Many thanks go to PapaGus and Deryk for their assistance in preparing this story for posting.
Everything was at the hurry up! Really!. My employers had just taken over a much smaller concern that had recently gone to the wall. I think the company probably got everything on the cheap from the administrators. In spite of my own having been very successful in recent months, and completely swamped with work, our management was somewhat in a panic to bring its new acquisition into the fold, and get it up and running.
To which end a group of us had been shipped up there to reorient the staff and oversee the installation of our company's systems. In short it was complete chaos for a couple of weeks. There had been little time to plan anything out and just about everything was happening on the fly. Even down to replacing the new acquisition's computer network, which was not extensive enough, and adding the necessary wiring.
In brief, the ten of us were running about like blue-arsed flies during the days and, quite literally, meeting up in our hotel bar for a while most evenings to plan what was supposed to be happening the next day.
None of us lived more than an hour or so away by train, but we were all staying over in town most nights, because of those so necessary evening meetings. One or two of the guys had managed to slip home on the odd evening to see their wives and families, but the choice of who we could afford to have slip away depended on what was happening that day and first thing the following morning.
Anyway, feeling pretty knackered, I'd been in the hotel bar for about half an hour waiting for the rest of the guys to show, when she walked in. Sherrie was one of the computer nerds, hired in from a specialist company, helping set up the computer systems and train the staff on how to use them.
And boy, did she take me by surprise when I realised exactly who had walked into the bar. Sherrie definitely did not look anything like the nerd who had been teaching our newly acquired staff how to work our company systems all day. Gone was the baggy sweeter, calf length skirt and spectacles, to be replaced by a tantalisingly short skirt and a fitted silk blouse.
She didn't look around and case the joint. Sherrie just settled herself onto a bar stool and ordered a drink. I figured she was waiting for someone, and I suppose, I wondered which of my married colleagues was about to stray from the straight and narrow.
I was up like a shot from my table and very soon slipped onto the stool beside Sherrie.
"Hey, gorgeous, what's a nice girl like you, doing in a dive like this?" I asked in as sexy a voice as I could muster.
Sherrie turned to look my way, I do believe, intending to give me the evil eye and most likely tell me where I could get off, but then she recognised me.
"Oh, Christ, Steve, Stop messing about. What are you doing in here?" she grinned.
"I'm staying here Sherrie." I said as gestured to the barman to put her drink on my tab. "Hey, I asked you first anyway."
"I'm meeting John one of those electrician guys for dinner. He lives in town and he's picking me up here."
I thought you computer guys were all staying at the Conaught?"
"We are, but John doesn't need to know that does he? Besides, the fewer people know that I date the better. I don't date work colleagues from my own company; it leads to too many complications."
"Ah does that explain why you hide your light under a bushel in the office?"
"I'm not sure how I should take that. I think I'll assume it was meant as a compliment."
"It certainly was Sherrie. On your look now as you sit here, and your skill as a camouflage expert at work. Christ you scrub up well! Poor John is going to get the shock of his life when he gets here."
She grinned at me. "A high proportion of the people I teach how to work our systems are men, Steve. Let's just say they take in instructions better when they are looking at the monitor and not trying to sneak a look at my god given assets. Well you know the secret of my success in the business now, Steve."
"Yeah it was one hell of a surprise when I realised it was you sitting here."
"Men; don't give me that one Steve. I'll lay odds that you watched me every step of the way in here. And that it took you more than a little time to work your gaze up to my face."
"Yes I did, I'll admit it, and who could blame me. Sherrie, you are one fine example of your gender! What a shame you don't date colleagues." I grinned at her.
"Steve you always were a charmer even to that geek in the office. But just remember you don't work for the same employer as me, so technically we're not work colleagues."
"What an enchanting idea Sherrie. Except for that one fly in the ointment, I'm married!"
"Damn, just when I thought I was going to get lucky." She grinned. "Still if you ever get tired of married life, you know my company's phone number."
We must have joked together in the same manner for about twenty minutes before Sherrie's date turned up, and after he'd recovered from the shock, they left together. I bought myself another drink and then went back to my table in the corner to await my colleagues.
I don't know, probably ten or twenty minutes later I went out to the gents. While I was in there another guy came and started to use the urinal adjacent to mine.
"Pretty girl" he commented.
"Sorry?" I said, not really being sure that I'd heard him correctly. It's always a little uncomfortable when a complete stranger starts talking to you in the gents, you just never know what his motives are; but I tried to remain polite.
"That young lady you were talking to at the bar, she's a pretty girl." The man clarified.
"Yes she is, isn't she?"
"You in town in business?" he asked as I started washing my hands.
"Yeah, we're setting up a new branch office in town."
"Yes I am, but why are you asking?"
"Oh I was just thinking. Married men who are away from home should look out for who's watching them, when the talk to pretty girls in hotel bars."
The guy was washing his hands by then as I dried mine under the air blower. He was confusing me something chronic. I was trying to workout whether he was some weirdo trying to pick me up, or an unlikely looking pimp, touting for business for his girls.
"Are you implying something?"
"Yeah! That you've been in the bar three evenings this week, and whenever you're in there, so is that little shit over in the other corner; haven't you noticed him?"
"No. I really don't know what you are trying to say?"
"The moment you started talking to that young lady just now, he started fiddling with his phone. And what's more; when you go up to your room in the evening he moves out into the lobby and hangs around out there until well after midnight."
We were exiting the gents by then and the guy told me that he couldn't say anymore at the moment, he thought the guy in the corner might have noticed that he'd spotted him. He asked for my mobile number and told me he'd call me in a few minutes, then he walked out of the hotel's front entrance.
Confused, I returned to my seat in the bar, still trying to figure out why I'd given a complete stranger my mobile number.
True to his word my mobile rang within a few minutes. It was the guy and he told me just to sit quietly and listen; then he told me an almost incredible story.
He went around the houses quite a bit, but the essence of what he told me was that he had recently been stitched up by his now ex-wife. He explained that while away on a business trip he'd innocently fallen into conversation a pretty young woman sitting at a hotel bar.
During their chat it came out that she had come into the bar to hide from her abusive ex-husband, who she'd managed to spot in the street outside before he'd had a chance to see her.
It hadn't dawned on my gullible new friend; that sitting on a stool up at the bar wasn't the most conducive place for her to hide. If he hadn't been so beguiled by her good looks and story, he probably would have realised that a better choice of seat for her, would have been in a dark corner.
Anyway she pointed out marks on her face and arms that led him to believe that someone had recently been violent to her, and consequently he swallowed her tale, hook, line and bloody sinker.
Then she suddenly claimed that her husband was about to enter the bar and fled via a door at the rear. Fearing for her safety, my new friend followed her, and quickly located her trying to hide in an alcove in the corridor.
He had suggested that he get her a room for the night where she could hide, but she insisted that she could not go into the hotel's lobby because her ex-husband would most likely see her.
Yeah, even I guessed what was coming next. After a lot of discussion it was decided that the young woman would take his key and would hide in his room, while my new friend booked her a room of her own. Then he'd give her the key and she could hide in there for the night. Which in essence was what happened. The instant he gave the young woman her key, she'd given him a hug and a kiss on the cheek in thanks before he'd escorted to her to the room and then he'd immediately returned to his own.
He didn't see the young woman the following morning, and brushed the whole incident off as a slightly expensive wander into the realms of old fashioned chivalry. Feeling quietly pleased with himself, he'd thought the incident was over. But it wasn't!
.... There is more of this story ...