When John Williams entered the conference room at the Carlton Hotel in London, his mind was focussed solely on writing. He had no idea that today would be the start of a whole new and exciting chapter in his life. John was there to attend a book signing by the famous author William Farrell. All being well, he hoped one day to become as successful as he was.
Despite John’s outward look of confidence, inside, he felt insecure. John had written a book that had received some excellent reviews. However, sales had been far from what he’d hoped for. Given this, John had attended this event in the hope of finding an agent to represent him. Should he do so, it would be a significant step forward in his quest to become a best-selling author.
As John looked around, he spotted Sally Johnston, an author renowned for her erotic novels. Casting his mind back, he remembered that two of her books had been made into blockbuster movies.
The cleavage of her sleek fitting green dress was usually only seen on a much younger woman that, plus her long, curly auburn hair tumbling down over her shoulders, Sally looked fantastic. John smiled, thinking that she looked ready for a part in one of her films. Given this, Sally stood out from the people milling around her.
After much time searching without success to find an agent, John felt somewhat depressed. On deciding a drink might raise his spirits, he made his way to the bar. While he sat nursing his second double gin and tonic, a soft voice broke into his thoughts.
At first, John thought the voice was addressing someone else, but then realised it was to him. As he swung around on his stool, John’s depressive mood dissolved in a flash. To his astonishment, there looking like a vision of beauty stood Sally Johnston. As John leapt up, he all but tripped over his own feet.
Pulling himself together, he stammered, “Pardon, were you speaking to me?”
Sally smiled. “Yes! Sorry if I disturbed you. When I saw you in the mirror slumped over your drink, I thought you might like someone to talk to.” Her smile widened as she flicked a lock of her long hair over one shoulder. “However, if you don’t, I’ll leave you in peace.”
John could not believe his luck. He shot out his hand. “No! Please stay. My name is John, John Williams.” As Sally went to reply, while trying to plug his eyes back into his head, John said. “There’s no need to introduce yourself. You’re Sally Johnston, the famous author. I recognise you from your photos in magazines and books.”
Standing face to face with Sally, John found that not only were they the same height, but both had hazel eyes. The delicate scent of Sally’s perfume wafting to his nostrils intoxicated him. With her slim figure inside her slinky dress, John found it hard to concentrate. For sure, Sally looked far younger than her years. On reflection, John seemed to remember that she was in her mid-to-late forties.
As Sally’s long, slim fingers took his hand, John felt butterflies in his stomach. She fluttered her long eyelashes in mock amusement. “Thank you, but that must have been several years ago. I’ve not had a new book published in a long time.”
With an effort, John forced himself to keep his eyes on Sally’s face. He grinned. “Yes, maybe, but you’re so well-known for your... erotic novels. Plus, your eye-catching looks, you’re not one to forget.”
Sally gave John a dazzling smile. “Thank you, kind sir; it’s always good to receive a compliment.”
For a moment, John thought Sally had held his hand longer than necessary. Shaking these thoughts from his head, he asked himself, who am I kidding? She’s a famous author, while I’m still struggling to get anywhere.
Trying his best not to look at Sally’s cleavage, John said, “My apologies. I guess I did look rather sorry for myself.” On the spur of the moment, he said, “Please don’t think me presumptuous, but would you care to join me for a drink? Or are you with someone?”
Sally raised her eyebrows. “That’s kind of you, and no, I’m not with anyone. She flashed another smile then said, “I will join you, that is unless you’d rather be on your own?”
John almost choked. “No! No! Please, sit, I’d take it as an honour if you did.”
As Sally slid onto the stool next to his, the skirt of her dress opened, revealing a pair of shapely legs and high stiletto heels. So good was the view, John had a job to tear his eyes away.
He heard Sally say, “If you don’t mind, I’ll have a gin and tonic.”
John caught the eye of the barman at the other end of the bar. “A gin and tonic, please.”
Once her drink arrived, John turned to Sally. “Please don’t think me rude, but would you mind if we have our photo taken?”
Sally gave him the benefit of a smile that would arouse even the Mona Lisa. “Of course not, but do you always carry a camera with you?”
John laughed as he pulled out his cell phone. “I don’t, but this will do.” He held it up towards the barman. “Excuse me, but would you mind taking our photo?”
Taking the phone from John’s outstretched hand, he said, “No problem.”
After the man took their photo, he grinned as he handed the phone back to John. Turning back to Sally, John pointed to some armchairs. “Would you prefer to sit on something a bit more comfortable?”
“That sounds like a good idea.” As Sally went to get up off her stool, she seemed to slip. In a flash, John reached out and caught hold of her arm to steady her. His fingers tingled at the touch of her skin.
Sally gave a short laugh. “Thank you. These high heels may make one’s legs look good, but they’re not so easy to walk on.”
John grinned. “What can I say? You look great in them.”
“Flattery will get you everywhere.”
After making themselves comfortable, Sally arched a questioning eyebrow. “Well, you know about me, but I know nothing about you. Tell me about yourself, John. Are you a writer? An author? Is that why you’re here at the book launch?”
John shrugged. “I’m trying to be a writer. I’ve written one book, but it’s not done as well as I’d hoped. I came here in the hope of finding an agent to represent me. Despite sending off inquiries to lots of agents, I’ve had no success.” He forced a smile. “I thought if I could talk with one face to face, I might have more success.”
Sally shook her head. “Well, after finding you the way I did, I guess you were unsuccessful?”
John grinned. “You could say that, but then I met you, so I consider myself lucky.”
“Thank you,” Sally said, her cheeks reddening. She looked reflective for a moment. “When I first saw you in the mirror, it reminded me of myself many years ago. Thanks to someone finding me in a similar situation, I later became successful.” With a twinkle in her eye, she added, “By the way, I don’t usually make a habit of picking up young men I meet. So, I hope you don’t think badly of me.”
John raised his eyebrows in disbelief. “What? Don’t be silly, why on earth would I think such a thing? You’re a lady.”
As they continued to talk and sip their drinks, several people approached to speak to Sally. Considering her popularity, to say nothing of the revealing dress she wore, John didn’t find this surprising.
When they were finally alone again, Sally leaned over. “If you have time, would you care to join me for lunch?”
John, unable to believe his ears, almost choked on his drink. He gulped. “What can I say to such an offer, but yes?” Hoping Sally would say no, he asked quickly, “Are you sure no one’s waiting for you?”
Sally shook her head. “Don’t worry, John; there’s no one. She flashed another dazzling smile, then said, “From the way you talk, you’re the sort of person I like to spend time with.”
Given his meeting Sally, John thanked his lucky stars he had worn a suit and tie today. At thirty-five, slim and standing six feet tall, John looked in his prime. With dark curly hair, green eyes, and a healthy physique, some women thought him handsome. Even so, John was glad he had made an extra special effort today.
As they strolled out of the hotel, John noticed several people stop to look at them. When he commented on this to Sally, she winked.
“It’s not a problem for me, is it for you?” A small smile played about her lips. “I guess I am older than your usual type of woman.”
“Not in the slightest.” John grinned. “I guess they’re jealous of seeing a beautiful woman like you with me and not with them.”
“I can see we’re going to get on fine, John,” Sally murmured.
When John opened the door of a waiting taxi for Sally to enter, she beamed with delight. “I knew you were a gentleman, John; thank you.”
John climbed in next to Sally, who gave instructions to the driver. As they drove off, John could not believe his luck. Here he was, sat next to a famous author who happened to look like a Hollywood movie star.
John was getting more comfortable at making small talk with her when the driver pulled up outside an Italian restaurant. Sally shot a questioning look in his direction. “Well, here we are. I hope you like Italian food, John?”
“I do, but I’ve not been here before.” John got out and went around to help Sally out of the cab. Although he tried not to stare, John found it impossible with Sally wearing such a revealing dress.
As they entered the restaurant, a smiling maître d’ greeted Sally like a firm friend. He then led them to a corner table and pulled out a chair for her.
Once Sally and John were seated, the maître d’ asked, “Would you care for a drink while you decide what you would like to eat?”
Sally turned to John. “Which do you prefer? Red or white wine, or would you like another G&T?”
“Red would be fine, but what about you?”
“Red is fine by me too. Would you like to choose, or will I?”
John chuckled. “I’m sure that you know far more than I do about what to choose.”
Sally ordered a bottle of wine that John had never heard of before. As they sat facing each other across the table, John thought, this is a dream. I’ll wake up at any moment.
Sally must have seen the faraway look in his eyes. “Are you alright, John? You looked miles away.”
“I’m fine. But when I went to the book launch, I never expected things to turn out like this.” He shook his head. “I keep thinking I’m dreaming and I’ll wake up in a minute.”
Sally looked flattered. “Well, if it’s a dream, I hope you’re not disappointed. Are you sorry I dragged you away?”
“What?” John spluttered. “How on earth could I be? I would be mad to think like that.” Before he could say more, a waiter brought their wine and poured out a sample.
Sally smiled at John. “You try it, John. If you don’t like it, we’ll order a different one.”
Sipping the wine and finding it to his taste, John said, “Excellent.”
Sally raised her glass. “Well, what will we drink to?”
John grinned. “Without taking too much for granted, I’d like to think we should toast to a new friendship.”
Sally touched her glass to his. “That’s an excellent suggestion. To our new friendship, and long may it last.”
After ordering their meals, they sat and talked some more. John was surprised to feel so at ease with such a famous writer. He hoped Sally might be able to help him in his quest for success. Despite being older than him, Sally looked incredible. John found himself wishing they would meet again. As he gazed across at Sally, he thought being with her was nothing short of a miracle.
To his surprise, Sally said, “I want to thank you for making this such a pleasant day.” When they finished their meal, Sally picked up a napkin and wrote on it. As she pushed it across the table to him, she said, “Sorry, John, I don’t have any more cards with me.”
To his astonishment, John saw Sally had given him her phone number. He chuckled. “No problem, and thank you.”
Sally smiled across at John. “If you like, and have some time next week, perhaps we could meet again?”
John could not believe his ears, but recovered enough to say, “That would be great. I’ll call you, and we’ll figure out a time.”
After finishing an aperitif, Sally sighed. “I’m sorry, John, but I have another engagement to attend.”
“I’m sorry, too, but I understand. I’ve enjoyed spending time with you, and look forward to our next meeting.”
After insisting that she had invited him, Sally paid the bill. They then walked outside to the taxi the maître-d’ had ordered for her.
As John went to shake hands with Sally, to his surprise, she gave him a brief kiss on the cheek. John could feel the heat in his face as he opened the door of the cab.
Sally climbed inside, giving John another view of her tantalising legs. She tilted her head up towards him. “Don’t forget to call, John.
I look forward to hearing from you.”
With that, John closed the door. As the taxi drove off, he stood there frozen, wondering if he had dreamed the past couple of hours. A call from the driver of a second waiting cab snapped him out of his thoughts.
“Do you want a taxi?” the driver repeated.
“Oh, sorry. Yes, please.”
As John climbed in, the driver looked at him in the inside mirror. “Are you okay? Where would you like to go?”
“Oh, take me to the Red Lion pub in Putney, please - I need a drink.”
The driver chuckled. “If I’d been with a lady like that, I’d also need a drink to calm me down.”
At the pub, John ordered a large gin and tonic. As he sat nursing it, he reflected on the day’s events. For sure, it had been one he would never forget. Even so, he wondered if he would see Sally again.