Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Charmer by S. Bee


Jinny took a deep breath to steady her nerves. Then she launched in: 

'I'd like to book a few days in Farlington Bay on my own.'

Good. She'd actually stated it, and hadn't muddied the waters by prattling beforehand with 'I hope you don't mind' or 'I'm sorry about this' to try and soften the blow.

'You want to go away on your own? What an earth for?' Jinny's boyfriend of one month, Neil, asked sharply.

'Well-' she'd tried to mentally prepare for his response, running it over in her head countless times, yet now she still felt on edge about the conversation.

'I'd just like a few days away to think about things.'

He sighed heavily. 'Think about what?'

She hesitated. 'Life in general. My job, for instance.' Jinny was very careful not to bring their relationship into it, as Neil would see it as a criticism.

'I can understand that, babe. I mean, who actually wants to be an IT geek?'

I do, she thought, as she hid her pricking tears. 

Jinny really wished she had the courage not to let him into her home this evening.  

No doubt he'll try and persuade me to change my mind, she mused, as she clenched her hands. It's not going to work this time, Neil! 

'Why don't we go together? Strolling along the beach, hand in hand. That could be so romantic,' he purred.

'Yes it could, but the weather's going to be cloudy and chilly,' she put in quickly. Not that the weather would put him off, she thought cynically. 

'I suppose you've discussed this with Sue.' Neil's tone was sour.

'Please don't fret, Neil. I don't talk about us.'

Yes, Jinny had confided in her sister, Sue about her concerns  - yet only to a certain level. 

She envied Sue. She'd been happily married for fifteen years to Mike – a kind, cheerful, warm, down to earth chap. 

Jinny would love to meet someone like Mike, but sadly, she'd had a run of bad luck in her previous relationships. When Jinny had met Neil, she'd thought she'd struck gold... 

He was still clearly stressed. 'Look babe, I'm not happy about you going away on your own. You know how I worry.'  

Jinny forced a smile. 'There's no need to worry about me. I just need a bit of solitude to try and work things out, career wise.' 

'You've mentioned solitude. I guess that means you want to break contact with people?' 

She nodded. 'Yes, and that will include Sue.'

'Why don't you stay here and I'll give you two days with no contact?' 

Yet Jinny knew that Neil wouldn't be able to manage it. Within five minutes, her phone would bleep with the first text. 

'I've booked the B&B now. But it might be a good idea not to contact me while I'm away.'

He shrugged. 'Fine.'

He strode out, and slammed the door behind him. 

Jinny winced. Was it too much to ask for a quiet, settled life like Sue's?


                                                               ***


After a pleasant train journey on Friday evening, Jinny arrived at Farlington Bay and found the B&B easily. 

She knew the resort well, as Jinny, Sue and her parents had often holidayed here in summer.

As she unzipped her luggage, her belly rumbled. She glanced at the clock - it was almost tea time, but the small B&B didn't provide an evening meal. 

Jinny unpacked, grabbed her jacket, and headed out to the quaint seaside promenade. Luckily, the fish and chip shop was open. 

For the first time in ages, with the deep blue sea spread out in front of her, Jinny felt content as she ate fish and chips out of a tray on a bench. 

Her meal choice would horrify food snob Neil, she thought. But Neil wasn't here, was he?


                                                                         *** 


At first, the attention from Neil was immensely flattering. 

The steady stream of texts at work, the huge, showy bouquets of flowers, the perfume, the expensive meals out, the compliments... 

Yet there was something about this charm offensive that put Jinny on edge.

'Did your Mike shower you with flowers when you first met?' she asked Sue.

'Yes. It was a blissful, heady time. Has Neil done the same?' 

She nodded.

'Most women would be thrilled. Yet you don't look very happy,' Sue observed. 

Jinny shrugged. 'I don't know how I feel. I'm all mixed up.'

'The trouble is, your judgement's been skewed by all those losers in the past. You can't tell if a man's decent or not.'

'It just feels very intense -'

Sue cut in. 'There's no need to be scared of true love, Jinny. Neil only wants to impress you. When are we going to meet him?'

Jinny pulled a face. 'I'm not sure. We're not ready for the 'Meet the family' stage.'

'Well, from what you've told me, he sounds absolutely lovely.'

'His dating profile on the app does sound lovely to the majority of single women. A forty- something bachelor, a good- looking solicitor, no ex wives or kids, own house and car...'

'I meant lovely in other ways. How he noticed your favourite perfume and bought you a bottle, for instance. How, despite being weighed down with work, Neil takes time out to be with you.' 

'I know that, but -'

'If you don't want him, I'm sure he'll get snapped up! You're silly if you throw this relationship away, Jinny.'


                                                                                ***


At Farlington Bay, Jinny spent the next morning strolling along the beach.  There was a cool breeze, but she didn't mind that. She revelled in the feeling of freedom. 

At lunch time, she went into a cafe for a cuppa and a sandwich.

Although it was unwise, she switched on her mobile. 

The flood of messages from Neil was overwhelming. One was begging: 'Please come back babe. I miss u so much.' 

Jinny had specifically asked for time on her own. She'd requested no contact, yet Neil wasn't able to respect that. How she hated his endearment of babe! 

I suppose he could argue that I've spoken to Sue about our relationship, she mused, and he asked me not to. 

So therefore I'm not able to respect his wishes either - she sighed. Oh why was this relationship business such hard work?


                                                                                *** 


Later, she took a bracing walk along the cliffs. Yet Jinny had the strange sensation of being watched.

Her heart sank. It was probably Neil. 

Hoping to be proved wrong, she looked over her shoulder – and surprise, surprise, there he was, panting as he caught up with her.

'What are you doing here?' she asked.

'I arrived today. I spotted you in the cafe. And then I followed you.' Jinny thought he sounded rather pleased with himself. 

She had nothing to say to him. The cutting wind pulled at their hair and clothes, while seagulls cried out. It began to rain, a soft drizzle.  

The place was deserted. There weren't even any dog walkers around.

'I didn't know which B&B you're staying at. You didn't tell me. Why didn't you reply to my texts?' he demanded.

She carried on walking.

He pulled at her sleeve. 'Answer me Jinny!' 

This was the right moment. Without warning, she turned to him and pushed him hard over the cliff.

He fell in one single swoop. 

She peered over. The high tide would take his body and wash it out to sea.

Shaken, Jinny found a bench and sat for a while. 

Then she strolled to the B&B, rang for a taxi, packed up, tucked her passport into her handbag, and checked out.

The taxi took her to the airport. Any European flight would do. 

On the journey, Jinny reflected. 

She guessed Neil would turn up to see her. She'd deliberately led him onto the cliffs, to a section where the path fell away. Jinny knew it well from her childhood holidays. 

High tide times had come in useful too.

I shouldn't have killed him, she thought. Yet how else am I supposed to escape a control freak? 

Police involvement, injunction orders and court action held little appeal.

Besides, Neil was a solicitor, she thought. He'd easily find legal ways of wriggling out of it... 

Jinny's new life abroad beckoned.


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