tagNovels and NovellasBetrayal Book 03

Betrayal Book 03


Chapter 1- Aftermath 9 Months on

Book three is all about life after divorce and my decision about a lifestyle change

I soon found a one bed-roomed flat for rent and moved in within the week. I contacted my solicitor and set the wheels in motion, regarding our divorce. I also followed his advice regarding bank accounts and other shared equity items. So the wheels turned slowly. Amanda barraged me with emails and left messages for me that I refused to respond to. Eventually she must have got the message as the calls ceased.

After that I had little or no contact with her though I did occasionally see her around town, usually with her sister or nieces but I pointedly avoided her. Our divorce went through after about 3 months and I received a nice cheque for my share of the equity on the house. How she managed to retain it, I don't know, but she did.

Amanda sent me an Email just about nine months after our divorce informing me that the house was on the market and that she had accepted a new teaching position in France. She reiterated that she was deeply sorry about how things between us had worked out. She even signed it Love and Kisses, Amanda!

I responded to her wishing her all the best in her new life and was mildly surprised to realise that I meant it.

Sharon and Gary were also divorced around the same time and I heard that he was finding it tough to find work. The word went round within our industry and without a supportive reference, he had little or no chance to maintain his standard of living. As a consequence his child support payments fell into arrears and he was getting hounded to make payments on that score.

I felt guilty about the impact all this had on Sharon and her kids. After all I was responsible for bringing it all to a head, so I helped out whenever she would allow. She would refuse any direct offers of financial assistance from me, but I tried to compensate by ensuring that her kids received presents for Easter, Christmas and birthdays. I made it a habit to take her and the kids out for a meal at least once a month and I knew the gesture was appreciated. It was little enough but I used the opportunity to find out what the kids needed most, usually it was clothes, so at least they were properly dressed for the season. Her mother, Jill had moved back in with them to help with the mortgage and this enabled them to remain in the family home.

Sharon returned to work and upped her hours to full time. She told me more than once that it was tough, but they were surviving.

Jill was also working and had built up a thriving business in an Internet based dating agency specialising in mature singles. I had heard rumours that there was more than dating involved but did not enquire for details.

As for James, well he continued with his architectural business and found the time to indulge himself in his pet project. A local housing trust had invited tenders for the design of a housing project targeted at first time buyers. The Local Authority had identified a 'brown field site' and the design brief was for a minimum of 150 units on the site.

James had a thing about designing a modern version of the post war prefabs. These houses had proved very successful when they were constructed just after the second world war. They were cheap to construct and only supposed to last ten years. Instead many lasted thirty to forty years before finally being demolished. The major drawback with them was they were almost totally constructed of asbestos sheeting, but many families were proud to acknowledge the start they provided to their married life. James was confident that he could design similar affordable homes using modern eco-friendly materials. He designed the individual unit types on a modular basis that would suit a prefabricated construction method using standard Auto CAD platform, but he lacked the time to design the site layout. He approached me and asked if I knew anyone who would be prepared to work for peanuts and who had the innovation needed to interpret his draft layout schematics into a 3D computer model.

I thought about it and suggested he contact his ex son-in-law. He nearly choked on his beer and asked. "Are you serious? Why would I even consider employing that bastard after what he put Sharon and my grandkids through?"

I said. "Firstly, he's available, secondly, he has the skills and thirdly, he struggles on what he earns to pay the child support for his kids, so any job that provides him the opportunity to rehabilitate himself within the industry would be attractive to him and has the added benefit of helping him support his kids."

"I see where you are coming from." He replied, "but this is a hell of a risk you are proposing. What if he uses the chance to screw my reputation in the community? "

"Leave that to me, I will make the approach and if I think he's still the same character that split from Sharon, I'll pull the plug on the offer. Once he starts, I will get one of our staff to run a check on his output on your behalf. How does that suit you?"

James agreed and I contacted Gary, despite everything that he had done to fuck up my life, there was still something about the guy and he was bloody good at his job. I had him checked out by a firm we use to vet prospective employees, an innovation I had instigated after Gary's attempt to work us over. The report came back and confirmed that that he was desperate to find employment in the IT business, but had met rejection as recently as the previous week. It appeared that nobody was prepared to employ him with his previous employment reputation. Financially, he was about as far down the chain as one can get. His current employment was at the minimum wage and he was struggling to meet his Child Support commitments.

I made the approach to him and he almost bit my hand off so eager was he to redeem himself. He asked after his kids. He told me it was breaking his heart not to see them as often as he would wish, but without any spare cash, he could not afford to take them out on his visitation days. I told him, they would not be looking for anything from him but himself. He was their father and they needed him to be around and showing an interest in their lives. He thought about that for a moment and agreed to make more effort to keep in contact.

James met with him a few days later and explained what he wanted from him and asked if he would be prepared to give it a try. He explained that he would pay him by results and if they were awarded the commission to build the estate, he would make sure he was rewarded. James would provide the facilities and they would meet every evening to review progress. Gary set to work and James told me later that he had not taken long to get to grips with the CAD software, in fact he was complaining about some elements of the programme that he found to be overly complex and wasteful.

The final product was marvellous and James invited me to view his proposal just prior to its submission to the Housing Trust. To my untutored 'eye' it was superb. It was viewed in 3D from the eyes of a visitor to site. It started with an overview of the site and one was able to walk into the estate, down the path to any front door and into the house itself. The attention to detail was terrific, from access routes, to toilet layout it was all there. James was also delighted with the en-product and told me that Gary had suggested many innovations that he had not thought of, like superimposing the plumbing and wiring schematics on top of the basic layout.

It was several weeks later that James called me to tell me that his submission had been reviewed and he was short-listed for the final vetting. He and Gary would be making the presentation and he was confident that they had a good chance of being successful.

I think that I was just as nervous as James regarding the presentation. If he was successful, his business would take off. The Government was pressing local authorities and private enterprise to do more to help first time buyers as a way of stimulating the housing market that had been in the doldrums since the recession started and many other housing associations were watching this development closely.

James was won the design competition and appointed as the Architect for the construction. He decided to employ Gary on a fulltime basis to help him develop sales packages based on his initial design, but safeguarding his copyright to the concept.

So life for James had suddenly gotten very busy, so it came out of the blue when he told me he was thinking of getting married again. He had met a divorcee called Sheila Burns and he had been seeing her for about six months. I was surprised, I had no inkling that he was involved with anyone, but when he introduced us, I could see why he was attracted to her. She was around five foot in height, short black hair and with a nice figure to complement her height. She was bubbly and full of fun and she clearly thought the world of him.

Seeing them together, so happy made me realise that I was missing female companionship, one night stands and several short relationships mean that sexually I was never short of company, but they left me vaguely dissatisfied. There had to be more to life than this! I reflected on my past life and the one true love of my life. Amanda was lost to me through her own actions and I felt regret that I could not find it in my heart to forgive her, but life goes on. I was by now fast approaching fifty and resolved to change my life by the time I reached that particular milestone.

Book 3 -- Betrayal - Chapter 2 - A new start -- twelve months on

The lifestyle change I was planning was radical. I decided that since I was now financially secure, I had no desire to continue working full time. I had sufficient reserves to maintain a reasonable standard of living without having to touch the money from the sale of what had been home to Amanda and I. I discussed it with Brian and he was more understanding than I thought he would be.

He told me that he would be sorry to lose me and asked if I would be prepared to undertake some consultancy work if requested. I said of course, but where I was going was still a bit of a mystery and I did not really know myself where I would end up. He just told me to keep in touch and take my laptop with me. He was quite mysterious about his plans but said he would be in touch.

The only decision I made immediately was to retire as soon as I had defined just what I intended to do with my life from this point forward. I began looking for my successor the very next day. There was only one person currently working for us that I felt possibly ready for the big step up and this forced me to look at recruiting from external sources.

The vacancy was advertised and Brian and I interviewed the short list of candidates that I had drawn up. The successful candidate who impressed both Brian and I was from outside the company. He was Peter Jackson, aged forty two and had a very good reference from his current employer. The added bonus was that he could start within three months. With my successor appointed, I was now free to seriously plan my future.

The new appointment, when announced naturally left me with a very pissed off member of staff. She was called Sam Jordan, married with two young children. I broke the news as gently as I could before we publicly announced my retirement and replacement. I explained my reasons for selecting Peter Jackson over her and though she was still pissed off with me she promised to support him as she had me for the previous few years. I was glad to get that hurdle over, it was not an easy choice but I felt that Sam was just not ready for the additional responsibilities.

Once my retirement was officially announced, I was free to start defining what I wanted to do long term. I had three months to get all the arrangements made. I served notice to my landlord that I would be vacating my flat on the 20th May. I sorted out all my outstanding debts, not that there were many and started my search for the yacht that would serve as my home for the next few years.

As a youth, I had often crewed for people more affluent than someone with my humble origins. I had learned to sail everything from dinghy's up to full racing yachts. Over the years I had continued to crew for friends when asked, but until now, I never had the time to commit to yachting to make owning my own vessel justifiable. Amanda shared my enjoyment of sailing, but the commitment in time and the upkeep costs made it impossible when we were both working full time. I had decided that I wanted to buy a yacht with good sea going capability, able to sleep up to six in some comfort. It was my intention to sail the yacht down from Plymouth through the Bay of Biscay to Marbella in Spain. I drew up a list of essentials the foremost being the yacht itself.

I researched the market and trawled the Internet and drew up a shortlist of yachts to inspect. I settled on a second hand Beneteau 473 Clipper currently moored in Largs Marina, Scotland. As soon as I laid eyes on her, I knew she was the right choice. She was only two years old and at 43 feet long, fibre glass hull, 55HP diesel engine and all the satellite navigation and radar one could wish for, she was all I would ever need to realise my dream.

On the Clyde during the test sail, I found her to be a stable sea boat and after a short negotiation period, she was mine. The next problem was that I realised that she was not a yacht that I could sail single handed and I would need to find a crewman to help me. She needed to be sailed down from the Clyde to Plymouth and I decided that would be a great shakedown cruise for myself and my crewman.

Finding a crew prepared to crew a yacht for next to nothing just for the joy of sailing was proving difficult. The problem was, I wanted someone not just to assist me in bringing her down from the Clyde and then, within days, help me to sail her to the Med, and all this with no definitive timeframe in mind. I had a few people interested in the first part, but the open ended nature of the second part of my post retirement lifestyle plan was proving more problematic.

Advertisements placed on the board of the local yacht club only brought one response via email from someone called Chris Baxter. Over the course of the next few days we exchanged several emails leading to my arranging to travel to Scotland to meet him. I queried where he found out about the job as I had not advertised anywhere but in my local yacht club and was told that the Largs Marina management had passed my email address on and said that I would be likely to be seeking a crew. I had mentioned this at the time of purchase and they did promise to put the word out hence the application.

Satisfied that it was worth the trip, I duly travelled up to Largs and arranged to meet Chris at my hotel. I was sitting in the bar awaiting his arrival and kept scrutinising every male that walked in door. This got me several strange looks back until a lovely young woman of about twenty with short blonde hair and dripping wet entered. She was wearing a coat to protect her against the elements as it was pelting down outside and when she removed it to reveal a fairly short mini dress confining her lean frame and looked around. Spotting me on my own she walked straight up to me introduced herself as Christine Baxter! I was lost for words as I was expecting a Chris to be male. In all our correspondence, she had never disclosed her sex, I just assumed Chris was male. Once I overcame my surprise and to her obvious delight, my embarrassment, she and I sat down to talk about my project. The loose ended duration did not seem to faze her and as we reached agreement about her employment, subject to a satisfactory sea trial aboard TAGHTA. I asked why she was available and not working, she informed me that she had dropped out of university after this last term. She still had a year to go to complete her degree, but she had had enough of academia for now.

She asked if I had found any other crew yet? When I told her that I was still looking, she told me she had a friend that was taking a year out before university and that she was also looking for her Gap Year employment. I arranged to meet them both for lunch the following day.

Chris turned up with her friend in tow for lunch. She introduced Toni and she was just as attractive as Chris if slightly more robustly figured. Like Chris, they had both sailed since they were children and I soon realised that they probably were better yachtswomen than I was yachtsman. After a light lunch we went to the mooring and slipped the lines on TAGHTA. I had had her renamed TAGHTA which means Chosen in English and with my prospective new crew aboard we motored out the marina and soon we raised the sails and cut the engine. We spent a few hours learning about each other, all of us, my new crew TAGHTA and I. By the time we returned to the marina, I was confident about the capabilities of both crew and yacht.

Over dinner that evening, we scheduled the shakedown cruise south to Plymouth to commence the following weekend. We also planned the route and agreed not to push it too hard to begin with. We would not sail at night until we got to know TAGHTA better. A provisional route across the English Channel to Guernsey on the Channel Islands then onto Brest was plotted. I decided that we would then make a decision at that point as to our next desTonition.

As I travelled back south, I wondered what the future was to bring and found myself intrigued by the thought of spending so much time on the company of two very attractive young ladies.

The timing couldn't have worked out better. My last day at work dawned and I admit that little work was done that day. Brian escorted me round both our main office blocks to say farewell and then, at lunch made speech that brought tears and laughter to all present. I was presented with a TAG HUER watch, waterproof to 50 metres and I made a joke about hoping I never had to verify whether it was or not. All in all it was with some regret that I left the office for the last time.

I packed the clothing needed for my journey from the Clyde to Plymouth and left more clothing and stuff I would need for the voyage to the Med with James. The rest I took to local charity shops and binned anything left over. Personal stuff that I wanted to keep, I put into a rented container for my eventual return or forwarding if I found somewhere new to settle down.

The trip to Largs was uneventful and I met up with Chris and Toni for a late night drink on the eve of our departure. I also met their Chris's Dad and both Toni's parents who had come to see them off. I meant to ask Chris where her mother was, but got distracted and the moment slipped from my memory. I think their parents also wanted to give the guy who was taking their offspring away from them the once over. I think I convinced them that I was not going to sell them into white slavery and by the time for them to leave we were talking easily to one another. The girls, well, if anything they were slightly more hyper than me. They were so looking forward to our adventures they kept bubbling over with excitement. As they departed for the evening Chris and Toni both came up to me and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

From Largs to Plymouth was a trip of around 500 miles and I had estimated that it would take us a leisurely two weeks depending on the sea conditions. As it turned out it took us just over eleven days, but we did sail one leg of nearly thirty six hours. I was delighted with our craft and with my crew. The one draw back that arose was the neither of them could cook worth a damn, so it was muggings here that was saddled with that chore. Not that I minded too much, they had do the washing up.

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