tagNovels and NovellasWinter Fires Ch. 04

Winter Fires Ch. 04


Two weeks later, Simon was still floating about six inches off the ground. He'd been teased by some of the crew, but mostly they'd seen just how happy he was, and grinned, leaving him to it.

Of course, the sight of Marianne waiting for him at the station didn't hurt. He thought she was amazingly pretty, and when she saw Simon her face would light up with a huge, bright smile. There was, of course, some undercurrent of jealousy, but these were people who liked Simon, and they couldn't help but react positively to Marianne.

Simon's mother, Jackie, was another who was only too pleased to see him sticking with a girl for more than a date or two. Already, as mothers do, she was thinking of Marianne as a potential future daughter-in-law. She hadn't said anything to Simon about it yet, but he knew, by the looks he'd been given, that his mum was hearing wedding bells.

Simon refused to let it worry him. Marianne was his girlfriend, and she was, quite simply, amazing.

It wasn't just the sex. Oh the sex was incredible, but Simon thought it was more than that. Marianne was wonderful to be with, to talk to – she was an excellent conversationalist. They also shared an interest in music, and even liked many of the same bands. Simon was overjoyed when she told him she loved Pink Floyd, in fact, as they were one of his favourite bands, too

Simon called round to Marianne's house, something he'd only done once before. Normally she came to meet him, but they were going out to dinner so they'd both needed to go home and change first.

John had teased him.

"Isn't it about time you got a car of your own, Simon? I mean, you drive the ruddy Fire Engine, for Chrissakes!"

"Probably one day, John. But I watch all you guys rushing out to get a place of your own, buying cars, and spending your money – while I'm stashing some money away, without any great project in mind, just in case I need it. And you know I'm gonna need it one day, everyone does. It doesn't hurt me to catch a bus every now and again."

"Aye – but it doesn't impress the girls, now, does it?"

"Why do I want to impress a girl when I've got Marianne?" Simon retorted, to which John could only say, "You've got her now."

Simon mulled this over as he pulled himself up to the upper deck of the bus. He'd managed to put enough away to get a car, if he needed to. He just didn't see that it was needed, just yet.

Arriving at the stop for Marianne's house, he put all that aside. Whistling, he practically danced to her house.

She was waiting for him at the door. She smiled as soon as she saw him, and reached behind the door to pick up her purse. She skipped down the path to meet him, and he lifted her up as they embraced, swinging her around and putting her back on the path. They kissed, then Simon said, "Shall we?"

Marianne answered, ""Sure. Where are we going?" as they walked off to the bus stop.

"Roberto's, down by the seafront," he told her. "It's just a short trip."

"I've not been in there before, though I've walked by it many times."

It was a short trip to their stop. Simon held Marianne's arm as they got off the bus.

"What sort of thing do they do here?" Marianne asked as they walked up to the building. It was red-brick, with green woodwork. A sign promoting an Italian ice-cream was displayed outside.

"Italian stuff. Spaghetti, that kind've thing. It's nice."

Indeed it was. The restaurant was fairly new, and yet quite old; an established restaurant that had been taken over by a new young chef.

Inside, white tablecloths, wineglasses and candles were set on each table along with the cutlery. Some soft, vaguely continental-sounding music was playing. The walls were decorated in white with a lot of mirrors hanging there, creating the illusion that the room was larger than it really was. It took a few minutes for Marianne to realise that there were only about a dozen tables in all.

The only other people eating in there were a slightly older guy with a younger girl, about the same age as Marianne. Simon puzzled over some of the names on the menu, but the waiter was helpful without being condescending and they were able to work their way through the order without too much trouble.

Marianne was having a seafood starter, while Simon opted for minestrone soup. Her main course was spaghetti in a carbonara sauce, something she'd not had before, while Simon opted for lasagna, which he was familiar with.

While they were eating Marianne was full of chatter, telling him various tales about the 'boys and girls at the office', while Simon told Marianne about the latest exploits of John and Patty. "So there they are, in the back of the mini, when the torch lights them up! Luckily the copper just grinned and told them to move on, but it gave John a fright, I can tell you!"

Marianne's smile lit up the room. "I can imagine! What did Patty think?"

"According to John, she was as frightened as he was at first. But then, when they got back to his place, she practically tore his clothes off – she said it was incredibly exciting. Can you believe that?"

"Patty seems to be a bit of an exhibitionist – I think she probably gets really turned on by the risk of being caught. As John found out, it seems!"

After they'd finished their mains and ordered their sweets – both opting for a simple ice-cream, though Simon wanted two scoops to Marianne's one – Simon got up to visit the toilet. On his return he saw the older guy talking to Marianne, while his companion waited to one side. She stood, shook his hand and smiled as he turned to leave. Simon watched as the man patted his young friend on the bum. She, in turn, skipped away and poked her tongue out at him, and they both laughed as they walked away.

"What was that all about?" Simon asked as he sat down.

"Oh, he's a photographer and said he thought I'd make a good model. He gave me his card, look."

Indeed he had. "Chris Feelgood, CAT studio," it read, with an address in the town centre, near to the War Memorial.

"Do you think it's legit?" Simon asked, sceptically. "He probably just wants to get you out of your clothes. I've heard of people like that."

"The girl he was with was a model, she said. She told me Chris was really good."

"Yeah, well, she's probably in cahoots with him. I'd be very careful if I were you."

Marianne gave him a sharp look, but said nothing.

After the meal was over and they'd ridden the bus home, she turned to him and asked, "Don't you think I'm pretty enough to be a model?"

"Of course you are!" he replied, then bit his lip. Jealousy and fear warred with honesty and his innate sense of fair play. Honesty won. "I think you'd be a really good model, actually, Marianne. Perhaps you should look into it?" His voice faltered a little at the last.

Marianne, took him into her arms and kissed him. "Perhaps I will. Wouldn't you like to be going out with a famous model?" She pulled away and twirled for him, finishing up with a saucy look with one finger by her mouth. "Do you think I'm sexy enough?" she pouted.

"God, yes!"

- - - - - - - - - -

"Hi, I'm home!" called Marianne as she walked in through the door.

"Hi, darling," her mother called from the kitchen, "Did you have a nice time?"

"Yes, did you have a nice time?" asked Caroline, smirking, as Marianne walked into the living room.

"I'll have you know that we just went out for a very nice meal. Simon's got an early shift tomorrow," came the reply. "But the kiss goodnight was really nice!"

"Ooh, only a kiss? You'll be frustrated at this rate!" retorted Caroline.

Marianne regarded her sister. It was like looking in the mirror – she was her identical twin sister. They were, obviously, really close. They were alike in more than just looks, as well, though Marianne was the dominant twin. They picked up on each other's thoughts with the ease of completely knowing the other person, and it wasn't until they were separated that the differences between them came to the fore.

Caroline was working as a waitress in a factory canteen, where she liked to blend in to the background. She was quieter, less outgoing than her sister. But both were passionate, fiery lovers when roused, the differences were more in their ease with strangers. Caroline was less self-assured, where Marianne simply shone.

"Hmph! I was looking forward to hearing another tale of wanton debauchery, but I guess I'll be better off reading my book, then!" Caroline told her sister. Marianne simply poked her tongue out.

Their mother walked in.

"Did you have a nice time tonight, Marianne? I'll assume you're not hungry!"

"You've asked me already, Mum! I had a great time, thanks, –"

"And she's already eaten – "

"It was really nice – "

"Yeah, and this time it was actually food!"

"Girls!" Tina exclaimed. All three promptly fell into laughter.

"You two will be the death of me, you know," Tina told them, once she'd calmed down.

"Hey, it's not like we don't take after you," Caroline told her mother.

"What's his name, Bill – "

"At the sofa factory – "

"In soft furnishings – "

"More like hardware, so I heard!"

"Girls, Bill is a perfectly good lover, but he'll never replace your father in that regard, or any other!"

"Do we want to know more about Dad with Mum?" asked Marianne of her sister.

"Eeuww!" Caroline replied.

"Yeah, it is slightly icky..." Marianne was quiet for a few seconds.

"...But I bet you were at it like minks!"

"Caroline!" shouted Marianne and her mother in unison. Then they all fell about laughing again.

They sat and watched the late news on television before going to bed.

"Cari, fetch me a glass of water?" Marianne not-quite-ordered. Caroline stood, but before she could move further her mother interrupted.

"Marianne! We've spoken about this," she told her daughter, firmly.

Marianne sighed, said, "Sorry, mum. Sorry Cari," and went to get her own glass of water. Caroline looked at her mother.

"She's too quick to just assume that you'll do as she tells you, and you, young lady, need to grow a backbone and stand up for yourself."

"Oh, mum, you know it's always been like this. She tells me what to do and I do it. She's the one who's bright and outgoing and confident, I'm not."

Ever since they could remember it had been she who'd decided things between them, though an outsider – anyone but the two of them and their mother – often couldn't tell. That not-quite-telepathic knowledge they shared of each other meant that Caroline often anticipated Marianne's 'requests'. Over the years, the dominant/subservient roles they'd developed had become ingrained, natural.

But Tina wasn't happy with that. She felt that Marianne had reached the point of taking advantage of her younger sister – younger by just a few minutes, of course.

"Caroline, you know I love you both, but it frustrates me no end when I see you kow-towing to Marianne's orders. I'm sure you'd lick her feet if she told you to."

"Oh, mum, it's not as bad as that."

"Humph. You ought to see yourselves, sometimes."

Marianne came back into the room.

"I'm off to bed now Mum, Cari. See you in the morning."

"Okay, darling," her mother answered, at the same time as Caroline replied, "You too, Mari!"

"I'm off to bed as well, Caroline. Remember what I said, love. Don't forget you're no different to her, literally. You're both beautiful young ladies. I love you both, but I wish you'd stand up to her sometimes!"

"Yes, Mum," Caroline answered. But inside, she thought, 'If only it was as easy as that!'

- - - - - - - - - -

A few days later, Simon called around to pick up Marianne from her home again.

The previous day, he and John had once again been called to a harrowing incident. It was a house fire in which two young children had died, despite first the father's and later the fire crew's desperate attempts to reach them. One had died at the scene, the other had been barely alive when they'd got to her but had died in the ambulance en route to the hospital.

Once again it had hit both men hard. John was better able to cope than Simon, but neither had been feeling like going out. They, Patty and Marianne had shared a quiet evening together down at the 'Cross Keys'. Little had been said beyond the bare bones, but it had been enough to bring tears to both girls' eyes.

Tonight, Simon was determined not to let that spoil his evening together with Marianne. She'd suggested a walk up to the top of East Hill.

"We can go up the Friendship Path," she'd told him. Simon hadn't been there before, despite living in the town. He was looking forward to spending the time alone with Marianne, walking in the open air.

Simon knocked on the door. He waited a moment and when the door was opened he smiled and said, "Hi Marianne." He looked harder, then, hesitantly continued, "Marianne? Er, are you ready?"

The girl stared at him for a moment, then blushed a very pretty red.

"I'll get her for you," she told him, "come in and wait here?" leaving the door open, she turned and disappeared.

Confused, Simon walked in and said, "Marianne?"

Marianne descended the staircase and said to him, "I see you've met my sister, Caroline!"

"Sister?" said Simon, confused.

"Twin sister," Marianne told him, smirking.

"Twins?" Simon spluttered as Marianne picked up her purse and a light jacket.

"Yes, Simon. Coming?" She sauntered close to him, pecked him on the cheek, turned and bounced out of the door.

- - - - - - - - - -

That night, Caroline appeared in the doorway to Marianne's room.

"Marianne," she quietly asked her sister, "Can I come in?"


Caroline walked softly into her sister's room and sat on the edge of the bed. Marianne folded the book she'd been reading and replaced it on her bedside table. She scooted up in the bed and drew the covers up a little – she slept naked, and didn't want her sister to see. Well, she had to maintain the illusion that she didn't want her sister to see, anyway – keep up the proprieties and such.

Caroline, oblivious, wasn't really looking at her sister anyway. She lay back against Marianne's legs, her cheek resting on her sister's abdomen through the covers.

"What's Simon like?" she asked.

"What's he like? He's funny, and shy, yet he's brave and fit as well. Physically he ticks my boxes, that's for sure. Why? Do you fancy him, Caroline?"

"I recognised him," Caroline answered.

"You'd seen him bef – Oh! He was your fireman! Are you sure?"

Marianne knew about this. Caroline had battered her ears with her talk of the good looking young fireman who'd carried her out of the fire at the café.

"Oh, yes, Marianne! I'm totally sure! Those eyes, that hair, those cheekbones, and those lips! Oh, I've dreamt of kissing those lips again! But you went and found him first!"

The last sentence was somewhat of an accusation, and Marianne retorted, "Well, you never went to try and find him, did you? How was I to know that he'd turn out to be your one?"

She went on, more sweetly, "Besides, Cari, Simon's not yours. He's mine. My boyfriend. You remember we agreed before we first started dating, and why?"

Indeed Caroline did. In the playground, once, they'd both wanted to kiss the same boy, Jonathon. They'd fought and marked each other up – and the boy had been 'snapped up' by a girl from a different class. And their mum had grounded them for a week!

"Yes, Jonathon got away from us both."

"Well, I got him the next term!" Marianne sniggered.

"And then you passed him onto me!" Caroline laughed.

That had set a pattern. Not always, but often, Marianne would go for a boy – at first just furtive kisses in the playground, later with heavier content – and then, when she'd had enough of him, she'd pass him down to her sister.

"You like it like that!" Marianne told her sister.

It was true that Caroline hadn't minded. It meant the boys were 'broken in' by the time they got to her.

But the last couple of times it had happened, the boy had wanted more from Caroline, far faster than she was sure she was comfortable with. She'd gone along with it, but it had poisoned the relationship both times – and she'd dumped the guy after less than a couple of weeks.

Marianne picked up on her sister's distress.

"Cari? Talk to me?"

Caroline just shook her head and kissed her sister's cheek. She got up and quickly went to the doorway, where she paused. "'Night, Mari."

"G'night, Cari."

Marianne knew that her sister wasn't being fully open with her. It had happened before, and always meant that something was wrong, and they'd both ended up being hurt.

- - - - - - - - - -

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