WRITTEN BY CAROLE LLEWELLYN
He had strolled back into my life after five years… but now, it seemed, the balance of power was in my hands
David Southall hadn’t changed – a little older, but as handsome and debonair as I remembered. I watched him lead an attractive blonde woman to a window chair overlooking the Cornish coastline.
Stephanie, the barmaid, had called in sick. With no one else available I’d offered to stand in… but I hadn’t bargained for this.
I told myself that five years was a long enough time to hold a grudge. My life had moved on and I couldn’t be happier. Although I remembered so clearly the day I first met David…
I’d entered the lift of the Majestic Hotel early that morning – where I worked as a trainee manager – and pressed the button for floor twenty-six. What happened next always appears in slow motion because, just as the lift doors began to close, a man made to enter and was caught between them.
As he prised the doors apart and stepped inside, he grimaced, both hands holding his groin.
What are you playing at? You could have ruined me for life.
“I’m so sorry,” I blurted. “I didn’t want to be late for work. What floor?”
As the lift began to ascend, I watched him compose himself. He was tall, smartly dressed with blond hair and sparkling blue eyes.
“If you’re late for work, why are you going up in the lift?” he asked.
“I work in the Executive bar of the Penthouse restaurant,” I informed him.
“You work at this hotel?” He shook his head. “Tell me, are the proprietors aware of how you treat the guests?”
“Look. I’ve said I’m sorry… I don’t know what more I can do.”
As he looked me up and down, I was glad I’d chosen the little black dress today and had taken time over my coiffure.
“I’ll only accept your apology if you’ll let me take you to dinner.” He spoke with the confidence of someone who was clearly not used to being refused.
At dinner he told me he was an architect, working on a big contract in the area. His office had booked him into the Majestic Hotel.
After our initial date, many followed and it wasn’t long before we were inseparable. He was everything a girl could dream of – handsome, witty, intelligent… and an attentive lover. I was smitten, and believed he felt the same.
His head office was based in Essex. He went back for the odd visit but always returned, saying he’d missed me.
So, on the day his six-month contract ended and he left Cornwall without saying goodbye, to say I was shocked and hurt would be an understatement.
I asked myself how I could have been so naïve as to have fallen for someone so… undeserving. He shattered my confidence and for a long time, I found it hard to put my trust in another man.
Now the time had come for me to face my demons. Taking a deep breath I headed for their table.
“Good afternoon and welcome to the Headland Hotel. Can I get you some drinks?” I asked, with a false smile.
David looked up and I could see that he recognised me instantly…
“Dave – are you feeling OK?” the woman with him asked.
“Yes – yes, I’m fine,” he snapped. Then, without making eye contact, “We’d like a couple of gin and tonics.”
As I slowly wrote down his order, I sensed his discomfort. I, on the other hand, was enjoying every moment.
“Would you like ice and lemon, Sir?”
“Melanie, do you want ice and lemon?” he abruptly asked.
She smiled at me and said, cYes, please. But wouldn’t you think that, after ten years of marriage, he’d remember how I liked my drinks?” Then she shook her head and sighed and said, “Men!”
I wanted to tell her it was only “some men” but stopped myself. Instead, I turned to the two-timing rat and flashed an accusing stare. As I watched him squirm in his seat, I realised that this pompous, chauvinistic man bore no resemblance to the one I’d fallen for.
For what seemed like an age, there was an awkward silence. Then, he spoke.
“I’m here to see the proprietor, Jason Blakely. I have a three-thirty appointment. I’d be obliged if you would tell him I’m here.”
His eyes pleaded for me to go.
“Could I have your name, Sir?”
I decided to keep up the pretence of us not knowing each other… my choice.
I watched him breathe a sigh of relief and his shoulders relax.
“It’s David Southall, of Southall and Hubble Architects.”
I knew of the planned extension.
“Thank you, Mr Southall. I’ll get your drinks and then let my husband… Jason Blakely… know you’re here.”
As I walked away, head held high, my smile was finally for real.