The Blue DressThe Blue Dress


She stood in the doorway, her hair as black as coal, cascading over her electric blue dress. Something about her made James’s heart skip a beat. For a moment he was in love. In that moment all the words in the world were sucked out of his brain and just her essence remained. James had driven all afternoon through the driving rain. He had been meaning to have a break in the country for ages, but work just kept piling up. Being self-employed he didn’t need to get permission to shoot off at the drop of a hat, but his clients expected him to be at their beck and call. In the end, he packed an overnight bag, put his answerphone on and made a booking, online at the last minute. James liked the old fashioned, rambling old hotels in the country. The ones with the over-polished bannisters and squeaky, cracked leather sofas in the lobby. The one he had booked was right on the edge of a village and was a stone’s throw from the national park footpath. That’s if it ever stopped raining. He didn’t fancy walking in the rain; the alternative, spending a day at a museum, didn’t exactly appeal to him either. As James descended the steep road, which led to the little settlement the rain eased and patches of icy blue began to appear between the various shades of grey. Pulling up in the car park behind his hotel, the sun made a brief appearance, before disappearing behind the hillside, producing an eerie orange glow. The dry interlude was short-lived though and he soon felt spots of rain on his face again. James stood in the little garden, which had a forlorn-looking child’s swing and a neglected barbecue, which had been allowed to rust in the months since the summer. The hotel itself was austere and foreboding, being made of a dark stone, which looked darker still from the recent downpour. The ivy that clad the front, was a mixture of brown and green and looked as old as the building, so thick and extensive was its growth, in places. Closing his trunk, James slung his overnight bag over one shoulder and made his way through the front door. There was a slightly unusual, though not unpleasant smell in the lobby – a mixture of old books and leather. The impression of a well-loved, lived in building was immediately enforced by the chimes of an old Grandfather clock, which stood in a recess by the door. James checked his phone. The six gentle ‘bongs’ of the old clock confirmed the time as he approached the desk. There was a leather writing pad and a brass bell, which gave a satisfying ring as he struck the top with his palm. “Yes, Sir?” said the man, who was respectably dressed without being smart. His off-white shirt told of a single man, who had omitted to press his collar the night before. “Alexander,” said James. “I have a booking for tonight.” “Room 10,” said the clerk, handing James a heavy key with an even heavier wooden fob attached. “If I want to go out…” “The desk is manned 24 hours, Sir,” the man interrupted, anticipating James’s question. “Oh fine. And breakfast?” “Is at eight. Through there. There’s a tavern down the road. The Bull. Recommend the lobster.” James frowned. He nodded and held his key up in acknowledgement. The desk clerk had a demeanour that made James think he was weary of his position and lacked both motivation and ambition, judging by the mechanical way that he trotted out his advice. The boards creaked in places as James ascended the staircase. His room was on the second floor, but he took his time, admiring the oil paintings on the walls and the selection of leather bound first editions on the landing. Everything about the hotel was just as James had imagined, after reading the description on their website. His room was cosy, with the extra little Ankara bayan escort touches that made him feel like he was in somewhere a bit special. The rose-scented soap in the bathroom; the original brass plumbing and the fresh daffodils on the linen chest. James had driven for nearly three hours and as the dusk began to cloak the hillside outside his window, he lay on his bed with the intention of a cat nap before dinner. As is so often the case, forty winks turned into a proper snooze. He awoke sometime later, uncertain of the time. He fumbled through his jacket pocket for his mobile phone. James was a little baffled to find that it was out of charge, even though he had made a point of charging it, the night before. “Bloody Technology!” he exclaimed to himself, in exasperation. James made his way down stairs and checked with the old clock. He was surprised to find it was just past eight. The two hours had passed in a heartbeat but at least he felt completely refreshed. He contemplated a walk down to the tavern, of which the clerk spoke. However, not feeling especially hungry, and dissuaded by the rain, he instead had a nibble of some brownies, which he had stuffed in the outer pocket of his overnight bag. Brushing the sticky crumbs from his mouth, James had an overwhelming desire for a cup of coffee and picked up the receiver of the chrome and Bakelite telephone and pressed zero. In spite of its clunky operation, James loved the anachronistic splendour of the old phone. “Hello, could you possibly bring a coffee up to room ten, please?” “Milk, Sir?” “No, black, please.” “It will be up presently, Sir,” said the male voice on the other end. A very young-looking porter arrived with the drink a few minutes later. Unlike the clerk, he was dressed in a traditional black porter’s uniform, with silver buttons on his jacket. He placed the white metal tray on the dresser and bowed slightly before he left. James picked up a lump of sugar with the silver tongues, which accompanied his cup. He loved the little authentic touches and examined them minutely, looking for the hall mark. The hotel had been very thorough in creating an olde worlde atmosphere, he thought. Even the tea tray was the real deal with an intricately machined design embossed in the centre. As he stirred his coffee, his mind wandered and he began to imagine all the adventures and curious incidents that might have carried on inside the hotel over the two and a half centuries since it was built. An old hotel must hold so many secrets within its walls. All those people, coming and going; sleeping and loving and fornicating. A hotel like this was a capsule of the ineffable. A multitude of memories lost in the passage of time. He looked at his bed, with its big brass knobs and the heavy maroon valance. He wondered at the forgotten souls who had once lain there. James’s train of thought was rudely interrupted by a gentle knock on his door. There was a strangely hollow quality to the knock and caught up in his imagination, he was slightly alarmed by the sound. He assumed it was the porter, perhaps returning for the tray or something. He opened the door and rather than the anonymous young man there was the most arresting woman he had ever laid eyes on. She had a beauty, which was almost indefinable. Her eyes were brown, like polished stones. Her hair was jet black and her face was a ray of sunshine. Her hair flowed past her shoulders and appeared to disappear into tiny ringlets of air around her waist. As shocking as her own appearance, was her dress, which was a vivid blue. It was some sort of silk and had white lace stitched into the bodice, catching the eye and yet giving Escort bayan Ankara small relief to the vibrancy of the dress itself. She could not have been much more than 21 years of age and was as out of place in that dour hotel as a zebra would have been, had it galloped down the landing. “Can I help you?” asked James. “I’m sorry to trouble you. I am in room twelve but there is a leak from the roof. It is so silly. All the rain. You would imagine it might drain away but it is not so.” She spoke with a soft accent, which to James’s ears was neither French nor Spanish. Her English was not faltering and yet she spoke in that way that foreigners do. “Oh. Well, what did the man say, at reception?” “It is full. They ask me to sleep away from the drip, drip of the water, but the bed is not made to be moved.” James was surprised to hear that the hotel was full, as he had not even seen another human being apart from the porter and the clerk. Yet as he spoke to the girl, a couple passed on the landing, arm in arm. Something about their dress struck James as exceedingly old-fashioned. They wouldn’t have looked out of place in an Edwardian drama and it occurred to him that there was a fancy dress party going on somewhere. However, his attention was so preoccupied with the beautiful girl and her own bright blue garb, that the matter passed as unimportant. “Well, I suppose if they are full, I could take some blankets and you can have the bed.” “You sleep on the floor! No, you must not do this on my account.” “It’s okay,” said James, waving away the imposition, nonchalantly. “Please come in.” “’Okay?’ You sound like an American. But it is not all right. You do not trust me?” “It’s a question of propriety.” “I am twenty years old and I can take care of myself. But you are a gentleman, I think.” “I like to think so. I am James by the way.” James offered her his hand, which she accepted. He was delighted by the lightness and softness of her touch. “Hello, James by the way, I am Renata. My family are from Lisbon. I am staying here, while my father does a little business.” James smirked at what he took to be her mild mockery of his speech and it only made her more appealing. “Renata, I am very pleased to meet you. “ “And I you,” she returned. James looked at her and she smiled a broad smile. His gaze lowered, slowly surveying her without making it too obvious that he was looking at her in that way men do. Her breasts were clearly remarkable and had a pointed appearance. James could not decide if that was due to their natural shape or a factor of her underwear. She was slim, yet her hips meant that her dress hugged her body and followed her feminine contours wherever it touched. During his surreptitious perusal, he was filled with wonder and some sadness. James had split up from his girlfriend of two years after a stupid row. An argument over a works party had become ill-tempered and James had lashed out verbally. Neither had been prepared to swallow their pride and their rift became too wide to mend. Six months later, James’s emotional wounds were healing but he was left with lonely nights alone, which during the long winter, had been hard to bear. His enforced celibacy was a natural bi-product of the break-up and with work dominating his life, there had been a romantic hole left unfilled. Renata in her beauty and elegance reminded him how much he missed having a woman around. Renata’s perfume was like a summer rose and seemed to blend in with her own aroma, resulting in a heady mixture. Her dark eyes and sultry complexion caught James off guard and he found himself having thoughts, which he quickly reprimanded himself for. He had Bayan escort Ankara always dated girls his age, or within a year or two. While not wholly improper, Renata was 15 years his junior and he considered that a significant gap. His reminiscence of his ex and his lustful gaze couldn’t have occupied more than a few seconds, but in that moment, a torrent of emotion caused a lump in his throat. “Are you all right, you are not happy?” “I’m good, it’s just that I’ve been over working lately.” “You should relax. Have you eaten?” “I had some brownie, it’s surprisingly filing.” “What is brownie?” asked Renata, shaking her head slowly. “Brownie? It’s a sticky chocolate cake. Brownie!” “I never heard of it. Maybe in my country…” “Oh, perhaps you call it something else. Look!” James went to his bag and pulled out the packet with the remaining squares of gooey confectionery. “Try some!” offered James. “Oh, no. Thank you.” “Just a little bit?” “Well maybe a tiny piece!” said Reneta, breaking off one corner. “Hmmm… it is like cocoa. It is good.” “What were your plans for the weekend?” asked James. “Oh, I have no plans. Father may ask for me to do some errands.” “I see. Oh look, I’m forgetting my manners, please take a seat,” said James, pulling up an old wicker-backed chair. “I will perch on the end of the bed,” said Renata. “Whatever you like.” Renata looked up at James, smoothing her dress over her thighs. “Thank you. And what do you intend to make with your weekend?” she asked. “The peak footpath. I want to explore for the day.” “Ah, it is pouring again,” observed Renata , indicating the rain, which was rattling against the window. James rubbed his chin, thoughtfully. “I am not stopping you from going out?! You must not delay on my account,” said Renata. “No, not at all. Anyway, why would I want to miss your delightful company?” “Oh, that is nice to say.” Renata looked down bashfully, giving James an opportunity to admire her again. Her hair had a remarkable lustre even in the artificial light of the room. Renata looked up at James, her deep brown eyes like the bottom of some secret pools at midnight. Her mouth seemed to pout slightly, her upper lip the shape of an elongated letter ‘M.’ “You have no ring,” remarked Renata. “There is no special lady left behind?” “No, free and single at the moment,” said James, somewhat disconsolately. “Oh, that is a shame. But maybe fate has put us together, this night?” James blinked, shocked by Renata’s implication. “Fate can do strange things,” said James. “But I wouldn’t presume to expect…” “Oh the presumption is entirely mine, I assure you,” said Renata. “Okay, ummm.” “You think I am forward?” “It’s just a little unexpected,” said James, uncertainly. “I detect that you are a little tense, James. Perhaps we should relax. I can give you a massage. You will feel better.” “A massage?” “Yes, you know what this is?” “Yes, of course. I just…” “…Think it might lead somewhere,” said Renata, finishing his sentence. “Well… I’m not saying…” “And if it does, is that so bad? You are unattached. I am unattached.” James ran a hand through his short-cropped hair, almost not daring to contemplate the earthly pleasures that he might experience at her hands. “I think you should remove your shirt and lie on the bed. I will make you relaxed and we shall see what may become of the night.” Renata knelt on the bed, hitching her dress a little, so as not to crease the skirt. For the first time, James had a glimpse of her legs and was surprised to see that she was wearing white silk stockings. They had an unusual pearlescent sheen, unlike any hosiery he had seen. The unexpected flash of her legs, caused his heart to beat more quickly and simultaneously produced his arousal. Had she been flirtatious, it would have been different. In some ways, a precocious young woman would have been easier to handle. It was her exotic appearance and the seductive tone in which she spoke that elicited a whole different set of emotions.

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