Ride Me, Baby! Ch. 07

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By mid-morning the sun had broken through the clouds and blue sky was once again on show. Louise soon began to wish she hadn’t worn her thick fleece, but she was pretty much stuck with it until they stopped for a rest. She stayed towards the middle of the long line of cyclists traversing an endless succession of winding country lanes.

Cows mooed mournfully as they pedalled past and she scowled at them miserably. At least they didn’t have to face the fact they’d been shafted both literally and figuratively. She rode onwards, determinedly focussing on the middle distance and trying to forget about the man who was somewhere behind her, probably making eyes at another likely target. Occasionally Alicia’s irritating giggle floated down the line and Louise couldn’t help but wonder if Rick was flirting with her now. It seemed anything was possible with that hateful man.

* * *

“Are you still torturing yourself?” Gillian asked her quietly when they stopped for lunch at a pretty village pub nestled beside a stream. The pair of them stood in the ladies toilets while Louise pulled her unruly hair back into a tight ponytail.

“No,” she said firmly. “I told you this morning – he’s an arse and that’s all there is to it.”

Gillian shook her head crossly. “I still think you’re wrong about him,” she said.

“No, trust me, I’m not!” Louise scraped the last few strands of hair into the band and stared at her reflection. She looked far better than she felt surprisingly. Her skin was tanned from the sun and she had a healthy glow to her cheeks. It was amazing what cycling and sex did for a woman, she thought bitterly.

“Why, what else has happened?” Gillian leant forward curiously, sensing that there was something she had missed.

Louise quickly related what she’d seen in the Duty Free shop and Gillian sighed. “Maybe you’ve jumped to the wrong conclusion?” she said hopefully.

“No, I didn’t.” Louise applied some pink lipstick and threw her bits back in her pack. “Come on, let’s go eat something.” She was in no mood to discuss the incident further – what was the point? After a few hours she would never have to see the man again and that suited her just fine, thank you very much.

* * *

The beer garden was idyllic in the warm midday sun. Large umbrellas shaded the wooden tables and fragrant flowers bloomed cheerfully in terracotta pots. The landlord was a friendly soul who seemed more than happy to pass the time of day with them all. He noted their food orders and chatted cheerfully while he served drinks.

Louise took her pint of cider and walked back outside. She quickly glanced around to see who was sitting where before deliberately choosing a table at the end of the terrace, away from the rest of the group. Bob was sat near the wall with Rebecca and Lucy, apparently showing them the photos on his camera. Louise tuned out of that conversation; she had a strong suspicion that windmills and tulips didn’t feature all that heavily in the selection.

The view stretched across the valley they had cycled along; endless fields of acidic yellow rape-seed and undulating green pasture. It was a stark contrast to the flat expanses of Holland. Louise rested her feet up on the bench and waited for Gillian to come and join her. She closed her eyes momentarily, enjoying the soporific warmth of the afternoon sun on her face. After the lack of sleep she’d endured in the last three nights, it was difficult to stay awake.

A slight movement of the bench jolted her eyes open again and she looked up expecting to see Gillian.

“Are you ignoring me again?” asked Rick mildly. He placed his pint of beer on the table and sat down beside her, apparently not feeling an invitation was needed.

“Whatever gave you that idea?” Sarcasm positively dripped from her tongue.

“Erm…the fact I’ve noticed a ten mile exclusion zone around you all day?” He raised his eyebrow questioningly and waited for her response.

Louise took a long slug of cider and fervently wished Gillian would hurry the fuck up. “Don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said eventually, refusing to look at him as she sipped her drink.

“LOUISE!” Gillian yelled across the terrace. “Come and get your sandwich, I only have one pair of hands!”

“Excuse me,” she said with icy politeness. He looked mad as hell as she left him sat there while she re-entered the cool interior of the pub. Sweat trickled down her back and her nerves jangled painfully. Less than ten minutes ago she’d been starving. Now she just felt sick. Why couldn’t he just leave her alone? Did he not understand that she had sussed him out now?

“Here you go,” said Gillian with a faint smile. Louise took the plate with a chicken baguette and side salad. Perhaps she could stay in here and hide for a bit. Perhaps he would really take the hint then? Or maybe he wasn’t that sensitive – after all he was a man.

She followed Gillian back outside and noted with some irritation that Rick had ataşehir escort bayan moved and was now sitting with Gary, Alicia and Cindy. The four of them appeared to be sharing some amazingly amusing joke and Alicia was braying with laughter in her best donkey impression. Louise couldn’t help but notice how the bitch rested her hand possessively on Rick’s thigh as she turned and said something else to him with a flirtatious smile.

A sharp pang of insane jealousy ripped through her in response to the overtly casual gesture. Rick must have sensed that she was looking for he turned towards her with the glass of beer glass raised half way towards his mouth. For a long moment everybody else in the vicinity faded out and it was only the two of them, their eyes locked in silent combat.

Louise broke the stare first. She could feel her resolve slipping in the heat of his blue-eyed stare and she forced herself to head for the table in the corner again. Gillian was waiting, already tucking in to her tuna roll with gusto.

“Wow, this is delicious!” she said enthusiastically. “I may have to order another one shortly.”

Louise didn’t reply. She was far too busy staring at the interesting pattern of cress on her plate. It seemed a good alternative to obsessing over Rick and Alicia. If she had to watch that woman touching him for much longer, she was worried that some kind of homicidal rage might take over. The ensuing headline, “Psychotic Cyclist’s Killing Spree!” would hardly be welcomed as great publicity by their designated charity.

* * *

The sun was low in the sky by the time Gary announced that they had less than a mile to go. It seemed like another lifetime ago when the ride had set off from the shopping outlet in such high spirits. Now, after four gruelling days of cycling and partying, most of the women were feeling pain of some description.

Louise was certainly in discomfort; her shoulders were aching quite considerably. Her head was also aching after listening to Alicia for the last few hours. It was amazing how one woman could talk non-stop for so long, she thought bitchily. The fact that most of Alicia’s conversation was directed at Rick had absolutely everything to do with her bad temper.

Gillian had tried to engage her in chit chat several times, but Louise really wasn’t in the mood. The finish line couldn’t come soon enough as far as she was concerned. She just wanted to go home and bury her head under a pillow. The thought of a long soak in a hot bath followed by an uninterrupted nights sleep was like the Holy Grail.

“Are you gonna do this again next year?” Sam said, directing her question to Gillian who was cycling in front of Louise.

“Ask me again when my blisters have healed,” replied Gillian with a grimace. “The way I feel right now, my bike is going to the tip at the weekend.”

Sam laughed. “Yep, you’re not the only one!” she grinned. “Rick was telling me earlier about another ride Gary and he are organising later in the year. It’s a coast to coast one, up lots of hills and stuff. It sounds pretty cool and I was thinking of signing up for it. Do you fancy it?”

“I might actually.”

“What about you, Louise?” Sam swivelled round and smiled brightly. “Would you be up for it?”

“No, I don’t think so,” she replied. Gillian threw her a sympathetic glance and Sam raised a curious eyebrow.

“What’s eating you?” she asked.

“Men trouble,” Gillian interjected when Louise didn’t reply.

“Ooh! That sounds interesting! Anyone I know?”

Louise gritted her teeth and counted to ten. The last thing she needed was another autopsy on the whole ‘Rick’ situation. Besides, if Sam knew what had happened, she felt certain everyone else would shortly after. Discreet she wasn’t.

The sound of cheering could be heard from the front end of the ride and fortunately Sam and Gillian’s attention was drawn away from Louise’s calamitous love life.

The tree-lined entrance road to the shopping outlet came into view and the relief on everyone’s faces was palpable. They all found a final burst of speed and shot down the road and into the car park. There were lots of family and friends waiting with beer and hugs, but Louise had nobody. Her mum was in Spain and her father had been absent for years. The last she’d heard of him was a post card informing her he was shacked up with some bar maid from Cardiff.

She felt positively deflated now that the ride was finally over. It was a real anticlimax. Accepting a can of lukewarm lager from Gillian, she wandered over to her car and began to take her bags off the bike.

“Photo’s everyone!” yelled Gary.

Pasting a smile on her face, Louise reluctantly walked back over and stood for the dutiful photos. Gary’s wife was there, watching as they posed for the camera. She seemed blissfully unaware of what her husband had been up to in the last four days and Louise felt rather sorry for her. Poor cow, she thought darkly.

Once escort kadıköy the photos were finished, everyone began to disperse amidst tearful goodbyes. Gillian gave Louise a huge hug and for the first time since they had come back, Louise felt sad to be going home. “Thanks for everything,” she said. “I’ll miss you!”

“Me too, it’s been so much fun,” replied Gillian with a grin. “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to stop my legs from rotating tonight!”

“You’d better stop – or you’re sleeping in the spare bed,” growled a tall man.

“Sean!” shrieked Gillian. She leapt into his arms and they hugged tightly. Louise turned away feeling very much a spare part all of a sudden. The green eyed monster had struck and she wished there was someone who felt like that about her.

Once her bike was secured on the rack, she was ready to go. Goodbyes had been said to all those she’d gotten to know over the last four days. Even Alicia had grudgingly said a few words on her departure, although Louise doubted she actually meant any of them.

She and Gillian exchanged telephone numbers and promised to keep in touch once the dust had settled. “We’ll go out for a drink soon,” said Gillian.

Louise nodded and thought that’d probably be fun. With a final wave, she climbed into her car just as she saw Rick heading in her direction. He looked like he wanted to talk, but she slammed her door shut and swiftly turned the key in the ignition. Before he was even close, she was gone with a screech of rubber on the tarmac.

Unable to stop herself glancing in the rear view mirror, she saw him standing, watching her leave. Her heart felt like it was tearing in two, but she knew she’d done the right thing. There was no way on earth she was going to allow herself to become involved with another cheating bastard. Oh no, stupid she wasn’t.

* * *

“Wanna coffee?” asked Sally, noting the expression of horror on Louise’s face as she reviewed her pile of work.

“Yeah,” Louise sighed miserably. It was amazing how a few days off seemed to triple her workload. Even her email in-box was bulging with unprecedented volumes of spam. The way her day was going, she was still going to be sat here at midnight.

Glumly she scrolled down the list of emails, sending all of the generous offers for cheap Viagra straight into the trash folder. When she saw one from Rick, she nearly hit delete on that too, but something made her open it up.

It didn’t say much beyond hoping that she was okay. It appeared to be a generic email forwarded to everyone on the team, encouraging them to collect their sponsorship money in as soon as possible. Despite reminding herself that she was not meant to be thinking about him, Louise couldn’t help feeling hurt that he hadn’t even bothered to send a proper message. Clearly he had forgotten about her already, which was less than flattering.

She finally hit ‘delete’ with a scowl and emptied her trash folder just for good measure. Once she had collected all her money in – that would be it, no more contact with him. She certainly wasn’t planning on signing up for any more rides, unlike some of the other women. No, she wasn’t a bloody masochist.

* * *

“Well done!” grinned Paolo as he handed over a ten pound note. His fingers brushed hers and he seemed reluctant to let go once she grabbed his money.

“Thanks – it was fun,” she smiled, retrieving her hand. Actually it hadn’t all been fun, but she wasn’t thinking about that these days. Rick who?

“Well anytime you need a massage…” Paolo’s voice trailed off suggestively and Louise felt a shiver run through her.

“Paolo!” a feminine voice yelled shrilly across the gym. “I’m ready for you!”

They both turned around to see a peroxide blonde bimbo jiggling up and down on the spot enthusiastically. Paolo checked his watch and grimaced. “Fuck, she’s early,” he groaned.

Louise hid a smile and pocketed the cash quickly. “I’ll think about the massage,” she promised flirtatiously. In all honesty it was the best offer she’d had all week and she would almost certainly be thinking about it later. But she knew Paolo wasn’t the one for her. She had no intention of being one of many.

“Anytime,” Paolo reminded her with a wink. “My door is always open for you.”

Louise grinned and gestured towards Miss Peroxide near the water cooler. “You’d better hurry – she looks desperate,” she said slyly.

Paolo rolled his eyes and sauntered off slowly as Louise and every other female in the room admired his sexy ass. Yep, she’d definitely be thinking about that open door later.

* * *

Louise sat at her desk counting all the cash and cheques she’d collected over the last two weeks. Everyone had paid up without too much hassle, even the legendarily tight Mr Foster, her boss. He had insisted on seeing photographic evidence to prove that she’d actually done the bike ride, but eventually he’d grudgingly signed his name with a flourish on the cheque.

Now bostancı escort all she had to do was to post the money to Rick. He had sent her several emails since they’d returned from Holland. She had read each and every one, but replied to none of them. The last one had arrived this morning and was sent only to her, as opposed to every rider on the team like all the previous emails.

He wanted to know why she was ignoring him.

Naturally she didn’t reply to that one either. It was fairly obvious why she was ignoring him as far as she could see. Which bit of lying, cheating bastard didn’t he relate to? Louise felt her stomach clench as she thought about him for the zillionth time that day. Surely at some point she would forget about him.

Wouldn’t she?

She shoved all the cheques into an envelope, along with her sponsorship form, and debated what to do with the cash. There was no way she could send cash in the post – it would never find its way past the sorting office. The obvious solution was to write a cheque from her account to cover the amount and keep the cash. Quickly she scrawled the figures, keeping one eye firmly on the door. If Mr Foster walked in and saw her doing personal stuff on his time, he’d have another go at her. She was still reeling from the last dressing down.

Sally appeared and hissed loudly, “Mr Foster is on the war path!” before vanishing again, a huge stack of files balanced precariously in her arms.

Louise hurriedly shoved everything into the envelope and sealed it shut. She managed to drop it in her bag and return her attention to some accounts just as Mr Foster stormed into the office, an expression of imminent doom on his face.

“Why haven’t I seen this months sales figures yet?” he boomed crossly.

Possibly because you’ve been too busy ogling your new secretary? “I’ve just emailed them over, Mr Foster,” Louise hurriedly assured him with an efficient smile.

“Good,” he grumbled and she breathed a huge sigh of relief when he swept out on a potent cloud of Lynx aftershave.

Tonight she would shove the sponsorship money in the post box and then she could forget all about Rick. Or at least that was Plan A.

Plan B involved electro shock treatment in the nearest asylum.

* * *

A few days later another email from Rick landed in her in-box. For a while Louise looked at the subject line, ‘Sponsorship Money!’ and thought about opening it. Eventually, with a sigh, she labelled the email as SPAM and watched with satisfaction as it was moved into the spam folder. From this point onwards, every email he sent would be blocked.

It was intended to give her a feeling of power. Instead it left her feeling like shit. Would she never find respite from this affliction? She spent the rest of the day with her head buried in the month end accounts. It wasn’t fun, but at least it stopped her thinking.

By the time she walked inside her flat, Louise could feel a monstrous headache brewing like a tornado. Her temples throbbed painfully and small white dots kept fluttering across her peripheral vision like snowflakes. Even two painkillers and a soak in the bath did nothing to alleviate the tension.

Eventually Louise lay down on the settee, wrapped in her fluffy robe, and shut her eyes. It seemed too early to go to bed, but she had no inclination to do anything other than vegetate. In the background the television spewed out the usual inane mid-week crap and she drifted off into a semi stupor.

When the door bell rang shrilly, it took her a while to realise it was hers. She padded down the hall, rubbing her eyes as she wondered who the hell could be calling at this time. She certainly wasn’t expecting anyone.

“Hi,” said Rick politely when she opened the door.

“What the hell are you doing here and how did you find out where I live?” Louise exclaimed rather ungraciously.

“You wrote your address down on the entry form and I was forced to come round because you refused to answer my emails about THIS.” He held up the cheque she’d posted and she saw immediately that she had forgotten to sign it.

Louise felt her face flush with heated embarrassment and she wished fervently for a very large hole to swallow her up. “What emails?” she asked innocently, hoping against hope that he believed her.

Rick raised one eyebrow sardonically. “Do you think maybe you can sign this now?” he said coolly.

That stung. Louise suddenly felt very much in the wrong despite her unflinching belief that he was a total bastard. “You’ll have to come in for a moment while I look for a pen,” she said reluctantly, stepping to one side and allowing him entry.

* * *

“Nice place,” he commented as he stood in her living room while she rooted through the drawer.

Why was it that when the one time she needed a biro, there were none to be found anywhere? The knowledge that she was stood in her dressing gown with fluffy socks on her feet did nothing to alleviate her stress levels.

Eventually a chewed looking pen surfaced amongst the debris of photographs and assorted rubbish. She scribbled on a piece of paper to make sure it worked and fortunately it did.

“Give that cheque,” she said, refusing to look him in the eye.

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