"I'll see you later. We need to talk."
How can four little words instil such fear and trepidation? It's astonishing really. He feels the sweat gathering, creating a sheen around his neck and face. He claws at his collar and loosens his tie; the world feels very tight, all of a sudden.
Pouring a coffee and gazing out at the incredible London views from high up in his penthouse suite office, would normally give him a feeling of serenity, but right now it doesn't. The floor feels like shifting sand ready to part and send him falling through into oblivion. What the fuck? Does she know?
His affair would cost him most of his fortune, oh God, it would cripple him. He has been married to Philippa for thirteen years now, and my word, she is as beautiful as she is demanding. She has always pushed him and expects nothing but the best. He has grown his business and his assets, his reputation and their lifestyle, to live up to her expectations. She makes him look good, there is no doubt; hanging on his every word at lavish parties, singing his praises, working the room. She has always been better than him at the networking stuff. He can do it, but it tires him. She is very charming, and she's helped his reputation grow; there is no doubt that he would not be affording the level of success he currently has, without her.
This doesn't mean however, that he does not have needs outside of her. Her sexual desire and looks are not what they once were, and even if they were, he is still the kind of man to be thrilled by novelty; the pull of something different. Cars, gadgets, women. A new toy to play with. He compares the two women in his mind: his wife is tall, with dark, almond-shaped eyes and long, straight raven hair. Her legs are strong, and her hands fragile, her nails dark. Her figure still good, and she wears a ballgown like nobody else. Grace, that's the word to describe her. Graceful, with an undertow of malevolence. She keeps calm in all situations, and in fact, if she suddenly becomes calmer, he knows that there really IS something to worry about.
LaVana, on the other hand, has a very different energy. His wife has to be approached if he wants sex; coaxed with compliments and gifts. LaVana is like a wild animal, enticing him in with pure sexuality and erotic magnetism. Her half -Columbian good looks and crazy blonde spirals drive him wild; she hungers for him, and he for her. An extrovert personality that attracted him from the first time he glimpsed her in a hotel foyer, plus she is always ready for sex. ALWAYS. Whether in the back of his Rolls Royce or on the kitchen floor, she is the sweetest, filthiest, sexiest thing he has ever had his mouth all over. A wildcat, and a welcome refresh after the icy, difficult nature of Philippa, who too often is like a locked puzzle box to be figured out, with the right buttons pressed in the right way or all hell would be unleashed.
His mind flashes back to his most recent liaison with LaVana, his gorgeous young mistress. She was a model back in her teens and twenties, and could make an impotent man hard. Those sexy, green eyes and that sultry pout. That mouth, so exotic, so good at... oral pleasures. No squeamishness. So good at batting her eyelashes and getting what she wants... thankfully she didn't demand more time than he could give her, and he could keep up with her sexual appetite. He wines and dines her and gives her expensive gifts; they stay at the best hotels, arriving separately, of course.
Does he love his wife? Probably yes. He had adored her once. Damn it, he had been too terrified of losing her to ever take his foot off the brake in terms of ambition and drive. He catered to her every whim, and she lived like a queen. Only the best food, the best designer furnishings, the best location to live in. The best restaurants, the best clothes. She has free reign over several of his credit cards, and boy, does she spend on them. Expensive lunches with girlfriends, jewellery, extravagant gifts for herself and for others. Recently she had spent a hundred and eighty pounds on lunch and a scented candle for a girlfriend, and he was well-trained enough now that he didn't flinch when he got his credit card statement. He had found her demanding nature extremely sexy in the early years. But, as his confidence has increased, he has felt chained, restrained.
So, when those terrifying words flash up in the text from his wife, his heart begins to quiver. He knows her well enough to know that "we need to talk" is not something that she would normally say. It was just not in her repertoire. In fact, they had joked in the early days about how that phrase always spelled doom for couples. Is he reading too much into this? He wipes the sweat off his forehead, but still he can barely breathe. For the first time in a long time, he begins to feel fear. Pure, clammy unease, radiating from his pores and trickling down from his neck to his expensive Italian shoes. He needs air, opens a window and tries to breathe and think clearly. His mind is going in a thousand directions and he cannot stop it.
He and Philippa don't generally argue. Everything was and has always been a sophisticated and confidently acted power battle between them, albeit an enjoyable one. Normally they skirt around each other, avoiding the delicately placed eggshells on the floor, purring their hints and commands at each other until one of them folds and gives in. There's always a winner. His wife never loses really, let's put it that way. And overall he never loses either, because even when he loses a battle, at his feet are all the riches of his world, his business empire, his luxury cars and home, his devoted wife, and his exciting, secret life. His reputation stands intact. He is untouchable. He has the world.
He realises his mind is wandering crazily again. Is he fantasising? Of course, he has all the riches NOW, but if Philippa has found out somehow about his playing away and wants a divorce; not only that, but to punish him by taking everything away from him, he would be left with nothing, kicked to the ground, humiliated, with everyone knowing what he has done. He has no doubt about her that she would ensure the whole world knows about his grubby infidelities; his family, his parents, his business clients - EVERYBODY.
He is on the phone to his mistress before he even really thinks about it, he is arranging to meet her. "Why darling," she purrs, "so early in the day? You can't wait to see me, can you?"
He is still sweating as he arrives at the hotel; a different one this time, a downtrodden one in a rough part of town. She laughs at their surroundings as he enters the small, sticky room with the old-fashioned furnishings and broken lamp. She is sat on the bed, looking sleek and stunning. He cannot believe what he has to do, and where he has brought her to in order to do it, but do it he must. He has to save himself. Fuck her - she's young and resourceful - she'll meet another wealthy businessman in no time.
LaVana screams and curses at him long enough to increase his levels of sweat and panic, and allow him to start feeling another emotion he has not really felt in a long time - guilt. She has been nothing but a beautiful pleasure for him, and now he leaves her in the lurch like this? What if she is angry enough to go tell everyone about them, or worse still - confront his wife?
He is hoping she will accept that their relationship is over, and leave calmly, but she continues to spit and rage at him, pacing back and forth in the tiny room, her hands wild. Suddenly she stops raging, and her face completely changes. It is so bizarre that he cannot process it; she is laughing! Laughing at him! How dare she? Is she crazy? What if the hotel staff hear, and the police are called? He cannot let that happen. He is moving towards her, his arms outstretched, trying to calm her, but she won't keep still. Her head is thrown back, roaring with uncontrollable laughter still. He grabs her to try and shut her up, but she is abnormally strong and he has to push her back onto the bed and cover her mouth and put all his weight on her... all he thinks in his fevered mind is, 'shut the FUCK up!’
He knows deep down inside him that there is no way out of this; no way that he can come through this with his life intact. He cannot veer from this course now, he has to quieten down this crazy woman, so that his wife can never know. Logic has evaded him... he is squeezing her throat, crushing the life out of her, and she is no longer laughing but trying to say something, but he can't seem to let go, in case she springs up and leaps away. He leans his sweltering face and bulging eyes down close to her gasping mouth, to hear her whisper, with all the effort she has left:
"Your... wife... hired... me..."
He feels the blood rush from his face, he is aghast. He splutters, "What do you mean she hired you..?" His mind goes blank. That cold fear is back.
She is gasping for breath, he has loosened his hands from her throat. He is looking at his hands, not really seeing them. Not really seeing her, not really here in this moment, hearing her gasp and recover from somewhere far away from him. He leans down closer to her, closes his eyes to listen as she replies:
"Philippa hired me... to honeytrap... you. You've failed, buddy... she wants a divorce."
Through her pain-racked face, incredibly, she manages to smile at him, but it is like a sneer right now, a triumphant, awful smile full of satisfaction as he backs away and falls heavily into the shitty beige chair in the corner of the room, his ashen face falling into his hands.