Art Trip

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  No Houses

Chapter 15 (v.1) - Chapter 15

Submitted: January 29, 2018

Reads: 252

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Submitted: January 29, 2018

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Janet bantered with the taxi driver leaving Maggie alone with her thoughts. She sat with her head against the back of the seat staring up at the roof of the cab. She felt stupid, and then she felt angry for feeling stupid because that’s what Martin wanted her to feel.

She wished now she had slapped him round the face that Sunday morning, instead of just walking out on him screaming down the phone to Debbie. Maggie never saw or spoke to Martin after that day. She never saw him collect the few things he had at hers when she tossed them out onto the street. She just cried for the rest of the day alone in her flat. Maybe if she answered his calls told him what a bastard he was, gone out got drunk and found another man who truly loved her. Then she could have paraded him in front of Martin as if to say, Hey! I’m still standing.

Then she caught her reflection in the cab window, she was still standing. After Martin she opened her bookshop and was awarded Young Business Woman of the Year. She had been asked to present a talk on antique book forgery in Florence and she runs a successful antiques business with a man who took a lot of courage to say, he loved her. She was more than standing, she was running!

Maggie reached for her phone and dialled, and after a few seconds Richard answered. “Hi.” She said. “No nothing’s wrong just wanted to say I love you.” Janet looked over to Maggie, smiled and went back talking to the cabby. Maggie held her phone away from her,
“Richard wants to know what time we’ll be back? He’s making something special for dinner.”
“About six” replied Janet.
“Did you hear that? OK see you later. Love you too.”
The call ended with Richard’s avatar above his number. Maggie kissed her right index finger and held it on the screen. Janet was now sitting back along-side Maggie and placed a hand on her arm.
“You OK?”
Maggie wiped a tear from her eye before smiling, “I’m totally OK.”
Janet patted Maggie’s hand, “Right, ready for the West End?”
“Yes, but is the West End ready for us!”

The taxi pulled up outside Liberty and Co. The cab door opened allowing Maggie to get out first leaving Janet to pay the fare.
“Put your money.” Insisted George, “This one is on the house.” Then he beckons Maggie over as he leaned through the window. “Take this,” he hands her his business card. “If you or Mr Maple wants wheels anytime and I mean anytime. He is my number.” Maggie took the card and thanked him. “As I’ve already said, top bloke that Mr Maple and you’re a top girl. Do yourself a favour and hang onto him.” With that final piece of advice, George drove away looking for his next fare.

Maggie was ready for a day of extreme ‘Janet’ shopping. Janet shopping is not for the faint hearted. The last time they went up West, Janet made Maggie take up temporary residence in one of Debenhams changing cubicles, while she ferried in rack upon rack of dresses for Maggie to try on. She had been in there that long, that the store manager threated to start charging her rent.

“Why have we started with an accessory shop first?” Maggie enquired.
“It’s easier to fit the dress around the details.” said Janet now in her element walking around the store with an armful of bags.
Maggie shrugged her shoulders, “You’re the boss.”
“Right sweetie how long are you in Florence for?”

“Five days, one of those is my speaking engagement at the conference. Then there is Richards opening of his exhibition at the Uffizi. The other three days we are the guests of the book festival.”
“So, that’s five handbags and five pairs of shoes, at least.”
Maggie spied the price of the brown shoulder bag Janet was holding.
“Are you having a laugh! £495, I’m not paying that for a bag!”

“Maggie, Maggie, Maggie this is your big time in Florence, you’ve got to keep up with all those Italian girlies. We don’t want you to be letting us Brits down.”
“I don’t mind paying that for a dress, but…”
“Ssshhh” Janet put a finger on Maggie lips interrupting her. Janet then waved a credit card. “Steve’s credit card has been a naughty boy and needs to be punished.” Then being serious for a moment she added, “Listen Steve and I want you to knock ‘em dead over there, so your new wardrobe it’s our treat and I promise you I won’t go daft, OK.” Maggie was moved by her friend’s generosity, she took the light brown leather bag off Janet’s arm. “Thank you.”

After a few more purchases in Regent Street they moved on up to Oxford Street where Maggie bought her own trouser suit plus shoes for her speaking engagement and Janet bought her a dress for the exhibition.

On the way to M&S, Maggie spotted the shop Dorothy Perkins. “I’ve not been in here since I was fourteen. I’ll just pop in for some tops.” Before Janet could tactfully say, your too old, Maggie was in about the racks.

She found a top she liked and was half-way trying it on when she realised that she might not be able to get it off. Her fears soon came to fruition when she couldn’t get the damn thing off. The shop manager was nearly going for the scissors insisting Maggie paid for the damaged garment, when the sales assistant suggested one last attempt. So, she held Maggie around the waist while Janet finally pulled it off over her head. “So, that’s what it’s like to be born.” Maggie said at last smoothing down her hair. “I think I need a drink after that.” Maggie and Janet left the store giggling like a couple of schoolgirls and were still talking about it when they reached the tapas bar.

It was three in the afternoon and they were both taking a well-earned rest. “Thanks for all this.” Maggie was still overwhelmed by Janet and Steve’s gesture as her shopping bags lay around her feet.
“Knock ‘em dead kiddo.” Said Janet in a mock American accent.

They were eating their cold platter of cured meats, serrano ham, manchego cheese, anchovies, olives, breadsticks and alioli, when Maggie asked, “So why did Debbie leave Martin?”
Janet looked disappointingly towards Maggie, “Ah! Come on, you told me you were now cool with Martin.”
“I am, totally cool, but Debbie and I were both part of this disaster movie. She knows the ending to my story but I don’t know the ending to hers. Remember, she once was my friend before she became a cow.”
Janet smiled at Maggie’ turn of phrase.
“She left Martin because she came around to his flat early one day to find him in bed with Becky Watts.”
Maggie raised her eyebrows and made a big ‘O’ shape with her mouth, “NO!”
“Not look after that he left London. I heard he got his dream job with the LSO as their pianist and is somewhere in the world living the dream.” Maggie just shook her head in unbelief with that latest revelation.

By the time they left the tapas bar it was half-past four and Maggie was done. She phoned Richard to say she was coming home and they went and hailed a cab.

They didn’t talk much in the cab on the way back to Richards, Maggie looked at all her bags. “He’s going to go divvy when he see’s this lot.” She said shaking her head. Then while she still had time being alone with Janet she thanked her. “I have had a great time today. Sorry about the wobble this morning.”

Janet put her arm around Maggie, “What are friends for if you can’t go loco on them once in a while.” Maggie smiled. “I should have spoken to you years ago about this.”
“Hey! We got it sorted know though.” At that point the cab pulled up beside Richards flat.

She phoned him to say she’d arrived and he was soon at the entrance waiting to greet her. The cab door opened and Maggie emerged with her bags. “Go to your man honey, he’s waiting for you.” Said Janet. Maggie shut the cab door and waved her good-bye.

 Richard came and met Maggie half-way and helped her with her bags. “Good grief Maggie I hope you left some stock for the other shoppers.” They man-handed her cargo up to the flat and it reminded her of that night when she moved in.

They dumped everything in her bedroom and kicking off her shoes she went through to the lounge and flopped onto the sofa. “I’m done!” Richard handed her a glass of wine and took his place next to her. “So, how was your day? Tell me all about it.”
Maggie left out the morning conversation with Janet in the taxi, but she did mention seeing George. Finally she concluded by making him laugh with her fashion malfunction in Dorthey Perkins.

Richard left Maggie to drink her wine while he prepared the table for dinner. He made for them Spanish chicken paella served with a dry white wine. “Dinner is served.” As always, he moved the chair out for her and Maggie took her place. Maggie was glad to be back in the flat, she missed Richard today and there were times she wished for a hug.

As always after dinner, Richard loaded the dish-washer and they took their place on the sofa looking out the window over the Chelsea skyline. “I’ve missed you today,” said Richard. Maggie rested her head on his shoulder. “I’ve missed you too. You, know” she said, “I’m really looking forward to going away with you.” She looked up at him, her eyes were glazed and tired. Richard bent down and kissed her gently on the lips. That was all it took for Maggie to put down her wine and throw her arms around this man of hers giving him the biggest hug her strength could muster.

Richard took off her glasses then tenderly caressed her mouth with his lips then delicately kissing her on the neck. Maggie could no longer contain herself she pushed Richard back onto the sofa and jumped on top of him. He felt the body heat from her breasts, coming through his shirt and he ran his hands up inside the back of her t-shirt fumbling for her bra strap.

At that point Maggie pulled away, this was not the right time. Not with Richard, he was special and that most precious moment that can only be exchanged once for first-time lovers, was going to saved for the right moment.

Richard became embarrassed had he gone to far too soon, was she annoyed with him, “I’m, I’m sorry I didn’t mean…”
“Hey! It’s OK.” Said Maggie softly as she stroked his hair. “You did nothing wrong. I don’t want us to rush into something, when there is no need to rush.”
Richard knew Maggie was talking about long-term commitment. She was planning to stay with him. He smoothed her t-shirt back down and they both sat upright on the sofa. He placed his arm around and drew her near to himself. “Thank you.” He said.
Maggie looked at him. “Thank you for what?”
“For staying with me, for loving me and being my future.”
Maggie kissed him, “Thank you for being my future too.”
She laid her head back on his shoulder remembering Janet’s words, ‘Focus your emotions on him because he is focusing his emotions on you.”


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