Life Begins At Thirty : Chapter Ten

Another Morning After

The sunshine from the open window immediately blinded Hannah as she opened her eyes the next morning. It took her a few moments to realise that she wasn’t in her own bed, wasn’t in her own room, wasn’t alone and wasn’t wearing any clothes. Suddenly something, someone, moved next to Hannah. It didn’t make Hannah jump this time, she knew who it was, it was the man she had dreamt of these past few months since the night they met in a smokey bar in Soho.

Hannah rolled over and put her arm around him, holding him tight, pressing her lips against the back of his neck, kissing him lightly and smiling at the contented moan he sleep-talked in response. She felt she could stay there for hours. Just like this. But as she let herself relax, the urge to pee found its way to the front of her consciousness and she was forced to untangle herself from her lover.

Hannah slipped out of bed, not caring that she was naked. Only he was here to see her and he’d seen her plenty the preceding evening. Once Caroline had been sure that he wasn’t about to rape or murder Hannah she had allowed them to leave alone after dinner. They had returned to his home, an expensive modern apartment in a tall newly built high rise, and he had served her champagne. There had been a few shy whispers and awkward silences but when they kissed it had been like a dam had burst and animal passion had taken over. They had torn at each other’s clothes and made passionate love in that very bed. Afterwards as they lay in his bed they had looked at each other, smiled and giggled and explored each other.

Hannah had never felt so comfortable with another human being. In fact she was usually immensely uncomfortable with anyone seeing the slightest part of her body. She recalled the first time she had walked into the apartment she shared with Caroline, the first time the two had met this past autumn. Caroline had been stood in the centre of the living room, naked from the waist up, as she tried on a bunch of clothes she had purchased that day from Primark. Caroline had not flinched at the stranger entering the room and seeing her in that state and had simply asked if Hannah wanted to try them on too. Hannah had turned bright red at the thought of taking even her t-shirt off and had run out of the room. Caroline had been somewhat confused by that reaction but had followed her and calmed her down. They had become best friends that night over a bottle of Prosecco and Caroline had made a drunk promise, in her own wonderful way, that she would make sure Hannah was comfortable naked in front of someone by the end of the school year. Hannah hated to admit it but Caroline was right. She was standing in this mans bedroom and she hadn’t minded him seeing her last night. Hadn’t minded him seeing her naked, flushed and sweaty from their exploits. She didn’t mind that he would see her this morning without make up, without her hair done just so. Didn’t mind that he would see the scar on her right buttock from when she had fallen after climbing through a window in Crockwell House when she was five.

Hannah made her way into the en-suite and into the shower, stifling a scream as the all-to-cold water hit her skin for the first time before instantly warming to a nice par-boil. When she had showered she pulled one of his t shirts from a drawer and walked out into the living room.

“Wow!” Hannah squealed. She was taken aback by the view that awaited her. The view of London, of Regents Park. The weather was so clear that she could even make out the London Eye in the distance. She stood there looking out for what seemed like hours, looking down at the tiny cars moving their way through the busy London streets, at the tiny people walking through the park, at the naked man doing sit ups a few floors below in the adjacent building oblivious that he was being watched. Hannah smiled and watched for a few seconds before she remembered that she was also naked apart from the large t-shirt she was wearing and the man a few floors below could probably see right up into the area that now belonged to one man.

That man was still sound asleep. She had been worried that he would be woken by the sound of the shower or her efforts to untangle her body from his but then she had remembered how heavy he had slept when they had first gotten together when the World War Two Air Raid Siren had sounded from her phone. A loud noise had startled her again but this time it was the sound of a folded copy of The Guardian being pushed through the letterbox. She moved quickly to the door, picked up the paper and lay it down on the glass coffee table in the living room.

Hannah wasn’t sure what she should do now. She didn’t want to wake him and definitely didn’t want to leave this time. She wanted to be here when he woke up. To hear his voice. To eat breakfast with him and look into his dark soulful eyes as he read the paper.

Hannah decided to wake him up with breakfast and departed to the kitchen. She wondered what he liked. It was obvious that he liked coffee from the expensive array of apparatus that lined one side of the kitchen, but the fridge and cupboards were bare except for alcohol and the kind of microwaveable junk food that people only stomached when they were desperate following a night at the pub. Worst of all was the small bag of white powder she found hidden behind a couple of jars of pickles.

“I think he was there because he’s lonely. He doesn’t have anybody. Lives alone. The girls all talk about him. He comes in a lot, spends a lot of money. Gets wasted and lets us help him forget whatever it is he’s running from.” Caroline’s words from a few days ago rang through Hannah’s head. If going to strip clubs was his way of escaping reality then it stood to reason that drug taking would also be part of that. She wondered what he was running from. She felt like grabbing the bag and flushing its contents into the Thames but what right did she have to do that. They had only met twice up to this point and despite the circumstances they were still strangers. She didn’t actually know anything about him. She was in love with someone she knew nothing about.

If she were here Caroline would have no doubt mentioned at this point in the conversation that was going on in Hannah’s head that she had been in love with someone she had never met all her life. The soldier from her dreams, from her grandmothers stories. All she knew about him was that he was American and had brought her Grandmother chocolate before he was deployed to France. Hannah decided she needed to find out more about the men in her life.

Hannah left the kitchen and started to walk around the apartment looking for clues to help her understand her new love. There was nothing in the lounge or the dining area. They barely looked lived in. No personal effects other than a few letters. Sure there were electronics and furniture but nothing that would look out of place in an expensive hotel room. In fact now that Hannah thought about it, the whole apartment resembled one of the expensive city hotel rooms she had seen on TV.

When she left the kitchen for a second time she noticed there was a room she hadn’t explored yet. Another bedroom. She struggled to open the door and found that behind it lay masses of boxes which had apparently been discarded there when he had moved in. She was about to give up and return to the lounge when she saw a flashing light across the room. Moving over to the light she found that it belonged to an alarm clock that lay on a desk which had been hidden under the boxes. The alarm clock lay next to a calendar which had been left open on the month of May. A large red circle had been drawn around the entries from the 19th May 2015 until the 26th and written in large letters across them all was the word MONACO.