This story was inspired by an ad placed on a "No Strings Attached Sex"website. I contemplated dividing it into chapters, since it is quite long. I hope those who read it, enjoy it. I am indebted to BrownSugar82 and Juicy Starchild for their editing which has made my story more readable.
It was three thirty on Friday afternoon, and I was counting down the hours. At forty-eight I was heading for what may be the most exciting day of my life. I was getting married to someone I considered the most beautiful girl in the world. Jane was being an old fashioned girl, telling me that it was unlucky for me to see the bride on the night before the wedding, so she'd gone to stay the night with an old college friend. I was just going up to my home office to check that I had all the arrangements done when I heard her key in the door.
"Okay, scatterbrain, what have you forgotten?" I called out as I came back down the stairs.
At the bottom of the stairs I turned towards the front door and froze. She stood there, with her Mediterranean tan, wearing a two-piece suit that probably cost as much as I took out of the company in a week. She looked at me, gave me a big smile and ran the best she could in her tight skirt and high heels, with her arms outstretched.
She tried to kiss me but I turned my head so that her lips landed only on my cheek. Grabbing her arms, I pushed her off me.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"Kevin—that's no way to talk to your wife. This is my home. I've come back home."
"Firstly, you're not my wife, and secondly, this is not your home. This is my house and you have no right to be in it." I turned and walked towards the lounge.
"Well, I thought you might be angry, but I think you're taking this a bit far."
I opened a drawer and took out a small card. Picking up the phone I dialled the number on the card. "This is Kevin Bryant. ... Yes, the same. ... She's back. ... Yes, my ex-wife, Lisa. ... Yes, she's right in front of me. ... Well, you'd better be quick because I'll be sending her on her way pretty soon." I switched the phone off.
"Who was that?" she asked.
"Detective Inspector Maynard of the local police."
"The police ... but I've done nothing wrong."
"Maybe not, but they think I have."
My next call was to my son, Elliott, and the conversation went much the same way.
"Why don't you take a seat, Lisa. It seems that some people would like to talk to you. You're welcome to wait here for them."
It'd been six years since I had seen Lisa, though it seemed like more, so much had happened in that time. I could still remember the day I came home to find an envelope containing her bank cards, credit card and a short note.
I'm leaving to find my true destiny. Please don't waste your time and money trying to find me. You won't succeed, and even if you did you wouldn't change my mind. I hope life treats you kindly and that you find it in yourself to forgive me.
The note was printed from my office computer—she couldn't even hand write it.
We had been school-days sweethearts, getting together when I was eighteen and Lisa just sixteen. Back in those days I was considered a high flyer. I used to joke with Lisa that I'd be a millionaire by the time I was thirty. At least, it was a joke to me. I got into Manchester University and studied electronics. Of course, I met plenty of girls at university, but there was only one girl for me. Lisa was the girl that all the boys wanted to date, but she'd just tell them she was waiting for her millionaire. Every holiday I'd be back and we'd be together. Of course, I had to work during the holidays, but we still saw plenty of each other. The surprise came when just after my finals Lisa told me she was pregnant. I say it was a surprise because I thought we'd been careful. However, accidents happen—I always thought we'd get married someday, so why not now.
I graduated with first class honours and had offers from a number of the electronics and telecom giants. That was probably our first disagreement. Lisa wanted me to take a job with one of the big boys, after all they paid well and there was a lot of prestige in working for them. I, on the other hand, wanted to work for a small organisation where I felt I could achieve more. I did it my way and we moved to Somerset. Danvers Electronics was a small company that designed and built navigation aids for yachtsmen and did little work for the defence industry. The company was owned by Bob Danvers, a man in his forties. Two things really attracted me to the company. First was Bob himself. He was an engineer and realised that investment at the sharp end of the company was the most important. His designers worked with top of the range equipment, while the administrators and managers frequently made do with computers the designers had outgrown. The second was the fact that their chief designer was nearing retirement age. I was likely to climb the ladder a lot quicker there than at one of the big companies.
Bob was a genuinely good bloke. Once I'd accepted the job he found a flat for Lisa, bump and me, and paid our deposit and the first three month's rent. My first few months' salary went on buying second hand furniture, preparing for the arrival of Elliott. Lisa really blossomed while pregnant and that bloom didn't leave her after Elliott was born. Within four months she got her figure back—in fact it was better than before. Her breasts were bigger and now balanced her hips. At five foot eight she was taller than most women, and her chestnut hair with blue eyes made her stand out from the crowd. If the boys at school were jealous before, they'd be doubly so now.
We soon outgrew the flat and were looking for a house. Once again, Bob helped us. He convinced me that renting was giving money away and that I should try to buy a house. I only had enough saved for half the deposit, so Bob loaned us the other half. It wasn't all philanthropy with Bob. He knew I could get a better deal elsewhere, and he knew that if I bought a house I was more likely to stay in the area. As the years went by, things got a little easier. I really wanted more children, but we just weren't lucky that way.
When the chief designer retired, Bob confounded my plans by deciding on a restructure. He wanted design and development brought together under one leader. My heart sank when he came to me and asked me to come and meet the Design and Development manager. He took me up to his office. When we got there, the place was empty. He opened another door.
"Oh, he must be in here," he said and pushed me through the door into his en-suite toilet.
As I walked in I was looking straight in the mirror.
"Kevin—meet the new Design and Development manager."
I was somewhat taken aback—no application, no interviews, just being told I'd got the job.
"Well," he said, "are you going to take the job? You'd better bloody take it—I've based this whole restructuring around you."
"Are you sure, Bob? I mean, I was hoping for the design job, but are you sure you want me to run the combined department?"
"I was sure after your first month of working for me. You don't really think I didn't know what I was getting. I made my enquiries before I offered you a job. You and Lisa may look upon me as a benevolent old fool, but if you do, you're wrong. I'm a businessman, and you, young man, are very good for business."
My new position meant a big increase in salary, and I knew Lisa would have no trouble spending it. It seems that we all have our own talents. Mine was for logic, electronics and finding new and innovative ways of doing things; Lisa's talent was for spending money. I made arrangements with Bob so that not all of my new salary would be paid into our joint account—ten percent got diverted to a savings account. Lisa still saw an increase, but it gave me a buffer for rainy days.
Over the next few years the company's defence work increased, largely due to my department's drive to diversify. In the process I filed a couple of patents, having come up with cheaper, better ways of proving the same result. We weren't a large enough company to take on all the work our patents would guarantee, so we allowed our competitors to use some of our designs under a licence, giving us royalties. Since the patents came from my work, Bob insisted I took a percentage of the royalties as an annual bonus, which I used to reduce the outstanding mortgage.
I thought we were doing quite well. By the time I was thirty we had our own detached house in the country, two cars and a good standard of living. When I mentioned this to Lisa once, she reminded me.
"You always said you'd be a millionaire by now."
That was when I realised she hadn't got the joke.
If Lisa was disappointed in me, she did a good job covering it up. Our life was good, we were comfortably well off, our sex life was great, if a little plain, we had a social life. The only real disagreement was about Elliott's education. Lisa wanted him to have a public school (this means a non-state school, private school in the US) education. I argued that the state system was good enough for us.
"Perhaps if you'd gone to public school you would be a millionaire by now, instead of working for some tin-pot electronics company."
"It's that tin-pot electronics company that enables us to have this argument. Without it, we wouldn't have sufficient income to even think of it."
"Ah, so you admit we can afford it. If you loved our son, you'd give him every advantage you could."
Lisa won that one and Elliott went to Kingswood. He went as a day pupil, so Lisa had to take him every day. It cost me six grand a year, but it bought me peace and, what the hell, it was six grand that didn't go on shoes and clothes, or so I thought. To be honest, the fees were far from the worst part of it. No, by far the worst part of having a child at public school is having to socialise with the other parents. At least, that was the case with the ones that Lisa chose to strike up friendships with. They seemed to be stockbrokers, bankers, investment analysts and the like. Not one of them worked in a business that actually made anything. By the time Elliott was in his second year we were being invited to dinner parties and I could only stall for a short while. I tried to get on with them, I really did, but most of the time I found myself biting my tongue. I suppose that's when the rot started. Lisa really looked up to these people—I regarded them as parasites who fed off the work of others.
"I see you've remodelled the garden."
"Sorry, what was that?" I asked.
Lisa stood by the patio doors, looking out into the garden.
"The garden," she said. "You've remodelled it. It looks very nice—what brought that about?"
"After a couple of weeks with thirty policemen and two mechanical diggers out there, it was in such a mess that it was simpler to just dig it up and start again."
"Policemen and diggers—what were they doing here?"
"Looking for you."
She was just about to say something else when the doorbell rang. I answered the door and found Detective Inspector Maynard and a woman police constable on my doorstep.
"Good afternoon, Mr Bryant, this is WPC Cavendish."
"Inspector, Ms Cavendish, please come in."
"You say she's back, sir. Is she still here?"
"She most certainly is. Please follow me and I'll introduce you."
I took them through to the lounge where Lisa was still looking out at the garden.
"Inspector, Ms Cavendish, this is my ex-wife, Lisa. Lisa, this is Inspector Maynard and WPC Cavendish."
"Did you really dig up my garden, Inspector?"
"Yes, madam, we did. Now, if you don't mind, I need to ask you a few questions. Do you have any identification, Mrs Bryant?"
"Well, I have my passport in my bag if that will do."
Maynard said it would, so Lisa retrieved it from her bag and handed it to him. He checked the passport, looked at Lisa, then at the passport photo. He then produced a photograph from his pocket. It was a copy of one I'd given him when he first started the investigation. He passed the passport to the WPC, who made a note of the number, full name and date of birth, before handing it back to the inspector. He thanked Lisa and returned the passport to her.
"Now, Mrs Bryant, would you like to tell us where you've been for the last six years?"
"Do we have to do this now, Inspector? In front of my husband and all? Can't I come down the station later and give you the whole story?"
"Well, I could take you down the station now, if you like. We have a patrol car outside. As for your husband, I can think of no one more entitled to answers after what he has been through."
Lisa looked over at me with pleading eyes. "Kevin, I know you're angry with me for leaving you, but this isn't going to make it any better."
"Lisa, I'm not angry about you leaving, what I am angry about is that you came back and you came back today." I was almost shouting at this point, so I walked over to the window, sat in a chair and looked out at the garden. Just to brighten my mood it started raining.
"Mrs Bryant, where have you been all the time we've been trying to find you?"
"Now, I didn't know you were looking for me. I told Kevin not to do that."
"He didn't, we did. Now, where have you been?"
"Well, first we went to the South of France, then on to Spain. After that it was Barbados, and then I went back to Spain. Now I've come home."
"This is not your home," I told her.
She was just about to say something when Maynard stopped her. "Mr Bryant, I realise that you're upset, but I must ask you to keep quiet. I need to hear Mrs Bryant's story so I can decide whether a crime has been committed. If it has, then we'll have to continue the interview at the station."
He turned back to Lisa. "Now, Mrs Bryant, you say you've been abroad, yet we contacted all the local taxi companies and none of them picked you up. We also checked at all the airports and ports—you weren't listed as a passenger on any of them. Just how did you leave the country?"
She looked over at me again, as if checking to see if I was listening. The fact is I wasn't really bothered about where she'd been or how she'd got there. The only thing that bothered me was where she was now.
"A friend picked me up here, and we went to Farnborough where he keeps his plane. He then flew us out to Nice, on the Riviera. So you see, it's hardly surprising no one knew where I'd gone."
I had switched off to the conversation and just sat there, looking out at the rain.
On reflection you could trace the troubles in our marriage back to the time when Elliott started at Kingswood. Lisa thought we should be living the lives of the other parents. She wanted us to move to Bath and holiday in the South of France. I wanted us to pay off our mortgage and save for retirement. Needless to say, there were plenty of arguments, but most of the time we made up before bed time. However, after one of the dinner parties all that changed. Henry, one of the guests and the father of one of Elliott's friends, had drunk a little too much wine. He was telling us all about his bonuses from the hedge fund he worked for. I could've happily ignored that but he went on to tell us all about the deal he was aiming to pull off. He'd found a small company near Farnborough which made hand held GPS navigation systems. The company owned quite a lot of land, which the owner had bought years ago to allow an expansion which never took place.
"Silly old fool doesn't know what he's got," said Henry. "The land alone is worth millions as industrial land, ten times more as residential building land. The old duffer wants to retire but insists on selling the company as a going concern to protect his workforce."
"So what are you planning, then, Henry?" I asked.
"Oh, we'll buy him out at what he thinks is a good price. Then we set up a holding company and transfer all the land, including the factory, to that company. The holding company charges the factory a fair rent for the building. Meanwhile, we sell the rights to the products to one of the big boys, and the factory has to pay licence fees to make the product they developed. We sell the factory off cheap but, with rent and licence fees to pay, they'll never make a profit; so they default on the rent, and the landlord—that's us—is forced to evict them. Then we sell the whole parcel of land off for housing. We'll make twenty to thirty times what we paid, and all within two years."
"And what happens to the workforce then, Henry?"
"My dear boy, in every battle there are casualties. Can't be helped."
"All so that you can get your bonus. You evil, blood-sucking bastard."
Henry took a swing at me. I sidestepped and he fell across the table, breaking several plates and plastering cake all over his jacket. Lisa heard the noise and came to see what had happened.
"Get your coat, Lisa, we're leaving."
That was the last dinner party I ever attended. Come to think of it, it was the last one I was ever invited to. Lisa still went to them but said she was on her own. I knew that meant the hostess invited other men to partner Lisa. Lisa denied this, but I knew that was the way it worked.
When I got into work on Monday I told Bob all about Henry's little plan. We both knew the company he was talking about and tried to work out a plan to help. By the time we'd finished, Bob had taken over the factory and the excess land had been sold off. Bob gave a fair price for the factory and, with the land being sold off for housing, the owner got far more than Henry's hedge fund would ever have given him.
It was a little over a month after our plan was complete that I learned of Henry's anger. Lisa came home from one of the parties and almost instantly attacked me.
"You just had to interfere, didn't you?" she yelled at me. "Mr holier-than-thou Kevin Bryant just had to interfere. It's not enough that you embarrass me in front of my friends, now you use information you got from the party to ruin Henry's plan."
"Ah, is poor little Henry upset?" I asked.
"He's way past upset. He says you've taken the food out of his children's mouths."
"It was his bonus against the livelihoods of a hundred men. No contest, in my book."
"Why do you have to make it so bloody difficult. I do my best to make new friends, people that can help us move up in society, and all you do is insult them and hinder everything I do."
"It could have been my father's or your father's jobs that he was destroying. Have you forgotten where you came from?"
"No, I haven't forgotten. The difference is, I don't want to go back there."
So that was it, she really was ashamed of me. I was never going to be a millionaire. Not like Henry. We did sleep on a problem that night. We never spoke of it again, but it was clear things had changed. Our sex life, or at least mine, deteriorated significantly. Lisa handled everything to do with the school, and I was happy to let her. She joined a fundraising committee, which meant that she spent even more time in Bath. I just put everything into work. I spent more time there, I brought work home with me and when I wasn't working I was out of the house as much as possible.
I gave way on the annual holiday that year, and we spent a couple of weeks in Juan les Pins in July. As luck had it, we picked the right time for the jazz festival. It meant that I took Elliott out most evenings and Lisa had him during the day. Lisa was preoccupied with spotting the rich and famous and spent a lot of time parading in her bikini in front of the gin palaces in the harbour. That was the last of our holidays together. I felt I'd given Lisa the holiday she wanted, so the next year should be my choice. I fancied learning to ski. Lisa thought winter holidays should be spent somewhere warm and refused to have anything to do with snow. Elliott thought it was great—winter holidays with me, summer holidays with Lisa.