'Oh — right, nice to, uhh, meet —'
Carly trailed off as she realised that the guy was gone. Her date for the evening had downed five beers, announced he was late to meet his friend and skedaddled. Carly turned back to her glass of wine — she was only halfway through her second — and wondered what had just happened.
The hotel room key burned a mortifying hole in her sequinned purse. She grabbed it and double-checked the clasp was clipped tight lest anyone in the crowded hotel bar saw her shame. Even if someone spotted the offending key, it was reasonably unlikely they would instantly deduce that she had booked the room in hopes that her first online date would turn out well enough to finally get back on the horse. Seven months after her partner of six years announced he wasn't sure he was capable of love, she was beginning to worry her fanny was growing cobwebs. Meanwhile, her ex and the woman he swore she didn't have to worry about had just announced they were expecting.
She had just wanted to get laid. Unlike Fannybaws-the-Arsehole, as he would henceforth be known, Carly wasn't ready to jump into a new relationship. Or ever, truth be told. She had a lot of healing and figuring out to do before she could even think about opening her heart to another man. But, a few days earlier, she'd woken up and realised she couldn't go on with Fannybaws-the-Arsehole being the last man she touched.
'What you need is a sorbet,' her PA, Jason, announced at their morning meeting. 'The man who gets the taste of the last man out your mouth.'
'And where do I find that?'
He'd sighed mournfully. 'On the apps, my darling. They're terrible, but they are the only way.'
So she'd gone on the apps. That evening, she'd polished off a gorgeous Chinese takeaway whilst typing answers to prompts with one hand, and scrolling through a depressingly large collection of unflattering selfies. Finally, she found one her five-year-old nephew had taken when she let him play with her phone out of desperation the last time she babysat. The angle was a bit skewiff, but she thought her smile was alright, and hopefully, the framing would seem arty and cool.
She uploaded a second, a full-body shot of her paddleboarding. She'd been a bit concerned about giving the impression that she was a keen fit type prone to taking to the water every weekend. In fact, she'd paddleboarded once on holiday and much preferred to take to her sofa and a box set of a weekend. But she sometimes felt that her face was a bit slimmer than the rest of her (she'd once asked Jason if he thought her head was too small in proportion to her boobs. He'd lain down in front of her desk hysterically laughing for a solid ten minutes.) A photo that showed off her curves in all their glory felt only fair.
However, she'd apparently got something wrong as Mr Online had swooped into his seat opposite her ten minutes late and immediately ordered two beers and a whisky chaser from a passing waiter. 'These poncy places always take ages to serve you,' he'd shrugged. 'Might as well get a couple of rounds in.' She'd thought he was slightly presumptions ordering a beer for her, but when they arrived, it turned out that both were for him. 'I said I was getting a couple of rounds.' He frowned testily as he removed the bottle from her hand. She had a bit of an issue with his definition of rounds, yet, for some unfathomable reason, she'd apologised for the misunderstanding and flagged down the waiter to order one for herself.
She wasn't usually a pushover, she thought ruefully, nibbling on the spicy nuts that had come with her wine. Everyone said that free nuts in bars were covered with piss, but Carly was too hungry to care right now. She bet that at least one celebrity with a newsletter had waxed lyrical about the nutritional benefits of piss.
Carly was the social media strategist for an American tech giant. Even though her Fannybaws used to tell people that she did Instagram for work, her company's fortunes rose and fell on its social media presence. A team of twenty spread over six countries reported to her. She would never let anyone in a professional setting speak to her the way Mr Online had. None of them would dare, in any case.
But that was the problem, she realised. The bar was getting busier, filling up with the beautiful people all chattering, ordering fancy cocktails, and probably not being ditched when they only wanted to cleanse their sexual palette anyway. She addressed board meetings with her game face on. With her game persona in place. She went into work prepared to do war.
She'd mistakenly thought that a date was about being nice. Getting to know someone, checking out the chemistry. Deciding if they were fun and sexy enough to get to know a bit better, nakedly. To be fair, Jason had tried to warn her. She'd thought he was being cynical.
Oh well, lesson learned, she thought as she signalled to the waiter for her bill. A frustrating lesson, but such is life. Key bits of her pointedly reminded her of the itch that had decidedly not been scratched. She began to feel a bit sorry for her vibrator.
She looked down and gasped out loud to see that Mr Online had also stiffed her with all his drinks.
'I thought it was you!'
A man stood in front of Carly's table. Medium height, sandy hair, and an endearing smattering of freckles over his nose and cheeks. She frowned — where did she know him from?
'Ewan,' he grinned. 'From primary 6. You used to tie my tie after gym class.'
'Of course, I remember,' Carly laughed, now remembering her huge crush on him. She'd thought he looked like Mark Owen. 'Looks like you haven't got any better at it.'
The top buttons of his shirt were undone, and if Carly wasn't mistaken, that was a crumpled tie hanging half out of his suit pocket.
'Honest truth? I am a pathetic mess when it comes to tying my own tie. I've genuinely thought about you over the years and wished you were around to help me not make an arse of myself when I'm about to address a conference.' He glanced questioningly at the chair opposite her, and Carly gestured for him to sit.
'What sort of conferences? What did you end up doing?'
'Promise you won't laugh.' Humour sparkled in his eyes, and Carly started to giggle already.
'I can't promise that.'
Carly burst out laughing.
'I know, I know. Firmly on the business side,' Ewab added hastily. 'But yeah, The irony is far from lost on me. The honest truth is that my life fell apart when you went to a different high school.'
A vision of being close enough to Ewan to tie his tie assaulted Carly. Feeling his breath hot on her neck as she tugged the tie firmly, that russet stubble brushing against her forehead. She took a sip of wine to cover her sudden flush.
'Are you staying here?' he asked. 'I thought you still lived in Glasgow?'
She shook her head, wondering with a small smile how he knew that. He didn't follow her on social media. Not that she'd checked. 'I do. I just came to meet someone.'
'Oh yes?' he leaned forward, wriggling his eyebrows. 'Should I be jealous?'
'Not even a little bit, I promise. Okay. Do you want the whole, gory story?'
'I cannot tell you how much I do.'
She giggled. 'Don't say I didn't warn you, my friend.' So she told him. She skirted over just how many nights she'd spent crying herself to sleep after her ex left, downplayed the stab of hurt she'd felt when she realised Mr Online had used her to pregame for free. 'The worst bit is, it's not like I was looking for commitment or even a second date. I was, as they say, down to get down. Isn't that meant to be men's dream come true?'
'Men with half a brain, maybe.' Ewan shook his head. 'He's a halfwit. Probably thought he didn't have a chance with you and ran away before he could find out for sure.'
Carly sighed. 'Do you think I'm pathetic?'
'I think he's pathetic.' Ewan stamped his beer bottle on the table for emphasis. 'You, on the other hand, are stunning. I'm often embarrassed to be a straight man, but this idiot might just take the biscuit.'
Carly chuckled, a tiny flush of pleasure warming her.
'So tell me more about this sorbet,' he asked lightly, his head cocked cheekily to one side. 'Does it have to be a complete stranger?'
They barely made it to Carly's hotel room. Ewan all but lunged for her the instant the lift doors closed, pressing her against the back wall with a ravenous kiss that literally took her breath away. He was shorter and lither than her ex. At first, it felt odd to kiss someone much the same height as her, but as Ewan's tongue met hers, his hands sliding down to firmly grip her arse and pull her even closer, Carly quickly found that she very much did not care.
They both jumped as the lift doors sprang open. Carly surreptitiously straightened her rumbled dress as they passed an elderly couple waiting to go downstairs for dinner. The instant they were around the corner, they broke into sniggers then Ewan slid his arms around her from behind, kissing and nibbling her neck as he fondled her breasts with one hand, the other sliding between her legs over her dress. Carly gasped, leaning back into him, enjoying his strangled moan as she firmly pressed her arse into his promising erection.
She had no idea how they managed to stagger, hungrily exploring one another, half-tripping, crashing into each other, giggling and stumbling on a few steps. Finally, they made it to her door. She fumbled in her purse for the key — thanking her lucky stars she didn't have her usual voluminous handbag to search through. It was hard enough to concentrate with Ewan nibbling and licking the sensitive spot just below her ear, one hand resting on her bum and the other —
Oh, god — get this door open now.
The lock beeped the green light, and they tumbled through — Carly wasn't even aware of falling, but suddenly Ewan was sprawled on the carpet, kicking the door firmly shut. Carly straddled him, pressing herself firmly against his erection, hot, delicious sensations pulsating through her as she began to rock. Ewan half sat, sliding the straps of her sundress and bra over her shoulders before burying his face in her breasts, licking, sucking, nipping with reverent hunger. Carly was pretty sure she saw stars.
Frantically grabbing for her bag, she tossed it upside down and no less than five condoms toppled out. Ewan burst into dazed laughter as she tore one open.
'Optimistic girl,' he murmured, his voice tight. 'Oh — fuck —'
She unzipped his trousers and held him firmly in her hand as she slowly unrolled the condom, enjoying his tortured expression as she took her sweet time smoothing it firmly into place. 'Was five too many?'
Pushing his chest back, she positioned herself over him and took the same sweet time taking him in centimetre by centimetre. Dizzying sparkles were already building in her, and his eyes just about rolled back in his head as they began to move together. He picked up speed, filling her deeply with every thrust, holding her hips firmly with one hand while the other was pressed firmly just in front of where they joined, his thumb stroking her into oblivion.
'Tell you what, eh?' he grinned as she threw back her head and surrendered to a toe-curling orgasm. 'Challenge accepted.'