tagNovels and NovellasSixes and Sevens Pt. 05

Sixes and Sevens Pt. 05


Chapter 09

Aidan went from the airport straight to work after his farewell to Samantha. Despite the sunshine, life felt bleak and miserable, and there was a great yawning gap in his life. The expression on his face betrayed his feelings, and Vicky took one look at him as he entered the building and showed her sympathy and concern.

"Should you be here?" she asked. "You could take the rest of the day off, you know. The rush is over."

"No," he replied, "I need to keep busy; take my mind off it."

"You know, if you want to talk..."

"Thanks Vic," he said, cutting her off. "You're very kind. There's nothing to say, really. We were perfect for one another, but it was not to be. Life goes on."

Vicky stood for a moment as if trying to find a way to help, then shrugged and went back to her office. He sat down and looked at the pile of files waiting for his attention. He sighed and got down to work.

He buried himself in the backlog of work, not stopping for lunch. He worked past the normal finishing time, for there was no reason to go home. At seven Vicky returned to the office and brought fish and chips, then went off and brewed some tea in the office kitchen.

"Listen, Aidan," she said gently, "don't become a recluse. You have to eat, and you need to relax. I need you fully functional!"

She grinned that infectious grin, and he had to grin back, she was a real tonic.

"Ok," he said, "I feel down because she's gone, but we were only together for thirty seven days, you know. I'll get over it. I was probably on the rebound from Julie anyway."

However, he did what she suggested. He went home.

He was dreading it. It had been a few years since he had been truly alone, but when he stood in his kitchen and put the kettle on to boil, the place felt peaceful and relaxing. He was sad to have lost Sam, but he felt grateful that he had been her lover for a month and that she had really loved him, still did, and always would. Good memories.

He had just sat down with his tea when the phone rang. It was eleven o'clock.


"Aidan, it's Sam. Just want to tell you I arrived safely and I'm home with my folks."

"Good," he said. "What time is it there?"

"Half after three!" she laughed. "Imagine, travelling for ten hours and getting here early afternoon!"

"So, all you've got to do now is to stay awake," he said, laughing in his turn.

"Some hopes," she giggled. Then she sounded serious. "I miss you."

"Same here," he replied. "It seems odd talking to you as if you're in the next room, yet so far away."

"You won't forget me, will you Aidan?" she asked, with a touch of desperation, he thought.

"No chance of that," he said. "We'll keep in touch, won't we?"


"Now go and get some sleep."

"Ok. Love you."

"Love you too."

It felt strange. They were talking as if they were only apart for a short while; that they were still lovers. Yet they both knew that there was little chance of them ever meeting again. When they were in the process of parting, she did not invite him to Vancouver, and he did not invite her to return for a holiday. He thought it was because they both knew that meeting again would be too painful and would simply prolong the agony.

He shrugged, threw the cold tea away and extracted his (and her) favourite malt. Mindful of work the next day he allowed himself only two drams, and went to bed.

The next morning set the pattern for days to come. He awoke and immediately knew he was alone. Then came dread, which passed, followed by a dead feeling of emptiness and sadness.

That first Wednesday it came as a shock: he had mentally rationalised his situation. Only thirty-seven days. Yes she was beautiful, yes with a totally compatible character and a wonderfully loving way about her. Yes she was highly intelligent. On the other hand he had hardly got to know her and would therefore get over her easily.

However, his brain clearly had not communicated this to his emotions and he was unprepared for his reaction to her going. His general feeling was of dullness. He did his morning routines, ate breakfast by rote and went to work.

He did his job. He dealt with customers. He did the maths - or let his computer do it for him. He kept a watching brief over their workers. Everything felt like a chore. Vicky was absent doing outreach auditing and did not return until the end of the working day.

What he did not do was to smile and joke, or spend lunchtime in their little dining room chatting with the troops, as he was wont to do heretofore. He went out for a sandwich and ate it alone on a park bench or his office. He worked until late after everyone had gone. Vicky looked in on him, but he ignored her and she went home. He picked up a take-away on the way home at ten, and after eating it, went to bed.

Next day was a repeat of Wednesday. The only difference was that he went home at eight instead of ten, and found en email from Sam. She was telling him about her first couple of days, looking up her friends and her brother, and enjoying her mother's cooking 'almost as good as yours'.

He replied, but there was little to say. He weakened and told her he was missing her, but that work was keeping him sane. He wrote about the latest large firm that had employed them. The house felt very empty when he finished it.

So Sam and he began emailing every few days or so. She became depressed at her inability to get a job, and was reluctant to get work waiting on, or as a filing clerk. The woman was fluent in four languages! He told her so.

It did not help his feelings of loneliness, indeed the regular correspondence made things worse, keeping before his mind what he had lost. His depression was aggravated by a lack of interest in meeting the office folk or friends for drinks. He simply could not summon up any enthusiasm. So he just worked, ate and slept. He kept well clear of alcohol, realising where that could lead in his present state of mind. He knew what was happening to him, but was unable to do anything about it.

On Friday there was a phone call from home.

"Aidan," his mother urged him, "come for dinner on Sunday. We haven't seen you for months."

"Oh, Mum," he sighed, "I don't feel that sociable at the moment."

"Kevin says you had a new girlfriend, but she's gone home - to America, I think he said. You helped her out or something like that."

"Yes, Mum, that's roughly it."

"Is that why you're miserable? Come home, darling."

"Is Kevin going to be there?"

"No, do you want him to be?"

"No! The very reverse. I don't want to see him or Caroline, and especially not Julie!"

"Just you Aidan. Just you."

"Oh all right," he said with a bad grace, "I'll see you Sunday morning."

He knew before he went there would be an inquisition, and he knew also that he would not be able to dodge or sugar coat it. He was right, but in a sense it was therapeutic.

The following weeks passed monotonously by. The weather was fine and warm, and it cheered most people, but not Aidan. He was not bad-tempered, or short with anyone, he simply seemed dead emotionally; there was no spark.

Then the rains and gales arrived, and everything was grey and sodden. It made little difference to his mood, and a month after Sam had left, Vicky came to his office after work on Wednesday and sat down in front of him.

He looked up. She stared at him. He stared at her. She stood up and walked to the window and looked out. Then looked back at him. Then walked back to the chair and sat down. By this time he was intrigued.

"Ok, Vic," he said at last. "Spill."

She smiled then.

"Aidan, we - I mean everyone here at the office - we are worried about you. You are so down. You can't go on like this; you'll make yourself ill. Won't you come out with us all tonight? I'll even buy you dinner beforehand if you'll come."

She sat expectantly. He thought it was touching that she was so concerned, but he could not face the group and all their jokes and good humour. He told her so. She sighed, distressed.

"Ok," she said at length, "I'll buy you dinner anyway. In return you talk to me. Tell me all about it, ok?"

He had to smile at her. She was so good and loving. How could he refuse? So they went. She told him she would pick the restaurant, and of course she picked his favourite. Aidan began to feel better.

Over the meal he explained how he felt about Sam and their enforced permanent separation. He went on at some length about their perfect rapport and thirty seven days of happiness.

She wondered if Sam might come back to him, but he pointed out her intense loyalty to her family, especially her parents, and her love of her home city. He went on to tell her that he felt numb and had no interest in another relationship for the foreseeable future. Julie and Sam had put paid to that for very different reasons.

"Aidan," she said, taking his hand across the table, "I understand that, but you need to make a fresh start. You need to lighten up at work. You haven't smiled at anyone for weeks and it's affecting morale. You might have to pretend you're happier than you are. Forget yourself and your sadness and think of them. You buried yourself in your work over the past three weeks; how about burying yourself in your staff fir a change?"

He had not thought of that. Once again Vicky was talking sense.

"You're right," he said resignedly after he thought about it. "I've been a pain to everyone. I'll do better. Promise."

"And try to make it to the staff Wednesday nights. It'll cheer you up."

"Perhaps next week," he agreed.

They parted, Vicky for the Wednesday gathering, and Aidan for home.

He sat at home and thought over what had passed between him and Vicky, and realised that he needed to get a grip. To celebrate his intent, he got out Sam's favourite malt whisky and had a couple of drams. He felt better. Then as he was about to go to bed full of good resolutions, the phone rang. It turned out to be an amazing coincidence after Vicky's pep talk.

A Canadian Voice. A woman. Not Sam. "Am I speaking with Mr Aidan Redmond?"

"Yes, you are."

"My name is Brigid Grogan, I'm Samantha's mother."

He sat down. "Hello, it's good to hear you."

"Sam has not stopped telling us about you since she came home. She's told us all you did for her. Mr Redmond, Michael my husband and I just had to ring you and thank you for all you did for our little girl."

"Not so little, Mrs Grogan, she is a very efficient and mature woman. I was happy to help her, and she was a wonderful companion while we waited for her new passport. And please call me Aidan."

"Well, Aidan, What you did was more than anyone else would have done. And sending her home executive class was so generous."

"I can afford it and it was a pleasure. She is a wonderful woman, she made so many friends in the month she was with me."

"You can make little of what you did, but we know better. Thank you. We waited until she went out with her boyfriend to phone you. She didn't seem to want us to phone you, but we just had to."

What was that? Boyfriend?

"I'm glad she's found a boyfriend," he recovered quickly.

"Oh, she's been with him for quite a while, a few years. She never says much about her relationships, but he's been about for a good while."

"She'll be glad to get back to him then," said his voice cheerfully, while his mind went into overdrive. "Well, thanks for ringing."

"Oh, it must be late where you are! Have I kept you up?"

"No, no, I'm just on my way to bed."

"Well, Aidan, you have our eternal gratitude for what you did. If you're ever in Vancouver, you must come and stay with us. We mean that."

"That's very kind, thank you."

"Well, good night, Aidan, and thank you again for all you did. You are a real hero and a real gentleman."

"You're very kind. I enjoyed helping. Good bye."

The lying bitch! She really took me for a fool, didn't she? These were the first thoughts in his anger. He returned to the living room and opened the whisky bottle. The water jug was still there. He put the cork back in the bottle and went to bed.

He was not destined to sleep. The thing about accountants is that they tend to be slow and ponderous. They collect all the information and process it. Admittedly it tends to be numbers, but the mindset is there.

He cast his mind over the fabled thirty-seven days. She was grateful. That was certain. Her affection seemed genuine as well. Why conceal a boyfriend? It was obvious Aidan would not make a move on her unless she gave the signal. She didn't need to sleep with him if she had a boyfriend at home.

Sleep with him. Of course! There was that first time when she lay back and told him to get on with it. Perhaps for a moment she forgot her deception. She loved her boyfriend but slept with other men for her own purposes. They would be so grateful to get her they would not notice if she was less than fully responsive.

Aidan realised his reaction had come as a shock to her. He had noticed. And the boyfriend, poor sod! Cheated on, left, right and centre, and no doubt blissfully unaware - or perhaps one of those willing cuckolds he had read about. Whatever, he had had a lucky escape there.

However, her later responses to his love-making were at odds with that first reaction of hers. She was enthusiastic to say the least, but she was also very loving, he was sure she had not faked that. He didn't think she faked her orgasms either, though what do men know?

She seemed to want to stay longer with him, said she had no deadline, but took the first available flight. Her visa would have given her some months more. So really, after being unfaithful to her boyfriend, she wanted to get back to him as soon as she could. Only the lack of a passport prevented her going earlier.

Then there was the lack of an invitation to visit her. One would have thought that it would have been the least she could offer. Her parents offered it, but she did not. Not surprising if she had a long term boyfriend. Most uncomfortable for her and for Aidan if she was with another man! For a moment a devilish thought crossed his mind - should he take a plane and just turn up? He smiled and dismissed the idea as childish.

In any case, no matter what her motives were, or her feelings for Aidan, she lied to him and she cheated her boyfriend. In that respect Aidan was taken for a fool.

His thoughts meandered on, becoming more disjointed as sleep approached.

Then he realised something and was awake again. He no longer felt depressed or bereaved. A feeling of relief swept over him. She had suddenly become just a woman, beautiful admittedly, whom he had been in a position to help, had helped, and had been rewarded by some extremely good sex daily over a number of weeks. She was gone. Out of his life, and really was never in it. It had been fun, and that was all. He felt virtuous for he had done everything right. She was the guilty one.

Since she had lied, deceived him, he had no further need to continue to correspond with her, or to read her emails to him. Sever the connection. Get on with his life, that was the way.

With that thought, and feeling at peace, he slept.

Chapter 10

Aidan woke up on Thursday morning, the last day of October, Halloween, feeling good, so good that he did a double check to see if the feeling was real or if it would evaporate like the morning dew. It didn't. He felt optimistic and, he was sure, happy, and he knew he could trust those feelings. He sang in the shower and hummed a merry tune over breakfast. He felt almost giddy at the prospect of a day without depression.

He looked out of the window, and seeing a bright break in the clouds after the overnight rain, thought he would walk to work. It was only three miles after all. There had been a spell of cold weather with gale force winds, but temperatures had risen since, and though it had looked like rain most of the time, that day seemed more hopeful. He took an umbrella and strode out.

He allowed an hour for the walk, and made it to the office in three quarters, arriving at eight, before any of the staff. He filled and fired up the water heater ready to make tea and coffee for the troops and went to his office to get on top of the outstanding jobs. He was well into his in-tray when the first folk arrived. Over the past weeks his door had been firmly shut; today it was wide open.

Gerry, the trainee, passed the door, then came back and peered in.

"Morning Gerry!" Aidan greeted him with a wide smile.

He looked disconcerted, recovered and returned the greeting, before moving on.

Aidan giggled.

Much the same reaction came from the rest of the team. Vicky passed and returned his greeting without a second glance, but he heard "At last!" from her as she entered her own office opposite his.

Kathy was the only one who made a comment, and it was diplomatic in the extreme.

"Morning, Aidan!" she smiled, and was obviously relieved. "Welcome back!" she added with a giggle as she scuttled off before he could reply.

Vicky and Aidan had an office each, with the corridor between them, and they each sat facing their doors. Since both doors were usually open, they faced each other. Every time Aidan caught her eye he smiled broadly, and she smiled back. It became a joke as the morning progressed.

Then he got a picture in his head of the scene in 'A Christmas Carol' where Scrooge awaits Bob Cratchit on the day after Christmas. Scrooge had been converted by the Spirits, and he surprises Bob with his new cheerful and generous self. Bob thought him deranged at first. Aidan laughed out loud.

It was too much for Vicky: she crossed over to Aidan's office.

"You don't have to overdo it," she said. "All this forced cheerfulness is unsettling the troops."

"Sit down, Vic," he said.

She sat, all attention.

"My cheerfulness is not forced; far from it. Last night, I had a phone call."

"Sam phoned?"

"Sam's mother phoned. Her dad was in the background."


"They wanted to thank me for what I did for Sam."

"That's nice."

"They wanted to do it while Sam was out; they told me she didn't want them to phone me."

Vicky looked puzzled. "Why wouldn't she?" she asked.

"Well, it appeared Sam had just gone out with her boyfriend." He paused for effect, and she looked very surprised. He continued, "Apparently they've been an item for a few years."

"Oh shit!"

"Well put." He smiled at her. "But it's made me feel totally different about what I think of her, and I feel much better as a result. She lied, Vicky. There was no earthly reason to lie, but she did anyway. And she cheated on her boyfriend using me."


"She goes into the category of a woman I did a good turn for when she needed it, and no more. I'm back to normal, Vic. Life feels much better already." He sat back and smiled. He then told her about Scrooge and why he laughed out loud.

"I'm so glad, Aidan," she grinned, "I'll tell the others you haven't lost your marbles - no details though," she added, and left.

He invited Vicky back to his place for an evening meal to thank her for supporting him and getting him back on track.They had a good evening, and she told him she had started seeing a new fella, called Brendan, a lawyer, who seemed to be a keeper.

Though it was Hallowe'en, there were no parties to go to; Hallowe'en is not celebrated so much in Britain, apart from urchins begging for money at the door with threats. Living in a block of flats above ground level, Aidan escaped their attentions.

The next morning, Friday, Kathy did not pass his door but came in.

"I heard you like opera," she began without preamble. "That right?"

"Yes, I do," he replied.

"Well, I've got two tickets for tomorrow night for Die Fledermaus. Wanna come?"

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