My thanks go to LadyCibelle, and my friend SH for sorting the foul-ups and editing this tale for me. But I must add that this story has been slightly amended since they proofread it, and it was first posted.
My flight had been delayed for over an hour by what the airline described as a slight technical problem. I have an aversion to flying anyway, so that hadn't done much for my confidence. To be honest, the news that the aeroplane I was about to spend more hours than I really wished to - flying mostly over water - had bleeding-well broken down before we'd even got on board the bloody thing, had made the journey a nightmare for me.
Anyway at least it was a somewhat pleasant surprise to me that we had - after an inordinately bumpy flight - landed safely. It was with a big sigh of relief that I got out of the terminal building into the heat of a Florida afternoon and eventually climbed into the large air conditioned limousine that was waiting for me. Although the thought that I was going to have to make the return journey in just a day or two's time was kicking around in the back of my head somewhere; but for the moment, I had more important things on my mind.
I was extremely nervous again, as I climbed out of the car outside the hotel. I was in a strange City, in a country I'd only ever seen on the films and TV; somewhat regretfully, mostly in crime type TV soap operas. Not the sort of programmes that give you confidence in your safety when visiting those places; especially, if like me, you don't travel very much.
Anyway, on climbing out of the car, it was with some relief that I found myself immediately recognised and accosted by Paul and Della the people who'd arranged the evening.
"Hi Mike, we weren't sure if you were going to make it on time. We'll take your bag and book you into the room. Now you'd better get going, she's waiting inside the lobby for you." Della had said. Paul, after giving me a quick nod in greeting, had headed for the rear of the car to retrieve my suitcase from the driver.
"Thanks folks, sorry to keep you in suspense, but my bloody flight got delayed." I said and then - trying to look as confident as I could - I headed through the rotating door into the cool interior of the air-conditioned building.
I must admit that I wasn't expecting the place to be so grand. The hotel's lobby was gigantic and there seemed to be several hundred people wandering around everywhere; in actual fact, there were probably no more than thirty or forty.
"How the hell do they expect me to find a woman who I've never seen in my life before in this place, god alone knows?" I was asking myself; when suddenly an extremely attractive woman, just about clad in a little red — obviously designer - cocktail dress and holding a matching clutch bag in her left hand appeared before me.
"Mike?" she enquired, with an enchanting smile.
"Er, yes; Holly?" I spluttered in reply, somewhat taken aback by her unexpected beauty. Under the circumstances that we were meeting, Holly was not what I had expected at all.
Holly smiled again, then, took me even more by surprise by wrapping her arms around me and kissing me on the cheek.
Having got over the initial shock, I summoned up my courage and reciprocated in kind.
When in Rome and all that, as father used to say!
Sorry, it must be an English thing; we don't usually go around taking women into our arms whom we've never met before, well not often anyway. Although Holly and I had been in correspondence by email for several months by then and we had spoken to each other more than a few times on the telephone whilst setting up this little encounter. I really had not known what to expect.
"Did you have a good flight?" She asked.
"No, well, no flight's very good for me anymore Holly." I replied, then I explained. "I was involved in a very hard landing a few years back; not far short of a crash landing actually. Made a real mess of the aeroplane, but I should imagine the local scrap merchants were happy. Anyway, it kind-of buggered up my confidence in heavier than air transport. Mind you, if I'd known that I was going to be met by such a beautiful lady when I got over here. Plus, have the good fortune to spend a whole evening with her, then maybe the flight wouldn't have been so bad."
"Thank you. You know, they say that Englishmen aren't romantic; you kind-a slipped that one in very subtly. I feel very flattered to have such a handsome gentleman pay me such a compliment."
"It's not flattery Holly. Actually I find that you're so beautiful that I have to wonder how come we find ourselves in this situation in the first place."
I'm not sure whether it was embarrassment or nervousness that made me waffle on as I did. Thinking back, I would never usually talk to a woman, or flirt with her, as I did with Holly for the next couple of hours. Mind you, looking back on what I actually did say, I have to admit that most of the time I was talking a load of absolute twaddle.
"My mother always used to say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder Mike. Perhaps some people's eyes don't see what other peoples do." Holly replied.
"My father used to say that familiarity breeds contempt; perhaps that's where we're coming from. A change of country, a change of ... bed partners. And there's another saying I remember as well, a change is as good as a rest!"
"Oh you're depressing me now, Mike!"
"Sorry, but I've found the last few months very depressing actually; except for my correspondence with you, that is."
Holly smiled, "I would have thought that that would have really depressed you."
"Oh make no mistake about it, it did in the first place, Holly. But then I got to enjoy our little emails and chats, it got so that I really looked forward to them. I'll be honest, for weeks now I've been impatient to get over here and meet you in person. And I'll add, that if I'd seen a picture of you, I'd have flown over to Canada weeks ago."
"That might have spoilt our surprise, what if you'd been recognised?"
"Holly," I looked her up and down, "If I'd known how beautiful you were ... well bugger the bloody surprise. I can't understand why you chose me anyway?"
"I thought it would be ironic I suppose. Anyway, who better than Mike Crosby, 34, married to Emma," - Holly pulled a long face. - "for ten years, they have no children; rumour is that's Emma's choice. Mike's the maintenance manager at the hospital near where they live; a job he hates, by the way. Mike has a handicap of three when he plays golf with his friends every Saturday morning, and he's a killer spin bowler, whatever that means, for his local amateur cricket club, who he practices with on Tuesday evenings and plays for on most Sundays during the summer."
"God, thorough aren't you?" I exclaimed.
"No not me Mike, the people I employ. I have several photographs of you in your whites," A questioning expression crossed Holly's face for a second, probably she was wondering if she had the name correct. "as well; you look very smart in them. It could be those pictures are the reason I chose you to be my secret lover this evening." She smiled at me, adding a little wink.
"I think you're flattering me now, Holly!" I replied smiling. But I can also remember thinking. "I hope that she hasn't mistaken my Cricket Box for something it isn't?"
Luckily we were interrupted at this point, when Paul and Della - the couple who'd met me outside the hotel - came over to join us.
"The boy's taken your bag up to the suite Mike; now are you two ready for the big show?" Paul asked.
"As I'll ever be; how about you Holly?" I asked, throwing the ball into her court.
"Yeah, I think I'm ready." She replied. Looking somewhat reticent I thought, considering that we were going through this whole charade at her insistence.
"Look, Holly; you don't have to do this you know. Once we get in there, you realise that there's no turning back. I could even go in there on my own if you like?"
"Don't be silly Mike, that would defeat the object of the exercise wouldn't it? Do you really think I've come all this way from Montreal to miss out on all the fun? Come on, let's do it!"
"Er ... Mike, you got something for Paul?" Della asked.
"Oh damn sorry, yeah here Paul." I said pulling the thick envelope from my pocket and handing it to Paul. Who added it to several other similar envelopes he'd produced from somewhere, then he sorted them into an order that seemed to please him, before he tucked them all into the inside pocket of his jacket. As he did so, I noted that he was carrying what I took to be a firearm, in a shoulder holster.
I can remember thinking to myself. "A gun, Jesus these guys play for keeps over here!"
"Okay let's go?" Holly said, taking hold of my arm; but then she looked at Paul and asked. "Intimate enough?"
I suppose I should have felt uncomfortable, but for some reason I didn't. Come on guys, married or not, you all know what it feels like when a good looking woman gets a little closer than she should really do. We've all got instincts that can — if you let them — take over in circumstances like that. My base natural instincts were definitely taking the lead; although I was still very nervous, I could think of little reason for trying to control them.
"No, a little more familiar I think, don't you Della?" Paul replied.
"Yeah, come on guys. You're two people in love, having a secret tryst away from your spouses, make it look the part!" Della replied, sounding somewhat like a film director.
.... There is more of this story ...