First Dates are Kissing Dates 7

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First Dates are Kissing Dates 7

By Frances Penwiddy

Murmuring with Starlings

Copyright © Frances Penwiddy 2016

Murmuring with Starlings contains material of an adult nature and is not suitable as reading material for minors.

This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.

A dance lesson or two from the Butterfly who would be a Hawk.


When we got back to the boathouse, John took the carton and then I handed him the picnic hamper and climbed out of the punt and we tied up. He kept glancing at the river cruiser, “Tamesisadda, is that an Indian name?”

“No, Tamesisadda is a Celtic goddess of the River Thames, would you like an introduction? I’ll become furiously jealous if you say yes.”

“In that case I’ll say no. I wonder why they keep her moored here and not on the river?”

“Mooring charges on the Thames are frightening especially if they are secure moorings like this and the River Thames is less than an hour’s cruise in a boat like her. I’ll arrange an introduction now without feeling jealous as you declined when I first offered.”

He smiled, “Now that is female thinking. Do you know the owners?”

Before I could answer the door to the boathouse swung open, “Ah, yes, Emma, I thought it might be you, I saw the car earlier.”

“Hullo, Fred, we’ve been out on a picnic, the punt looks very smart.”

“I gave her a coat of varnish and cleaned her bottom a week ago.”

“Did she giggle when you tickled her bottom with the brush?”

“Cooed a bit,” he looked at John curiously.

“Come and meet my bloke, Fred, he’s an engineer and sorts out spaces in factories for machines and production lines, so if you ever need to sort out your workshop or dry dock, he’s the man to speak to.”

Fred came over and shook hands, “You’ll find the boats easier to keep in order than young Emma, they’re not so wilful,” he advised. Turning back to me he nodded at Tamesisadda, “She’s all done as well, new coat of anti-foul paint below the water line, are you planning to take her out soon, she could do with a bit of a run.”

“Not for a month or perhaps longer, I’m going into hospital soon. I might take her away for a week or two when the doctors give me the okay. If you want to borrow her, Fred, help yourself, take Della and your grandchildren out for a bit of fishing.”

“Aye, she’d appreciate that, thanks. Must go, I need to get the dry dock ready for a narrow boat coming in tomorrow, a seventy footer, nice boat, give me a shout if you want anything,” he nodded at John, “I’ll say this much, you look like a man that can keep her in order but keep your eyes on her, I’ve known her to jump in the river and swim to help a swan tangled up with fishing line and she did it fully clothed and it was March and not too warm,” he nodded and went off.

As he closed the door I said, “He never told you that he jumped in after me, I was cold and my clothes were pulling me down and Fred is over sixty and still managed to get me back to the boat and haul me out.”

“It was a brave thing to do, more so in March the water temperature must have been pretty cold?”

“It was, we both had to strip off and Fred was standing at the helm navigating the boat wrapped up in a couple of towels and a blanket while I shuffled around making soup in a winceyette nightie, a waterproof jacket and a pair of pink deck shoes. When we got back here Della kicked up such a fuss and ignored Fred completely. She rushed me into her house and virtually had me sitting on her Argo stove and drinking a mixture of milk and rum and poor old Fred had to squelch his way up to the bathroom, still wet and cold and run a hot bath for me.”

“They know about you then, about your being transsexual?”

“Yes, they were friends of mum and dad since before I was born and when my parents died four years ago they kept an eye on me in a quiet sort of way even though I was twenty two.”

“Nice people.”

“They are and very hospitable. When Fred tells Della that I’ve got a boyfriend, she’ll be giving you the once over and asking a lot of questions and demand to know if you’re capable of looking after me then she’ll take to you and fuss over you like a mother hen if you as much as graze your hand when opening a padlock.

“I’d better not upset you then.”

I laughed, “God no, there’s Samantha as well the three of them would wrap you in a tarpaulin and throw you into the river smothered in pike bait.”

“So Tamesisadda is yours?”

“Yes, I didn’t tell you because I was keeping it as another surprise. I held on to her after my parent’s death because of my happy memories and sometimes I take my customers for trips, often as far as Southend and Margate. It works as well, it’s different to the usual business lunch or dinner and they can bring their wives and girlfriends along as well. Ted takes charge of the boat and Della does the catering and they’re good at it as well, I’ve signed two contracts, big ones on board and settled a couple of very nice deals as well. We’ll go away for a while if you like once I’m out of hospital and if ever you want to impress a business contact or customer, you can use her. Let me know and if you want Fred or Della to handle the boat whilst you fuss over your customers, they can do it or I can, I can handle the boat and navigate inshore and in the Med.”

“Who taught you the navigation part?”

“Dad and Fred. I have a Channel licence and a navigation certificate and provided I stay within territorial waters or within the English Channel my marine insurance and navigation licence will cover me to take us to a dream island in the Aegean and if I hug the coasts, I can cross to Turkey come back along the Egyptian and North African coast and with a nod and a wink to the right people I can slip back to the north Mediterranean Coast between the Pillars of Hercules and back home via the Isles of Scilly, loop the loop around Ireland and get back to the Thames via Scotland and the North Sea.”

“I’ll book a week off and we’ll do it.”

“Make it a year and we’ll have time to do a bit of sight-seeing.”

We loaded the car with the picnic basket and drove home. “We’ll take this stuff indoors and then I’ll take you out to dinner. Don’t argue, it’s my turn. Now there’s the new Chinese restaurant or the Mexican place which has dancing, or wherever else you prefer?”

He nodded thoughtfully, “I’ve never tried Mexican.”

“It’s hot and spicy and the dancing is Latin and good fun but you don’t have to eat the spicy stuff, they also do mild and plain food as well.”

“Let’s go Mexican then.”

“Okay, I’ll shower and wear a dress more suited to a wild night in a Mexican cantina, would you like something to eat before we go out?”

“I’ll have to wear the same clothes, it’s a pity we didn’t call in at my place on the way from the boatyard, we were only fifteen minutes away. He picked up the carton containing the primus stove, “Where would you like these?”

“On the work bench is okay and I’ll take the picnic hamper into the kitchen.” I looked him over, “Can you get yourself something to eat and I’ll pop into town and get you a pair of Chinos, a shirt and we can borrow a sombrero when we go to the restaurant, they keep a few for customers and some ponchos. We can have fun.”

He looked doubtful, “I have to be on site at eleven in the morning and that means leaving home no later than ten, are we having a late night?”

“No, I did think of that so if we leave the restaurant no later than eleven, would that be okay?”

“Fine and I can shower and change at my place in the morning.”

“I’ll do your back for you and I’m an early riser so if we have cereal for breakfast and leave here at about eight thirty, will that give you enough time?”

He smiled, “Depends on how late it is before we get to sleep.”

“That, sir, is up to you,” I took the hamper up to the kitchen and left for the shops.

When I returned there was no sign of John but there were signs of recent activity beside the kitchen sink and I felt a little warmth coming from the dishwasher. I looked inside and he had loaded the picnic stuff and washed everything. So I went looking for him and as I came out of the office I heard him, singing again and sure enough, when I got to the bedroom he was in the shower so I put the clothes I had bought for him on the bed, knocked loudly on the door and shouted, “I’m having a bath, your new clothes are on the bed,” and after receiving an acknowledgement, I took my bathrobe and went for a soak.

When I got back, John was dressed and looked really dishy, edible in fact and the casual shirt really suited him. “You look terrific,” I told him, “All you need is the sombrero and poncho and you’ll look like a scrubbed up version of Clint Eastwood in one of his Westerns.”

He smiled, “You don’t think it’s too colourful?”

“No, definitely not, it’s just right for the place we’re going to. How do the shoes feel?”

“They’re fine, comfortable.”

“So there’s no excuse for you to not dance with me?”

“Nothing too elaborate though.”

“Latin and jive.”

“I can handle some Latin, the samba, rhumba, cha-cha but not the tango.”

“That’ll do for starters. I’ll be a half hour getting ready so if you want to phone George to see if he’s available you can give him a time.”

“Fine,” and he sat on the bed and just looked at me.”

“What are you sitting down for?”

“Waiting for you to get ready.”

“No you’re bloody not, you go and wait in the sitting room and if you get bored the vacuum cleaner is in the utility room.”

“Spoil sport.”

“You’ll get a chance to be excited when I dance in the Cantina, now buzz off.”

I finished my sultry Latin look makeup and took out my black full circle skirt and white petticoat and a white peasants blouse and then picked a pair of pretty, full cut panties, they had lace inserts at the side but the front and back were opaque so if I did flare the skirt and I was certainly going to try, I would at least be covered. A black suspender belt and my seamed nylons completed the ensemble under the skirt but I hate wearing a black bra under a white blouse so I wore a white cleavage bra. I picked my stiletto black patent heels and belt and a white wrap, took my coat from the wardrobe, spent five minutes checking the effect, well one minute really, the other four were spent admiring myself and went up to the sitting room.

“You’ve changed your hair style,” was the first thing that John said and the second was, “You look terrific though, definitely Fifties.”

“You like it? You don’t think the bowed ribbon holding the pony tail is too much.”

“No, it’s perfect, definitely perfect.” He helped me on with my coat, picked up his own jacket and took my arm, “George arrived two or three minutes ago, ready?”

“Just my bag,” and I took it from the coffee table, dropped my touch-up makeup bag inside and we went down to George, “Blimey,” he said, “You going to a fancy dress you look like a cross between Mexican Pete and John Travolta,” and he jumped out of the cab, run round to our side and opened the door, “And you are really something else, definitely Olivia Newton John.”

“Did your wife like the lipstick, George?”

“Oh yes, I nearly forgot, she wants you to give me the make and colour, she’s getting a tube.”

“I’ll jot it down in the cab.”

When we arrived at The Cantina, Peter Gonzales turned from making an entry in his bookings diary and walked quickly towards me and we air kissed, “Senorita Emma, how nice to see you again.”

“It’s been a while, Speedy, work and hospital,” I turned to John, “Clint, this is my favourite Mexican from Clapton, Peter Gonzales, known as Pedro to his mother, father and staff whilst to everybody else, Speedy. Speedy this is my favourite hombre, John, otherwise known as Clint the Cattle Rustler and will you lend him a sombrero and poncho for the evening.”

“For you Emma me old darlin, of course but can I still have a dance later?”

“Clint, can Speedy have a jive with me later and will you promise not to blow him away?”

John smiled and held out his hand, “I’m a little confused, should I call you Pete or Pedro.”

“Pete, set a new fashion. Have you known Emma long?”

“Ages,” I interrupted, “We even go away together on boating holidays and he can dance the rumba.”

“Dance away, Pete, I have a feeling I might not be able to cope with Emma in a jive, it’s a full time job just walking with her, I never know quite where the journey may end, what surprises await around the next corner.”

“You’ve not seen her jive before?”

“No, not even waltz.”

“You’re in for a treat, she’s terrific, dances like a feather in a breeze but with the speed of a lighting flash.” He went to a cupboard and came back with a sombrero, “Here but when you get up to dance, push it back off your head to hang down your back, it’s safer that way with Emma spinning in front of you.”

“Sssh, Speedy, you’ll give away my secret surprise.”

Once we were seated and had ordered our starters, John look around, “It’s well done, very atmospheric and the band is good.”

“They are and very good at keeping the tempo and Peter and his wife, Maria give a flamenco demonstration a couple of times during the evening.”

“Why doesn’t he jive with her?”

“She won’t, she tells him the flamenco is fast enough for her so she made me promise not to do the flamenco with him and in exchange, she wouldn’t jive. Peter loves the arrangement, he gets to dance with the two tastiest birds in here.”

“He has a pretty wife does he?”

I smiled, “I think you have just paid me a compliment. Yes his wife is very pretty and full of fun, especially when there’s a party going on which means most evenings.”

Our tortilla dips arrived and I watched as John attacked his tequila, downed it in one, sucked the lemon and shuddered before chasing it with a generous gulp of beer, “Have you ever thought of trying one of those with your prairie oysters.”

“A good idea for a cold morning, are you going to drink yours?”

I shook my head, “You can have it later if you wish, I daren’t drink one until after I finish dancing, I’ll stick to Mexican beer or wine,” I pushed the tequila towards him and sipped at my beer.

“You come in here quite a bit?”

“Not so much the last two or three months because of work and the hospital but yes, I used to come here once a month with the girls from my support group. When it was opening, Samantha found out about it from a friend on the council and we managed to get hold of a group ticket for the opening night and some of the girls brought their boyfriends with them and we had a terrific party. Peter and his wife really fussed over us and when the band started they came over to our table and serenaded us. The boyfriends the girls brought with them danced with all of us and Samantha’s fiancé, he was only a boyfriend in those days, did a samba with me and then a jive and a little later Peter and Maria did a flamenco demonstration and after that Peter got me onto the floor and we jived. It was quite reasonable at first and then I think he signalled the band to speed things up and we flew. He’s a brilliant dancer and we did put on a show and since then, when we come in, he always has a jive with me. Maria told me I was a very good dancer and asked me if I would like a job giving a demonstration dance with Peter twice a week but my graphics were really beginning to take off then and I couldn’t spare the time.”

“Where did you learn to dance?”

“At school in the beginning, our music teacher started it off and we had a dance lesson every week in the gym, that was about the time I was beginning to notice that I was a bit different to the other boys and I used to envy the girls, the way they could look so graceful and the pretty dance clothes they wore and when I left school and went to art college I was dressing and living as a girl then and somebody suggested I join a dance school and I did and started learning the women’s steps and I really loved it. I don’t dance a lot these days, too busy but I do enjoy it on occasions like this, so you’d better be prepared.”

“You’re scaring me.”

I smiled, “I’ll be gentle with you just like you are with me when we make love. I might be tempted to dance very closely when we are doing a smoochy waltz so you must warn me if you think I’m taking liberties.”

“I wouldn’t dream of spoiling it for you.”

We had a glass of beer each and then the band started playing a waltz, “Come on, let’s dance,” and I got up before he could think of an excuse not to. We danced a respectable waltz, not too clingy and after a minute or so, Maria, Peter and another guitarist followed us around the floor serenading us and when that dance ended, they went straight into another one and without really realising what I was doing, I started singing it to John, well the tune was ‘If I Give My Heart to You,’ so I wasn’t so much singing as grilling him on his future plans for us and I started snuggling in a little closer. When the dance ended he gave me a little kiss and we returned to the table to find it filled with little dishes each containing small samples of assorted Mexican foods. “Did you order?” asked John.

“No, well not really, I just told Peter that you hadn’t tried Mexican food before so he must have put these here for you to try before we order.”

“There’s more than enough for both of us to make a meal out of.”

Peter came over, “I thought you might like to try a few of these and there are some new ones for you to sample as well Emma.”

“We can’t try all of these, we won’t have room for our meal.”
“I don’t suppose you will but the next time you come here, you will know what you like best, it’s called customer relations.”

“Are you saying you’re not going to charge me?”

“Of course I’m not. I’m stitching you up for the tortilla dip and the drinks but these are on the house.” He placed a hand on my shoulder, “Look at it as a thank you. I have customers that come in here and ask if Emma is here and is she going to dance and look disappointed when I say no. You have brought new customers to our restaurant, even this evening I have had two customers ask if it is you and when are you dancing so eat up and enjoy yourselves.”

“There you are,” I said as he went off to speak to the band, “The man who marries me will save a fortune on food, I can dance for dinner every night.”

“And sing for your supper.”

We started sampling the food between us and it was almost as good as taking a tour of Mexico. Peter was going to make a big success of The Cantina if he and Maria started putting these dishes on their menu, there was something to cater for just about every taste. We had nearly finished, in fact I had but John was still eating a little when the band beefed up their music and Peter strode arrogantly onto the dance floor and raising his arms began tapping his feet and moving slowly around the perimeter of the dance area and then Maria slowly spun onto the dance floor beneath the band and on our side. Glancing across at Peter, she tossed her head, spun again and moving slowly in our direction she tapped a little raised her hands and used the castanets then a slow spin, another toss of the head and stopped alongside our table and winked at me, “I think he’s interested,” she whispered and turned towards Peter, gave him another glance and then in a voice loud enough for the diners to hear but still speaking to me she said, “I have no interest in men who think they can dance but do not appear to have the ability,” and then with a lighting display of flamenco steps and furious clapping of the castanets she spun to face him, slammed the floor with a foot and lowered her arms to place her hands on her hips with one leg thrust forward and gave yet another toss of her head.

Before the iridescent green of her dress had settled Peter increased the speed of his toe and heel clicking walk with an occasional burst of hand clapping and walked slowly back to the band, his eyes roving over Maria’s body as if he were a farmer assessing a prize cow that he might consider making a bid for. When he was opposite her, the music sped up and he went into a superb display of the arrogant stiffness of the Flamenco his legs and feet moving at incredible speed as they beat a staccato of sound with dazzling movements of his feet and persistent hand clapping which slowly forced the band to increase its rhythm and then he stopped dead, mirrored Maria’s stance with both hands on his hips and one foot tapped impatiently as he stared her down before giving her an imperious ‘come-hither’ flick of his head.

Maria turned her head to me and said, “He still thinks he can dance,” and then matching his footwork, she slowly span out her heels and toes tapping the rhythm, her castanets in time with her turns as she increased the speed until her skirt and multi-layered black petticoat started to flair and she used it to tease the audience until she reached Peter. He waited for her and as she closed on him he turned sideways and slowly danced his way around her, his tattoo beating in sequence with hers and then he lifted an arm and she matched the movement without once faltering in her hand movements, keeping the castanets beating a slow rhythm against the staccato of their feet and then they spun away from each other and closed again spun with each other and in opposite directions and I watched fascinated. At no time did he touch her though their hands came within millimetres of each other and they turned, spun, parted, closed and orbited each other like a matador and a bull manoeuvring for position ready to close for the kill and their feet worked at incredible speed but always in time. The audience were clapping the rhythm now, keeping pace with the guitars and drums of the band and it wasn’t difficult for me to imagine I was standing in a Spanish bullring under a burning sun with the flashing colours of Maria’s dress working as a counterpoint to the severe black of Peter’s high waisted trousers and silver decorated jacket.

The dance ended and they both looked each other up and down and then Maria shrugged, “You can dance a little but you still need lessons,” and she turned away from him and with an occasional tap or click from her shoes she walked towards me. I began to feel a little uneasy but she stopped an arm’s length away and turned to face the other diners, “Ladies and gentlemen, she hasn’t visited us for some time but tonight we have the one woman who can give Pedro a lesson, our own Emma the Butterfly,” and without warning she turned, reached out and took my hand firmly and pulled me from my chair. I nearly collapsed on the floor, I couldn’t dance a flamenco to save my life. Peter would dance rings around me until I got giddy and collapsed and my free hand reached out to John but I was too slow and Maria stepped away from our table taking me with her, “Go show him how to dance, Emma,” said John smiling.

A fat lot of good the new love of my life was, in my moment of greatest need he had gone over to the enemy, “Maria!” I hissed, “I can’t do the flamenco!”

“Trust me,” and she took another three steps, dropped my hand and as she sashayed away she whispered, “Spin your way after me and stop beneath the band’s rostrum.”

I looked back at John but he just smiled and nodded, then I looked towards Peter who was standing there giving me that challenging, haughty look and something stirred inside me, I hadn’t found the man yet who could lose me in ballroom and Latin American and I’m dammed if I’m going to let some bloody Clapton-Mexican prove himself a better dancer than me. I placed a hand on my hip and walked slowly towards him, disdain on my face and egged on by the other diners who were crying out, “Go for it, Emma!” “Send him on his way!” “Show him how to dance!” I walked three quarters of the way towards him and then turned towards Maria who was now standing under the band nodding and smiling. I tossed my head has she had done and started turning slowly and then increasing the speed I spun away from him and towards Maria.

“I can’t dance the bloody flamenco!” I whispered in desperation, the realisation of the challenge I had just accepted dawning on me.

“The band will change the beat and tempo when he gets here, don’t worry, you’ll know the dance, now go get him.”

I looked at her, studied her face, her eyes to see if she was lying but there was only a reassuring smile so I returned my attention to my adversary who was now moving in my direction with occasional flurries of heel tapping footwork and slow turns, the haughty look on his fare as he looked me up and down and then he reached out, stopped and gave two hard stamps of his feet and waited.

I would kill Maria for this and dreading what was coming I took his hand, felt the gentle pull and spun into him and to my surprise he opened his arms and took hold of me in the basic open Latin American hold and as he did so, the music and tempo changed from flamenco to rumba and we slowly danced out to the centre, our hips exaggerating the steps and twice he released a hand and allowed me to turn out and then in and when we reached the centre I looked him in the eyes and saw the slight smile at the corners of his mouth and again the tempo changed and we started dancing the cha-cha. I was on familiar territory now and I threw myself into the dance and matched him step for step, turn for turn and we must have been dancing well because there was a constant beat of the tempo coming from the audience as they clapped the timing and after perhaps two or three minutes, the music slowly faded until only the drums remained and again the style changed and I heard the familiar intro to Rock-Around-The-Clock begin and their male singer started the opening words and I looked into Peter’s eyes, “This is where you get yours,” I whispered and I started to jive and so did he and I kept increasing the pace and he matched me and then lifted our hands to above head height and spun me, spun me back and spun me out again and my skirt lifted, the audience cheered and I realised that he had opened his hand and I was making very fast turns with just my fingers resting on his palm without any support. For a moment I faltered, I had never danced without a firm hand holding me in the fast turns, he was challenging me so I took my hand away from his and spun across him three times and as I pushed my hand out for the catch, his was there waiting but again only an open palm and with just a touch of his thumb he brought me back in and then we danced, danced like I had never done before and several times I found myself copying Maria’s near but never touching hand movements and we turned, spun and skipped around each other my skirt flying, the audience a blur, we danced like a tiger and a panther circling prior to mortal combat, no a pair of falcons trying to outfly each other. I was dimly aware of the band changing to Jailhouse Rock and for twelve minutes we danced until he closed a hand over mine and spun me in to stop. “I surrender, there isn’t a move I can make that you can’t match, you win,” he was smiling and all around us the diners had forgotten the food and drink and were on their feet applauding. Maria spun down to us and we each took one of Pedro’s hands and we bowed to them and turned ourselves to applaud the band and then they walked me back to our table. John was on his feet, “You were superb,” he said, “Truly superb, all of you.” Peter bowed, “Senor Clint, I return the butterfly who would be a hawk to your care and thank you for allowing me the pleasure, no privilege of dancing with her.”

John held out his hand and Peter placed mine in it and John guided me to my chair. As I sat I realise that I had danced in four inch stilettoes and my feet had never faltered but they ached and I reached down and eased the shoes off, “You’ll have to carry me out to the cab,” I complained, “I just can’t dance in heels.”

“Of course not,” said Maria, “You’d lose control and crash into a table,” and she and Peter went off to attend to the diners.

John was smiling, “You certainly rocked me and I wasn’t even taking part.”

“I’ve already promised to teach you but don’t try it in heels.”

In chapter 8; After an evening of dancing, Emma and John go home and Scarlet, Emma’s Muse, dictates the action.

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First Dates are Kissing Dates is available on Amazon Kindle as an E-book or paperback.

Footprints in the Sea Vol 3 is on schedule and will be published in July.

Vesta’s Hearth 5 has been started and I am hoping that this will be available before next Christmas.

And finally, I have been experimenting with short stories and novella’s, (That’s when I have nothing else to do,) and with a little editing, this too may be ready for Christmas as an anthology where I have tried to write humour and at the same time deal seriously with the problems and of course successes of transgendered and intersexed people and some of the fun, sadness and relationships they have.

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