Last time Tracey was busy helping her boss, Gareth, find a suitable present for his wife. When we left them, they were being drawn inexorably towards the lingerie department in a local store with Gareth seemingly determined to…
Look, if you don’t know what’s happening, go back and read part one first.
Tracey could see the entrance to underwear department ahead. If she didn’t do something quickly then Gareth was in for an eyeful of the sort of garments married men can only dream about.
“Phew, I’m a bit tired. Hadn’t we better get this lot back to the office so you can wrap it?” She suggested hopefully.
“Tired Tracey? I thought you liked to ‘shop ’till you drop’ ? I didn’t get it before but I see what you mean now. I’m having a great time.”
He was too. There had been a second visit to the perfumery for “just another look at the skin treatments” although it seemed more to do with having pretty assistants rub cream into his hands.
All too suddenly they were in amongst the underwear. Gareth stopped and stared at the racks of garments. Then at the photos of the models wearing some of them. Tracey could swear she saw his jaw drop open and eyes widen.
“Well. I. Err.” He was lost for words.
“Don’t you think we should get back to the office now. The door’s this way I think.” She tugged his arm
“Yes, you are probably right”. He turned to follow her and for a moment she thought she would get away with it, then a smile played across his face, “You know Tracey. I think I have an idea. I wanted to really surprise my wife and I think some frilly underwear might do it.”
“Oh, I’m not sure. I mean you have bought her loads of lovely presents already. It’s ever so difficult to buy lingerie anyway. I mean it’s so hard to get stuff that fits properly.”
“Lingerie.” He let the word roll around his tongue. Tracey could feel herself going pale. “Oh, I think it could be a bit of fun. I’ll need your help to chose something though. I don’t wear this sort of thing, well not since boarding school anyway ! Ha ha ha.”
Another mental picture appeared in Tracey’s head. It was so horrible that for a moment she forgot to breathe.
He chuckled to himself and started to wander through the racks. Picking up a camisole he held it up to the light. “Do you ladies like this sort of thing?” He asked.
“Um, yes. It’s lovely” she choked on the reply. At that moment he could have held up a bin bag and she’d have concurred.
He put the first garment back and started fondling a diaphanous negligee, making approving noises as he did. Tracey looked on as each item was hoisted up for her approval. This went on for what seemed like hours until something in her head snapped.
Right, she thought, if that’s the way he wants to play it, he’s going to end up with something that will put a damper on his Christmas day. She looked around for the least suitable item in the store. Over in a corner was a range called “Coricarsi divertimento” with a amazonian model looking fierce in something red with black edging. Bingo, she thought, and held up an item for his approval.
“That range is very popular with husbands.” Called out the assistant, with the air of someone who knows just how much of it would be returned unworn in a few days time.
Gareth looked at the photo for a moment and with a big smile, agreed.
“What size sir ?” asked the assistant.
“Oh, erm. I’m not sure. There was a lady in the cosmetics department who looked about right. Could you go an ask there? “
“Don’t worry sir. I’m sure I can quickly find out.” And suddenly the assistant was approaching Tracey with a tape measure.
“No ! It’s not for me !” She squealed.
Gareth realised what was happening and blushed the same colour as the cheap red material of the basque he planned to buy. “Oh no ! It’s not for Tracey. My goodness no. She’s er, just helping me. It’s for my wife.”
The assistant gave him a knowing look. “Very well sir. Perhaps if you can give me a rough idea what size.”
He paused. “Erm, this big ?” He suggested holding out cupped hands in front of his chest.
“Very good sir. I think I can work it out from that.” She grabbed a hanger from the rail. Tracey noted that she didn’t appear to look at the size but was very careful to run it through the till as fast as possible and attach the receipt to the bag with a well practised movement. While he paid up, Tracey had a quick look to make sure no one who might see her was going to spot them leave the shop. After all, if one person could get the wrong idea about her relationship with Gareth, who knows what one of her mates might think if they saw them together.
He seemed to taking his time over payment, she could hear his booming laughter from the counter as she surveyed their exit route. As they left, the assistant was on the phone laughing, looking in Tracey’s direction, but they were out of earshot. Heading for the doors and an escape back to the real world, the other people working in the store did seem to be looking at her in a way that she wasn’t entirely happy with.
Stumbling into the empty office with bags full of bounty, Gareth looked rather more like Isla Fisher than James Herriot for a change. Everyone had gone home. Everyone except Kate, Gareth’s workaholic business partner.
Tracey wasn’t surprised to see a light on from her office door. With only a cat to go home to, she suspected that the firms one-woman driving force would have happily worked through the 25th like a modern day Scrooge. Hearing the noise of the pair’s return, Kate opened the door to her office and surveyed the scene.
“Been having a good time Tracey ? Indulging in a little last minute shopping I see.”
Gareth stood up behind the pile of bags. “Oh Kate. Sorry, I thought everyone had gone home. These aren’t Tracey’s, she has just been helping me pick up a few presents for Olivia. I’m a bit hopeless at this sort of thing and wanted a woman’s perspective, if you see what I mean. Obviously I would have asked you but you were, errr, a bit busy.”
“Really. Well you’re right of course, but I’m surprised Tracey could spare the time either.” Kate approached the bags and started to read the labels.
Tracey thought she had better defend herself, “Oh come on Kate, it’s Christmas Eve for god’s sake. I just thought I’d help the big G bring a bit of festive cheer home. Anyway, we enjoyed ourselves didn’t we?” She looked at Gareth for support.
“Oh yes. It was tremendous fun. Look, I picked up this lovely perfume to start with.” He proffered the package in Kate’s direction.
“I know, I can smell it on you.” She said, wrinkling her nose. “How many different ones did you try out ?”
He looked a little embarrassed. “Well they did seem very attentive. Tracey thinks I might be turning into an, errr, metrosexualite. Apparently that’s what happens if you rub too much cream into your skin.”
Kate was picking at the other bags. “It’s metrosexual and don’t worry, you can’t catch it from moisturiser. Even if you could, they’d need a big pot to convert you.”
“That’s a relief. I didn’t like the sound of it much. Here, take a look at these gloves, aren’t they lovely?” He held up the bright pink gloves. Kate recoiled from the colour.
“Not really might sort of thing, thank you. What have you here though? Is that a Radley bag? Not the one I’d pick but its nice.” She held the bag up to get a better look.
“Well, I’ve Tracey to thank for pointing me at that one. It’s got good firm straps and quality leatherwork, just the sort of thing my wife appreciates. Can you see the little doggie on it too ? Cute eh ? It gave me an idea as we were leaving the store.”
He dived into a bag. With horror, Tracey realised that it was the one from the lingerie section. She prayed that he wasn’t going to start waving the contents around. Not because Kate would be embarrassed, but because she might think that it was Tracey’s suggestion. As it was though, he seemed to be fiddling around in the bottom. Suddenly there was a buzzing sound.
Gareth stood up. “I bought a little something for our pets to play with. I thought it might keep them occupied during lunch. Here, take a look!” With this, he tossed Kate the gift.
Instinctively, Kate caught it. She looked down at her hands and realising what they held, let out a squeal and threw it on the desk between them. The yelp startled Tracey who had never heard Kate make such a girlish noise. Then she looked at the item on the table.
“Where did that come from?” Tracey asked
“Well, you went shopping with him. Is it your idea of a joke young lady?” Said Kate, looking down her nose.
“Not a chance. I mean we bought some underwear but we didn’t.” She was lost for words, “I mean when ?” Then it hit her. The time taken to pay up at the last counter. Gareth laughing with the assistant.
He realised that both women were staring at him. He wondered why.
“Don’t you like it? The nice lady in the underwear section sold it to me. Its call the Big Bonner apparently. I was surprised they sold pet items there but she assured me it would be greeted by howls of approval. Have I done the wrong thing?”
Kate and Tracey looked at each other. The “toy” was vibrating itself across the desk. It reached the edge and fell off with a plop on to the floor.
“Kate.” Said Tracey carefully, “Do you want to tell him or shall I ?”
“Tell me what?” asked Gareth looking confused. Kate walked across and whispered in his ear. As she did his face turned the colour of Santa’s coat.
Poking the toy with the toe of her shoe, she assured him, “Never mind Gareth. Olivia never need know!”
As they closed the door on the office, Kate turned. “Sorry guys, I’ve realised I’ve forgotten something. You carry on, have a nice Christmas.”
Making sure that Tracey and Gareth had disappeared down the stairs, Kate started scrabbling round on the floor of the office in the dark.
“Where did that pesky thing go… I could do with a good back massager.”