The Evening Do

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I awake slowly, gradually surfacing from the dark, still depths of sleep, my body not ready to surrender to morning as the daylight leaks in through a slender gap in the curtains. It’s still quite early on a Saturday morning and I’m aware of the usual sounds of our suburban neighbourhood waking up: the distant roar of an aircraft taking off from Heathrow, the booming call of a wood pigeon, the distant squeal of a siren rushing down the main road.

I shift a little, reaching out and checking my mobile to make sure there aren’t any last minute changes of plan and then roll over, pressing up against the warm, still body of my fiance. I slide an arm around his trim waist and snuggle up, relishing the reassuring firmness of his body. He sighs a little as my lips brush his shoulder and I run a hand along the lean contours of his stomach and up over his chest, bare except for a small triangle of hair between his pecs.

Elis moans softly as I stroke his chest and my lips tug at his earlobe. He’s had a tough time recently so I take it slow, stroking and caressing his skin before slowly sliding my hand lower, finding his cock as dormant as he is. I stroke him there as if I’m fondling a small, curled up animal, running my fingertips along the crepe skin of his balls and gently rubbing his shaft as he slips a hand behind me and finding my buttocks, squeezing the plump flesh.

I don’t often go back to my hometown and I’m a little anxious about the party we’re attending this evening, so I could do with a little stress relief. I try stroking and rubbing him, toying with his nipples, but although he stiffens a little he never really gets hard and soon I feel a familiar sense of disappointment as he fails to respond despite all my efforts.

“Sorry babe, I guess I’m a little nervous about tonight,” he says apologetically, twisting around and placing a chaste kiss on my forehead.

“That’s okay, we really ought to get up early anyway,” I say, pulling the duvet aside with a bit more force than is necessary and rolling out of bed. “We’ve got a lot to do.”

My words are only half right; it’s true that we have a busy day ahead, with plenty of chores to complete before we can set off for an old friend’s post-marriage evening do but I definitely don’t feel okay about it. The truth is that even when he can sustain an erection, sex just hasn’t been that great recently. Neither of us will admit it of course, but something’s just not right, he just seems to have lost all his confidence recently. It’s a shame, the thing that I always liked about Elis was his kind, considerate, caring nature; such a contrast from my last boyfriend. He’s always so willing to talk things through, try and explain his feelings and willing to compromise and I loved that, but since the accident he’s just seemed too cautious, too hesitant.

It was only a minor accident, and caused by some idiot running a red light and knocking him off his bike so not even his fault. But it was a nasty break and since he’d had his wrist set in a cast and started on some strong painkillers, his personality seemed to have receded. He’d become withdrawn and lethargic, which was so not like him. He’d also stopped driving and started taking the bus to his teaching job, and something about having to ask me to drive him around made it worse, made it feel like I was his carer. I thought it would be better after the cast was removed a couple of weeks back and he’d eased off on the drugs, but nothing had changed much.

Take last Wednesday for example, we’d been out for a meal, and retired to bed early still happily relaxed from guiltily sharing a bottle of wine on a school night. It should have been great, but something about the earnest way he felt the need to take his time and keep checking that I was enjoying it just wasn’t sexy. Even when he had a hand between my legs, he kept asking if it was too firm or not firm enough, or whether he should maybe try something else which just made it all seem worse.

I turned on the shower and dialled up the temperature, the extra hot water making me catch my breath but also somehow feeling good. I couldn’t help wondering what might happen if things didn’t improve before our wedding next summer. Did I really want to condemn myself to a life of average, barely satisfying sex? Or perhaps even no sex at all, if the last few weeks were anything to go by.

I pushed those thoughts aside as I attacked my list of chores for the day. We were heading off after lunch and we needed to get a lot done. Elis had volunteered to vacuum the apartment we shared, and do some laundry. Whilst I headed to the hairdressers and the nail bar, before collecting my dress and his only suit from the dry cleaners, then headed back via the supermarket so I could pick up a few groceries and something for when we got back on Sunday evening.

Our busy morning passed quickly, and we just had time to grab some lunch and quickly pack overnight bags before heading off down the motorway. I grew up in a small town in rural illegal bahis Herefordshire and knew the bride Jess from school. I hadn’t seen her or her new husband since I’d moved away so it was good of her to remember and invite us. I really should have been more happy at the chance to get out of London and see some old friends.

We were both quiet on the journey; I was driving as I had been since the accident. Elis seemed lost in his thoughts and I was happy to just concentrate on the road, my restless mind in neutral for once, just content to sail smoothly over the hot tarmac. At least the weather was good, the thin, early June clouds dissolving in the midday sunshine as we headed west.

It was odd to return after so much time had passed and I couldn’t help feeling a little nostalgic thrill at seeing the familiar names of villages on signposts as we left the main roads behind. Passing the pub where I had my first drink, the village of my first school, the street where we lived when I was a teenager.

The hotel was an impressively large country house with ivy clinging to its grey stone walls and a long tree-lined drive which passed through its own golf course and led to a spacious car park.

We’d pushed the boat out and booked a luxurious double room with a spacious en-suite. After we unpacked a few things, I took a quick shower, emerging from the bathroom to find the sunlight spilling through the large window, a bright rectangle cut into the dark blue carpet.

“Well, don’t you look smart?” I said, holding a thick white towel around me and determined to be upbeat. “You look like a sexy welsh James Bond.”

Elis had changed into his one and only suit, a fitting dark grey number over a crisp white shirt and despite my jokey comment he really did look good.

“Shaken or stirred, love?” he said, grinning as he emphasized his Welsh accent.

He was fiddling with some cufflinks as I let my towel drop untidily to the floor and pulled on my pale green underwear. I felt his dark amber eyes watching as I carefully stepped into the forest green dress one foot at a time and shimmied it up over my hips. I twisted sideways, checking how it looked as I adjusted the thin straps so that they covered the bra.

I ran a hand through my hair; it had been cut a little shorter and styled in more of a pixie cut. It looked artfully tousled, my natural chocolate brown colouring flecked with auburn and russet highlights which caught the evening light pleasingly.

I was very happy with the new dress which flowed liquidly over the feminine curve of my hips. The bra was doing wonderful things for my C-cup boobs, lifting and pushing them together, the daringly low V-shaped dress revealing more than a hint of cleavage. I was aware of Elis ogling me as I smoothed the sleek fabric over my hips. He watched it stretch tight over my bottom as I slipped on my black heels then

straightened to check the full effect. I didn’t often wear heels and I was always surprised at their almost magical effect, making my freshly-shaved legs look so much more toned and slender.

“Wow, you look great,” Elis said, slipping an arm around my waist and softly kissing my neck.

“Thanks,” I said as I put on some matching emerald stud earrings. “You too.”

I never looked forward to big, formal occasions like this. Weddings, birthday parties, work events, they all terrified me. Perhaps it was the thought of seeing all my old friends and feeling they were judging me, measuring my success against theirs. Or maybe it was just the thought of having to make conversation with some of the people I’d been more than happy to leave behind. It was silly really; Elis had much more to worry about; an evening spent making small talk with people who were virtual strangers to him.

Despite that, he must have sensed my nerves and I smiled, feeling a little flush of reassurance as he reached out to squeeze my hand as we descended the elegant, curving staircase, then pushed through the crowd towards the bar.

At first, we stuck together, politely sipping our champagne and making small talk, but soon he drifted off with a group of dark-suited men who he vaguely knew. I hear them loudly talking about football as I listen to an old school friend telling me about the shabby-chic shop she’s going to open with the money from her divorce settlement.

My anxiety started to ebb as I sipped a second glass of champagne and I began to relax, enjoying the opportunity to catch up with her and the other girls I haven’t seen since high school. I share my news as well; they’re all polite but can’t hide the fact that they find it faintly puzzling that I’d given up a comfortable life here for a new life in what they saw as noisy, crowded West London but they’re nice enough to say that Elis and I make a great-looking couple and politely feign interest in my new career as an estate agent.

The evening sun sinks a little lower as we talk, shining brightly through large patio doors and despite my slinky dress, illegal bahis siteleri the crowd of people makes me feel a little hot. I’ve never really liked large crowds, perhaps there’s a name for that kind of phobia. In any case, when I make an excuse and head off to collect another glass of champagne I find the cool breeze drifting in through the doors irresistible.

I grab a glass from a passing tray and exit out onto a wide, stone-flagged terrace with its ornate balustrade and steps at either end sweeping down to a neatly trimmed lawn that slopes gently towards a river that sparkles serenely in the evening sunshine. It’s much quieter out here and I take a deep breath of the fresh air as I look around. There are a few small groups dotted around the grass, the women in colourful evening dresses, the men in sober grey and navy blue suits. To my left a tall man is having a heated debate with a young woman. I pretend to stare at the river but can’t resist watching out of the corner of my eye as they argue until she suddenly spins on her dangerously high stiletto heels, her pleated skirt briefly flaring around her pale, skinny legs as she angrily stalks off back towards the bar. I watch, noting how familiar he looks as he turns towards the river, looking a little deflated as he leans heavily on the thick stone rail and takes a deep gulp of his red wine.

It’s then that I realise it’s my ex-boyfriend, Guy. He’s put on a little weight, and his hair’s longer and shaggier than I remember but it’s definitely him. I start to turn, ready to scurry back inside but at the same moment he turns and spots me, raising his hand and smiling just as I realise it’s too late and I’ll just have to style it out.

“Idiot!” I hiss under my breath as I walk over, I should have anticipated he’d be here, he’s an old friend of John the groom. He loves this kind of evening do, I bet he thinks of it as a kind of hunting ground for young women.

“OK, just play it cool, Jen. Pretend like it’s the most natural thing in the world, ” I mutter, taking a deep breath and carefully rearranging my face to look pleasantly surprised.

“Jen, what a lovely surprise!” he says, leaning in for a quick kiss, and the familiar smell of his woody after-shave brings back all kinds of unwanted memories. “How long’s it been? Two years?”

“Two-and-a-half,” I say politely correcting him as I step back and offer my hand instead.

“Thanks, hey, you look amazing,” he says, as he takes his time, looking me up and down.

If anything, the dress looks even better in the natural light, the dark green fabric hugging my slim figure and finishing just above my knees. The evening sun is lower in the sky now, cutting across me and I’m pleased with the effect, the softly angled light illuminating every subtle plane and curve of my body. Guy must have seen me naked plenty of times when we were dating, but you wouldn’t know it now and I feel myself flush a little as his dark grey eyes linger over my body, casually undressing me.

It’s a bit petty, but I can’t help feeling pleased. “You could have had this if you weren’t such a cheating bastard” I think smugly as I stand a little taller in my heels, running a hand through my hair as I briefly look him up and down.

“You too, ” I say automatically, although actually it’s true. He’s dressed in a well-fitting dark grey suit and has a healthy tan that speaks of time spent at his parent’s villa in the south of France. The broadness of his chest and bulky forearms made me think he’s still an active member of the local rowing club.

“Yes, clearly life in London agrees with you, ” he adds, his eyes lingering on my cleavage as he slowly reaches out and casually runs a fingertip along my bare arm.

I suppose I found this affectionate or maybe even sexy once but now it just feels like he’s assessing a particularly expensive car or a fine piece of porcelain and I instinctively flinch.

“Don’t,” I say, stepping back as my skin tingles.

“Still as spirited as ever,” he chuckles, his lips curling into a lazy smile. “I loved that about you. Why did we ever break up?”

“Because you slept with one of my friends,” I shoot back.

“Ouch! Well maybe, but she meant nothing. I was a young fool who didn’t know any better,” he chuckles, shrugging his impossibly square shoulders as if it were just a minor faux pas like forgetting an anniversary.

“Well, at least we agree on something,” I say, looking back at the entrance. The music’s gotten a bit louder and suddenly I long to be safely back inside with Elis.

“Ha, just as feisty as ever, ” he says grinning, and I attempt a polite smile. “I hear you’re engaged.”

“Yes, Elis is inside, I’ll introduce you,” I say, holding up my hand to show my engagement ring, the diamond sparkling in the waning sunlight.

“Nice,” he says, sounding unimpressed as he assesses the ring with an expert eye. His family are well-known around here, an old family that had gotten their wealth through running local canlı bahis siteleri auction rooms and trading antique paintings, ceramics, jewelry, whatever they could turn a profit on.

“Yes, we chose it together.”

“I heard he’s a supply teacher?” he says. Is he implying I could do better, that being a supply teacher is something to be ashamed of? Or am I imagining it?

“He’s going to be made permanent soon,” I say, instinctively feeling the need to defend my future husband.

“You know, I really was a fool to lose you. If you’d stayed with me, we could have had an amazing time, you’d want for nothing.”

Except honesty and affection, I think, but bite my tongue. Life back here would have been a series of cocktail parties with me hanging on Guy’s arm like a fashionable accessory, presumably till he found a younger, prettier version of me. That was the thing about Guy: outwardly suave and charming but just a spoiled teenage boy on the inside, never entirely happy with what he had, always on the lookout for a faster car, a more expensive watch, a more attractive girl on his arm.

I guess some women could have lived with that, but when I finally figured it out I knew it wasn’t for me so we split up and when an old friend from uni offered me a job at an estate agents she was setting up in west London I jumped at the chance.

Guy was someone used to getting what he wanted and hadn’t taken our split very well, a mutual friend had told me that he still thought I’d ‘see sense’ one day and come back to him.

“And how about you? I heard you were dating Diane,” I say.

“No, no, we broke up ages ago. No, no-one on the go at the moment. Perhaps I’ll get lucky here, eh?”

“Mmm,” I say, wanting to ask about the girl who stormed off.

“You know, it really is great seeing you again,” he says before I get a chance, and he looks me up and down again as if he can’t believe I’m real. “Perhaps we could have a drink later, you know, just for old time’s sake?”

I hesitate, trying to think of a way of saying “no” politely and then I’m saved by the tinny sound of a gong resonating across the lawn announcing that dinner is served.

“Anyway, lovely to see you Guy, I guess we should get back,” I say, stepping past him.

He grabs my arm, pulling me close as I step past: “Well then, hope to see you soon.” he says, as if he knows something I don’t.

I breathe a sigh of relief as I skip back up the steps being careful not to spill my champagne and join a group of people crowded around the seating plan, which has been placed on a large easel.

I find myself, “Ms J Chapman”, on Table six and am relieved to find I’m next to Elis. They’ve gone the traditional boy-girl-boy route and who’s seated to my right? It’s Guy of course.

I push through the crowd, arriving at the table at the same time as Elis. Guy is already there, turning to greet us with his expensive smile, and I can’t help wondering if he’s had a quiet word with John, asked him to seat us together. He always was so persuasive, I wouldn’t be surprised.

“Ha! We meet again!” he booms, offering his hand to my boyfriend. “And you must be Jen’s fiancé, Elis.”

“This is Guy, my ex,” I explain in response to Elis’s puzzled glance and feeling apprehensive as they shake hands.

“Oh right, pleased to meet you,” he says.

As they exchange small talk, I get a rare chance to compare current and ex. Guy is bigger, maybe three inches taller and broad around the torso and chest. He has the posture and accent of someone who’s been to a fee-paying school. He stands upright, a polite but slightly arrogant expression on his annoyingly handsome face as Elis tells him about teaching.

Elis is shorter and leaner, his gentle Welsh accent more noticeable against Guy’s crisp English, his posture more casual, less stiffly upright. In my heels, I’m just about as tall as him. I watch fascinated as they try and find some common ground, eventually settling on a brief chat about rugby.

They both seem a little relieved to end their conversation as they take their seats and Guy soon turns to chat to the woman next to him as the starters arrive.

It’s when I’m nearing the end of my main (a delicious beef wellington with seasonal vegetables) that I first notice the back of Guy’s hand brushing against my leg beneath the table. At first, I assume it’s accidental, but then I feel it again, more firmly this time, stroking then squeezing my knee, his actions hidden beneath the pristine white cotton tablecloth.

“Hey!” I hiss quietly, turning and glaring at him as I tugged at his wrist.

He smiles that annoying smile again as he takes a sip of his red wine, ignoring my quiet protests, his persistent fingers lightly stroking the inch of bare skin between my knee and the hem of my dress.

Elis chose that moment to ask me to show my engagement ring to the lady seated on his right, an elderly-looking woman wearing an expensive-looking pearl necklace over a high-necked royal blue dress. I smiled politely, twisting away from Guy.

“Oh, well congratulations, how lovely,” she cooed encouragingly as I stretched out my right hand, fingers elegantly hinged, so that she could see. “You really do make a lovely couple.”

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