“Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?Adam Ant
Subtle innuendos follow
There must be something inside.”
The waiter was clearing away the dishes from Alison and Jeremy’s entrees. They had a choice of three dishes to choose from the Chinese fusion menu and opted to stick with the seafood theme for summer which matched Jeremy’s choice of wine. The food had been delicious, but Alison had been distracted throughout the meal. Something wasn’t just sitting right with her, and it wasn’t the food.
She had asked Jeremy to fill her in -phrasing- on his life since they had last seen each other, and he was being brutally honest. He hadn’t taken a shot at her but in order to tell it all he had begun at the beginning and was now unfurling a story that was too complex and detailed to be the stuff of pure fantasy. But his latest revelation was not what she had expected at all.
She had always considered herself a moral woman. She also thought that people without scruples would be easily identifiable by their manner or appearance. So, she was taken aback when Jeremy told the his latest chapter in his life. She had to admit that, other than the sadness and regret she had initially felt listening to his tale, she had been on the edge of her chair since. His story about his deployment to East Timor was exciting. She had joined the Army to do exactly what Jeremy was now describing but her mother had convinced her that her study must come first. Army was just a “hobby” after all. And with that opportunity missed she began to focus on the one thing that she was told that mattered: her career.
But Alison started to feel uncomfortable when Jeremy began to tell her about Sally. First because of the moral implications. But also due to the reality that he had slept with another woman after her. It was stupid she knew that. But being confronted with the fact that he had been intimate with somebody else after her just didn’t seem right. Despite it being her choice entirely to break up she almost felt betrayed that he had been with someone else.
“So, you fucked her then?” Alison said, surprised at how indignant she thought she sounded.
“Yes,” Jeremy replied matter of factly.
“You don’t sound ashamed of that?” Alison accused.
“I’m neither ashamed nor proud of it. It happened. I can’t alter the facts of my life only learn from them.”
“Would you do it again?”
“Probably. It would depend on my circumstances.”
“And what circumstances do you envisage warrants sleeping with another man’s wife behind his back?”
“None that spring to mind at this moment. I am not looking to do that now or in the future. I didn’t plan to do it, but it did happen. I am saying that no one knows how they will react to a given situation until they have had to face it. And I have had to face that temptation more than once and walked away more times than not.”
Before Alison could reply they were interrupted by the waiter delivering their main courses. They had sat down at the Chairman and Yip, adjacent to Alison’s room at the Realm, half an hour earlier. Their first courses had been delivered surprisingly fast. Parliament was not sitting that week so the usual suits from the Hill were not filling out the seats in the restaurant that evening. Alison had had time to freshen up and change clothes after their afternoon romp, but Jeremy was forced to don his creased shirt again to go out. But his suit jacket was covering most of the creases and he was clearly a man accustomed to dressing formally each day.
They had come down to Yip to recharge their batteries and take in some food from one of Canberra’s premier restaurants. Anyone thinking of making money in the hospitality trade in Canberra had a presence in Barton or the surrounding suburbs. Diplomats, politicians and their staff on expense accounts in Canberra had money to splash around and being within staggering distance of their homes or hotels in Barton was a definite advantage. For most of them Canberra began and ended at either the airport or Barton.
Alison hadn’t planned as far ahead as dinner or breakfast when she had decided to come to Canberra to see Jeremy again. It hadn’t been a whim; she had been compelled to come. At first, she thought that she might have done it just to finally put the daemons of her past to rest. Apologize for the errors of her youth but to make him understand that their lives had diverged long ago and there was no going back.
But after re-reading his letters and feeling a flush of arousal that she hadn’t in years she couldn’t deny the real reason she had come. A new dress; a trip to the hairdresser, another to beautician, a spot of fasting and a room in a fancy hotel. Who was she kidding. She had come here to fuck. Fuck Jeremy if he was a least half the man he remembered.
And apart from the superficial ravages of time, he was. Maybe even more than he used to be. Bespectacled, suited and affluent. Time had been kind to him. He still had the same confidant stature that she remembered but now he seemed to have added experience and poise. Despite her misgivings about his past, she couldn’t deny that she still found him attractive.
“And what were you thinking?”, Alison asked, finding it difficult not to try an assume the moral high ground.
“There wasn’t much thinking involved at the time. I was reacting to the circumstances that I found myself in. It is easy to look back on things you have done and say you should have been stronger or more moral and I have done that. And what I’ve learnt is that we are tested every day and sometimes we fail to live up to how we see ourselves when there is no pressure. Turn the screws a little and the cracks begin to show. Turn them for long enough and you break.”
Alison considered this as she ate. She had ordered Cantonese roasted duck in a blood orange & hibiscus infused goji – whatever that was – while Jeremy had ordered the fish. He had a local white though she could not say which. After all these years of adulthood alcohol just another vice that she had yet to surrender to.
If she was honest then she was currently cracking herself. The life she had worked towards had been shattered when she had split with her husband. Far from letting it crush her she had worked harder to fill the gap in her life with career and do the job of two people at home. It was currently her free week, but she never stopped. The extra energy she was expending was taking its toll and she knew that she had to slow down. Take some time for herself. Stop and smell the roses.
“May I ask you a question?” Jeremy said.
“Sure,” Alison replied. Trying to sound less confrontational.
“It is quite personal.”
Alison could sense questions coming about her marriage breakdown and she tensed. She had kept as many details of the breakup as private as she could. Not even telling her friends and family why it had come to that. She had put off all self-examination, dismissing out of hand any notional of counseling. Worried that she may arc up again when he spoke, she dug here nails into her palms and clenched her jaw as she waited for him to say the words.
“So how long have you been into bondage Alison?”
“Wha…?” She stuttered in confusion.
“The handcuffs and the chair,” Jeremy asked. “Is that what gets you off these days? I recall that you once asked me to tie you up and fuck you, but we never got the chance. Is there a Hellfire Club in Bathurst?”
He was poking fun surely, but Alison as still lost for words. The change of topic completely throwing her off guard.
“I-I don’t,” she mumbled, still lost for words.
“You most certainly do!” Jeremy charged. “I didn’t take any video, but you were definitely waiting for me, naked and chained to chair not two hours ago.”
“It wasn’t like that!”
“I don’t usually…I mean, I never…” Alison was lost. What was happening? She was normally so confident and knew exactly want she wanted. Now she was confused by this barrage of questions. Did she? Was she? It had felt so good to be locked up naked to that chair, waiting for him to come to her. It had happened in a daze that she didn’t know anymore.
“So, if not being tied up then, what is it that gets you going Alison?”
She was spiraling for an answer and drowning under the weight of her perfectly constructed world. Decades of perfecting control of her life. Always know where she was and where she was going. Every moved planned to smallest detail. But the facade was crumbling as her true self finally made its self-known.”
“I like being naked, alright!”
The clink of glassware and the rattle of cutlery behind her indicated to Alison that Jeremy hadn’t been the only one to hear her reply. Silence seemed to envelop her as the entire restaurant waited to see what happened next. He sat back in his chair, taking his wine in hand and regarding it before returning his attention to Alison.
Alison could feel anger and pent-up defiance boiling to the surface. Not at him, she knew that instantly. Anger that she had hidden this side of herself bottled up for so long. Anger at herself for never letting go.
“Naked and…caught,” she said.
Jeremy sipped his wine and grinned.
“Well, we will have to do something about that then won’t we.”
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