Wednesday 19 May
~ Daisy ~
We pulled up outside my childhood home, a perfectly ordinary sixties semi-detached house on a quiet street. My heart lifted. There were no cars parked on the drive, and it was entirely possible nobody was home. Charlie beamed at me, a teasing grin on his face, and with a sinking feeling in my stomach, I led the way. There was no answer to the doorbell and with some reluctance, I dug out my spare key.
I was right, the house was deserted. After checking the kitchen and garden, I found Charlie waiting patiently in the lounge, examining the stack of family photos on the mantelpiece.
“Sorry, babe, they’re all out. Shall we get back on the road?”
He glanced up at me, an innocent look on his face. “Don’t I get to see your bedroom first?”
“No.” I shocked myself by how much I wanted to say yes. My parents could be home any time at all. I wasn’t taking that risk.
“Oh, okay.” Turning back to the photos, he picked up one and held it out to me. “When was this one taken?”
I knew which one he meant, I didn’t even need to look. “When did Event Horizon last play in Manchester? With the old line-up?”
“2007. We played at the MEN Arena.” He paused while I squirmed and tried not to blush. “Oh look at this.” I could tell he was trying not to laugh. “This looks like the Arena. Is that you outside our concert?”
“Yes.” I tried the snatch the picture out of his hand but the git held it out of reach.
“Tut tut, that’s very bad manners. So if this is you, then these must be your sisters.” He scrutinised it closely. “And this must be your boyfriend.” He sounded triumphant.
“Well done, Einstein. He was my boyfriend.” Since Dave’s arm had been draped around my shoulders while he pressed a kiss onto my neck, it wouldn’t take a genius to work out our relationship. Charlie finally let me take the photo. “This is Chrissie and her boyfriend Jock—real name Antony, but known universally as Jock—and Steph with her husband, Paul.”
We’d asked someone else in the line to take our picture—the Banks sisters on a rare night out together, queuing to get into the Event Horizon concert. It was a great gig and the first time I’d seen them live. Dave was pissed off with me, for spending all night daydreaming about the band. About Charlie. Even then, I had a major crush on him. Meeting him, and finding him to be even nicer in real life than I could ever have hoped, was a wild fantasy come true.
Charlie sifted through the other pictures, scanning through some, looking at others in more detail, eager to see the shots of me as I grew up. Thankfully, there weren’t many on display. I wondered if he was stalling, hoping that someone would turn up.
“Mind if I use the bathroom?” He said. “And I don’t suppose there’s any chance of a coffee before we go?”
Yes, he was stalling. “Upstairs, end of the landing. I’ll go and brew up.”
I made coffee, found the biscuit tin, and checked my phone for any texts, but Charlie didn’t reappear. Walking to the bottom of the stairs, I peered up. No sign of him. The bathroom door was open, so he wasn’t still in there. He’d be nosing around, looking for mischief. Maybe I’d catch him in the act. I tiptoed up the stairs, avoiding the creaky ones, and made it to the landing without a noise.
I wasn’t surprised to find him in my old bedroom, sitting on the bed, and gazing at the wall.
I cleared my throat in the doorway and his eyes leapt to meet mine.
“Shit, Daisy. You startled me.” He didn’t look even remotely surprised, more like he was trying not to laugh. “I don’t know how to tell you this. There’s a stalker lives here. This room is full of posters. Most of them are of me.”
“Don’t tell me you got lost on the way to the bathroom and just happened to find my bedroom?” My cheeks burned. “I haven’t slept here for years. You know what mums are like, they think you’re constantly sixteen.”
The grin turned into a belly laugh and he leapt up and grabbed my hands. “You fancied me when you were sixteen? That’s awesome. It was me you liked best, wasn’t it? I don’t have to tell AJ he’s got another demented fan chasing him?”
“You know it’s you I liked best. And I refuse to stroke your massive ego any more. There’s coffee—”
Mid-speech, he tugged me to him as he fell back, and we tumbled together onto my bed, the mattress making little creaky noises of complaint. “I’d rather you stroked something else.” As if I might not understand, he guided one of my hands to his crotch, to his dick pressing against the denim.
“My mum could be back soon.” It was a weak protest at best. Lying there on top of Charlie, his eyes burning with desire, and all my nerve ends tingling, I didn’t really want to move.
“Have you ever fucked in this bed?” His whisper sent a surge of erotic images spiralling through my brain. All the things I’d dreamed about doing, with Charlie, before I even met him.
“No.” It came out on a whoosh of breath and his smile widened.
“Another first for you, babe.” He pressed his hard-on against my palm and flexed his hips. “All for you, Daisy. Ready and waiting.” He nudged me again. “I bet you lay here after the concert and fingered yourself, didn’t you?” I didn’t need to answer. I could have fried eggs on my cheeks and Charlie snickered. “Were you thinking about me when you came? Pretending I was right here beside you?”
He pressed a searing kiss on my throat. “I bet you did. And I bet when you were with your boyfriend, you were thinking about me.” His tongue traced a pattern along the edge of my jaw, and then he nipped at my earlobe. “Tell me I’m right.”
God. Just a few words from him and my libido ran riot. “Yes,” I whispered, unable to say anything else.
“Hmm. We’d better see if I live up to your fantasies.”
Common sense rattled at me, trying to get my attention. “We need to be quick. My mum might come soon.”
His chuckle was everything dirty that I loved. “Oh babe, you’ll be coming long before that.”
Freeing his hands, he slid them under the hem of my T-shirt. His thumbs sizzled across my stomach, and pulled the stretchy fabric up. I wriggled out of it at the same time as he unsnapped the clasp on my bra. “I fucking love this, Daisy.”
The bra? My breasts? I had no words. Hot breath feathered across my nipples, his hands already dropping to my jeans. He flicked at the button with his fingernail. “I want you to show me what you used to do.”
As though I weighed nothing, he flipped us over, so that he reared above me. “Take your jeans down. Pretend I’m not here. Show me what you did when you were thinking of fucking me.”
Charlie made me behave in ways I would never have dreamed of. I loved every minute of it. My fingers were clumsy and I struggled to undo my jeans and push down the zipper, but I managed to shove the denim down to mid-thigh. Charlie lay beside me, one hand idly playing with my breast, the other splayed over my stomach. He dotted my face and neck with little kisses, but otherwise he watched me. Intently.
“Panties on or off?”
“On.” I took a quick breath, getting into the game. “I’d be too hungry to wait.”
“Mmm huh.” His teeth grazed my collarbone and I jumped, pleasure spreading in his wake. “Are you wet? Soaking?”
“Yes.” Daring now, I pushed one hand inside my panties and brushed across my clit. “I’d imagine you stroking me.”
“Baby, I’d stroke you.” Quick as lightning, he slid his hand under the elastic of my panties and covered mine. “Fuck, you’re sopping. Show me.”
Christ, I was close already. With his scent all around me, his open-mouthed kiss on my breast threatened to unhinge me. Charlie was everywhere. His firm touch guiding my fingers over my hyper-sensitive clit, his lips closing around my nipple, and his erection pressing into my hip.
My mum could have marched in with the town’s brass band, and I wouldn’t have cared. I was milliseconds away from a heart-thumping orgasm, and Charlie knew it. “Give it to me, babe,” he whispered, and then gently bit on my nipple.
I squealed, pain blending with pleasure, as my climax tore through me. My lungs forgot how to work and I had to think about breathing, or anything, other than lying there with Charlie kissing me.
“That was so hot, Daisy. So fuckin’ hot.” The kisses became more urgent and as my pulse returned to something like normal, I reached for his jeans, only to freeze.
“Shh.” I slapped a hand over his mouth. “I heard a car engine.” Oh shit. The prospect of Mum finding me half naked with my boyfriend—a boyfriend she had no idea existed—was beyond hideous. “Go in the bathroom. Then meet me downstairs.”
I managed to wriggle back into my clothes and get part way downstairs before the front door opened. It would be a miracle if she didn’t notice how flushed my cheeks were. Behind me, I heard the toilet flush and then a few moments later, the bathroom door opening. Please, Charlie, I prayed silently. Don’t say anything.
We hugged at the bottom of the stairs and walked into the kitchen together. She was thrilled to see me and didn’t even notice Charlie at first. “What perfect timing, Maggie, we’re having a party at Steph’s. Have you got time to come round and say hello to everyone?” Before I could answer, she rushed on. “Paul’s been promoted so they’ve invited everyone round. I only popped back to pick up the cake. I left it chilling in the fridge and forgot…” Her voice trailed away as her eyes fell on Charlie, standing behind us in the doorway.
“Hi. I’m Charlie. You must be Mrs Banks?” She took his offered hand and shook it politely, wide eyes flicking back to me.
I managed a smile. “We need to be going, don’t we?” I frowned at him slightly, tried to explain without any words that I really, really didn’t want to subject him to a full family get together. I should have known exactly what he was going to do. I could practically smell the mischief he was busy cooking up.
“We’d love to come round, wouldn’t we, Maggie?” One arm snaked around my shoulders, pulling me into his body. And in a move designed—I’m sure—to mimic that bloody photo in the lounge, he pressed his lips to my neck. What could I do? Mum’s smile stretched from ear to ear. There was no way to back out now.
~ Charlie ~
Her sister’s place was only a few streets away, another big old semi-detached house with a handkerchief of grass at the front. This one though, had half a dozen cars parked outside and noises of happy children emerging from the back. Daisy wore a resigned expression. You’d think she was being dragged to the dentist. I managed to confirm her real name was Marguerite, named after a favourite aunt. Daisy was a nickname imposed by her sisters, one older, one younger. The older one, Steph, was a cheerful, slightly plump blonde, mother to three tiny girls. Her newly promoted husband worked in sales, and he greeted me with interest, shaking my hand and frowning slightly. Did he recognise me?
It seemed not. “Daisy never mentioned a boyfriend. You been together long?”
“A few months.”
His frown disappeared and he smirked, handing me a bottle of cold beer. “You met her dad yet? Had the inquisition?”
I grinned back, sensing a story. “Not yet, we only just arrived. Do I need to be worried?”
He laughed and clapped me on the back. “Good luck, mate. We’ve all been there. You’ll have to excuse me, I need to take some drinks round.”
Going in search of Daisy, I found her hugging her younger sister. As I stepped towards her, an older man waylaid me. This had to be Daisy’s dad. He shared her brown eyes and smiling face.
“You must be Charlie? I’m Peter Banks. I believe you’re with my daughter?”
I stuck out my hand. He seemed nice enough, what was Daisy on about? Yowch! His grip was like iron. I winced as he squeezed my hand. Jeez, much more of this and I wouldn’t be able to play my guitar for a week.
In my peripheral vision I saw Daisy advancing. His grip tightened a fraction, his smile broadened. “I’m always pleased to meet my daughter’s friends. Have you been seeing her long?”
Feeling like a worm on the end of a hook, I tried to smile. “A few months. I’m very fond of her.” I could tell he had no intentions of letting me go anytime soon. I began to revise my opinion of him.
“Fond of her. That’s good. And what do you do, Charlie?”
“Do?” My hand was hurting. I wondered if I dropped my beer on his shoes, would he let go of me?
“For work? What’s your job?” There was a pause, his face crept closer. “You do have a job?”
“Yes, I’m a musician. A guitarist.”
The smile reduced. His eyebrows raised. “A musician? You don’t have a real job then?”
I had a surge of inspiration. “I’m a busker. You might have seen me outside the Arndale Shopping Mall?”
The smile disappeared. His eyes turned glacial. “Busker?” He repeated the word as though it were foreign. I flashed a glance at Daisy, and saw her agonized expression.
“Yes, Mr Banks.” My imagination was running riot. “It’s a great way to boost the dole, doing a bit of busking. I sometimes sing in the pubs too.”
My hand was dropped like a hot potato. He stepped forward, until we were almost nose-to-nose. Daisy shook her head at me, a frown creeping across her face.
I smiled innocently. “I play in a punk-rap combo too. Do you like music, sir?”
“I like music. Not the rubbish that passes for music nowadays. Are you planning on getting a real job?”
Mrs Banks stepped forward and rescued me at that point. Shame, I was enjoying my alter-ego.
“Peter. Let me introduce Maggie’s friend to a few people.” She led me away. I flexed my fingers as I felt the blood flowing through them again. “Don’t mind my husband, he’s very protective. And Maggie, well since… here we are. Chrissie, can you look after Charlie please? He’s a friend of Maggie’s.”
Chrissie smiled at me, openly curious. Slender and tall, her almost black hair fell in a curtain to her shoulders.
Her boyfriend grinned at me. “Hell of a grip, the old man. Used to be a weightlifter in his youth, still pumps at the gym. For Gods sake, don’t get into an arm wrestling match with him if you value your fingers.” His Glaswegian drawl explained the nickname.
“You must be Jock?”
Daisy grabbed me at this point. “What did you say to him?” Her eyes were wide and anxious.
I shrugged. “Told him I’m a musician, that I do a bit of busking.”
“Oh God!” She stared at me in horror. Beside her, Jock and Chrissie both laughed aloud. Jock shook my hand briefly.
“It was nice meeting you, man. Good luck.”
I raised my eyebrows in reply, noticed Peter Banks bearing down on me, a newspaper in his hand. “You’re in luck, Charlie. Tonight is Jobs Night in the Evening News. Now then, what qualifications do you have?”
This time, I stuck my free hand firmly in my pocket. “Qualifications? I dropped out of school before I took my exams. Sorry.”
He sighed. “Address?”
“Where do you live? Please don’t tell me you live in a squat?”
Daisy leapt in at this point. “Charlie lives in London, Dad. He’s -”
Oh no, she wasn’t spoiling my fun so soon. “You don’t need to cover for me, babe. I shared a squat in London, played a few gigs there, but came home when my money ran out. My mum lives in Didsbury.”
“Didsbury.” In the rankings of affluent Manchester, Didsbury was a nice area. He nodded slowly. “Are you planning to go back to college then? You can’t be a musician forever. That’s no kind of career.”
I stifled a laugh, made myself look suitably humbled. “I was hoping to make the big time, sir.”
A kindness crept into his eyes. He wasn’t such a bear after all. “You’re a bit older than Daisy. You really should have a proper job by now.” He sounded like my old headmaster.
It was Jock’s turn to rescue me. “Hey Charlie, do you have your guitar with you? Why don’t you play for us?”
Daisy was shaking her head at me. No, her eyes warned.
Hell, yes. This was the most fun I’d had in ages.
~ Daisy ~
What the hell had Charlie been saying? A busker? No wonder Dad looked so horrified. I smiled helplessly as Charlie disappeared with my car keys, returning moments later with his guitar case, Jock by his side. They must have recognised him, and I waited for either Steph or Chrissie to give me the third degree.
Within minutes, he was perched on one of the kitchen stools, an audience eagerly gathering around him as he strummed a few chords and warmed up. He winked at me and I cringed. What now? His sense of devilment would get him into trouble one of these days.
“What’s it to be then? I’m happy to take requests.” He smiled happily round the group and Steph stepped forward.
“Do you know any Pink Floyd? Mum loves them.”
He nodded, started playing a song that sounded familiar and I went to fetch myself some more juice. I figured I was driving back from here, if I could manage to drag him away. His impromptu performance drew a flood of applause, and now he was playing an Oasis number. As long as he kept playing, he’d keep out of trouble. I went to catch up with my darling nieces.
It must have been half an hour later, I was taking Charlie another beer when Dad collared me.
“He seems nice enough, love,” his voice was cautious, “but he is a bit older than you. I don’t want your mum to worry, so I had a word with Paul. He says he could do with a part time assistant in the store, just to help out at the weekends. It wouldn’t be much, but it’d be a start.” He smiled at me. I gulped. I really had to explain, before Charlie dug this hole any deeper. Too late.
Charlie saw me in the doorway and beamed at me. Putting his guitar down, leaning it precariously against the cupboards, he beckoned me across. Oh God, what now?
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do,
I’m going crazy, I’m so in love with you.
With a flourish, he dropped to his knees in front of me, and grabbed my hand. “Marry me, Daisy. I can’t live without you.”
You could have heard a pin drop. Charlie smiled up at me looking sexy as anything, reminding me of how he knelt between my legs yesterday afternoon in the lingerie shop. My face burned afresh. His confident smile never faltered. Behind me, someone cleared their throat, someone else started a slow hand-clap.
“Go on, love, put him out of his misery.” Mum pushed me forward another step.
Charlie’s smile widened. As I stared at him, dumbstruck, his right hand opened to show me a garish pink plastic ring and I recognised it. Steph’s girls were playing with a pile of toy jewellery when we came in.
“I’ll be penniless no longer. Your brother-in-law has offered me a job.”
Teasing my dad was one thing, but not this, doing it in front of all my family. This was what I wanted more than anything in the world.
And he was making a joke out of it.
Part 4 coming next month…