Andrew Maunder

A Lesson Learnt

by Andrew Maunder

Summary:...

Paul Bridgeman was an estate agent. Not a high flying corporate whiz but the owner manager of a small residential agency with one fairly insignificant branch in a city suberb. He dealt with the busy end of the housing market selling old victorian terraces ten-a-penny, everything on the local housing estates and occasionally something a little larger when the opportunity arose.

At Paul's end of the market individual sale commissions were relatively small but the sheer number of properties sold ensured a healthy income, enough for the detached cottage, Mercedes cars and extravagant wardrobe Paul enjoyed. His philosophy was clear; "turnover is vanity, profit is reality and cash flow is God" - and working his end of the market there was always the opportunity to pocket lumps of cash!

Paul loved the kudos of owning his own business, having an attractive wife, the cottage and his Mercedes car. He also liked to let everyone know how wildly successful he was. He certainly earned a sizeable wage by average standards but his wealth was not the fantasy millions of  a city trader or premiership footballer, just enough to attract the kind of women who recognised success and wanted to taste it for themselves. Usually married but bored, they posed no threat to Paul's happy existence, standing to lose as he did should indescretion lead to exposure. Paul used and moved on - until Diana happened!

She was married like the rest, but to a husband lacking ambition and the sense to realise he wasn't wearing out his own bed springs. Diana was about as faithful as a bitch on heat and Paul had moved in with confidence, discovering too late the trap he'd fallen into. He called her the 'lobster pot' - easy to slip in to, impossible to get out!

Diana had sniffed gold and the opportunity to do better than her mechanic husband - if only for the meantime. She was good, using her ample sexuality to reel Paul in until that fateful day she'd told him she was pregnant!...

 

Here is the first chapter only...

Introduction

June 2006

The rather pointy chin and vaguely hooked nose denied for her the use of the word beautiful at least in the classic sense, but Diana Weston was an extremely desirable woman nonetheless. At twenty four years of age, she was a yummy mummy in every sense of the phrase; a married housewife with two young children – and bored. She looked great in clothes and pretty good without them despite a slightly over-fleshy stomach, a consequence of childbirth few women are fortunate enough to avoid without serious cash and access to a good surgeon.

Marriage was little more than a convenience to her; an income to live from and a veil of respectability to hide behind that should have worked both ways. Paul had been confident of a no-ties arrangement when applying the easy charm and smooth one-liners that had gotten her into bed. A few sweaty afternoons, an occasional dinner and hotel room, then back to work and a memory to savour; that had been his plan ten months ago when life was uncomplicated and assured. He couldn’t have known she was capable of such emotional destruction. His appraisal of her had spectacularly missed the mark; she was no easy lay! 

Diana was passionate yet demanding and spiteful at the same time; the bonds of her marriage failing to provide the protection Paul sought to retain his own, for despite his womanising he loved his wife Rebecca very much. Diana was reckless in her marital relationship and scornful of his which shot Paul’s sexual philosophy completely to hell. From previous dalliances, he had come to the conclusion that housewives were safe prey; they like to play – but ultimately prefer the security of married life, so discretion had always been key and risk of exposure to either party non-existent, each mistress satisfied with a little excitement amidst the reality of cooking, cleaning and dwindling marital sex. Until Diana, Paul had always felt comfortably secure in his affairs.

Despite her protestations to the contrary, there was no actual love between them. Paul was certain of his own feelings and fairly sure he was merely a porn in some bizarre personal challenge she had set for her own amusement or as compensation for an inadequate husband. In short, hers was a high stakes game of ‘winner takes all’ and the sheer delight in capturing his heart before ripping it from his body and mounting it in her trophy cabinet would be her prize. He’d be cast aside, his purpose served and marriage destroyed and Diana would unashamedly move on to her next conquest without a backward glance. Paul had no intention of letting that happen.

He had come across similarly callous women but none as desperate to achieve their goal as Diana and his refusal to indulge her with expressions of love and promises of commitment served only to aggravate and drive the woman to ever greater lengths to win him over.. or wear him down. She used her sexuality as a tool but her behaviour had become increasingly unpredictable with the realisation that seduction alone wasn’t having the desired effect and the now familiar switch from seduction to tantrum would occur in the blink of an eye. Paul had coped with that. It was only after the threats began that Paul became worried, uncertain and incapable of telling the bitch woman to go to hell. Diana’s impulsive and volatile character caught Paul out, made him hesitant, beat him down and kept him tethered. She demanded he leave Rebecca or she would force his hand - and Diana was irrational enough to jeopardise her own marriage to destroy his. 

Paul was not a stupid man and knew common sense alone would not prevail. A brief, enjoyable fling had turned nasty and fast as he back pedalled; she kept coming at him, refusing to accept he was a challenge that couldn’t be met. She wanted to own him so she could discard him and her failure to do so had removed all rational judgement. The woman was a time bomb waiting to go off!

He dared not avoid her or ignore the calls and texts that arrived more frequently than the number 9. She would simply turn up at his work red faced and fuming and proceed to walk past his staff in the sales room straight into his office where, depending on her mood, she’d remain until Paul either talked her down or took her out for lunch or a shopping expedition. On occasion, when neither tack worked, his staff would carry on at their desks in silence, exchanging glances as Diana’s raised voice echoed through the building.

Paul had become vulnerable, almost submissive to the woman’s demands. Her threats were very real and until he either found the guts, or the manner in which to eradicate Diana from his life without serious collateral damage, it paid to pacify and oblige the bitch. He was no longer enjoying the best of both worlds but struggling to survive in one. Paul Bridgeman had learnt a great deal about himself in recent months – and didn’t like what he’d discovered. 

Chapter 1

She sat facing him, legs dangling over the edge of the bed, toes scraping the carpet, wearing nothing more than a dark frown as she stared unblinkingly at an imaginary spot; her body - like his, was flushed and glistening with perspiration. She paid no attention to him as he dressed. Paul, as usual after such activity, was experiencing the familiar post coital guilt; it lurked inside him, a black, hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach. He also had an overwhelming urge to escape, mindful that at this most delicate stage of proceedings he was at his most vulnerable.

She had called him around and he had come, this time the pull of his nether region stronger than the tug on his heart.

Despite mounting anxiety to get away, Paul resisted the urge to throw his clothes on in haste; he willed his fingers to fasten the shirt buttons slowly and deliberately in the guise of someone not concerned in being forty minutes late for a meeting. She liked to make him late but if she knew he’d planned to take Rebecca shopping she would be apoplectic. It was tricky enough taking his leave from Diana at the best of times and he sensed a storm brewing. Declaring he ‘really had to go’ to Diana was akin to waving a red rag to a bull and he was kicking himself.

Sudden mood changes were a Diana speciality, one moment loving and sexually willing – the next exploding in a frenzy of rage, crazed enough to carry out the threat she always held over him – that brought him back time after time, which kept him unbalanced and uncertain enough to keep going back; the threat he had no answer to, other than compliance until, and he hoped it would happen soon, she became bored with him and let him alone.

The awkward silence made dressing himself all the more difficult. He felt conscious of every sound and movement. The cuff-link on his left sleeve refused to push through the eyelet and at any other time he would have cursed and forced it through the opening but here that would be an admission of impatience. Barely able to conceal his rising panic as the seconds ticked by, he tried again, slower and more deliberately than ever, until it was done.

He was after all, already late, his plans in ruins; an afternoon away from the office consumed in lust, guilt and probably, if Diana had her way, a blazing row. In truth, his afternoon had been destroyed the moment she’d called him at work an hour ago. He had been about to leave to meet Rebecca when his secretary put the call through and Paul knew better than to reject the call.

She demanding he drop everything and drive around. She said she was ‘in bed, hot and waiting’. He could have said no, but she wouldn’t have taken rejection well and besides, despite everything, mention of the words ‘bed’, ‘hot’ and ‘waiting’ had brought on a stiffness - so the cuff-link was neither here nor there, really. He had his secretary call Rebecca to explain he had been held up.

And now a few leisurely minutes dressing, giving the impression he had all the time in the world to be with his lover could be the difference between salvaging the rest of the afternoon or spending another hour fighting and then pacifying. Diana usually started on him if she knew he had some place to be – or someone to see, then it amused her to make him sweat and give him hell. It was nearly two hours before she would have to pick up her children from nursery and she would be sure to hold him back until the very last moment. Retrieving his tie from the floor, he made one small concession to speed in lieu of the cuff-link and tucked it into his trouser pocket. He would say he was too hot to wear a tie if she noticed.

Finally dressed, he glanced around the room. It’s one thing to sleep with another man’s wife in the other mans' bed, quite another to leave incriminating evidence lying around. Satisfied, he turned his attention to Diana, on whose face a sulk was spreading like a dark storm cloud over her sharp features. The atmosphere was tense; it always was at this point in proceedings. 

Paul took a half step away from the bed, a subtle movement placing him just wide of Diana’s reach. She was still staring down at the carpet and Paul took the opportunity to look at her body, from the roundness of her breasts to the irresistibly smooth, delicious curve of femininity from waist to hip that a part of him wanted to stay for and enjoy again. He shivered; this was the spell she had on him; Diana was a temptation soured by ten painful months; he turned to go.

He almost reached the bedroom door before the familiar and much abused television remote skimmed past his head and crashed into the door frame, bursting its casing for the umpteenth time and scattering its batteries across the floor. Paul froze, slightly surprised, certain he’d kicked the damn thing under the bed earlier lest it be used for just this purpose. He sighed in resignation.

“You Bastard! You just can’t wait to get away can you?” Her eyes were ablaze with the familiar fury Paul had come to expect but even now failed to comprehend. Her nakedness was no longer welcoming but cold and hostile and Paul knew what was coming. 
He turned, “Di, I have to go”. Paul was a natural negotiator, “I said a few minutes ago, I have an appointment but I’ll call you later. Don’t get upset Di, we’re going out tomorrow aren’t we?”
“That’s always your answer isn’t it…I’ll call you later”. It’s not enough! Am I not important to you at all? Don’t you care how I feel?” Tears were free-flowing now, her posture indignant,  hands covering her privates as though Paul were now seeing more than he was entitled to. One slender arm crossed her breasts, the other covered the trimmed triangle between her legs. Paul was sure the tears were as false as he was a Dutchman. He had been through this same scenario many times but it drained him, it was emotionally devastating. 
“I really have had enough Paul. I want you to live with me, I don’t want you going back to her, I want you to tell your wife you’re leaving her, will you do that? For me?” 
Paul had run out of plausible excuses a long, long time ago. “I do love you Di, really, it’s jus..”
Diana screamed…“LOVE ME! You use me for sex and then go and play happy families with her! How the hell do you think that makes me feel…you BASTARD! I’ve a good mind to pick up the telephone and call her now!”

And there it was, the threat of exposure. Hers was blackmail at its deepest, basest level and he hated her for it.

For ten minutes more she screamed at him, called him a bastard and worse. When Diana became hysterical Paul became afraid. He apologised where required but otherwise remained tight lipped, letting her blow until she was done. Still naked but no longer seductive, her body was hard as iron, every pore a prickle, every follicle a poison needle.

She stopped ranting and drew a breath and in a steadier, more controlled voice said, ‘I’m going to call your precious Rebecca, and then I’m going to call Guy’. The words stung as sharply as pine needles and Paul felt himself being reeled in again, mentally castrated and made ready to succumb to whatever the bitch woman demanded. 
“Either you tell me you will leave her or I pick up the ‘phone”. He wondered why her threat terrified him; why he didn’t just walk away from her and never go back; deny everything if the worst happened but he couldn’t. For a start, she knew too much about him, actual bodily physical things that simply don’t come up in regular business conversations. Then there was the unpalatable truth, she excited him; she was an addiction; he desired her warm caress, the soft curve of breast and buttock, even (especially), when lying next to his own wife in his own warm bed. With Diana, sex was a desperate race to touch, to taste and smell every sinew of her lithe neat body until the moment of climax brought with it the stark fact of habitual infidelity and the unbearable sense of self disgust and inherent weakness that drove him, again and again into the arms of a woman he didn’t love and shouldn’t need.

A stronger man would have called Diana’s bluff but Paul recognised the sad indictment on his own character that prevented him from doing so but standing there in her bedroom, being screamed at and brow beaten, he realised at last that actually losing everything wouldn’t be any worse than the prospect of losing everything.

Diana got up from the bed to add height to the weight of her attack and Paul felt the heat of her body as she closed in, her spittle flying sharp as razor blades at his face as she tore into him verbally and physically now, with small but hard clenched fists. 

Something inside Paul snapped! “Get the fuck off me you bitch!” He grasped her arms and pushed her away. Diana struggled and sent a knee into his crotch. It hurt! Letting go, Paul took a half step back, raised his right hand and slapped Diana's cheek very hard and very fast with his palm. Her lower lip burst, spraying a shower of blood across her chin and shoulder. Diana recoiled in shock. For a long moment she just looked at him, real tears streaming down her face.
And then she told him, her face set hard and obstinate , “I’m pregnant!”
“You’re…? He stammered, adrenalin forcing his voice high. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew there were questions to ask, like 'is it mine'?
“I’m pregnant”, she repeated softly as she dabbed her lip on the back of her hand. It was all too much for Paul, he was stunned, utter disbelief crossed his features, his mouth dropped open. Visions of nappies, of Rebecca’s parents looking disapprovingly at him; eighteen years of child support! At no point did any thought flash through his mind that included Diana. She was not his future, nor a relationship that would last, once their affair was undoubtedly revealed in all its sordid detail.

For several moments they stood facing one another, she exploring his face for reaction and he too shocked to provide any. He then turned without a word and yanked the bedroom door open before she could stop him. She screamed at him to stop as he hurled himself down the stairs three at a time but her nakedness prevented her from following and his emotions prevented him from returning. He was out of the house, in his car and gone before she managed to pull enough clothes on to cover her modesty. With clenched fists and mounting fury she watched at the window as his car peeled away from the curb and disappeared away up the road.