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All names are completely fictitious, except for the Dorchester hotel obviously.

As ever, feedback welcomed. Even the negative stuff — as long as it’s constructive!





from Sarah Hanley

To Nicole Potter

Sent: 19 January 2012 18:09

My Dearest Nicole,

You will never know how thrilled I was to get your email, and no — of course I don’t mind you getting my email address from my sister when you bumped into her.

I have read it so many times I think I must know it word for word and while there are some pretty harsh accusations in there, I still delight in reading it over and over. Maybe it’s a form of self punishment as I pretty much deserve every thing you accuse me of.

I am so, so sorry that I left so abruptly and without saying goodbye to anyone, to you in particular, but I hope that as you read this you will understand and even if you are not able forgive me, then at least be able to see things from my perspective at the time.

I know how much it must have hurt you when I left because it hurt me too — more than you will ever know, but before I get into explanations I will try to answer the 2 questions that you asked so plaintively:

Did I leave because of you? Yes, kind of but not because you did anything wrong.

Was it something you said or did? Yes and no. Again you did nothing wrong.

Maybe I should just start at the beginning?

You know that I had no interest in going to university and yet you also knew how much I wanted to go into web design. You used to query how the hell I thought I could do that without going and getting the required qualifications to break into an already oversubscribed job market — I never had an answer for you.

I knew the answer but it was all tied up in the only secret I ever kept from you, unfortunately it was a pretty big, and at times, all-consuming secret.

Do you remember that a little while before I left, you kept saying that my Mum was treating you strangely? You accused her of being cold and unfriendly toward you but I could never see it — I thought you were being paranoid for some reason.

Turns out you were right. You see the secret I’d managed to hide from you for 2 years wasn’t as easy to hide from my Mum.

She was the one who paid close attention to my moods and heard me crying myself to sleep at night and in the end she gave me an ultimatum.

When she got the truth from me I had a choice of moving out of her house and fending for myself, which at 18 with no job or money was too scary a prospect


Moving out and going away to university with her covering the costs. The price of this option was severing ties with you.

I don’t know to this day if I made the right choice but I do know that I went about it the wrong way.

Yes I went and spent 3 years at university, 1 year in total misery, 1 year that was bearable and 1 year where I managed to have some fun and where I learnt an awful lot about myself into the bargain.

Yes I got my degree that allowed me to get a job in web design and now at the ripe old age of 28 I am the manager of a large corporate web design team.

You’d think I’d be happy wouldn’t you? Except there isn’t a single day that’s gone by over the last 10 years when I haven’t thought about you and regretted leaving you.

My secret? Do you remember when we went on a school trip to the Lake District and while we were out walking we all got caught in the most horrendous downpour? Do you remember how when we got back to the youth hostel there weren’t enough showers for everyone to use at once, so you and I offered to share so that everyone could get warmed up after the rain?

Well, that was the day that I realised that I’d fallen in love with you.

I knew I loved you before, we’d been best friends since we started secondary school, but from that moment on I was romantically, head-over-heels, besottedly in love with you.

There, I’ve said it. I’m sorry I never told you sooner but my Mum convinced me that it was wholly immoral to feel that way about another woman and that if I told you you’d be absolutely horrified.

I now know that she was wrong about it being immoral, I don’t believe any form of true and pure love can ever be immoral but please remember that I was only an 18 year old scared kid at the time.

I didn’t want to go to university because I couldn’t bear the thought of being away from you, and yet I ended up going because I was too frightened to stay. Frightened of my Mum’s opinions, of having to make my own way in the world, of telling you about my feelings and seeing hate in your eyes.

So back to your questions.

Did I leave because of you? Yes, I left because you were my every waking thought and having you so near and yet so far from where I wanted you was breaking my young heart.

Was it something you said or did? Every time you started dating a new boyfriend it ripped my soul in two. Hearing you speak about your new romance and the ensuing sex life was the worst kind of torture illegal bahis you could ever have inflicted on me, however you weren’t to know.

So, over the years I’ve had several doomed relationships, some with men and some with women. I’m confident enough with my sexuality now to say that having tried both flavours I definitely prefer women and consider myself to be gay.

Consequently my Mum’s ploy to ‘keep me straight’ as she delicately put it didn’t really work; I came out to her the year after I left college and she hasn’t spoken to me since — not so much as a Christmas card in over 6 years.

I’ve wanted to contact you so many times, but I assumed you were married, had children, were happy; and I knew I didn’t have the right to hurt you all over again just because I wanted to see you. God how I wanted to see you.

It’s a good job that I’m typing this rather than writing, as the paper would be soaked with my tears.

So yes, the way I ‘deserted you’ was indeed heartless and thoughtless and all of the other things you accuse me of and I couldn’t be more sorry; for both of us.

I don’t know how you’ll take this email but if you can bear to respond I would truly love to know how your life has turned out, where you’re living, what you’re doing.

You should know that I still love you now as I loved you then.

Yours always,




From: Nicole Potter

To: Sarah Hanley

Sent: 20 January 2012 09:32

Fuck you, you stupid bitch! I’m sorry that I ever wrote to you in the first place!

Stay away from me and never write to me again — I’m changing my email address so you can’t contact me.


From: Nicole Potter

To: Sarah Hanley

Sent: 20 January 2012 10:48


I’m sorry — you didn’t deserve that.

I can’t do this now because I’m not supposed to be checking my personal email at work, let alone sobbing over my keyboard.

I’ll email you later from home.



From: Nicole Potter

To: Sarah Hanley

Sent: 20 January 2012 17:58

Hi Sarah,

Please let me apologise for my email earlier. I’m so sorry, my anger just took hold of me, I should never have sent it.

I appreciate your candour, and having spoken to my Mum about this (yes, I still talk to her about everything) I can understand your predicament all those years ago but I’m sorry, I can’t forgive you just yet.

Maybe if I tell you a bit about my life you’ll understand why.

When you left me I fell to pieces — literally. I stopped eating, stopped going out, stopped taking care of myself completely. Eventually my Mum got tough with me and sat me down to tell me a ‘few home truths’ as she put it.

She made me understand that I was mourning you. As if you had died. You may as well have been dead to me as I had no idea where you were, how to contact you or why you had left. In fact I only knew you had gone when I phoned your house to ask if you wanted to go shopping and your Mum told me that you had gone away and that you never wanted to hear from me again.

As you can imagine, I was completely devastated.

Eventually I started to pull myself together again (I think the threat of psychiatrists helped) but I never stopped looking for you. I couldn’t stop looking for you. You were my life and I wanted you back.

I had several short flings with generally unsuitable men and got married when I was 20. It was disastrous from the start and it wasn’t long before he started to get verbally abusive which escalated to physical abuse in no time at all. Fortunately Mum came to the rescue again and took me away from the situation — hid me with relatives until a restraining order and divorce did their work.

She sat me down and asked why I always went for the same type of bloke — people who were likely to hurt me, emotionally if not physically. I had no answer — but she did.

I was stunned when she finally suggested that I try dating women. It had never occurred to me that I was anything other than straight, but she pointed out that I was still searching for you and that I therefore picked men who were your opposite. Men who were rough, coarse, inconsiderate and not very intelligent; everything you were not.

During the divorce I suffered from depression — not so much because of the collapse of my marriage but because I yearned to talk to my best friend and you were nowhere to be found.

During my darkest times I came to some pretty startling revelations, including the fact that I’d obviously been in love with you for ages. It wasn’t a huge leap for my addled brain to then deduce that this must be why you’d left me. That you’d realised my feelings and that the idea revolted you — after all, why else would you have left without a word to me?

I’ve had a couple of relationships with women and one actually lasted for 2 years — the longest relationship I’ve ever had, but it didn’t work out. You see I still compare everyone to you and no one fits the bill.

After all the illegal bahis siteleri years that have passed I wonder if I have blown you out of all proportion in my mind but I doubt it.

A couple of months ago my Mum said she’d seen your sister working in the bank and it’s taken me that long to raise the courage to approach her and ask for your contact details, because I didn’t know how she’d react to me. I was very surprised when she seemed pleased to see me.

It then took another week to pluck up the courage to write you the email, and looking back I’m sorry that our first contact in 10 years was so terse — fear and anger makes rationality difficult.

So — there you have it. I’m guessing this isn’t what you expected, especially since my earlier rant.

The reason why I was so angry and why I can’t bring myself to forgive you is that if you’d stayed we might have realised our feelings for each other and the last 10 years might have been marvellous rather than something to be endured.

We could have fought through the tough times together rather than alone.

Bloody hell woman — we could have been lovers!

But then as my Mum pointed out — we may have been too young to handle it then and our relationship may have crumbled anyway. As you can tell, my Mum is still the practical one!

As for your Mum — much as I hope I will be able to forgive you in time, I will never, never, never forgive her!

Always your friend,



PS: Yes I remember that shower very well. I also remember all sorts of other times we’ve been naked or scantily clad it each others presence (changing to go out, sleepovers, swimming etc.) although they didn’t hold any relevance until I had my first lesbian relationship.


From: Sarah Hanley

To: Nicole Potter

Sent: 20 January 2012 19:12

Oh Nicole!

I really fucked up didn’t I? How stupid could I have been. If I’d known, if I’d thought, if I’d dared to hope for just a single second!

Oh god, I was sorry before but now I’m desolate. How could I have been so instrumental in ruining the life of someone I loved and not even realise it? What a complete coward I’ve been.

I’m not surprised you can’t forgive me — I have no means to forgive myself right now.

I don’t know what else to say other than I’m sorry but it seems so inadequate.

I’d like to hear your voice again — if I send you my number will you call me when you feel able?





From: Nicole Potter

To: Sarah Hanley

Sent: 20 January 2012 19:36


You need to shut up now! I can’t stand to know that you’re beating yourself up over this any more, because I don’t want you to be hurting any more than you wanted to hurt me.

You crippled your own life as much as mine, and maybe if I’d been more attuned to how you were feeling, read the signs, been a better friend, hell — understood my own feelings then you wouldn’t have run away.

No — I won’t call you and I won’t give you my number either — I don’t want our first ‘proper’ conversation to happen at a distance and I don’t want either of us to have the opportunity to chicken out last minute…… so I’ll meet with you instead, if you’re willing?




From: Sarah Hanley

To: Nicole Potter

Sent: 20 January 2012 19:53

Of course I’m willing!

Where? When?

I’m living in London these days but I’m happy to travel anywhere to meet you? I can take time off work if I need to!

Shit! I’m so excited I think I’m going to be sick!



From: Nicole Potter

To: Sarah Hanley

Sent: 20 January 2012 20:12

Well, this might surprise you but I’m also living in London!

Are you doing anything this weekend?

I think we should meet somewhere public and yet anonymous. I also think we should do it in style, (bugger the expense) so how about I meet you in the bar of the Dorchester on Friday night at 7.30pm?

I know what you mean — serious butterflies!




From: Sarah Hanley

To: Nicole Potter

Sent: 20 January 2012 20:24

Holy crap that’s tomorrow! Less than 24 hours away!

Oh god yes! YES!!!!

I’m going to have to cancel a meeting to be able to get there in time but I promise I’ll email you by 10am if there’s a problem. I’ll definitely be there — might just have to change the time slightly.




From: Nicole Potter

To: Sarah Hanley

Sent: 20 January 2012 20:37

I can’t believe I’m saying this but…… see you tomorrow!


So that’s how I ended up standing on the steps of the Dorchester trembling. I’m not sure which had the upper hand right then; nerves, excitement, anticipation or downright honest-to-goodness fear!

Will Nicole recognise me? Will I recognise her? Will she have changed? Will she think that I’ve changed? Will we ever be able to get over the canlı bahis siteleri last 10 years and be friends again? And if so, could we make it past friendship to something more intimate?

These thoughts had been running around my head all day, stopping me thinking, stopping me working, at times almost stopping me breathing.

At about 4 o’clock my studio supervisor, who also happens to be a good friend, came into my office and closed the door — demanding to know who had stolen her bosses brain.

I couldn’t help it, the whole story just poured from my mouth in a torrent of jumbled words until I was left sobbing into my hands at the wasted time I had forced on us both.

After some serious hugs and soothing noises I was persuaded to leave a little early and go home to get myself sorted out, having had it pointed out to me that I’d feel better if I arrived at the Dorchester refreshed from a shower and looking my best.

Then I was there. Staring at the door. But I couldn’t move my legs. The doorman came down the steps to ask if I was ok and having to interact with another person broke my reverie and galvanised me into action.

Smiling at the doorman I felt my legs move and then I was heading through the revolving door into the foyer of the hotel.

I’d been there before for a formal function so I knew where the bar was but being 15 minutes early I headed for the toilets to check my appearance, taken aback at the startled-rabbit expression that faced me in the mirror.

Walking into the bar still 10 minutes early I stood at the entrance, scanning the occupied tables for any sign of Nicole and felt a weird mixture of relief and disappointment when I didn’t see her but then a young man in Hotel uniform approached me and asked if I was Miss Hanley?

My stomach lurched as I nodded dumbly. Is she here? Has she pulled out? Maybe she’s just running late? Is she punishing me? She doesn’t have my number, maybe something came up.

‘Follow me please, your friend is seated through here.’ and so I followed him with leaden legs, spitfires performing acrobatics in my gut and sweat breaking out all over my body as he showed me to a booth at the back of the room.

She saw me immediately and stood, staring, just as I stood rooted to the spot staring back, and then we were moving toward each other as fast as we could until we were tightly wrapped in each other’s arms, me sobbing into her hair as she sobbed into my shoulder.

I have no idea how long we stood there like that, just hugging and crying, or who pulled away first but the next thing I knew I was staring into a pair of eyes that I knew as well as my own. Older than when I had last seen them yes, with slight crinkles around the outside and the naivety had gone from them — but they were Nicole’s eyes just the same. They were the same shade of slate grey as they always had been and they stopped my heart for a second as I looked into their shimmering depths through the haze of my own tears.

I raised my hands to her face and dried her tears with my thumbs and her face broke into the most beautiful smile I have ever seen in my life. It seemed that sunshine radiated from that smile and warmed the entire room — and still we stood and stared at each other, studying each other’s face as though we might find the answer to a long lost question.

I was acutely aware of all of my senses as if they had been fine tuned. I could hear Nicole’s breathing, feel the blood fizzing through my body, colours seemed sharper, the scent of her perfume insinuated itself gently into my consciousness, the feeling of her hands on my hips was electrifying, the softness of her cheeks under my fingers was like a soothing balm to my troubled mind — and then she spoke the first 3 words that had passed between us verbally for a little over 10 years.

‘Kiss me Sarah’ and so I did. With her face still cradled in my hands I brushed my lips delicately against hers, feeling rather than hearing the sigh that escaped her as she threw her arms around my neck and pulled me tightly against her.

She kissed me back, gently and sweetly, until our lips parted and our tongues cautiously touched for the first time, teasing each other and sensuously tussling.

‘Ahem — can I fetch you ladies a drink?’ and we both turned to the waiter, startled back into to the reality that we were standing in the bar of the Dorchester hotel, amidst a room full of business men, theatre goers and tourists, sharing the most intimate moment of our lives.

We smiled at each other before responding in unison ‘Champagne!’

We sat down then into the deep leather of the booth, side by side but turned toward each other so we could continue to look at each other. It was as if we were scared to look away in case it wasn’t real and the object of our hearts desire would vanish by the time we looked back.

‘Hello Nicole’

‘Hello Sarah. Are you going to stop grinning at any point?’

‘No, never. My dreams have all come true, why would I stop grinning? Besides — you’re grinning too!’

‘I know but I was thinking about the prospect of fulfilling the rest of my dreams — I’m not as easily satisfied as you.’

‘That sounds interesting! You know I was terrified of coming here, I thought it would be awkward but you made it so beautiful, thank you.’

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