After losing the coveted Cardugan sex fight crown at the hands (or more accurately the vagina) of Mhairi MacGregor, Helen Brodie tried to maintain a low profile around college while nursing the deep, raw emotional wounds opened up by her shattering sexfight defeat. However, in the weeks that followed, Helen frequently found herself having to run the gauntlet of her arch rival’s leering band of followers, who always seemed to be hanging around in the corridors at lesson changeovers.
A temporary salvation would arrive soon in the shape of the half term holidays in a few week’s time but for the moment all the former sexfight queen could do was to take the catcalls and hostility that some of the more bitchy girls now meted out to her as a result of her fallen status.
The sudden dramatic change in the college hierarchy lost Helen a number of her more fickle friends, who transferred their allegiance to the new alpha female right away; most of the other girls in the year group had also began looking at her in a new and wholly different light; treating Helen with far less deference, as if she had been welcomed back ignominiously into the subordinate pack.
But Helen had vowed never run to with the pack again and resolved to lie low for now, licking her wounds until the time was right to mount a fresh challenge to regain the crown that she still believed rightfully belonged to her.
It had been a great relief when Amita Kaur subsequently triumphed over Mhairi’s lover, Susan Walkerburn, in the dramatic battle for second place in the league and the fiercely loyal Sikh girl had now, quite fittingly, replaced the blonde as Helen’s closest friend. Although the two girls found they were quite strongly attracted to each other, they agreed to keep the relationship platonic for now, recognising that all of Amita’s strength and energy should be devoted to training for the forthcoming title fight showdown that her recent second place victory would trigger automatically in due course.
Helen realised that it would be a mistake to deny herself all carnal pleasures in the meantime however and so, when a friend in Edinburgh wrote saying that she had found the ideal girl for Helen to meet on a blind date, she accepted the invitation after having briefly toyed with the idea of turning it down first.
The meeting would take place during the half term holidays, which was just as well as Helen would need to take the train from Inverness to Edinburgh and stay in town overnight. On hearing of her daughter’s travel plans and knowing that she had been feeling down in the dumps for weeks, Rachel Brodie booked Helen a room in Edinburgh’s top hotel as a surprise.
“You never know, you might want to bring a friend back and that’ll certainly impress them!” Rachel had joked presciently, while thinking back to her own tempestuous sojourn in the same establishment some nineteen years earlier. After all, her daughter was eighteen now and would have to learn to look after herself in the style she would grow accustomed to, Rachel told herself as she watched Helen walking obliviously down the platform turning both men and women’s heads, in her stylish cashmere coat and new bob-style haircut, before boarding the train to Edinburgh.
As she settled down in her seat to read the Scotsman newspaper, Helen thought how much about she was looking forward to this, her first independent adventure in Scotland’s capital city. She didn’t know the name of the girl she was going to meet in Edinburgh, only that she was blonde, eighteen years of age, and would be wearing a pink carnation in her buttonhole. With a start, Helen glanced down to check that her own red carnation was still in place, adjusting it just above and to the left of her ample bosom.
The friend had arranged for the two girls to meet in the bar of the Royal Mile Club for their blind date. This venue intrigued Helen mightily, being the very place where her mother, Rachel Edelman had confronted Diana Symington, during their bitter exchange in the ladies powder room some two decades earlier.
Helen was just as fascinated by the thought of checking in later that afternoon at Edinburgh’s premier hotel, the location of her mother’s crucial sex-fight victory over her blonde love rival which had won her the right to marry Hector Brodie, and indirectly (she reminded herself) ensured that Helen was even around to be taking the Edinburgh train today. Yes, she certainly had a lot to thank her mother’s sexfighting prowess for.
Sitting in the quiet bar of the Royal Mile Club, sipping a dry Martini cocktail, Helen whiled away the time waiting for her date to arrive by listing the numerous purchases that lay gift-wrapped on her hotel room floor. Quite a pretty penny all those dresses, hats, skirts and shoes had cost, but all would be paid for on account and, besides, she didn’t get to Edinburgh very often and the latest fashions had yet to reach the shops in Inverness.
At 8.15 pm, Helen watched an attractive tall, slender blonde walk in and take a stool directly opposite across the circular bar. If the new arrival noticed Helen she didn’t let on. Helen felt instantly attracted to the new girl and was disappointed to note that she wasn’t wearing a carnation. As she continued to snatch furtive glances across the bar, Helen was increasingly convinced that the blonde reminded her of someone: except that she didn’t actually know anyone with a neat blonde bob, mischievously intelligent green eyes, a full, luscious mouth and fine, striking features framed by well-defined cheekbones that glowed in the rudeness of health.
By 8.30 pm Helen felt her spirits starting to wane despite the warm alcoholic glow she felt. Her date was now a half hour late and Helen was on her second Martini. The girl opposite, also still alone, was now nursing a fancy cocktail of some description with an elaborate parasol sticking out of it. Helen caught the blonde’s eye again then flushed and looked down, thinking to adjust her red carnation before realising to her horror that it was no longer nestled in her lapel. After a brief moment of panic she spotted it lying on the floor under the bar: quickly stooping to pick the wilting flower up, Helen adjusted it in her lapel until she was sure it was totally secure.
As Helen leaned back on her bar stool wondering whether the whole date thing had been a hoax, she caught the attractive girl across the way studying her with renewed interest in a sidelong, appraising sort of way. Hoping she might still be able to salvage something from the evening, Helen gave the blonde her best profile for a few moments before returning the other girl’s steady gaze with interest.
The other’s face still seemed oddly familiar, and Helen became even more convinced that they had met before. Perhaps on opposing teams at an away hockey match, which would explain why Helen didn’t recognise someone who was so well-groomed, wearing a fashionable short jacket over what appeared to be an expensive cocktail dress.
Helen and the blonde held each other’s impassive gaze for what seemed like an age but must have been under thirty seconds; finally the other woman rose from her stool and started walking round the bar directly towards Helen.
For some reason Helen also felt impelled to get to her feet and walked to meet the familiar looking blonde stranger so that they almost collided at the corner of the bar before stepping back to appraise each other at close range.
Helen, who was wearing her best turquoise party dress and heels that were higher than she was accustomed to, noticed immediately that the other girl, also in heels, was more or less exactly her height so that their eyes were level when they met.
When the other girl finally spoke after their mutual appraisal, her intelligent green eyes twinkling with amusement, it was in a refined public school accent, with hardly a trace of underlying Scots.
“Well, I was rather hoping you might be my gorgeous date tonight. I’m so glad you had the presence of mind to put your red carnation back on – I’m afraid I lost my pink one on the way here.”
“Er, yes – m-mine fell on the floor,” Helen suddenly felt surprisingly awkward, but the other girl’s easy smile as she held out her hand in greeting quickly put her at ease.
“Pleased to meet you Helen – I’ve been looking forward to this for some time.”
“Some time?” Helen felt a sudden lurch in the pit of her stomach as the other girl’s strong hand gripped hers in a handshake that felt unnaturally firm and went on too long. “Anyway, how did you know my name? Have we met before?”
“No, we haven’t… but our mothers certainly have.”
“What do you mean..?”
The attractive blonde smiled mischievously as the light of recognition started dawning in Helen’s confused dark eyes.
“That’s right – Laura Symington-Bailey. One very estranged daughter of a certain Hector Brodie.”
Helen was temporarily lost for words as her long lost half-sister flashed her the most perfect of smiles. “And I do believe that, tonight, we have some unfinished business to attend to.”