tagRomanceLeone Then and Now Pt. 03

Leone Then and Now Pt. 03


When I moved into my Hyde Park Square flat I told myself: This is it. They can take me out of here in a box. But maybe I was a bit premature. Almost ten years on, both London and I had changed. And so when a local estate agent arrived on my doorstep saying that he had a cashed-up buyer wanting to buy my place, I didn't immediately dismiss the idea out of hand.

'How cashed-up?' I said.

'How cashed-up would it need to be?'

'You're the expert,' I said. 'You should know what the market is up to. And if you are hoping to put the deal together, then, technically at least, you are supposed to be working in my best interests.'

'Oh, I would be,' he said. 'I would be. We always work in the vendor's best interest. Always.'

I'm not sure that I believed him. But I said that it was good to know anyway. 'So what's the best deal that you could bring to the table?'

'Umm ... the best? Let me do a bit of research,' he said. 'Perhaps I could get back to you in the morning?'

'Whenever,' I said. 'No rush. Ten minutes ago, selling wasn't even on the far horizon of my mind.'

Leone and I had slipped into the habit of phoning each other at the end of each day. And, when Leone phoned that evening, I told her about the agent's visit.

'Interesting,' she said. 'But where would you go?'

'Well, that's just the point, isn't it? On the one hand, there's really no need for me to be in Central London these days. It's nice to be close to the mainline stations. And there's a familiarity that comes with almost 30 years of living in The Big Smoke. But ... well ... it's all nice rather than necessary. If you see what I mean. And, if I'm honest, there are parts of living in Central London that are no longer as nice as they once were. Maybe I'm just getting old.'

'And on the other hand?'

'On the other hand? Yes. Exactly. Anyway, where are you up to?'

Leone explained that, thanks to Billie Waterhouse's helpful intervention, she had managed to talk to another couple of publishers, and the literary agent gig was looking more and more attractive by the day. 'But I also have another little opportunity,' she said. 'Billie has asked me if I would like to do a bit of consultancy work for them.'

'Sounds interesting.'

'It does. And it would give me some income while I got the other business up and running. But I've never done any consultancy before. I might need a bit of guidance on how to structure things. Maybe from an expert?'

'An expert? Tricky people, experts -- or so I've heard.'

'Yes. I'm hoping that you might have a special rate for one-woman bands.'

'Special? Well, that rather depends on whether or not they are wearing knickers.'

'Just give me a moment,' she said. 'There. Do I qualify now?'

'This is a telephone,' I said. 'It sounded about right. But I'd need to check in person. Perhaps we could get together in the weekend.'

We agreed that Leone would come down to London on Friday night. But then, when I thought about it, I wondered if we should go and explore a bit of countryside. If the estate agent came back with a half-decent offer, it would be helpful if I had some idea of where I might go next. And, of course, there was always the possibility that Leone and I might set up house together. As the past few weeks had shown, we had both mellowed quite a bit since our younger days. Two sitting rooms might no longer be essential.

'Do you have any thoughts on where you might like to live?' I asked when I called her back.

'Not really. The Cotswolds is still a possibility. But I was speaking today to someone who lives down in East Sussex. That sounded quite nice too. And it's reasonably easy to get up to London. Fast train -- at least for part of the journey.'

'OK,' I said. 'Then why don't we go and explore Rye and a few places like that? Come down to London on Friday afternoon, as planned, and we can get away early on Saturday. I'll make a booking somewhere.'

I was just about to go to one of the online booking sites when I remembered that Jerry Turkle, with whom I had worked on a particularly complicated local government procurement project, had mentioned that there was a very good B&B just outside Rye, overlooking the marshes. I gave him a call.

'Leone and I are thinking about going down to Rye or somewhere like that for the weekend,' I said. 'I seem to recall you mentioning that there was a pretty good B&B just outside Rye.'

'The Smuggler's Cottage,' Jerry said. 'Yes. It's run by ... well ... let's just say a good friend of mine.'

'Do you have an email address?'

'Better than that,' Jerry said. 'I'll give Linda a call. What do you need? Just Saturday night?'

'I think Saturday and Sunday,' I said.

Jerry called back about ten minutes later. 'Done,' he said. 'Linda will be expecting you.'

'Thank you. That's brilliant. Perhaps next time you are in London I can buy you a pint.'

'I'd like that,' Jerry said.

Leone came down on Friday afternoon and, shortly after nine the following morning, we set off for Rye.

Getting out of Central London on the weekend can be a bit of a lottery. My online planner suggested that Hyde Park to Rye should take just over two hours. But I've known Saturday mornings when it has taken an hour-and-a-half just to get across to the other side of the Thames. Still, it was a fine morning, and so we set off through Balham and Bromley and on towards the junction of the M20 and the M25 near Swanley.

The GPS was telling us to take the motorway, but a motorway's a motorway's a motorway, and hardly the best way to see the countryside, and so we stuck to the A and B roads, skirting the various towns and villages that dot Kent, and then crossing over into East Sussex. Even travelling 'the slow way', we still reached Rye before midday.

'Hungry?' I asked Leone.

'Not especially. But I could probably manage a coffee and a scone or a sticky bun or something like that.'

We found a coffee shop and then went online to see what properties were around. Considering how small Rye seemed to be, there were quite a few. And, basically, they seemed to fall into three categories: flats and apartments (most of which seemed to be down near the harbour); character cottages and townhouses of one sort or another; and more traditional 'family-style' homes, which tended to be out on the edges of the town.

'Is anything shouting: "Buy me!"?' I asked Leone.

'Umm ... not really,' she said.

We finished our coffee and went for a walk around the tiny Cinque Port town. 'Can you see yourself living here?' I asked after we had made a bit of a grand tour.

'It definitely has possibilities,' Leone said. 'Finding the right property would be important of course. But, yes, it has possibilities. I gather there's a local train to Ashford, and once you get to Ashford there's a fast train to Charing Cross. So, yes, it has possibilities.'

By the time that we got back to where we had left the car, it was after three. 'I suppose that we had better go and find The Smuggler's Cottage,' I said.

'Is that where we're staying?'

'Yes. Jerry said that it's just out of town. On the edge of the marshes. It's owned by a friend of his.'

'Do I know Jerry?'

'Probably not. But I think that you'd like him. He's a nice guy and a very good project manager. Keeps things on track and on budget, and keeps the various parties from visiting violence upon one another. Always a challenge on the tricky projects. Apparently, he spent part of his childhood here in Rye. I think that he said his parents were artists or something. Although I could be wrong.'

From the road, The Smuggler's Cottage looked like something off a postcard: vernacular brick and timber, with a roof of what appeared to be of handmade terracotta tiles. But, as we pulled into the gravelled car parking area at the side of the cottage, it became clear that the original 18th century building had been extended. And the extension, while simple and elegant, was definitely 21st century.

'This looks fun,' Leone said. 'Maybe we could buy this.'

'I'm not sure that it's for sale. And anyway, I thought that we had agreed that we were allergic to endless laundry and full English breakfasts,' I said.

'Oh, yes. Sorry.'

I'm not sure why, but I had expected Jerry's friend Linda to be younger; somewhere in the 30 to 40 age range. Jerry was only in his mid-to-late 30s. But the Linda who greeted us had to be closer to my age. 'You found us then,' she said.

'We did. Jerry gave excellent instructions.'

Linda smiled. 'He'll be pleased to hear that,' she said.

We signed the guest book, and then Linda led us, through one of those 'glass boxes' so that are loved by planners and architectural conservationists to our room in the simple modern extension. 'The Romney Marshes,' she said, gesturing beyond the big picture window.

'Gosh. Now that's a view,' I said.

Linda smiled and nodded. 'Yes. It's nice, isn't it? We never tire of it.'

We? Presumably there was a Mr Linda somewhere. I don't know why, but I had somehow got the impression from Jerry that Linda was a solo act. But perhaps she had staff. Perhaps 'we' was 'my staff and I'. 'My staff and I never tire of it.' And then a familiar face appeared behind her.

'Jerry! Well, well.'

'My directions were satisfactory then?' Jerry said with a broad grin. And then he leaned forward and extended his hand to Leone. 'Jerry Turkle,' he said. 'I assume that you are Leone. Welcome to The Smuggler's Cottage.'

'Well ... we'll leave you two to settle in,' Linda said. 'But first ... do you have any supper plans for this evening?'

'Not yet,' I said. 'Perhaps you could recommend somewhere.'

'Well, Jerry normally finds my kitchen pretty satisfactory, don't you, Jerry?'

'If the Michelin chaps only knew where it was, it would have two stars. At least,' Jerry said.

Leone and I looked at each other. But, clearly Linda and Jerry had made up their minds. 'Cocktails at six?' Jerry said.

'So ... Linda and Jerry ...' Leone said, when Linda and Jerry had disappeared back through the glass box to the original cottage. 'How do they ...?' And she made a little movement with her hands that I took to mean 'fit together'.

'I'm not sure. I thought that Jerry said that they were at school together. But now that I've met Linda, that seems a bit unlikely, doesn't it?'

Leone and I unpacked, and then we lay on the bed. And then ... well ... we must have dozed off. Next thing we knew, it was just after five. 'Gosh. I suppose that we had better think about getting ourselves organised,' I said. 'A shower perhaps?' Happily, the shower was big enough for two. And the devil finds work for idle fingers. While Leone soaped my cock, I finger-fucked her, bringing her to a little squealing orgasm. I think that the pitter-patter sound of the shower would probably have been sufficient to confuse anyone with an ear to the wall. Or maybe not. Who knows?

'Are we the only guests at The Smuggler's Cottage this evening?' I asked as Jerry poured a round of gin and tonics.

'No,' Linda said. 'We have one other couple. Our once-a-month regulars. But they have already left for their ... umm ... club.' And she smiled.


'Yes,' she said. But she didn't elaborate. And then she said: 'I suppose that I really should have asked earlier, but ... are you two OK with roast beef? I've done a piece of rib -- roasted on the bone. I'm thinking medium-rare.'

I think that our smiles probably gave Linda the answer she was hoping for. 'What's more, I have something that might go very well with roast beef,' I said. And I returned to our room to retrieve the suitably-aged bottle of M. Chapoutier's Côte-Rôtie that I just happened to have on hand for such occasions.

The food was delicious; and the company was excellent.

'Jerry tells me that you are considering moving to this corner,' Linda said.

'Well, it's a possibility. Would you recommend it?'

Linda smiled. 'I've lived here for most of my life, so I might not be the most reliable witness. I'm probably a bit biased. But there are plenty of people who seem to find this corner of the country to their taste. I'm not sure that I would recommend it if you need to go to London every day. But ....'

'Perhaps once or twice a week?' Leone said.

Linda nodded. 'That would work. Yes.'

'And other than Rye?' I asked.

Linda looked briefly in the direction of the ceiling,. 'Winchelsea,' she said, eventually. 'About three miles along the coast. On top of a hill.'

'And are there properties to be found in Winchelsea?'

'Funnily enough, some friends of mine have a house there that is about to go on the market. It's Georgian. Listed, these days. But it's not typically Georgian. About 40 years ago -- presumably before it was listed -- a couple of artists sort of gutted it and put in what, for the time, would have been a modern-but-sympathetic interior.'

I noticed Jerry nodding.

'Your friends ...?'

'Moving to Spain,' Linda said. 'Well ... actually they've moved already. The house is just getting a lick of paint. It's probably worth a look. It's a nice house. A very nice house. Nice garden. Nice sunny west-facing courtyard. And Winchelsea -- which pretends to be a town -- even calls itself The Ancient Town of Winchelsea -- is a very pleasant village. Quieter than Rye. But that's no bad thing.'

I looked at Leone. She was smiling.

'And how would we ...?'

Linda smiled. 'I have a key,' she said. 'I could take you over there tomorrow.'

'You know this place, Jerry?' I asked.

'I do. And, funnily enough, I sort of knew the couple who did the original conversion. Well ... my parents knew them. I was just a kid when they lived there. It's a very pretty house. But it's also quite a practical house.'

When we said our goodnights, Jerry said that he would be gone by the time we woke up. 'I need to drive to Croydon, and then I'm flying to Glasgow. I shall try not to wake you.'

'That is uncommonly civilised of you, Jerry,' I said. 'And I hope that we haven't crashed your time with the lovely Linda here.'

'Not at all,' Jerry said. 'It's been wonderful. And good luck with the house tomorrow. Who knows? We could be seeing a lot more of each other.'

'By the way ... you were right,' Leone said, when we were back in our room overlooking the marshes. 'Linda and Jerry were at school together. Linda was Jerry's teacher. They just met up again a year or so ago.'

'So there's hope for us,' I said.

'Oh, yes,' Leone said.

The Winchelsea house was every bit as good as Linda and Jerry had suggested that it was. It was on the edge of the village, facing onto an open field. The outside was white weatherboard with a terracotta tiled roof. But the inside was a mixture of traditional and modern.

On one side of the entry hall there was a surprisingly large sitting room. On the other side, there was a dining room, also surprisingly large. 'I love the big dining table,' Leone said.

Linda smiled. 'It's great, isn't it? It came with the house when Polly and Mark bought it. I think if you wanted it, they'd probably leave it. I gather that the place they have bought out in Spain is quite small -- which is probably why the table is still here.'

We had driven over to Winchelsea in separate cars. 'Why don't I leave you two to have a look around the village?' Linda said when we had completed a tour of the house. 'And then maybe you can come back and have a second look.' And she handed us the key. 'I need to go and do a few things. I'll catch up with you back at Smuggler's Cottage.'

Despite it being almost winter, it was a beautiful day, the kind of day that makes most reasonably tidy villages look like something off the front of a chocolate box. And Winchelsea was no exception. 'I think that I could live here,' Leone said. I could see what she meant.

'Well, in that case, we should probably go and check out the pub,' I said. 'Essential offices and all that sort of thing.'

The New Inn certainly didn't look very new. 'There's a bit of a debate,' the barmaid-of-a-certain-age said, 'but it was probably "new" in about 1760 -- soon after the old inn burned down.'

'That makes sense,' I said. 'Slightly before my time of course.'

'Mine too,' the barmaid said with a broad smile. 'Just in case you were wondering.' I assured her that I wasn't, and we went and enjoyed our beer in the garden behind the pub.

When we returned to the house for what I believe estate agents refer to as 'a second viewing', it looked even better that it had the first time. 'I like this place,' I said. 'I like it a lot.'

Leone nodded. 'It would work,' she said.

'So ... shall we audition the table?' I said. 'You know ... just to be sure.'

Leone's eyes lit up and she nodded. 'Oh, I think so,' she said. And in less time that it takes to say 'a couple of randy rabbits in a radish patch', Leone had her knickers off, her skirt up, and she was perching herself on the edge of the table.

'That special-rate advice on structuring consulting projects will have to wait for another time,' I said. 'But at least I can now see that you qualify.'

'Thank you,' she said.

When Leone and I had first been 'an item', all those many years ago, she had been living in a tiny flat in Shepherd's Bush. The biggest room in the flat was the kitchen, which was by no means large, but it was large enough to have a small square dining table and a couple of chairs in one corner. Many was the time that I took Leone on that small table, either with her perched on the edge or with her bent over and me entering her from behind while pots of delicious-smelling yumminess simmered on the gas hob in the opposite corner. Compared with the Shepherd's Bush table, the Winchelsea table was a rugby field, but it served the same purpose.

Just the thought of what used to happen on the Shepherd's Bush table was enough to get my cock twitching. And when Leone spread her shapely thighs and gave me a peep of the glistening jewel that was nestled between them, I felt the blood starting to pump. While my left hand encouraged my cock, the thumb of my right hand began to spread the juices that were magically appearing between the beautiful downy nether lips that Leone helpfully held apart. And then it was time.

From Leone's breathing, I could tell that our first Winchelsea fuck was unlikely to set any endurance records. We were suddenly like the young 'kids' we had once been all over again. After only three or four minutes, I suggested that perhaps we should try the other side. 'Just to be sure.'

'But of course,' Leone said. 'I think a full test drive would be only prudent.' And she slipped off the table, turned around, and leaned forward, the fingers of her out-stretched hands just managing to grab the table's edges.

'Has anyone mentioned that you have a particularly attractive arse?' I said.

Leone just laughed.

I re-entered her slippery tunnel and, 20 or 30 strokes later, it was all over.

'Well ... what do you think?'

'I think we had better see if we can buy the house,' she said. And then she added: 'But only if the table is included in the sale.'

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