I met Miles the day Simon took me to the gig at The Old Ship. It was a chance meeting but one that would have more influence over my future than I ever expected it to have. Of course I wasn't to know that back then.
Simon and I had kept our relationship secret from our friends and families. We stole moments together at school and I spent long afternoons at his house, telling my mum I was at the library studying. The more time I spent with him, the more I got to like him and the more I began to fall in love with him.
On my 16th birthday my parents threw a small party for me and a few friends at home. I had a nice time, watching a couple of DVDs and eating takeaway pizza but all I could think about was Simon. I didn't see him on my birthday but he sent me a text that said, "You'll get your present on Friday. Love you x"
I didn't see Simon at all at school on Friday either. I wanted to check that everything was still on but he was nowhere to be seen. I texted him and called him but he never replied. I just hoped that he hadn't changed his mind.
My mum was fine about me staying at Alisha's. I'd known her since primary school and she only lived three streets away. I packed my backpack with a few things for an overnight stay but I had no idea what to wear for the gig. If I got all dressed up then my mum would get suspicious so I went for a casual look with my jeggings and a long black tunic top. I packed my makeup bag in my backpack, it was going to take a lot of lipstick and mascara to make me look old enough to get in the pub.
I sat in my room as nervous as hell. I'd never been out to the pub before on my own, I'd never been to a gig before and I'd certainly never spent the night with a boyfriend before. I tried to chill but I was so restless. I tried to relax in the bath, I shaved my legs, I straightened my hair but I still couldn't calm my nerves. Just before 6 o'clock I opened the front door to find it was chucking it down with rain. My dad asked if I wanted a lift. I panicked that my cover would be blown before I'd even got out the door, but I waved my brolly at him and said I'd be fine. I put my coat on, said goodbye to my parents and set off to the end of the street.
I stood under the street light on the corner waiting for Simon. He was late, it was 10 past 6 already and he hadn't shown up. What was I going to do if he stood me up? My parents weren't expecting me back until tomorrow afternoon. Where would I go? Just as I was starting to get worried a silver Bentley pulled up and the rear passenger door opened. Simon jumped out, took my bag from me and I climbed in the back seat next to him.
"Hello Angel," he said brushing the rain from his hair and giving me a kiss on the cheek. "I've got a quite a surprise for you. Home please, Bailey."
When we arrived at the house Simon took me into his room, I was quite surprised to find he'd tidied up and the place actually looked quite presentable. The ashtrays were empty, the books were back on the shelves and there were even clean white sheets on the bed. I went to sit down in the tub chair but he stood me back up again.
"No time for relaxing, Angel, we have to get you ready." He practically danced over to the mahogany wardrobe in the corner of the room. "I can't wait to see you in this, I just hope it fits!" He opened the wardrobe and took out a knee length black tea dress. It was stunning, it had the tiniest white polka dots and the fabric draped so well, it must have cost a fortune.
"Vintage Laura Ashley, it was my mother's. I guess an eye for fashion was her only saving grace, it was much better than her taste in men! Anyway, I had it dry cleaned and taken in so it would fit you. Happy birthday, Angel!"
"This is for me?"
"Yes, well I'm not wearing it! Go ahead, try it on."
"Ok, but..." I bit my lip.
"Oh God I'm sorry, of course!" he handed me the dress and turned his back to me. "I promise not to peek until you're ready."
Nervously I undressed and laid my clothes on the chaise longue, then I slipped on the dress. Everything about it was perfect from the way the scoop neckline accentuated my modest bust and the way the fabric shifted over my hips. I coughed and Simon turned around. I looked like a totally different girl.
"Oh Angel! You look fabulous, but wait I almost forgot the shoes!" He opened the trunk at the bottom of his bed and dusted off a blue shoe box handing it to me. Carefully I lifted the lid and there, carefully wrapped in pale pink tissue paper were a pair of black Italian leather kitten heels. I kicked my cheap Primark boots out of the way and tried them on. I wasn't used to wearing heels and I tottered around for a moment trying to get used to them. Simon took my hands and smiled.
"Angel, I love you!" He kissed me softly on the cheek and then dashed off to the wardrobe again. "I'll leave you to powder your nose, while I change my shirt then we'd better be heading off if we want to catch the support band."
I rummaged through my backpack to find my makeup bag whilst Simon tried to choose a shirt. I didn't know what took him so long, his wardrobe was full of plain black shirts. They all looked the same to me but he obviously wanted to find just the right one. As I was applying my mascara I glanced up and caught a glimpse of Simon's bare chest and I almost dropped my makeup mirror when I saw the tattoo. Across the left hand side of his chest in Gothic lettering was the word ANGEL.
"Simon? What's that?" I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.
"Ah, you weren't supposed to see that until later."
"Is that a tattoo?"
"Yes," he nodded. He came over to where I was sitting, letting the shirt fall from his shoulders revealing the tattoo on his smooth chest. "I had this done the day I met you. I wanted it to be healed by the time you saw it. You're in my heart, Angel, and I'm a creature of impulse. I know I won't regret it." I couldn't tell Simon but at first it kind of freaked me out. How could he have been so sure about me from the moment we first met? I had to remind myself that Simon was an extraordinary person, even if he was more than a little bit eccentric.
"You did that for me?"
"In a way, yes. Do you like it?"
"Yes, it's... It's wonderful!" Simon smiled. He buttoned his shirt and grabbed his coat from the stand by the door.
"Let's go, I have a feeling you're going to enjoy this."
I felt slightly overdressed at the pub. It was nothing like the family restaurant type places I'd been to before, this was a proper spit and sawdust bar. My heels were loud on the bare wooden floor and I could see the stage for the band was no more than a small raised platform in the corner of the main room. I followed Simon to the bar where he ordered 2 bottles of Stella. I took a swig from the bottle and pulled a face at the bitter taste. I wasn't used to drinking beer, I wasn't used to drinking at all but Simon didn't seem to notice. He was too busy scanning the room looking for his friends.
A crowd of old school Goths walked in, all dressed in black with their pale faces, dark eyes and backcombed hair. They called Simon's name as they spotted him at the bar. He introduced me to them in such a rush that I couldn't remember anyone's name, then we all went and sat down at a table near the stage.
I don't know where he knew them from, I'd never seen them at school before but they all seemed very well acquainted. I started to feel a little left out but Simon tried to keep me involved in the conversation. They talked about bands I'd never heard of, told stories of wild parties full of excessive drinking and drug taking. I guess I was a little shocked to be honest, but I couldn't help being slightly envious of the way they lived.
I think my nerves and the cold beer went straight to my bladder so I made my excuses and left to try and find the toilets. I followed a sign down a dark corridor and eventually found the ladies loo but on my way back I must have taken a wrong turning because I couldn't find my way back to the bar. I thought I was heading the right way but then I noticed the door at the end of the corridor opened onto the fire escape. This wasn't the right way at all.
Through the open door I could see a figure there standing in the rain, leaning over the railing. He was tall and well built with blonde spiky hair. I was going to ask him the way back to the bar but as I approached him I noticed he was gasping for breath.
"Hey! You OK?" I called. The man turned around and I could see his hand on his chest as he gasped and wheezed. He shook his head in answer to my question. "Asthma?" I asked. This time he nodded. I pulled him in out of the rain and he sat down on the floor in the corridor.
I knew all the signs, I'd been asthmatic when I was a kid and even though I hadn't had an attack in years, I still carried my reliever inhaler out of habit. Thankfully I had it in my handbag so I offered it to him. He almost snatched it out of my hand and pumping the canister twice in quick succession and breathing the vapour in as deeply as he could. I sat with him a minute until his breathing got easier and less laboured. He offered me the inhaler back but I told him to keep it.
"Cheers. I'm Miles, by the way."
"I'm Angel," I replied.
"You sure are," he said smiling at me. I blushed.
"Are you going to be OK now?" I asked. Miles nodded. "Then I'd best be getting back to my boyfriend. Do you know which way is back to the bar?"
"Yeah, left here, keep going and the door is on your right."
"Thanks," I said turning to leave.
"No, thank you!" he called after me. "I owe you one!"
Walking back down the corridor I became conscious of how my hips wiggled as I walked in the new shoes Simon have given me. As I turned the corner I was almost knocked over by a tall blonde girl in a cloud of cheap perfume wearing far too much makeup. She shrieked, "Miles? Where the fuck are you?" at the top of her lungs. I later found out that she was Cassandra Jade Harrison, Miles's girlfriend.
Finally I found my way back to Simon and his friends. I don't think he'd even noticed I'd gone. I sipped at my beer and listened to the conversation then the lights went down and the first band came on. They were OK I guess, they played old punk covers, some I knew, some I didn't. I just snuggled up to Simon and took it all in.
By 9 o'clock I was feeling a little tipsy. Simon had bought me another beer but I just held it in my hand, not wanting to seem ungrateful. I didn't want to get drunk and spoil things later.
The house lights dimmed again and someone turned a smoke machine on. As the room filled with clouds of dry ice Simon held my hand and whispered in my ear, "You're really going to love this."
Shadows appeared through the smoke as the members of the band took to the stage. My heart skipped a beat when I heard the thumbing bass line of Joy Division's 'Transmission'. I should have guessed from the name Unknown Pleasures that they were a Joy Division tribute band. That wasn't the only surprise though, as the smoke cleared I noticed that the tall, blonde bass player was none other than Miles!
I sat back in awe, listening to song after song. Simon was right, this was the best night of my life! Some of Simon's friends got up to dance and I could see he was eager to go too so I gestured for him to join them. He tried to drag me along too but there was no way I could dance in these shoes, so I sat and watched my boyfriend throwing shapes in the strobe lights to the wonderful music. I could have listened forever but the set finished, the lights came up and Simon put my coat around my shoulders and said, "Angel, it's time to go."
Bailey was waiting in the car outside. The music had been so loud my ears were ringing and I found it hard not to shout when I spoke. I snuggled up to Simon and put my head on his shoulder as we travelled back to the house. Bailey got out and opened the door for us and Simon took my hand as we walked up the stone steps and through the grand front door into the house.
Just before we got to Simon's bedroom door he stopped. He sat me down in a chair in the corridor and whispered, "Wait right there," then he disappeared into his room closing the door behind him. I felt a little nervous and I wondered what he was doing, but I found out soon enough.
When he opened the door again I was greeted by the soft glow of a hundred candles and the haunting melodies of Sigur Ros. Simon took my hand and lead me along a trail of red rose petals that were scattered across the floor and over the crisp white bed sheets. He slid my coat off my shoulders and carefully set it down on the chair.
I stared deep into his eyes, intoxicated by the alcohol and the love I felt for him. I tried to speak but he silenced me placing his finger on my lips. He brushed my hair from my face and he kissed me, softly at first then harder and more passionately. This time there was no holding back. He held me close to his body as he moved his hands all over me. It was bliss, I'd never been touched like this before and I didn't want him to stop.
Simon's hands moved to the nape of my neck, he undid the hook and eye and slowly unzipped my dress. He kissed my neck as he gently slid the dress down from my shoulders and over my hips letting it fall to the floor. There I was standing before Simon dressed in nothing but my while lace bra and knickers. Nervous I bit my lip, I wasn't quite sure what to do next. I pushed my inhibitions aside, I stepped out of my shoes and putting my hands on Simon's chest I started to unbutton his shirt.
I ran my fingers over his tattoo, I couldn't believe he'd done it just for me. His level of commitment scared me, but at the same time it was so exciting to think that he loved me enough to make such a permanent statement like that.
He sent shivers down my spine as he ran his fingers over my bare flesh. My pulse quickened in anticipation of his touch and I couldn't keep my hands off his soft, smooth skin. I felt such an intense passion as I almost raced to undress him, pulling his shirt over his shoulders and fumbling with the button of his jeans.
I sat down on the bed as Simon took off his jeans. He unfastened my bra and kissed every inch of my body. Slowly I laid back on the rose petals and he slid down my knickers. I thought I'd feel vulnerable being naked in front of him but I felt so safe and so loved. I slid his boxer shorts over his hips and was almost shocked to see his large, erect penis. I was even more shocked when realised I could barely wait to feel it inside me.
Simon continued to stroke and kiss my body as he moved himself on top of me. My nipples hardened as they brushed against his skin and I opened my legs wide as he stroked me and slipped his fingers inside me.
I never imagined it would be like this, it was too wonderful for words. Simon kissed my breasts, then my neck and the next moment he entered me, slowly, with each gentle thrust pushing deeper and deeper inside me. My whole body was tingling as I pushed against him and felt the pleasure flowing through my veins. I wrapped my legs around him as he thrust harder and faster. I let out a moan of pleasure as I climaxed then with one final thrust he called out, "Angel," as he came too.
Simon lay on my naked chest for a moment breathing hard, then silently he started to weep. I couldn't help but weep too, for the total beauty of the moment, the physical release and the sheer ecstasy. I stroked his shoulder to try and comfort him. He withdrew from me and wiped his tears with his arm, then gently wiped mine away and stroked my face.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered, "I've broken my perfect Angel."
"Oh no, you haven't broken me, you've set me free!" I breathed.
Simon didn't say any more. He quietly lay down beside me and drew the covers over us both. I snuggled up to him and I whispered, "I love you," in his ear. I fell asleep listening to him breathing.
When I woke up in the morning it took me a moment to realise where I was. My ears were still ringing, my mouth was dry and I was completely naked. Then I felt the touch of a hand stroking my hair. Surprised I pulled the sheet up to chin and turned over to see Simon's blue eyes gazing down at me. I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled.
"Good morning, Angel. Did you sleep well?"
"Yeah, I did," I replied, then I realised I was still clutching the sheet up to my chin. I relaxed, letting the sheet go and smiled nervously at Simon.
"Are you hungry? I've asked Martha bring us coffee and croissants."
"But we're still in bed!"
"Don't worry, she's very discrete, and also blind as a bat. She probably won't even notice," I gave a nervous laugh, "unless I do this!" said Simon as he firmly grasped the bed sheet and threw it back revealing my naked body in all its glory. I squealed covering my breasts with my hands and shouted, "You bastard!" but I couldn't help but laugh. I tried to grab the sheet back but he pinned me down on the bed and kissed me hard.
"You have the most beautiful body I have ever seen, you don't need to hide it from me." I felt his penis hard against my thigh.
"Is that so?" I said raising my eyebrows. Simon blushed.
"You're just too irresistible!" he said. He leaned in to kiss me again just as there was a knock on the door. "Come in," he said. "Please leave the tray on the table, Martha."
I held my breath as the elderly housekeeper placed the breakfast tray on the table. I didn't dare move until she closed the door behind her, then I sat up and playfully thumped Simon on the arm.
"I can't believe you did that!" I screamed, but Simon just held me and kissed me once more.
Simon got out of bed and stretched his arms above his head. I hadn't noticed how muscular his body was and I started to feel quite aroused again. Naked and confident as ever he strode across the room and picked up the tray, placing it on the bed next to where I lay.
"Cream and sugar?" he asked as he poured the coffee. I nodded.
"What would my mum say if she could see me now?" I asked as I took a bite out of a chocolate croissant and dusted the crumbs off my bare chest.
"I couldn't possibly imagine," said Simon, "but it might be a good idea if you told her about us sometime soon. It might help explain your birthday present."
"Yeah, I guess she might ask where I got a dress like that from."
"Oh I didn't mean that, I meant this," said Simon as he reached under his bed and handed me a box. It was beautifully wrapped in red satin fabric and tied with a large black bow. "I meant to give it to you last night but..." he rolled his eyes. We both giggled. I pulled the ends of the bow and the fabric fell away to reveal the packaging of a brand new iPhone.
"Oh Simon, I can't accept this!"
"Why not? I know you are always complaining about how slow your phone is and how you're always running out of credit. The contract is all paid for so you don't have to worry about that stuff anymore."
"You are just too good to be true," I said leaning over to kiss him and nearly knocking over the coffee pot. "Oh shit, sorry!"
"No harm done, but perhaps we'd better get up soon. I want to take you out for lunch before you go home."
"What can I say? Thank you!" I smiled. I still couldn't believe quite this was all happening. One minute I was just a boring school girl and the next I was being spoiled rotten by a filthy rich stranger who worshipped the ground I walked on. It was stuff of fairy tales, but fairy tales always have a villain don't they and I should have realised that things couldn't be this good forever.
We finished our breakfast and eventually Simon let me get dressed. He showed me to a bathroom on the first floor, it was the size of our living room! I put my wash bag down on the stool and brushed my teeth. As I stared at my reflection in the mirror I wondered how on earth I was going to tell my mum I had a boyfriend?
My dad was always pretty protective of me but I was 16 now and they must expect that I'd start getting interested in boys sooner or later. Most of my friends had boyfriends when they were like 13 or 14 years old and one girl had even left to have a baby last term. I was practically an old maid by their standards. Anyway, my parents had already met Simon and they seemed to like him. I'd just better keep quiet about how he put me on the pill and fucked me when I should have been at Alisha's house.
As I walked down the grand staircase to the entrance hall I saw the front door was open a crack. I caught a glimpse of a middle aged woman in a nurses uniform, talking on a mobile phone and I wondered who it could be. I knew there were staff here at the house, Martha the housekeeper, Bailey the driver and there were a couple of blokes who looked after the gardens, but why would they need a nurse? When I got back to Simon's room I asked him about her but he brushed me off saying it was nothing and I didn't give it any more thought.
Simon had washed, shaved and put on a clean shirt. He was looking gorgeous and I felt a little dowdy in my cheap clothes.
"I am taking you to the seaside!" he announced. He picked up my bag, grabbed my hand and whisked me off down the corridor to the front door where Bailey was waiting in the Bentley. "I had considered taking you to my father's favourite restaurant but I thought this might be more fun." I was secretly relieved. I know Simon was used to the finer things but I wasn't. I was glad he realised because I didn't want to sound ungrateful. I felt out of place with all the posh, formal stuff but I had to admit being driven around in the Bentley was kind of cool though.
Simon put his arm around me on the back seat and I snuggled up to him for the whole journey. I must have fallen asleep because when Simon woke me I could hear sea gulls. We got out of the car and Simon pointed at the fish and chip shop across the road.
"Dinner is served!" he said with a flourish of his arm. I laughed at him, he could be so funny sometimes. Despite our different backgrounds he always made me smile.
We ate our chips as we walked along the promenade. He bought me an ice cream and we sat on the beach wall, holding hands and watching the tide come in.
"Do you think Alisha will be bored of your company by now?" he asked.
"Eh? Oh shit! Look at the time!" I said. I'd had so much fun with Simon I'd completely forgotten about my cover story. We ran back to the car and Bailey must have run every red light and broken every speed limit to get me back home in time. He dropped me off at the same corner where he had picked me up the night before. I was so sad to be leaving Simon, it had been such a special day but I knew it had to come to an end. He kissed me and waved goodbye as the car pulled away.
I walked back to the house and let myself in. My mum called from the kitchen, "Did you have a nice time, love?"
"Yeah! We stopped up all night watching horror movies so I'm going to crash for a bit," I replied.
I dragged my feet up the stairs and collapsed on my bed. It felt good to be in the safety and comfort of my bedroom. I lay back on my bed and stared at the ceiling, thinking about last night. The band had been fantastic, hearing all those Joy Division songs live was just amazing, then I remembered Miles. When I saw him on the fire escape I had no idea he was actually in the band otherwise I don't think I would have dared speak to him. It was lucky I gave him my inhaler though otherwise he might have been too ill to play.
I tried to relax and chill out for a bit but my thoughts always returned to Simon. Even though I'd spent the last twenty four hours with him I couldn't wait to see him again. As luck would have it I didn't have to wait very long at all. I heard a strange noise coming from my bag, for a minute I wondered what it was. It sounded like 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', then I remembered the iPhone. In a mad panic I threw everything out of my bag, pulled the phone from the packaging and answered the call. There on the screen, on video call was my Simon!
"Hi Angel! I just wanted to make sure your phone was working and to ask you out tomorrow afternoon."
"Tomorrow? Sure! What time?"
"About 3 o'clock, OK? I'll call for you at your house. Love you!"Then he was gone again. I put the phone to my chest and hugged it. I felt like the luckiest girl alive!
© Clair Louise Coult 2012