Home > You And Me, Always(2)

You And Me, Always(2)
Jill Mansell

And then they were passing the pub, their legs moving in unison as the pedals turned and the tyres made a dry swishing noise on the hot, dusty tarmac. Patsy’s date was still facing forwards, talking loudly for her benefit as he informed her of the importance of keeping up a nice steady rhythm.

Which made Dan, predictably, crack up with silent laughter. As the tandem moved on, Patsy glanced over at them for a moment, shook her head in despair and mouthed the words: Help me.

Oh dear, but it was hard not to laugh. At the junction at the end of the high street, the traffic lights turned red and the tandem dutifully slowed to a halt. They watched as Patsy put her feet down and turned back to give them a look of mortification and misery, whilst her date continued his loud monologue.

‘How does she get herself into these situations?’ Dan marvelled. He gestured to his sister and mimed diving sideways off the bike.

Up ahead, taking her weight on her feet and raising her bottom from the saddle, Patsy let go of the handlebars. The traffic lights changed to amber, then to green. Her companion pressed down on the front pedals and the tandem moved off, leaving Patsy standing in the road behind it. Evidently still entranced by the sound of his own voice, and oblivious to the fact that he’d lost his pedalling partner, the man who’d been her date continued on down the road.

Dan took a quick photo on his phone before the tandem completely disappeared from view. He grinned at Lily and said, ‘Ha, brilliant. That’s this year’s Christmas card sorted.’

Patsy stood in the centre of the road and watched as Derek energetically cycled off without her. She couldn’t quite believe he hadn’t noticed she’d gone.

Why did this kind of situation always seem to happen to her? Derek had sounded so nice in his emails. He’d given her no cause whatsoever to suspect he was a secret cycling fanatic with a deep and detailed knowledge of every single cycleway in the UK and a passion for sharing all this information with her in a maximum-volume never-ending monotone.

If she’d known, the entire relationship could have been nipped in the bud before it even had time to become a bud. Some women might not mind the idea of sailing through life on the back of a tandem, but Patsy definitely wasn’t one of them.

She sighed and brushed away the loose strands of hair that were sticking to her forehead. And now Dan and Lily were beckoning her towards them, no doubt finding her predicament hilarious. What she should have done, of course, was to tap Derek on the shoulder, politely explain that they might as well give up now, then shake hands, say goodbye and wish him better luck next time.

That would have been the normal way, the dignified way to go about it.

Oh God, poor Derek. She really shouldn’t have done that to him.

Then again, poor her.

Chapter 2

‘OK,’ said Dan when Patsy reached them. ‘First things first. Does he know where you live?’

‘No.’ She shook her head. ‘We arranged to meet at the café in the garden centre. He was already waiting for me when I got there, so I didn’t know about the bike thing.’

Dan raised an eyebrow. ‘You mean the turquoise Lycra leggings didn’t give it away?’

Patsy pulled a face at her brother, eight years younger but annoyingly so much more in control of his own life than she was of hers. ‘They were hidden under the table, if you must know. We chatted for ten minutes and he said something about getting some exercise and exploring the area, but I thought we were going for a walk and that was why he’d said I should wear trousers and flat shoes.’ Never happier than when she was in four-inch heels, Patsy indicated the pale pink leather ballet pumps on her feet; and to think she’d gone out and bought them specially for today’s date.

‘But he presumably stood up at some point, which means you saw what he was wearing. And then he took you outside and showed you his tandem. Not a euphemism,’ said Dan. ‘Yet you still went ahead and climbed on to it.’

‘You see, this is the difference between us. You just can’t understand,’ said Patsy. ‘If you don’t want to do something, you don’t do it. But when it happens to me …’

‘You were too embarrassed to say no.’ Lily leapt to her defence.


‘You’re a people-pleaser.’

‘I am!’ Was that so bad? When you were a hairdresser, it kind of went with the territory. If you didn’t please people, you wouldn’t last long in the job.

‘She didn’t want to hurt his feelings,’ Lily told Dan, who was notoriously less concerned with how other people felt.

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