Hugo From Pode Holebyegmontgrigor2010©
"Hmmm that would be Charlotte reacting to being told what a bad girl she'd been."
Someone knocked and he called enter. Susan came in looking a little stressed. She said she was so sorry and kissed him.
"We are having a family conference and dad has asked me to fetch you."
Oh no, this was about him. Another dose of adversity affecting the new immigrant.
Hugo could feel the tension as he entered the room. Jessica looked at him and then looked down. He saw she'd been crying. Fred was red-faced and looking stern and asked Hugo to please sit. He sat opposite Charlotte who looked at him unafraid and he detected an edge of triumph to her smile.
"We have a problem with Charlotte," Fred began.
"Wrong," Charlotte interrupted, "Hugo is the problem."
"Following the manner in which she was treated this morning Charlotte arrived home and told us she has tentatively arranged to room share with two of her friends. We know those women and know they are a bad influence on Charlotte who is old enough to know better but still chooses to run with them."
"So it's been decided I may have her room because it's larger," Hugo smiled, having read and signs and knowing he was about to be evicted.
Fred looked astonished and Jessica emitted two big sobs. Charlotte smiled, showing most of her teeth.
"Um no," said Fred. "Charlotte this evening has given us an ultimatum, either you go or she goes."
Hugo was about to say he was off to pack his bag when he thought, hold on, he was on the cusp of observing a family in crisis with its loyalty being tested. So he said, "We'll all miss Charlotte."
Charlotte's mouth opened in shock and she bleated, "Dad?"
"It's all right baby," Fred soothed and then delivered a rather good emotional execution speech for an accountant.
"Hugo it is with deep regret I must ask you to leave as soon as you can find alternative accommodation. You have been a worthy and most interesting addition to this family but the truth is you are not family but Charlotte is. As you may be aware the strength of any society is dependent on and reflected by the strength and unity of its families. Normally a family would be unfazed about a 30-year-old moving out but that would be depend on circumstances. In our case Charlotte had pleaded for family support and my obligation as head of the household is to accept her conditions for staying because it boils down to a simple choice between you and her. Both Jessica and I had this idea that something big and good could fire between Charlotte and you but it has come to pass that's not to be. Charlotte asked for a family vote on who is to go, you or her, and the vote was 3-nil that you must be asked to leave."
"Well guys that is pretty clear-cut," Hugo said. "Even I would have been dismayed if the vote had been 3-nil in favor of Charlotte being asked to leave her home. I've had a rather unusual and disjointed family upbringing because my mother would leave home to be away with some guy and often wouldn't return for months. Rather astonishingly my father, who made quite a good living from being a noted landscape painter, accepted and told me simply later in life that it was my mother's choice and that if he'd kicked her out it would have destroyed the family life we enjoyed so much when she lived at home. So there it is and I benefited from my father's decision just as Charlotte now benefits from her father's decision and backed by her family. So I'll say goodbye in a few minutes, I'm off to pack."
The women were weeping and even Fred looked distressed.
"Oh come on guys. I'll bounce back. This is a great experience for me as a writer. You have no idea how lucky I am."
Hugo was packing when Charlotte came in, leaving the door open.
"I'm sorry. I'm such a bitch."
Hugo held out his arms and she glided into them but didn't kiss him.
"I suggest you need to think more about your future Charlotte, I mean to determine the outcomes you wish to achieve in life, right through life. I think somewhere along the road you stalled your development."
"I-I'll try, I hear what you are saying."
"I'll tell you something else Charlotte. Being a Lit graduate you'll know about kindred spirits. I suspect you are I are kindred spirits. I'm a little way off from accepting the truth in that and you are still a long way off. However try to find a nicer guy than me and just be patience and allow him to reveal just how good he might be for you."
They heard a noise and looked at the doorway. Jessica, dabbing her eyes, said: "You are in the arms of the nicest guy who's ever held you darling."
"And yet I don't know it," Charlotte said, breaking free and walking over hugged her mother.
After tearful farewells Fred went down to the sidewalk with Hugo.
"I've stuck you in the back pal but you know the alternative for me would have been far crueler."
"Yes Fred, I did indicate that. You head a great family and I enjoyed my association with you guys. I'll try to return to that rooming house for a few days till I get sorted. Don't tell the others where I might be living."
"Okay," Fred said slapping Hugo on the back and they then hugged. "You come back and visit us, do you hear?"
"Yes Fred. Bye."
Hugo walked out and waved down a cab stopped. Fifteen minutes later he was back at the same rooming house but in a better room than he had previously. Hugo resolved to fight his way back into better times.
A former Englishman from Surrey Charlie Hopkins, now proudly an American citizen, took Hugo on, starting him off on fixing system faults on office computers. When receiving favorable reports on the quality of Hugo's service, Charlie put Hugo into the workroom to install OEM (original equipment manufacturer) software and then to run the machines under reliability test and to fix any defected faults.
Now that he had a steady income Hugo applied to an advertisement by a couple with an apartment in Chelsea seeking to rent out a room and share equitable living costs including food with 'a tidy, personable young professional man'. So far he'd chalked up seven unsuccessful applications.
Carla and Arnold received numerous applications. Hugo was short-listed and was chosen, probably because Carla was also English. The couple in their mid-thirties worked in retail management. They were very pleasant, homely and very much in love.
Arnold introduced Hugo to jetty fishing and also how to become a food gobbling, yelling fan at basketball games. They often went out as a threesome and the first time they were at a gallery Hugo began displaying knowledge about art he'd picked up many years from his father. His father had also taught him culinary skills during times when Hugo's mother 'disappeared'. Carla and Tim soon discovered that talent and appointed Hugo as head chef.
Two months later Charlie assigned Hugo to work on writing software development contracts the firm secured from clients, the same work Wendy had almost offered him. Charlie accomplished the tasks with technical ease because he was qualified to perform systems development work at a much higher level but that meant fulltime work and, as Charlie was already aware, Hugo wanted small contracts that he could work on for four or so hours at any time of the day to allow him to continue researching for his book.
Charlie, who was in his earlier fifties, twice invited Hugo home to lunch with the family on Sundays. Hugo got on well with Charlie's part-Italian wife Maria very well because she loved being teased and he could be so charming and the three kids seem to think he was okay. Then Maria called Hugo and invited him to dinner on Saturday night saying her youngest sister would also be there.
"I think you and Imelda should meet."
"Does she know I have also been invited to dinner?"
"No but I will tell her you'll be there if you wish."
"No it's okay."
"I can tell you Imelda is not ugly."
"She'd have to be pretty good looking to excel you."
"Oh you lovely man. Bye."
Imelda really was beautiful but very lean. Hugo preferred women with full breasts like Charlotte. Yes Charlotte. He wondered how she was getting on with her personal change management. He'd decided to keep away from the family to give him breathing space. Imelda took an immediately liking to Hugo and they began to date but it wasn't until he'd twice met her parents they she allowed Hugo to touch her carnally and from that night they were underway.
But Imelda was rather tight and frequently groaned he was hurting her and insisted one bout of sex a night was her limit. That disappointed Hugo but at least she admitted she basically enjoyed fucking but worried she was so small and worried about her skin being marked in any way.
One night Imelda asked casually was Hugo the marrying kind.
"I meant to be but I don't know when."
"How long is when?"
Without thinking he said when he found the right woman.
Imelda appeared annoyed and switched the conversation and the next time Hugo called she burst into tears and said she never wished to hear from him again.
"Why? What have I done wrong?"
"You told me laughing you don't wish to marry me," Imelda said, cutting the call.
He called Maria that he apparently had upset Imelda and she said poof, it would be nothing. Imelda just had an Italian side to her. She'd talk to Imelda and call back. She did that fifteen minutes later and said, "It's all over for you silly man. You never tell a woman you will marry when you find the right woman. That's really putting her down."
"Oh crap. I remember saying something like that. It's may fault. I'll send flowers."
"It will be a waste of time. My middle sister could be interested. She's married but the marriage is shaky."
"Um perhaps not Maria. If I screw up with her I might also end up losing you as a friend."
"Well you are not such a stupid man after all. We are taking the kids for a picnic in a park on Sunday. Please join us."
"May I suggest you invite Imelda instead? She may really need your company."
"Oh yes, an excellent idea. I'll be in the office for the end of month Friday drinks tomorrow. I shall see you then and kiss your hard, hard heart."
"God little wonder you manage to rope in Charlie. You have the right technique."
She giggled. "I really like you Hugo. You don't think American. Bye."
Lonely at nights, Hugo began drafting his novel and working on characterization.
Ten weeks after his eviction Hugo was having morning coffee when Jessica entered the coffee house with a woman around her age. She spotted Hugo and rushed over and kissed him excitedly. She then placed her order and returned and introduced her companion and Hugo invited them to sit with him. Jessica had wanted to know all about what he had been doing and Helene appeared very interested in the conversation. When it tailed off she said, "An so you are the young man Charlotte mom has mentioned to me a couple of times?"
That caught Jessica's attention. "Charlotte has spoken to you about Hugo?"
"She referred to him as a English guy who stayed with you for ten days."
"Really and what did she say?"
"Nothing of significance that I can remember. But I was left with the impression she was missing having Hugo around and that he'd been a great friend to the family but unfortunately had gone rather cold on her. Perhaps he made a hit on Charlotte?"
"Unlikely, it would be the other way round," Jessica said. "You said she was missing Hugo?"
"Yes missing having him around."
As they were leaving Jessica pleaded to Hugo to visit them.
"Yeah I have been thinking about that Jess. Oh here's my business card in case you really wish to invite me for coffee."
She kissed and hugged him and as Hugo was walking off he heard Helene say dryly, "I gather Charlotte isn't the only one missing that young man."
Charlotte called Hugo late afternoon.
"Hi it's Charlotte."
"Hi Charlotte, it's great hearing your voice. How are those lovely tits of yours?"
"Oh come on Charlotte. You only have to lift your game a bit. There was no requirement for you to become a saint."
"Oooh, then you understand how it must be for me?"
"I believe I can imagine it. But you must surely know everyone wants Charlotte to remain Charlotte."
"Of course I do and I have managed to pull in my horns a little and believe I'm now more respected and no longer easily offends. I can even report people close to me appear more relaxed around me these days."
"Are you dating?"
"I have been but there is no one at present."
"We have unfinished business."
Charlotte made no comment.
"I'm living in Chelsea with a very lovely couple and I cook the week night dinners. Please come to dinner with us tonight."
"What you mean about unfinished business, you meant sex didn't you?"
"That was part of it but in the context of us attempting to establish a wider relationship."
"To find if we should be together."
Hugo could almost hear Charlotte biting her lip.
"But you don't really like me."
"That's bullshit and you know that."
"Well then, is dinner tonight really a date?"
"It really is and I want you at your charming and sexy best to impress my landlords."
"I'm prepared to do that. I'm really missed you and burst into tears when mom said she'd met you this morning. God that almost floored me because you'll know I'm not the sentimental type."
"I really know fuck-all about you Charlotte."
"Is that English terminology?"
"Yes but not to be used in front of the vicar."
She giggled and said it was true he really couldn't know her in such a short time. "After you left us I began doing some soul searching and was amazed how little of merit I could find. But I sat with mom and told her of my concern. Over the next two hours she talked to me how I was so lovely as a young girl and how I ventured timid Susan into the outside world. Mom told me it was I who suggested Susan study law because I knew she had this huge desire to help people and I thought law would be more suitable for her than the church. You know I'd forgotten all that. According to mom I didn't really change until I went to college and I thought deeply and agreed with that. As mom said I came to believe that licentious behavior in college days was my style and I would have accepted that without thinking of downstream consequences. Christ Hugo I'm thirty years old and had still been acting as if I was still a let-it-all-hang-out college student."
"I had suggested that."
"I know but now I believe it and have accepted it but you probably won't notice much change."
"But I already have."
"You haven't seen me yet."
"But I've been taking with you. Previously you never talked to me like this. You just wanted to fuck."
"Hugo," Charlotte said, sounding embarrassed.
"I must go and please don't chicken out about coming to dinner. Here's the address."
"I'll be there. Let me grab a pen."
Hugo was determined to make a real effort to establish compatibility with Charlotte and knew that wasn't only because she liked having sex. She had drive and could be very exciting to be with and with a bit of self-discipline would made a great mother, the type of mother he wished he'd had. Charlotte appeared to be everything he wanted but would she want him? On the strength of that thinking Hugo bought new shoes, pants, a semi-formal shirt and jacket.
When Arnold and Carla arrived home within minutes of each other and were having coffee with Hugo he said, "I've invited a woman I first met when I arrived in New York to dinner. Is that okay?"
"Sure buddy. You don't have to ask. This is your home too."
From what he'd already been told about shared apartment living in New York Hugo thought if he attempted to portray the near-perfect apartment living for Sissy that he was enjoying, New York readers would regard it as being way over the top.
"Is that Susan who met you in a coffee shop?"
Surprised that Carla had remembered Susan's name, Hugo scratched behind his ear and say no, her sister.
"Oooh the real sexy one, as you described her," Carla teased and Hugo scratched the other ear.
"My impression was when Imelda dumped you that you were off women for life, apart from me of course."
"Hey what's this I'm hearing," said Arnold and they laughed when Hugo, turning red, told them to lay off.
"Um I would appreciate it if there was no mention of Imelda tonight when Charlotte is here."
"Oh god what a name," Carla cooed. "I can image her, long dark hair, a flaming red dress and really juicy lips."
"Carla one more tease and I'm tossing you over the balcony."
"Ooh Arnold, save me from this villain."
"Save yourself. I'm off to check emails and get dolled up to meet this stunning babe. Are you happy to wear that old jacket Hugo or do you wish to borrow one of mine."
"No it's fine. I bought a new outfit on the way home."
They stared at Hugo.
"Oh god, I'm sorry Hugo," Carla said. "I didn't realize this was serious. I thought you were just after her flesh. We won't notice if she's not good looking and has poor teeth. Anyway that Imelda was too sophisticated for you and had practically no boobs. I take you for a big boobs man because you never look at mine."
"Thanks Carla. I'm hoping to get something going with Charlotte tonight. Please don't blow it for me."
She said, "Did you hear that appeal from the heart Arnold? You mess up and you're over the balcony."
* * *
Charlotte arrived dressed in flaming red. She wore matching knee-high boots and her hair was piled high and her face was expertly made up. Long silver earring droppers finished off her appearance.
She stunned Arnold and Carla and Hugo had to fight his tongue from hanging out.
Arnold had met Charlotte at the door and recovering from looking more like than a half-wit than a greeter, said, "Why hello Dolly" quite musically and Charlotte giggled and held out a bottle of fine red wine and said, "I'm Charlotte" and kissed him.
Arnold turned as the gaping Carla approached and said, "This is my wife Carla."
"God you look wonderful Carla."
"Who me?" Carla said as if mystified. "Oh my manners. Please come in Charlotte. Hugo our resident chef is in the kitchen."
"Can Hugo really cook?"
"Yes and brilliantly," Carla said, again mystified and thinking what perhaps it was bullshit that Hugo had stayed with Charlotte and her family, although she doubted he would have lied.
"He stayed with us for ten days soon after his arrival from England and didn't lift a finger in the kitchen, not once."
"Why would he with three female cooks on hand," Arnold said and both women nodded.
"Hugo your princess has arrived," Carla called and added, ""Hugo is so excited about seeing you again."
Hugo rushed out and appeared to be having trouble with his mouth. He then said, "Hi thanks for coming" and stood awkwardly.
"Are you two going to kiss?" Carla said. "You have lived together."
"Sure," said Hugo and crossed to Charlotte and kissed her cheek.
"Do you call that a kiss?" Carla said. "Hugo I'm very disappointed in you. Charlotte has spent hours on preparations to meet you and all you do is peck her cheek."
"No Charlotte, it's not all right," Carla pressed.
"Oh god you poor jerk. You have stage fright. Come here."
Charlotte grabbed Hugo and kissed him soundly with a big smack of lips.
"Thank you Hugo. Back to the kitchen. Please set over there with Arnold and I'll fetch drinks... a martini?"
"Yes please. You have this apartment decorated and furnished beautifully."
"Why thank you. What a lovely thing to say. Talk to Charlotte Arnold."
"I will when I have the chance to get a word in edgeways."
Carla entered the kitchen, grabbed Hugo and kissed him full on.
"Now that's how a woman wants to be kissed."