| George sat alone. His table was on the patio where he could see the cars
as they pulled into the restaurant parking lot. He waited for her and
wondered what to expect.
As arranged he was wearing a pink carnation, it was so contrived, he
could almost expect her to say something about swallows flying back to
Capistrano. But that was how the 'Sweethearts Club' arranged for them to
know each other. It wasn't that he was really lonely, but he'd been out of
the circuit for several years following the death of his wife, he mused for
a while about her.
They'd met at school, her name was Rachael, she didn't really like him
at first, she'd admitted it to him on their third date, by the sixth they
knew they were made for each other. When they graduated from high school
and went to they managed to get a mixed room together, and,
although they studied slightly different subjects, helped each other with
Rachael was everything to him, they in the summer of '88, right
after they got their degrees, children soon followed, a son - Michael and a
daughter - Cathy the next year, their were happy to watch over the
children while Rachael and he worked away, now their skills complemented
their work, and partnerships bent over backwards to try to get their
expertise. He'd studied business law, Rachael had studied Criminal law,
they were the fast rising newcomers to the profession, Michael and Cathy
became their stabilising base they could relax with their children and
looked forward to watching them grow.
Then in '96 it happened - Rachael was shopping with Michael when their
car was hit by a drunk-driver, the paramedics said that they wouldn't have
known anything about it. He was left to explain to Cathy why her and wouldn't be coming back home again.
The next few years had him wrapping himself up in his work, Cathy was
used to staying with her grandparents for day's on end, and she learnt to
look after herself. It wasn't until he arrived home late one day to find
his ten year had cooked him a meal that he realised what he
was doing, he broke down in front of her and apologized for neglecting her
when she needed him.
She was very adult about it, holding his head in her arms and telling
him that she was alright, she knew that she would have her dad back as he
used to be.
And so she did, He cut down on the number of cases that he worked on, He
found that his bank balance was healthy and so he took a month off work,
taking his to Disney Land for a week, then they explored Florida
and then a two week cruise on the Caribbean.
It was the happiest time of his life, as well as Cathy's, since he'd
lost Rachael and Michael, he returned to work refreshed and more relaxed
than he'd been in years, The following year he went camping with Cathy, and
the two grew closer. But lately he'd noticed that Cathy was starting to be
secretive, it was so unusual for her, but he put it down to the fact that
she was growing up.
Then a week ago she brought up the subject that he'd been dreading;
"Dad? Why is it that you don't date anyone, I'm sure mum wouldn't
mind." He tried to say that he was too busy, that he wouldn't be good
company, but it was no use, she wouldn't listen. She even came into work
with him one day to size up the women in his office, but she declared them
unsuitable. It was Cathy who signed him up to the agency - Sweethearts
Club - and placed his details onto their database. After two days they
replied with a prospective match, and suggested this restaurant for the
meeting, although he'd receive her photograph (Sandra her name is - he
reminded himself) they suggested the flower to give positive
identification, 'it was right out of a film' he thought.
And so here he was, waiting for Sandra to arrive, it was strange he was
slightly apprehensive, would she approve of him? Would he be able to talk
to her without making a fool of himself? It was almost as bad as when he
was in High school and trying to date then.
It was with relief when he saw a car drive up and recognized the woman
getting out of it, it was Sandra, she was wearing her carnation as well,
she looked around for a moment and then spotted him, she waved, he couldn't
help but think that he's seen her somewhere before. But then he was like
that, meet some-one at work and then five minutes later forget about them,
but he never forgot a client, he'd learnt how to pigeonhole their names and
faces. But there was something about Sandra that was familiar.
She arrived at his table, he got up and pulled out her chair, making
sure that she was comfortable before pushing it into place, and then he sat
down in front of her.
"That's nice," She said, "It's a bit old-fashioned but I liked it." She
He smiled, "I'm sorry, it was a habit I got into and could never get out
of." He explained; she shook her head.
"No. it's alright, it's just that chivalry's gone out of the window
nowadays," she said, "It's nice to meet someone who isn't tied down to that
political correctness nonsense that seems to be around." She smiled - she
had a pretty smile he noticed.
The waiter came round and asked if they wanted to order, Sandra looked
at the menu and then said, "I don't know what to order," She looked at him
and said, "Why don't you order for us both?"
He nodded, and then, as if daring himself, suggested escargot just to
see how she'd react, she smiled at his words and nodded, 'it looks as if
this might have backfired' he thought, he'd never really tried them
himself, but then again why not? He ordered two eight ounce steaks with
all the trimming, when asked how he wanted them cooked he looked at Sandra.
"Medium to well done please," she said, which was how he liked his steak
as well, they ordered a bottle of wine to accompany the meal, and the
waiter left to give the order to the chef.
While they waited for the food they started to talk, it seemed she was
also working in the law profession, she was attached to a different
partnership on the other side of town, she had been married, but was now
divorced from her husband, it was a mutual separation, no expensive
arguments, she was left with a son, who was twelve, he was visiting his
father at the moment, he was getting to be a bit concerned about her and
had suggested she'd tried dating.
He smiled, "yes my daughter's the same", he said, and then he talked
about himself. Sandra was sad about the loss of his and son, but
happy that Cathy had adjusted, he smiled about that and then went on to
explain how he'd almost alienated Cathy with his inability to cope.
"I'm surprised she's still with me, she's stayed with her grandparents
for so long! But I've tried to make up for that." He explained about the
holidays they've spent, Sandra sighed.
"I wish I could get away to do something like that! Chris has been so
good and understanding about our divorce, John (my ex-partner) couldn't see
what was so interesting about Law, and why I had to be away at such daft
hours or for so long, that's the main reason we parted." She said with a
wistful smile on her face.
Their discussion was interrupted by the arrival of the snails, He smiled
"After you." He said,
"Oh no, you ordered them, you should have the first go." She replied
smiling, and so gritting his teeth (well not actually doing so) he took the
first shell in the tongs and speared the meat inside with the fork and
pulled it out, placing it in his mouth and quickly chewing it. It wasn't
as bad as he had imagined it to be and he drained the remaining liquid out
of the shell to follow the meat.
"That's nice." He said, offering the tongs to Sandra, "Now it's your
turn." She took the challenge in good heart and quickly speared and ate the
next shellful. She smiled at the taste.
"I'd never thought I'd do that." She confided to him, "But you're right,
they do taste nice." Between them they demolished the remaining snails, and
both were looking through the shells for any remaining. He laughed out
loud, something he'd not done in years.
"Should we order more?" he asked her.
Sandra shook her head, "Better not. We won't have room for the main
meal." They both took a drink of wine and carried on talking, he found
himself liking Sandra as the time wound on, they compared notes on their
lives at the moment, finding strange similarities in themselves, over the
main meal they talked about work, finding out that they'd been sparing
partners in a couple of cases, it was strange they remembered the cases but
hadn't really noticed each other before, they both apologised (at the same
time) for this which caused them both to laugh again.
By the time dessert was ready they were both comfortable with each other
that it seemed natural for him to invite her back to his house for a
night-cap, she graciously accepted, which then brought up another problem,
although they hadn't drunk too much of the wine, both didn't think they
should drive home, so they asked the waiter if a taxi could be called for
and they handed their car keys over to the valets who assured them that
they would be kept under strict supervision.
Cathy was fretting, what if it hadn't worked? She and Chris had spent
so long trying to set this up, she'd been on Sandra for some time,
just as Chris had been watching her father.
Sandra hadn't know about it, of course but Cathy was judging her as a
prospective mother, and Christopher was biased anyway, he thought she was
perfect, on the other hand Chris had managed to decide that her father,
George, would be the that he should have had, it wasn't that John
was bad, but nowadays he was more interested in his current girlfriend than
Chris, it was from John's supply that Chris had taken the condoms from,
Cathy laughed when he told her what he'd done, and the way that his had just looked open mouthed when he'd handed them to her with the words
'just in case' - they'd learnt from Chris's that Sandra fertility
cycle was at the right time, how Chris had the nerve to ask about such
things Cathy didn't know.
They'd both agreed that everything was right for them all, she was
desperate for a real to look after her, Nanny Marshall was nice but
she wasn't always there for her, no that wasn't really right she was always
available but sometimes the felt awkward about asking personal
things, and she could never ask her dad about such things, he even blushed
when she mentioned about getting a training bra!
The lessons from her uncle Peter on the computer had provided the means
to arranging the dinner, her had allowed her to use his credit card
on several occasions - she was so happy that he'd trusted her with it. And
so she'd arranged for this fictitious lonely hearts club so that they could
meet and learn what type of people they really were.
Now she was sitting by the window anxiously waiting for her father's car
to arrive, if he was alone then she and Chris would have to work out
another scheme to bring their together.
She heard the engine of the taxi before she saw the car turn up, she was
almost caught out when it stopped outside the front door, but she ducked
back and watched as her and Sandra stepped out - her paid the
fare, they seemed happy together, Cathy's heart soared, she quickly ran
upstairs and jumped into her bed, she knew that her would check on
her and if she seemed to be sleeping she knew he wouldn't disturb her.
George and Sandra soon arrived at his front door, still laughing over -
nothing in particular in fact, but it was very funny they thought!
He opened the door and warning Sandra to be quiet, as Cathy was still at
home. He looked into his daughter's bedroom and, just to make sure, he
called out to her, but she didn't reply, he crept out silently closing the
door, and returned downstairs to the living room.
"She's out like a light." He told Sandra, "Now what do you want? Coffee
or something stronger?"
She thought for a moment, "Well as the night seems to be going fine so
far, why not something else?" she asked raising her eyebrows.
He went to his cocktail cabinet and brought out a decanter of brandy, he
took two glasses and walked back to where Sandra was sitting on the sofa,
her legs folded beneath her, she was looking at a on a table, He
followed her eyes,
"That was my wife, Rachael, the with her was my son, Michael, the
girl with them is Cathy." He told her, she shook her head.
"She was very pretty, and it looks like you were very happy together,"
He gave a sigh, "We were," he said, "we were. Its been so long since we
Sandra was puzzled, "We?" and then she remembered, "Oh yes, Cathy and
you, sorry." She put her hand on his shoulder, he reached up and held it,
"It's strange," he said, "You never really let go of them, sometimes I
expect to open the bedroom door and see her there on the bed sleeping, but
I know she's gone forever."
Sandra pulled him to her, the drinks forgotten, "No! not forever, she
was a part of you, and will never be replaced, remember that!" she said,
she knew from experience how deep such pains could be, her was
killed by a robber, he was a police officer, it was for that reason that
she studied law, but then was side tracked into business law and not the
criminal side that she wanted, but she didn't regret her choice. But she
kept the memory of her alive in her heart.
He felt the warmth of her arms as she held him, and his listened to her
words, in a small part he was comforted by them, and the wisdom that seemed
to lie behind them, against his better judgement he lifted his head and
kissed her cheek, she turned slightly and their lips met.
The years of celibacy struck him with the force of a volcano, he'd
missed the warmth of a partner for so long, and Sandra was feeling the same
way, oh yes she had tried the false way of pleasuring herself, but the
thought of her son hearing her always stopped her from doing too much, she
found herself undoing the buttons on his shirt, his tie was already lost
along with his jacket, his hands were busy as well, pulling at the zip on
"We can't do anything down here" Sandra said, he agreed.
"No, we can't." then he smiled at her, "But my bedroom is away from
Cathy's and she'll never disturb me!" he took her hand and they both got up
from the sofa. And he led the way, Sandra grabbed hold of her handbag as
they walked, thinking of its contents provided by her thoughtful son.
They finally arrived at his bedroom and they entered, Sandra allowing
her dress to fall to the ground, leaving her in stocking, and bra.
He was quickly removing his trousers, leaving his socks and jockey shorts,
they wasted no time, she rushed into his arms and started kissing him,
wallowing in the feel of his light stubble as their lips interlocked, he
was busy undoing the clasp on her bra.
Their clothes were thrown off in the frenzy of their passion, which had
be locked away from the world, by each other until the fuse was lit. He
lifted Sandra up and placed her on the bed, their lips seemingly locked
together as if by superglue, he positioned himself when Sandra stopped him.
"I can't, not today, it's the wrong time." At the look on his face she
then said, "But Chris did give me some condoms just in case" she smiled, "I
think he hoped that something might happen." She reached into her bag and
pulled out several packets, which he undid and quickly wrapped around his
throbbing member, she reached up to him and pulled him down and into her.
From the doorway Cathy was peeking, she quickly ran back to her room,
picked up her phone and dialled a number, a sleepy voice answered her call.
"Chris?" she asked, when he said yes she carried on, "They're doing it,
the plan worked! They fell for it all." She babbled into the phone.
Chris at the other end just smiled, "Did she put on the thingys?" he
asked, Cathy said yes (she had watched for that), Chris laughed, "I wonder
if she'll find the pinholes I put in them."
And the two children laughed, their plan to bring their together