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Seema had only managed two hours sleep. Even that had been fitful. Her feet felt well and truly battered and bruised. She had run all the way from Barney’s back to her apartment, a full five miles. At some point, she had taken her high heeled shoes off to run barefoot, save for her stockings, and by the time she had reached home her stockings had shredded, leaving the raw soles of her feet bare.
She got up at 5am, tired and drained, but unable to sleep. She wandered around her apartment, speaking in tongues as she tried to make sense of the situation. In frustration she changed tack, sick of going round in circles as her sleep deprived mind mulled everything over; she wiped the kitchen surfaces, twice; she cleaned the bathroom until the ceramic and enamel shone like new; she rearranged cushions on the sofa, rearranged the logs in the basket next to her fireplace. But, nothing could take her mind off the horrid, energy-sapping feeling of rejection resting heavily on the pit of her stomach.
With a start, she realised she was naked.
“I’m going mad,” she whispered. She attempted a chuckle. Instead, tears rolled down her cheeks. In a confused daze, she walked to her bedroom to retrieve her robe, but before she had even taken it off the hook on the bedroom door, her gaze fell on Simran’s denim shorts lying on the floor. Simran’s panties lay next to them.
Seema sobbed as she remembered their love-making from the evening before last. It had been wonderful, sensual, erotic and daring. The rejection weighed even heavier on Seema. She sat naked on the end of her bed and picked up the denim shorts and panties. She closed her eyes as she recalled casting them away before tasting her lover’s sex. Memories of Simran, writhing and moaning to the touch of her tongue and fingers, filled Seema’s mind. On auto-pilot, Seema brought the panties to her face in the hope that she could imprint Simran’s wonderful, light scent on her mind.
In the back of her mind, two little voices spoke. One silky voice suggested that she enjoy her lover one more time. The other, sensible voice said ‘Seriously? Now?!’ In her disorientated fug, Seema gave in and fell back on the bed, keeping Simran’s panties pressed to her face. Her right hand wandered down to her crotch, and as she inhaled the faint aromas, she gently massaged her softness.
Five minutes later, Seema had worked hard enough to elicit her climax. But it was dry and meaningless, leaving her numb and ungratified. Feeling guilty, she threw the panties away.
She lay on the bed and cried, feeling frustrated, rejected and dirty.
Her morning bath before work had been painful for two reasons; the soles of her feet were still sore, and Simran was not bathing with her in the fragranced water. She didn’t fill the bath to the usual depth, just six or so inches, like flying a flag at half-mast.
She had considered calling Carol to say that she was feeling unwell and wouldn’t be coming in to work. But she knew she would have felt guilty all day, so she didn’t. Besides which, Carol was so lovely and such a good listener, with often very sound and timely advice to give. Seema decided that she would chat with Carol in the hope that she could make sense of things.
Seema took the bus to work, like she had been doing for months.
“Back to normal,” she said to herself as she stepped on to the bus. She took the only empty seat available, behind a young couple who were happily whispering sweet nothings to each other, playfully nudging, giggling and smooching. Seema had to blink her eyes to stop the tears. It felt like she had just come back from the most enjoyable and relaxing holiday ever, where she met and was romanced by a fantastic looking waiter; or waitress, she thought, letting her shoulders sag as vivid images of Simran in waitress garb filled her mind. And now? Now she was back to her drab normality.
She had cried so much the night before that she was now drained, totally. As soon as Carol had popped her head around Seema’s office door, Carol realised something was wrong. Seema knew that she looked dead to the world. She never liked wearing too much make-up and this morning, despite looking like death, she had still only put a little on. Carol told her that she would be back in ten minutes, and they would chat.
Seema had called Simran’s home and mobile numbers countless times. In the end, Seema found herself calling the home number just to hear Simran’s voice. She had also sent text message after text message, pleading Simran to call her and at least explain. She couldn’t understand how Simran had changed her mind so quickly. She thought of Simran’s uncle and immediately felt a level of anger that took her by surprise. He must have said something to Simran, Seema thought. He must have twisted her mind. She blinked suddenly as she realised she had snapped the pencil she had been holding.
One thing was confusing her. Simran’s uncle had mentioned the inheritance, and that his niece was thinking of it in making her decision. rus escort Seema knew that Simran was the least materialistic person she had ever known. Seema frowned.
She dialled the number for Checkley’s. Her pulse quickened. Surely Simran would be at work, she loved her job. But, what if she didn’t want to speak? It was for this reason that Seema was dreading making this call. The ring tone sounded twice.
‘Hello, Checkley’s, how can I help?’ Seema was thankful that this was an altogether friendlier voice.
“Oh, hi,” Seema said, not able to hide the wobble in her voice. Her heart was beating fast. “Would it be possible to speak to Simran, please? She works in the~”
‘Oh, yes, Simran. Well, I’m afraid she’s off work, probably for the rest of the week. Is it anything I can help with?’
Seema frowned in surprise. “Umm, oh. It’s ok, I’m a friend.” She almost felt a bizarre relief at not having to hear Simran tell her that she didn’t love her. “Did she ‘phone in sick, or say what was wrong?”
‘No, it was a gentleman who ‘phoned. I took the call, you see. She’s not feeling well apparently. There are some bugs going ’round at the moment.’
“Oh right. Ok. Thanks for your help. Bye.”
‘No problem. Bye.’
Seema replaced the handset and sat back in her chair. She wondered who had called on Simran’s behalf. With a sharp snort and rising anger she realised it must have been uncle Mo’.
Seema suddenly had a strong pang as she thought of the day they had enjoyed together on Sunday. The park, where Simran had long ago realised she had developed feelings for her, then their love making that evening, which had been totally exquisite. They had truly given themselves to each other.
Seema thumbed her mobile, flicked the text icon and scrolled through to Simran’s last text message. The pit of her stomach lurched as she read it. It was cold, devoid of any of the cheer that Simran’s texts always conveyed. Devoid of kisses, too.
There was a knock at her office door. Seema looked up and smiled.
“Hiya chick,” Carol said as she quietly closed the door behind.
“Sorry I took so long Seema. I’m here now, and you’ve got me for as long as you want.”
“Thanks Carol. You must think I’m pathetic. Happy one day and glum the next.”
“Nonsense, chick. What’s up? Jake?”
“No…” Seema pressed the back of her hand to her mouth, but couldn’t stop the tears. “Sorry.”
“Oh dear, Seema,” Carol said. She pulled a chair to sit next to Seema and took her hand. “What’s up? I have to say, you looked awful when you came in this morning.”
“Two hours sleep,” Seema sobbed.
“Oh Seema,” Carol patted her hand. “Come on, tell Aunty Carol.”
Seema recounted everything in great detail, including the facts she had left out about Jake’s visit, which Carol found particularly disturbing. Carol’s motherly concern acted as a catalyst for the tears, much to Seema’s embarrassment. Attentive as always, Carol kept Seema supplied with fresh tissues.
“Seema, sweetheart, you shouldn’t be at work, not after all that. Have the police contacted you since? That Jake needs to be castrated, and no anaesthetic.”
“I’ve got too much to do~”
“Sweetheart, you need to have time off.”
Carol passed another tissue to Seema. She frowned and looked away thoughtfully, lightly drumming her fingers on Seema’s desk. She turned back to look at Seema with a look of puzzlement.
“I must say, when I brought Simran up here yesterday, we had a chat on the way…. That was a person who was incredibly happy, not one who was in two minds.”
“I know right, she seemed happy to me,” Seema said, drying her eyes. “But her last text to me said it all. Look.”
Seema thumbed her mobile and selected the texts she had exchanged with Simran the day before. She handed it to Carol.
“Sweetheart, I can’t read those. They’re personal.”
“It’s ok,” Seema managed a smile. “I know you won’t laugh. Hopefully.”
Carol took the ‘phone and glanced at the screen. Seema watched as her eyes flicked down the messages.
“Now look at the last one,” Seema said as she reached across to scroll down to the last message Simran had sent.
“Hmm. Very odd.” Carol handed the ‘phone back. “So, you think her uncle had something to do with her change of heart?”
Seema nodded, frowning at the mention of that man. Carol had turned away again, a thoughtful frown on her face.
“What do you think?” Seema asked.
Carol exhaled slowly. “Well, it’s very odd. Simran’s not at work, you say? Until next week?”
“Yeah. That’s definitely strange. She absolutely loves her job.”
“Hmm.” Carol looked away, deep in thought. “This uncle of hers…..”
Seema waited whilst Carol continued to ponder, wiping her eyes and nose and straightening herself out.
“Right,” Carol said suddenly, making Seema jump. “Let me have a think, sweetheart. In the meantime, switch your lappy off, and get yourself yenimahalle escort home. You need some ‘you’ time~”
“I’ve got loads to do though.”
“Get yourself home sweetheart,” Carol said firmly. “You need to somehow get in contact with Simran and sort this all out. As far as I could tell from talking to her, that was one sure and happy girl. You need to speak to her. Get to her flat, see if she’s there. Keep ringing her. She can’t have disappeared off the face of the earth!”
“Are you sure?” Seema’s eyes welled up.
Carol put her arm around Seema’s shoulders. “Of course I am sweetheart. In the meantime, I’ll have a think, ok? Now, get going. And ring if you need a chat.”
Seema took the bus back home, a much quicker journey out of rush hour. She got changed and freshened up. In a way, she was actually dreading going to Simran’s, but Carole’s suggestion did make sense. Seema didn’t want to hear Simran saying that she didn’t love her, that on reflection she thought it best that they forget what had happened and remain ‘just friends’. Seema cursed Simran’s uncle.
“Bloody Uncle Mo’,” Seema whispered between gritted teeth as she stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. “What does he know about love?”
Seema had to admit she looked awful. Her eyes were dark and puffy and despite copious use of shampoo and conditioner, her hair looked terrible. Her shoulders sagged. She decided to put a little more makeup on and chose to wear some dark leggings. Simran had said she liked Seema in leggings. Seema smiled at the irony.
“I’m dressing up for a woman,” she said as she reapplied some eyeliner. With a frustrated exhalation, she realised no amount of makeup would hide the puffiness around her eyes. A night of sobbing and virtually no sleep had certainly taken its toll.
She put a light blue body hugging jacket on and padded through to her bedroom. She shot a guilty glance at Simran’s scrunched up panties, lying on the floor, before pulling the bottom drawer of her wardrobe out and choosing some sports socks to wear with her trainers. Before she shut it, she noticed the photograph. She picked it up and peered at it, a sour taste in her mouth.
Jake, with a smile and happy on their first holiday together. She looked closer. The t-shirt he was wearing in the photograph had a logo and inscription on the left breast. ‘Steen’s Recruitment’. Jake always wore a t-shirt with his work logo on, though the business name seemed to change as often as he changed his t-shirts.
“Bastard,” Seema said. She scrunched the photo up as tears welled and thoughts of Simran flashed through her mind. As she walked through to her lounge she threw the photo into the fireplace. “Good riddance.”
“Right, come on then girl,” she set her shoulders straight. “Let’s go and see what Sim has to say.”
As she picked her flat keys up from the little table near the door, she stopped dead. There was another solitary key on a leather fob lying next to the telephone. It was Simran’s. Seema frowned. She hadn’t realised Simran had left her spare set of keys, though it made sense. Seema wondered how she hadn’t seen them before setting off for work that morning.
“At least that gives me a valid excuse to go and see her, rather than it looking desperate.”
Seema pocketed Simran’s key, locked her apartment door and made the three minute walk to the bus stop she needed.
She was able to take her favoured seat on the bus, the last but one pair of seats on the left, by the window. There were far fewer passengers at this time of day compared to 8am. Seema settled in to her seat and watched the city pass by as the bus trundled along its route. She realised that she had never travelled this route before; Simran had always picked Seema up for the gym or if they were going out for a drink.
Seema’s stomach knotted. She felt so confused. She needed to know why Simran had a sudden change of heart, but she didn’t really want to hear it. She was convinced Simran’s uncle Mo’ had something to do with it, and as far as Seema was concerned, that was a thread of hope. Just. Maybe she could convince Simran to reconsider with a soft kiss.
Then again, thought Seema, maybe uncle Mo’ only had to utter a few words in the end. Maybe Simran did in fact have serious doubts. It would certainly explain why her phone was off all the time. Maybe Simran was avoiding Seema’s calls. Seema shook her head; no, that would be so unlike Simran.
Seema pulled her phone from her handbag. She tried Simran’s mobile number and sighed morosely when the unobtainable tone beeped in her ear. Her stomach knotted again as she caught sight of the glass fronted flats approaching. She pressed the bell and started walking down the aisle as the bus came to a halt outside Diedrick Place.
“Now or never,” Seema muttered as she stepped down on to the pavement.
She nervously fingered the key and leather fob in her pocket as she walked towards the oldest of the four blocks. Last time, she had some luck as she nipped passed the automatic doors after another resident had keyed in the code to open the doors. Now it was quiet with no one around. She stood a few metres away from plate glass doors, anxiously shuffling her feet. She had completely forgotten about the coded doors, and now she didn’t know what to do.
“Just ring the bell, idiot,” she said to herself. She strode forward and pressed the buzzer for Simran’s apartment. She bunched her hands into fists, trying to stop the trembling, and took a deep breath. After the third press of the buzzer, Seema gave up.
“Dammit Sim, where are you?” she whispered. She resigned herself to failure and started to back away.
“Can I ‘elp you at all?”
Seema whirled around to see a short, friendly looking man in a blue security guard uniform walking towards her at a leisurely pace. His black boots were polished to a shine and his shirt and trousers had been meticulously ironed, with all the perfectly straight creases in exactly the right places. His straight back and proud shoulders hinted at a military background, though his moderate girth suggested quite a few years’ worth of home comforts and good cooking.
“Oh, umm, well I need to drop this key off for a friend, but she didn’t tell me that the doors were coded.” Seema pulled the key and fob from her pocket.
“Ok love. Which flat is it? I can drop it off for you~”
Just then, his radio blared something unintelligible. He deftly pulled his radio from his belt. As he answered in what must have been some sort of strange security guard language, he took the key from Seema and turned it around in his hand, studying it like a jeweller would a diamond.
“Right love,” he said replacing the walkie talkie in its holster. “I’ve got a problem to attend to. I’ll let you in and you take it. You don’t look like the kind of person that would ransack the place.” He grinned and winked.
Seema nodded in relief with an involuntary demure laugh. She took the key and followed the guard back to the plate glass doors, struggling to keep up with the surprising pace; he only had short legs. He keyed the code in making sure that Seema couldn’t see, and stepped aside graciously.
“There y’ go Miss.”
“Thank you,” Seema answered. She didn’t know whether to give him a tip or not, but before she could say anything, he was striding off purposefully with his walkie talky blaring from his belt.
Seema walked slowly up the stairs, her light footsteps echoing around the whitewashed concrete. She hadn’t rehearsed anything to say, she realised, but what she did have to say was simple; I love you, Sim, it’s as simple as that. And I thought you loved me too. Seema paused behind the double doors opening on to Simran’s corridor. She laughed at herself.
“Why are you so nervous, girl?” she whispered as she stared at the floor. “She’s not even in. What do you actually expect to achieve here?”
What bothered Seema was the nagging feeling that Simran may have holed herself up in her flat, ignoring her buzzer. Seema steeled herself and pushed through the doors to walk briskly to Simran’s door. She stood still, took a deep breath and knocked. Like the evening before, Seema’s knock was met with silence.
“Sim? Are you there?” her voiced wobbled. She swallowed hard and knocked again. “Sim? Please Sim, I need to know what’s going on. Sim?”
She leant down and peeked through the keyhole. Simran’s front room was dark. Seema figured that the curtains had been drawn, so someone had obviously been there after Seema’s visit the evening before.
“Sim? Sim, please let me in, please. Don’t just shut me out, that’s not fair.” Seema’s breath caught in her throat. She imagined Simran lying on the bed willing her to just go away. “Sim?”
Seema took Simran’s key from her pocket. She gazed at it and then at the keyhole. She so desperately wanted an answer, or some sort of explanation from Simran. Her desperation got the better of her, and slowly she inserted the key into the lock, and turned it.
Seema pushed the door gently, its hinges squeaking in the silence. To her left, through the gap as the door opened, Seema could see the kitchen, its brightly coloured tiles giving it a high contrast effect in the gloom. She stopped to listen.
“Sim?” she called. There was silence. She glanced warily over her shoulder before pushing the door open far enough to pop her head in. One half of the apartment was dimly lit by the light through the thin yellow curtains. The apartment was as she remembered. At least she hasn’t started moving out, thought Seema.
“Sim?” Seema crept in and shut the door quietly behind her. She dithered before deciding to lock it. The soft fragrances of Simran’s favourite oils from the earthenware burners hung in the air, not fresh but from fairly recently, Seema guessed. “Sim?”
Feeling like an intruder, Seema crept over to the door of Simran’s bedroom. It was open and she could see the bed was empty. Seema stepped in and peered around the cosy little room. The bed was made, though the linen hadn’t been changed since their visit before going to the park. Seema felt a pang at the memory of that lovely day. Tears stung her eyes as she sat on Simran’s single bed.
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