tagLoving WivesThe Driver

The Driver


Author's Note

Here I am back by unpopular demand. More of a leg end than a legend.

This is a long story, 42,000 words, if that bothers you then don't start reading. No bitches are burned in the course of this story and the sex is all at the end.

Because I am British I have used UK spelling and punctuation throughout the story. If that offends you then don't start reading because it won't get any better.

I never decided to stop writing for Lit I just seemed to start writing stuff that didn't seem to belong here. This one, I think, fits the bill. I hope you enjoy it.


Chapter 1 The Driver

The Burns Unit Carlisle Hospital.

14 September

'Can he hear us?' Michelle asked as they rolled the patient over to change his sheet.

Nicola Evans looked at the monitor. The heart rate had returned to normal.

'No, that was just a blip. It happens sometimes, the patient can be completely normal for hours, then for some reason, the pulse increases sharply then settles back in its normal rhythm. I can assure you that his level of sedation is so high it would take more than tales of your love life to wake him.'

'I don't know. You hear stories about patients waking up on the operating table don't you?'

'Yes, and that's just what most of them are, stories. Verifiable cases are few and far between.'

'But we encourage visitors to talk to coma patients so they must hear something.'

'Mr McIntyre is in a drug induced coma. That's different, he can feel nothing see nothing and can hear nothing. It's important to let his body heal a bit without any pain. He's had enough trauma. We'll introduce everything gradually, but right now we are holding him just the right side of death. He can hear nothing so come on get to the juicy part.'

Nicola was wrong; Robert McIntyre could hear every word He couldn't process it, didn't know how to connect it with his current situation. He didn't even know what that situation was, but the words flowed into his subconscious memory. The stimulation didn't last long. The nurses soon finished their duties and left the room leaving him with only the sound of the machines. Later that day he was aware of more people in the room. Several of them grouped around the bed.

'Looks like he is healing well. I think it may be time to start bringing him back. What do you think, Dr Roberts?'

'He seems to be responding well, Sir, and the internal injuries are healing nicely.'

The first man spoke again. 'Any luck with the family, Nurse Evans?'

'Not lately Mr Henderson. We contacted his wife and she did come in and sit with him the first two days, but we haven't seen her since.'

'It happens sometimes, Nurse. When the family realise how big a challenge they are facing, they often get cold feet. Keep trying; I'm sure she'll come around. Our Mr McIntyre has a long and arduous journey ahead of him. He is going to need all the help and support he can get.'

'Start reducing the medication, Dr Roberts, and let's get that ventilator out. We'll see if he can breathe on his own'

It took him a while but after they had gone he realised they were talking about him. Why? What had happened and why wasn't Bethany here? He was able to process a little more by the next time he had a visitor, He even thought that he recognised the voice.

'Hello, Bobby boy, how it hanging? What, no answer? That's the first time I've known you to be speechless.'

In the pause that followed, Robert tried to think. He knew the voice but had no idea who it could be. Bobby, he called me Bobby. Nobody calls me Bobby; they all know how much I hate it. Robert or Rob are fine, but Bob or Bobby are definitely off limits. Only one person called me Bobby, my father, and he's dead. Oh my god, I must be dead, I knew the voice was familiar.

'Well this is a fine mess. According to these notes, it doesn't look good for you Bobby boy; if you survive, things will never be the same. You've made so many mistakes but this last one looks like are the sort you'll pay for the rest of your life, however long that might be.'

So I'm not dead then. The voice isn't my dad so who the hell is it. Damn, I wish I could see. Where the hell am I and how did I get here?

'Right Bobby, I've got to go I'll pop back and see you again.'

'No, wait.' Robert wanted to say. 'Stay, tell me what mistake, how did I get here.'

No matter how much he wanted to, Robert could make no sound and the man left him to his solitude.

* * *

R.S. Automotive. Penrith.

7th August

The Man

It started out such a fine August day and all seemed right with the world. I stood at my office window and looked out at the view. It was the main reason for choosing this site. Situated, as we were, on the eastern edge of the trading estate, I could look out on open countryside and mountains. Penrith might not be everyone's ideal location for a business but on a day like this, it took some beating. Days like this remind me of how lucky I am. I can't say I planned any of this when I left Newcastle University and took up my position with BAC, which was where I thought my future lie.

My PA, Jackie Foster, came into the office with my morning coffee. She put the coffee on the desk and joined me at the window.

'Can you understand why people want to be in London when they could look out on that?'

'Not everyone sees things the same way you do Mr Shaftoe.'

I rolled my eyes and let out a sigh.

'How long have you worked for me, Jackie?'

'It's ten years now.'

'Ten years and you still can't call me Ron or Ronald?'

'It doesn't seem right somehow, Sir.'

'Oh no, not Sir, even Mr Shaftoe is better than that.'

I walked back to my desk and sat down. Jackie took the chair opposite.

'You know Jackie, it's days like this I realise how lucky I've been.'

'Some would say you made your own luck.'

'Not everyone got my opportunities. Who else gets to make a business out of their two greatest loves?'

'Ahem! Greatest loves; aren't you forgetting someone, well two actually?'

'Ah yes, you've got me there. Sara and Anthony are so far above anything else that I hadn't even included them in the equation.'

'Do you always have to talk like an engineer? Not included in the equation indeed.'

Jackie laughed, bringing a smile to my face.

'I was talking about electronics and motorsport. If it wasn't my business, I'd do it as a hobby.'

'So how did you manage to make a business out of it?'

'All a bit of an accident really, I was in the right place at the right time. My boss at BAC had a son, Colin, who raced Minis. We became friends and I started helping him out in the pits. In return for my work, he let me have the occasional drive in his spare car. I've always been competitive, that's why I always worked hard at university. I had to be the best. I enjoyed driving and I was good, but without a regular drive, I was never going to be a contender. I could have got more drives but I think I was too useful in the pits and the garage.'

'So how did the electronics fit in?'

'I'm coming to that. There was almost a revolution in the car world. Suddenly we had engine management systems, fuel injection and traction control. Even anti-lock brakes became electronic. Many of the teams tried ripping out the electronics as it was limiting what the driver could do. I tried reverse engineering the systems and was able to reprogram them. In no time, I had different chips for each circuit we raced on. Colin was consistently quicker on every circuit we raced and was soon in contention for the national championship. People started to ask questions and the scrutineers even stripped and measured his engine. Colin soon let them know where the extra power came from.'

'And that was the start of R.S Automotive?'

'More or less. In no time, I had a good business reprogramming chips for Engine Management Units. Once I found out how much people were prepared to pay for the extra performance, I kissed BAC goodbye and started the business in my garage. I bought my own car and started racing. I got a sponsor and in two years, I was leading the National Championship for Saloon cars. They were good days - I miss the thrill of competition.'

'You can't leave it there. Did you win the championship?'

'No, Colin was killed on the track. It was never the same after that.'

'I bet Mrs Shaftoe was worried.'

'She said she found it difficult to live with never knowing whether I would be coming home in one piece. I watched her expression change as we got nearer to race day and I knew I couldn't make her go through the anxiety. When I quit people thought it was because I blamed myself for the accident. I didn't. I did nothing wrong, I drove the way I always drove. Only Colin knows what was going through his head, and he's not telling.'

'So you were there, at the race track, when your friend died.'

'I was there, I was leading the race. It was Mallory Park. If I won that race, I only had to be in the first ten at the next race to win the championship. I was really fired up, but Colin had found some extra power from somewhere and he was right on my tail. As we came out of the devil's elbow on the fifth lap, I looked in the mirror, to see Colin swing over to the right. He must have known he couldn't make it. There was no way I could, or would, move over to let him through. He collided with the pit wall and spun back across the track. In the mirror, I saw at least one other car run into his. In a race, you shut things like that out and my driving didn't change until I saw the smoke as I climbed back up to the hairpin. Colin's car was ablaze half way up the main straight. Yellow flags were out and race Marshals were gathered around trying to put out the flames. I screeched to a halt close to the wreck. Colin's hands were waving; he was trying to get out of his harness. I charged past the Marshals grabbing an extinguisher on the way. Standing as close as I could I loosed off the CO2. The fire died back and I dived in through the window to get Colin out.'

'That day I found out that fireproof suits aren't completely, and driving gloves offer little protection from the heat of a burning car. I got a few burns of my own. Colin was alive when I got him out but the damage to his lungs was so great that he died a week later.

'So you quit and all your energy into building this company?'

'Well, you know I've stayed involved with the racing scene. The contacts I developed helped build the company you see now. When people think in terms of electronic solutions, we are top of the list of people to talk to because we are the best.'

Jackie just smiled, crossed her legs and balanced her tablet computer on one knee. I gave her a quizzical look

'Do you know Jackie I feel sure I've told you all of this before.'

'Oh you have, but I like hearing it, and every time you tell me, I learn something new.'

I laughed. 'OK, you've wasted enough of our time, what's in the diary for today?'

'The people from Renault are coming at 1:00 pm and I've set aside the rest of your day for them. This morning you're free, but Accounts said to remind you that you haven't filed your expenses for two months so perhaps you should get on to that.'

'Slave driver.' I said with a grin.

Jackie got up, picked up her coffee cup and walked from the office. I couldn't help but admire her legs and the curve of her bum as she walked to the door. I looked out of the window at the heather topped fells.

'Life doesn't get better than this,' I said to myself. I turned to my computer, opened the email client and immediately doubted that life was going to be as good for some time to come.

* * *

Barnsdale Insurance Offices, Kendal

7th August

The Wife

On the third floor of Barnsdale House, I looked in the mirror to check her makeup. 'You'll do' I told myself. In the outer office Roz, my P.A., looked at me and raised her eyebrows.

'He called again today, Mrs Shaftoe. He wanted to know if you were free for lunch.'

'I hope you told him no.'

'I did exactly as you said. I told him you were busy all week. I know it's none of my business Sara, but I think you're doing the right thing. The tongues are already wagging. Mr McIntyre is a good looking man; I think a lot of the girls are jealous.'

'Mr McIntyre is also a married man, as I am a married woman there is nothing for anyone to be jealous of. It just so happens that we were at university together. He went his way and I went mine. We've been catching up on old times, that's all.'

'You're all caught up now then? Is that the reason you keep putting him off.'

'My reasons are none of your business, Roz. You would do well to remember that.'

'I sorry Mrs Shaftoe. You're right of course; I was just watching your back. It's always the woman that suffers when these things turn sour.'

My face flushed as she snapped back at her P.A. 'Nothing is going to happen because there is nothing to go sour. I trust you'll make that clear to any of the gossips. Frankly, I'm surprised they've not got better things to do with their time we obviously don't work them hard enough. Now, I'm going to lunch with a friend, and before you ask, no, it is not Mr McIntyre.'

Roz sat at her desk and gazed at the floor. She'd only been trying to warn me. Now, having been slapped down, she was feeling more than a little sorry for herself. Still seething, I marched out of the office and got into the lift. 'How dare these people poke their noses into my private life,'

Out in my car, I felt guilty about the way I'd chewed out Roz. I'd known that tongues would be wagging when I told Robert to stop calling, but Robert was not a man who took no for an answer. Why couldn't he accept that the past is past? Things are different now; I'm different now, even if he has awakened something that I thought I'd buried.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about the mess I'd got myself into. I reached into my bag and pulled out a tissue and my phone. I felt an overwhelming desire to speak to Ronald. For a moment, I just studied his picture before making the call.

Ronald picked up the call almost immediately.

'Hello, gorgeous, to what do I owe this pleasure.'

The way he spoke to me on the phone always made me giggle. 'Nothing really, I just wanted to hear your voice.'

'Well, you're lucky; you've just caught me before we go to lunch with the chaps from Renault. Is there something you'd like me to do before I leave?'

'No nothing.' Ronald could feel her hesitation.' Ronnie!'


'I love you.'

'And I love you too. —Are you sure there is no other reason for calling me?'


'Okay, I've got to go now I'll see you tonight. Love you, bye.'

'Bye,' I said and waited for him to disconnect. When his picture reappeared on the screen, I kissed it.

'I love you Ronnie Shaftoe,' I said as I dried my tears and reached for the start button. The engine burst into life and I made myself comfortable before setting off for the restaurant.

* * *

'Il ristorante' is located in the pedestrianised High Street of Kendal. I was grateful for the walk. It gave chance to pull myself together. The tourist season was still in full swing and the restaurant trade had spilt out onto the street. Inside I soon found Sally. In truth, it would have been difficult to miss her. She was already seated at a table in the window. Her tight red skirt was half way up her thighs. The low cut white tank top showed off her ample bosom and her blonde hair drew attention to her tanned skin. She saw me come in, stood up and waved. In doing so, she attracted every male eye in the restaurant.

We exchanged cheek kisses across the table and Sally immediately picked up on my tension. As soon as we sat down Sally poured me a glass of water.

'Well girlfriend, what's wrong?'

'I don't know what you mean? What makes you think something is wrong?'

'It's usually me who calls you for one of these lunches. Whenever the latest toy boy has found a younger model, I call you. We have one of our lunches and I cry on your shoulder. So what makes you call me and then sit there all wound up fit to bust.'

'I just had an argument with my PA. I think I went a bit over the top.'

'That explains the tension but you called me two days ago'

I was about to say something when I noticed the waiter hovering. I nodded to Sally, who turned to look at him. I couldn't resist a grin as she pulled her top down a little, revealing more cleavage. His face flushed and he coughed.

'Are you ready to order ladies?'

We both burst out laughing. The waiter became more embarrassed.

'I give you a few more minutes.'

Then he was gone, leaving us giggling. All the tension disappeared as we perused the menu and made our choices by the time waiter returned. We were still smirking as we placed our orders. When the waiter left Sally reached across the table and took my hand,

'Now are you going to tell me what this is all about?'

I pulled my hand back and ran my fingers through my hair pushing it back, off my shoulders. Sitting back, I started wringing my hands.

'Sally, —I've done something really stupid.'

'Well come on girl, out with it. What have you done?'

'I don't know how it happened. I mean. After all the lectures I gave you and now I end up doing the same thing.'

'What do you mean the same thing...? Wait; don't tell me you're having an affair.'

'Well not an affair exactly, but yes, I slept with someone else and I don't know what to do.'

'Am I right in thinking that Ronald doesn't know about this?'

'No I don't think so, but it's only a matter of time. The rumours have started at work, that's why I was chewing out my PA.'

'The way I see it there's only one thing to do. You have to tell Ronald. That man worships the ground you walk on. You tell him, explain how it happened. Then you promise him it will never happen again and throw yourself on his mercy. Things will be uncomfortable for a while, but he will forgive you.'

'I can't tell him, Sally. He hates Robert. In his book, it would be a total betrayal.

'Robert, that's the other man, right? How does Ronald know him?

'His name is Robert McIntyre, and we both met him at university. Even then, there was something about him. He'd taken a year out to travel. He was only a year older than we were but it seemed to make all the difference. We were all nervous about moving up a stage but he just took it in his stride. I found out later that his father was loaded, so it wasn't as important for him as the rest of us. Add to that the fact that he was drop-dead gorgeous. Most of the girls wanted him.'

'Why did Robert hate him, he never struck me as the jealous type.'

'Robert was everything that Ronald wasn't. He was supremely confident. Ronald said he was arrogant. He always expected to get his own way and usually did. Ronald claims that he cheated at squash, but mainly I think it was me. I didn't realise it at first but Ronnie had a crush on me from our first week.'

'So it was jealousy.'

'No not really. He hated him for the way he treated me. Ronnie could never understand why I let him get away with it.'

'Whoa, now you've really got to explain what do you mean, "the way he treated you?" You are not telling me that you let him beat you.'

'No! Of course not. Like I said he was older, more worldly, more experienced. He was into things that I'd not even heard of. We got together after a junior common room gig and he made it clear from day one that it would be a no holds barred relationship. He was really very dominant and I was besotted with him so I went along with it.'

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