I am indebted to Softtouch911 for his great help and support whilst I was writing this story, and also to Pookie for her very constructive comments.
I cradled our newborn baby girl in my arms, marvelling at the miniature perfection of her fingernails, as her tiny trusting hand clasped my thumb. I did not yet know the colour of her eyes, but she certainly had her mother's dark hair and complexion. She really was a beautiful baby. An hour previously Clare and I had both cried as she was born, and I felt myself becoming increasingly misty-eyed as I continued to gaze at her. She was perfect, perfect in every respect. No, that was not quite true; she was perfect in every respect apart from one detail. She was not my child.
"Isn't she lovely, Tom?"
I glanced at my wife, her long dark hair tousled on the white pillow. Despite looking pale and drawn, Clare was a picture of contentment. In truth she was tired, and it had not been the easiest of natural births, but now it was over. She'd had a little girl; she was a mother! She could hardly contain her excitement.
"Just think of all those lovely little clothes we can get for her." A frown crossed her face. "You're not disappointed Tom, are you? I mean because it's not a boy."
"Of course not Clare. How could I be? Just look at her."
"I'm glad we chose Laura. She really suits the name, doesn't she?"
She did, too. I could not take my eyes from our little Laura Wilson now all of one hour old. I wondered what the world had in store for her. I kissed her cheek before carefully passing her back to her mother.
Laura began to cry and I briefly entertained a fond delusion that she was missing me already. The actual reason was far more prosaic; she was merely hungry. The next moment Clare opened her bed jacket and our daughter was contentedly suckling at her breast. It was a moment to treasure forever. She had just finished feeding her when the nurse appeared. She took Laura from her and gently placed her in a crib alongside the bed.
"I think it's time you got some rest too, Clare."
I sat in the chair and watched over them both as they slept, Clare and Laura, my wife and our daughter, the two most precious things in my life.
I had known Clare for five of my thirty-one years. It was a chance encounter that had changed my life, a blind date fixed up by Ray, who was my closest friend. He and I played football for the same amateur side. He was a really likeable guy with a good sense of humour. He was not only very popular amongst his team mates, but also with women, who readily succumbed to his easy charm. He was certainly never short of girlfriends, but like a number of such men he preferred to play the field rather than to get too serious with any of them.
"Don't laugh Tom, but I think I'm in love."
We were having a lunchtime drink and I all but spluttered my beer over him.
"You've not been looking at yourself in the mirror again, have you Ray?"
"I'm being serious, Tom. You haven't met her yet, but you'll understand when you do. In fact you'll meet her tomorrow because we're going out in a foursome. I've fixed you up with her sister."
The following evening found us in a bar in north London. We were on our second beer and the girls had still not appeared.
"Here she is, Tom." A slender dark haired girl had entered. Unfortunately she was alone; her sister had not come after all. Not for the first time, I had been stood up. Ray went over to meet his date, aware and rather proud to see that everyone in the bar was looking at her. He was in his element, as he brought her to our table. As she drew close I could not fail to notice how pretty she was. She had nice legs too, but it was her warm smile that I found so appealing. My disappointment at being stood up was not lessened one whit by Ray's new girl friend being so attractive. If her sister had been only half as good looking as this one, I would have been on to a winner. She was a dream and I could readily understand how Ray had been smitten.
"Tom, this is Francesca."
She immediately corrected him. "It's Clare!"
I could not believe my ears. How could Ray, a ladies man if ever there was one, not remember the name of his new girl friend?
Ray turned to her, his incomprehension obvious.
"Fran is just coming...she's parking the car."
Fran had said she would bring her sister. She had just neglected to mention that her sibling was her identical twin!
I have read somewhere or other that you immediately know when the right person comes into your life. I had never given it much credence, but somehow I knew that Clare was the one for me. Not only was she stunning, but she also came across as a really nice person. She told me she was a teacher at the local infant school. She found it a very satisfying occupation, even if the pay was not that good. She loved little children, loved their trusting ways and took great pride when their reading skills developed under her tutelage.
We started going out together, usually just the two of us but sometimes as a foursome. That led to some confusion because in the early days Ray and I would struggle to tell them apart. However we did become aware of subtle differences as we got to know them better.
There were other complications too. They were living together in a small one-bedroom flat in Highbury, which meant that when we took them home, we had very little privacy in which to be intimate. That is not to say that we could not have sex, but neither Ray nor I could really let ourselves go in such circumstances. It was Ray who had the idea to go to a hotel in Brighton. We accordingly booked two top floor rooms in the five-star Continental for the following weekend.
It was certainly a weekend to remember and not necessarily for all the right reasons. The Saturday was a total disaster. The motorway was closed in both directions following an accident, and the resulting traffic jams meant we were late getting to the hotel. When we finally arrived and were checking in, we were informed that they had no record of our reservation. They had no rooms left either, which was of even more concern. None of us wanted to fight our way back through the traffic again, so we decided to look for another hotel. We eventually found one in the middle of nowhere. It had seen better days, but at least the bedrooms were clean.
We unpacked, and as it was now seven thirty in the evening, we immediately went out to dinner. We found what appeared to be a classy restaurant, but the food was late in arriving, and overcooked to boot! Still undaunted, we took a taxi from the restaurant to a nice seafront pub, and were just complimenting ourselves on a good choice when a fight broke out! By the time we got back to the hotel, the staff were about to close the bar. We finally persuaded them to serve us, the only successful thing we'd achieved the whole bloody day!
In fact the day had been so bad that it was actually funny and the girls could not stop laughing about it. And what followed this disastrous day? One of the most passionate nights of sex I'd ever had.
Whether Clare wanted to make up for our mutual frustrations in Highbury, or even of this Saturday, she was absolutely insatiable. We had no sooner got in our room than she was kneeling down and unzipping me. In next to no time she was sucking me, holding the base of my shaft with one hand and touching herself with the other. She released me and stripped off all her clothes, save for her hold up stockings. Then she lay down on the edge of the bed and spread her legs. I had also undressed and, kneeling down at the side of the bed, was in a perfect position to lap at her opening. Not surprisingly, she was very wet indeed. I licked the length her slit before alighting on her clitoris. I tried to suck it into my mouth, swirling the tip of my tongue round the sensitive little bud, pausing now and again to study the juicy coral pink flesh of her labia. I stroked the smooth silky skin of her inner thigh, pleasantly surprised to note that she had neatly trimmed the hair either side of her cleft. Before long she was in the throes of a powerful orgasm and was pushing herself into my face. I continued to tongue her clit until she passed her peak and she collapsed on to the bed.
I slipped on a condom and climbed between her legs before guiding my cock into her hot wet depths. As I ploughed into her she would push up at me and I would be buried in her to my very balls. She gave vent to her feelings, groaning each time she felt me fully inside her. She had not been that vocal before; perhaps she no longer felt quite so constrained without Ray or Fran being in the room. Nevertheless she was mindful not to make too much noise, not that it really mattered, given the loud squeaking of the bedsprings. I did my best to ignore them, concentrating solely on the exquisite sensation as she clenched herself around my pulsating cock. I thrust into her one last time, and then I was ejaculating.
Ten minutes later we were snuggled up in bed. I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard Fran and Ray through the bedroom wall. The bed in their room had apparently received just as much maintenance as ours, and their bedsprings were also providing an audible accompaniment to their sexual activities. I remember smiling to myself and thinking that the day had ended up much better than it had started.
I awoke in the morning to find Clare sucking on my dick. I eased her round so that I could lick her at the same time and again delighted in the sight of her open wet femininity as she lowered herself onto my mouth. I adored mutual oral sex; to me it was actually more intimate than fucking. Being alone in our hotel room we were really able to indulge ourselves. I just about managed to hold off until she started to climax and then I let go. Her lips remained clamped round my crown as I shot jet after jet of semen into her mouth.
Later that morning the four of us we were having breakfast together in the dining room. The girls went off to the loo, and I took the opportunity to speak to Ray. It seemed that he had experienced just as exciting a night with Fran. We never did discover what it was that had caused both of them to be so desperate for it. Had we done so, we could have been millionaires.
Of course they were both sexy girls but it was not just the sex. They were also fun to be with, Fran perhaps, being the more adventurous of the two, whilst Clare was the more caring and compassionate. It was no surprise that both Ray and I should fall in love with them, and no surprise that two years later we had a double wedding.
Within the year Fran was expecting. Clare and I were not quite ready for children and had decided to wait. However Clare shared in the preparation, going along with the parents-to-be, helping to choose the furniture for the nursery and generally being supportive.
We were simply devastated when we heard the news. Clare dropped the phone and screamed. I attempted to make sense of what a distraught Ray was trying to tell me. A hit and run driver had knocked Francesca down and she was in a coma. She had already lost the baby and the doctors had warned Ray that her condition was such that he should expect the worst. By the time Clare and I got to the hospital, she was already dead.
The next few months were utter hell with anger, misery and despair ever present in our lives. Ray remained inconsolable, but slowly, oh so slowly, Clare and I began to come to terms with our loss. Now only too aware of the ephemeral nature of our existence, we decided we would start a family.
We were both confident that she would fall pregnant quickly – her late twin sister had done just that – but it did not happen. Our hopes were dashed every month with the onset of her period. Eventually we went to a clinic and to my dismay, it was discovered that I had an abnormally low sperm count. The specialist assured me that it had no influence on my sexuality, that it was quite commonplace, and most importantly that I might still be able to father a child. It was just that I was firing blanks most of the time. He suggested that we limit our sex to those times when she was most fertile. I must say that consulting a chart and taking her internal temperature to determine the optimum moment, was hardly likely to make for mad passionate sex. We persevered nevertheless, but with no more success than before.
We were of course bitterly disappointed, but to put it in context, it was but a minor irritation compared to what Ray was going through. He was still missing Fran terribly and had lost his zest for life. Clare was becoming increasingly concerned about him. She was sure he was not eating enough so we often invited him round to eat with us and she would insist he take home what had not been eaten. I think she deliberately cooked more food than was necessary, just so that she could provide for him. She also felt he could do with some female company, so she tried fixing him up with a number of her single friends. A couple of them were really nice, but it was all to no avail. Ray was not really interested; he had lost his heart to Fran, and no one could replace her.
It was the weekend after the second anniversary of her death. We felt he would be especially low at this time, so we invited him to come out with us for a drink. On reflection, perhaps we should not have gone to the pub where we had all originally met, but it was just one of so many places where memories of happy times together served merely to underline our tragic loss.
I tried to lift the spirits of the others but it was a forlorn task and in the end we realised we were not in the right frame of mind and decided to go home. Twenty minutes later the taxi deposited us at our front door. Ray was thinking about going back to his own house, but seeing how sad he was, Clare and I insisted that he stay.
We were sitting in the lounge, drinking a nice red wine.
Ray raised his glass to us both. "To the two dearest people in my life. I don't know what I would have done without ..." Suddenly his eyes filled with tears and he could not finish his words.
Clare took his glass from him and then cuddled him to her bosom. She too was crying as she sought to comfort him. Possibly embarrassed by giving vent to his emotions, he quickly composed himself. He looked sheepishly at us.
"Sorry about that, I suppose it was us being together in that pub again and it just brought it all back."
"You don't have to say sorry Ray." Clare spoke in a soft soothing manner whilst dabbing her eyes with a tissue.
I tried to lift the gloom. "I can still see your face that night, Ray. It was a picture!"
"I'm not surprised; I just had no idea there were two of them." A brief smile crossed his face. "Which brings me to what I was going to say to you. I really appreciate your trying to fix me up with other women, but I think it is a waste of time. I am never going to find another Fran. It is ironic really because I see her in you all the time Clare, not just in your looks but also in your manner. And it just underlines how wonderful she was; how much I miss her."
"Don't you think you are being a bit pessimistic Ray? About finding someone else I mean. It is only two years after all." I saw the hurt in his face and immediately regretted my words.
"Only two years, Tom. Doesn't sound that long when you say it like that, does it? Only two years. Have you any idea how long that is when you're without the one woman you love?" His face creased as he fought back the tears
"Coffees?" Clare tried to change the mood and was already on her feet heading for the kitchen.
"No thanks Clare. I'm going to turn in. Goodnight both of you."
Clare turned back and kissed him. "Goodnight Ray. Sleep well."
He left us and I heard him climbing the stairs.
"That was not the most sympathetic remark you could have made now Tom, was it?" She was shaking her head as she looked at me.
"I was trying to stop him feeling quite so depressed."
"Well you failed! I think I'd better go up and see if he's all right. I think he needs some tender loving care."
"Clare!" She already had her hand on the door handle. "Tender loving care? He's in his bedroom for Heaven's sake! He could easily think you've got something else in mind."
She let go of it and turned to face me, clearly irritated at my intervention.
"Of course he wouldn't. But anyway, suppose he did; would you want me to deny him, after all he's been through?"
"Clare, you're my wife!"
I kept my voice down but there was no disguising my shock. She had asked me if I would want to deny him; the implication of such a question being that she was quite prepared to indulge him. Of course I felt compassion for him, he was my best friend after all. But should such compassion extend to tolerating my wife having sex with him? My conscience pricked me at this point; at least I had a wife. But on the other hand, we could not have done more for him since the accident. Clare had opened her arms to him, indeed she'd opened her heart to him, but did that mean she should also open her legs to him?
And supposing she actually did? What would be the repercussions for us? It was madness to go down such a route, but to my surprise, there was also a frisson of sexual excitement at such a prospect. I was trying to rationalise my thoughts when I became aware she was talking to me.
"I'm sorry Tom. I shouldn't have said anything. It was a stupid idea but I just felt so sad for him, that's all...look, I'm really sorry." She sat down next to me.
"That's the reason, is it? You'd let him have you just because you felt sad for him?"
"Don't start getting the wrong idea about this Tom. I don't love him like I love you. I love him like a brother.
"Oh, you love him like a brother? So now you're into incest as well as adultery?"
"You don't have to humiliate me, "she snapped, "I already feel like an idiot."
Mine had been a flippant remark; not intended to hurt her, but clearly it had.
"Sorry Clare. That was only meant as a joke. But what about the risk to our marriage?"
"What, you think that by going to bed with him, I'll fall in love with him?" I could tell from her blazing eyes that she was getting even angrier.
"That is possible yes, but that's not what I meant."
"Oh, of course it's the male thing isn't it?" There was now mockery in her voice. "Because you men judge us women by the size of our tits, you think we can only judge you by the size of your dicks. That's it, isn't it? You're concerned that he might be a better lover than you and therefore I will no longer be satisfied with you?"
"Well, it has been known to happen."
I was about to say something when the significance of her words suddenly hit me. She had said, 'He's not!' Was she having an affair with him behind my back? Surely not! I could not believe that either of them would cheat on me. Perhaps it was Fran? Of course! Women often talk about such things, and Fran and Clare could not have been closer. But wait a minute; Clare had said that he was no better than me. Fran would not have known what I was like in bed.
Clare had watched me puzzling over her words and seemed to be relishing the moment. "He's not a better lover than you. And please don't insult me by asking if we're having an affair."
"Well how the hell would you know otherwise?" There was already a dryness in my mouth.
"Do you remember that Saturday night in that crummy hotel in Brighton?
"I'm not going to forget a night like that Clare, but I fail to see what that's got to do with it."
"Have you really no idea what I'm talking about?"
"We both had a very exciting night, Tom. The only thing is..." she paused, "we weren't together! Fran and I swapped places. That's how I know that whilst Ray is very good in bed, he is certainly no better than you are."