“So, you two are together then,” Jenny said, “Well, it’s about time.”
I agreed. It was about time.
Susie, Paul and I donned our fleeces and made our way back to the car. He was holding Susie’s hand and chatting to her as if it were the most natural thing in the world. My eyes filled up with tears of pleasure. Susie noticed.
“You old softie,” she said.
Paul seemed made-up that Susie was coming back to Cheadle Hulme with us. He sat with Susie in the rear seat, telling her all about his PlayStation, his friends at school and about how he and I would start training together nearer home. The journey didn’t seem half as long as I listened to them.
I took Paul’s backpack out of the boot of the car as he ran to Helen’s front door. I waited until she let him in before I waved and got back in the car.
Susie told me that Paul had kissed her on the cheek before he’d got out of the car and that she’d seen Helen looking at the car to see who was with me.
We went to my house, showered and changed before I drove us to a local pub where they served good food for lunch. It was one of these large modern places where they do carveries. Once we’d found a table, we ordered at the bar. Susie said that she was ravenously hungry. She chose turkey roast with trimmings while I went for the beef. She asked for a glass of white wine with hers: I just had a half pint of bitter shandy because I’d be driving. She laughed at my caution.
I sipped at mine on the way back to the table to reduce the level of fluid in the full glass. The lemonade in the drink fizzed up into my nostrils making me splutter.
As we ate, Susie told me how happy she was that Paul had accepted her so easily. She said that it had been as though she had a child of her own at last. Then she told me what she’d been talking about with Jenny and Debby. She’d made it clear to them that we were now in a definite relationship. Jenny had been bitchy at first but had then accepted that she’d known all along that there was chemistry going on between Susie and me – even if a relationship, as such, had never been broached. She’d remarked on my low self-esteem – because I hadn’t thought that I’d stood a chance with Susie. Soon though, Susie had sorted out the friction between herself and her mates and they’d still be seeing each other on Monday nights.
When we got back to my house, I made some coffee for us both while she explored downstairs what had been my bachelor-pad for the past few months. She was impressed by how clean and tidy I’d kept it.
“Helen obviously had you well trained,” she said, “that’ll make my life easier.”
She put her arms round my neck and kissed me. We walked into my living room, taking our drinks with us, and sat down together on the sofa.
“Are you okay with us carrying on from what we were talking about last night” she asked.
I agreed and she recapped, in a well organised summary, what had been discussed.
“You and Helen parted company,” she said, “but it was her who left you. Maybe you weren’t blameless in some way – I’ll probably never know – but it wasn’t you who walked out. My heart went out to you when you told me,” she said, “I’ve been the victim of that form of dumping. I know how it feels. That’s why I felt I had to call you back last night.”
She asked me was I with her so far. I told her that I was now getting a clearer picture. I reached for a biscuit to eat with my coffee.
FINAL CHAPTER TOMORROW
Today my featured photo is another from near Oban in Scotland, overlooking Loch Etive from the garden of an apartment where we stayed.
The Exif data are as follows: Pentax K-50 16 MP full frame camera and 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens @ 18 mm and f/13. Shutter speed was 1/125 secs and the ISO 200. The shot was mounted on a tripod and post processed in Lightroom Classic.