The TGI Chronicles: Part 1 - Too Late
Chapter 1

Copyright┬ę 2005 by GaryAPB

Sex Story: Chapter 1 - This is the first part of a series about the lives of a group of young people who work for TGI (a company based in a small town in England). This part is about the troubles in the marriage of Tim & Beth.

Caution: This Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Consensual   Heterosexual   Cheating   Oral Sex   Anal Sex   Masturbation   Slow  


I woke up on that Thursday morning to Beth moving about in the bed, it was more than her just turning over, but she wasn't getting out. Then I felt her tongue on the very tip of my cock already hard and stiff from whatever unknown dream I had been dreaming before I woke. Quickly, before I could move, her mouth engulfed the whole head. It felt wonderful.

"Well this is a good way to wake up. I think I'll insist on it always."

I felt her release my cock from her mouth. Moments later her tousled, but oh so beautiful head appeared from under the duvet. "You should be so lucky!"

"Well I think I'm pretty lucky just to be married to you. But some more of that sucking wouldn't go amiss if today is my lucky day."

She disappeared under the duvet again and resumed her sucking, quickly to be followed by her fucking.

As we recovered breath and came down from our mutual orgasms, I turned my head to the bedside clock radio. There wasn't a lot of time for me to get out of the house and on my way to work. "Well, what brought that on? Not that I'm complaining."

She lay in the crook of my arm as she replied "I woke up early, I guess it was the sun or the birds and I remembered what a great time we had last night and what a great husband I've got and my thoughts led to action."

"I love you. And to prove my undying love for you, I'm going to get out of this bed, have a shower and get on my way to earn you the money to give you some of the luxuries that you so richly deserve. Like those rugs you fancy for the guestroom." I kissed the top of her head and swung my legs out of the bed.

As I drove down the High Street I spotted Alice walking along. Alice is a rather attractive late-20's girl in Marketing and Sales. She lives somewhere in the town, in walking distance of the offices. We have an unwritten rule, if I pass her in my car before she has turned into River Road then I'll stop and give her a lift. If she has got around the corner then we both think it's not worth stopping and I leave her to walk and just wave as I pass. This morning she was a long way from River Road, either I was early or she was even later than me.

She jumped in and immediately said "Morning Tim, you look happy. You must have got lucky last night."

"Not just last night."

"Don't! I don't want to know about the passions of you newly weds."

"Beth and I aren't newly weds. We've been married for seven years. Eight years in August. But we are passionate. I'm a walking talking advert for married life."

"I still don't want to know. I've got no man in my life. Just a bunch of bloody customers and a lousy boss at work"

"Don isn't a bad boss is he?"

"No, not normally, but you know what all the directors are getting like until that ITP contract pays up on its next instalment."

"I'd heard times were a bit tight. But its nothing to do with me, I'm very pleased to say."

"It's an insurance client, surely that's in your division?"

"Yes, but Perry insists on doing that project himself. He's the boss, so he is nominally in charge of everything insurance. But he split it so that he takes personal care of ITP, plus being head of department of course, and I get all the other insurance work."

I swung into a space in the staff car park and we strolled together into the offices. She returned to the subject of my personal life, "What does Beth do? Do you have children?"

"No, not yet. I hope soon. Beth works part time, mainly from home, as the PR person for a small federation of food manufacturers. Why?"

"No reason, just interested." She headed for the marketing suite, I headed for the coffee machine.

It then turned into a pretty normal morning in TGI Financial Computer Systems. Until about 12 o'clock that is. Perry Charman, my boss turned up at my desk. That was pretty unusual in itself, he would normally get Stella his secretary to summon me to his office. He then suggested we went out to lunch. That was even more unusual. I've worked at TGI for five years and Perry for about two years. He came in to be Head of Insurance Systems Development and Implementation, alongside the Banking and the Investment Systems Divisions. I became Deputy Head at that time. In those two years I don't think Perry has invited me to lunch ever. So why today?

We left the building walking to Perry's car. "Let's go to the Magpie, they sell good beer there." Life was getting odder and odder. Perry never drinks at lunch time, and before now he has heavily hinted that he disapproves of any lunchtime drinking and that I should make sure that none of the department partakes. Oh well!

Perry is a funny soul. He is just useless at communicating with his fellow man. How in the world he ever became a manager I do not know. He knows all the rules, he just can't apply them because that would mean really having to talk to people. We had a very stilted conversation for the whole of lunch. Long and awkward silences, with Perry then suddenly asking a question about my techniques in project management, or how to motivate the project team or an individual who I knew well. Now I knew that the ITP project was running late and a bit of a mess, the Friday night after work drinkers frequently complained about it. It wasn't a surprise, Perry was useless at motivating and driving the team. Yet it was the biggest and most important implementation we had, so he insisted on taking personal control. Obviously the pressure was on, and Perry was getting stressed about it. I made gentle suggestions, but I don't think he picked up on them.

It turned into a very long and boozy lunch. I drank five pints, I don't know how much Perry drank, he went onto double vodkas after his first couple of pints, and he was drinking faster than me.

Suddenly, Perry announced that it was time to go, with me none the wiser as to what the whole drinking session had been about. Neither of us was fit to go back to the offices, and Perry certainly wasn't fit to drive. I pointed this out to him, and he didn't argue. We quickly agreed with the barman that he could leave his car in their car park and they ordered him a taxi. I decided to walk home.

It was about an hour's walk, but I thought it might sober me up a bit, and I'd still be home earlier than normal which would be a nice surprise for Beth.

The sun was hot on that June afternoon. I sweated a lot as I walked home. We live right on the outskirts of town in a house we bought when I came to work for TGI. It was pretty run down at that time, otherwise we couldn't have afforded it. Even then the mortgage has been a bit of a strain. We have spent five years getting it how we wanted, but it's been Beth's hard work and inspiration rather than mine, I just supplied the muscle. And now, the work was very nearly complete. Just some little jobs still to do, plus some minor second thoughts on what we've done already. That's why I thought we were ready for children, but Beth wanted a few months to get her mind around that, and there was no rush. I had just turned thirty and Beth was twenty-eight. I was thinking about future family life in the home she had created as I sweated and sobered up as I walked along.

When I got home it was about four thirty. I called out for Beth, but got no answer. She was obviously out. I went upstairs thinking I'd have a shower and a change of clothes. I went into our bedroom when I glanced out of the window and saw Beth.

She was lying sunbathing beside our neighbour's pool. Ken and Jean Whitman had moved next door to us about three years ago. Their house was bigger than ours, and stood in a very large garden. They were obviously fairly wealthy. They were about fifteen years older than Beth and myself, in their mid to late forties say. They had two sons who were away at public school. They had spent a fortune on the house, extending it, putting in a swimming pool and tennis courts, a huge garage block which included a show room type garage for a vintage Bentley that was Ken's pride and joy. Jean was a lawyer who spent Monday to Friday in London, living in their town flat. Ken was a freelance consultant to airlines on fuel issues and he worked from home, with occasional business trips all over the world.

Beth and myself got on with them well. We weren't close, but we had no problems with them and I hope they had no problems with us as neighbours. They were always encouraging us to use their pool or their tennis courts. Obviously Beth had taken them up on their offer this afternoon.

You don't get a clear view of their pool or garden from our bedroom window, there are too many hedges and bushes in the way. But you can see one end of the pool and some of the surrounding paved area. Beth was lying on a lounge chair, sunglasses on, wearing her pink bikini and sitting up reading a paperback. I could see that much. Ken was sitting in the shade under an umbrella, working at his laptop.

I thought I'd still have that shower and then put on my swim trunks under a pair of shorts and stroll round to them. Then, if Ken invited me to have a swim, I'd be ready.

As I undressed, I noticed Ken must be saying something to Beth. She then lent forward and took off her bikini top. She lay back to continue reading.

I have to say I was a bit surprised that my wife was sunbathing topless in front of our neighbour. But if she does it on holiday, why not in a back garden? And she does have lovely breasts, round and full but with no sag. I was a lucky man, why shouldn't Ken see just how lucky I was?

I stood at the window thinking these thoughts, when Ken mouthed something else to Beth. She stood up and walked up towards the house. I couldn't see all of her, just a short top half, but that gave me a nice view of her bouncing breasts. I considered opening a window and calling or waving. But that would have brought her home, and I fancied that swim. Better that I go round to them.

She came out again and walked to Ken. She was carrying a drink can. I couldn't tell if it was beer or a soft drink. He took it, saying something to her. She bent down, almost out of sight for a couple of seconds. Then she stood up again and just stood beside him, her back to me. After about a minute she walked away towards the pool.

As she got to the pool I saw that she was naked. I could see her whole backside. That was too much. What was going on here? Topless is one thing, nudity is too much. Before I could move she dived into the pool and swam out of sight. Then she came back into view as she did her second length. Then out of sight again. Now Beth is a strong swimmer, and I expected her to automatically do ten or twenty lengths. What was I going to do? Nothing wrong was happening, but she shouldn't be nude, and certainly not so casually nude in Ken's sole presence. It was worrying. I knew I was getting upset, and I also knew that I was probably being unreasonable. Then Beth came into view walking the side of the pool. She obviously had got out of the pool at the steps at the out of sight end. She walked up to Ken and just stood there dripping water. His hand went out to her, and he was speaking.

Then she turned and started walking towards the house, Ken got up and followed her a step behind. My God, they are going indoors. My mind raced. Now I was upset. They must be going indoors to fuck, why else does a naked woman go indoors with a man when they are completely alone?

I felt sick in my stomach. My head throbbed right above my eyes. I just collapsed onto the edge of the bed and sat there, panting, sweating and strangely cold. I have no idea how long a sat there, or even what I was thinking. I'm not sure I was thinking, I was just feeling. Then a thought did come into my mind. I must have been mistaken. This was Beth, my wife, the woman who made love to me this morning because she loved me so much. I must be wrong.

I'll go next door. If it is nothing, then I'm just interrupting them because I'm home early. If they are doing anything, well...

But I can't. I can't risk it. I couldn't stand seeing them together. Not my Beth and that Ken. No, I daren't go next door.

I'll phone them. Where is my cell phone? I found my jacket on the bed behind me. I found my phone in its pocket. I pressed favourite number one, Beth's phone. It rang and rang. Then I heard its jazzy warble in the distance, just faint on the air. I stood up, listening, where was it? It was coming from the pool area next door. Her phone was down by the pool. Then her answer phone message cut in.

What was their house number? I may have it in my directory, but how would I have listed it? Under Ken? Or Jean? Or Whitman? Or even Next Door? I'll have to pan through the lot, it could be under any entry. I sat again, pressing my way through the entries. Then there was "Jean W (Mble)". I pressed the little green phone button. Jean answered. "Hello, Jean Whitman."

"Hello Jean, its Tim next door. I think you should come home. I'm sure your husband is in your house screwing my wife at the moment."

"Oh! Not again. That's it."

"Again!? What do you mean Again?"

"Oh sorry Tim. I don't mean again with Beth. In fact I find it hard to believe it is Beth this time. But I'm not surprised it's someone. That's what I meant about Again."

"Oh" I said feeling slightly appeased.

"I'll leave right away. I should be able to catch the 5:30. I'll be home at about 7:30. I'll take a taxi from the station. I'll see you later Tim -- after I've seen Ken."

She rang off. I sat and thought. She wasn't surprised at Ken's infidelity. Obviously it wasn't the first time. Poor Jean. It's surprising what you don't know about other people's lives.

Why had I done that? As I phoned Jean I knew she was in London. There was nothing she could do now about what's going on next door now. So why did I phone her? Maybe she'll phone them and that will stop it. My head hurts!

I don't remember going down stairs. But I was then in the sitting room. The French windows were open onto the garden, but it was still hot in the room.

I sat down in an old wing chair that Beth had found in a junk shop and had reupholstered herself. A coldness of emotion came over me as I sat there. I felt I was thinking clearer and clearer. I would challenge her as soon as she came home, before she has time to collect her thoughts. If it was an affair, then the marriage was over. I knew that coldly and clearly. There was no going back, no reconciliation to live with fear and doubt from then on. I would be out of here. If it was a first time, one off moment of madness in the summer sun, then may be we could get over it. I wasn't sure where the line was between a mad moment and a full affair.

I just sat there getting more clinical and more coldly, bitterly angry than I've ever known myself.

Then I started analysing what I'd seen. Why was I so convinced that this was an affair? I had seen nothing overtly sexual between them But I just knew.

Then Beth came through the French windows wearing a yellow towelling robe that she doesn't have. She didn't see me sitting in the dark corner.

"Hello Beth. I guess you need a shower to get the smell of Ken's after shave off your body before I come home. Do you need to get his cum out of your cheating cunt as well?" I was cold, clear and loud, but I wasn't shouting.

"Tim! You startled me. What do you mean? Good Heavens, I know what you mean. What the hell do you think your doing accusing me of that?"

She looked as white as a sheet, she stared into the gloom on my shady side of the room.

I stood up, but lurched slightly to the side, holding on to the arm of the chair.

"Well is it true? I saw you in the garden."

"Have you been drinking? Yes, you're pissed. I don't know what you saw. Look, I am going for a shower, I suggest you drink a lot of black coffee or orange juice or something. And then we'll talk about what you supposedly saw when I come down. I'll also get you something to eat - that might help you sober up and think straight."

She walked out and went up stairs.

I sat down again and tried to remember what she had said. Had she admitted it? Had she denied it? She had accused me of being drunk, and she was possibly right. No not drunk, but definitely the worse for wear. She was right, I needed some coffee and orange juice and aspirin.

I was in the kitchen when she came down. She was obviously wary of me and didn't come close.

"How are you now? Have you sobered up? I'll get us something to eat. Then we've got some talking to do."

She opened the freezer door and stared inside. "We've got some Bolognese sauce here. Let's have spag bol. Not exciting, but plenty of pasta might soak up some of your booze. Now why are you home so early, so drunk and so accusatory of me?

That was three questions. Two of them were easily answered, the third was harder to truthfully answer because I didn't know why, but I'd seen them and I knew.

"Perry insisted we take a very early, very boozy lunch and I don't know why. But I wasn't fit to go back to the office so I came home."

"I hope you didn't drive."

"No I walked from the Magpie. My car's still at the office."

"Good, you'd be dead by now if you'd tried to drive in that state."

"For fuck's sake Beth. I accused you of having an affair with Ken. Why are we talking about my driving ability when pissed?" My voice had gone up several decibels suddenly.

"That's why! One minute you are quietly telling me about your lunch with Perry, the next you are swearing and shouting at me."

I sat down just as the microwave went ping to signify that the Bolognese sauce was defrosted. It struck me as a very odd sound effect for my frustrated anger.

I sat in silence sipping a glass of orange juice while Beth fussed around getting a meal. Eventually she put a plate of Spaghetti Bolognese down in front of me.

"I'm having a glass of wine" she said, the first time either of us had spoken for some minutes. "Do you want one? You shouldn't, you've drunk enough today."

"No, I'll go on drinking juice." I replied.

I twirled some spaghetti on my fork. Eating seemed a good idea, but I didn't want it. I wanted to go to bed and sleep. I wanted Beth to answer my questions. I wanted to walk out and never come back. I wanted to start the day again without any of this.

Beth hardly touched her food either. The first sign that I'd seen of nerves. She seemed so calm, so patient, just waiting for the right time to talk my accusation through.

Eventually, she looked up and asked "Now, Tim, exactly what did you see that upset you so much and made you think I was having an affair with Ken?"

"O.K." I took a big breath. This was it. Somehow I had to make this sound convincing enough that it would reflect how I felt and demand a truthful answer if she was guilty. "I came home early, and I called for you. You weren't in so I went up to our bedroom. I saw you sunbathing with Ken by their pool."

"Well that's accurate. I saw Ken this morning as I went into town to get some milk. He asked what I'd got planned for the day, and I said I had some work to do 'til about lunchtime. Then this afternoon I thought I might sit in the garden and read a book. It looked like it was going to be too hot to do any gardening. He suggested that I go round there, maybe sit by their pool and have a swim. He liked to work down by the pool, but preferred company. I went round there and took him up on his offer. I guess it was sometime after four o'clock that you saw us."

That seemed fair and probably true. Let's move on, "Then he said something to you, and you immediately took off your bikini top."

"Yes, he had been kidding me ever since I'd arrived that he bet I wouldn't be wearing a top if I was in Spain or Greece. I'd said 'Maybe, later'. I don't know why but I didn't want to strip off in their garden. But eventually he made some other comment, and I thought 'Oh what the hell!' and I took off my top. It's no big thing, Tim. He was right, on holiday in Europe I would certainly be flashing them to every man on the beach. And in my own garden here I would have been sunbathing topless, if not nude. You know that, you've never complained in the past. Your not silly jealous are you?"

"It was just the way you did it. He seemed to tell you to do it, and you obeyed. And you were so comfortable with it."

"Well, I certainly wasn't going to give him the pleasure of thinking it was special treat just for him. I wanted to keep it natural, that it was no big thing. And it isn't!" She looked at me defiantly.

Well, maybe she can explain it away. But I still didn't feel happy about it, so I pressed on,

"But then he sent you in for a drink for him. And you hurried off to do it, like some semi-naked Nubian slave, pandering to her master's every whim."

"Well it was a bit like that. Or at least I felt it was. He asked me to go and get him a cold drink. He didn't say Please, he didn't offer me one. He really is a selfish pig of a man. But I was sunbathing by his pool. So, I did what he said. But I wasn't very happy at that moment."

"OK. But then you stripped to nothing as soon as you got back."

"Did you see that? Did you see my pussy from the window?"

I shook my head. "No, but I saw your bum when you went swimming."

"No, I didn't think you could have. My g-string bikini bottom would look like I was nude from the back and at that distance. You know that little tan coloured one?" Again she looked defiantly at me, challenging me to deny her.

She went on, "You obviously couldn't see the strings of the g-string at the back from your window. You see, I was angry with Ken when I brought him that drink. He was totally oblivious of how I felt. He just made some lewd comment about me being topless, and why didn't I finish the job? I thought I could really get at him, really show him. So I very slowly and sexily peeled off my bikini bottom. He didn't know that I could wear a g-string under it. He had to play it cool, but I knew what he was thinking. I thought that was a little victory. Us girls have to rely on the little victories when dealing with lechers like Ken."

She looked at me. I just sat thinking. It was plausible but didn't quite ring true.

"Why did you have a g-string on under your bikini. Did you think Ken was going to rape you? I've never known you to wear two bikini bottoms before."

She looked at me for a long moment. I think she saw I was trying to find fault in her story, which was probably unfair. How many of us are completely rational all the time? I wasn't totally rational in my doubts and thinking.

"Originally I wasn't going to take up Ken's offer. I was going to sunbathe just wearing that little g-string on our back patio. So I put it on. Then I had a worry that the sun doesn't stay on our patio to late afternoon, I know it certainly doesn't later in the year, I wasn't sure about June. So I went over to the window to look at our patio and to judge it and I saw the Whitman's pool. It looked so inviting that I changed my mind. So I put on the pink bikini. As you know that is one of my most modest bikinis, which was why I chose it. I'm not really sure why, I wasn't expecting trouble. I just did it."

She paused, looking at me, and then added "If you don't believe me Tim, my g-string is wet but drying at the end of the towel rail in our bathroom."

"So why did you go indoors with him, and what were you doing?"

"You saw me go for a swim. Well maybe I got too hot sitting in the sun, maybe its too early in the year and their pool hasn't heated up yet, but that water was very cold. After a few lengths I came out. I was too cold. I said so to Ken, I went up to thank him, but I was going to come home for a hot shower. He said not to do that, but to go into their house and he'd make me a cup of tea, and he'd find me a towel. I could have a shower there if I wanted. And that's what we did."

"Tell me, what happened then. You were in there some time?"

"God, Tim. This is getting to be like the Inquisition. I'm trying to be patient and explain it all, because you got yourself in such a state about it, but this is getting silly."

"Humour me."

"OK!" she said, with a sigh "Ken found me a big fluffy towel. An orange one. I've never seen bright orange towels before, but there you go. Anyway it was straight from their airing cupboard and was lovely and warm from their hot tank. Then he found me that bathrobe of Jean's. Being indoors and with the towel and robe I was feeling warmer, so I decided not to shower. I wrapped up and just got warm. Ken was in the kitchen, and he'd made a pot of tea. We sat there to drink it. I foolishly mentioned his Bentley, just to make conversation. That set him off. He went and got a set of 1930's Bentley postcards that he'd just bought on E-bay. God, I warn you Tim. Ken has a thousand boring facts about those bloody postcards, and he lovingly told me every one - at length and in detail. As soon as I could I got away to come home for a shower. That's when I found a stupid, drunk husband in a jealous rage. OK? Now you know what happened from when you caught me sunbathing by their pool. Can we let it drop?"

"He was touching you when you came out of the pool."

"Did he?"

"Yes, I saw his arm move to touch you."

"Maybe he was moving a fly or something. It was nothing important."

I just sat in silence going over the detail of what she had told me. Maybe it was just my stupid male ego, maybe it was still the lunchtime drinking, maybe it was my guilt at being stupid, but I desperately sought the one damning mistake in her explanation. I couldn't find it, but I couldn't say sorry. I was suddenly very tired, I wanted to go to bed and sleep. That was the after effects of the drink, I was certain about that at least.

Eventually, Beth broke the silence, "Let's have cup of coffee."

"I think I'd like to go to bed. I feel so very tired. The lunchtime drinking and the emotions of the day are catching up with me." I pleaded.

"Have a cup of coffee with me before you do. Please. Look, you go into the sitting room. I'll clear the table and make some coffee and bring it through."

I guess I owed her that. She seems to have had a rotten day as well. I nodded my agreement, and went into the sitting room.

After a few minutes Beth followed me with two mugs of coffee. "Its only instant I'm afraid. But I thought you could do with some more coffee, and I know I need one."

I was sitting at one end of the sofa. She put the coffee down on the table in front of me, and sat on the floor beside my legs, leaning against the sofa, effectively in front of me, and with her back to me.

Beth broke the silence "So what's all this about Perry then?"

We then chatted about Perry and his total inability for hands on project management. Talking it through with Beth made me realise that other than for his lack of one-on-one ability, he was a damn good manager and boss. In his time, the last two years, the insurance team had received better pay rises than either banking or investments. He was scrupulously fair on the rare occasions when disciplinary action had been needed. He had certainly helped me, his clinical analyses of my work in my personal reviews had certainly helped me as I learnt the ropes of management as his deputy. That's what's good about Beth. She is so good at bringing out my muddled thoughts, of helping me understand myself and my world. I loved her for that.

Eventually we ran out of work gossip and fell to silence again.

The room had drifted towards gloom, as twilight came with the setting sun. I was sitting there with my private thoughts, when Beth started another line of conversation, "What would you have done if you had caught me having an affair with Ken?"

"It would have depended a little on the circumstances. If it was just a silly one off, to be regretted but really meaningless, then I guess I would have to get over it. It would hurt like hell though, and life wouldn't be much fun for a long long time. But if it was a full blown affair then it would have been divorce." I was pleased to note that I was talking as if it was hypothetical, this was the first time I had actually acknowledged that I had accepted her story. I was glad.

"What happened to Love and Tolerance and Forgiveness and all those good things that I thought our marriage had in Spades?"

"I think cold deliberate betrayal week after week, or month after month, gets beyond that. It destroys the fundamental trust on which all those other things are based. Its not about forgiveness, its about trying to find a way forward. And there isn't one without trust."

"God, Tim, you have been thinking about it."

"One of us has to. I know you just follow your heart and live by the day."

"I don't."

"Yes you do. I'm not criticizing. It's the way you think. It's part of the reason you are so good at your job and PR. You live to get the story right for the day, as long as you get to the end of the day with no damage done and without having to tell a literal lie, then its been a good day. There isn't an ounce of long term strategic thinking in you. I'm not complaining, its you and I love you."

"What do you mean, never telling a literal lie?"

"Look, let's not go there. I love you just as you are, and I'm very tired and I want to go to bed. Please can I go to bed? Please?"

"Yes, let's not end the day on an argument, that might count as damage and that's against my creed - apparently!" she said with heavy sarcasm, but I knew, with good humour.

I leant forward and kissed the top of her head. Then I just stood up and wearily made my way to bed.

I so desperately wanted, no needed, to go to sleep. But I kept going over my feelings and all that Beth had said. What was wrong with me? I have never known Beth to lie to me, ever. Her explanation was exact and detailed and disproved my doubts. She was right, her g-string bikini was damp and drying in our bathroom. I was convinced. But I hadn't been able to say sorry. Tim - you are a fool, a stupid fool.

With that thought I must have dozed off. I woke to Beth creeping around the bedroom in the dark, trying not to wake me. I very nearly sat up in bed to say how sorry I was to doubt her, but it seemed churlish to show her I was awake after she was trying so hard to be quiet and not disturb me. So I feigned sleep. Tomorrow would be soon enough to abase myself.

As she slid into the bed, for a moment she hovered over me and, very very gently, leant forward to kiss the back of my head and very quietly whisper "I do love you Tim, so very much. I promise I will never ever cheat on you for as long as I live."

On that happy thought I did fall properly asleep.

I woke at five o'clock. The birds were already singing their dawn chorus. I lay there thinking clearly. Now I was worried. Last night, in a drunken haze, I had accused my wife of being unfaithful. How could I have been so cruel. She hadn't got mad with me, although she had every right to do so. What was she thinking? My mind went wild with possibilities. She might think it was a cover story for my own adultery. She might think I am a stupid jealous husband showing signs of wanting an intolerable control of her life. Oh God! Tim - you are a fool, a stupid fool.

I had to say sorry in a big way. I had to show that I loved her and trusted her. And I had to do it as soon as possible. What could I do? It was beyond the flowers and chocolate sort of apology.

As a lay there, in the grey light of dawn I remembered something from about six weeks ago, just before my birthday. The bedroom ceiling, that blank white expanse, must have inspired me! Beth had said one evening that she had seen Ken in the day. He had suggested that she might find well paid PR consultancy work within the airline industry. He'd offered to introduce her to some of the players at a conference in Rhodes that was coming up. She would have to pay her own hotel bill and conference fees, but Ken could get her the flights for free. I had been against it. First she was formally employed by her consortium, and we didn't know what they would think of her taking outside work. Second, and this was my selfish thinking, I wanted her to think about giving up work and starting a family, not building a new career as a freelance PR consultant. Now I could suggest that she takes Ken up on his offer. I know she wanted to do it, she was ambitious after all. And what better way of showing that I not only trust her, I trust her with Ken, the very man I thought was my rival. I'll suggest it this evening, over dinner at The Lobster Pot, the best restaurant in town.

I lay there planning our evening. The roses, the champagne and my coup-de-grace, the acceptance of her week in Rhodes with Ken. A saw a way forward to my own forgiveness. But the start better be a favourite breakfast.

I slid out of bed, so smoothly I ended up on all fours on the floor to minimise disturbing the duvet. I crept around collecting my clothes, opening and closing wardrobes and drawers more successfully than Beth did last night. I'm sure I didn't wake her. Then I crept out to use the main bathroom, not to risk noise from our en-suite one.

I looked into the shaving mirror, 'You'll be lucky, Tim, if you can get your apology in before it's too late.'

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