It’s been a while since there have been any excerpts from my stories published on this blog so I thought I’d rectify that over the next few days. I’ll start with a short excerpt from
David warmed a bottle of baby milk in the microwave and sat Ben on his knee. He stared into his son’s blue eyes, which were wide open, clean and bright, and felt more love for him than ever thought possible.
“I’ve said it before, Benny, and I’ll keep on saying it. I am never gonna let anyone hurt you. D’you hear me? Never.”
Ben gurgled through his bottle in response.
“I have to tell you, Benny, Daddy did something very naughty today. He went to see your Auntie Charlotte. Yes, he did. And Auntie Charlotte was very nice to Daddy. Yes, she was. Very nice. But then, she always was. Best not tell Mummy though. No, that wouldn’t be a good idea. Mummy doesn’t want Daddy to see Auntie Charlotte.”
Ben pushed the bottle away to indicate he’d had enough. As David put the bottle on the coffee table, the telephone rang. He picked it up.
“Laird residence, David speaking.”
“David, thank God. Can you talk?”
“Charlie? Yes, I can talk, but why are you phoning the land line?”
“Because I don’t have your mobile number. Susie made you change it, remember?”
“I mean, ‘What if Susie had answered?’”
“Then I’d have told her how much I enjoyed lunch and arranged another one.”
“You went for lunch together?”
“Yes.” Charlotte sounded irritated. “Look, is Susie in the house?”
“No, she’s gone to the gym.”
“Good. How long do you think she’ll be? Have I got time to come over?”
“Do you think that’s a good idea? What if we lose track of time?”
“No. That’s not why I want to come. I have to talk to you David.”
“We’re talking now, aren’t we?”
“No. I have to talk to you face to face. I have something I need to show you.”
“Can’t it wait until Monday?”
“Okay. But come over right away. Susie usually stays at the gym for a drink with her friends, but might decide not to.”
“I’m in my car outside. I’ll be right there.”
David put the phone down and wondered what could be so urgent that Charlotte would take this kind of risk. He daren’t think what would happen if Susie caught them together. His train of thought was distracted when Ben snored gently. So often the little boy fell asleep in David’s arms. He studied him as he slept. His face was subtle mixture of pleasure and contentment. People often said that Ben had David’s eyes or his ears, or mouth, or any other feature they could think of, but David couldn’t see it. He thought that the boy shared his eyes with his mother and aunt, but they were the only features he recognised. He certainly couldn’t see himself in him--but he loved him just the same.
Ben stirred at the knock at the door but didn’t wake. David opened the door with one hand while clutching Ben to his chest with the other. Charlotte stood in the doorway, looking as radiant as always. He put his finger to lips to silence her before she spoke. He nodded for her to come inside. “I’ll just take him up to bed,” he whispered. “Then we can talk, okay?”
Charlotte nodded. David could feel her watching him as he carried Ben upstairs. When he returned, she was still in the hallway, waiting for him. He took her into the kitchen and offered her a glass of wine.
“What if Susie finds lipstick on the glass?”
“She won’t. I’ll have time to clean it before she gets back. After all, how long can it take you to warn me not to come to the shop again?”
“Warn you… What?”
“That’s why you’re here isn’t it. To warn me off. I’ll understand if it is. It means you felt it too.”
“What? Felt what?”
“The spark. It never went away, did it? The spark between you and me. I could feel it the moment I stepped into the shop, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. I came in to talk to you about Susie and… I’m sorry, Charlie. I’m so sorry. I know what we did was wrong. But you can’t tell me it didn’t feel right. You can’t tell me that it didn’t feel as good as before--better even because we’d been denied each other for too long.” He looked at the floor. The silence lasted for a few awkward seconds but seemed much longer.
“Don’t, Charlie. Don’t say it, ’cause I don’t think I could stand to hear it.”
“David. I have to tell you about Susie. I have to tell you what I’ve seen. What I know.”
He looked up, confusion etched in every line of his face.
She took a deep breath and smoothed down her clothes, which she always did when she was nervous. “Susie’s having an affair.”