Putting my hand on one of the majestic gates I hold my breath and start to push it open, wincing as I do so. For some unexplained reason it bothers me that it might creak. Why that matters at all I have no idea, if this place is empty then why should it? I suppose it's just my nerves getting the better of me.
I've been itching to get inside this stunning house since I arrived in the neighbourhood, but always bowed out due to time issues. Today however, I have no such restrictions as there's no work tomorrow. Talking of which, other than my work colleagues I don't know anyone else here so I've not been able to find out anything about the house and the ones I have asked don't seem to know what I'm talking about; I'm just greeted with blank stares as if I'm talking about another planet.
Walking up the path the air seems....electric. The silence is so loud, it's overbearing. No rustling of trees, no birds cheeping and no traffic noise. Nothing but deathly, calm quietness. For a split second common sense prevails, I almost stop in my tracks and turn around but, for reasons only known to insanity, I carry on...and start talking to myself...as you do when you do stupid things. I've always been prone to having a restless streak; looking for danger and dodgy situations. ''I have to praise you, Tammi, this has to be your most ludicrous idea yet.''
Apprehension starts to overtake my body; it's getting increasingly hard to breathe. I'm so frightened yet absolutely compelled to keep moving forward. The nearer I get to the door, the path seems to elongate. Yet I know I'm still moving; an invisible force pulling me along in a distorted vision it's hard to see where I'm going. I realise I can't see the sunlight or feel a breeze eventhough it's a beautiful spring day. I start to feel incredibly vulnerable and extrememly alone...
''Welcome Tammi, come on in.''
Jesus, is that someone calling out my name! I know it can't be real because I know this place is empty. How I know this I'm not sure.
The tone of the voice sounds haunting and very enticing, undeniably difficult to resist and indistinguishable to determine as to whether it's female or male. Before I know what I am doing, I knock on the impressive solid oak door, the sound reverberates through the desolate rooms. ''For god's sake why are you knocking, you prat,'' (chastising myself makes me take a few breaths allowing me to convince myself everything is normal.) There's no answer, which not only frustrates me but surprises me somewhat. Taking matters into my own hands I slowly press down the fabulous chunky handle, the door gradually opens to reveal a derelict but spacious hallway. Taking a step inside my eyes are drawn to the work of art that is the winding black metal staircase. It goes on forever the detail is pure craftmanship and something I have always longed for in my house, but custom made ones like these are excrutiatingly expensive.
''Why have you waited so long to come and see me?''
There it is again...I don't know where to look or whether to answer, it seems ridiculous that I'm here alone and no-one knows other than this voice. If I don't reply will it think I've gone? I don't know if I should make a run for it...I turn around to see how far I am from the entrance...The door is closed...I'm positive I didn't...
Gradually my legs start to move, one in front of the other, I have no idea where I'm going other than having a compulsion to look around. As I approach the corner I'm afraid of what I'm going to see on the other side. ''Why did I come here today? Why do I get myself in these situations? I have to stop this and take responsibility for my actions!'' Letting out a deep sigh I compose myself and cautiously edge round...
Thank god, it's just the open plan living area: black and white gloss kitchen units and seating to match. Everything you need to cook with and entertain is here in this space. I'm not a fan of cooking, though everything about the colours and designs are what I would pick. The lounge has floor to ceiling tempered sheet glass with plum-coloured silk curtains draping the sides. I am in absolute awe of this place it must've been full of love at some time.
Come to think of it, I'm not sensing any residual energy. Usually I'm quite sensitive to that when I enter a house. There's nothing sad, nothing happy not even anything remotely strange despite my initial hesitance on entering. I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse, it seems unusual not to feel something. Maybe relief is the word I'm looking for as it implies there's nothing sinister lurking around.
''Please feel free to look around, there's nobody here to hurt you.''
My eyes dart around every direction looking for something that might resemble a living being. Then realisation dawns, the voice is in my head. It's not me though... It doesn't make sense. Am I psychic! ''Come on Tam, get yourself together. Everything will be fine.''
In my infinite wisdom I'm going to turn back and head for the stairs; that stupendous staircase in all it's glory waiting for me to climb it and discover more hidden secrets. I have to ask myself, ''Am I ready for this? Simple answer...Nope...I'm terrified.'' My shoes clang on each step, which makes me feel a bit disrespectful to the all encompassing peacefulness...but, as I reach the top I'm aghast at the sight revealed in front of me: a corridor with highly polished dark wood flooring. A little pirouette is in order to take in this scene. It's the sort of place I would love to live in and already feels like mine. You know what? It's just occured to me that everywhere is fully furnished yet it feels deserted. I'm confused but still feel the need to explore further. I tiptoe over to a door...push it open...it's a monochrome bedroom with a splash of raspberry-coloured paint. How odd, it's how I've done mine at home.
Hanging above the kingsize bed is a wall canvas. Personally, it's not the sort of picture I'd usually be attracted to, eventhough it is quite pretty and very intriguing. Walking closer to it it seems to luminate; pulsating in the way a heart does. ''Oh yes, that's what it is! Gosh Tammi mate, you suprise me with your dimness.'' Actually the shape of it resembles the earcuff I always wear; albeit mine is black and pewter and this is pink. The floaty sides of the heart on the picture look like the wings on my cuff (which is supposed to represent the fickleness of the heart and how dark it really is).
Admiring the uniqueness and simplicity of it's design, the thought of colour representation in dreams (or candle magic) enters my head. If I'm remembering correctly pink indicates love and friendship. ''Hmmm, so...is this a prophecy, Tammi my girl? Am I going to meet the man of my dreams? Yeah, I wish...''
In that split second I feel I'm being watched but keep staring at the picture as if in meditation. Images of happiness pass in front of me. Love and happiness, actually, with me..and...a man I've never seen in my life! It makes me smile. I'm not a huge fan of romance, it's very rare I get to experience it. This was different though and he seemed genuine enough. ''Yum, he was quite tasty really, I hope it's him I'm going to meet! Hah, could I be that lucky?''
In the past I've had a few boyfriends, some of them quite special too, but they've just drifted away. One or two have nearly ended in marriage, thankfully none ever did. It's not that I don't still receive plenty of invitations to go out, I just don't fancy (or even like) any of the men that ask me. So then what's the point?
However, this one is something else. Besides his looks he felt like a nice person and that's very rare! Despite that, he wasn't even the 'type' that I'm usually attracted to; the corporate-look isn't normally what interests me. That's not to say I don't like a man in a suit, because I definitely do!
My laughter turns to disbelief as I see a wedding...on a beautiful beach. The sea impossibly blue and the sand a pinkish white. A fairytale picture-book with joy radiating from the whole scenario. I don't know if I'm just wishful thinking; getting carried away in my thoughts, but it seems extremely real. He turns to look at me, my stomach somersaults in reply. I can't see the bride's face, though I sense she's ecstatically glad to be there. His smile is sincere as he holds out his hand, ''Hello Tammi, nice to meet you at last. I'll be seeing you very soon.'' I want to answer, however, words fail me. Instead I hold up my hand, giving a little wave, in the hope he can see me...
''Tammi,, you plank, who are you waving at? It's a picture!''
It's starting to fade...
The heart stops glowing.
''No, don't go...please don't go..''
''Damn it, why do I always wake up on the best bit!'' It wasn't the sort of thing I ever dream mainly due to the fact I never think in that way. Funny thing is it's put me in a good mood for the day. Getting up doesn't seem the usual chore of a routine. Something relative, maybe even prevalant is going to happen...I can feel it...
Oh well another day at the office; sitting at my P.C. and minding my own business by perusing over some logos the company has designed for the new ad' campaign. It's my job to shortlist them; nothing is grabbing my attention, ''Where is all this creative talent these people are meant to have?'' I'm desperate for something to distract me. ''What!'' As fast as it appeared on my screen it disintegrated just as quickly. As much as I keep pressing the back button I can't find the damn thing. I know I saw it. That pink heart I saw in my dream.
A 'phone call interrupts my boredom or is it panic? ''Oh thank god, saved by the bell.''
''....Okay, I wasn't told about any meeting today... I'll be there in a few minutes.'' Now I'm thinking is this a repremand? Am I crap at my job? Are we being closed down....! I curse myself, ''Stop being negative!''
On my way down the corridor to the conference room, I can see the other executives laughing and joking as if nothing is wrong. Well I suppose they would be wouldn't they? It's never them that lose their jobs. Anyway I have to maintain decorum and walk in with my head held up high; stiff upper lip and all that. Some of them turn around as I walk in-
''Afternoon Tammi, not seen you for a while.'' Jenson is one of the senior graphic designers in the company, very nice bloke, but not my idea of a long term relationship. Or any kind of relationship really.
I try to act indifferent, maybe a little non-chalant ''No, you know what it's like, cooped in the office all day chained to the computer. Sometimes I have to force myself to remember there's a door leading into the outside world.''
A couple of them laugh in agreement as I walk over to the tea urn. I park my bum down on a chair that allows me a view of the outside. These meetings can drone on and half the time I don't know why I've been summoned to attend. I scan the room to see who else is here...
Mister Boss Man himself enters the room with someone else trailing behind him. He's alright really, for a boss. Although he has been known to sometimes talk a load of codswallop-thinking we all believe it, but he's fair. ''Welcome everybody, this won't take long I know you all have a lot of work waiting for you, so I'll try to keep this brief.''
I raise my eyebrow, ''Yeah, I've heard that one before.'' Smiling into my mug.
He carries on, ''As you all know there have been talks of a merger with a major advertising company in Europe..We'll both retain equal partnership, however, Head Office will remain here....''
Hmmm... are some of us going to be transferred, or at least have the option? Heck I may as well do, I like the transient lifestyle. Maybe I was a Nomad in my past life! I zone back into the conversation.
''....And so, it gives me enormous pleasure to introduce you all to the Exectutive Director of the European branch... Aston Martin...
I nearly drop my mug as he turns to face everyone. He is ridiculously gorgeous, I'm sure I'm dribbling from the corner of my mouth. Consciously, I put down my tea and make an effort to wipe my chin. Just in time as he looks across to me with a stare that says I know you. Little does he know the feeling is mutual. I'm positive I've seen him before why can't I place him? I've not been anywhere different lately so how would I have met him? Giving him the once-over I can't help thinking his appearance is as striking as his name. I only hope he doesn't live up to the character traits it suggests, ( well not all of them anyway) although the car is a classic!
''....Thank you all for taking time out of your hectic schedule to be here today. Your boss speaks very highly of his staff; this company in particular comes recommended with substantial merit for it's talent and professionalism within the industry....''
He certainly has the gift of the gab, though he does sound sincere. Maybe he's a mega-salesman and this is all a pitch to gain our confidence. If he s a conman he's well-practiced at it; everyone in the room is entranced by him. Or is that just me drooling? Oh my god, I wish he wouldn't glance at me like that I don't know where to put my eyes.
''....I know this merger will be a profitable and successful one....''
I can't help but be transfixed by him what I see is everything a man should look like. Or should I say, the way I prefer a man to look. His self-assuredness matches his immaculate presentation with his navy blue pinstripe suit as sharp as his speech. Every time he moves the smell of an extortionately expensive cologne wafts my way, adding to the potentency of his presence. He catches me staring, daring me to turn away. I can't.
''.....So I hope we'll all be working together in the not too distant future. Again, I thank you for attending the presentation; it's been a pleasure..''
That smile makes me melt. The pleasure is all mine, mate, he is absolutely divine. Everyone starts to stand up and shakes Aston's hand on leaving the room. I get up to take my mug over to the tea tray suddenly feeling slightly self-conscious. I needn't be, I know I look good in this pencil skirt; it hugs me in all the right places. The soft ivory-coloured blouse compliments my pale complexion, emphasising my dark brown eyes and freckled nose. I walk back towards the door knowing I have to pass him. I can see he's scanning my name tag while holding out his hand. His black silk shirt creeping up his arm to reveal a rather substantial watch.
A smile erupts across his ruggedly-masculine features. He's also very tall and well built, which I like. It's blatantly obvious that he takes care of himself, while not being arrogant, so I've decided I already like him. It tells me he also has self-discipline-a commodity in very short supply for most people.
''Hello....Tammi...Very pleased to meet you and thank you for listening to me waffling on.''
He has me hook, line and sinker; I am his. That handshake informs me as such: it's warm and comforting, makes me feel safe and cared for. A little voice in my head tells me, ''Don't be stupid Tammi, you don't even know the man! Even worse, what if he's married?'' I'll be devasted if he is now he's made me feel this way.
It doesn't seem as though he's in any hurry to let go of my hand...and I'm in no rush to pull away. I give him a meek smile in return hoping I don't appear too coy. It seems to be working as I get the impression he wants to ask me something...
He looks directly into my eyes, ''I'd like to take you out, Tammi.''
Gosh he's assertive. I like a man who knows what he wants, but it also worries me that he's probably used to getting his own way. I want to accept though I don't want to seem too eager, or desperate!
The metaphorical clock starts ticking as I debate with myself as to whether or not I should give up the opportunity to be wined and dined by this adonis? I don't feel physically threatened by him just a bit perplexed by his attention. The little make-your-mind-up voice shouts in my head, Oh come on, answer him you pleb. ''...Erm okay...fine...where to?''
''Well, if it's alright with you, I'll pick you up from your house then we can go to mine and I'll rustle us up something from nothing. If you want to, we can go out afterwards...''
Oh lord above, I've hit the jackpot, ''You like cooking? That's fantastic, because I loathe it with a passion. Love eating though!''
He laughs a little, ''I like your honesty. I'll pick you up about eight o'clock. Is that okay?''
I feel like I'm repeating myself, ''Yes, that's fine.'' Somehow I manage to hold his gaze long enough to let him know I'm serious. We head out the door with me feeling like I'm walking on air. I look at my watch and time stands still but I'm smiling like I've just taken some illegal substance. Unlike the boredom I had to endure this morning, the lack of concentration I'm experiencing is caused by massive doses of endorphines whooshing round my body in an endless rush of anticipation. ''Keep yourself busy kiddo, time will pass more quickly.'' That's so true, but how can I focus on work when all I can see is his face lingering in my breathing space like a reminder not to forget him-for a second...
By sheer tenacity I struggle through the rest of the day and send the last email. That's me done for the day let me out of this office. This walk to the 'Tube' seems as if I'm being told something: Billboards and buses have adverts that somehow contain pink hearts. Should I feel afraid? because I don't. In fact, it's reassuring; reiterating my fate in a positive way. Inadvertedly gazing round the train, every girls' t-shirt seems to be emblazoned with a pink heart. Obviously they're not all an exact replica the one in my dream, but a representation of it.
Putting my key in the door it enters my head that I won't be eating alone tonight. I've already planned what I'm going to wear as I sense I know what Aston likes. As soon as he asked me out my timetable was prepared in my head. I'm organised like that but might deviate slightly, just for a second opinion incase it works better another way. Sometimes it does, but only the once. The same as my clothes. Once I've made up my mind, that's it.
Not long to wait now...
I walk over to the window, ''Try to keep calm, Tams, it's only a date...with a man...oh crap, he's here! Hang on...is it him? Yep. Don't rush to the door, he'll think you're sitting behind it...Shoes, where did I put my shoes? By the door where you plonked them ten minutes ago. Bag...with your shoes!''
The velocity of the doorbell seems to have increased just to accentuate how nervous I am right at this precise moment. I'll peep through the spyhole first to pass a few seconds...now open the door...
I'm greeted with the most welcoming smile I think I'm already in love. He doesn't push his way in or try to snog my face off . Finally, I'm shown some respect. ''Are you ready?'' The tone of his voice is gentle and compassionate, a quality I've never encountered before.
''Yes I am. Just have to put on my shoes.'' I think I said that without quivering.
He stands there patiently waiting, ''May I say, you look lovely, Tammi.''
I look him right in the eye, ''Thankyou, so do you!'' Now I'm glad I decided on the red diamante ankle-strap sandals instead of the black ones. (We actually make a matching couple with his red shirt.) He takes my hand and links it over his arm, it makes me feel so special walking down the path to his car; he even opens the door for me ( I have an incling I'm going to be saying thankyou quite a lot tonight.) The smell of leather from the voluptuous black seats, engulfs me. We make idle chit chat about something and nothing and, although the traffic is a little on the hectic side it doesn't take us long to reach his place. He tells me to wait...and comes round to open my door. How chivalrous of him.
Walking up the path I shiver, but don't know why as it's not cold at all. He unlocks the door, turns round and leads me in. I sense familiarity, but how? I've been here before...I haven't though, because I don't know Aston...
Evenso, I can't contain my enthusiasm and walk into the living area to look out of the window. ''Wow, this is a beautiful place you have.''
I'm enchanted by the city view as the lights twinkle in the darkness. He comes to stand at the side of me and looks at me with an approving smile ''You like it?''
''How could I not it's wonderful.'' Wanting to put my arms around him I restrain myself for appearing too forward and rather assuming. Although the moment just seems to be demanding it.
''You don't know how pleased I am to hear you say that, Tammi.''
I turn to him, slightly bewildered at such a comment. All the same I smile in return.
He puts his hands in his pockets, casually standing beside me looking out of the window ''It's all yours.''
I don't know whether to laugh, say thankyou or scream. Maybe even cry. Finally I land back down on Earth. ''....Erm, what did you just say?''
''For a split second he stares into my eyes, ''We've been waiting for you, Tammi...''
''W..who..? You and who?"
Then I see it...
He takes my hands and gently holds them. ''You already know. The house, of course.''
A reflection catches my eye...a pink reflection in the glass. The dream comes tumbling forward...I turn around and there it is, though not in the bedroom. A huge pink heart over the sofa by the wall, glowing in appreciation for a job complete. Now, not only am I in the house of my dreams but I get to live in it with a man I adore.