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Chasing What's Already Gone

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Summary

Danny's not happy and unsure what's wrong in his life,. Then one day, wham she walks towards him. And he knows she’s the one – the love of his life..Who is she and months later can he find her again? Danny Pearson is cruising through life on the edge of contentment—even in his marriage…His wife seems distant, yet perfectly happy. They work on different schedules and pass like ships in the night. But that’s marriage is after so many years, right? When Danny meets a mysterious girl, his idea of the meaning of love shatters in pieces She’s not extraordinary, but somehow she’s much more than just another girl. When he catches her gaze, he knows deep in his gut that she’s the one—the love of his life. But being a decent guy, he holds his feelings in check, and there is no ulterior motive when he shares a coffee with her. As she leaves, she gives him a business card. That's all there is to it. Her name is Ella. And after that, she is nothing more than a fond memory. Danny puts Ella out of his mind and moves on with his life—until his world falls apart; his wife confesses to having an affair and demands a divorce, his life is thrown into chaos. It’s a challenge adjusting to the single life, but it’s not impossible. Over time , he continues to reminisce of his brief encounter with the woman he’s sure was his chance at true happiness. Is Danny chasing something that's already gone?

Genre:
Romance / Humor
Author:
mike ross
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Chapter 1

Sometimes it starts with a lie. I don’t understand why, when that’s not me. All I want is a simple life. Why is it that everything should always be so complicated?

You know what I mean. What does it take? Five seconds maybe. You pass someone coming the other way whilst walking down the street, and you know immediately, in that brief instant, that you’re made for each other. She’s the one and you’re the one. The soul mate, the one who will really understand you, the one you will understand, the one who will be with you forever. And as you pass her, she sees it as well, and for that briefest moment both you and she feel something. For that briefest moment your eyes meet, and you float, and you are one. Both suspended in this perfect, imagined nirvana.

But the moment passes too quickly, and because you are with someone else – a wife, a husband, a partner, whatever – that moment kills you inside. That moment makes you realise all that might have been. So you walk into IKEA and whilst your wife is fluffing pillows and jabbering away, you go over to a far corner of the store and kick all hell out of a brown leather settee. Just because life’s not fair. It’s just not fair.

My wife’s grinding voice brings me back to reality.

“You are driving me crazy. If you’re not interested in curtains, why the hell did you come into town?”

Jane, I gather, is not that well pleased with me, but in my defence I must say that every curtain in our house is less than a year old. Why change them? She just shops because she can.

“Of course I’m interested.” Really, I am.

“So which room are we looking for?”

Damn, a trick question. Maybe I’m not as interested as I thought I was. Come on, Danny, think of something to say. “Uh, the lounge?”

“You are such a waste of space!”

Probably not the lounge then…

“I tell you what. You go off and wander around in your usual brain-dead state, and we’ll meet up in an hour or so.”

Whoo! Result!

“Are you sure?”

“Oh, piss off, Danny.”

Result!

“OK, I’ll see you in Costa. About an hour?” And I’m gone before she realises she has been brilliantly, if rather luckily, outmanoeuvred.

I hate shopping malls. It kills a man’s dignity, as well as his hunter instincts, to be enclosed in these hollow glass pavilions of dross. Mind you, that’s just my personal opinion, which as of late is not worth a lot in Jane’s eyes.

Still, I love a strong cappuccino and my body needs some caloric intake, so it’s the carrot cake for me. Nowadays, time stands still buying a coffee. Days seem to pass by as the queue in front of me stagnates, waiting on decisions of “Regular or large?” “Chocolate or cinnamon sprinkles?” “Cash or credit card?”

I’m half studying the wooden tray laden with my hunter’s haul whilst looking for a free table when I see her. She’s sitting on her own, reading the Telegraph.

“May I?”

She looks about her and notes there are at least three tables unoccupied at the moment. She’s already forgotten the earlier incident and that I’m the love of her life, and scans my face to determine whether I am the local nutter. A royal and rather vague hand gesture is all I need to leap into the chair opposite her.

Of course, this would work so much better if I wasn’t tongue-tied. I spend a few minutes idly looking around the coffee shop, but all the time my eyes are darting back to her, building up a fuller picture.

She is very pretty. A gorgeous little turned-up nose. Light brown hair, clean and bouncy. Her eyes are... her eyes are mahogany brown with maybe flecks of green? Her hands are pale; long artistic fingers. No rings. I’ve got a ring on my wedding finger, but I’m not married, not really. We’ve just lived together for a long time.

It all starts with a lie.

“Pardon me!”

Her voice startles me.

Oh, my God! I’ve been talking out loud. I haven’t blushed since school days and I can feel my face turn the colour of a ripe, healthy rhubarb. “Sorry. I’m sorry, I was miles away.”

But there is something in her eyes; amusement maybe, but some sort of interest flickering in the air. Oh hell, in for a penny. Honesty is the best policy. Dad used to say that. Mind you, that was before they locked him away for six years. But that’s another story. Go for it. Carpe diem, Danny.

“I’m sorry about that. My name’s Danny. Uh, here’s my card.” There’s one left in my jeans; it was not quite so grubby when I stuffed it into my pocket last week. It doesn’t actually look quite as impressive as it should. I smooth it out as best I can, carefully palming some fluff away. She clearly hesitates before taking the offending card between two delicate fingers, and reads out loud.

Daniel Pearson. Regional Sales Manager. RFP Electrical Supplies.

I love her voice. I just love her voice. It’s soft and husky. Very sexy. Danny – strike that last thought out of your mind.

“I was trying to point out that I’m not the local nutter. I’m almost a pillar of society.”

For the first time, she smiles. “And this card” – she dangles it in front of me – “proves to me that you are not a nutter?”

“Well, sort of.” Quick, keep talking. “Do you live locally?”

“No, I’m here for a conference.”

Damn. Actually, maybe not.

“So that means you’ve probably got your own card?”

That smile of hers gets better each time I see it. Her eyes don’t leave mine as she delves into her handbag and passes me a card, which I take and read. “Ella Chamberlain. Direct Media Consultant. Giraffe Group of Companies. Ella. Great name. It suits you.” That’s maybe too personal, but I can’t take it back now. I glance at her coffee cup; only half empty, thank God. Go for it, Danny. She lives fifty miles away at least; what have you got to lose? Nothing, nothing at all. Be brave, young white hunter.

“OK. Here’s what it is.” I take a deep breath because I need to get this right. “We passed in the street, you and me, about twenty minutes ago. I didn’t follow you here, that’s just serendipity, you know, that we finished up in the same coffee shop. But something happened when I saw you, something strange and wonderful and if I don’t do something about it, I know I’ll kick myself forever.” I don’t give her a chance to comment, but rush on.

“You know my name. I’m thirty-four. All my own teeth and hair. Reasonable prospects financially. I hate Vin Diesel. I love rom-coms. I hold the world record for re-watching the last five minutes of Notting Hill. I support West Ham. Uh, I’ve got two brothers, both younger than me. My dad’s weird, my mother’s brilliant. My favourite city in the world is Rome. If I could spend time with anyone in history it would be Leonardo da Vinci. I ride a mountain bike most weekends, so I’m fairly fit.” I’m out of breath, but manage to summarise. “So I’m really not a nutter.”

She stares at me and it’s the longest ten seconds in the history of this planet as I wait for her response. Those seconds tick by agonisingly as my heart labours whilst waiting.

“And you say your dad’s weird?”

And we both laugh loudly, loud enough for everyone around us to stare. I don’t care because I know we make a great-looking couple.

She maintains eye contact before she continues, “OK. You know my name. I’m thirty-two. And that’s all you’re getting out of me.”

Thoughts are flying through my head. Fireworks flashing, fuzzing my brain, so I smile my best Hugh Grant sort of smile.

She frowns. “Are you OK?”

Maybe not quite Hugh Grant then. And then she stands up to leave. I’m shattered.

“You’re going – already?”

“That I am, Danny. You’ve got my card. Give me a call sometime.” A cheeky smile and she is gone. I’m sad but excited. Lost, but with a sense of direction. I stare at her body as it disappears into the elevator.

“What are you looking so pleased about?”

Jane. Oh, hell. Say something. Anything.

“Nothing. I’m just glad to see you.”

As I keep saying – it all starts with a lie, and not always a white lie.

Chapter 2

“Great. Does that mean you’re ready to go?” I ask. She is empty-handed, which is a good thing with the state of her – our – credit card account.

“No, there’s stuff to collect down at the loading bay. Go and get the car and I’ll grab myself a coffee.”

I know the loading bay at Debenhams like the back of my hand. By the time I walk to the car and weave my way through the various parking areas, she’ll be able to consume a three-course meal.

“You found some curtains then?”

“Curtains! What planet are you on, Daniel? Curtain poles for the lounge and dining room.”

I want to say something but I am a coward where Jane is concerned, so I embark on my odyssey without a comment.

Now, curtain poles might sound innocent and straightforward to you as an uninvolved observer, but bloody hell – curtain poles! Kermit will not like this one little bit and the journey home is going to be a nightmare. Kermit is the family car, so named because I thought it looked like metallic frog spawn. I have lived in the city centre most of my life, so after Jane trawled the internet and showed me some graphic images of frog spawn, I realised it was not the best use I have made of the English language. The car is still called Kermit, but only very quietly inside my head.

It is a long walk back to the car, so just a bit about Kermit’s background. We needed a new car and could afford a decent monthly sum to lease something nice. I had spent several weeks deciding on a nice estate car, not too flashy but with a bit of performance. I was too old to be a boy racer, but I still had enough left in the pot to imagine myself as a teen racer. Jane only came along to the car showrooms because she was “bored.” Two hours later I had signed a three-year contract for a flashy yellowy-green sports convertible.

I spent two hours hanging about like a wallflower whilst this rather dapper sales manager and Jane flirted with each other, not in an obvious way, but well you should know when your wife’s flirting in front of your eyes shouldn’t you? The car was completely impractical, with just enough room for a small cushion on the back seat. The only way to load anything into the car was to put the hood down.“It’s too windy.” “It’s ruining my hair.” “It’s going to rain – it’s not worth the risk.” “You’re going too fast.”

Oh my God, could that girl moan. After three months it was a toss-up who hated the car the most. Jane probably, because at least I gave it a name. So to get the damn curtain poles home, the hood was going to have to come down. Would you think less of me if I just stopped here, outside McDonald’s, and wept for a minute or two?

Chapter 3

Sunday turns out to be quite a decent day. Over the last three years I’ve done a fairly good job of convincing Jane that I’m pretty damn useless at DIY, so it was remarkably easy for me to convince her to go out for afternoon while I spent “five or six hours” replacing the curtain poles.

Within an hour they are all in place, and to my mind, looking no different to the obsolete ones that are heading to the recycling centre. This leaves enough time to watch a live game of football on Sky, and then pick my way through one of my “sloppy” films. By “sloppy,” Jane means anything that involves two people kissing. I have the chance of watching something without all of her huffing and puffing in the background or asking ridiculous questions like, “What does she see in him?” For heaven’s sake, he’s Harrison Ford, my inner voice screams while the outer voice merely asks, “Do you fancy a drink?” at the same time, my thumb pressing the pause button. Still, today there’s none of that. Today it’s Love Actually, which is nicely episodic, granting me time to wander in and out of the kitchen to graze as and when I want.

At about five o’clock Jane rings me to say she has been lumbered with giving her friends lifts home, so she will not be back until about seven, which is more than alright with me, but it sets me to wondering.

How did we get here? How did I get here? Married to someone I had grown to, if not dislike, then to be disinterested in? I turn off the TV and think about our history together. There have been far more low points than high points in our relationship. We’d met at a party; doesn’t everyone? And then we drifted into marriage. Not a desperately unhappy marriage, just a lifeless cohabitation. Nowadays, even sex feels like something to get done and dusted as quickly as possible. I used to think of myself as a thoughtful and exciting lover; Jane convinced me fairly early on that I was wildly off the mark with that one.

Still, Jane’s late return leaves me time to watch a Sandra Bullock classic and snack on popcorn. She arrives home, throws me a half-hearted wave before stating she is tired and needs to wash away the city grime. Whilst she goes upstairs for a shower, I nip outside to check on Kermit. The poor old boy has acquired so many knocks and scratches whilst Jane has been driving that I dread the costs to rectify the paintwork. No new marks today, but dollops of mud all over the back wheels and body arches. Honestly, how does she manage that in the middle of a city? She is so careless.

Chapter 4

I’ve done my best, I genuinely have, but I cannot stop thinking about that Ella. In retrospect I can see her even more clearly. In my memory bank I have stored what she was wearing at the time: black floral patterned leggings (I’m starting from the bottom and working up), a plain black top with sleeves up to her elbows, and earrings like coloured frogs. Coloured frogs! Oh my God, they’re a sign. Kermitty earrings. How have I not recognised the connection earlier? I fumble through my wallet and pull out her card – Ella Chamberlain. What a classy name; it really suits her.

Four hours later and the card still lies on my office desk. It’s only a phone call, so if she tells me to piss off, what will I have lost? The love of my life, that’s what – pay attention, please. But if nothing else, it will be good to hear her voice again. She has only listed her mobile number on the card and when I look down at my writing pad, I have covered a whole page with her number, from dozens of angles and in various sizes and fonts. This is madness. My throat is parched, so I go out to the kitchen to get a glass of water, which is a mistake because I am interrupted by two of the warehouse crew, who have a problem. Another two hours pass before I am back at my desk. It’s nearly five and I reckon she might turn the phone off at the end of her working day. A big gulp of water and I tap out her number quickly before I can change my mind.

“Ella Chamberlain, Giraffe Group.”

Blimey, it does not sound like her at all. Nothing husky in her voice. To be quite honest, it’s rather common sounding. Maybe she put on that voice in the coffee shop for my benefit. Which would be a good thing, wouldn’t it?

“Hello, who’s that?”

Sheesh Danny – say something.

“Um, hi, Ella... it’s Danny here... from Costa... on Saturday?”

“Sorry, Danny who? From where? Costco?”

I obviously made one hell of an impression.

“No, Danny Pearson. We met at the mall on Saturday. We had a coffee together.” Bit of a stretch that one, but my brain and mouth are no longer working in partnership.

“Last Saturday… I don’t think so.”

Oh hell, I want to die. One last go.

“Yes. We swapped visiting cards. I thought we got on quite well.”

“Danny whatever-your-name-is, last Saturday I was at a hen party in Amsterdam. I think you might well have lost the plot.”

“But I’ve got your visiting card.”

“Ah, of course. You’ve got a visiting card with my name on it – that explains everything.” There is an audible intake of breath before she says, “I get mine printed two hundred at a time, Danny, just to hand out to morons who are stalking me. Go get a life.”

The line is disconnected.

I do not like Ella Chamberlain.

Chapter 5

Sundays have developed into a routine. We read the Sunday papers in bed, Jane makes breakfast about midday, which I would rather eat at the kitchen table but she insists I eat in bed. Then she goes off for a girlie afternoon, shopping with the girls from her office. They seem to be a really good influence on her because the credit card statement balances at the end of the month are coming down dramatically.

However, I cannot get Ella out of my mind. I still have her card in my wallet and three times, after withholding my number, I have rung her phone. But the voice that answers is not husky and still sounds common. I end each call as confused as ever. But on the plus side, Jane seems a lot happier and the arguments have been more infrequent, so I’ve come to the conclusion that life is not that bad and I must try and enjoy what I have.

I certainly enjoy my Sunday afternoons watching the previous day’s football, which means today I can watch the game in the safe knowledge that it is a cracking game, with six goals shared between Chelsea and Arsenal. So I settle back and relax until Arsenal score their second goal and I am instantly stunned. I hold the picture, then rewind, then play, then rewind, then play, and then freeze the frame. It is her, there is not a shadow of a doubt. My Ella, leaping up and down behind the goal. My Ella is an Arsenal fan. My pulse is racing. I repeat the process to make sure I am not imagining it, but it is her. It is most definitely her. She’s there with another girl wearing an Arsenal scarf, possibly younger, maybe prettier in some people’s eyes, but I cannot take my eyes off Ella’s image for very long. I fast forward and catch one or two more glimpses of her and my pulse is racing faster.

I need to clear my head. I have not been for a run for a long time. My usual route, down through the park and along the river and then back home, takes the best part of an hour. Run and think: that makes some sort of sense. I go upstairs and put tracksuit and running shoes on. It must be the best part of a year since I’ve done this.

I am hopelessly out of condition and I have to stop three times before I even get through the park, so I sit on a bench and gather my thoughts.

So she does exist. What do I do with that information? It is about all I actually know about her – oh, and she supports Arsenal and her name is not Ella Chamberlain. All I have is the card. It’s not a time for running, it’s a time to walk and think slowly and carefully. I’ll forget the river and take a short cut through the car park behind the Co-op.

What the f...!

It’s Kermit. Parked behind the Co-op. I walk towards the car, but it’s fairly apparent even from a distance that the car is empty. There are half a dozen cars in the car park, but no Jane in sight. I didn’t think to bring my mobile, so I cannot ring her. I suppose everything is OK, but I feel I should hang around for a while. Anyway, it gives me a chance to run through my plan again. It’s a pretty good plan – just a pity it needs me to implement it.

It’s nearly six o’clock. The last thing I want is for Jane to think I’m spying on her. I will just casually bring it up in conversation when she gets home. I won’t hang about any longer; l will tie up my laces and then get going.

Bloody hell, that’s a looker! A bright red Mercedes Coupe pulls into the car park with a rather naff personalised plate; the owner’s name must be Sam, or Sandra maybe. They are in no rush to get out of the car. Crikey, they’re all but having full-on sex in daylight on a Sunday in a Co-op car park. It takes all sorts! They ought to find a hotel room before they get arrested.

Chapter 6

I have passed on too little information on some matters and too much information on others. I must be the only person on the planet who did not expect Jane to climb out of that car. I could well have coped with that if the guy had not leaned over and passed her a pair of blue panties (which I had bought her for her last birthday, but lets not split hairs). She just laughed like crazy and walked back over to Kermit.

Have you ever been in that situation? Where someone has been cheating you and you feel guilty about tackling them about it? By the time I get home she’s in the shower; of course she is. All I can think of doing to help clear my head is to watch my Arsenal recording. Ella would never cheat on me. Lie and deceive me, yes, but cheat? Never.

So the days drift by, and by the end of the week, lack of sleep has left me exhausted. I desperately need to resolve matters within my marriage, but I lack any semblance of energy. I am defeated even before the conversation gets into full flow.

“That’s just the way it is. It’s not your fault or mine.”

Within a couple of minutes it feels like I have lost all touch with reality. Hang on, let me do a rewind.

“Danny, I’ve been having a relationship (affair!) for several months with my boss at work. I want us to have a divorce with no bloodshed. I am sure we can do this amicably. We don’t love each other any more, we have drifted apart. That’s just the way it is. It’s not your fault or mine.”

Hang on just one bloody minute! Whenever did I claim it was my fault? I might have, just might have imagined an affair with Ella (when I find her she’ll have to get used to that name), whereas as you, Jane Pearson, have been taking your knickers off for your boss. There is no way I’m claiming this is my fault. That’s my little inner voice working again. The other one, the one that Jane hears, merely says,

“Yeah, you’re probably right.”

“Peter has got a lawyer friend who is totally ethical and equitable, who could sort the paperwork with the minimum cost to us.” That would be Paul Sampson. He’s probably the only person on this planet who understands his car number plate. I’d like to take a baseball bat to Paul’s head and then stuff it up his solicitor’s...

“Yeah, that makes sense. No point in throwing money around needlessly.”

“That’s good of you, Danny. I’ve made us an appointment with the lawyer for tomorrow afternoon in town.”

I have a director coming down to see me for a one-to-one tomorrow. It’s quite important; there is no way I have enough time to spare to go to a lawyer’s office.

“Sure. No problem. Give me the address and I’ll see you there
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