My Friends' Wives And Me

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Chapter 9

Over the next few days, I sold another car and some more cheques came in. Things were starting to look a little better. On the Monday I took some money out of the garage account, paid the mortgage, then explained to Liz that night that there wasn’t enough in our personal account and so the bank hadn’t paid it. I told her I’d asked the bank manager to send me a statement, so I could find out what was wrong.

Liz looked at me with a blank expression on her face, and turned away. I told her I was going up to Scotland to fetch a car back on Wednesday, knowing full well she had a few days off from work. She asked if it was going to be for long and I explained it would probably be for just one night but that the weather up there was not too good at the moment.

That night, I noticed that she was very quiet and obviously had something on her mind since I mentioned the bank statement but I was too scared to ask. It wasn’t long before my eyelids closed and I was fast asleep again. I woke about two o’clock and went to bed.

When I woke next morning, I left for work as usual, forgetting how quiet Liz was. I dropped Mick off at school, only seeing Debbie for a split second to check that everything was still on. She couldn’t say a lot because she was talking with another mum. She nodded and winked as she smiled at me. I carried on to work, thrilled about the trip.

During the day, I collected the Range Rover and phoned to make sure we still had a room booked. I asked the lady about the weather and she explained that the snow was about eight inches thick, the sun was shining, it was very cold and they’d forecast a bit more later in the week. Just right, I thought to myself, Debbie will have to wear her fur coat.

I took the Range Rover home, so I could make an early start. As I opened the front door, Liz came out in a rush, shouting, “I’ll see you later. I’m going out with a friend I haven’t seen for a while, I should have been there at eight.” She jumped in her car and drove off down the road.

I went in and Mick told me that someone had rang earlier and Mum had quickly got changed. I sat on the settee next to him and we watched the telly and talked about school. After about ten minutes the phone rang. I picked it up, but there was no one there. I decided to go upstairs and pack my overnight bag. Then, after that, I put Mick to bed and had a long relaxing soak in the bath, almost falling off to sleep. I ate my dinner and got into bed with a glass of whiskey, the telly on and waited for Liz to come home.

The next thing I heard was the sound of the alarm. I looked at the empty pillow next to me and jumped out of bed. I ran into Mick’s room and then into the spare room. Liz was just stirring. As she turned to me, she said, “I didn’t want to wake you, so I slept in here. What time is it?”

“I set the alarm for six, so it’s just after. Did you have a good night? It was a bit sudden. If you’d told me earlier, I would have come home.”

Half asleep, she said, “I tried twice but I couldn’t get through,” then she mumbled something about an old friend from school.

I got dressed and Liz went back to sleep. I kissed her and Mike on the head and said, “See you tomorrow.”

I left with my bag and a flask of coffee and drove past Debbie’s house first. The car had gone so that was a good sign, then I carried on to the station. I arrived there about ten minutes late. As I pulled into the car park, I could see the back of her BMW. I pulled up behind it, flashed my headlights and the door opened. Debbie got out with a smile and the fur coat on. She had a black case with her and waved as she locked the car and set the alarm. I waited in the warm while she opened the rear side door and put her case on the back seat then climbed in the front. She kissed me on the lips as she fastened her seat belt. We pulled out on to the road and started the long journey up north.

There was very little snow on the ground as we drove on to the motorway but it was cold and dark. The clouds looked like they were full of it but we didn’t mind as the heater was on full and I had my thoughts of the night to keep me warm. I asked what excuse she had used to get away for the two days and she said she was going on the train to Manchester on a refresher course, to do with her job. I asked what her job was and she told me she was a solicitor’s secretary. I was surprised. If I had known that, I probably wouldn’t have asked her out.

The snow got gradually thicker as we carried on up the motorway. The further we went, the deeper it looked. The motorway wasn’t too bad because of the traffic but the countryside was like a large sheet of white paper. The wipers were on all the time and the traffic slowed down to about forty miles an hour. It was wonderful.

It was about midday by the time the snow had almost stopped. The traffic was still ploughing through the sludge in between each lane. Every sign above the motorway was lit up with different instructions and most of the blue information signs were blanked out with snow. We just carried on regardless. The Range Rover was sailing along in the outside lane that not many people used because the sludge was a bit thicker and some cars could get stuck. We decided to stop at the next service area and have a warm drink and a bite to eat, so I slowly eased my way over into the slow lane and pulled off.

I parked the Range Rover and we held hands as we went inside. It was quite crowded. While we were eating, I looked on the next table and the truck driver, Nigel, from home was there. My insides turned over as he put his paper down and looked at me. He was as speechless as I was. I laughed with a look of disbelief on my face.

“What on earth are you doing here?” he said.

“I’m going to fetch a car back from Penrith.”

“In this weather?” he said. “And who is this, then?”

“A hitchhiker, she broke down on the motorway in the snow, so I offered her a lift. I don’t think anyone will be able to help her in this weather, do you?”

“No,” he replied. “I wish I could find hitchhikers this gorgeous.” Debbie blushed and dropped her head.

I asked Nigel where he was going and he said he was on his way back home from Scotland. He told me how bad the weather was up there and how long the journey had taken him.

As we walked out into the car park, Nigel called me back and said, “What’s going on here, then?”

Pretending I didn’t know what he was on about, I said, “What?”

“Come on,” he said. “You can tell me, I won’t breathe a word to anyone.”

I acted a bit vague and said, “There’s nothing going on. I picked her up because she was wet and gorgeous, that’s all. If I get my leg over for doing that, I will be very happy but, apart from that, I will drop her off at the next junction.”

He smiled and lifted his eyebrows up and down and looked at me as if to say, ‘you sly old bastard’.

I shouted, “ I’ll see you on Friday night,” and he turned and waved.

We climbed back into the Range Rover, drove back onto the motorway and got back into the outside lane. After a while, we didn’t know how far we had travelled up the motorway because we didn’t stop talking. The radio was on very faintly and we never heard one traffic message; we didn’t even know how bad the weather was further on apart from what Nigel said. We just carried on clocking up the miles until the traffic slowed down again and we came to a halt. Nothing moved for about twenty minutes, except a couple of police Range Rovers squeezing through the middle of every one with the lights flashing and sirens blasting. I turned the radio up to see if I could hear anything about the hold up and we waited with the engine running to keep us warm. We kissed a few times and the snow slowly started again, as the traffic did. We slowly crawled along and when we got to the next junction, the police directed us off the motorway. As we passed the cold policeman stamping his feet, covered in snow, I dropped the window and asked what the problem was.

He shouted, “There’s been a pile-up further on and no one can get through so you will have to make your own way back on to the motorway at the next junction but my advice to you is, even though you’re in a Range Rover, I would seek somewhere to stay for the night as soon as you get off the motorway.” I closed the window and followed the other car off, realising how cold it was.

We slowly crawled along the road and noticed cars just abandoned almost in the middle of the road. There were gritting wagons on the side, if you could work out where the side was, full of grit and with no one in them. The grass, the pavement and the road were all one level. No one could work out where the road started and stopped. Some of the cars banged into the gutter, fern trees were draped over the road with the weight of the snow and some trees had fallen almost across the road and blocked it off.

We managed to pass some cars as they skidded backwards and forwards, trying to get their tyres to grip on something. We carried on as best as we could. I asked Debbie if she was all right. She just looked stunned. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said, still looking outside.

“Do you think we should stop somewhere soon?” I asked.

“It’s up to you, if you think we can go on.” The snow was getting worse and I was a bit doubtful as to how far I could push the Range Rover. We passed most of the cars and it looked like a pretty straight road so we decided to carry on a bit further, at least until we found a village or a house of some description. It was just open countryside; the road fell away into ditches and it looked treacherous.

We crawled along and, out the corner of my eye, I saw the tail-lights of a car in the ditch. They were very faint and I couldn’t even tell what car it was. I pulled up, stepped into the deep snow, then ran over to see if anyone was in there. I forced open the driver’s door and Debbie shouted, “Can you see anything?”

“Yes,” I shouted back. “Close the door and turn the heater up to full.” The car had hit a tree and the front was badly damaged. I turned the key and the engine just about started. I checked the heater was on, and looked at the driver; his lips were blue and he was dithering so I closed the door to keep whatever heat there was in, opened the back door, unfastened the two children from their seat-belts and pulled them out of the car. I carried them, one under each arm, up the embankment to the Range Rover and put them in the back. Debbie climbed over the front seats and sat in the middle of them. I shouted, “Give me your fur coat, take their hats, gloves and damp coats off to let the warm onto their bodies and cuddle them close to yours.”

I slammed the door shut and slid back down the bank to the front passenger door. I just managed to open it, leaned over the woman and wrapped the man up in the fur coat. He looked like he was about to pass out. I unbuckled the woman and pulled her out; her whole body was shivering and her teeth were chattering. I looked at her face. It was as white as the snow and her lips were blue as well. I threw her over my shoulder, slammed the door shut and carefully climbed back up to the car, hanging and pulling on twigs that were sticking out of the snow. The damaged car was still running. I could only hope it was getting a bit warmer inside. My leg muscles were pulling with every step I took up the bank. I just made it to the top and opened the back door again. The children were crying; I thought that was a good sign. Debbie stood up and moved the children to one side and started to undress the woman as I placed her on the back seat. I shut the door again and went back down to the car for the man. I tried the door but it wouldn’t open. I wiped the snow off the window to see if the man was OK and he started moving his head from side to side, as if to say no. I looked at the door lock and it was pushed down; he had locked himself in. I quickly looked around and felt in the snow for something to smash the window, but the snow was too deep and too cold. I moved to the back door and punched it. I was so filled with adrenalin and anger at the man for giving up, my fist went straight through. I reached forward and pulled the lock up and opened his door. As I grabbed him and started to pull him out, I heard him say very faintly, “Leave me, just get the others to hospital.”

I grabbed him and - only God knows where I got the strength from - I picked him up in my arms and ran up the bank to the top in what seemed a split second. I took him round to the front of the Range Rover and put him in the front passenger seat, undressed him as quickly as I could and both Debbie and I rubbed him all over as she climbed back into the driver’s seat. The woman looked a bit better in the back and the children were still crying as they moved over and clung onto the woman’s arm. The man started to come round a little but he still looked dreadful. I told Debbie to sit on his lap and I would drive and try to find a hospital. As I shut the door she moved over. I quickly ran round the car pulling my wet jumper off, and as I climbed back in I threw it in the back and drove off as fast as possible, shivering myself from the cold and wet clothes I wore.

We ploughed through the snow and devastation. I didn’t have a clue where we were heading. I looked at the man and his eyes were closing; I didn’t know where to go.

I shook his arm to wake him and said, “Help me, I don’t know where the hospital is.” He almost opened his eyes and then closed them again. Debbie slapped him across the face hard and he came round and tried to focus.

The woman in the back started crying and shouted, “He’s dying!”

I fumbled for my phone to ring 999 and the man opened his eyes again and mumbled, “Go straight into the town and turn left.” He was almost unconscious and he closed his eyes again. I tried to drive as fast as I could but it was almost impossible. In the distance, I could see some lights on. I skidded and slipped all the way into the town and, as instructed, turned left and found the hospital. There were ambulance men outside shovelling snow from the tyres and others trying to push the ambulances up the road. I drove straight up to the front entrance and, as I jumped out, I shouted, “Can you give me a hand? I found a family freezing to death in a car down the road.”

About five ambulance men came running over and opened all the doors and one by one they carried them into the hospital. We followed them in. There were lots of people in the waiting room. Most of them had blankets wrapped round them and were drinking hot drinks; they must have abandoned their cars and walked.

Debbie got me a blanket and wrapped it around my shoulders and asked the nurse for a hot drink. I sat down and Debbie sat next to me, rubbing my arms to try and stop me shivering. The nurse brought me a drink and I sat there with my hands gripping the mug of hot chocolate. Doctors and nurses were running around and disappearing behind curtains; other people were still arriving, freezing from the weather.

After about 15 minutes I started to feel a lot better, but we hadn’t heard how the people were who we’d brought in. I started to walk round the waiting room and a nurse came out from behind a curtain. I asked her if she could tell me how they were and she smiled and said, “The mum is fine and the children are OK.”

“What about the man, is he OK?”

“Yes, he will be. He suffered a bang on the head as well as being cold. The doctors are with him now.”

I walked back over to Debbie and sat down. She asked me if everything was all right and I quickly explained. I asked her if she wanted a hot drink and she shook her head. “No, I’m fine, thanks. How do you feel?”

“I am much better now,” I said. “We’ll go as soon as I find out how they are.” Debbie grabbed my hand and we sat for a while watching everything that was going on. The same nurse that I’d spoken to earlier came over and said, “I hear you two saved their lives.”

I felt Debbie squeeze my hand; I was speechless. I looked at the big clock on the wall above the information desk. It was just after five. Then the nurse said, “Will you come with me?”

We stood up and followed her and she pulled back the curtain. The children were sitting on the bottom of the dad’s bed and the mum was sitting by the side holding his hand in a white dressing gown. With Debbie behind me, we walked to the other side of the bed and the woman stood up. She grabbed my hand and kissed it and said, “I don’t know how to thank you both. If it wasn’t-”

I had to interrupt her; she was going to have me in tears. I said, “As long as you are all going to be all right that’s the main thing.”

She kissed Debbie’s hand and the dad sat up and said, “I personally want to thank you for not listening to me in the car.” I could feel myself filling up. “I was that cold I wanted to...”

His wife put her hand over his mouth and said, “Don’t say any more.”

I turned to find Debbie’s hand and the dad said, “We will never forget what you did for us, God bless you both.”

With the lump in my throat increasing in size, I tried to tell them that we were travelling up north and that we were diverted off the motorway and that we still had a short distance to go. Now that we knew they were all OK, we said we would have to be on our way.

They pleaded with us to stay a little longer but we decided to go on. Debbie and I shook hands with them again and we made our way towards the main door. I opened it for Debbie and, just as we went to go out, the two little girls ran up to us and said, “Thank you,” and kissed us both on our cheeks.

With tears in our eyes, we ran and climbed into the Range Rover and carefully drove off.

I couldn’t speak for a while; it was the quietest we had been all day. Debbie held my hand and eventually said, “What you did today, I will never forget for the rest of my life.”

“It wasn’t only me; you kept them going and warm.”

“No,” she said. “The way you-”

“We both should be very proud of what we did today but can we drop it and talk about something else? Let’s talk about where we are, for instance.” I looked across at Debbie and she smiled and leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.

We eventually found a sign that said ‘Motorway 2 miles’, so we followed it and pulled onto the slow lane. The traffic on the other side of the motorway was at a standstill. We drove for about another hour and found a sign that said ‘Deerwood 3 miles’. I was so glad and so shattered. We pulled off and followed the signs to the village. The snow was still bad but at least it had stopped for the time being.

I phoned the place where we were staying and the lady said she honestly didn’t think we were coming. I asked for directions and we found it straight away. I did notice a little country pub as we pulled into the road, so once we’d checked in we walked over and had a few drinks and something to eat. Debbie kept calling me her hero. We talked for a while and then made our way back to the cabin.

As I opened the door, we were pleasantly surprised to see a real open log fire burning in the hearth. I went back out to the car and got the champagne I’d brought from home. As I walked back in, Debbie still had her fur coat on and was standing in front of the fire. I placed the bottle in the freezer compartment of the fridge and said, “You’ll melt in that, you can’t still be cold?”

She undid one button and it fell to the floor. She was naked. The flames from the fire flickered around the room as I turned the light off. I quickly took my clothes off and Debbie lay down on the white fur rug. Her body was one of a Greek goddess. I didn’t see one blemish on her entire body; it was perfect in every sense of the word.

I lay down next to her and softly stroked every inch of her and kissed every curve on her body. Then we kissed each other, until Debbie sat up and tossed her hair over her left shoulder and pushed me onto my back. I looked up at the dancing patterns on the ceiling from the firelight. Debbie sat over my legs and slowly ran her fingers through the hair on my chest. Her hand slowly moved down and she gently touched the base of my erect penis, then, with her thumb and forefinger either side, she massaged her way to the top. By this time I had closed my eyes and was lying there in ecstasy. She sat up and moved further down my legs. She half clenched her hand and ran it up and down slowly. Then stopped, as if she knew I was ready. Then with the other hand she gently touched the inside of my thighs. Still with a soft grip she slowly placed me in her mouth. I could hardly control myself. I sat up quickly. Debbie looked up and lifted her left leg over and knelt by the side of me. We kissed more as she moved and sat next to me in the opposite direction. She lay back in my arms across my lap. Still kissing, we held each other for a while and then she stood up and said, “Don’t go away, I’ll be back,” and went into the bathroom.

I lay there with my hands under my head, looking up at the ceiling again. The door opened and she came back into the room with a short see-through black nightie. We knelt in front of each other on the rug and kissed some more. Then we made love, very tenderly and passionately.

We lay on the rug for a while, then I stood up and went into wash myself down in the shower. When I got to the door, I turned and said, “There’s a bottle of champagne in the freezer, why don’t you open it, I won’t be long.” I quickly showered and went back into the room soaking wet and covered in foam. Debbie was facing the other way pouring the champagne into the glasses. I crept up behind her and rubbed lather all over her nipples. She threw her head back onto my shoulder and put the bottle on the table. I put my arms around her and she held them tight on her chest, then she slowly rubbed her back on my chest and her buttocks on my clean, half erect penis that was rapidly growing again. She shuffled her feet along the wooden floor till her legs were apart and she fell forward, with her dark hair touching the fur rug and her hands clasping her legs just above her ankles. Her cheeks were backed on to me and, without any help, I slid inside her. I placed my hands on her hips and slipped in and out as she groaned continually with every thrust.

I noticed a wooden chair next to me, so I sat down and Debbie stood up and turned round. She put her arms around my neck, opened her legs and sat on me, slowly gliding all the way down to the bottom of my now fully erect penis. We sat there, kissing and licking each other. My hands were all over her nipples as she moved her hips in a circular movement on my lap for a while and I came inside her for the second time.

We held each other tight for a while and Debbie took a sip from her glass and passed me the other one. Then she stood up, walked slowly into the bedroom and brought out four pillows, placed them on the fur rug and sat down in front of them. “Sit by me,” she said, tapping her hand on the floor and staring into the fire.

I picked up my glass and the bottle and sat down. As I placed the bottle on the floor she grabbed my hand, still looking into the flames. “Are you all right?” I asked. “You’ve gone quiet all of a sudden.” She looked at me and I could see the reflection of the fire in the tear that sat in the corner of her eye, just before it rolled down her cheek. “What’s the matter?” I put the glass down and draped my arm over her shoulder.

She sniffed and wiped her cheek and said, “Nothing, it’s me being silly. You are a lovely guy, you care about people and everything you do is wonderful. I bet you haven’t got a nasty bone in your entire body.”

“What’s brought all this on?” I asked.

“It’s just things at home aren’t so good and I have had a lovely time tonight. Sometimes it gets me down, you know, it just makes me think.” She took a sip from her glass, but it was empty, so I filled them both as she carried on. “John’s got a drink problem and it’s hard work trying to cope.” She moved the pillows and lay back on them, so I did too. She talked about how she had to hide all the bottles in the house and how when they go out, like on New Year’s Eve, he would drink too much and pass out in a corner and how embarrassing it was.

I sat up and threw some more logs on the fire from the pile on the side and said, “Has he talked to anyone about his problem?”

“No, he doesn’t think he’s got one. He tells me he won’t drink for a week and the next night he comes home from work staggering, saying ‘I’ll start tomorrow.’” I sat down again and leaned back on the pillows as she carried on. “Dawn, our daughter, isn’t mine.”

“Isn’t yours?” I asked with a surprised look on my face.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t be spoiling our night.”

“It’s all right, we’ve got something to drink, it’s warm and there’s plenty of time.” She obviously wanted to talk and I was too intrigued to let it go. “How do you mean, Dawn’s not yours?”

She sat up, took a sip from her glass and as she put it back down, she wrapped her arms round her knees and stared into the fire again. “About eight years ago, John had an affair with a girl called Jenny. She became pregnant and said he was the father, so they decided she would have the baby and bring it up together. She was about six months into the pregnancy and, in a drunken state, he told me he was going to leave me for her. I didn’t know about the baby. So he moved out of our house and they lived in a flat above a shop somewhere. He never sent me any money towards the bills, so I had to track him down at his work to see why. It was then I found out about the baby. His boss said he was having a couple of days off to look after his new little girl. Devastated at the news, I drove home, crying all the way. It hurt me more, I think, because I can’t have children.” The tears started to appear in her eyes again as she carried on. “He was happy, he got what he wanted and I had nothing but an empty house that I could hardly afford.”

As she wiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of her clenched fist, I asked why she couldn’t have any children. “I was in a car accident. John was driving stupidly, showing off, just after we got married, and I damaged my insides as I went through the screen.” The tears were running down my cheeks now and I tried very hard not show them. “I was in hospital for a while, with cuts and bruises, and that day the doctor told us we could never have children. I can’t explain the feeling; it was awful. We both wept for days. It was the word never, It’s such a final word, you can’t argue with it. Anyway, about a year later, Jenny was out with Dawn in the park. She crossed the road to go home and a van came screaming round the corner. As it approached them both, Jenny pushed the pram to the side of the road and was killed instantly. Luckily, someone caught the baby after the pram hit the kerb. John tried to bring Dawn up on his own but found it really hard. I helped him as much as I could and eventually he moved back in with me and we tried again, with Dawn. That’s when the drinking started. It wasn’t too bad to begin with, then it got heavier and heavier.”

“Has he ever hit you when he drinks too much?”

“Not at first but he does now, but only when he drinks.”

I couldn’t believe it; she was such a lovely girl. I put my arm around her shoulder and she said, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be telling you all this.”

Debbie lay back on the pillow, as I threw another log on the fire and said, “I would like to help you when we get back.”

“No,” she said as she sat back up again. “If he finds out, he will kill me!”

I sat down by her side and stroked her hair. “It can’t keep going on, someone must do something for you. Have you told anyone else?”

“Not really, I don’t think anyone can help. It’s not like a cold where a couple of tablets will take the pain away.”

We lay back down on the pillows together. I looked up at the ceiling and said, “I will help you.” I couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours.

I awoke as the beam of sunlight shone through the split in the middle of the curtains, still in the same position as we fell asleep. I quickly glanced all the way down Debbie’s naked body before I woke her with a kiss. As her eyes opened, I asked her if she was OK and she smiled and said in a sleepy voice, “I was just dreaming about you.” I kissed her again as she lay there with her hands under the pillows and one knee in the air swaying from side to side. I stood up and went over to the curtains and yanked them apart. The sunshine was so powerful it almost blinded me. Debbie rolled over on to her front and placed a pillow over her head shouting, “Close them, I’ve got a headache.”

I looked round the room so my eyes would get used to the light. I looked out of the window onto a magnificent sight. The snow had covered everything. There wasn’t a footprint in sight, just a blue line where the snow finished and the sky started. I could see for miles and miles; we could have been a million miles from anywhere.

I told Debbie to come and have a look and she muttered something into the pillow and slowly stood up, wrapping the fur rug around her body, and walked over squinting with one hand over her eyes. She slowly peeped between her fingers with one eye, then she dropped her hand, grabbed the rug and said, “That’s lovely.” She opened the rug and wrapped it around me as well. We stood there for a while, just looking out of the window, then she said, “I’m sorry about last night, I must have had too much to drink.”

I turned and kissed her nose and said, “Don’t think about it till we get home,” then kissed her lips and the rug fell to the floor as she put her arms around me. I picked her up and carried her in to the bedroom and we made love again on the bed.

I finally got myself showered and changed and waited by the fire while Debbie got ready. Then we went out for a walk in the snow. It was a bitterly cold day even though the sun was shining.

We walked into the village and stopped to look in some shop windows, with our arms around each other’s waist. It was a quaint little village and very quiet. There were a number of thatched cottages on the main road and a small garage with two pumps that was closed due to the weather. We found a little pub, went in and had a brandy to keep us warm; we were the only ones in there apart from the landlord and his wife. We talked for a while and, after a couple more brandies, we left and walked across the fields, throwing snow balls at each other, like two children. Our feet sank into the snow as we stepped over fence posts that were only just sticking up and carried on till we found a small stream still flowing rapidly. We walked along it for a while, talking about what she had told me the previous night.

I glanced at my watch and noticed it was just after 11.30, so we slowly made our way back to the cabin and collected our things to start the journey home.

We made it straight on to the motorway and headed south. I phoned Liz and told her I would be home around eight, expecting the traffic to be quite heavy but it wasn’t bad at all; in fact, we made very good time.

Just as we were about to pull off the motorway, Debbie went quiet again. I asked if she was all right and she looked at me and said, “I have really enjoyed myself; it’s been lovely and so nice to be treated like a lady again but it’s nearly over, isn’t it? You go back to your wife and I go home to that pig of a husband of mine.”

I pulled over on the slip-road and held her hand and said, “I’ve been thinking about John. I will help you if you will let me but I need him to tell me, or catch him doing something wrong. I promise I won’t let on that I know and we will pretend that we haven’t seen each other since New Year’s Eve. I’ll ring him on Friday and ask him out for a drink on the night, with me and Liz, so he’ll ask you to come with him to make up a foursome.”

“No,” Debbie quickly said. “I couldn’t face Liz after the night we’ve just had together.”

“It will be OK. Then when we leave you, ask if we want to come back for a nightcap. I’ll say yes before Liz has a chance to say anything and, when I’m in your house, I’ll drop my keys down the side of the chair. Then, when we leave and I realise I can’t get into my car, I’ll come back. When we were walking by the river, you said that’s the time when he is worst.”

“I don’t know, do you think it will work?” she said as she shook her head in disbelief.

“Of course it will.” I pulled away and carried on. I could see Debbie out the corner of my eye thinking about it.

When I pulled up at the train station, Debbie leaned over and kissed me. “Thanks for a wonderful time.”

I smiled and said, “I’m going to miss you tonight.”

Debbie smiled back, opened the door and stepped out. She opened the back door to get her things and said, “Not half as much as I’m going to miss you.” As she closed the back door, she put her bag down and slipped her fur coat on. I couldn’t stop myself. I opened my door and walked round to her and held her in my arms tight for the last time. We kissed again and we wouldn’t let go of each other. I was falling for this girl and it was something I hadn’t planned on happening. Debbie picked up her bag looking into my eyes, and said, “I’ll see you at school.”

She made her way over to her car. As she unlocked it, I stood and watched her. I wanted to shout over and spend another night with her but she climbed in and started the engine. I waited for the reversing lights to come on, hoping she was thinking the same thing. Then it hit me - I must go home - and I turned back to the Range Rover. I drove forward a few metres and looked in the rear-view mirror. I watched her reverse out of the space and pull up behind me, so I pulled away. It was about six o’clock and I thought about Debbie all the way home.

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