I'd got into the habit of reading the horoscopes in my daily paper; I don't mean all the stuff about Mars in Uranus or Venus ascending, just the predictions. It's not as though I believed in them (my wife, Lorna, tended to although she was reluctant to admit it), it was just a bit of fun. To be honest, as I started the final week of recuperation from my broken leg, virtually any form of diversion was welcome.
Tuesday 3rd November:
"Your financial worries may ease a little today, although you'll still need a long-term solution to them. An unexpected visit may help you to press forward with a special project."
The head of personnel at the company I worked for turned up at the house shortly after lunch. It was a bit of a 'bad news, good news' thing that he wanted to talk to me about face to face. The bad news was that, due to what he called 'a restructuring of resources,' all of the eight people in my department were to be made redundant at the end of the month. The good news was that I'd receive a very generous sum in severance pay -- the equivalent of almost two years' salary.
To be honest it wasn't unexpected. The company had lost its edge some time ago and we'd all been waiting for the axe to fall. Adam had the reputation of being an excellent personnel manager and I could see why. Rather than wait until I returned to work, or send a letter, he'd preferred to come and see me to explain it. As it happened, Lorna was at home and so she was able to hear it all at first hand as well.
He spent a long time with us as he carefully explained what it was all about and continually expressed his regrets that I was one of the ones to be dispensed with. I'd no idea why he was quite so concerned, since I don't think I'd spoken to him more than half a dozen times in all the years I'd been there. Eventually, though, the penny began to drop as I realised that he was extending his visit because of Lorna!
To be fair, my wife was looking very good; there aren't too many women approaching 50 who could get away with wearing such tight jeans and such a figure-hugging jumper without appearing vain, foolish, or downright embarrassing. Lorna, however, still had a figure that many much younger women would envy and it wasn't exactly obvious that she was the mother of two grown up kids and about to become a grandmother in a couple of months.
The thing that did surprise me was that, once I'd become aware of his interest, I also began to notice that she was responding to his attention in a subtly flirtatious way. This was definitely not in character.
Like many men, I had a desire to watch my wife enjoying sex with another man and Lorna had been aware of that for many years. It was something she'd never taken too seriously, but she had been willing to indulge my fantasies with a bit of play-acting. Unfortunately, it had never done much for her because, as she explained, the man she tried to imagine being with was always vague and anonymous. She would need to 'personalise' it, she explained, but she'd never met any other man that she could really envisage sharing a bed with.
"So... what was all that with Adam?" I asked her when our visitor finally left.
"What was all what?" she replied, totally failing to achieve the innocent look she was striving for.
"Oh, come on!" I grinned, "You were practically drooling over each other!"
"We... I wasn't..." she started to insist and, for a second or two, it seemed as if she was going to keep up the pretence; then she suddenly blushed and giggled, saying; "Well... he is a bit dishy, isn't he?"
"Dishy?" I queried, "He just came round her to fire me!"
"And he was arranging a very nice lump sum for you! I thought he was really sweet."
To be fair to him, I'd never heard any of the staff complain about Adam. Everyone seemed to like him and I knew there'd been a lot of sympathy extended when his wife had died just over a year earlier. From the way he'd eyed up Lorna, though, I guessed that his mourning period was over.
When we went to bed that night, it soon became clear that my wife was in what she referred to as a 'frisky' mood. We made love with her on top and, unusually, all the lights out. It was much more intense than usual; Lorna was certainly as excited as I could ever remember her being, and her cries and moans of pleasure were music to my ears.
As we lay, cuddled up in each other's arms afterwards, I said, "I'm guessing that you finally managed to 'personalise' that fantasy of mine, then?"
"Mmm... yes," she whispered, and giggled as her hand began to work some reviving magic on me. "Yes, I really did... Adam!"
Wednesday 4th November:
"You receive a welcome boost to your future career prospects although it will require some flexibility to take a new direction. A partner makes a suggestion that may surprise you."
I was on my own -- Lorna was shopping at the supermarket -- when there was an unexpected phone call from an old friend. Bill Johnson had worked in my office many years earlier; in fact, he'd been something of a protégée of mine and he'd eventually left to set up on his own. To say he'd been successful would be a considerable understatement.
After the usual exchange of greetings; him calling me a 'grumpy old bastard' and me referring to him as an 'ugly young punk,' he got down to business. "Your company's firing, mine's hiring," he said, then went on to offer me a job. The package was an excellent one, with only a couple of downsides: I'd have to retrain on the much more up-to-date system he used, and I'd have to commute a fair distance.
Naturally, I didn't want to reveal my enthusiasm too quickly so I stalled with a few questions. The only surprising upshot of that came when I asked him how he knew I'd be available. "I had a call from Adam Williams, he knew I'd be interested." he told me
Then he suggested that I should come to his place to discuss the details on Friday night. I explained that I still wasn't allowed to drive, but he said, "So? Get your lovely wife to drive you to the railway station and I'll have a car meet you at this end. Oh... and bring a toothbrush... I'm going to drink you under the table, so you won't be getting home 'til Saturday!"
I was definitely excited. The offer was a good one, I'd always got on well with Bill, and the prospect of a boozy night had a certain appeal, too. When I told her, Lorna was almost as thrilled as I was.
"You're a quick learner, so you won't have any problem with a new system," she said, "and there's no reason to do all that commuting. We could sell up here -- this house is far too big for just the two of us anyway -- and buy a smaller place over there."
"You'd be okay with that?"
"Definitely... it's a nice area. We could easily get a 2 or 3 bedroom place... and make a profit on the deal. It wouldn't even be as far for me to travel to work."
Things were moving fast and all the pieces seemed to be dropping perfectly into place. We ate the dinner I'd prepared, listened to a couple of radio programmes we enjoyed and then, as we began to get ready for bed, Lorna said;
"Okay, Lover... are you going to pretend I'm Eve?"
"What? Why?" I asked, falling for it completely.
"Because I'm going to pretend you're Adam," she laughed, putting an arm around my neck to draw me in for a kiss while her other hand reached for the front of my trousers.
Thursday 5th November:
"It's a good day for business, either buying or selling, although you may feel that events are moving so fast it's making you dizzy. Your love-life will receive an unexpected boost and someone close will have a surprise for you."
I spent much of the day staring at the computer screen and discovering that Lorna had been absolutely right. There were plenty of smaller, detached houses in the area we were looking to move to and, judging from a recent sale of a neighbour's house, we were likely to make an excellent profit on the deal. I even remembered to book my train journey on line so I'd be sure of a seat amongst all the Friday night commuters.
From the moment Lorna arrived home -- she'd been to lunch with a friend -- she was sending clear signals that, no matter how much she might enjoy the meal we were preparing together, her real appetite wouldn't be satisfied until later. We'd been together a long time -- our 30th wedding anniversary was on the horizon -- and our relationship had, despite the usual ups and downs, been pretty good. But I couldn't recall a time when she'd been as consistently randy as this since our first few weeks together.
I noticed that she'd had her hair done (God help the husband who doesn't!) and it was now a much lighter shade of brown, with no sign of the silvery roots I remembered seeing at breakfast time.
When we made love that night it was almost brutally intense; much more like pure, raw sex than anything else. Afterwards, when we were both exhausted, I turned on the bedside lamp and said, "You're really getting into this, aren't you?"
"Isn't that what you wanted?" she teased, "Why... is there something wrong?"
"No... not at all," I grinned, "I mean... I'm definitely doing okay out of it... believe me!"
"Good! So... what were you thinking about while I was pretending it was Adam who was... errm...?"
"Yes... fucking me!" she giggled, always a little uncomfortable with crude words, "So?"
"So? Oh, I see... well, I was thinking pretty much the same. I mean, I was pretending it was Adam who was getting stuck into you. It's not too difficult when you keep screaming his name, y'know!"
"I was not screaming," she insisted with mock severity, "merely adding a word or two of encouragement!" Then, before I had a chance to correct her, she kissed me and said;
"Listen, Davey... I want to be really serious for a little while... okay?"
"Errm... okay," I replied, with no idea of what was to come.
"Right... well... about this fantasy of yours...."
"Ours, now, I think!" I interrupted.
"Well, yes... you're probably right," she admitted, "But I want to ask you something about it."
"Fire away!" I told her, feeling a strange sense of apprehension.
"Okay... well... what I mean is... are you content with it being just a fantasy?" she asked, her words barely audible as she nuzzled against my neck.
"Why... aren't you?" I asked.
"Oh, no... I asked first!" she said, giving me a playful dig in the ribs. "All you have to do is tell me that this is all you want... and that will be it. I'll go on being your loving... and ever-faithful wife and, make no mistake... I'd be perfectly happy with that."
I held my breath, feeling my heart suddenly pounding wildly in my chest. Was she saying what I thought she was? "And if I say it's not all I want?" I finally managed to say in a croaky voice.
"Well... you have to remember that I'm almost fifty and..."
"Yes, but you...."
"No... listen," she insisted. "I know I've managed to keep in reasonable shape'' but age is pretty remorseless... and gravity takes its toll sooner or later...."
"So... what are you trying to say?" I asked in what was an unexpectedly hoarse whisper.
"I'm telling you that there has to be a time limit," she said and, when I didn't reply, she went on, "A couple of years from now -- maybe less -- and I'll probably be too embarrassed to let a stranger get anywhere near my body. No! Don't bother arguing, Davey... I've thought about this a lot over the last couple of days... and I know myself well enough. So... I need a straight answer... do you really want me to have sex with another man? No evasions... no half-measures... just give me a straight 'yes' or 'no.' Please?"
I knew, of course that she was talking about Adam but, now that the decision was being thrust on me, I felt a definite twinge of uncertainty. I mean, it was a great fantasy, but how could I possibly know how I'd feel if it happened for real? Adam was a nice guy and, although a year or two my senior, he was in pretty good condition.
Of course, there was no absolute certainty that he'd want Lorna -- though I couldn't imagine him turning her down -- but would it be risking our own relationship? Finally, taking a deep breath, I managed to say, "As long as you're sure that you'll still want me, then... yes... I'd get a real kick out you having sex with another man."
The silence that followed went on for what seemed a long time as we looked at one another, each with our own thoughts, until she finally said: "You'll never have to worry about that." And then; "I saw Adam today. After I'd been to the hairdresser I called him and we had coffee and a sandwich in the park at lunchtime."
"Wait, Davey... hear me out... please?" she asked and, when I fell silent, she went on; " I told him you appreciated his call to Bill and we wanted to thank him."
"Damn! You're right! I really should have done that myself!"
"Never mind," she said. "Anyway... I invited him over to have dinner with us tomorrow. It's probably a while since he's had a proper home-cooked meal and...."
"But I'm going over to...."
"I know that, Davey," she nodded, "that's why I did it. It was a perfect opportunity, so I set it up. But, let me make this absolutely clear... if you don't want me to be alone with him, you only have to say so. I can ring him in the morning and tell him we've had to cancel because you won't be home."
"Jesus, Lorna!" I said, "It's all a bit sudden! I mean...."
"I know that. Don't worry love," she said as she kissed me softly, "sleep on it and tell me what you think tomorrow. Okay?"
"Listen," she whispered, "it's entirely up to you. I don't want to do anything unless we're both going to enjoy it. But you must remember what I said about a time limit... it's taken me all this time to find a man I might go to bed with... always providing that he wants to, of course!"
"And if he does... and I agree to it?"
"You want me to show you?" she asked, reaching over to switch the light off and beginning to ease herself on top of me.
Friday 6th November:
"If your financial concerns have eased, it's a good time to concentrate on personal relationships where something exciting could be imminent. Your plans may be diverted by an unforeseen event today, but don't be dismayed as you're still likely to achieve the same outcome."
On Friday morning the decision was made.
"You're positive?" Lorna asked.
"I know that it's what I want... but...."
"There is absolutely no chance... whatsoever... that you'll ever lose me."
"Then I'm positive."
As Lorna went off to do some shopping ("The nearest thing I've got to sexy underwear has been washed so many times....!") a few snowflakes began to fall out of a very dark sky. My wife had put together a small overnight bag for me, so there was nothing left to do but wait... and try not to worry. She came home with, of course, far more than a few items of underwear saying there was plenty of other stuff to entertain me with as well.
"Oh, by the way, the snow's getting heavier. I'll drop you at the station in a few minutes."
"What if Adam can't make it through the snow?" I asked.
"God! That would be ironic, wouldn't it?" she laughed.
She left me at the railway station with a good 30 minutes to spare, after giving me the kind of kiss that can make a man's toes curl, telling me that she had a lot of preparation ahead of her. When I raised my eyebrows, she just giggled and told me she was talking about the meal.
"If you decide you don't want to... don't feel that you have to," I told her. "Please don't feel that you have to go through with it just for me."
"I love you," she answered simply, and then she was gone. I lingered over a coffee in the snack bar and watched the snow falling. It was getting heavier and beginning to gather on the platform, so I wasn't surprised to see that my train was delayed for 'at least 30 minutes.' I had another coffee and a sandwich and bought a magazine to pass the time as several trains came and went -- but none going in my direction. The signs still displayed 'Delayed,' but it was heading towards 8 o'clock and I realised I'd been waiting over two hours!
It was about then that my mobile phone rang. My first thought was that it would be Lorna, telling me that Adam couldn't make it, but it wasn't. "Hiya, Grumpy!" said Bill's voice and, as soon as I responded, he went on; "Hey... I'm sorry you can't make it tonight... but that derailed freight train is stopping anything getting through. Not to worry, anyway... we can get together next week if you're not too busy. Okay?"
"Sure, Bill... no problem," I answered and, as I heard him say a cheery 'bye, I looked up and saw that 'delayed' had changed to 'cancelled.'
I suppose I could have headed for home, but that didn't seem like a good idea and, in any case, all the taxis seemed to have gone to ground. In the end, I had no option but to trudge, very carefully, through the snow until I was able to find a hotel room for the night.
I was cold, wet and miserable and it took quite a while to sort myself out. After I'd undressed and placed the wet clothes on the radiators I lay down on the bed and dozed off for a while until I began to warm up. My mind, of course, was on other things and, before trying to settle down properly, I couldn't resist the impulse to send a text to Lorna's mobile -- just to let her know that I was okay and ready for bed. Given the lateness of the hour, I didn't expect a reply so I was surprised when my phone buzzed to tell me I had a message.
It said: 'Ur l8! We bin in bed 4 an hr!' followed by two 'smilies!'
I'd just warmed up, but my blood almost froze at the word 'we.' I desperately wanted to know what was happening; what had happened, what was going to happen? I lay, sleepless, in the suddenly-uncomfortable bed while all kinds of thoughts and images flashed through my mind. By 2 o'clock I was almost demented. I'd completed the crossword -- and the Sudoku -- in the magazine and read every article thoroughly, when my phone suddenly buzzed.
I pressed the buttons hastily and read; 'U awake?'
I replied with an equally brief 'yes' and, moments later, it began to ring.
"Hiya, Hon," I heard Lorna's voice say and then, very quickly, say; "No... just let me speak. I'm in the bathroom but I can't stay in here for too long. Adam's asleep at the moment."
"You're okay?" I couldn't help asking.
"Yeah... I'm good. We've had a good night. You okay?"
"I'm fine," I said. "Is he staying the night?"
"Well... you know how I like my early morning sessions," she whispered. "He has to leave early... he'll be gone by nine."
"But what about the snow?" I asked
"I don't know what it's like where you are... but its teeming rain here! The snow's almost gone. Look... I'd better go. See you tomorrow. Oh... I nearly forgot why I wanted to ring... to say that I can't even begin to say how much I love you!"
Saturday 7th November:
"Everything seems set fair for a really enjoyable weekend with lots of interesting things to do. It may be a good time to give your partner plenty of reassurance about your feelings."
Waking early left me kicking my heels for ages until I finally felt it was time to call a taxi. It was actually five to nine as we approached the house and I had to ask the driver to go a little past it because Adam's 4x4 was just emerging from our driveway. He was well gone by the time I'd paid the driver -- with a juicy tip because I couldn't be bothered to wait for change.
"Lorna?" I called as soon as I went through the front door.
"Davey... I'm in the bedroom... come on up!" she answered, and I took the stairs two at a time.
As I entered the bedroom, she gently kicked the covers off to reveal her naked body. She was lying on her back with her knees slightly raised, giving me a gloriously open view of the gaping, reddened and wet entrance between her legs. For a moment or two, she looked hesitant and uncertain as she waited for my reaction, but the huge grin on my face probably would have been enough, even if I hadn't said: "Oh, my God, Laura... you look absolutely magnificent!"