by Doreen F.
Shirley and Ian had known each other for a very long time, when they were still in their teens, but never particularly liked one another. From the very beginning they could not agree on anything and always ended up quarrelling about something completely irrelevant. Their friends got used to it, but nobody knew the reason.
For one thing Shirley had thought that Ian was very attractive, when she first met him, but his attitude made her change her mind immediately. He was egoistic and self-centred and always wanted to be right. So when one of her friends fell in love with Ian, she could not understand her friendís decision. And somehow she was hurt that Ian had opted for her friend who had been rather easy to get.
Ian had been scared by Shirley directness although he thought that she was quite attractive. She always said what she was thinking and at that time he could not bear if anyone did not share his opinion on something.
Clearly they met quite often because Shirley and her friend stayed in regular contact. Shirley also found a boyfriend after a while, who she actually met through Ian. Therefore they often went out together, but since Ian and Shirley tended to have arguments quite often, after a while their partners got sick of meeting and they did not see much of each other at all. Those relationships did not last that long and Shirley and Ian lost touch completely for several years.
They met again at the wedding of a mutual friend and still ended up fighting over something completely irrelevant like the dress of the bridesmaids and much more. After that they did not see each other for another two years. Some of their friends had always considered Ian and Shirley a perfect match and when the next weeding was scheduled somewhere at a French Chateau near Bordeaux, they decided to play a trick on them by booking only one room for the two of them. Another friend of them made sure that the hotel, where all of the wedding guests were staying, would not give them any other room and also made sure the other hotels in the area had no room available for them. One might argue that this was mean, but the two of them had spoiled several parties with their endless hick-hack and arguments.
Shirley was really looking forward to the wedding in France. She thought it was a great idea to have the wedding take place somewhere else than your home country. She was at an age now where most of her friends were getting married, yet she was not even engaged. Her job as journalist did not give her much time for such things as a private life. She had taken a week off for the wedding since she was planning to rent a car and drive around the Bordeaux area after the wedding.
Ian was also glad that the wedding he was going to was scheduled somewhere else. He needed some distance from the usual ceremonies. Ian had never been a fan of marriage and when his now ex-girlfriend had asked him to either marry or leave her, he had left. He lived true to his principles and if she could not accept it, there was nothing he could do. A wedding in France might make a nice difference to all the boring weddings he had been to lately.
At the hotel the wedding guests were arriving one after another. Ian and Shirley did not see each other at the reception desk, but they arrived within a short period of time and were given the keys to their room, which was one and the same. Imagine Shirleyís surprise upon opening the door to her room when she saw that the room was already occupied by Ian.
Shirley asked in disbelief, "What the hell are you doing in my room?"
Ian who was as surprised as Shirley replied, "In your room? Thatís my room. Why do you have the keys to my room?"
"There must be some misunderstanding. Iíll go down and tell them."
"No, Iíll go down. You wonít be able to make our problem clear."
"But you will because you can handle everything, right?"
"Iím sure they will listen to me more closely. I have the necessary authority."
"And howís your French? As you know, mineís quite well."
"They must know English and I know some French, donít worry."
"Believe me Iím more worried about sharing a room with you than your French."
"Yeah, thatís really worrying. Letís go down. But, you know, I was here first, so youíre the one whoís going to move."
"I shall move because you got here five minutes earlier?"
"Exactly, I was here first."
"Thatís not a competition. I got stuck in a traffic jam."
"Iím sure theyíll have another room, letís find out."
In the lobby the clerk told them that they were fully booked and there was no other room available. He offered to phone the other hotels, but told them that chances were low as there were many organized bus tours in the area at the moment.
"So what are we supposed to do? Sleep in the car?"
"Non, Monsieur, sleeping in the car is not allowed on the premises. This is the only room. But if you donít want it, Iím sure there are others who would like to take it. Iíve got plenty of requests."
Shirley and Ian looked at each other and for once there was no fighting. "Weíll take it", they said in unison.
Up at the room Shirley started unpacking her suitcases after a short discussion about who would be sleeping on which side of the bed. Not that it really mattered to either of them, but they just could not communicate properly.
"How long are you planning to stay? A month?"
"No, just for the wedding, but Iíll be driving around for some days after the wedding. Why?"
"I just canít believe you need so many clothes for just a few days."
"Thatís not that much anyway. What about you? Did you bring anything else, but the clothes you are wearing right now?"
"Of course, but I didnít need two suitcases for that."
"Just for your information, the dress Iím wearing at the wedding would have creases, if I had not packed it properly; therefore I needed an extra suitcase."
"I hope you didnít bring too many toiletries, the bathroomís quite small."
"Are you still spending that much time in the bathroom like when you and Martha were an item? She always used to complain about that."
"She told you that? I donít have to put up with all that crap. Iíll take a walk."
"Great, I knew that you would leave the room after some time."
Although he knew that it was a sign of defeat, Ian left the room. How could Shirley be so annoying, but so attractive at the same time? If only she were not that direct sometimes? She knew exactly where to hurt you?
Shirley knew that she should feel great about her little victory, but somehow she felt sorry for Ian. Had she been too hard on him? Maybe, but sometimes she simply did not know when to stop. And he had started it anyway by complaining about her clothes. But deep inside her she felt that a change was happening.
When Ian returned to their room shortly before dinner, Shirley was watching TV.
"Look, Ian, Iím sorry about what I just said. I just canít help it sometimes. I didnít want to hurt you."
"Itís okay, donít worry about it. Iím over Martha. I just canít believe she told youÖ"
"She told me more than that, but donít worry, I wonít hold it against you just now."
"Thatís kind of you. Letís have dinner, shall we?"
During dinner their friends noticed that Shirley and Ian were unusually quiet. There was not a single heated discussion between the two of them. Their friends were curious to know what had happened, but did not want to ask them because that would put their plan at risk. After dinner one of them could not help saying, "I heard youíve head trouble with your room?"
"Yes, we did have some bad luck. Seems thereís only one room for both of us and nothing else is available." Ian said.
"We pulled every trick, but nothing helped." Shirley added. "But we wonít give up. In fact we could destroy our room and see what they would do then."
"Donít you dare. You know itís my room. I was there first."
"Youíre taking it personally again."
"Iím not, but the roomís nice, I donít want to destroy it."
"Iím glad youíre still arguing, I was getting worried, when you were so quiet over dinner", a friend of the intercepted.
Shirley and Ian did not stay much longer in the dining room, but returned to their room. Shirley decided to take a shower before going to bed. When she got out of the bathroom Ian was lying on the bed watching TV.
"Are they showing any good movies?"
"Yes, but my French is not really good enough for them. May I use the bathroom now or are you not finished with you beauty programme yet?"
"No, feel free to use it. I wonít need anything at the moment."
Ian went into the bathroom and Shirley zapped through the channels. There was not really anything she had not already seen and wanted to see in French. So she took out the book she was reading at the moment, "Bleeding Hearts" by Ian Rankin. The book was really great so far and she was busy reading when Ian came out of the bathroom. It had taken him quite long, just like Martha had told her. Shirley did not even bother to look up. She wanted to read to the bottom of the page. Ian lay down beside her.
"Wow, that book youíre reading must be really exciting."
"Just give me a second. I want to finish reading this chapter."
Ian was wearing boxer shorts only and looked really amazing, but, of course, Shirley could not say so.
"Iím really tired, but if you want to, you can go on reading, I donít mind."
"No, Iím tired too and tomorrow is the wedding, so I guess we should get enough sleep today because itíll be getting late tomorrow.
In the morning Shirley woke up when Ian got out of the bed.
"Morning, Iím sorry, if I woke you up."
"Donít be, I donít like sleeping too long anyway. Iíll go down to the pool, care to join me?"
"No, Iím not in the mood for that just now, maybe tomorrow."
Shirley got up and while Ian was in the bathroom she put on her bathing suit and went to the pool. She really loved swimming and at this time of the day there were not any people down at the pool. When she got back to the room, Ian was already dressed for breakfast. She said she would join him after she got dressed. The breakfast was delicious. It was an enormous buffet, where you could choose from such a great variety of food that you hardly ever get to see.
Ian was sitting at a table with some of their friends and Shirley joined them. There were some of the usual discussions between Shirley and Ian, but they seemed to get less intense. Their friends were pleasantly surprised, but nobody dared to ask them about their night spent in the same room.
Afterwards they all had to go back to their rooms in order to get dressed for the wedding. Ian was really thrilled, when Shirley asked him to zip up her dress. She looked amazing and he was convinced that she was far more beautiful than the bride. Shirley had always thought that most men looked great wearing suits and Ian was no exception. His black hair matched the black of the suit and when he touched her to zip up her dress Shirley felt a tingling sensation all over her body.
The wedding ceremony was nice and it was quite different to the usual weddings they always attended back home. Yet, Ian did not like weddings and Shirley kept her critical attitude towards the institution of marriage. But they enjoyed the wedding itself and the party afterwards. The food was delicious apart from the wedding cake which looked far better than it tasted. The celebrations lasted till long after midnight and Shirley and Ian were among the last to leave. Both of them were mildly drunk and tired. Back up at their room Shirley kicked off her shoes which had been anything but comfortable after a while and Ian rushed into the bathroom. Shirley was unable to open her dress so she had to wait for Ian to get out of the bathroom. After what seemed to be an eternity the bathroom door opened.
"Ian, could you open my zipper, please. Iím stuck in the dress."
"Sure, no problem." Ian moved really close and gently opened her zipper. Shirley could feel his breath on her back. What a feeling!
Then she went to the bathroom and when she returned Ian was already asleep. Shirley could not resist and placed a soft kiss on his brow. Was this imagination or did he smile? She fell down on her bed and was asleep in no time at all.
In the morning Shirley was up first, but Ian woke up as soon as she went to the bathroom. Shirley decided to go swimming again. Ian once more declined. When Shirley got back to the room Ian had already gone down to have breakfast. She got dressed and went down in order to have breakfast. There were not many of the wedding guests, since most of them seemed to staying in bed quite long. So Shirley joined Ian who was sitting at a table all by himself.
"I think weíre still among the early birds."
"Yes, I was really surprised that no one else was there, but itís still quite early after all."
They chatted over breakfast discussing the wedding. Then they went back up to their room. Shirley turned to her book again and Ian disappeared in the bathroom.
When he got out Shirley turned to look at Ian and nearly dropped the book. The ever so attractive, but often annoying, Ian was looking at her through a pair of really sexy glasses. The rimless frames held rectangular lenses and the black temples matched his black hair perfectly. He looked like an actor who had just stepped out from the screen. Some of these thoughts must have registered on her face because Ian looked slightly bewildered.
"Sorry about the glasses, but I had to take out my contact lenses. Iíve had them in for a long time yesterday. My eyes need a break." Ian seemed to feel the need to explain.
"Thatís okayÖ erÖ I mean, nice glasses. I didnít know you had them." Shirley managed to say.
"Hardly anyone knows. Guess why I wear contact lenses? I donít like wearing glasses."
"They really look good on you, though."
"I think there must be still a fair amount of alcohol in your blood thatís clouding your judgement."
"You know I always mean what I say."
"Yes, actually you do, which can be pretty annoying."
"At least you can imagine what it is like to have you around all the time. Weíre not so different after all."
"I know. Now that we have been sharing this room I think youíre quite a nice person."
"You are too, and you look really good in glasses."
"Stop nagging me."
"If I wanted to tease you, Iíd say much meaner things. Take it as a compliment, if you can accept something like that from me."
"I think I can, but only if you can accept the fact that I actually fancy you."
"You do? Well, actually I think I fancy you as well."
"I canít believe it; we must be still drunk from yesterday."
"No, I just think we had a really bad start, thatís all."
"Well, letís start it all over again, shall we?"
They leaned closer and kissed and both of them felt happier than they had in years.