Authors: Raven McAllan
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
“G’ma. I love G’ma.”
“Of course you do.” Debra lifted him out and onto her lap. “So, my sweet, what are we going to do today?”
Lena took her son from his grandmother and sat next to Debra. “We, as in Markus and I, are going to stare, nag and bully you, until you ‘fess up. Seriously, Ma, you’re scaring me. This is not my mum I’m here with. This is a hollow cardboard cut-out.”
“I can’t be hollow if I’m a cardboard cut-out,” Debra said. “They’re one-dimensional.”
“Well to be honest, Mum, so are you at the moment. You’re doing the bare necessity with no emotion and bugger all involvement as far as I can see. You get back here looking like you’ve spent the last year in a cave with no light, no food and no interest in anything. You tell me you’re fine, but I know for a fact you’re not sleeping. You’re hardly eating enough to keep a snail alive and all you’re doing is going through the motions of everyday life. Are you ill? Are you dying and don’t know how to tell me? Hell, Mum, help me out here. I’m worried sick.”
The tone, combined with the worried look on Lena’s face, impinged on Debra’s conscience. Lena had the screwed-up faced, tired-eyed expression of someone who had little sleep for all the wrong reasons. Debra bit the edge of her lip. Tiny, nasty pin pricks of scruples weighed heavily on her mind. Had she genuinely been that bad? Probably. Lena was correct and she needed to snap out of it. Put up or shut up, move on or sort it. If she knew what was the proper thing to do it would be helpful. The trouble was, she didn’t, or she wasn’t prepared to admit it.
“You know, Mum, you always used to tell me a trouble shared is a trouble halved and goodness knows I’ve unburdened on you often enough. That’s what families do. Moan, cry, listen, offer advice unwanted or not and be there for each other. I’m feeling left out. As if you don’t trust me enough to confide in me.”
“Oh, Lena.” Debra stared at her daughter and burst into tears.
Once she had started, she couldn’t stop. Tears were said to be cathartic and these definitely were. Lena pushed a box of tissues across the table toward her and let her cry.
Eventually Debra shuddered and took a deep breath.
“Grief, I needed that.”
“I guessed. Look let me put Markus down for his nap and then we’ll go into the garden and you can talk. If you want to?” Lena stood up with a sleepy Markus snuggled over her shoulder, his thumb in his mouth. She had a wary expression on her face. It prickled Debra’s conscience. She had put it on her daughter’s face and it wasn’t acceptable.
“I want to.” She rolled her shoulders to release the tension and could have cried all over again at the relief that showed on Lena’s face. “You put my boy down for a sleep, and sod it, I’m opening a bottle of wine.” She was sure she’d need the Dutch courage.
Although, as she walked into the bright sunshine that they had so rarely in this part of Scotland, with a bottle of Sancerre, two glasses and a wine cooler, Debra reckoned she’d better not drink too much. Over the past week or so, her diet had mainly consisted of eating a few mouthfuls of whatever was put in front of her and once Lena was busy elsewhere, pushing the rest around her plate or offering it to the dog under the table. With that in mind, and also owing to a distinct and unexpected rumble from her tummy, Debra went back indoors to load a tray with crisps and nibbles.
When Lena joined her, she’d set up a low table and added the food, drink and box of tissues to the top.
“Blimey, Mum, have you got a worm or something?” Lena stared at the array. “There’s more food on here than you’ve eaten since you got back.”
Debra sniggered and poured two glasses of wine. Maybe she had gone over the top. “Well I have a feeling I’m going to need something to soak up the wine and I’m going to need the wine, a full glass or more.”
“Fair enough. So shoot, I’m all ears.”
“I met a man,” Debra said slowly. She had to do her best to be clear, concise and not make either her or Braam look tacky. Not yet.
“Ah,” Lena said, her voice laden with satisfaction. “I told Ronnie that’s what it was.” Ronnie was her husband, at present serving abroad with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. “Isn’t it always? I remember what I was like when Ron and I were trying to get together. So what went wrong? Was he too forward, not forward enough? Too old, too young, not able to get it up? Tell Aunty Lena.”
Debra snickered half-heartedly. “Aunty Lena, you’re nosy.”
Lena sat back in her seat. “Well, there is that as well. With Ronnie away I need to get my kicks and dose of sex chat somehow.”
“Oh yeah. I read a hot book today. BDSM in Scotland. It was… Well, let’s say, I wish Ron had been about. Not that I’m into it, but by God I loved reading it. Talk about a turn-on. But now I’ve read it so it’s up to you to give me my next dose. I’ve got new batteries in my vibrator all ready and waiting.”
“Lena.” Debra didn’t know whether to laugh or hide her red face. “This is me, your mother who still doesn’t think her little girl does anything ‘like that’.” She mimed quote marks.
Lena giggled. “Then where did Markus and Tristan come from?”
“The stork brought them of course. Put them under a gooseberry bush for you to find.”
They both burst out laughing.
“Okay, well, here goes. I met this man in Hong Kong. He’s younger than me and…”
“How much younger?” Lena butted in. “Are we talking young enough to be my kid brother sort of young? That would be weird, but hey, if he’s who you want, I’ll try to look at him and not imagine him in a pram or having his nappy changed when I was still at school.”
“It’s not that bad. He’s maybe eleven or twelve years younger than I am.”
“Is that all,” Lena let her breath out in a whistle. “That doesn’t even make you much of a cougar. Okay, so, you’ve met a guy. You fancy him?”
“Oh, yes.” Debra let herself think about Braam—pre the pregnancy moment Braam—then quashed the way her pussy muscles responded to her thought. “I fancied him.”
Although fancy is too mild a word. I need to add…the pants off him, or lust like never before.
“Does he fancy you?” Lena didn’t mention the past tense.
“I thought he did.”
“Okay. Now you’re worrying me. Did?”
Debra put down her wine glass, ate an olive and schooled her thoughts. “Sheesh, do you know? This is so weird. Me telling you about my love life. Or lust life. Or lack of it.”
“Mum, tell me and I’ll gross out over it later,” Lena said. “So you fancied the pants off each other and I’m guessing you did something about it?”
. “Lots of something.”
“Okay, Mum, we don’t need all the nitty-gritty. I might be grown up, but you’re still my mum and it wouldn’t make me go all gooey in a nice way. So what went wrong? What happened?”
Debra blinked away the ready tears that gathered in her eyes. “His pregnant wife happened.”
Lena dropped her glass. Luckily it bounced in the grass. Neither of them noticed it.
“I don’t believe you. You’re too savvy to fall for a cheating scumbag.”
Thank goodness for supportive daughters.
Debra shrugged. “I thought so, but I was wrong. Hell, Lena, he was so special,” she said morosely. “Or he could have been,” she added honestly. “I guess it was all too much too fast for me and on his side all too bloody convenient.”
“So what happened? Go on,
dish the dirt and clean up the sex.” Lena picked up her glass, refilled it and sat back and took a sip of wine. “It’s like the agony aunt column in the trashy mags. Or, you know, one of those TV shows. Douchebags of the world get outed. I still think you’ve got it wrong, though.”
“Lena, honey. When a woman throws her arms around a guy and says ‘we’re pregnant’ it sort of shouts ‘oh ho parents to be’, now, doesn’t it? You know waves a
saying ‘beware—cheating, lying scumbag’.” Debra glared at the food on the table as if it was all its fault. She rummaged through the sticks of celery, chose one, crunched the end of it and waved the rest in the air to make her point. “What I can’t understand is how he thought he’d get away with it. For fuck’s sake, he works for the hotel and everyone knows him. I was a guest in the hotel and although we didn’t go at it like rabbits in the foyer, we didn’t exactly skulk behind bushes and use the fire stairs so as not to meet anyone.” She blushed. Okay it wasn’t the foyer exactly, but Debra went hot and cold when she remembered what they’d gotten up to in the pool.
“Um, why the embarrassed look? Where did you get up to it?” Lena poked Debra on her shoulder. “Come on, dish the dirt. In the corridor? In the lift? In the pool…
Debra put her hands over her hot cheeks. “Well not quite, but, oh, Lordy, Lena, I almost seduced him.”
“Wuss. Only almost? And you call yourself a liberated woman. Why only almost?”
Was she actually discussing explicit things about her sex life to her daughter? It seemed so.
“Fair enough. Okay and then?”
In for a penny.
Debra recounted everything. Well almost everything. Some details were best kept to herself.
“And that’s it. She announced to the world—well, the hotel—she was pregnant. He broke our date without an explanation and so I cut my losses and went to Singapore. And even the doorman said didn’t I think it was great news. What?”
Lena was shaking her head. “You’re in love and lost your marbles, Mum. Think about it. The doorman said ‘Isn’t it good news’? The guy who’d seen you walk in and out. No one sent you dirty looks or whispered behind your back. Braam didn’t hide you away like dirty laundry. Everyone thought it was all good. Somewhere you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. And you didn’t bother to find out what the fuck was going on. And yes, I’m swearing at you, you ninny.” Lena’s voice rose and her words tumbled over each other. “Don’t tell me you couldn’t have even said something like ‘Oh, yes it is. Who is she’? Or something. Hells bells, Mum, what a cock-up you’ve made. So what are you going to do about it, eh?” She stood up, grabbed a slice of carrot and ate it. A wailing noise came from behind her chair. Lena picked up the intercom.
“Damn it, now Markus is awake and will need changing. And Tristan will be home from school soon. Think about it, Mum. Sort it out somehow, or you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what if. And that’s a shite thing to have on your mind. Believe me, until Ronnie and I sorted our life out, I suffered from it. It’s nasty.”
The wails got louder. “Got to dash. When Markus and I get back, I want your solution.” She set off indoors at a run.
Debra sighed and finished off the bowl of cherries, two sticks of celery and half a tub of hummus. She wouldn’t mind the solution either. There was no doubt she had to do something, even if it was a basic ask why and say bye. Her problem was how?
She sat in deep thought and rolled questions around her mind without getting any answers. Even if she got in touch with Braam and everything was above board, why should he forgive her? And even more to the point, why trust her? Debra stood up and restlessly wandered around Lena’s flower filled garden. The bushes and shrubs were at their late spring best and scents vied with each other to fill the air. A few early bees buzzed from one flower to the next and the noise filled the air in a pleasant think of summer manner.
Debra had no idea how long she was alone with her thoughts until an excited squeal broke into her reverie.
“G’ma. Up.” Markus tugged at her arm. “Cuddles.”
That was easy. By the time Lena rejoined them, Debra and Markus were rolling over the lawn in gales of laughter as they tickled each other.
“Any thoughts?” Lena went straight to the point.
Debra rolled onto her back and held Markus high in the air over her head. He giggled and kicked as they made vroom vroom aircraft noises.
“Oh, I’m going to have to see him somehow. Even if it’s purely to say sorry I ran. And if it’s true, to restrain myself from making sure he goes forth and multiplies no more.”
“Right. Well, good to both of those. And this should help.” Lena handed her a slip of paper. “I couldn’t run to business class, but they said you can upgrade if you want. It’s a single ticket on tomorrow evening’s flight to Hong Kong.”
She did. In her state of nervous anxiety, Debra accepted it wasn’t fair to inflict a wriggling, wide awake, anxiety ridden woman next to some poor unsuspecting passenger.
* * * *
“Well I think you’re a thick idiot,” Jack said as he and Braam sat in a favorite bar in Sai Kung and waited for Kris to come back from a bargain-hunting foray. “What were you thinking with? Your gonads? Hell, Braam, Kris had announced she was pregnant, I’d added to it and you just told your lady you had to cry off. Why?”
Braam shrugged, once again feeling the younger brother who never did anything right.
“Because I wanted to ask you first. Then introduce her to you both as someone important.”
“And instead I bet you a weekend in Paris she heard me shouting
were pregnant to you.” Kris dropped several bulging carrier bags and a couple of boxes onto the table. She flopped into the chair and took a defiant slurp from her husband’s beer glass. “I bet she thought you were all kinds of shite and cut and ran. Anyone would. It sounded more than dodgy. I made you look like every sort of two-timing creep. You need to go to her.”
“No I don’t. Either she trusts me or she doesn’t.” Braam knew his voice was harsh, but didn’t they realize how her lack of trust had almost emasculated him? He’d wanted to scream and shout and race after her. When he saw a new guest being ushered into her room, he had been shattered. Up until then, Braam had held on to the hope that she
gone to visit friends and was returning to the hotel. As he had no intention of adding to the hotel gossip mill, he’d checked the register once the day staff had left and seen the damning words
‘paid in full’
across her invoice. Even now, his gut churned and it made him feel sick. “I’m not going anywhere to get my head kicked in.”
“Bloody hell, men. Braam Van Meister, are you a man or a mouse?” Kris asked him. She looked like a ferocious kitten. All flashing eyes and spitting.