Jack and the Rollercoaster Ch. 04byKezza67©
Sheila phoned on Tuesday the following week, and we arranged for her to call on me that Thursday afternoon. I offered to go to her, but she pointed out that news of our meeting could filter through to Richard if I came to her house. She arrived promptly and introduced me to her daughter, Alicia. Now here was a surprise. In my mind I had imagined a girl in her late teens or barely in her twenties. How wrong could I be? Alicia was a confident woman and I had to guess about thirty years of age. She was also slim and very attractive, with blonde hair cut to the shoulder curling under to give a soft look. Sheila was not a tall lady and neither was her daughter, I would say they were both about five foot four. Alicia appealed to me as a younger version of my dance partner, Elly. She smiled as she held her hand out to shake.
"Hello, Jack. I am very pleased to meet you. I have heard about your dancing skills from Mum, and I hope to be able to experience that for myself." I was nonplussed, could it be that Alicia was in on Sheila's plan? A plan that I had no knowledge of! Sheila could see that I was in the dark.
"Jack, let's sit down and I'll explain. Alicia will make us a drink. That is if you don't mind her messing in your kitchen?"
"Eh, No! Not at all. If you prefer something stronger, there's a bottle of Chardonnay in the fridge. I could open that." Alicia seemed happy about that.
"Great. A glass of that would go down well. Don't worry, Jack. I'll find everything."
Sheila and I sat down, making some small talk until Alicia came back, with three glasses, and the bottle. She poured the wine and it was time for Sheila to reveal her plan. I looked at her expectantly.
"Jack I know that Ms. Cannon resigned on Friday. I am sure that was your doing, so thank you very much. My husband is aware that I know what he was up to, and is treading on egg-shells at the moment. He is behaving himself for now, but I am certain that given time his arrogance will allow him to think that he can get away with it once more. My plan is to dent his arrogance severely, and then I will have him understand exactly what will happen if he does this again." I could see what she wanted to achieve.
"I understand that Sheila. But you seem to be involving me in your plan. I can't imagine how I could be of assistance."
"What do you think is Richard's most precious possession?" I shrugged my shoulders.
"I have no idea."
"I'll tell you. It's Alicia." I wasn't too surprised to hear that.
"I would expect that most father's would count their daughter as precious." Alicia replied instead of Sheila.
"They do, Jack. But my father is obsessive about it. I am thirty-five." Now that was a surprise. "I have a job, a good job, not in father's business either, my own flat, and I am independent. But he will not let me go. He phones me every evening about nine, to see what sort of day I have had. If I'm out, he will continue to phone every hour to see if I'm back, and ask questions to discover if anyone is with me. He will also turn up at my flat unannounced. He has embarrassed me and any boyfriends I may have had. With that sort of attention they don't last long. Do you get the picture?" I did get the picture, and Sheila nodded as she saw understanding come to me.
"So Jack. What do you think he would feel if he saw Alicia out and enjoying the company of a man he dislikes?"
"Pretty angry, I should think."
"Yes he would. Particularly if it was the man who got for free and willingly from Ms. Cannon, favours for which he had to offer a bribe. That would humiliate him. He targeted Becky after that Ball, you know. You had slighted him, and he had to get back at you, taking the woman he believed to be yours would do the trick."
Now was the time to give this some thought, before I got into something that may take me out of my depth. Ewing would dislike me even more, that didn't trouble me in the slightest, but what measures could he take to get even? I didn't think there were any. Sheila it would seem could read my mind.
"He can't do anything about it, Jack. His usual tactic is to interfere in your business, undercut you and things like that. But you can't suffer, you are retired. Anyway I would let him know that any revenge would rebound on him, big time." Then Alicia added some words of comfort.
"I will make sure that my father understands that any action he takes will be against me, not just at you." They waited for my response. I realised that my being seen with Alicia; which was not distasteful to me, actually quite the opposite; had to be a public setting or an event when all Ewing's friends and competitors could see his humiliation.
"Where and when do you see this taking place?" Sheila smiled, I hadn't said yes, but even asking that question was an indication that I may well say yes.
"There is a charity Ball for Cancer research, in about four weeks. I shall get you tickets for two. He won't know that Alicia will be there with you. When he does see you and she together, he will bust a gut!" Alicia then added her contribution.
"I will be all over you, Jack. Will that be hard to take?" I laughed.
"Oh I think I could manage that, as long as you have the paramedics on stand-by." She smiled, accepting the inferred compliment. "But I hope you are a good actress." I finished. Alicia was shaking her head.
"Oh no. Jack. I have a hunch that I won't be acting. Mum says you are a good dancer, and I'm looking forward to dancing with you." I may have looked sceptical, after all women of her age don't tend to do Ballroom. By way of explanation she added. "Mum has been teaching me for years. It will be great to dance with a man, instead of bosom to bosom."
I gave them my decision.
"Very well. I think the plan is fraught with difficulties, but I will go along with it." Sheila was relieved, and Alicia seem happy as well. Sheila held her empty glass up.
"This Chardonnay was very nice, any chance of another?" Alicia did the honours once again, and we toasted to the success of the scheme. Alicia asked if she could have a look round, and with my permission she wandered off. While I continued chatting with Sheila. Suddenly Alicia was back.
"Mum! You must come and look at this." Sheila got up and followed Alicia into the conservatory. I walked over to the lounge window to see what had excited Alicia. They were looking at the exercise eqipment. I had started going to a gym when I retired, but got fed up with the continued hike in rates, coupled with the fact that very often you had to wait between routines to get on the next machine. I already had a rowing machine, so I invested in a good treadmill. Sheila came back into the lounge.
"No wonder you don't look your age, Jack. Do you get on there often?"
"I'm impressed. We all talk about keeping fit, but few go the extent of actually doing something about it." I looked out to the conservatory again, as I heard the treadmill start. Alicia had kicked off her shoes and was walking at a slow pace. I grinned to Sheila.
"Come on, we'll give her a surprise.
We went and stood beside the machine.
"Enjoying it?" I asked Alicia. She smiled saying.
"It's great." She looked at her mum. "I ought to get one of these, but I couldn't in the flat. All the neighbours would complain at the noise." Whilst she was talking to Sheila, I reached over and touched the button for a much faster speed. The machine went quickly from three kilometres per hour to seven. Unable to adjust to the faster speed, Alicia started travelling backwards. I got to the back of the machine just in time, and caught Alicia as she stumbled off with a yelp of surprise. She recovered, but didn't seem too anxious to stand on her own feet for a while.
"I'm sorry." I said. "That wasn't very clever of me to do that." Alicia didn't seem upset by the trick.
"Oh I don't know. It's not so bad if you fall into a man's arms. I could do that often if you like." She winked at me. I couldn't believe it. Alicia was flirting with me. Sheila joined in the fun.
"Alicia! I didn't bring you up to throw yourself at a man like that. Shame on you."
Just before they left, Alicia needed the bathroom. Whilst we waited Sheila remarked.
"Alicia likes you, Jack. It's all going to work beautifully." I wasn't quite sure in what context her mind was working. But one question was bugging me.
"Sheila, I know you dance well, but how well does Alicia dance?"
"I don't think you have to worry about that. I have been teaching Alicia ballroom since she was fifteen. She's good, she knows all the steps. Possibly not as proficient as you, but she won't let you down. You lead well. It may be a good idea if you got together before the Ball. Get her used to the hold and framing when dancing with a man. I want you and her to look as if you were born to dance together." I nodded in agreement.
"Perhaps she would like to come to the dance classes I attend, two or three times. That could help." Sheila shook her head in rejection of that idea.
"Could she come here? You have plenty of room, and I think she would be more comfortable that way."
"No problem. If she gives me a call when it's suitable, we'll arrange it."
God protect me from a woman who was after revenge. I should not have been surprised with Sheila's attitude, from what she had told me Ewing treated her with disdain. I have heard so many horror stories from men and husbands who have been victim of a woman's retribution. It did occur to me that I was only part of Sheila's plan. What else there was I would probably not know until the trap was sprung. But in the meantime I had the distinct pleasure of dancing with Alicia. Now that was something to look forward to.
Alicia called two days later to ask if she could come and practice that evening. I had no plans so we agreed that she would be at my house around seven.
"Will you want to eat?" I asked her.
"Thanks, Jack but no. I will have had something for lunch so I will be fine."
"If I brought my sweats, would it be alright with you if I spent a bit of time on your rowing machine and treadmill?"
"Help yourself. I get my exercise in the morning, so you won't inconvenience me in any way."
"That's great. See you later, Jack."
Alicia arrived at ten to seven. She wore a rather attractive frilly blouse with long sleeves, and a full skirt, suitable for dancing. When I greeted her as Alicia, she informed me in no uncertain terms that I should call her Ally.
"My father insists that everyone calls me Alicia. I prefer for my friends to call me Ally."
"OK, Ally. Your wish is my command." I had bought some CD's when I first started dancing. They were by Victor Sylvester's orchestra. He had been a champion dancer between the wars, and was insistent on strict tempo, so the music was good for dance. As she put her dancing shoes on I played a track and we listened for a few minutes, then I turned it off. Ally looked surprised.
"Before we dance, we must get the hold right." I took up the position. "Now see how my shoulders and arms are. My left arm is parallel with the floor, bent to about forty five degrees and the palm up. You lay your right hand in my palm. Don't grasp it, just lay it on." She did. "Now your left hand should rest on top of my right upper arm, again don't grasp it, just rest it there."
"Like this?" Ally asked.
"Yes. That's good. Now my right arm will go round your back and rest just below your shoulder blades." I demonstrated. We were not face to face, but slightly off-set, an interesting position as Ally was pressing her right breast into my chest, possibly a little more pressure than was needed, and she was smiling mischievously.
"Now arch your back slightly, your bosom and my chest should not actually touch, but that position brings our hips together. That is how I lead you, with my hips, and gentle pressure with my arms. If I sway into the direction we need to go, you will feel that immediately." Ally was grinning.
"What will I feel immediately, Jack?" She rubbed her hips suggestively side to side.
"Ally. The idea is to piss your dad off, not give him a hard-on." Ally chuckled.
"Is it alright then, if you get one?"
"I doubt that I will."
"Oh!" Her voice expressed disappointment.
"Not because my partner isn't attractive at all. But because I will be very aware of your father's eyes shooting daggers at me."
"Well then, I see I have a challenge." She was smiling innocently. How do women manage to seem so innocent and yet still insinuate really sexy suggestions at the same time?
I had to get this back on track.
"Now your head. Tilt back slightly and turn it to the side." Ally followed the instructions and took the hold well. "Now let's dance. Shall we start with the Waltz?"
"Yes. That's an idea, keep it simple at first." I put the music on. Ally did know all the steps, and we practiced the combinations that would allow us to float round the ballroom seemingly at ease. After an hour we decided to take a break.
"Tea, Coffee, Wine or water? What's your choice, Ally?"
"Tea please, Jack." She came into the kitchen as I prepared the drink.
"That was good." She said. "I was surprised that the hold seemed to make the whole thing smoother. And I definitely felt your lead." She smirked. "Not the lead I would have liked though."
"Ally! Let's get this straight. We are dancing for a purpose. It's your mother's idea, and I am certain that it is not part of her plans that we do anything else but dance and upset your father. OK?" I was astonished when she smiled.
"Mum said you were a gentleman, and she's right. Now I can tell her that you would not consider trying anything with me." She stepped towards me and put her hand on my arm. "But a little bit of flirting would be OK, wouldn't it, Jack?"
"I suppose. But not too much. I don't want your boyfriends coming after me." She shook her head.
"None of those. I get fed up with fending off men who seem to think I am their way in to favour with my father. And as I said they don't last very long."
We sat down to drink the tea.
"Jack. Did you love that woman you were seeing, Becky, wasn't it?"
"No, Ally. I have known Becky for years. It was odd really. We had always got on well, and it was quite a surprise when it got physical. I didn't think it would last, and I am sure now that Becky didn't think that either."
"Mum thinks she was a fool. I mean to give you up to screw my father. Trading down I call that."
"Thank you, Ally. But as I said it was never going anywhere, so perhaps she thought she saw a chance for something better."
"What! To become my father's mistress?"
"Well as my mistress, she wasn't going to benefit in any way. I've got nothing."
"I don't know what you class as nothing. But I reckon you have qualities that are priceless."
"You're kind, Ally. But mistaken. You don't know me well enough to make that judgement." She just grinned at me.
"I will have to get to know you better, and I am sure that my opinion will be justified." I had finished my tea and suggested we get back to dance.
We danced for another half an hour. When we decided that was sufficient for the first evening.
"Can I work out on your treadmill now, Jack?"
"Yes, of course." Ally got the bag she had brought.
"I've got some sweats and trainers in here, if it's OK with you, I'll pop up to the bathroom and change."
"Go ahead." Ten minutes later Ally came down. She had said sweats, but what she was wearing bore little relationship to the accepted version of 'sweats'. A thin tee shirt, and very short shorts. She gave me a smile as she went through to the sun-room, and I had a mini heart-attack. Oh, those long svelte legs! Then I heard the treadmill start. I went up to my office and played around with my writing, not successfully, as my mind was too busy with pictures of Ally. I knew I could not get anything worth while written, but it was better than hanging around trying to get glimpses of her working out. I did manage to get some cohesive sentences down when this voice addressed me from the door.
"Mum said something about you writing. What do you write?"
"Short stories mainly, but I have been working on a novel for something like five years." I looked up at her. Oh God! Her Tee was soaked through with sweat, and she wasn't wearing a bra. I suggested that she took a shower.
"Whilst your in there I will make us a drink."
"OK. But don't make tea for me, I'll just have water. I need to re-hydrate."
She came down and took a long drink from the glass of water. She sat opposite me in the lounge.
"Did I embarrass you?"
"Well, why didn't you look at me? Most men would have when I was soaked with perspiration like that."
"Ally, you are a damned fine looking woman, no, a beautiful young woman, and I am just a normal man, a middle aged man. Of course I want to look at you, but I couldn't do that without wishing, and life has taught me that wishes are fishes. They usually swim away." Ally was pensive for a few moments.
"Sometime wishes do come true, Jack."
"Mine don't." I said sourly. Ally changed the topic. I was thankful else it could have got into difficult territory.
"You said you worked out in the mornings. What time would that be?"
"Usually about half past seven, why?"
"It would probably be better for me to work out early. I suspect the adrenalin boost will keep me awake most of tonight. Can I come at that time?" What the hell was going on here, I asked myself. I was trying to do her mother a favour, and that could cause a difficulty for me, and here was Ally now assuming that she had the right to use my equipment whenever she wanted. Unfortunately I couldn't think of any reason to say no. I have been told in the past that I allowed myself to be inconvenienced in order to do others a favour. I seemed to be going down that road yet again. However the road looked very attractive from where I sat.
"Well it's up to you. You are the one getting up early." She smiled.
"That's settled then. Thanks, Jack."
I was half-expecting Ally to arrive the next morning, but she didn't. I had that funny emotion of relief and disappointment vying for possession of my mind. She phoned me early that evening.
"Hi, Jack. Did you have a good day?"
"Yeah. Not too bad. How about you?"
"Busy really, but boring. I need to cheer up so can I come over this evening for some more dance practice?"
"Yes, of course. What dance tonight?"
"The Fox-Trot please, Jack. Mum says you do that well."
"OK, Ally. The Fox-Trot it will be."
She arrived at seven, and we got on with the practice. Again, Ally knew the steps, it was the timing that needed practice, and the Heel Turn, a most difficult manoeuvre. She had proper leather soled and heeled, dance shoes but even so we practiced in the conservatory as it had a laminated wooden floor. Better that, than the heel turn ripping up my carpet. We worked on that and the Hover, a hesitation step. Our practice went on for almost two hours, and I decided to call it over then.
"Phew! That takes it out of you." she remarked. I was grinning.
"Yes, but don't forget, you will never be doing that for two hours in the ballroom. More like six minutes maximum."
"Thank God for that!" I was making us some tea. Ally joined me in the kitchen. She was looking around, and opened the fridge to get some milk. She couldn't help noticing the foodstuffs I had.
"Do you cook all this yourself?"
"Yes." She was thinking.
"You really don't need a woman in your life, do you, Jack?" Strange comment I thought.
"Well it depends, why a man needs a woman. Cooking, cleaning, shopping. None of these are rocket science. If a man needs a woman purely for those reasons then he's lost sight of what is important about relationships." Ally had a little smile on her face, I realised that she had succeeded in drawing me out.