Owing to a disastrous hair mishap, Lizzie had made everyone late for the school run. “I thought it was that mousse stuff you use, Mummy,” she panicked, Gillette can in hand and covered in shaving foam. Cat skipped over the eye-rolling and child berating and moved straight to changing Lizzie’s top, giving her a quick rinse and performing the fastest, tidiest hair plait in history. Thirty seconds later they were out the door. She told herself it might be time to teach her daughter about hair products at some point in the not too distant future; chiefly that they weren’t cheap.
Leanne was waiting at the school gate, ready for her and Cat’s regular Wednesday aqua-class, followed naturally by the obligatory coffee, cake and weekly catch up. Now that the kids were dropped off, they could get on with more important, infinitely less stressful stuff.
Their sports bags shoved in the boot on top of two scooters and a buggy, Cat hopped in the passenger side of Lee’s Subaru. Lee loved her fast cars and when the kids’ seats were empty, her foot got noticeably heavier. The girls had missed the last few gossip sessions due to work commitments, so it wasn’t long before Lee started demanding updates.
“Well? Don’t hold back,” she initiated as the school and all parental responsibility disappeared behind them, the rest of the world whizzing by in a streaky blur. “What’s happening with Tony?”
“He’s a dick is what’s happening. Been acting weird all week and I can’t even be bothered to think about him right now.” This was true. Cat was sick of running yesterday’s events through her mind on repeat. She’d eventually forced herself to start thinking about other things. One of those things was made apparent as a naughty grin twitched itself into life on her face. “Besides, I’ve got something way more interesting to show you when we get out.”
“What?!” demanded Lee, focused fully on Cat and not the oncoming traffic. “What you been up to? Let me see!”
“Not a bloody chance hun. Keep your eyes on the road for chrissake! If I show you this you’ll crash and kill us both and I have important things to do this week.”
Lee’s eyes widened with intrigue and over-exaggerated praise. “Good Girl! Tell me everything. I want all the details, especially the naughty ones.”
The pair were still laughing as the car pulled in to the parking bay. Although all Regal employees had free use of the hotel gym, Cat preferred to avoid the place on her days off and, after recent events, was reminded that her £25 monthly fee was money well spent.
The changing rooms were way too busy for the conversation they were both dying to share so it turned instead to more practical matters like birthday party arrangements and MOT’s. A quick change, then into the pool for forty-five minutes of leg crunches to a classic eighties soundtrack. Class finished and after getting a few lengths of the pool out of the way, Cat was finally starting to relax. For some reason, splashing about like a tit to golden oldies had made her feel better. She bobbed in the water watching Lee, very impressed and slightly envious. Lee was elegant in the water, gliding effortlessly with a front crawl. Cat could swim but nowhere near as gracefully.
“You gotta teach me how to do that,” she said as Lee finished another length and joined her at the pool wall.
“It’s simple, babes. It’s all in the arm action: you need a firm wrist and even strokes,” Lee smouldered at Cat in jest as she demonstrated. Cat attempted to mimic her bent arm with minimal splash hopelessly.
“We’ll have to work on your aerodynamics, you look like a drowning mutt. One that needs to be put out of its misery.”
“It’s gotta be smooth, hun. Sexy. You have to glide.” Lee drifted in the water. “Come on, a few more lengths.”
“Nah, you’re alright. Think I’m done,” scoffed Cat as she clumsily dragged herself out of the pool. Then she watched in admiration as her beautifully curvy friend did the same thing in the style of Ursula Andress. “Steam room?”
It was a no brainer; the steam room was an excellent idea and fortunately for them, it was currently empty. Lee closed the door behind them and pressed the ‘on’ button. Alone in the wet heat they could finally get back to the conversation they’d been waiting for.
“So come on then,” said Lee, getting comfy. “What’s going on? Tony out the window already?”
“Yep. Actually, I wish I’d literally pushed him out the window,” Cat said, rolling her eyes and quickly changing the subject. “So here’s the jest: it turns out that some men on dating sites have nothing better to do than send me pictures of their dicks.”
“One bloke sent me a pic of himself completely naked in chains with his dick in a vice the other week! I’ll show you when we get out. He asked me if I liked the picture.”
“Brilliant.” As far as Lee was concerned this had been worth the wait. “What did you say?”
“I told him no not really but with better lighting and a different angle he could improve the artistic integrity of the piece. I sent the message, took a screenshot and blocked him. To be honest though, his ‘piece’ was freakishly huge. You’d have to see it to believe it.”
“Well, I look forward to believing it later then,” chuckled Lee, eagerly.
“That’s not the bloody worst of it!” Cat continued. “There was this one guy I was chatting to a few weeks back; seemed really nice. Then I get a voice note on the app. Hot Irish accent. So I’m thinking maybe I’ll meet him. Honestly, Lee, I thought he was really sweet at first but as the chats went on he starts leaving me messages asking me how wet I was getting! Then, out of nowhere, he asked if I’d like to meet and what I thought about strap ons, practically in the same sentence. Fucking STRAP ONS!”
Lee lost control and started laughing so hard she nearly weed herself. It was infectious too. Cat could hardly talk through her own giggling, struggling to finish the sentence in her best Queen’s English.
“Obviously, I politely declined his offer and explained that I prefer to wait till the third date to hammer a gentleman in his arsehole.”
Lee was already wiping tears from her eyes watching Cat’s scrunched up face in dismay.
Leaving the steam room, still chuckling, the girls headed over to the showers. The changing room was full again, breaking the conversation and forcing them to mute their girly giggles. They showered and changed, nattering away about the angst of post-swim hair, especially when the only tool available was a crappy hairdryer with about as much power as a Chinese hand fan. It was time for coffee.
Up in the cafe, Lee ordered some fruity tea and Cat, a very well deserved caramel Latte with a slice of walnut cake. She was a sucker for the icing. Once seated, neither could resist a sneaky peek at Cat’s phone. Just as Cat was expanding the pic for Lee to get a more detailed look at the vice and it’s enormous occupant, Cat was gifted a message. With an unexpected little flutter of excitement, she opened it and read.
Nick: We still on for saturday? �
Cat: Yep! Looking forward to it. BTW I can polish off more than a glass without toppling over. So I might not be as cheap as you think. It was a reference to their previous dialogue about vino and cheap dates, as well as a sly attempt to salvage a little dignity after her throwaway comment about not wearing underwear.
Nick: As long as it’s house wine. I’m not investing in the good stuff till I know for sure you’re not actually a catfish.
Cat: That’s fine with me. We’re sitting near the fire escape till I know for sure you’re not actually a serial killer!
Nick was quick to respond with a Mike Tyson laughing GIF.
Nick: Look, whatever happens it’ll be fun. Haven’t looked forward to meeting someone this much in ages. Normally it feels like you’re just going through the motions, ya know?
The comment made her visibly smile and she was completely unaware of the slight blush starting to spread across her cheeks. Lee clocked it immediately.
“Who was that and what you looking so pleased with yourself for?”
Lee grinned in anticipation of the next rendition of Cat’s text relations.
“Well…” Cat paused for effect, eyebrows raised with an uncontrollable smirk on her face. “I’ve got a date lined up with an extremely hot guy I’ve known for all of five minutes.” She grimaced, waiting for Lee’s inevitable outburst.
“What?! We’ve been here over an hour and you’re only telling me this now?!” She was almost appalled but simultaneously thrilled. “Who is he and how the hell did this happen? Is he really that hot? Show me his bloody profile, woman!”
Far too pleased with herself, Cat opened the app and scrolled though the multitude of highly boring, minimal-effort messages before she found Nick’s profile. Passing the phone to Lee, she couldn’t help feeling slightly giddy at the sight of his picture and noted how ridiculous it was that a person who so far had only existed in the cyberverse could give her butterflies.
“O-M-G. Seriously, oh my god, he is hot!” Lee nodded, approvingly. “So this is the guy you’re having a dirty date with at the weekend. I’m surprised you came to the bloody gym and aren’t banging on his door instead.”
“Well, hopefully I’ll be banging something of his soon.” It was a cheap comment said solely to amuse her friend but was enough to accidentally trigger her imagination. Lee scrolled through a few more of his photos but Cat kept quiet about the ones he’d sent her directly. Those were for her eyes only. They ran through his profile: six foot three, ‘looking for a challenge’, in management and apparently attracted to grey granny undies. Again the girls burst out laughing, causing heads to turn on the surrounding tables.
“Oy, share the joke!” It was Mel, fellow single-mum and absolute MILF. She was with Emma—happily married to the love of her life, for like-ever—and surprisingly, Chrissy from the Regal. The hotel was a regular hotspot for several mums from the playground; being so close to school and offering convenient hours made it a popular choice for them to have an excuse to hang out or, in some cases, simply escape their husbands.
Chrissy caught her eye and gave her a warm smile, then sat down without uttering a word about yesterday’s drama. Cat was grateful; she was definitely growing on her. It was a group of misfits but that’s sometimes how it works with friends. Sometimes the people who end up closest to you may not have been the ones you’d have picked for your team in PE or even quiz night. Rather it was more an evaluation of logistics; acquaintances that frequently end up in your company and somehow find common ground with you over time. This appeared to be the case with Chrissy. Anyone with enough integrity to not use your misgivings to take centre stage in a conversation was absolutely a person worthy of consideration for any team. Cat decided that next time they were on shift together it was time to buy her a coffee. It was the least she could do.
“Budge up,” Mel said, moving her chair in next to Cat’s while Emma wrestled the largest gym bag on the planet off her shoulder and onto the floor near the table. “Just finished body pump and I’m bloody shattered.”
“What the hell you got in their, girl? A dead body?” Lee shot at Emma.
“It’s all the products I need after the gym, just to look vaguely human again,” Emma said. She was from the posh end of the borough. “The hairdryers here are utterly atrocious so I bring mine from home. My make-up bag alone is the size of a small suitcase.”
“So, what’s so funny?” Mel enquired again, more interested in gossip than posh luggage.
Before Cat could say anything Lee blurted out: “Cat’s got a dirty date with a hotty she met online!”
“Shut the front door!” said Emma.
“Ohmigod, who?!” Mel said immediately after. “Show us his profile!”
Lee grabbed Cat’s phone, still open on Nick’s page and tossed it to Emma who quickly zoomed in on the profile pic. She gawked a moment then displayed it to the rest of the table. Cat laughed but was secretly apprehensive about sharing her new boy toy with the rest of the playground.
“Fucking hell, babes! I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for farting,” she teased breathlessly. Mel had an eloquent way with words. “Hell, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for sharting!”
There was a collective ‘ewww’ with more giggles from the rest of the table. Chrissy didn’t really know what to make of it but was enjoying the silliness.
“So what’s happening with your boys, Mel?” Cat asked, eager to redirect.
“I dunno, really. It’s all got a bit complicated. Ash is nice an’ all that, he’s good company an’ stuff but my twenty-seven year old FWB is somethin’ else,” she said to chuckles from the girls. “When he leaves my house in the afternoon I’m still twitching like a naughty teenager on the bloody school run, especially if he’s wearing his uniform. Even more so when he gets out the handcuffs!”
Mel’s saucy little buddy was a policeman and Cat couldn’t resist the temptation to ask: “How’s his truncheon?” Naturally this caused more chuckles and silliness.
“Vhat iz FWB?” Chrissy asked, innocently.
“Friend with benefits, hun,” Lee explained. “It’s an acronym.”
“Friend viz benefits?” puzzled Chrissy. “Vhat iz thiz?”
“A friend you can fuck without any complications like dating and marriage getting in the way and ruining it,” said Lee.
“Hmm… okay,” Chrissy said, not wholly convinced by the prospect but willing to accept it. “And… vhat iz ‘sharting’?”
The rest of them burst into laughter again, each taking turns to try and answer her question as delicately as possible in a room full of people eating and drinking. Mel, being the most brazen of them was, of course, the one to finally elucidate her.
“If zomeone shartz in my bed I vill kick them out of my houze!” insisted Chrissy. “Even if they are hot poleezman on benefitz.”
They laughed again, partly and Chrissy’s language breakdown. Mel got back to the matter at hand.
“Seriously, I struggle to walk some days. We’re fucking ruined. Look at the message he sent me a few days ago!” She whipped out her iPhone, tapped its screen a few times with her immaculately manicured nails and read aloud: “Think you fucked me into next week! Feel like I’ve been in a fight!”
Hysteria erupted at the table. “What I’ve done with that guy… I’m not lying. Sold my old four-poster bed last week and when they came to collect it I realised it still had cable ties on the posts!” She was laughing so hard now she could hardly speak. “Fifty Shades has nothing on me!”
Tears streamed from Cat’s eyes. Her cheeks hurt.
“I take it you like it rough,” Lee probed. “Fuck yeah! Jason Statham all the way! Especially when he’s getting in fights and all bruised up and shit.”
“Oh, I have to agree with you on that one,” Emma chipped in.
“Jason Statham’s hot but I’m all about Tom Hardy,” Cat added.
“What about a bit o’ Danny Dyer,” Lee threw in. All the girls agreed that Danny Dyer had at some point shamelessly occupied their alone-time thoughts. Apart from Chrissy who didn’t have a clue what a Danny Dyer was. Apparently, having not been fed on British comedy as a child and refusing to watch EastEnders as she couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying—nor could she bear how ‘underhappy’ they all looked—meant that she’d completely missed out on the wonderment of Mr Dyer.
“I’d do all of ‘em. Fucking hell, don’t know what’s wrong with me; I just love a thug.” Mel admitted as she sat back in her chair, fanning herself with the menu. “Shit, I think I need to go home for a shag and a fag. I can’t take much more of this hard-man fantasising.”
The group’s laughs were getting louder, as was the conversation. Heads were turning and it was obvious the table next to them were highly amused by the banter while some others weren’t very amused at all.
“I met Tom Hardy once,” Cat boasted proudly.
“No, really?” gasped Emma. “That’s so exciting I’d have died on the spot.”
“Yeah, I was standing in line at the Theatre and Lizzie disappeared from view for a second. I turned to look for her, bumping her Hello Kitty bag into the guy in front. Couldn’t believe it when he turned round: fucking Tom Hardy!”
Mel was quick and blurted out far too loudly: “So let me get the straight, you bumped Tom Hardy with a little pussy?” That was it. They were cry-laughing madly. Cat couldn’t breathe. The lady at the counter had obviously been eavesdropping and called over.
“You ladies are cracking me up, wish I could join ya!” The session ended with a split decision: Cat and Lee were on team Hardy while Emma and Mel were Statham all the way. Dyer had the vote of confidence from the lady behind the counter and Chrissy agreed to give her the Danny vote in exchange for a free coffee top up. The girls agreed that this was a perfectly acceptable bribe and declared a draw.
“Right, ladies, get your phones out. What dates we free for drinks?” Cat had her organising head back on. It looked like the rest of the month was out but the start of November suited everyone. “I’ll send you all a Facebook Event later. Open invite so tag anyone you fancy bringing along. It’s been far too long since we had a night on the tiles.”
With that they said their goodbyes with air kisses and lots of hugs. An all round, upbeat, totally fabulous start to the day had been had by all. Today was already looking better. It was just the medicine needed, a pickme-up from the people she loved most. And of course, she still had her so called ‘dirty date’ to look forward to.
Enjoyed this chapter and want to catch up with the story so far Adventures with Cat