You can do better than him

This story is another episode from the ‘Hotel’ run by LGBT people that first featured in this story.

http://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/fiction/60571/you-again

The problem with running a Hotel that is part of a larger group is that you have to attend corporate functions and even worse, ‘corporate training’. No excuses, you as the manager have to go and be indoctrinated in the latest corporate ideals/edicts and messages. Then it is your duty to pass all this corporate wisdom onto your staff.

I’d just finished such a training week. It had been held at one of the Groups’ Flagship Hotels near Coventry. As far as I was concerned, it was ok but not the sort of place that I wanted to run. It had no spirit, no atmosphere and certainly no vibe that says ‘Yes this is a place I want to come back to again and again’.

On the Other-hand, my Hotel was a lot more like home. We had lots of little touches that made us different from the other hotels in the area. This got us lots and lots of repeat business. This is what made our place tick and I was very proud of that.

One of the sessions was on ‘Increasing Repeat Business’. What a load of old cock. All the stuff presented was only relevant for places that are close to major roads such as the very establishment where the event was being held. This most certainly did not apply to my little establishment. Truth be told, I almost fell asleep in the session, it was so boring.

That evening in the bar, I told a few of the other attendees about ‘my’ repeat rates.

“We get on average between 65 and 70% repeat business. We also have average 93% occupancy all year round. Not bad for somewhere well off the beaten track.”

The three people at my table looked at me with their mouths open. Then John Lord, a well-known corporate ‘greasy pole’ climber said,
“Well, that’s the place staffed by queers and trannies. I bet all their repeats are johns coming for a quick blow job. Do you rent rooms by the minute or the hour?” he quipped.

The other two looked at him with their mouths open.

Mr. Lord had been a PITA all week. His place did this, did that and was clearly so superior to everyone elses that it wasn’t worth the rest of us being in the same building let alone the same room as him. My carefully laid plan to trap him had worked. The recording I’d just made of his comments would be played to the whole course at the wrap up session the following day.

“Well, John if that is your impression why don’t you come for a visit. I’m sure we could accommodate a blowhard like yourself?”

“Why you… you…”

“Would the words you are looking for be ‘queer transvestite’?”

He just glared at me.

“I am not queer. Besides, what does that mean these days eh? I’m not a transvestite. I am transgendered. There is a world of difference between the two. Perhaps you might like to look up the difference, if you can read the dictionary that is.”

Another strong glare from him and he muttered

“Whore!” under his breath.

I just smiled and thumbed the off button on my tape recorder that was sitting on my knee out of sight.

“Well, I don’t know about you but I’m going to bed. I have to finalise my wrap-up talk for tomorrow.”

As I stood up, I said to John,

“You can pick up the tab tonight John. After all, you apparently run the best, most profitable hotel in the world.”

The other two people who were sitting at the table had trouble stopping themselves from laughing.

I didn’t hang around and left them to it.
 

We all assembled in the main training room just before ten the following day. The last item on the agenda was one where all the participants of the course would summarise their learnings for the week. My talk would be short and simple.

Naturally, John Lord just had to go first. His speech was to be honest total bollocks. But it was what he thought ‘management’ wanted to hear. The ‘buzzword’ count was just silly.

I was next to last to present my learnings from the week.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, if there is one thing I have learned this week is that we as Hoteliers have to be patient and understanding of what sort of people our guests are and what they want from their stay in our Hotels. What we should never ever do is… well, something like this.”

Then I played the recording from the previous evening.

As it played, everyone looked at John Lord. He went very red in the face.

Then it finished, I added.

“That, ladies and gentlemen is in my opinion how not to behave. Our industry is all about how we appear to our customers. The little local touches that you can add to the standard offering can make all the difference to your bottom line. Forget about the ROCI for these touches. The satisfaction of your customers is what it is all about. Our average cost is less than two pounds per customer per visit. Now take a look at our reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. I know that some of you manage establishments in places where it is difficult to do these things but please, make an effort and make your place stand out from the competition. I am sure that you won’t regret it. After all, there is probably another Hotel or Motel just down the road. Make your place somewhere that the punters want to return to.”
As I sat down, a small ripple of applause came from the audience. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. As I did so, I noticed John Lord slipping out the back of the room.

The other downside of these training courses is that they finish at lunchtime on Fridays. It is alright for those who are based within say a hundred miles but for me I had at least a five-hour journey ahead of me. Well, it was the last Friday in July after all and the M5 was going to be a 100-mile plus car park.

After three and a half hours of sitting in stop-go traffic I stopped for a coffee and a break.

As I was walking towards the coffee shop, a tall thin woman emerged. She was wearing a long, floor length dress that looked positively fantastic on her. I smiled at her and she returned the smile. As she did so, she stumbled on an uneven step.

Thankfully, I caught her in my arms.

“Oh, Sorry about that,” she said as she regained her footing again.

“No problem. It was lucky that I was here to catch you.”

“Thanks for that. It’s this bloody dress. My boyfriend likes me to wear it.”

I thought to myself, ‘he has good taste. She’s really hot in it’.

“Oh, is he here?” I said looking around.

“No,” she said slightly angrily.

I tried to look sympathetic.

“We were going away for the weekend but he called to say that he’s been fired. Some silly slag recorded him sounding off last night. She played it to the training course he was on.”

Before I could stop myself, I reacted visually with a huge grin and a bit of a snigger. She saw it.

“Do you know anything about this?”

I looked around for a hole to swallow me up. Just my luck, there wasn’t one. Instead, I said,
“If your boyfriend is who I think he is, then yes I do. Can I buy you a coffee and I’ll explain?"

“Sure. I don’t have anything better to do now that the weekend is off,” he replied in a resigned manner.
 
A few minutes later I carried two cups of Coffee over to the table where she was sitting and fiddling with her phone.

“Here you go. I’ve been sitting on the Motorway for more than three hours. That’s why I stopped here.”

She didn’t answer.

I sat down and looked at her.

“I’m Belinda by the way.”

“Nina, Nina Martinez,” came her matter of fact reply.

“Is your boyfriend John Lord by any chance?”

“Yes? So you do know him then.”

“Yes. Well we were on the same training course this past week.”

“What happened to get him sacked?”

I sighed.

“I think you had better listen to this.”

I pulled my miniature digital recorder from my handbag and played her the episode.
 

“That’s what he said. I played it to the group because he attacked me personally and… well said stuff he should not have. The company we work for has a definite policy of no discrimination. That means sex, rage age or gender. We had two sessions on that this week.”

“He…? Was he attending the course?”

“Yes. He is or rather was the manager of a Hotel just off the M1 near Rugby.”

“What!"

"What do you mean?"

"He said that he was a senior manager at the company HQ in Birmingham.”

I shook my head.

“I have a full description of all the attendees in my car. I can get it if you want?”

She didn’t answer but shook her head. I realised that the implications of what had just been told to her was starting to sink in.
 
A tear started to form in her eye.

“No wonder he was so evasive when I wanted to call at his office,” she remarked.

“Men eh? You can’t trust them an inch can you?”

She didn’t answer.

“So you run this hotel that is staffed by LGBT people?”

“In the main, they are all that. About eighty percent of my staff are LGBT including me.”

“That’s different.”

Then she added,

“Different from most hotels I mean.”

“We are no different from many places in the service we offer. It is just that most of our staff have had some hard times in the past. You know that the people who sell the ‘Big Issue’? Well they get a leg up from the bottom. With us, we take people on the third rung up from the bottom and get them trained and even with qualifications and they go out into the big bad world better equipped to take it on.”

Then I smiled.

“Here endeth my sales pitch.”

I smiled at her.

“So what’s next for you? Is he your ‘ex’ boyfriend now?”

“I suppose so,” she said mournfully.

“And this weekend?”

She sighed.

“He decided that we were going to this posh hotel in Penzance but with this traffic, it will be tomorrow before I would get there.”

“Why don’t you come to my place for the weekend. It is nearer than Penzance. We should be there in about ninety minutes. Just in time for a nice dinner? I know for a fact that we have some very fresh cod on the menu tonight. You aren’t vegetarian are you?”

“No... No I’m not and that sounds great.”

I sat back and looked at her. She was effing gorgeous. I could see why John Lord had snared her.

I took a sip of coffee and asked,

“What do you do for a living Nina?”

“Me? I’m an events organiser. You know, weddings, hen parties, retirements, bar-mitzvahs and the like. Mostly wedding but ‘I’ve just got divorced’ events are becoming popular.”

My heart raced. We’d been after someone like her for a long time.

“Come to my Hotel for the weekend and who knows, you might like it? It’s on me by the way. Think of it as a bit of R&R for being lied to you by that apology of a man.”

With a resigned shrug, she said,

“Why not. It is not as if I have anything else to do.”
 

A few minutes later, we walked out to the car park.

“I’ll be glad to get out of this dress,”

I turned to look at her.

“To be honest Nina, that dress could have been made for you. You look fantastic in it.”

“But… It is so hard to walk in.”

I smirked.

“That’s all part of the attraction. Have you seen the looks you have been getting back there? Most of the men were undressing you on the spot.”

“Yeah I know. John… Well he loved it. I guess he was showing me off to everyone. Telling the world that I was his. Oh god, I've been a real fool haven't I?”

I didn't answer.

After a big sigh, she said,

“Here’s my car,” she said pointing to a Dark Green Rav-4.

“Mines the Silver Volvo V-50 over there.”

I pulled out my card from my purse.

Here’s may card with the address of the Hotel on it. Do you have a SatNav?”

“Yes. Thanks.”

“Follow me but if we get separated just follow the SatNav directions. We are in the middle of nowhere but from the back of the hotel, we have fantastic views right down to the coast.”

“Thanks. Thanks for doing this. You didn’t have to you know?”

I smiled back at her.

“Just come down for the weekend and be my guest. Relax and chill out. The hotel is a good place for that.”
 
Two hours later, I pulled into the car park at the hotel. I looked in the rear-view mirror and her Rav-4 pulled in right behind me.
I’d called ahead and arranged for a room for her on my tab for the weekend. If my grand plan went well, she’d be here a lot more often in future. But, that was the future and even the best laid plans could go wrong. I had many mental scars from ‘counting my chickens’ in the past.

“Here we are. I’ve arranged a room for you and reserved a table for dinner,” I said as we walked towards the reception.

“Welcome back Boss,” said Hayley my current receptionist.

“Hi Hayley. Everything all setup?”

“Yes. Room 12 is that’s ok?”

Hayley handed me the key to the room.

I gave it to Nina.

“Room 12 is along the corridor to your right. The table is for 8:00pm. I’ll see you then.”

“But… don’t I have to register or something?”

I grinned.

“This weekend is on me remember? To help you get over that apology for a man you once dated.”

She laughed.

I loved her smile. She'd cheered up no end since we'd first met.

“Thanks. Yes.”

“Right, I’m going home to get freshened up. I’ll see you at eight if that’s all right?”

She smiled back,

“Yes, I’d like that.”
 
I was busying myself in reception just before eight when Nina came along the corridor. My heart almost stopped. Of all the dresses in the world and we had to be wearing the same one.

As she saw me she smiled and then burst out laughing.

“I see that you have similar tastes to me then?”

“It appears that way but…”

I looked around an we were alone,

“You look far better in it than me,” I said trying to pay her a compliment.

“Should I go and get changed?” she asked.

“Why should you? Does it really matter? I know that for some women it would be a major foo-pah but I really don’t mind one way or the other.”

Nina grinned back at me.

“You are very different from most of my clients. They’d run a mile if they saw someone wearing an outfit even remotely the same as the one they were wearing. You are an odd woman you know.”

I think I must have blushed.

“I mean it in a nice way.”

I smiled back.

“Are you ready to eat, I’m rather hungry. The food at that Hotel where the training was, was not the best.”

As we walked into the Restaurant, Nina said to me.

“Yeah, I know. That’s why we don’t use it anymore. They changed Chefs about a year or so ago. Got someone almost straight out of catering college. The old one was transferred somewhere else.”

I grinned.

“Oh, you mean Jules. He’s my head chef now.”

Nina gave me a look that sent my heart racing.
 

We’d just finished the Cod dish. It was every bit as good as I’d promised when Nina’s phone rang.

She looked at the caller. Her face sank.

“I think I had better take this. It is John.”

“Hello John,” she said in a matter of fact way.

“I’m fine and no I’m not stuck in traffic.”

“Where am I? I really don’t know. But it does not matter to you. We are done. Finished. You lied to me about your job. A hotel just off the M1? You said you worked in your head office.”

“How did I know?”

Nina smiled at me.

“Oh, I made some calls after you told me that you’d been fired and… well I got the whole story. You really put your foot in it didn’t you. Let me say it once again, we are done. Over. Finito. I’m going to block your number as soon as I hang up this call.”

“Yes. Yes, if you must know, there is someone else. Someone who does not need to lie to me right from the outset of a relationship.”

“Yes, I’m having dinner with them right now. I know I can do a lot better than having you in my life. Goodbye John. Don’t call again.”

She ended the call and then switched off her phone.

“Good riddance to bad rubbish I say.”

She then picked up her glass and said,

“To you for rescuing me from that man.”

I did blush that time.

I looked at her for some follow up but none came. My hopes shrank until she said,

“I think I’m going to like it here. Are you free to show me around tomorrow?”

I smiled back.

“I am and it will be my pleasure to do so,” I replied smiling.
 

[Sunday Evening]

“Thanks for a great weekend,” said Nina as we finished our meal.

“No, thank you for being here. I think we both needed to get over a certain Mr Lord.”

“Yeah we did that.”

I looked at her for a few seconds before asking,

“How’s about you come and work for me here. We could do with someone like you to promote our events and everything. We have another 20 rooms being built this winter. We will have to fill them somehow.”

Nina looked back at me and smiled.

“I wondered when you’d ask me something like that. You’ve been dropping little hints almost all weekend.”

“So? What are the downsides?”

“My place in Brum. I’d have to sell it.”

I shook my head.

“Rent it out.”

“What about getting somewhere to live here?”

My heart raced as I prepared to ask her the make or break question.

“There is plenty of room in my bed.”

Nina sat back rapidly.

“Are you saying what I think you are saying?”

“Look Nina, I fell for you big time, the moment you literally fell into my arms. I knew at thinstant that I wanted to be with you for the rest of my life. It was just coincidence that we had both had bad experiences with a man, the same man. I’ve shown you my life and what sort of life you could have down here. So Nina, yes, I would like to be with you and eventually marry you.”

I took a deep breath and continued,

“If you will have me that is. I know that you have not mentioned it this weekend but I really am transgendered. I was born a man and grew up with the name Michael Dawson. I came out and told my parents when I was thirteen. Thankfully they had already guessed about my sexuality. So here I am, legally a woman but can’t have children and totally in love with you.

“I… I just didn’t expect that. I …“

I put up my hand to stop her.

“Don’t say anything now. Go and sleep on it and let me know what you think tomorrow or later if you still can’t make up your mind. But please promise me one thing and that is that you will tell me your decision to my face. I think you are like me in that we don’t like being dumped by phone.”

I’d hardly finished my little speech when Nina got up from the table and came and sat on my lap. Then we kissed. My heart was racing. I felt so happy.

When we came up for air, Nina said to me,

“I wanted to see how good a kisser you are. You passed on all fronts there.”

My heart sank.

“But?”

“You are right. I need to think this over. Even if I say no to you, is there a job here?”

“Of course,” I replied trying hard to hide my disappointment.

“Then I’ll let you know tomorrow before I leave. I do know one thing and that is that I have never met anyone like you or your staff here.

Everyone has made me feel so at home.”

Then she kissed me again and left me alone.

I don’t know how long I sat there just staring into space, my mind was blank. Eventually, I dragged myself home and to bed.
 

I woke up and glanced at the clock. It said 04:25. I groaned. I’d heard the village church clock strike midnight and one and two before falling asleep. There was nothing more for it, I had to get up. Dawn was about an hour away so I threw on a pair of trousers and a top and went downstairs. A few minutes later I was out of my home and heading for the seafront. Ok, so it is not large but there is a small harbour and a few shops facing the sea.

There was no one about apart from a couple of foxes scavenging for discarded fast food. A few Herring Gulls were squawking and going about their business. A slight breeze was coming in off the sea.

I walked past the harbour and began to climb the path up onto the headland. This path was part of the South West Coastal Path. I’d walked about 150 of the more than 200 miles of its length over the past few years. It was my aim to finish it all by the end of the decade.

At the top of the climb, there was a bench. I’d often spend a few hours here in the evening watching the sun go down. This time I was going to watch it come up. That was where I was headed.

As I climbed, I heard a car enter the village. Other than that and a few Gulls the place was still and silent.

The breeze was a little stronger at the top but it wasn’t unpleasant. I sat down and scanned the sea. I could see the navigation lights of a few ships moving about their business.

As the darkness faded and the new day approached, I began to think about what I’d done the previous evening. I could not decide if I had done it right or it I was a complete plonker for asking her like that. Only time would answer that one.

Gradually, the village came to life ending the peace of the dawn and I needed to head home to get ready for work and her decision.
 
I arrived at the Hotel just after 9:00am. I took a quick look in the dining room but there was no sign of Nina.

“She has not left yet,” said Hayley with a grin as I passed reception.

I just smiled back at her.

Hayley was a good sort but had been terribly gullible in the past. A mother of two by the age of Eighteen and both fathers long gone, she was heading for a life on benefits until she came to the hotel for a wedding. We got talking and I offered her a job with prospects almost on the spot. Her mother was willing to look after the children and in the year since she’d been working her, she’d come on in leaps and bounds. She was going to College in September to study Hotel Management. She’d become a confident young woman and if handled carefully, I could see her taking over from me as manager.

“Thanks Hayley. I’ll be in my office.”

“She was here earlier you know. Asking about you and this place. Going to give me the gossip then?”

“Later Hayley. Then there might be something to actually gossip about.”

I didn’t wait for a reply but headed for the sanctuary of my office.
 

I’d just made some tea when there was a light knock at the door. My heart skipped a beat as I opened it and saw Nina standing there wearing that dress.

“Good morning Nina, please come in. I’ve just made some tea. Do you want some?”

“No thanks. I had some with breakfast.”

There was an awkward silence as we stood in my office. Both of us was probably wondering who should go first.

In the end, I asked,

“I’m sorry for being rather abrupt last night but I didn’t know any other way to tell you how I felt about you and everything.”

She smiled back at me.

“Well, it was different that’s for sure.”

“So?”

She looked nervous.

“I’ll take the job. It is just what I need at the moment.”

My heart sank.

“As for you and me, can we see how things go? Being with another woman is a bit new for me. Let me try to get my own place and see how we get on as a couple. After all, you would be my boss as well.”

Then she stepped towards me. My heart skipped a beat.

“I was thinking about what you said about this dress when we first met. You were right about men undressing me. I hadn’t realised it before. John suggested that I buy it and to be honest, I love wearing it. It feels good on me.”

I felt that there was a downside coming.

“This is the last time I’ll wear it in Public. I’ll wear it for you if you wear one like it as well. How does that sound?”

I didn’t get much chance to answer because our lips locked together for what seemed like an eternity.

When we broke free, Nina said,

“I feel actually good when I’m with you. That is something new for me when it comes to a relationship.”

She saw my puzzled look.

“I do actually fancy you quite a lot so lets see how we go eh?”

This time I kissed her.

“You don’t know how much this means to me. I’ve never felt like I do right now with anyone before,” I said slightly out of breath.
 

Nina left the Hotel and headed back to Birmingham. She had a client meeting in the afternoon. Her last words to me that morning were,

“Yes, I can do better than him. You.”

An hour or so later, I left my office and went on a tour of the hotel. I tried to do this everyday if possible. I’d only got as far as reception when Hayley called me over.

“Well? Is she coming to work here?”

“Eh? How?....  How did you know?”

Hayley tapped the side of her nose. Then she grinned.

“She told me when she left.”

I felt relieved.

“She’s a looker all right, and nice as well. You deserve someone nice like her in your life.”

I left her as quickly as I could before I let my emotions show even more than they were.
 
The following Friday, a package arrived for me. I opened it with great anticipation. Sure enough, inside was my version of that dress. Hers was deep burgundy. Mine was a vibrant red.

The accompanying note said,

“Belle, my Belle. I think you would look good as my lady in Red. See you Tuesday. Don’t forget this when you come. I want to see you in it
and then not in it.

Nina.”

I’d just finished reading the note when my PC bleeped. I’d got mail.

The smile I had on my face from reading Nina’s note got even bigger when I read it. It had said that the next management training course would be held at my Hotel because those who had run it wanted to experience the things I’d talked about during the week.

It looked like life was looking up in more ways than I’d ever envisaged.

[the end]



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