It was the snore that gave him away. If Gareth hadn’t done it
then I would never have looked up at him, never have realised that he
was no longer listening to me, and had fallen asleep. We’d
planned a few beers together down the pub, a couple of chasers at home
then an early night – well, early for us on a Friday at
early night, ready for the big day.
Of course, it’s not like the “old” days,
stag night was the night before. Stag Nights down the pub , with a
visit to a dodgy club were long gone. My stag night was a stag weekend
– although a week ago, I think I’d only just
it wasn’t the paintballing, go-karting, club ‘til
getting trolleyed that I was getting over, it was what had happened on
the Saturday night.
We’d had a great day paintballing, all my mates were there
– plus a few friends of friends I didn’t know who
paid their way and were here for a good time. Showered and changed we
were ready to hit the town. Gareth had chosen this place because it was
where he had grown up. His family still lived here so he knew all the
best pubs and clubs. It was great for me, just what I needed. Over the
previous two weeks it had all been piling up. Ange was great,
everything I always wanted. Spectacularly good looking, bright, and
great in bed (though you’d better not tell her mum that,
she’s a bit old fashioned). But I’d had nothing but
this, wedding that, wedding the other and it was getting so I just
wanted the whole thing over, so life could get back to normal.
And then I’d gone and put my foot in by calling it
day”. She’d looked a bit hurt and I had no idea why.
“It’s not my day, it’s OUR
day,” she said as
looked at me with a hurt expression.
I answered it with a “Course it is” and switched
subject to the church music or something. But my mind was racing. The
truth is I had never thought of it as our day. It was always her day. I
was doing it for her. Wasn’t I? And then I started to ask
why I was doing it all. Was it purely and simply so we could sleep
together when we stayed at her mum’s? No, she really was
everything I ever wanted, but what was this nagging at the back of my
mind. Despite everyone saying it was normal, it was getting to me. So
like I said, the Stag weekend came at just the right time.
We started off in a pub with a live band, they weren’t that
either, playing mostly covers, but they were pretty tight. Gareth was a
really good mate, the best you could have. He really looked after me,
making sure I didn’t have too much to drink. You see, Gareth
that my dad had been an alcoholic, and knew that while I enjoyed a few
beers, when you’ve seen what I’ve seen, you really
desire to get absolutely slaughtered. So he protected me from the
barrage of drinks, and as a result I was probably the most sober guy in
the group, and definitely the most sober “stag” in
Around half ten, in our third pub, Gareth came back from the bar laden
with drinks and the news that he’d found a bunch of girls on
hen weekend, and said we should go over the other side of the pub and
get acquainted. As you’d expect, just like we were all shapes
sizes, so were they. But after half an hour we were all getting on
famously and agreed to hit the clubs together. On the short walk to the
club I looked around and smiled – everyone was starting to
off. As was inevitable, I’d got talking with the
“hen” of the group. She was so different to Ange.
five nine, long legs, slim, nice boobs and long, blonde hair. Michelle
was shorter, with short brown hair dusted with highlights and hazel
eyes that shone like a kid’s in a toy shop. She
slim as Ange, but more curvy. When she smiled it was like her whole
body smiled, she just oozed warmth and fun. As we walked to the club
she linked arms with me and asked why I wasn’t drunk like the
rest of the lads.
“Long story, just not particularly fond of it.”
“Me too, I hate not being in control. I’ve been
drinks in plants, empty glasses other people’s drinks
everywhere - all night.”
I could tell she wasn’t exactly sober, but her voice
slurred. And she smelt wonderful as she hugged my arm as we walked.
“What would Rick say if he could see you now?” I
She’d already told me a bit about the bloke she was to marry
week, and I’d described Ange to her.
“Well for starters I’d be amazed if he could see
right now. He’ll be absolutely hammered, and knowing his
he’s probably trying to get a stripper’s thong off
I made a joke about having to make sure he got the pubic hair from
between his teeth, and she giggled:
“Pubic hair? Christ when was the last time you saw a
stripper?” And we collapsed in fits of laughter together. It
like I known her thirty years, not thirty minutes, we were so
comfortable with each other.
We got on like a house on fire, spent all our time laughing and making
silly jokes. We danced together in the club. She could really move and
my eyes seemed locked to hers and that permanent, confident smile she
had. Then in the slow dances she hung onto me and rested her head
against shoulder as I stroked her back and arms. She looked up at me
“Come on, I need some air.”
As we made for the exit we passed some of our friends who made suitably
lewd comments. Michelle just squeezed my hand and we ignored them. When
we were outside in the warm evening air she pushed me against the wall,
then turned round and leaned her back into me. She grabbed my arms and
pulled them around her, hugging them tightly with her arms. She looked
back over her shoulder at me, those eyes flashed and asked:
“So are you looking forward to being married?”
“Dunno, don’t think it will be much different
“I know. That’s why I said
‘Yes’ when Rick
asked. Didn’t seem like such a big deal. We’d been
together for a while and it just seemed natural. But it’s
as it’s got nearer it’s seemed to get really
now …” she let it trail off.
“Tell me about it. Everybody I’ve asked says that
gets the jitters and has doubts, but … oh hell, I
We were silent for a while, each in our own thoughts. Then, just like
that, as if she’d come to a decision, she spun round, kissed
on the cheek and said:
“Back to the dancefloor, eh?”
“No, your hotel, my hotel – don’t care.
We settled on hers, grabbed a cab and as we rode along in silence, I
just held her tight and stroked her arm. My thoughts were all over
everywhere. Did I really want to do this? Did she? I made a decision as
we got out of the taxi.
“Listen, I’m not coming in unless you are really
won’t regret this in the morning.”
“The only thing I’ll regret is if I let you go home
It took us ten minutes to get to her room. We stopped and kissed in the
lift, in the corridor, outside the room. The more we kissed, the more
natural it felt to hold her. Her body seemed to fit mine like a hand in
a glove. Whenever we paused from kissing, she would plant soft, gentle
kisses on my neck. We got into her room, and before the door was even
closed she was in my arms again. Then she broke away, and told me to
wait a minute.
There were two beds and I realised she was obviously sharing
just as I was with Gareth.
“It’s okay. I’m sharing with Chloe. She
said if she
brought someone back she’d let me know by sticking a note on
door. Funny, we never thought that it would be me that would need a
She scribbled “Busy. Sod off” on a piece of paper
it firmly under the door number. Then for good measure she put the
“Do not disturb” sign on the handle. Her smiling
flashed at me as she reached round the back of her neck, and untied the
“Now, where were we?”
When I woke up, she was lying with her leg draped over my body, and my
arm round her shoulders. I kissed her head gently, and she murmured a
hoarse “Good morning,”
By way of acknowledgement, I kissed her forehead. As she started to
kiss me back, there was a banging on the door.
“Hey you two, come on, wake up. Michelle, come on.
got to go.”
Michelle jerked awake and looked at the clock.
“Oh Christ. Sorry babe, I’ve gotta go.
We’re all due
at a big bash this afternoon. We’ve got a train to
I started to talk and she put her fingers on my lips. The eyes were
still shining and bright, but maybe not quite as smiling. Just a hint
“No. I know what you’re going to say and what
going to ask. No.” She shook her head slowly, her eyes still
riveted to mine.
“No telephone numbers. No e-mail addresses. Nothing.
not even going to tell you where I live.”
I could see small tears starting to form in the corners of those eyes.
She still held her finger on my lips. As she continued I reached up and
softly brushed the baby tears away.
“We’ve had a brilliant few hours together. Time I
remember until I die, and if you are anything like I think you are,
then so will you. But this time next week we’ll both be
as married people. You’ll make Ange the happiest woman in the
world, and I’ll be happy with Rick.”
The tears were flowing faster now, and my thumb was working overtime
wiping them away.
“Now, hold me tight and kiss me one last time, because
going to have a shower and I think it will be easier for us both if
you’re gone when I come out.”
I did. The kiss had everything – softness, sadness,
lasted half a lifetime, and when we broke she lifted her head. The
tears now fell softly onto my cheek, where they mingled with my own.
She gave me a half smile:
“Have a brilliant life. Bad timing.” And she was
I dressed in a daze. I wanted to stay and talk, but I knew she was
right. I decided to leave her a note, but just held the pen and
couldn’t think what to say. In the end, nothing seemed to sum
the ache in my chest, the lump in my throat, and the tears in my eyes.
So I just left.
And so there I was a few days later. Gareth’s snoring beside
In a few hours I’ll be married to a gorgeous woman. But not
the woman who had been in my thoughts all week. I woke Gareth and we
headed off to our bedrooms, I knew that it would take me ages to get to
sleep, simply because it had been like that all week.
The summer sun was shining when we got up. It was going to be the
perfect day for a wedding. Like most grooms I guess, I felt sick with
anxiety and the ache in my chest felt like a small elephant was sitting
on it, constricting my breathing. I forced down some toast and orange
juice. Gareth went to shower first, as ever he was bright and breezy,
and telling me I’d be in real trouble when he made his
could hear him in the shower, doing his best impression of Axel Rose
and I forced myself to think of Ange and what she’d be doing
But the image that kept coming into my head was of Michelle, her naked
body lying on mine, her fingers on my lips and tears forming in her
By the time I’d showered Gareth was dressed, and looked
smart in his morning suit. I jokingly asked if he was sure he had the
ring. There was a pause.
I smiled and shook my head. “Yeah, yeah – very
Then I saw his face, it was wild with panic. He was either a very good
actor or there was a problem. He was swallowing fast, thinking hard.
“Look, it’s no problem!” he blurted out,
“I’ll whiz home in the car and you get the official
the church, and I’ll see you there. We’ve loads of
time!” And in a flash, he was gone.
I was alone now. There was no-one to make sure I got to the church. I
could do a runner. Just get away, and sort things out in my head. But I
knew I’d go through with it, and before I had the chance to
change my mind, the doorbell rang and the car was there. I lived almost
twenty miles from the church, though it wouldn’t take long
– a short trip down the motorway – just one
wasn’t really paying much attention on the journey, Michelle
Ange were competing in a battle for my thoughts. Michelle was winning.
How long would this go on for?
I felt the car speed down the sliproad onto the motorway and smoothly
cruise along. Then I heard an expletive from the driver as he hit the
brakes. There was a wall of cars ahead - all stationary. Clearly there
was a big accident ahead. Nothing was going to be going anywhere for a
while, and people were getting out of their cars and wanderting around
trying to see the problem. I started to think about how I was going to
get to the church – run down the hard shoulder?
was 10 miles to the church – minimum. I rang Gareth and told
He said he’d think of something and get back to me. Now I
was in a panic.
The driver looked at me in the mirror.
“Sorry mate.” Though I knew it wasn’t his
“Hey look, at least you aren’t the only one in a
jam.” He nodded to the side. I looked round, and just behind
there was another Bentley, with wedding ribbons attached.
I looked round to smile at my fellow sufferer, and my heart stopped.
The smile that had haunted me for week wasn’t there
a dark “O” with huge eyes and an expression that
probably matched by mine. I scrambled for the door handle, got out and
grabbed the handle of her car. I could see a middle aged bloke,
presumably her dad saying something but I couldn’t hear, my
was buzzing. I swung the door open, not knowing what to expect, not
knowing what I was going to say to her. But I didn’t say
anything, I didn’t have the chance. She was out of the car,
lips locked onto mine and her arms were flung round my neck before a
word could escape.
The kiss lasted several hours in my head, but probably just a few
seconds in reality. Our lips parted and I looked into those eyes, and
familiar baby tears were beginning to appear. But these were different.
My head was still buzzing, but through it I could hear applause from
our fellow stranded motorists, who obviously thought we were marrying
each other today, and her father’s voice asking her who the
this boy was.
Without taking her eyes off me, she said:
“Dad, I need to borrow your ‘phone.”
I nodded and took out my ‘phone as well.