Nick sat admiring the early morning sunshine slanting across the meadows behind his thatched cottage. He had moved to rural Shropshire the year before, shaking off the dust and grime of London after the break-up of a long-term relationship. Financially, he was now just holding his head above water as a computer consultant and part-time lecturer. When bemused friends queried his strange retreat from urban civilisation he'd reply: "It's just like living in 1987!".
As he sipped the last dregs of his breakfast coffee, the mobile phone on the table rang.
"Nick? It's Tina. How are you getting on up there in the sticks?"
"Hi Tina! Just fine. I love it."
"I'll cut straight to the chase 'cause I've gotta get into the office. Would you do me a great favour, darling?"
"My boss has been invited to speak at a big business conference in Geneva at the end of next week. And he wants me to go with him! All expenses paid, 5-star hotel, the lot. I really don't want to miss the chance as I've never been to Switzerland."
"The land of cuckoo clocks and cow bells."
"Rural life hasn't erased your cynicism then?"
"S'pose not. But where do I come in?"
"Well sweetie.....I'm worried about leaving this apartment empty for four days. We've had a spate of break-ins lately and the local police have been warning residents about not emptying their mail boxes in the lobby. Apparently that's how local kids know a place is unoccupied. So I was wondering: how would you like to spend a few days in London and 'apartment sit' for me?"
He hesitated for a moment. "Yeah, ok. I suppose so. Give me the dates and I'll see if I can fit my work schedule around them."
As he pencilled the dates into his Filofax, Nick pondered on just how much time Tina would be spending in the Geneva conference hall, and how much time she'd be in bed with her boss.
"How will you get the keys of your apartment to me?"
"There's a little trattoria next door - you've got my address haven't you? It's called Luigi's. Ask for Luigi and show him some id and he'll let you have the key - it opens the main door into the lobby and to my apartment. I'll leave the fridge well stocked, so you won't need to shop for groceries. I'll be back late on Sunday evening. Shall I bring you a cow bell?"
"Geneva gin would be prefereable."
"You're an angel! Must fly, sweetie: I'm already running late. Thanks a million."
A week later, after some complicated juggling of work commitments, Nick was on an express train travelling south to London, arriving mid-afternoon at Euston Station. The sidewalks seemed cleaner and even the office workers heading home looked less world-weary. He rode across the metropolis on the subway and had no trouble in locating Tina's impressive apartment block in one of the cobbled backstreets behind Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. After collecting the key from Luigi he rode up in the elevator to the sixth floor.
Tina's apartment was small, with only one bedroom and a kitchen zone set in the corner of an open-planned living space. But the most impressive feature was the sheer glass wall which ran the full width of the interior, giving a floor-to-celing panorama of rooftop London. He dropped his overnight case and approached the view. It faced south and the afternoon sunshine was still flooding in. He noticed thast the rear facade of the whole building was a huge inward-facing curve, so that it was possible to see into the windows of neighbouring apartments.
Tina had left a 'thank-you' note propped against a bottle of champagne on the kitchen worktop. Nick decided he'd open it there and then, stepping back to the picture window with his drink to study the intricate street pattern below him: the tiny Lowry-like scurring figures, the lines of cars stuck nose-to-tail in the evening rush hour traffic jams and, in the distance like a child's railway set, the Docklands Light Railway running above the rooftops into the Canary Wharf business quarter.
After a snack supper from Tina's fridge and a couple of hours viewing highlights from the day's top English cricket games, he turned in for an early night.
He woke at dawn and it took him several minutes to realise that he wasn't in his country cottage. Daylight was streaming in through the giant window. Rumaging through his ex-fiancee's wardrobe, he found a long white towelling bath robe and slipped it on. Then after fixing himself a strong coffee he ambled across to the window. The view was very different this morning, now swathed in an amber glow. But still the frenetic energy of a 24-hour city.
As he took a sip from his coffee mug he was distracted by a movement away to his left. Standing in the window of an adjoining apartment one floor level below him was a naked man. A very handsome and well-built naked man. Broad shoulders, trim physique, dark hair style and a beautiful bronzed body, without 'bikini marks' across his taught tummy. Legs akimbo, he looked straight ahead, gently stroking a large semi-erect cock. Nick stared incredulously, admiring the guy's bravado. He pulled his bath robe open and reached for his own cock, which was already becoming enlarged. He began stroking it, as if to keep company with the stranger.
The bronzed figure then slowly turned his head, almost as if sensing that Nick was not only watching but wanking and made slow penetrating eye contact. He gave a half-smile of acknowledgement. Nick flushed. How to respond? Throwing caution to the wind, he half smiled back at the stranger, then shrugged his shoulders so that his robe fell to the floor. He slowly stroked himself in unison with the stranger. Ignoring any rational concerns about which other residents in the block might be looking on, he smiled at the man and as they both continued to masturbate.
Suddenly, tantalisingly, the stranger was gone.
Nick dejectedly returned to the interior of the apartment and fixed his breakfast, all the time turning over in his mind the strange experience. Having showered, shaved and dressed, he prepared to set forth on a sightseeing tour of the neighbourhood. The famous Tate Modern art gallery was within walking distance down a Thames towpath, then later he planned to cross the river to visit St Paul's Cathedral.
He slung a small backpack over his shoulder, picked up the apartment key and headed down the passageway towards the front door. Lying on the doormat was a slip of paper torn from a pocketbook which had clearly been slipped under the front door. He returned to the apartment to read it.
It read simply: "Why not give me a call?" Then there was a mobile phone number and a one-letter signature 'D'. Eagerly he snatched up his phone and tapped in the number. A recorded voicemal invited him to leave a message. Angrily, he disconnected and went out.
Nick returned to the apartment at 4 that afternoon after an exhausting day's sightseeing, though all the experiences had been rather tempered by the all-to-brief 'meeting' with the naked stranger in the window. Settling down on Tina's sofa he took his mobile phone out and pressed the re-dial key. This time there was a connection. After a brief pause the line was answered by a softly-spoken male voice.
"Oh hi! Err... my name's Nick. I'm staying in an apartment in Docklands and....err....I got a message to call this number."
"Hi Nick! You must be the guy who's staying in Tina's place. She told me she was going to be away for a few days - Geneva isn't it?"
"That's right. And were you....err...the guy on the level below....err....standing in the window this morning?"
"Naked and stroking? Yup, 'fraid so. That's usually how I wake myself up in the morning! Hope it didn't shock you?"
Now gaining some confidence, Nick replied unabashed: "Not at all. The view from where I was standing was rather nice!"
The voice chuckled. "Same here. Look, I'm at work at the moment, but I finish at 5. I was wondering, if you're free, why don't we meet up for a bite to eat this evening?"
"Great idea. Where do you suggest?"
"There's a cosy trat next door to the apartment block - Luigi's. D'you know it?"
"Yes, Tina left her key there for me yesterday."
"Ok. So shall we meet up there at 8?"
"Fine. Err....by the way, what's you name?"
"Just call me Dai. Byeee." Than the call ended, leaving Nick a little flustered, though sexually quite pumped up. He had three hours to kill and set about choosing the best outfit to wear for his 'date' with Dai.
In a drawer in Tina's dressing table he located a freshly-laundered man's white shirt (probably the boss's for when he stopped over, he thought). He stuck his slacks in the trouser press then went and shaved and showered, adding liberal amounts of after-shave to his face and body. Finally - to 'fortify' himself - he had two quick glasses of champagne.
It was now almost 8 o'clock. He rode down in the elevator, his heart pumping fast. Out of the entrance door - briefly feeling the cold stab of the cool night air - then ducking into the warmth of Luigi's restaurant. The jovial 'patron' stood behind the counter and held out a hand to greet him.
"We have some fine dishes for you tonight," said the enthusiastic Luigi, waving at the blackboard behind him. "Our Risotto Milanese
is superb, or if you prefer carne
, then I would recommend the Scaloppini limone
"Sounds great," replied Nick, nervously scanning the tables to try to spot the handsome bronzed stranger. Sensing his customer's unease, Luigi whispered: "And your guest has already arrived, Mr Nick." He nodded with a sly smile towards a candle-lit table in the corner of the restaurant. Nick turned to follow the direction of his gaze.
Seated demurely at the table was the most stunningly beautiful woman. She was wearing a delicate pink bubble skirt with a tight-fitting ruched bodice and shoulder straps. There was a three-string pearl choker around her long slender neck, with matching drop pendant earings. Her makeup was equally impressive and co-ordinated: pale skin blusher, pink gloss lipstick and jade green eye shadow. Her dark doe-like eyes had long curled eyelashes and her seductive blonde swept-across hairstyle was secured by a small diamente-studded clasp. And peeping from beneath the table was a shapely stockinged ankle and a flame-red patent leather high heel shoe with diamente buckle.
The young woman smiled shyly as Nick crossed towards the table. Remaining seated, she proferred an elegantly-manicured right hand and purred softly: "Hi Nick - I'm Di." To be concluded
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