Dawn In The Dark Ch. 01byGale82©
Introduction: There's no cheating or 'sharing' in this chapter - its just about a crisis in a marriage that has to be resolved. The next chapter may be rather different.
I'm sure that a lot of people love to wake up to the first rays of sunlight seeping through the curtains in the morning.
I'm not one of them!
It's not that I have any trouble getting out of bed at the appropriate time to begin my day; it's just that I like to have a choice about what time that ought to be. Enough time to shower, get dressed, have a reasonable breakfast, and a leisurely drive to work. During the week, that means setting the alarm for seven-thirty, hitting the snooze button, and then accepting the necessity of rising when it goes off again ten minutes later.
I took part in a survey once in which one of the questions was 'How much sleep do you think you really need?' I ignored the options they offered and wrote, 'Just ten minutes more.'
In the winter, there's never been a problem. It stays dark until it's time to rise which, to me, seems very civilised. The problem comes in spring and summer when the sun rises earlier and earlier and has the impudence to disturb my rest.
I hate that!.
It comes from my childhood, I think, when I shared a bedroom with my older sister. She was one of those people who greeted sunrise like the return of a prodigal son – up out of bed at some ungodly hour, opening and closing drawers and cupboards, singing some stupidly happy song when, for Christ's sake, it was still really the middle of the night!
I hated her for her early-morning joyfulness and I hated the bright sunshine that, as far as I was concerned, had no right to appear before I'd had enough sleep. And the real irony was that my parents had seen fit to name me 'Dawn!'
Almost as ironic was that my big sister was named Irene – which apparently means 'peace.' I wasn't the least bit surprised to find that the name Lucifer' means 'light bringer.' While the other girls had their dreams of being ballerinas or film stars, my only dream was of a room so dark that I wouldn't have to wake up until I was damn well good and ready to.
My teenage years flew by without any real sense of direction. Although I was a fairly bright student, I left school as soon as I could, not long after my 16th birthday, and began working for a company of chartered accountants. I did well enough that they began to train me for accountancy and paid for me to take all my exams. It wasn't easy, because I had definitely become a bit of a bit of a party girl and hated to spend evenings studying when I could have been with my friends at a disco or nightclub, but I somehow managed to apply myself well enough to get the qualifications.
As per the agreement, I continued to work with that company for the following three years but I was never particularly enthusiastic. So, when one of our clients – a builder named Harry – began to get a bit serious about me and, after a reasonable courtship, eventually suggested marriage, I decided it was probably the best option for me. To be honest, I'd had, plenty of boyfriends and I'd enjoyed the freedom of making my own decisions and living my life in my own way, but I felt it was time to settle down. After all, I was 25 and the other girls at parties and discos were beginning to look an awful lot younger than me.
Harry was actually gorgeous; tall, obviously strong and fit, with straw-coloured hair. He had the most piercingly blue eyes I'd ever seen and a smile that could melt tungsten at fifty paces, and I didn't think I'd ever have a problem when it came to the 'forsaking all others' bit. The only trouble was that we were both somewhat immature; Harry even more so than me, even though he was two years older.
The strange thing was, though, that it was me who took to married life more easily than he did. To be fair, it wasn't difficult. My only job was looking after the books for his business – which kept me busy for less than half of a normal working week – and things were going well financially due to a mini boom in the building trade. As Harry was always a naturally active person, the hard work he put in didn't seem to tire him too much so we had plenty of nights out together and the physical side of our relationship was pretty good, too. I learned how to prepare meals reasonably well; so well, in fact, that the mentions of how good his mother was as a cook became less and less frequent! But I was also aware that Harry wasn't happy being cloistered with me all the time – he needed his free time to be with 'the lads,' at least one evening a week at the pub for a game of darts and a few pints, or to watch his beloved Aston Villa if their match was being televised – and I had no problem with that.
After a couple of years, we moved into one the houses that Harry's company had built in the suburbs of our home town and life became really good. It was so good, in fact that I didn't really notice at first when things began to change.
With hindsight, I can see a hundred little things that ought to have warned me that something was wrong. On his nights out with the boys, he started coming home later and, unusually for him, more than a little drunk. At the same time, our sex life took a bit of a nose dive. Naturally, I wanted to talk about it, but Harry – as I've said – was still a bit of a 'lad' and talking about sexual matters was difficult. It was okay to talk about it in the crudest imaginable terms when he was having a drink and a laugh with his mates, of course, and he'd never had any trouble asking me to do particular things with him, for or to him in the bedroom, but this was different.
I eventually cornered him about it one night after I'd made him his favourite mince and potato pie with chips and peas, served with several cans of Abbot Ale Bitter. Naturally, it turned out to be my fault.
A few weeks earlier, while their sales rep was on holiday, Harry had asked me to show potential buyers around the show house. I had time on my hands and I'd actually enjoyed it immensely, but I'd apparently been spotted by a sales rep who'd called to see Harry trying to sell him a new line of door furniture.
"Do you remember someone named Barry Ashfield?" Harry asked me. I had to think for a few minutes before the name registered but, when it did, and memories of a one-night stand from many years earlier flashed through my mind, I replied;
"Errm... yes, I think so."
It turned out that he'd noticed me as I was showing an elderly couple the double garage. As they talked, the man had suddenly dropped the bombshell.
"Good grief! Is that Dawn Harris?" he'd asked, pointing towards me.
"Well, it used to be," Harry had smiled, "she's married, now. Why, do you know her?"
"I certainly used to!" he'd laughed, "Me... and a fair number of other blokes, I'd reckon!"
"Listen, Harry," I said softly, "I've never lied to you. I told you I'd had a lot of boyfriends when I was younger. And you said that what was in the past was just that... in the past."
"You didn't tell me they all got to fuck you!" he declared, and his blue eyes looked as if they'd been chipped off the side of an iceberg. I probably should have been angry, but I was just too stunned for that. Neither of us had claimed to be exactly celibate during our formative years but, although I'd been nervous about it, I'd always promised myself that I'd be honest about if the subject came up. It never had, and I'd never seen any good reason to force a discussion. So I was left to just stare at him, my jaw slack, as his eyes didn't even seem to blink.
"So, how many were there, Hon?" he asked. His voice was quiet, but there was no hiding the fact that he was seething with anger, and I made it worse by being too shocked to reply at first. "Five? Maybe ten? Maybe...?" he queried.
"I don't know!" I said, snapping out of my trance and giving what was probably the worst answer I possibly could have.
"Jesus! What? You mean you lost count?" he snarled, his voice rising.
"No... I mean... well... there were a few," I stammered, "...but that was all before I met you, Harry! I've never even looked at anyone else since then." (Almost true, but when you spend a lot of time around a building site where a lot of fit young men are working – usually stripped to the waist – it's almost impossible not to look).
"A few?" he repeated, "A few? How many's a few, Dawn? I mean, am I the mug who bought into what everyone else was getting for free?"
That, I'm afraid, is when the tears started to fall. I didn't want to cry, but I couldn't help myself. And Harry just sat there, quite impassively, and watched me. Before long it became too much; I rose from the table and went upstairs to the bedroom, flinging myself onto the bed and sobbing uncontrollably. A few minutes later he came into the room, picked out the clothes he'd need for the following day and began to leave. Through heaving sobs, I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he was going to sleep in one of the other bedrooms and, when I said it wasn't necessary, he answered;
"It's for the best, Hon. At least for tonight it is. You stay here... this is your room, after all."
And it was. When I'd told him about my dislike of the early light, he'd crafted interior shutters to block it out. Closing them, even in the middle of a brilliant summer's day made it as dark as an underground cave. That night I slept only fitfully and, waking to the sound of my alarm, I was just in time to hear Harry leave for work early the next morning.
For once, I just grabbed my dressing gown and went down to the kitchen for a cup of coffee that, to be honest, I didn't really want. Grabbing a pencil and a writing pad, I set about making a list of the men I'd had sex with before meeting my husband,
Not one of them, I can honestly say, had been allowed near me without using a condom; even though I'd been on the pill, Harry was the first who'd ever cum inside me. By the time I'd finished, there were a grand total of 8 who'd achieved full penetration (a truly horrible expression, but accurate), and 3 others I thought of as 'handymen' (a touch of the hand and it's all over!) and didn't really count.
Was that a lot? I didn't know for sure. To be honest, though, for a single girl, I didn't think that approximately one lover per year was either exceptional or extraordinary. I was pretty sure that many of my friends who'd stayed single that long would have been able to write a much longer list.
Next, I put figures alongside them to indicate how many times we'd had sex. Three of them required very little thought because they were only 'one-nighters' (including, I'm glad to say, the loose-mouthed Barry Ashfield!) and two others were fairly brief holiday romances. One was in Ibiza during a friend's wild hen party weekend. The other was when I was depressed - a few weeks after my parents died in an accident; I took a break in Paris, met a lovely guy and we spent a few nights together putting the cares of the world aside.
There were, therefore, just three who had mattered in any kind of significant way. One was a guy I'd known at school. He was a couple of years older than me (19 to my 17) and we'd had a sort of on-and-off affair that lasted a few months – until he happened to realise that a friend of mine was completely infatuated with him and, less than a year later, married her.
Another one (actually my first) was a shy lad who never had much success with the girls. I was a little older than him and I think I was bowled over by his enthusiasm for me. He was a sweet lad, but he became too attached and too possessive. Eventually, I had to cool things off because it was all becoming too restrictive for someone as young as I was.
Finally, there was someone I met at a dinner for accountants (you can probably imagine how exciting that was!) and, although he lived a fairly long way away, he was usually able to meet me at weekends. We partied a lot – he was a brilliant dancer and, being several years older than me, much more knowledgeable about the world and its ways. We used to travel to nearby towns and spend the weekend at discos and parties, then enjoy being together in our hotel room at night. It was fun while it lasted – and it lasted until the moment I found out he was married!
That was it! I told him not to bother – and all his promises to leave his wife only served to sicken me. It was over, and I've never wanted to see him since.
So, that was it. Was there enough there to make me some kind of freewheeling slut? Or, more to the point, was there enough there to make Harry see me that way? There was only one way to find out of course, and I was waiting for him when he came home. He already seemed in a better frame of mind, but I didn't want any recurrence of what had happened the previous night so, as soon as we sat down to eat the meal I'd prepared, I told him;
"After what you said last night...."
"I'm sorry, Hon," he began, "I know I was out of order. That was the past and...."
"Okay... thanks for that," I smiled, "but I don't want it hanging over us. So, I've made a list. On this sheet of paper, I've written down the names... well, the first names... of every man I've ever had sex with."
"There's really no need," he said, but he couldn't take his eyes off the folded sheet of A4 paper that I was holding, so I went on;
"I think there is, Harry. And I want you to do the same," I told him and pushed a pad and pen over to him. He looked a bit shocked, and more than a bit uneasy, so I explained: "My list includes everyone, Harry. Some of them are one-night-stands; some of them were a few times and a couple might just deserve the name of 'affair' or 'relationship.' I haven't included blow-jobs, for the simple reason that I never did any – you were the first – so I don't expect you to include anything like that either. Just write down – first names only – the ones you actually had sex with."
He still hesitated, but I could see a definite look of relief cross his face – just enough for me to wonder how many blow-jobs he'd had before we met! Then, as I went off to fetch the apple crumble and custard I'd made, I saw him begin to write, very slowly, and with a look of deep concentration on his face. By the time I returned he'd torn off the top sheet and folded it in half. I set the dishes down and he looked up and said: "So what happens now? Do we...?"
"What happens now, "I grinned, "is that we eat our pudding, you have a beer while I have a glass of wine... and then we exchange lists. Simple."
"And then what?"
"Well... depending on what we see... you either tell me that I used to be such an easy lay that you can't bear being with me...." He went to interrupt but I held my hand up and went on; "Or... you accept that what's past is past, give your food a few minutes to settle, and then take me upstairs and fuck me senseless... safe in the knowledge that you're the only one I'll ever want! Deal?"
A huge grin had spread across his face; his eyes were sparkling with good humour, and he replied; "You can consider my food settled, Hon... can't we just...."
"Down, boy!" I laughed. The signs seemed pretty good and it was possible that the previous night had just been a combination of brooding over something and having a few drinks but, even so, I wanted to clear the air – to get everything out in the open and deal with it. My marriage to Harry was the most important thing in my life – he was the most important thing in my life – and I'd do whatever it took to keep us together. Pushing the dishes aside, we nervously exchanged the pieces of paper. I didn't dare to look at him as he opened mine – I just concentrated on the list of names he'd written for me.
There were seven! I read them several times before I looked up at him and asked; "I'm guessing the ones with a mark beside them are 'one-nighters.' Yes?" (There were 2 of those). And he nodded slowly, still reading my offering.
He raised his eyes, a thoughtful look on his face and cupped his chin in his hand. I noticed there was a fair bit of stubble there and the thought of what could be done with that gave me a slight shiver.
"From what that asshole said," he confessed, "I expected a lot more. I mean, I'm as jealous as fuck of these guys... don't get me wrong... but if this really is all...."
"It certainly is!" I told him, very firmly, "I mean... if you're disappointed, I can always invent a few more for you!"
"Hon... I'm so sorry," he said, sounding very contrite. "That guy made it sound as though... y'know! Anyway... there's nothing here that I can't live with, so... can we...."
"You bet!" I declared, as I handed his list back to him and said, "Just as soon as you've completed this!"
His jaw dropped, his face turned from amused excitement to total shock, and he struggled to say something... possibly to protest... so I jumped in quickly.
"Rose!" I said, and watched a mixture of emotions come and go on his handsome features until he finally managed to say;
"...But you said blow-jobs didn't count."
"Yes... and I also said our lists had to be completely honest," I reminded him, "And your's isn't at the moment, is it?"
Once again there were conflicting responses visible on his face until, with a deep sigh, he asked; "Who told you?"
"Add the name first!" I grinned, and watched as he carefully did what I asked. Rose was the stripper his mates had hired for his 'stag night.' It had been a pretty wild affair by all accounts and the highlight of the night had been when the allegedly-buxom girl had pulled his pants down, taken him in her mouth, taken a load in her mouth and gleefully swallowed it while his pals were watching and cheering her on. That was the 'official' version and the only one that most of those present knew about. In fact, Rose had gone to his room later and they'd finished off his single life in style before she left just before sunrise.
"Okay... who?" he wanted to know when he finished writing.
"Morton," I told him and, once again he seemed confused. Morton Pryke (I had a habit of pronouncing his surname 'Prick' because I really disliked him), was his partner in the company. He was also his very best mate. They'd known each other since school and had worked together, supported the same team together, and probably had a lot of escapades that I'd never know about together. Where Harry was handsome, open, and almost naïve in his honesty, however, Morton was the opposite. I dare say his dark and rather saturnine looks might appeal to some, but he was lecherous and sneaky, and I'm pretty sure he'd been milking more than his fair share from their partnership before I started doing their books.
"Morton?" He queried, looking almost disbelieving, "Why would... I mean when did...?"
"The 'why' is easy," I told him, "Two reasons: Firstly, he paid for Rose's errm... 'services'... and thought she ought to have come to his room rather than yours after she'd taken care of you at the party. Secondly, he's been trying to get into my knickers ever since we started going out together and, knowing you wouldn't dare tell me about it, he thought he might get into my good books and get some kind of 'revenge fuck.'
"The 'when' was the first day we came back from our honeymoon. You remember? He was hardly out of the office that day. He kept coming in to query something or other and each time he'd be telling me how you shouldn't have done that... and how I had every right to be angry about it.
"As it happened, I was... but I wasn't going to let him, of all people, see that. I reasoned that it was a borderline thing; even though we were committed to each other, we weren't actually married at the time, so I gave you a sort of 'free pass.' Make no mistake, though, it's the only one you'll ever get!"