The bye-bye email didn’t come as a surprise.
Graeme knew it was coming, knew that Mari was already having doubts, so when things had gone quiet, he knew that she had lost her enthusiasm and her thoughts were elsewhere. Her comment about her ex Mark, told him that she wasn’t over him and ready to move on to a new relationship.
He’d had fun while it lasted, she’d boosted his confidence and made him feel alive.
It made him realise that there was life after Jacqueline and that there were attractive woman out there who might like him, maybe next time he’d find a keeper rather than someone who was still hanging on to her past.
Mari was gone and he was surprised that he wasn’t actually grieving for, he’d already done enough grieving in his life.
Fiona, his PA, saw right through him,, she knew him too well to miss the signs, no longer bouncing into the office, wearing casual clothes and smiling all day.
He was a good boss but had his crosses to bear since Jacqueline passed away and looking after the kids on his own. But the past few months he’d had a new lease of life and it was all down to the fun he had with Mari. Fiona had never met Mari, but she looked lovely in the pics that Graeme had showed her on his phone.
It was great to see him enjoy life, even if it hadn’t lasted that long, she was pleased to see him smiling again.
Fiona was genuinely surprised when Graeme told her that Mari had ended their relationship, they chatted about it over coffee with the office door closed.
Fiona asked him how he felt and if he’d miss her.
“Fine” he said, “I’m absolutely fine and it was fun while it lasted, but if someone’s not right for you, or in this case I wasn’t right for them, then it’s better to be honest with each other and move on to someone who is right for you and isn’t still holding on to their past.”
Graeme, had always been a realist, he had his ideals, but was pragmatic enough to know that life didn’t always work that way either in love or in business.
Sometimes you just had to take disappointments on the chin, take a deep breath, stand back and let it go.
The next few months he spent making it up to the kids, he’d already been feeling guilty about leaving them with their grandparents, both his parents and Jacqueline’s, Although her parents never asked, he suspected that they were pleased for him, moving on in life and were happy to look after Emily and James anytime they needed them.
It was a matter of time before he logged back on to his dating profile again. Just out of curiosity at first, but he knew that he was too good to be on his own forever.
The first thing he noticed were that most of the people that came on his search list were the same as when he’d been online over 6 months ago. The majority of them hadn’t even updated their profile or their photos. There was nothing really wrong in that, but he wondered if they had come and gone like him or they had been there the full time?
How desperate must that be?
Sitting on a dating site every night?
Dropping hooks and hoping for a bite, Plenty Of Fish right enough.
He clicked on the Locals tab, this lists people by proximity to your current address, or the post code you give them. A bit of a stalker tool he thought.
Who would want to be dating someone so close to you? Is that important?
Graeme had already decided that long distance relationships don’t work. He thought back to a holiday romance he’d had back before he was married. He’d met Fay on their first night in Magaluf .. Shag-aloof as they called it and it had lived up to its name.
Two weeks of romance with Fay, Essex girl, posh, classy looking but dirty and he couldn’t get enough of her.
She was so different to any of the local girls he met in Glasgow, she had money to spend and was generous with it and that fantastic body of hers.
She kept saying she was fat, even although her tummy was flat, she blamed the fatty deposits at the top of her hips.i
But Graeme didn’t notice them and cared about them even less, it was part of her and he loved holding on to them as he fucked her from behind.
There’s just something about looking at a woman’s waist from behind, appreciating her curves, the ins and the outs, undulating as she reacts to his thrusts.
Who would want a woman without curves?
On their last morning together, waiting for the bus to take him back to the airport, lying wrapped in each others arms, listening to Wham’s Greatest Hits on repeat, “I’m never gonna dance again, if I can’t dance with you” .. and they’d actually cried and promised to keep seeing each other after the holiday,
What a laugh, what little you know what’s ahead of you, but you had to admire the innocence and hope.
The relationship lasted a few months, he took the bus to London 3 times and she came up to Glasgow twice before it became a pain the ass for both of them and she met an Andrew Ridgely look-a-like from Southend.
He wasn’t too fussed, he’d just met Jacqueline then, not that anything had happened, she was Catholic and back then there was no chance of anything happening without putting a ring on her finger.
How things have changed?
It had taken him months to even get his hand inside Jacqueline bra, but Mari and him had been naked on the third date, rushing home from a show to rip each others clothes off in her hall.
Meeting online, chatting on the phone, going for a drink, then dinner and the third time they hit the sheets.
He had too much respect for any potential future partner to push his luck too soon, but even this surprised him.
Did that make the relationship more disposable?
Maybe that’s just how it is for people of his age?
But life goes on, Mari was fun but was now in his past, it was his future that’s important.
He looked through the locals, wondering if he had ever crossed paths or been in close proximity with any of them. Not surprisingly there wasn’t, he was a creature of habit, same train into town every morning, went food and clothe shopping at the same stores with the kids at the weekend.
Graeme flicked past a few profiles, it’s easy to see something you don’t like, sometimes these are obvious for example he wasn’t interested in anyone that was extremely overweight, but sometimes it was the small things, excessive tattoos, inappropriate clothing or just even a look in the eye he didn’t like.
That was before he started reading anyone’s profile! Even if you found someone physically attractive looking at their pics, it could disintegrate quickly when you read what they had to say for themselves. Anyone who described themselves as Wacky or High Maintenance was a complete no-no as they were too much work and probably looking for someone more like themselves.
Then there was CountryGirl2805, pretty, dark, understated. Reading her profile came across as genuine but hesitant of exposing herself to the online world. It made him feel protective and attracted towards her, that he wanted to reach out to her and make contact before the chance was lost.
I’ve just enjoyed reading your profile and thought I’d say hello.
I notice that you like walking in the country and wondered if you had ever done the West Highland Way?
I have only done little stretches of the walk, but it’s on my to-do list.
Most of my walks tend to be with my kids and we go locally up to Calderglen Country Park, do you know it?
To be upfront with you, I’m a widow and have my kids ( 7 and 9 ) most of the time, but I have a good support network and have started getting out and about now and then.
Like you, I’m pretty new to this dating malarkey and find it a little overwhelming.
I’ll keep this short, as I’m sure you will have lots of messages to read, but it would be great to hear from you
That kiss, a single character on the screen and he took a few minutes of deletions and replacements before deciding on whether to send it or not.
He didn’t want to seem over-familiar by sending it, or standoffish by not.
But it was just a friendly kiss, he was friendly guy and genuinely interested, surely she’d see that?
And he crossed his fingers and clicked send.