tagRomanceThe Girl at the Spa Ch. 01

The Girl at the Spa Ch. 01


Port George was never a town I would have chosen to visit.

It sat a really rocky outcrop on the North Cornish side of the Bristol Channel and took the full force of the North Atlantic weather. The village, jutting out on ragged cliff edges, wasn't the most welcoming place to be even at the height of summer and you kind of got the feeling that the Gulf Stream and the warm tropical currents it brought with it took one look at the small granite houses clinging to either side of the harsh unforgiving fissure nature had slashed into the rock face and thought 'fuck that place'.

I'd been there on many occasions and it always rained. I don't mean that with typical British glibness about our weather, it actually did always rain, all the time, every visit, without fail, except for one - when the sun shone on me.

I was a just turned 23 year old Londoner; a not so self-confident as I would have liked, semi-detached suburbanite and full of ideas and fired for my second year of my post graduate course in Clinical Medicine at my old alma mater, Cambridge and training to being a doctor.

My much-loved (if slightly away with the fairies) solicitor mother was about to head off for her fourth honeymoon (I was conceived three months before her first) with my latest Step-Dad, and I was to stay at our house with my two new step-sisters - 21 year old solidly stout, smart arse, bookishly bespectacled, dark haired and grumpy Leah and stick thin, bitchy, eighteen going on eight, whiney arsed, nothing-ever-right-or-good-enough, blonde Fiona.

Leah was studying at a University in London (which is how her Dad met my Mum) and Fiona was waiting for her results from her fee paying school before she then worked out how she could get into and out of The University of Guildford without having to meet any poor people.

Leah thought I was an idiot and stared down her nose at me because I was studying medicine and not English like her; which she did, all day every day, wherever the fuck she was. The fact I already passed the medical sciences Tripos seemed to go straight past her.

Fiona spent her first few days not in school hunting and often finding things to bitch about, and she would descend on the chosen subject with glee, happy in the knowledge that her eternal quest for the rest of the world to meet her perfectly normal, if rather exacting, standards had not been met AGAIN and that the world really did need her.

With a boyish attempt at psychoanalysis I guessed that with her high achieving sister, (albeit self-proclaimed), her birth mother doing the same as my birth mother and engaged in the process of serial monogamy, and then her wimpish Dad not having time for anyone but himself, she struggled with society and exactly where she figured she fitted in to it.

At least I knew that for the next fortnight I would be saved from "Daaaddeeee?" howled throughout the entire house as the middle aged love birds were off on honeymoon. Daaaaddeeeee was Dave who had worked out that he could never be more than three feet away from my Mum as her love for him could diminish and she could start looking for number five. Because he hardly knew me and Mum was British enough not to feel the need to shout my successes from the roof tops, I kind of think he had the almost the same opinion of me as Leah did. Again, I already had the equivalent to a degree and was two years into the four year clinical course I needed to be a real life medical Doctor.

I had dubbed him 'The Leech' as for most of their days together you couldn't see daylight between them.

Fiona's whine that morning had been a cracker and I think it was just because she knew it was her last chance before her father pissed off to 'their' holiday home in Southern France with my Mum to shag themselves stupid for two weeks, and because we all had to bend over backwards to play up to the little witch, the best she could manage went something like, "Richard has put the HP sauce RIGHT next to the mayonnaise again."

Seeing as her and her sister were both avid reality TV watchers, this was accompanied by a Kardashian style disappointed 'what the fuck' hand raise and a stunned disbelieving 'what the fuck' head wobble and this completed, she verbalised her disappointment to whit, "he ONLY does that because he knows it annoys me, make him stop it RIGHT NOW!"

This would be done with folded arms and pursed lips - I'm pleased to say that the brattish floor stomp had finished a few weeks before when everyone, including her Dad, took the piss.

'Daaaddeeee' had never had the inclination to refuse his daughters anything that didn't interfere with him, his business and his closeness to my Mum, and would normally put a gentle hand on my shoulder and ask if I could work a bit harder to ensure harmony in the house as we all 'had to get along'.

I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my little book that I'd been keeping for the three weeks since her term had finished and with a big cheesy grin said, "I'll add it to the list Dave."

But the irony was lost on him,

"Thanks mate," he said, so I wrote down 'don't put the HP so close to the mayonnaise in the fridge' after 'make sure the toilet paper is torn off of the roll square', 'don't put the mugs so close together in the dishwasher', 'Fiona's laundry has its own basket and MUST be stored separately before being washed with everyone else's stuff' and my personal favourite 'please don't open the large cupboard in the upstairs bathroom, as Fiona keeps her tampons there and doesn't want anyone to see them as they might know when she's on her period'. The fact that Mum and I had previously kept all of our deodorants, body sprays, aftershaves, razors and stuff in that large cupboard was fuck all to do with it.

For that one, Dave actually said that perhaps I could move all of that stuff into my room while Fiona was home before starting at University. I said perhaps Fiona might like to choose one of the many other cupboards that no one else used, much fairer I thought.

Dave did consider this, but as a professional businessman felt he was much cleverer than me and could totally get me to do what he wanted. So he came up with what he thought was some kind of a great deal, throwing in the counter-offer of me moving MY stuff in MY house because, after all, Fiona had let me keep MY bedroom so surely I could meet her halfway... mate...

I snorted something about that having been my bedroom since I was four but Dave just shook his head and gave me his big smile and hand on the shoulder 'we all gotta get along' routine that stopped me telling him where he could put all of Fiona's feminine hygiene products - just.

He needed me today because I was driving him and Mum to Gatwick so they could fly south. Bearing in mind I didn't really want to listen to them cooing and slobbering over each other for the forty five minute drive, I checked what I had stored on my phone and took a set of headphones.

I walked out to the car and there was Leah giving Dave a cursory peck on the cheek before returning to her 'study' (she growled and snarled if anyone referred to it as a bedroom) to throw herself zen-like into her re-reading of some more Byronic poetry to see if she could drag anymore joy or meaning from it.

Fiona hugged 'Daaaaddeee' and begged like an eight year old that she be allowed to come for the first two weeks rather than the flight out to join them for the second two.

"But I'll have to stay with HIM!" she pouted as Dave pushed her away to close the car door.

"Richard has promised to be nice to you Darling," said Dave, "He's writing all of your rules down;" he said, "aren't you Richard. Show her your little book..."

I beamed and fished out my tiny hard back black and red book and gleefully handed it back from my driving seat and continued plugging my phone in the car charger and setting up the audio book I would be listening to, looking in the rear-view mirror at the face of hatred from Fiona.

Dave might have taken it for kindness on my part but as for Fiona, she just read the book with all of the fifty or so stupid, whiney complaints numbered and written on a separate page in my best black, red, green and gold felt-tip illuminated calligraphy. It was a thing of beauty and I followed a YouTube idiots guide on the art, learned a couple of fonts and put enough effort into it to make a Cistercian Monk proud, and while it went straight over the head of superficial idiot Dave, it didn't with her and she saw my ridicule of her ridiculousness and she snarled at me with narrowed eyes.


"Daaaddeee!!" she screeched, "Make him stop writing down what I say!!" This latest dig at her brought back the brat stamp.

"But Fiona Darling!" said Dave, "How is he to know?"

"Yes, how will I remember not to put the Ribena back into the cupboard with the label facing inwards if I don't write it down Fiona? I'm not as clever as you and Leah don't forget." I said mirroring her Dad's part pacifying and part admonishing tone.


"David, we'll miss our flight Darling..." said Mum not wanting to be involved.

I put the car into first gear and knocked off the handbrake as Dave pushed his daughter away from him just enough and I pulled away, hitting 'play' on the second chapter of a Stephen King audio book I was into.

I kept adjusting the rear-view mirror so I didn't have to keep watching my Mum and the leech staring into each other's eyes and kissing. It wasn't the actual mechanics of the process as such, but the fact that this was the third time I'd watched her go through this.

Although Dave was better than the last wanker she'd hooked, I still didn't give him much more than a year; after all his clinginess was already starting to piss Mum off, I could read her body language well.

He was still trying to 'father' me and it pissed me off no end. I was 23 and in a normal world I would have been working hard and to be honest I actually was and when not on placement at one of three hospitals was at University studying, and NOT being talked down to by arseholes like him. Even my Dad didn't talk to me like that and he was at least entitled to. My constant battle with that whole family was that I wasn't the idiot they all figured I was, just because I wasn't one of them.

I'd told the last husband that tried the same routine that the only reason I stayed at home was that by law I couldn't leave until I was eighteen. Now I was twenty three of course I could go, but the bed and board was free despite her erratic (yes, I said 'erratic', not erotic) love life thanks to certain circumstances. For instance, the vast amount of money my Dad sent in our direction for maintenance for me, even though legally he didn't need to.

Within an hour I was driving back along the M25 and heading for home, not happy in the knowledge that my new step-sisters would be there waiting for me. I was happy that my door had previously had a lock fitted to it two husbands ago when he used to come into my room - I now know he was hunting for porn or booze and was convinced that his 14 year old step-son had both seeing as my Mum denied them to him.

I let myself in as quietly as I could and tiptoed into my room. There was a thump on my door.

"RICHARD!!" It was Fiona, I hadn't even got my shoes off.

"What?" I shouted back.

"Open this door!"



"How about... no..."

"Daa..." she stopped and thought, "LEAH!!" She paused long enough to take a deep breath, "LEEAAAHH!" she screeched.

"WHAT!" Came a second voice. "Fuck's sake Fifi, FUCKING WHAT!?!"

"Don't call me Fifi!" screamed Fiona, "Not in front of HIM!"

"What's up FIONAAAA!" said Leah, the sarcasm dripping from her voice.

I couldn't resist and opened my bedroom door, leaning against the frame with a smile.

"Yeah Fifi, whassup?"

She was stood at my door, arms folded and pouting, trying to peak over my shoulder. I moved and pulled the door partially closed to deny her that pleasure. She'd never had the opportunity to inspect my room and cast her scrutiny across what was within, and I smiled knowing it was driving her crazy. Mum had asked me were the spare key was to my room, "in Cambridge," I replied.

"Good," she said, "makes life easier for me if it stays there..."

Bloody Fiona...

"I have laundry that needs doing," she said dropping some stuff at my feet that even I could see was still ironed and unworn, "DON'T wash the whites with..."

"Yeah, and the washing machine is down in the utility room, it's dead easy to use." I said pushing her clothes back towards her with my foot.

"And how exactly am I supposed to wash them?" she said pushing them back towards me and looking at me wide eyed like I was the house idiot.

"The same way I would I suppose," I said pushing them back to her again. "Read the instructions on the front. Next question?"

Now it was Leah's turn,

"I'll print you a list of what I do and don't eat, simple enough even for an idiot like you to understand."

"Again, at what point did I become your chef?"

"I have studying to do?" she said, with the Kardashian head wobble.

"And what if I have studying to do?"

"LEAAAAH!" whined Fiona with a tiny knee flexation that hinted at a stomp, "Tell him he's not to argue with you!"

"Yeah go on LEEEEAAAH," I mocked, "tell me not to argue with you."

Leah snorted, looked me up and down in disgust.

"Just who the fucking fuck do you think you are to talk to me like that?"

"Why I believe I'm your step-brother," I said with a grin I honestly thought was going to get me punched in the face.

"You are no relation of mine!" she screeched.

"Excellent," said I, "cook your own fucking food then," I stepped back and made to close the door.

"And just what about my laundry?" said Fiona.

I picked up the clothes, all clean, ironed and folded and still smelling of the drawer liners that had stank out the whole first floor of the house two weeks ago when she had put them in. They were rank but apparently she'd read on the internet that they were the same ones that Taylor Swift used.

"Well can I suggest that you wear them first, and not just lift them out of the drawer to throw at me. Next can I suggest that if your wear clothes you learn to do what I did, and clean them afterwards.

She looked down at her pile of clothes, now arranged as she had lifted them out of her drawer. Her bottom lip wobbled and she looked at a retreating Leah.

"WHY is your door locked?" was the best she could manage.

"Why shouldn't it be locked?" I said.

"Because... because... well... Oh, I can't talk to you, I'm going to ring Daddy!" She made to flounce off.

"He's flying to France Fi...ona," said Leah who then saw sisters protruding bottom lip, "For fuck's sake Fiona!" She stormed away to her 'study' and her monastic devotion to her dead poets.

"I HATE you!" she snapped and flounced away, tripping over the high heels she had put on since her father had left. She turned and saw my grin.

Somehow I just knew this wasn't going to end well.

I laid on my bed, swiped opened my Smartphone and saw that I had mail, there was one from the only man I ever called 'Dad'.

"Hi Richie,

Hope your summer is going well, just to let you know that I've put that £1000 into your account for your holiday we talked about. I know that your Mum has said that you are definitely spending two of your four weeks in France with her and the new love of her life, but don't forget you are always welcome down here at Port George with Meghan and me. The weather is glorious and supposed to be for the rest of this month..."

THIS month - as opposed to every other month since records began.

"...and you can have your own room, in fact if you come before September you can have your own bungalow. We've closed down for August so there's tonnes of room. Believe it or not I've had the Wi-Fi super-upgraded and it even reaches as far as the pool. Anyways, give me a ring and let me know if you're coming; hell, just give me a ring and have a chat, miss you mate.

Love Dad."

Dad was one of the country's top Chiropractors and spent his life with his second wife of more than ten years Meghan (just one!) down at that arsehole of a village in North Cornwall and had cornered the market looking after rich people's bad backs, dodgy hips and troubled knees, and got amazingly well paid for it. When not doing that he travelled widely and lectured across the globe being a specialist in some non-surgical spinal treatments for babies and small children.

Mum tried to take the piss about him all the time about how someone so spiritual in the old days could be such an extremely rich man and how shallow the whole thing was, but I think she was infuriated that he continued to do so very well, was happy in his life and worse than that had found someone he could be happy with, or at least happier than he was with her. Although I don't remember him ever being unhappy with Mum, she had a problem with him.

I was lucky that I was spared much of their shenanigans when they were in the process of splitting up; according to the few independent observers, Mum was too tightly wound while Dad was so laid back he was virtually horizontal. It worked when they first met, and they were extremely happy, so much so I came along.

Then as Mum decided it was time for the family to grow up, she married Dad and once she'd gone back to work expected Dad to become the 'stay at home' and look after me while her legal career went from strength to strength, after all he wasn't a real Doctor and while Chiropractic was OK it wasn't a real job like hers.

Dad took me to work with him and I was looked after by any number of his friends and colleagues that worked in the huge Chiropractic Clinic he ran with two friends. It was idyllic and I couldn't have wanted for more love, care and attention, and for a pre-schooler and I had lots of fun, learning to both read and write before I was sent to my first Primary School.

Being more advanced I was left with books to read and writing to do in the classroom while my compatriots caught up with me. I still loved going to the clinic during school holidays and I think that Mum hated that. No way could she have a share of that 'take your child to work' day that was so easy for my Dad.

Dad became more successful and took over the clinic from his two friends and was building up a real reputation, at the same time that Mum was building one too. Hers was as a hard faced, scary court room inquisitor and much sought after District Judge, while Dad was as a nice, gentle healer and for some reason that didn't settle with her.

As the stipendiary magistracy started to take off, Mum was invited to more and more events and dinners and the slightly too long hair and slightly far away smile of the Chiropractor on her arm wasn't the effect she was looking for.

She became more demanding of him and after a while there was nothing he could do to make her happy. The final straw, according to Mum's own father, was the year that Dad finished his yearly accounts and had made almost a quarter of a million in straight profit and she took that personally.

She started to stay out late for cases and then office functions, until finally she decided that she now had almost nothing in common with my Dad and, according to her own father again, decided how she was going to take as much of his money as possible and ensure access to the remainder.

Dad had to re-mortgage his Clinic despite his insistence that he could make more money all the time it remained his. Mum I think just wanted revenge for his success that appeared to make him so happy - and of course a lump sum. Solicitor Mum screwed him one final time and he didn't stand a chance against her and her advocacy and knowledge.

She allowed him almost nothing and I now know how mean she was to him. For instance he asked if he could sleep in the spare room of the large house he'd paid so much towards until he knew what his eventual finances would look like, but she said that he could just as easily make up a camp bed in his office or sleep on one of the many couches he had at his clinic. He didn't even bother making a counter-claim as he knew he was up against one of the best.

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byAndrogynousother© 23 comments/ 44500 views/ 114 favorites

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