That weekend was a turning point in my life. After Nikki stayed over that first night we saw each other every day of that week. It wasn’t always for sex, we had lunch every day, we went for days-out in the car, we even stayed overnight in the Lake District at a beautiful hotel on the banks of Lake Windermere, and started to get to know each other.
It was one of the most enjoyable weeks that I’d had in the last three years, as as we drove home from Windermere on Friday morning I was feeling very relaxed. I’d learned so much about her, and in particular, her time with her ex-husband.
They had been married for over twenty-five years, and in the early years, she was extremely happy. They’d had two kids, both boys who had both grown into wonderful young men, one of who was married, and the other engaged.
She didn’t notice it at first, but he started to control her life. The first thing she could remember was when he changed credit cards, they’d always had one each on the same account, suddenly, they had forgotten to send hers, and he convinced her that she didn’t need one. Then it was her car, it needed replacing, and again, he convinced her that she didn’t need one. She didn’t work, and the boys were old enough to make their way to school.
He was never physically abusive towards her, it was more the mental side. And, over the years he slowly isolated her from most of her friends, and even most of her family stopped calling.
It was her sister who finally got through to her, he’d had to go out of the country on business, and her sister, Julie, came to visit. It took time, but Julie managed to convince her, with the help of some of her other family members and friends that she still had, of what he was doing to her.
Still, she didn’t have the strength, or bravery to face him, so Julie stayed with her, and when he returned from his trip they both confronted him. He, of course, denied it, but fortunately, her sister helped her to stay strong, and when he finally cracked he started yelling and throwing things around the house. By this time, her sister’s husband, and a couple of her friends’ husbands had arrived and they protected them both. Her husband, Derrick, realised that it was game-over and he turned and began to plead with her to forgive him, promising that he’d change, but it was too late, she’d made her mind up, it was over.
I appreciated how much she had revealed to me, and, I felt even closer to her afterwards. It had been difficult for her, she had cried at times, and I tried to understand that despite how he had treated her, she still loved him, and it was difficult for her to make the decision that he had to go.
As we neared her house I sighed. My family were visiting over the next few days and although I’d asked her to meet them, she thought that it might be too soon and that they had come to see me on my birthday. I knew that she was nervous, but despite telling her that she had nothing to worry about, and, that I had already told them about her, she insisted that she’d see me after the weekend.
“What do you mean, you’ve already told them about me?” She asked.
I told her that I’d mentioned her when I was away with my daughters at the theme park. I told her that I’d said we’d met for coffee. She looked shocked.
“You didn’t tell them how we met!” She said.
I calmed her and told her that I only said that we met online.
“That’s all,” I said calmly.
She relaxed and said that we’d need to get our stories straight.
We arrived at her house, and I carried her bag inside and placed it on the hall floor, I took her in my arms.
“You know, this is going to be the longest that we’ve been apart since we got together, officially.” I smiled.
She rolled her eyes and smiled back.
“It’ll give you time to re-charge your batteries.” She giggled.
We kissed, and then I stroked my fingers across her cheek.
“You know what? I never thought that I would want to be part of a couple again, not after I lost Sally. But, since we met you, well, I know things have changed, and now, you are all I think about.”
She smiled and kissed me. “I feel the same way.”
I asked her one more time to join me for my birthday dinner but she declined, then I left.
When I got home, I dashed around doing a bit of last-minute tidying and waited for the arrival of my family.
My youngest daughter, Claire, arrived first, with her family, her husband David and my two grandchildren, Alison and Erin. The two girls rushed me and hugged me as their parents brought their bags into the house.
As I hugged their parents, the girls picked up their little bags and rushed upstairs to their room to grab their beds. We made out way into the kitchen and chatted whilst the fresh coffee made its way through the machine.
Susan and her husband Bradley arrive an hour later with their children Chloe and my only grandson, Harry. The noise level in the house increased dramatically as the four kids got together and hugged each other. And, as we adults greeted each other, all of a sudden, the house that had been quiet for so many years, was once again alive, and full of life, and noise, and I loved it.
We planned to have a quiet night at home, and with the three youngest kids upstairs in their room, I was sat on the sofa with my eldest granddaughter, Chloe, who reminded me so much of her grandmother. She had many of my late wife’s features, and in particular, her eyes, it was like a younger version of sally looking back at me at times.
During the conversation, Susan asked me if I’d seen any more of that woman. I must have given a sign because she was on me straight away.
“You have!” She said, sitting up and staring at me.
Her sister joined in and I could feel that all the eyes in the room were on me. I explained that I had seen a lot of Nikki this past week.
“We came back from The Lakes this morning,” I said.
Claire clapped her hands and smiled. “Good for you dad, I’m pleased. Is she coming to dinner tomorrow?” She asked.
I shook my head, I could see the look of disappointment on both of their faces. Susan stared at me.
“You have got to bring her, Dad!” She insisted.
I rolled my eyes and lifted my hands in protest.
“Girls, it’s too much. She’s quite shy, and I’m not sure that she, or we, are ready.”
Despite my protests, which continued, I knew that I was fighting a losing battle and would eventually have to call her and tell her that they wanted her to come.
Chloe looked up at me quizzically.
“Is she your girlfriend Grandad?” She asked.
I smiled and stared at her, squeezing her, but before I could answer Susan jumped in.
“Yes Chloe, she is. Isn’t it wonderful!”
I rolled my eyes at her.
When I called Nikki she was shocked and as expected immediately became nervous and anxious. I explained that they were desperate to meet her and that there would be nothing to worry about. It took some doing, but eventually, she agreed and I made arrangements to pick her up the following evening and bring her to meet the family before we went out to dinner.
Early the following evening I arrived outside of Nikki’s little bungalow, I could see her stood in the middle of her lounge, she looked nervous. She was trembling when I held her in my arms and kissed her, and I started to reassure her that everything would be fine.
She looked gorgeous. She wore a short-sleeved, dark blue dress with a floral pattern over one shoulder, and I could see that she wore sheer black stockings and black heels. She looked at me.
“Too much?” She asked.
I shook my head, “no, just right.”
When we pulled up outside my house I glanced across and I could see her looking anxiously towards the lounge window, she bit her lip nervously. I put my hand on hers and stroked my fingers across it.
“Relax. They’ll love you.” I whispered.
She nodded and looked at me. “I hope so.”
I leaned across and kissed her softly, then I sat upright.
“Okay, into the lion’s den!” I said, clapping my hands.
She glared at me. I smiled.
“I’m kidding, come on, let’s meet the family.”
I was right, they loved her. They took to her immediately. After introducing everyone, she was immediately guided away to the kitchen by Susan and Claire to get drinks, whilst I was left with the guys and the kids.
We had a wonderful meal. It was great to be with all of my family and, as I had expected, my daughters took control and whilst I was sat with two grandchildren either side of me, Nikki was sat opposite me on the large circular table, sandwiched between Susan and Claire.
Whenever I glanced across to her I was pleased to see her smiling, laughing and talking freely to my two girls, and as the evening progressed, I could see her relax more and more and I started to relax and enjoy being amongst my grandchildren, who were thankfully, very well behaved.
After the meal, we gathered outside whilst we waited for the taxis to take us home. My daughter Susan pulled me to one side.
“Dad, the guys are going to go back with you and the kids, they will put them to bed.”
I looked at her and glanced at Nikki who looked a little embarrassed.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
Susan smiled, “We, are going out for a drink, just us girls.”
I glanced at Nikki, she had been ambushed, but she didn’t look too upset. Our eyes locked and I could see that she was okay, I nodded.
“That’s great.” I looked at Susan.
“You’ll all come back home won’t you?” I asked.
She leaned up and hugged me, kissing my cheek. “Yes dad, I’ll bring her home safe.”
I laughed and watched the three of them walk away, Nikki between my daughters as they headed towards the drinking area of town.
At home, the kids were in bed, well, in their room. Chloe, being the oldest was in charge of keeping them in check, but she loved being with them too and I knew that they’d be up late. I sat with the guys and we opened a few beers and chatted. I wanted to find out what my daughters thought about what I was doing.
“James, Susan thinks it’s wonderful. She’s been hoping for something like this for a while now.” Bradley said.
“I agree. Claire was so happy last night when you told us all. They both want you to be happy, we all do. You know that Sally wouldn’t want you to be alone.” David added.
Bradley and James exchanged a look, I noticed and stared. “What?” I asked
“Are you going to tell us what this site was where you met?” David asked.
I felt myself blushing as I tried to control myself.
“It was just some chat site.” I stammered.
David smiled. “Come on, we know.” He said.
I couldn’t control it, my face burned. He continued.
“You know I checked my emails last night on your laptop?”
I nodded, they both had, before we ate takeaway.
“Well, you should have deleted the shortcut icon on the desktop to the site, ‘NSF.co.uk’”
I blushed so much, I took a drink, I could feel my face burn.
“You dog!” Bradley said, laughing.
I held up my hands. “Guys! Please, the girls can’t know!” I begged.
They glanced at each other and laughed.
“We won’t tell them, but if you think that they won’t get it out of Nikki, you don’t know your daughters very well,” Bradley said.
I shook my head.
“You didn’t think that telling them that you met on a chat site would keep them happy, did you?” David said.
I looked at them both, “well, yes! I did it!”
What followed was half-an-hour of torture, as they quizzed me about my exploits on the site. When I protested that I only ever met Nikki, James pointed out another error I had made, I had used autofill on my passwords, so they had gained access to my account and knew exactly who I had met, and what they thought about me. I was so embarrassed. Before the girls arrived home I had removed the desktop icon and made plans to delete my account permanently.
When they arrived back I found myself with Nikki in my arms, we kissed briefly, she told me that she’d had a great time, and I could see that she was quite tipsy. We sat around chatting, Nikki was sat beside me and I listened to them telling us where they had been, and how many guys had tried to hit on them.
I noticed that the guys didn’t seem fazed by any of it, whilst I felt distinctly jealous that someone had been hitting on Nikki, and surprised that she had seemed to like it. The girls spoke enthusiastically about how they had started to bond with Nikki, telling me how wonderful she is and how they have learned a lot about each other.
Claire leaned against her husband and smiled, looking at me.
“We learned where you two met.” She said.
Again, I found myself blushing as I slowly turned to Nikki.
“You told them?” I whispered.
She giggled. “I didn’t mean to.” She sighed.
Susan interrupted. “Don’t blame her Dad, we made her tell us!” She said proudly.
“Listen, Dad. We don’t care how you met, or where you met. We are just glad that you met.” Claire said.
I nodded, but she wasn’t done.
“Though, we were surprised to discover that Nikki wasn’t the only woman that you met. I for one didn’t think that you had it in you.” She said.
I was stunned, I could never have imagined my sweet little daughter talking like that, and certainly not to me. But, I was also delighted that they didn’t disapprove, well not publicly, of how we met. And the main positive from all of this was that they seemed to have taken to Nikki and I felt confident that, going forward, we could do so as a family.
I kept glancing at the clock, it was getting late, almost midnight and I was wondering about where Nikki would sleep. We’d agreed beforehand that she would get a taxi home, but, as she leaned against me on the sofa I didn’t want her to go. Susan must have noticed me and she smiled at me.
“It’s okay Dad. We’ve already told Nikki that she is staying the night.”
I was surprised. Claire laughed softly.
“Dad, we’re not kids any more. We are all adults here.” She said.
I closed my eyes and nodded.
“Yes, we are. Thank you, girls.” I whispered