As Weekends Go (Choc Lit) (6 page)

BOOK: As Weekends Go (Choc Lit)
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‘No. Not my thing, really.’

‘Too much potential for injuring yourself,’ said Danny, playfully splashing her.

‘On that note,’ Rebecca spluttered, ‘I hope you don’t mind me asking you this, but what does Alex Heath’s friend look like? You know … the brash-sounding one you were telling us about yesterday.’


Kenny
?’

‘Yes, the reason I’m asking,’ said Rebecca, trying to sound plausibly vague, ‘is because Abi said that some guy who was with a man matching Alex’s description winked at her earlier. I wasn’t there, so I thought I’d ask you as you know him.’

‘Well, it pains me to say it, but he’s a good-looking bastard. Co-runs a gym, among other things, well, two, one in Leeds, one down south.’ He held up his hand. ‘I’m going off at a tangent here, aren’t I? All in all, he’s got brown hair, wears a diamond stud, and dresses in designer gear. And if Abi says he winked at her, you can be sure it’s Millsy.’


Millsy?

‘Yeah, his surname’s Mills.’

‘Oh, I see. How old is he, Danny?’

‘A couple of years older than Alex, I think. Thirty, thirty-one, maybe.’ Danny checked his watch. ‘He’s all right, just gets a bit mouthy sometimes. Typical Cockney, I suppose.’

‘Hey, cheeky!’ Certain that Abi had indeed seen Alex Heath, Rebecca kept up the pretence. ‘Now I know what this Kenny looks like, I can keep an eye out,’ she said. Danny looked a bit sceptical. ‘In case he tries it on with her, I mean.’

‘If you say so, Rebecca.’ He stood up, a little too hastily, she felt. ‘Look, I’d better get off, or I’ll end up sunbathing for the next three hours. You enjoy the rest of your day, and I’ll see you later, okay?’

‘Okay,’ she said, praying he hadn’t rumbled her.

After he’d gone, she pondered what he’d said. This Kenny sounded so iffy, she could only assume, given what she’d heard so far, that he and Alex had opposites attract syndrome. Bit like herself and Abi in some ways.

She stepped out of the pool behind a Halle Berry look-alike, and padded back to her bed. The bronzed ones appeared to have lost interest in her, one of them now locked in conversation with the couple sitting on the grass verge behind, the other studying her magazine and fingering her diamond pendant.

The latter glanced up, her smile watery at best as she watched Rebecca towel dry her hair and smother herself in factor 30.

Ah, well, you couldn’t please everyone.

Rebecca opted to turn her bed around. Being one of those solid, wooden slatted types, this proved trickier than she’d thought. Damn thing only moved an inch, after heaving it back and forth for nearly ten minutes.

She flicked back her matted hair, sweat trickling down her face, and was about to resume battle, when out of the corner of her eye she saw something move beyond the hedge.

Or more precisely – someone.

Alex Heath.

She could hear him telling a staff member how he’d come back for his golf glove, having left it in his car.

She could only see his top half and found herself thinking how much the royal blue of his striped golf shirt emphasised his tanned forearms.

He turned to go, then spotted her and did a double-take, giving her the biggest smile.

Rebecca recognised the same warmth in it she’d seen yesterday, and smiled back.

He pointed at her, tapped his shoulder twice and gave her the thumbs up with a questioning look on his face.

She instinctively glanced down at herself, folding her arms across her breasts, before realising that he wasn’t marking her out of ten for her swimwear, but actually enquiring how her injury was.

‘Oh, sorry!’ she mouthed, returning the thumbs up sign. ‘Fine, thank you.’ She flopped her hand forward, laughing to cover her embarrassment.
You idiot, Rebecca!

He raised a hand in acknowledgement before being accosted by a fellow golfer who’d obviously recognised him and seemed intent on accompanying him back to the golf course.

Rebecca gave him an awkward little wave goodbye.

The bronzed duo camped behind her couldn’t have looked more shocked than if someone had cracked them round the head with a baseball bat.

Rebecca half grinned, half grimaced at them, and crawled back onto her sunbed, bracing herself as she eased her mirror out of her floral tote bag for a shufti at her reflection. Blotchy and mad-haired. She was amazed that Alex Heath had even recognised her.

Although why it should bother her … She should be more concerned about her intended heart-to-heart with Greg.

Which reminded her.

She dug her phone out of her bag, having pre-set the number of her in-laws’ hotel in Jersey, and cleared her throat, ready to warble ‘Happy Birthday’ down the line to Pearl Stafford.

Chapter Eight

From their respective conversations with the lovely masseuse to Rebecca’s second encounter with Alex Heath, lunchtime was spent analysing the morning’s events thrice over. Rebecca hardly touched her tuna salad baguette, she was yacking so much. Abi wanted to know everything – facial expressions, length of eye contact, the works. And that was without Rebecca throwing into the equation her little poolside chat with Danny. Although, perhaps she’d sit on that one for a bit. Danny might not have twigged her ulterior motives for quizzing him, but Abi sure would.

By the time they’d mooched back to the spa, Rebecca’s jaw ached and, ironically, she relished having her revitalising facial and eyebrow threading appointments conducted in near silence.

Afterwards, she opted for a siesta, partly to escape another grilling, but more in preparation for the night ahead, leaving Abi free to check out the jacuzzi and steam room before the big ‘glam up’.

At eight o’clock the two of them were in Rebecca’s room, with Rebecca hunched over the mirror, fretting that one of her eyebrows looked wonky.

‘They’re fine,’ said Abi, who’d been transforming her for the last hour and was plainly losing patience. ‘Now shift it, will you?’

Rebecca still hadn’t quite grasped the fact that she was going to a club and would have worn her black – take you anywhere – trousers and a vest top if Abi hadn’t insisted she borrow her black sequined dress instead.

‘It looks fabulous,’ she said, giving Rebecca a winning smile.

‘Does it?’ Rebecca had been worried that it was a bit low cut.

‘Not that you don’t normally look good. It’s just whenever we’ve all been out, you usually wear trousers. It’s nice to see your legs for once.’

‘You don’t think it’s too short then?’


Short?

Abi nearly toppled off the bed. ‘You’re joking! It’s hardly a mini dress, is it? It looks better on you than it does on me. Sleeveless things really suit you.’ She hesitated. ‘It’s about time you wore something sexy.’

‘What do you mean? Some of the outfits I wear to Greg’s work functions are quite swish. I was only concerned that it might be a bit revealing. That’s what he’d probably say if he saw it.’

‘Oh, come on, it’s hardly a basque and thong, is it? Who does he think he is, for pity’s sake? Your dad?’ Abi held up her hand in apology. ‘Not that I think he was over-strict when you were growing up …’ She drew breath for round two. ‘I bet Greg would hate the fact that I’ve straightened your hair tonight. I’m amazed he
allows
Kim to still highlight it for you, now that he’s joined the upper echelons. Thought he’d be booking you into a salon in Knightsbridge,’ she said, jumping up off the bed and flouncing into the bathroom.

Oh, dear.

This had been one of Rebecca’s fears about coming to York. She should have known she was on risky ground bringing Greg’s name into this sort of conversation.

With Abi, of all people.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Abi, instantly re-emerging from the bathroom. ‘I know Greg and I have never been bosom buddies, and I do respect that, generally … before his big personality transplant, he treated you pretty well. I just can’t shake the feeling that he’s now playing you. What happened to the plans you made after your redundancy? What about what you want, Bex? He’s stripping away all your hopes, not to mention your confidence. His behaviour this past year or so has been shocking. You must know he’s alienating people, honey?’

Rebecca didn’t dare speak, for fear of her voice cracking. Anyway, what could she say? ‘Don’t be silly, Abi. You’re imagining it.’ There was nowhere to hide, damn it.
Nowhere
.

She twiddled her wedding ring, the raw hurt and humiliation of it all overshadowed yet again by her gut-wrenching feelings of split loyalties. Abi was right, of course she was, but Rebecca had to do this her way. She needed and wanted to confront Greg about their marriage without any influence.

Confront.
The word sounded so aggressive. But that’s what she’d be doing, wasn’t it?

‘It’s complicated,’ she said.

‘I know it is,’ said Abi, enveloping her in a hug. She buried her face in Rebecca’s newly straightened hair. ‘I promise I won’t Greg-bash for the rest of the weekend. I really am sorry. I’m sure Nick gets on your tits at times.’

Not that Rebecca could recall.

‘Don’t apologise, Abs. You were just being honest. It’ll sort itself out once things calm down a bit for him at work. You watch.’ Abi gave her a tight smile. ‘Let’s get this show on the road before I chicken out and force you to play Scrabble in the lounge all night over a glass of Cherryade with two straws,’ she said, applying the diversion tactics she’d been forced to master so well over the past few months.

‘That’s my girl.’ Abi tweaked Rebecca’s powdered nose. ‘I’ll have you dancing on those tables before you know it.’

‘Oh, stop it! You’ll give yourself two black eyes,’ Rebecca shrieked, watching her gyrate round the room. She thought Abi looked incredible in her red off-the-shoulder dress, hair neatly framing her face. Truly stunning. ‘How come you’re so tanned, Huxley?’ She gazed down at Abi’s nut-brown legs.

‘Well, so will you be soon. You’re off to Cyprus in a few weeks.’


Hmmm
 …’ Rebecca left it there, genuinely unsure at that point if being on holiday with Greg would benefit the two of them or break them.

‘Here, put this on,’ said Abi, producing a silver drop necklace from her red evening bag. ‘It’ll complement your dress.’

‘Your dress, you mean. I’ve already borrowed your bag. Are you sure you trust me with this?’

‘Yes. Now, get it on. It’s nearly eight thirty.’

With a backward glance in the mirror and a final blast of perfume, they left the room.

They made their way downstairs, Rebecca mentally praising herself for choosing her kitten heels over a pair of Abi’s stilettos. Comfy shoes were a must if she was going out dancing. They also limited her chances of tripping over again.

‘I feel like a film star,’ she said, watching her every step, gripping the heavy oak banister twice as hard for support.

The Doberman’s eyes hunted them from reception.

‘Good evening, ladies,’ called the concierge from behind his desk, smiling at them and nearly dropping the stack of pamphlets he was holding. ‘May I be of help with anything?’

‘Hello, Bernard
.
Yes, you kindly booked us a table at Images,’ said Abi
.
‘Would it be possible to order us a taxi, please?’

‘Certainly, madam. If you’d both like to wait in either the lounge or bar, I’ll see to it.’

‘Thank you.’ Abi indicated the bar to Rebecca.

Danny bowed exaggeratedly when he saw them, before serving Abi’s usual vodka and tonic and Rebecca a coke.

‘It’s going to be a long night. I’d best pace myself,’ said Rebecca, taking her seat at the bar.

‘Off to Images, are we?’ Danny eyed them appreciatively.

‘Yes, indeed,’ said Abi, head pivoting to see who else was about.

‘Lucky you,’ he said, ‘some of us have to work tomorrow.’

‘And there was I about to invite you to come and party with us when you’ve finished your shift,’ said Abi, crossing her legs. ‘You did recommend the place to us.’

Rebecca nearly swallowed her ice cube. They barely knew Danny, yet here was Abi asking him to join them. Didn’t she realise how forward that sounded?

Or are you being too prissy, Rebecca?

‘Ah, you don’t want me cramping your style, girls,’ said Danny. ‘You go have a good time. If there’s a big guy on the door, though, mixed race with dreadlocks, say hello from me, will you?’

‘Is that the guy who used to work here?’ said Abi. ‘Only Jack Byrnes said something to us about him in the dining room last night.’

‘Yeah, he worked in the gym. Jermaine, his name is. Goes out with Kenny’s sister. Or at least he
did
. You know, Alex Heath’s friend, Kenny, I was telling you about.’

‘On that very topic,’ Abi leaned over the bar, ‘I think I saw Kenny today. He was with that Alex Heath by the pool terrace.’


Yeah?

Rebecca shot Danny a warning look.

‘Yes, he bloody winked at me, the toerag.’ Abi started relaying the day’s events to him.

Luckily for Rebecca, Danny cottoned on that she hadn’t mentioned to Abi their little ‘Kenny Q&A session’.

‘Well, you’d best be on your guard,’ he said, ‘they’re probably both in Fairways
as we speak.’

Abi’s eyes flickered. ‘Fairways?’

‘The golfers’ bar. They usually have one in there before coming in here.’ Danny turned to answer the wall-phone ringing behind him.

Rebecca glanced at the entrance.
Imagine if he came in here now. How red you’d go if he walked right along the bar towards you with that smile on his face. Or if he came in with a gorgeous woman and completely ignored you. Or if—

‘Earth to Rebecca!’ Abi and Danny were gesturing to her that the taxi had arrived.

‘Gosh, sorry,’ said Rebecca, leaping off her stool.

‘Don’t forget what I said about joining us later, Danny,’ said Abi, downing her drink.

In reception, they handed in their key cards to a still-scowling Doberman, and thanked the concierge who stood patiently waiting by the main door for them.

‘Have a pleasant evening, ladies,’ he said, waving them off into the balmy night air where their taxi sat, engine running, at the foot of the hotel steps.

‘Images, yeah?’ grunted the burly taxi driver without looking up.

‘Yes, please,’ said Rebecca, drawing her seat belt across her. Only when he’d pulled away did her palpitations at the thought of running into Alex Heath again cease.

She heard her phone beep halfway up the drive, disappointed to see, as she fished it from her borrowed bag, that Greg had texted his presentation news to her instead of calling her.

‘Says it went like a dream,’ she relayed to Abi, pride taking over.

‘Is that it? Nothing else to report? No details?’

‘No. Other than his hotel’s like a madhouse and that he’ll try and call me later on,’ said Rebecca, texting her love and congratulations back to him.

‘Does he know we’re going out?’

‘Yes. Of course,’ said Rebecca, declining to repeat Greg’s insulting response when she’d brought it up with him yesterday.

‘Bex, I’m not being funny, but once we’re inside the club it’ll be quite difficult to have a phone conversation with him. I’ve told Nick not to bother calling me tonight, said I’d ring him in the morning.’

‘Oh, well, we can always swap texts again,’ said Rebecca, fiddling with her hemline. ‘I expect he’ll want to know I’ve got back safely. On the other hand, he might be out hobnobbing with the boss and co to celebrate, as it all went so well today.’

‘You should get Alex Heath’s autograph for him if we see him tomorrow. That would impress him.’

The driver snorted and turned up his radio.

‘Not necessarily,’ said Rebecca, raising her voice slightly. ‘Some of Greg’s clients are quite high profile.’

‘Not
that
high profile.’ Abi whipped out her trusty lip gloss. ‘And you know how much Greg loves his football. Shame we didn’t see Alex in the bar just now. You could have asked him for it.’

Rebecca could sense Abi studying her profile, burrowing like a sniffer dog for the merest hint of a giveaway blush.

‘How far
is
this club?’ she asked, turning her face to the window.

‘About eight miles away,’ said Abi, not pushing it any further. ‘Clifton something or other, I think Danny said it was. This seems a bit residential, though, doesn’t it?’

The driver flicked off his radio. ‘I do know where I’m going, you know.’

‘Oh, it speaks then,’ Abi whispered.

They sat in silence for a bit.

Rebecca studied the driver’s hairy hands, the dirt under his mauled fingernails, and was beginning to feel a bit edgy, when they pulled into a busy retail park with hordes of shops, bars and restaurants on it. All around them cars jostled for parking spaces.

‘Looks like a posh Valley Park,’ said Abi, comparing it to a similar site back home. She pointed to a swanky, glass fronted venue across the road. ‘That must be it over there.’

The driver sat there, mute.

‘How much do we owe you?’ Rebecca asked, addressing the back of his rude head.

‘Fifteen,’ he snarled, tapping his furry mitts on the dashboard.

She proffered a twenty pound note over his shoulder.

‘He can swing for a tip,’ hissed Abi, seizing the fiver he begrudgingly returned them, and slamming the door as they got out of the car.

They joined the queue behind three boisterous brunettes who were all talking at once, raucous laughter punctuating their every other word.

‘They only look about seventeen,’ Rebecca mumbled, feeling ancient.

The loudest brunette took an almighty drag on her cigarette.

Rebecca inhaled the acrid smoke. How she’d muddle through without a Silk Cut tonight was anybody’s guess. She didn’t even know if they’d have a fag machine inside, what with the smoking ban. Not that she could see Abi wanting to traipse outside to keep her company.

Sod it! She’d have to go without.

She fanned her face with her bag, nearly choking as the stench of antiseptic cream hit her. One of the two guys standing behind them must have smothered himself in it. Either that or he had on the worst aftershave ever bottled.

‘Nearly there,’ said Abi, eyes equally watering as they neared the front.

‘Evening, ladies,’ said the suited Goliath guarding the door.

‘Hello,’ said Abi, peering up at him, ‘are you Jermaine?’

The man half-smiled, exposing two gold teeth, and in a baritone voice, drawled, ‘Why you ask?’

‘Because Danny said you had dreadlocks.’

‘Which Danny?’ he said, frowning down at them.

‘The head barman at Hawksley Manor. He said to say hello to you. We’re staying there until Monday. I’m Abi and this is my friend, Rebecca.’

‘Oh.
That
Danny. Well, in that case, I’m your man.’ He thrust out a hand the size of a frisbee. ‘How is the mad fool? Still poisoning everyone with his cocktails?’

BOOK: As Weekends Go (Choc Lit)
11.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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