Eve shifted uncomfortably in her seat next to me as we sat at her kitchen table and my hand reached the top of her thighs. She was teaching me the ins and outs of Microsoft Office, because I had a job interview coming up that required the sort of computer ability secretaries possess. I had been using Word for years, purely as a word processor, and I could do all I needed for my usual work, but with times being as tough and jobs as scarce as they were, I had applied for something outside my sphere of competence.
Eve had a small ad in the local paper, offering classes in that sort of thing, and I had been seeing her twice a week for a couple of months. But money being so tight, I had had to renegotiate with her and the new deal was that she taught me the infernal software and I reciprocated with some creative writing and editing, to enable her to branch out into in-house magazines and perhaps write stories for professional publications. She could handle the technical side of making newsletters, what people call “design” but is actually just putting several articles and pictures on the same page and making them fit. What she struggled with was dealing with other people’s words, cutting some if the piece was too long and livening them up if they were dull. I could do that because I had worked as a sub-editor on a newspaper, and I had a facility with words. She also had very little experience in writing fiction and didn’t even know how to go about it.
Writing is something many people think they can do, because after all, they learned it at school, so how hard could I be? If they only had the time to devote to it, they could do it just like a professional.
As I had branched out into copywriting, which is coming up with words in the advertising and PR world, I had also come up against clients who just wanted someone to put some words together which they could then trample all over. Some of them seemed to see it as akin to having a load of bricks and concrete delivered; they could build the house, but they needed to have the materials supplied first.
The most irritating of these people were those who remembered a few rules from school and if I didn’t abide by them, they would insist I was wrong, because Mrs Johnson the English teacher was insistent about it. Punctuation, for instance. They had had certain rules drummed into them and they thought there was only one way of doing it. They couldn’t see the bigger picture, that punctuation was invented to guide the reader, to avoid confusion, and to make sure that what the writer meant to say was clear. So they might have a thing about commas, for instance, religiously putting them in to separate words when they weren’t really necessary. They would put a couple more in that last sentence, for instance, making it “putting them in, to separate words, when they weren’t really necessary”. And they would put that full stop inside the inverted commas. And they wouldn’t start a sentence with “and”. It reminds me of lines from one of my favourite novels, Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse. “Never use a preposition to end a sentence with,” and “ I must ask you to not split infinitives.”
Okay, now we can get back to Eve and our mutual classes. The funny thing was that at first, when it was just her teaching me, she was strictly professional, with no flirting at all. But when I started teaching her, in that second half of the class she became a bit giggly and our relationship loosened up.
That was why at this point she had “shifted uncomfortably”, because I had developed a habit of putting my hand on her knee, which was securely wrapped in thick new jeans, and over the sessions, I had moved it higher up her thigh. On this occasion, I had reached her crotch, and the little finger of my left hand had rested against that bulky seam. As Eve hadn’t objected to this, I had lifted my hand, turned it, and repositioned it with my middle finger taking the lead, so I could do some manipulating. Before I could get started, though, she had sighed and gently lifted my hand out of the special area.
We had never spoken about our touching, nor even looked at each other when it was happening. It just had a life of its own and she clearly enjoyed it as much as I did. But there was a line that I had crossed, with the potential stimulation of her clitoris rather than simply a palm and fingers on a thigh.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly.
“It’s okay,” she whispered.
“I thought you… liked it,” I continued.
“Vic,” she said, “I’m married. I can’t just… even if…”
It was time to get things straight. I had been slowly falling for Eve. She was quiet, reserved, utterly respectable, with a serenity and dignity that I found oddly attractive. She was originally from the northeast of England, the Newcastle area, and had a soft, subtle geordie accent. Like many from that part of the world, she would sometimes address people as “man”, not in a hippy way but with a very short vowel sound. They use it for emphasis. She would say things like, “I’m not convinced about it, man,” or “I’m serious, man.”
Eve was anything but a sexpot. She was medium height, medium build, with shapely, smallish breasts and freckled skin that went with her ginger hair. That hair was shoulder-length, carefully shaped with lots of undulations and twists. It was stylish but sensible, which just about summed her up. She was just a very nice woman who, I presumed, was happy with her steady life and had no intention of endangering it. And yet there was something between us. It wasn’t all me. When we parted after an hour of work – and we did take it seriously – she would give herself a little shake, push her hair back and say things like, “Well, that was good progress; I enjoyed that.”
A warm smile would spread across her wide, straight mouth as if it were being softened by a moisturizer and her eyes would twinkle as she said goodbye. I was entranced by her natural, unpretentious niceness. That’s another thing the would-be editors wouldn’t like. I’ve used the word nice twice in one paragraph, and the reason for that is that it’s the word that sums it up. You can dress the idea up with multiple syllables and a string of other adjectives, but Eve was just nice; I felt cocooned when I was with her. She was gentle and intelligent and quite amusing in her mellow way. She never had a bad word to say about anyone and there wasn’t a cynical bone in her body.
Whether you’re falling in love with someone or you just like them enough to want to be intimate with them (and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference at first), there is no point if it’s one-sided. If they don’t walk as far down that path as you do, there is trouble ahead.
Eve had been married for 25 years and had grandchildren. I didn’t want to destroy what she had built, but I wanted part of her for myself. Importantly, I sensed that she wanted to take a small part of herself and use it in a different way, like a couple having a separate bank account each, in addition to the joint one that did all the important business. I had to find a way of broaching the subject without blowing the whole thing. That would have to mean talking about it, but starting somewhere innocent and encouraging the conversation to become more personal and to reveal sensitive matters.
Our classes were always in the early afternoon, when her husband was at work, and there had never been an instance when he had come home unexpectedly. Not even a phone call, because they kept in touch at lunchtime. I decided to initiate a conversation the next time we met.
And so it was that we were stirring our cups of tea and choosing biscuits from the big family tin that was always there, when I dipped a toe in the water.
“I would like you to write a short story,” I said. “Not even a story, actually. I’ll give you the general plot and the story so far and I want you to give me 1,000 words.”
“Okay,” she said, interested.
“Something outside your experience,” I continued. “You’ll have to use your imagination or draw on other people’s experiences.”
“Uh huh,” she said, nodding.
“It’s about a married couple,” I went on. “An apparently perfect marriage, but the wife finds out her husband is having a relationship with another woman. I want you to write the bit where the wife finds out and what she decides to do about it.”
Eve’s cheeks reddened a little. “Wow,” she said. “I don’t like to put myself in uncomfortable situations.”
“Got to be done if you’re writing fiction,” I said. “Think about things that have happened in our life that you didn’t want. But they happened and you survived. Think of it as providing a service for people who enjoy reading that sort of thing. You can’t just write nicey-nicey stuff. They want adversity to be overcome, good to triumph over evil, that sort of thing. You’re a mature woman. You’ve been through things, you’ve seen things in other people’s lives.” She looked doubtful. “Will you have a go?” I asked.
The rest of the class went as normal, but at the end, as I was about to leave, she stood in front of me with her hands clasped at her chest.
“This project,” she said. “A bit scary.”
I patted her on the shoulder and smiled my most reassuring smile. “You’re a professional,” I said. “Or you want to be. It won’t kill you.” A sudden rush of blood led me to give her a peck on the forehead and she stepped back, then smiled herself.
“Okay,” she said. “I’ll have a go over the weekend.”
“Just get something down,” I said – my usual mantra. “Bash out some words. Don’t agonise over it. You can make it beautiful later.”
On Sunday night she sent me a Whatsapp. “OMG,” it said. Just that. I sent her a solitary x: a kiss, if you like, but as innocent as that pat on the shoulder.
Tuesday came and everything seemed normal as we sat at the table with the refreshments. We did the Microsoft Office stuff and then moved on to my class, the creative writing.
“How did you know?” Eve said sombrely.
“About Robert,” she said. That’s her husband.
“What about him?”
“He’s been up to something for years,” she said. “I knew it really. So when I told him about the project you’d given me, I just asked him and it all came out. The bugger’s having it off with one of the waitresses at the pub. He’s a friend of the owner of that gastropub thing and he kind of advises him on wines and spirits. He’s mentioned this Linda before but when we see her around town he never introduces us. I should have known, man.”
This could not have worked better for me, the writing project spilling over into real life.
“Oh hell,” I said. “I’m so sorry. Shall we call it a day for now, leave it till Friday?”
“No. Bugger it,” she said, throwing her head back and turning it both ways, as if to relieve tense muscles. “I’ve known, Vic. Deep down I’ve known for a while now. Something’s been missing. I’m getting on with it.”
“What’s the woman in the story doing?” I asked, still half expecting her to abandon the class.
“She,” Eve said, staring at the table, “is going to sit on the face of the first attractive man she comes across.”
“Have you written it?” I asked hesitantly.
“Naw, man, I’ve been too busy with the real world. But I think she’s going to do what I’m going to do. Or I’m going to do what she’s going to do, whatever.” She looked at me intently. “Aren’t you going to put your hand on my leg? I like that part of your classes.”
It was only at that point that I realised she was wearing, unusually for her, a skirt. A shortish denim skirt that showed her knees and a few inches of thigh. I dutifully placed my hand there, for the first time touching actual flesh. I kept it low, down by the knee, but I was using my right hand, the more skillful, more capable one. Normally it was my left, because that was closer to Eve, and it would sit there innocently, more or less. My right was the one with the adventure and the dexterity to negotiate undulations and tight spaces, able to dispense with underwear and burrow into soft, warm female areas almost before the woman noticed.
Today it was on its best behaviour, until Eve moved closer and whispered, “Oh look, the first attractive man I have come across.”
“What did you say you were going to do?” I teased.
“Hmm,” she replied. “Come with me.”
She led me to a spare room, musty and slighty dusty, with the curtains pulled tight. A small double bed was neatly made, with an old-fashioned pink candlewick bedspread.
“Nah, it’s all bravado,” she said with a sigh. “Looks good in my daydreams, but that’s not me.”
“You mean you’re not going to sit on my face?” I said with mock disappointment.
“I wouldn’t know how, man,” she said, shaking her head. “Look, it might be better tonight. Have a few drinks and relax. What do you think?”
“Will you have the house to yourself?” I asked.
“Aye, I’ve kicked the bugger out,” he said with satisfaction. “For a month at least. He’s gone to stay with his sister. We need time to think. And if I can just pull myself together, I need to do some things, see how the other half lives. I’ll be better tonight, promise.”
I spent the afternoon in a haze of confused emotions. I was excited but also felt guilty and protective. I almost wanted to cancel altogether and suggest waiting a few days. But at the same time, I felt like Eve’s partner in this, this chance to reboot her life and update it. I had to be steadfast so it rubbed off on her. I had to provide the solid, dependable side of the arrangement and if it meant being disappointed again, so be it. And then I would get flashes of light, glimpses of a situation where she found her true self and was eternally grateful, partly to me and partly, perhaps, to God, because she was quietly religious. I imagined her on her knees, praying for guidance, strength and forgiveness in advance if what she was planning was wrong. I had those ambivalent feelings myself, so I knew what she was probably going through. I did a bit of praying myself but I couldn’t be sure if what I was feeling was any more than natural animal lust, if the conclusion that this was in some way a good thing was just self-justification. I suspect that, if death and heaven work as we have been led to believe they do, there will be an awful lot of Christians up there in some vast antechamber, trying to explain themselves.
Amid all this cerebral contemplation I would keep returning to the thought of Eve, naked and willing, determined to get her own back on her errant husband by descending to his level. And there, at that most base of levels, was I, the other man in her plan, the owner of male sexual equipment, with experience and therefore knowledge of how to use it.
I had a good, long shower and dressed quite smartly, in a new over-dyed blue shirt and well-fitting Mango jeans. ZZ Top’s advice thundered through my head: every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man.
My house was only 10 minutes’ walk from Eve’s, so I breezed round there, feeling like a character in a film. She greeted me with a peck on the lips and after the formality of a glass of wine, we found ourselves back in the spare room. She was wearing a sleeveless summer dress in a colour like the flesh of a lemon. It gave a vibrancy to her skin tone and her freckles seemed to dance in its glow.
We kissed deeply, gratefully, as if we had finally made it to the river bank after being swept along on the current without being able to get a foothold on dry land. I unzipped her dress and slid it down her body and she gave a self-conscious smile. I expected her to make a grab for some part of me, but she didn’t. She just kissed my chest in the open space I had presented for her approval. Then she looked up at me and grimaced.
“No,” she said. “I cannot do it here. Let’s go to your house.”
In no time at all, we were in my untidy personal space and she was picking things up off chairs in the bedroom and browsing through my wardrobe, stalling.
“Okay, let’s try this again,” I said, wrapping her in my arms and kissing her neck.
“Unzip me,” she said encouragingly, sensing my fear of frightening her off again. As the dress fell to the floor, she unhooked her bra and her lovely breasts looked at me demurely. I slid my hand down into her knickers and my middle finger found her hole and played with it before burying itself way up in the warm, fragrant, savoury darkness.
“So maybe I will sit on your face,” she said, getting a grip on herself.
I undressed and lay on the bed as she clambered aboard, her knees either side of my hips. She could easily have impaled herself on my cock, but she was determined to honour what had been not so much a promise as a rash offer. She shuffled forward until her hands found the wall and then lowered herself so that her lush ginger bush descended on my face like some fascinating UFO. I reached up and took her hips to guide her down and soon her furry slit as sitting on my nose. I poked my tongue into her hole and she gave a little cry, which turned into a long gasp as I gave her a big, firm lick. My hands raced up her body and held her breasts, then came down again and gripped her buttocks. She was gently sliding forwards and back, fascinated by her own brazenness and the erotic thrill she was deriving from this unaccustomed positioning.
With a move that was akin to wrestling, I manoeuvred Eve onto her knees with her crotch facing backwards and I licked her there, slurping at the juices that flowed deliciously onto my face and into my mouth. She pushed herself back at me, enjoying the feeling of being a hussy, an empowered, equal-rights sexual being, giving a man as good as she got.
Then I moved up into her crack and presented her with the surprise of the day.
“Holy fookin’ shit,” she said helplessly. “Is that even allowed?”
“I have wanted to lick your arse since the moment I saw you,” I said. “Not just that, but I had to do it. I want to make you cum like that.”
“No problem,” she said, trembling. “I’m cumming.”
After the earthquake had shaken her and moved on, leaving her dazed and bewildered, she lay in my arms.
“Tell me what you want me to do,” she said. “I’ll do it.”
“Do you want to get my penis in your mouth?” I asked, to give her a naughty-girl feeling.
“Oh, I do,” she said.
“Okay, you can suck my cock,” I said firmly, and she plunged down and swallowed my erection as if she had been wanting to do it to someone for years. I played with her clean, tidy, sensible hair and stroked her neck as she gorged herself on my manhood. Perilously close to shooting, I pulled her off.
“I’m going to shag you,” I said. “Lie on your back and open your legs.” As she did so, I made a show of looking at her crotch, feeling sure he had always been shy about being watched like that.
“You have a beautiful cunt,” I said sincerely.
“And you have a beautiful dick,” she replied. “I want it inside me. Come on. Fuck me.”
We bashed against each other like excited, clueless teenagers and our hands were all over each other, she feeling my balls and I poking a finger into her anus until we came simultaneously in a mad, chaotic climax of heaving and squeezing, clutching each other’s body as if we never wanted to let go, or perhaps we wanted to fuck each other to death and just end it all in ecstasy.
And with that, we fell asleep, waking hours later while the night was still young and fucking and licking and sucking until dawn. Then we gt up and sat looking out of the kitchen window, drinking coffee and watching as the world awoke.