There are some people you meet in this life you will never forget: for good or bad reasons they remain with you forever. One of my forever guys is French Frank. My Almost Mr Right.
I close my eyes and remember the night I met him; it feels as if no time has passed at all. It’s a Thursday night – party night in the city. I’d gone out for a few drinks with some colleagues after work, it was my round and I’d jostled to the front of the crowded bar and slid into a teeny space, trying to get the server’s attention, when someone squeezed in next to me. I smelled him before I saw him: he had a clean fresh scent with musky undertones that made me inhale deeply. I turned to my left and that’s when I looked into his striking navy-blue eyes for the first time – the sort of eyes that could entice a woman do things she might regret in the morning. He was handsome, with high cheek bones and a sexy little smile he repressed as he pursed his lips together before he spoke. He leaned in close, those eyes still on me.
“Hello, I’m Frank, what is your name?” he asked, in a husky, deep voice with a sexy French accent. Fireworks went off inside me. I managed to speak my own name as he offered his hand. I remember thinking Oh my god even his hands are fucking sexy!
He insisted on buying my round, and I delivered the drinks to my work pals and swiftly excused myself. We sat in a cosy corner and we talked for hours. It was completely effortless – as if I’d always known him. When he stroked my face and leaned in to kiss me softly on the lips I immediately needed more. I wrapped my hands around his neck and pulled him closer, enjoying the weight and warmth of him against me as his mouth covered mine in the most delicious, deeply erotic kiss I’d ever known. The attraction was so intense and exhilarating I felt as if I was flying! So, when he whispered into my ear “I want to make love with you,” I didn’t need any persuading; I said a quick ‘bye’ to my colleagues and left the bar literally wrapped around him. I’d been single for three years, so I couldn’t get out of that bar and into a taxi fast enough. I nearly fell down the stairs I was so fucking excited!
We Made the Best Sex Ever
We nearly ate each other alive in the cab on our way to his place, and once inside his penthouse apartment overlooking the Thames, we drank champagne on his roof terrace and then lay down on a quilt and shagged wildly until dawn. I’m surprised the police weren’t called by neighbours reporting a murder.
For the next few weeks only work, personal ablutions and the need for food could tear us apart. It was like a dream come true. I was 29, the age I felt was perfect to marry and have children, build a home and be secure. I was truly, madly, deeply in love with him and the extraordinary thing was, he seemed to feel the same way! Within three months I was fantasising about our wedding and it didn’t feel bat shit crazy at all.
He Was A Gentleman
We were together at least three nights of the week. Work never seemed to finish fast enough and we’d meet in London’s best restaurants and gaze hungrily at each other across the table whilst our feet, legs and hands fiddled with each other underneath. And it wasn’t just our incredible sexual chemistry that made me adore him. He had proper old-fashioned manners, he was a gentleman. He held doors open for me, he pulled my chair out and always walked on the outside of the pavement. Once, when it started raining and we were only yards from the front door, he stopped a guy in the street and paid him 20 quid for his brolly so I wouldn’t get wet.
He Was Romantic
He sent little texts throughout the day to say he was thinking about me and couldn’t wait to see me again. He surprised me with gifts and often sent flowers. When a dozen white roses arrived at work from Interflora and I mentioned they had sadly been half dead upon arrival – a huge bouquet of two dozen baby roses arrived from Harrods less than an hour later.
He told me he loved me over a candlelit dinner at Pont de La Tour. He said I was the one, and even when he was 50, it would still be me. That night in bed he stroked my belly softly and told me he wanted to make a baby with me. I was so happy I was afraid to speak in case I said something to break the spell I was sure he must be under. It felt like I was living in lovely fairy tale.
No Warning Signs
Usually when a relationship ends most folk can look back and see the warning signs. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it can often bring comfort once the pennies start to drop. I think that’s why French Frank has stayed with me all these years: there were no warning signs. Everything appeared to be and felt perfect. I had no reason to doubt him. There was never a broken date or a stupid lie I caught him out on, no uneasy feelings and not even the faintest ringing of an alarm bell. That’s why what happened next was so shocking.
I was on my way to the Christmas works bash; the big American firm I’d recently started working for had put on an extravagant affair with huge marquees in the grounds of London Zoo and I was very excited, and having just joined a few weeks earlier it was so nice to be included. It was one of those days where everything just felt right. I felt fabulous, all dressed up going somewhere lovely, I had a great job and a gorgeous boyfriend. He’d recently talked about taking me to Paris to meet his family in the New Year and things were so good between us, I hoped he would propose before Christmas!
I had never been happier in my life. Well, apart from when I was ten and I won the TT Races Art competition at school and my Mum bought me the Bionic Woman doll.
I headed towards the exit and just as I was about to step outside, my mobile rang. I remember feeling completely relaxed as I stopped to take it out of my clutch bag.
Phone a Friend
I answered it. And as I stood at the front of Regent’s Park tube station, a casual friend I knew through yoga class asked me if I was still seeing Frank. I was taken aback, puzzled why she was ringing me out of the blue and confused why she was asking about Frank. My brain scrambled a bit and then I said I was, and she went quiet. I started to feel scared, my insides were turning to mush as I asked her why she wanted to know. She paused and I heard her inhale deeply, and then she told me she’d seen him in a club with a woman she knew, a friend of a friend. I heard ‘kissing’ and ‘they left together’ and I nearly threw up.
I somehow managed to make it to the staff do. This baffles me even to this day. I think I was in shock. I went in and smiled at strangers, I made small talk and I drank every glass of champagne that came near me on a tray. I didn’t tell anyone I had just been assaulted at Regent’s Park tube station, pounced upon with no warning and kicked in the guts by a size ten steel-toe-capped boot. I handled it the best way I could, I just got really pissed as I quietly died inside.
I recall fleeing through the big tent’s kitchens as my guts began to heave, I ran as fast as I could on my plasticine legs, desperate to avoid being seen by someone from my team and then sacked for being an unstable drunk. I just made it through a big flap outside, and as the chilly night air hit me I projectile vomited at least two bottles of Bollinger and a bread roll I knew I shouldn’t have eaten earlier down the back wall of London Zoo’s reptile house.
Frank called me repeatedly for days, but I didn’t answer the phone. I was so heartbroken, I couldn’t even speak. After about a week I managed to tell him I knew what he’d done. It was his turn to go silent on the end of the line. And then the apologies, the excuses, even crying on voicemail begging for forgiveness, promising he would never hurt me again. So much of me wanted to believe his promises but I knew he’d do it again. I’d been there before.
Men who can cheat so easily on a woman they profess to love are not men to be depended upon, and I needed someone I could depend on. When the trust has gone, hope gets up and goes with it.
I did meet him again about a month after, because I missed him desperately and I just had to see his face. And I wanted it to end with a better memory than the Regent’s Park assault. He held me and told me we could start again; he could fix it. I wished with all my being I was the kind of woman who could cope with betrayal, but I am not. I kissed him and walked away, he called my name, but I made myself keep going, I knew if I turned back, I would be in the same situation again one day. I cried all the way home.
That was 19 years ago, and I still think of him now and wonder what might have been. I never married and I never had children. After I finished writing this, I googled him. He married, twice and has three children, and he lives in Switzerland. Wish I hadn’t Googled!
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