Trials of Love
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2017 by Andyhm

Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - This tale is a heady mix of romance and cheating. Its the story of two people in an unconventional marriage and what happens when a third person threatens the relationship. I have revised and updated this story.

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Blackmail   Coercion   Consensual   Drunk/Drugged   Reluctant   Romantic   Heterosexual   Fiction   Cheating   Masturbation   Oral Sex   Sex Toys  

I watched the beautiful woman on the stage glow as the applause rang out. She stepped back from the black grand piano and gave a graceful bow to the audience. The spotlights that circled the piano dimmed, and a single spotlight followed her movements across the stage. She turned to face all areas of the auditorium and drank in their adoration.

I was on my feet applauding with the rest. The middle-aged woman who stood beside me spoke to me.

“Isn’t she wonderful? I love the way she plays the piano.”

I nodded in reply and followed the action on the stage. The woman, her name was Kayla Ortiz, was in her early thirties. She was five foot six, slim, the full-length dark blue dress made her look taller. Her long blonde hair fell halfway down her back. Although I couldn’t see them, I knew her eyes, set on her beautiful face, were a deep blue.

She had just finished playing the finale of the concert. Her signature piece, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, C Major, K. 467, and beads of sweat glistened on her forehead. For five minutes, she stood alone, basking in the audience’s applause. Finally, she was joined on stage by a tall man in his late forties, an elegantly refined gentleman wearing a dinner suit. A second man, dressed in a similar manner, hovered in the background.

“That’s her manager, Stephen Matthews,” the woman beside me said as she pointed at the first man. “They say he’s her lover, as well.”

The woman, I still didn’t know her name, had been feeding me facts and bits of gossip during the pauses in the performance. She was the only downside of the evening. I’d paid a premium to a scalper to get this seat. It was a good position, only ten rows back from the middle of the stage, and I’d ended up next to this woman.

I thought back to how I’d come to be here. I’d no intention to be at this concert; I wasn’t even supposed in town for several hours, but as luck would have it, I’d managed to get a much earlier flight to New York than planned. I had made it to the exclusive hotel where my wife had been staying for the past week, a good ten hours earlier than I’d anticipated. Not surprisingly, she wasn’t around when I rang her room.

I checked into the suite my agent had reserved for me and the receptionist handed me a note from my wife saying she wouldn’t be back until midnight. Given that she hadn’t expected me to get in until then, it wasn’t a big issue.

My suite was on the executive floors, just one floor below the private roof patio with its bar and terrace. It was the usual extravaganza that I’d grown to expect from the agency, a large bedroom off an even larger lounge that opened out onto a private balcony, which had a view across Central Park. There was a connecting door to the suite next door.

The door opened under my touch, and as I peered through the door there was abundant evidence of her stay scattered all around. A set of used lingerie from Victoria’s Secret was draped over the back of a chair. It was a set I didn’t recognize. When I raised them to my nose, her heady aroma assailed my senses, causing my cock stiffen. We’d both been travelling separately for the past month, and her lingering scent enforced how much I’d missed her.

I was going to settle down and do a bit of work on my book while I waited for her. Then, I found a beautiful sheer black negligee draped on the bed in my suite, a silent promise of things to come tonight. Working on the book wasn’t going to work for me now; I needed to find something else to occupy me while I waited for my lover.

I was in New York, the theatre capital of the States. I called down to the bell captain and asked if there was any chance he could get me a ticket to a show or a concert for this evening.

After ten minutes, he’d called me back. “There are a couple of shows I can get tickets for.” He listed them, but not one of them appealed to me.

“Or,” he suggested, “there is a ticket for the Kayla Ortiz concert; there’s only the one decent seat available, and it’s not cheap.”

“She never is,” I muttered to myself.

“Sorry, I didn’t get that?”

“I said, how much is it going to be?” I replied.

“Seven hundred, but it’s a good seat, in row ten,” he said defensively.

I sighed; the stupid thing was, I already had a ticket to see her tomorrow night, but now that he’d put the idea into my mind, I wanted to see her tonight, as well.

“Well, it’s only money,” I muttered, “I’ll take it. Can you charge it to suite 2403, or do you need cash?”

There was a pause, and I could hear tapping on a keyboard. “That’s okay sir,” he said. “You can pick it at the box office. What name shall I give them?”

I thought for a second and gave my real name, not my pen name. “Peter Ryan,” I told him.

That’s who I am, Peter James Ryan, if you want full disclosure. I used to be a journalist, but now I’m an author. You won’t find any books out there with my name on them. I’ve got over a dozen books that have been featured on the best seller’s lists, not at the top but comfortably mid-table. Marion Peters, Sylvia James and Ryan James are the best known of my aliases. Ah, now you know who I am, I thought you might!

Who’s Peter Ryan? I’m British and thirty-two years’ young, I’d spent most of the last few years globetrotting. I’m a fraction over six-feet-tall, with a build that matches my height. I have light brown hair, blue eyes, and a close-cropped beard that softens an angular jaw line.

Back to the moment at hand. The applause was still ringing out and the annoying woman beside me was still talking. I guess she thought that I was attracted to the woman on the stage and I needed the lowdown on Kayla.

“She’s not married, you know,” she said.

“Really, I heard that she was,” I replied.

“No,” and she shook her head dismissively. “I’ve been following her for years, ever since she won that young musician of the year competition in Britain when she was sixteen.”

“Seventeen!” I muttered, but she carried on as though she hadn’t heard me.

“There have been several love affairs mentioned in the papers,” she said in an almost scandalized voice. “She does seem to play so much better when she’s in love. Her first lover was her music professor at the Royal Academy when she was eighteen, and a couple of years ago, it was that Italian conductor. There have always been rumors of a secret long-term lover, then there’s Stephen, her manager. Now they say she has a new lover!”

While she spoke, I was watching as Kayla took Stephen’s hand. He pulled her into his arms and gave her a kiss. The spotlight dimmed, the house lights brightened and then they joined the second man as they walked off the stage, Kayla was holding the large bunch of flowers she had been given earlier, and she looked out across the audience. For the briefest moment, I was sure her gaze fixed on me, then she was gone, and I was left with the annoying woman beside me. Her last few words piqued my interest; I hadn’t heard that one about a new lover before.

With a shrug, I said goodbye and, gathering my belongings, I made my way out of the auditorium. I was lucky and managed to grab a taxi. I settled back in the seat and checked my messages. There was one from my wife that she’d sent a few minutes ago.

‘You’re here?’

I responded with a quick smiley face

‘I won’t be late; do you want to meet in the bar?’

I sent her back a second smiley face and a kiss and got one in return.

The taxi pulled up at the hotel and I took the elevator up to the twenty-fourth floor. In the suite, I changed quickly out of my suit and into a pair of old soft black jeans and a polo shirt. I collected my iPad from my bag and made my way to the exclusive, “executive floor only,” bar on the roof. I thought I probably only had half an hour before my wife arrived, so I sat down on a stool at the empty bar and ordered a Glenrothes. I ordered red wine, for her.

I opened the iPad and checked on the latest mail from my editor. The number of edits and comments on the last chapter made me reach for my whisky. I swallowed the glass and asked for a refill before doing a quick search on the gossip surrounding Kayla. The woman had been right; there were quite a few references over the past couple of weeks to a new man in her life.

I was wrong in my guess; it was less than ten minutes later that a warm body pressed up against my back and a soft pair of lips nibbled at the back of my neck.

A sultry voice whispered, “Hi lover, did you miss me?”

I replied without turning, “I always miss you but aren’t you supposed to be in your lover’s arms?”

She giggled and spun me around in the seat until I faced her. “Where did you hear that little titbit, darling?” she said.

“I had it on good authority from the woman sitting next to me, that Simon is your lover, “ I told my wife. I don’t know why I didn’t add the titbit about a new lover.

“I think James might object to that, he’s a rather possessive wife as you well know!”

I stared up at Kayla Ortiz’s blue eyes and laughed. Her nose twitched, and the soft peal of her laughter joined mine.

I’d first met Kayla when she was just nineteen; a couple of months after she’d ended the affair with her music teacher. I was a couple of years older, having just come up to my twenty-second birthday.

We were both someone else’s plus one at a wedding in London. She’d caught me scribbling in a notebook as I kept glancing at her. She sat down beside me and pulled it out of my hands to read what I’d written.

“Long blonde hair, swept back, falling halfway down her back. Her sensual neck...” she read out aloud. “Hey, this is me, isn’t it?”

I swallowed and admitted that it was. I was people watching, making notes on those around me to use in a story I was writing. She was the most attractive woman at the reception, and I’d been watching her, casting her in a role in my next story.

“They’re character development notes for a story I’m writing. When I see interesting people, I jot my thoughts down,” I explained.

“Would I have I read anything by you?”

“I doubt it, I’m not a full-time author,” I replied. “I’ve only published one book, and that disappeared into the black hole of mediocrity. Most of my stuff is short stories, which I post online. I write between trying to earn a crust as a journalist on the local rag. I’m Peter, by the way.”

I held my hand out, and she shook it saying, “and I’m Kayla, pleased to meet you, Peter.”

“What do you do?” I asked.

“I’m a music student the Royal Academy of Music; I’m studying piano.”

That triggered a memory; I looked at her a bit more closely, and I realized that I recognized her.

“Didn’t you win the young musician of the year a couple of years ago?” I asked.

She nodded shyly.

“You played that lovely piece by Mozart, if I remember correctly.”

“His Piano Concerto No. 21, that’s right. You saw me play?”

“I did, and I’ve seen you play a couple of times since.”

She grinned back at me happily. “Do you like classical music?”

I nodded, “To be honest, so long as it’s not rap I like almost all types of music.”

“That could be a deal breaker, I like rap.”

I mockingly made the sign of a cross with my fingers to ward her off. She burst out laughing and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

We carried on talking for the rest of the evening, much to the annoyance of the people we’d come with. At the end of the reception, I drove her home. At that time, she was sharing a flat on the south side of Clapham Common with a couple of other music students.

When we pulled up, I jumped out, ran around the car to open her door and she gave me a slightly surprised look before gracefully accepting my hand to help her out of the car. Chivalrous, possibly, opportunist definitely, for as she eased herself out of the car, her dress slid up to mid-thigh, and I was able to enjoy her perfect legs.

She stood at the bottom of the short flight of steps leading up to the entrance and looked at me.

“I had a great evening,” I softly said. “Would you be interested in drinks and a meal next week?”

“I’d like that; how about Friday at seven? I’ll meet you in the lobby of the academy if that’s okay?”

I agreed, and she looked at me. I leant forward to give her a good night kiss and she met my lips with her own. The kiss seemed to go on forever until the lack of oxygen forced us to break apart.

“Oh, we’re so definitely picking this up again on Friday,” she whispered, before turning and entering the building.

Our date on the following Friday was a great success, and it was the start of a romance between us that just kept on growing. That first evening we went to Covent Garden and spent a couple of hours wandering about, watching the street performers before we ate at a local wine bar. I couldn’t tell you what food we ordered, I just remember basking in her smile, and holding her hand.

As the evening drew to a close, it was evident that neither of us wanted it to end.

“Can I come back to your place?” she asked softly, as we stood with our arms wrapped around each other in the crowds watching a keyboard player. “My flat mates were handpicked by my parents and seem to have a hotline to them whenever I do something they consider to be inappropriate.”

I kissed her before replying, “I’d love to wake up beside you in the morning, but I don’t want you to think I’m presuming.”

She did a little happy dance that made me laugh, and then hugged me. The next thing I knew she was whispering in the ear of the street artist. He smiled at her and moved away from the keyboard. Moments later Kayla’s fingers were dancing across the keys, and the crowd hushed as the first notes of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no .2 echoed across the plaza.

For ten minutes, she played her heart out, drawing from the cheap electronic keyboard sounds a Steinway grand would be proud of.

As the last note drifted away into silence, she bowed her head. For the longest pause, you could have heard a pin drop, and the applause rang out. She jumped up from the old duct tape patched stool and hurried over to me. She practically jumped into my arms covering my face with kisses.

“That was just for you, cos I’m so happy,” she murmured. “That piece is always going to remind me of you.”

Somehow, we managed to find a cab. We were shedding clothes as soon as we managed to push ourselves through my front door. The trail of discarded clothing led to my bed. Her panties went flying across the room as she kicked them off, sliding down the wall.

For a moment, I couldn’t believe the beauty of the girl sprawled across the white sheets of my bed. Her skin showed faint tan lines, the pale conical perky breasts were tipped with large pink nipples; the tuft of fine hair proof that she was a real blonde, nestled at the junction of her legs.

She saw me hesitate and held her arms out to me. I joined her on the bed reveling in the sweet sensations as I pressed myself against her soft skin. She pulled me onto her, wrapping her long legs around me to hold me tight. Our lips joined, and we began the dance of love.

Bodies touching, bodies merging, all the while our eyes were locked on each other

Too soon, we both sensed we were going to climax. I wasn’t sure I could last her out.

“Too soon,” I groaned.

I tried to slow down, but she held me tightly, pulling me deeper into her, urging me on.

She gasped between the moans, “No, finish in me, I’m so close.”

There was no sound, but her mouth opened wide in a mute scream and the actions of her body spoke for her, her orgasm making her shake wildly, tossing me to the side. I came with her, my first jet surging inside her. The next ones between us as she involuntarily forced me out of her.

We made love twice more that evening before collapsing into a deep sleep. The next morning, I woke to a messy but very empty bed. Her clothes were gone. The only thing left was a note on her pillow.


Last night was so much fun, I think I’m so close to falling in love with you. I have an early practice at the Academy, which I can’t miss. You looked so comfortable I didn’t have the heart to wake you. I’ll call you later today. :)

K xxxxxxxx”

We tiptoed around each other for a few weeks, talking on the phone and meeting for the occasional drink. Her teachers were less than amused when a video of her impromptu concert found its way onto YouTube and got her parents involved.

Yes, her parents ... the less we say about them, the better. All her life, Joyce and Rodger, with the rest of her large family of musicians, had been controlling all aspects of her career and social life. Nothing, and that included a boyfriend, was going to get in the way of the family’s ambitions for her.

Over the next few months, we were able to steal the odd afternoon and evening together, and soon we both realized that what we had wasn’t an infatuation. It was the real deal; we were madly in love with each other.

There was one big stumbling block in our growing relationship, and that was Kayla herself. As we grew closer, Kayla grew more anxious. When we were alone or with close friends, she was outgoing and loving, but in public, she was reserved, almost cold with me.

It took time and a partial breakup for her to explain what was going on in her mind. A tearful Kay had been sitting on my sofa when I’d arrived home early one Saturday. She’d been distant and cold to me at a reception held at the academy the evening before, and in the end, I’d left her there on her own.

She hadn’t been keen on me going with her, but I’d insisted, as we intended to go on to one of her friend’s birthday party afterwards. We’d arrived together, but she’d quickly distanced herself from me. I stood and watched her. Soon I was experiencing a feeling similar to that suffered by wallflowers at school dances, standing at the side, watching all the popular kids enjoying themselves.

The worst point came when I saw her talking to a semi-famous musician and a critic, both graduates of the academy. I went over to join her, but she ignored me, and following her lead, so did the others. I stood there growing more upset and embarrassed by the second. Finally, I passed her the glass of wine she’d asked for earlier, said “Sorry,” and walked away.

As I did so, the musician asked, “Do you know him?”

“Not really, he’s just someone I see occasionally,” Kayla replied. Her words cut through me, and I kept on walking right out of the building and into the chill of the night.

I’d made my way across town to my old pub and met up with a couple of old school mates. We’d got pleasantly hammered, and I’d ended up crashing on Tony’s couch.

I left Tony’s flat after his girlfriend had cooked me breakfast and headed home. I saw her as soon as I reached the top of the stairs leading to my lounge. She was curled up on my sofa, and it looked like she’d cried herself to sleep.

I wasn’t sure what I felt about her anymore. I covered her with the blanket she’d kicked off at some point and kissed the top of her head. I stood under the spray of the shower until the water ran cold, forcing me to retreat. Wrapping a towel around me, I went into the bedroom.

Kayla was sitting on the end of the bed. Her eyes red from the crying, dried tears streaking her cheeks.

“I don’t understand you,” I said. “Am I your boyfriend or am I a passing fancy?”

“I love you.”

“You have a funny way of showing it, and that wasn’t the question, are we a couple?”

“Of course we are, silly.”

“Then why don’t you act like we are?” I said exasperatedly. “Why do you ignore me when we are out, like last night.”

“But I don’t really...”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, what was it you said to the guy last night? ‘He’s just someone I see occasionally’. Do you know how much that hurt?”

“It didn’t mean anything; I just don’t want strangers and the press to know anything about our private life. So, if anyone asks about you, that’s what I say.”

It made no sense to me, and I said so.

She sobbed and said, “I won’t let them break us up. If they don’t know about you then they can’t.”

I sat down beside her and put my arm around her. “What aren’t you telling me, love? Why are you doing this to me?”

Her tale was both simple, and complex. She was scared that the press, who’d always been interested in her extended family of world-class musicians, were now growing interested in her. At first, I couldn’t see why this would be an issue

Her core reason to want to keep our relationship private was a gut reaction to the recent breakup of her Aunt Samantha’s marriage, and that breakup wasn’t the first her family had suffered recently. Samantha was fifteen years older than Kayla and a world-famous violinist.

Samantha’s ex-husband was a university lecturer. They were teenage sweethearts and he had travelled with her in the early days, when she was touring. As he consolidated his career, he couldn’t travel nearly as much.

As soon as Samantha began touring alone, the gutter press began speculating. Every time she was seen with another man in public, the world was informed that she was having an affair. Her husband just hadn’t been able to cope with the pressure the constant speculation created. Ultimately, it drove him into a severe bout of depression and they finally ended up divorced.

Kayla vowed that wouldn’t happen to us and the easiest way was to only let our closest friends and family know about our relationship. This was something about which she was adamant, I wasn’t as convinced, and felt that our relationship was strong enough to survive any spotlight we would be under. Kay disagreed, and since I loved her and was afraid of losing her, it was just easier for me to agree. Once I’d agreed, I forfeited the option of forcing her hand.

She created two personas: one private, for our very close friends and family, and a public one. To the press, the public and her fans, she was Kayla Ortiz, the rising star of the classical music scene, a single woman who was dedicated to her music.

For me, she was my lover Kay. Two years later, she became the even more private persona who was Kay Ryan, my wife. We were married in a very small and extremely private ceremony on a private island in the Maldives. As much as possible, at her continuing insistence, we kept the two personas from meeting.

As her star was rapidly rising, becoming a world-renowned pianist, mine was rising, too, slowly, very slowly. A year after we first met, I got an agent and she was able to sell my second novel, a romance inspired by Kayla, to a publisher for a small, but nice advance. My publisher also snapped up a heavily re-edited version of my first novel. That led to a five-book deal. I could go part-time at the paper and concentrate on writing almost full time. My books have never been blockbusters, but they do sell in real numbers and with wise investment, we will never be poor.

As I wrote in several different styles, I created a pen name for each one. I wrote romance stories as Marion Peters. Sylvia James was the name I used for my more erotic ones, and Ryan James for my adventure novels. I, like Kayla, was somewhat shy of publicity and media attention; it was only as Ryan James that I would turn up as for the book signing tours.

The next few years saw us both continuing in the same way. We were rarely in the public eye together; the only exceptions were the events our agency held.

We were both using the same management company. It was one that the son of a very close friend of Kay’s parents opened, with our help. His name was Stephen, and we were his first clients and silent partners. In fact, Kay and I owned sixty percent; we’d started out with seventy-five percent, but over the years, we’d let him buy more of the company.

Our current home was a penthouse apartment in New Orleans, leased in the agency’s name. If we were visiting the same city, the company would book us two adjoining interconnected rooms or suites, and they were always booked in the agency’s name.

To keep Kay happy, our secret relationship became a game with us. We were always asking each other the question, “could we meet in public without raising any suspicion we were more than nodding acquaintances?” The agency was notorious for the number of events it held or sponsored, and as their most valuable clients, we were, of course, invited.

Now that I know the consequences of our actions, I can’t believe that I let our games continue as long as I did.

So, fast-forward eight years from our first meeting, which brings us back to the almost empty bar at the hotel and Kayla’s arms wrapped around me. I passed her the glass of wine I’d ordered early.

“First things first,” she said expectantly and held out her hands. I pulled the rings from her right hand and placed them on the ring finger of her left hand. This was our ceremony, which we did every time we’d been away from each other and in public for a while.

“Married again,” she chirped, and pushed them home onto her finger

They were a continuing bone of contention between us. Both her wedding and engagement rings were made and designed by a close friend. They were very stylized, blending into each other, and could easily be mistaken for a piece of costume jewelry. I wanted her to wear them on the correct finger all the time, but she refused when she was in her Kayla Ortiz persona. I compromised and suggested that she wear them on the other when we were apart.

It took me a while to convince her. Oh, she was happy to wear them correctly when we were alone or with close friends, but not in her public persona. As a pianist, her fingers were long and elegant, but more importantly for me, both her fore, and ring, fingers on both hands were the same size, so, she agreed to wear our rings in the forefinger of her right hand when we were apart.

The act of transferring them from one finger to the other became a ritual when we got back together. It was her way of reaffirming her commitment to us. For me, it was a bittersweet moment.

She took a sip of her wine and grimaced as her phone buzzed. She’d placed it under her handbag and seemed reluctant to answer. She let it buzz several times before I went to pick it up. She picked it up first, looked at the screen and rejected the call.

“I told Laine not to call me tonight,” she said. Laine was her assistant.

“You sure, it’s late, and it might be important if she’s calling now.”

“It isn’t,” she said. Changing the subject, she asked, “So how come you managed to get in so early. I wasn’t expecting you until much later?”

I smiled and said, “My lunch time meeting was cancelled, so I was able to get an earlier flight. I thought I’d see if I could catch you with your lover. Which one is it supposed to be now, by the way?”

She gave me a mock punch and said, “I thought I’d entertain the violin section tonight. They have such a delicate touch.” She smiled at me as she said this, but for a moment, there was a flicker in her eyes that I hadn’t seen before.

“Are you okay?”

She shrugged off my concern, “I’m just tired; this has been a long tour, and I’m so glad tomorrow’s the last performance.”

That was the reason I had a ticket for tomorrow night, the final concert of what had been a full year of touring. We had decided that we were finally going to let the world know about our relationship. We were both going to take at least a year off, most likely two, and hopefully, start a family. Kayla would be thirty this year, and we had both agreed that we wanted children. She’d told me to expect a lot of demands on my body over the next few months.

The reception after the concert tomorrow was her last engagement of the tour, and I’d just finished the book signing tour for my last novel. We, or rather the agency, had bought a small country estate in Cornwall. Yes, we were coming out, but there was no reason to erect a neon sign for the paparazzi. We were due to be flying home to England in forty-eight hours.

We took our drinks over to a quiet corner, and she curled up against me. I pulled her close and stroked her long hair

Kayla Ortiz rested her head on my shoulder and then kissed me.

“I saw you in the audience,” she murmured.

“I thought you’d seen me at the end, I saw the glance.”

“No, I spotted you after the first piece; you know, when they raised the house lights for a moment when the conductor spoke a few words. I can always sense when you are watching me.”

I smiled; that was the point when the woman beside me had started passing me bits of gossip about my wife. The affair with her music teacher at the Royal Academy of music before we’d met was the only true thing she’d mentioned. That reminded me...

“She did say one thing that intrigued me; the gossip mongers are saying you have a new lover. Is there something you want to tell me?”

She gave a silly little laugh, “Christ you know what it’s like. I only have to be seen in someone’s company and he’s my new boyfriend.” She gave me another long kiss and then studied my face. “What about you. Who’s the new girl in your life I’ve heard about?”

I looked at her blankly for a moment.

“The redhead,” she added.

Comprehension flashed across my face, “You mean Stephanie,” I said with a smile. “She’s Julia’s new girlfriend and assistant, and I’ve definitely got the wrong set of chromosomes for her!”

“So, you’ve been with a hot lesbian couple since I last saw you. Have you got anything left for your poor neglected wife?”

I laughed, “For you, I always have something left in the tank.” I gently caressed her cheek with the back of a finger. “I’ve missed you,” I told her. I hadn’t seen her for almost four weeks; sometimes our schedules were brutal.

She’d been very needy the last time we’d connected for a glorious five days. She’d barely let me out of the bedroom and jumped my bones at every possible opportunity. She had reluctantly left for rehearsals and two concerts, and she’d insisted I accompany her everywhere. I’d been surprised, but had enjoyed it immensely.

She gave me a kiss and murmured, “I do love you, I’ll be so glad to have you all to myself. It’s been a hard tour, and I don’t think I want to see another piano for months. How’s the new book going?”

“Almost done, just the last couple of chapters need to be polished. Janice sent me the edits today.”

“Have you got anything planned for tomorrow?”

“Other than your concert and the reception, nope. I intended to keep you prisoner in the bedroom until you cry for mercy.”

“I’ll cry alright, but it won’t be for mercy, just for more. Are you sure you want to come to the reception,” she asked, rather diffidently. “You know it’s just going to be a lot of stuffed shirts who I’m going to have to let monopolize my time. I hate it when we can’t be a couple at these dos, I feel so guilty as it’s me who wants to keep our private life out of the public eye.”

That’s odd, I thought; that’s the first time she’s not wanted me to go to one of her receptions. Even with all our precautions, we’d always found a moment for ourselves. My spider senses kicked in.

“Aren’t we supposed to be making our grand announcement at the reception?” I asked feeling concerned.

She gave me an embarrassed glance, “I wanted to talk to you about that. My publicist isn’t sure it’s the right event for that huge an announcement. She thinks we should wait a few weeks and do a magazine interview.”

“Hang on love, since when did we agree your publicist could make those decisions for me?” I said with a hint of steel in my voice. I wasn’t happy, and she could see it in my expression. She knew how tired I was of denying our relationship. What had seemed fun, in the beginning, thinking of secret ways to show our affection, had quickly lost its appeal.

She held her hands out to me, “Please Pete, she knows what she’s talking about. She’s convinced that we will upset a lot of people if we tell the world that we’ve been married all these years. She’s sure we need to control the way we tell the public. We’ve lined up an interview with Hallo magazine in a couple of weeks.”

“Damn it, Kay, don’t do this. I’m tired of hiding our marriage, I get the feeling you don’t want me there tomorrow night!”

She shook her head and with tears in her eyes said, “I’m sorry; of course, I want you there, and I don’t want you to hide away. I love you more than you can imagine.” Then she added so softly I could barely make out her words, “Be close to me, I’m going to need your strength.”

I nodded, “I’ll be okay, I’ll find someone to talk to. Maybe this famous pianist might come and say a few words to this impoverished writer at some point during the evening. I warn you, if anyone asks me about us I won’t deny our relationship.”

Kayla gave me a startled look, seemed to shake herself, then laughed.

“If you’re sure you won’t be bored then. What I do know that right now this famous pianist is going to take her favorite author back to her room and make him her sex slave for the rest of night.”

That is just what she did. The door to the suite was barely closed before her clothes were scattered around her feet and she was tugging at mine. She let go of me briefly, as I pulled my polo off, only to pull my jeans and boxers off my hips and down my legs. I kicked them away, scooped Kayla up and carried her to the bed.

We fell onto the bed, laughing as we bounced. I gathered her into my arms as we kissed and caressed each other. Again, there was an urgency to our lovemaking that was too like our couplings at our last meeting. If this was what she was like after a few weeks’ abstinence, then I should consider going away a bit more often. We strained against each other, racing to a strong mutual conclusion that left us both speechless and gasping for breath.

In that long pause as we lay in each other’s arms gathering our breath, I sensed that something had changed between us. Her lovemaking had been more frenzied and desperate than I’d ever remembered.

“Is everything all right?” I asked.

She gave me a look that I couldn’t define and pulled me close to her. “I just missed you; these past few months have been hard. Why did we agree to a year of touring?”

I caressed and kissed her and she gave me a cute little smile as she continued. “I’ve been bad; I threw away my pills last month.”

“So, we may have...”

“I very much doubt it; it’s probably far too soon, but next month my body will be fertile and more than willing.”

She grinned and gave me a cute look, “Wanna do some more baby making practicing?” Without waiting for an answer she rolled on top of me, her hand sliding between us to grasp my rapidly firming cock. The little blood left in my body rushed to my groin, and my cock was aching it was so hard and throbbing.

She wriggled down until she could use her mouth on me. She licked and sucked, drawing gasps of pleasure from my lips.

“Hmmm, you are so tasty,” she murmured between licks. “I dream of this, and I’ve missed you so much.”

“God, that feels so good,” I groaned as her mouth swallowed the crown, her tongue flicking over the surface. She gave me a blowjob that left me gasping and her, licking her lips. If it wasn’t the best one she’d given me, it was in the top five.

As I slowly regained my strength, she kept lightly stroking my softened cock, who decided that he liked all the attention and began growing again in appreciation.

Kay grinned happily and gave me a long cum tasting kiss before swinging above me and spearing herself on me with a cry of satisfaction that morphed into loud groans of desire and need.

Having come several times in the past few hours, I knew I was going to last a long time. Kay took full advantage of this fact as she rode me vigorously to first one, then a second orgasm, squealing and shuddering each time as she came.

Her movements grew more languid and deliberate, and I felt the first urges of my own orgasm building up. I was pushing up into her with more urgency and she responded in kind. She was grinding her pelvis into me at the end of each of her down strokes, which ensured that my cock rubbed over her G-spot each time.

I gasped, “Gonna cum soon.”

She moaned happily; she loved to feel me pulse into her. “I’m close; make me sing. Cum in me, love.” She bent forward and whispered in my ear.

I reached up and pulled on her hard nipples, sending her over the edge. Her cunt clenched tightly, triggering my orgasm, and I pumped my essence deep inside her, grunting as I shuddered in release.

Spent, Kayla collapsed on top of me, looking and sounding like the cat that got the cream as she gave little throaty gasps of contentment. She licked and kissed my neck before settling down in her favorite post sex position; stretched out on top of me, my slowly deflating cock still inside her.

“I love you so much; promise you’ll never leave me, Pete,” she whispered.

“I won’t, love.”

She sighed happily and relaxed. A few moments later, I sensed she had fallen asleep and whatever had been worrying her seemed to wash out of her. I had grown to realize over the past few months that I couldn’t go on like this much longer. I loved the woman I held tight in my arms, but this paranoia of hers over the rest of the world not knowing about our relationship had to end, one way or another.

She twitched in her sleep, I caressed her back, and she settled down again. Her head nestled into the curve of my neck, her breathing slow and regular with a little sigh at the end of each one.

I felt myself drifting off, the last conscious thought was ‘fuck her publicist; if Kay didn’t say anything tomorrow night, I would, and damn the consequences’.

I woke up when the first light of the new day tinged the windows. I lay there with a half-asleep Kayla curled up against me. Her fingers had found my morning wood and she was slowly stroking me under the covers. Without saying a word, she swung her hips over mine and with her hand, began rubbing the head of my cock up and down and around the wet opening of her vagina.

Slowly, she eased herself down my throbbing cock. She bent forward and kissed me as she found her rhythm. She was soaking wet, and I slid into the silky glove of her pussy. There was no hurried pace to our lovemaking. It was slow, purposeful and deep. She lay on my chest with her hard nipples rubbing against me and milked her wet sex up and down. My finger found her hard nub, and I slowly rolled my fingertip, my fingers wet from the juices dripping from her. She came hard before I did and that triggered my own release. She collapsed on me, her lips seeking mine. We kissed, a long drawn out sensual kiss.

I closed my eyes briefly and opened them to the sound of the shower and a phone from Kay’s side of the bed. I groped for the phone thinking that it was her alarm. Peering bleary-eyed at the screen, I realized two things that awakened me. One, it was a call, not her alarm, and two, it wasn’t her phone. It could be hers, but it wasn’t the phone I’d bought for her.

The sound of a short piano riff continued to play. She only uses different clips of herself playing as ringtones for close friends, all of whom I knew. Mine was a snip of the piece of the Rachmaninoff she first played for me at Covent Garden. This one was not a ring tone I associated with any of our friends or relatives. There was no photo, and the caller’s identity was just an N, nothing else.

I accepted the call; it was a personal ringtone, so it should be someone I knew. I put the phone to my ear and opened my mouth to speak.

Before I could say anything, a husky male voice asked, “Kayla love, where did you disappear to last night after the show? You didn’t answer my calls.” This was definitely not a voice I knew. I heard the shower stop and deciding that this probably wasn’t the best time to start asking questions of a stranger, I disconnected the call.

Kay appeared, wrapped in a towel and saw me with her phone. She gave me a puzzled look.

“I think I just disconnected a call to you,” I said. “I figured it was your alarm and was trying to switch it off.”

In the dark of the bar last night I hadn’t realized that it wasn’t the phone I’d given her last year. After turning it over in my hand, I asked her, “Is this a new phone, by the way?”

“Can I have it please, and yes it’s new. It a special edition of the latest Samsung, and the case is platinum. The record company gave it to me last week to celibate the fact my last album went gold.”

“So the iPhone I gave you isn’t good enough for you anymore?” I think I sounded a bit petulant, but can you blame me. Whoever N was, he sounded a bit more than a friend.

“Don’t be daft, there was a representative from the record company at the concert last night, and Laine thought it would be politically correct if I showed them I was using it.”

She looked at the call log. “That was her. I better call her back and explain that it was my klutz of a husband who cut her off. You need a shower, I’m going to order breakfast, then call her, so don’t be too long.”

Without waiting to see if I agreed, she walked out to the sitting room. As I lay there trying to get my head around the fact she’d just told me a blatant lie, I heard her voice on the phone ordering room service.

“I don’t hear the shower,” she called, “I’m not going to eat with a smelly husband, so hurry up. Breakfast will be here in ten minutes.”

I showered, shaved and was dressed in time to answer the door to the waiter who pushed a trolley with our breakfast on it into the room.

Kay had slipped on a robe and was sitting at the table. She had two phones in front of her and was swapping the SIM card over from her new phone back to her old iPhone.

“I prefer the phone you bought me,” she said in explanation of her actions. “I shouldn’t have let Laine convince me to use the other one. Do you want it; it’s supposed to have all the latest bells and whistles?”

I shook my head, “Can’t have the recording company upset with you; you better keep it.”

“Can you put it in the room safe in that case? It’s supposed to be worth a lot.”

“How much?” She named a figure, and I whistled.

“Christ, they must love you. Did you use the usual code for the safe?”

She nodded, but she wasn’t smiling as I walked into the bedroom and opened the safe in the wardrobe. Before I put the phone away, my curiosity got the better of me and I switched it on. She hadn’t changed the passcode, so I had no problem accessing the phone. She’d deleted the call log, and there was no D in her contacts.

What was happening? I knew that a N had called her only minutes ago. I really didn’t want to think the worst, but there were the rumors of a new lover that I’d been dismissing as paparazzi gossip. Was there truth to it? Shit, had she found a new lover? Was last night her way of saying goodbye?

Kay calling out, “Food’s getting cold,” interrupted my black thoughts. I switched off the phone and placed it in the safe.

I picked at the food, my appetite lost to the dark thoughts racing across my brain. Kay’s wasn’t much better, and most of the food was left on our plates by the time we admitted defeat. We called room service to take the mess away.

She’d been fiddling with her phone and finally handed it to me with a grunt of annoyance. “Can you look at it?” she asked. “I seemed to have lost all my contacts. They are supposed to be on the SIM card, but I can’t find them.”

“Did you save them to the card?”

“One of Stephens assistants did it for me. You know what I’m like with the damn thing.”

I did, and it didn’t take me long to restore all the missing contacts and a couple of the apps she’d seemed to have deleted. N wasn’t in these contacts either.

“Thank you,” she said. She came and sat on my lap. “The other phone might be prettier, but I much prefer the one you got me.” She kissed me and curled up, wrapping her arms around me.

The disturbing thoughts that had been bouncing around in my mind all night and had peaked with this last incident, came to the fore.

I loved this woman; she had been the most important thing in my life for the past ten years, but I needed to know if she loved me just as much as I thought she did. We were supposed to be embarking on a new public phase in our marriage. We were going to have a family. Now there was the question, who was this N character. Was I losing her to him, whoever he was? My resolve stiffened, and I pulled her around so I could see her face.

“Kay we need to talk about what’s going on. Something has changed, and I don’t know what it is.”

She shook her head, “Nothing’s changed. I still love you, we are still going to take two years off and start a family.”

“But you still don’t want to tell anyone about us.”

“It’s just not the right time, that’s all.” She tried to stand up.

I tightened my grip on her. “No damn it, you need to listen, I’ve come to a decision,” I said. “We are going to make our announcement tonight. I don’t care what your publicist says. It will be this evening! I won’t hide in the wings anymore.”

She stiffened, “Please, Pete, talk to my publicist please, she can explain why we should wait. We’ll make a lot of money from selling the story to a magazine.”

“Christ, Kay, we don’t need the money, or have you already sold the story without asking me?”

She gave me a sheepish smile, “Sort of,” she said, then she saw my face and hurriedly continued. “I haven’t signed anything yet, we just spoke to the magazine.”

I stood up and dumped her unceremoniously on the carpet as she gasped in surprise. She got to her feet and sat on the sofa, looking rather shocked. I think that was the first time I’d ever rejected her since we’d first met.

“Kay why did we get married if you don’t want people to know?”

She went to say something, but I stopped her. “I know I agreed that you had a valid reason, but that was then, not now ... unless there is another reason, I don’t know about. Is there someone else, is that it?”

I’d sat back down as I spoke, and she came and knelt at my side. “I love you more now than I’ve ever have. There is only you. Our families and all our closest friends know we are in a relationship, we’ve never hidden it from them. It’s only the paparazzi and the public that don’t know, and I’d like to keep it that way for a few more days. Please, Pete, don’t make a scene at tonight’s reception.”

“Are we going to tell them we are married?”

“Not tonight, please, Pete.”

“Then I don’t see any point in me being there. This has gone on long enough. I want to go to one of these damn annoying receptions with my wife, not stare at her across the room, knowing that she won’t acknowledge me.”

Her face was white, and she was shaking as I vented my anger and frustration. For the briefest of moments, I wanted to slap some sense into her. That thought was enough to make me lurch to my feet. Pausing only to grab my phone, wallet and iPad, throwing them into a backpack, I walked out of hotel suite. As I left the room, I heard her wail my name.

I turned, momentarily, and said, “Call me if you change your mind.”

I left the hotel not one hundred percent convinced I’d done the right thing, but as my old gran used to say, “you can’t make an omelet without breaking the eggs.”

I couldn’t understand why Kay had cold feet over the announcement. She’d still been in favor of the grand reveal the last time we had been together, and nothing she’d said since then had suggested she was changing her mind. In all the conversations, we’d had, she’d been looking forward to the end of her tour, the new house and the thought of having a baby. What had changed?

With all of these thoughts, I wasn’t aware of where I was going. My phone was buzzing and chirping in my pocket, but I ignored it. I wasn’t ready to talk to her yet.

Early in the afternoon, I found myself at a junction and across the road was one of those little parks that you find in the oddest places in this city.

The day was sunny, and I was grateful to take refuge from the hot sun on a bench in the shade of an old tree. I bought a bottle of cold water and sipped it, enjoying the cooling sensation as the cold liquid slid down my parched throat. My phone buzzed again, and I decided I was settled enough to deal with it. There were some missed calls, most were from Kay, two from Stephen and one from Julia. There were also several texts, again, the majority were from Kay.

As I started to read the texts, the phone buzzed. The caller ID showed that it was Julia.

“Pete, what the hell is going on? I’ve had Kay in tears on the phone. She said you’ve walked out on her. For Christ sake, call her.”

“Did she explain why I walked out?”

“It was hard to understand her, but something about an announcement you wanted her to make.”

I sighed, “She agreed that we would tell the press at tonight’s reception that we’ve been married for the past eight years; now she doesn’t want to do it. I’ve just had enough, either we are married, or we aren’t.”

“Don’t be daft, the girl loves you. You are all she talks about when we speak.”

“Not so sure anymore, I think she’s got a lover.”

There was a long silence from the other end, then she asked. “What have you heard?”

“No, the question is what have you heard, Julia, is there some truth to the rumors I’m hearing? I better not find out that you’ve been hiding anything from me? She received a call from a man this morning, someone she knows well enough to give him a custom ringtone.”

“Pete, honestly I’ve not heard anything, just the same rumors you have, I’m sure. The press is always speculating; it doesn’t mean anything. I spoke to her a couple of days ago and she said nothing. I don’t know who the call was from.”

“It came up as a N on her phone. When I checked later, she’d deleted the call log, and there was no N in her contacts. She’s hiding something.”

“Christ, don’t do anything stupid; there’s got to be an innocent explanation. She loves you too much to do anything silly.”

The call waiting chime sounded, and it was Stephen. I said goodbye to Julia, who reminded me that she and Stephanie would see me at tonight’s reception.

As soon as I connected to Stephen’s call I had to move the phone from my ear, he was shouting so much.

“What the fuck’s going on? Kayla wants to cancel tonight’s concert. She says you’ve left her.”

“I’m not leaving her, we’ve just had a bit of a disagreement, and I needed to get away from her to clear my head.”

He calmed down a bit and his voice dropped to a reasonable level. “What is the problem? Can I do anything?”

“Only if you can make her understand that I’m not going to go to another one of these bloody receptions unless we go as a couple, otherwise, probably not!”

“Ah, that’s what your problem is ... I thought you...” He tailed off sounding relieved at that.

‘You thought what?’ I wondered.

“I thought that you were going as a couple tonight, that you were telling the press at the reception; she hasn’t got cold feet again?”

“That’s what I thought, too, but apparently not anymore. She’s decided we have to wait until she can arrange the perfect magazine interview. No more, Stephen, I’ve had enough.”

“Peter, you need to talk to her. She adamant there won’t be a show tonight unless you are in your seat.”

For a long moment, I said nothing; all Stephen was worried about was the damn concert. I wasn’t going to spoil the enjoyment of the rest of the audience, but I was pissed off that she was trying to manipulate me this way.

“Stephen, you can tell her that I’ll be at the concert, but unless I hear from her beforehand that she’s changed her mind and is willing to do what we agreed to, I won’t be at the reception. Oh, and you could ask her who N is?”

I didn’t wait for a reply; I just disconnected the call as I heard his voice again. I started to skim through the texts that Kay had sent me.

They all said variations of the same thing. She loved me, and only me. Please talk to her and her publicist so they can explain why we should hold back on our announcement. The last few wanted to know if I’d be at the concert and the reception.

I texted back. I will be there to watch you. The receptions up to you, we go as a couple, or I won’t be there.

I thought about asking who N was, but in the end, I didn’t, it was something we needed to discuss face to face. I switched off the phone and carried on walking.

I didn’t return to the hotel until much later in the afternoon, and Kay had already left to go to the concert hall. There was a note at the desk for me from Stephen.

“I’ve taken her to the hall. She only agreed to go after she got your text. She won’t start playing until she sees you with her own eyes.”

My tuxedo was laid out on the bed in Kay’s suite. She’d found my ticket and had marked it with a lipstick kiss. It was tucked in my breast pocket. As I pulled it out, a pair of tiny panties came with it. I smelled them, and the delicious aroma of Kay’s pussy tickled the back of my nose.

I showered, shaved and got dressed. In the pocket of the trousers, I found a note from her declaring her love and a promise that we would talk after the show and go to the reception together. I was to text her if I agreed. There was a PS. ‘I told Stephen, I won’t play if you are not there’.

I didn’t understand her sometimes. She knew that there was no way I wouldn’t be there to watch her. The whole ‘delay the announcement’ issue had been worrying me, but now the most important concern I had was whether she was having an affair? Who was this N character? She had changed over the past couple of months. She’d been far more aggressive with her lovemaking and very needy, almost as though she was compensating.

I’d see what happened after the show. The reception would be backstage as had been all the other last night receptions.

The hotel receptionist called the room at six-thirty to say that my limousine was waiting. Apparently, Stephen was taking no chances that I’d bail on him. Traffic was heavy, and it took us over an hour to reach the concert hall. I could have walked it in half the time. In fact, I offered to get out and walk at one point.

“More than my job’s worth,” the driver told me. “I’ve got strict instructions to deliver you to the concert hall, and that what I’m going to do!”

The show was due to start at eight. We pulled up at the bottom of the flight of broad steps that led up to the entrance with only ten minutes to spare. As I passed through the lobby and showed my ticket, I saw one of Stephen’s lackeys on his phone. He gave me a relieved smile before rushing off.

I began to think that Kay had been serious about her threat to cancel the performance if I wasn’t there.

I paused in the lobby and sent her a message: I’m here, we will talk after the show. See you backstage afterwards.

She replied seconds later with a row of kisses and happy faces.

My seat was in the first row, bang in the center. Sitting next to me was the wife of the mayor, and I introduced myself to her and her husband. She burbled on about how much she loved Kay’s playing. I grinned as I saw the mayor roll his eyes at her enthusiasm. Then she said something that got my attention.

“I’m going to get the chance to meet her after the show. We’ve been invited to the reception the recording company is holding for her after the show. It’s a private, all ticket affair; the tickets are like gold dust.”

What the fuck? Since when was the record company hosting the post-show reception? It was supposed to be our management company, and if it was all ticket, where was mine?

“Where’s the reception being held?” I asked her.

She named an exclusive downtown nightclub. “If you haven’t got a ticket you won’t get in,” she added.

This couldn’t be right; maybe it was a second reception that we were supposed to drop into later. I was about to text Stephen, but the last of the Orchestra settled, and the house lights dimmed. There was a long hush before a single spotlight picked on the conductor as he walked to his position. A second one picked up the empty piano stool. For the briefest of moments, the spotlight refocused and shone on my seat before settling back on the piano at center stage.

Kayla walked from the stage wing to the piano to a thunderous round of applause. She paused for a moment, smiling and giving me a brief nod and a blown kiss, before settling herself down in front of the black piano.

The first notes rang out, and I lost myself to the beauty of the music. She played for a full two hours without a break, not missing a single note. I’ve heard her play countless times and without a doubt, this was her most inspirational performance.

The last note died away, and for a moment, the hall was silent. Then the applause started. It grew and grew in volume until the room shook. For a full five minutes, the sound was almost deafening as Kay stood in the light of a single spotlight. Finally, Stephen and a gentleman, the same one as last night, moved to her side and the applause slowly died away. The guy I didn’t recognize gave her an enormous bunch of red roses and a kiss, and she gave him a big smile, then she started, and looked in my direction. Stephen passed her a bottle of water, and she drank greedily, swallowing half the contents in one go. Both Stephen and the other man were trying to talk to her, but she shrugged them off, her eyes locked on mine.

She mouthed, ‘I love you’. Then she plucked several of the roses from the bouquet and threw them into the audience.

Stephen escorted her from the stage, and she kept glancing in my direction. It appeared as if she was trying to tell me something, but there was no chance I could hear anything over the renewed applause. The other man moved to her side and took her hand. The familiarity of the gesture was disturbing.

I waited for five minutes for the crowd to thin before heading to the back of the stage. I needed those moments to calm down, whoever he was, it was evident that this wasn’t the first time he and Kay had met. I found her changing room, but it was empty. I spotted one of Stephens lackeys in the corridor, the same one from the entrance lobby and grabbed his arm.

“Where’s the hell is Kayla?” I asked. “Where’s the fucking reception?”

“She’s gone.” He looked at me in surprise. “I thought you weren’t...”

She’d gone, gone where? What the hell was going on. “Where has she gone? Who did she go with? We were supposed to be meeting backstage. She was supposed to wait for me.”

“Stephen and Nigel, but Stephen said you’d decided not to go.”

“I texted her to wait for me.” I looked around the emptying building. There was no evidence of a reception here.

“So, where the fuck is it being held? It was supposed to be here.”

He named the same nightclub the mayor’s wife had mentioned.

“How the fuck am I supposed to get there?” I shouted at him, “and is this the all invite party the mayor’s wife told me about earlier? The one I don’t have an invite to, so how do I get in?”

“Diamond records were supposed to send you one when it was decided that they were going to host the reception.”

“Well, they fucking well didn’t, and who the fuck agreed that they could hold the fucking reception?” I was mad, and my language was showing it. I took a couple of deep breaths to try and calm down and then apologized to the man.

I pointed at the phone in the lackey’s hand. “Call him,” I demanded. I didn’t need to say who, he knew.

He did, “Mr. Matthews...”

I snatched the phone from his hand, “Stephen, what the fuck is going on. Where the hell is Kay?” I was talking to a dead phone; he’d rung off after he’d heard my voice. What the hell was he playing at?

“Get him back on the line,” I shouted.

He was punching numbers on his phone as I finished my rant. “He’s not answering,” he said a few moments later. “I think Stephen’s limo is still here, we can take that. I believe that they used Nigel’s.”

I called Kay’s phone, but it went straight to voicemail. I left her an angry message telling her she’d better get back to me ASAP.

“We can use Stephen’s limo.” the lackey confirmed, as he put his phone in his jacket pocket. One of these days I must learn their names, but there are just too many of them.

The limo took us downtown. I spent the journey trying in vain to call either Stephen or Kay. It didn’t get any better when we arrived.

“If you don’t have an invite or your name’s not on the list, then you aren’t getting in,” the six foot six bouncer told me.

“I’ll find Stephen,” the lackey said as he flashed his invite to the doormen. He was checked against a list and had to show a photo ID before he was allowed in.

“Warn Stephen if I don’t get in, he’s fired, and I don’t mean as my agent, I mean from the agency, and he better have a fucking good reason for hanging up on me.”

The situation was ridiculous, and Stephen better have a bloody good reason as to why he had allowed the recording company to take over the reception. I was a majority owner of the management company, and I really wanted to know why the arraignments had been changed without anyone telling me.

A good ten minutes passed while I watched as a steady stream of people showed their invitations and entered the nightclub. Not one of them I recognized. Several gave me a sneering look as I paced up and down, which didn’t do my temper any good.

Finally, a further ten minutes later, a contrite Stephen appeared behind the bouncer and the doormen.

“Why are you out here?” he said, but he lacked conviction in his voice.

“Because these fucking dickheads won’t let me into my wife’s reception, that’s why,” I shouted.

“Where’s your invite?”

“What fucking invite, nobody sent me one, Stephen.” I had him by his arm, and he could see the anger in my eyes.

“You’ve two choices, and only two,” I said, and he could see I wasn’t in the mood to argue. “Either I get in, or Kay comes out. Otherwise, you better start looking for a new job. While you are at it, you need to explain why we are not holding this reception. Why is the fucking recording company the host?”

He looked utterly confused at that.

“But ... but they were supposed to get your approval to organize this,” he said. “Come with me.”

He grabbed my arm and started to pull me inside, only to come to a dead stop with the doorman’s hand on his chest.

“I’m sorry sir, you can go in, but he can’t. We’ve got strict instructions from the host, no entrance unless the persons on the list or can show us an invite. He hasn’t got an invite, so he ain’t coming in.”

Stephen snatched the list from his hand and pointed at the title right at the top of the list. Over his shoulder, I saw that the name was Kay’s.

“See here,” he said, “where it says ‘Reception for Kayla Ortiz? Well, he’s her special guest, and I really wouldn’t want to be you if her guest is refused entry.”

They weren’t moved.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked them.

They nodded and watched as he scribbled my name on the list.

“There,” he said and handed the list back.

The bouncer and the doormen glanced at each other, then reluctantly waved me through.

I followed Stephen through the crowds. For a nightclub, the music was rather quiet, and I found out why almost immediately. Standing on a little stage was Kay, and the gentleman who I now knew was Nigel. He had a microphone and was in the middle of making a speech.

“ ... and as I was saying earlier, it was my pleasure to listen to one of, if not the best, pianist in the world today in one of the finest concerts I’ve ever heard.”

There was a long round of applause at that. “The best thing, is that Diamond Records has it saved for all time in a priceless recording, so you can all hear it again.”

There was another loud round of applause at this and Kay managed to smile and blush at the same time.

His voice was familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I started to step forward, but the crowds made it difficult to get much closer. I waved hoping to attract her attention, and I thought I saw her briefly looking in my direction, but then she turned back to listen as he continued, “Now there’s something much more personal I’d like to say.” He turned towards Kay. “I’ve only known this beautiful woman for four months, but they’ve been the best months of my life. In that time, we’ve become very good friends and have grown very close. We are no longer just business colleagues, we are so much more.”

What the hell was he talking about? I began to push hard against the crowd in front of the stage to get closer, then froze. I watched in shock he dropped to one knee and held out a hand in which a ring glistened between two fingers.

“Kayla Ortiz, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife, will you marry me?” he said.

There was a gasp and then the room erupted into a wall of applause. My last sight of her before she was hidden behind the crowd of onlookers was the smile on her face. Stephen was standing behind me, and he took hold of my arm and prevented me fighting my way to the stage.

An icy stillness washed over me. Fuck, of course, how stupid had I been, it had been right in front of my face all the time. The mysterious ‘N’. Now it all made sense. Fucking Nigel; he was her lover. She was having an affair with him. I had to get away; I felt nauseous and needed fresh air. I lurched away; pulling myself from Stephen’s grasp and ran from the nightclub. I made it to the curb before I threw up. I was fortunate in that I had so little in my stomach that I made little mess.

I was lucky, a cab was dropping off passengers at the door, and I dived into it. I gave him the name of the hotel and sat back as the tears flooded down my face. No wonder she hadn’t wanted me to be there tonight. She had her own announcement to make; but it wasn’t the one for which I’d hoped. There was a disturbance in the crowd as we pulled away from the curb, but I ignored it.

Shit, I realized Stephen had to have known what had been planned. My mind was racing, nothing that had happened today made any sense to me. She had said she’d loved me, yet it was evident from what Nigel had said that they knew each other in a way that destroyed our marriage, and somehow Stephen was involved, but why? I’d always thought of him as a good friend.

At the hotel, I tore off the tux and changed into some comfortable clothes. I had two choices, stay and fight, or leave. It didn’t take me long to decide. She’d made her choice, and in such a public way, something she’d refused me for the past 10 years.

Call me a coward, I don’t care, I felt so betrayed that all I wanted to do was run away and lick my wounds. But where? Then I recalled I did have a bolt hole that no one knew about. I threw a few things in a bag, grabbed my passport from the safe and was on my way to the airport, all in the space of five minutes. My phone was going ballistic in my pocket, and I switched it off.

At the airport, there was a flight leaving to Zürich in two hours, and I could get the last business class seat.

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