OK Ch. 13-18

byAlwaysraining©

Chapter Thirteen

There was plenty to drink at the Midsummer Party at the hotel, there was a live band and a DJ for when their set was over. The music was good and danceable. There was Susan, there were Cloe and Robert, Kathleen and Kieran, Freya and Vince, and Jessica as well, but Carol was ill at ease. Susan knew why.

Susan had noticed Ryan talking with Liam and Dermott. She had also seen how Liam and Dermott constantly seemed to be checking on Carol. Ryan too, was watching her. None of the three approached their table however. Leo came over and asked Carol to dance but she turned him down, so he asked Susan who took to the floor with him. Dan and Flynn also tried to entice her to dance but she turned them all down.

Jessica was swept off to dance by Flynn, and then had a succession of partners. She suggested a girls only dance, but again Carol was not moving.

"He's not coming," Carol muttered. "It's ten thirty and we've been here since seven. I think I'll go home. It's no use waiting any longer. The plan failed."

Jessica was adamant. "There must be something stopping John," she asserted. "Look, I know he loves you Carol. He turned me down and as much as admitted it. It's only a matter of time."

"Tom and Anne didn't come either," Susan added. "It's unlike them, and neither Tom nor John were at the Griffin last night. I think I'll phone Tom."

She took out her mobile.

"Anne, it's Susan, we're at the party, and Carol was expecting John and both of you. Problem?" ...

"Oh. So John got the invite?" ...

"How long?" ...

"OK, thanks Anne. Bye."

"There's been some kind of panic at John's company. John has to go to Holland to sort out some crisis and Tom is taking over from him. They've been working since Friday all weekend, and John leaves for Holland early tomorrow. They both decided not to come. Anne's pretty sure John didn't know you'd be expecting him Carol."

"I must phone him," said Carol urgently. "I've got to tell him I miss him. I don't care about our plan."

She got her phone out. "Oh damn! The battery's flat. Never mind, I'll charge it when I get home. I'm going now. No point in staying if he's not coming."

"I'll come too," said Susan. "I'm not really enjoying it." She went in search of Karen, and found her in the kitchens.

"Carol and I are going, Karen," she told her. "Carol's upset that John hasn't arrived."

"I'm surprised she's still going after him after what he did," Karen said with a frown.

"I don't follow," queried Susan.

"Him being so unfaithful," Karen said, with a look that said she thought that would be obvious.

"John? Unfaithful?" Susan looked puzzled.

"Ryan told me all about it, that John shagged anything that moved at those conferences. The talk is she wants to marry him again to get his money."

"Karen, you've got it all wrong," said Susan. "John was set up. He never cheated on Carol; I've seen all the evidence and it's convincing. She's mortified she didn't believe him at the time and went ahead with the divorce without talking to him."

"But she was engaged to Liam."

"Who set John up so he could get at Carol. It was Liam who destroyed Carol's marriage."

"I don't believe that! Liam? She's been putting that about?"

"Look Karen, I've seen the evidence. Look, if you want to see it for yourself, come round to mine tomorrow. I'll show you. There's no doubt about it."

"OK. I still can't believe it of Liam, and I'd like to see anything that'll prove it. I'm sure you've misunderstood it."

"Come and see. It's clear and it's conclusive."

Karen shrugged and nodded. They hugged and Susan went to find Carol.

When they reached Carol's flat, she plugged in her phone to the charger, and immediately saw there were voice mail messages.

She listened to the first, and looked puzzled.

"It's from John," she said, "He says he 'got my message' and was definitely coming to the party. I never sent him any message."

She then listened to the second message, and Susan saw her face at first puzzled, then incredulous, then distressed.

"What is it, sweetheart?" Susan asked her.

"I don't get it. He says he came to the party and they wouldn't let him in."

"What?"

"He says they called the room I was sharing with some guy called Ronson. I never had a room! You know that, we came together. I don't know anyone called Ronson. Why would I want a room with a stranger anyway? John says he's finished with me. He was coming to tell me something, but now it's all over."

She broke down and the tears fell.

"The lowlife fucking bastards!" Susan mouthed. "They've set you up again. You'd have thought Liam would have learned."

"Set me up?"

"Liam and Ryan. From what Karen said, Liam is still spinning his lies about John womanising at the conferences, and apparently he's saying you want to get back with John for his money.

"Can't you see? Liam's got to Ryan and it looks like the hotel receptionist was programmed to tell John you were with this guy Ronson in his room. I bet when he phoned 'the room', he phoned an empty one.

"They wanted John to think you were in bed with another guy, but we know you were in the party all the time! We were all there with you. Liam is a real idiot; he must know the truth's going to come out."

"I must phone John now." said a depressed Carol.

"No, you won't," Susan told her. "It's after midnight and he's to be up early to catch a flight to Holland. He's not going to get into too much mischief in Holland. He won't have time if there's a crisis. You've got time to sort all this out. Look, he's not been near you for a long time. What's a few more weeks? When he gets back, OK?"

Carol's shoulders fell. "Yes, you're right of course. Let's go to bed."

Susan nodded, "But we'll sort out Liam once and for all, and we'll put Ryan right. It's the second time Liam's done this to you. It's time everyone knew what sort of a arsehole Liam is."

"I don't understand him," Carol said, "I did nothing to him. He fancied me and he lied and cheated and he's still doing it? Why? Did he expect me to carry on with him as if nothing had happened?"

"I don't think it's you this time," Susan said thoughtfully. "I think this time it's John. He really hates John. He effectively gets rid of John to London and thinks the way's open for him to get you. John then comes back as his boss - the big boss, no less. Then he makes the mistake of threatening John and gets the sack.

"You know, Carol? I watched them at the party. They were watching you all the time, the three of them: Liam, Ryan and Dermott. I think they were prepared to intercept you if you were to try to leave the room in case you bumped into John.

"I invited Karen to come and see the evidence of what really happened, but I think we'll go to her."

With that they went off to bed, Susan staying over with Carol. However, once alone in her room, Carol phoned John, but the call went to voicemail and, not knowing quite what to say, she hung up without a word.

She sat a while on the side of her bed, and forlornly wondered if she would ever get John back. She felt disconsolate that she had tried so hard and it had all come to nothing. Suddenly she felt very tired and climbed into bed and was soon asleep.

--

Karen poured the coffee as the three women sat in the now empty dining room, which had been cleared after the breakfast rush. A good number of those who attended the party had stayed overnight to avoid driving home. She saw how sad Carol looked, and she wondered if what Susan had said was true.

Susan extracted a booklet and some photo's from a carrier bag.

"First," Susan said, "take a look at these."

With that she gave Karen the photo's for her to see. Karen looked at the photo's.

"Seems pretty conclusive to me," Karen said, glancing at Carol who did not react to her statement.

"Yes, it does, doesn't it?" relied Susan. "You can see why Carol was taken in."

"If it's not genuine," retorted Karen.

"The photo's are genuine and show what happened," said Susan.

"So that's pretty clear: he was shagging that blonde."

Carol still said nothing all the while.

"Now this," Susan said, handing her John's report. "This'll take some reading, but read it right through."

Karen opened the report and read it through as requested, glancing at the photo's as she read, while the other two women sat and waited. At length she closed it and looked at the two friends.

"How do we know this is genuine?" Karen asked. "John could have concocted this to fool Carol."

"That's what I said when John first gave me the booklet," said Carol. "Susan and Tom Forstone put me right. Tom has a CD of the interviews. They were real people: I met some of them before, and Sir Maurice Callaghan is really the CEO of the whole company. Tom pointed out that he'd hardly be party to a lie."

Karen sat in shocked silence. Then, "So Liam obviously took the photo's," she said as she processed this new picture of one of her close friends.

Eventually she spoke again. "Well, I wouldn't have thought it of him."

She turned to Carol, "I'm so sorry, my love."

"That's not all," added Susan. "When we got back to Carol's flat last night and she put her phone on charge, there were two messages. Both of them were from John.

"The first said he had been given an invitation, and 'Carol's message' and he would definitely be at the party, but Carol never sent him a message."

"But he never came," said Karen and looked puzzled.

"That's what we all thought, but then there's the the second voicemail. Carol, give Karen the phone and play it to her. This she did. Karen listened.

"I'm in the car park of the hotel. They won't let me into the party. I asked them to contact you.

"The receptionist tried to ring Ronson's room. No answer. I assume you were in bed with him or in the shower. Hasn't taken you long to forget your eagerness to revive our marriage has it?

"You've taken up with an old lover instead? Why ask me to the party to rub my nose in your new lover? What have I done to deserve that?

"I don't understand you Carol. At least I've not got involved with you this time. I wanted to ask you something tonight, but you can forget that. I've had enough of you and your deceitful ways. I'm disgusted with you.

"Don't try ringing me, I'm out of the country for the foreseeable future, in any case I don't want to hear from you after this. I won't return your calls. Good bye Carol. Leave me alone."


Karen sat looking at the phone. Then she got up and left the room. When she returned she was angry.

"There was no one called Ronson booked in. God! The damage this could do to the hotel if it gets out. Kevin Jones was on the desk last evening. He comes on again tonight. I'll get to the bottom of this, one way or another. Can I photocopy this?" She indicated John's evidence.

"No need," said Susan, "I've got another copy I can give to Carol."

"Carol, I'm so sorry," Karen said in distress. "This is unforgivable."

"Not your work," said Carol. "Liam's."

"And Ryan's and Dermott's I'll bet," said Karen. "Ryan had better have a good explanation for jeopardising the hotel's reputation."

Then a worried look crossed Karen's face. "This company that John manages and Liam worked for? What's its name?"

"FHD," said Susan. "Why?"

Karen looked horrified.

"RYAN!" Carol and Susan jumped as Karen let out a shout. After a short pause, Ryan came into the dining room.

"What is..." he began and then saw who was there. "What does she want?" he said with an angry frown.

"Ryan," said Karen with menace, "What have you done?"

"What d'you mean?"

"Last night, Ryan. What did you hatch up with Liam?"

"A little payback for her ex., and come to think about it, to her for dumping Liam."

"Sit down, Ryan," it was an order, and he, seeing Karen's expression, sat.

"You've been had, Ryan," Karen said, "and you've been very stupid. Look at these."

She gave him the photos. He smiled.

"So, what's the problem?" he said. "Clear enough, I would think."

"Now read this."

He read the booklet in his turn, and as he read, his face took on a confused look, then worry and finally anger.

"What's this?" he asked with a touch of venom.

"This, my darling husband, is what really happened when the so called PI took those photos. Except, my love, that the PI in question was Liam. He got the girl drunk as a skunk, then got the CEO to tell John to take the girl to her room.

"What followed you can see in the photos, except, sweetheart, what you see in the photos is someone trying to get a very drunk and vomiting woman into her bed to sleep it off.

"Not only that, he took the vomit encrusted clothing and spent the night, not bonking a comatose bimbo, but washing and ironing her clothes, and as you can see, there were plenty of witnesses to prove it."

"But-"

"But nothing, husband," she cut him off, "and why did Liam do all that, why did he deceive everyone? To get Carol out of her marriage and into his bed! He ruined their marriage and he's taken you for a fool Ryan."

Ryan was quiet, and looked angry and embarrassed, but Karen had not finished.

"Carol's Ex, came to this hotel on my invitation last night. He was turned away. He was told Carol here was in bed with someone called Ronson, who, my darling, does not exist.

"He has now gone abroad under the impression that Carol lured him here to dump him. Carol, who has been just as wronged as John, has been trying to get back to the love of her life. Get it, honeybun? Liam has a grudge against John-"

"Yeah, he sacked him in revenge!"

"No," interrupted Susan, "He sacked him because Liam made threats against John's person and his property, and repeatedly insulted John who was his boss, again with a witness. I heard the tape of the interview. Liam threatened to trash John's house, and then one of Carol's stupid brothers went and did it! You've really been had Ryan!"

Karen took it up. "And there's something else. Something neither of these ladies knows. You know that big international company you've been trying to get that contract from for overnight stays, for when personnel come north to their northern office or their works?"

"Yeah, we really need that contract. What's that got to do with it?"

"Who've you been negotiating with?"

"Managing Director, name of Valilee. She's gone off to America. I've yet to meet the new man."

"Look at the booklet Ryan, second and third statement. Who's the new man?"

"Valilee... Oh fuck!"

"Now you see it, don't you? The Company we need that contract from is the same one Liam was working for. Didn't you know? You've known Liam long enough. So who's the new MD you've got to negotiate with, Ryan?"

Karen looked hard at Ryan with a grim smile as the flicker of recognition crossed his face.

"Oh, shite!" Ryan muttered.

"Yeah, Ryan, you got it," Susan said. "John Colshaw, Carol's Ex., is the new boss you've got to negotiate with."

Karen took up the attack, "Would you care to give me a rough estimate of your chances of getting that contract? And another rough estimate as to how much that has lost us? Would you? Ryan?"

Ryan shrugged dejectedly, then turned to Carol.

"Fuck the contract," he said. "Carol I'm very, very sorry. I'll do anything I can to put it right. Liam was so plausible."

Carol smiled at him. "You weren't to know. You messed up what I hoped might be our reunion last night, but I ruined our marriage in the first place. I fell for Liam's lies first. Don't beat yourself up about it."

"That's big of you," said Ryan with a sheepish smile. "I hope Karen will be as forgiving."

"You've got a lot of grovelling to do," Karen growled, but she could not keep a smile from appearing. "You might be a stupid fool, but you're my stupid fool!"

--

Chapter Fourteen

Carol had put everything into explaining to their friends that she and John had been the victim of a mistaken interpretation of the photographs. Something in her had inhibited her from implicating Liam directly, saying that it was her mistake.

In reality she knew what the 'something' was. She had fancied Liam, he was a good looking man, and she had fallen for him as he 'helped' her through the divorce. Her love for John kept him at arm's length, but once she was told John was out of reach, she let Liam in.

He was a good lover; he was loving as well, treating her well, looking after her, always considering her. She knew he loved her, and she felt affection and lust for him. She had been happy with him, and could see a future with him, and when he asked her to marry him, she had no hesitation in saying yes.

She reflected later that there was always some reserve in her relationship with Liam; she never gave up her own flat, nor allowed him to move permanently into hers, giving up his own.

Now she knew what that reserve was: Liam never quite filled the John-shaped hole in her life, and she still had wondered daily what he was doing, how he was. When she saw John in the pub, all those latent feelings came to the fore, and with it all the anger that he had deceived her so badly.

Then there was the traumatic revelation that she had been deceived, not by John, but by Liam. While she despised Liam for what he had done, she knew in her heart that even though he got to her by deception, he had 'loved' her for a year. So she tempered her story to a mistake about the meaning of the pictures, and gave the reason for her break up with Liam that John was her real love and he had been innocent all along.

In fact to put it that way to everyone had been a bigger mistake than her first one. Liam had been sacked, and he had lost Carol, and to her mind that was punishment enough. She even mitigated the story for her brothers, simply telling them that the 'PI' had misinterpreted the photo's.

The brothers had looked guilty and surprised, and she assumed they had not been part of the plan, but merely wanted her to leave John and go with Liam. Now it seemed likely they were in on the lie.

After the party Carol was desolate and retreated into herself, but Susan wanted justice for her and for for John. She seethed with anger and resentment at Liam's lies and petty revenge, and Susan acted.

She circulated an email to everyone Carol had seen and to those she had not yet reached. In it she gave a full account of what Liam had done, both at the conference and at the midsummer's party, with the assurance of absolute documented proof that what she wrote was true.

She finished by leaving it up to the recipient what to do about it. She received a host of phone calls asking if it were true and assured everyone it was, citing the proof she had, and offering to share it. Some came to examine the evidence, and went away convinced and passed that conviction on to others.

In the meantime Ryan visited Liam. Dermott happened to be there. Liam invited him in, and he entered the vestibule but would not go further. Dermott came to the door of the living room.

"About the party," Ryan began.

"Ah yes," Liam said with a smile, "We really sorted that bastard out, and that money grabbing bitch as well. Thanks Ryan."

Ryan's face contorted with anger.

"Liam," he snarled, "you dirty lying cunt! I really fell for it didn't I?"

"What?" Liam was puzzled, and worried all of a sudden.

"You and your fucking lies! You've really landed me in the shit."

"What d'you mean? He's the liar and Carol, she'll say anything to get with the rich executive. You can't believe them, Ryan!"

"Hey Ryan," added Dermott, "Liam's right, don't fall for it. She'll say anything to get the bastard back."

"Come in Ryan, sit down, have a drink." Dermott invited. Liam stood back.

Ryan sighed. "Not happening. Dermott, have you seen the photos?"

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