Date #2 – Sunny Beach, Bulgaria – Monday 27th August – Part 2

“You’ve got it all so wrong. When we’re back home I’ll prove it to you. You are going to apologise to me and you’re going to feel foolish.” This seemed to destroy her sanctimonious attitude and she sat back in her chair, seeming not sure what to say next.

Before either of us could speak again the food and drink arrived. Eating and drinking wasn’t as good as it should have been because of what had just happened between us. Baltic Babe was probably a little confused, while I was angry and stunned. I eventually broke the silence that had shut out the warm air around us.

“Look, we’re here now. I assure you that you have totally the wrong idea about me and I can prove it to you. Until I can, how about we try and enjoy ourselves. Okay?”

Baltic Babe merely nodded in agreement.

With the mood slightly lightened I broached more neutral subjects like the hotels and the scenery we had seen so far. Eventually she started responding, having taken the time to digest what I had said earlier, probably deciding to give me the benefit of the doubt. It wasn’t too long before our normal engaging conversation resumed and she started laughing again. I was glad to hear her laugh; it could only come from deep within her and couldn’t be faked.

After dinner and a brief walk, we ended up back in her hotel room. I fully intended and expected to end up in my room in the hotel next door. I felt the need to calm the waters between us. I have always thought it great relationship practice to never go to sleep angry with your other half.

It was easily after midnight and we were lying on the bed, facing each other. Had my hours of choosing my words carefully settled her troubled mind? There was a surefire way to find out. I leaned forward and brought my lips to within an inch of hers, stopping there to see if she would reciprocate, looking her in the eye. She did and as passionately as ever.

Light petting gave way to heavier petting. I stroked her body and she liked it. Her breathing became heavier and her body shuddered under my slow caressing hand. I slid my hand under her blouse and felt her warm, clammy skin. It felt good. It felt inviting.

All the while kissing, her with her eyes closed, I ran my hand slowly over her stomach. Going down below the belt so soon wasn’t an option, so going up to her breasts was always going to happen. I gently cupped one of her breasts and she let out an approving, satisfied gasp as her tongue left go of my mouth for a moment.

Baltic Babe was getting very turned on and I wasn’t sure where to take this. I had been hoping, expecting to a small degree, that we would make love on this trip. It seemed natural and obvious, but what was she thinking? There was only one way to find out.

I slowly unbuttoned her blouse while her tongue went crazy in my mouth. To an extent she was turning herself on too, doing what she wanted with her tongue. What else could she do with her tongue, I wondered.

The sight of a woman lying with her blouse open, her bra or naked breasts revealed, is something that turns me on. It’s an image of confident, alluring femininity that stirs something within my being. It’s as if she is saying “Here I am, this is me. Take me.”

I took Baltic Babe’s blouse off as it was surplus to requirements. While kissing, our tongues entwined, I slid my hand under her back and fiddled with her bra-clasp. It had been a while since I had done this and it showed. She arched her back so that I could use two hands and eventually it unclipped. I tossed it to the side of the bed and took in the sight of her lying topless before me.

Her breasts were little a-cups, with cute little pink nipples. I would much have preferred a handful, at least c-cups. I obviously couldn’t say anything. What was the point? If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all. She lay there looking up at me, me looking up and down her body. She certainly wasn’t overweight and everything was firm. Neither of us said a word, expectation silenced us.

I leaned down and kissed the side of her body, just below where the ribcage ended. She looked up at the ceiling and closed her eyes, swallowing hard. I slowly, gently kissed further up her side, deliberately taking my time. I kissed tenderly to the side of her breast, making sure not to go anywhere near her nipple.

Reaching her armpit, instead of trying to kiss inside it, I carefully lifted her hand to the headboard and kissed above her breast, to the side of her breastbone. Baltic Babe’s breathing was deep and rhythmic, she was very relaxed. I kissed her elbow and slowly worked my way down under her arm towards her armpit. She was starting to make strange purring noises, a bit like a cat does.

I got to her shoulder and kissed along the top of it, her ear, her cheek and under her jawbone, along her neck, down to the centre of her breastbone. With each and every kiss she let out a catlike purr, all the while keeping her eyes closed. I shifted my body to the other side of her, making sure not to accidentally knee her in the groin.

Lying on the other side of her, I repeated what I had just done. Each kiss led to an approving purr. She was like a little kitten in my care and all I wanted to do was please her.

When I got to the centre of her chest again, this time I started kissing her breast, around the nipple, which was erect and hard. I circled my kisses around the nipple before moving across her diminutive cleavage on to the other breast. I kissed around this breast and, after circling the nipple with kisses, lightly kissed the nipple.

This led to a slight convulsion in Baltic Babe’s body, her back arching and the purr becoming more of a guttural exhale, yet she kept her eyes closed. With a little bit more force I sucked her nipple in to my mouth. A more intense purr resulted. I sucked the entire breast into my mouth (it wasn’t difficult to do) and slowly ran my tongue around her breast repeatedly. The purr had become a moan, a very satisfied moan.

I pulled my head back slowly, keeping the nipple in my mouth as long as possible until it popped out. Leaning over to her other breast, I kissed around it again and zeroed in on the nipple this time. Again I sucked the entire breast in to my mouth and slowly ran my tongue around the nipple. Her satisfied moaning and purring was involuntary and it told me that she was enjoying what I was doing to her, for her, with her.

After a little while, not wanting her nipple to become overly sensitive, I let that nipple slip out of my mouth. I looked at Baltic Babe to see the expression on her face. Sensing that the experience had ended, she opened her eyes, looked at me, smiled and said “I don’t normally like having my breasts sucked, but that was very nice.”

Heartened by the compliment, which I also took as encouragement, I ran my warm hands down her body along her legs and slid my hand between her thighs just above the knee.

“No, I don’t think we should go there” came her almost instant response. She pulled herself up away from me and propped herself up against the headboard.

So there I had my answer. She didn’t want to make love. I wasn’t too surprised given the revelations at the start of the evening. I decided not to push for lovemaking. She obviously wasn’t ready and I wanted our first time to be special for both of us. I cooled my ardour and propped myself next to her.

Baltic Babe sat there in her mini-skirt, topless, her pert little nipples tantalisingly close. We sat and chatted, about what I don’t remember. My thoughts drifted off to trying to make sense of the situation that I found myself in. Here I was with someone I was smitten with, but who had some unfortunate trust issues about me. I came to the conclusion that I needed to proceed slowly, very slowly.

It was now 5am and the sun was starting to pinch the horizon. The Black Sea was like a plate of freshly cut glass. The only thing moving was the occasional headlights of cars in the distance across the bay. The quietest time of our day together was indeed just before the dawn.

We cuddled up on the bed and I wrapped my arms around her, keeping her safe and warm. I finally got to feel her fall asleep against me. That moment made the drama of the past hours worthwhile.

Date #2 – Sunny Beach, Bulgaria – Monday 27th August -

Over the course of the next nine days we didn’t see each other again, but kept in contact almost daily with at least one text message each or a phone-call in the evening. I had a job interview for a company that I had no interest in working for, but it was good to have had the interview experience. Baltic Babe was exceptionally pleased for me that it had happened.

The departure plan called for me to fetch her, drive to my place which was close to our airport, park there and then catch a taxi to the airport. On the Monday morning I drove to her station car park to pick her up. I walked around the station building again to see if she was there and again, upon returning to my car I spotted her. Baltic Babe was dragging a large suitcase behind her as she walked up to me. She was wearing a t-shirt that had written on it in French “Would you like to sleep with me tonight?” I didn’t know what to make of her choice of t-shirt.

She had a look of relief and anger on her face.

“Where have you been? I’ve been texting you!” she started with a strident tone, no greeting involved.

“I’ve been driving and walking around here trying to find you” I answered.

“Why haven’t you checked your phone?” she demanded.

“I left it in my car. I don’t carry that thing on me all the time. I don’t live life through a device” was my response.

“I’ve been so worried that you weren’t coming” she continued.

By now I had loaded her heavy suitcase into my car and I was checking my phone. While I had been driving there were six text messages from her, each more intense than its predecessor.

“Have I ever been late with you?” I asked.

“No” was her irritated reply.

“Well now you know that I mean what I say, say what I mean and do as I promise.”

Silence.

“Shall we go away on holiday and have some fun in the sun?” I half asked, half suggested with a smile, trying to move events along.

Her face and body relaxed. Her shoulders dropped and a hint of a smile could be seen. I just kept smiling, not in a cynical attempt to make her feel foolish, but to relax the mood between us. It wasn’t the best way to start a holiday. Why had she panicked about nothing like that? What was going on in her head? Time would tell.

“Do you know what your t-shirt says?” I asked.

“No, not really. I don’t know any French” came the reply.

I proceeded to translate and we had a good laugh about it. That sparked our usual conversation: flowing, stimulating, unending and spiced with laughter. God, how I liked to hear her laugh.

I drove us to my home, hoping to have enough time to show her where I lived. I wanted to show her my town more than my apartment. I was still embarrassed by my living arrangements as there still wasn’t a bed nor a sofa. I was very proud of my town, however, with it’s quaint archetypical English high street with hanging flower baskets outside the shops. I parked in my complex’s car park and told Baltic Babe that we had just enough time for a quick wander down to the high street and for a cup of coffee.

Baltic Babe was suitably impressed by the town and I offered to show her my flat. However, when we got back to my apartment block, the taxi to the airport hat I had booked the previous day was already waiting. It had started to drizzle and I gave Baltic Babe my trusty umbrella to use while I transferred all the luggage from my car to the taxi. At the airport we dashed to the terminal building as the heavens opened, but she had left the umbrella in the taxi. She seemed to feel genuinely bad about that, going on about it for a little while, but I thought nothing much of it.

Standing in the queue at the check-in desk I asked, “So when will I meet your friend and her son tomorrow?”

“I don’t think we’ll be seeing them.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I told her that you would be coming along, she didn’t like it. Her last words were “so you’ll have made up your mind then” before I put the phone down on her” came the explanation with a smile.

I had been expecting to spend days on the beach with her friend and teenage son. I was expecting to play sports with the boy while the two of them chatted. I was a little surprised about this childish behaviour. These two women had been friends since they were six years old. Was there a history between them of this kind of behaviour? There was probably more to the story. I didn’t pry further.

The flight to Burgas was uneventful and we sat chatting endlessly, which made the flight seem very short. It was dark when we landed. She had made the airport transfer arrangements and a people carrier dropped us off at our hotel, which was distinctly 3-star. Baltic Babe checked in first and was assigned a room on the seventhth floor of what was a nine-storeyed tower with an atrium in the centre served by elevators. I got her room number and said I would fetch her to go out to explore and have dinner. She went off to her room with a porter to help her with her suitcase.

My check-in rendered a surprise. The hotel was full for the night and, because I was a single occupancy I had been given a room in the sister hotel next door. I wasn’t too happy about this, but what could I do? As a goodwill gesture the hotel gave me an armband that entitled me to all-inclusive food and drink for the duration of my stay. The next day I would be given a room in the hotel I had paid for.

The room in the sister hotel was surprisingly pleasant, roomy with tasteful decorations. I dumped my luggage and went to find Baltic Babe. She wasn’t ready and did what she needed to in the bathroom while I stared at the television and inspected the room. She had found a Russian television station showing a soapie. The room was an earthy orange and the bedding smelt a little old. The balcony offered a great view over the resort town below, with twinkling lights of various colours below us and the sound of the sea nearby. The room in the sister hotel was better to look at though.

Eventually Baltic Babe was ready, wearing a white mini-skirt and pink short-sleeved blouse. She looked cute as always. The truth was that she just had to flash one of her impish little smiles and she’d look good to me.

We made our way down to the street and were met by warm evening air tinged with the smell of the sea. We walked aimlessly along the main road that was lined by tourist souvenir shops and mass-market restaurants. I told her about what had happened with my booking and she seemed a little annoyed by it, wanting to kick up a fuss. I calmed her down and we discussed our new surroundings, with her commenting on recognizing the Cyrillic writing but not understanding the words.

It was after 9pm local time and we were hungry. A quiet family restaurant with few patrons sitting on a verandah beckoned us. An elderly Bulgarian woman attended to us, but she spoke no English. Baltic Babe’s Russian came in useful and the two of them understood each other. The menu wasn’t in English but I could understand the German on it. We ordered some local meat specialities and cheap wine. We settled down to conversation…a conversation I won’t forget.

“I Googled you,” she started out, with a smug look on her face. I was a little surprised that she had done this, but didn’t feel uncomfortable because no negative information could come to light because there wasn’t any. I’m a clean-living, law-abiding person. I’ve never been drunk, never smoked a cigarette, never touched drugs.

“And?” I responded, with a self-righteous smile, thinking that she had found out how many websites I owned or had published a non-fiction book.

“It told me that you’re living with someone” she said with a sly look in her eyes. She sat there with one hand between her thighs, the other circling her index finger on the rim of an unused wineglass. She alternated her gaze between the glass and my eyes.

“What?!” was all I could instinctively blurt out. She continued playing with the glass for a few seconds before speaking.

“The council tax records show that you’re still living with your girlfriend.” and Baltic Babe mentioned the name of my ex-girlfriend and the town we had lived in.

“Yes, that is correct. I was paying council tax at that address until May. Then I stayed with my friend for two months. I only moved into my place this month. Records that appear on the internet will not have been updated yet. Hell, I don’t think the first payment has even gone off yet.”

Silence as Baltic Babe thought, a self-satisfied look on her face, concentrating more on the glass than looking at me. I was starting to feel like I was the accused being cross-examined by a prosecuting attorney. Eventually she spoke.

“ I don’t believe you.”

“What? Why not?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“You don’t seem to want me to see where you live.”

“What are you talking about?” I stammered. My eyelids must have been blinking furiously.

“This morning there was ample opportunity to have shown me your home. You didn’t.”

“The taxi was waiting.” I shot back.

“Nonsense. You could have taken me to your flat first. But you didn’t. Why not?”

“My flat isn’t ready. I don’t have a bed. I don’t even have a sofa. I’m embarrassed by it.”

She ignored this and carried on with her line of questioning and accusations.

“A few weeks ago, that Saturday when I said that I would come visit you in your town, you made all sorts of excuses about why I couldn’t. Offered to take me to a park for a picnic instead.”

“Yes, again because my place isn’t ready!” I was getting annoyed now. “What’s the point of this. What is it you’re thinking?” I demanded.

“I think you’re not single. I think you’re still living with your girlfriend. I think you’re cheating on her.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was this a really bad dream?

“I’m not. You’ve got it all wrong.” I retorted, stunned by her words, disappointed in her belief about me. She wasn’t finished though.

“I also couldn’t find any proof of what you’ve told me about your work history. I don’t believe you’ve worked for the places you claim you have.”

“What the hell? I don’t keep my CV online. Do you?” She was seeming nonsensical now.

“I also don’t believe that you divorced your wife because she wanted a child. I think that there must be some other reason.”

Where was all this coming from?

“I’m struggling to believe anything you’ve told me” she said, as if it were her closing statement.

“Well, I’m here right now, with you. If we were back in England I would take you to my home right now. But I can’t, so what do you want me to do? Do you want me to get my ex-wife and ex-girlfriend on the phone?”

“It could be anybody on the phone” came the cold reply.

Date #2 – Hampstead Heath – Saturday 18th August -

For the next few days Baltic Babe and I swapped emails, organising our impromptu holiday. I managed to get a seat on the same flight as her, but we hit a sticking point on the sleeping arrangements. Her text message read:

“I am very excited about the holiday :-) but I have to warn you that it does not mean that we will have sex, sweet! Have to discuss the accommodation issue soon.”

After some emails and phone-calls between us I ended up booking a room for myself in the same hotel as her. She didn’t want to lose face in front of her friend and I didn’t want to seem presumptuous. This holiday was becoming expensive.

The coming weekend was predicted to be a glorious Summer’s day. I was determined to make the best of it and came up with the idea of surprising Baltic Babe with a picnic on Hampstead Heath. I told her what to wear but not exactly what we were doing. After our day on the Heath I was going to surprise her further with a trip to the cinema.

I said that I would fetch her in my car. She didn’t like that detail. For some reason she didn’t want me knowing where she lived. I was starting to become a bit suspicious about this. Was she living somewhere that she was afraid would change my opinion of her? Was she living with people that she was embarrassed by? Was Baltic Babe married? After some to-ing and fro-ing via email we hatched a plan.

At noon on the Saturday I parked in the car park of what she said was her nearest train station. She wasn’t anywhere to be seen, so I got out and walked around the station building. I only spotted what looked like an English teenage girl in a short blue denim skirt and skimpy red and white striped top with gaudy over-sized brown sunglasses. Thinking her late as usual I went back to my car. “Hey you!” a sweet little voice that I recognised said and I turned to see the teenage girl. It was Baltic Babe. I hadn’t recognized her. She looked so different from how I had always seen her dressed, i.e. work clothes or smart casual outfits, not this trashy look.

As we drove along the North Circular to Hampstead Heath she became insistent on trying to give me directions despite my telling her that I had lived near there for several years. She showed me that she could be a bossy little thing. I found a hidden parking spot near the main gate that she didn’t know about. That shut her up.

I had spent the morning visiting the supermarkets in my town getting everything I could think of for the picnic. She seemed impressed by the effort I had gone to and was surprised at how well equipped this picnic was going to be. Once we had found a soft, grassy spot on the heath away from the crowds, we got comfortable on the large picnic blanket and I brought out my new ipod with speakers. She was quite taken with that.

Baltic Babe had suspected that a day in the sun was on the cards and had brought a bikini. She brazenly started changing into it, but got the bra bit wrong. It went flying and she was momentarily left standing topless before covering herself sheepishly. Her breasts were smaller than I would have liked, but firm and her cute little nipples were a very light pink. “Well, we are going away on holiday together. You’re bound to see a few things” she said cheerily.

She wanted to suntan and asked me to rub some lotion on. Her fair skin wasn’t the best, with lots of little bumps and discolourations. We lay on the blanket, listening to music, which it turned out, we had very similar taste in. I found that remarkable considering that we grew up on opposite ends of the planet, under very different political systems enduring differing degrees of international isolation and she was three years younger than me.

The best chardonnay I knew of went down well with our lunch of sandwiches, savouries and salads. Baltic Babe was very relaxed and conversation between us was extraordinarily comfortable. Gone was any imperative to watch our words or choose topics carefully. She was speaking slower and it felt like we had known each other for far longer than we did. Baltic Babe started telling me a story from her childhood.

“When I was nine years old, my mother gave me a puppy. One day my little dog went missing. I was heartbroken. Every spare moment I had I went looking for her. Every day after school until the sun went down. All day on weekends. In the beginning my grandfather went with me on weekends, but after a time I went by myself. After a couple of months I found her. She was living off a rubbish dump. She was dirty and skinny. I always knew where she was after that. We were inseparable until I came to England. I was so sad to have to leave her.”

I don’t know if you can identify the moment in which you fell in love with someone. I fell in love with Baltic Babe in the moments when she told me this story. Her loyalty touched something deep within me. I know only one person who would have done exactly what she had done: me. Only my soul-mate would do the same thing as me. A warm fuzzy feeling spread from my brain to the rest of my body.

I wasn’t actually looking for love. If you read my earlier writing, you’ll see that I went internet dating just to experience more of life, to see who or what is out there; to find out where I am positioned in the world. I also had some unresolved issues about my ex-girlfriend and wondered if I was still on the rebound. I didn’t feel ready for a relationship.

The rest of the afternoon involved us lying around laughing and talking, mostly about our childhoods. Baltic Babe’s mother handed her over to her grandparents to raise when she was two years old. Her mother was barely twenty and struggling with life because she had got divorced from Baltic Babe’s father who was the same age. It was a young love gone awry. They were too young and ill-equipped for the situation that they found themselves in. Baltic Babe’s grandfather worked as a prison warder and her grandmother was a housewife who had raised two daughters. In her teenage years Baltic Babe became heavily involved in ice-skating, spending many hours every day on the ice. She became good enough to compete internationally and she told me of her trips to neighbouring countries such as Sweden. She had competed in trials for the Soviet Union ice-skating team, but didn’t quite make the grade, much to her disappointment. She had dreamed of performing in an Olympic Games.

I looked down at her feet and saw signs of wear and tear from tight leather skates on many a dark, Wintry morning. The balls on her feet next to her big toes were bulbous and I would say that her feet seemed a little disfigured. It told me that she was a determined, dedicated person and gave her all to whatever she set her mind to, just like me.

Baltic Babe accidentally knocked a wineglass over and it shattered. She looked at me with fear in her eyes, alarmed, seemingly afraid of what I might say or do. Her reaction struck me as a little odd. What sort of people had she been associating with that led to this conditioned response? I calmly asked “Are you okay?” to which she nodded. “Good, as long as you’re fine then no harm done. I’ll pick up the pieces and put them in a bag so that nobody else can get hurt.” My words calmed her, her shoulders relaxed and her smile returned.

At one point we were lying very close to each other and I took the opportunity to kiss her. We kissed slowly and gently. Our legs became entwined as we lay on our sides. Eventually, inevitably, she started using her tongue but was restrained for once. It felt like we had all the time in the world as we kissed.

The heat from the sun started to fade and it was time to move on. We were packing the picnic gear into my car, she was standing behind me to my left, I turned to her…in that moment she seemed like the perfect embodiment of the woman I have always wanted in my life. She was standing there smiling at me, in girlish clothes with the setting sun catching her hair and producing a mini-halo. Her magical green-yellow eyes were sparkling at me. The sight of her, standing there like that, was like an electric shock through my body. For a few seconds I just stared at her…I can still see that image now.

“What?” she said sweetly and quizzically, her smile widening, breaking the spell.

“Nothing” was the stupid answer I gave. There was no way I could tell her what I was thinking and feeling. She looked and felt so right in that moment.

I drove us to a Mexican restaurant near to the cinema that we would be going to. She had no idea about any of my plan and seemed quite happy to go along with whatever I had decided. I was pleased at her attitude because it told me that she trusted me and felt safe with me.

Baltic Babe was quite a fussy eater. I think it was because of her being brought up on bland Slavic food during Soviet times. She couldn’t eat anything spicy, so Indian and Thai was never going to be a dining option with her. At the Mexican restaurant she gave the friendly Polish waitress quite a hard time when it came to choosing her food. I just sat back and watched her behaviour. I was a bit disappointed in her brusqueness, but excused it away by blaming it on her Russian-influenced culture and that she was dealing with a fellow Eastern European. She did seem to like her alcohol I noted, having ordered three cocktails to my one Corona.

The film we saw was “Ted” and we were both a little unimpressed by it. My hopes of hearing her laughing and being happy during it were dashed. On the drive back to her place, well, local train station, we chatted happily; so many hours together and conversation was still good. The discussion turned serious when I found myself telling her “The greatest pleasure in life for me, is to feel the woman I love fall asleep in my arms. That is worth more than any orgasm to me.” Her face became very serious and I could tell from her expression that she liked what I had said. She put her right hand on my hand that was on the gear lever.

I was wondering if she would let me drop her off outside where she lived, but this didn’t happen. I was instructed to pull in to a side street near the train station of earlier in the day. We kissed for a little while in my car, but all I was thinking of was why she didn’t want me knowing where she lived. I didn’t ask.

Baltic Babe said good night and got out of my car. I didn’t immediately drive off, but chose instead to sit there and watch her walking down the road by herself. It was nearly midnight. There was a fat old man walking his arthritic dog and nobody else was to be seen on the street as she passed under lamp-post after lamp-post. I kept watching her, protecting her with my eyes until she turned down into another street.

My thoughts and feelings were at odds. How amazing is she…but what the hell is going on with her living arrangements?

Date #2 – The “Hurly Burly Show” date – Wednesday 15th August -

I had to be careful with my money and I was using Groupon to not only source date ideas, but had decided to buy vouchers occasionally to reduce the cost of dates. I bought two tickets to see a cabaret-burlesque show in the West End. I wondered what Baltic Babe would make of it because she seemed too sophisticated for something like that. I wanted to know if she had a naughty side or was she a prude, so I decided to take her to see it.

We met outside Tower Hill Tube station just before 6pm on a warm Wednesday evening. She wasn’t too familiar with St Katharine Dock, so I knew just the place to go for dinner. I took her to the Dickens Inn, an ancient pub in the centre of the marina. It was where Charles Dickens apparently would sit and observe the people that worked in that area, where he got the characters for his stories from, more than a century ago.

The middle floor of the centuries-old wood and brick building has an Italian pizzeria with a balcony that overlooks the yacht basin. We sat outside, enjoying the sun, being modern-day Dickens’s and observed the people going about their business. Instead of sailors, merchants, drunks and prostitutes of old, there were yachties, bankers, tourists and people on dates to be spied on.

Baltic Babe told me that she had developed shingles, a consequence of her stressful work situation. I felt sorry for her and became even more determined to help her forget her troubles and enjoy the evening with me. She came across as aloof and guarded, but I put it down to her shingles and stress.

She wasn’t hungry, so we shared a good pizza, a cold bottle of chenin blanc and a sinful tiramisu. She started to relax and wanted to know what show I was taking her to see. I wouldn’t tell her and she became a little agitated again. Was it that time of the month, I wondered.

Meal over and we caught a Tube to The Strand where the “Hurly Burly Show” was. She was dying of curiosity to know what the show was about. It riled her when I wouldn’t answer and just smiled. We arrived with the show about to start when, in the foyer, Baltic Babe spotted one of the cast in a frilly see-through costume and plumes. Her eyes widened and a surprised smile lit up her face.

We got to our seats just as the show began. It was 90 minutes of bawdy humour, semi-naked women, lavish costumes, professional dancing and tasselled nipples. I was impressed by the show, but Baltic Babe loved every minute of it. She sat forward in her seat so that she could see better, her hands folded ladylike in her lap. Her eyes were sparkling and her cheeks rosy.

“That is my kind of show! Thank you” she said as we left. So there I had it, she wasn’t a prude. Good.

We strolled to the nearest Tube station in the pleasant Summer evening air, with her arm locked in mine. She was happy again and I felt good because of it. Baltic Babe surprised me by telling me that she had worked as a dancer in a nightclub in her youth in her native country. It involved wearing body-stockings and no nudity was involved. The Soviet Union had collapsed, times were hard and jobs were scarce. I appreciated the moment of honesty and told her that it didn’t bother me.

Once on the Tube heading for Liverpool Street station, she started telling me about her holiday plans in a few week’s time. A long-standing friend of hers, who had a teenage son, had invited her to go along to Sunny Beach in Bulgaria. She was looking forward to having some time off and getting some sunshine, but wasn’t looking forward to spending time with her friend because she was permanently depressed.

“If we were further along in a relationship, I would buy a ticket and come with you,” I said jokingly, without thinking.

Baltic Babe’s little blonde head instantly shot up. She looked at me, a strangely plaintive look in her eye and said “Come.” That’s all she said and kept looking at me.

“Are you serious?” I responded, suddenly alive to the prospect of an adventure, one with romantic overtones to boot.

“Yes” she said flatly, still looking urgently at me, seemingly trying to understand something.

“Okay. Let’s go on holiday together,” I responded without taking any time to think about it. Finances be damned! This is love we’re talking about here.

We stood silently for a few stops, swaying together in time with the trundling Tube, her holding on to me, us contemplating what we had just agreed to.

“I feel like walking. My back is hurting. Can we get off at the next station and walk to Liverpool Street?” she asked. I was only too happy to agree because it would give me more time to be with her, to just talk to her…to have our minds entwine more, wrestle more, engage more, like two otters playing together in a pond.

We got off at Monument Station and walked up Bishopsgate, towards Liverpool Street station, that great portal to Essexdom. Conversation was constantly flowing and she started making it a bit more serious, asking more telling questions about my relationship history and future intentions. It was when I recounted how I had divorced my ex-wife because she wanted children, that Baltic Babe stopped in her tracks.

“So what are you doing with me?” she asked, looking me dead in the eye.

“Maybe I haven’t been with the right woman” was my honest reply.

For a few weeks, since meeting her actually, I had been tussling with this topic. I was still not reconciled to a definite answer. It felt that my not wanting children was coming with a very heavy price. It felt like I was fighting Nature and I was losing. My resolve was being tested.

At the gate to the platform where her train was waiting, the board above it was more charitable for once, indicating five minutes until departure. I looked at her and she at me. The atmosphere between us was intense, bordering on passionate. If we were alone at one of our homes…angels would have pissed themselves in anticipation.

I stepped forward, slid my right hand around her waist, cupped her cheek in my left hand and leaned forward to let our lips lock. We kissed and kissed. We kissed for what felt like an eternity, the rest of the world was but a bad rumour.

An Eastern European-looking cleaning lady swept the floor around us, smiled at us and carried on with her job elsewhere. Baltic Babe didn’t notice her, she was too intent on flossing my teeth with her tongue. She was standing on her tip-toes, her eyes closed, savouring the moment as much as me. I had my eyes open though, enjoying the sight of this sweet little angel enjoying me. Was this little Eastern European going to sweep the floor with me?

A whistle sounded, like in a scene from a forgotten old black and white movie, telling us that our time together was up. Baltic Babe rocked back on to her heels, smiled at me and demurely said, “Good night.” and ran for her train. I stood and watched her blonde hair bobbing as she ran. I wanted to run with her.

While I was on my train home she sent me a text message which read:
“I had a super lovely night, thanks! Hope it will work out perfectly between us in a way that we both want. Sleep tight. XXX”

What was I getting myself in to?

Date #2 – Abortive Date – Storm clouds gather – Saturday 11th August

The following weekend was the Bristol Balloon Festival, something I had seen twice before in my life, each time with a woman I was having a relationship with. It wasn’t hard to imagine her marvelling at the spectacle of dozens of hot air balloons filling the morning sky. I suggested going to this to Baltic Babe and her response was lukewarm, but became decidedly frosty when I said it involved being collected at 4am. It must be borne in mind that I had not yet been invited to her home. In fact I had no idea where in north-east London she lived. This did strike me as being a little odd, but I didn’t press the issue. I decided to let her tell me what she wanted in her own sweet time.

Over the course of the week we swapped cute emails and text messages, discussing all sorts of things. We got along via email as well as we did in person. Whatever one of us said resulted in a reaction that sparked life in to the other. We were constantly ping-ponging positive emotion between each other. I had never experienced this kind of connection with another person before. It felt wonderful, magical even.

On the Friday afternoon she told me that she had to work on the Saturday morning. I was disappointed, for both of us. She had been working late the previous two nights and I felt sorry for her. Baltic Babe’s job was demanding and unpredictable. I was sensing that security was important to her, but this job was taking a toll on her. From stress she had developed a back problem.

I wanted to do what I could to ease her burden. I also couldn’t stomach the thought of not seeing her for more than another week. She was my first thought when I awoke every morning and my last thought as I drifted off to sleep every night. I had to see her, hear her laugh which never failed to make my heart swell, see her twinkling eyes and her mischievous smile. Just be with her.

So I came up with the idea of taking the mushroom and tuna risotto that I had been making to her home. I know a thing or two about massage and offered to give her a foot massage. All of this I was willing to do, just to have an excuse to see her. I had no intention of seducing her as the time wasn’t right. I even jokingly said to her that I would do these things for her on condition that she did not try and seduce me. I got no response and a romantic Friday night went to waste. I was disappointed.

Sitting in my office chair, my only chair, watching my television propped against a wall, my lack of furnishings in my new home made for a sorry state. For the entire week I had been cleaning, painting and fixing my new home. Some furnishings from Ikea would be arriving in the coming week. I was sleeping on a blow-up mattress, waiting for a bedstead and mattress that nobody could say with any certainty when it would be arriving. The sofa was still being made in a factory in China and would take another 6 weeks to deliver. My hands were sore and my back was aching.

All I wanted to do was fall asleep in a proper bed…with my arms wrapped around my little Baltic Babe. I fantasized daily about what it would be like to feel her nuzzle against my chest, a contented smile on her face and feel her fall asleep in my arms. I imagined staying awake for as long as I could, feeling her nerve-endings twitch parts of her body as she drifted off close against me. What would she smell like? How would her skin feel against mine? Did she snore? Did she whimper when having a bad dream? Just how cold were her feet?

The next morning, Saturday, she emailed me from work, making an excuse for why she didn’t respond to my offer. She suggested that we meet up later in the day after her work was done. I was excited at the prospect of this because I had resigned myself to not seeing her for another week. The previous night, as I slouched uncomfortably in my chair, I did start to wonder if there was someone else that she was seeing. There was no use in fretting over whether or not that was the case. I had to be me and if that was good enough for her, then great. If not, then her loss. Her suggesting that we meet up made me forget about that notion very quickly.

I suggested that we meet in London somewhere or I lay on the risotto and foot rub. The latter offer was ambiguously worded I realized later. Baltic Babe said she would come and visit me in my town to sample my culinary and massage skills. I was aghast! My place was an empty shell with no way of two people sitting down. I was instantly embarrassed by my home. All I could counter with was by offering a picnic in my local park. I wanted to see her, but not like this and I didn’t want her to see how I was living at that moment. Her opinion of me could only take a turn for the worse if she saw the poor state of my living arrangements. Panic!

A little while later she wrote. A colleague had tickets to a concert at the Russian “house” where the Russian Olympic team was based. I knew that she wouldn’t want her friends and colleagues knowing about me, so I decided to reward (punish) her for messing me around. I decided to push my luck and see at which point she rebuffed me flat-out. When would she become honest with me? The email exchange was:

Me:
I know you wanted to see the Russian Olympic “house”, so “No”, I’m not upset.
My contact for the Olympics let me down, so I’ve done nothing for these Olympics, other than watch it on TV.
Want some company?

Her:
it is actully a russian concert. i do not think you will enjoy listening to russian music :-)) otherwise, my answer would have been “yes”! :-)
buy some chairs, please. i will come to visit you. i will enjoy a massage more at your territory :-)))

Me:
Hey, you’re making judgements about me and you barely know me.
I have spent many nights in the Royal Opera House listening to all sorts of music and I’ve seen the Bolshoi and Kirov Ballets. So there.
How do you know I won’t like Russian music? You don’t.
I’m always keen to expand my cultural boundaries.
What’s the dress code?

Her:
i am glad to know that my culture is not going to much for you! :-) it was a bit too much for my ex. hence the judgement…
there will be my work collegues and i do not want unnecessary questions at work. i hope you understand. not at this stage. apologies for this. but i try not to mix my private life with work.
we are going for some food now so i will not be here anymore. but i am on my mobile. :-))) hope you have a very nice day!!! xxx

Me:
I understand. I did think of that afterwards. No harm done. Enjoy your weekend. XX

Her:
thanks for understanding xxxx

I was relieved to have avoided an embarrassment. However…there was no way I could have guessed what effect this exchange had had on her…

Date #2 – Oh, What a night! – Saturday 4th August 2012

Against my better judgement, I just had to see Baltic Babe again. I knew I was infatuated when my best friend turned to me while we were standing in the picturesque main square of the old town of Prague and said to me, “You should be here with her, not me.”

Upon returning to London I contacted her and we made arrangements for our next date. I ordered tickets for a West End show for the Saturday evening. On the Saturday morning I moved out of my friend’s place and moved in to my own flat in my favourite countryside town. It was just after sunrise when an unobservant white van ploughed in to the front of my heavily laden little car. The police were summoned and arguments ensued. I was not in a good mood. I dumped everything in to my new home, showered, got changed and hurtled down to the train station. Once in London I made my way over to the theatre where I collected the tickets for the show that evening. I was still fuming about having been involved in an accident, but found thinking of what the day ahead held in store for me with Baltic Babe eased my mind.

We met under Queen Boudica’s statue at Westminster Pier on a sunny Saturday afternoon. She was late, but had stopped to buy some bottled water and had thoughtfully brought me one too. I was happy to see her. The moment I laid eyes on her it was like a special effects scene from an over-budget Hollywood blockbuster. All the people around us seemed to evaporate and my peripheral vision dimmed. All I could see and sense before me was her beaming little face. I had seen many attractive girls in Prague, but this is the one I wanted.

We walked over Westminster Bridge, walking and talking freely as was becoming our way. We turned left off the bridge, heading East with a pleasant sun on our shoulders. We effortlessly slid through the masses of dazed tourists who were enthralled by the majesty and splendour of that part of London. All that I was interested in was her. My heart swelled every time I heard her laugh. She told me of her problems at work and how she felt her position was under threat. She was stressed by her working life, which I thought not uncommon for a Londoner. There was a long-running recession on and firms in all industries were looking to cut costs. All I could do was empathize with her and try to distract her from her troubles.

I noticed that some ominous clouds had gathered so I suggested that we take pre-emptive shelter in a pub next to Blackfriars Bridge. I got her a Belgian white beer and myself a berry cider while she found us a seat on a comfortable sofa. She asked me about my time in Prague. I could tell she knew about the nightlife there. I couldn’t lie to her and told her about some of what I had seen and done in some of the “clubs” there. She wasn’t horrified or disapproving and seemed quite accepting of it. I was surprised. She seemed to know about that side of life. I was intrigued but didn’t probe, deciding to leave it for another time.

I moved the conversation on to the issue between us that was bothering me. I wanted to get a greater sense of clarity about the baby factor. She started telling me about how she thought motherhood would be, but not just the cute, fun stuff, but also the sacrifices and hardships involved. She had obviously given this much thought. A Summery thunderstorm erupted above us and drenched patrons quickly took refuge in the bar around us.

I asked her if she wanted a baby so badly that she was prepared to be a single mother. She thought about it for a few seconds, I held my breath, and she simply said “Yes”. I wasn’t too surprised to hear this, but was a little disappointed. The need to breed was strong in this one.

Moving the conversation along I asked her what she had been up to. She said that she had attended a seminar, but was elusive about what it was about. My curiosity compelled me to pursue her about this seminar. Eventually she gave in and confessed that it was about how to attract and keep a man. I was a little surprised about this and didn’t know what to say. My mind went in to over-drive, mapping out the implications of her going to such an event. Before I said a word, she said “You have beautiful eyes.” We laughed. I wasn’t sure if she was using this line because she had been reminded of it now. Or was she being cleverly humorous? I couldn’t tell.

The dark clouds over the Thames had run dry, so we walked and talked along the Southbank. I don’t particularly remember about what except for her asking me questions about what I thought of the girls in Prague. We found a restaurant and chatted over dinner. She didn’t know that in my jacket pocket were tickets to Jersey Boys which was being performed just off Charing Cross Road. I guided us in that direction.

All the while I was mulling over the fact that she wanted a child at any cost. I wasn’t totally repulsed by her. In fact, I was still quite taken with her. She and I seemed to have a connection, an understanding, a meeting of minds that resulted in us jabbering away non-stop, perpetually stimulating each other mentally, laughing every few minutes. Well, that’s how it felt to me. What she was thinking and feeling I will never know. Wouldn’t it be great if I did? What would it be like if she were to write her account of our time together?

As we walked up Charing Cross Road, I told her of my surprise, the show I was taking her to see. Her eyes went wide and a happy smile spread across her pretty face. My heart warmed at the sight of her being pleased by my gesture. We found the venue and went to an upstairs bar where we had a drink each, she her beer, me my cider. We stood in a corner of the bar area at a window overlooking the street below, making small talk. As we spoke, my eyes wandered around her hair, her face, her lips, her neck, her breasts, her hips. I was trying to be as inconspicuous about it as I could, but she must have noticed my wandering eye. I couldn’t resist the urge any more and leaned in to kiss her. She responded positively and when our lips parted she made a disapproving comment about the sweetness of my cider. That was so typically her.

The production began and we were high in the rafters, but had a good view nevertheless. Baltic Babe sat by my side like a perfect little lady, which is how I was starting to think of her. Her knees and feet were touching and her hands were folded in her lap, spine erect. I found her femininity and poise irresistible. She seemed to know a few of the tunes that made Franki Valli and The Four Seasons famous and popular, even to this day. Their music has a timelessness about it when you listen to the lyrics. She swayed along to the songs she recognised, moving her shoulders in time to the music, tilting her head at just the right moment. I was far more interested in watching her than the performance on the stage below, while she seemed mesmerised by the spectacle.

One of my favourite romantic songs started playing. She knew it, but I never knew that Franki Valli was it’s originator. It’s a song from the heart of a man who knows what love is. A man who was fortunate enough to encounter a woman who captured his very being, gave meaning to his life and hope for the future. As I listened to the lyrics, I realised that they encapsulated almost everything that I was thinking and feeling about this amazing person sitting next to me. I couldn’t help but stare at her for the duration of the song, miming the words that I knew so well, but Baltic Babe didn’t notice me. The song is “Can’t take my eyes off of you”. The lyrics were written for me in that moment…

You’re just too good to be true.
Can’t keep my eyes off you.
You feel like heaven to touch.
I want to hold you so much.
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive.
You’re just too good to be true.
Can’t take my eyes off you.

Pardon the way that I stare.
There’s nothing else to compare.
The sight of you makes me weak.
There are no words left to speak,
But if you feel how I feel,
Please let me know that its real.
You’re just too good to be true.
Can’t take my eyes off you.

I love you, baby,
And if its quite alright,
I need you, baby,
To warm a lonely night.
I love you, baby.
Trust in me when i say:
Oh, pretty baby,
Don’t bring me down, I pray.
Oh pretty baby,
now that I found you, stay
And let me love you, baby.
Let me love you.

You’re just too good to be true.
Can’t keep my eyes off you.
You feel like heaven to touch.
I wanna hold you so much.
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God im alive.
You’re just too good to be true.
Can’t take my eyes off you.

I love you baby,
And if it’s quite alright,
I need you, baby,
To warm a lonely night.
I love you, baby.
Trust in me when I say:
Oh, pretty baby,
Don’t bring me down I pray.
Oh pretty baby,
now that I found you stay
And let me love you, baby.
Let me love you…

If you want to hear it, go here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=73opABRuMXk

The show ended with Baltic Babe beaming broadly, obviously having enjoyed it while I had a fuzzy feeling warming the back of my brain. As was becoming the norm I escorted her back to Liverpool Street train station. She would feign not finding this necessary knowing full well I would dismiss her meek objections and be an old-fashioned gentleman. This time, however, I did wonder if she was going to invite me back to her place. We had just enjoyed a good day together and it seemed logical that this might happen. What would I do if she made the offer? I did want to make love to her, but I didn’t want to rush it, so I didn’t make any overtures about my wanting that to happen.

At the concourse of Liverpool Street station, at the entrance to the platform where her train was waiting for her, we kissed. She stood on tippy-toes, her arms around me, my arms under hers, our lips locked, her tongue running amok in my mouth. I wasn’t a fan of this style of kissing, but it was what she enjoyed. I could feel her body rising against mine, an intensity in her growing, her grip becoming more urgent. She was getting turned on, so would the offer be made? Her tongue let go of me and we blinked at each other. Her eyes darted between mine, Baltic Babe was thinking.

“Good night” was all she said and turned to board her train. I stood there, smiling to myself, dazed and confused again. I loved being with her, every single moment, but her wanting a child was a big obstacle to me. I made my way home not really sure about how best to proceed. En route she sent me a text message thanking me for the day.

Her message read: “I never get to say a proper ‘good bye’ :-( always rushing for the train. I had a lovely day, thank you. Look forward to more kissing :-)”

I appreciated her politeness, which made the dilemma more bitter-sweet for me.

Date #3 – Demolition Debbie – Wednesday 1st August

While in Prague it became obvious to me that becoming involved with someone who wants a child was not the right thing for me. I realised that I needed to pursue other dating opportunities. Once back in London, on the Sunday I reviewed emails from dating sites that I was on and came across an email from a profile which seemed interesting. The tone was upbeat, we had things in common, there were several photographs in which she seemed quite attractive and she didn’t want children. The only negatives were that she was 44 and almost six feet tall. Dating an older woman (I was 40) and almost as tall as me would be a novel experience, so I answered her email.

We agreed to meet on the Wednesday at lunchtime in north Clapham. The Northcote Road is a road lined with expensive fashion boutiques, upmarket restaurants and pretentious people. I got there a few minutes early and stood in a doorway as a passing shower wet the snobs. Half an hour after the agreed time, as I was considering calling her, my date sent me an apologetic text message. She had got the details of the meeting point wrong and was in a taxi heading my way. Unimpressed, I texted back that I would get a coffee in a Starbucks because everywhere else was now full.

As I was sipping my latte, comfortably sitting at a table outside, I spied a taxi speeding down the road. Somehow I knew it was her. The cab screeched to a halt in front of me, with frantic activity in the back seat. My date got out of the cab clumsily, almost twisting her ankle in her haste, threw money at the cabbie and righted herself, one foot on the pavement, one foot in the road. “Oh Lordie, what do we have here?” I thought to myself.

She must have felt me looking at her as our eyes met, upon which I had to smile and stand up. She hurried over to me and I politely kissed her hello on a cheek. My first impression? I thought her reasonably attractive and suitably dressed, which meant she did make an effort, just logistics had thrown her off balance.

“Oh, I’m so dreadfully sorry. Terrible mix up with the addresses. All my fault. Please sit, I’ll go get myself a coffee too,” and off she went.

I didn’t get a chance to say a word. She was like a cross between a wrecking ball and a whirlwind. The way she spoke reminded me of Emma Thompson’s character in “Love Actually”. I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and stayed. Some other men might have seized the opportunity and disappeared before she came back to spill coffee over them.

“There, that’s better,” she said as she sat down next to me with her herbal tea. “How are you?” she asked.

I couldn’t help but let out a caustic response of “Hungry” coupled with a smile. It was now going on for 2pm and I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I get ratty when hungry.

“Ah, yes. Let’s go do something about that, shall we?” she said patronisingly. Who the hell was this woman? Mary Poppins?

We took our over-priced coffees and walked the length of the Northcote Road until we found a pub that had space for us. She didn’t like the look of the place, so we left. We found another pub that had space. She didn’t like anything on the menu, so we left that one too. She was seriously trying my patience.

Eventually we found another pub which must have been in a new postcode, we had walked for that long. Before she could find fault I said “Gee, this place looks good and there’s lots on the menu. Let’s sit there,” and gestured to an empty table at a window, heading her nit-picking fault-finding off at the pass.

We made polite small talk as we had walked around and continued to do so as we sat at the table. The bad start to the date really hadn’t helped matters because I was a little bit miffed with her. She wasn’t quite done with unsettling me though, as things took another negative turn when she told me that she was still married, having separated from her husband less than a month previously.

“Oh, I assure you that I fully intend initiating divorce proceedings as soon as I have finished unpacking my stuff in my new flat.” she said haughtily and with conviction.

Given her organizational abilities shown so far, that wouldn’t be any time soon then.

My own circumstances weren’t the best either, to be fair. I had physically left my long-term girlfriend only two months earlier, but emotionally much longer than that. I was unemployed and had no job prospects in sight. Money was becoming a worry to me. I was sleeping on my best mate’s sofa, but was moving in to my own place that coming weekend, at least. I wasn’t exactly a prime catch either.

Over lunch we made small talk about the usual shit: work, travel, family and relationships. Oh boy, did she like to talk about relationships. She went in to great detail about her relationship history. It was characterised by her hooking up with some guy quickly, moving in together as quickly as possible, then finding out something that cooled her amour and then she would run away. She had been married for two years. I concluded that it was running away time again.

She didn’t believe me when I answered her questions about my relationship history that I had only been in two relationships; my ex-wife for almost fifteen years and my ex-girlfriend for just over 5 years. This boggled her mind. It was beyond the realms of her experience to imagine what that was like.

I knew then that she wasn’t relationship material. Not only did she seem incapable of sustaining a healthy, loving relationship – the thing I was after – but she was also obviously highly likely to be on the rebound. This woman had some issues when it came to relationships and I didn’t want to be part of her demolition derby. I decided that the date needed to end because I was wasting my time.

Ever the gentleman, I paid for our over-priced lunch, a gesture I could ill-afford, but felt compelled to do nevertheless. I walked with her for about a mile towards where she lived. We chatted amiably enough, but I just wasn’t interested. Once we were near her home we stopped to say goodbye.

I gave her a polite kiss on the cheek, but she just stood there, smiling, unspeaking, unmoving, apparently wanting something. So I leaned in toward her and she came forward and we shared a sweet, gentle kiss. It was the best thing that happened for me on the entire date. Without another word, I walked off.

The next day I phoned her to tell her that I didn’t think that we were right for each other. She sounded a bit surprised but took the news in good grace. I remember her saying “Thank you for phoning to talk in person. I normally just send a text message.”

Jesus, how many dates had she been on? Lots, I would bet.