tagRomanceThe Nice Bloke

The Nice Bloke

bygeronimo_appleby©

Thank-you, Ryan and Chip. Any errors that remain in the text are all my own fuck-ups!

1



THE END OF a summer's day; Tuesday night and the place was heaving -- Tourists mostly. July sunshine had driven a lot of people to the coast and it seemed like all of them and more were crammed into the pub. Three of us worked the bar while two others scurried about clearing glasses, plates, cutlery, and all manner of detritus from tables that were in great demand. During summer most of the customers preferred to be outside where a cordon of chrome posts and dark blue rope was set aside on the pavement. Wooden tables, chairs, and benches had been set up so patrons could drink, eat, chat, and smoke. Despite the rush on my side, busy as I was, I saw her and recognised her. Two years and three hundred miles made no odds.

Miss McCready, as I'd known her then, was the crush of the school: at least the male half all fancied her, but there were probably a few females who'd wanted the Celtic princess too. The exception may have been Kevin Wardle, who now headlines as Glorious GloriaGoGo in cabaret clubs in Gran Canaria, so hardly counts.

I pulled pints, poured gin, and served cider but kept Miss McCready in sight. If she recognised me I'd speak to her, I thought. If she didn't connect me to the school - and let's face it why would she, one dickhead student out of how many? -- If she recognised me I'd speak to her, but I lacked the nerve to approach her outright. What if she just stared at me blankly and didn't recall me at all? I cringed inwardly at the thought.

As a bulbous woman, complexion florid from too much sun and alcohol, took her half of lager and pint of Bishop's Finger, Miss McCready stepped neatly into her place. Three of us working behind the bar, but somehow fate had decreed I was to serve her. She opened her mouth to speak and then paused. I saw her eyes narrow with the internal struggle -- She'd recognised me but couldn't place me. Then I saw the penny drop.

"My God!" she blurted. "Hang on... don't tell me—"

The Welsh vowels sounded strange; I remembered how exotic her accent had seemed to us schoolboys in the north of England when Miss McCready taught us grammar. She closed her eyes and tilted her head to one side; an endearing gesture but, as smitten as I had been -- and still was if truth be told -- the King's Arms was too busy for her to be recollecting past students. A large man in a ridiculous shirt shuffled impatiently. I nodded at the gent and he swooped on the opportunity.

"—Victor... Victor... Bowring!" Miss McCready beamed when the impatient man, having paid - no tip - for his drink moved away from the bar.

Surprised she'd placed me I nodded, my face colouring as I blushed.

She laughed, cheeks dimpling while her eyes sparkled. Speechless I stared at her, caught in a quick memory of classroom noises and school smells. She's so sexy, sexy and beautiful, I thought; more lovely than I remembered. Of course I'd never dare to articulate those thoughts. Not to her face.

"Soda and lime," Miss McCready said, snapping my reverie, I noticed a hint of a teasing expression on her face. She was aware of my discomfort. "Something refreshing; nothing alcoholic, it's been a hard afternoon browsing in shops." I turned to the task in hand. "How come you're working here?" Miss McCready added.

"I'm in uni down here. I'm doing this for a little cash."

"And I suppose it keeps you out of trouble." Again I saw the mischief sparkle while a grin twitched the corners of her mouth. The woman knew I'd never been one of the wild kids in school.

"Sixty-five pence, please, Miss McCready" I said, placing her drink on the bar top.

She laughed again. "Stop with the 'Miss McCready'. ... Please. It makes me sound so old. You're a grown-up now. We're out of school. Call me Rosalinde... or Roz, I don't mind." She handed me three coins and sipped at her drink. The ice tinkled against the side of the glass while Rosalinde regarded me over the rim. "What time do you finish?" she asked.

"I finish at ten," I replied. Then I saw Chris, the impatient manager, looking across at me. My stomach slid with concern; Rosalinde was holding up traffic.

"I'll wait for you outside at ten? We could catch up?"

I nodded agreement, distracted by Chris's stare. It wasn't until Rosalinde moved from the bar and walked outside that I realised fully what she'd said.

"Yes, sir?" I said to the young guy in a pink t-shirt who replaced Rosalinde in front of me. I took a glance at the clock while pulling his three pint order. The lovely Miss Rosalinde McCready was going to wait for me after work! There was an hour-and-a-half until ten o'clock. Ninety minutes of my shift remained. I felt a slide of anticipation and a pit of fear in my stomach.

"Message for you," said Paul a few minutes later. The pot man leered at me through his grey beard. "Bird outside said she'd see you at ten." He jerked his face towards the door. "Bit of a looker..." He mimed an hour-glass figure with his hands. "Pretty face. Big..." he paused, "...smile. Nice jugs too," he added crudely and smirked. "If you can't handle it, son, pass her my way." Paul saw Chris looking and scurried off chuckling at his own wit.

The knot in my stomach tightened. Paul was right. I could never handle a woman like Rosalinde.

2

Yeah... I like it when the girls stop by in the summer.
Do you remember, do you remember... when we met... that summer?




I LEFT THE PUB a little late at just gone five-past the hour. The timid side of me, which always had the greater influence and preferred the soft option, entertained the notion that Rosalinde would have another offer and wouldn't be waiting. After all, why would she want to spend any time with a shy kid ten years her junior? Especially on a summer's evening in Brighton.

But there she was, waiting. I felt the jolt when I saw her standing prettily in front of the chalk-board menu that showed today's lunch specials - the oddly named Moo Pie had been popular. When she saw me, Rosalinde smiled - a genuine smile of pleasure that surprised me with its warmth. In the few seconds between seeing her and speaking I drank in Rosalinde's loveliness. From the crown of her jet black hair - which she wore longer than the bobbed style I recalled - to the tips of her painted toenails that peeped from the open-toed sandals she wore, every inch of her was gorgeous. I suddenly understood the instinct that made a dog howl all night. She'd changed clothes; the simple, straight, pale blue dress that caressed her thighs couldn't belie Rosalinde's ripe body. I wanted her but knew I wouldn't dare speak my mind.

"I thought you'd stood me up," Rosalinde grinned. "And on our first date too! Oh, come on, don't take me too seriously" she continued, when she saw the expression on my face and the blush burn scarlet. "I'm only teasing."

I cursed inwardly at my typical inability to string a coherent sentence together when faced with a pretty girl. Although... girl? This was no girl. No wonder I blushed while I stammered a self-conscious hello.

We walked through the Lanes towards Brighton pier.

Rosalinde swung her small Bench handbag while she walked. She asked: "You're not too comfortable around me are you, Vic?"

I glanced quickly at Rosalinde's profile; her expression was serious. "Not really," I confessed when I realised she wasn't playing with me this time. "But I'm a bit awkward around everyone really," I added in explanation.

"I remember you being the same at school. You were always quiet." She chuckled -- a rich sound. "Funny, it's usually the rowdy ones we remember, the quiet ones like you generally fade away, but oddly enough I do recall you. I liked you because you weren't one of the idiots."

I kept silent, grateful for the dimness of the narrow confines of the Lanes as my face grew hot again.

"Do you have a girlfriend, Vic?" Miss McCready asked.

"No," I muttered. I didn't tell her I'd never had a real girlfriend. "I'm not very good with girls either."

"Ah, I see," she responded.

I wondered if she did see; if she'd clicked to the fact I was a virgin. We walked in silence for a few minutes. I burned with questions for Rosalinde but was too afraid to ask.

Under an indigo, twilight sky, with the soothing sigh of the ocean to our left, Rosalinde and I sauntered along the promenade side of King's Road towards Hove. The closing night sky lent a chalky look to the impressive façade of the Grand Hotel, once bombed by the IRA. We continued on, still catching up on the two years since I'd left the sixth form. She gently coaxed me to reveal small facts about myself; about my course work and where I wanted to go in a career. The answers stumbled from me at first but Rosalinde's easy manner gradually loosened my tongue.

Rosalinde paused. "Let's go down to the beach," she said.

We climbed down the stone steps leading to the beach and sat on the pebbles. The eerie, skeletal remains of the old West Pier were visible just beyond the shoreline and seemed to float on the shining water. The dying light, the sound of the waves, and Rosalinde's easy company relaxed me. I breathed in the balmy night air and snuck a furtive glance at Rosalinde when I scented tobacco smoke. To my astonishment she'd lit a cigarette.

"Yeah," Rosalinde grinned when she saw my face. "Bad I know, but a girl has to have some vices."

I shrugged. "It was just a surprise. That's all. I didn't picture you smoking."

"I don't as a rule. Not a lot anyway, but I've been under a little pressure lately so I have an excuse. My husband—" Rosalinde fell silent.

Again questions burned. Back in school days I hadn't known she was married. Rosalinde was Miss McCready to us. In my head I heard the wailings of innumerable school boys lamenting at the news of a husband.

"Husband?" I asked quietly.

The woman sighed and turned her face towards me. I saw pain in her eyes and a quick fear flared inside me. Had I upset her? The waves continued their timeless roll to the shore as I waited apprehensively for Rosalinde's reaction.

I breathed a sigh of relief when Rosalinde eventually spoke. She stared out across the water towards the charred frame of the old pier. "I think we married too soon and too young. I think there are things to do out there." Her arm swept across the darkened horizon. "Places to see.... Life to grab." She shrugged and smoked in silence for a few seconds. "He was happy at home. Didn't see the need to travel.... He took my leaving him badly and refuses to accept the reality."

A red spark arced in the air as Rosalinde flicked the half-smoked butt into the sea. "That's one of the reasons I'm down here. My parents brought me here when I was young, and I thought it'd be as good a place as any to hide for a little while."

She looked sideways at me and I saw her smile again. "Anyway," Rosalinde continued, "enough of that. It was good to see an old face today. I'd only stopped in for a quick drink after wandering around the shops all afternoon. I could see you were busy and that that manager bloke was looking over, but I didn't want to miss out on having a chat. I was getting lonely" She sighed and then stood. "It's getting on and I suppose you're tired after work. Shall we walk on a bit and then I'll drop you at home?"

The soft part of me wanted to take Rosalinde and hold her. Mainly I wanted to comfort her but there was an element of sexual tension in there too. Needless to say I did nothing other than just sit and listen to the ocean; I just wasn't the type to spontaneously slide an arm around a woman's shoulder. What if she thought I was trying it on and rejected me? I'd be appalled at a misunderstanding like that but inside I was thinking that I'd be happy sit on the pebbles in front of the old pier and listen to her all night.

Instead we walked a little further along the beach in silence. At Hove Gardens Rosalinde stopped. There was that flash of her smile again. "Y'know," she grinned at me, "there's something I've always wanted to do but never had the courage."

The smile encouraged me. Up until then I thought that Rosalinde would be dropping me off at my digs and would then drive away glad to be rid of me. The impression I had was that she'd been glad to see me at first and that I reminded her of happier times, but now, finding me dull company, she'd be glad to be rid of me.

Perked up by her tone, I asked "What's that?"

Rosalinde giggled like a girl and dropped her handbag on the pebbles. Then, with one smooth motion, she lifted her dress over her head.

I gawped at her body, slack-jawed with surprise. She was completely bare except for her bra and sandals. I was stunned to see that Rosalinde went commando. Then, after kicking off her shoes, she reached behind and unclasped her bra; a moment later she stood there, unashamedly naked, and grinned at me.

A great bubble of mirth burst from her. "Look at you. It's like you've never seen a naked woman before."

The shock of Rosalinde stripping stunned me. Before I could recover I blurted out: "Actually no... I haven't." I heard the words as I spoke them and I stammered an explanation. "Uh..." I started. "I mean..." It was no use and I waited for either a snort of derision or high tide. I preferred the latter.

"I hope I'm not a disappointment... if I'm your first," Rosalinde smiled gently.

Before I could reply, which would have been a long time coming, she grinned at me. "Come on, Victor, get your clothes off. Let's go skinny dipping!" She wedged her clothes and bag against the wall of the groyne and turned away from me. She walked to the water's edge and her body shone under the misshapen gibbous moon that had slid into the sky to watch her. With a quick glance over her shoulder and a call of "Chicken!" Miss McCready splashed into the sea like a mermaid.

I hesitated, despite the surge of desire I was fearful of discovery. Come on, idiot, a voice sounded in my head. For once... just once... go for it. Take a risk. I breathed deeply, steeling my resolve and, with the image of Rosalinde cavorting in the inky water like a seal, I quickly stripped. I shoved my clothes next to hers and then, thinking to hell with the consequences, followed her into the water.

It was freezing. I felt my balls shrivel and my cock shrink to an acorn as the water clamped around my chest like a vice and I struggled to breathe. The weather may have been stifling but the English Channel was still cold. So cold, that once I got my breathing under control, I held fears for Rosalinde's good opinion of me when we eventually returned to shore and she saw my shrivelled appendage.

"Bloody freezing, isn't it?" Rosalinde called as her teeth chattered.

"It was your idea," I retorted, my mood buoyed despite the bitter temperature as I swam towards her bobbing head.

"Enjoy it while you're young," Rosalinde replied. "Time moves so fast."

I was too young to truly appreciate that statement. I wondered what to do. Should I swim to her and kiss her? If I kissed her and she was inclined to kiss me back, then what? The logistics confounded me. Even if I managed an erection out here in the water, what would I do with it? I was unskilled as a lover and out of my depth - both romantically and aquatically.

Rosalinde swam towards me. When she came to within a foot she halted and began to tread water. Her hair was plastered to her head in rat's tails that shone like oil in the moonlight. I could see her smooth, round shoulders just breaking the swell of the sea.

"Having fun?" she asked with a glint of devilment in her eye. "I bet you never thought you'd be swimming nude with Miss McCready, huh?"

Well, she had that right. If the boys could see me now! "No," I agreed. "I'd never have dreamt it." I spat salty water.

"I couldn't help myself. It was just too good an opportunity to let slip by." She grinned again. "Your face," she added, "when I took off my dress. It was a picture. I wish I'd had a camera!"

Even in those arctic depths I felt my face redden.

"I'm teasing again, Vic," Rosalinde said softly across the water. Perhaps she realised how sensitive I was; I'd given her enough clues. "It's too bloody cold. Had enough?" she asked.

Indeed I had and a few seconds later we were wading in ankle-deep water on the way back to our clothes. We both shivered in the moonlight. I did my best to hide my shrivelled shame, while Rosalinde covered her breasts with her crossed arms. She laughed when she realised the obvious -- we had nothing to dry off with. I offered her my t-shirt as a kind of towel. It was a small sacrifice to make as I watched her rub herself semi-dry. The sight of her breasts swaying and jiggling with her movements actually caused my shrivelled cock to stir. I felt a surge of panic at the prospect of full tumescence right there on the beach. What would Rosalinde think of me if I stood there with a great erection jutting in front of me?

Rosalinde handed me my now sodden t-shirt with a word of thanks, and was soon fully dressed. I pulled on my jeans and, despite the state of it, slid the shirt over my head.

We set off back towards Brighton pier, me with my shoes and socks in one hand; just as a couple strolled past, ignoring us completely. Perhaps I'd been worried about being caught skinny dipping for nothing? Even if the people had seen us and realised what we were doing would they have cared? I was beginning to catch on.

"What must you think of me," Rosalinde asked as we walked. ""I'm only having fun after a bad time," she added. "You were always one of the good ones, Victor, no trouble when you were in school. And everything you've said and done tonight.... Well, I still think the same. You're a nice bloke."

There it was: A nice bloke she called me. Dammit, the girls like bad boys, not 'a nice bloke'.

I could hang my tenacious virginity on the hook of that fact. 'Nice' was a label stitched firmly to my forehead; I'd always been the same, it was the way my mother raised me. My mum had such a hard life bringing me up. She worked at two jobs to give me a decent start in life; her influence shaped me and I always hated to think of being a disappointment to her.

So I was a nice bloke.

We retraced our route, with me shivering in my sodden t-shirt and Rosalinde giggling about her skinny-dipping adventure.

"Thanks for doing that, Vic," she said as the noise of the main pier reached us.

"No problem," I replied. My tone was nonchalant, but what I was thinking was really about taking Rosalinde in my arms and kissing her.

Of course I resisted the urge; the daring move wasn't my style. Not that I had a style.

As we walked back through the maze of the Lanes I thought about what was really going on in the woman's mind. Perhaps she was thinking about her husband? I wondered what he was doing that night. Was he looking for her? Had he been filled with anger at being rejected? If so, what would he think of some bloke, even a nice bloke, with his missus? I shivered, and not from the damp t-shirt. Stop being ridiculous the voice in my head muttered, and I pushed down on the paranoia.

I cursed inwardly as the missed opportunity wafted away like smoke in the breeze. I'd had all that time to make a move; anyone else would have swooped when we were naked in the water, but not me.

All too soon Rosalinde led me to the Church Street car park. She paid the fee at the machine and we found her car - a sporty red coupe. "A hairdresser's car" Paul the pot-man would've called it.

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