My Friends' Wives And Me

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Chapter 8

A week passed, work was a bit scarce and the bills were starting to pile up on my desk. During that week, Liz rang me at work to tell me that we had been invited to Lucy and Ivor’s for a meal. It had been a long time since I’d spoken to Ivor. He was very high up in the company he worked for and travelled abroad quite a lot. I’d known him since school days; we went to nightclubs together and raced round the streets in our first cars. We were very close in those days, then he got married, had two children and we lost contact for a while. We bumped into each other at a party some years ago and now we tried to see each other as often as possible.

On the Thursday morning, I sent a bunch of flowers round to their house; I thought they might give me a head start. I left work about five o’clock and dashed home to get ready. We were there by seven. As we walked in to the front room, Lucy stood up, kissed me on the cheek and said, “Thank you for the lovely flowers.”

Ivor laughed and said, “She thought they were from me.”

I looked at Liz as she nudged me in the ribs, with a ‘you’re in trouble’ look and Ivor went into the kitchen to get us all a drink.

Lucy took us through to the dining room, where the table was laid out. The food was excellent that night and we carried on drinking after the meal.

“This is one of the advantages of working away,” said Ivor as he opened the drinks cabinet. There was every conceivable drink you could wish for. “What would you like?” he proudly said, as he moved the front bottles on to the floor below the cabinet. We all had a brandy and he sat down.

“Have you told them about the escapade on the roof yet?” asked Lucy.

I could tell he was embarrassed. “No,” he said. His head dropped. “I wasn’t going to tell anyone about that,” he said, then he looked at me. “It was nothing, take no notice of her.”

“Come on, I’m all ears,” I said, as I put my brandy down on the table in front of me.

“Well, I was cleaning the dormer window on the side of the roof a few months back. It was a lovely day and, while I was up there, I just happened to look up at the chimney and growing out of the side was a small weed. So I thought the best thing to do, while I was up there, was to shuffle along the apex of the roof and take it out. So carefully, hanging on for dear life, I pulled myself along on my bum slowly, with one leg over each side to keep my balance. As I got nearer, I could see three or four sticking out the back.” Ivor took a large swig from his glass and went on. “This is where it all went tits up. I stood up nervously, gripping the chimney as tight as I could, trying not to look down, and plucked them out. As I pulled the last one, which was a little more stubborn, a brick became dislodged and fell from the chimney, on to the next-door neighbours’ roof slates and slid all the way down, taking 15 tiles with it. Then it hit the gutter, ripped that clean off the wall and dropped into the garden with a clatter.” At this point, I started laughing. “That’s not all,” he said with a straight face. “I quickly shuffled back to the dormer window, panicking, and, trying to get back in, put my foot straight through the glass I’d just cleaned. I climbed down the ladder, ran down the stairs and out into the back garden to see what damage I’d done. The brick had fallen onto a stone ornamental statue and demolished that into a thousand bits.” By now the tears were running down my face. “Then,” he said, still without a smile, “knowing the neighbours were out, I quickly rang about six roofers from the phone book, to try and find one that would come out straight away. Eventually one said yes, and he would come round in ten minutes, so I thought, while I’m waiting, I’ll clean up the broken glass in the bedroom. Eventually the roofer arrived and I showed him the damage and explained that I wanted all the broken tiles taken off the neighbours’ roof and replaced with mine before they came home, as they were the same. ‘No problem,’ the roofer said.” Ivor stopped to take a gulp of brandy again and I had to dry my face on my napkin. Then he carried on. “By this time, it had started to rain. The roofer untied his roof ladder on the pick-up truck, him and his mate carried it over and stood it up to the roof on the front of our house. Then the roofer said to his mate, ‘Just put your foot on it while I get my fags out the cab.’ As he walked towards the truck, his mate stood by the bottom of the ladder and searched in his pockets for his hat. When he couldn’t find it, he turned to the roofer and shouted, ‘Look in the cab for my hat, Lofty.’ With that, a gust of wind blew the ladder sidewards and it went straight through the same neighbours’ double-glazed bay window, that was fitted two weeks previously.”

I was in bits, I couldn’t breathe. My eyes were streaming and my chest was hurting. Ivor still hadn’t smiled once. Liz and Lucy were doubled up as well. Ivor stood up to get some more drinks and asked me if I wanted something different. I couldn’t speak, I could only just, nod.

After about five minutes, I calmed down a bit and Ivor sat back down, with his two hands cupped around the brandy glass. It almost went quiet then he said, “And to top it all, not only had all this gone on outside the house but a brick had fallen down the inside of the chimney into their open fireplace and there was black soot all over their furniture and walls.”

I was off again, nothing was going to stop me laughing. I could just imagine this going on and the look on his face, as everything got worse.

Eventually, I pulled myself together and Lucy said, “I left him to it and went out to a friend’s house down the road. Everything he touched that day went wrong; when the insurance man came out he couldn’t believe it.”

I couldn’t resist it, I had to ask: “What did the people next door say when they got home?”

Ivor looked at me and said, “They weren’t very happy as you can imagine. When their house was rebuilt, they put it on the market and moved into the country, with no neighbours for miles.

We sat and drank some more, talking about old times. Liz went up to the bathroom and Lucy asked Ivor to check the kids were still asleep. Lucy and I were sitting at the table on our own and both quite tipsy by this time, so I asked her, “Would you like to come out with me one dinner-time for a drink, the next time Ivor’s away?”

She looked up at me and said, “Yes, that would be nice. I’ll ask Ivor if that’s all right,


“No! If we go out it will have to be our secret.”

“Oh yeah, what have you got in mind, then?” she said with a suspicious look on her face.

“Well, we can’t talk here tonight. I’ll stop on my way to work in the morning and explain. In the meantime, just think about it.”

With that, Ivor walked in, Liz behind him laughing, and said, “They’re all fast asleep.” Lucy looked like she was deep in thought.

It was around midnight when Liz asked Ivor for our coats. We left, thanking them for a very memorable night. As I shook his hand, I added, “That must be one of the funniest stories I’ve heard for a long time.” All the way home I kept thinking about Ivor on the roof and bursting out with laughter.

The next morning, I drove past Lucy’s house; she was walking across the road with the kids. I waited at the bottom of her drive while she dropped them off at school and when she came out, she stood by my door and tapped on the glass. I dropped the window and then she said inquisitively, “What did you mean last night?”

I couldn’t think of anything else to say except, “I mean an affair.”

“With me?” she said with a surprised look on her face.

“Yes, with you.”

“No, I couldn’t, we would be seen by someone. It’s not the thing to do, Ivor is your friend and Liz is my friend. It’s impossible, we couldn’t.”

I asked her to sit in the passenger seat. She looked up and down the road as she walked around the car and got in, leaving the door open and one foot on the pavement. “It wouldn’t work,” she went on to say. “If we were seen by someone, we would both be in trouble.”

“We wouldn’t be seen by anyone.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because we wouldn’t be around here, we’d be miles away. I thought we could go somewhere quiet, have a drink or two and maybe spend the night together.”

She started shaking her head from side to side slowly. “No, I don’t think I could.”

“Well, why don’t you think about it and I will ring you later in the week. I’d love to take you out somewhere really nice.”

She looked at me with a blank expression on her face and said, “I’ve heard of people doing this sort of thing but you’ve really surprised me. I didn’t think you were like that. Ring me then but don’t hold any hopes.” She kissed me on the cheek and got out, shutting the door behind her. I carried on to work, thinking to myself at least she didn’t say no.

It was the following afternoon when Lucy rang me at work. “Hello,” she said. “I’ve thought about it.”

“What’s your answer?” I asked, with my fingers crossed.

“No one will know, will they?”

“No, it’s strictly between you and me. Don’t say anything to anyone, not even your best friend.”

“The answer is yes then,” she said apprehensively. “I’ve been a good housewife up to now.”

“Don’t worry, it’s going to be lovely,” I added, trying to reassure her. “I’ll think of somewhere nice and ring you back - when is Ivor away next?”

“Tomorrow for four days, next week for five and a week on Wednesday my mum’s having the kids for a couple of days to give me a break.”

“I will aim for then, that will give me plenty of time to arrange something really special.” I put the phone down and went down the stairs to see a customer, with a big grin stretched across my face.

A few days later, I had to go out to someone that had broken down on the motorway in their car. They were travelling to the airport to go to Ireland for a week. I tried to repair it but the cam belt was broken, so I loaded the car onto the truck and explained that it was a big job and that I would repair it while they were away.

I dropped them off at the airport and told them it would be ready for when they got back. They were very grateful and on the way to the airport, we talked about Ireland. It suddenly struck me - that would be a great place to take Lucy. I dropped them off by the entrance to the main terminal and got the luggage out of the boot of their car. From the amount they had, anyone would think they were going for a year. I gave the man a phone number to call me on his return and left.

On the way back, I was day-dreaming about a romantic night in Ireland. I unloaded the car and went up to my office and found an old map. I glanced at it for a while, wondering where to go. I phoned the airport information desk and the girl told me that Ryan Airways flew twice a day to Dublin, so we could go Wednesday morning and fly back Thursday afternoon, just in time for Lucy to collect her kids from school. We didn’t need a passport so we could have a nice night in a little Irish village and no one would know we’d been.

Later that day, I made my way down to the travel agents and picked up a few brochures for short breaks in Ireland. I sat in my car for a while looking at all the lovely places and the golden sandy beaches then drove back to work, took them up to my office and studied them carefully, page by page. There were too many nice places to choose from; there were castles, hotel rooms of all shapes and sizes, but eventually, I found the one. It was a castle at the base of a mountain, overlooking a huge lake. It looked amazing. I rang to see if they had a room for one night.

A woman answered, with a very soft Irish accent, and said, “Of course, we have large rooms and some smaller ones. What would you be fancying?” I explained I wanted a double room, with a view of the lake and told her I was bringing my wife; it was an anniversary present for her. She went on to tell me the price and I told her I would ring back later. The flight was no problem apparently, so I quickly rang Lucy and told her it was all arranged for Wednesday morning and that we would be back home on Thursday afternoon. When she asked me where we were going, I told her it was a surprise and she would need an overnight bag. She asked me if it would definitely be all right and I told her that no one would know, as long as she kept quiet. Then I told her I would ring a bit nearer the time and put the phone down.

A couple of days passed and Lucy rang me at work. “I can’t do it,” she said. “I’ve sat in the kitchen for ages thinking about it and I convinced myself I could but it just doesn’t seem right. Can I think about it and let you know later? I’m flattered that you asked me but basically I’m scared.”

I tried to explain that there wasn’t anything to worry about but, after a long conversation, we decided to wait a little longer. I hadn’t paid for anything, so it wasn’t a problem; I knew that taking Lucy out would be the hardest one of all.

A few weeks had gone by and I hadn’t heard from Lucy at all. I thought I had frightened her off.

I was starting to worry about work; we hadn’t had a lot of work and things didn’t look too good for the rest of the year. The bills were mounting up on my desk and I hadn’t got any money to pay them. It was hard not to spend the money I was saving for my dates. The wages were getting harder to find each week and the Inland Revenue was sending me demands.

I sold a couple of cars for a lot less than they were worth, just to get some money in, and I hadn’t had time to think about the game. Until one day in November, Lucy phoned and said, “I haven’t forgotten about our date. I’ve been too busy lately, with Christmas coming. I think I might be all right now, so perhaps I could ring you soon.” I was so pleased to hear her voice. I told her to leave it till after the New Year. She reminded me about New Year’s Eve and said if we didn’t see each other over Christmas, she would see me then.

I thought for a moment and said, “Why don’t we go out into the country, have a drink and a chat somewhere one dinner-time in the next few days?”

“That would be nice, perhaps tomorrow, as long as I’m back to collect the lads from school at 3.30.”

“OK, I’ll see you at the White Swan in Denton, it’s just off the M6 junction 4, at one o’clock”.

Lucy sounded like a different person from when I’d last spoken to her.

The following day, I left work at about twelve o’clock, drove to the White Swan, parked around the back and waited in the car. After a while, I decided to go in and get myself a drink. I locked the car door and, as I walked across the car park, I heard a loud screech of tyres. I looked up thinking it was Lucy but it wasn’t. A red transit van went hurtling off down the road. I went in and sat by the bar and ordered myself a drink. After about five minutes, Lucy walked in through the door in a black leather suit and a white see-through blouse. It was open at the neck, showing off the top of her cleavage. She looked stunning as she sat on the stool next to me. I couldn’t help but look her up and down three or four times before I spoke a word. My mouth was wide open and I was probably dribbling again.

“You look absolutely beautiful and I don’t know what to say.”

Lucy just smiled and said, “When I walked in, your face said it all. Now can I have a drink before the bar shuts?”

I ordered two more drinks and we sat there for a while, talking and joking and left about three o’clock and went out into the car park. The cars were side by side and, as we approached them, Lucy grabbed my hand and said, “Thanks for being patient with me. I needed to do this because I’m still very nervous.”

We stopped by the cars and kissed for the first time. The smell of leather was all around us as we held each other close and kissed some more. After about 20 minutes, we said goodbye and I said I would phone after the New Year about our date. I told her I was looking forward to the party on New Year’s Eve and perhaps I could arrange something and talk to her about it then. We kissed once more and parted company. As I pulled out on to the road, I could see that same red transit, parked up by a gateway. I took no notice and carried on back to work thinking about Lucy and how she had changed.

Christmas came and went as quickly as it usually did. We had the family for dinner, then a few friends round for drinks on the evening till about midnight.

Boxing day, Mick and I played with his presents' all day. We bought him a radio-controlled car and a number of games. The toys he had were great; they kept us amused all day long.

But before I knew it, I was back at work, opening more bills. I just added them to the pile I had already.

On New Year’s Eve, I finished work at dinnertime. I was looking forward to the party. There were 12 of us going for a meal and a dance. Denise, Julie and Lucy would be there, among others, so midnight should be good fun. I shaved and showered, got myself dressed into a hired dinner suit and Liz wore a long cream dress. The taxi picked us up and we dropped Mick off at the sitters on the way.

We arrived at about eight o’clock and were directed to our seats by the doorman. A few couples had beaten us and by about 8.30 we were all seated and ready to party. We sat around a big oval table, with wine bottles in the centre and Christmas crackers on our plates. There were tubs of exploding streamers, balloons everywhere you looked and two cans of silly-string that were almost empty. The contents were all over the table and resting on everybody’s hair within minutes. I glanced around the room. There were about 200 people doing the same thing. Party poppers were banging and some of the balloons were bursting.

In the next room, there was music playing and Denise asked me if I wanted to dance. Choking on my red wine, I said yes and we went through onto the floor. We had a nice slow dance but I thought it was far too early to start anything yet. When we got back to the table, the starters were there. I ate mine, and as soon as Julie finished hers, she asked me for a dance. So again, I went through to the dance floor. By this time, everyone was warming up, including Julie; she wanted to go over the other side of the room, out of sight for a kiss. So, not wanting to upset her, we did. As we were dancing, a hand grabbed my shoulder and pulled it. My life passed before me in a flash as I turned around slowly and this loud voice said, “It is, how are you? I haven’t seen you for three years.”

With a long look, I realised it was John and, with a sigh of relief, I shook his hand and said, “Hello, mate.”

He was a friend from another garage I used to deal with. We started talking about old times and Julie said, “I’ll see you back at the table.”

John said straight away, “That’s not your wife,” with a grin on his face.

“No,” I quickly added. “I’m in a party of twelve. It’s Simon’s wife. You remember Simon, he works at Bill’s garage in town.”

“But you were a bit friendly.”

“So, it’s New Year’s Eve, isn’t it?”

We laughed and then John said, “Have you met my wife, Debbie?” He turned around to a girl that was facing the other way and grabbed her arm. As she turned towards me, I went weak. My legs turned to jelly, then the whole world disappeared, the music faded and in front of me was the mother I saw getting into her BMW outside Mick’s school.

She smiled at me in the same way she had done by the gate. I was speechless. She spoke to me and I hopelessly said, “We’ve met somewhere before.”

She smiled again and said, “You’re Mick’s dad, I’ve seen you dropping him off outside the school.”

In the distance, I faintly heard John say something about a drink. I said, “Yes, please,” half thinking about a drink because my mouth was dry and half thinking about screwing his wife. He walked off over to the bar. I stayed and spoke with Debbie. “How long have you been married, then?” I asked first. She went on to tell me that she had been married to John for 11 years, they had one child, a girl who went to Mick’s school, and they only moved into the area about six months ago for a fresh start. With a puzzled look on my face, I asked, “For a fresh start?” She started to tell me that she had some problems with John but unfortunately he came back with the drinks. I carried on talking to them and suddenly remembered my dinner would probably be on the table so I said I would see them later and left. I strutted across the floor with that feeling again and I said to myself, “She must go on my list.”

When I got back to the table, Liz asked me who I had been speaking to and I explained briefly as my dinner was placed in front of me. By about eleven o’clock, almost everyone was well oiled and looking forward to midnight. We ordered some bottles of champagne and left them in the ice buckets on the table. I danced with Liz and, at 11.55; we all stood around the table with a glass of champagne and waited. Then everyone in the room started shouting the countdown: “5-4-3-2-1 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!” It was great, then we all kissed each other. After Liz, Denise grabbed me and kissed me, then Lucy - she whispered in my ear, “I’m ready when you are,” - then a couple of the other friends from our table and then I looked up and the ever beautiful Julie was waiting with her arms stretched out.

I went over and she hugged me first, then she said in my ear, “Can we go out again sometime?”

I smiled, kissed her and said, “I would like that, Happy New Year.”

I suddenly thought about Debbie and wondered what she was doing. I slowly made my way into the other room and headed for the bar to see if I could find her. Everybody was kissing each other and I couldn’t see her anywhere. I turned to walk away disappointed then a hand came from nowhere and grabbed my jacket. I turned quickly; it was Debbie. “Are you looking for me or John?” she asked.

“You - I don’t want to kiss John.”

She moved forwards and kissed me softly on the lips, staring into my eyes. Then she said, “Will you dance with me? John’s collapsed over by the bar as usual. I knew he wouldn’t be any good tonight.” We moved down onto the dance floor and she held me tight. We danced for a while and she whispered to me, “Can we go outside and dance on our own in the car park?”

I wasn’t expecting that. I thought for a second. No, this was not a good idea but as I went to say no, I opened my mouth and it came out wrong. “Yes.” I couldn’t believe I’d said it.

“I’ll see you outside in five minutes, then.”

I nodded and walked back towards my table. Lucy was dancing with Ivor and Andrew was dancing with Liz, so I carried on towards the door and Denise walked in with Simon. I carried on and up to the table. There were a couple asleep and a few others talking, so I picked up a half-full bottle of champagne, slipped it under my jacket and walked out of the front door.

As I passed a doorman, he said, “Goodnight, sir.” I explained that I was going out for some fresh air and I would be back in five minutes.

I walked around the back and into the car park. Debbie was over the other side, under a tree, sitting down on a bench. It was a cold night, with a thin layer of snow on the ground, so I hurried over to her. As I got nearer she stood up. She had a big thick white fur coat on, with the collar pulled up half over her face. She started to unbutton her coat from the bottom and, just before I got to her, it opened. She was wearing nothing but knee-length leather boots.

I quickly put the bottle down on the ground, grabbed each half of her coat and pulled it together. “You’ll freeze out here,” I said with steam coming from my mouth. I fastened one button near the top and put my hands inside her coat, and gingerly touched her body. It was warm and soft. I slowly slid my hands down to her hips and back up to the side of her breasts. We licked and kissed each other passionately, then I started to fasten her buttons slowly.

She looked at me and said, “Don’t you want me, then?”

As I fastened the last one, I said, “You don’t know how I have had to stop myself. I want you more than anything but not in a car park, in the cold; I want you for a whole night, all to myself in the warm.”

With her hands on my cheeks, she whispered, “Any time.”

I picked up the champagne and took a swig, then I passed it to Debbie. She looked at me, licked her lips slowly and tipped the bottle up to her mouth and licked her lips again. Debbie held the bottle and we slowly walked back to the front door, through all the parked cars.

As we walked, I asked if I could take her away for a night and she nodded as she took another drink from the bottle. Then she said, “Soon.” I told her I would see her the on the first day of the kid’s new school term, then I waited on the corner while she went in first.

As I walked through the door, Denise was standing there and said, “Are you all right? I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I wanted a dance. Andrew and Liz are kissing on the dance floor.”

I smiled and said, “I wanted some fresh air.” We walked over and put the bottle down on the table, then we went into the other room. I could see them dancing together, so I took no notice and danced with Denise on the other side of the room. We walked passed Ivor and Lucy. It looked as if he was holding her up. Simon and a couple of others were wandering round, still trying to get New Year kisses from anyone in a skirt.

By about two o’clock, people were starting to drift away from the party and, not long after, we all left in taxis. I was in one with Julie next to me with Liz and Andrew. Julie had a coat on her lap and we held hands all the way back to Sandra and Henry’s house. By this time, a few had sobered up a bit and Henry asked us in for a last drink. As we climbed out, two other taxis pulled up behind us and we all went in and carried on till about five in the morning.

I only just managed to order a taxi and we left to go home, shattered. I woke up about eleven o’clock and left Liz in bed asleep, made myself a coffee and went to collect Mick from the sitter’s house. He told me about the fun they’d had and how he’d stayed up till one o’clock, so I made him get into bed and have a sleep while I was sitting downstairs on my own, nursing my bad head.

About midday, I decided to go for another drink, to see if it would help. So I made my way down to the Wooden Cross and met a couple of other friends there. We swapped stories about New Year’s Eve and, after about three pints, I decided to go home because my idea wasn’t working; in fact, it made it worse.

By the time I got back home, Liz was up and walking round like a zombie and Mick was snoring his head off. We tried to watch the telly but by three o’clock I fell asleep in the chair and didn’t wake till late that evening. That’s when I gave up and went to bed. Liz was already in there.

I got up the next day not feeling too bad and made my way to work. I started to feel more human in the afternoon and, after a couple of days, I was much better; in fact, a week later I was better still because Mick was going back to school and hopefully I would see Debbie.

I woke on the morning very excited. Mick got dressed for school and we left about 8.40. I dropped him off as usual and hung around by his classroom as long as I could without looking too conspicuous but she never turned up. I walked slowly across the playground to the gate. She still didn’t appear so I walked back to my car and got in - still nothing. I couldn’t hang on any longer so I left. But, as I pulled away, I saw her car pulling off the drive. I waved as I passed and she waved back discreetly. I started thinking about New Year’s Eve in the car park and, as I got to the T-junction at the bottom of the road, I pulled up behind some cars and waited. As each one pulled away, I moved forward slowly and, just as I got to the part when she unfastened her white fur coat, the car in front of me went to pull away. As I moved forward again, it stopped - I drove into the back of a Metro. My front bumper hit the rear lights, smashing them into bits and denting the bumper. I got out, apologised and told the woman I would take her car to work one day soon and mend it for her. She was a nice lady, luckily for me, so I carried on to work, thinking of somewhere nice to take Debbie.

I stopped at a travel agent and asked the girl for something up north with a log cabin. She recommended a little village called Stanton and told me that she went last year, with her ex-boyfriend, and how romantic it was. I laughed aloud and said, “It couldn’t have been that romantic.”

She looked at me and said with a frown, “It was but he decided to take someone else there this year.”

I said how sorry I was and left with the brochure.

As I approached the garage and parked my car, I could see a man standing on the forecourt with a black suit and an orange folder under his arm. I locked the car and walked over to him.

“Can I help?” I hoped it was a customer.

“Mr Vaughan?” he asked in a strong voice.

“Yes,” I replied. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m from the Inland Revenue. Are you the proprietor of this garage?”

I looked at him and thought for a second, how can I get out of this? I had to say yes. He opened his folder and pulled out a piece of paper. “Have you got somewhere we can talk?”

I walked up the stairs to my office, with him walking behind me mumbling on about fines if you don’t pay your bills on time. It was easy for him to go on; he didn’t have to pay them. We walked into the office and I told him I was going to send the money today.

With a look of disbelief, he said, “I need a cheque for three thousand, two hundred and fifty-seven pounds, sixty-six pence.”

I nervously wrote the cheque out, knowing full well I hadn’t got it in the bank. I just wanted to get rid of him. He took the cheque and slipped it in between the flaps of the folder and left, thanking me. I spent the rest of the day phoning my account customers and insurance companies trying to collect money that was owed to the garage.

I left work at about eight o’clock that evening, tired. It was a cold, wet and windy night. When I got home, I was just pouring myself a large whiskey, when I heard Liz shout from upstairs, “There’s a letter on the side for you about the mortgage. I’ve had one as well, it says we are in arrears.”

I drank the whiskey in one, and shouted back, “It must be a mistake, I’ll ring them in the morning.”

Then I heard her say, “I hope so, I don’t want to lose this house.”

I quickly poured myself another shot and opened the letter; it was the perfect ending to a crap day.

When I awoke the next morning, Liz had already gone to work. I got Mick ready and took him to school. I went with him into the classroom and, as I walked out, I could see Debbie in the corridor, hanging up her little girl’s coat on the hook. She looked stunning. I didn’t say anything to her. I walked outside and pretended to fasten my shoelaces, keeping my eyes on the door for when she came out. As she pushed the door open, I looked down at my shoes and realised they were slip-ons. As she walked towards me, I stood up and we chatted as we walked towards the cars. I asked her if she would be able to stay out one night, sometime next week. She said it wouldn’t be a problem because she often travelled down to London on the train with her job.

“Great,” I said and told her I would let her know one of the mornings. Then she told me she couldn’t wait and I drove off to work very happy.

I went up to my office with the mail threw it on the desk and browsed through the brochure. I found a lovely place in Deerwood Hill. I phoned it and the woman told me she had some rooms vacant and that the weather was quite bad up there. I rang a friend down the road and asked him if I could borrow his Range Rover for a couple of days because I had to fetch a car on the trailer. He said yes, so long as I was careful, and remarked on how bad the weather was up north. I phoned the woman back, provisionally booked a room for Wednesday night and sat down to open the mail. The first one was a cheque, the second a bill, the third was a bill and the fourth another cheque, so it was a better start to the day.

I sat in my office upstairs for a couple of hours and attacked some of the paperwork that was mounting up. The more I did, the more I realised how much I was in debt. It was about four o’clock when the unleaded petrol ran out. So the day ended the same as usual.

I went home and the first thing Liz asked me was about the mortgage; I’d forgotten all about it. I just said that I’d spoken to the building society and that they were looking into it and would let me know as soon as possible. She soon went up to bed, so I ate my tea in silence and, as usual, fell asleep in the chair till morning.

After breakfast, I dropped Mick off at school and spoke to Debbie. I told her we would go away early next Wednesday, and I would meet her at the train station at 7.00 a.m.

She smiled at me and said, “Isn’t it exciting? I’ve never done this before!”

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