My thanks go to Techscan and LadyCibelle for their kind assistance with the editing of this story and correcting the usual clangers that keep my critics so happily amused. But I'm sure you'll find something you don't like in the story somewhere.
I know that some people will say that the hero in this story is manipulated by at least one of the other characters in the tale. As a man, I have had many women try to manipulate me on many occasions; my good wife is adept at the art. She has to be; I can be a cantankerous old bugger sometimes.
I will point out to folks who don't like to see others manipulated, that sometimes there is a distinct advantage for the manipulated (I wonder if that's the right word). Let's face it; if you're blatantly conned into doing something and it all goes tits up on everyone, you can just smile and say, "Hey, look, it wasn't my idea; if it's gone tits-up, it's got fuck-all to do with me!" I've had heroes in similar circumstances in the past, where readers have failed to realise that playing dumb can sometimes be the hero's best option at the time.
'Just what the fuck am I doing here and how much longer can it last?' I asked myself.
There I was, on the patio of a massive and very flash villa on the coast of an unbelievably beautiful (and bloody hot) Caribbean island. Not just any old Caribbean island either; this place was a private island. Only people who owned one of the villas — or could afford to hire one for a week or so — their staff and guests were allowed to step foot on the hallowed soil. The sort of place that the likes of me shouldn't even be allowed to dream about, let alone live in for a couple of months.
I was lying back on a sun-bed taking in some afternoon rays, sipping rum - that had been poured over crushed ice - from a long glass. Every so often Sam - a big coloured man, dressed in an immaculate white shirt and slacks, and complete with a neck tie (in that heat?) - would come to adjust the large parasol that protected my face from the sun's glare. Sam would also send the little dark skinned island girl Simone out to refill my glass whenever it was empty, without me asking; Sam knew my preferences — and consuming rate - by then. He'd also remind me about how long I'd been in the sun and send that same little beauty out to apply sun block to my body when required. That was assuming that Sonya didn't beat her to it.
Somewhere below, I could hear the children playing in the swimming pool, I'd been down there earlier with them. As I lay there, occasionally I could pick out Sonya's voice amongst those of the children and their minders. Tutors, Sonya called them, taught the children everything from windsurfing to diving, but to my mind they were more like glorified nannies.
I lifted my head and looked around the sun patio; Christ, just the damn sun deck was larger than any house - including the garden - that I'd every lived in before.
As I looked around I caught sight of Sam standing at his usual station; from where he could watch me and be ready to cater for any request that I had. And at the same time, he could keep an eye on the swimming pool below; Sam was always ready for any request or emergency that could possibly happen down by the pool. I'd noticed that the guy was very protective of the children.
My movement had caught Sam's attention and our eyes met for a second, so I waved my hand to let him know that I didn't require anything.
He gave me a brief smile and nod before saying, "The Lady Sonya is coming up, sir."
"Her name's just Sonya, Sam," I admonished him.
"Yes, Sir. I'm sorry I forgot."
"And please try to remember, Sam, that when we're in private, I'm Frank. I'm not one for all this sir lark."
"Yes, Sir ... Frank, I'm sorry I keep forgetting," he replied.
I had been trying ever since I'd arrived here to get Sam — and all of the rest of the staff - to drop the formality with me when there were no visitors in the house. But it appears old habits die hard. Sam had also pointed out that they might forget when we did have visitors in the house.
"Who gives a shit, Sam. I don't want my kids growing up thinking they are something that they aren't. You guys are looking after us like bloody royalty, but you're just earning a living like most everyone else in the world has to. And all of you are damned good at what you do. That makes you anyone's equal," I'd told them.
"Yes, Sir," Sam had replied. At one time, he tried "Mr Moore" on me, but I wasn't happy with that either.
Sonya appeared at the top of the stairs that led down to the pool. She smiled at Sam as she headed in my direction. Sam, ever the soul of discretion started down the stairs toward the pool. He would move to a position about halfway down, where he could see the pool but not what was happening on the patio, although he could hear Sonya or myself if we called him.
I marvelled once again — as I always did whenever I saw her — at the beauty of the woman walking towards me. 'This can't last much longer.' Was the thought that crossed my mind.
Sonya was - I'd estimated - about thirty-five years old, and I swear, by looking at that shapely body of hers - clad as it was in one of the smallest bikinis that I'd ever seen in my life; Sonya had several that size — that no one could discern the slightest evidence that she had borne three children some years before.
"How's my lover boy? Recovered from playing with the children yet?" Sonya asked, as she swung one shapely leg over my body and lowered her backside carefully onto exactly the right spot on my groin area. Then she slowly began to rock her hips backwards and forwards, as she had done so many times in the previous few weeks. She knew full well that this would very soon have the effect she desired on me.
"Tired, but not from playing with the children this morning, Sonya. You really wore me out after the party last night!" I replied.
"Ah, diddums!" she giggled back at me. "But, it was a good session last night, wasn't it? Made me feel like a teenager again!"
"You ain't kidding, girl. Last night you worked me over pretty good, and then this morning you started on me as well. Jesus, I wish I'd been around when you were a teenager? Christ, I don't know how Seymour ever had any energy left to shag Jean."
"Neither do I! He certainly never had your stamina, in my bed anyway!" Sonya grinned down at me. "Perhaps he saved all his energy for Jean. She must have been really something in bed."
"I wouldn't say that exactly." I replied, remembering back to how Jean had been when she was in bed with me, especially in the last few years, since the children had been born. "Oh, she liked to 'do it' all right, but I wouldn't say she was ever that mad about sex. One orgasm was always enough for Jean. When she was in bed with me anyway." I added as an afterthought. "Actually Jean was more like some of those blokes you hear about; only with Jean it wasn't wham, bam, thank you, mam! It was wham, bam, thank you, man! Or rather, thank you, Frank. One climax was always enough for Jean; I'd get her off once and then she'd say that's enough for one night, Frank, I'm tired now. Then she'd roll over and go off to sleep."
"Sounds like some of the guys that I knew back at university." Sonya grinned again. "Anyway forgetting about Jean and sex for the minute. I sensed that there was something bothering you at breakfast this morning, Frank. I didn't want to ask in front of the children, but is something wrong?"
For a few seconds I debated whether to broach the subject with Sonya in my mind and came to the decision that we'd have to talk about it sooner or later. Probably the sooner the better!
"Well, to be honest with you, Sonya, no, not really at the moment. But I just can't help wondering when the bubble is going to burst."
Sonya stopped her rocking motion, which had already had the effect she intended even though I'd tried very hard not to get aroused.
"Bubble! What bubble?" she asked with a concerned look on her face.
"This bubble! All of this. Sonya, you are a very desirable woman. You're what, thirty-five?" Sonya nodded to affirm my estimate of her age. "You've got more money stashed away than they've got in the Bank of England and three massive houses. This one, that villa in the South of France and the estate in Surrey, that must be at least a hundred acres..."
"Two hundred and fifty!" Sonya corrected me still smiling.
I ignored her interruption. "Last night, you had some pretty handsome and damned rich looking fellas running around after you like blue-arsed-flies. You know they were all vying for your attention at the same time - well, they were trying to."
"And they didn't get it, did they? You know as well as I do that all they want is to get into my knickers, as you so elegantly like to put it," Sonya interrupted again, but still grinning. She seemed to enjoy my rather "basic English" vocabulary (Sonya's term) and often took the rise out of it in a friendly way.
"I can't say that I can blame them for that either." I smiled back at her. "You're one beautiful and very sexy looking woman, you know. Especially in that damned bikini or that low cut dress you had on last night!"
"So that's your problem; you're jealous. Well, don't be, Frank. They'll never get anything off of me while you're in my life."
"Well, you see, that really is the problem, Sonya. You're a very desirable thirty-five-year-old heiress, and I'm a forty-three-year-old sodding truck driver, for Christ's sake, from the North London suburbs at that. What have I done to deserve being here with you?"
"Well, you married a slut who let my husband fuck her brains out willy-nilly, that's what." Sonya giggled back at me. "And you screw better than any man I've ever shared a bed with before!"
I knew full well that she was enjoying our little conversation. Damn, the woman never seemed to take anything seriously.
"Yeah, so you say, but when you suggested this little jaunt, it was to wind-up our ex-spouses. I never in my wildest dreams imagined we'd ever ... you know ... The idea was that we'd make a big show of jetting out here to one of the houses that you took from Seymour in the settlement. I never intended to take advantage of you like I have."
"Whoa there, stud." Sonya's facial expression changed and she looked just a little annoyed with me. "For a start, you have never taken advantage of anyone; I chose to seduce you and I have no complaints on that score. Secondly, I didn't take this place from Seymour in the divorce either; it was mine all the time. My family had this house built years ago. The house in the south of France was my father's retirement home until he passed away and the estate in Surrey, what's left of it, well that has been in the family for well over two hundred years."
"Oh, sorry, I didn't realise. But it just goes to show that you and I are from completely different worlds ... Well, look, Sonya, what I'm trying to say is that I could get used to this life ... And, well, so could my girls, but the longer we stay out here the harder it's going to be to get back to normal."
"What do you mean by 'back to normal'?" Sonya demanded.
"Sonya, I love it here with you; Christ, I've grown to care for you a damned sight more than is prudent, under the circumstances..."
"And what circumstances would they be?" Sonya demanded; she was looking - uncharacteristically - very serious by then. It was possibly only the second or third time that I hadn't seen a smile on that beautiful face of hers.
"Sonya, let me get this out please! I've grown to care for you much, much more than you realise. And so have my girls; but someday soon you're going to figure that you've rubbed Seymour's face in the dirt enough, by slumming it with the likes of me and you're going to want to get back to your friends."
"Jesus Christ, Frank, what are you, a bloody snob? What kind of shallow slut do you take me for?"
"Sonya, I don't think you're shallow and I'll bleeding-well deck the first bugger who tries to call you a slut. As a matter of fact, if you remember correctly, I already have."
Sonya giggled, "Yeah, that was funny. I doubt that Seymour's ever been flattened like that before, not in public anyway. One punch from you and he went out like a light."
"Glass jaw they call it. Seymour might be a big man, but he can't take a punch."
"Well, he deserved it; he was very insulting at the airport."
"Sonya, he was telling the truth as he saw it. You led him to believe that you were bringing me out here to fuck my brains out in revenge for him carrying on with Jean when, in fact, we had already agreed that the whole charade was just for the press and the children's benefit. And to embarrass Seymour. We never did intend to sleep together really."
"Who didn't intend to sleep with whom? I know what I had planned, even if it did mean that I had to use a little bit of subterfuge where someone was concerned. Look, Frank, when I approached you in that transport café that day, I soon realised that I'd found, or rather that Jean was about to lose, a real man."
"I'll admit that when I went there that day, I had only intended to give you the evidence of Jean and Seymour's infidelity. But whilst we were talking, I recognised something in you that none of the other men that I've known in my life had, except maybe for my father. Perhaps I saw some of his character in you as well. He was a good man who thought of everyone else before he thought about himself."
"You got pretty irate at first when you saw those photographs, but then you got your emotions under control and, yes, you mentioned that you'd have to divorce Jean. But your number one consideration was on what effect it was all going to have to Annette and Sheryl. And what possible damage had been done already."
"It was?" I replied.
Of course, I could remember the occasion that Sonya was talking about, when an immaculately dressed, very beautiful and quite definitely out of place woman walked into Wally's Café, accompanied by a flunky in a flash whistle. She'd gotten the attention of every damn driver in the place from the second she stepped through the door.
The guy in the suit had gestured in my general direction and then went to the counter.
Then I'd been totally gob smacked as the woman strolled over to my table and took a seat opposite me.
"Frank Moore?" she'd enquired. Or rather asked me to affirm; it was pretty obvious that she knew who I was.
"Yes!" I replied meekly, looking from her to my mates, some of whom were also sat at the long table. To be honest, I was wondering what kind of a practical joke the guys had set me up for this time.
"I wonder if you would mind giving us some privacy, gentlemen?" she'd said, turning to the rest of the guys. "Mr Moore and I have something rather unpleasant and personal to discuss."
As they'd already finished their meals, the guys politely acquiesced to Sonya's request and left the table promptly. But not without giving me some very quizzical looks and a few of them winked at me. I just shrugged. I figured at least one of the guys was bluffing and knew exactly what the woman wanted. How wrong I was!
"Mr Moore, we've never met, but my name is Sonya Springfield. I believe that you've met my husband on a few occasions."
Indeed I had met the wanker. He was one of the big-knobs at the place where my wife Jean worked. I can't say that I'd ever been impressed by the bugger either; fancied his chances too much for my liking.
"Yes, I've met him a few times at the company do's," I replied, with a slightly uneasy feeling in my stomach.
"Well, I'm afraid I've come here to give you some rather unpleasant information. I thought it only civil to inform you about what's been going on, before the balloon goes up. I'm afraid I've got to tell you that your wife and my husband have been having an affair."
"I don't believe you!" I blustered.
'Jean, cheat on our marriage, no way! She doted on our children and she loved our little house; Christ, she loved me; well, she was always telling me she did.' But for some reason and almost immediately after that thought had crossed my mind, I began thinking. 'Now Seymour Springfield! Yeah well, he was the type who'd lay any little tart that he could get his hands on. But my Jean, no way would she cheat on me, not with the likes of him; she just wouldn't!'
Well, that was the way my mind was working at the time. But somehow - I still don't know why — in my heart, I knew that this woman wasn't spinning me a line.
"I'm sorry, Mr Moore, but what I tell you is true," she said, placing a large manilla envelope which she'd been carrying on the table before me. "See for yourself. There're some photographs of them together in there. I'll warn you though, some of them are pretty disgusting and rather pornographic."
With more than a little trepidation and even more willpower, I picked up the envelope and peeked at the pictures inside. It wasn't even necessary for me to pull the pictures right out. The first one I saw was of Jean all right; a very naked Jean, who was on her hands and knees, getting it from behind by someone. I couldn't see who the guy was who was shagging her, but it definitely wasn't me; the guy was much too fat.
I looked back from the envelope to Sonya Springfield. I have no idea what kind of an expression I had on my face, but it must have been one of extreme shock and anger.
"I'm sorry, Mr Moore, but I thought it only fair to let you know what was going on before tomorrow morning when the balloon will go up. Seymour is a very famous man. I'm expecting that pictures of them together will be all over the media tomorrow ... after the announcement is made that I'm filing for divorce on the grounds of his adultery with your wife. You might want to make sure that your children do not see the news broadcasts on television tomorrow."
I said something in reply but I can't remember what it was that I did say. Probably I thanked her for her thoughtfulness or something.
"Mr Moore, the sleaze that I came in with is my solicitor, Ronny Macintosh. I can't say that I like him very much, but he's a damned good lawyer. If you should need his services, he'll be only too pleased to take on a divorce case for you as well. I've already spoken to him; he won't charge you too much because I have him under retainer and he can run the two cases together."
Well, I think that was the gist of what Sonya said; neither my mind nor my memory was working properly by that time. Anger does that kind of thing to some people.
But I wasn't just anyone. I am a professional driver. My working days were spent on Britain's crowded roads and motorways with anything up to 44 tons up behind me. With the way most of the idiots drive their cars nowadays, cutting us up, not giving the big trucks enough clearance when they pull out in front of us, or pulling back too early into our braking zone after they overtake. I've had to learn to control my emotions. It's a matter of self-preservation; lose it and you could pile the truck up. And then those 44 tons will try to join you in the cab and push you straight into an early grave.
So pretty soon I managed to get my emotions back under control.
"Um, thanks, yeah, divorce, yeah, well, er ... Looking at these pictures that's about all I can do, divorce her, isn't it?" I mumbled, I might have gotten my emotions under control, but I was still in a state of shock.
"No, sir, please don't be in too much of a hurry to make up your mind about divorcing your wife; it can prove expensive, you know," a man's voice said. Ronny Macintosh had come over to our table, probably at a prearranged signal from Sonya. "Divorce isn't your only option, sir. You should talk to your wife first before you make any decisions, and maybe see a marriage counsellor."
"What the hell are they doing there?" I asked absent-mindedly.
Whilst Ronny Macintosh had been talking, I had been thumbing through the photographs in the envelope. I still hadn't summoned up the courage to pull them out of the envelope and have a good look at them; I was trying to view them at an oblique angle from the end of the envelope.
"Let me see," Sonya said.
I tilted the envelope so that she could.
"Oh, my, that was last Thursday in the lounge of your house."
"I can see that!"
"Yes, well, Seymour is having sex with your wife from behind. You can't see them there, but your two children are sitting on the sofa that she's leaning over, watching the television. You can't see them in that still picture but you can on the film. Mr Moore, I don't believe that they knew what the adults were doing. They were completely engrossed in the television."
"Are you telling me that your husband was having sex with my wife when my children were in the same room?" I exploded; I was losing it again.
"Yes, I'm sorry. But from what we can make out on the video, we don't think that the girls were aware of what was going on. Jean lent over the back of the sofa to speak to them and from the looks of it, Seymour appeared to creep up behind her."
"And she let him! Jesus Christ, what is the fucker, sick or something? Shagging my wife whilst my kids were in the same room." I actually shouted that time. Everyone in Wally's place must have heard me.
"I can take it that marriage counselling is off the list of options then, can I?" Ronny Macintosh said. He had already taken some forms out of his briefcase and had been writing furiously as we talked.
"Too bloody right you can, mate, and I want custody of my kids as well!"
"No problem there, Mr Moore; that bit of film will see to that. Child endangerment, I believe the Americans call it; our family courts take a very dim view of that kind of behaviour as well. Now if you'd like to sign here, I can get the ball rolling whenever you give me the go signal."
"Go!" I replied, "I don't have to think about anything after seeing that. The sooner my girls are away from that bitch's influence the better. But god only knows what kind of an effect Jean and I divorcing will have on them."
"If that's the case, I could call a social worker friend of mine in on it tomorrow morning. She can get an emergency order from the family courts, suspending your wife's parental rights for the time being. And most probably they will require your wife to move out of the family home as well. Once that piece of film goes before the courts, she'll be hard pressed to get them back again."
"Hold your horses a little, Ronny. Mr Moore might not want to go that route. Surely it will be easier on the children if we can keep the social services people out of this. You know what those buggers can be like. Once they get involved, Mr Moore here might loose control of things completely," Sonya interrupted Ronny's flow.
"Yeah, you could be right, Sonya. They can get a little overenthusiastic at times and pretty officious as well," Ronny said and then he thought for a few seconds. "Frank - you don't mind me calling you Frank, do you?" I nodded to let him know I was fine with the idea. "Were you planning on being home tonight. You know, before we told you about..." Ronny's voice faded away.
"Yeah, I was. But how I'm going to hold my temper with Jean, I don't know."
"Yes, it might be better if you stayed away from your wife until you've had time to get used to the idea. Could you fake a delay of some kind that'll keep you away from the house for the night?" Ronny asked.
"Yeah, I can always call Jean and tell her that I've had a breakdown. But why?"
"To give us time to get our pigeons all lined up. Oh, and don't worry about your wife getting all cosy with Seymour tonight. Sonya's got that one covered. If you aren't home tonight, you can't lose it and let on to your wife that you know about her affair and are intending to apply for a divorce and custody of the children. I think I can rush this paperwork through and get in first thing in the morning. You'll have to take tomorrow off from work, and I suggest that you collect your children from their school at lunchtime. Have you got any relatives living near by that they can stay with for a day or so?"
"Yeah, my sister doesn't live all that far away. I could take them there. The girls stayed with her last year when Jean and I took a second - don't laugh - honeymoon.
"Good, if all goes to plan, I'll have the paperwork delivered to your wife at the same time as we serve Seymour. We might have to hang fire on that news conference for a couple of hours, Sonya," he said turning to her.
"I can't see any problem with that. We'll have time for the evening news programs and the dailies wouldn't have had the story until the Saturday morning anyway," Sonya replied.
"Good, I'll have someone at your house with you tomorrow afternoon, Frank. When your wife turns up she'll already have been served with the papers, so she'll know to expect trouble. It'll be best if the children aren't around if the confrontation starts to get too nasty. It's not good for the children to witness scenes like that. When they get excited it's too easy to say things that you'd rather the children didn't hear. We'll have my people run off some more stills from that video and maybe a copy of the tape itself all set up and ready to play in your home player. You can simply tell her to pack her bags and vacate the premises. If she refuses, we'll just tell her that we'll turn that tape over to the social services and that they will make sure that she never sees her two girls again."
"Can they do that?" I asked.
"You're not kidding they can! Those buggers can do just about anything that takes their fancy, if they tell the court that it's for the children's protection; they have the family courts behind them. A divorce court judge - now they're a bit more circumspect and could well throw out that video evidence of what Seymour and your wife got up in that room with the children present, because technically it was taken illegally. But the family courts, they aren't so particular on that score; to them, evidence is evidence and bugger where it came from."
I signed the papers that Ronny Macintosh put in front of me, then as he and Sonya got up to leave, I pulled the picture of my once happy little family out of my wallet and looked at it. Whatever happened I was convinced that Jean wasn't stealing my girls from me.
"They're two beautiful girls," Sonya had come around the table and was looking at the picture over my shoulder.
"Yeah, they take after their mother. Damn, they are going to be upset about all this."
"I've got three of my own, a boy and two girls. It's not going to be easy on them either. Mind I wouldn't say that Seymour was there for them very much anyway. But he is their father."
"Why do people do things like that - you know, have affairs? Don't they think about how its going to affect the children?" I asked.
"I really don't believe they think about what they are doing in advance, Frank. You don't mind me calling you Frank, do you? You must call me Sonya. I expect that we'll be seeing each other again even if it is only in the divorce court," she asked.
"Most everyone does," I replied.
"I'm sorry I had to be the one to break this to you, Frank. Ronny said he'd do it; he's a bloody good lawyer, but ... Oh, you know, to him it's a job. I thought you might take it a bit easier knowing that I'm in the same boat."
"Thank you, Sonya, I expect we will meet again," I said standing to shake her hand. I shook Ronny's proffered hand as well.
They left and I went out to my truck and called my boss to explain the situation to him. I figured that I could trust him. I'd worked for him for some years by then. He even offered to make the call to Jean to tell her that I had had a breakdown and that I wouldn't be home until the next day. But I told him that I would do it. He wasn't quite so happy when I informed him that I wanted the following day and all the next week off work, but he understood my position and that I'd have to make arrangements for the children.
The call to Jean went surprisingly easy, too easy when I look back on it. It was if she didn't give a monkey whether I got home or not that night. Then I chatted with my girls for a little while. That was damned hard to do without getting emotional.
That Friday didn't quite go as I had expected or planned that it would. I'd collected the girls from school at lunchtime without any problem and drove them over to my sister's house, having briefed her on the situation earlier in the day. I figured that I was going to need a lot of support from my sister, where the girls were concerned. She'd been through a divorce herself so she knew the kind of effect losing one parent from the family could have on the children.
A woman called Rachel from Ronny Macintosh's office was waiting at my house when I got back there. Rachel explained that she was a solicitor who specialised in divorce and child custody cases; it appeared that Ronny Macintosh was the big cheese at the office and he had people who specialised in all the different areas of the law working for him.
Rachel was very a good looking woman and probably in her late forties or early fifties. She sounded very pleasant, but sometimes when she spoke there was a hardness about her words that made me think she could handle just about any situation. I think she was a lot less surprised as the day's events unfolded than I was.
Just after two o'clock Rachel received a phone call from Ronny, who had presented both the lovers with their copies of the divorce petitions when they had returned to the office after having lunch together. That was when we — or rather I - discovered that things weren't going to go exactly as we'd expected.
From what Rachel relayed to me, Jean and super stud were both pretty surprised at being presented with the petitions, but they had soon recovered their composures. Jean had said something to Seymour about it "Moving the schedule up a little" and they'd both smiled, although Ronny thought Jean looked a lot more confident than Seymour did.
"He's a businessman who likes to be in control. We've wrong footed him and he doesn't like it a bit!" Rachel informed me confidently. "I'll bet he's running around now, like a tit in a trance trying to figure out how he can get back into the driving seat."
Shortly Rachel received another call and was informed that Jean and Seymour had left the company offices together and had gone to a solicitor's office.
"Might have guessed it. Harcourt's - they specialise in divorce and are very expensive," Rachel announced, with a smile on her face. "I like a good fight and we've got them by the balls on this one." The smile on her face turned into a grin. "But I think we'd better take some precautions," she added.
Then Rachel went out to her car and returned with two more brief cases. She'd brought a small one in with her when we'd entered the house. From the larger of the two new cases she took a book, which she hid amongst the others already on the bookshelf in the lounge. A small ornament she placed among the others on the mantelpiece in the dining room.
"Do you smoke?" she asked me.
I told her that I did, but that I was trying to give the habit up. Rachel then enquired which brand I smoked and asked me for my cigarette lighter. She took the lighter and placed it on top of a packet of the same brand of cigarettes that I smoke - which she'd also extracted from her briefcase - on the side worktop in the kitchen.
"There, that should cover all the likely places." She grinned. I must have been looking confused. "Microphones," she grinned at me. "It's useful to have a record of everything that's said on these occasions, especially if Harcourt's are concerned. I'm expecting one of his people to arrive here with your wife and he definitely will be wired, so hold your emotions in check please. I should imagine that they were planning on mental cruelty or accusing you of being a wife beater. You're guilty of neither, I assume?"
"Do what?" I replied. I had no idea of what Rachel was talking about.
"Frank, your wife took it much too easily. I believe she was planning on dumping you in the very near future. Didn't you hear me regarding what she said about moving the schedule up a little?"
"Oh, god, you think that Jean was planning to divorce me?"
"Yes, I very much suspect that Seymour and Jean were planning on dumping you and Sonya and setting up house together. Sonya did say that she thought someone was watching her in Paris earlier in the year. I should imagine that Seymour was trying to catch her cheating. He'd do much better out of a divorce if he some had some evidence that she'd strayed."
"Do you think that Sonya has, you know, had an affair?" I enquired. Rachel must have known this Sonya woman much better I.
"Frank I wouldn't take it on myself to speculate what Sonya gets up to. She was a real girl in the old days, led her father a real song and dance at times. Then she took up with Seymour and I think she's been the picture of virtue since. But anyone can have an affair, believe me; the circumstances just have to be right, that's all. You know, when it comes to love and fidelity, who can you trust in this world?"
"That's being a little pessimistic, isn't it?" I suggested.
"You think. Well, a few years back now, one of our client's loving wife framed her husband for the murder of her own lover's wife. When the husband eventually got out of prison she tried to kill him as well. Oh and she'd murdered her lover's wife and then killed her lover at the same time as she planned to kill her ex-husband. She was probably insane, but the husband had no idea that she'd been cheating on him all along; he thought she loved him."
"Oh, fuck, sorry! Pardon my French!" I said when I heard that story. Seemed to me like you can't trust anyone.
"Don't mind me. You'd be hard pushed to say anything that I haven't heard before," Rachel said in reply to my apology for my unintended bad language; that came from working in the real world. "There'll probably be some real colourful language flying about when your wife finally shows up here anyway. There normally is on these occasions."
Later whilst I was paying a call of nature, Rachel received yet another call and was informed that Jean and Seymour had been to the girls' school. Rachel was in the process of calling the police to arrange for a patrol car to come to the house as I came back down the stairs.
"I believe that she will have a gentleman with her by the name of Seymour Springfield. Should Mr Springfield try to enter the house with Mrs Moore, which I am pretty sure he will, then I'm convinced that it will lead to a confrontation with Mr Moore and a breach of the peace." Rachel stopped speaking while she listened to what whoever was on the other end of the line had to say.
"Yes, Mr Moore is the householder here. This is his house and his permanent place of residence. Mr Springfield is the person Mrs Moore has been having an affair with." There was a pause before she continued, "No, for various reasons, I believe that it will be Mrs Moore who moves out of the matrimonial home." There was another pause. "Yes, that's what I thought. His presence alone would most likely lead to a nasty and possibly violent confrontation with Mr Moore should he try to enter the house." She continued after another short pause, "Thank you, officer." Rachel closed the connection on her mobile phone and smiled at me.
"Seymour drove Jean to the school; apparently Jean came out again in a blind fury when she discovered that the children weren't there. Our man watching them said they telephoned someone; I suspect they called Harcourt. Anyway now they are waiting in the next street in Seymour's car. Probably for someone from Harcourt's office to arrive."
Less than half an hour later a police car pulled up at the curb outside the house and shortly after that, two BMW's drove slowly past, looking for a space to park in our crowded street. Rachel and my cars were filling the drive.
"Henry Harcourt himself. This should be fun," Rachel commented.
Maybe five minutes later Jean came walking up the road with two men dressed in business suits. One, I knew was Seymour Springfield, the other I assumed was the Harcourt guy, who Rachel couldn't wait to lock horns with.
As they got close to the house the policeman got out of his car and waylaid them. There was some animated conversation during which I could see that Jean was getting quite agitated. But the Harcourt guy was apparently trying to keep the peace. Eventually Seymour Springfield walked over to the police car with the officer and just Jean and Harcourt walked up the short path to the front door.
"Where are my girls? What have you done with them?" Jean shouted the moment she clapped eyes on me.
"The children are quite safe, Mrs Moore; I can assure you of that. We thought it better that they weren't witnesses this afternoon," Rachel replied. She had already instructed me to leave all the talking to her. "Hello, Henry. I'd better warn you that you're on a losing wicket on this one," Rachel directed to the Harcourt guy.
Jean carried on trying to go off on one at me, but Harcourt managed to persuade her to remain silent, for a while at least. Then he turned to Rachel.
"Hello, Rachel. I assume that you are representing Mr Moore?"
"We are, and I'd better warn you, Henry, that Mr Moore is in a very strong position to dictate the terms on this one."
"You think, Rachel?" Harcourt replied. "Mrs Moore has a strong case for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. She demands that the children be returned to her custody immediately and that Mr Moore vacate these premises forthwith and stays away until we can place all of this before the court."
Rachel smiled, "Henry, let's not beat around the bush on this one. Before you make a complete ass of yourself, I suggest that you and Mrs Moore watch the video that we've got set up for you in the lounge. Then I'll give you and Mrs Moore Mr Moore's terms for a settlement. I believe they are very reasonable considering the circumstances and I think you'll agree with me that Mrs Moore would be very foolish to reject to them. Not if she ever wants to have any personal contact with her children again in the future anyway. As it is, Mr Moore is prepared to offer her very reasonable but supervised visitation rights."
"Supervised visitation with my own children! What the hell are you talking about?" Jean screamed; she couldn't hold her silence any longer.