best friend steals his wife

They say that nothing is more shocking than lightning from a clear blue sky and I suppose that any disaster is that much worse if completely unexpected. I was living a tranquil life of real contentment, married for over ten years to Louise, my soul mate, with two adorable kids (nine and seven) and in a job that brought home a comfortable income without taxing my capabilities overmuch. From the start we believed that having a mother at home was more important than exotic foreign holidays but since the children both started college, Louise has helped out in the village shop, on a part time basis during the week supplemented by every other Saturday morning.

Our only real friends were Jerry and Davina. They lived just over three miles away in a much larger house than we could afford and they also had a couple of children roughly the same ages as ours. It was Jerry who was my friend originally. Twelve years ago we started together as young hopefuls in the same insurance office. Quite naturally we spent lunch hours and other off duty time together during the day but as we were both courting seriously at the time, evening socialising was not part of the friendship. I married first with Jerry as best man and when they tied the knot six months later, I returned the favour. 

They became parents first – Davina was well pregnant at the wedding and her condition was the only reason that her parents had consented to the match. There was no doubt that Davina had married beneath her for she came from a moneyed background. But although she brought with her enough wealth to provide a lifestyle to which Jerry rapidly became accustomed, I have no doubt that had her parents regarded her husband with fewer reservations, there was far more that they could have done for the couple.

My name is Toby. I thought that I’d mention that and get the laughter over with before I continue the story. I reckon that when I was born my parents must have been going through an old fashioned Bulldog Drummond phase because there is no genealogical precedent and I can think of no other logical reason for the name. I can’t deny that I would have preferred Vance or Brett but, apart from initial introductions, I have grown quite at home with the name – the diminutive ‘Tobe’ has quite an affectionate ring to it.

Soon after his marriage, Jerry left the insurance firm where we both worked and moved to a rival organisation a couple of blocks down the road. Over the intervening years, a different environment, greater ambition and (although I hate to say it) more ability have allowed him to rise until he now holds a position equivalent to that of my current immediate boss. Even though we worked in different buildings the friendship continued with us meeting most lunchtimes to either dine or play squash. That game gives a fair indication of his character because he was driven to win. I enjoyed the game but was willing to push myself only so far and no further so he generally left the court with the winners laurels – though my very rare victories did give me a great feeling of satisfaction.

Jerry is a bigger man than I, nicely topping six feet he can give me three inches and about twenty pounds. He is also a big womaniser. Blessed with a surfeit of charm he uses it to the full and seems to have developed an almost magic touch. Even while still engaged I know that he had flings with three different girls and in the months after the wedding when a bad pregnancy limited his marital sex he was like a tomcat on the prowl. He didn’t change – that was just the way he was. I was never sure if Davina knew – at times I was convinced that she must at least have suspicions. 

The incredible speed with which he worked on women was impressive. Some months before the point at which my story starts, we were lunching at our usual restaurant when an exceptionally attractive woman sat at a table near us. Jerry immediately enthused, “She is absolutely delectable – I’m just going to have to have a taste of that.” For the rest of the meal he did not take his eyes off her and I felt rather embarrassed for the poor woman pinned by his relentless stare. When she left he jumped up to follow, saying to me, “You may not see me for a day or two but I will be in here on Friday for certain.” When Friday arrived, I duly asked him if he had managed to find out who the woman was. “Yes, she’s the wife of one of the law court officials,” he said smugly. “You wouldn’t know just by looking at her but she has the most incredibly erectile nipples. Very, very tasty – I’m afraid that you won’t be seeing me many lunchtimes next week.”

The friendship between Jerry and I extended to our wives and eventually our children. We never actually went on holiday together (although it was often suggested) largely due to the fact that our pocket was nowhere as deep as theirs. Nevertheless we spent a lot of time at each other’s houses; the kids often slept over and during the summer there were frequent very enjoyable day out excursions as a group to local places of interest. One summer Friday night all four children had been invited to a birthday party thrown by a mutual college friend. This was in the nearest town and comprised a meal in McDonald’s followed by a session of laser warfare. 

Louise and I had driven to the venue to collect our two. I parked right outside the door while she went in to find them leaving me waiting by the car. After a couple of minutes, Jerry wandered up, indicating where he had left his vehicle at the far side of the car park. At that moment all four kids erupted out of the hall door and of one accord, in a flurry of excitement, ran across and piled into my car. I was about to try extricating the two who did not belong when Jerry suggested, “Leave them, I’ll follow with Louise and pick them up at yours. In the unlikely event of you being back first, make sure to get the kettle on.”

It seemed a good idea so I agreed. Driving out of the car park, in the rear view mirror, I saw Jerry share my wife’s load of rucksacks and jackets as they walked to his car. After two or three miles he had caught up for I spotted him a couple of vehicles behind me but when we got to the road that leads past the pike, he indicated and turned off. I should explain that ‘The Pike’ is the local name for a large hill. We actually live on the opposite side of the hill to the town and the main road that skirts the base is roughly twelve miles. There are narrow country lanes that cross the hill, (one leading to the pike itself, a local beauty spot with an incredible view). The shortest route is only seven miles and can be marginally quicker than the main road but if stuck behind one of the ubiquitous farm vehicles the journey time is easily doubled and more. I smiled when I saw him detour – it was typical of Jerry that he would be determined to get back first without being crass enough to race on the main road.

When I pulled into my drive I was quietly pleased to see no sign of Jerry’s car. I gave the kids crisps and coke and watched them disperse to PC, Playstation and the hammocks in the garden. With three mugs set out and the kettle boiled, I was actually delighted when the missing pair had not turned up after twenty minutes. Up until three quarters of an hour I was still chuckling to myself at the picture of Jerry fuming behind a hay wagon with a shed load but from then on I began to get more and more concerned. From an hour and a half onwards I was ringing my wife’s mobile every few minutes and making regular trips to gaze down the road in the direction from which they should appear. 

It was almost at the two and a half hours after my arrival that they finally turned up. Jerry acted completely unconcerned but Louise had the grace to look upset. “You must have been getting worried,” she said.

“Frantic,” I told her but I was grinning, such was my relief at getting her home safe and sound. 

“Jerry had a puncture and when he went to change the tyre the spare turned out to be flat as well,” she explained. “He had to walk down into Hotton to get someone from the garage to come out.”

“Completely stupid,” Jerry confirmed. “The damn thing had never been on the road so I guess it must have started with a slow puncture when they put the new tyre on the rim.” He then proceeded to gather his brood and get them into the car. I did suggest that he might like to ring Davina in case she was also worried but he said she would quite expect them to have stayed at our house for a while.

“Why didn’t you ring me? I could have come out – for that matter you could have rung the garage. I tried your number several times but you didn’t answer”.

“My battery’s flat. I’ve been meaning to charge it for a day or two,” Louise told me looking a little flustered. “Of course we tried to ring the garage before Jerry set off walking – it was the obvious thing to do”.

That was it. We had a late meal, got the children to bed and relaxed in front of the TV for what was left of the evening. At bedtime, I was actually in the bathroom when I heard my wife’s mobile phone ring. Hurrying through my ablutions, I went into the bedroom to find Louise pushing the receiver back into her handbag. “That was Virginia,” she said. “She was sorry for ringing so late but she forgot to mention that she has to go to the cash-and-carry early tomorrow morning so the shop might be still shut when I arrive.”

“I thought that your battery was flat.”

“I thought it was too – there must be a blind spot near the pike. The bloody phone really startled me going off just now.”

‘That was what you call bad luck’, I thought smiling to myself, ‘to have your puncture compounded by both a flat spare in a radio black spot really took some beating’. No more was said just then but after we got into bed, Louise remembered, “Oh I forgot to mention – while I was chatting to Jerry as his tyre was being fixed, I happened to mention those venison steaks we bought and somehow I finished up inviting him and Davina for dinner tomorrow night.”

I was not at all displeased. It was about three weeks since we had such an occasion and I was always more than happy to see Davina. The evening proceeded pleasantly with all the usual banter until after we had finished the steaks when I happened to ask, “Did you manage to get both your tyres fixed then Jerry?” Davina looked at me quizzically obviously not knowing about the previous day’s crisis so I told her briefly how Louise and her husband had taken the short cut over the tops only to be afflicted with both a puncture and a flat spare. “It took them a good two hours to get it all sorted,” I concluded with a laugh. 

Davina did not seem to think it at all funny. In fact her whole face seemed to close down. The immediate atmosphere was partially broken by Louise jumping up and disappearing into the kitchen, saying loudly that she was going to prepare the sweet, then only a minute later Jerry mumbled something about helping and dashed off after her. It was all so sudden that I was almost on the point of making a remark to that effect but one glance at Davina’s face discouraged me. So we sat there in stolid silence taking care to avoid each other’s eyes, with me desperately hoping the other two would be back with the pudding soon, if only for something to talk about. The trouble was that they did not come back. 

The hands on the clock crept slowly round, five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen, twenty. At this point Davina slammed the knife that she had been fidgeting with down hard on the table and glaring at me demanded, “Well, are you going to see what is keeping them or not?”

My mind was in a mess. As the length of their absence had grown I had grown more and more uneasy until at that point I desperately did not want to go into the kitchen for fear of what I might walk in on. Luckily I was saved from taking action because at that moment, Jerry walked in carrying the pudding flamboyantly one handed above his head, with Louise following bringing the jugs of sauce and cream. 

As she was serving, my wife said something about having forgotten to leave the gas on low heat while we ate the first course and this simple explanation filled me with guilt about my unworthy suspicions. Considering the time it had taken, that culinary concoction was far below her usual standard but that was not the reason the evening broke up almost immediately after the meal. Disappointed by the loss of the usual pleasant conversation, in bed I decided to make the most of our early night by indulging in a bit of conjugal rights. Louise seemed almost reluctant at first but then switched completely and clung to me with desperate passion. It was an odd evening altogether.

Sunday we went out to spend most of the day by a river. For the life of me I can’t remember where except for the image of David and Claire dropping twigs from a bridge and racing them to a tree root winning post. When we got home in the late afternoon, Jerry was leaning against his car waiting for us. “Davina has left me,” he announced as soon as our children had run into the house. “She’s taken the kids and gone – I suppose back to her parents.”

My wife and I both asked, “Why?” at the same time but I noticed that Louise seemed to have a funny look on her face that was not really explained by the shock of what he had told us. Jerry shrugged his shoulders, “God knows – got a bee in her bonnet about something. She’s threatened to go plenty of times before but this first time she has actually done it.”

We invited him in for a cup of tea and it was natural that he should then stay and eat with us.

Afterwards we spent the evening drinking and talking loosely round his marital situation with the consensus of opinion being that his wife would be back in a day or two if not sooner. When Jerry stood up (actually to visit the loo) he was more than a little wobbly, prompting Louise to suggest that he was not in a safe condition to drive. At this, I jumped in to say that the obvious answer was for him to sleep in the spare bedroom and this was quickly agreed. Later in bed, for some reason I felt incredibly randy but for possibly the first time ever Louise knocked me back. “It wouldn’t feel right with Jerry next door,” she said and yet more than once in the past we had been quite unrestrained with her parents in that same bedroom. 

Next morning I gave our guest a disposable razor and a spare toothbrush from a pack we had bought by mistake. Breakfast was a rather rushed affair and then he and I drove to our respective offices in convoy. At the end of the day I got home to find Jerry’s car again in the drive and the man himself propping up the kitchen counter while the kids tucked into their potato wedges and fish fingers. It was Louise who gave me the news. “Davina went back to their house last night while Jerry was here and she’s changed all the locks so he can’t get in. I’ve said that he can stay here for a night or two until she either changes her mind or he finds somewhere else.”

After the previous night’s inhibition of my sex life, I was not too pleased about this but after ten years I could hardly turn my back on a friend in his hour of need. We actually spent a very pleasant evening talking about everything but his domestic crisis. In bed I made no try for affection having already resigned myself to doing without for the next two or three days. Usually I sleep like a log but possibly due to oats deprivation I remember waking two or three occasions. Once, I don’t know what time it was, I reached out for Louise only to find her missing and some time later her climbing carefully back into bed again roused me. The time then was quarter to four. This sparked a memory of the previous night when I must have woken at exactly the same time because I can vividly remember the red digits 345 floating before my eyes in the darkness. 

I had hardly settled behind my desk at work the next morning before a call was put through to me from Davina. “Will you meet me somewhere for lunch – anywhere where Jerry is not likely to be,” she asked without any further explanation and rang off as soon as I had mentioned a restaurant and time. She was already waiting at a table when I arrived. “Well?” she demanded almost before I was seated.

I was completely at a loss – from her attitude you might have thought that it was I who had brought her there. “I don’t understand,” I mumbled.

My obvious bemusement modified her attitude but still with an undertone of disbelief she asked, “You do realise that they are having an affair, don’t you?”

It was too fantastic to believe but Jerry’s wife was speaking with such certainty that she had to know something that I didn’t. “How long has it being going on?” I asked her, searching more for information that I could lock my mind onto rather than a specific answer to the question. 

“I don’t know – Friday for sure.”

“Friday?”

“Come on, Toby, that puncture story just doesn’t hold water,” Davina said impatiently. “You know as well as I do that Jerry is possibly the only person in the country who always carries two spare tyres. He hates winding down the rack that holds the normal spare under the car so he bought himself another that he keeps in the boot. Apart from that he carries two of those aerosol repair kits that inflate a punctured tyre long enough to reach a garage. So ask yourself, as the puncture didn’t happen, what were Jerry and your wife doing while they were alone on the pike for over two hours?”

Now that Davina mentioned it I could clearly remember Jerry bragging about a year ago that he had no fears of ever caught out by a puncture. “I see what you are getting at,” I nodded. It was a singularly inept response but my mind was in too much of a whirl to do better.

“And what do you think they were up to all that time in the kitchen at your house on Saturday?”

“Louise explained about the gas,” I said lamely.

“It did not explain why she had a glob of semen on her blouse when they came back. I’m pretty sure that Louise had no idea it was there but I’m equally confident that Jerry did. It’s just like him to deliberately leave it there just to rub our noses in it.” 

I felt physically sick and just at that moment the waiter came to take our order. Davina saved the situation by quickly asking for two of the simplest dish on the menu and requesting that we have a double whiskey and large gin to be going on with. Too many things suddenly fell into place so I knew Davina was speaking the truth but I still tried to argue against it. “Friday couldn’t possibly have been planned,” I objected. “If your two hadn’t got into my car, then there would have been no question of Louise going with Jerry.”

“I know, that fooled me for a second or two but Jerry always was the ultimate opportunist.”

“Is it why you are leaving him?”

“Yes – I warned him five years ago.” Davina paused while our drinks were placed on the table and after a large mouthful she continued, “Don’t think that I don’t know about all his other women. I do but I have lived with it. Life was not at all how I wanted it but I made the best of things and tried to put his other women out my mind. But right from when we first met I have been very fond of you and Louise. Many times I’ve wished that my marriage could be like yours. You give Louise everything that I have ever wanted. As I said I could stand the others but five years ago I warned Jerry that if he ever laid a finger on Louise I would leave him and take the children. It worked because he really does love his kids – that is about the only good thing you can say about him. They think that he is a wonderful dad and much though I have been tempted, I could never bring myself to tell them what a total shit their father really is.”

“He’s been after Louise that long?” 

“Longer. Jerry has lusted after your wife ever since he was best man. It was low key almost joking for a long time but then roughly five years ago, from the way that he looked at her when we were at each other’s homes, I knew that he was planning a move. That’s when I warned him – and it has worked until now.”

Looking back I cannot believe that I remained so calm during this conversation. I think that although I was accepting my wife’s infidelity on a theoretical level, I still did not believe that it was really true. The fact that my mind was disjointed is proved by my rather stupid responses such as, “So there is no chance of you going back to him?”

“None,” Davina answered categorically but then she went on, “Don’t get me wrong, I despise and even hate Jerry but my body is still in thrall to him. I will never live with him again but, if I met him on neutral ground such as a hotel, I’d jump in bed with him like a shot even now.”

I was shocked. “He’s that good at sex?”

“When he wants, he can be magic,” Davina said sadly. “The first couple of years we were married I thought I was in heaven. So you know what you are up against. For heaven’s sake, try to keep Louise well away from him. It won’t be easy if she is determined but as the affair has probably only just started you might still stand a chance. You have a strong marriage so perhaps if she does not actually see him for a couple of weeks or so, her loyalty to you might prevail. Try and take her away somewhere – go on holiday, abroad if possible.”

“He’s living at our house.”

“GOD! Get him out of there, whatever it costs,” Davina advised urgently. “Pick a fight with him, let him beat you up, preferably badly. You might just win a sympathy vote from Louise but at the very least it should get him removed from your house on the grounds of assault. If he has got his hooks in that far you have got to be extremely drastic.”

Davina paid the bill and we left without eating. Back in my office I ordered that no calls should be put through and spent the afternoon thinking. You will be amazed to hear that I decided to do nothing. I knew very well that Jerry had led Davina one hell of a life so it was understandable if some perceived last straw should have pushed her over the brink. Admittedly things did look black but it was not beyond the bounds of possibility that there might be an innocent explanation. It just did not seem credible that my best friend of ten years standing and my very loyal loving wife should both be betraying me. I could not bear the thought of losing a friendship and introducing a flaw into my marriage with possibly unfounded accusations – so I decided it was better to wait until I had absolute proof.

That evening was an exact repeat of the one before except that I took less part in the conversation. I was concentrating on observation. I was looking for a shared glance between them or a touch in passing and by the end when no such had occurred, I felt a profound relief that Davina’s suspicions seemed to have no basis in fact. In bed I rolled over quickly and set about giving the impression that I had gone to sleep. Well over an hour passed. I felt sure that Louise was still awake but the fact that she was still by my side, backed up by the impressions of the evening, provided convincing evidence of her innocence.

I think that I actually did fall asleep for a second or two for was I jolted suddenly awake by the movement of her slipping out of bed. When she was through the bedroom door, I quietly followed and was just in time to see her dim outline going into the guest bedroom. Louise had left that door just slightly ajar and I reached that point as she got in beside Jerry. Although they were whispering I could hear everything that was said with crystal clarity. For someone accepting a mistress into his bed, Jerry sounded particularly disagreeable as he asked, “What kept you.” 

“Toby’s breathing was very funny tonight, I had to wait a very long time before I was sure that he was asleep,” she apologised. 

“I don’t know why you bothered, he has got to find out sooner or later,” was his unsympathetic response.

“Can’t we just carry on like this; I don’t want to hurt him.”

“It’s better if he knows.”

“Let’s talk about this later, please fuck me,” Louise begged.

I was totally shocked – not so much by her use of the word (although she always did use ‘make love ‘ with me), but by the pleading tone to her voice. Admittedly I lingered by the door long enough to see him roll on top of her and hear her long sigh of contentment but then stumbled blindly back to the marital bed. Blanking my ears to any noise from the adjoining room, I lay there sobbing for what seemed an eternity. My emotions were just about under control when Louise eventually brought her faithless body back to my side – the time was exactly 3.45 a.m.

Next day I went to the office as usual but did no work at all during the day. Even at five o’clock, I found it necessary to procrastinate for, instead of dashing straight home for a showdown, I made one pint of beer last over an hour in the local tavern. I then found a video rental shop and took out a film that the kids had been pestering for. At home the children were squabbling about a TV program, Jerry was in the dining room eating and my wife was in the kitchen already starting to serve my meal. I threw the video to David and Claire, ignored the cuckoo in my nest and grabbing Louise by the arm, I dragged her roughly out to the car.

The pike was the logical place in our area if in search of privacy but that was the one spot that I could not go. I just drove grimly in silence until on a B road, I pulled into a deserted lay-by and stopped. Louise had not spoken a word since I pulled her from the house but now, without looking at me she said quietly, “You know, don’t you?”

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” she said turning to look at me with helpless eyes.

“When did it start?”

“Friday – bloody Friday.”

“Do you want to tell me about it?”

“I got into his car without thinking,” she began. Her eyes were on my face but focussed in such a way that they avoided my gaze. “Even when he turned off to go over the tops I was not really worried because he muttered something about it being the quicker way but then when he took the road up to the pike itself, I knew what was going to happen. On the top he stopped, parked, got out and then removed a blanket from the boot. There was nobody in sight but on a day like that there was bound to be someone around. It didn’t make any difference to him because he spread the blanket in full view. I think he smiled at me but he never said a word. I took off my jeans and my knickers and lay down on the blanket – it was some kind of irresistible impulse. Toby, it all seemed so inevitable. When it was over I thought we’d been about half an hour and was amazed to find out how late it was. Jerry did not seem to care but I was panicking and it was me who made him think up a reason to explain why we were so late.”

“I can’t believe that it could happen so quickly like that. There must have been something before.” 

“He kissed me at Xmas.”

“He has kissed you at lot of other times and long before that to my knowledge.”

“No, you don’t understand,” she said anxiously. “Right from when I first met Jerry, it was very easy to see why he was so successful with women but I thought he was not my type – and of course I had you. There was never anything between us except a few years ago when for a time I got the feeling that he was building up to make a pass at me. For those few weeks I got very agitated whenever we were in his company but it all died off and I convinced myself that I had imagined it. I’ve kissed him loads of times at Xmas, New Year and birthdays but no differently from the way I have seen you kiss Davina. But at our last years Xmas party the kiss was different. I was alone in the kitchen when Jerry came in, bundled me into the pantry and pulled the door shut after us. He stuck his tongue right down my throat and his hands were all over me. It could have easily got out of hand then but you called from the front door to say that Joe and Veronica were leaving. That brought me to my senses so I pushed him off and came out to say goodbye.”

I tried to remark on this but Louise quietened me and continued, “After that I was scared of being alone with him ever again. If he came into a room where I was by myself, I immediately got up and left and if ever I didn’t know where both you and Davina were, I used to find something to do near to where the children were playing. For the last six months although everything seemed to be the same on the surface, there has been this undercurrent – I didn’t know if Jerry was aware of it too or whether the whole thing was in my mind. Three weeks ago when Davina was doing that big Sunday meal for everybody, I was helping in her kitchen when she discovered she had forgotten to buy any cream. She suggested that I ask all four kids to walk down through the woods to the village shop for some but I knew they had gone to play by the stream and offered to walk down myself. 

As soon as I set off I knew that I had done a stupid thing. You and Jerry were sitting out in the sun, you were asleep but he was reading a newspaper and I realised how easy it would be for him to follow me. All the way down I was on edge, always looking behind, intending to hide if I saw him coming. Coming back was even worse because at any minute I expected him to step out from behind a tree in front of me. When I got back to the house I was trembling all over. It was all so crazy because Jerry had gone to sleep in his chair and it was you who was reading the paper.”

Louise shook her head ruefully. “After that I had a stern word with myself. I must have been too convincing because on Friday I climbed into his car laughing and it was not until we were out of the car park that I realised that I had got myself into exactly the situation that I had been at such pains to avoid.” 

“Why didn’t you mention it me? I could have protected you from him.”

“How could I? Imagine how you would have reacted if I had told you about the effect he had on me. I thought that I could handle it myself.”

“You never did try to ring me on your mobile?”

“No. While…while we were screwing, I heard it ringing inside his car. I guessed that it must be you but everything seemed so far away and unimportant. Later on you almost caught me out when you asked why I hadn’t t rung but somehow you believed about the battery – it was all I could think of on the spur of the moment. Then Jerry almost ruined that excuse when he rang as I was getting into bed. My head was all mixed up and I wanted some time to sort out my emotions but he didn’t give me a chance. He was ringing to say that he was bringing Davina for dinner on Saturday. I tried to dissuade him but he said it was part of his cover story for the afternoon and asked me to back him up. It was impossible not to.”

“What happened on Saturday?”

“That was terrible. When I saw from Davina’s face that she guessed what we had been up to, I got all confused and ran into the kitchen to escape. Jerry followed immediately. As soon as he was in the kitchen he got his cock out and I knew he expected me to suck it. I wanted to. I desperately wanted to taste it again but I hoped it would be quick. It can’t have been deliberate but he couldn’t cum. I was sucking and sucking to no effect and I knew that the pudding was spoiling. Worse than that, I was sure that you were bound to walk in on us at any second and it would have been horrible if you had discovered me kneeling on the floor with his penis in my mouth.”

I was unable to speak because in my brain there was a vivid image of the scenario that she had just described. “I nearly confessed to you on Saturday night,” she said. “I felt so ashamed of what I had done in the kitchen and the compunction that had made me do it. But being pretty sure that Davina knew, I thought she would keep Jerry away from me. If I could only have gone back to the avoiding action, then it was possible that you never needed to find out.”

“But she slung him out instead.”

“That is when I was really lost. When he turned up Sunday, there was the temptation of having him in the house and the opportunity of being with him. At that point, I believed it was for only that night. I thought, “Just once more, to see if Friday had been real or only a fabulous dream. Since then I’ve been to him every night. Did you know?”

“Not for sure but I guessed you had.”

“How did you find out?”

“Davina told me yesterday lunchtime,” I said.

“But you waited until today?”

“What Davina said made sense but I did not really believe it. I had to see it with my own eyes. I followed you last night.”

“I knew that you weren’t asleep,” Louise said nodding. “I wouldn’t have gone to him but I knew that if I didn’t he was likely to come and fetch me.”

“So what happens now?” I asked.

Louise looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You may not believe me but I love you as much as ever. In fact, knowing what this is doing to you, I love you even more but I want him.”

It took an effort to speak but I managed to ask, “What exactly is his big appeal?” 

My wife rested her hand lightly on the back of mine as she said, “I’m not saying this to hurt you even more but so that you might understand. His cock is a lot bigger than yours and he is a fabulous lover. I never dreamed that it was possible to be made to feel that way.”

There was nothing more to say and we sat in silence for a very long time. Eventually Louise said gently, “We had better be getting back, love. The kids will be wondering what has happened to us.” 

Without answering I started the engine and drove slowly but steadily back to our home. Jerry was waiting for us sprawled in an armchair. He had placed out charged glasses of whiskey and gin for us and a third glass was by his hand as yet untouched. He stood up as we entered the room saying, “I guess we need to talk. I’ve got the kids to bed for you and bribed them to make sure we won’t be disturbed.”

“You unmitigated bastard,” I spat out taking a step towards him.

Jerry dropped his hands to his sides. “I know you want to hit me so go on. I’ll give you one free pop and with a bit of luck you’ll bloody my nose but then I’ll overpower you and sit on you until you calm down. I have no intention of using any violence. For one thing it wouldn’t be justified but I also don’t plan to let you get the law on your side.” 

“The law will be on my side in this. I want you out of my house,” I told him.

“That is understandable but hasn’t Louise got a say. Bear in mind that if I leave I might take her with me.”

“She’d never leave the kids.”

“I wouldn’t be sure about that,” he smirked.

I looked towards my wife. Tears were pouring down her face as she sobbed, “He’d better stop.” 

“I don’t know how you can do this to me. Doesn’t twelve years of friendship count for anything?” I asked him reproachfully.

“It counts for a lot, Toby. Believe me, if we were not friends I would just have taken her away from you and would not be here now trying to come to an arrangement. Can I suggest that we all sit down and talk things through calmly?”

I did sit but only because I would have felt awkward remaining on my feet after Jerry had set an example. “What kind of arrangement?” Merely by asking the question, I was playing his game but needed to know where I stood. 

“A simple one,” he said. “I want Louise and I have had convincing evidence that my feeling is reciprocated. On the other hand I know that she still loves you, and knowing of your strong affection for your wife it would be unkind to deprive you of her completely. Therefore, the most equitable answer to the situation is that we should share her.”

“Share her?” I echoed. The suggestion was preposterous but yet I could see no other easy way to resolve the problem. “How exactly do you mean?”

“She will apportion her time between us – and by that of course I mean bed time. I think that I could fairly claim the lions share of her sexual favours but I won’t. Instead I am proposing a fifty-fifty split. The easiest way would be for us to alternate, three nights each. The seventh night Louise could choose or even have a day of rest.” Jerry paused at this but while I was still formulating a response, he went on, “This is actually quite amusing. Over the years, how many jokes must I have told you where the punch line is ‘Bang goes my day off’?” Again he waited and then said, “What’s the matter, Toby, old pal? Lost your sense of humour? You always used to like my funny stories.”

“I don’t find this situation at all funny.”

“Granted but it’s hardly a tragedy.”

“What you are suggesting doesn’t fall far short from my point of view.”

“Now that is overstating the case just a trifle, don’t you think, Toby? Tell me, how many times a week do you make love to your wife? I don’t think that I would be far wrong if I estimated three times at the outside,” he said in a slow measured voice. “That need not change. The real question is whether Louise can handle two lusty males instead of just one. Now from my admittedly limited experience with her, I would say that it is well within her capabilities. I would even go further and suggest that you have left her seriously short changed throughout your marriage. We are not animals and I’m sure that neither you nor I would force demands on her if she did find that it was rather too much. You will have to come up with some very convincing reason to make me withdraw from the equation.” 

“You can’t just waltz in here and expect me to agree for you to suddenly be part of the family.”

“I don’t want to be part of your family in fact I will try to impact on your normal life as little as possible. Your kids will see me around a bit more but not that much compared to my visits here as an invited guest. I will only be here to claim my share of the night-time pleasures and if Louise will extend her hospitality to provide the occasional meal then so much the better. I will of course kick in my portion of household expenses. Louise will simply sleep in your bed one night and my bed the next. It is as simple at that. What do you say?”

“I don’t like the thought of Louise emerging from your room in the morning and being seen by the children,” I said. I was only putting up the objection as a delaying tactic and by no means agreeing to the deal. 

“I have already thought of that,” Jerry said smugly. “If you remove the airing cupboard in the en suite bathroom and knock a door through into my room, Louise can zip between us to her heart’s content without David and Claire being any the wiser. I can arrange for it to be done and pay for the work too. It shouldn’t take longer than a day. Do you agree?”

There was nothing more that I could think of to say so in desperation I turned to my wife and asked, “What do you say?”

“It sounds very fair,” she said. “Please say Yes.”

It anybody had told me only a week before that I would sit drinking in my own home and agree to share my beloved wife’s body with another man I would have said they were mad. Unable to make my throat work, I nodded.

Jerry visibly relaxed. “There is just one other small thing that we ought to agree. I have been thinking about holidays. I’m fine about you two going away together on the family holiday that you have already got booked but I think that I am entitled to some prime time relaxation with Louise as well. I want to take her away for a week some other time. If it is at half term, I’m happy for your children to come as well but in view of the perception problem that you have already brought up, it might be better if you could make other arrangements. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Davina wasn’t more than happy to help you out there – she might even offer a little intimate consolation. She always has had a big soft spot for you.” 

“Yes, I agree,” I told him.

Jerry finished his drink, put the empty glass down and said briskly, “As for tonight I think it only fair that you should start off in pole position. You may have guessed that I rather pre-empted this agreement so we will take it that I have already had my first turn. At this moment, l intend to drive round to my old home and see if the fair Davina can be persuaded to let me have some clothes and toiletries. Whether-or-not, I shall be back late but don’t feel that you have to wait up.” We sat without speaking for several minutes after he was gone but when I stood up Louise came to me and I put my arms round her. With her face buried against my chest she said softly, “It’s the best way love – I promise that I will make it as easy for you as I possibly can.”

We kissed and held each other for quite a long time then broke apart and returned to our separate chairs. There was nothing at all to say and neither of us was in the mood for television. I began to drink heavily hoping to dull the pain but Louise stopped me, saying, “Please don’t pass out on me before I show that I truly love you. I don’t want to lose you before this madness goes away.”

“Do you think it might?” I asked with a flash of hope.

“It might – it started suddenly and might disappear the same way.”

I really had no such hope. Davina hated the man and had even exorcised him from her life but by her own confession, she was still afflicted by the madness. I went to bed relatively sober and half intended to just hold my wife until we fell asleep but was overcome by impotent rage and fucked her with more brutality than at any time in our relationship. Afterwards I was bitterly ashamed, even though her orgasm was more violent than any I had given her before. Louise held me tenderly as I cried myself to sleep in her arms.

Thursday at work I justified my employment little more than I had the day before because I could not come to terms with the fact that when the night came, I had to let her go to him. I arrived home as tightly coiled as a spring, only to hear Jerry announce that he was not going to claim his turn. “There are several different reasons why it makes sense,” he said. “We have started on the wrong sequence. I would like you to have the favoured night with the Sunday morning lie-in and that fits in because I intend to keep on hitting the town Saturday nights. Apart from that, the new door won’t be in place until tomorrow and I am happy to wait for that. If I can keep everybody happy, then it is going to be better all round.”

Friday was hell. Ironically I got through the day far better because a crisis kept my mind occupied solidly throughout the day. I got home to find the door in place as Jerry had promised. Even the decoration had been repaired so that the door looked as if it had always been there. I hated the thing because it represented an Achilles heel into the private domain where Louise and I had allowed ourselves to be lovers as well as parents. 

Watching television was a torment knowing what was to come and as time passed my despair was compounded by the mounting excitement that Louise was unable to conceal. I had half expected for Jerry to make a point by dragging her off to bed early and it might have been better if he had. It was left for Louise and I to go upstairs together as usual but Jerry made sure that we saw him entering his room. In our bedroom, Louise threw her arms round me, gave me a loving kiss, murmured, “I’m so sorry,” then broke away towards her lover’s bed. 

The sound of them screwing was unmistakable but then I was possibly listening very hard.

I could not make out individual words but my wife’s cries of pleasure still struck painfully onto my ears. It made me realise how restrained Louise must have forced herself to be on those three nights when it had been important to her that I should not be awakened, but possibly the new access through the bathroom had completely altered the acoustics. I could not stand it so made my way in darkness downstairs to get a drink but noticing in passing that they were shagging with the light on for some reason seemed to make everything a whole lot worse.

It must have been the following Tuesday because I know that he had spent two nights with her with me trying vainly to sleep. Louise had taken the children for a walk during the early evening leaving Jerry and I sitting in adjoining armchairs. His presence in my home still rankling, I burst out, “How do you manage to be such a bastard?”

He looked up, completely unfazed by my abuse. “The classic answer is that it’s a talent but the truth is that I work at it,” he said pleasantly. “A very long time ago I noticed that the bastards of this world have it made, in all avenues of life but mainly in respect to women because women find bastards irresistible. Read the memoirs of the big womanisers, entertainers, pop-stars, racing drivers, footballers, and you will see that no matter what the specific talent or man’s appearance, the invariable common denominator is that they are all complete bastards. Yet in every case the women queue up to open their legs. Women also stay with bastards. Take Davina, for example. Normal steady hubby has a fling just once, wifey thinks he doesn’t love me anymore and kicks him out but when the habitual profligate makes a hobby of cheating, his wife only says, ‘It’s just the way he is’. What about wife beaters? Police and social workers may rescue the battered wives to refuges but how many head straight back at the first opportunity?”

Jerry paused to light a cigarette and I thought that he had finished but he continued with a fresh head of steam. “Did you know that serial sex killers in prison get hundreds of letters from women and it is them that responsible female prison visitors fall madly in love with and leave their husbands for. It has got to be genetic programming because there is no logical reason why bastards should have such universal appeal. The converse is also true. Women may pretend that they want a decent, loving husband but deep down this doesn’t satisfy them. Show me a regular husband who has never even looked at another woman and I’ll bet everything I’ve got that at some time since the wedding, his wife has played the two-backed beast at least once with some other man. You are a case in point.”

“That was my next question,” I said. “Why Louise? Why did you want her? I was very happy with her but there are hundreds of better looking women around that you could have. Some would say that Davina is more truly beautiful.” 

“I don’t especial go for looks. I’m always more on the look out for women who have a deep reservoir of passion and right back at your wedding I could see that Louise had possibly unlimited potential. Some years ago, Davina had a showdown with me about my lifestyle and she finished by saying, ‘OK, go with whoever you want but if you ruin Toby’s marriage I’ll leave you’. That effectively said that I could go with any woman in the world except Louise and of course that made Louise the only woman in the world that I really wanted. She was actually the only woman I wanted a long time before that and it niggled me to see her with you when I was sure you couldn’t do her justice. I saw it as an almost criminal waste and in the end decided that I just had to have a share.” 

My next question was humiliating to ask and only a desperate need to know could have forced the words from me. “How do you manage to know that women will always do what you want?”

“Mainly experience – I know how women always react to sheer nerve,” he said, taking obvious pleasure in the telling. “My most successful tactic is to proposition a woman right in front of her husband. They may not say ‘Yes’ right at that moment but when I see them alone later they invariably fall like ripe fruit. The basic truth is that women find it hard not to do what is expected of them so the trick is to act on the assumption that they will do what I want and they feel compelled to comply. How I then hold them is a different matter but I don’t want to start bragging.”

Towards the end of the week Davina rang me again at work asking for an update and I arranged to meet her for lunch. Concisely and as unemotionally as I could manage I described the arrangement for sharing Louise, concluding with the words, “It could be worse. At least I still have her part of the time and it does keep the family together.”

Davina nodded wisely and then said slowly, “That is what is puzzling me. Jerry usually doesn’t give an inch if he doesn’t have to. He has got to have reasons of his own for keeping you hanging on. Try to be very careful because I’m sure that he is working to some private agenda. Apart from that I’m very happy for you because last time we spoke I was sure that you had lost her completely. I know only too well the hold that my husband can exert.” We parted with her assurance that if ever I needed to talk, she was always there for me.

It is amazing how quickly and relatively easily it is possible to fall into a new routine no matter how unpalatable. Some two weeks later I was lying alone in bed trying not to listen and dwelling on this development in my life. Over the years I had read (generally in Sunday newspapers) accounts of women who had moved a lover into the marital home. ‘What wimps those husbands must be,’ I remembered thinking, ‘how can a man with any pride tolerate such a situation?’ Now here I was in exactly that boat, although I did have some marital rights left where most of the other cuckolds had been forced to cede sexual hegemony to the invader.

We went on holiday, Louise, the kids and myself. Although far more time seemed to have passed, it was still just less than a month since Jerry first intruded into our lives. We left for the plane as a matter of course but I had been secretly slightly worried that Louise might refuse to come, opting to instead stay at home with Jerry. It was a really good family holiday. The children had the time of their lives and for quite long periods I was able to completely forget the situation that awaited me back in England. Louise seemed contented, entering happily into the spirit of everything and she was extra loving in bed. It was actually in that night-time arena that I realised she was living behind a façade. Increasingly so during our second week, her love-making had an extra urgency and I became unhappily aware that my wife had developed a sexual hunger that I was unable to satisfy.

It would be wrong to assume that all was sweetness and light when Louise and I were completely alone together for we had several upsetting exchanges with the most traumatic happening the day she returned from that holiday alone with him. It was a shock to find, on returning from our fortnight’s family holiday, that Jerry had booked to take Louise to Greece barely six weeks later. I think that he must have formed a new liaison while we were away because in a moment alone together he said, “Look, old friend, there are some of my nights that I am not going to make it back in time. I see no reason to stick rigidly to the terms of our agreement so if I am not around when you want to go to bed, please feel free to sleep with your wife.” 

On each of the next three weeks he missed one night which was a bonus for me but Louise was unable to hide her disappointment as the evenings drew to a close without him having materialised. On the third occasion I was unable to resist a bit of triumphalism, saying snidely, “You do realise, don’t you, that he still fucks other women besides you?”

“I don’t care who he fucks as long as he keeps on fucking me. If he ever stops, I think I’ll die,” my wife told me heatedly. “Anyway, I still open my legs for you so what exactly is your point?” 

I got no bonus that night so when he was again missing the same night of the following week I kept my opinions to myself. I was actually in the process of making love when a movement to the side caused me to jerk my head to find Jerry sitting in a chair watching. “What the fuck are you doing there?” I stormed.

“Calm down, I haven’t turned into a voyeur,” he laughed. “This is one of my nights after all. Normally I wouldn’t disturb you but I’ve had a bit of a disappointment and it has left me rather randy. But don’t stop on my account. I can wait.”

If he had gone then I may have been all right but he remained sitting there. I didn’t want to continue copulating under his scrutiny but on the other hand I could not meekly pull out and let him take her so I made the best of the situation by soldiering on for a few more minutes and then bringing events to some sort of conclusion. “Tut, tut, I always thought you were better in the sack than that, Tobe,” he sneered. “If you want keep your ears peeled, in a little while you are going to get a good idea why your lovely wife prefers my bed to yours.” With that he got up and sauntered away and I have to admit that Louise followed with almost indecent eagerness. 

Watching my wife set off for Greece with her lover was very hard but the children were also upset and I managed to distract myself by consoling them. However, reminding that they were going to see their old friends again soon cheered them up. Jerry had been correct in his prediction about Davina being willing to help because it had been arranged that my kids were to bunk in with hers for the week. I did sleep with my tormentor’s wife – twice. It was probably something that we just had to do given the situation but it was not a success. She wanted me to be Jerry, I wanted her to be Louise and when we got to it there was no hiding that fact. We fucked again the second night but that was only because to admit defeat after one failure would have been too ignominious.

After that I went home for the rest of the week. I still saw the kids morning and night but returned to my own house to sleep, not that I slept much at all. I spent many tormented hours in Jerry’s room just gazing at the bed where it all happened. Maybe most men in my position would poke around to see what they could find but what I did discover hardly helped. Under one of the pillows was a small bundle of Polaroid photographs. The best description is to say that they all featured Louise engaged in the process of worshipping his cock (one shot was of a kind of tonsil billiards). The sad thing was that I could easily understand the hold that he had over her – just looking at that superb organ left me thoroughly demoralised. 

That long week crept by but eventually the Saturday came when they arrived back. There was much kissing, cuddling and words of affection but I had to take second place to the children. Even though Jerry made himself scarce, David and Claire stayed up very late and we went to bed not long after they had retired. I got eagerly under the duvet still undecided whether I should confess about Davina before or after we had made love. The fact that my wife had another man between her hot thighs for the whole of the previous week did not make my infidelity any the less real. “Have you really had a nice holiday?” I asked, secretly hoping that it had been a bit of a disaster.

“It was fabulous, a real dream though I did miss the children,” she said happily.

I think the fact that she had noticeably failed to include me put a whining tone into my voice as I asked, “Didn’t you miss me even a little bit?”

“Toby, get off my case,” she said tartly. “If you want to know I’ve had such a wonderful holiday that I didn’t want to come back. I’ve been able to fuck to my heart’s content without having to bother about hurting your feelings and I have been able to express how Jerry makes me feel without worrying about you or the children hearing me. All my life I have never had so much cock before. There was one day we spent the whole day naked in a little cove miles from anywhere and he was in me almost the whole time. I only stopped cumming for minutes at a time. We actually ate a whole picnic facing each other with me sitting on his prick. Toby, I did not think of you at all. That’s what made it so good and I’m not at all sure that I want to be shared anymore.”

We fell asleep in stony silence and all next day I walked around devastated believing that this was the end. The routine had been established that we alternated Sunday nights and this happened to be his turn. I felt that as Jerry had enjoyed her to himself for a whole week he could have ceded that night to me – not that it was likely to make much difference the way things stood. Jerry actually moved for her to go up early with him but Louise demurred saying, “You go up but give me a few minutes I need to have a word with my husband.”

When we were alone she ran to me and gave me a loving kiss. “I’m so sorry about what I said to you last night,” she said. “Most of it was true but I should never have spoken like that and I will never stop sharing with you I promise – even if he wants me to. You don’t know how much pressure I’m under in this situation. When I am with you I want to be with him and when I’m with him I can’t stop worrying about you. The look on your face when I go to him tears me apart. The holiday was so carefree and the thought of going back to how it was made me suddenly so depressed that I needed to hurt you. I do love you still.” 

I bit the bullet. “Darling, I have accepted the situation. I know that he fucks you and I know that you like it a lot. It’s only natural to cry out so you mustn’t hold back on my account. When you’re with him, you must forget about me as you did on holiday. As for the kids, sound doesn’t travel up to them on the top floor. While you were away I was doing some housework and left the radio on loud in Jerry’s room but when I was cleaning David’s room I couldn’t hear it at all.” 

For that small speech I got a very tender kiss and then she was gone. I felt on top of the world knowing that I had not lost her completely and would have given anything to be lying in bed with her expressing my love and gratitude. Even having been given a new reason to live I felt the need for a stiff drink to reinforce me and by the time I went upstairs the activities in the next room were already in full swing. It seemed as if Louise had taken me at my word because I could hear everything as clearly as if I was in the room with them but investigation showed that my wife in her haste had left doors on both sides of the bathroom slightly ajar. 

I’m ashamed to say that I lingered for a long time in that small room, listening and peering through the crack in their door, not that I could see anything. It was obvious that Louise was trying to recapture the holiday because at one point she urged, “If I move my head round like this and you lift yourself up, you can fuck my mouth like you did on Cori.” Then some time later, after she had asked him to do it to her the same way he had in some other Greek place, her cries of almost demented pleasure showed that he had raised her to some sexual plateau of which I had no ken. 

Their holiday had affected the balance in subtle ways. Before in public Louise had behaved strictly as if he was the welcome guest of old and it was only in the privacy of his room that she acted the whore. Now she laughed too easily at things he said, stood marginally too close to him and once in the garden I saw her unconsciously slip her arm through his. I knew that I was seeing in this body language a pale residue of the physical chemistry that they had shared under the hot sun and it distressed me. It meant that their relationship had moved from the purely sexual onto a more emotional level and this represented a further encroachment onto my territory.

As time passed, fortune seemed to conspire against me generally. For example her period always seemed to arrive deliberately to frustrate me. Many times when I was waiting eagerly for night, Louise would whisper sympathetically, “Don’t get your hopes up. The curse arrived this morning.” Why did it always arrive just in time to put the mockers on one of my nights and not his?

On one such occasion, lying in bed, I idly enquired, “How does Jerry cope with this?”

“It doesn’t really effect him,” she said. “At the start I used to suck him off instead. I still do but now it isn’t enough because he always wakes up later wanting me. Some times he says he doesn’t care and makes me take the tampon out but usually he sticks it up my back passage. I know that I never let you fuck me that way but somehow it’s different with him.” 

Filled with both jealousy and envy, I asked bitterly, “So why don’t you ever suck me off?”

Louise laughed. “Don’t be silly, Tobe,” she said. “I never have. It’s just not our kind of sex.”

One night I made a very bad mistake. The door connecting the other room to the bathroom was now generally left unlatched. This time, drawn by sounds of unusual excitement I went into the bathroom and once there some malevolent impulse prompted me to ease the door open until I could see them rutting on the bed. I watched it all and from then on it became a compunction to do the same every night that she was with him. 

Most shaming of all, when I returned to my solitary bed, although it was a habit I had resisted until then, I masturbated, reliving in my mind everything that I had witnessed. This degradation had an inevitable effect on me. More and more nights when I had Louise in my bed, I was content to just hold her rather than make love. The plain fact was that I could not bear the thought of my effort being directly compared to his far superior performance on the nights before and after me. The crux came the night that Louise suddenly pushed me away saying, “If you don’t want me, I’m going through,” and when I tried to protest she said simply, “It is only fair. He lets you have a lot of his nights when he’s not here.” 

Going out to our cars at the same time one morning, in what sounded like a pleasant voice Jerry asked, “Are you picking up some good tips then?” I pretended not to know what he was talking about to which he said, “Come on, Toby, don’t be shy. I’m all for all three of us getting as much pleasure as possible out of our little menage. If you would like to come right in the room with us, do feel free. I’ll even set out a chair specially so you have a real ringside seat.”

I stiffly declined but could not stop from carrying on with my voyeuristic vigils, even though I knew that he knew I was there. From then on I found the door on his side generally well open leaving nothing for me to do – on the occasional nights that I found the door shut against me I crept away with a profound sense of disappointment. I also suspect that he told Louise they had a spectator because it seemed as if they angled their bodies deliberately to give me the optimum view. One night he was lying on his back with Louise riding his penis, bouncing frantically up and down in the position where her back was towards him. She was squeezing her own tits and as an orgasmic squeal burst from her lips, the look on her face could only be one of defiance as she stared directly at where I was concealed.

Over the few months that have passed since then, quite a lot changed in that although Jerry and I still have roughly the same number of nights each, the distribution is completely different. He is consistently absent from the house about fifty per cent of the time but whenever he is at home Louise sleeps in his bed. I actually prefer it that way. When he is away my wife is more relaxed and loving and I perform far better knowing she is not hankering after a better alternative available in the next room.

One morning recently, although Jerry had left for work before me I found him waiting for me outside my office. “We never have our lunches and games of squash anymore,” he said as I walked up.

“Are you surprised?” I asked sarcastically.

“I honestly don’t see why the situation with Louise should effect our friendship,” he said blandly. “You ought to loosen up a bit and a few sessions of squash should do the trick. I guess that I’m quite rusty so it should be quite competitive. Do you know I really miss the old days. I used to love humiliating you and you must have got some masochistic pleasure out of the game or else you would not have kept coming back for more. The secret was to let you win just enough so that you believed you were really in with a chance.”

“I’m not interested,” I told him coldly.

“I am afraid that in this instance I have got to insist – not a game, just meet me for lunch today. We need to talk man to man about the future because I don’t want to be accused of just going ahead and not liaising with you.”

I reluctantly agreed and we met at what used to be our favourite restaurant. Jerry started on his spiel straight away, “As you know Davina is acting very bloody minded and only allows me the minimum access to my children that she can legally get away with. Your kids are smashing and treat me as a very special uncle, but it’s not the same. I need to have a child of my own with Louise. It might encourage me to cut down on my gallivanting and be around more. Unfortunately, if I do start trying it will mean a period of celibacy for you. You know, just a month or so until I ring the bell.”

My face must have been a picture of horror because he laughed saying, “I’m only joking. I wouldn’t impose celibacy on any man so I intend to make arrangements. There are a couple of attractive, very sexy women who will be pleased to spend one night a week each with you, if I ask them to. The husband of the first is quite used to me borrowing her and the other girl works in my office. Petra recently married a guy who works in Saudi Arabia and as long as he doesn’t come back on holiday, she should be able to manage more than just the one night.”

I walked out without speaking, fumed all afternoon and immediately on arriving home I stormed into the kitchen where I knew Louise would be. “What is all this rubbish about you having a baby?” I yelled.

My wife looked up from stirring the gravy completely unconcerned. “I have been getting a bit broody lately,” she said.

My heart sank at her casual confirmation of what I feared.

Many years ago, I knew of two couples who were best friends and the two families spent much of their free time together. I actually met all four adults socially and the pen portraits in the story are based on the real individuals. Suddenly one husband left his wife and moved in with the other couple. Initially it was generally believed that he was only lodging there temporarily until he could sort out alternative accommodation but he stayed. There was a lot of unsubstantiated rumour and then, a little more than a year later, the wife became pregnant. Some months after the birth the husband moved out, leaving his home and wife in the possession of the interloper.

I only ever knew the bones of the situation but Irresistible Impulse was my attempt at writing a fictional scenario to fit the known facts. My intention was to show that when a man fails to make a stand at the first opportunity then his subsequent slide is inexorable. The tale as originally posted was complete but it has attracted such ire that I now feel obliged to add a happier ending.

I walked out without speaking, fumed all afternoon and immediately on arriving home I stormed into the kitchen where I knew Louise would be. “What is all this rubbish about you having a baby?” I yelled.

My wife looked up from stirring the gravy completely unconcerned. “I have been getting a bit broody lately,” she said.

My heart sank at her casual confirmation of what I feared.

I turned and walked away feeling total dejection. There had been many almost intolerable moments before but now I suddenly saw with absolute clarity how events were certain to progress. Jerry would deliberately prolong the impregnation process and then, when his seed had done its job, some reason would be found why I still could not have penetrative sex with my wife. The restriction would be described as applying equally to him but it wouldn’t and the connecting door would start being closed to prevent me realising. Then by the time of the birth, a campaign of ever increasing humiliation from him would have started, with the design of driving me from the home completely. Although still hidden, the reality was that I had almost completely lost Louise to my erstwhile friend.

I heard myself say ‘No’ and then I repeated it far louder as I turned to face my wife.

“What do you mean ‘No’?” she asked in the same almost absent-minded manner.

“No, I don’t want Jerry to make you pregnant. If you really want another child then I have got to be its father.”

“You’ve had a vasectomy, remember?”

“I know that but vasectomies can be reversed.”

My wife suddenly gave me her full attention. “But isn’t that meant to be very painful and it doesn’t always work.” 

“I don’t care – I just don’t want that fucking sod siring a bastard half brother for our kids,” I spat back at her. 

For a moment my wife seemed shocked by the venom in my voice but then she reached out to touch me, saying, “Don’t worry, I wasn’t really serious about being broody. Jerry has been talking a lot about having another child and I admit that I rather liked the thought of having a new baby to fuss over but I’m rather too old to be starting all that again.” She paused and then confided, “The real temptation of getting pregnant again was the hope it might give me a break from the constant attention from both of you.” 

Relief flooded over me and I started to relax but then the import of her last words prompted to me push for more. “I don’t want to live like this any more,” I said. “I want him to leave.”

My wife shook her head. “You’ve left it too late, love,” she said sadly.

For what seemed a long time we stood in silence facing each other and then she explained softly, “Toby, I wish it had never started but it’s far too late to change anything now. You should have made Jerry leave the day he proposed that you share me with him.”

Now I was puzzled. “But you said it would be better if I agreed.”

“I know I did but at that moment I was confused. I desperately did want to keep having sex with him and there was the big temptation of that being possible without losing you but deep down I knew it was wrong and hoped that you would be strong for both of us.”

“I thought I had a straight choice of either agreeing to share or losing you completely. Jerry seemed so confident that you would go with him if he left – and you seemed to confirm that. I accepted what I thought was the only real option.”

“He was wrong,” Louise said firmly. “I would not have left you that easily and I certainly wouldn’t have abandoned the children just to be with him.”

“I’ve been a bloody fool but now he’s going to go,” I stated with new determination.

For a moment my wife’s face lit up with hope but then her shoulders slumped. “It’s no use. There’s no point simply telling him to leave because he’ll just laugh and totally ignore any ultimatum. Jerry’s big advantage is that I don’t think you are physically capable of ejecting him from the house so without a gun or something to balance the odds, there isn’t much we can do.” 

“I could get the police to do it. All I would have to do is tell them that he has outstayed his welcome but refuses to leave.”

To me this seemed the obvious answer but the idea very obviously made my wife extremely uncomfortable. “You can try that but please don’t bank on me to back you up,” she said unhappily. “The police are bound to ask me if I also want him out of the house and, with Jerry standing close by looking at me, I’m not sure I can say ‘Yes’. The bloody man has got a hold on me. I’m like a drug addict – I love the high but I hate the need. I’ve known from the start that Jerry isn’t a very nice person but I crave the pleasure he gives me. What you are asking is very like wanting a crack addict to turn in his only source of supply.” 

Her words cut the ground from under me and the disappointment must have shown on my face because, saying how sorry she was, Louise stepped forward to embrace me with tears running down her face. It would have been so easy to just give up and sink into the warm solace of her arms but I resisted the path of least resistance that I had followed for so long.

Instead my mind started working in overdrive. I asked myself if there was any difference between Jerry in the house with me asking the police to remove him and the alternate scenario of Jerry outside the house with him asking the law to help him get back in. My conclusion was that there was every difference in the world. I quickly formulated a plan but did not tell my wife because I did not want her pointing out some obvious flaw right at the start. For my own pride and peace of mind I had to try, whether I succeeded or failed.

It was fortunate that this was one of the days that Jerry did not return to the house. I suspected that he knew some woman whose husband regularly spent that night away from home and hopefully his absence would give me all the time that I needed. After eating the meal my wife had prepared, I requested Louise to ring Davina and ask her if she could look after our two children for a couple of days. This attracted a querying glance but I still didn’t reveal my plan, instead just saying, “I still intend to make a stand and I don’t want them around to witness any unpleasantness.” 

Davina was pleased to help out. The phone call developed into a long conversation with the two women chatting for well over an hour. Without deliberately eavesdropping, I kept hearing snatches of conversation and gathered that Louise kept having to field questions for which she didn’t yet know the answer. In contrast there were other times when my wife greatly lowered her voice when she thought I was near and I guessed she must be revealing details of her extra-marital relationship that she preferred me not to hear.

When our two children were safely in bed, my wife and I went into Jerry’s room and together emptied his wardrobe and drawers into the two hold-alls that he had brought when first deposited himself upon us. I find it hard to describe just how exhilarating it felt to be finally fighting back. There was quite a lot of stuff left over and I marvelled at how he had managed to accumulate so much gear in the time he had lived in the house. I explained this exercise to Louise by saying, “On the basis that he will be leaving, it will be a lot quicker and cleaner if he can just grab his things and go. If we allow him to pack himself, you know how he’ll procrastinate, all the time working on you until he finishes up staying.”

Next day I drove into town early and picked up new door locks together with window locks for all windows that were not already so provided. I also purchased a new supply of black bin bags. The kids had been kept off college and immediately on my return Louise ran them over to Davina’s house for a short bonus holiday with their friends.

During her absence I started the job of making the house burglar proof. It took me rather longer than expected but by lunchtime I had ensured that Jerry’s house keys were now useless and every window was protected against being opened from the outside. I should say every window but one because the window in Jerry’s old bedroom or lair was still untouched – and in addition I had left it temptingly partly open. All that remained to do was throw the remainder of his clothes into bin bags and carry all of his possessions out, to leave on the front step. Then it was just a matter of waiting.

It would have been better had the preparations taken longer because the inaction worked heavily on the nerves. I felt more and more tense as time slowly passed and from the look on my wife’s face, she was suffering far worse than I. That was worrying in itself because she had admitted herself that in this situation, she was an unknown quantity. I just knew that I had to do what I needed to do and at the same time try to shield Louise from his pernicious influence.

Eventually the front door bell rang but before I even had chance to stand it was followed by a heavy pounding on the door frame. That left no doubt about who was standing outside. I instructed Louise to wait in the back room with the curtains drawn then quickly ran upstairs and opened the window overlooking the front door. On seeing me he threw something and I automatically ducked back, only to see his obsolete keys arcing through the air towards me. I managed to catch them but was aware that this had cost me the initiative. Looking down I found Jerry grinning up at me.

“You might as well have those back because they seem to be sod all use to me,” he said pleasantly. “Okay, you’ve made your point and I’m impressed that you have finally found some backbone but hadn’t you better put a stop to this silliness now before any real harm is done? What say you help me carry this stuff back inside and we’ll say no more about it. Later on Louise can assist in putting it away – she does know where it all belongs.”

The instinct was to reply but I held my tongue. There was no need to let this degenerate into an argument because that could only be to his advantage. I had managed to deal myself almost all the high cards, so for the moment I was in charge and as long as I could prevent him playing his ace it should stay that way.

Jerry stood looking up expecting a response and when it dawned on him that none was forthcoming he nodded. “I do know what this is all about. You’re upset about what I said about borrowing your wife’s womb to father a sprog. It was obvious you were pissed at the time but I thought you were bound to realise that it was only a wind-up. I don’t know what your wife has said but that’s all it was. Now, I can see that it was completely stupid and admit I was completely in the wrong. My trouble is I’ve got a weird sense of humour and just can’t resist pulling your chain – but you’ve got to believe that it’s never meant maliciously.”

Again he paused for feedback but then pressed on, “I got it wrong and I’ve apologised. What more can I do?” 

“You could get in your car and drive away,” I suggested.

“You don’t really mean that,” Jerry stated with some confidence. “Why don’t you get Louise to put the kettle on and we can discuss the situation round the table in a civilised manner. I get the impression that it is not just my stupid gag that brought this on – there has to be something else bothering you. I’m very willing to renegotiate our arrangement. You always seemed quite happy with the setup and, if that wasn’t the case, then you should have spoken up sooner.” 

Jerry had very obviously expected a quick capitulation and it was very satisfying to watch his frustration mount the longer our confrontation continued. Periodically he needed to turn and walk a few paces away, to wipe the growing sign of irritation from his face and replace it with his usual affable façade. With no response from me, at this point, he switched to reminiscence mode, reminding me of our early days, the laughs we’d shared and the very many happy days spent with our families mixed. His punch-line was, “Our setup is not that unusual between real friends so in reality you’ve nothing to get upset about. I’ll ask you again nicely, how about we all three sit down and talk this thing through?

“There is nothing to talk about. It’s over so why don’t you just go?” I told him coldly.

“Because what we had was an almost perfect symbiotic arrangement and, as I understood it, all three of us got something out of it. I love having my cock up Louise, she enjoys having it there and if you didn’t get pleasure from the arrangement why did you stand tossing off in the doorway watching us fuck? This is quite a special situation and I’m just not willing to let it go without putting up some sort of fight.”

“There was only one real winner and that was you.”

“Come on, Louise didn’t do so badly either, at least I don’t remember her ever being dissatisfied. The truth is that all I heard from your wife were cries of passion, not words of complaint.” 

“Would it surprise you to know that the only reason that Louise seriously considered another pregnancy was the hope that it would give her a break from you for a few months?”

“That I don’t fucking believe,” he swore. “I’ll only believe it if you bring your wife to the window and I hear it from her own lips.” There was a long silence and then he laughed. “You can’t, can you, because she’s not there. I should have known because you would never have dared pull a stunt like this if she was.” 

I slipped up at this point. It suited me that Jerry should think Louise was not inside the premises but something in my face must have revealed the truth to him because he started grinning. “I’m wrong. She is there, isn’t she?” he crowed. “What have you done, tied her up?” You’d have to do something like that because you know full well that I only have to whistle for her to come running. And believe me; I do know how to whistle.” 

“I am well aware that you have a powerful influence over my wife, which is why she is willingly staying well out of the way until you have gone,” I told him coldly.

Jerry seemed unabashed. “Just suppose that you do succeed in getting rid of me. I don’t see quite what that achieves. I think I’ve proved that Louise needs a well-hung man with highly tuned sexual expertise and you don’t have either the equipment or the skill. Now that she’s had the taste, she will always want a man with a big cock who knows how to use it. Believe me, with me off the scene, she’ll be going with one man after another.”

“I don’t care who she goes with as long as it isn’t you,” I said bitterly.

“Now I know you’re really off your head,” he declared triumphantly. “I admit that up to now you haven’t put a foot wrong but that really is cock-eyed thinking. Any other man who gets her properly under his control will want her for himself and he’ll take her away from you completely. That’s an iron cast certainty. I always played fair and made sure that you still got a slice of the cake but I see now that that was probably a big mistake.” 

“You may be right about other men but I’m still willing to take that chance.”

Jerry’s shoulders visibly slumped. “You win,” he said. “Ignominious defeat, swept from the field, and that is a most unusual experience for me.” He gave a mock salute and added, “And although I hate to say it, victory possibly went to the better man.” 

He bent down, picked up his two hold-alls and started walking towards his car but, after a few paces, he dropped the bags and came back. “This is rather embarrassing…” he began but broke off and walked off, muttering, “No, I can’t demean myself,” as if talking to himself. However, on reaching the bags, he again turned and walked back, looking as if he was forcing himself to do so. 

With an uncertain look on his face he looked up to say, “Toby, old pal, this actually couldn’t have happened at a worse time for me. As you probably know, your firm has taken a lot of business from my mob and things are tight, I’ve already taken one pay cut and there’s talk of redundancy.” He paused looking for signs of sympathy and ploughed on. “Davina is being very vindictive. She doesn’t need the money but she’s got a court order forcing me to carry on paying the mortgage and then there’s the child support. I’m also being deducted for two kids to different women from ages ago.”

“What exactly are you trying to tell me?” I interrupted.

“My credit cards are all maxed out and that is partly your fault. I’ve spent a bomb over the last few months wining and dining and that was just to stay out of the way while you got your time with Louise. The point is, until I draw my salary at the end of the month I’m completely strapped and I just haven’t the cash to pay for a hotel.” 

“Are you begging for a handout?” I asked mockingly, not even trying to keep the disbelief from my voice.

Jerry’s jaw tightened but he controlled his anger and said softly, “Nothing that crude. I am asking that you let me stay on for a couple more days, a week at the most. Just long enough for me to find someone else to put me up. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve conceded defeat over Louise and this is nothing at all to do with that. I won’t unpack, I’ll sleep downstairs on the couch and I won’t even speak to your wife while I’m here. If she even comes near to me I promise that I’ll walk away. What do you say? We were good friends once before this sex business started – don’t you owe me something, if only for the memory of that?”

“I don’t owe you a damn thing, Jerry,” I said laughing. “You’ll just have to sleep in your car – but somewhere other than where it’s parked now if you don’t mind.”

Without another word Jerry turned on his heel and stalked off but instead of gathering his belongings he began pacing backwards and forward, throwing occasional glances up at the house. Suddenly he disappeared from view so I hurried to the kid’s bedroom at the rear to see if he was at the back of the house. I still couldn’t see him so on a hunch I quickly ran down to the back room where Louise was waiting with the curtains drawn.

Jerry was obviously standing just outside because he was tapping softly on the window and whispering ‘Louise’. My wife was in a chair, curled into a tight foetal position with her hands pressed hard against her ears. As I fully entered the room, in a slightly louder voice, he urged, “Louise, sweetheart, I know you are in there so please look out. Can’t you talk some sense into your husband? Toby’s thrown a big wobbly. I’m aware that’s my fault but everything is one hell of a mess and I know you don’t want our thing to end any more than I do. If I thought he was likely to calm down I’d just stay away for a few days but he seems to have a real bee in his bonnet. Have you said anything to upset him?”

My rival continued his cajolery for a full five minutes, during which time I held my wife tightly and she clung to me, trembling all over her body. It ended when he cursed, “Damn you, Toby,” and we heard his footsteps move away. 

By the time he had returned to the front of the house I was back in my vantage point at the upstairs window. Looking up, with seeming good nature, Jerry said, “You certainly seem to have thought of everything, old friend but you can’t really blame me for trying, last throw of the dice kind of thing.”

He retrieved his hold-alls which he packed in the boot of his car and then returned to get the bin liners full of clothes and throw them in the back of the vehicle. Then for the final time he walked back to stand gazing up. “So this is farewell but the big question is – how magnanimous in victory are you prepared to be?” 

“What do you mean,” I had to ask.

“I’m on the point of walking out of both your lives for good,” he replied. “I’ve got real feelings for Louise and I think she is passably fond of me, so as a last favour, will you bring her to the window so I can say ‘Goodbye’ face to face?” 

“Sorry,” I told him. “I can blow you a kiss from her if that will help.”

Jerry’s face reddened. “Fuck you!” he said before striding away to yank opened his car. But before entering, he turned to shout angrily, “Just winning one battle doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve won the war, wimp. If I turn up here during the day, do you really believe that Louise will send me away? I’m giving you fair warning, every single day from now on, all the time that you are at work you’ll have to wonder if I’m in your house fucking her brains out.” With that parting shot he drove away, engine roaring.

“He’s gone,” I said simply, letting my wife know the good news. The next moment she launched herself forward to throw her arms round me.

I’m not sure how long we clung to each other but when we eventually broke apart, Louise said seriously, “I’ve never actually liked Jerry and now I almost hate him for what he’s done to us but whenever he’s near I seem to have some kind of compunction to do what he says.” 

What I replied to that has slipped from memory but I do recall that shortly afterwards my wife admitted, “I’m so glad Jerry has gone but I’m not at all sure how I’m going to manage without him in my life.”

“Davina succeeded and she was exposed to his influence far longer than you,” I pointed out. That was a turning point because Louise cheered up immeasurably until at times her mood verged on euphoria and I felt obliged to say, “I don’t believe this is over yet. If I know Jerry he’ll be back.”

“Does that mean more days like today?”

“Possibly but I hope not. It will be more his style to try to creep up on my blind side. I’m actually banking on that being his tactic because I’ve deliberately given him the opportunity.” We spent a reasonably pleasant evening and even watched a bit of TV. My wife consumed some alcohol to help her relax but, although I had the same need, I abstained. She went to bed just after midnight. It was so tempting to join her and lose myself in the warmth of her body but I knew I had provoked Jerry enough for him to want to strike back immediately. It was imperative that I stay on guard. 

Left to my own devices I purloined the wooden rolling pin from the kitchen and fitted two of my old socks on one end, fixed in place with rubber bands. Next I recovered two lengths of nylon rope that I had bought at the same time I purchased the replacement locks and finally I added to this small collection something of Jerry’s. When putting his belongings outside, I had retained one item from his toolbox, a Stanley knife. This was a cutting tool with a short, retractable, scalpel sharp blade. I had stolen this while wearing surgical gloves and it now resided in a plastic bag with no possibility of my fingerprints being on it. All these instruments of my intended revenge I left conveniently to hand in Jerry’s old room.

My watch was uneventful until just before 3 A.M. when I saw car headlights approaching only to be killed some distance down the road. Shortly afterwards I saw a shape moving cautiously through the darkness of my garden and was slightly disappointed at the degree of his predictability. Jerry stood studying the house for some minutes and next I saw him struggling across the lawn under the weight of the wooden ladder taken from its storage place behind the garage.

I waited until hearing the soft thud of the ladder on the window sill before grasping the rolling pin and moving silently to stand, concealed by the curtains, on one side of the window. I was actually surprised that he was falling into such an obvious trap but realised that his great underestimation of my ability was a true indication of the extent of his contempt for me.

He paused for a moment to regain his breath and I could easily imagine his pleasure, anticipating appearing silently by our sleeping forms to order Louise from my bed and into his. I drew equal pleasure knowing he was to be disappointed.

Jerry ascended the ladder very slowly and took even longer cautiously easing up the partially open window until the gap was wide enough to allow him access. Even then he only poked his head through and listened for what seemed an eternity, during which time I felt constrained to keep my breathing shallow. At last he came though head first, supporting himself with his hands on the floor as his legs followed. This was the moment that I chose to step forward and bring my weapon down hard on his unprotected head, just as he was in the process of rising.

I did not want to actually kill him or even cause severe injury but on the other hand I definitely didn’t want him to remain conscious and able to grapple with me. In any event, I possibly erred on the side of my own self-interest because he was to remain insensible for almost an hour.

The early part of this time I put to good use tying him up. I put a loop of nylon rope round his foot and bound the rest round his legs until he was cocooned up to the knee and then with somewhat more difficulty did the same to his upper half until his arms were effectively pinioned to his sides. I resorted to this rather laborious process so that, if it ever became significant, his body would show no sign of having been restrained. My final touch was to deposit the knife on the floor a short distance from him.

His recovery was signalled by moaning followed by groans of, “Oh, my fucking head” but I think he regained his wits some minutes before he let on because, when he spoke, it was with some spirit. “Don’t you think this is a bit over the top, Toby? For a start, I don’t think you needed to hit me quite that hard.” 

“I knew you’d come back and this is the only way I can stop you.”

“It stops nothing,” he said confidently. “Eventually you will have to let me go, even if you want to inflict some indignities on me before then. I will be back. I like fucking your wife, she loves my cock and I’m going to keep on sticking it up her whether you want me to or not. You can’t protect her from me every minute of every day.”

“If I surgically remove your testicles, then that famous penis won’t be a whole lot of good to her,” I told him, nodding towards the Stanley knife on the floor.”

Jerry’s eyes widened in panic and the blood visibly drained from his face but, when I made no immediate move towards the implement, he recovered his composure. “You’re bluffing.”

“Why should I bluff?” I asked. “It is the most effective way to stop your sexual prowess being a problem.”

“You’re bound to be bluffing because you know as well as I do that you’d lose more than you stand to gain. If you castrate me, even if I don’t die, you are certain to go to prison for a very long time with little prospect that Louise will still be waiting when you get out.” 

He was correct in his rationalisation and, when I made no immediate response, Jerry followed up his advantage. “Come on, untie me. You’ve given me a right crack on the head and a nasty fright but it is possibly no more than I deserve. How about we call it honours even and say no more about it?”

I think he thought I was actually considering whether to cut his bonds because he rushed on eagerly. “We agree that Louise is always going to need a more sexual man than you occasionally so why not stick with the devil you know? I know I’ve behaved rather badly over the past few months but I’ve gained a lot of respect for you now. I’d be happy to see Louise only a couple of times a week, one even, and it doesn’t have to be here because she could come to me when I’ve got a flat. It was true what I said about being tight for cash but Davina is only being punitive to pay me back for living here. She’s already told me that if I moved out of your house she would make no financial demands on me at all.” 

“My alternative to mutilating your genitals was to kill you,” I told Jerry, completely ignoring everything he had said. “The easiest way I could think of is to put a plastic bag over your head and watch you suffocate.” To emphasise my words I produced an appropriate bag to show him but this failed to instil the fear I had hoped for.

“It would kill me sure enough but you would be left with the problem of either explaining how I came to die like that or getting rid of my body.”

“Then that only leaves hitting you on the head again but far harder. There would be no body problem because I would just have to report that I had hit a burglar I’d caught climbing in through a window.”

“Yes, you might easily get away that,” Jerry admitted, “But I still don’t think you’ll do it. You have really surprised me but I still don’t believe that you are a killer. I have been a total shit but I don’t think I deserve to lose my life because of that. Very importantly, I don’t believe you do either.”

“There is a third option.”

“I can’t think what,” Jerry scoffed, rapidly regaining confidence.

It was time to end the charade. Taking out my mobile phone I dialled the emergency number to say, “Police, please. I’ve just caught a burglar breaking into my house. He is tied up but I need somebody to come quickly.” That done, ignoring my prisoner’s protestations, I went to wake Louise and tell her to prepare for visitors. The squad car arrived in a little under five minutes.

Taking the two officers up to where Jerry lay, I explained briefly, “I took this man into my home when his marriage broke up but he rewarded me by having an affair with my wife. I actually knew about it but the situation got so intolerable that earlier today I put him out of the house. He threatened to kill me if I didn’t let him back and a few minutes ago I caught him climbing in through this upstairs window carrying that knife.” 

I knew that I had him. No matter what Jerry might claim or whatever divided loyalties might prompt Louise to say, my bit of window dressing added to real evidence of Jerry’s nefarious intent meant that he was dead in the water.

In releasing Jerry from his bonds and cuffing him instead, the two lawmen displayed the gentleness reserved for violent criminals. My one time friend was loud in voicing denial but his words were completely ignored. I needed a final say and the opportunity came when my wife entered the room, automatically distracting the attention of the constables. Stepping close to Jerry I said, “About that war you were talking about, I’m pretty sure that this is check-mate, old mate.” 

*

Jerry has already spent two months in custody on remand. The word is that he intends to plead guilty to aggravated burglary rather than contest the more serious charge of attempted murder. I’ve been told he is likely to serve a minimum of two years so by the time he is released we should be nicely relocated a long way away.

As to Louise’s future fidelity, only time will tell.

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