“I can’t wait to see you.”
“I’m just here, Freddie. I’m right here. You can see me right now.”
“I know that, Darling. Don’t be silly, you know what I mean. The package. Everything all new again. It’s going to be amazing when the bandage comes off.”
Abigail sank back into her pillows and closed her eyes. Pain tingled around her face. Her heart felt like it wanted to escape her chest. She was hot, inside; not sweaty. She tried to think how she had gotten here.
“I brought you myself. Is something wrong?” Freddie went closer to the bed and leaned towards his wife, not quite reaching touching distance.
“I… sorry, did I say that out loud?”
“Get some rest, Darling. You’ll need it for the party on Saturday. I’ll be back in a bit.”
She didn’t open her eyes as she heard his soft leather shoes tap out of the room. It was just her, her pain and her unknown face.
“Abi, he’s a wretch! Freddie Balding? You serious?”
Abigail curled her fingers round the wine glass stem. Just hearing his name sent fire through her body. She sat more upright and looked at her friend, who was covered in frowns.
“He’s not.” Her voice was soft. “He’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. I know he’s got this reputation, but… oh, you don’t even want to see the poetry he’s written me. He’s passionate. He’s brilliant. When I’m with him-”
Lucy held her hand up and smiled. “OK, I don’t need to hear any more of that. If you’re sure. I just assumed what everyone else does about him. I mean, he’s been linked with some pretty famous faces around town.”
Abigail sipped the last of her wine. Lucy’s face was now full of smirks and questions. She would have to explain. Somehow she would have to tell her friend that Freddie Balding had fallen madly and passionately in love with her and that what had started out as a flirtatious adventure had soon blossomed into something real, something more than sex and pet names. There were now plans to live together after graduating, plans for them to get married on his parent’s ranch in South Africa, plans to have children and a long, wonderful life together.
Later that evening as she biked home Lucy thought about her best friend’s news. She choked on the thought and laughed out loud, full of wine and gossip. Her best friend was going to marry Freddie Balding! The bike hit a cobble and swerved. Lucy went flying into a lamp post. At the wedding that summer people were told Lucy was lucky to be alive, let alone wearing only an ugly bandage around her head.
He woke to the smell of sex and soap. The shutters were down, but the slits of light bursting in orange on the floor said it was another beautiful day.
Freddie rolled onto his side and ran his fingers through his hair before playing with Abigail’s nipple. She had been awake for over an hour, debating whether to leave him while he slept and enjoy the peace of their private beach, invigorate herself in the sea.
“Morning Sexy.” Freddie nuzzled into her side and came around to lie on top of her, his tongue stroking her collarbone and neck.
She shifted under him, he suddenly felt heavy.
“What?” He rolled off and she got out of bed.
“Let’s go outside,” she said, putting on a sarong and opening the blinds. The sun poured in with the sounds of morning birds and waves lapping.
“I’d rather stay here with you. Your drive me wild.” He softened his face. Blond curls fell over his forehead. His bottom lip, plump and pink, stuck out. His green eyes swirled, smooth like homemade ice cream.
Her heart lurched. She smiled at him and pushed it back down. There was no getting over his beauty, his love for her.
“Come on Abs, don’t leave me here all alone. I’d die. My heart would break. I’d bleed to death without you. You would come back and there would just be a pile of blood.” He laid back, hands resting behind his head. She watched his stomach muscles clench and ease and his shoulders relax into the pillows, his tanned skin like toffee over their snow.
Abigail took a step towards him. The sun was warm on her bare feet. It looked so beautiful out there, a whole paradise just for them. She slid onto the bed. He slipped his hands under her sarong.
“You can’t have a pile of blood. It would be a puddle.”
“Well, you saved me, Abs,” he murmured into her hair as she leaned in closer. “You bloody well save me.”
She kissed him on the lips and covered him with her body.
“I’m sorry, Mrs Balding, I can’t tell you where he is. I simply don’t know. The diary says Fletcher meeting, which is a new development south of town. He’s probably running late from that.”
Abigail wondered if secretaries all went to a special school to learn how to speak with the same clipped and feminine tone. And to lie for their bosses.
She put the phone down as Michael walked in the door. “Mummy, Christina’s spilled her milk.” He stood in the middle of the kitchen, a spitting image of his father except in Thomas the Tank Engine clothes. Abigail gathered her son up and took him through to the living room, where his sister was making hand prints from the milk which hadn’t soaked into the carpet.
“Puddles!” she cried when she saw her mother.
Abigail laughed. “Come on you two, come over here. Thomas the Tank Engine will be on in a minute. Wait there. I’ll clean this up. No more hand prints, OK Christina?”
Thumbs went in mouths and silence prevailed for some seconds until the theme tune started. Her children sat happy in their world and Abigail cleaned up the milk listening to the Fat Controller tell off a train.
“Mummy, is the Fat Controller your brother?” Michael looked over at her from the couch.
“No Darling, why do you say that?”
“You have the same faces, Mummy, don’t you?”
Christina shouted, “Mummy Fat Controller!”
Abigail looked at her children. “I’ll bring you some more milk,” she said.
*The second part will be posted over the weekend.