The last thing Ronald Russell wanted to do that day was get into the taxi with Cheryl. Not because he didn’t love her. He did – or thought he did. But, as the taxi lumbered down the mountain road, swaying from side to side, pressing his bare legs against the bare legs of Cheryl and Samantha alternately, he knew there would be no more taps on the door late at night, no more sounds of clothes falling onto the floor, no more slim, warm body slipping in beside him, and Cheryl, giggling, reaching down for him, whispering, “I hope you don’t mind!”
Ronald felt Cheryl squeeze his hand. She smiled at him but her eyes looked different. Still the colour of jade but focused far away. Probably thinking about mundane matters back home. Picking Bruno up from the kennels, washing her holiday clothes, sitting in front of the mirror putting on make-up, ready to see …. him. He felt a sense of great sadness as well as overwhelming jealousy.
They’d arrived in Mallorca two weeks earlier for the walking holiday in the mountains of the north east. He’d been surprised to find almost no tourists there. Just one hotel too, Hotel Miramar, a quaint old building, large and cool, with huge fans turning in high ceilings. Just like the movies.
He’d looked around the motley group on arriving. Nine men and seven women, plus the leader, a short bald man with legs like walnut pistons. As usual, he’d given the women a mark from one to ten as to how much he’d like to bed them. Mostly they scored between one and four but Cheryl he’d given a six. Now, after two weeks of her company, he’d probably give her ten. The taxi took a corner around a precipitous drop, pressing his body against Cheryl’s, something he’d grown increasingly accustomed to.
“Ow, budge over, Ron!”
“Sorry, it’s this bloody road, so bumpy and bendy.”
Samantha took a bottle of water from her rucksack and took a swig. It was October but still hot, especially now they’d reached lower ground. She offered the bottle to him. “Ron?”
“Oh, yeah, thanks.” He took a gulp. The water was surprisingly cold. He noticed Samantha smiling at him. He’d noted her friendliness from day one, but he’d focused on Cheryl, as had the leader, who’d made no secret of his lust for her. Fortunately, she’d plumped for him and Sam had seemed less keen. He hadn’t noticed the dynamic until Cheryl had told him that Sam fancied him. Then the penny dropped. But, well, those teeth!
After the day’s walking and an evening meal, most of the group would sit in a local bar, chatting about the day’s events. They’d always been amazed by the waiters. Friendly, able to speak in all the languages of the group – English, French, Spanish and Italian – and with the ability to take an order once, writing nothing down, then to come back, handing all the right drinks to the right people. Very different to England, he thought, where you were lucky to get a smile and no one remembered you from Adam. One evening, almost a week into the fortnight’s holiday, Cheryl had made a point of sitting next to him. And that’s how it had begun.
“What’s the Spanish for electricity?” he’d asked, standing shoulder to shoulder with her, gazing down at a waterfall.
“It’s what I feel when I’m with you.”
She’d hugged him. “Same.”
The taxi pulled up outside the hotel. The bus was waiting to take them to the airport. He sat next to Cheryl on the way. “Will we see each other?” She, coincidentally, lived in the same city.
“Well, there’s Stephen.”
“Yes, a married man.”
“Well, so are you!”
“But he doesn’t have to know.”
“What about Lorraine?”
Cheryl laughed and handed Ronald a piece of paper. “Call me tomorrow.”
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