Silly Games

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Part Twenty One

The cake was good, as was the ‘milk punch’ that Laura provided. They’d both sat either end of the sofa in the lounge with their hot mugs, and Laura pulled a throw over their legs.

                “So how was the rest of the festival?” Adam asked watching her drink.

She nodded, “good, busy, Ben was like King of the world. It was like his dream come true...but Alana’s a bit put out, he’s never been that enthusiastic about her.”

Adam laughed, “sounds like a woman! What is the deal with those two?”

Laura eyed him suspiciously, “typical man, calling all women gossips but wanting to know every last detail!” 

He acknowledged her riposte with a laugh, then listened as she tried to summarise the unusual and rather unpredictable relationship of her friends.

                “So let me get this right, Alana came from the fringe of the pro circuit in Hawaii to wet and cold Wales, and that man doesn’t really appreciate her?”

It sounded so awful in those terms, but that was the gist of the problems in this relationship.

                “Does he have to propose just because she chose to follow him? I mean that sounds really harsh.”

Adam shrugged, “I can see why she wants commitment, but no, I suppose her travelling is no prerequisite for a ring. Tough being stuck in the middle!”

Laura nodded but was looking at Adam quizzically.

                “What?”

She shrugged, “just didn’t expect a man to see Alana’s side!”

Laughing he placed his empty mug on a side table, “just because I can’t imagine marrying myself doesn’t mean I can’t understand the need in some people for commitment.”

                “Very deep!” she responded with a wry smile, “you are a complicated man Adam!”

He leaned against the back of the sofa and watched her through half closed eyes, “maybe.”

Suddenly he was looking tired again, “you need bed mister!”

Nodding he smiled when she rose and offered him a hand, accepting he moved with her as she pulled him to his feet, then they strolled down the corridor to their respective rooms.

                “Thanks for the drink...and the cake!” He stopped outside her bedroom, the room he was using. “And of course the bedroom!”

She grinned, “no problem, my pleasure!”

With a grin he pulled her into a bear hug, his arms wrapping around her slim form. And immediately Adam regretted his instinctive action. The sensation hit him in the stomach like a punch to the abdomen, and he gulped at a breath. Pushing her back to arm’s length; he offered an apologetic and awkward smile before disappearing into the room.

And it left Laura to wonder what the hell had just happened. Legs that felt weirdly jelly like managed to get her to the spare room, but as she collapsed onto the bed, it was a different vein of thought that kept her awake for the second time that night.

After such poor sleep, and of course the journey up to London, she was shattered, and was mortified to see her phone displaying 10:41. For an early bird who rarely slept past six am, Laura was both shocked and surprised at this slovenly display. Though it was well needed, she had still been awake at five am. Stretching her stiff and aching body out of bed, she made for the lounge. Her mother was sat reading the Saturday morning paper, a delicate teacup of coffee sat in front of her.

                “Hi darling!” Her mother jumped up and rushed across the room.  “What a wonderful surprise!” She pulled her daughter into a tight embrace, “I really didn’t want to pressure you if you’re so busy, but it really is fantastic when you come home!”

Holding her at arm’s length her mother studied her intently, “you’ve lost weight! I’m going to have to feed you up this weekend! I am so sorry that Adam was in your bed. Was the spare room ok? He had a flood, and the poor boy was so tired!”

Laura allowed her mother to lead her to the sofa, “boy? Adam’s older than me, he’s at least thirty. That definitely makes him a man!”

Maggie Marshall nodded, “semantics darling, and he’ll always be a boy to me, just as you will always be my baby!”

Raising her eyebrows, Laura lowered herself to the seat, “mother!”

But it was no use, Maggie was ecstatic to be mother hen, and preened herself as she planned antics for her family for the rest of the weekend. In her almost ditzy way, she told Laura that her father and Adam were at the gold club, some competition that was vital.

                “But tonight, I wanted to order in some food, have some wine. Talk?” she offered the last word as a tentative suggestion, not knowing how her daughter would react to it.  When Laura agreed with no resistance, her mother literally bloomed.

As soon as Laura mentioned her hair, her mother lit up. Because she spent so long in the sea, and sun, her hair dried out to a wiry, frizzy mess, every week she treated it with hot oil, reconstructing shampoo, but once a month she treated it with an avocado hair mask. A homemade concoction of the avocado, conditioner, and a couple of essential oils really brought it all back to life, and as soon as her mother found out about it, she wanted to try it herself.

Two hours later, they were both wearing short pyjamas with the originally green, but now muddy brown sludge all over their hair, drinking a glass of Pimms and eating Pringles, in front of the open full length patio doors. There was no balcony as such, only what Laura described as a ledge with cast iron railings, but with the doors open it definitely brought the outdoors in, and with the avocado smelling like it was fermenting over their heads, they both sat in the sun giggling at how ridiculous they must look.

Until the door opened and Laura’s father, closely followed by Adam came bursting into the room.

                “Oh my gosh! What is that smell?” Stafford Marshall announced before he took in the sight of his scantily clad wife and daughter complete with a layer of what looked like mud all over their blonde hair.

                “Oh Staffie!” Her mother giggled, “we’re doing hair repair!”

This meant nothing to her father who merely shrugged in confusion, Laura, feeling a little exposed in her pyjamas smiled at them both. “My fault! It’s to repair you hair after being in the sea Dad. And it’s time to wash off.” Nodding an excuse she made to leave the room, but for a moment her eyes met with Adam’s, and the connection made her shudder. For just a second he seemed to be seeing into her, and rather than scare her, it excited her, she wanted to react, retaliate...but her parents were there.

So she turned and made for the guest room and the shower.

Adam couldn’t believe his reaction to Laura. The last thing he’d expected was to see her there looking so cute and vulnerable, he’d seen her in a lot less for Christ’s sake, but there was something about her stood there that tugged at something a hell of a lot deeper than his heartstrings. Hiding both the groan and the surge of excitement that shuddered through his body, he was mortified to find Laura’s eyes meet his, confusion and questions hidden there. Then she was gone and he found he could let go of the breath he didn’t realise he was holding.

Stafford strode into the lounge and over to the wet bar in the corner, “beer? Or something stronger?”

Adam stayed where he was behind the sofa, supporting himself on the back of it, to hide his reaction to Stafford’s daughter, and to give him strength until he regained the power in his legs. He hadn’t felt this way at seeing a woman since his mother’s best friend Bernie Powers had opened her front door to him as a fifteen year old boy in  a ridiculously see through negligee. He’d come to mow her lawns and ended up popping his cherry. Heat suffused his face at the connection he made, and he needed to close his eyes to regain composure, that was not the outcome he was looking for here.

                “Adam?”

His eyes snapped open and he realised his father was still waiting for an answer. “Beer is great, thanks!”

He watched as Stafford cracked open the bottle, then he strolled over, more calmly than he felt and collected it. They made small talk for a little while until Maggie’s voice called out Stafford’s name shrilly.

Stafford grinned, “she won’t blow dry her hair without a glass of wine!” He poured one, but as he left the room he waggled his eyebrows, and the sudden realisation that they may be about to do more than dry her hair flashed uncomfortably into his conscious level.

After a few minutes he strolled along the corridor to the spare room and knocked the door, he owed her an apology for her lecherous look earlier, but he also hoped she’d accompany him out of the place. The thought of his father and Maggie having sex was disturbing, hearing them would be more than uncomfortable.

Tapping the door, he waited until he heard a “yup?”

                “Laura, it’s me!”

Footsteps preceded the door opening, and then Laura stood there, her hair wet around her shoulders, wearing an oversized t-shirt and denim hot pants. “What’s up Bro?”

He laughed out loud, those were words he never thought he’d hear on her lips, “your father has gone to help your mother with a glint in his eye...I’m feeling a bit...nauseous! I wondered if you fancied coming to the pub for a drink, the thought of what they’re doing is bad enough...if I heard them!”

She laughed, “you think you’ll out grow that repulsion, but it seems parental sex is always taboo! You should see them on a Sunday! Dad emerging for strawberries, chocolate or whipped cream!”

Adam shook his head, “it seems so wrong! Though saying that, I’d love to be that sexually confident in my sixties!”

Laura laughed, “I know, when I was younger I used to hope that I’d be that happy at their age, that I’d chosen the right man.”

He hated that she sounded resigned to the fact that wouldn’t happen to her, the disappointment in her life and her choices caused him to feel a pain on her behalf. His second ridiculous reaction to her of the day.

                “You’ll be a foxy grandmother, I confidently predict! Now are you coming to the pub?”

Grinning she asked, “can you wait for me to dry my hair?”

He shook his head and turned her around, with deft and expert fingers; he divided her hair and wove it into a thick plait. Reaching out a hand he took the band she offered and secured it.

                “Five minutes! GO!”

As the door closed behind him, Laura slumped against the wall, his hands in her hair and been the most unsettling thing she’d ever experienced, and her body was struggling to regain composure. She needed more than five minutes to recover!

When she finally met Adam in the hallway, her shorts and t-shirt swapped for a cute sun dress that she’d bought from a trader at the festival the previous week. With her favourite, oldest and most soft cowboy boots, she felt relaxed and confident. Adam was lounging against the wall in well worn jeans and a v-necked t-shirt that clung to his chest in a rather disconcerting way! She was about to make some witty comment about it when a high pitch squeal emerged from the lounge behind them, her mother, then the deeper chuckle of her father. Suddenly joking was on the backburner, grabbing a stunned Adam’s hand she dragged him out of the building.

The nearest pub was a light airy building, and it was busy for early evening. Adam led her to a table at the back of the room, and despite her protests made for the bar and ordered them drinks. The conversation as they drank was calm. Laura like this - relaxed and happy, was entertaining and great company, and even quite endearing. Adam couldn’t remember being this relaxed in ages. His mother had called earlier, she was hinting heavily that she wanted him home as soon as possible, she had more chemotherapy, and she told him in great detail how awful it was making her feel.

But he’d given his mother a lot of time recently, and he was no rush to head back home just yet. Laura got up to get more drinks, and he watched her from a distance chatting with the barman. She stood out in the pub as unique, her clothes were different, she was  clean scrubbed, compared to the over primped and over made up women who otherwise occupied the pub, and she was unique, looking like a cross between a hippy and a country and western singer.

As she turned back to him and smiled he had to physically shake himself, as he was starting to swoon in her presence and that wouldn’t do.

Half an hour later her mother called, Laura’s phone bursting into the mating calls of a Brazilian Blue parrot on the table between them.

                “Mum? We’ve only come out to give you some space!”

Adam could hear the chuckle along the phone line, he could also hear her mother explain that they’d had a phone call, the country house had flooded, the cellars...they didn’t know details, but they had to rush off. She wanted reassurance that the two younger people would be ok. Laura did a good job at reassuring them, then as she hung up, she looked at him and rubbed her hands together in excitement.

                “Free night Adam! Let’s drink!”

With that she signalled to the barman for a couple of shots, shaking his head he couldn’t hide his laughter, he was sensing he was about to see yet another side of Laura Marshall.

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