself than to him.
He nods. “They will.”
Thirty minutes later we’ve just dropped down the embankment near Tower Bridge when I notice a male figure running towards us. He’s wearing loose navy sweatpants, a white t-shirt that has a v-shaped sweat patch all down the front, and an unzipped hoodie with the hood pulled up.
My eyes fixate on him and the familiar way he holds himself as he runs. My heart starts to beat wildly in my chest, and I feel myself running faster with the anticipation.
“Slow down,” Aiden huffs.
I ignore him and carry on jogging while trying to figure out if it’s really Cole or just my overactive—and overtired—imagination.
Just as we near him enough for me to see if it’s him, Aiden whacks my backside so hard that tears spring to my eyes.
“Ouch!” I hiss, stopping on the pavement. “What the fuck, Aiden?”
He’s laughing as he pulls on my arm to carry on running. I try to wriggle out of his grip, but he suddenly stops and spins me around, pulling me against his chest.
“You were going too fast,” he whispers into my ear. “And you weren’t listening to me, so I had to slow you down somehow.” He moves behind me and starts rubbing the place where he just smacked. “I didn’t mean to hit you so hard,” he says. “Sorry, sweetheart.”
I hear feet pounding the pavement, but I daren’t look. “Get off,” I say, spinning out of his grip.
“We good?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I say, nodding.
Just before I set off again, I risk a sneaky peek behind me and find the hooded figure no longer has his hood pulled up. Cole. He’s stopped and is staring at me with a confused look on his face. I don’t wave or acknowledge him in any way as I turn back around and start running.
My whole body is aching as I walk into work a few hours later. I grab a coffee on my way up and quickly log on to my computer. Today is the last day that people can confirm if they’re coming to the rafting trip or not, and I can’t believe it when I see sixty yes’s for the rafting, thirty-five of those also wanting to stay over and have a night out. I quickly ring the rafting company and book our places, and then I spend twenty minutes trying to barter a good price with a nearby hotel and a coach company so we can all be picked up and dropped off.
I’m still on the phone when Cole drops more receipts on my desk. I feel myself frowning because I processed a load on Friday for him. What’s he been doing to accumulate so many already?
He drops his briefcase on the floor and sits at his desk without looking at me. I pick up his receipts and notice flight tickets among them. He travelled to Edinburgh on Friday night and got back into Gatwick late last night. I can’t believe the company is paying for him to fly back home on the weekends. Surely a train would be cheaper?
“Okay, Miss,” says the deep voice on the other end of the phone. “My boss says he’ll do you a deal at that price.”
“Great,” I say, beaming. “Can you email me an invoice, please?”
“Sure, what’s the address?”
I reel off my email address, thank him and put the phone down. Staring at Cole’s plane tickets again, I hate myself for feeling jealous that he went back home to his fiancée. My mind runs away with itself as I imagine them having rampant sex all over their nice house. I bet they’re at it like rabbits . . . I know we used to be. We were insatiable after that first time. We’d do it every day, sometimes multiple times a day, and each time it was breathtaking, heart-stopping, earth-shattering, and every other cliché you can think of.
“Evie,” snaps Cole.
I blink, feeling embarrassed that I was thinking about him in that way. “What?”
“Your phone has been ringing for the last minute.”
As if someone flicked a switch in my ear, I hear the phone ringing. I clear my throat and quickly glance at Cole to see if he somehow knows what I was daydreaming about. Our eyes connect as I lift the phone to my ear and say, “Evie Romano.”
“Evie.” It’s Clive. I can’t help but feel bad that I haven’t once called him or thought of him over the last week or so. “How are you?”
“I’m good, thank you,” I say, leaning back in my seat. “I’m sorry I haven’t called you, Clive. Work has just been absolutely manic this last week.”
Don’t look at Cole. Don’t look at Cole.
“That’s okay,” he says. “I was ringing to see if you wanted to go out sometime this week.”
“Oh,” I say, taken aback. I didn’t expect him to be so forward. “Like on a date, you mean?”
“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, a date.”
Shit. I don’t have an excuse. Maybe I can just go on a date with him and then it’ll be obvious we don’t have a connection. He’ll accept my rejection easier than if I just lie to him over the phone. “When are you thinking? I’ve got a few runs penned in with Aiden, but I’m free Thursday or Friday.”
“I can’t do Thursday,” he says, “because of chess club.” I try not to snigger as I recall Aiden’s face the last time chess club was brought up. “So shall we say Friday? I’ll pick you up.”
“Friday,” I repeat. “Will seven be okay?”
“Perfect,” he says, sounding genuinely pleased. “See you then.”
“Bye,” I say, putting the phone down.
I’d twirled around in my swivel chair while I was on the phone so I didn’t have to look at Cole’s face, but I could feel his eyes burning a hole in the back of my head.
“Clive,” he says smoothly as I turn back around and grab my bag. “Interesting name he has there.”
“Shut up,” I say as I walk past him.
His chuckle follows me all the way out of the room. Bastard.
The sun cream squirts out of the tube and onto Evie’s palm in a splattering blob. It’s the middle of June and we’re on a beach in Fuerteventura. Evie’s mum said she wanted a holiday and that she’d pay for us to come with her so she wasn’t on her own, but she hasn’t really come out of her hotel room. To my surprise, she even booked a separate room for Evie and me to stay in, so it feels like we’re on our own special holiday.
“Do you fancy a siesta?” I ask as she rubs the cream into my back, then drops the tube in her bag. She pick
“We’ve come away to get some sun and I don’t plan on spending it in bed sleeping.”
I grin at her and flick her hat with my finger. “Wasn’t planning on sleeping.”
“Oh.” She smiles at me and then raises her eyebrows. “Just let me finish this chapter then.”
I sit up and look along the seven miles of beautiful beach that we’re on. It’s almost deserted, as there are only two hotels on it. It’s windy here, which means you don’t feel too hot, and the waves are massive. I watch a group of lads on their surfboards, wishing I knew how to surf. Evie has been reading a bloody book the whole time, and I’m sick of just lying on a sunbed.
“Fucking unbelievable,” Evie hisses.
“What?” I ask, turning to look at her.
She huffs and slats her book down.
“What?” I ask again.
“You!” She practically spits the words.
“I don’t understand,” I say, frowning at her.
“I’ve just watched you staring at those other women for a whole five minutes.” What women? “I know you’re a guy, Cole, and for some reason the whole world finds it acceptable for guys to stare at other women, but it pisses me off. What you just did was completely unnecessary and disrespectful. I mean, what are you even thinking when you’re staring at them? Are you thinking about fucking them? Are you thinking that their tits are better than mine? What is it?”
I feel my mouth drop open in shock. Evie has never had a temper tantrum like this, and maybe I could understand it if I had actually been perving on other women, but I wasn’t. I don’t need to and I don’t want to. “Hang on, I don’t even know what women you’re on about.”
“Those.” She points towards three topless women that I now see are playing bat and ball right in my line of sight, their tits bouncing up and down as they jump to get the ball. I turn back to Evie, laughing, because I’m a guy and I totally should have noticed them.