The Boss's Virgin

By: Charlotte Lamb


The party was going to go on for hours, but Pippa was tired; it was almost midnight and she normally went to bed before eleven. When she was younger she'd been able to stay up all night at parties, but her body didn't have the late-night habit any more since she'd had to be at work by eight every weekday morning. She had been forced to realise that burning the candle at both ends was crazy.

She kept yawning, which wasn't surprising since the flat was packed with people and oxygen was scarce. She was beginning to feel quite dizzy as she shuffled around, dancing with Tom under flashing strobe lighting.

'Can we go soon? Would you mind?' she whispered in Tom's ear, and he blinked down at her, looking half asleep himself before he smiled that slow, sweet smile of his.

'I don't mind at all. I'm dead on my feet. Let's go and find Leonie and make our excuses.'

They found her in the kitchen making more bites on sticks: bacon-wrapped dates, bits of cheese sandwiched with pineapple, like the other finger food she had been circulating earlier. She hadn't had any help organising her party; she must have been working very hard all day.

'Sorry, Leonie, we have to get moving,' Pippa said apologetically, kissing her. They had worked together for some years now and Pippa was fond of her. 'We have a long drive back. It was a lovely party; we had a great time. Thanks for inviting us.'

Leonie pushed back her long blonde hair then hugged Pippa. 'Thanks for coming. People seem to be enjoying themselves, don't they?'

'They certainly do. Great food and great music. Where did you get that lighting from?'

'Hired it—it didn't give you migraine, did it? I know it triggers migraines in some people.'

'No, it didn't give me migraine.' But she had hated it all the same; the constant, blinding flashes of bright light combined with the loud music had made her head ache.

'Have some cheese,' Leonie offered, and Pippa took a piece, bit it.

'Delicious, thanks,' she said. 'Sorry to have to go. I hope you'll be very happy, Leonie. You've got a great guy there; I'm sure you will be.'

Leonie glowed, eyes happy. 'He is gorgeous, isn't he? And so is Tom!'

He laughed and she kissed him. 'I mean it! You are. I'm really looking forward to your wedding.'

'So are we,' Tom said, holding Pippa tighter. 'We seem to have been planning it for years. I can't believe it's going to happen at last next week. You'll be planning yours now. Believe me, it's a mistake to hurry. There's so much to work out.'

Tom was good at planning, drawing up lists, double-checking every little detail. He had masterminded their wedding; Pippa had simply attended to the details.

'Well, must go,' he said, and she followed him out of the flat into the faint chill of a spring night. She took his arm, snuggling close to him for warmth. The fiat had been so crowded and overheated; the fresh air hit them with a blow that woke them up.

His car was parked down the road. All around them London glowed and buzzed although it was nearly midnight. On a Saturday most young people went out or had parties. The central city streets would be heaving with people drinking and laughing, spilling out of pubs and restaurants to stand in the road, talking, reluctant to go home yet.

Tom hadn't drunk much—he never did; he was a very careful abstemious man—but he had to concentrate to keep his wits about him as they drove through the busy streets which led through the West End and the grey, crowded streets of the much poorer East End into the eastern suburbs. At last, though, they came to the road leading to rural Essex, and within twenty minutes were a short distance from Whitstall, where they both lived.

A small Essex town with a busy market once a week, it had once been a remote village, a cluster of small cottages around a pond, where cattle had stood up to their knees, drinking, a medieval church with a white-painted wooden spire, and a couple of traditional pubs. They drank at The Goat, whose new sign suggested devil worship, although the name actually related to the goats which had once been kept on the common. The King's Head had a very old sign: a mournful Charles the First swung to and fro in the wind above the door.

During this century the village had grown into a town as the railway, and then the advent of the motor car, encouraged people from inner London to move out into the country. With new people had come more houses, circling and doubling the old village centre.

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