tagLoving WivesVernon’s Valentines

Vernon’s Valentines


Monday 12 February

"Ohh! Pretty pink envelope," Teri, leaned over Vernon, with her hands squeezing both his shoulders, "that's got to be a Valentine. Gotta secret admirer, then, have we Vern?"

"I guess it could be, er, Teri, isn't it?" Vernon stuttered as he turned the unopened object over in his hands as if it was a parcel bomb. "I had thought it was some kind of greetings card, but my birthday's not for over a month yet."

"It clearly says 'To Vernon Harrison', and it's underlined twice, so it is definitely for you, Vern."

He had been introduced to Teri only last week, Wednesday or Thursday, he wasn't sure which, so he hardly knew her, yet she was being very familiar. 'Nobody calls me "Vern",' he thought, 'I should be "The Boss", although that sounded odd even to him; he had been a permanent fixture in that office for over twenty years and only in charge of it for a matter of 18 months.

Teri was the most recent temp to work in the Barton Valley Borough Council Planning Department. Even though this was the department that Vernon Harrison had recently been promoted to Chief Planning Officer, they were so short of qualified planners that they usually had at least three temps working various hours doing most of the non-technical but still essential work to keep the wheels turning, like sending off standard letters to applicants and residents in neighbouring properties and specialist consultants, which varied according to each planning application. The HR Department, under the helm of the fierce and scary Mrs Hilda Brankstone, supplied the temp staff, of which there was a constant stream.

Teri, he thought, not remembering her second name, must be a mother with a young child or children at school, because she only worked 10am to 2pm from Monday to Friday. He assumed she was in her early to mid-twenties, which would make her almost half his age. She was young enough be his daughter, although his twin girls were twenty and away at two different universities, Bristol and Newcastle, which meant a lot of driving picking them up and dropping them off at start and finish of term times.

She was very attractive, of medium height, wearing loose fitting tops which couldn't disguise the fact that she was big busted, but the tops did hide how narrow or thick her waist was. She had a perfect arse though, in those loose jogging bottoms, which he had noticed several times when she had squatted down to top up the paper in the photocopier and again when she bent over at Julie's desk on some pretence at looking at something and suddenly quietened the office, male and female alike.

"It does look handwritten," Vernon mumbled, "but I don't recognise the handwriting. That's what threw me at first, Teri, because I wondered who would send me a greetings card at this time of year? My birthday is at the end of March, Easter is six or seven weeks away, and our wedding anniversary falls in June. I hadn't even considered it might be a Valentine's card."

"I don't think it's handwritten ..." she leaned over some more for a closer look so her breasts lightly touched his back and he caught a whiff of her light, spring blossom-filled perfume, "no, it's clearly printed on the department's copy printer, because it's the same font as Vicky uses to 'sign' all her emails."

"Really?" Vernon pulled it nearer, "I can't tell, I mean it's blue ink rather than black."

"Definitely sure, Vern, it's printed using our colour printers," she assured him, "the 'V' is definitely the same as Vicky's signature. I recognise her signature because she's the only one who uses that font, and I really liked the 'T' from Vicky's surname. I thought that if ever I had to send and sign any emails of my own, I would use that font. I think it's called 'Shelley'."

Vernon seemed to brighten at that, thinking 'Phew, the card could still be from Denise. I could do with the minimum of complications right now. I suppose I better get her a card.'

"Go on, then," Teri said, jogging him with her hands on his shoulders, her thumbs rubbing the back of his neck, "open it. I want to see what she says."


"Mmmm," she cooed quietly in his ear, so close he could feel the heat of her breath, "it would be such a loss to us girls if a hunk like you only got Valentines from guys."

"I'm a married man," he insisted, releasing his left hand to show her his ring, "happily married."

"Not even a closet....?"

"No, not even close to being a closet anything." He looked at her, her flawless face inches from his nose, a small smile playing on her plump lips.

"Good. Now, open that card, mister, cos I've got to get back to work or my slave-driver boss'll be paddling my backside."

"We can't have that now, can we?" Vernon chuckled.

"Can't we?" she asked softly, her smile faded, eyebrows lifted, then she smiled again, her eyes crinkled as her deep smiles always seem to involve the whole of her face, "No, it's not playtime yet, is it, Vern?"

Then she laughed, a deep throaty laugh that made Vernon think that playtime for her husband must be a constant source of joy, while he couldn't remember the last playtime joy he'd had at home ... oh, yes he could, it was just around midnight on Christmas Eve. But then, life for both Vernon and Denise had been hectic, the Local Plan for him, the Council Budget and setting the annual Precept was an intense time for Denise as Mayor of the Borough.

He turned the envelope over and tore the sealed flap open by running his index finger along the folded edge, revealing a card covered in red ink. He pulled it free from the envelope.

"'Happy Valentine's Day'," Teri read for him over his shoulder, her chin almost resting on the back of her hand, her long frizzy red hair tickling his right ear. "Ooh, that big red heart fills the whole of the card, with all those red ribbons around. That's a beautiful card, isn't it, Vern?"

"Yes," Vernon agreed, "A bit girly, though."

"Nonsense, Vern, you hunky men are so insensitive when it comes to this sort of thing. I think it looks hot and romantic, like it's been recognised that you've got a big heart and some girl wants a big piece of it, or any piece she can get, I would imagine."

Vernon looked at her, her face up almost too close for comfort for a married man. She was right into his personal space. When she spoke she had sounded like he imagined a vamp on the prowl would, but by the time he turned and looked at her, her face was open, with an innocent little girl smile and soft eyes.

'I bet she can turn from sexy vamp to sweet next door girl and back again in an instant,' he thought.

While they exchanged glances, she asked, "Ooh, Vern, have you just had your hair cut?"

"Yes, on Saturday."

"Mmmm. Thought so, the hair on the back of your neck has that irresistible short bristle texture that just turns a girl on."

He swallowed. He hadn't noticed that her thumbs, that had been constantly stroking the back of his neck through his shirt, had migrated onto the skin at the back of his neck and then moved further up into this hair line. Her face still had the look of sweet and innocence.

"Open the card, Vern, I wanna read what she wrote."

He returned his gaze to the card, opened it and up popped a row of four red hearts, cut-out and chained together, with the word 'I' on the card above and 'YOU' below the hearts, and the letters L-O-V-E divided across the four hearts.

"It's not signed," she noted, "but then you can't feed a card with a cut-out pop-up through the printers. Check out the back, Vern."

Vernon turned the page. On the back were three large Xs, clearly using a ball point pen, the indentations in the thick card immediately noticeable when held up to the light at an angle.

"No way I can recognise who sent it, though, from those Xs," Vernon said.

"It'll probably be your wife," Teri suggested, "almost certainly. What did you get her for Valentine?"

"Er, I haven't got her a card or a gift, er, yet..." he trailed off, "we don't really do Valentine any more."

"Better get a move on, Vern, if you don't want to rock the boat, it's Monday and Valentine's Day's this Wednesday, you know."

"Well, now I do. Anyway, off to work, slave, before I paddle your backside!"

"Ooh, sir," Teri giggled as she released her grip on his shoulder and skipped away, "when I came for the interview, HR told me nothing about your department's particular incentive scheme!"

She sat at the desk two rows away from Vernon's, where they both faced each other, smiling.

At a desk across from the open plan office, Mrs Vicky Talbot and Ms Julie Cavanagh had been watching the scene with interest.

"Vernon and the new girl, that's a turn-up for the book," Julie commented.

"She's a bright cookie that girl, only been here two days and she's already realised that Vernon's bitch wife is blatantly banging that sleazeball Harry Cox. I mean Denise wants to keep it quiet but my Darren says Cox is shooting his mouth off in Carpenters ever chance he gets. It looks like Teri knows and is making a play for him to pick up the pieces when he finds out."

"Is the new girl married or separated? Do you know?"

"I got the low down from her directly on Friday in the Ladies. She's a single mother and only dresses down and wears that fake wedding ring to fend off the men at work. She's been temping for years, she said, and is well-practised in avoiding the wolves."

"Vernon Harrison is no wolf."

"Right, he's a sweetheart and really needs to kick his wife the Mayor where the sun don't shine. That Teri's really nice when you get to know her, and she's so pretty."

"I know she dresses down in those loose sweats and pants, Vicky, no make-up, neutral perfume, etcetera, but she can't disguise that she has a tight arse that must take several days a week in the gym to maintain."

"Ahh, you hit the nail on the head there, girl. She and her Mum has a home gym," Vicky whispered, nodding, "She's got a kid at home so she gets up a couple of hours early and does her exercise and showering before getting her kid up, fed and dressed and off to school."

"She's too young for Vernon, she only looks about 22."

"She must be about thirty, Julz, her kid's about 9, in Year 4, the same year as my youngest."

"She is pretty," Julie sighed, as Teri stood up behind Vernon and strolled away, "And even under that loose top, she's clearly got tits that Vernon would die for if only he knew she was throwing herself at him."

"Yeah, poor sweet guy, he doesn't even realise he's being played by both sides!"

"Oh well, he's not my type, Vic, far too old and too quiet by half, but he is a really nice guy, too nice for anyone to tell him that his bitch of a wife's been putting the horns on him."

"Yeah, he's bound to find out sometime, but after twenty years with his wife and their twin girls, leaving them would break the poor guy's heart."


While driving home after work, Vernon checked out the yellow post-it note he'd stuck to his steering wheel, to remind him to get a Valentine's Day card for Denise. He tried to think back to the last time they exchanged cards at Cupid's festival, but thought it must've been some years ago. The corner shop close to home was still open when he drew up to it, so he checked out their stock of cards. They didn't have much of a selection, even the top shelf ones were nowhere near as nice as the one he had received. He bought one of the more expensive ones just in case, but resolved to get a better one in town on Tuesday, where there were several specialist card shops in the town centre.

He had to microwave the meal left in the fridge for him as Denise, being the Mayor of the Borough, had to chair a late night Council meeting and left a note pinned to the fridge door with a magnet to that effect. Although it was an emergency meeting, it had been listed on the Council calendar since Friday.

While he relaxed and ate the tasteless meal, he was reminded about the Valentine card and his conversation with Teri Jones, he finally remembered her surname now. She only started as a temp on twenty hours a week in the middle of last week. Because of the pressure on the Planning Department to get the Local Plan covering policies and housing requirements for the next decade out in the next few months, every member of the permanent staff was stretched to breaking point, and finding trained planning officers prepared to work full-time were scarce. So sixty hours a week of additional temporary staff has been included in the department's budget for the last couple of years and the next half-year, trailing down in a couple of steps to zero by the end of the next financial year. Teri was assigned admin work, updating planning applications, sending standard replies and various consultation parties by email, etc. She appeared to be very good on the computer and was extremely easy on the eye.

Denise came in through the kitchen door quite late, about a quarter to ten and, after a blown greeting kiss to Vernon, who had come through from the lounge to greet her, she kicked off her three-inch heels.

"Oh, I've looking forward to getting these shoes off for a while," Denise grimaced, "I've had them on for fourteen hours straight and they've been killing me since the second hour."

"Want them rubbed, Hon?" Vernon followed her as she breezed through to the hallway.

"Oh, that's sweet, but I'm desperate for a shower, I really stink, and my feet must stink even worse after such a long day. And I'm desperately tired."

She just dashed off up the stairs to the bathroom to shower.

"Do you want me to make you something to eat and drink?" Vernon offered, calling up the stairway.

"No, sweetheart," she shouted down the stairs, "we had some sandwiches bought in for the Emergency Cabinet budget meeting and I had a quick G&T in the Jolly Postman with most of the Cabinet after the meeting."


Tuesday 13 February

This morning on his desk, this time as soon as he got in about ten to nine, Vernon found a single dance ticket in an envelope, along with a second Valentine card.

The ticket was for a Valentine's dinner dance on Saturday at a grand and expensive edge of town hotel, a Grade I listed building, and a black tie event.

That meant he needed to rent a tux, which he did online soon after he logged onto his computer, as he had had to do a couple of times in the nine months since Denise became Mayor.

Teri was all smiles when she entered the department about ten minutes before she was due to start work at 10am. She put her bag down at her desk and then looked at Vernon expectantly, her eyebrows lifted in question with her usual smile in place.

Vernon relaxed, smiled and waved her over. He was sure she skipped all the way over. As she approached he took the envelope out of the drawer. It had been lain on top of the first one he got yesterday.

"Ooh, another card," she gushed, one hand on his shoulder as she leaned over next to him, "What do you think, Vern, is it some new honey stirring the pot, or the same admirer reinforcing her claim on your heart?"

"Same one again I think, the envelope has the same font as before and it's got the same three Xs handwritten on the back page."

"Yeah, I agree, too much coincidence that two girls would choose the same font. Maybe, though, someone saw yesterday's envelope and decided to make this more of a mystery? What did your wife say when you mentioned getting the card?"

"To be honest, by the time she got home from work I'd forgotten all about it ... and if she sent it herself, she didn't mention it or even hint about it, either."

"You should say something, especially now you've got two cards. If she sent them, you don't want her to think that you believe you got them from your current lover or a bit on the side, do you? Even if she didn't send it, just her knowing that you have someone or more than one woman that has got the hots for you will add a little jealousy to boost your wife's libido. You could get even more lucky at home than you already are. Or, just maybe, you do have this mysterious secret admirer then, Vern, how exciting!"

"You find infidelity exciting then, Teri?"

She looked shocked. "No, not at all. Never. I think that Valentine's cards are just a bit of harmless fun, not to be taken seriously. I mean, when we were kids we'd get dozens of cards and gifts of sweets, and none of it meant anything ... maybe the odd crush by someone too shy to say anything, you know, but a nice ego buzz for us girls, nothing more. I used to keep all mine though, back then. One guy used to write a lovely poem in his card ... and I never found out who he was and, by the time we got to the end of school and I left home, he simply stopped sending them. I bet you still remember all your cards."

"No, I never got any."

"What, none? Surely not!"

"No, not at school or college, not until I started to court Denise when I was 24 and, yes, I used to write little poems in those first half-dozen cards."

"See, I knew you would be a romantic at heart. Any verse written in this card?"

"No, but..." he opened the card and out dropped the Valentine Dinner Dance ticket. "It's a ticket for one person only."

"I've seen this Ball advertised. The tickets are really expensive and it's a full-blown black tie event. And it's no simple buffet, but a proper sit down three-courser with wine. You know what this means, don't you?"

"No, only that I had to order a rented tux this morning."

"No. Other than that, Vern ... look, it's a proper sit down meal, which means that on Saturday night you will be sitting next to your loving Valentine."

"Right ... So, if I'm sitting next to this ancient old Dowager Duchess, dripping with jewels that will be all mine along with her ancestral pile when she kicks the bucket a fortnight after our honeymoon, I'd best resist squeezing her thigh until...."

"Yes, until you check who's sitting on your other side. It could be your Mrs Harrison, or ... it could be one of your staff here."

They looked around the room.

"Now, Vicky's 32 and married to Darren with two children," Teri counted off, "Julie's only 23 and engaged to a roofer, Jason, and they are getting married in April, I think. Kerri's 28 and married her second husband only last year, who brought his 12-year-old son, who he has every weekend, to join her pre-school daughter in their lives. Kerri's ex lives in London, so he only comes up once a month, has her daughter for the Saturday and drives home in the evening. As for Larry, he's about 30 and hard up, married with three young children and definitely not gay, judging by the way he checks out my bum. The other two temps, Linda's 50, even though she looks 35, and is happily married with two grown up daughters, and, finally, Larissa is 19, a Syrian refugee, engaged to Aldayoub, who she fell in love with at a refugee camp in Italy and is here studying to be a doctor."

"Blimey, you know all this and you've been here less than a week?"

"I'm a people person, Vern. I do my work, but I like meeting new people. I talk to them and ... well, they tell me about themselves."

"Aah, for a moment there, I thought maybe you were just nosy," he grinned, to deflect any unintended barbs, hoping that she would treat his gentle dig as a joke.

She did laugh, "See, I told HR that you couldn't be the stuffed shirt they said you were!"


"No, I'm joking, they didn't say anything about you at all, only that Vicky would be the one to show me the ropes, because you would be too busy with your workload. Quite often in temp jobs around the town I find I get nowhere near the actual department boss, only my immediate supervisor." She smiled. "The boss is usually in a separate office, like the meeting room in the corner."

Vernon grinned. "That was the boss's office, but when I took over the office, I didn't want to be cut off from our small team, so we just have meetings in there, one on ones, staff appraisals, etc."

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