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Forty-five Minutes

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Sitting alone in the Goring Hotel lounge it was patently obvious that he had been stood up by his date. Greg was baffled. Frustrated and mildly disillusioned he rang the dating agency, Over the Moon. A sympathetic but efficient voice apologized for his inconvenience, and promised to send more candidates for him to review by return of post. Resigned, he hung up. Appeased but still vaguely niggled and with time on his hands, temptation proved too much and he rang his no-show date. “Hi, Greg here, where are you?”

“How you get to London?” the unseen voice, clipped and foreign.

“By train.”

“You no car?”

Caught on the hop, Greg answered truthfully. “No err…”

“You go out Thai girl before?”

Stumped, he stumbled, “Argh.”

“You don’t know much.”

Silence, then a click, as the phone hung up. Damn that woman, she has outmaneuvered me in pidgin English!

Antonio, the waiter, sidled over to him, deferentially he asked, “Another dry martini, sir?”

What the heck I’m not driving. “Yes please.”

Ruminating over his dilemma, Greg reasoned that his next dating weekend he would be more effective and efficient. To get the best out of his valuable time he would interview five women in one afternoon visit. Allowing forty-five minute time slots should be sufficient and permit a fifteen minute interval so that no embarrassment or confusion could occur, by two female candidates meeting each other. Feeling relieved that he had a plan that might bear fruit and achieve his aim of finding a new partner her smiled inwardly, almost a smug grin.

Greg loved English women and after his messy divorce he realized that he did not like being single again. He had no desire to return to his homeland. And living on his own didn’t suit his personality. As a Canadian living abroad, he sensed his own nationality quite keenly and wanted an English wife to compliment him. Needing closeness and companionship he hoped to meet a woman who would accommodate him in her life. A quiet sensuous woman who kept her opinions to herself, unless invited to express her views and share them with him. This arrangement would suit him well, as a frustrated playwright; he needed nurturing and freedom to write.


Reviewing the next batch of candidates, sent to him by the agency, he chose five out of eight potential mates and booked them at one-hour intervals commencing at twelve, mid day. Driven on with a renewed sense of purpose he looked forward to planned sojourn at the agreed rendezvous at the Goring Hotel lounge. A five star venue and in a select upmarket environment. It was important to him to convey the right image.

Commuting up to town from Brighton was a pleasure, an easy trip on a fast through train, arriving comfortably just before eleven. Hailing a taxi cab outside Victoria station, he settled into the back seat and breathed easy, relaxed, filled with relish at the prospect of a delightful and an interesting afternoon. A quick bite to eat before battle commenced at noon and he was ready to meet his potential mates.

Seated at a small table, discreet but not hidden, he placed his camera and umbrella on the coffee table. Janet arrived punctually at twelve o’clock and at fist sight from a distance she looked exactly like her photograph. But as Greg surveyed his quarry; on closer inspection, he pondered how long ago her picture had been taken? Her lustrous auburn hair was manicured into a perfect bob that suited her face and framed her soft green eyes. Initial introductions over Greg effortlessly led the conversation, asking leading questions, seeking genuine responses, priding himself on being able to spot a fake a mile off.

The longer they talked Janet started to cackle, a loud unladylike laugh that grated on Greg’s nerves. Coming to realize that she was a ditzy woman, switched him off, and he was relieved when their allotted time was up. Unabashed, he wound up their meeting and closed the interview on time. Genuinely thanking Janet for travelling up to town, he promised her he would be in touch. Of course, he would be a perfect gentleman and let her down gently. Escorting her out of the lounge, to the reception area he kept the good bye brief and was reassured that she was safely dispatched on her way.

Returning to his still-warm, deep-buttoned leather wing armchair, that shade of claret that only comes with age, Antonio came across and took Greg’s order for another dry martini, and cleared the table, before briefly returning with the fresh drink.


Jenny was five minutes late. Looking flustered, she dropped herself into the chair opposite Greg with little grace. She had dark black hair, far too black to be her real color; he thought it drained the natural tone from her face, making her ashen pallor look tinged with greyness. Greg offered her a drink and was surprised when she ordered Southern comfort, neat no ice. Sadly, their conversation never really got going and Greg sensed her unease, as this woman appeared to have lost the power of speech. Greg was never unobservant, looking for hints and characteristics, tells that gave him an insight. Overcome with shyness? he thought. Feeling peeved, he grew restless. It was becoming a slightly surreal and unsettling experience for him too, as he only managed to get five words out of her in twenty minutes. He prided himself on being a good conversationalist but today this made no difference with Jenny. Becoming increasingly irritated, Greg decided enough was enough.

Frustrated he terminated the interview early. Greg dutifully escorted her to the hotel entrance, then returned and settled back at his table and picking up the Times. He read the business section and waited for number three.

Amelia arrived at two. Perking up, Greg felt a tightening knot in his stomach. This was more like it. A handsome woman, slender, not too tall with long straight hair, a warm and beautiful smile with luscious full red lips. Antonio appeared openly shocked and did a quick double take—same man, different woman. Being a professional, he remained discreet and made no comment. Taking their order for drinks, a white wine spritzer for the new lady, and another dry martini for the gent.

Talking with Amelia was relaxed, a relief, and Greg warmed to her quickly. He responded well to her presence, but he was shocked how quickly their allotted time slipped away. Realizing that he liked the sound of her voice; as her tone hit the right note with him. She was feminine, softly flirtatious, and friendly. Almost tempted to allow this interview to overrun, he was shocked when Amelia excused herself claiming a prior engagement. Resisting the urge to escort her to the reception area he stood, and watched her leave the room, the sway of her hips held a rhythm that he would like to follow. Then she was gone and he sat back down. Hmm… Placing his hands together, he rested his chin and mused.

Quietly jotting down notes about their brief conversation, he realized that she had been careful about giving him only some of what he needed to know. Adept at avoiding some of his questions turning the inquiries back on himself. Intrigued he knew he would follow up Amelia quickly and keenly, almost strategically. Undaunted by her behavior, he was sure that she would be pursued. He needed to act swiftly. Mulling over his thoughts, his mind wandered and he daydreamed how her athletic body would look naked, casually sprawled across a hotel bed upstairs. A delicious smile ran over his lips and swept across his face.


Antonio appeared at his side again. Unprompted, Antonio cleared the glasses and waited. Thinking it might be wise to slow up his alcoholic consumption, Greg ordered a strong black coffee, no sugar. Checking his watch he realized it was three o’clock. Time passed and Hilary did not arrive. Greg thought he might have been stood up. His impatience grew steadily as the minutes ticked by. He hated being kept waiting.

Hilary did show up, just before three thirty, but made a very poor first impression. She was apologetic, but her uneasiness was tangible, almost as if she was here under duress. Greg could feel himself loosing interest in rapid time as inertia set in. There was no reason to prolong this woman’s discomfort, “Excuse me, I’m sorry, but this isn’t working for me.” He raised his hands in an open gesture, “Don’t take this the wrong way but nothing is going to happen between us.” Blunt but true. He saw little point in pursing this interview to its natural completion and he felt the kindest thing to do was vacate the table. Greg stood up and left the lounge.

He walked out through the front entrance he stood in the street close to the entrance and lit up a cigarette. A treat, something he only did occasionally. Being a social smoker was entirely acceptable in his eyes. Inhaling deeply, the mentholated air penetrated his lungs; he reflected on the afternoons proceedings and reasoned that so far this was a good result. One strong potential candidate.

Standing in a pool of sunshine, he watched Vanessa alight from the black London taxi cab. A voluptuous brunette, well groomed and femininely dressed, with dainty well-turned ankles. Promptly he turned on his heels and headed back to his table, relieved that Hilary was gone.

As Vanessa entered the lounge, he watched the reaction of the other men in the room. As she sashayed towards him, the other men’s heads snapped and turned towards her, as if attracted to magnetic north. Extending her hand, she smiled and shook his hand positively.

Vanessa was interesting, funny, smart, and sexy. The more they talked the closer she leaned into his personal space occasionally resting her hand lightly on his knee. Touching so openly was not shocking, it was the fact that his body responded as if a shockwave had been passed through his leg. God, he was mildly perturbed, he was getting a hard-on. A double edged sword, great for his ego that he was firing on all cylinders but lousy, because this uncontrolled reaction was placing him in a potentially embarrassing situation. Each fresh invasion of his personal space made him feel like her prey. Unfamiliar territory for this predatory hunter. He loved the chase, the hunt, to be the hunter. This woman with her open advances unbalanced his equilibrium which did not sit well with his physiognomy.

Their discourse covered a broad spectrum of topics from business to travel, books to sport and ultimately to sexual encounters. Vanessa was provocative, deliberately baiting Greg. Their intimate conversation exceeded the allocated time but it no longer mattered, there were no more candidates. Vanessa was ravenous but not for food. Greg was just plain hungry.

Like a small fire lit in the pit of his belly each stroke of his leg fanned the flames that grew unabated. Quenching this fire was an option but by which method a heavy meal or a good spanking?

Standing in front of him, Antonio winked and discreetly gave Greg the thumbs up sign, before inquiring if ‘sir’ required any drinks, and added ‘perhaps sir would be dining in tonight with his guest?’


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