A week or so later, my friend Heather told me about a man named James
that she'd met. He was Irish by decent, but living in England. I was
interested of course but when she talked of his friend, something inside
clicked. It turned out that he was online and talking to her via ICQ. I
casually asked his name and nearly crawled through my computer when she
told me his name was Paul with a user name of Sparhawk! Now I know there
are literally thousands of English men with this name, but somehow I
just knew it was him. I begged for his ICQ number and sent him a message
with crossed fingers. He was absolutely delighted to have found me.
Turns out he had been searching nearly every night.
From that point on he and I were the best of friends. We were, it turned
out, in the exact same situation at home. Both of us married, but
miserably unhappy. His wife ignored him just as my husband did me. They
were too busy being comfortable to give affection and love. Our
relationship did not start as love, but as a loving caring friendship.
We were there for one another, someone to cry to, a shoulder to lean on.
At the time we were both still somewhat attempting to patch our failing
marriages.... but to no avail.
was only after talking to Paul for several weeks that I informed him of
my intended trip to England. My friend Sharon and I had been saving and
planning for nearly nine months! We agreed that it would be wonderful to
meet, with no preconceptions. He would show me London and castles and I
would teach him as much American slang as humanly possible in a two week
But things did not go entirely to plan....
First off, we got too interested in one another. He pulled at my heart
(although I did not want to admit this at first), there was this need to
talk to him. I missed him when he was not online and I looked forward
with great anticipation to our meeting. He in turn had tried with no
luck to avoid and ignore me. But it seems that fate had other things in
store for us.
One night while in the chat room, his friend approached me for a talk.
James had hinted several times that Paul had fallen head over heels in
love with me. (gobsmacked was actually the word he used *L*) He was
worried that I was going to break Paul's heart and leave him to pick up
the pieces. It was then that I finally admitted to myself that I too was
very much in love with Paul. James urged me to tell him as soon as
possible...that night even. I did, and it was to change my world
We talked nearly every day on the phone for the next three months. Just
a few weeks before I was to leave, Sharon was forced to cancel the trip.
You see, she had also met someone online and really did not want to be
away from him for even a day, let alone two long weeks. In her despair
and under great stress (I know this now because her and I have talked
long on the subject) she cancelled the cottage that we were to stay in.
In tears I phoned England to talk to Paul. Being the wonderful man that
he is, he quickly took the matter into his own hands. Within the hour,
he was on the phone to me with news that he had put the entire cost of
the cottage on his credit card...so I had a place to stay! The time
seemed to crawl, but at long last I boarded my plane and headed off to
I arrived at the airport with terror in my heart. It was not Paul that I
was afraid of, it was Heathrow Airport and London! It was up to me alone
to find my way to the bus station and navigate the nearly 100 miles to
Cirencester. Once there I found myself in a quaint little village with
no taxis in sight! It was by luck alone that a kind old lady got off at
the same stop and offered me a ride. When we pulled up in front of the
cottage, I could not believe my eyes....it was absolutely beautiful.
Although small in appearance , I soon learned that it was deceiving.
Inside it was spacious and cozy, perfect for our first meeting. It was
Saturday and Paul would not arrive until Monday evening after work.
I spent most of that day and the next resting and taking a look around
at the lovely countryside. It was so peaceful....I felt as though I
could have stayed there forever.
After what seemed ages, Monday arrived. I spent the entire day primping
myself, I wanted to look my very best! He was to come by train, arriving
nearly 30 miles from the cottage. He would make the remaining journey by
taxi and arrive sometime around eight. Just after seven, the phone rang.
It was his friend James. He was it seemed, more excited at our meeting
than Paul or I! I was in the process of explaining that he had probably
just gotten off the train when I heard a car pull up out front. You see
this cottage was quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Calcott was
nothing more than a road lined with a few cottages, so there was no
traffic at all. I told James that it had to be him and I was NOT going
to greet him at the door with a phone to my ear! I put the phone down
just as the doorbell rang. Upon hearing that sound, my heart jumped.
Even though we had exchanged many photos, both by e-mail and real-mail,
I was terrified of what he would think when I opened the door.
It was the moment of truth!
There before me was this adorable man with the most incredible smile. He
was absolutely beaming! In his outstretched hands were plastic bags full
of groceries. He simply looked at me and said "I've been shopping!" I
was nervous and shy and scared as hell. It was not him directly that I
was afraid of, but his impression of me. I took a few of the bags and he
followed me to the kitchen. It was strange, even though we had never met
before...it seemed as though we had known one another our entire lives.
There really was no awkwardness...yes shy giggles and downcast looks on
my part....but I was not embarrassed.
He very gently took my hands, I was amazed at their warmth and softness.
Paul was a gentleman in every way (and still is I might add), and when
he slowly slid his arms around me...I knew that I was safe and in good
hands. While standing in the kitchen, he placed his coke on the counter,
took my face into his hands and said..."There is something I want to
do." God....my heart stopped still! I knew exactly what that something
was, and I was very nervous. Carefully he lifted my head and placed a
very gentle kiss upon my lips. He then looked into my eyes and
said..."Was that alright, that I kissed you just now?" I have to say
that never in my life did I have a more romantic moment!
In order for him to get away for the few days he was to spend at the
cottage with me, he had told her that he was going to a convention in
London. Unfortunately for us, he worked for her family and she easily
found out there was no such convention and began looking for him. The
phone rang shortly after this wonderful first kiss, it was James. She
had rang there looking for Paul. (it seemed that she had to dominate
every move that he made, right down to the color and kind of underwear
he wore!) She had even rang his mum, so now she was involved as well.
What was next, the police?
Reluctantly, Paul rang her. He told her that he had gone away to have
some time to himself to think. (the marriage had been very bad for a
number of years and he had been in fact sleeping on a sofa bed for
nearly a year.) She told him that if he did not catch the next train
home, she would make sure that he lost his business! He was very angry
and distraught when he at long last hung up the phone. It was with a
heavy heart that he explained it all to me. I kissed him softly and told
him that I understood but that in all honesty did not want him to go....
I'll not go into graphic details of what went on that night because it
is not the nature of this page. But I will say that I know beyond doubt
that I had never made love until that night.
VERY early the next morning, he boarded a taxi with tears in his eyes
and a cloud over his heart to make the 300 mile journey back home. I was
to find out late that night when he rang me that he had spent the day in
a meeting being browbeaten by her brother and other members of the
family for what he had done. They knew nothing of me, they were
referring to his lies about why he went. He was to find out in a few
days time what their punishment would be. In the meantime however, I was
to travel by train early the next morning to Blackpool to spend the rest
of my holiday near him. Now THAT in itself was a journey! Me alone, with
14 days worth of luggage, three train changes....and no idea in the
world where I was going!
Finally I made it in one piece to Blackpool! I phoned James to get in
touch with Paul so that he could come get me and sat down on my trolly
to wait. Just five minutes later I opened my eyes to see a tapping foot
on the floor in front of me and looked up into the smiling face of my
He had booked me a room in a lovely little bed and breakfast that was
owned by one of his customers. (he was an optician and owned his own
shop) He was able to stay with me until quite late that night and we
spent it getting to know one another better. On Thursday we only had a
few hours because his mum was coming for dinner. She came every week to
see him and his son. Friday I saw him for just a very little while
because she was going line dancing *rolls eyes* and refused to leave
their son with anyone other than Paul. (yes she is overprotective)
**I know that this is a bit drawn out, but to fully understand "Us" it's
Saturday was to be our night! I was to meet James...woo hoo! We had a
wonderful time, we sat in his room and had a few drinks and
laughed...god did we laugh! While I was there Paul and James suggested
that I come back the next morning to go shopping with James's sister
Margaret. (that was the day that Paul and Sammy spent together, so I
would not hear from him at all and he did not want me sitting alone in a
hotel room all day)
When we arrived back at the hotel room, just by chance he thought to
check his mobile phone (god I hate those things!). Yep, you guessed it,
she had been ringing and he had shut it off! Against my wishes and his
better judgement, he rang her back only to be told that Sammy was sick
and he was needed at home immediately. Once again I was left alone and
crying in the dark, while he ran off to her....someone who didn't love
or care about him. (and I must add that his son was NOT sick!) In the
morning, James's sister arrived and we were off to Preston for a fun
filled day of shopping! I truly had so much fun, I even got to stay for
tea! He and I were watching Faulty Towers when his sister invited me to
stay the night. (I got to sleep in the same room with her daughters) I
spent the next day laughing and joking with my new friends and even got
to talk to Paul briefly on the phone. He was at an auto auction selling
his car while being babysat by her brother. (he was not to be left alone
for any reason) But I was to expect him at my room around eight that
night. He never made it.....
She met him at the shop at closing time (he had gone back to work after
the auction) to "make sure he got home alright". (when asked where he
had been so late on Wednesday he had said he was walking and really
couldn't remember where he'd been...so they sent him to the doctor and
thought he was losing it) He was escorted home and not allowed out of
her sight. (I'll not tell you what my reaction was to that)
Finally I was at the end of my rope and had had enough! I told James to
phone him, telling him to have his sorry ass next to the phone cause I
was going to ring! Poor guy felt like shit because of what was going on
and I was a real erm...bitch. He told me to get a taxi to James's and
stay there till the next evening when come hell or high water...he would
be with me!
The next night was pure heaven. He arrived on time and took me out on
the town. We had a very nice dinner in a little Chinese restaurant,
followed by a romantic walk on the beach in the moonlight. By far some
of my fondest memories of England come from that single night. We then
walked down the Prom (if you go to my home page about us, there are
pictures of it) and ended up back at my room where he stayed until
nearly three in the morning!
The next day, I went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach with another one of his
friends named Darren. We had a wonderful time...I forced him into going
into this haunted house and he got me on roller coasters! Paul was to
meet us in the pub at the hotel at ten, but once again fate played it's
We waited until nearly eleven thirty and Darren, who refused to leave
until he got there, could see that I was becoming more upset with each
passing moment. He suggested that we go for fish and chips (god I miss
those!). When we returned there still was no sign of Paul so we sat and
drank along with the other hotel guests and the owners until nearly one
in the morning. Finally I couldn't take any more and really wanted to
talk to James. He'd become like a big brother to me and knew Paul inside
and out. I woke him up crying hysterically into the phone while poor
Darren stood in the rain outside the phone box and helplessly watched.
He took the phone from me, promised James that he would look after me
and hung up.
We walked for hours in the rain....I sobbed and cried my heart out to
the blowing wind around me. I just could not believe that on my last
night in Blackpool Paul would abandon me! Around three or so we decided
that it was time to head back to the hotel, we were both soaking wet and
freezing! We had been walking for what seemed ages when we realized that
we were lost! Drunk, freezing and exhausted we stumbled through the
streets of a sleeping Blackpool...laughing our heads off! After about an
hour we finally found it! He was in no condition to drive home, so slept
on the floor of my room....thereby keeping his promise to both Paul and
James to stay with me until he arrived.
The next morning I went to the phone box and rang James. I asked him to
phone Paul...if I didn't talk to him before I left England, and I meant
face to face...I never wanted to talk to him again. He would be deleted
from ICQ and my email...my heart just would not take any more. He said
he didn't love her and he didn't want her, that he wanted me....but his
actions spoke volumes to the contrary.
I was having breakfast in the hotel dining room when he arrived. He
looked so scared and hurt and it appeared that he had not slept much by
the bags under his eyes. James had not contacted him...he came on his
own. He was so afraid that I would not want to talk or see him ever
again. (and he was damn close) We went to my room and I explained that
Darren had kept his promise and was in fact having eggs downstairs! He
breathed a sigh of relief at the thought that I had not been on my own
and sat me down to explain what had happened....He had gone bowling with
her brother (I knew this was going to happen) and that while there, he
had dropped a bowling ball on Paul's hand! I still believe this was done
on purpose to this day! He pulled back his coat to reveal the thick
bandages on his arm and hand that had been put there in the hospital the
night before. It seemed he had been there till nearly three in the
Paul has such an expressive face...there is no way he could look me in
the face and lie, so of course I believed him! (call me stupid if you
like, I got used to it *grin*)
He told me that I had one of two choices...he could come get me at ten
thirty so I could catch the eleven o'clock train to Cheltenham or I
could catch the one o'clock train but on my own. He would not be able to
get away from the shop to take me then (his punishment from her family
was that he lost the shop to them...bastards!)
He came at ten thirty and we left in a big black taxi for the train
station. I fought so hard to hold back the tears as we waited for me to
board. I gave him the little mementos that I had packed especially for
him, not knowing if I would ever see him or them again. I could see the
pain in his face as we loaded the baggage into the train, I stood in the
doorway, neither of us wanting to move. He kissed me one last time and
told me he loved me as the conductor literally shut the door between us.
I went to my seat and looked out the window at him. Still holding strong
until he walked to the side of the train and placed his hand upon the
glass. It was when I in turn put mine to his and could not feel him that
I broke. Tears flowed down my face in rivers...I could see him...I could
hear him...but I could no longer feel him. There were once again
barriers there. (I still cry when I think about it)
His hand remained until the train started to move...there he stood tears
streaming down his face as he fought to hold back the aguish written
there. He blew me a kiss and his hand hovered there in the air for a
moment.....and then he was gone! That was my final and last image of
him....and it haunts me still.
We did not know at the time but his wife knew of my existence and that I
was in England. She did everything she could to keep us apart. It was
not that she cared so much for him, she just did not want me to have
him. His happiness was not important to her...only his money.
You can only imagine the heartbreak that we both suffered when I
returned to the United States. I would have gladly stayed but there were
three little reasons for me to come home waiting for me at the airport.
My husband and I officially separated a few months later (we knew the
marriage was over when I left for England....actually, it was over many
months before I met Paul, I just didn't realize it.)
And then Paul began a very long and difficult journey to be with me.
>> Continued in