Home > The One(14)

The One(14)
Author: John Marrs

‘Oh honey, come here, I’m only teasing,’ Sally said. ‘I don’t think you’re gay, but you must admit, it’s kind of amusing. You’re like that old R. Kelly song … “your mind’s telling you no, but your body—”’

‘You are not funny.’ Nick topped up Sally’s glass with wine and took a large gulp himself.

‘Well, I don’t know how else to react other than to joke about it, because apparently we are not destined to be together. And while the man of my dreams has yet to make himself known, the man of your dreams could be living in the next street to us. He lives in Birmingham too. What kind of strange coincidence is that? We may even already know him …’

‘Don’t be silly. And there is no “man of my dreams” …’

‘Not according to the email …’

Nick rolled his eyes.

‘Shall we see if we can find him on Facebook?’ Sally continued.


‘Come on, let’s see if I can find my competition.’

‘No, I don’t want to.’

‘Are you scared you might develop a little bit of a crush on your future husband?’

Nick shook his head. ‘Look, we don’t even know his surname.’

Sally took the phone from his hand and within three swipes of the keypad, paid the £9.99 required for more details. ‘Name: Alexander Landers Carmichael,’ she read out loud. ‘Age: thirty-two. Occupation: physiotherapist. Eyes: grey – like mine. Hair: dark – like mine.’ She smiled. ‘Height, five foot eight – again, like me. Babe, you do have a type, don’t you? He sounds like my double.’

‘With three exceptions – two breasts and a vagina.’

‘That should be enough information to find him on Facebook.’

‘I don’t really think I want to—’

‘Oh, come on, it’ll be fun.’

Sally typed in Alexander’s name and scrolled down through the list of postage-stamp-sized pictures that appeared. ‘What are the chances of there being four Alexander Carmichaels in the Birmingham area? I’ll use his middle name as well – there can’t be that many Landers.’

‘Just the one it seems,’ Nick replied, pointing at the screen.

They simultaneously squinted at the thumbnail photograph and Sally tried to click on to his profile. However, Alexander Carmichael’s privacy settings wouldn’t enable anyone who wasn’t his friend to look any further. But even from the small picture, both recognised he was a handsome man. His lantern jaw sported dark stubble, his hair had a slight curl and touched his collar, his lips were full and his eyes were wide and warm.

‘I’ve got to hand it to you, babe,’ Sally said. ‘Your DNA has really good taste in men.’

Chapter 20


Andrei opened the car door for Ellie and she followed him along the canal towpath and into the building ahead.

‘You don’t have to come inside, I’m sure it’ll be OK,’ she told him, fairly sure there was little danger lying in wait for her in the provincial pub.

‘This is what you pay me for,’ Andrei replied in his husky Eastern European accent, and went inside to scout the room regardless. Throughout his three years in her employment, he had proven he was worth his weight in gold, having taken punches and even a broken bottle thrust into his chest for her. Ellie turned her head to see the other two members of her security detail in a car parked behind the one she’d arrived in.

‘OK,’ she conceded, ‘but don’t let him see you. Be subtle, I don’t want you scaring him off.’

‘Subtle is my middle name,’ the six-foot-five-inch hulk replied, his tongue placed firmly in his cheek.

Once given the all-clear via text, Ellie entered the Globe country pub in Leighton Buzzard and glanced around with trepidation. Back in her early post-university days she’d often frequent similar pubs to take advantage of their cheap Sunday lunches with all the trimmings. It had reminded her of home. Now when she went out of an evening, it was all pompous wine bars, exclusive members-only clubs and grandiose dining.

She spotted her DNA Match sitting alone at a two-seater table with a partially drunk pint glass in front of him. Tim too looked anxious, as his eyes flitted around the pub until they met Ellie’s. Ellie hoped he hadn’t recognised her from the newspapers. She’d deliberately dressed down in a casual pair of jeans and blouse and had tied her hair back. She’d kept her make-up to a minimum and left her expensive jewellery in the safe at home.

A broad grin spread across Tim’s face as he waved. As she arrived at the table, he stood up to shake her hand, drew her in close and gave a peck on the cheek. She went for a second kiss on the other cheek, but caught him clean on the nose instead. Both laughed and after the initial introductions and pleasantries, Tim went to the bar to get her a drink. He returned to the table with her Hendrick’s gin and tonic and a second beer for himself in his hands. Two packets of salt and vinegar crisps dangled from his mouth.

‘Sorry, but I’m starving,’ he said, dropping them on to the table. ‘I’ve got a massive workload on so I came straight from work and skipped my dinner. Help yourself.’ He opened up one packet and offered her some.

‘Thank you.’ She smiled, and took a couple of crisps to be polite. She could picture the horrified expression on her personal trainer’s face if he were to witness her eating carbs after 6pm.

The conversation between them flowed just as easily as it had by text message, as if they were two old friends who hadn’t seen each other for some time and who were picking up where they’d last left off. They swapped stories about their dreadful dating histories, Tim tried to convince her that Quentin Tarantino was the greatest film director of all time while Ellie extolled the virtues of a macrobiotic diet. They shared barely any interests, but neither seemed concerned. He spoke about his work as a freelance systems analyst and computer programmer, while she told him she was a personal assistant to a CEO in London. She was too scared she would intimidate him if she revealed her real job, and was so convincing about her role that she began to believe her own mistruths.

‘So do you believe in this Match Your DNA thing?’ asked Tim, a few hours into their date.

‘Yes. I take it from your tone you’re not convinced?’

‘I’m not going to lie, I was a bit unsure at first,’ he said, ‘and I only signed up because one of my mates convinced me to. Now he’s pissed off because he still doesn’t have a Match after two months and I found you within a week. But even then, I wasn’t sure if it was the real deal – it sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? That there’s only one person in the world who’s, like, really, completely, linked to you through your DNA and who you’re supposed to fall head over heels in love with … But then you walked into the pub and I thought my stomach had just fallen out of my arse.’

He smiled as Ellie stared at him, partly in wonder at why such opposing personalities had been Matched and partly because he was the least pretentious man she’d ever met, let alone been on a date with.

‘Honestly, Ellie, when I saw you come into the pub, I let out the longest fart, I thought I was going to fly across the room like a deflating balloon.’

Ellie couldn’t help but laugh along with him.

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