"Oh no, no, no, no, please no!" sobbed Mandy, as the car just died on her.
No lights, no power, just a car slowly freewheeling to a halt in the middle of Exmoor. No passing motorists either and no sign at all of civilisation.
"Dammit!" she muttered when pulling out her mobile; no signal either, she really was stuck.
"Why me Lord?" she asked prayerfully. "Sorry Lord, your ways are mysterious and I'm sure there's a reason."
The car had drifted to a halt on the narrow road that purported to be an A road in this part of the country, it had just enough momentum to take it into a parking layby and left Mandy wondering what to do.
Come on, you're 'can do Mandy', the vicar's wife!" she spoke out loud and determinedly, before her shoulders slumped and the tears began to roll again.
Yes, she certainly 'could do', she was the reliable one, the first to volunteer, the first in line to help, the one with all the advice. So why was it that when she relied on others she was always let down? She'd asked Colin to sort out the car at the local garage, but he'd forgotten to book it in. Now, for a trip over Exmoor to visit an ill parishioner, she'd had to take a car where the electrics were dodgy and had died on the way back. Now, now, she told herself, he's a good man, a loving husband and father of our two children. Even if he seems to have forgotten his husbandly duties recently as he threw himself, wholeheartedly it seemed, into the new parish they'd been sent to.
Also niggling had been Colin's insistence on having a vasectomy. Mandy's suspicions as to why he'd done so remained. It wasn't like they even had a sex life these days nor had it improved after he'd had it done. But she was a good wife and a good Christian (she thought) and put those matters to one side as they tried to come to terms with a widespread countryside parish as opposed to the inner city one they'd been previously attached too.
Yes, it had been a culture shock (for both sides) but they had made some headway and gained new parishioners from the surrounding villages as Colin was a good preacher and spent a lot of his energies on visiting his parishioners to help as best he could as he was often wont to say.
Still mulling over the recent past wasn't helping the current situation she was in, though goodness only knew what she could do.
The darkness outside the car was almost absolute, not helped by a light mizzle (mist and drizzle), still, looking carefully, Mandy thought she could just make out a light in the distance. It was, she guessed, worth a shot, though she wasn't really dressed for walking, no coat and although she had her 'sensible' shoes on, they were only light canvas.
Mandy set off along the dark road towards what she hoped was help, the mizzle soon penetrated her light clothing and a light breeze began to chill her, making goosebumps rise on her skin. The mizzle also coated her glasses and made seeing ahead quite difficult, but she hoped, just hoped, that God was on her side in this and he'd lead her to help.
Fifteen minutes later, and soaked as well as chilled to the bone, Mandy was about to give up in despair when a quick wipe of her glasses revealed that indeed there was a light and it appeared to be some form of holiday cottage or isolated retreat, hopefully with a phone.
Ten minutes later Mandy was almost at the door when she tripped, ripping her tights and grazing her knee, but at least she could see her goal clearly and pulling herself to her feet she splashed up to the door to press the doorbell, which she heard faintly in the distance.
It seemed to take an age, but was only a couple of seconds when a shadow appeared in the door's window and she heard the lock click open.
"Yes?" came a deep male voice, though with the light behind him Mandy could not make out any features as yet.
"Hello, my cars broken down on the road and I was wondering if I could use your phone?" Mandy replied.
"Of course, dear Lady," came the voice and the door opened fully to allow Mandy inside.
Inside the warmth quickly had Mandy's glasses all steamed up and she still couldn't make out the stranger as yet, but finally she felt safe.
"The phone's here. Feel free to use it as much as you like," said the man, who, Mandy could now tell, was a good deal taller than herself, or even Colin come to that, as well as older, or more mature she corrected herself. As the steamed up glasses cleared she could also see that he was broad shouldered with a light frosting of grey hairs and eyes that gave the impression that they saw a great deal more than most.
Mandy's first call was to Colin who sounded distracted as ever, but who told her to call up one of the local garages and hung up before she could ask him to supply a number.
"Do you have a yellow pages or phone book?" Mandy asked the stranger. "I'm Mandy by the way, pleased to meet you."
"David," replied the man, as he stretched out his hand to shake hers, giving the impression that he was also caressing her hand too. "Yes, they are under the desk here," he said as he stretched down to retrieve them.
"Thank you, David," Mandy replied as she quickly looked up garage services and began punching in numbers whilst being very aware of David's close proximity to herself.
It took several tries before Mandy found a number that got her an answer, sadly it wasn't a one she wanted.
"We'll get out to you as soon as we can madam, but in this weather and with the fog rolling in it might be at least a couple of hours," came the voice over the phone. "It sounds like you are in a safe place and once we have reached the car we'll come and collect you."
"Thank you," sighed Mandy.
"I'm sorry, David. I hope you don't mind me imposing on you for a couple of hours at least?" asked Mandy.
"It will be a pleasure," David replied and in an old fashioned gesture he took her hand and gently kissed it. "Coffee or perhaps something stronger to take away the chill?"
Mandy's cheeks were burning with a blush at the unexpected gesture from David and her mind seemingly blanked.
"Oh, yes, please," she forced out eventually.
He moved away and Mandy sighed out loud realising she had been holding her breath in his presence. 'I don't understand' she thought, 'he's just a man, I know lots of men.'
"This way," came David's voice from what she thought might be the kitchen.
Two steaming mugs of coffee from a filter machine were waiting and smelled delicious as David added cream then a little Irish whisky.
"Oh! I don't normally drink," Mandy felt obliged to say.
"I can make fresh," David replied.
"No, no, it's alright. It smells heavenly," Mandy said, blushing again and wondering what was wrong with her.
David handed her the mug with his fingers again lingering on Mandy's slim fingers far longer than necessary, it seemed to her.
Hot and sweet, the coffee slid down her throat and tasted, it seemed to Mandy, like ambrosia itself.
"Oh wow, that's so good!" she sighed.
"You are welcome," murmured David. "Too many don't appreciate what talents others have."
Er ... yes," stuttered Mandy, a little confused and realising that David was very close to her, almost touching, yet she felt no desire to move away or even any fear of the man.
"Tell me a little about yourself, Mandy," David asked.
"Well, I'm just me, Mandy, the vicars wife," Mandy replied.
"Must be more to you than that," David murmured again, but close, oh so close to her ear. "Still the vicar is a lucky man to have such a lovely wife."
"Er yes, I suppose he is!" gasped Mandy, as she felt strong but soft fingers gently caress her side over her wet clothing.
Mandy was almost in a daze, it wasn't the 'Irish', her head was clear, but she should be telling this man to stop! But somehow the words just wouldn't form.
As if in a dream Mandy felt herself drawn towards David, his hands seemingly using no pressure, but there she was gazing up into his all-seeing eyes. Eyes which looked upon her and perhaps saw everything better than she saw herself. Raising her palm as if to push them apart was the only token resistance Mandy could find to make. Yet David just lowered his head to kiss her fingertips and that rebellion died stillborn.
"You, musn't!" gasped Mandy half-heartedly.
"Mustn't I?" was all the reply she got as he softly kissed her full soft lips in the manner of a lover, not a friend or acquaintance.
.... There is more of this story ...