Authors: Laura Kemp
THE LATE BLOSSOMING OF FRANKIE GREEN
Frankie Green's happy ever after is put on hold when her childhood sweetheart husband complains things are boring in bed.
When he asks for some space, she sets out to win him back by getting herself a sex education.
Little does she know that her hilarious, tender and embarrassing journey of enlightenment is going to change everything...
A story full of humour, heartache and happiness, of friendship, coming of age and overcoming insecurity.
For the friends who are family
Frankie shivered as she waited for Jason to unveil his surprise.
âKeep your eyes closed,' he said, rustling about with something as his movements shook the king-size bed.
With a smile on her face, she couldn't believe that after fourteen years together he still made her all tingly. In fact, tonight was the tingliest she'd ever felt, she decided, as a wand of fairy dust sprinkled excitement on her toes, which raced all the way up her bare body. Except for the bits covered up by her new matching white M&S underwear.
It was their first wedding anniversary and they were in the same posh hotel room where they'd started life as Mr and Mrs Green.
Soon they'd be making love in their familiar way, his body on hers was all she desired. The girls teased her for having only slept with one person but she was so relieved she hadn't had to kiss any frogs like they had â and still had to. But his muscular weight was the measure of their love; it was solid and secure and, secretly, she wanted to feel possessed by her man. Just as she had done at lunch when he led the way to their table overlooking Cardiff Bay's glorious waterfront. Their hideaway was only ten minutes from their house in the city but she saw no need, and had no desire, to go anywhere else.
âThis way, Mrs Green,' he'd said, guiding her to her seat with his lovely old-school manners. She had a glass of pink fizz, her favourite, while he had a bottle of some fancy lager, one he hadn't tried before, then he'd tried to persuade her to try some chorizo. But she stuck to her trusted bangers and mash followed by banoffee pie â the exact meal they'd had for their wedding breakfast.
The only fly in the ointment had been when she'd brought up starting a family next year. A cloud had crossed his usually cheerful face. He didn't think he felt ready, he'd said, taking her hand and squeezing it affectionately. âI just want to enjoy us for a bit longer, there's so much fun to be had. It was a big enough deal to get married, wasn't it?' he'd said, smiling his irresistible smile.
She'd felt bitterly disappointed, not because she felt broody. After all, they did have masses to finish in the house and she honestly had nothing to worry about because she had years before her biological clock started ringing. But because that's what couples did, wasn't it? Domestic bliss equalled the patter of tiny feet. She was tired of her hairdressing clients asking when she was going to have a baby. On the plus side, Frankie was flattered he still prized her company and didn't want to share her after all this time.
They'd met in the first week of college: he was her first and only boyfriend and she loved it that way. She was forever his Tinkerbell, the pet name he had given her from day one, owing to her long blonde hair, blue eyes and her figure that back then was a perfect hourglass, but was now a tad plumper thanks to her love handles. He was the only one for her. He was perfect, with his boyish good looks and easy-going nature. He was positive, kind, generous andâ¦
âAlmost ready, Tink,' he said, from his pillow. She beamed, hearing the thrill of anticipation in his voice. What was he going to produce? A piece of jewellery, maybe, or some lingerie? Whatever it was, she would adore it because he knew her taste was simple but elegant.
There was the muffled sound of fabric then a click. It was all too much for Frankie so she peeped through her eyelashes. And then she wished she hadn't. In the place of the box from Tiffany's she'd been hoping for was a fluffy black handcuff attaching one of her blindfolded husband's wrists to the bed railings. He'd used her scarf, her best flowery one in fact, to tie round his head to hide his eyes. Inside her head she screamed âOh my God' but she was so horrified, the words wouldn't come out. Instead, her eyes nearly popped out of her skull.
âFrankie? Are you there?' Jason said. âSay something! What do you think?' he asked, as if he was showing her a new T-shirt.
âYouâ¦ look like a hostage,' she said, aghast at how the blindfold made his crew cut and stubble seem like he'd been taken captive. Wincing, she knew this wasn't what he'd intended. It was a good job he couldn't see her face, which was contorted with shock and disgust. Kinky sex had never appealed to her â whenever she came across it in magazines, she'd flick past to find the romantic questionnaire instead. Mum had given her a copy of
Fifty Shades of Grey
and while Frankie had soaked up the love story, she was bewildered by all the equipment.
Jason's laughter turned her stomach now. âCome on!' he said, âI'm your slave, do whatever you want to me.'
She ran through her options like a shopping list: lock herself in the loo? Say she had a headache? Or have a go? But what was she supposed to do to him, specifically? Cover him in whipped cream and call him Margaret?
âThe only thing I think I'm capable of, Jason, is tickling you,' she said, wincing at her cluelessness as her fingers wiggled. âI'm sorry. I'm just confused, this is so out of the blue.' She pulled his mask up onto his forehead so he looked like a camp Rambo; she needed eye contact. That way they could be honest, which was how they'd always operated. But while his big brown eyes usually shone with warmth, now they were hurt.
âI was just trying to liven things up,' he said, staring down. Then, after a pause, he added, âBecauseâ¦'
âBecause?' she asked, warily. What was going on?
âI dunno, things are a bit, you know, predictable in bed, that's all.'
âOh,' Frankie said, touching her face as if his words had slapped her cheek. She smarted from both the shock of his confession and the naive shame that she hadn't realized he'd been unsatisfied when she thought they were a flawless fit. âYou never mentioned itâ¦'
âNo,' he said, meeting her gaze with embarrassment, then looking away again.
A chill snaked its way around her heart as she waited for him to elaborate. But he remained quiet, pensive.
âWe're okay, aren't we?' she asked nervously, searching his troubled face for a smile. Because they did it twice a week, which was âvery good' according to the experts. And Jason always seemed content afterwards. âOh, God, is it because I've put on a bit of weight over the last year? It's just because I'm so happy, that's all.'
âNo, don't be silly, you're perfect,' he said, reaching for her hand then placing it down softly on the duvet as if it was porcelain. âMaybe that's the problem. You're too perfect.'
âWhat? I don't understand,' she said, wishing â no, praying that he would leap up, yell âjoke!' and they'd have a laugh then clean their teeth together, like they did every night. But he was silent. It was a very bad sign. There was no denial, no âeverything is fine'. This was even more worrying than the sight of him trussed up. âJase?' she asked, her heart running up her throat with fear as the bed tilted and she lost her balance.
âI love you, you know that, don't you?' he said.
âYes,' she replied in a tiny voice, with her heart now in her mouth, terrified of what was about to happen. This was how people started talking when there was a heartbreaking and life-changing âbut'. When bad things happened and they became defining âbefore' and âafter' moments. Like the time Mum told them she was leaving. She pushed the memory of her parents' split out of her mind; she was anxious enough already and didn't need to think of that too. This wasn't supposed to be happening to her. âWhat is it?' she said, panicking. âBecause whatever it is, we can put it right. We're in love. We're together forever, like you always said, remember?'
But, oh, Frankie's fear mounted as he failed to answer her. It was a pathetic sight as Jason sighed heavily, unlocked the handcuff and threw his mask to the floor. He turned his back to her, sitting on the edge of the bed, bent his head and rubbed his eyes with the heel of his palms. Then he spoke. âDon't you ever wonder what else is out there, Frankie? Don't you wonder if we got together too young and we missed out on stuff? Like, we needed a change but we thought the wedding was the next step instead of being brave enough to live a little, then settle down. Don't you ever wonder that?'
Inside, she screamed, “No, never” â but her voice let her down. She wanted him to stop â how much more could she take? â but she could see by his drooping posture that he wasn't finished.
âEver since we got married, I've felt sort of numb. Lost. As if everything's a grey blur. I even went to see a doctor, thinking I had something wrong with me. But there wasn't. I knew then I wasn't happy. And it's not fair on you to carry on. Because I can't. Not like this. I'm so, so sorry.'
His words were clearly well-rehearsed which was the most hurtful thing of all. He'd obviously been waiting to tell her. This wasn't some spur of the moment thing; he meant it.
Panicking, she stalled for time. âThe doctors? Why didn't you tell me? We tell each other everything.' He just shook his head. âWe can sort it out,' she pleaded, desperate now. âWe know each other inside out.' Jason's shoulders began to shrug as he broke down.