It was a cold, dark night. Of course it was! It was February in Britain and it’s cold and dark every night. George shivered as he hurried back to his car. He’d been meeting with a colleague after school and it had turned into a later evening than he had expected. His belly was full after the delicious steak he’d just devoured and despite only having one glass of red due to having the car with him, he felt relaxed and happy. George wanted to get home and flop into his favourite armchair with the book he’d just started. He lived alone and enjoyed his freedom, having ended a five year relationship recently. He did feel lonely sometimes, but tonight he was just tired and wanted to chill. He smiled to himself as he remembered he had a date lined up for tomorrow night, Saturday. The girl he was going to take out was called Serena. He’d met her through colleagues at work and was delighted when she agreed to go out for dinner with him. She was pretty and sexy and he was hoping she might be the kind of girl who would ‘put out’ on the first date! George chuckled to himself. He was thirty-six years old, for Christ’s sake, and he was dreaming of pretty girls ‘putting out’!
His car was parked up half a block from where he’d met with Zach, just a few minutes’ walk away. He blew into his hands and rubbed them together briskly. The Met Office had warned of sub-zero temperatures again tonight and with the wind-chill, it was likely to feel around minus 5. Definitely a bit nippy, thought George. As he neared the car park, he heard a whimpering sound from one of the deep shop doorways. He stopped to look in, thinking it might be a dog or some other poor animal, freezing in the cold air. It was dark and it took his eyes a moment to adjust, but there was definitely something in there. He tentatively moved closer and said “Hello?” thinking how stupid that was. If it was a dog, it was hardly going to reply “Oh, Hi George, I thought you’d never get here. I’m fucking freezing!”
There was a large, broken cardboard box lying on the ground and George saw a hand clutching it. It wasn’t a dog, but a person and that person was trying to hide from the approaching stranger. “It’s OK,” said George, “I’m not going to hurt you. Are you OK? You must be frozen solid!” He heard the whimpering sound again. Was it a girl? He lifted the cardboard box and was horrified to see a young girl, not much older than the sixth-form pupils he taught every day at school. Her face was dirty, her hair matted and tangled and her hands were blue from the cold. Her eyes were wide open with terror and George could only imagine what this poor, wretched creature had experienced living rough on the streets of a large city.
George crouched down in what he hoped was a friendly manner. He extended his hand and said “I’m George. You really don’t need to be scared. I’m a school teacher; I promise I won’t harm you in any way. What’s your name?” he asked. More pathetic whimpering from the girl but nothing coherent came out of her mouth. George realized the poor girl was so cold, she was shivering too hard to speak. He took off his thick overcoat and wrapped it around the girl’s shoulders. She was stiff with fear and from the cold, but George figured the warmth from his coat would offer some relief from the cold and make her realize his intentions were good. He detected the hint of a smile from the dirty face as it looked up at him, then saw a big tear well up in the corner of one of her eyes. It rolled slowly down her cheek and she let out a huge sob of gratitude. George was now sitting right beside her. He could feel the intense cold through the fabric of his trousers and wondered how long this girl had been here and how she could stand the cold. The girl made a grab for George’s groin and squirmed up to him, as if to offer herself. “Take me somewhere warm and for ten quid you can fuck me,” she said, half sobbing.
George was genuinely shocked! She actually thought he wanted to take advantage of her. Or maybe she was an opportunist that was desperate for money. Either way, George wasn’t that type of man. He lifted her body back upright and put his arm around her shoulder. “I’m not going to do anything like that but I will help you, if you’ll tell me your name.” George said, soothingly. He hadn’t given any thought as to how he could actually help her, but he knew he couldn’t just leave her there in the doorway, freezing to death. The girl looked at him, tears now streaming down her face. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m not a prostitute, I just thought…” her voice trailed off and her sobs got louder.
George was quite naturally a compassionate person. He’d become a teacher straight from University almost fifteen years ago. Being quite a handsome chap, he was popular with the girl pupils and being a good rugby player, he was popular with the boys too. But the real reason he was well-liked by his pupils and the other teachers was because of his kindness. He could be strict as well, but never raised his voice and always seemed to bring out the best in people, staff and pupils alike. This compassion had led to him taking a great interest in what the media term ‘the under privileged children’. He quickly realised that all they needed was a little extra support and had been very successful in spotting those kids that didn’t get any support at home. This was how he felt when he looked at the dirty, frozen girl he was sat next to now. Did she not have anyone to support her? Obviously not, he surmised, or why else would she be here now? He also knew that some people were resistant to help or didn’t want to talk about their situation. He suspected this girl would be like that.
“So, your name?” he asked again. A long pause before the girl reluctantly replied “Sam.” George let that hang in the air for a moment, knowing he couldn’t push Sam too quickly. “Hmm, you don’t look like a Sam,” George said, trying to keep the exchanges light-hearted. “My plumber is called Sam and he’s 220 pounds and shows his hairy arse crack off every time he bends down!” He felt Sam’s body jerk gently when he said that. Did he manage to make her laugh just a little? “Samantha,” she said, looking directly at George, the faintest hint of a smile beginning to form on her smudged, crusty face. “Aah, “ said George, as if the penny had dropped. “So you’re not my plumber in disguise!” Sam shook her head, her smile growing a little wider. George could feel she was relaxing a little now. His thick coat had warmed her just a little and sat so close to him, Sam could feel the warmth emanating from this kind stranger’s body.
“Are you hungry?” George asked. Sam nodded. “And you’ve nowhere to sleep tonight, I’m guessing?” he continued. Sam shook her head. “OK, well I’m not going to pry and I’m not going to force you to do anything you don’t want to do. But my car is just over there,” George said, nodding towards where his car was parked. “You can come and stay at my place tonight and have some food and a warm bed, if you want.” He saw Sam look nervous as he offered this and quickly added, “Like I said, I’m a teacher, you’re absolutely safe, I promise. I’ll even phone the police and tell them I’ve taken you in for the night and let you speak to them as well, if you like. I just can’t stand to see you here alone and freezing. If I read in tomorrow’s paper that a young girl was found dead in a doorway, I couldn’t live with myself. What do you say?” More tears started to roll down Sam’s cheeks and she nodded slowly. “If you’re sure, thank you,” said Sam, almost apologetically. “But no police, please. I trust you.” George smiled and stood up. He offered his hands to help Sam to her feet and she held up two little blocks of ice which George grasped and gently lifted her. She was very unsteady so he put one arm around her shoulder and told her to clasp her hands together. When she did, he took her clasped hands into his free hand and led her slowly to his car.
He opened the car door for Sam and helped her in to the passenger’s seat, making sure her seatbelt was clicked into position. It was only about a twenty-minute drive to his house and he knew the car would warm up quickly. As soon as he felt warmer air coming out of the vents, he turned the fan up. After about ten minutes and halfway into their journey, the interior of the car started to resemble a sauna. Sam still shivered though, so George kept the heater on full. Conversation was non-existent until Sam quietly asked “Did you say George?” Finally, a break in the silence. “Yes, that’s right, I’m George Deacon and despite the circumstances, it’s nice to meet you, Sam.” Sam let out a little snivel, her body was acclimatising to the warmth now and it felt strange. She was also still suspicious of this man’s motives. Images of white slave traders flashed into her mind, or forced prostitution, like she’d seen on the news. Or those poor Eastern European girls forced to work in nail bars and the like in return for board and food, their passports withheld from them. But he had said he was a teacher, so maybe he’d be OK. Frankly, her options were zero and she felt certain she might have frozen to death during the night, so whatever he had in store for her was better than that, surely.
“Here we are,” said George as he slowed the car and pulled into his driveway. Sam’s eyes were on her cheeks. He lived here? George’s house was rather impressive. When he’d inherited some money a few years ago, he sunk it all into a big, sprawling property in the outskirts of the city. It was detached and some distance from his nearest neighbour. The house had become a labour of love and he’d spent many years restoring it to its former glory. He was nearly finished, with just two more bedrooms to finish. By the time he’d finished, he would recoup his investment five-fold, such was the property market in his area. He probably would sell and move closer to town. After all, he didn’t need five bedrooms and was tempted by the half a million he was likely to make on the sale. For now though, he was just happy he had a spare room and a bed to offer this poor stray girl he’d found. She needed support and she was lucky that the guy who had found her was the right man for the job.
He parked up in front of the double garage and the light came on outside the main door, lighting the whole driveway. Sam’s eyes were wide with wonder as she said “What are you, like rich?” George laughed. “Nah, I bought this old pile of bricks nearly ten years ago. I’ve been doing it up. It looks OK, doesn’t it?” Sam tried to whistle, but her lips were so chapped that no sound came out. “It looks amazing, George, it must be worth a fortune!” George just smiled and said “This way,” as he led her inside. The lights in the hall came on automatically and the house was already warm and cosy. “Food first or shower?” George asked Sam. Tears welled up in her eyes again and George put his arm on her shoulder. “That’s OK, don’t cry Sam. Whatever you want is just fine. Tell me to shut up if you think I’m fussing you.” Sam shook her head. “It’s just that you’re being so kind to me. Most people would look the other way. One woman spat at me earlier and two boys kicked me until I screamed and they ran off. Even the police wouldn’t help me. Then you came along.”
George sat on one of the stools in the kitchen. “Hmm, what can I tempt you with. I’ve got a fresh pizza in the fridge or how about some hot soup?” Sam stared into space then shook her head vigorously, like she was coming back to life. “Um, I’d love a bath if that’s not too much trouble?” George grinned. “I think that’s an excellent idea. Let me put the kettle on and make you a coffee first, then I’ll run you a bath,” he said. Sam hadn’t had a cup of coffee in days and when George poured the boiling water over the coffee in the cafetiere, the smell filled her nostrils and stirred her emotions so much that she began to cry again. George decided to say nothing and let her get used to being there at her own pace. He left the kitchen briefly, then returned, saying “The bath’s running. It’s one of those big fancy baths that takes ages to fill, so take your time and enjoy this. He handed her a steaming mug and she took it gratefully. “I’ve put sugar in it because I reckon you need it. Cheers!” he said, and clinked his mug to hers. Sam sipped at the sweet coffee, inhaling the beautiful aroma deeply. Her body was warmer now and she had started to feel safe. It was undoubtedly the best cup of coffee she had ever had and as George left the kitchen again to check on the bath, Sam wiped another tear away with the back of her hand.
“OK, all ready when you are Sam,” chirped George when he returned. “Now, if you don’t mind me saying, you look a bit of a state. You must take your time in the bathroom, and wash your hair. Next to the bathroom, there’s a dressing room with a hairdryer and stuff. There’s also a long robe on the back of the door and whilst they might not suit you, I’ve put a brand new pair of my boxer shorts and a vest for you to wear underneath it. Off you go. If you’re anything like my ex-girlfriend, I’ll see you in about two hours!” Sam smiled. “Oh, one more thing. Leave your clothes outside the door and I’ll pop them in the washing machine. They’ll be done in no time.”
Sam drained her coffee mug and handed it to George. As he took it from her, she wrapped her hands around his and said “Thank-you,” then disappeared up the stairs to the room which had steam wisping out of the door. George swilled the mugs in the sink and dried them off before hanging them up. She hadn’t said if she wanted a pizza but he decided to cook it anyway. It would only take 15 minutes so he decided he’d put it on when he could hear the hair dryer upstairs.
Sam walked into the bathroom and gasped. It was huge, with a big square sunken bathtub in the middle of it. There was also a toilet, a bidet and several mirror-fronted cabinets. She poked nosily into them and found shower gel, soap, hair shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. It was like the best hotel she’d ever stayed at, not that she had stayed at many. Several big, fluffy white towels were folded neatly on a shelf close to the bath tub and the robe he’d told her about was hanging from a hook on the back of the door. It was very obviously a girl’s robe, pinched in at the sides. Probably his ex-girlfriend’s, thought Sam. She also wondered why ever this girl would leave George. He was handsome, kind, well set-up and probably rich. Some girls wanted more than everything!
She pulled her clothes off, which were stuck to her skin. She hadn’t washed or changed clothes for nearly two weeks and she knew she must smell dreadful, even though George hadn’t said anything. He was probably outside, fumigating his car, she thought to herself. Eventually, she was standing in front of the big tub fully naked. She caught sight of herself in one of the big mirrors and froze in horror. She looked like a zombie! Her hair was bedraggled, she had large dark circles under her eyes and her body was red and blotchy, with several large bruises from where she’d been assaulted by those youths. Her face was dirty and streaked with the tracks of her tears and her fingernails were hideous. Those that weren’t broken were black with dirt. She looked down to her feet then looked up quickly. The burst blisters shocked her and explained why they hurt so much. She had always been proud of her body, but that was before she’d been forced to sleep rough.
The change in her appearance in just two short weeks shocked and horrified her. She quickly dropped her clothes in a little pile outside the bathroom door, then deliberately leaving it ajar, she tentatively climbed in to the big bath tub. As she immersed herself in the hot, fragrant water, she cried again. Not an hour ago, she was huddled in a doorway, clutching a big sheet of cardboard for warmth, wondering if she’d ever see another dawn. Now, she was lying in the poshest bath she’d ever seen, steam filling her nostrils along with the soft, soapy fragrance of whatever George had poured into the bath for her. She let the water soothe her aching body, relaxing fully into the bath, before grabbing the soap and furiously trying to wash away the dirt and the humiliation of two long weeks living rough. After a few minutes, she heard George trotting up the stairs, “Everything OK?” he asked, cheerfully. He saw Sam’s clothes on the floor and picked them up carefully. “George, this is so kind of you. The bath is perfect, thanks.” She looked through the open door and saw George with his head turned away. He had sneaked a peek to make sure she was all right but immediately felt guilty. He saw her naked breasts as she soaped herself, so turned away, grabbed the dirty clothes and went downstairs to the laundry room. He did think about burning her clothes rather than washing them, but decided against it. As he always did with his own clothes, he checked the pockets before putting Sam’s clothes in the washer. All he found was less than a pound in change, a jewellery pendant with no chain and an unopened condom. He shook his head as he put Sam’s worldly goods to one side and set the washer to high, putting in two laundry tabs to make sure! He hoped and knew Sam would be a long time upstairs, so he settled himself into his favourite chair in the lounge, waiting to hear the sound of the hairdryer.
It was now 10pm. They had been back at George’s house for nearly two hours. The unmistakeable sound of the hairdryer wafted down the stairs, a sound George hadn’t heard for a few months now. His mind briefly jumped back in time to when Sally lived with him. She had hated all the disruption of repairing the house, but had lived though it without complaining. It was ironic then, that as the massive project was nearly complete, she had met and fallen for a former colleague of George’s that he himself had introduced to her. He remembered saying “Sally, meet Jason. I think you two will get along well.” He had no idea just how well they would ‘get along’ and it was barely a month later when Sally moved out. George was pragmatic about the split. He wasn’t the vindictive type and despite feeling sad, kissed her and wished her well. Sally had walked down his driveway in floods of tears, a full suitcase trailing behind her, herself sad to be saying goodbye to a five-year chapter of her life. Anyway, this time, the hairdryer was being used by somebody else and George remembered he had to put the pizza in the oven ready for when she came down. He set the oven timer for fifteen minutes and went back to his book.
The oven timer beeped incessantly so George walked into the kitchen to shut it up just as Sam came down the stairs wrapped in the robe, her hair flopped in dark blonde waves around her shoulders. “Mmm, what smells so good?” she asked. George grinned, “Apart from you?” he laughed. Sam looked down and said “Yeah, sorry about that. I didn’t realize how much I stank! You deserve a medal just for letting me sit in your car!”
“I’ve cooked us a fresh pizza. I’ve eaten actually, so you can have it all if you like?” George slid the pizza out of the oven on to a large plate. It was steaming and smelt divine and Sam’s mouth started to water. She couldn’t remember when she’d eaten anything other than a stale sandwich that the woman from the local bakery shop had given her. Jesus, that had been three days ago. No wonder she could see her ribs when she’d looked in the mirror. George cut the pizza into six generous slices then brought it over to the kitchen table, where he’d laid out cutlery and a napkin for both of them. He also had two bottles of beer opened and motioned for Sam to take one. “Beer is so much better with pizza than wine, don’t you think?” he said. Sam nodded and took one of the bottles. She took a sip of what turned out to be not beer, but nectar! She had already had the best cup of coffee in her young life, now she’d sipped the best beer and could smell the best pizza. “Tuck in,” said George, almost reading her mind. He took a slice and started to eat it from his hands and Sam copied him, only she ate more hungrily and urgently than George. Before long, Sam had devoured five slices of pizza and drained the beer bottle. She belched loudly then blushed. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” she said. George smiled and belched in sympathy! “No worries, it’s gassy beer!” he said, laughing. “How about some cake for dessert?” he asked. Sam smiled and George took that as a yes. He found a tin on the worktop and forced it open. The unmistakeable smell of birthday cake wafted out of the tin and Sam raised her eyebrows. “Ha, it was my sister’s birthday earlier this week. She gave me a huge chunk of cake to bring home with me. I thought it would go to waste, so if you like birthday cake, you can have as much as you like!”
Sam liked birthday cake. Again, she devoured what was offered and pretty soon, the plate was clear. George made a fresh pot of coffee and poured them both another mug. This time, Sam raised her mug and clinked it to George’s. “Cheers!” she said. “Here’s to the kindest man in the world!” and took a sip, savouring the taste of the coffee and the feeling of being clean and fed at the same time.
Did George blush as she said that? She thought he had, maybe just a little. She looked more closely at George’s face now and for the first time, she noticed how handsome he was. He had kind eyes and Sam liked that a lot. Oh well, she thought to herself. If he ravages me in the night, I shan’t complain! She then felt a pang of guilt, knowing he wouldn’t do such a thing. Kind eyes don’t lie. She knew she was safe for one night. She closed her eyes and quietly thanked whatever power brought her and George together tonight.
“How is my underwear?” George teased. “I bet it looks better on you than it does on me!” Sam flushed and George immediately apologised. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to… “ Sam laughed. “Don’t worry, I know you weren’t. You wear lovely underwear actually. And it’s so nice to have something clean and fresh to put next to my skin, you’re so thoughtful.” George looked at Sam and realised just how pretty she looked, wrapped in a big fluffy robe. Her eyes seemed to have cleared and were now sparkling and bright. The dark circles under them were receding and when she smiled, he felt his heart beat a little harder in his chest. Her wavy hair framed her face beautifully and she looked like a completely different girl to the one he’d found earlier, huddled and frightened by the world. Whatever happened now, he knew he’d done the right thing in bringing her home. Like the under-privileged kids at the school, all she had needed was a little support.
“Oh, I found these in your jeans, by the way,” George said, handing Sam the pendant and the coins. Sam blushed, knowing there had been a condom as well, but George had subtly forgotten about that. She took the meagre possessions and popped them in to the pocket of her robe. “Thanks,” she said. “Not much to show for twenty-five years of life, is it?” George looked concerned, but then joked “No, but those are lovely jeans!” and they both laughed. Sam put her hand on George’s and she looked him directly in the eyes. “You’ve been so kind to me, George. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you, but if you can think of a way, ANY way, I’d be so happy to.” George knew what she meant and admitted to himself he was sorely tempted. However, he replied with “Hmmm, let me see. Oh, I know, there is something you could do for me.” Sam looked inquisitively at him, desperately hoping he meant for her to sleep with him in his bed tonight. “How about, when I go out for my run tomorrow morning, you go round to the shop and pick up some food for later. You’ll stay with me until you’re back on your feet and ready to move on?”
Half disappointed he hadn’t invited her in to his bed, but half delighted that he’d asked her to stay, she nodded, then a huge smile broke out on her face. “That’s settled then,” said George. “You can stay as long as you want and as long as you don’t run off with the silver, you can earn your keep by helping around the house. Is that OK?”
“George, I’ll do anything you want me to. Anything. All you have to do is ask.” Sam couldn’t make her feelings any clearer without saying ‘please fuck me George!’. The fact that he wasn’t trying to hit on her made him even more attractive and a warm feeling came over her. “I’m really tired now, perhaps you could show me where I’m going to sleep?” asked Sam, politely.
“Of course, it’s getting late. I don’t suppose you’ve been sleeping all that well recently. Follow me. Would you like to take a glass of water to bed with you?” asked George. God, this guy is too fucking good to be true, thought Sam. “Uh, sure, yes please,” she replied. George took a bottle of Evian out of the fridge, poured a tumbler full and handed it to Sam. “This way,” he said and led Sam back up the stairs. He opened the door opposite the bathroom and said “Make yourself at home.”
The room was beautifully and tastefully furnished. Sam suspected George’s ex-girlfriend had had more than a hand in its design. The large double bed dominated the room, covered in a beautiful duvet which looked like it had never been slept under. Beautiful prints covered the walls and the large mirror in the corner next to the white wardrobe reminded Sam of home. She began to well up again, so she tuned to George, kissed him on the cheek making him look flustered and said “Good-night, my saviour.” George winked at her, turned around and left her alone in the room, suspecting she’d get the best night’s sleep for some time this night. He felt good about what he’d done and knew he’d also sleep well tonight.
Sam dropped her robe on the floor and flopped onto the big bed. She pulled the cover on top of her, breathing in the fresh smell of the bed linen. She sighed, wrapped herself tightly in the duvet and fell into a deep sleep. It was the first night for two weeks that she could really relax and not worry about being moved on, shouted at or worse. She slept for twelve hours straight and when she woke, she remembered where she was and smiled.
The house was silent as she peered around her bedroom door. She went into the big bathroom opposite her bedroom and freshened up, this time using the big shower cubicle. She towelled herself off with another fluffy clean white towel, then noticed her clothes had been washed and dried and were sitting in a pile on the edge of the bath tub. She lifted them to her face and sniffed deeply. All she could smell was the fragrance of the fabric conditioner. She had no idea that George had run them through a second wash cycle. She checked herself in the mirror again and was heartened to see she looked a hell of a lot better than before she had bathed last night. The bruises seemed to have faded and her face looked almost normal. She could still see her ribs and felt thin. She dressed and her clothes were loose on her, but they looked OK. She didn’t put her own undies on though, preferring to keep wearing George’s boxers. They felt good and kind of sexy.
Sam padded down the stairs and realized quickly that George had gone out. She saw a note on the kitchen table, next to a little pile of money. The note read ‘Here’s a hundred pounds. Go and buy some food and whatever else you might need. I don’t want change, so if you need lady things or anything I probably don’t have in the house, feel free to buy it. There’s a coat on the end of the stairs. It’ll be too big for you, but will keep you warm until we can buy you a better one. I’ll be back about 12 and if you like, you can fix lunch. George. X’ Sam wasn’t sure why she’d focused more on the kiss at the end of the note than what it actually said. She reread the note several times, then decided she needed some food before going to the shops. George had left a fresh pot of coffee for her and had put a loaf of bread and some butter and jam next to the toaster. There was also a big box of cornflakes next to an empty bowl and spoon by the fridge. George had, of course, thought of everything. Sam made herself a light breakfast of cereal and toast, quickly cleaned up after herself, grabbed the coat from the stairs and set off to the shops. Today was going to be a good day, and it had been a long time since she’d felt like this, full of hope and optimism. There was just one person she had to thank for this. Saint George! As she scurried off towards the shops, she realized that her heart beat a little faster when she thought about George and she couldn’t wait to see him again when she got back.
In Part Two, George and Sam get closer, much closer.