It was one of those small, regional airports that look quite foreboding on the outside but, once inside, are found to be surprisingly well-appointed. On the second level there was a pleasant, licensed restaurant with an excellent view of the planes arriving and departing. There was also a shop that sold books, magazines and newspapers as well as sweets and a variety of souvenirs.
They probably did a fair amount of business during the daytime, but this was mid-evening when there was only the final flight of the day still due to land and there were only a small number of 'meeters and greeters' milling around. Not that it bothered me because it meant there was no waiting for the coffee I wanted and there were plenty of comfortable seats and tables near to the large, panoramic windows.
The arrivals board told me that I had the best part of twenty minutes to wait – the plane had suffered a slight delay – but I was quite happy with that. I sipped the coffee and nibbled on the complementary biscuit (hard as hell and about the size of my thumbnail – but it's the thought that counts!) and watched some of the less-than-frantic activity on the ground below where the small plane would eventually come to rest and the passengers return to terra firma.
"I don't know why it is, but the last flight always seems to be delayed."
The words were spoken by the man in a chair to my right and just a couple of feet away. At first, I wasn't certain that he was talking to me but, a quick glance around the empty restaurant left little room for doubt; that, and the fact that he was looking directly at me.
"I wouldn't really know, to be honest," I replied, awarding him a small, but not too-encouraging, smile. I'd already noticed him watching me, practically from the moment I'd stepped out of the drizzling rain and gusting wind into the comparative warmth of the building. In a way, it was rather flattering because I don't often attract looks from men, but I hadn't been exactly overcome by it. After all, it only took a brief look around the place to see that I didn't have very much in the way of competition from the other females in the place.
In fact, apart from a couple of pretty elderly ladies, there was only an extremely overweight young woman with a young (and equally overweight!) child in tow and a middle-aged lady with glowering features who looked as if she could have modelled for the Medusa. Other than that, there was just the lady at the information desk who, being charitable, I would describe as 'matronly.' So, if the man was looking for some reasonably attractive female company to chat with for a few minutes, I guess that I was the obvious choice.
Don't get me wrong; I don't think I'm especially good-looking. I'm 5'4" with a reasonable figure – nothing exceptionable – and a fairly pretty face although, approaching thirty-two years of age, what I refer to as the 'laughter lines' around my eyes (please do not say 'crow's feet!') are becoming more noticeable and I could probably do with attending the gym more often to tighten up some areas. Even so, I 'scrub-up okay' as they say in these parts and I happened to have made a special effort on this occasion.
My make-up had been very carefully applied before leaving home, and checked and repaired in the airport's restroom as soon as I'd arrived. Although the wind hadn't exactly been kind to my shoulder-length blonde hair (not natural, but I preferred it to the mousey-brown that is) but it had only needed a quick brush to put it back into place. When I'd opened my coat before sitting down, it had revealed a turquoise-coloured sweater and a knee-length, green skirt. Okay, so the sweater looked fuller than nature would normally have allowed – a well-padded bra added a fair bit to my assets in that department – but my legs were okay. A sharp-eyed observer – and I was pretty sure that the man was exactly that - might have noticed the tiny bumps which revealed that I was wearing stockings rather than tights.
As I've said, not exactly a vision of loveliness, but the lack of competition helped.
"I take it you're waiting for someone?" he asked.
"Yes... and you?" I volleyed the question back without really explaining anything, but he didn't appear to notice and replied:
"Yes... one of the directors of the company I work for. It's a regular event. He flies in once or twice every month to tear through the office like some human dynamo; tells us all what we're doing wrong and what we ought to be doing... then he's off back to headquarters the next day.
"Y'know, the really ridiculous thing is that he only stays at the hotel down the road."
I raised my eyebrows in surprise and said, "But that's only...."
"I know. You don't have to tell me," he said. "It's no more than a five minute drive! But he's so full of his own importance that he expects to be met on arrival and taken there. We don't even get paid any extra for doing it. All the way out to here... wait for him and take him down the road... then drive home to town. The whole evening's practically gone by then." Then he suddenly grinned and went on, "Sorry... I didn't mean to bore you. I bet you think I'm a right whingeing so and so!"
"No, not at all," I answered, "I can understand what you mean." And I gave him a warm smile.
Now that I'd turned to face him and could see him properly, I realised that he was much nicer looking than I'd originally thought. I'd already observed that he was much taller than me but I'd initially thought he was a fair bit older. Now, in better light, I guessed him to be not much older than myself – late-thirties, perhaps. His dark hair was quite short, his features were lean and slightly tanned, and he had exceptionally clear, brown eyes that met mine with no hint of shyness.
"And you're...?" he began the question but, before it formed, I said, "Oh... look! There it is!" as the small aeroplane suddenly appeared as if by magic on its approach to the runway. It was the usual Bombardier Dash 8 carrying about 50 passengers. We both stood and watched the perfectly smooth landing, and then we turned and went down the staircase to the arrivals lounge. He stayed beside me and we chatted quite happily, knowing that it would be several minutes before the passengers came through.
I learned that his name was René Davies (his mother was French, he told me) and I introduced myself as Julie McClair. I also told him that it was my husband I was waiting to meet (which seemed to reduce the wattage of his smile for a second or two) as I explained that Duncan had been away on a business trip, that we'd arranged to meet up here for a long weekend together and, as far I knew, he would be on this flight.
"You mean you're not certain?" he said, sounding quite amazed at the idea.
"Well... as certain as I can be," I laughed.
Gradually, the passengers from the flight began to filter through; at least, the ones who only had hand luggage did. I watched a man with slightly greying hair and a confident step come through the doors, heard a delighted female voice call "Larry!" and saw the glowering medusa suddenly become almost beautiful as a huge smile lit her face. With no care for anyone around her, she practically threw herself into the man's waiting arms. Okay, I shouldn't judge by appearances – you don't have to tell me. René grinned at me and whispered something about whether or not I'd seen the 'Transformers' movies and I tried not to giggle.
Then there was a youngish guy wearing a Manchester United shirt that didn't quite manage to cover the spread of his waist. He greeted the woman with the child, handed her a Primark bag and said "There you go, My Lovely... a nice top to show off those 'puppies!" and I didn't know whether to laugh or throw up. I did notice that René seemed to be having a small coughing fit, though.
Eventually, the carousel started up with no more than half a dozen items of luggage on it and I couldn't see anyone waiting for them that appeared familiar to me. René was also starting to look a bit agitated, but he turned to me and said, "Loads of happy people... loads of happy landings... but no sign of the bastard I'm supposed to meet."
"I know how you feel," I said ruefully, "it looks as though we've both had a wasted journey."
"I'll give him five more minutes," he declared with a firmly-set jaw, "Then I'm off! D'you want a lift?"
"That's very kind of you, René," I smiled, thinking that he seemed like a very pleasant man and that, if things had really been as they seemed and not as they were, I might have enjoyed his company on the ride back to town. "But I've got my car with me."
"Oh... okay," he said uncertainly, "well... it's been nice meeting you, Julie."
And then he was gone.
A few minutes later, all of the passengers had also melted away and the flight crew were making their way past where I stood. I stared straight ahead and felt the familiar prickle of tears, but this time I just sniffed loudly and wondered why I'd bothered. From the floor above came the sound of shutters being dropped into place as the facilities began to close up for the night and I became aware that some of the lights were being switched off.
Slowly, I turned away and made my way to the exit. The rain had stopped, I discovered, but it was still chilly enough to make me fasten up my coat as I strolled past the one remaining taxi still optimistically hoping for a fare and made my way over to the car park. I slid into the driving seat of my Mondeo and switched the engine on, fastened the seat belt and waited for the windows to clear. I could still feel the tears that threatened to fall, but I knew they wouldn't now. The crying, the mourning for what might have been was finally over after five long years.
It had been exactly that long since I'd last been to this airport; exactly that long since I'd stood and waited eagerly for a glimpse of my husband returning from his business trip. I'd been desperately nervous and anxious; excited, too, I suppose, because I'd reached a decision that I thought would help to secure our future together.
I sat and thought for a while about Duncan, letting my mind drift back to the early days of our marriage and trying to recall the hopes, the dreams and the excitement of sharing our lives together. There had been so much that was good in those first few years. I remembered making the discovery that sex could be a much greater joy when it was accompanied by love. Both of my previous experiences had been, to say the least, somewhat disappointing but it was different with Duncan. He'd helped me to explore my feelings, enabled me to feel good about myself, to be honest and to share my thoughts with him. My career, though far from exciting, had also become more enjoyable as I advanced into administration rather than just teaching, while Duncan had qualified to pilot long haul flights instead of just the 'domestic' ones and, occasionally, we'd been able to take advantage of it to have exotic holidays that might have been beyond our budgets without the element of free, or cheap, travel.
Life had been good, but then something changed.
It had been our sex lives that began to produce unexpected problems. Initially, I'd been prepared to try virtually anything he suggested. I'd accepted a little light bondage – and tried to pretend that it was enjoyable even though it did nothing much for me – and he'd certainly taught me how to enjoy both giving and receiving oral sex. I hadn't even objected when he'd suggested anal sex; and I'd occasionally found pleasure from that even though it was a bit painful and I wasn't entirely comfortable with it. Whatever he'd suggested, I'd been willing to try and to approach it with enthusiasm – even when he'd introduced 'fantasies' into our lovemaking.
To be fair, they were pretty innocent at first – I won't bother delving into them – but it was shortly after progressing to the one in which I was having sex with another man that the problems appeared. It was soon obvious that this was a huge turn on for Duncan and, although I enjoyed exercising my imagination, it was no more thrilling than many of the others had been. In fact, as it became a more and more frequent visitor to our bedtime experiences, so I became steadily more and more uncomfortable with it.
Eventually, of course, when my diminishing enthusiasm started to affect his enjoyment, his thoughts had turned to trying it for real. At first I tried to deflect him with concerns about the risks involved – especially from diseases – but he was so adamant about it that it led to our first real full-scale row. I don't mean we'd led some ridiculously blissful life until then, but this was the first time that either of us had got into shouting, screaming and swearing at one another, and the first one that was followed by several days of hurt and sulky silence.
Several weeks had passed without any further mention of the fantasy (although the frequency of our lovemaking certainly decreased!), but I'd felt that we'd got over it and he'd come to accept that my refusal to contemplate anything like that was, quite simply, non-negotiable. That, however, was when he started to treat me to nice meals in the evening; arranging to meet up when my working day was over.
The first few times I failed to notice what he was doing. He would ask me to meet him in a bar somewhere and, although I'd usually turn up on time, he'd always seemed to be late. I've always hated going into a bar on my own; and I particularly hated the fact that, having made an effort to look presentable, I was frequently 'hit on' by the men who were there. On at least two occasions I'd spent the best part of an hour fending off horny executive types before receiving a text message to tell me that my loving husband had been 'delayed by fog' or somesuch and wouldn't be back in town that night.
Eventually, I'd decided to make a point of taking a quick look inside before going in and, seeing no sign of Duncan (as usual!) returned to my car to sit and wait for him. That occasion was a rainy night and I'd worn a new, dark raincoat that he'd not seen on me before. That was probably why he didn't recognise me and why I was able to spot him – sitting in his own car – watching the entrance to the bar. It didn't take a genius to work out that he was waiting to see me go in first, and a reasonable guess was that he'd wait to see if I got much attention from the male clientele! I'd been fuming with anger, realising that my own husband had tried to fix it for me to be picked up by someone in a bar!
My first instinct had been to go over to his car and confront him – but then I'd had a better idea. I went straight into the bar, which belonged to a decent quality hotel, and quickly found the 'Ladies.' From there, I sent off a text to Duncan telling him that if he was going to be late he should at least let me know. The response was quick – he was held up, not sure of making it, would let me know. I went back to the bar and it was perfectly timed – a youngish, decent looking guy was just saying farewell to his friends and I quickly followed him to the entrance lobby and gained his attention.
My story was that I'd been followed from work by a suspicious looking character. Could he please help by just walking me to my car? He was very gallant. He told me to take his arm and we walked slowly to the car, chatting in a friendly way. When we got there, I asked him where he was headed and found it was a works car park a couple of hundred yards down the road. Obviously, since it was raining, I gave him a lift there and dropped him off. He did tell me his name, but that was the only time I ever saw him and I really can't recall it now.
What happened next, however, was that it flushed my husband out. Another text arrived telling me that he couldn't make it and wouldn't be home before midnight at the earliest! Remember, this was the man I'd seen watching for me outside the bar!
Anyway, I drove home and the first thing I did was to draw the blinds in the living room and switch on some lights. After half an hour or so, I went up to our bedroom but, before switching the light on, I went to the computer. I knew there was a porno movie in the DVD section because it was one that we'd watched together the previous night. Unusually, it didn't involve a threesome just some energetic and rather vocal one-on-one action. I switched the screen off before booting up and, once the introductory part of the film was over, cranked up the volume a bit.
The next thing I did was to turn on the light and quickly cross to the window to draw the blinds. As I did that, I half-turned my head as if I was saying something to someone. Then I stood with my back to the window, so that my outline could almost certainly be seen from outside, and removed all my clothes other than my underwear.. Then I went into the darkened guest room and sat on the edge of the bed to wait.
I'd reckoned on 20 to 30 minutes, but I was wrong – it was less than ten before I heard the front door being opened and closed again very quietly. Our stairs don't creak much, but I was so attuned to my surroundings by then that I could actually hear his breathing as he reached the upper landing. I peered out and, just as I'd anticipated, Duncan was trying to peer through the door of our bedroom – which I'd deliberately left open a fraction – to try to see the action he thought he was hearing. He already had his zip pulled down and had just taken his erection out when I stepped up behind him and, in a loud voice, asked. "Ohhh... What are you watching, Love? Is it something good?"
Okay, I won't go into the detail of what happened immediately after that. Suffice it to say that we slept in separate rooms for a while, and there was a minimum of verbal communication for a few weeks. When we did start talking again, Duncan tried to come up with a perfectly reasonable explanation for his behaviour – but it was such utter bullshit that he quickly gave up and confessed that he had been trying to get me to take a lover and that, thinking he'd finally succeeded, he'd been too excited to wait outside until my phantom sex companion left. All totally predicable, I'm sorry to say.
We'd talked about it, just as we had so many times before – and with the same result: Duncan was absolutely desperate to see me coupling with another man while I was adamant that my wedding vows were sacrosanct. He showed me all the sites on the Internet (including this one) that were filled with people doing and enjoying exactly what he wanted us to do. The discussions (for which, read 'arguments') continued for several months and, of course, our relationship deteriorated.
Although I couldn't know for certain, I'd soon begun to suspect that he was seeing someone else. He was flying regularly to the USA and I felt sure that he'd started to see someone else when he was there. One of his 'friends,' another pilot named Pete, kept dropping hints about it; but I didn't take it as certain because I was well aware that Pete was one of the people Duncan had hoped to get me into bed with – and I'd never doubted that the two of them had talked about it.
The thing was that I was still very much in love with my husband. I still wanted to please him and I still wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.
I suppose the writing was on the wall during our final conversation on the subject. It was in my car (he'd lent his to Pete for a couple of days), as I was giving him a lift to the airport for an early morning flight. I hadn't relished the thought of getting up at such an ungodly hour because it was the half-term holiday and I'd have preferred a lie-in.
The good thing about it was that he'd woken me up very nicely indeed. Gentle touches, a slow massage of my shoulders that had easily spread to more intimate areas until, still partly fogged by sleep I'd become even more aroused than usual. Eventually, he'd teased and tormented so much that I'd ended up climbing on top and making love to him with a kind of desperation that was beyond control. It had ended up being something far beyond normal lovemaking and much closer to pure, demanding and incredibly satisfying sex. We'd barely had time for a quick shower before dressing and heading out to the car. My legs had still been trembling slightly and I was glad there was so little traffic around because my attention wasn't entirely on the road to begin with.