Sometimes you have to go through the hard times to really appreciate the good. Sometimes you have to let go of the past before you can make the leap into your future. Last night, I let go.
Taking off the wedding ring, given to me by my late husband, was liberating in more ways than I could have ever imagined. It made a far greater statement than any casual 'I love you' ever could, and it freed me to give myself completely to Miles.
He woke me, kissing me softly on my forehead. At first wondered if it had all been a dream. I looked deep into his brown eyes and smiled the deepest smile as I realised the dream had come true. The sun was streaming through the bedroom window of my Docklands flat, as we lay naked between the black Egyptian cotton sheets, completely and unashamedly in love.
Last night had been so crazy. I still found it difficult to believe that at the age of 18 I was a widowed multi-millionaire, living in a mansion house and running my own record company. Last night we'd hosted a charity concert in memory of my late husband, Simon. Miles's band, Unknown Pleasures, had been the headline act. It was an amazing show, but that wasn't even the crazy part!
I felt like I'd waited forever to be with Miles. Over the past 4 months I'd been slowly falling in love with him, but his dysfunctional relationship with Cassandra complicated things, preventing us from being together. That was until last night, when she gave Miles the perfect reason to leave her. Who could blame him? When you catch your so called girlfriend performing sexual favours in exchange for drugs, it's pretty much game over.
"I'll go make that coffee eh?" Miles said, raising his eyebrows. I blushed as I remembered what had happened last night. When Miles brought me home I'd put the kettle on to boil, but I never got as far as actually making the drinks. The white porcelain mugs were still standing empty on the worktop. Miles had proved too much of a distraction as he kissed me so tenderly on the black leather sofa, and I dragged him off to the bedroom, where we made love for the first time.
"Coffee can wait," I said, as I wrapped my arms around him. Miles ran his fingers along my arm. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck begin to stand on end. I looked up again into his brown eyes and thought I must still be dreaming, then my phone started ringing.
"No rest for the wicked!" laughed Miles as I dragged myself away from him.
"Me, wicked?" I asked, pretending to be all innocent.
"You were last night!" he said, as he reached across, gently slapping my backside. I skipped out of the way and answered my phone. It was Joolz, just checking in and reminding me of the work we had to do this morning. We had to clear all our gear out of the venue by noon so I told her I'd meet her there at 10. I gazed longingly at Miles stretched out between the sheets. I wanted nothing more than to lay there all day with, him but this was no holiday, there was work to be done.
"Sorry babe, we've to get a move on. I'd better jump in the shower, my hair stinks of stale beer." Miles looked a little disappointed.
"I'll go make that coffee then, oh and save some hot water for me would you?" he called after me. I laughed. We'd been together less than 24 hours and already we were acting like an old married couple.
When I got out of the shower I found Miles in the kitchen making toast. I couldn't help but think how damn sexy he looked, standing there in his bare feet, trousers and no shirt.
"I made you breakfast, Angel."
"Cheers babe!" I said kissing him on the cheek and picking up a hot buttered slice of toast.
"Oh, you don't have a spare t-shirt do you?" asked Miles, "Mine is still damp and all my clothes are back at the hotel." I wasn't surprised, Cassandra had given us both a good soaking as she threw a pint of lager over us last night. I guess it was only to be expected, she had just found out that I had stolen her boyfriend and I probably would have done the same thing in her position. My clothes were still damp too, but by the time Miles and I got back to my flat, laundry was the last thing on our minds!
"I might have something," I said, as I turned and went back into the bedroom. I opened the wardrobe and just as I remembered there was a pile of plain black t-shirts on the shelf. There were clean socks and boxer shorts on the shelf below too. They had belonged to Simon. I had cleared his things out of my wardrobe at home months ago but I'd forgotten that he kept a few clothes here too. For a moment I got a little choked up, but I told myself not to be so silly. Simon was dead, he wouldn't be needing them again and I'm sure he would have loaned them to Miles anyway.
I made the bed, laid out the clothes and left out a couple of clean towels too.
"You're in luck, I found a shirt and some clean underwear for you." Miles looked puzzled for a moment.
"Simon's?" he guessed.
"Yeah," I said, turning away. I didn't want him to see me sad, not when everything had been so perfect.
"Angel, are you sure?"
"Yeah, of course I am." I turned to Miles and tried to smile. "I hope they fit, you're a bit bigger than he was."
"Oh am I?" Miles said smirking.
"You have a filthy mind!" I said, giggling too. I went over and kissed him. "Now go on and get in the shower, you stink!"
"Charming! That's the last time I make you breakfast!" he said laughing as he headed towards the bathroom.
"I hope not!" I called after him.
I picked up my breakfast and went to sit on the black leather sofa. As I put my coffee cup down I noticed my wedding ring on the glass table, right where I'd left it last night. I picked it up and turned it over in my hands. I almost slipped it back on my finger but I thought better of it. I was still technically Mrs. Wetherall but it had been almost a year since Simon had died and it felt wrong to be wearing it now I was with Miles. I had made the point of taking it off last night to prove how serious I was about our relationship, I'd be giving mixed signals if I put it back on now. I grabbed my handbag and put the ring safely away in my purse. I wasn't going to wear it anymore, but I didn't want to lose it either.
I drank my coffee and checked my phone. There were lots of messages of congratulations after the gig last night. It had been my idea to organise a benefit concert in memory of Simon, but it was the bands and the staff at Angel Blue Records who deserved all the credit. Unknown Pleasures had stolen the show with their headline set. I smiled to myself as I remembered the song Miles had dedicated to me, and I blushed as I remember how he kissed me in front of everyone when they came off stage.
I drained my cup and I was about to go back into the bedroom to finish packing when Miles stepped through the door, drying his dirty blonde hair on a towel. He was wearing Simon's t-shirt.
"What do you reckon?" he said, turning around in a circle.
"I think you'll get away with it," I said, smiling. As I expected the shirt was a little too small for Miles. The fabric was stretched tight over his muscular frame and I felt myself getting turned on all over again. I had to resist though, I didn't want to seem too eager and anyway we had work to do. "Come on, we have to meet Joolz in 20 minutes."
I was a bit nervous in the cab going over to the venue. I didn't know what to expect of everyone after last night, but I shouldn't have worried. When we got there everyone was too busy to gossip. We only just got the vans loaded up in time, but we did our best to be professional. The venue manager said he'd be glad to have us back again, which was another small victory for Angel Blue Records.
"Angel, we're getting off now," said Jamie, tapping me on the shoulder. "Thanks for everything, one of our best gigs I think."
"Yeah it was, you played a blinder," I said looking over his shoulder, trying to spot Miles. "And thanks for being so understanding, you know, about me and Miles."
"That's OK. I had a long talk with my sister this morning and she's admitted she needs help with the drugs and everything. Dad came down first thing this morning and picked her up so she won't be causing any more trouble for a while at least."
"I saw what she posted on Facebook last night," I said, feeling a little guilty.
"She was angry, but she knows it was her own fault. I guess it was partially my fault too. I put Miles in a terrible position, making him responsible for her. I didn't want to face up to what she was really like. I should never have done that, and I'm sorry." I really appreciated what Jamie said, it must have been very hard for him to admit the blame.
"Hey, it all worked out in the end," I said. My eyes lit up as I saw Miles heading towards us. He gave me a big hug and kissed me on the lips.
"We're going now, I'll call you when we get back," Miles said. I was sad to see him go but we needed to give each other a little space, just to figure things out.
"Have a safe journey!" I said as I kissed him back. I watched as he climbed into the van and then they drove off into the city. I stood there grinning to myself, lost in my own little world when Lora came up to me, waving her hand in front of my eyes.
"Come on Angel, we'd best get going too if we're doing to catch that train." I picked up my bags and we headed out onto the street to hail a cab to the station.
On the train I set up my laptop pretending to work, but that wasn't enough to stop Lora asking questions. When Spyder and Joolz went to get coffee she squeezed into the seat next to me. She laughed so hard when she caught me staring intently at a blank screen.
"You going to tell us what happened then?" she asked eagerly.
"I have no idea what you mean," I replied, trying to keep a straight face.
"Only Miles never came down to breakfast this morning," Lora said in a sing song voice.
"Didn't he?" I said pretending to be surprised, but it was no use. I could feel my cheeks glowing and there was no way I could hide how I felt.
"Angel? Where's your wedding ring?" Lora said grabbing my left hand and waving it under my nose.
"I took it off last night, just before I dragged Miles off to the bedroom."
"Oh my God Angel! You didn't!
"I did!" I admitted, blushing.
"It was wonderful!" I said blushing even more. Lora squealed and I covered my face with my hands as everyone on the train turned around to stare at us.
"Shut up Lora! I don't want the whole world to know"
"Why not? I think it's brilliant you two finally got it on."
"Yeah!" I sighed, "I think it's serious Lora. He said 'I love you' and I think he meant it."
"Then he's definitely serious! Did you say it back?"
"So when's the wedding?"
"Lora! I'm not going to marry him! I only just started seeing him last night! I'm going to take things a bit slower this time I think, although it's not going to be easy. He has got one hell of a body!"
"Angel!" Lora squealed as the colour came to her cheeks.
"What are you two giggling about?" asked Spyder, setting the paper coffee cups down on the table.
"Oh nothing," I said, but I wasn't fooling anyone.
"I'm guessing Angel's new boyfriend," said Joolz. Lora and I couldn't help but giggle again.
"Come on give us a break!" I begged them.
"OK, OK, but I will say one thing. I haven't seen you this happy in a long time," said Joolz. "Miles is good for you, Angel. He's a keeper."
"Too right!" said Lora in agreement.
"Yeah, I think he might be," I said smiling. I leaned back in my seat, drinking my coffee and watching the countryside pass us by.
I felt like a different person coming home. In the grand entrance of my mansion house I was greeted by Martha, the housekeeper, and my Irish setter, Blue. I hauled my bags up the wide staircase, closed the apartment door behind me and crashed down on the sofa as Blue excitedly jumped up and licked my hands. Martha had taken good care of her while I was away but Blue was always glad to have me home. I sat up and fussed her, and I let her jump on the sofa next to me.
"Blue, you like Miles don't you?" Blue tried to lick my face, which I took as a yes.
"Me too Blue, me too." I cuddled up with Blue and I was almost dropping off to sleep when my phone rang. It was Miles. Instantly I was awake. I was so eager to see him again but I knew I had to play it cool, I didn't want to put him off.
"Hi Angel, did you get back OK?" he asked.
"Yeah, Lora was fishing for details about last night though." Miles laughed.
"The lads were pretty much the same, teasing me about sleeping with the boss."
"You told them we slept together?" I asked, a little shocked.
"Not in so many words, but they pretty much figured what happened when I didn't go back to the hotel last night. Anyway, I wondered what you were doing tonight?"
"I'm shattered, I was going to crash and watch a bit of telly."
"Oh," said Miles, sounding disappointed.
"But I wouldn't mind some company if you want to come over," I said, hoping I didn't sound too desperate.
"That would be good. See you in about half an hour."
Half an hour? I started to panic. Miles was coming over in half an hour and I was a mess. I hadn't even unpacked my bags yet. I dashed into the bathroom, brushed my teeth and tried to make myself look presentable. I couldn't believe how nervous I felt. I tried to tell myself it was just Miles coming over to hang out for a while, but I was too excited to see him again. I was determined to play it cool, things had moved pretty quickly with Simon but this time there wasn't any rush.
25 minutes later I went downstairs with Blue and let her into the garden. Right on time Miles drove his battered blue Ford Escort up the driveway and parked it by the front steps. It looked so out of place, a knackered old banger parked on the driveway of a mansion house, but I didn't care. It was the man inside the car I wanted. I stood by the door and watched him as he got out of the car. He looked sexy as hell as he walked towards me. All thoughts of playing it cool went right out the window, we didn't even have chance to say hello before we threw our arms around each other. I called Blue inside as I eagerly lead Miles up to my apartment. We barely made it through the door before we started tearing each other's clothes off. I wasn't complaining one little bit as Miles kissed me so deeply and we stumbled into the bedroom.
I'm not sure what came over me, I'd never felt lust like this before. I couldn't keep my hands off Miles, and the feeling was mutual. The only time he took his hands off me was to put a condom on, and that didn't exactly take a long time. It was crazy but it felt so right as he held me so tight and fucked me so hard.
Breathless and naked, Miles left me reeling. I stared at the ceiling and couldn't help but laugh out loud.
"What's so funny?" asked Miles.
"Oh nothing," I giggled.
"Something I did?" Miles asked, sounding a little paranoid.
"Well, kind of. I did a lot of thinking on the train and I sort of promised myself I'd take things slowly, but we've been together for less than 24 hours and we've spent most of that time in bed!" I laughed. Miles pulled a guilty face.
"I'm sorry Angel, you should have said..."
"Oh no! I don't regret a second of it! I guess I never realised how badly I wanted you." Miles smiled at me, his brown eyes so bright.
"I wanted you too, Angel, ever since I first laid eyes on you." I blushed. I couldn't forget the first time we met.
"Unknown Pleasures at the Old Ship. That was the first gig I went to with Simon."
"Really?" said Miles, surprised.
"Yeah, I was just a sweet and innocent school girl before I met him." Miles sniggered. "Seriously! I was pretty boring, I never went out, I'd never even had a boyfriend before. In fact that was the night I lost my virginity," I said, blushing.
"Wow, there is so much I don't know about you, Angel," he said stroking my hair.
"So what about you? Who was the first girl you slept with?"
"Ah, now that would be Chloe," Miles said with a troubled look on his face.
"That was a bit of a mistake actually." Miles didn't seem to want to talk about it but I pressed him further.
"Come on, I told you!"
"OK, OK. Chloe lived next door to us, she was 15 and I was just 16. I wasn't really seeing her or anything but her parents had gone away for the weekend on some darts trip from the pub, and they'd left her at home with her big sister, Michelle. Anyway Michelle went out clubbing so Chloe decided to have a party. She invited me and some kids from school, we ended up raiding the drinks cabinet. We all got a bit wasted and this lad, Steve, was trying it on with her, but she got all upset and ran off upstairs. I went to try and calm her down, but when I gave her a hug she kissed me and, well, we didn't stop."
"Oh wow, so did you start going out with her then?" Miles pulled a face.
"Not really, it got sort of complicated. Shit! The ice cream!" Miles said jumping up.
"I left the ice cream in the car! You said you wanted to watch telly right? So I brought ice cream."
"Oh you are too good to be true! I'm sure it will be OK." Miles kissed me and then started to get dressed.
"I'll be right back," he said as he dashed out of the door. I smiled. I couldn't believe my luck. Here I was with a gorgeous new boyfriend, he had an amazing body, he was fantastic in bed, he was totally in love with me, and he brought me ice cream! What could be more perfect than that? I threw on some clothes, turned on the TV and sat waiting for Miles on the sofa with 2 spoons.
Miles must have run all the way back up the stairs because he was out of breath when he let himself back into my apartment.
"Cookie dough OK with you?" he said holding out a family sized tub of Ben and Jerry's. My face lit up.
"My favourite!" I said grinning.
"It's gone a bit soft though," he said squeezing the tub. I giggled.
"I kind of like it that way," I smirked. So we settled down for an evening of trashy telly, messily feeding each other half melted ice cream. We didn't stop until the whole tub was empty.
"I can't believe we ate all that! Are you trying to make me fat?" Miles wrapped his arms around me.
"No, you're perfect just the way you are Angel, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to get off. My mum hates it when I get in late on a work night."
"Your mum?" I asked puzzled.
"Yeah, I know it's sad, but I still live at home with her."
"No way! I thought you had your own place or something?"
"Nah, can't afford to move out. You'll have to come over and meet her, she'll love you. Tell you what, how about I pick you up at 6 tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow? Yeah, I suppose," I said. I suddenly felt a little scared about meeting Miles's mum but I couldn't miss out on a chance to seeing him and I was a little curious as to where he lived.
"It's a date then!" said Miles kissing me goodbye.
I decided to get an early night myself, it had been one hell of a weekend and there would be a lot to do down in the record company office in the morning. I lay in bed thinking of Miles, he really must be serious if he wanted to introduce me to his mum, then I thought about my family. I'd have to tell them about him sometime, but there was no rush.
© Clair Louise Coult 2012