It was uncanny. We both started talking at exactly the same time, saying exactly the same words.
"I think we need to talk."
We had finished the cereal and coffee. I had started on my toast and marmalade. We looked at each other and out it came. We both found the synchronicity amusing and I began choking on my toast as I laughed. After I regained my composure I looked at her and almost did it again. I put out my open hand to her in a gesture for her to start.
"I've something to say to you, Frank. It's not going to be easy and I don't know how you'll take it."
"Why don't you come out with it? I'm a big boy; I can handle whatever it is."
"Okay. I want—I want you to stop seeing Mary."
I gasped and coughed to avoid inhaling toast crumbs again.
"I'm sorry, Frank, that came out wrong. Of course you can't just stop seeing her, that would be unreasonable, what with your mutual interests and all. No, I just want you to stop—you know."
"No, Caroline, I don't know. Suppose you spell it out for me."
"I want you to stop—I want you to stop taking her to bed. There, I've said it."
The silence that followed seemed to last forever. My wife of twenty-five years had just told me to stop having an affair with her friend and more recently my business associate. Then it hit me again. She asked me to stop; that meant she knew it was happening. It was Caroline who spoke first.
"Look, I know it's my fault. I remember what I said to you a year ago. I'm not blaming you, either of you, but things are different now and I'd like you to stop."
A year ago? Could that have been a similar breakfast conversation when I brought up the problem of my forced celibacy? I'd got to the point where I couldn't ignore it any longer. I hadn't had sex for months and when I did get any it was the "lay back and think of England" type. I soon found out we both had completely different ideas of what our married life was like and how it should be. It wasn't the first time we'd had this discussion, the conclusion was always the same, no conclusion.
I remembered us as newly-weds, not being able to get enough of each other, making love every day and twice on Sundays. My recollection was that she used to get wet when I squeezed her breasts and played with her nipples. One day we drove eighty miles down the motorway with the fingers of my left hand teasing her clit and in her pussy. It's true to say Caroline never initiated sex, but I put that down to her upbringing, Nice girls didn't do that kind of thing.
Caroline remembered things differently, she said she had never had much of a sex drive. She told me I was imagining things when I told her I thought she had gone off me after I had my vasectomy. It seemed I had an over active imagination. I told her she used to like having her breasts fondled or her nipples tweaked. I reminded her of the period when she needed a drink or two before she'd let me make love to her. When I'd asked if she realised how that made me feel she flatly denied it had ever happened. I pushed it that day. I knew she was menopausal, but I was getting desperate. It wasn't just the sex that I missed, it was the closeness it brought and the touching. Once upon a time she loved my touch, but now anything remotely intimate could only be done through at least three layers of clothing. I suggested she think about hormone replacement therapy but she refused to even consider it.
"It's my body and I'm not filling it with unnecessary medication. You seem to want a woman who will lay on her back for you any time you feel like it. Well I'll tell you now, if that's what you want you'd better look elsewhere because that woman isn't me."
That must be what she meant when she spoke about what she'd said a year ago. I must admit I remembered it. I'd analysed the statement several times and every time I still wasn't sure. Was she telling me that if I wanted sex I should find a mistress? It took two frosty weeks to get over that little chat and it didn't change a thing.
A month later I met Mary. I attended a fund-raising event for the charity Caroline managed. I'd noticed her as soon as she came in. Her red hair made her stand out from the crowd. The dress she wore didn't reveal a lot but it certainly didn't conceal her figure. I didn't dream she could be on her own, I thought she must be waiting for someone.
All the great and the good of the local area were there. I even had a short conversation with our Member of Parliament. I tended to try to keep out of people's way and played the wall flower, while the good people and the sleaze balls charities attract were busy with their networking. I found myself corners to hide in and every time I did I'd look up and see her across the room, still alone.
When you are totally bored you look for things to do and since the only thing for me to do was eat and drink I made my way to the refreshments. I was just picking up another glass of orange juice when I heard a voice behind me.
"I'd be careful if I were you. That's the third one of those you've had tonight."
I turned and looked at her. I noticed her striking blue eyes and prominent cheekbones. She gave me a beaming smile.
"Hi I'm Mary Entwistle. We appear to be the only people here on their own and you look as fed up as I am."
"Frank," I said offering my hand. "Frank Burns, but I'm not here alone. I'm Caroline's husband. Between you and me, Mary, I am bored to tears. Caroline insists I come to these things to support her. Who is she trying to kid? She doesn't need my support; she just needs a chauffeur."
"I'm sure you mean much more to her than that, Frank. She often talks about you."
"So you know Caroline."
"Yes, I am a trustee. My husband and I always supported this charity even when it was struggling. Caroline has breathed new life into it. There was a time when we thought it was doomed but she took over, shook up the organisation and got everyone pulling in the same direction. Now look at it. Even our sleazy MP wants to rub shoulders with her. You must be very proud."
"I am, really proud. She doesn't believe it, but I'm pleased to see her showing everyone what I always knew she could do. I was the person who pushed her to apply for job, though sometimes I wish I hadn't."
"Then why aren't you up there beside her?"
"Because I don't think that's where she wants me. Well, that and the fact that I would have to be sociable with your chairman."
"So you're not keen on David. You don't strike me as man full of prejudices. What has he done to you?"
"Nothing at all, not to me personally. but I know he tried to undermine at least one of the other trustees because the guy wanted the organisation to be more democratic."
"Would Jonathan be the man you are talking about? I remember David calling me asking for support. He alleged some sort of financial impropriety. He even suggested Jonathan might be having an affair with the bookkeeper. I told him to bring his evidence to the board meeting and we could decide there. Funny thing is it was never mentioned again."
"No, it wouldn't have been. You see, David tried to use his connections to delay payment by county hall in order to put pressure on Caroline and the board. He wanted Jonathan to stand down or be voted off. I like Jonathan, he's a straight up kind of bloke, so I made my own enquiries at county hall to see where the rumours were coming from. If David had been a younger man Jonathan would have taken him outside. As it is the only thing that prevented him taking David to court was the charity's reputation. From a personal viewpoint, ever since he became chairman and wanted to micro-manage everything, I never get to see my wife"
"Perhaps it's time we got a new chairman."
"Won't happen unless you enlarge the board. He will fight that of course, and his little harem of lady trustees, who fawn all over him, will ensure he is not defeated."
"I hope you're not including me in the harem."
"Of course not. I can't imagine you in anyone's harem. More's the pity."
I felt some embarrassment at giving voice to my thoughts. As I was struggling to find something to say that would salvage the situation, Caroline joined us.
"What are you two talking about all huddled up in the corner?"
"Frank was telling me how many hours you put in, and how proud he is of you."
"Well he's got a funny way of showing it, all I ever hear are complaints about my working too late. Poor little Frank doesn't get enough attention."
"Frank had no right to discuss our private life with strangers, but I'm glad you two are getting to know each other. I had intended to introduce you. Mary has an old motorbike in her garage, Frank. I thought you might be interested in helping her do something with it. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to work the room, as they say."
With that she was gone again. Mary looked at me.
"Everything not sunshine and roses in the Burns household I take it? Sorry, I didn't make it any better did I?"
I just stood there looking down at the floor. My wife had firmly put me in my place in front of everyone. Mary placed a card in my hand.
"My number is on the back. Call me--about the bike"
She put one finger under my chin and lifted my head so I was looking straight at her. She gave me a smile that warmed me through to my toes.
"Hmm, I might have to give the harem idea some thought," she said as she turned to leave.
I watched her all the way to the door the swing of her hips, the tightness of her arse and the way her hair bounced as she walked. I took it all in until she was out of sight.
On the way home I got a severe ear-bashing about discussing the David situation with Mary. It was apparently none of my business and should have been confidential.
"You weren't jealous then, seeing me getting friendly with another woman? A very attractive woman at that?"
"Of course not. You probably have a lot in common. She and her husband used to be really into motorbikes before he died. As I said earlier, I had it in mind to introduce you."
"Would that have been before or after you showed everyone what a wimp I am?"
"I did no such thing. Alright, perhaps I shouldn't have said what I did."
"Damn right you shouldn't. You put me in a position where it was either make a scene or look like a wimp. Unlike you I don't want the world to know about our crumbling marriage."
"I only told Mary I didn't like you working such long hours. I also told her how proud I was of you and what you'd achieved. It may surprise you, but I always had faith in you. I wouldn't have urged you to take the job if I hadn't."
So that was the way it started. I called Mary. She had a bike for me to look at after all. She made it sound like an old wreck so I offered to go over and give my opinion as to what to do with it. I went round on a Wednesday evening after work. Caroline still wasn't home by the time I left but I wasn't expecting to stay long. We could eat when I got back.
Mary lived in a nice bungalow on the outskirts of town. The house had a good-sized garden with a large detached garage. She came to the door wearing a bath robe and with her hair piled up on top of her head. She gave me that same warm smile as she greeted me.
"Hello, Frank. You're a little early. I thought I'd have time for a quick shower."
"Don't mind me, Mary. Just show me the machine in question then you can get back to your shower. Unless, that is, you want a bit of company?"
She slapped my arm "You're a naughty man, Frank Burns. Now come on I'll show you the bike."
She led the way out to the garage, switched on the light and pointed to something covered in a tarpaulin. The bike's under the tarp. Why don't you have a look while I have my shower."
I removed the cover and was taken aback. If I was right, it was definitely worth restoring. I got out my phone and started taking pictures. I rubbed the muck away from the engine and frame numbers and took photographs of those. I was checking out the forks for rust when Mary returned. She wore tight blue jeans and an equally tight white tee shirt. Her red hair spilled down over her shoulders. For a woman approaching fifty she was really hot.
"Well, what should I do with it? Give it away or try to sell it?"
"If it is what I think it is then the answer is neither."
"Oh, I thought you would know what it is," she said as a look of disappointment spread across her face.
I had an overwhelming urge to sweep her up in my arms and explain it all to her in bed. However, I was a married man and resisting such urges was something I had grown used to over the years.
"Let me tell you what I do know. I know that it's a 500cc Velocette. That alone rules out giving it away. I am fairly sure it's a sports version which means it's a Venom, Venom Clubman or Venom Thruxton. When this machine was made the Thruxton was the bees knees. The fastest 500cc road bike in the world. Lads who couldn't afford or couldn't get their hands on a Thruxton bought the lesser Veloes and tarted them up to look like Thruxtons. I need to do some research to verify that it's a genuine Thruxton. If it is, you would be a fool to sell it in this condition. Get it restored and it will be worth a lot more."
Mary moved closer to me and I felt the pressure in my jeans. "Caroline said you knew about bikes and I have to say, I am impressed. How long before you know for sure?"
"I'll get on the internet tonight, get back to you tomorrow."
"Why don't you use my computer? Come to think of it, I'll bet you haven't eaten yet. How about I fix us some dinner while you do the research? It's been a long time since I cooked for a man."
I said I would have to phone Caroline but when the call went straight to voice mail I left a message and accepted the invitation. By the time Mary served dinner I had the answers to all her questions.
"The bike is a 1965 Velocette Venom Thruxton. The fifth one ever made. It appears to have all the original equipment. If you sell it now you might get £1,500 for it but if you have it restored it could be ten times that much."
As I sat down to eat I realised I hadn't had a proper home cooked meal on a weekday for a very long time. Caroline was always busy and working late. I cooked meals for us but I am no chef. What Mary laid before me was a feast and, boy, did it taste good.
"So, Frank, who do I get to restore it?"
"I don't know yet but I will look into it. It needs to be someone with a good reputation who isn't going to take you to the cleaners. Someone you can trust."
"Could you do it? I can trust you, can't I?"
"I'm not sure. I mean, of course you can trust me, but there's going to be some expense involved and I don't think I can cover that. I also wouldn't have a clue what to charge you."
"Please say you'll do it. I'm sure I could offer you something that would be adequate compensation."
I looked at her. I could see her lacy bra through her tee shirt struggling to contain her ample breasts and couldn't help but notice how prominent her nipples had become.
"Please, no more double entendres. In my current state of frustration I might start to take you seriously."
"Who says I don't want you to take me seriously? I take it things aren't improving at Chez Burns."
"No, things aren't improving but I don't want to burden you with my problems. Anyway my garage is far too cluttered to undertake a project like that."
"Okay, let's think about this. My garage isn't cluttered and I think it's well equipped. You can work there."
"What about the finance?"
"John, my husband, left me comfortably off. I'll pay for what parts you need and for any work you can't do. When we sell the bike I take back what the bike is worth now and my out-of-pocket expenses. After that we split the profit sixty-forty."
"So I get forty percent of the profit. Yes I can live with that."
"No, you get sixty percent. You'll be doing all the work. I'll be getting far more than I expected for the bike. So—do we have a deal?"
"Indeed we do. I can't wait to get started. Mary, I could kiss you."
"So what's stopping you?"
I had intended to give her a peck on the cheek but as I got up so did she. She threw one arm around my waist and the other hand went behind my neck. She pulled my head down and started a passionate kiss. She held me tight, pushing those gorgeous tits into my chest. One leg came around behind mine as she moulded herself to my body. As I pulled away she looked up at me.
"Feels like you need more than just a kiss, Frank."
I somehow dragged myself out of there and made my way home. I expected Caroline to be angry, instead she was remarkably calm.
"There's half a pizza and some salad in the kitchen if you want it."
"Didn't you pick up my message? I phoned just before seven and you still weren't home so I left a message saying I was eating at Mary's"
"Oh, you went to look at her bike, did you? I said I thought you would be able to help her."
"Yes, she wants me to restore it for her."
"Well that'll be nice for you. You'll enjoy that."
That was it, no attempt to explain why she had been so late. No worries about where I had been or who with and certainly no real interest in what I was about to do.
"So you don't want the pizza then?" Caroline asked.
"It'll do for lunch tomorrow. I like cold pizza."
So that's how it started. I spent about three evenings a week at Mary's house working on the bike, stripping it down and identifying parts that had to be replaced. Mary would cook for me and always there was the teasing. It didn't take long for her to wheedle out of me the problems of mine and Caroline's sex life, or lack of. I found her so easy to talk to and she seemed genuinely interested in the stories I told her of bike racing in days gone by. As the evenings went by we discovered other common interests. A look through her record collection revealed a liking for The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Cream.
"Are these John's or yours? Mine of course, John was strictly classical in his tastes."
"It's just that your collection almost mirrors mine. Some of the things you've got are ones I always wanted. Mary, I'm beginning to think we were made for each other."
The constant flirting and goodnight kisses took all the self-control I had to resist her. With my sex life at home in free fall every day resisting Mary got harder.
After a few months I started to reassemble the bike. Then came the night when I tightened the last bolt, the one securing the fuel tank. I stepped back and admired it before pouring a gallon of petrol into the tank. I flooded the carburettor, retarded the ignition, applied full choke and gave a long hard swing on the kick-start. With a loud, deep thumping sound the bike burst into life. I kept twisting the throttle to keep the engine running and in less than a minute Mary was there.
"Oh, Frank, it's beautiful, truly beautiful! Can we go for a ride, can we?"
"Give me a chance to check it out first. You know, make sure everything is doing what it should then we can both go out on it."
For the next two nights I rode solo on the bike, making adjustments until everything was as it should be. Caroline had a fund-raising event on the Saturday so Mary and I went out for a ride. We spent the day riding around with no particular place to go. We relaxed in beauty spots and enjoyed being close to each other. I was treated to several of Mary's kisses. When we got back to her house I took some photos of the bike, then Mary with the bike.
"Of course," I said, "normally when women have their picture taken with motorbikes they aren't wearing so many clothes."
"Well I'll see what I can do but I'll tell you now if you are hoping for topless you can think again."
She went into the house and about ten minutes later came out wearing a one-piece swim suit. She looked fantastic as she posed for me while I snapped away. We finished with a couple of shots of her sat astride the bike as it stood on my paddock stand. With the pictures taken and the bike complete, we realised we no longer had a reason to be together and I reluctantly left her, not expecting to return.
Over the next month I saw Mary occasionally. She contacted Classic Bike magazine and they did a feature on the Thruxton. They used their own photographer but also took copies of mine showing the progress of the project. I was interviewed about the restoration but unsurprisingly it was Mary they seemed most interested in. After all there aren't that many women in their forties that get involved in a restoration project. There are even fewer who look as good as she did. Her story of how her husband bought the bike and that she was having it restored as a tribute to him, added to the human interest.
Caroline was surprised that I was no longer spending time at Mary's. She didn't seem happy or unhappy about it, just surprised. A couple of months went by and I got a call from Mary. She'd put the bike into a classic bikes auction at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham. She wanted me to go with her for both the viewing and sale day.
I had two problems: could I get time off work? and how would I justify it to Caroline? It turned out the second was not a problem. Caroline couldn't see anything wrong in me being away overnight with a woman.
"Of course you must go, Frank. You know you will love it and I'm sure Mary would benefit from having you there to support her."
My boss at the college was happy to let me go if I arranged someone to cover my lessons. Mary and I rode the train up to Birmingham that Thursday morning. The Classic Bike feature had just been published and increased interest in both the bike and Mary. The photographer had taken one of my swimsuit pictures and painted on what looked like the thinnest, tightest, racing leathers you ever saw. When she saw it she grinned and told me she'd already had a proposal of marriage. We spent the viewing day fielding questions from interested parties. I got a lot of compliments on the restoration job and a number of people asked for contact details.
Between talking to potential buyers I got a chance to look around the museum. It was one of the best days I'd had in years and at the end of the viewing day we were tired but happy as we walked into our hotel. Mary was squeezing my hand as we walked up to the reception.
"We have reservations in the names of Burns and Entwistle," I told the girl at the desk.
"Yes, sir, just a moment."
Mary squeezed my hand again. "Frank, I've done something very naughty."
The receptionist looked a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry, sir, we have no reservation in the name of Entwistle. We have a double room booked for Mr and Mrs Burns, would that be the one you mean?"
Mary squeezed my hand once more. "Yes, of course," I said, "my mistake. I'm sorry for the confusion."
I filled in the registration documents and we were handed our key. We made our way to the lifts without a word. It wasn't until the lift door closed that I spoke.
"Mr and Mrs Burns?"
"I'm sorry, Frank, I know it was very bad of me. Are you really very angry?"
"To tell you the truth I feel shock more than anything else. This sort of thing has never happened to me before. What am I going to tell Caroline?"
"Do you really think she'd want to know? Things in the Burns household haven't been right for some time. It seems to me she pretty much takes you for granted and maybe, just maybe, she wants this to happen."
"What do you mean? How could she possibly want it to happen?"
"Think about it. If you are getting your pleasures elsewhere it saves her having to provide for you. Some women just go off sex and at least this way she gets to keep her husband."
We found our way to the room and my head was still spinning. When I saw two large beds I felt a surge of relief. I might still emerge from this with my integrity intact. We changed and went out to dinner. I was quiet throughout the meal. Mary chatted about the interest in the bike and the forthcoming auction. In fact we spoke about anything but our sleeping arrangements. It was Mary who finally brought it up.
"What is so terrible about sleeping with me, Frank? I know you find me attractive."
"Nothing, nothing at all, quite the opposite in fact. What would be terrible would be my being unfaithful to Caroline."
"I've developed strong feelings for you and I think you have those same feelings for me. We need to do this. I need it and I'm pretty damn sure you do too. If Caroline is half as smart as I think she is, she knows we are more than just friends, so ask yourself why she was so keen for her husband to spend the night away from home with a woman he desires."
I could see the logic in everything she said but I just couldn't believe it.
"I can't see it, Mary. If I couldn't give her what she needed I'm damned if I would be pushing her in the direction of someone who could."
"Now that's your male ego talking. If you really love Caroline then you would want to hang on to her no matter what. If you couldn't keep her sexually satisfied you would be worrying yourself sick in case she found someone who could keep her happy and that someone would take her from you. Surely it's far better to find someone you know and trust to fill that void, to keep her satisfied while she remains your loving wife."
The more drinks we had the more I could see her argument. I just couldn't believe my Caroline would think that way. We drank we danced and slowly the subject disappeared from our conversation. With each dance Mary moulded her body closer to mine until she was grinding her pussy against me at every opportunity. My dick was making me painfully aware of where his sympathies lie and we made our way back to our room with arms around each other's waist.
I lay in bed watching her as she came from the bathroom. She wore a short pink satin nightie with a lacy top around her ample chest. She walked over to me, her hips swaying as she did so. She bent over to kiss my lips, giving me an exciting view of her tits. Little Frank had already formed himself into a tent pole holding up the bedclothes.
"Well what's it to be, Frank?"
Without a word I pulled back the covers as an invitation for her to join me. She didn't need telling twice; she slipped in alongside me. The nightie didn't last long, and in no time at all we were both naked and holding each other tightly.
I feasted on her breasts, nibbling on her nipples then sucking on them. Her head pushed back into the bed lifting her shoulders and chest as she offered them to me. I moved down between her legs where I found that she was a natural redhead. I stopped and looked at her. Her pussy was completely smooth with a small strip of red hair running down to her slit.
"Do you like it? John always liked me smooth but I can let it grow if you like."
"It looks beautiful just the way it is. In fact it looks good enough to eat."
"Oh, yes, please. I'd love that."
I licked at her smooth pussy lips and slipped my tongue into the slit. Her legs fell wide apart, offering herself to me. I sought out her clitoris and licked around it. Mary's hips lifted, forcing her pussy into my mouth. When I started to suck on her clit I could hear her starting to gasp. As my tongue entered her love channel her hands came down to push my head firmly down onto her pussy as she bucked and thrashed beneath me. I moved back up to her breasts and she pulled me tightly to her.
"I need you, Frank. I need you inside me now."
I climbed between her legs and positioned my cock at the entrance to her vagina and started to enter her. Her hands grab hold of my bum, she pulled me into her and in no time my balls kissed her arse. As I started moving in and out her mouth closed on my neck. I pulled away.
"No marks, Mary. I'm not rubbing her nose in what we are doing."
I brought my hands up under her shoulders massaging her as I pounded her pussy. In no time at all her legs were wrapped around me and her fingernails were digging into my back. Feeling her coming beneath me was almost enough but when I felt my semen pumping into her the ecstasy was complete. My heart pounded and I was gasping for breath as Mary wrapped her arms around me and pulled me hard into her body. When she released me I climbed off her and lay down beside her. She snuggled in under my arm pressing her breasts into my side as she ran her fingers over my chest.
"It's been a long time but that was definitely worth waiting for. I hope you're not planning on getting a lot of sleep tonight."
We certainly didn't get a lot of sleep. Whenever one of us woke from our slumber we would start all over again. We did it missionary, doggy style, she even rode me. We only just made it to breakfast in time, then had to rush off to the sale room.
When the auction started I was disappointed by the prices some of the bikes were fetching. Then it was our turn.
"Now ladies and gentlemen we have lot 204. A Velocette Venom Thruxton, completely original spec and restored to as new condition. Who will start the bidding at £15,000?"
Our hearts sank as he dropped the opening bid, a thousand at a time and still no bids. He dropped to £10.000 before the first bid was placed. The bids rose £500 pound at a time. When it reached £20.000 Mary hugged and kissed me. Still the bids went higher but slower, in increments of £250. When the auctioneer said all done the price had risen to £23,500, and both Mary and I were in a state of shock. When the auction was over we had our photos taken for the motorcycle press and Mary picked up her cheque for just under £22,000, the sale price less commission.
I faced the journey home with feelings of guilt and elation. I was nearly £11,000 better off but I had been unfaithful to Caroline. I should have been euphoric but I felt like the biggest bastard under the sun. All the way home I debated whether I should tell her. In the end I vowed the first thing I would spend some of my money on, would be something that might help to repair our failing marriage.
Caroline didn't seem very interested in the auction, even after I told her the price Mary had got for the bike.
"That's nice for her. Was she pleased?"
"Yes, she was, very pleased."
"That's good. Did you have a good time?"
"Yes, thanks, I had a very good time."
What else was I going to say? "Yes, thanks, I had more sex with Mary last night than I've had in the last year with you?"
The fact of the matter was, I had strong feelings for Mary but I loved Caroline and what I really wanted was to be sharing those feelings of euphoria, the afterglow of making love with her. The next day I started checking out holidays. It was May and I wanted something special, something that would take Caroline back twenty years, remind her of what used to be. By Sunday it was all arranged so that evening I revealed it all to Caroline.
"Caroline, I got a good chunk of cash out of restoring Mary's bike. I know I haven't been around much so I've booked a holiday for us something that will bring back memories."
"That's nice, dear. When is it?"
"First two weeks in June, in the Isle of Man for the TT."
"Oh, Frank, you know we can't. It's less than a month away you won't get time off from college and I need more notice than that. I can't just drop everything."
"Let me worry about the college. All I'm asking is for you to put us first for once. Neither your work or mine will grind to a standstill if we have two weeks off."
"It's the timing, Frank. I still have a lot of work to do and I'll have to prepare for the monthly trustees meeting."
"Someone else can do it. Come to that, they could cancel the meeting. I've spoken to Jonathan, he says there's nothing coming up that can't be put off for a month. Please, Caroline, this means a lot to me."
"Yes, that's it isn't it, Frank? It means a lot to you and nothing else matters. I get no enjoyment from watching motorbike racing but because you want to go I am supposed to drop everything. David relies on me and I'm not letting him down. Can't you make it in the school holidays?"
"The Isle of Man TT races are the most famous motorcycle road races in the world. They aren't going to move them for you or David."
"Then I'm sorry, Frank, I can't go."
"Can't or won't? You're a manager now. You have no real contact with the children, you have nursery managers to do that. I would have thought it was more important for you to be there during the school holidays when all the repair and upgrade projects take place. The Isle of Man in TT week still has a special place in my memories. I thought I could recreate something that was special to both of us. A time when we couldn't get enough of each other."
"I might have known it would come down to sex in the end."
"I'm not talking about sex, though that did come into it, I'm talking about love. I wanted to remind you of a time when the most important thing for me was to be with you, and the most important thing for you, was to be with me. That's still the case as far as I'm concerned. You obviously feel differently."
"Well, I'm sorry, but the fact remains that I am not going."
I was too furious to say anything more so there was silence. Caroline was the first to break it.
"You go if you want. If it means that much to you."
"On my own it wouldn't mean nearly as much."
After another silence she said the words I never expected to hear.
"Why don't you take Mary? I'm sure she'd love to go."
"I can't believe you just said that. You want me to take Mary on holiday to a place that was so special to us?"
"Well, I can see that you would like to share the experience with someone and who better than Mary?"
That was the end of that conversation. I went off to bed and was asleep before Caroline joined me. The next day Caroline was late home as usual so I went to see Mary and ask her to come with me. It was a bit of a surprise when she started to defend Caroline.
"Well she has got a point, it is short notice."
"When we got married we honeymooned in Jersey, which was Caroline's choice. We agreed our first holiday after that would be at the TT. Things went very wrong for us just before our wedding and we went on honeymoon without two ha'pennies to rub together. The holiday in the Isle of Man ended up being our real honeymoon. We had a great time and were so in love, nothing else mattered. We fell in love with the island and spent the second week exploring the island and each other. I chose the date and place to remind her of a time that was very special to me and I thought it was to her. What's upsetting is she doesn't see anything special in it at all. I thought I could bring that back but she won't even try. So if you would like to take her place, I would like it very much."
"Frank, do you mean what I think you mean by me taking her place?"
"I mean whatever you want me to mean. I've booked a double room and I doubt that I could change it now."
My relationship with Mary moved to a new level. We became lovers in every sense of the word. I'd tried to rekindle the flame with Caroline and she'd poured cold water on my efforts. She told me to do it with another woman. It can't be cheating if your wife tells you to go out and do it.
The college didn't take kindly to me wanting two weeks off during term time but I had already accepted two commissions to restore old bikes so I told them, "accept it or my resignation, I don't much care which." I might have burned my boats but I was thinking of myself for a change. No matter what, I was going to the TT and Mary was coming with me.
I told Caroline that Mary would be taking her place on the trip. In fact "taking your place" was the very phrase I used. I couldn't believe her reaction.
"That'll be nice for you." she said as my chin dropped. "Really, Frank, you must see it would be impossible for me to go with you. Besides I'm sure you'll have much more fun with Mary."
She was right, I did have more fun. In fact, I had more fun than I'd had in years. Our first night together was every bit as good as the night in Birmingham. We both got up bleary-eyed for breakfast before setting out to view the events of Mad Sunday (the day when ordinary riders go out and ride the course) We had three days racing when the roads were closed, the rest of the time we explored the Island the way I had planned to do with Caroline. We watched the sunset over Peel Harbour. We made love on the big rock on Glen May beach. Mary looked fantastic in her bikini and even better out of it.
I had planned for two weeks of showing Caroline how much I loved her and reminding her of what we used to have. Instead I found myself romancing a beautiful woman who shared more of my interests than Caroline ever had. The sex was wonderful and for the first time I realised why you got so many towels in hotels. Every night, often twice a night, we made love. It was the landlady at our guest house who put it into words. I went to pay my bill and thanked her for the way we had been treated.
"I must say Mr Burns, it's a pleasure to entertain two people who are so in love, even after all those years. When you told me your plans on the phone I could tell you were a man with some romance in his soul but seeing how you two are together, it does my heart good."
It was a quiet flight home. I had what I can only express as a feeling of loss. It was all over. We both had to go back to our everyday lives. I certainly wasn't looking forward to going back to college even if it was for the last two weeks of term.
I got back to a full post box. The mail from the Classic Bike article was still coming in. Much of it was from people wanting something for nothing: "Can you help me restore my bike?", "Can you come and tell me if my bike is the real McCoy?", "Where can I get parts for a thirty year old Honda?"
However, amongst these were some letters from prospective customers and a letter from the auction house offering me the chance to validate provenance for machines they had for sale. I found the offer very attractive. It would be on a freelance basis but what they offered made it money for old rope. I went straight round to Mary's house after work on Monday.
"I'm thinking about quitting my job and restoring bikes full-time."
"Why are you telling me this, Frank? Shouldn't you be talking to Caroline?"
"I don't think she'd be interested, to be honest."
"Well I think you should follow your dream."