Tales of London #12
The alarm went off. Jenna sat up so suddenly that her hair was bouncing in front of her face. The blanket fell on her lap. The room didn't look familiar at all in the darkness and she never ever set an alarm for herself. For moments, she was disoriented, confused.
'You okay?' asked a sleepy voice beside her. Something clicked and weak yellow light filled the little room, leaving the corners dark. Jenna's memories from last night started to come back, explaining some of her questions. For example, the one about her sore lover belly.
'Yeah, sure,' she said, looking at the girl next to her. 'What's the time?'
'Six. Sorry, I have early shift.' the girl answered. Her English wasn't actually broken, but a little crooked, and she had an accent from one of those Eastern-European countries. She sat up, too, honey-blond hair fell over her naked breasts.
'It's okay,' Jenna said and laid back on the pillow. She was naked, too. 'I just need five more minutes. Hours, tops, really.'
The girl giggled, leaned down and kissed Jenna. Her cool palm found Jenna's breast and gave it a gentle grasp. Jenna felt those sore muscles shiver a bit, and her hand grabbed the other girl's waist, but before things could get more interesting, Blondie backed away and got out of bed.
'Will you shower with me?' she asked Jenna from the door.
Jenna looked up and shook her head, despite how sexy the girl was, standing in the light, tall and slim like a model, with beautiful, long legs and all that flower-scented soft hair. Jenna tried to remember Blondie's real name, but couldn't.
'Your loss,' the girl said, smiling. Moments later, water started to flow somewhere in the flat. Magda! That was her name! Beautiful blond Polish girl, shy while talking but a goddess in bed… Jenna remembered how she asked her if she, Jenna, would walk her home from the pub, because it was very late and dark and she just lived a short bus journey away…
Jenna sat up again. All of a sudden she wanted to leave. She never stayed around after she got what she needed, but the last evening was different. She was tired and a little angry after Montgomery blew her off, so she went to a random bar, got drunk and picked up someone pretty enough to help her not to think.
Jenna climbed out of the bed and looked around. She found her knickers on the floor, next to the bed, and put them on. There was half a pair of socks, too, but she couldn't see the other half. Her clothes told the story of the evening. Jeans lay wrinkled, then a little bit further her shoes, then her bra… At the door, thrown over a chair she found her leather jacket. Under the chair was her black tank top from yesterday. She got dressed quickly and quietly; she had a lot of experience in the field.
She sneaked out of the room, boots in her hand. If Magda had any roommates, they weren’t around, thankfully. The sounds of the shower were still going strong. The front door was closed, but it wasn't an issue for Jenna, once she found her silver bracelets in the pocket of her jacket.
She was out, in the half-lit corridors. She put on her ankle boots and started to walk, looking for an elevator or staircase, but got lost and had to turn back. For the second go, she found a green door, and behind it, a stairwell. She went down, the heel of her boots making echoing noises dancing between the ugly, greenish walls. She got out her phone. It was dying, and she burned the last volts of energy to look for Magda's number. There wasn't one, but she found a "Mahda", which was pretty darn good considering how much she drank yesterday.
She stopped to type a text. "im sorry, had to run, job stuff. had a nice time. Xx J" Jenna knew that she didn't make it up for her disappearance with a simple text, but that was all she could do about the situation. Or all she was willing to. She put away the phone and went out to the dark street.
It was raining with tiny, ice-cold drops. Jenna closed her jacket and ducked down a little. The street wasn't familiar, but she saw a bus stop a little down the road, which was a good start. The city was slowly waking up around her: cars and buses went along on the road with whirring wheels on the wet concrete. Some early folks walked in the rain with grumpy, sleepy faces, holding their travel mugs full of hot coffee.
Jenna looked at the red bench at the bus stop. Red buses and useless benches at the bus stops: at least she was still in London. Could be worse. As Jenna sat down, her phone beeped. She got it out again. There was an answer from “Mahda”. "Me, too. Call me later? x"
Jenna smiled and played with the idea for a little while. What could have gone wrong, right? For women like her, with a famous politician dad, a dangerous job and slight alcohol problems, secret homosexual relationships always worked out just well. Or any relationship, for that matter. No, Magda really did not want her to call, only she didn't know that yet.
Jenna remembered the day when she told her father that she was bisexual. It was about a year ago or so. Don Carvelli stared at her for a couple of seconds, then shrugged and said: 'Don't tell anyone yet. We can use it in the campaign, at some point.' And that was it. She said some pretty harsh things to his father that day, and then nothing else for weeks, but she knew that it could have been so much worse. Well, probably. She wasn't sure which one was worse, the complete apathy her father gave her, or the anger and rejection some other people have gotten from their families.
Jenna sighed and typed a short text to Magda saying that she will surely call her, even though she had no intention to keep that promise. Jenna found that sometimes it's just easier to tell a little white lie. Besides, she might call her after all. She certainly didn't want a complicated or serious thing right now, but maybe neither did the other girl. It was worth a shot to find it out.
A red double-decker silently stopped in front of her. Jenna got on, although she had no idea where the bus was going. Anything was better than sitting in the cold on a bench that wasn't made for sitting.
She went up and sat down right at the rain-streaked windshield. She was alone on the upper deck except for a homeless-looking guy who was sleeping at the back.
London showed its most unfriendly face this morning, and given that the city was old and grumpy even on a good day, that really meant something. Jenna felt that the alcohol from yesterday was slowly taking its toll in the form of a starting headache. Usually, she knew when to stop to avoid being hungover the next day, but last night she let herself go. She was nervous, even annoyed because she kept thinking about that smug asshole Robert Montgomery, but then she finally realised, after one too many drinks, that it wasn't about Montgomery at all. She was simply lonely, so she picked up the prettiest someone around as she always did when she wanted to feel normal. End of story.
The bus stopped and a couple of people boarded. One of them had a takeaway coffee in her hand, a paper cup what was big enough to be called a bucket. There came the craving for a hot, black coffee. She saw a Costa Coffee behind the bus stop, but the double-decker was already moving and she wasn't that desperate anyway. There were still places brewing good coffee in this city, but none of them offered club memberships or frappuccinos, whatever that was.
Jenna felt her phone vibrating. She grabbed it, but there was only a demanding notification for recharge. The girl pushed her index finger to the Rune of Power on her bracelet, and the cold silver started to get slightly warmer under her skin. At the same time, the air around Jenna went a little colder. She put her finger on her phone, and the little accumulator icon on the cracked screen showed her that the thing was charging. It was around 20 per cent when Jenna fell asleep, curled up on the seat.
She didn't know how long she was sleeping. When the phone, vibrating again in her hand woke her up, she remembered some shreds of a dream. It was a beautiful view of London from somewhere above, some music, someone with her at a balcony or something like that… But then it all went away. She sat up so suddenly her spine rustled. The pleasant soreness in her lower belly came back for a second just to remind her about last night. She was still on the bus, and it was still raining outside, but the lights had changed. Instead of the pale, greyish, depressing dusk now there was a little less pale, greyish and depressing daylight. Not necessarily an improvement.
Jenna looked down at her phone, and smiled, without knowing it, when she saw Robert's name on the screen. "I have some news. Can we meet tonight at the Shield? 8, maybe?" The girl yawned and checked the time. She couldn't have slept much more than fifteen or twenty minutes, and the neighbourhood they just stopped was kinda familiar. She sprang up and ran down the stairs, just in time to get out before the doors closed. She was standing on a street with low buildings around, mostly shop fronts. As she looked a little further, she could see Camden Town Station and a crossroad next to it. Her office was only a couple of minutes away, although it was way too early to go there.
She stayed under the roof of the bus stop while she was typing an answer. "ok see u there". She didn't expect any reply for that, but it arrived just 30 seconds later. "How was your weekend?" That was a bit surprising. Sure, they had a nice dinner together a few days ago, but since then they only texted once, about official business, and that was all.
Jenna shook her head. Montgomery was an odd fellow, and he just probably tried to be polite. So she wrote "not bad, hbu?" and put her phone away. There was a small breakfast place where she sometimes stopped for a bite. The food wasn't that good, but they had decent coffee, and she really needed one of those. So in she went, ordered a couple of avocado toast on the ground that it was hard to screw up, and of course a huge mug of black coffee.
The place had dirty white walls and a grey plastic floor. It was small, always dark and smelled like roasting onion and old chips. Jenna ignored the food safety remark on the door for her peace of mind.
She just sat down on the uncomfortable plastic chair, when she got another text from Robert. "Living hell. Apparently, you are never too old for a good old fashioned fatherly strafe." "poor u. family dinner?", answered Jenna grinning. Her toast arrived, with the coffee. She took a sip and felt that her very soul was returning to her body. Her headache went away in seconds.
The phone beeped again. "Yes, probably the worst one ever. You may be glad to hear, however, that I no longer possess the right to call myself a Montgomery." Jenna frowned as she typed: "why would i be happy about that?" She ate a bite of the avocado toast and had to admit, she stood corrected: they managed to ruin it with too much salt. "You said something about you would never date a Montgomery…" Jenna laughed so hard that she almost choked on her toast. "r u asking me out, montgomery? i will say no"
"You already said yes. See you at 8."
Jenna smiled and shook her head again while she wrote that she will be there. She wasn't sure if Montgomery… Fine, Robert, was serious or not about the dating part, but she knew that there were other matters to discuss.
Jenna took her time with her breakfast, partly because it wasn't good, but mostly because she needed to kill a lot of time until her office opened. People came in, placed orders and left, while she was sitting and scrolling on her phone with a bored face. Then she got out a pair of earphones from one of her pockets, hooked them up with her phone, closed her eyes and spent the next hour or so by listening to old rock music. She got up sometime before nine, bought another cup of coffee for take away and left.
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