The Struggle Continues - Part 2 - The Wedding - 1 - The Night Before


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I stood up as Alice approached and offered a hand. She took it warmly and drew me in for a chaste kiss on the cheek, doubling it with a second kiss on the other. I had even been wrong about her height, as she seemed quite a bit taller with her eyes at my level rather than just below. I suspected she was wearing higher heels, than the flat ones she had always worn in the past. So much for the fact that they hurt her feet!

She sat down on the inside chair as she had always done in the past and after I'd sat opposite, we smiled at each other saying nothing for a few seconds. 'Thank you for coming!' We both said virtually the same words together at the same time. 'You look different!' Similar thoughts and words again. We laughed and I reached across the table.

I indicated she should go first. She was looking directly at my face. 'You've trimmed your beard! Your hair's shorter and better styled.' She held up my hand and examined the fingers. 'And you've stopped biting your nails. Well done!' She shook her head. 'Never thought you'd do that! I suppose you blame living with me!'

'Perhaps, I've grown up?' Eventually we all do! 'You're different too! You're wearing a skirt, which is of a length you've not worn in years! And it shows your nice trim knees!'

'Don't be silly!' She blushed. 'I spend a bit more time in the gym and doing a bit of running now, that I don't have to look after you!'

'That's not fair!' I tried to be indignant. 'But then I did all your computing. You had a free secretary in return for the cooking!'

'But you like computers and I hate cooking!'

***

Alice now changed ths subject. 'Do you like my hair? I've found this new guy in Bury, who has curt it a lot shorter.'

'I like it!' I was telling the truth too. 'But then it's got shorter every year. You're taller too! Shoes?' She grinned and I paused. 'There's the black leather jacket too! That's smart! Mulberry?'

'No!' She grinned again. 'Ralph Lauren, but in a sale at Bicester!' This was typical as Alice always had an eye for a bargain.

I looked her strongly in the face. 'You're wearing more and much more professional make-up and you've even painted your nails.' I paused. 'You used to hate doing that!' Her hand disappeared beneath the table, almost as if by embarrassment. 'I like the look! Dare I say, but you look younger! You could be in your early forties.'

She ignored my compliment. 'Would you like me to order a bottle of Brouilly?' Alice hadn't changed that part of her makeup. She always chose the wine.

'It depends who's paying!' I joked, as I suspected neither of us would be bothered by the bill. 'Or shall we go Dutch?'

'Seriously, though!' She was being the prudent lawyer, who dealt with children and money. 'How are your finances?'

'Am I a client, an ex-husband, a friend or someone across a court room?'

***

'When did we come here first?' I wasn't sure but it was probably the early seventies.

'I think, we were still at the flat in St. John's Wood.' She paused. 'If I remember correctly, Jean and Kent recommended it. So it must have been somewhere around seventy-three!'

'It's funny really, but do you remember that flat?'

'Yes! Only when I have too!' She laughed. 'It was awful! Four floors up, no lift and I had to carry two children up and down those stairs, when you weren't around! That awful orangey brown carpet!' Alice realised what I had said. 'Why was it funny?'

'We survived that flat and went to live in happiness in the Barbican and later in Suffolk! And yet we get divorced over nothing that was down to us. A very ordinary office block in Basingstoke!'

We both laughed and the previously embarrassed hand reached across the table. I held it warmly and she turned her hand over to reciprocate.

***

It was perhaps about eleven-thirty, when we left Mon Plaisir.

'What are you going to do?' I asked Alice, who certainly was not fit to drive, as we had shared a further half bottle of red wine after the Brouilly. 'I haven't seen you this tipsy in years! The heels don't help, either!'

'Do you like them, then?' I nodded. 'Now that I don't have to be shorter than you, I can be a bit taller!'

'I don't mind!' I smiled. 'They suit you. Just be careful as I don't want to have to take you to casualty at the Middlesex with a twisted ankle.'

'I did suggest to Alistair, that I might not be home.' We were now walking separately and chastely a few feet apart to where she thought her car was parked behind the Shaftesbury Theatre. 'He knows how to look after the bassets. But they'll miss me!'

'Who's Alistair?' I was rather surprised, as his name had not been mentioned before.

'He's my lodger!' She giggled. 'He's a pupil in Chambers. Not mine as I've never done pupils! And I won't ever!' She giggled again! 'You're not jealous of my toy-boy are you?'

I probably was jealous, but I didn't say. 'I'm still protective of you! But I doubt anybody as sensible as you, would ever end up with a toy-boy!'

'How do you know, I'm sensible? You can be such a prig! In other words you are jealous, aren't you?' She laughed and ran towards a dark blue Audi. 'He's younger than Josh! Six foot and more, dark, brown eyes, slim, intelligent, handsome, sexy! He's better than you in bed!' She leant on the front wing of the car and raised her skirt to show lot more than just a trim knee, whilst flirting by rubbing one foot on the back of the other leg.

'I'm not jealous at all!' I wasn't sure whether she was telling the truth or just winding me up because of the drink! It wouldn't have been the first time!

She threw me her keys and I caught them. 'Open the car for me? I can't afford to be in control! You don't really drive now, so it won't matter to you!'

'Thanks!' I approached the passenger door of the car and put the key in the lock. I tried to turn it but nothing moved. It certainly didn't feel right. I tried the other key with no more success. 'Are these the correct keys?' I held them up for her to check.

'Yes!' She pointed to a red Audi a few cars down. 'But it's the wrong car!'

***

We didn't walk back to the hotel, as after retrieving a carrier with my suit, shirt and waistcoat from the car, I managed to hail a stray taxi. The driver wasn't too pleased at the short journey up Tottenham Court Road, but a sensible tip appeased him.

Once inside, I propped Alice against the reception desk. 'Do you have a suitable room for my drunken ex-wife? Im sure she'll behave herself!'

'I'm sorry, sir!' The receptionist waved his hands. 'We're completely full tonight! I could try one of the other hotels round here!'

I turned to Alice. 'You can have my floor, bath, easy chair or bed, if you like! Or I could put you in a taxi to Josh's!'

'No! He's putting up some friends, I think! I'll take your bed!' She smirked drunkenly at me! 'You can have something less comfortable!'

'But I'm paying, so surely I get first choice!'

'That's not like you!' She smiled at me. 'You usually give me the best seat or let me choose sides. You're quite sweet really!'

'But that was when we had a sort of legal contract!' I smiled wickedly. 'Now, we're two free-thinking, equal adults. Things have changed a lot since we last shared a bed unmarried!'

***

'So this is home!' I opened the door to the room and pushed it back. 'Just one double bed, a chair, a television and a wardrobe. It's quite lonely, but it'll do until the end of the month!'

The lights were now on and Alice looked around the room. 'Cosy would be a kind word. It's lucky you're not as tall as Alistair. But it's surprisingly tidy for you! Where are the clothes on the floor?'

'Living by myself in hotel rooms for three months, has meant that I've had to reform!' I opened the mini-bar. 'Would you like a night cap? I've got a nice bottle of Paddy!'

'Am I to believe that you got that in for yourself?' She was sitting with her legs on the bed having discarded her stilettos on the floor. 'It's full!'

'I bought it in Duty Free in Hong Kong!' I grabbed two glasses from above the mini-bar. 'It was on special offer!'

'A likely story!' She waved her hand. 'I'll have a small one with plenty of water!'

***

'If you think you're going to sleep with me and heaven forbid have sex, you can think again!' She had stood up and had removed her jacket, blouse and skirt to reveal a sensible white bra and black tights over a pair of equally sensible and very large flesh-coloured knickers.

'Where did you get those?' I pointed at the knickers. 'Alistair obviously has a fetish!'

'Marks! They're very comfortable.'

'I wouldn't want to sleep with you in those.' I reached in a drawer. 'Would you like one of my T-shirts. It'll be a bit big, but it'll keep you warm.

'Yes! Thanks!' She took it and marched towards the bathroom. 'If you can find a pillow for the middle of the bed, you can have the side farthest from the bathroom. But keep your knickers on!'

That sounded like an acceptable compromise. 'Thanks!' I knew the bed had four pillows, so as I would only need one, there would be one for the middle.

***

I had rearranged the bed, undressed as instructed, taken my side and turned off most of the lights before Alice returned.

She had taken a long time to return. 'Your toothbrush was disgusting!' She had now climbed in on her side of the bed and was facing away from me. 'I had to give it a thorough cleaning, before I could use it!'

'Thank you!'

'Don't be sarcastic!' She raised her head to turn slightly towards me. 'Aren't you going to clean your teeth?'

'I suppose so!'

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