I am sitting in Long John's Restaurant which is located at the bottom of Union Street where it meets Ryde Esplanade and time-wise it is about a quarter to six.
Opposite me is Claire and she is as attractive as ever with her neat, collar length blonde hair, arctic blue eyes and strong but pretty features.
Her fragrance, Chlöe, drifts over me with every little movement of air in my direction - each waft takes me back to that surreal day I first fucked her.
I am a lucky man, lucky apart from my broken heart, to have her - she attracts a lot of male interest.
We are each having a cup of tea and in the background the radio is playing - I am not paying much attention to it.
I am in my bus uniform - she told me a little while ago that I look good in it but I had, cynically, wondered at the time whether it was really because it had reminded her of her ex-husband, Christopher, who is also a bus driver.
I am in my bus uniform because I am still on duty - I have been 'spare' since 1300 when I booked on.
This time of year, when the tourists and foreign students have gone home, 'middle spare' is normally a doddle, but, not today - I have been covering break downs, absences and late running since I started.
In the last twenty minutes or so activity had died down as the service frequency reduced for the evening and I had been about to make myself the first cup of tea since I had started work, in the rest room, when Claire had phoned to see if I had got time for a cuppa as she was doing some Christmas shopping in Ryde.
I had asked the Duty Inspector, Steve, if it was okay to nip over the road to meet a friend for a tea.
"That's okay - keep your phone on in case I need you suddenly though," he had said as a precaution...
"How's your son, Matt?" Claire inquires in her slightly toned down Liverpudlian accent.
"Well, he's not too bad thanks, he's working in a garage at the moment. I would like him to settle, he's had a lot of upheaval since Leanne and I divorced all those years ago. Funny enough he seems to be staying a lot recently, I reckon he could move in with me full time soon which I would like."
"That's probably good for you, I worry about you being lonely, Matt."
I wonder, perhaps unkindly, if she really cares or rather just wants to appear to care.
I hear the melancholic piano introduction to a track over the radio - it is the beginning of Mad World by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules.
I stop talking.
Claire notices and says, "Are you okay?"
"No, not really I think I'm going to cry - it reminds me of her..."
Claire suddenly leans across the table and takes each of my hands in hers - she says nothing.
I close my eyes hoping that action will prevent the tears rolling down my cheeks - I do not want to draw humiliating attention to myself in a public place.
I try not to think of Sharon and I in the Commodore Cinema watching Donnie Darko, but to suppress a thought is to give it life.
Donnie Darko - the last film we had watched together when there was still a chance for happiness.
I see Sharon sitting next to me in the dark, her face only illuminated by the flickering light from the screen.
God, how I miss her, yearn for her to be back with me.
The music fades away.
I open my damp eyes - I have managed to prevent myself from breaking down. It was a close call though.
Claire is still gripping my hands - she is observing me with a concerned expression.
"Thanks, thanks, for being so understanding, Claire - I thought I was going to lose it for a moment."
She squeezes my fingers affectionately, releases her grip and then picks up her cup.
By that simple gesture of kindness and non-judgemental understanding of my loss (how many other women would countenance their man sobbing over an ex?) she guarantees my loyalty and I will never hurt this woman in any way - I am hers for as long as she wants me...
* * *
I am sitting on a service 7 bus and Claire will be boarding at the Sandown High Street stop where will both travel on to Shanklin where she has a dental appointment.
There is a slight problem in so much as I have fucked up by reading the rota and duties wrong - I thought a chap called Jeff would be driving the bus but it is Christopher, Claire's ex-husband. Fuck.
Claire had specifically asked me to check who was driving - she neither wants Christopher or her daughter to know of our relationship.
"It's best they don't know, Camille will definitely give me grief and Christopher won't be happy about me going out with another bus driver," she had told me at the beginning of our relationship.
I had felt uncomfortable about not telling Chris - I got on pretty well with him at work and we would often share a pot of tea in the rest room.
I like Chris, he's a nice bloke and I had known him about eighteen years along with his wife Claire...
In the past Leanne and I had occasionally attended social events with him and Claire - they had always struck me as being a very happy couple, and in a way I was envious of that considering my marriage was quite tempestuous at times with Leanne.
Chris was also an extremely good looking fellow too - Leanne and my late mother had both commented on how handsome he was.
Leanne had also reckoned Chris was too good looking for Claire and I had found myself wondering, when she came out with that, if people thought that Leanne was perhaps too good for me.
Funny enough I had once invited him round when I had been with Sharon because he wanted to see some videos I had of old railway lines on the Island.
When I had told Sharon she had said, "I like Chris as he is one of the nicer bus drivers - bring him round."
I had responded, "I suppose you fancy him as well?"
"No, not really, I don't like pretty men."
I had taken it as both a compliment and a put down in the same sentence - Sharon was brilliant at that kind of ambiguous slight as I have never been regarded as pretty.
It had come as a shock to us all when about seven years ago Claire had left him for somebody else - we were all outraged and bewildered by her actions.
Chris had been totally devastated but had eventually hooked up with Kat.
Claire's new relationship had soon foundered and she had asked Chris to have her back - he had refused, and in revenge (before Kat) he had slept with Claire's sister which had led to the two girls having a scrap in their mother's front room.
After a bit the situation had calmed down and Chris and Claire agreed for the sake of their daughter Camille to be friends.
Later I had heard that both Claire and Chirs had had affairs during their marriage yet they had seemed to the outside world to be a perfect little family - you just never can tell...
So, here I am, on the bus - we are in Elmfield now and shortly to head out of town on Brading Road - and I am going to make a decision.
I get up out of my seat and walk to the cab at the front where Chris is driving.
"Hi Matt, where are you off to on this fine day, the leisure centre or your uncle and auntie's?" he queries cheerfully in his 'Black Country' accent.
I can tell he is expecting some polite small talk or maybe a bit of banter - I shouldn't really be standing at the front of the vehicle distracting the driver as it is technically against the law, but we all do it from time to time nevertheless.
I bite the bullet.
"Actually I'm going over to Shanklin with your ex, Claire. I have to tell you this, I am not going to deceive you - we are going out together..."
We are travelling along Great Preston Road now, and about sixty yards ahead there is a bus stop with a young woman at it with her arm out.
Chris hasn't responded - he keeps on driving.
The woman still has her arm out - he keeps on driving at exactly the same speed.
He passes the woman whose face first affects an expression of disbelief and then anger.
"CHRIS!" I repeat loudly, "You've left that woman behind, you'd better stop."
"Uh, yes," he responds as though just coming out of a dream.
He slows down and stops just before the traffic lights - they are set at red - at the busy junction with Brading Road.
He opens the passenger doors and I lean out and call to the young woman who comes scurrying up and then jumps on - she looks relieved.
Chris checks her rover ticket and she pushes past me to find a seat. He then guides the double-decker through the lights, now green, and onto the A3055 which is the main road south to Sandown, Shanklin and beyond.
"Sorry about that, Chris, I don't want you getting into trouble on account of me."
"That's okay, Matt."
His stunned reaction has made it quite clear to me, whatever he may profess to the contrary in the canteen, that he still retains strong feelings for his ex after all these years - I'm wondering what exactly is going on his head at the moment.
I speculate how I would have reacted if he had told me in similar circumstances that he was now going out with Sharon - I conjure up a vision of a major pile up and traffic lights lying crushed and bent under a bus...
As we head to Tesco I explain the situation. "I thought I'd better be straight with you Christopher, it's better and more respectful that you hear it first-hand as I don't like all this underhand stuff, besides which we've known each other many years."
"Thanks Matt, thanks for being open with me. Although me and Claire are good friends and do things together for the sake of Camille we don't allow that to impinge on our personal lives. We do keep that from Camille - it's not worth the hassle as she's very protective of us."
"I understand. Mums the word then. Right, I'll go and sit down now and leave you in peace."
I return to my seat as Chris picks up speed through Whitefield Woods and wonder how Claire is going to react when she sees Chris at the wheel - I could text her but I don't, it'll be far more interesting this way...
The bus pulls in at the Sandown High Street stop - there are a handful of passengers getting on and I espy Claire to the back of the queue.
I watch her show her guest pass, courtesy of Peter, say hello to him and then turn round.
She spots me, and for the benefit of her ex, pretends that she sees me by chance and waves - she is quite an accomplished actress coolly maintaining her calm. I'm impressed.
I also wonder how much 'acting' I myself have been 'treated' to so far, and how much is possibly to come.
Naturally, being an 'individual of integrity' myself, I haven't told her about my sadomasochistic impulses, or about the other women I have been texting too.
She wanders down the bus aisle and takes a seat directly in front of me as sitting next to me would suggest familiarity.
She twists round and says, "Hi, how are you?"
"Not too bad thanks. And I've told Christopher about us."
The bus pulls away.
"Oh, what did he say? Was he alright about it?"
"He's fine, just fine, he just doesn't want Camille to find out, and that's all. I had to tell him, Claire, because I would have found it really difficult at work talking to him and sharing a tea with him now and again - deceiving people like that makes me uncomfortable."
"That's okay Matt, so long as Camille doesn't find out. She made my life hell with the boyfriend before Peter, and of course that's why we can't hold hands or kiss in public - the Island's a small place."
"So how's your tooth? Still giving you pain?"
"It's not too bad at the moment but the other night I was crying with the pain Thanks for coming with me to the dentist this morning, Matt."
"That's okay. I just wish I could have been there to comfort you the other night. What do you want to do after?"
"We could go for a sandwich, or maybe soup would be better?"
"We'll play it by tooth, I mean ear then." I smile wickedly.
Chris brings the bus to a halt, between stops, at the junction of Wilton Park Road and Arthur's Hill.
We wish him thanks and goodbyes as we step off the platform and head for the dentist's - I'm still speculating as to what is going on his head. And Claire's too.
My head is wedged between the top of her bare strong thighs and my fingers thrust into her cunt.
My left hand is squeezing and kneading her erect right nipple.
She is gasping and about to come.
I flick my tongue faster over her clitoris - she is wet, very wet and savoury.
"Oh... oh... oh!"
The internal spasm grips my fingers so I begin to pump them in and out.
She moves her hand down quickly and places it over mine - it is a signal for me to stop.
"Phew, Matt, that was good, really good. Do you know what, you could lick for England."
"I didn't realise cunnilingus had been approved as an Olympic sport, must have missed that."
She laughs loudly.
"You are funny, now fuck me whilst I'm still up for it - we don't want to waste that stiffy of yours."
I penetrate her and then enclose her legs within mine - it enhances my enjoyment for some reason.
I commence thrusting hard as she rubs my nipples and I swiftly reach the point of no return.
I imagine her as an eighteen old sixth form school girl, naked after a games lesson, bent over in front of the showers having to be slippered for some misdemeanour by the flame haired, bare and freckled-armed games mistress, her pale body quivering with fear, her pretty face flushed with the agony-
I surrender myself to the ecstasy and then slide off her totally spent and content.
"Thanks for that Claire that was really nice."
"You don't have to thank me," she says, and smiles.
I kiss her gently on the lips, as I seem to do to all of my women after I have shagged them, get up and make my way to the bathroom to cleanse myself.
I return into her bedroom, she is still lying there naked, and there is a large damp patch on the lemon coloured sheets parallel with her midriff - she certainly produces a lot of juice, which I love.
Out of the blue she reminds me of the prostitute Tanya I visited six years ago in Bournemouth - she was also blonde with not dissimilar features.
I tell myself, smugly, that at least that shag didn't cost me seventy quid but then I soberly remind myself that very little in this world comes without a price tag in some form or the other.
I have an inkling that I may not be able to afford the 'bill' I may be presented with one day. Despite trying to fight it, I fear I may be falling in love with this girl...
* * *
I am standing outside the entrance to Claire's flat in Carter Street, Sandown - she lives in the top part of a house converted into two flats.
It is early December and though a bit chilly, it isn't really cold.
The time is about half eleven in the morning - it is a Wednesday and we are both on a day off.
In my right hand I am holding a large bag with a toy, white furred, cuddly teddy bear in it - it is a thank you present for her because she has been kind and generous to me recently.
I know she will like it because she pointed it out to me when we were in Clinton's the other day.
I want her to know that I appreciate what she has done for me and also because I want to make her happy and by making her happy I may just be guaranteeing my own happiness. I have also vowed not to make the same mistakes with her as I did with Sharom.
She opens the door and I am hit instantly by a wave of her fragrance - Chlöe.
"Hi Matt, come in."
I follow her up the stairs admiring her bum which is nice and tight in her jeans.
She ushers me into her lounge, as meticulously clean and tidy as ever, and then goes into her kitchen to switch the kettle on.
A few minutes later she returns with two mugs of tea. As I sip from it I say, "You certainly make a decent cuppa, Claire, cheers."
I'm not just saying that - Sharon always made it too strong with not quite enough milk and sugar for my taste.
I place the drink down carefully on the coffee table.
"What's in the bag Matt?"
I hand her the big brown paper bag.
"It's for you - just a little thank you."
It's not quite the response I was hoping for.
She pulls the teddy out and I can see she likes it...
"Thanks Matt, but I can't take it. I think you are trying to buy my love, and that's not what we are about."
I sink inwardly.
"But you bought me a couple of nice shirts not so long ago, and you've been really kind and understanding to me. I really like you for that."
"Take it back please. I got you the shirts because your wardrobe needs replacing."
She thrusts the teddy into my chest and I accept it, reluctantly, off her.
I feel seriously rebuffed and hurt.
"I'm sorry I have upset you - I seem to have that knack with women. I'll go."
She says nothing - just stands there with her arms folded.
"I'll let myself out then."
She still says nothing - still just stands there with her arms folded.
I exit the lounge, walk along the landing and make my way down the stairs.
My intention is to leave the teddy at the door - it will be a poignant reminder of me, if indeed poignancy is an emotion she is capable of I reflect sourly.
I get to the last step.
"Matt, don't go. Come back and finish your tea - I didn't mean it like that," she calls down.
I turn and trudge back up the stairs.
She meets me at the top and carefully takes the teddy out of my hands.
She kisses me and says, "Thanks Matt, you're a really nice bloke. I'm sorry but it's that time of the month, and that doesn't help. I know you are really fond of me but I don't want you to fall in love with me. I can't do that anymore as it just causes too much grief. I'm fond of you and I find you attractive but I don't want anything heavy. I hope you can understand that."
"That's okay, I do understand," I respond softly.
One of us is lying. And it's not Claire.
The problem with life is not 'understanding' - one can 'understand' till the cows come home - it is the fact we can no more hope to control our feelings (or lack of them) than we can stop the tides or the winds.
Emotionally, I'm really fucked up - I still yearn to get back with Sharon yet I am now falling for Claire. In a way I am in love with two women and it is not a good situation.
Well-meaning individuals would probably advise me to 'see someone' but I have long ago come to the conclusion that the only person who has even the slightest chance of solving problems is oneself. And of course time because time heals everything ultimately...
We go back into the living room, the radio is on an 'easy listening' station, and we both sit down on the sofa and finish our drinks.
After a bit Claire stretches out and nestles her blonde head on my broad shoulders.
I put my arms protectively around her and begin to trace my fingers in circular movements ever so lightly upon the bare skin of her upper arms.
I look down and savour once again her pale flesh with its slightest hint of freckles as she shuffles her body to get more comfortable.
"I'm beginning to feel quite relaxed Matt, and maybe a little turned on."
I lower my head and kiss the back of her neck.
I know now how our encounter is going to end today but what will happen to us in the future?
I am not certain, not certain at all, that I want to dwell on that...
* * *
Claire has travelled over from Sandown to visit me for a few hours before Camille gets home from school.
We are in bed together naked and cosy under the covers.
We are cuddling and gently petting each other but full sex is a little way off.
We're have been chatting about work, kids and worries when out of the blue Claire asks me frankly, "Could you ever sleep with a man, Matt?"
"That's a bit of an odd question, Claire, why do you ask?"
"Well, you like your nipples being rubbed, and that seems quite feminine. Hope you don't mind me asking."
I mull it over for about thirty seconds.
"They would have to be very feminine, so feminine that they might just as well be a woman. I don't like being too close to naked men - I find them hairy and smelly. There are men who I can see are good looking, men who I would like to be such as athletes and actors, but no, I don't think I could."
"Would you have sex with a man for money?"
The conversation seems to be heading off in a strange direction.
"Um, maybe if I was very short of money or paid a very high amount then maybe I would wank a bloke off, I don't think I could do a blow job, and I'm not into anal. I say maybe."
"Now let me ask you a question, Claire, would you ever sleep with a woman?"
What I really want to ask is: Have you ever slept with a woman?
The reason I want to ask that is because Kat, now Christopher's ex, had once told me that not only had Chris found out about her affairs he had also come home early one day from work ill to discover her in bed with a woman.
I hadn't paid too much attention to that at the time as in the words of Jeremy's late father, "Only believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear."
But now I'm thinking that perhaps it is true, and maybe that explains her apparent inability to fall in love with a man, as our sexuality, I believe, is more defined by who we can love rather than by whom we actually have sex with.
I still, in my mixed up emotional state, can't decide whether love is a blessing or a curse. And she still hasn't answered my question.
"I don't know Matt, I like men, but sometimes I wonder, and I've only ever slept with men..."
"Don't worry about it - life can be confusing."
I kiss her on the forehead as if to end the topic.
In response she pulls me close...
* * *
I have just got some of her fanny juice on my face, which I like, and I am in a familiar position with my head between her kneeling legs. Her sexy bare arms are above me grasping the headboard of my bed and both of my arms and hands are reaching up and alternately rubbing and squeezing her engorged nipples.
Her chest and face are pink with the flush of sexual excitement.
"Oooh... I'm coming Matt..."
I lick faster.
Above me I can just see her expression transform from rapt concentration to pleasant relief.
I stop licking, and wonder what or who Claire was actually fantasising about as she came.
I recall what Kat told me, "Sometimes, Matt, it's best we don't know what a person is thinking."
It was good advice.
In a minute it will be my turn to fantasise - what would Claire think if she knew of my depraved imaginings in which she was subject to cruel and humiliating corporal punishment?
I conclude that the ingredients, amongst others, for a successful relationship is the delusion that you believe that you truly know the person you love. Or, as Oscar Wilde put it far more succinctly, 'the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.'
I clamber on top of her and slip my hard cock into her accommodating and soaking wet cunt.
I experience an arousing tingle as she runs her fingers over my nipples...
* * *
It's New Year's Eve and I am thinking back to around this time last year when I was still with Sharon...
I remember Christmas dinner at Sophie's with her kids and partner, Jackson.
I recollect Sophie's little boy saying when he had unwrapped his last present and stating loudly with an aggrieved tone, "I had been expecting rather more than this!"
We had all laughed - except Sharon.
We had all laughed more - except Sharon - when Jackson had countered with mock threat, "You will be getting rather more than you expect if you are not careful!"
It had been a typical family Christmas: too much food, too much drink, too much running around, too much excitement, too much noise.
In the evening Bob and Lauren, Sharon's parents, had called in with the presents. I had thought it strange at the time that they hadn't called in earlier or for longer but unbeknown to me Bob had been suffering from fainting fits. He would of course be dead in a day and a month's time.
I remember how touched I had been when Bob had presented me with an old slide projector he had purchased at a car boot sale and then restored it to working order.
I had told him once that I had intended to put some of my favourite photos onto slides and he must have made a mental note of that - it was an extremely thoughtful gift from a very kind man.
A year later and the projector is still in its cardboard box at the bottom of my wardrobe - I don't feel ready just yet to get it out.
I wonder how Sharon has spent Christmas this year, and how she intends to see in the New Year - I miss her and I miss her family...
"Matt, do you want to have another pint or shall we get straight down to the Ship and Castle to meet the girls?"
Jeremy, opposite me, and I are sitting down to a Chicken Dhansak each in the Ryde Tandoori.
In about four hours' time we will say goodbye forever to 2003 and hello to 2004.
I should be happy - a few pints with my best mate, my favourite dish and the fact that I am shagging an extremely attractive woman - but I am not.
The 'girls' are Kathleen and Kate - we had met them about fifteen months ago whilst on a night out in the town and then gone back to Kate's parents' holiday flat in The Strand with the hope of a shag each.
The evening had ended in complete disaster - I hadn't even been able to get it up with Kathleen, and Kate went berserk screaming for us all to get out at one point.
However, I had been transferring numbers from my old mobile to my new one at work recently and just on impulse messaged Kathleen to see how she had fared with her exams - she was studying for her masters in health care.
I hadn't expected her to text back but she did and informed me that she and Kate would be on the Island for the New Year celebrations, and that Jeremy and I would be only too welcome to join them...
I am sitting next to Kathleen at the table where she has, not so long ago, finished her meal.
She is late thirties, perhaps just forty, pretty in a conventional way, with long blonde hair and possessing intense blue grey eyes. I know she has a great body, tanned and toned, because the last time I had seen her she had been naked.
She had also been very drunk and I'm hoping that she isn't disappointed with me now.
Blemish wise she has a mole halfway up to the side of her neck and one on the cusp of her chin to the right side of her face - neither are attractive but nor are they off putting.
She is wearing a short sleeved white blouse which shows off the flesh of her tanned left arm and intrigues me even more about her body such that I conclude that she is highly fuckable.
"How did Christmas go then?" she enquires pleasantly in her neutral 'Southern Standard' accent - she's from Watford.
"Um, it was pretty sad really. My son, James, spent most of his time with his girlfriend but chose to have Christmas dinner with his grandparents. So apart from one brief encounter I didn't really see him. I also had an invite from my half-sister, Wendy, to stay over the couple of days in Torquay but it would have meant hiring a car and doing a lot of driving when quite frankly I've had enough of driving so I declined the offer. My great uncle and auntie were spending the two days with auntie's son and I didn't want to gate-crash that, so it was just Jeremy and I, and that makes it sound like we're a couple of old queens..."
Kathleen smiles politely, and I have the impression that she doesn't often laugh out loud or spontaneously.
"Christmas Day, I cooked Jeremy a chicken curry and on Boxing Day Jeremy returned the favour by doing us both a pie and veg - very seasonable. We're a right couple of saddos!"
She pulls a faux sympathetic face and then leans closer to me.
"Talking of Jeremy, you know that he and Kate went to bed this afternoon..."
"He did, er, yes, mention that to me earlier."
"I hope he knows what he is getting himself into, she's a nightmare with men, she will in all probability chew his balls off and then spit them in the gutter. But I can't say too much as I am her friend."
What I don't tell her is that a few minutes after Kate had left, the married woman, Amanda, he has been knocking off had turned up for a session too.
I look across to Jeremy, a few yards away, stroking the top of Kate's bare arm and think if he does manages to bed her again later he won't need to worry about his balls being chewed off - they will probably detach all of their own accord in order to save themselves from the fate of being so overworked that they end up the size and texture of dried peas.
What I also don't tell Kathleen is that I have a girlfriend too, and that I shagged her yesterday after work.
I did let Claire know - who is seeing in the New Year with Christopher and Camille - that I was spending the evening with a couple of Jeremy's friends, and that they were female.
"Hmmm, can I trust you Matt?" she had queried after I had brought it up whilst we were lying there after sex yesterday.
"I've been honest with you Claire - I needn't have told you, besides you know how much I think of you, and you are spending the night with Christopher. I trust you."
She had accepted my openness and the subject had been closed.
But, now looking at Kathleen, who is cooling smoking a cigarette, I'm beginning to wonder if she isn't the better woman, assuming she's still interested in me, because she is as attractive as Claire but more importantly she is intelligent and interesting and I suspect loyal.
I very much doubt that I will get a leg-over later as her fifteen year old daughter is with her, but possibly a dance and a peck when the New Year is rung in.
I also have to text Claire at twelve too, but that will be no problem I'll just go to the loo and do it there away from prying eyes.
I suddenly feel quite optimistic about my life and it's an unfamiliar feeling as surely some disaster must be about to overtake me.
"What's your New Year's resolution Matt?" Kathleen asks me.
I want to say, to stop telling lies, deceiving and hurting people, recalling the pain I caused Sharon by doing precisely that over the years. I also speculate that she, Sharon, is only about a hundred yards away in her new house in Bellevue Road - I should be with her.
The feeling of optimism dies as quickly as it began - like a spent firework returning to earth.
"To lose a bit of weight and to get out of bus driving."
I realise that the 'New Year' is all a sham - we are merely celebrating an arbitrary point on the orbit of a planet circling a star in a galaxy in a universe of countless stars and planets - it is our own personal events that have real significance to us.
Once again I wonder how events will all unfold.
"Would you like a drink Kathleen?"
"Yes, please Matt."
She passes me some empty glasses.
I take hold of them glancing at the constellation of tiny, yet kind of sexy, moles on her bronzed left arm idly wondering what it would be like to have her naked on top of me...
* * *
It is about half seven and I am lying on my blue sofa idly watching television...
The buzzer for the outside door sounds jolting me out of my lethargy - it'll be Claire.
A tingle of excitement passes through me.
I get up and press the door release outside my kitchen.
Through the intercom I hear her enter the hallway two storeys down.
I click up the latch on my front door and wait for her to ascend the two long flights of stairs.
I swing open the door as she reaches the landing - she is a treat: Knee length felt black bootees, black tights, short black skirt and a black lace Basque with pink embroidery that barely covers her sexy midriff. She looks like a call girl - great.
"Hi Matt," she greets me in her lyrical Liverpudlian accent.
"Hi Claire, you look fantastic. I hope you aren't too cold?"
"The car is only just outside."
We embrace briefly and start to head for my flat when I stop - I have an idea.
"Stay there for just one minute."
I rush into my lounge fetch my camera and then quickly return.
"You look so good I just want to get some pictures of you."
"Okay, where do you want me to stand?"
She's a vain woman and laps up the attention.
I have her pose in front of the wide landing window - which affords a beautiful panoramic view, in daylight, of Ryde Pier, the Solent, Portsmouth and the coastline beyond.
I take two shots of her: one of her with me standing up and the other with me kneeling.
I hope I am close enough to capture one of the beguiling little moles on her tummy provocatively exposed by the brevity of her Basque.
I beckon her into my modest abode, place the camera on my table and then click the electric kettle on out of habit.
I place my hands around her trim waist and delicately kiss the base of her pale neck and wallow in her scent, J'Adore, which I bought her for Christmas...
"Perhaps we could save the tea for later, Matt?"
She takes me by my hand and guides me to my bedroom.
She sits on the side of my bed as I first slip off her boots.
I then beckon her to stand so that I can unclip her skirt - I allow it to drop to her ankles and then place it on my bedside table.
All the time I am stroking her bare flesh, kissing her.
I undo her Basque and now she is topless - I notice that her normally light brown nipples are darker and engorged.
Next I pull her black tights down to her feet and then remove them completely.
I slip my thumbs into the band of her brief pink knickers, pause, and then slip them down.
She is totally naked now and I can just detect the musky aroma of her damp cunt, a cunt that is trimmed and neat and probably the nicest I have ever had the pleasure to attend to - and I have seen a few.
"Your turn to strip now."
Nude in front of me she unbuttons my shirt, removes it and places in on the pile of her discarded clothes.
She teases me by running her soft fingertips across my nipples and smiles when she stops - I had begun to gasp.
She unbuckles my belt and unfastens my jeans - they drop to the floor and I step out of them.
I remove my socks - I was not wearing shoes when she arrived.
I am now just in my briefs and my penis is straining against the fabric.
"Shall we let the beast out?" she suggests in a provocative tone.
"Yes, I think he needs that."
She pulls my pants down sharply and my cock, too long restrained, springs out.
"Bloody hell Matt, it looks huge, far bigger than normal."
"Well, I haven't seen you for a while."
She lies back on the bed.
I suck and rub her nipples for a minute and then slide down between her thighs.
She is absolutely soaking and I notice what looks like a pearl at the entrance to her opening - it is a bubble of fanny juice.
I push my fingers into her cunt and start to lick her - she immediately starts to groan.
Within a few minutes her body tenses and she cries out, "God, ahhh, oohhh, stop Matt, I can't take anymore."
She brings her hand down and pushes my head away.
She breathes out heavily and her nude body slumps.
"Sorry about that Matt, it was just so intense - you've really got it off to a tee."
"No Matt, it was my pleasure."
I mount her taking her legs within mine and take the weight of my torso upon my elbows.
Without prompting she takes my nipples within her fingertips and commences to squeeze and knead them.
I thrust hard and fast - I am unconcerned whether she feels discomfort...
I see her naked bent over a glass coffee table, her small but shapely tits and nipples pressed against the glass.
I am caning her hard and she is screaming but to no avail.
I see her pale neat tummy with the twin moles also pressed against the glass.
Her strong, but quivering, buttocks are striped purple with the beating - I raise the cane once more...
I open my eyes, disengage and lie down beside her.
"Thank you Claire, that was really good."
"Shall we have that tea now Matt? I could really do with one."
"I'll wash my hands and go and stick the kettle on right now."
"I'll have a sluice, get dressed and then join you in a minute. I won't stay too late as Camille is back first thing, and you might want to change your sheets as they are absolutely soaking."
"I'll do that when you're gone - I want to make the most of the time I'm with you, I don't see you enough as it is."
What I don't tell her is that I won't be changing the linen for a few days as there is nothing I like more than being reminded of her, and what better way of being reminded of a woman than the stains of her juice, the juice I have generated.
As I soap my bollocks in the bathroom I wonder what I am going to do about Kathleen who has been texting me a lot recently - do I really need her when I've got everything, or nearly everything, with Claire?
It's something I need to mull over and make a decision about - the only problem is, every major decision in my life I have made so far has been the wrong fucking decision...
* * *
Saturday. It is about eight and we are together on the sofa watching Once Upon a Time in the Midlands.
I hear her take in a deep breath - it distracts me and I turn to her.
Suddenly she starts to cry loudly, like a baby.
I don't know what's wrong.
Something has sparked that off - what?
I instinctively wrap my arms round her.
She turns to me and buries her face in my shoulders.
I click the telly and DVD player off with the remote control - it's just an intrusive noise now.
"It's okay, it's okay," I utter softly into her ear, still not really knowing whether it is 'okay'.
I cuddle her and gently rub her back to reassure her - I feel terribly sorry for her.
After a few minutes the tearful heaving gives way to sniffling.
I'm curious to know what has brought on this emotional outburst but I will let her tell me when she is ready.
She raises her head from my shoulders - her lovely blue eyes are swollen and her mascara smudged with the tears.
"I'm sorry about that Matt, I've made a fool of myself."
"No you haven't. We all get overwhelmed at times - life isn't easy."
It certainly isn't I reflect - I'm still welling up and sometimes crying whenever I hear 'Mad World or Me and Mrs Jones, the songs that poignantly remind me of Sharon.
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Yes, please Matt."
I get up and go into the kitchen - I hear her feet pad along the hallway into the bathroom...
"Feeling better now Claire?"
I had never seen her cry before and though she undoubtedly loved her daughter and close family relatives, I had always suspected she was quite cold and ruthless underneath, but maybe I was wrong
On the other hand she did dump my predecessor quite callously...
We are back on the sofa and she is clutching the mug of tea with both hands as though she is cold and trying to warm herself up.
"Thanks for being so supportive Matt, I feel a bit silly-"
"Not at all."
"It was just that when I was looking at the girl in the film all alone on her bed it reminded me of the time when Mick, the fellow I left Christopher for, and me had split up. Camille and me had nowhere to go and I felt so guilty about having to put Camille through that - she was only seven, and we were walking the streets..."
She gulps loudly and I wonder if she is going to break down again.
"But in the end I swallowed my pride and went round to Christopher's and asked if he could put us up till I found somewhere else - he did."
"He's a decent bloke, I've always liked him."
"You're a nice man too Matt."
I feel a bit embarrassed by that so I reach out and give her a cuddle.
In that moment, for better or for worse, I feel myself become even closer to her - I want her, and only her, now...
* * *
I can't believe it's all over.
I just can't believe it's all over.
I. CAN'T. BELIEVE. IT'S. ALL. OVER.
She had told me once as she had climaxed that she loved me.
She had told me I had been kind and funny and generous.
She had told me so many nice things and now she has told me it is over.
It was a photo that destroyed us...
A photo of Camille, a photo of Camille smiling broadly for the camera in a party dress.
Camille: fifteen, now a pretty young woman in a grown up gown at a grown up ball.
She had proudly shown me the picture the last time I had been over to see her, the last time I had made love to her.
She had said, "Doesn't she remind you a bit of a young Kylie Minogue, Matt?"
"Yes, a bit. It's the smile."
"Take it Matt. Show your son, show him how much she has grown up."
I had taken the photo home and placed it on the keyboard of my word processor.
James had seen it and commented, "Why have you got a photo of Camille? Are you trying to get me off with her? I'm happy with my girlfriend, Dad."
"Weasel Boy recognised her, she hangs around with his mates," James had added.
"I don't like you bringing Weasel Boy round here - he's trouble."
"He's okay, Dad."
Concerned, I had warned Claire by text that Camille was hanging around with dodgy characters.
I was a fool.
I still can't believe it is all over.
She had texted back: What are you doing showing all and sundry the photo of Camille? I trusted you and now you have let me down.
I had replied: I didn't realise that Weasel Boy was even coming round. I thought I was doing the right thing for letting you know. I think a lot of Camille and don't want her to get into trouble. I will post the photo back to you now.
The next text devastated me: I think it will be for the best if we finish. I don't want Camille to find out about us. Sorry.
Another message arrives: Don't try to phone me.
I text her again: I think you are being a little hasty. I was only doing what I thought was right. Surely you can't hate me for that. I love you. Xxx
One more message from her: It's over. Sorry.
Stunned, I had slipped the picture of Camille into an envelope, addressed and stamped it then walked along the road and posted it.
This had all happened a few minutes ago.
I am sitting desolate on my sofa.
I can't believe it is all over.
It had been so good - I thought I had made her happy.
Why do I delude myself? I have never made any woman happy - they all dump me in the end.
I can't fucking believe it is all over.
Grief, loss, what is it? I ask myself.
I think of surviving a plane crash in the northern icy wastes.
I see myself trudging south, heading for warmer climes.
I have to live off the land - make do as best I can in a hostile landscape but each day I am hopeful that I will survive long enough to reach the sanctuary of the southern lands.
Every night I collect wood for a fire to cook my food and warm my chilled bones - it is the only respite from the cold, the lethal cold...
Claire had been that fire, perhaps the southern lands too, after the plane crash of my split from Sharon.
It remains to be seen whether I will shortly succumb to emotional hypothermia...
I can't believe it is all over...
* * *
I am driving a Service 7 along Avenue Road in Sandown. It is mid-morning and a pleasant day.
I suddenly see Claire to the right of me on the pavement with carrier bags full of shopping walking towards me.
I speculate that she could be just anybody - a forty year old housewife returning with the groceries to her family.
She appears unconcerned - just a person who takes the rough with the smooth, shrugs off life's problems and just gets on with it.
She hasn't seen me yet.
She could be just anybody...
But, she isn't.
Funny in a world where the population is between 5 and 6 billion we only ever each really care about only a handful of people - she is one of them.
She looks up as I pass.
I beep and wave.
She smiles pleasantly and waves back.
I feel sad, very sad.
I have stopped the bus in Niton Village, New Road - I am a 6 headed for Newport now and I have a few minutes to wait before I leave.
I need the loo so I alight from the bus ensuring that the passenger doors are closed and head for the public conveniences a few yards down the road.
As I unzip my fly I think of Claire and start to cry - I miss her so much.
Whilst I pee I watch a tear fall into the urinal.
What a pathetic state to be in, I say to myself.
Take control. What kind of a man are you? I admonish myself further.
I'm weak and doubly heartbroken, and desperately lonely - that's what I am! I confront my 'trying to be hard self' honestly.
I tuck my penis, which looks particularly shrivelled today, back into my trousers and wonder if it will ever touch the inside of a vagina again.
I splash my face with cold water from the tap and attempt to compose myself - I don't want the passengers, what few of them there are, to suspect I'm in a state, and possibly not fit to drive.
I let myself back into the double-deck vehicle and sit myself comfortably into the cab.
I slip my driver's module back into the Wayfarer Ticket Machine - I have a minute before I have to depart.
I take my mobile phone out of my inner jacket pocket.
I tap out a message: Hi Claire! Hope you are ok. It was really nice to see you back there. I really miss you and I'm sorry about what happened. I think we should talk. J xx
I hesitate for a moment. The phrase 'Fortune favours the brave' suddenly springs into my mind.
But you're not brave - you're pathetic, another inner voice sneers.
I press the 'send' key regardless...
I'm walking through Newport Bus Station.
My message alerts sounds - it must be her.
I stop and with trembling hands I slip my mobile out - it is her.
I read her text: Hi M. I miss u 2. I think we shud talk. Camille is prob going to stay at her dads tonite. I wil let u kno and then u can cum round. I am not promisng anything tho. Tc x
A little bit of blue sky is beginning to shine through the dark clouds...
It is one o'clock in the morning.
I am in Claire's front room.
I am sitting on her white covered three-seater sofa - I have licked and rubbed her off on it in the past.
But that isn't going to happen tonight - she has made that clear, but maybe in the future...
We have a good chat about things - she has explained that she has a lot on her mind with worries about her father's health (a possible recurrence of cancer) and the growing pains of Camille.
I told her I understood.
"I'm going to have to go in a minute as I will have to catch the Disco Bus at ten past," I say, her and then stand up.
"Okay Matt, I do really like you, and I find you attractive. I'll think about what you have said, sleep on it and then let you know tomorrow."
She then adds, "I've wanted to go to bed with since you've arrived, but it didn't seem right."
We embrace, say our farewells, and she sees me downstairs to her door...
* * *
I am waiting my time at Blackgang Chine.
My message alert briefly plays its tuneful refrain.
Hi M! I'v been thinking about last nite and I think we shud giv it another go. I'm quite busy at th mo but wil giv u a ring wen i'm free. Take care xx
I'm on cloud fucking nine!
Easter Sunday Night:
It is twelve o'clock and I have just got into bed.
I am really tired - three late nights and two long shifts in a row - but I am happy.
For the first time in about a week I don't have to set the alarm.
I am looking forward to tomorrow as I am not working - it will be a relaxing day.
I debate whether to masturbate or not, and whilst I do I slip into a deep blissful sleep...
Easter Monday Morning.
The phone rings in the hallway.
Who the fuck is that?
I glance across at my clock.
"Fucking six o'clock. I specifically told them at work I didn't want to go in - suppose they're fucking short of drivers again," I grumble out aloud.
I open my bedroom door and as soon as I pick the receiver up it goes dead.
I dial 1471 - withheld number.
My bladder's full so I pad naked into the bathroom, take a piss, and then get back to bed...
I wake up.
It is seven now.
The phone is fucking ringing again. Whoever it is, is going to get a piece of my mind - I am not amused.
"Hello, is that Mister Triewly?"
"Uh, yes. How can I help?"
It's nobody I recognise from work.
"I'm P.C. Smith calling from Ryde Police Station. Are you the father of James Triewly?"
A terrible feeling of dread grips me and I fear the worst - he's been killed in a car crash. I feel faint for a second.
"He's okay but I have to let you know we have arrested him with another lad for a series of offences. We will need you to come up to the station later and we'll phone when we are ready."
"Okay, I'll be here."
I put the phone down.
Fucking Weasel Boy, I'll fucking kill him. He's got my son into trouble, indirectly caused Claire to dump me, and not only that, he's ruined my only day off too. Life, one minute you're up, the next you're fucking down. Still, at least I've got Claire back, that's one consolation."
I trudge into the kitchen, put the kettle on and try to shake off my fatigue.
I have a feeling it's going to be a long day...
* * *
I am in my bedroom with Claire and we are both naked on my bed and about to fuck hard, fuck noisily.
I know it's bad but I just can't resist it.
Claire knows it is bad too but she isn't saying anything either, and nothing needs to be said.
It is the Saturday night after James was arrested along with Weasel Boy for breaking into vehicles, stealing and driving without consent.
He is on an eight o'clock curfew till his case comes up and he is in the lounge with his girlfriend, Michelle, watching a movie.
His mother is there too, my ex-wife, Leanne.
She has travelled from her home in Germany to see him.
We had all been out for the day and had kind of played at happy families.
It had been nice to see her at first and she had driven us all around: tea on Ventnor seafront followed by ice creams on Culver Down.
As a 'thank you' I had paid for the curries later. It was almost like the old days. Almost.
As I said, it had been nice to see her at first but as the day wore on I began to despise her more and more, her false laugh and constant swanking grating on my nerves - she was a spoilt bitch, always had been, and I just wanted to slap her.
I had loved her once, of course, but she meant nothing to me now.
I remembered also how she had left me two weeks after my mother had died and had abandoned me alone in the maisonette with just my mother's dog - and my grief. She had taken my baby boy and left me just the bills.
I couldn't forgive her for that I realised this afternoon, even after fifteen years. And now her second marriage was foundering I learned with twisted satisfaction.
So when Claire had arrived, and to my surprise, had suggested in front of them, in front of her, that we watch telly in my room I had leapt at the chance, leapt at the chance to rub her nose in it, and get her back.
It didn't have to be said that 'watching telly in my room' implied shagging.
Claire. Why was she doing it?
Because she loved humiliating a rival though she would never admit to that, but I knew.
When we are done we will make a show of each visiting the bathroom to clean up after the event. We will pop our flushed faces around the door of the lounge to say goodbyes just to rub it in further.
I should be above all this but sometimes I am a spiteful and vengeful person - it is just the way I am...
* * *
I am washing up in the kitchen of my flat when my son, James, enters from the lounge. It is early evening. After work.
Out of the blue he says, "It's funny to think that I could have had two brothers or sisters."
"Yeah, it was a bit sad that your mother miscarried so soon after you were born. The doctor said that she was maybe still a bit rundown after having you. Mind you, I think it was because we were late and ran for the ferry that day. I think it was a boy too. He would have been about a year younger than you. Must have been a one in a million chance because your mum went straight back on the pill almost immediately after having you - we only made love the once without contraception..."
"Yes, but Sharon had been pregnant too at one point."
"Sophie told me that Sharon had lost a baby years ago - she'd been pregnant by you."
"I never knew that."
"Oh, I thought you did," James says, a bit awkwardly.
"Ah, don't worry, James, what's happened has happened. Sharon always was a secretive bitch."
I wonder for a moment how my/our lives could have turned out had those children been born. Maybe I'd still be with Leanne. Or maybe I'd still be with Sharon.
Life is nothing but twists and turns and 'ifs' and 'buts'...
* * *
I am in the showers of the Waterside Swimming Pool and totally naked.
The water is hot and relaxing - I feel good about myself and I'm beginning to get fit and trim; my muscles are becoming toned and my stomach is virtually flat.
As I rub soap over my chest and stomach I begin to think of Claire who I will see later.
I imagine that I'm slowly rubbing massage oil over the pale flesh of back, her shoulders, and her arms. I see myself working my way down to her nipples, nipples that are becoming hard...
I look down in the shower and see that my cock is fully erect.
I quickly pull my towel down off the shower pole and wrap it round my middle.
I hope no one saw me...
* * *
"Come here," Sharon says, and beckons me with her index finger.
I feel fear, but I also feel excited and aroused because I know I am going to be punished, punished hard and without mercy.
Sharon is wearing a black sleeveless top that emphasizes the paleness of her bare arms.
In her right hand she is holding a whippy school cane.
I take a couple of steps forward.
I am only wearing a pair of boxers.
"You've been a bastard to us all, Matt, and I'm going to have to punish you - you need to be taught a lesson. I can say in all honesty that I'm going to really enjoy watching you suffer."
Sharon smiles evilly and says authoritatively, "Pull your shorts down, Matt, bend over and place the flat of your hands on the seat of the chair. I'm going to give you six hard strokes of the cane. If you straighten up I will give you an extra one. Understand?"
"Y-Yes," I reply meekly and submissively.
My boxers now round my ankles and bent fully over I await the first agonizing stroke of the cane upon my bare and exposed buttocks...
My spunk shoots out as I climax powerfully.
Claire stops rubbing my sensitive nipples which become sore as soon as I come.
"Thank you, Claire. That was really nice."
I lift myself off her and move to the side of her on the bed.
We are in my flat and it is a hot day. We are both sweating - we've had a good session.
I look at her sexy body with her chest still retaining a pink glow from when she came and wonder why it is I still fantasize about Sharon.
"I think you had a really powerful orgasm, Matt, as your cock seemed to expand even more when you ejaculated."
"Yeah, I did. It was incredibly gratifying. Thanks."
"Anyway, Matt, I'd better let you get on - you don't want to be late getting James to his appointment with the probation officer."
"Yeah, you're right - he was lucky to only get a supervision order."
Despite the great sex that we've just had something seems to be amiss...
* * *
I am sitting in my Mini which is parked at the bottom of Westhill road. I have just been swimming and the time is about 11:00 am.
It is my day off and a few days ago I had arranged to see Claire but since then I have heard nothing - odd.
I decide to phone her and pick up my mobile.
It takes a while before she answers.
"Hi Claire, how are you? I was hoping to-"
"Matt, I have to tell you this," My heart sinks, "but I think it is for the best that we don't see each other anymore-"
"But why, Claire? Everything was good between us."
"Matt, you're a nice bloke, you're generous, you make me laugh and you're attractive. But the thing is I don't want anything heavy."
"Yeah, but we don't have to have it heavy, the relationship is on your terms..."
"No, I'm sorry, Matt, I've made up my mind. It's over."
"Oh, okay. Well, there's not much more I can say then."
"Yeah, I am sorry, Matt, but I just can't commit. It's not fair on you either because I know you want a long term permanent relationship with someone who wants the same. I just can't do that. Sorry."
"Alright," I say sadly.
"Thanks for understanding, Matt. Bye."
I end the call and put my mobile phone back in my pocket.
I start the engine, stick it into gear and head back to my flat.
As I drive along the Esplanade in the bright sunlight tears begin to roll down my cheeks...