Grace

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One

I called him several times again as I drove, but he had kept his turned off. When I pulled over for fuel, I send him a strongly worded text and demanded that he call me. Back on the road, my thoughts turned back to Grace as I said, she was a beautiful woman, loyal, and a great mother. She is about to turn thirty-two, but can easily pass for a woman in her mid to late twenties, she has gorgeous long red hair, and beautiful big green eyes. She stands at around five-five and has a wonderful figure, in my eyes, she was a stunner, and always had been. I remember when my son told me that he was going to ask her to marry him I said that he was doing the right thing, “you’re punching way above your weight with her,” I’d said to him. I shook my head.

‘How could he walk away from all that? Who is this woman that’s turned his head?’

Traffic was light and I made good time, I pulled into the drive at around one-thirty, there was a lone light on in the lounge. I let myself in and closed the door quietly, I didn’t want to disturb her if she was asleep. I walked into the lounge and she was sat on the sofa with her legs tucked under her, she looked up at me and smiled, her eyes red from all the crying. I walked over and sat beside her and she fell into my arms and sobbed.

“Oh Bob, what am I going to do?”

I sat and held her as she cried, I stroked her hair and tried to reassure her that everything will be okay and that I will be beside her for as long as she needed me to be.

“Anyway, he’ll come to his senses and come crawling back.”

She sniffed and looked up at me.

“I don’t want him back!” She snapped.

I held her, of course, she was angry, but given time she might think more clearly. I said that she should get some sleep and we could travel to mine in the morning. She sat up and looked at me.

“No. I can’t stay here a moment longer. He’s had her here dad. In our bed!”

I was again shocked, I wondered how she knew that, but now wasn’t the time to ask. I asked her if she was sure, and she was. I looked behind the sofa and noticed that she’d packed a bag.

I got up and pulled her to her feet and she hugged me once more.

“Thanks, Dad.” She sighed.

I stroked her hair and held her, and rocked her gently.

“Come on then. We have a long drive ahead of us.”

She was asleep before we hit the motorway. I drove in silence, normally I’d have some music playing to keep me awake, but she needed to rest, so I drove on with the steady, rhythmical breathing of my daughter-in-law as my soundtrack.

We arrived home, it was just before four in the morning and the sunset wasn’t far away. I turned off the engine and looked at her. She looked so peaceful. She had mumbled a few times in her sleep as she probably had experienced a bad dream. And I didn’t want to wake her. I reached over and gently shook her.

“Grace? Grace honey, we are here.” I whispered.

She opened her eyes and looked around then back at me. When she did I saw the stress lines immediately return around her eyes. I stroked her face.

“Come on. Let’s get you inside. You need to get some proper sleep.”

I helped her out of the car and led her into the house.

As I locked up and turned off the lights she had made her way to the sofa, and when I walked into the lounge she leaned against the arm with her eyes closed. I tried to get her up but she shook her head and held out her arm. I sat beside her and stayed with her for a while, A few minutes later she began to breathe softly, she was asleep again, I shook her.

“Come on Grace, let’s get you upstairs,”

She shook her head and moaned softly.

“No, I’ll just lie here, will you stay with me?” She sighed.

I nodded.

“Of course I will, but let me go and get a blanket.”

I slipped my arm from under her and crept upstairs, I took the duvet from one of the spare room’s bed and returned to her. I slipped beside her and slid my arm under her and she cuddled into me and nuzzled her face into my neck. I pulled the duvet over us and settled down. She soon fell asleep, and as I stroked her hair, I could see the tension on her face slowly clear as her sleep became deeper and deeper.

“Oh Grace, what has that idiot of a son done to you?” I whispered.

I woke up just after nine. I felt rough but I carefully extricated myself from her arms and laid her down on the sofa and covered her up again. I sat in the kitchen and hugged a mug of coffee as I thought about my son, and how he could have done that to her.

‘What the hell had got into you Tom.?’ I wondered.

I heard her stir just after ten. I walked into the lounge and she was sat up. She looked at me, she looked like crap, though I wasn’t going to tell her that, I was sure that she knew how she felt.

“Come on. In the kitchen, You need coffee and something to eat. And I need information.” She rolled her eyes at me, but got up and followed me into the kitchen.

She looked a lot better after a mug of coffee and a bacon sandwich. I’d made idle chit-chat, I’d avoided the reason why she was here. But as she looked and felt a lot better I decided that it was time.

“Okay, Grace. Tell me what happened.”

She leaned her head against my shoulder as we chatted. She said that she found a pair of panties behind their bed when she had changed the sheets and turned the mattress.

“I knew that they weren’t mine, Dad.” She looked so hurt.

She confronted him, and at first, he denied it, he said that she must have been mistaken and that they must have been hers.

She looked at me.

“Look at me. I’m a size twelve. These were and eight!” She said.

She continued and said that when he came home the day before he stunk of perfume, and had a scratch on his neck. The perfume wasn’t hers. She demanded an answer and he finally admitted it, he said that it was someone from work, and had been going on for a couple of months.

She sighed.

“I should have known Bob. We haven’t had sex for months.”

She began to cry.

“It’s my fault.” She sobbed.

I held her and cuddled her.

“Stop that. None of this is your fault.” I comforted her.

I couldn’t believe, my idiot son, how could he cheat on this woman? I said all the right things, I comforted her, but she was just a desperately unhappy and hurt woman.

I took her upstairs and put her in one of the spare rooms and told her to take a shower. As she showered and changed I made us some lunch, a light salad. And then, I persuaded her to have a lie-down, which she did.

I tried desperately to contact Tom, I was so mad at him. I sat and stared out into the garden, ‘where the hell are you, Tom?’

I let her sleep, she woke just after six and wandered downstairs and into the kitchen.

“What’s that smell, Bob?”

I smiled.

“Chicken Korma. I know that you always liked my recipe when you were younger, and I thought that you might be hungry after your nap. Take a seat, it won’t be long, just making some Naan bread.”

She smiled as she sat.

“Quite the cook Bob! I married the wrong Adams.”

I smiled.

“Well, that might have proved difficult, as I was already married.”

We ate a delicious mean, I sat back and pushed my plate away.

“I am stuffed!”

She nodded.

“Me too, that was delicious Bob.”

She got up and kissed my cheek and hugged me.

“I don’t know what I’d do without you, Bob.”

I smiled.

“You’d be fine, besides, I kind of feel responsible.”

She looked at me.

“How?” She looked puzzled.

I smiled.

“I made that idiot!”

She laughed.

“Yeah, but he’s nothing like you Bob, you would never have done anything like this to Mary.”

She was right, I loved my wife, Mary, like her and Tom, Mary and I were childhood sweethearts, but sadly, she died three years ago from breast cancer, and my life has been empty ever since.

“She’d be horrified by what he’s done to you, Grace. She would have talked some sense into him, that’s for sure. He was more scared of her than he ever was of me.” I said.

She nodded, she and Mary got on famously, Mary loved her like a daughter she never had. We retired to the lounge, the TV was on but neither of us watched it, I held my arm out and she lay on it and leaned against me. She sighed as she laid her head n my shoulder and I slid my hand down her arm and held her.

“Mmm, this is nice. Do you know? He hasn’t hugged me for months, not like this.”

She shuffled herself deeper into my embrace as I squeezed her arm.

“What can I say, he’s my idiot son.”

We sat there for a while then I broached the subject of his return when, as I suspected, he would eventually realise just what he’d done. She lifted her head and looked at me

“Bob, I don’t think that I could never trust him again. I know that it will be hard, but once I get through these difficult days, I won’t risk going through it again, no, I think that we are done.”

I sighed and cuddled her, it was her decision, she’s a grown woman so I respected it.

She asked about my life and in particular my love-life.

“I don’t have one Grace. To be honest, I haven’t been interested.” I replied honestly, I hadn’t thought about it.

She placed her hand on my chest, her fingers slid softly over my shirt.

“Mary wouldn’t want you to be on your own forever Bob.”

I nodded.

“I know, but, well I haven’t met anyone yet.

I felt my phone buzz, I took it out and looked at the screen. It was a text message from Tom, I opened it, it read ‘call me’.

She looked at me.

“Is it from him?” She asked.

I nodded, I wasn’t going to lie to her.

“He wants me to call him,” I replied.

“I’ll leave you alone.” She said and got up and went to the bathroom. As soon as she had left the room I called him.

“Dad?”

“What the fuck are you playing at Tom?”

“I know Dad, but you don’t understand.” He protested.

“Damn right I don’t understand, you walked out on your wife!”

“It wasn’t like that Dad, I had no choice.”

“Sure, you had a choice, you could have stayed, you could not have had an affair.”

“Dad, listen, I messed up okay, how do I fix it?”

I thought, ‘is this guy serious? What the hell have I raised here?’

“Well son, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that you can, right now. She’s pissed.”

“Please, dad.”

“Where is this woman you left your family for?”

“Oh, well she wasn’t pleased when I told her that I’d left Grace, so, well we kind of broke up.”

“Oh, so that’s why you want to come back then!”

“Please, Dad. I’ve called her but she has her mobile off, and the house phone just rings out.

“She’s here son,” I said.

“She’s with you? Okay, so you can convince her to forgive me?”

I sighed.

“No son. I can’t. I won’t. It’s your mess, you have to fic it. But for what its worth, I think that she’s pretty determined that it’s over son. You might have to accept that.”

I heard her coming down the stairs I told him that I had to go, but I’d see what I could do.

I was on the sofa when she came back, she picked up her wine glass and topped it up, then mine.

“What did he say?” She asked.

I took a drink and told her that he wants to come back, her response surprised me.

“Hah! She threw him out, didn’t she?”

I looked at her.

“I’m not going to lie, Grace, yes, but he is sorry,” I said.

She sipped more wine, and she looked pissed.

“Sorry that he cheated, or sorry that he got caught? Did you tell him that he’s wasting his time?”

I nodded.

“I did. But I also told him that I’d talk to you. He knows that it will be difficult, but I think you two need to talk.”

When she looked at me, I have never felt so bad. She looked so disappointed in me. Her eyes spoke volumes.

“I thought you were on my side Dad, I thought that I could rely on you.” She whispered.

I reached out to her, but she backed away. “Maybe I should go to a hotel, I can handle this myself.” She said, her voice cracking.

I felt like a dagger had been plunged in my heart.

“Listen, Grace, it’s not my place to be telling him that it’s over between you and him. But if you decide that its over, then, of course, I’m right behind you. But please, take some time to think about it. And if you still think that there is no hope for you both, then it must come from you, he won’t accept it from me.”

I put my glass down.

“And if you want to leave, then, of course, I’ll take you to a hotel.”

I shifted position to prepare to get up when she threw herself on me and sobbed.

“No, no, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it. I need you.”

I hugged her.

“I’m not going anywhere, Grace.”

She calmed down and she lay across my chest as we watched TV.

I convinced her to go to bed at around midnight. I turned off the lights and retired to my bedroom not long after where I tossed and turned for an hour or so. I was so restless, I was unable to get the conversation with my son out of my head when I heard a light tapping on my bedroom door. I looked towards the door and saw it push open and she popped her head around. I smiled.

“Can I come in?” She asked.

I nodded. She walked in wearing a pink and cream knee-length nightie and sat on the bed.

“I can’t sleep.” She sighed.

Which wasn’t a surprise, she’d only woken up at six. I sat up.

“Me neither” I replied.

She looked like she had something on her mind, I took her hand.

“What is it Grace?” I asked.

She bit her lip. “Would it be okay if I slept in with you? Just for tonight?”

My heart skipped a beat, and I couldn’t say no without causing her distress. But I was conscious that she and I had shared a bed before when she stayed with me following my wife’s death. And I remembered only too well the potentially embarrassing moments that I managed to avoid when I woke up with an erection after she had stayed with me. I nodded.

“Give me a minute to put something on though,” I said.

She looked at me, a little smile crept across her lips.

“Oh Bob, don’t tell me that you still sleep naked?” She smiled, that wicked smile returned to her lips just for a fleeting moment, I knew that she remembered that I used to sleep naked and she had to buy pyjamas for me when she stayed over to look after me.

I blushed. “No, I’ve only got boxers on,” I replied.

“That’s okay, scoot over.” She said and walked towards the bed.

I slid across as she pulled the duvet back, gave me a cheeky grin as she saw my grey boxers. She shook her head and slipped under the duvet and pulled it over her. She settled down on her side and faced away, I lay and turned on my side away from her, I felt my pulse race and blushed as I realised that I had a hard-on. I was desperate for it to go down. She whispered.

“Bob. Do you mind if I cuddle you?”

I sighed. “No. Of course not.” I replied.

She turned and slipped her arm across me and cuddles into my back.

“Thank you. Goodnight.” She let out a soft moan and hugged me tight, and that’s how we fell asleep.

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