tagRomanceFool's Errand

Fool's Errand

bySpencerfiction©

A revised version of an entry in the Literotica "2018 Annual April Fool Contest", so please, please vote on what you think of my little story at the end.

A Fool's errand is an English idiom referring to a foolish undertaking or a task certain to fail.


Chapter 1

"Damn it!" Caroline Lyndsey exclaimed, after clicking 'end' on her phone following her customary weekly call to keep in touch with her mother.

"What's up, Sweetheart?" her friend Josh asked, looking up from his morning newspaper, "Trouble at home?"

"No, not really, it's just that my mum and dad are at it again."

"At it?" Josh asked and self-answered, "well, Sweetheart, you know how it is, once the kiddies have left home...."

"It's not that!" she swatted him across the arm. "My parents aren't normal people, they are jokers. And I am sick of it."

"Jokers?"

"Practical jokers. April Foolers. Every year about now they try something to trick my brother and me. Last year was the straw that broke the camel's back."

"Last year?"

"When they pretended to split up and get a divorce? Remember?"

"Look, Caroline, I may be your best friend-with-benefits, and always there whenever you're between proper boyfriends, but this time last year, remember, you were still well in with Richard."

"Oh yeah, Richard the Turd, ugh, I am so over him!"

"And since Richard, as you and I are never gonna be officially," here he gestured 'bunny ears' with his fingers, "'boyfriend/girlfriend', I've been reaping the friendship with benefits thing, but you have never said anything before about your parents splitting. So, spill the beans, 'girlfriend'!"

"Huh! If you knew my Mum was available on the market again, you'd be sniffing round there before the ink on the decree was dry."

"You know I would, and as well as your Mum being gorgeous, your Dad ain't far behind."

Caroline looked over Josh again. I mean, why wasn't he her boyfriend? He was always cute, even with his scratchy morning beard and tangled bed hair. He was great company with exactly the wanton sense of fun she needed after Richard had pretty well destroyed her self-confidence. And the sex with Josh was always satisfyingly fresh and out of this world. But they were like comfortable old shoes, they had known each other since they were about six years old and were always the best of friends. And she had always known that Josh's long-term interests still hovered between bi-curiousity and some heterosexual variety, so they both knew that they could never live together exclusively for very long. And Caroline had to admit she was still looking for that elusive Mr Right.

"Right, 'boyfriend', I still can't believe I've never told you about Mum and Dad and all their practical jokes before."

"Maybe we never connected at this time of year before, sweetheart."

"Anyway, they just love to make 'April Fools' of Mason and me."

"Oh, your Mason's so cute, it's a shame that Marilyn burned him so badly while he was in Afghanistan."

"Yeah, we'd all wish he'd snap out of it and get with the programme of producing grandchildren for Mum and Dad and take the pressure off me. Maybe then, Mum would be so busy knitting booties she wouldn't have time to think up the next nonsense project to wind me up with."

"So, what's she plotting for this coming April Fools Day?" Josh asked, folding his newspaper over to give her his full attention, "And I cannot believe you would fall for a scam based on Sofia and Alan splitting, I mean, they are like Tweedledee and Tweedledum, two sides of the same coin!"

"Well, she's devious, my Mum. She plants little ideas and lets them stew. Last year she started early in January, saying that for summer holidays she was thinking of going to Littlehampton —"

"They always go abroad, don't they?"

"Exactly, Spain usually, and she said 'she' rather than 'we' and went on to say she didn't look forward to driving that far."

"She hates driving, your mum."

"Just what I said to her, and she quickly changed it around to 'we' and explained that Dad wasn't getting the overtime, what with cutbacks, so they were cutting down on expenditure. Then the next week she mentioned downsizing the house, the following week she talked of the shocking price of one-bed property locally; then when I asked how Dad was, she retorted that I'd have to ask HIM if I wanted to know. It was relentless, one drip at a time, like water torture."

"Hehe, I do love the devil in your Mum."

"When Richard and I visited them in February, Mum and Dad never spoke to one another the whole time and the atmosphere was frosty. So I thought maybe they really were splitting up."

"What did Mason think?"

"He wasn't worried, at first, until he visited and he noticed that frosty atmosphere towards one another. But even then, he told me not to worry, that Mum was yanking my chain as she always does. I wanted to relax and believe Mason but then they started leaving house and apartment leaflets around the house, all one bedroom places. And, when both my brother and I visited for Easter weekend there was a 'for sale' sign lying down behind the wall in the front garden, like they had just removed it temporarily for our brief visit."

"Sneaky."

"Yeah, right. Then on the first of April they invited us over for brunch, because they 'had an announcement to make'."

"And what was that?"

"April bloody Fool! Grrrr!

"So, what exactly are they trying on this year?"

"She subtly threw in a comment about a kid living around the corner with cancer."

"So?"

"I don't know this kid or the parents, I don't even know if they exist. But I'm sure that she's going to act like she's going to go on about shaving her head in solidarity and persuade me and Mason to do likewise, and it'll all be an April Fool."

"Well, two can play at that game." Josh grinned like a Cheshire Cat.

"How? What are you thinking of?"

"How about we introduce your parents to Mason's brand new fiancée?"

"What fiancée?" Caroline exclaimed. "Mason is a confirmed bachelor. He hasn't even had a casual girlfriend since Marilyn did the dirty on him, and that was a dozen or more years ago."

"So, if he suddenly turned up with a beautiful fiancée, wearing a flash thirty grand engagement ring and all...."

"What the?!" Caroline exclaimed, but she hesitated as her mind ticked over, and then she smiled. "OK, smartypants, I see where you are going with this, but ... who would do it and why would they?"

"I'll tell you, girlfriend. Now, listen carefully."

***

Mason Lyndsey was halfway around his town centre postal route when his sister Caroline called. He knew it was her as she had downloaded a distinctive ring on his phone for her entry when he first showed it to her. He was 8 years older than his half-sister and had always felt protective of her, so he answered it immediately.

After hanging up and continuing his delivery round, he shook his head. His mother only persisted with these April Fool jokes because Caroline rose to the bait every single time. If only she would just shrug it off as a harmless joke like he and his stepfather did, this would die out like it should have done long ago. Now, the revenge that Caroline proposed was preposterous, but, as he hated letting his little Sis down, he agreed to go along with it. All Caroline had to do now was set it all up.

"Honestly," he said out loud for no-one in particular, "a union between a guy called Mason Lyndsey and a chick by the name of Lyndsey Mason? Even Mum'll never be daft enough to fall for that one!"

***

Gareth Belvedere stretched as he peered at his bedside clock with one eye open. He couldn't see the time clearly, his single open eyeball felt smeary with alcohol induced sleep. He rubbed that eye, not even daring to open the other, and squinted at the clock again. Ten past seven. He groaned, ten past seven on a Saturday.

"Bugger," he thought, "too bloody early to get up and too bloody late to go back to sleep."

He wasn't sure what had woken him up. He usually slept in on Saturdays, until at least nine o'clock. He decided to get up anyway. He had a rugby match this afternoon and they were due to meet up at noon at the Cricketers pub on the bypass, as it was an away match this time around.

He rubbed the other eye, the one that was tightly gummed shut. The eyelid finally released and the sudden pain of rolling his eyeball what seemed like 360 degrees around, hit him, and either some sharp grit or stray stabbing eyelash was in his eye, it watered like mad and he rushed to his en suite bathroom to bathe it.

Once in his apartment's kitchen, he filled the kettle for tea and, as he often did when he was alone with his thoughts, he wondered how he could move onto the next stage in his relationship with Lyndsey. Phew! That was a difficult one. He had bought the ring and approached her father for leave to ask for his daughter's hand, and the old bastard bloody well refused him. That had never occurred to him. Her father held nothing back, giving Gareth full chapter of his failings, how he cheated at school, bought his degree, barely gets by careerwise even though his father, two older brothers and his godfather own the bank, his drinking and his womanising and, this is where the old duffer leaned into him and whispered "as well as your bumming around", was like the coup de grace to his proposal.

Mmm, he wondered, with so much at stake, exactly how much a hitman would charge to clear the way. It would be easy to make it seem like natural causes, as her old man was at least fifty years older than his daughter Lyndsey.

His mobile rang in the jeans he had dropped in the kitchen when he got in last night. By the time he had fumbled it open he saw he has missed two calls, the first of which probably being what woke him up ten minutes before. The caller ID was "Jose", otherwise known as Josh or "Hoss" by some of his friends, like in "hung like a..."

"Hey, Josh, whatyer ringing so early for, we're not meeting the coach until noon."

"No, Gaz, it's not about that. Remember you said something about your Lady's old man?"

'Fuck!' thought Gareth, 'did I get so pissed last night I teed up Josh to do the hit? Or did we arrange something together? If I can't remember who I've told, I'm in shit street.'

"Look, I don't know what I was talking about-"

"Hey, mate, I've got someone who'll do it."

"Fuck! Someone to bump off the old man?"

"No, you idiot, someone who will make you, yes, even you, look like the perfect husband for his one and only, very lovely daughter."

***

Mason could feel the dread building up within as he and his sister walked down from the town centre car park to the "Station Hotel" to meet the other couple. Madness, he thought, why had he agreed to go along with this crazy scheme to prank their mother?

The pub was packed and uncomfortably hot and stuffy, still sealing in the heat of the early spring day, while outside the clear night held promise of an early frost as the sun vanished from view behind the tall buildings around the railway station. The pub was clearly full of commuters, mostly male and middle aged, who had dropped into the nearest pub after getting off the London train to begin to celebrate Friday night and the coming weekend. The bar counter was three or four customers deep, desperately trying to get in the drinks they had looked forward to throughout their long commute.

It was too noisy even for holding a conversation in there. This girl he was going to meet, Mason thought, picked this place to meet. Just what was this girl like, if this crowded hell was her favourite watering hole? Caroline had informed him earlier that this was the girl's choice of venue. He had been told she was in her twenties, while he was already past his mid-thirties. He was regretting this blind date more and more. Caroline tugged his arm and hissed in his ear.

"Mace, they're over there. Oooh, I say, he looks a bit of a dish!" she said, "even better than he did in his photo."

Mason followed her pointing finger. The other couple must have got here early. They had already grabbed a table and four chairs, the empty ones covered respectively with a leather jacket and a small handbag. The young man was now standing and waving at them. The pint of beer in front of him was three quarters full. The drink next to the lady looked like red wine and had barely been touched. Mason lifted his eyes to see the girl, still sitting, she was looking straight at him.

God! He thought, she was a vision, long wavy blond hair, pale complexion, demure, with her hands apparently resting on her lap, hidden by the table. He must've grinned involuntarily, because her face suddenly lit up in a natural, smiling response, then she dropped her eyes downward momentarily, as if in an act of shyness, not willing to surrender her own reaction to him through her eyes. After just a moment of composure, though, she lifted her head again, still smiling, and then started to stand.

"Hey guys," Gareth spoke first, loudly to overcome the background noise, "you must be Caroline and Mason, we've been watching the door, looking out for you."

"Yes, Gareth, pleasure to meet you," Caroline replied, her face up close to Gareth's ear, "gosh, it's a right crush in here!"

"I'm so sorry I suggested this place," Lyndsey apologised, moving as close to Gareth as Caroline was, "I picked here because my friends and I used to use it when I was at Uni and it was always more than half empty back then and the landlady was happy to let us stay in the warm and nurse a half-pint most of the night."

"We had already decided to check with you if we should go somewhere else," Gareth suggested, "somewhere it would be quiet enough to talk."

"It's too early to go to the restaurant, I think you said we're not booked in until 7.30," Lyndsey said, apologetically, "there are a couple of pubs around the corner, I think."

"The two pubs that were nearby have both closed recently," Mason said, remembering them from an occasional postal round he had walked around this area. "Probably explains why this one's so busy. We could walk rather than drive to the restaurant, that would take twenty minutes or so and we should have for an appetiser before dinner at their bar while we check out what we fancy to eat."

"That's a good idea," Gareth said, picking up his glass and downing his three-quarters of a pint in one go.

Lyndsey picked up her wine glass and sipped a small amount demurely before putting her almost full glass down, put on her light jacket, which was resting on the back of her chair, and picked up her bag from the opposite chair. Gareth stamped down his empty glass and collected his leather jacket. Caroline and Mason turned and they all walked towards the door. Their table and chairs were commandeered immediately they vacated them.

Outside, they briefly reintroduced each other and politely shook hands, although Caroline reached up and kissed Gareth on the cheek and then did the same to Lyndsey.

Mason and Gareth merely shook hands and gave each other a look that could have interpreted as 'You better watch yourself with my sister, if you know what's good for you', replied with, 'and you with my fiancée, buster!'

"We'll leave the cars in the station car park as it's free, rather than try to park up near the restaurant, the streets get really packed in the evening around there and we may have to drive around for ages and still not park any nearer than we are now." Caroline spoke from experience, while the meeting place of the pub was apparently Lyndsey's choice, the restaurant where they would spend most of the evening had been chosen by Caroline.

All it took was the barest of nods between them, that Mason noticed, before Gareth held out the crook of his arm and asked Caroline, "Shall we start walking and talk about whether we are going to agree to do this swap and act accordingly for the next month or two? It's too bloody cold to stand around." And off they went.

Mason looked at Lyndsey, she really looked cold, compared to the hothouse of the hotel bar. He took off his short denim jacket and draped it over her shoulders.

"But you've only got a polo shirt on," she protested.

"Well, I thought you looked cold, are you cold?"

"Yes, I must admit ... well, I wasn't while sitting in that pub but it is definitely chilly out here. I usually have a heavier coat in the boot of my car, but Gareth drove me and it was quite warm and sunny an hour ago when we parked up. But surely, you'll catch a death."

"I'm a postman," he grinned back, "Right now l'm wearing jeans instead of shorts and a long sleeve shirt instead of a tee shirt, and even you're carrying a much heavier bag than I am, so for me, well, I still seem somewhat overdressed. Besides, I really don't feel the cold."

"OK," she said with a smile, and worked her arms into the jacket, so smoothly that she didn't need his help. However, once the coat was on it looked enormous on her and the arms were so long that she couldn't do the zip up.

"Would you mind?" she asked.

"No problem," he replied and zipped the coat up to her chin. They turned towards where Caroline and Gareth were headed, and they had already walked some 100 yards up the lane.

Mason held out the crook of his arm for her to tuck her arm in, and they moved on up the road in pursuit.

As they started to walk away from the pub, Lyndsey wondered why this tall, lean, handsome gentleman Mason was still single. She understood that he was ten or twelve years older than her, and had been led to believe that he had not had a girlfriend for at least a couple of years. He was a lot better looking than she had expected and had impressed her on looks alone at first glance inside the pub. Once they got outside, he wasn't pushy or brash like most of the men in her group of friends, but reserved and quiet, friendly without being aloof. They were walking along briskly but in comfortable silence, which was more relaxing than trying to hold a conversation while walking so fast.

He hadn't even asked her if she was warm enough as soon as they got outside, but he had immediately recognised the signs and simply offered her his coat before she had even admitted to herself that she had felt cold. Then he made a joke about his work, to show that his need for the coat was negligible compared to hers, to assuag any guilt on her part. Now she was walking along and breathing in the light, subtle and warm smell of his cologne from his coat. So, yes, when they they were briefly alone, which could have been awkward, they had gently exchanged pleasantries, so she was left with the impression that he was cute and attractive.

She had always known that she was considered attractive to the opposite sex, and she was used to the rituals of men trying to impress her and act as if she should already be under their spell. But Mason was so much more mature and relaxed in his own being, not trying to pretend to be some kind of alpha male. He didn't try to grab her arm or put his arm around her or even hold hands, he had simply offered the same level of support that her boyfriend had offered his sister, knowing that it was just the right move to make in the circumstances. He seemed to be a natural gentleman and probably an all-round nice guy, who was helping his sister out in her revenge for various family pranks, and willing to do this without any apparent reward other than making his sister feel better.

So, what bitch hurt him so badly in the past, she wondered?

Although Mason could see that the girl was slight of build, she moved smoothly and easily and they closed the gap between the two couples quite quickly, falling in step behind them by about ten or twelve feet, so both pairs of conversations could remain largely private. When they slowed down the pace to match the couple in front, she squeezed in closer to him. He reduced the length of his stride to hers and they moved on harmoniously. He could smell her perfume now and, he realised, he could relax, that this wasn't anything like the ordeal he had anticipated. He had been dreading this evening, thinking he would soon run out of pleasantries to say to someone, but after she had asked him about what post route he worked, he told her amiably about his simple job as a Royal Mail postman, but that conversation soon dried up.

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