General Fiction posted June 21, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
I Just Didn't Know


by Ulla

I Just Didn't Know Contest Winner 
"I didn't know what I was getting into." Charlotte said, her eyes wandering round the busy cafe.

It was always like this on a Friday afternoon, and that's what she liked about it. Today, Karen, her best friend was with her, though. Charlotte sat the coffee mug on the table and gazed at her friend.

"Not only did I behave like an idiot, I also was one. You have my permission to say so." The latter was said with a wry smile. "That's what infatuation does to you. I suppose I was easy prey. As you know, I was fresh out of my last relationship."

"Yeah, that's what's surprised me and everybody else." Karen said. "At the time, I just didn't understand how you could jump into another set of arms right after you and Adam split up. But, I admit, the minute you introduced me to Martin, I could see the attraction, handsome bloke, that he was."

"Too bloody handsome for his own good," Charlotte murmured.

They both fell quiet, each in their own thoughts. Karen was the best of friends. The moment Charlotte phoned from London, Karen put everything aside and jumped on the first flight. She knew Charlotte well enough to realise that something was very wrong.

They went way back. Grown up in the same neighbourhood in the outskirts of Dublin, gone to the same school, and done almost everything together. They'd been inseparable all the way into adulthood. Remained close even when life had taken them in different directions.

Charlotte was the extrovert of the two, and Karen wasn't surprised when Charlotte moved to London after meeting Adam.

Karen snapped out of her reverie when Charlotte said, "Would you like another coffee?"

"No thank you, but I have an idea. Why don't we have a glass of wine before we go to the Italian restaurant you suggested for our evening meal? That way, we can sit down for a drink, and you can tell me about Martin and what happened."

Charlotte smiled. "Brilliant, I know just the place. Let me pay for this, and we're on our way."

Ten minutes later, they sat at a quiet table in a nearby pub, both nursing a glass of white wine. Karen lifted her glass.

"Time to spill the beans, Charlotte. What exactly went wrong?"

"Do you want the long or the short version?"

"Stop playing games, woman! The short version will do nicely for now. I do want something to eat tonight."

A sad smile curled Charlotte's lips.

"Okay, as you know, Martin and I fell head over heels in love. Well, in hindsight, I fell rather than him. Anyway, as you also know, it wasn't long before he moved in with me."

Karen nodded.

"Well, Martin gave me a song and dance about this new project of his. He knew a lot about antiques. That at least was true. There was a lease up for grabs in some fancy area of London. It just couldn't go wrong, he assured me. He showed me the overheads, and I must admit it looked impressive. There was only one slight problem. He was short of a few thousand pounds, and would it be possible for me to invest that in his business, as it would be a great opportunity, and blablabla ..."

"But, Charlotte, now you are telling me too short of a version. You became engaged to marry, didn't you?"

"Oh, yes, That we did. He declared his eternal love. He even brought me along to some expensive jewellers and let me choose the most beautiful ring. I fell for it all, and how could I not? He was like a dream come true. Not only nice looking, but also fun to be with and not short of a penny or two. Well, so it appeared. On top of that, he was also a very intelligent guy. And, I fell for it all. Man, did I fall!"

Karen gave her friend a sad smile. "Oh boy, how wrong we all were. Over in Ireland, we all mused that we were soon going to the wedding of the year. So what went so terribly wrong?"

"Well, you'll know in a minute. My glass is empty, and I'm having another. What about you?"

"Go on, we'll sleep it off tomorrow if need be."

A minute later, Charlotte was back with two full glasses. She took a sip and continued.

"Well, the next thing I knew, Martin talked me into to giving him the shortfall of the thirty odd thousand. He pointed out what a great benefit it would be to both of us once the business was established and up and running. The money would be flowing in. Of that he was certain, and as a result we would enjoy a nice life style.

"I did insist on going with him to the bank, but they more and less backed Martin up on his word. Everything seemed above board. They even explained to me why they didn't feel they could lend the thirty odd thousand, claiming they had a ceiling as to how much they could offer."

"So, you offered him the money, out of your hard earned savings?" Karen butted in.

"Exactly. Little could I know what was to happen. Naive and lovesick as I was, I handed him the money. I had my lawyer draw up the documents. No, Karen, you don't need to look at me like that. Martin signed them all. In the event that the business should fold, I would get my money back out of the assets. I had become a creditor."

Karen lifted her glass shaking her head. "Okay, Charlotte, what happened then?"

"What do you think? The minute the money cleared, Martin cleared as well. Straight out of my life."

"Karen took a gulp of her wine. "What on earth did you do then?"

"With the little money I had left, I instigated an investigation with a private detective. I received the first report yesterday, which was when I phoned you."

"So what did it say. Can't have been good news since I'm here."

For the first time, Charlotte showed some sign of emotion as tears filled her eyes.

"No, it's rather grim. Apart from the fact that his first name is indeed Martin, and well known in the world of antiques, albeit with a different last name, everything else about him is false. He's committed bigamy twice before, and after cheating his 'wives' out of their money he's disappeared. Nobody has been able to find him. And then, like the rabbit out of the black hat, he re-appears with a new identity and does it all over again. I was conned, and I feel like an idiot. I just didn't know what I was getting myself into."

Karen drained her glass with a look of determination. "Come on, Charlotte, It's time to eat and to make plans. Dinner's on me!"

I Just Didn't Know
Contest Winner


1209 words approx.

Thanks to Angelheart for the use of the artwork
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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