tagLoving WivesLucky Man Pt. 02

Lucky Man Pt. 02

byDeYaKen©

Author's Note

So if you wanted to know what happened to John Fletcher here it is. This story is free standing but you might find it useful to read part one first. There is some explicit sex but not a lot.

There are no PIs no violence and no bitches get burned. If that's what you want look elsewhere.

*****

I don't want to do this, I never do. I must have given two dozen or more presentations and lectures in the last year, but I'm still not used to it. The butterflies are fluttering in my stomach as I walk through Embankment Gardens towards Savoy Place.

"Good morning Michael," I say as I reach my destination. Michael Faraday says nothing; statues are like that. He just stands looking out across the gardens and the river.

'You haven't seen a nice young lady have you? About five eight, long dark hair usually in a pony tail, high cheek bones, figure to die for, but hidden under trousers and loose sweater?'

'No, I didn't think so. She'll be late, they always are aren't they.'

We've struck up a bit of a relationship, Michael and I. He's the quiet one always gives me a chance to speak and yes, he's a hero of mine. No visit to London is complete without a quick word with Michael. Today I'm visiting his home, The Institute of Engineering Technology, as an invited speaker. I just wish Lauren would get here. She knows exactly when to start the video and change the slides without me having to tell her. I don't want to brief anyone else.

'I hope she hasn't missed her train,' I say. The statue remains silent.

My thoughts are disturbed by the click clack of heeled shoes behind me. I turn, and there she is, wearing a blue skirt suit and high heels.

'You've got legs!'

'Oh you've noticed. I only bring them out on special occasions, and you did say I had to smarten up a bit.' She spun around for me. 'Well how do I look?'

I looked up at the statue.

'Well Michael, what do you think?'

I paused before turning back to her.

'Michael thinks you look absolutely gorgeous.'

'And what about you?'

'You'll do. Come on we need to make sure everything is set up right and I'll introduce you to a few people.'

She loops her arm through mine and we turn towards the main entrance. I reach up to rub the statue's foot.

'Wish me luck,' I say to Michael as we head towards the steps.

'Good luck!'

I stop and turn around. There is no one behind me; everyone is going about their business.

'Now what?' asks Lauren?

'Did you hear that? Someone said good luck.'

'Now I am getting worried. Talking to statues is one thing, but when they answer back that's something else. All I heard was the traffic. I'd better not tell them that one back at the lab. They'll think you've really lost it'

We walk up the steps and I hold the door for her as she slips her arm through mine I am conscious of the admiring glances. I know what they're thinking when they look at me. 'Dirty lucky bastard, how did he manage to pull her? He's either filthy rich, or he's got an enormous tool.'

Back in the day I would've had similar thoughts. They're wrong of course, we work together, we're friends, but we don't sleep together. At 32 she's a little over half my age. She's a great girl, one day she'll make someone very happy, but not me. She'll want kids, but I've been there, done that. Maybe it's selfish, but at 50 years of age I have no wish to do it again. Oh Yes I've got children, Two boys, Ross and Jamie. Don't blame me, my wife chose the names. I've got one of those as well, a wife that is, though none of us see much of each other now. It's been five years since we split; now the boys share their visiting time between us. Ross got married two years ago, that was the last time I saw her. We didn't get chance to talk.

What's this, a reception committee? There are three of them standing between us and the lecture theatre. I recognise the one in the middle, it's Thomas Horne, president of the institute. As he offers me his hand I am aware of the cameras flashing. That's something else I've had to get used to over the last year. They're not paparazzi: these blokes normally come from in house magazines. They're not intrusive but sometimes you just wish they weren't there.

'Mr Fletcher welcome to the institute.'

I don't like to disillusion him but I've been a member for twenty five years and I've been here several times before. No reception committee in those days. It's wonderful how much difference an appearance on TV makes. He introduces his two sidekicks, then tells them about me.

'Mr Fletcher is the man who made the bionic arm shown on Technospot last week'

'No Mr Horne, Mumford Labs made the arm. I can assure you it was a team effort.'

'Yes, of course, but you are the leader of that team.'

'Yes I am, but each of us plays our own part. Dr Stockbridge here is our mechanical wizard. She is equally deserving of any credit.'

Their faces take on a shocked expression as Lauren offers her hand, then after more handshaking and exchanging of pleasantries we pass into the lecture theatre.

'You did that on purpose; you love to embarrass the old guard don't you.'

'They deserved it. They should know better, attitudes like theirs stop girls coming in to engineering.'

'Well since we are such a good team, perhaps you can get us both a cup of coffee while I check out the facilities.'

I've got to admit working with Lauren has its advantages. Watching her climb up onto the stage revealed one of them. Her skirt hitched up revealing more leg and as she bent forward it pulled tight across her bum. I sigh; some lucky chap will get his hands on that gorgeous bum.

I go off in search of coffee. A look back at Lauren reminds me of what's missing in my life. I miss the company at home; if Lauren thinks talking to statues is bad what would she make of talking to toasters and kettles.

I miss the feel of a woman in my bed at night, reaching out in the morning to touch soft silky skin, and I miss the good morning kisses. Oh yes the sex is nice, but I can get that. My God the last time I was in Boston, Siobhan nearly killed me. What that girl didn't know about sex wasn't worth knowing. People told me Americans were wild about English accents, but that girl even wanted me to talk while I was eating her. The problem was that we couldn't be together without wild animal passion and that's not what I miss... I return to the lecture theatre with two coffees.

Delegates are arriving as I make my way back, then I'm sitting in the front row watching Lauren getting everything ready.

What it must be like to wake up next to her in the morning? I imagine she would be softer, more tender than Siobhan.

Doubtless some lucky sod will find out soon enough. Of course it's my own fault I feel like this. I have a wife. She sends me birthday cards every year invites me to spend Christmas with her and the family; for some strange reason she even marks our wedding anniversary. She'd take me back anytime I wanted, the boys have said as much, but I can't make myself put it to the test.

She had an affair you see, with the man who controlled a lot of her funding. While I'd been busting a gut ensuring she had the support she needed to fulfil her potential she was giving what free time she had to another man. I never really gave her chance to explain. What explanation could there be? I didn't tell her that finding out contributed to my accident. I didn't even tell her I was paralysed from the waist down; she had to find that out from my boss. I didn't want her pity; didn't want her coming to me to ease her guilt.

I went off to University, in my wheel chair, and started a PhD. When Mumford came along, I put the PhD on the back burner. The doctors and consultants all told me that the use of my legs should come back. However, I'm an engineer, and we work with worst case scenarios. It came as a big surprise when the feeling started to return and the muscles started to do things without being told. Fifteen months after the accident I was starting to walk again. A year of physiotherapy later and no one would believe I had a problem.

'Where's my Skinny Latte?' she asks as she plonks herself down in the seat next to mine. I reach over to the seat on the other side and pick up her cup and passed it to her.

'Just white coffee, I'm afraid'.

She turns her nose up at it.

'Think yourself lucky to have filter coffee when I started coming here the only coffee was instant.'

She takes her coffee and sips at it. The second sip tells me it's acceptable.

'When are we on, boss?'

'Last spot before lunch. Prime position.'

'So we've got a bit of a wait then.'

'About an hour and a half. We have some interesting papers being presented first, just sit back and enjoy them.'

It's our turn now. Lauren and I take the stage. My paper is devoted to the control system we developed. However, I know from experience, we will get questions on every aspect of our limb development. I introduce the paper and Lauren runs the video. Some people in the audience understand how difficult these things are. When we show our subject holding a wine glass in his bionic hand and tipping it up to sip, I hear a few audible gasps. I describe the multi layered system of control and take them through the way different problems are handled and then it's over and we are fielding questions. I can see Lauren is really getting into it as she fields questions on weight distribution and power transmission. Then comes question that surprised me.

'Why did you give up teaching?'

For a moment I'm stunned but then I come back.

'Because I was a terrible teacher. It takes a particular person to be good at teaching, I'm not that person.'

The first bit causes a titter from the audience but they soon calm down.

'You weren't that bad, you got me into university and now here.'

'I'm sorry, it's a bit dark in here sir. What's your name?'

'Daniel Reynolds'

'Ah, yes I remember you Daniel; perhaps we could have a chat at lunch time?'

The MC tells them this is the last question and her voice rings out over the PA system.

'Dr Fletcher. It is Dr Fletcher isn't it?'

Where did she get that from? I hadn't attended the ceremony and told hardly anyone.

'Yes, as a matter of fact, but it's of no consequence.'

Lauren's face took on a surprised expression.

Even through the theatre PA system I could recognise her voice.

'What makes you give up on a project?'

I know the significance of the question, even if the audience doesn't. For the first time I was struggling for an answer. Lauren came to my aid and snatched up the microphone.

'He never gives up. Just files them away and waits for the situation to change.'

The questioner comes back for one last try.

'So what needs to happen for you to go back to a project you' previously abandoned?'

'As Dr Stockbridge said, we wait for something to change. We review projects both active and dormant at regular intervals. If something has changed that makes the project viable we reopen it. Sometimes a member of the team might show us we were wrong to shelve it in the first place,'

The MC announces that lunch is served, and the audience leaves. I turn to see Lauren giving me a curious look.

'Dr Fletcher? When were you going to tell me, I mean us?'

'I didn't want to make a fuss. People might think I was trying to compete.'

'Don't be daft; nobody at Mumford cares about things like that. I'm glad you finished it but I'm curious as to why.'

'I hate loose ends, and the people in America thought it would give the lectures a higher status. It really is no big deal.'

'It seemed to be important to someone. Who is that woman?'

She's my wife. For some reason she wants me to know that she's been keeping tabs on me.

'Your wife; and you didn't know she was going to be here?'

'We're estranged; I think that's the word. What I don't understand is how she got in here. This event is supposed to be closed to members and their guests.'

'She's ambushed you hasn't she.'

I nod and feel her arm around my waist.

'We could turn the tables on her by going out to lunch.'

'No the brief is that we spend lunch time networking.'

Lauren finishes collecting up her stuff, then takes my arm.

'Come on Dr Fletcher, let's get some lunch.'

'We step out into the main hall and then into the Dining room where we find a sumptuous buffet laid out. Lauren goes ahead of me adding things to her plate. I'm conscious of someone close behind me, so I'm not surprised when I hear the voice.

'You're wrong. You were a great teacher. If it hadn't been for you I might have been sailing into a war zone. Instead I'm attending things like this at the company's expense.'

'Ah well you were a one off Daniel, and who is to say I was right?'

'But you were. "Get your degree first," you said. "Then you can go in as an officer." So I got my degree. I learned so much that I realised that I didn't want to join the navy anymore. I wanted to design things, build new systems. You knew that would happen.'

'You give me more credit than I deserve. I saw the way challenges affected you. I knew there was something powerful between those ears of yours. You just had to wake up and realise it.'

He smiles at me. 'The most powerful computer in the world.'

He'd remembered what I used to tell them at the start of every course. I tap Lauren on the shoulder and she turns to face us.

'Lauren I'd like you to meet Daniel Reynolds, one of my students from my teaching days. Dan this is Dr Stockbridge, my colleague from Mumford Labs.'

Lauren offers her hand and Daniel shakes it. He gives me a knowing smile.

'I was going to ask if you fancied a beer tonight but I guess you've got better things to do.'

'I'm sure we'd love to have a beer with you tonight wouldn't we Lauren?'

'Only if we can start in The Savoy, I want to be able to say I've eaten in The Savoy Hotel. I won't tell them it was only bar snacks.'

Daniel laughs and immediately agrees. As he leaves to get back to his lunch she stands before me looking every bit as good as I remember. She's put on a little weight but only on the two points where it looks best. I stand there just taking her in. Her hair is perfect, make up just so. She is wearing a pale green skirt suit which shows off her legs. I've always admired her legs.

'You're looking well John.'

'You're not looking so bad yourself'

For a moment we just stand there looking at each other.

'What are you doing here Caroline?'

'I came to see you. I thought perhaps if I asked in person, and gave you plenty of notice, you might be able to spend Christmas with us this year.'

Lauren is shaking my arm.

'Lauren this is Caroline she's...'

'His wife,' Caroline announced. 'I'm his wife'

To me it sounds like a challenge. She stares at Lauren daring her to respond. She is not disappointed.

'Oh so you're the one.'

'And what is that supposed to mean?'

'The mystery wife that everyone knows about but no one ever sees, and that includes John.'

I admit to Lauren's reaction takes me by surprise. Normally she is my calming influence but now she seems ready for a fight.

'If you'll allow me ladies I'll finish the introductions.

'Caroline this is my friend and colleague Dr Lauren Stockbridge'

Lauren picks up on my tone of voice. She makes her excuses and leaves us. I look at Caroline and for a moment, all the old desires come flooding back. Even now after five years I still want to take her in my arms and hold her. Perhaps that is the reason I cut myself off from her for all this time. I fight the urge to hug her and try to be calm again.

'What is it you want from me Caroline?'

'What I really want is you, but for now I'll settle for a chance to talk. We never really talked did we?'

People are starting to gather around. It happens a lot these days. Ever since the media got interested in the arm I rarely get to finish lunch, everyone wants to talk to me,

'Not here, not now Caroline how about tonight maybe we could have dinner or something.'

Her face lights up the way it used to when we were first married.

'That would be lovely, thank you'

'O.K. meet me in the bar of The Savoy Hotel about 6:30.'

She reaches out and strokes my arm.

'Thank you John, I'll look forward to it.'

Her eyes say she really means it; she turns and walks away.

'Doctor Fletcher?' Says the man standing by my left shoulder. 'It's started, I'll be lucky to eat much of the food on my plate. Across the room Lauren is talking to a young man I don't recognise. She notices me looking and rolls her eyes. Oh dear, there's another young man wasting his time.

I've finished my wine and eaten half the food on my plate when they call us back in for the afternoon presentations. I find my seat and Lauren slips into the seat beside me.

'She didn't stay long; I thought you had stuff to talk about.'

'We do, but this isn't the place.'

'I'm sorry. I'd planned to take you out tonight, as a sort of thank you, now I'll be taking Caroline instead.'

She puts her hand on top of mine. Her touch feels so good. Her hand is not as soft as most women. Hers, though still softer than a man's, are hands that have used tools. It's not the softness that matters; it's the tenderness it conveys, that makes me put my other hand on hers.

'I can't say I'm not disappointed. I had hoped we could make a night of it. I don't get to London much and you need to get out more.'

'When it comes down to it, she's your wife, and like it or not you must feel something for her or you'd be divorced by now.'

I turned and looked into her eyes.

'Such a wise head on such young shoulders.'

'If you knew the conflicts going on in my head you wouldn't say that. It's just easier to see the right thing to do when you're not involved.'

'Thanks.' I say patting her hand before turning my attention back to the stage.

She doesn't move her hand, but just leaves me to think for a few moments.

'John, you do know I'm always here for you don't you? Anytime, anywhere, you only have to call.'

I pat her hand again.

'What would I do without you?'

'Exactly what you do now, just with someone else.'

We fall silent as the first afternoon presentation starts. I feel guilty for not giving the presentations my full attention. I'll read the papers later. My mind is full of Caroline. Can Lauren be right? Do I still love her? Is that the reason I haven't divorced her? I always told myself that I couldn't be bothered, that I didn't have time. When I saw her today it all came back, I really wanted to take her in my arms. One thing is certain; I need to get my feelings sorted out.

The event is over for today. Lauren and I make our way back to our hotel. She goes up to her room while I have a word with the concierge. After a shower and changing into more casual clothes I am back down in the foyer talking to the concierge again.

The lift doors open and Lauren steps out wearing a sparkly silver cocktail dress that stops just above the knee and shows a little cleavage. Her hair is no longer pulled back into a pony tail but bounces off her shoulders as she walks. Over her arm she carries a dark green trench coat. It's no exaggeration to say that the sight of her takes my breath away.

'Wow! I mean just Wow. If you are trying to make me regret standing you up tonight, you are doing a fantastic job.'

She comes over and grabs my arm.

'You didn't stand me up. It's not as if we had a date or anything. I just thought that we might go out somewhere, so I brought this dress.'

'Well I'm sure you won't be out of place in the Savoy bar. Let me help you with your coat.'

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byDeYaKen© 97 comments/ 69041 views/ 49 favorites

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