This post might never have been written if I’d learned the lesson from an incident which occurred a couple of months after the start of my adulterous lifestyle. But it it’s surprisingly easy to kid yourself, that since you’ve escaped the hangman’s noose once, you can carry on in safety, because you are protected by some sort of natural ‘double jeopardy’ rule.
The first text read: “I know what you’ve done.” (my heart leapt into my mouth as I scanned the words; I felt as though I was choking.)
I texted back: “Do you? Then tell me.” (one of the first things lawyers have to learn is how to bluff)
“You’ve been a very naughty girl, but I don’t blame you. Your secret is safe with me.” Came the immediate reply.
“What secret. I have no secrets.”
“Really! We need to meet and talk about this thing.”
“If you like, but you are still not being clear about what you think I am guilty of.”
“I’ll be at the studio till late, come over after work and we’ll exchange notes.”
I laughed softly. He loved practical jokes and oblique texts, but that was the first time he’d ever sent one that was impossible to decipher. What had I done? I hadn’t forgotten his birthday. But it wasn’t what I hadn’t done – it was what I had done????
Half way through that afternoons meeting a worm of worry began to eat away at my concentration. “I know what you’ve done…..”
But how could he know? Unless. No; he wouldn’t have.
For the next four hours I fretted hoping that what I suspected wasn’t true, knowing in the pit of my belly that it was.
He knew….. he’d guessed somehow….. he’d seen us together.
But how? I…. we had been so careful.
It was a few minutes after six when I turned into the small cul-de-sac of offices and studios. Christian’s was half way along on the upper floor.
I pressed the little intercom button and waited, my heart still in my mouth, my belly hollow as a drum. All afternoon I’d felt slightly sick as if a small army of umpa-lumopas were marching back and forth over my stomach lining.
“Come on up,” came Christian’s slightly distorted voice. The buzzer sounded and the door catch snapped back.
He was wearing a white smock, artfully splashed with a rainbow of colours. A dozen large canvases on easels stood around the long room; glass pots containing long brushes; jars of pencils; a long table covered in a plastic sheet with tubes and tins of paint in a kaleidoscope of colours. On one wall a life-sized painting of a beautiful, bald, black man; body shiny with oil, arms above his head, ridged stomach muscles; long, heavily veined, half erect penis with a huge, purple, circumcised head.
“Magnificent, isn’t he?” Christian said, seeing me looking at it. “It took me a month and a half to get that right. He was an absolute god, and his cock tasted like warm butter-scotch one day, and caramel on another. You absolutely wouldn’t believe it’s the same man if you saw him now. Tea, coffee or something stronger?”
“No thanks,” I said dragging my eyes away.
“Don’t look so worried, sweetie, I’m not the tax inspector. Nor am I going to chastise you for doing what I would have done in your place.”
“And that is?”
“We are still in denial are we? Okay, here goes – I know you’ve been doing the dirty deed with Marco.”
There was along pause while we looked at each other. Denying it seemed a waste of time. “How do you know? Did he tell you?”
He shook his head slowly. “No. The evidence was rather more pornographic.”
“Pictures darling; half a dozen beautifully, pornographic pictures.”
“What pictures? Where? There are no pictures.”
“In that case, you have an exact double, and she enjoys being tied up and gagged and-”
“Where did you see these… pictures?”
“At his house; in his bedroom.”
“What the hell were you doing in his…… bedroom?”
Suddenly I thought I understood. That was why Marco had been so kind to Christian. The contract had been a present to someone who was far more than a friend. A Lover.
“You and he are….. lovers?” I gasped.
Christian started laughing. “No-o-oh. Although I wouldn’t have minded one little bit. He certainly gets my juices flowing. But he’s a solid hetero.”
“Then why were you in his bedroom looking at pictures that I know can’t exist.”
“He doesn’t know that I’ve seen them, or that I know anything about the pair of you.”
“You aren’t making any sense, Christian.”
“I’m a nosy cow, and it was just bad luck that I arrived at his place early the other day for a meeting. His man let me in, then went off to do something or other. So I took to wondering about, opening drawers and cupboards, especially in his bedroom, where most people keep their best secrets. And what should I find, but a cupboard full of the most interesting selection of the toys. But you already know that, don’t you?”
My mind jumped to the obvious conclusion. But I had to be sure.
“And…?” I prompted.
“That’s also were I came across half a dozen very nice, extremely revealing photographs. You are very photogenic, by the way.”
I could hardly believe it; he’d promised to delete the images. I’d seen him do it. Or so I thought.
I’d been a fool not to have made sure.
Christian picked up a bottle of whisky, tipped a good measure into a not so clean tumbler, and held it out to me. “You look as though you need this,” he said.
I took the glass and without thinking poured half the liquid down my throat, coughing as the alcohol burned the back of my mouth
“I considered steeling the pictures,” he continued, pouring some into another glass and sipping thoughtfully, “but what would’ve been the point? He would just print more, and of course he’d easily guess who took them if he went looking for them later. I can’t afford to piss him off; he is my benefactor. He could cut me off as easily as he got me the contract that promises to make me an absolute bloody fortune. Added to that, I dread to think what he’s capable of if I cross him. Sicilians do have a reputation for retribution. And I’ve no desire to wake up next to the bloody head of a horse, or find myself drilled full of holes and fed into a meat grinder.”
I slumped into a large, leather sofa under the window and gazed unseeing at the floor. Christian came and sat down beside me, placing his paint splashed hand on my knee. “Come one, it’s not as bad as it’s painted.
I didn’t see the joke in the bland statement. As far as I was concerned, it couldn’t have been worse. I should have said no to him taking those few shots of me tied up and gagged.
“Who have you told about this?” I asked finally.
“Nobody – I swear on my mother’s life.”
“She isn’t dead,” I reminded him.
“I am to her, and so I suppose she is to me too.”
“I’m going to have to stop it.”
“But why? It’s only a few pictures. People do it all the time. You’d never believe the kind of photos I’ve seen. There are even a few dozen really good ones of me floating around.”
“Because he lied to me!” I said, suddenly angry. “Don’t you see, if you found the photos, then someone else can! I don’t know how many other women he takes to bed? It could be a different one every night of the week.”
Christian sniggered. “I wasn’t going to tell you, but yours weren’t the only ones. I saw a few dozen others, some a whole-heap more juicy and revealing. He’s been a very busy boy.”
“Suppose one of them went rummaging around and came across them,” I said, feeling sicker every second. “She might decide to take them in a fit of jealousy, and you know how easy it is to put pictures up online.”
“I have to get my hands on them – and his camera as well.”
“How are you going to do that? Break in and steal them?”
“I don’t know! I don’t know! I’ve been a bloody fool. How could I let things go so far? It’s all been one huge, bloody mistake. I’ve probably wrecked my marriage; and for what? Suppose someone did steal them, and posted them, my career would be ruined too.”
“I could burn his house down for you. Or, I know a few people who would do it for a few hundred quid.”
I could see in his eyes that he was deadly serious. And for a few seconds the idea did have the virtue of a complete and final solution. But I knew that most fires start in kitchens; or up chimneys – it was summer so no fires; or are electrical, and the chance of a sudden short circuit out of the blue was astronomical.
Where was I going to get the tools needed to start a blaze that was going to destroy the part of the house containing the photographic evidence?
How was I going to get a five gallon tin of petrol through the door, splash it around the bedroom and set light to it, without anybody noticing. Added to that, Marco’s house was festooned with a host of electronic fire alarms and a state of the art sprinkler systems.“Thanks,” I sighed. “But if there’s going to be any arson committed, I’m going to have to do it myself.”
*To be continued when there are not so many people around. I am getting some interest from the woman to my right…..