Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (47) Strangers on a Train (Part 05)
Once he had escaped he went for a walk along the promenade and hoped the fresh air would help with the head ache brought on by the stuffy heat and banging music at the reception.
He was in sight of the end and was preparing to cross the road and climb the steep path up to Whitecliff Hill when he spotted a small figure huddled on the bench ahead of him in some distress.
“Is everything ok?” he asked and the figure turned around to reveal the tearstained face of Francesca Carrington-Webber.
“Oh it’s you” she said the moment she saw Paul and was up on her feet and rushing into his arms but was unable to speak for several minutes as Paul held her and she sobbed.
When her sobs had subsided and her breathing calmed he thought it was a good moment to ask her what he was eager to know.
“Why are you here?” he asked
“I’ve been to the Yacht Club Dinner Dance” she replied
“No I mean why are you here? On the promenade” he explained “And why are you so upset”
“My husband” she replied and realising that that didn’t really answer his question she added
“He decided he would rather get drunk at the bar with his mates than dance with his wife”
“Well he’s a fool” Paul said
“Thank you” she said and dabbed at her cheeks and shivered.
It wasn’t a particularly cool evening, but there was a light breeze off the sea and she was wearing a backless cocktail dress.
“Here slip this on” he said and put his jacket around her shoulders.
“Thank you” she said and smiled weakly
“You should go back in the warm” he advised
“No” she replied vehemently “I don’t want to go back in there”
“Okay then how about we go and have a coffee” he suggested
“Yes that would be nice” Francesca replied brightly
Unfortunately they were at the northern end of the promenade, which was some distance from the nearest coffee place, so he said
“Well we can either walk down to the pier, or if you don’t mind slumming it, we can go up to Whitecliff Hill and have a coffee in the caravan.
“Oh the caravan would be lovely, I won’t have to hide my face from anyone then” she said “I must look a real fright”
“Not to me” Paul responded
“Your very sweet to say that” she said and put her arm through his and as they walked arm in arm up the steep path up to Whitecliff Hill.
He felt really proud to have such a beautiful woman on his arm, in fact she was a stunningly beautiful looking woman, a real head turner and a really classy lady which made him even prouder.
As they walked the conversation flowed between them and was very light-hearted and the time past in an instant.
Once they reached the caravan Paul opened the door and let her in and immediately put the kettle and made a drink and the conversation continued to flow between them during which he discovered she and her husband were staying the night at the Seaview Hotel.
After their second cup of coffee Paul looked at his watch and was surprised at the lateness of the hour.
“My God have you seen the time?” he exclaimed “I’d better get you back to the Hotel, your husband will be wondering where you are”
“I doubt he’s even noticed” she retorted “but I agree I should get going, but there’s no need for you to escort me”
“Oh yes there is” he corrected her as he slipped his jacket back over her shoulders “there’s no way I’m letting you walk back to Sharpington at this hour on your own”
“You really are very sweet” she said and stood on tiptoes to kiss his cheek, but instead of peck on the cheek she kissed his mouth, and his jacket fell off her shoulders.