It was Amy's decision to hire the help. Her husband John may have suggested it in passing, but frankly it was more of a joke on his part. He didn't seriously expect her to take him up on it. In truth they hardly had time to talk seriously about anything these days. Nearing 40 years old, they both had successful, but stressful, careers, he in engineering, she in corporate law. He spent his days trying to keep his motoring parts company afloat, while she spent her time trying to extricate companies from contracts they should on no account have signed. Every morning they rushed out of the house to their cars with barely enough time for a parting peck on the cheek. And every evening they returned exhausted, with barely enough energy to eat supper before collapsing into bed. Sex, of course, had long since ceased to be anything but a distant memory.
To their friends they were the picture of success. They lived in a large house in an acre of land in that ideal area just on the edge of the city with easy access to the countryside. Not that they ever had time to enjoy it. Saturdays were spent entertaining, Sundays were spent recovering or doing jobs around the house or poring over financial reports – in John's case – and pages of small print – in Amy's. It was a blessing they didn't have children. They had few of the worries that beset their less well-off friends. They were busy but they weren't short of money. If John's business collapsed, they could still have lived perfectly comfortably on Amy's income. To them their life was normal. It was only when they had a moment to stop and reflect – and such moments were rare – that they had any suspicion that they were missing anything.
A recent Saturday evening was one such occasion.
"Did you notice how Jim and Mary were all over each other?" asked Amy.
They were stacking the dishwasher after a dinner party with four friends.
"Well, they're still young," said John without thinking. He could hardly keep his eyes open from tiredness and alcohol.
"That doesn't say much for us. We're not even 40 yet."
"I didn't mean that." He knew where this conversation was headed. "I meant they don't care how they behave in front of other people."
Amy sighed. "We used to be like that once. Do you remember that time in the cinema...?"
"We are definitely too old for that."
"Oh I know. It's just that we haven't, I don't know, misbehaved for ages. We haven't even had sex in bed since I can't remember. What's happened to us, John? Don't you fancy me any more?"
Yes, thought John, this is exactly where the conversation was headed.
"Of course I do. But you know what it's like. There's just no time any more. I don't know where it goes. We both work long hours. Then there's shopping, cleaning, cooking, gardening – it takes me two hours just to mow the grass out there. Then we entertain every weekend. I don't know about you, darling, but every night I go to bed completely exhausted. Sex is the last thing on my mind."
"I know, darling," sighed Amy, "I feel the same. Even when I'm in bed all I can think about are the work I have to do the next day and the things I should be doing to the house. I've been planning to decorate that third bedroom now for two years."
"What we need is a maid," said John.
"We have to get that third bedroom finished this weekend," announced Amy two weeks later.
"Okay," said John, "but why now all of a sudden?"
"Because we need it. We have someone coming to stay with us."
"Oh yes? Who?"
His mind was still working mainly on the problem of how to win the order he'd been chasing for the last three days.
"Our new maid. She starts on Monday."
"What new maid? When was this decided?"
"I was thinking about your suggestion. And the more I thought about it the more I liked it. You're right, we do need help. A live-in maid might not be the answer to all our problems, but at least she could do all the chores around here. And it's not as if we can't afford one. So I contacted a couple of agencies, interviewed four candidates and she starts on Monday."
John was used to his wife making decisions, but even so he was a little stunned. A live-in maid might take a little getting used to. He only hoped she could cook.
As it turned out, John's fears were unfounded. Not only could Carol cook, but she was a pleasure to have around. She didn't smoke, she didn't drink – at least no more than a glass or two of wine when it was offered – and she kept her room immaculate. She was pretty and had a good figure, which she was modest enough not to emphasise too much. Her preferred outfit was T-shirt, pressed jeans and a pair of Converse.
Amy, for her part, found it difficult to let go. Often, in the mornings, she would quickly rush round the house tidying things up so that Carol would not think her too slovenly. In the evening she would start chopping vegetables for dinner before Carol had to wrestle the knife away from her.
"Please go and sit down, Mrs Smith. Dinner is already in the oven."
The truth is, Amy found it difficult to delegate. The main reason why she was so busy was because she took on so much work that could easily have been done by her assistants. It was a characteristic she shared with her husband. It may even have been one of the reasons they were first attracted to each other. He also took on more responsibility for the day-to-day operations of his company than he needed to. The result was that even after Carol had been with them for a week, they fell into bed every night as exhausted as before. Sex was a pleasure as remote as ever and as impossible to talk about. The uninhibited passion of their early years together had long since passed, to be gradually replaced by a physical shyness. Certainly they embraced and kissed regularly, but almost as if they were old friends rather than husband and wife. Most mornings and nights they dressed and undressed separately or with their backs turned. Even in bed, its huge size meant that they rarely touched, even by accident.
Carol soon realised something was wrong. Every morning she watched them rush through breakfast and off to work with nothing but a peck on the cheek as a parting gesture. In the evenings she watched them at dinner discussing nothing more intimate than the problems they had each had at work that day. Then they would work some more – invariably in silence – before trudging exhausted to bed. She was sure they no longer had sex: their expressions could not have told her more plainly. What they need, she thought to herself, is a lot more than a maid.
"Excuse me, Mr Smith, but can I get you a coffee or a drink of something?"
He was sitting at his desk reading a customer's specification for a new part. It was 10.30.
"No thanks, Carol," he replied wearily. "I'm fine."
"I hope you don't think me impertinent, Mr Smith, but you don't look fine. You look as if you could do with a drink and an early night."
He laughed emptily. "You're probably right. Unfortunately I have to check this spec so that I can give the customer an accurate price."
"I don't know a great deal about the engineering business, but don't you have a head of manufacturing who can do that?"
"I do." What was he doing talking to this girl about his problems? "But I prefer to check it for myself as well."
Carol took a breath. "In other words you don't think he's capable of doing his job properly – in which case you should replace him. Either that or he really is good at his job, in which case you should trust him to do it, put that specification away and have a drink."
John stared at his young maid. She looked steadily back at him. There was a silence, then he laughed, this time with genuine humour. "You're right. He is good at his job, in fact he's excellent."
He put the papers in his briefcase and snapped the lid.
"I think I will have that drink."
Later, warmed by a double Scotch, he slipped into bed beside Amy. He took the contract she was reading and put it on the bedside table. He pulled her to him and kissed her. He was somewhat out of practice so it was a bit clumsy, but heartfelt.
"What's got into you?" asked his wife.
"We shouldn't bring work home with us, particularly not into the bedroom." It came out sounding more peremptory then he'd intended. He knew what he wanted – he wanted for them to be passionate with each other, he wanted to make love – but it had been such a long time he could no longer find the right words.
"Some of us have to," she responded, in return rather more haughtily than she'd intended. I sound like a schoolteacher, she thought.
"Oh, well, if you have to."
Desired drained out of him. He could feel the whiskey making him sleepy. He gave her another kiss, only this time no more than a peck. "Good night, darling." He turned on his side and pulled the duvet over his shoulder.
The next Saturday John had to visit an old college friend who'd fallen sick. For once, Amy didn't feel like work. She sat in the garden with some papers on her lap, but she couldn't concentrate on them. She wondered why she and John hadn't fallen into each other's arms the other night. He had plainly wanted to. Had she rebuffed him too forcefully? Time was when he would have taken no notice and she would have loved him for it. He would have kissed her and stroked her and soon they would have been fucking. What had happened to them? Where had it all gone?
"Are you all right, Mrs Smith?"
Carol was standing beside her, looking concerned. Amy realised tears were pricking her eyes and quickly wiped them away.
"I must have been looking at the sun. I'm fine."
Carol looked at her as if she didn't quite believe her, but decided not to push.
"I'm going to deadhead the roses. Would you like to help?"
Amy picked up the papers in her lap. "I have to finish reading these."
Carol held out her hand for her to take it. "You shouldn't be working on a day like this. I'm sure they can wait until Monday. Come on. Then I'll make a pot of tea."
Amy wasn't used to being told what to do, but there was something about Carol that made her resistance crumble. She was always so cheerful, so willing. Maybe an afternoon pottering about in the garden would be fun. More fun than reading contracts anyway.
That evening she came to dinner wearing a low-cut dress without a bra.
"What's the occasion?" John asked, nodding at her cleavage.
"No occasion," she said, colouring a little. "I just felt like a change from floppy sweater and leisure pants. Do you mind?"
"Not at all."
She came to bed in a strappy black silk slip and snuggled up to him, sliding her leg over his. Her hand found his limp cock beneath the duvet. She started to move it up and down. John was unsure if his body would respond. It had been a long day. As a result, he'd drunk too much at dinner. Much as he liked his wife stroking his cock, all he really wanted to do was go to sleep.
Happily, his cock had other ideas. He and Amy may not have had sex for some months, but she still knew how to make him hard. She kicked the duvet off him and without waiting, straddled him. Gripping his cock with one hand she lowered herself slowly. There was a moment's resistance, then he was inside her.
John thought, whatever happened to foreplay? But he wasn't complaining. Now he could feel his cock inside her cunt he was surprised at how good it felt – the warmth, the moistness, the gentle rubbing of his crown. Why hadn't they done this more often?
Keeping himself inside her, he rolled her onto her back and began to fuck her in earnest.
Within only a few minutes she started to come. Supporting himself on his hands he watched her as her face went through the contortions of ecstasy. That and the involuntary twitching of her cunt were enough to set off his own orgasm. Moaning in part pleasure and part exhaustion he emptied himself into her, thrusting hard against her pelvis.
He kept it up for as long as the strength remained in his arms, then collapsed beside her.
"I am so not used to this. I am completely fucked."
"So am I," sighed Amy, contentedly resting her head on his shoulder.
From that day on, a weight gradually lifted from her shoulders. She felt that in Carol a kindred spirit had arrived. Even John noticed his wife's new cheerfulness. Gone were the long, worried silences, or worse, the rants about work. There were even occasional glimpses of the vivacious sexy young girl he had married. Unfortunately they were no more than glimpses. Sex was not quite as rare as it had been, but when it happened it usually took place with the lights out and in almost complete silence. Where had all that easy sexy banter gone? There had been a time when they said the rudest things to each other – and did the rudest things. Now they behaved as if they had just met, as shy and inhibited as 18-year-olds.
Carol felt for them. She saw that they were no longer as consumed by their work as before. They no longer spent their evenings and weekends in a state of exhausted anxiety. With the arrival of summer she would often see them in the garden, John mowing the lawn, Amy weeding flowerbeds. But still they didn't seem to talk to each other very much.
She had to help them.
One Friday afternoon Amy arrived back from work early. Her firm had just been paid a very large sum by a satisfied client and they had celebrated with a glass or two of champagne. Feeling a little lightheaded, she had decided to finish for the day. It was hot; she would sunbathe in the garden. Imagine her surprise when she stepped into the conservatory and saw Carol lying on a sun lounger on the patio completely naked.
She stood uncertainly. What should she do? Should she turn round and leave her to it? Should she cough loudly, avert her eyes and wait for Carol to cover herself? Or should she simply march out as if having a naked girl in her garden was the most natural thing in the world? Carol really was rather beautiful; such a smooth unblemished body, with no sign of a tan line anywhere. It made Amy envious and excited all at once. An image of herself caressing those perfect breasts came into her mind. She saw that Carol had trimmed her pubic hair to a thin strip and wondered what it would be like to explore what lay below.
Just at that moment Carol stirred and Amy snapped out of her reverie. As quietly as she could, she turned back into the house, opened the front door then closed it loudly.
Giving Carol what she hoped was plenty of time to cover herself, she walked through to the conservatory and out onto the patio. She was relieved to see that Carol was sitting up on the sun lounger with a towel wrapped around her.
"I'm sorry, Mrs Smith, I didn't expect anyone home so early. Can I get you anything?"
She seemed not at all embarrassed. She behaved as if sunbathing naked were the most natural thing in the world. It quite disarmed Amy. Suddenly she felt rather daring.
"I'll have a lemonade. Then I think I'll join you."
"Of course, I'll get it right away."
Amy went upstairs to change into her bikini. She hoped that Carol would take the opportunity of putting something on, but when she returned to the patio the girl was still wearing only her towel. Having no idea what she would do if the towel came loose, Amy lay down on a sun lounger.
"I'll leave you to it, then." Carol bent to collect her things.
"Please don't go on my account," Amy said quickly. "I'd much rather have company."
"If you really don't mind." Carol lay down with her towel draped over her. "The sun is so lovely."
They lay side by side for a few minutes. Then Amy heard herself say, "You must be boiling under that towel." What was she suggesting?
"I am rather," smiled Carol. "Do you mind...?"
"Not at all."
The girl dropped the towel to the ground. "I do love the feeling of the sun, don't you?"
"Mmm..." Amy couldn't trust herself to say anything more coherent. She could feel her heart beating.
More minutes passed. Despite the warmth of the sun and the two glasses of champagne – which were beginning to wear off now anyway – she could not relax. Though she determined not to look at the naked woman beside her, she found the effort almost too much. Separated by at least a couple of feet she nevertheless felt as if they were almost touching. She could almost feel the warmth coming off the girl's body.
"I wish I was as uninhibited as you," she murmured, her eyes closed. "Lying in the sun with nothing on."
"It's not so difficult," laughed Carol. "Just do it. There's no one here but us girls."
"You have such a lovely figure. I feel quite jealous."
"You have no reason to be. You have a beautiful body."
Amy couldn't answer. No one had ever said that to her, except John. Was she really beautiful? Did she dare to reveal it to the world? Of course, it would only be to Carol, but it might just as well be the world for all the courage it would take.
"Let me help you."
She opened her eyes to see Carol standing beside her.
"Sit up and I'll take your top off."
Amy couldn't think of an objection that wouldn't have sounded either childish or prudish, so did what she was told. Carol reached around her and undid the ties of her top, a movement that brought the girl's full breasts unnervingly close to Amy's face. Suddenly her own breasts were open to the air. It felt wonderful and liberating.
"Stand up and I'll..."
"It's alright, I can do that for myself," Amy said quickly.
"Of course. I'm sorry if I'm a bit presumptuous."
She lay back down on her lounger but, to Amy's embarrassment, continued to watch the older woman. Amy hesitated with her fingers in the waistband of her bikini bottom. But if she thought that Carol would take the hint and turn away, she was mistaken.
"It's only a small piece of cotton," the girl smiled. "A small price to pay for your inhibitions."
"You're right," laughed Amy uncertainly, "but you watching doesn't make it any easier."
Carol was immediately apologetic. "I'm so sorry, Mrs Smith. I was too busy admiring your figure." She turned her head away.
Amy blushed at the repeated compliment. She was 15 years Carol's senior but she was the one who felt embarrassed. Even so, she couldn't back out now. She quickly slipped the bikini bottom down her legs and lay face down on the lounger. Her bottom felt huge and exposed in the sunlight, but it was better than having her whole front open to view.
"Isn't that better?" asked Carol. "Doesn't it feel amazing to be naked in the sun?"
"I'm not sure. It might take a bit of getting used to."
"You'll see," laughed the girl. "After five minutes you'll never want to sunbathe any other way."
In fact, it took less than five minutes. Almost immediately she started to feel deliciously drowsy in the heat. She could feel the tension in her body drain away.
The next thing she knew she felt a hand on her shoulder. She woke with a start.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." Carol, still naked, was squatting beside her. "But you ought to turn over or you'll get burnt."
"How long have I been here?"
"About half an hour," smiled Carol. "You looked very peaceful, I hardly dared to wake you. But perhaps we should both get out of the sun."
She was right. Amy thought of her naked bottom and how unused to the sun it was. She sat up, momentarily forgetting that her body was completely on view to the other woman.
"What a pity. I was having such lovely dreams."
Carol impulsively took her hand. "Come with me, Mrs Smith. I have an idea."
Amy bent to grab her towel, but Amy took it away from her. "You won't need that."
Meekly the older woman allowed herself to be led back into the house, up the stairs and into Carol's bedroom. It was a large room – as were all the rooms in the house – and over to one side Carol had set up a massage table. She led Amy straight to it.