It had been a spectacularly successful trip to the States. The Americans he had negotiated with had displayed the warmth and generosity the nation was renowned for.
Not that they been pushovers. Behind the geniality was the hard-nosed business acumen necessary to get to the top in this most competitive of democracies - and stay there.
His ideas for selling their products in "darkest Africa" were imaginative and sound. He was an entrepreneur with a great track record and they were keen to gain a new foothold and expand the market for their products - they needed each other, a business match made in heaven. But now, he reflected, he was weary and it was time to go home.
He took his seat in the Business Class section of the South African Airways jet for the 14-hour flight to Johannesburg and any hopes for a quiet journey receded as a woman with two small noisy children in tow stowed away her hand luggage and sat down next to him, greeting him with a nervous smile.
He smiled back and buried his nose in the airport potboiler he had picked up to while away the hours. The woman had her hands full with the two youngsters and she seemed exhausted. Finally, after about an hour, they settled down with colouring books and she sat back with a sigh, turned her attention to him and started to make small talk.
The book wasn't that riveting so he lowered it and looked at her more closely. Her name, she said, was Blythe, and she was going home to Johannesburg with her children after visiting her sister who had married an American and settled in New York.
"I'll be glad to get home. We had a wonderful time but I'm missing my husband... and my home. Living out of suitcases palls after a while."
He introduced himself and told her what he had being doing in the States. "I'll also be glad to get home but there is no loving wife waiting for me," he laughed.
"Don't laugh too loud," she said with a smile. "Some woman will get you in the end and one day you will wake up to a couple of monsters like mine," she said, gazing fondly at her mercifully quiet offspring.
He figured Blythe was about 33, a couple of years older than himself. Quite pretty, he thought, showing lovely white teeth when she smiled. Good breasts, too, looks after herself. They chatted about this and that. She had been married for six years to a wonderful man, good-looking and a good provider. "But is he a good lover?" he asked, tossing the inevitable sexual hand-grenade into the conversation.
"The best," she giggled, "I've been missing that, although I shouldn't be talking to you about my sex life." She was silent for a while, then: "Why is it that complete strangers tell each other the intimate details of their lives?"
He said he thought it was because that within a few hours or so they would never see each other again so it didn't matter what they said. There would be no repercussions.
"I suppose so," she said. "Sometimes its therapeutic to speak without having to guard what you say."
"So let's tell each other our life story, all the gory details, nothing held back, what do you think?" he asked.
"Okay", she replied, "but let's wait until the children have been fed and are asleep. We still have about 12 hours to go and even though they dim the lights I have trouble sleeping during a flight."
He agreed and ordered his second little bottle of brandy and some soda and another glass of red wine for her. It could be an interesting night he thought, a night with a pretty stranger with the lights low after a good meal and a few drinks.
After the trolley dollies had fed everyone and coffee had been served and cleared, the cabin lights were dimmed and the planeload of intrepid travellers settled down to spend the night as comfortably as possible.
Business Class was almost empty, with most of the passengers crammed into "steerage" at the back, so Blythe stretched out the children in the row behind them, snugly wrapped, and they were soon asleep. He and Blythe relaxed under soft blankets drawn up to their necks to combat the slight chill.
Armed with fresh drinks distributed before the airhostesses retired for some rest, they prepared to while away the hours. With a nervous laugh she said she hadn't come close to an attractive man in nearly two months.
So she found him attractive, that was a good start! "It's never happened to me before that I've sat next to a good-looking lady on a plane. The pretty ones always seem to be on other flights. Until today I've always been lumbered with garrulous grannies insisting on showing me pictures of their ugly grandkids or smelly old men who flatten too much booze and fall asleep snoring and drooling on my shoulder."
She chuckled, squeezing his hand and holding on to it, the drinks obviously having the desired effect. They were now at ease with each other and as they exchanged school and university stories and regaled each other with tales of past conquests, he stroked her arm, hand and fingers.
He turned to look into her eyes and as he moved forward to kiss her she sighed and pulled him close. Their tongues touched and they gently explored each other's mouth. "Lovely. Don't stop kissing me," she said as he came up for air and a sip of his drink.
.... There is more of this story ...