the good the bad and the basic

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Chapter Seven

After Matt left I applied a bit of power to hide the redness on my face, I don’t know if Keira would notice but I wanted to be sure.

Like Matt said, one person knows and then everyone might. I definitely don’t want to have to explain my bright red cheeks, and lie. I want to say nothing at all and keep my secret something unsaid, I didn’t want to have to lie and make up a story to explain.

I mean it was a one off, he walked out with a wink. He was just happy to get a bit of a shag in, and I was stupid enough to let him. He probably does this with a load of women, only the once though, probably.

My stomach dropped. No not women, he shags girls, stupid naiive girls like me. I felt my throat closing and eyes welling up in shame. No! I’ll get questions if I look upset.

I pushed it out of my mind, I put my audiobook on the speaker, to take my mind off everything, while I wiped down the worktop again. The scented candles thankfully hid the sex smell. I couldn’t concentrate on what the speaker was saying. I commanded it to turn off and thankfully Keria arrived seconds later.

She was beaming at the door.

“You’re having me back after the last time, good luck!” She announced. I started the podcast Too Hard, named after my most popular article. A piece on how we are expected to be femanine and soft, but at the same time strong and independent, all while not being seen as too much of a ‘bitch’ or a ‘pushover’. It was all about how the balance is nearly impossible. It’s just a title now really, it’s branched into a load of subjects but I always ask the guest to give me an example of when they have been too hard (assertive) or too soft (passive).

“Get on the sofa!” I gestured her in. I had the microphones and laptops set up on the coffee table and the camera and lighting back near the TV.

It went well. Keria was funny and charming, I got loads of hot takes of how she met her fella. A lot of content on how she thought he didn’t like her for the longest time, because she was used to younger men wanting a lot of messaging and attention.

Her ‘give me a time you were too hard?’ The answer was hilarious. She told the story of when she was in fashion school and worked in a fancy local restaurant in the evenings, the barman was her latest conquest and they had spent a few months of what she thought was exclusivity. He was shagging one of the other waitresses as well, and she found out about it when she was tired on a busy Saturday evening shift.

“I should have gone for him and not her, it was his fault after all, I know that now. I wasn’t in my right mind, I mean she probably had no idea about me! But I couldnt help myself I was young and stupid and defensive of that prick. So I waited until she went on her fag break..”

She went on to tell me the antidote of how they had a scrap and Keria ended up pushing her into a pile of smelly bin bags. The barman found out, and called her mental, as he handed her a tray of drinks. The prick of a manager laughed as the barman called her a ‘fucking psychopath’.

“God after they called me that I lost it! I was nineteen and had some real balls. I thought I don’t need this job, they didn’t even pay me the full minimum wage and the group of lads shortchanged the girls for tips. So I thought fuck it. I held the tray out in front of me. I let it tip forward onto that pick and crash everywhere. He was soaked and shocked and I walked out thinking I was a hero. But I realised it was harder than I thought to find another job with enough hours. I also realised everywheres the same anyway, just different dickheads. Years later I realised I should have made that girl my ally and we should have fucked him off and demanded our tips.”

We went on to read some listener’s’ texts which were all light and funny. This week was text misunderstandings and people really came through.

Keria told the time she’s been too soft, which was a letter to her old boyfriend, who walked all over her.

“I should have done something a lot more dramatic than that!”

I knew if it wasn’t so heavily associated with the magazine, and Nina didn’t listen, then Kerias being ‘too soft’ story would have been how she lets Nina talk down to her and take the piss out of her. Obviously she couldn’t, that was something that could only be spoken of in the pub.

It was a good recording.

After we were finished, I poured us a wine and we sat down and nibbled at the food.

“Nina was doing my fucking head in today.” Keria Monaned, exaggerating with her already huge eyes. I felt myself cinge internally.

If she only knew, and god it would have been such a relief to confide in her what happened just right here in the kitchen only a few hours ago.

“What’s she done now?” I asked.

“I did a few amazing shopping articles, one affordable decent quality jewelry and one on dresses that can work all year, all weathers. She hated it, but made no suggestions! She asked for something else, I did the best underwear deals online. She accepted it but changed nearly everything. God, Jane, I mean I want to leave but I can’t. I’m a stylist for fucking Z list celebreties and a failed fashion designer. Low rate celebs want to style themselves. So I’m grateful for the magazine and web stuff, I am, I really am. But I am shot down every time. It’s never good enough, I always have anxiety that I’m going to be sacked at any moment. She puts me so on edge, I just want some fucking stability. For her to tell me I do a decent job just once!” She ranted.

It was always this. Keira was on the outside confident, but on the inside she was constantly worried and craved reassurance .

“Stop worrying, you are amazing. She’s just a control freak and getting a complement from her is like getting blood out of a stone. I know what you mean though. Maybe you should stand up for yourself” I thought out loud, grateful for the distraction.

We talked some more and Keria left late, I was so tired and had work in the morning. I went to bed with water and stared at the ceiling thinking of Matt. I couldn’t sleep.

I woke up praying for a year’s sleep. I get so angry at myself for not being able to sleep and then struggling to get up. I forced myself out of bed and showered. I did careful winged eyeliner as quickly as I could with a coffee and granola bowl at my side, the news playing. I forgot all about yesterday for half an hour, until my phone buzzed and made my jump as I was sponging some light foundation on.

I ignored it with my stomach full of butterflies. I pulled on high waisted black trousers and a smart plain cream blouse, a long gold effect necklace. I put a couple of big waves in my hair with the curler, checking the shoe rack by the door for my sensible mid heel black leather boots. I couldn’t be arsed today but felt better for stucking on some eyeliner and perfume.

Phone was beeping? Please be Matt. I told myself for a moment that I shouldn’t be thinking that. I was finding it hard to feel the guilt today. Just tired, the guilt will come later. I slept with Matt. I had sex with him.

Matt: You okay?

Me: Who knows? You?

I realised I was sore down below, I smiled to myself remembering.

Matt: I hope you’re okay. I really enjoyed our chat.

What? Okay? Is this a way to say what happened was good without outwardly admitting it? Or to say that we just ‘had a chat’ and the rest dies between us.

Me: The most intense chat I’ve had in awhile.

Matt: It’s the most beautiful for sure.

Me: I thought it was a mean nothing chat?

Matt: More of a conversation I don’t want to finish.

Does this mean he wants an affair? My heart was racing. He’s being awfully risky bringing it up. He must be able to sense my desperation. I felt a deep pull and a wave of wanting. I stuck on my sunglasses and set off walking, smiling, even though I knew I shouldn’t be smiling.

I got a load of admin done on Ninas request. She was in a bitchy mood and I was finding it hard to get that deep feeling of guilt, regret and shame to come back.

“Keria, I’m sending you some shit to proofread, you might want to learn how to use the spell checker seeing as your last email to me had so many bloody errors.”

“Jane, the world doesn’t revolve around all of your personal thoughts and feelings. Get me some content I have nothing! I want some online quizzes done, all aesthetically pleasing. I want you to go through all of the emails as well. I want you to read all the comments from all the serious opinion pieces and flag any of concern in an email to me. Right?”

She was harsh in her tone and said ‘serious’ in a way that said to me. ‘If you’re going to send me shit, I don’t want you to bother.’

I felt confused, before it was I want something serious and personal and now she wants quizzes? She seemed jittery and on edge as she barked out the orders.

I read speedily and knocked out a few personality quizzes with a lot of help from the IT people. Nina emailed and asked me to do some fashion quizzes, what Keria would normally do. I decided to screen the comments for now, I couldn’t deal with that.

I texted Matt all day. My phone face down on my desk.

I had to concentrate hard on work to calm the butterflies but it didn’t work.

Me: I think we have more to talk about.

Matt: Trust me I could talk to you over and over.

Me: I could do one more time.

I was trying to play it cool and failing. It was flirting. I probably wouldn’t do it again. If I did, its an established secret now. Matts not off confessing to Nina and I am telling no one. It felt as if the damage was already done, and so a bit of enjoyment may as well come of it.

Matt: I would love that

Love. Fuck.

Me: When?

Matt: Now.

Me: You are joking?

Matt: You’re flat, a ten minute walk you could go on lunch?

Me: I never go out for food. It will be suspicious.

Matt: I would really like to see you, but I know it’s a bit much in the middle of the day.

Me: Tonight?

Matt: I’ll try. I hope.

Suspense fizzled inside me.

When I got home I was tired but excited. I tried to find the perfect relaxing but sexy clothes. I found some silk shorts and cami and a slouchy white cardigan to make it seem a bit more natural and casual. I had no idea how he could just come over without her noticing. I had no idea where he would say that he was going.

I felt as if I was in another life, as if Matt was a bloke I had just met and not my bosses husband. I somehow got my brain to block that out and push the horrible guilt feeling.

After the kiss I had the guilt feeling so bad my stomach was in constant knots and I couldn’t look at Nina. For some reason I feel past it, like I’m entitled to a piece of Matt.

But I had a lot of guilt for not feeling guilty. I am constantly asking myself. What is wrong with you? Why are you acting as if this is normal?

I felt a sudden urge to ask Matt if he felt the same way.

Me: I don’t feel guilty and I feel guilty about not feeling guilty

Matt: Don’t, I’m going through the motions with Nina. We are not really together romantically.

Hmm. Does he think that and she thinks everythings fine.

I didn’t know them. He could be lying, that would be the more likely event.

I wanted him anyway even if he was lying, I knew deep down that I would turn a blind eye even if I tried not to.

I wanted him round. I wanted to give in without much of a fight over the morality of it.

I picked up my phone again.

Me: I’m not sure.

Three minutes and no reply. The doorbell went. Matt stood there tall and handsome looking down at his phone. He looked up slightly to the legs I lightly tanned, then to my cleavage pushed up under my silk cami.

“I’m sorry.” He said looking up to me. Oh god. “You look nice, are you expecting someone?”

He was pissed off. He shouldn’t have the right to be pissed off.

“I was just thinking we should try to restrain ourselves.” I wanted him to come in so badly.

“Look,” he bagan. “Ninas off to some event for the evening, the lads at work are pissing me off and I can’t be arsed with them. I know we don’t really know each other, but I know that I’ll go home and try to relax and won’t be able to. Can we just, talk, or something for a bit?”

I melted, hating being on my own in the flat I understood the not wanting another night alone. He has a wife though.

“Come in.” I was confused as to what he wanted.

“Thank you. How are you feeling, how was your day?” He asked.

“I’m a bit isolated from work myself, the married ones are in a clan and I usually have Nina and Keria. Kerias just fuming with Nina all the time, and I can’t hear it because I think about Nina and feel bad. Or I see Nina and feel bad, or worse, feel bad for not feeling bad.” I may as well let this out to someone.

My friends were clearly out of bounds. I couldn’t put it online on the website, I couldn’t speak about it on the podcast. I may as well speak to someone.

“Jesus I’m sorry, I’ve made your friendships and work so weird.” He said standing in the middle of my living area awkwardly. I felt as if he was regretting coming here to offload.

“Sit down,” I commanded. He did as he was told and collapsed onto my comfy old leather sofa. He seemed to instantly relax into the nest of cushions and blankets. I handed him a glass of wine and put a fire on.

“This is like an extension of cheating?” He asked. He seemed like such a large presence in my flat.

“I don’t know.” I answered honestly, I thought to someone who wrote in not so long ago. Worried that her boyfriend had a very close ‘friend’ that he went to the pub with.

“I don’t talk to Nina though. So I don’t think so.” He said while he was looking down at his wine. “I’m just as bad though. We stopped talking to each other, we only talk when we have people round or go to events. She made my home office into a snug so we wouldn’t have to sit together on an evening. I never really thought about it until months had passed of hardly talking.”

My stomach was flipping with jealousy thinking of them together. I hardly knew him, and a possessive energy was running through me.

“Do you love her?” I couldn’t stop myself, I blurted it out as I curled up on the other end of the sofa.

“I did years ago, we both changed so much. Especially me, I used to be a right prick, so cocky.” I couldn’t help but judge that. So what and you are such a good person now shagging your wifes employee? He picked up on my expression.

“I still make a lot of mistakes obviously.” I was judging him even more now for calling me a mistake. The warmth of the fire made his face look so handsome.

“So do I, I keep thinking that I can wake up one day and have it all together and have some self control but I get through the day and it just doesn’t happen.” I admitted.

I took off my cardigan with the heat of the little fire and he ran his eyes over my shoulders. We locked eyes.

“I always think the same, I try, obviously not hard enough.” He admitted, I wanted this so bad.

We talked for hours, I put some soft music on the background and we lay on the sofa drinking wine and laughing. Sharing stories of the worst times we have had so self control.

“What if we had no self control together?” I asked, a little tipsy and warm from the wine. “What if, we got all our lack of control other in secret, and then the rest of the day we could be perfect?”

“That sounds amazing.” He was softly smiling, his eyes warm and kind.

I got up and put my glass down. I stood over him, before slowly straddling him and lowering myself down. He cupped his hand under my bum and moaned, I tossed my hair to the side and kissed his neck gently.

We kissed slowly, before it got more passionate and he lifted me and carried me to my bedroom. He lowered me onto the bed and caressed my body under my shorts and top. I took them off and lay naked with him on his knees above me.

He kissed from my mouth down, when he got all the way down he gave gentle kisses on exactly the right spot. I squirmed while he licked and sucked, his hand up kneading my boobs.

He was looking up at me as I was about to come.

I got up onto my elbows and he stretched my legs wide gripping onto my thighs while he licked. I convulsed. I pushed him back, once he was done, with my hand pressed onto his chest. I straddled him, he was rock solid. I took it into my hands and lowered myself onto it slowly, all the time we had our eyes locked. I placed my hands on his chest and rode him, gently rocking my hips up and down until he came. He held me after.

He left late at night. He was worried about the time. I asked him to let me know if everything was okay.

Matt: Home safe.

Thank god for that.

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