Man Seeks Woman 2, Man Seeks Wife, page 1
TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex)
Oyster Card (TFL)
Acknowledgement of Songs Used:
James Blunt – Goodbye My Lover
Adele – One and Only
Missy Elliott – Get Ur Freak On
Nan Vernon – Love Hurts
The Beatles – Can’t Buy Me Love
Man Seeks Woman 2
Man Seeks Wife
Copyright (c) Stephanie Franklin, 2013.
First E-Book Publication: November 2013.
Published By: SMF.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a database and retrieval system or transmitted in any form or any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the owner of copyright and the above publisher/s.
Original Cover Illustration: SM Franklin.
Printed By: MT Franklin.
Chapter One – Ralph.
Chapter Two – Remind me again why I hired you?
Chapter Three – Go get her, Tiger.
Chapter Four – Humph.
Chapter Five – I missed you.
Chapter Six – Just one more time.
Chapter Seven – Realisation was a bitch.
Chapter Eight – Where are you clothes?
Chapter Nine – I bought a variety of flavours, which one?
Chapter Ten – I dare you to let me be...
Chapter Eleven – I agree to not waste anymore food.
Chapter Twelve – Spit it out, Ralph.
Chapter Thirteen – That’s bullshit.
Chapter Fourteen – Perceptive little shit, aren’t you?
Chapter Fifteen – The Black Box.
Chapter Sixteen – VIC 1
Chapter Seventeen – Never said I was a lady, Bruce.
Chapter Eighteen – Get at it.
Chapter Nineteen – Cherry-Cream Pie at it’s best.
Chapter Twenty – I need to pee.
Chapter Twenty-One – Because it was the right thing to do, that’s what.
Chapter Twenty-Two – Oh the joys.
Chapter Twenty-Three – You can’t beat a good beer.
Chapter Twenty-Four – What do you want?
Chapter Twenty-Five – And the bra.
For my Hubby who once again, bugged me rotten to get this book finished even when Sebastian and Victoria seemed to be taking a break from the action.
Thank you to all the readers that have taken the time to read one of my books.
Also thank you to those of you who have contacted me with regard to Man Seeks Woman 1 and the anticipation of this book and any more that may haunt me and torment me until I put my fingers to the keys. I appreciate every single one of your thoughts, opinions and views. I will be forever grateful to you all for taking the time to read my stories and for taking a chance on me.
Hope you like?
“Are you sure about this?”
God, how many times had he asked me that question?
The moment I stepped foot outside of that cold Blackwell home, he’d asked me that particular question and by the sounds of it, wanted me to say something different to what I was feeling.
Now, I looked over my shoulder at Ralph who was stood at the doorway to my temporary room. His face was pinched and his eyes sad and pissed all at once.
“Ralph.” I sighed heavily. “You know I’ve got to do this. If I don’t, what does that say about me?”
If I did stay, it would say that I was a pushover, that I was enabling Sebastian to get away with the way in which he treated me and that was just not on. It would make me a bloody fool, wouldn’t it?
Ralph squeezed the bridge of his nose and lowered his head. “You can work it out with him. Give him a chance, Victoria.”
I’d thought about that the entire ride home. Actually, I’d thought about nothing else but Sebastian. All that kept going round and round in my head was his words on the recording and the look on his face not only when it was being played but when I said goodbye.
That look on his face would haunt me forever whether I closed my eyes or not.
I bit my bottom lip and shook my head. “I can’t Ralph. You heard the recording, yes?”
He nodded slowly, reluctantly. “But, there are things you don’t understand. Please don’t leave like this.”
Talk about guilt trip.
“Please don’t do this, Ralph.”
“Then don’t go.”
“I have to.” Pure exasperation coated my voice. “I...know I entered into this knowing he was paying me but over the week, it changed somewhere along the line and can I just say? Who gives him the right to talk to people let alone Jacob the way he did. It was like he owned me or something.” I threw my hands up in the air. “Who does that?”
I closed my eyes and shook my head again. “No, I can’t do it. End of story.”
Turning back around, I grabbed my suitcase from the bed and dragged it to the floor. Ralph walked over still with reluctance and removed the case from my hands then turned and walked out, leaving me alone.
I stood in the room that Sebastian had given me and turned in a circle, taking in all the little bits that I loved about it, from the humongous and extremely comfortable bed to the dainty paintings on the walls of various flowers, to the bathroom and even that horrible shower.
My gaze settled back on the bed remembering the last time me and Sebastian had been together. It had been the night I had thought about running. I laughed bitterly. That was only hours ago in reality yet it seemed like an eternity ago now.
Nodding to myself and taking a deep breath, I grabbed my bag from the bed and slung it over my shoulder. Then I picked up the phone that Sebastian had given me. Even now as I held it in my hands, it continued to ring.
Looking down at the screen, I watched as Sebastian’s name flashed across it. My thumb hovered over the screen, ready to answer it but...I couldn’t.
I shook my head as I walked down the hall to the kitchen where I had first received the phone and placed it on the counter. I debated about leaving a note but that was a bit too cliché for me.
Dropping the phone on the counter, I nodded to myself and turned away. I squeezed my eyes closed to stop the tears that were in my eyes wanting to fall. I’d managed to hold them all in so far and would be damned if I let them fall now.
I walked down the hall, passing all the paintings that I loved and stood at the front door. I glanced over my shoulder once more and inhaled deeply through my nose, taking in the clean but yet spicy smell of Sebastian’s place.
It hit me that this place, Sebastian’s place gave me almost a week of something different, something good in my life, something I almost enjoyed and finally, someone I thought I could have something with but yet at the same time gave me the worst experience ever and broke whatever I thought I could and would shield away from the world in a heartbeat.
My eyes travelled down to his hands, which were tightening on the handle of my case. “Ralph. Please don’t do this.”
“You know.” He sighed sadly. “I never thought the arrangement would end like this.”
“That.” I held out my hand for him to take. “Is the understatement of the century?”
Ralph laughed a little and took my hand as he stepped inside the lift. I leaned over and pressed the button for the lobby and watched as the doors closed. As usual, we were quiet in the lift and again as usual, it didn’t stop at any other floors.
The lobby came into view as the doors opened. I took a deep breath, what felt like my thousandth deep breath of the day and walked out still holding Ralph’s hand. I looked over to the desk and saw Bruce sitting behind it, his old wise eyes scanning the multiple screens that covered the building. The old man was frowning at something until he looked up at me. His old weathered face broke out into a bright grin.
“Miss. Victoria,” Bruce said as he pushed up from his seat and walked around his desk. I met him and placed a hand on his shoulder. He frowned at me when I did this, his eyes darting back and fourth between me and Ralph. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I shook my head and smiled a little. “I’m leaving now Bruce and I just wanted to say...goodbye.”
His white brows pulled together as his hand came up and took my hand from his shoulder, holding it in his sure grip. “Oh that’s a shame. Are you sure you can’t stay with us?”
He didn’t know how much I wished that I hadn’t of heard that recording earlier. If I hadn’t have heard it, what would be happening now? I mean I was sure I would have come back here with Sebastian after his Fathers funeral was over and all the will stuff sorted out and then things would have gone from there, good things.
“I understand.” He nodded and cupped my cheek in his old hand, his thumb tracing an imaginary line over the curve of my cheek. “Don’t be a stranger.”
I felt all my emotions stir looking into his cloudy blue eyes.
Swallowing past the lump forming in my throat, I nodded and smiled a little then leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his leathery cheek. “Thank you.” I whispered in his ear before I took yet another deep breath and pulled away.
My heels clicked against the marble flooring as I quickly walked out. I pushed through the doors and stood out in the darkened London Street. The air smelt and felt different at this time of the day. The air I needed came quick and thin through my nose.
I waited until the burn in my eyes wasn’t threatening anymore before I took a steadying breath and licked at my dry trembling lips.
Never in my life had I wanted to cry as much as I had today. I never thought I would have allowed myself to be this vulnerable and yet here I was. It’s amazing that it had only taken a matter of days to get me in this state.
“Victoria.” Ralph said quietly behind me.
I smoothed my shaking hands down the front of my dress and turned to him, brushing my hair from my face where it had fallen. “Yeah,”
“Are you ready?” he asked gesturing to the big black Land Rover waiting at the curb. I’d been so into my own thoughts and trying to get clean, needed air into my lungs that I hadn’t even noticed the car in front of me.
Shaking my head, I walked over to the car and climbed in, Ralph closing the door after me. I settled into the rich leather and listened to Ralph close the boot and walk round to the front. His big build folded itself into the driver’s seat then seconds later, we were off.
My eyes followed the London traffic, the bright lights of different vehicles moving around either red or white. My eyes found the London Eye in the distance with its own lights lighting up the London Skyline. Big Ben winked in the distance too looking all imposing with its bright white face standing out against the darkened starless sky.
I hadn’t really noticed it until now but London seemed different at this time of the day.
Even though it was reasonably warm, I shivered and folded my hands tightly in my lap and leaned back into the seat. I closed my eyes as my head dropped back against the headrest. The minute sound of the engine rumbling underneath me felt good. Ralph’s breathing could barely be heard in the cab.
I don’t know how long later, it could have been minutes or hours but Ralph stopped the car and turned the engine off outside my flat. I opened my eyes and looked sideways at the darkened windows of my abode.
Just the image of it gave me a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t know why but I did know that I didn’t like it.
“You don’t have to do this.” Ralph said again quietly this time, so much quieter.
I swallowed hard and shifted a little in the seat, the leather underneath me sighing with the movement. “You know.” I said after a long moment. “Part of me doesn’t want to do this, Ralph. That part of me is daring me to go back with you and to wait for Sebastian, to forgive him because in reality, there was something between us, something good but the other part of me, I guess my head is shouting at me to get out of this flipping car and to walk away and never see you or Sebastian again but...”
He turned quickly in his seat, his eyes hopeful, and his smile ready to break out. “But what?”
“But...” I shook my head and nibbled on my thumb nail. “I can’t.”
Not after the recording and his fateful words that cut me to the bone. I couldn’t let him get away with that. Could you imagine if I did? What would be next? It didn’t bare thinking about.
The hope in his dark eyes died and a long regretful sigh left his body. He nodded and turned back in his seat, his hands tightening around the steering wheel making the leather creak. “I understand.” He said eventually.
I snorted and pulled on the handle so the door popped open, letting a swarm of night air invade my space. “No, you don’t. You’re just saying what you think I want to hear. I know how you feel and I’m sorry.”
Ralph shook his head as he too left the vehicle and made his way around to my side. He took my hand and helped me down because I was still in those stupid heels. The pavement was uneven under my feet as he continued to hold my hand and led me up the stairs to my flat.
We stopped at the front door. I squeezed his hand and leaned into him. Ralph wrapped his bear sized arms around me and squeezed the air from my lungs with his version of a hug.
“Ralph.” I squeaked and huffed out a laugh.
“Sorry.” He said gruffly as he released me. He stepped backwards and held out palm up. “Keys,”
“I think I can let myself in.”
“Humour me. You haven’t been here in nearly a week, anything could be lurking inside.”
He sounded like he was expecting a big fat rat to jump out and scare the living shit out of me. Like that was ever going to happen.
Instead of voicing my opinion, I rolled my eyes and dug through my bag for my keys then dumped them in his palm. I stood to the side and waited for him to do his thing and watched as he let himself in and then listened to him moving around inside.
“All clear,” He said as he re-appeared minutes later.
“Thank you.” I smiled and patted his shoulder. I stepped back down the steps, towards the car but Ralph stopped me.
“You stay; I’ll get your bags. Go on, go in.”
“Seriously, Ralph its fine.”
“Will you just do as you’re told?” he snapped.
My eyes widened at his tone. Hot damn, the man meant business. I made a face as I turned and made my way inside. I stopped in the living room and breathed in the stale ordinary smell that was my home. The particles of dust in the air tickled my sensitive nose.
My gaze drifted around my stuff. My old, boring stuff, stuff that at
The bag that had been hanging from my shoulder, slid down my arm and landed on the floor with a thump. I walked past it towards the middle of the living room and swiped my forefinger across the mirror ledge, collecting the dust that had gathered. This place had a real problem with dust.
Ralph came in the door and gently sat my suitcase down next to the window. He cleared his throat and shuffled on his feet, looking suddenly uncomfortable.
“Well...I’ll...” he pointed over his shoulder to the door.
I nodded and quickly moved towards him and stood next to the door with my hand on the wood, my nails digging into the thick shit brown coloured paint. “Thanks Ralph.”
Ralph nodded back and moved to the door, stopping only as his foot touched the step outside. “You know.” He said over his shoulder, his eyes straying everywhere else besides me. “You can call me whenever you like, whatever time of the day, I’ll always answer you. Always,”
A burn gathered in my chest, making it feel like indigestion rather than what I knew it was. I licked my dry lips and nodded like a freaking fool. I felt like one of those doggy things that people had on their dashboards.
I raised a hand and placed it softly on his shoulder, giving his muscle a little squeeze. “Thanks, big guy. You too,”
He snorted and continued down the steps, letting my hand fall from his shoulder. He walked to the car, stopped and turned around and looked up at me. “Goodbye Victoria.” He said softly, almost not hearing him say anything but I heard.
The tears came then. I swallowed loudly and rubbed the back of my neck as I raised my hand and stepped back inside the door, closing it softly after me. I stood leaning against the wood, feeling the coldness of the night seeping under my dress. I closed my eyes and blew out a long breath as I heard the car start.