"Baby! What are you trying to do to me? The guys are outside waiting! Jude will soon come in to see what I've got up to!" the man groaned.
"So? He'll see that you're with your wife, Mason!"
"I know, baby. But he might want what I have, and you know that I don't like to share," the man wheedled.
His wife laughed mirthlessly. She had heard this kind of thing many times before, just before her husband left her on her own for the day to be with his friends. She knew that some of these friends were women. There had been a clique into which she had never managed to break when she married Mason.
"I have to go," he sounded annoyed. 'I have to go!" He pushed her away from him, and she fell.
"Christ! I'm sorry Carole!" he exclaimed.
He helped her up and helped her to a chair. An ice pack later, he and her marriage were gone. Carole had had enough.
That was eight months ago. Carole had separated from Mason and was well on the way to having her divorce finalised. She had taken on a new lease on life, bought a new two-bedroom apartment in New Kingston out of the very generous allowance that her husband had always given her, and started over. She knew that she wanted a change. Being a youth worker was even less satisfying than it had been two years ago when she first realised how empty her life was. She knew that what she was doing was important, but the feeling of having given too much during her earlier life lingered. She felt that it was time to pack it up before her resentment at her situation of finding herself approaching middle age without a family of her own, and without the exciting career about which she had dreamed, overwhelmed her.
Carole prepared for the day's Expo at the youth centre. She had invited several business persons from the community to come in and serve as well-needed role models for the young men and women whom the Children's Services Department had deemed to be in danger of going off the rails. Everyone whom she had invited had agreed. Carole wondered if there would ever come a time when she could just come in and give an hour of her time and be an inspiration to anyone. She and her little taskforce of helpers had set out the chairs, fixed the displays on the tables and pinned up the posters that the visitors had sent ahead for them. They were ready in time to have a quick cup of coffee before the first of the visitors arrived.
Ralston Anthony was the first to arrive. He had been the first person to arrive last year and the year before that as well. He was the former owner of a fine carpet and drape store in cool, Mandeville. He had set up the business over thirty years before, and had done very well through having received the long-term contract to carpet and maintain the floors and drapery of three fine hotel chains across the Caribbean. He had done so well in fact that he was able to take an early retirement, after his wife had died, and so he planned to spend the rest of his life on one long, well-deserved holiday.
Ralston decided that it would be a good thing to donate some time to the community. He felt that he had lived a boringly ordinary, if successful life and he was ready for adventure. It was for this reason that Ralston Anthony decided that he could best serve his fellow man (and woman) by teaching some basic entrepreneurship classes in a delinquency prevention programme to the young men and women who did not appreciate how lucky they really were.
Visiting the youth centre, and delivering his little speech, was something of an annual event for Ralston. He smiled at the director of the centre. She was an extremely attractive young woman. He had fantasized about her since the day that he had first met her, two years ago. She was married, but Ralston had seen the lonely look in her eye. He was struck by it, because it was the same sort of look that he had seen in the eyes of many of the single women nearer his own age. She was far younger and prettier than the sort that he had come to expect to have haunted eyes and so she piqued his interest.
He had delivered his speech and answered the mostly inane questions of the youngsters fairly smoothly. The young woman had watched the whole thing with a quiet expression on her face, but for some reason Ralston thought that she was paying attention to the proceedings. It was not just the usual do-this-and-tick-the-box-on-to-the-next-project for her.
She had smiled, clearly flattered when he had invited her for a drink, but told him that she was married; and his casual glance at the third finger on her left hand had seemed to confirm this. They had shaken hands on parting, but, as is the way of Fate, they began bumping into each other quite frequently after that, at the supermarket, in the high street shops when he accompanied his sisters, and at the Strawberry Hill Resort, high in the Blue Mountains, where coincidentally, his family and her husband held long-term leases on two luxury cottages. It was funny that they did not seem to have noticed each other before, because when they spoke later they realised that they had been doing these things all along, but just around each other, instead of side-by-side as they seemed to be doing now. Carole had seized the opportunity to seduce the older man one weekend when he was alone at the lodge and she had managed to slip away from her husband. She went to his cottage and rapped at the door after dressing herself in a tube top and hot pants and pasting her most becoming smile on her face.
Poor Ralston didn't stand a chance. The tube top told him that she wore no bra and the hot pants that she hadn't bothered with knickers either. He stood to attention to let her in in more than one sense of the phrase.
"Hello Mr. Anthony," she said in the sultry voice that had set Ralston's blood boiling when he had passed her cottage and heard her making love to her husband, an apparently rare event, since he was far more likely to hear them arguing.
"H- hello..." he stammered slightly.
"I'm not sure that you remember me," she lied smoothly. "I'm Carole Stoddart. I live near you and you spoke at the youth centre where I work a few weeks ago. You'd offered me a drink, but I couldn't come at the time. May I have it now?' She grinned at him, her smile something out of a toothpaste commercial. "In fact, I'm thinking about a career in interior decorating because of you. I've been bored with being a youth worker and I need a change. You were very persuasive... May I come in?" She smiled again.
Ralston stood aside to let her in, glancing subconsciously to see if anyone had noticed that she had come to his cottage dressed as she was.
"Yes, I do remember you, of course. How may I help you, Carole?" he asked politely.
"I won't be long, but may I have a seat?" she asked, and turned around to bend over and pick up some magazines from a small chair even before Ralston could respond. Ralston's erection became undisputedly painful at the sight of her naked buttocks as the scrap of cloth covering them disappeared into the crevasse between the twin bubbles of her pillows. He simply stared at her and so she tossed her hair sexily and asked,
"Aren't you going to offer me that drink, Ralston?"
Ralston came in his pants like a school boy at her use of his first name. There was no doubt about what she wanted from him, nor that he was more than willing to give it to her. There would be complications though: his for-once-absent spinster sisters who would be sure to judge her like people condemning someone to death; the fact that they were neighbours not only in in Norbrook, but here at Strawberry Hill as well; and the fact that she was married to a man twice his size! No, he couldn't do this!
"You can't stay here Carole," he found himself saying reluctantly, but in as firm a tone as he could muster.
"Why not?" and as if reading his mind, "We're two adults who want each other."
"How old are you Carole?"
"I was 32 in March!"
Ralston didn't believe her, she looked 23 if she looked a day, but he said nothing about that. He knew that she'd tell him what he needed to hear in order to get what she wanted. She seemed to be that sort of woman, and Ralston was in the mood to "believe" her anyway, even if he wasn't very sure. The one thing that he was sure about was that, contrary to his usual practice, he'd use a condom when he fucked her.
"Carole," he began, "what will people think if they see you dressed like that, and worse yet, coming from my place?"
"They'll think either that I'm a very naughty little girl," she replied, over a sexy chuckle that sent his nerve-endings into overdrive; "or that my damned husband doesn't take care of his business," that remark had a bit more edge to it.
It was the start of their affair, the fateful words that made what they were doing easier for Ralston to take. She was a very naughty girl, and he the responsible adult and friend who had to correct and guide her for her own good, or keep her company for the sake of her sanity. That first evening they had spent two hours exploring what would happen if her husband returned to his cottage before she got home and discovered that she had gone out dressed as she had. It was her first spanking over his knee, and the power of his multiple orgasms when he finally took her, told Ralston that he was completely lost; the parting from her, when she finally left that night in order to get home before her husband did, was excruciating, like the severing of a limb for him.
"Oh god Ralston! What have you done?" he whispered, desperately, to himself.
Carole returned to him the next afternoon; again while her husband was out for a full-day's hiking with friends. They role played the repercussions of her stealing from him, her employer, after she completed her interior decorating course. Again, she was stripped and spanked, but this time Ralston introduced the idea of a naughty corner to the delighted Carole. He could hardly keep his hands off her and so he torpedoed his own innovation by dragging her out of her punishment prematurely.
He kissed her deeply, a thing that he had not done the previous night, and again, the fucking that followed was sensational. It was also the first time that they cuddled afterward in post-coital bliss and frighteningly, they drifted off to sleep in each other's arms! Ralston awakened with a start when he heard people walking along the path outside his cottage back to their homes after the evening's entertainment in the main club house. He roused Carole desperately, and she dressed quickly and slipped away into the dark during a lull in the activity on the path outside. She made it home, she told him later, only two minutes before her husband did.
Her flushed cheeks would have revealed to everyone the pleasure that had overtaken her that night. So she went to bed early and frigged herself thinking about Ralston... Mr. Anthony.. when her husband and his friends were around...
Their affair didn't last for long. It couldn't. Carole wasn't really the sort of woman who had affairs. Despite the brazen way in which she had approached him she felt guilty about what they were doing. She apologised for using him to get back at Mason. She explained that even though she was angry with him having an affair was not the solution. She had always known that. She was not really like that. She was the sort of person who wanted to make a mark in the world. What Ralston had done for her, she told him, was to restore her confidence in herself, and for that she was extremely thankful, and he, very proud. For him, it was the happiest three months of his life, and he had spent the next six months crying himself to sleep every night and awakening every morning having dreamed about her.
In his dreams he did all kinds of things like snuggling with her. Having her naked ass pressed against his hips, and his cock, and his balls. He dreamed that theirs was a tangle of limbs in which his arms were wrapped around her protectively, and that his hands cupped her breasts lovingly. He awakened joyfully every morning just before he realised that these images were in fact just nice dreams. He would spend the rest of the day slightly depressed, but he didn't hold it against her that she was trying to be faithful to her husband. In fact, he had to admit that he admired her for it. He may have been unhappy, but he carried a quiet song in his heart that all would be well for her.
It hurt him every time he saw her, but he wouldn't have missed the rare opportunities to be with her for the world. She had invited him to the youth centre last year, and again this year and he had gone, willingly, for her. The second time that he had visited and given his speech she had told him that she had begun her programme in interior decorating part-time at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, and that she had taken to it like a duck to water. He was happy to hear this since he felt a keen pride in the fact that she was following in his footsteps somewhat. He had never had children of his own, and his family members had never really taken any interest in his carpet and drapery business. When she had called to book his time for this year's event she had asked him for advice on a project that she was doing and Ralston had been thrilled to give her advice there too.
He was grateful for the few minutes that he had to chat quietly with her before any of the other presenters or students arrived. She had impressed him greatly even after the initial flame of their affair had died away. It was she who had stopped calling him, and eventually, he had noticed that she no longer visited the cottage in Strawberry Hill or the shops in Manor Park. He hadn't seen her in nearly a year, but she took his breath away as she had always done.
"So, what's new with you, Carole? Is the programme still going well?"
"It's going very well, thank you! Thanks for asking!" she beamed at him.
"I noticed that I haven't been seeing you around," he said tentatively.
"Things have really changed for me since last year," she said quietly. "I've left Mason and my divorce is almost final now. I don't live the posh life anymore."
She smiled happily again.
Ralston felt his heart skip a beat. She was free? He didn't dare ask while they were standing in the auditorium in which he was to speak in a half an hour, but he resolved to call her to invite her for drinks as soon as he got home.
"Carole? Mrs. Stoddart? It's Ralston Anthony."
He hesitated, not sure what to say next. Like many people who make plans, he had seen himself out on a date with the woman, but not how he was actually going to get her there. Fatefully, Carole herself saved him the trouble.
"Hello Ralston! How delightful to hear from you again so soon. I was going to ring you up this evening to thank you again for being so kind to the kids at the youth centre," she paused; "and, I wanted to invite you to come by Edna Manley College any day this week, if you're not too busy, to see an exhibition of our class projects. I'm not sure that you remember that I was one of the people whom you inspired during your first year with us and I had asked you for help with my major assignment for this year. You don't have to spend a long time at the show, but just a few minutes," she begged. "I'd really like you to see what I've been doing, and how your ideas turned out!" she ended up with a cute little voice that gave Ralston pause.
"How can I say no?"
"Oh goodie!" Carole exclaimed.
Ralston found himself smiling, whenever he thought about her for the rest of the evening.
In truth, Ralston was afraid that he would not like Carole's work. He didn't like his sisters' decorations at home, but he was prepared to find something nice to say if she asked him his opinion about her efforts. In truth he was very impressed by what he saw, faulting her only on a lack of experience with her choice of available materials, but admiring her willingness to take bold risks in her designs. He found that he did not have to find anything to praise. His problem was in trying not to look as if he were being patronizing or in sucking up to her.
Ralston stopped praising her work when he could see that she was about to cry! Good grief! He reached for her hand, and that was when she broke down, and grabbing the front of his shirt, cuddled into him and sobbed.
"Carole, darling! What is it?"
He found himself kissing her hair, and holding her even more tightly to shield her bodily from the stares of the other people in the room. He led her outside quickly, and pushed her into his car.
"Carole? Has someone been unkind to you, my love?"
He had begun his question gently, but then, on reflection had become very angry at the thought of someone hurting her in any way.
"I know that it can't be the work; you're brilliant! What happened with Mason? Did he hurt you?" he asked tentatively.
At first Carole said nothing and Ralston thought that she was not going to answer his question, but then the wistful look on her face tugged on Ralston's heart. He wanted to smash in Mason's face for having been so careless with Carole's regard.
"It turns out that we had a lavender marriage" she said at last. "I was a beard; what can I say? My husband was more in love with a guy called Jude, than he was with me. He and Jude went back years; before I even met him. I didn't stand a chance."
She shook her head sadly.
"He's being very generous in the settlement though. He's giving me enough to start over, so that's why I got serious about going back to school. I married straight out of high school. It was a mistake to do so, my parents warned me, but there you have it. I wouldn't listen. At least they're decent enough not to remind me that they had told me so. I just feel so lonely though. I was the one who was foolish. Everyone told me that there was something wrong with Mason if he wanted to marry me!"
She began to sob again, and a shocked Ralston allowed her to do so until he could process what she had just said.
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with you!" Ralston declared, hotly after a few minutes of listening to her weep. "How dare anyone say such a thing! You are absolutely divine! You are perfect! I wanted him to leave you so that I could have you for myself!"
He was actually shouting in the car, and Carole had stopped crying and was staring him with wide-open, frightened eyes.
Ralston paused, shocked at what he had just said. It was true though. He had fantasized about Mason leaving her and him having the opportunity to rescue her and have her fall in love with him for being her knight in shining armour.
"I'm sorry," he said after a while. "I should not have said that, but the sentiment is true. I used to think of myself as being the dashing Prince Charming who would come to sweep you off your feet. I have loved you since the day that I met you at the youth centre. I think that it is so like me that our first meeting should have been in a place as drab as that, but...no, no, no... hear me out. It isn't as fancy a place as you deserve to spend your days. You deserve the best that life can give. If you enjoyed the beauty of Strawberry Hill and the luxury of a home with a pool so that you can show off your figure then you deserve those things. I want to give them to you. If you want to run your own business as an interior decorator then I'm there for you. I will never stand in your way, I just want you to be happy. I will never hurt you, I promise. I will never leave your side, except in death."
And so it was, that Carole Stoddart took the initiative for the second time in their lives together. She reached out and stroked Ralston's lip gently with her finger just before she leaned in to kiss him. It was the start to one of the most joyous days in Ralston's life, surpassed later by the days on which they got married, and on which they had each of their three children, but those are in the future; and for the moment we can just sit here, and watch them spend the afternoon hugging and smooching with each other.