A couple of weeks ago HDK posted a story called "Hello Goodbye." I was reading the first page when something came up and I had to leave it. Well, the way the old brain box works meant that whilst I was driving to my appointment I played with the scenario in my head and came up with a very different story to HDK's. As always I must thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for proof reading and editing this story
I can remember the night as if it was yesterday. There I was just sitting watching the local evening news program on the old telly, my wife Penny was sitting over the other side of the room looking at me with a very curious expression on her face. The trouble she had was she just couldn't bring herself to tell me what was on her mind. Why? Well, for two reasons really. One, because I don't think she could believe it herself, and two, because if she did bring the subject up, she knew she was going to open a whole can of worms that she would rather had been kept very tightly closed.
I have to go back a year or so to before that night to when this all started. We'd bought this big old farmhouse out in the country about five or six years earlier. It had had a couple of nice big old stone barns in the yard just right for conversion. We'd lived in the old farmhouse whilst we converted the larger barn into our dream home. Or rather our builders did. Penny and I were just around all the time to make sure we got exactly what we wanted. Then after we'd moved into the barn we had the guys give the farmhouse the once over and, at the same time, they converted the smaller of the barns into a holiday cottage come guest-house.
The idea had been to sell the farmhouse and rent out the holiday cottage during the summer. As it turned out things didn't quite go that way. There's some USAF people stationed at a nearby RAF base and the farmhouse finished up getting rented out to an USAF officer and his family for about a year. He didn't want to buy a house, as he wasn't expecting to stay in England very long. The cash if we had sold, would have been handy. But the Yank offered us a bloody good rent so we let him have it. One of his colleagues rented the holiday cottage also at a good rate. So my Penny and I were happy.
Eighteen months later both of our tenants' tours of duty in England came to an end and they and their nice families - whom Penny and I had gotten along very well with - went home to the States. For some reason we didn't put the house back on the market. We'd been so happy with the income from renting, we thought we would try to rent it out again.
I came home from work one evening, to be met at the door by Penny who had the biggest smile on her face. "I've rented the house!" she grinned at me. "The contracts are all signed and everything!"
Penny had taken me completely by surprise. "What do you mean, you've rented the house?" I demanded. I suppose I must have sounded quite shocked and maybe a little annoyed. "To whom and without me even meeting them? Did you even bother to get a reference?"
The smile faded a little on Penny's face. "Oh, we don't need a reference for these people, Pete, you're never going to believe who they are!"
"Well, who they are doesn't bother me as much as if they can and will pay the bleeding rent on time."
"How about a year up front, in cash? Well, a cheque actually, will that suit you?"
"It sounds a little too good to be true actually. Who the hell are they, millionaires or something?"
"No. Oh, I don't know though. I suppose they might well be, but the TV company's paying the rent for them anyway."
"You're losing me, girl. Who've you rented the bloody house to?"
"Brooke Marsh, the TV newsreader woman and her husband. You know the actor bloke Stephone Walters."
"Christ, Stephone Walters. I thought he got killed a couple of years ago! Don't I remember hearing he had a bad accident on the news, some time back?"
"No, he wasn't killed but he had a really serious accident. He says he's almost completely recovered from it now and he's just as dreamy as he's ever been."
I could see by the silly look that came over Penny's face that she liked the idea of having a film star living in the farmhouse. Why is it that people swoon over these famous people? They are just human beings like the rest of us. Although even I must admit that Stephone Walters is a handsome bastard.
"They were looking for somewhere nice and quiet around here, where Stephone could convalesce as Brooke is going to be presenting a daytime chat show on the telly. They thought this was just the place they looking for. Quiet, private, off the beaten track and far enough from the road that Stephone's fans or the paparazzi, if they hang around outside the gate hoping to see him, won't be too much of a nuisance"
I had to admit, Brooke was one of the sexiest announcers on the telly. I did enjoy watching her read the news. But she hadn't been on the BBC since she had married Stephone. "Oh, bugger, if Brooke's going to be on daytime TV, that means I wont get to see that much of her." Brooke is really something to look at. Hey, what do you expect? I'm a man, aren't I?
"Why would you want to see her on the telly when she'll be living next door? You'll probably see her all the time."
Oh, yeah. I can just see Brooke Marsh and Stephone Walters, mixing with a couple of old fogies like us!"
"I'm sure we'll see a lot of them. They seemed very nice. I told Stephone that you wouldn't mind him using your gym."
"You did what?" When we'd converted the barn, I'd put one room aside that overlooks the swimming pool (I told you it was our dream home) as a gym and fitted the place out with all the latest training gear. No, I'm not a fitness freak. I don't really work out that much but I like to play about with the stuff a bit. You know, it's the macho man bit. I'm one of those people who just didn't put on the weight over the years. Eighteen years after my wedding I could still get into the suit that I'd walked down the aisle in. I'm afraid I can't say the same for Penny though, although she still looks damn good to me. It was for her that I really put the gym in although up until then she hadn't been too enthusiastic about using it.
"Surely you don't object to Stephone using the gym. You hardly ever use it!"
"I don't know," I thought to myself, if Penny's heartthrob uses the bloody gym. Perhaps she'll spend some time in there herself. "No, of course not. It's all right by me. Providing he doesn't hog the bloody place."
"I should imagine he'll only use it during the day when Brooke is at the TV station and you're at work. Although I suppose he'll probably want to use it on the weekends sometimes as well."
Now the more astute of you might be wondering why I was not worried that "Stephone Walters" this so-called Adonis who Penny was so keen on. Was going to be in my house with my wife - who to all intent and purpose, thought the sun shone out of his arse - during the day whilst I was out at the office.
Well, the point is, I'm fifty-two and Penny is fifty-one. Stephone Walters, is nearly half our age or there about. Penny is old enough to be his mother. And from what I'd heard, before he married Brooke, he had hundreds of young women chasing him. What possible interest could he find in a slightly tubby mother of two?
"And remember," Penny was still trying to persuade me that Stephone using the gym was a good idea. "If Brooke comes over with him on the weekends, you'll get to see her in her training gear and swim suit. Hey, maybe she uses a bikini. I'd bet you'd like that, you old perv. I told them they could use the pool whenever they wished."
It looked to me that Penny had presented me with a fait accompli. And she was making plans to enjoy having a couple of famous people as our tenants. I could do nothing but accept the arrangements she had made.
Brooke and Stephone (Christ, where do they get these stupid stage names from? I'll bet he was John Smith or Fred Bloggs on his birth certificate) moved in a few days later. Surprisingly I found they were very nice people. I had somehow gotten the idea that they would be vain or something but - for the most part - they were very normal. Well, that is until Stephone's fans found out where he was living. Then the shit really did hit the fan. (Pun not intended)
I was surprised at the front of some of his fans. They just walked up the drive and stationed themselves outside the front door of the farmhouse. Or in the garden, or the trees, or the bushes by the house. Or even in my bloody garage when it was raining. Anywhere they fancied actually! The bloody newspaper photographers were even worse. Paparazzi, they call them. Jesus, those arseholes were hiding everywhere you could think of and some places you wouldn't.
We had to call the police a few times to have them removed. The problem was solved by having the boundary fence upgraded to a six foot chain link affair and having automatic gates installed, plus a privacy fence around the swimming pool area. Quite an expensive business with all the CCTV and such. Look, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth, as luckily the TV company paid the major proportion of the cost.
I'm not 100% sure Stephone was all that happy with the new security installations though. I had noticed that he appeared to enjoy having the young fans around. He could often be seen outside signing autographs and giving them a little hug. For hug read grope, for I'd noticed he was pretty free with his hands on some of those young girls when he thought no one was looking. I was surprised that Brooke put up with it. But she had either gotten used to it or she had known what to expect when she had married him.
With the new security installations came a surprise that I wasn't expecting. All kinds of so-called celebrities started to turn up on the weekends. You know the sort of people I'm talking about. People who are famous for no other reason than they are famous and have a good publicity agent. Some of them were complete arseholes to be honest. But some were quite pleasant.
I was extremely happy to rent out the holiday cottage to them. At an exorbitant price, once again. Hey, I told you, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. They did - weather permitting - tend to take over the swimming pool a bit though and the more insensitive (that's the nicest description I can think of) would just stroll into my gym and changing room without a by your bloody leave. I suppose there has to be a downside to everything.
Mind, the children soon started filling up their autograph books and for some reason became very popular with their classmates. Weekend sleepovers became the in-thing. And all kind of local organisations suddenly asked Penny and I to become members of their committees. I think they thought we would be a back door to our famous tenants. You know, we'd get Brooke or Stephone to put in appearances and open fête's and things. Penny and I politely turned them down. I had my work cut out with the Scouts and Penny was helping out the local Brownies.
Anyway most of the time there was just the four of us and the kids on the little estate. If you can call 14 acres of woods and paddocks an estate? The four of us seemed to get on very well and we would be in each other's houses quite few evenings during the week. Brooke and Stephone, as I said, had plenty of parties where the booze flowed plentifully and we made friends with the rich and famous.
Being in Brooke's company was one of my favourite things to do about that time. She is a beautiful looking young woman, in relation to Penny and myself that is. I'm a male of the species and I appreciate looking, and I'll repeat that "looking," at a shapely figure that goes in and out in all the right places. In a swimsuit or bikini, Brooke is most men's dream. But I must add that I love my beautiful wife and would never intentionally do anything to upset her. Not that I'd get the chance anyway. As I've said before, I'm almost twice Brooke's age.
Brooke and Stephone had been living in the farmhouse for just over a month when I first began to notice a few unexpected changes in Penny. Some I was quite happy with but others I wasn't too sure about.
The first thing I noticed was that Penny began to get a little more amorous. Once we'd had the children, Penny had slowed down on the old sexual front. For years now she had never been the one to instigate sex, other than the few times when she'd gotten carried away at a party or something and finished up a little bit tipsy. Don't get me wrong. I'm damn sure Penny had always enjoyed our lovemaking; once she got started there was no stopping her. But she hadn't been in the habit of starting the ball rolling for a few years.
Suddenly her night attire began to change; it got sexier and skimpier, until it got to the point where it was non-existent. And at the slightest hint of sex Penny was straight into top gear, if you get the idea.
Then I began to notice that she was rapidly loosing weight. It was plain to see that she was using the gym a lot more than she used to. I soon found out that she was joining Stephone in the gym everyday for a work out. And there we had a problem because you see I found that I was getting jealous.
Yes, I was very pleased that Penny was doing something about her figure. But the better she looked the more I began to think just how beautiful she was. And with Stephone's fans being kept at arms length so to speak, I just wondered whether Stephone would start to see the beauty in Penny that I had always seen in her as well. Stephone did tend to strike me as an "Any port in a storm" type of guy who had obviously always been used to getting lots of totty.
For a month or so I held my tongue, but then I asked Penny how she was getting along with Stephone. She blushed, which I didn't like, but then she assured me he was the perfect gentleman. Alarm bells really started going off in my head when she said that. If there was one thing I was pretty sure about, it was that Stephone Walters wasn't under any form of classification a gentleman. Gentlemen do not grope young girls!
"You're not getting sweet on Stephone, are you?" I asked, struggling to keep a smile on my face.
"And just what are you suggesting?" Penny demanded.
"Nothing. I wouldn't like you to get too close to him, though. You are my wife."
"What do you think, we're going to have it off in the gym or something whilst you're at work?" Penny said with a slightly sharp tone to her voice.
Whoops, this little conversation definitely wasn't going the way that I had intended. Unfortunately Penny thought I was accusing her of something! Not clever! I thought I'd better poor some soothing oil a bit quickly.
"Don't be silly, Penny. I would never think that! Christ, you're old enough to be Stephone's mother!"
Now that was one hell of a big mistake and I know it now. But I was shooting from the hip at the time. That statement turned out to be just as bad as waving a red rag in front of a bull. But I had said it and I couldn't take it back.
"Humph, so you think I'm an old frump, do you? I'll tell you I can turn more young men's heads than you can the ladies."
At this point in the conversation I should really have kept my big fat mouth firmly shut. But I only realised that afterwards and with hindsight. Penny had taken my inane statement as me telling her she was past it and had turned it back on me. Foolishly I, like any average husband, had to at least come out even in this one.
"For a man of my age, I don't think I look that bad looking. I've kept my figure and if I wanted, I'm sure I would have no trouble in attracting the ladies."
"Well, I'll tell you. If I wanted, I could attract any man I chose!"
Now, to be honest I can't remember exactly how the argument went after that. The whole bloody conversation hadn't gone the way I had intended. I had hoped to gently warn Penny about getting too "friendly" with Stephone and somehow I finished up virtually challenging her to seduce him.
That night and for a few nights after our sex life faltered but not for long. Penny was soon back to the sex bomb she had become since just after Brooke and Stephone moved in. But I was still very worried.
So much so that I made a few little changes to the CCTV system. The camera that overlooked the swimming pool, I adjusted so that I could just about see into the gym with it. And one of the inside intruder cameras I sneakily moved into our bedroom. I had to connect it to the now redundant computer network wiring. I'd had every room in the house wired when it was being converted but things had moved on and I was using a wireless system now. All the camera's were routed to a bloody great PC in my office come study, where once any movement was detected in any of the cameras' field of vision, it was recorded on one of several hard drives.
To be honest I don't think the recordings were ever checked since the day they were put in. Besides me having a little play with the system that is. The whole thing was a complete waste of money really. But then the TV company footed most of the bill. I just took them for everything I could.
Anyway the following evening I slipped into my office whilst Penny was over visiting Brooke and Stephone to check exactly what had gone on that day. I hit fast forward on the yard cam until I saw Stephone come over to my house about one o'clock. He went into the gym and started to work out and Penny soon joined him. For the next hour or so they worked out on the machines and nothing untoward happened. Then Penny apparently went into the kitchen and came out with coffee for both of them, which they took out onto the patio to drink.
After sitting and chatting for some time Penny went indoors for a little while. When she came back out she was wearing her swimming costume and she dived straight into the pool. Shortly after Stephone went into the changing room and came out in his trunks and dived in as well. They swam and fooled about a bit but once again nothing untoward. Once they came out of the pool they lay on separate loungers and sun bathed for a while, then Stephone went back to his working out whilst Penny slept for a little longer. Then she went inside and disappeared.
I switched to the camera I'd put in our bedroom and watched Penny go into the en-suite, where I assume she had a shower. Then she came out and dressed in a pair of cut-off Jeans, a short T-shirt and very little else that I could see. God, did she look good! Then she went back downstairs and out onto the patio again. After some more time lying on the lounger, she went into the gym and stood talking to Stephone for about twenty minutes. Then to my horror both of them went into the house.
Now, silly bugger that I am, I had used the camera that covered the hall, stairs and landing in our bloody bedroom. I frantically checked the other cameras but I couldn't locate them. The lounge and the family rooms were empty and so was the master bedroom. There wasn't a camera in the kitchen so I couldn't see if they were in there. I thought I'd have to rectify that one. But it was a little late by then. An hour later by the timing marks on the recordings they both appeared in the gym again. Stephone worked out some more whilst Penny pottered about in the garden until the children arrived home from school. They are picked up and dropped off at the gate by the school bus every day.
The problem I had was... just where had Penny and Stephone gone for that hour. I cursed myself for not having more camera's installed inside the house. I wandered around the house checking the two guest bedrooms for any sign that someone had been in them. There was none that I could discern. That night I tried to act as normal as possible but I think Penny sensed that I was not feeling myself.