In daylight, the entrance to Monica's flat seemed even more depressing than it had been last night. The whole building showed signs of neglect and obvious maintenance failings. As Monica opened the door the inside of the flat was equally neglected. She stood aside and let me in. Simon greeted me with outstretched hand.
"We need to talk, John," he announced.
"I think we do," I replied cautiously.
He was smiling so I didn't think our talk would be antagonistic. I put the suitcase down in the kitchen.
"Madam's laundry," I said.
"Thank you, John. You two can talk in the living room if you want. The twins are still having their afternoon sleep."
"I think we could talk better if we go for a walk," Simon suggested. "That way we won't disturb the twins, nor will they disturb us if we wake up."
"OK, if you think that's better," I answered.
We left the flat. Monica kissed both of us on the cheek as we left.
"You can have coffee when you return," she said as we walked away.
"I don't think we will," Simon said as soon as we were far away enough to be beyond Monica's hearing, "she hasn't got enough coffee."
"Is it that bad?" I asked.
"Yes. She's barely got enough food for herself and the twins. I'm trying to help but I haven't got much either."
"So what is the real situation?" I asked.
"It's difficult to explain," he started. "Like you, I'm just a friend. Despite what you might have thought, I'm not her boyfriend, nor her lover. I'm married but temporarily separated. My wife isn't well and has gone back to her mother's after she was discharged from hospital. She's recovering but won't be able to look after herself, let alone me, for several weeks yet. Her mother and father are looking after our kids too. I owe them a lot for what they're doing for us.
When my wife does return she might not understand about Monica. Monica knows that I'm only around temporarily and is worried sick about what will happen when I've gone."
"How did you become involved, Simon?"
"While my wife was in hospital I was visiting her. After one visit I bought some fish and chips and was eating it on a bench in this park..."
We had just walked into the local park.
"Monica was at the other end of the bench. The twins were asleep in the pushchair. She was looking at my food as if she hadn't eaten for days. I asked if she wanted some. She said 'yes' almost inaudibly. I passed her the rest of the fish and chips and she ate it very, very, slowly with tears running down her face. I asked what was wrong. She said it was the first food she'd had that week. It was a Thursday."
"Ouch!" I said.
"Exactly. I didn't have much money on me but I took her to the corner shop and spent all I had on food for her and the twins. She had been feeding them but not herself."
"But why? She's on benefits?"
"She was and is but her grasping landlord charges the earth for that flat. He doesn't leave her enough for food. She can't claim the full cost of the rent because the official rent and what he actually charges are different. She can't claim for the twins."
"They're not hers. They are her sister's children. Mary. Mary is in Holloway, awaiting trial for stabbing her abusive husband. The sister thrust the twins into Monica's hands as she was arrested."
"But surely, Simon..."
"I know, John. But her husband Tony is trying to claim custody. If he gets them who knows what he might do? If he has official custody it could jeopardise Monica's sister's trial. Monica is hiding the twins from him. Unfortunately her landlord knows that. His price for silence is the high rent."
"What a fucking mess!"
"There's more. The landlord has hinted, often, that he'd accept sex as part payment of the rent. So far Monica has managed to pay in cash. The landlord thinks I'm Monica's boyfriend and that I'm there overnight. Except for last night when we were all there, I'm not."
"Can't her parents help?"
"Monica's Dad is in the Navy. He's 'somewhere East of Suez'. He doesn't even know that his daughter Mary has been arrested. Her Mum has lost it. She's a gibbering wreck and has been since the arrest. Monica thinks that her Mum might need to be admitted to a mental hospital."
"What can we do to help? I know you've been giving Monica money..."
"I haven't. She won't accept it, unless it seems to be winnings from card games. I had been winning but I play too well. The card schools I used to frequent have banned me for winning too much. I thought your friends might be suitable targets. You're not. You and your friends play nearly as well as I do, and for pennies. Even if I won from you it wouldn't be enough to make a difference. What I have been doing is buying her food. She'll accept that as long as I don't overdo it. Her real problem is her landlord."
"So really she needs somewhere else to go, Simon?"
"Yes. Somewhere she can afford. Somewhere where she can hide the twins from Tony until after Mary's trial. If Mary were to be convicted..."
"Is that likely?"
"It depends on the witnesses. Several people had seen Tony punching Mary. If they give evidence, Mary might be found not guilty, or guilty but provoked. When arrested Mary still had old bruises from Tony's abuse. It all depends on the judge, and the jury."
"Oh shit! Monica's really in a mess, isn't she?"
"Yes. And it's all because she's helping her sister. Apart from the strain of looking after the twins, Monica is worried stiff about Mary, and their Mum."
I thought for a few minutes as we continued to walk.
"I'm not sure what I can do but I have friends who knew Monica. Between us we might help with money. Not a lot, perhaps enough to keep her and the twins from real want. We could say you had 'won' it from us. Even a few pounds a week would make a difference, wouldn't it?"
"It would, John. Even a pound a week could help."
"OK, Simon. I'll talk to people tomorrow. I'll start with David. He helped clean the kitchen so he knows that things aren't right with Monica. Here's a couple of pounds from your 'win' last night."
"I shouldn't take it but Monica really needs it."
"I'll try to get some more over the next few days. Is there anywhere I can meet you apart from at Monica's flat?"
Simon gave me his address, a flat on a local council estate a few hundred yards away. I wrote down my address for him.
"You can post messages through the door," Simon said. "I'll be there every night from about nine in the evening. I leave at seven and go to Monica's on the way to work so the landlord can see me apparently leaving."
"Thank you, Simon."
"Thank you too, John. Cleaning that kitchen really brightened Monica's day. I wish I had thought of it, or was as good at it as you and David obviously were. Between my work, overtime, card games, and pretending to be Monica's live-in boyfriend I have so little free time for anything."
We agreed that I would see him at his flat at nine o'clock on Wednesday evening if I hadn't left a message for him before then. I walked off, towards Angela's flat. How could I really help Monica? Perhaps talking to Angela might produce some ideas?
When I approached Angela's flat I was confused. I needed her advice and possibly her help to sort out Monica's problems but I was seriously considering Angela as a potential girlfriend. I didn't want to spend our first evening together talking about another woman, but I ought to. How would Angela take that?
Her welcome was as enthusiastic as it had been earlier in the day. We had to stop kissing to draw breath and I hadn't even crossed the threshold. Angela made it easy for me. She pulled me by the hand into her kitchen, thrust a cup of coffee in my hand and asked:
"How was Monica? And Simon? I want to know."
"I didn't see much of Monica. I gave her the clean washing. Simon and I went for a walk in the park so he could tell me what was really happening about Monica."
"And that is?"
I explained, all of it. Angela became almost as angry as I felt.
"The bastards!" she said suddenly.
"Which bastards, Angela? Her sister's husband? The Police?"
"Not the Police. The husband and her landlord."
"Why not the Police?"
"They don't decide who is remanded in custody. That's a court decision. Mary could be safer in Holloway than on the street where her husband could attack her again. But her children deserve better. So does Monica. Let me think about the situation while I finish the cooking. Just sit there, and we'll talk about something else."
"OK," I replied, "What I really wanted to talk about is us. I was worried that we'd spend so much of this evening discussing Monica and her problems that there wouldn't be time to talk about you and me..."
"There's time, John. There's not much to talk about. I want you. You haven't objected, have you?"
"No. I like the idea."
"Good. You're claimed. That's settled. You're mine, no matter how much you do to help Monica. You will be helping her with my approval and support. Got that clear?"
"You make it sound so simple, Angela."
"It is. I trust you. I know you won't take advantage of my approval. You won't take advantage of Monica, just as Simon hasn't. I told you he was a good bloke, didn't I?"
"You did. He is."
"That's settled too. But we haven't changed the subject."
"OK, Angela. I'll try. What do you mean by saying I'm yours?"
"Just that. You are now my boyfriend. I'm your girlfriend. We are a couple. We haven't been a couple very long. Less than twenty-four hours. We need to find out what being a couple means. We have known and liked each other for years."
"I see," I said, as Angela moved dishes around.
I didn't really. What did Angela mean by a couple? Am I a fiancé? It was too soon for that, surely?
"I don't think you do see, John, not yet. You'll find out later. After we have eaten."
She came over to me and hugged me.
"Another twenty minutes before the meal. How about a glass of wine?"
We moved back to the settee with the wine. I had barely sipped it before Angela was on my lap. I put the wine down carefully. Angela's hands cupped her clothed breasts.
"You like these, don't you, John?"
I nodded. They were almost in my face. Angela's hands moved down, grabbed the hem of her top and pulled it up and off. Her bra covered breasts were inches from me. I started to lean forward.
"Wait!" Angela ordered. Her hands unclipped her bra clasp. She threw it on the floor. Her hands swung behind my head and pulled my face into her naked cleavage. I kissed her soft skin. She writhed around. I had a mouthful of breast, then just a nipple, or breasts pressing down from above. After a few minutes I was back in her cleavage. I heard her sigh.
"That'll do for now. Nearly time to eat. That was just the taster..."
She kissed me, stood up, retrieved her bra and top and dressed.
"Back to the kitchen, John."
We sat at the kitchen table to eat the meal. It was great, whatever it was. I don't remember. I was too busy contemplating the enormity of having Angela as a girlfriend and what she meant by that. Why hadn't I considered Angela before?
"I think we should talk to Lady Agnes," Angela suddenly said.
"Lady Agnes? Who's she?" I asked.
"You know. She was, and is, Chairman of Governors at our old school. She's one of the trustees for the Old People's Home, one of the local magistrates and many other things..."
"Oh. Her. I only knew her as Lady Smith, and the jokes about the relief of Lady Smith."
"She's heard all those jokes. That's why she prefers being called Lady Agnes. She knows everyone and has contacts everywhere. If anyone can give good advice about what we should do about Monica, Mary and the children, she could."
"But Angela, wouldn't she have been the one who sent Mary to Holloway?"
"I don't know, John. She might have done. If she did, I'm sure she had a good reason for doing it. I trust her."
"So how do we get to talk to her?
"That's easy. She has an office at the Home. She's there at weekends and I can make an appointment for us to see her. The Home's secretary won't ask why. So many people come to see Lady Agnes about almost anything."
We agreed that we would try to see Lady Agnes next weekend. Angela would let me know the time of the appointment.
I told Angela that in the meantime I would contact my card school members and see whether we could find a few more pounds for Monica. I and Angela knew that Monica needed a more permanent solution than the small amounts of money I could raise, but something now was better than nothing.
"OK, John," Angela said. "We can't do any more for Monica now. We need to talk about us."
She didn't let me talk. She kissed me. She pulled me to the settee and sat on my lap for a prolonged session of kissing and fondling. Her hands wandered everywhere. So did mine. My fingers slid under and up the folds of her ankle length skirt. Her legs parted to allow me access. Soon we were too excited to talk. Her hands were inside my trousers gently massaging my erection. My fingers were thrusting inside her. We were both panting as we reached a mutual climax.
I tried to remove my hand. She clamped her legs around it. I left my fingers buried in her warmth. Both her hands continued to slowly stroke my recumbent cock until it started to respond again.
"This time, John, you can be the passive one," Angela said.
She pulled my hand out from between her legs before removing my trousers and boxers. She knelt on the floor before her hand guided my erection into her mouth. I nearly came instantly as her lips slid over the tip. She stopped, turned her eyes up towards me, and just held my erection in her mouth until I was less excited. I slumped back against the settee.
Her mouth took more of me inside her and began to suck. She was incredibly sensitive to my arousal, taking me nearly to the brink, slowing, stopping and starting again just before it was too late. I might have pleaded with her to stop teasing me, to finish it, but I was enjoying myself too much.
Eventually she opened her mouth and released me. A few seconds later she had lifted her skirt and impaled herself on me. I had barely realised that I was inside her before I ejaculated. I closed my eyes.
"Wake up, John!" Angela said quietly. "It's time for a coffee break. And then I want to see what you can do for me."
Could I do as much as Angela had done? I wasn't sure. She had been playing me as if she could feel everything I was experiencing. I didn't want to disappoint her and I said so.
"You'll find a way," she said. "I'll tell you what to do, when and where. Just let me direct you and you'll know next time."
We went into the kitchen and sat facing each other across the kitchen table while we drank the coffee. I was still worried that I couldn't match her skill. What she had done for me had been an incredible experience. While I thought I knew how to make love so that my partner enjoyed herself, no woman had produced the effect that Angela had on me.
Angela lowered her coffee mug.
"You still look worried, John. Why?"
"I don't know that I can be as good as you were. I've never had such..."
"You want to please me, don't you?"
"That's what matters. My last boyfriend only wanted me to please him. I did what he wanted. He never asked or cared what I might want. I'm worried too."
"You're worried? Why, Angela? What have you got to worry about?"
"Losing you. We've only had a few hours together and I want to keep you."
"Why should you lose me? After that, I'd want more," I laughed.
"That's not what I meant. I want a long term relationship, not just great sex. I know I can give you sexual satisfaction but I want more of you than that."
I put my coffee mug down, moved around the table, lifted Angela into my arms and sat down with her on my lap.
"We have known each other a long time, Angela. Years. We've been friends all that time, haven't we?"
"Have we ever had a serious argument? The only argument I can remember was about that movie we went to. Can you think of any other?"
"No, John. And the argument about the movie wasn't serious. I liked it. You didn't. You thought it was rubbish and said so."
"I can't even remember what it was."
"I can. It came round again as a second feature. You were right. It was and is rubbish, but at the time the plot seemed appropriate to the way I was feeling. But we didn't really argue. We agreed that I liked it and you didn't. That wasn't a big deal."
"So why do you think we should fall out now, Angela? We don't argue. We like each other. We've known each other for years even if we hadn't really been boyfriend and girlfriend until now. Except for that movie we really hadn't been on a date just the two of us together, but so what? You want me. I want you. You want to please me. I want to please you. I'm worried that I might not be as good at pleasing you as you have shown you can be at pleasing me, but surely that's good, isn't it? I want you to enjoy our relationship, and I hope you'll tell me what I should do to make it enjoyable..."
My long speech was cut short by a kiss.
"I'm sorry, John," she said when our lips parted. "My confidence has taken a knock from my last boyfriend. I'm desperate for us to work as a pair, possibly too anxious."
"You need time. We need time. You know who and what I am. I know you. We don't know us -- yet. We will. But now it's up to you to tell me what to do to make the rest of this evening enjoyable for you..."
Her answer was to lift the hem of her skirt.
"You want me, down there?"
She nodded with a smile on her face.
I carried her to the settee and put her down. She spread her legs. I knelt down in front of her and lowered my head. She lifted her skirt and I moved between her legs, kissing the inside of her thighs as I moved slowly closer to her pussy. Her skirt dropped over me, leaving me in darkness. Her hands held my head through it. She guided me until my tongue was licking at her pussy.
I let her move my head around, directing me where to kiss, where to lick, where to nibble, where to penetrate as much of my tongue as I could. Under her skirt it became warmer and damper as she became excited. She knew exactly where she wanted me. All I had to do was let her hands guide me. I had no idea of time. My only concern was to please Angela.
Her hands tightened around my head clamping me hard against her. I gasped a quick breath before my face was buried deep between her thighs which scissored tightly. Her body shuddered around me. I wrenched my head back slightly to pant for breath but her hands dragged me closer again, and again. Gradually I learned how to breathe between her spasms of ecstasy which continued for several minutes. Finally her hands relaxed their grip, her thighs slumped apart and I could breathe as freely as was feasible inside her heavyweight skirt.
"You can come out now," Angela's voice said, muffled by the damp layers of fabric between her head and mine.
I blinked as I emerged from under Angela's skirt, feeling hot and sweaty with my hair plastered to my scalp. Her skirt dropped down. Her hands lifted my head to her lap and began to stroke my head.
"Thank you, John," she said.
"For what?" I asked. "I tried to please you."
"And you did. Even when I was nearly smothering you, you kept going."
"I thought that was what you wanted. You were guiding me."
"I was. That was marvellous. Knowing that you were doing everything I wanted you to, because you wanted to, and you were letting me control you... I've never had a man let me do that."
"All I wanted was what you wanted, Angela."
Her body bent forward. Her breasts pressed my head down against her skirt.
"I was worried," she said, "that I was asking too much from you, that I was asking you to surrender to me. But you weren't surrendering, were you? You were cooperating and allowing me to choose what I wanted."