It’s Not Just For Couples

“We can discuss this when I return, it’s only for the weekend,” I say in a desperate hushed tone into the mobile phone. I don’t know why I bother leaving a 3 page written ‘what to do’ sheet if he’s not even going to consult it.

“I need to go, I’m pulling up.” Abruptly hanging up on his whining while getting out of the Uber.

They are his kids too I think to myself, trying to lessen the guilt. The eldest is 4 for Christ sake, he should know what to do.

I stand before an elaborately façaded hotel, a fountain tinkling behind me, expensive cars dropping off other guests as my Uber speeds off.

A wellness retreat, my husbands birthday present to me. To think he should be here standing beside me rather than babysitting the kids. How inconsiderate of my parents to have contracted plague like symptoms merely hours before our planned holiday.

I sigh, grab the handle of my suitcase and find my way through into the lobby. A table adjacent to the grand spinning door hosts two overly happy girls who wouldn’t look out of place in a shampoo advert, handing out name tags and checking ID’s.

To my dismay, I find the line of people filtering past the table predominantly consists of happy attractive couples, fit, lean and ready for hardcore relaxation. Not a stretch marked housewife in sight.

I chew my lower lip, a terrible habit. Taking to the line I work my way to the desk and find my name badge, point, and show my license. I really can’t be bothered with small talk as much as they try to engage me, I’m here to relax, not discuss the weather.

We find ourselves herded into a large conference room, laced with wait staff proffering all manner of Hors d’oeuvres to the model like guests. Surrounded by what I could only conceive as yoga buffs, influencers and marathon runners I feel out of place. Fat. Ugly.

Hunting a wine from a nearby staff member I work my way to the edge of the hall.

It appears my well meaning husband has chosen an ill suited retreat.

It was there, in my death spiral of shame, that I see a man passing through the crowd. At a complete contrast to my brunette gamer, dad bod husband; this muscle clad Adonis hosts blonde clean cut hair, a well trimmed beard and an angular rather than rounded face. That’s not to say my husband’s not appealing to me. He is a fine man indeed. But muscles: promised safety and hinted stamina, one cannot but daydream about such arms wrapping around and gripping tight.

To my shock he catches my eye and grins. I feel blood rush to my cheeks, as though a schoolgirl once again. He turns, and heads towards me. Shit.

I try to look dainty, as though embodying my surrounds. Models, a fancy hotel, rich cars, expensive wine: I grin and a playful look which I’m sure I could never repeat comes to my eyes.

“Hi,” he says, matching my debonair smile, “I hope I’m not being too forward but I noticed you are alone as well?”

My mind freezes, but thankfully my body seems to want to act out the persona I’v recently adopted.

“Indeed I am alone”, I feel a pang of guilt but continue nonetheless, “and ready for relaxation.”

“Yes, although it appears this course is tailored for couples.” He reaches up, biceps bulging, and scratches the nape of his neck, “ I don’t suppose we could come to a retreat agreement?”

I pinch my chin as if thinking it over, “I don’t know…” I stretch the final syllable.

“I guess you have not looked at the itinerary. Unless, you are looking forward to tangoing solo?” He holds out an A4 sheet with the courses included throughout the weekend. He points out Tango - 10:00 - 12:00.

I snort laugh and his grin widens while I cover my mouth with embarrassment. Several couples around us side glance me, but he doesn’t seem to care.

“Cute.” He says, and my red cheeks deepen in colour.

“I suppose we could come to an agreement.” I say with what I think to be much more confidence then I’m feeling. “I am Carrie,” I say, holding out my hand to shake.

“Well, I’m torn,”he feigns confliction, “either as a gentelman I must point out that your name tag is wrong”, he places the back of his hand to his forhead, “or I should say nothing and introduce myself as Mr Big”.

Another snort laugh echoes across the hall.

I try to find my composure, embarrassment helping me with that uphill climb.

“I feel, Mr Big, that I will need to watch my tongue around you.”

He adopts an innocent expression, eyebrows tilted down and his eyes pleading.

“Please don’t, nothing would be worse then your guarded tongue.” His eyes smoulder as he meets my gaze.

Thankfully, a tapping of the microphone on the stage interrupt us, and a general welcome cuts through the tension. We turn together to face the stage, and he sidles a little closer to me. My heart skips a beat as his arm grazes mine.

It appears my persona might have some fun this weekend. A tinge of guilt rests in the pit of my stomach as I side glance at the man beside me. His name badge reads Stephen, but for this weekend he may very well be Carries Mr Big.

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