The Morning After
Verity woke with the sun slanting through her curtains, the sharp summer sun casting bright shapes across the walls. Verity was warm and comfortable in her bed. She felt an unbelievable sense of satisfaction and looked to her left to make sure it hadn’t all been a dream. Ralph Ramhard lay beside her. His eyes shut, his large frame caught in the driftwood of sleep. She looked at him, her eyes roaming over his shape. He was tall, maybe six feet four, perhaps taller, broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip. His chest was muscled although not overtly so as were his arms. He looked like the kind of man who could handle himself if he had to. Ralph was an American, a highly successful retired New York Lawyer. When she asked him why he has chosen Fekenham to retire to he had told her it because his grandfather had been born in Dorset.
‘Ramhard isn’t how the surname used to be that is just the Americanized version of it. My family name is Ramherd. My ancestors used to farm sheep.’
Verity lay on her back and remembered last night and thought the American variant of his surname the more accurate. She remembered the night before as though it were a dream. His touch had felt like live wires crackling across the camber of her belly, his effortless grace and power, the way he touched her as though she were porcelain, the way he loved her like it was the first time and the last. She walked across the bedroom floor toward the window touching as she went the figurine on the table top, the polished wood, by touching the everyday so reality returned reassuring her that last night was no dream.
She opened the curtains only a fraction so as not to let the summer morning disturb him as he slept. She had never felt like this before. Of all the lovers she had none of them had been anything but a passing phase. He, though, this large American who made her feel that at last she had met her equal, her match, set sensations flooding through her that she had long looked for but had by now given up on ever finding.
Verity looked out the window and across the village green. Her cottage sat the very furthest from the Frog and Radiator. She could see the pub but the only way to get to it was to either walk to it or drive down the convoluted lane that lay behind her home. She could see Arthur Bentwhistle now, the Fekenham lothario, sneaking around the side of the pub.
She could see the blonde haired Delores Dewhip, a bimbo if there ever was one, lifting her skirts to reveal her thighs. Verity watched as the couple embraced each other, watched as Delores turned her back to the randy landlord lifting her skirts high inviting him to have his wicked way. Then Verity felt Ralph’s strong arms around her waist, she smelt his maleness as he spoke in that rich American accent.
‘Penny for them?’
‘Was last night real?’ she queried with trembling voice.
‘As real as it gets,’ he replied nestling his nose into the warmth of her neck.
‘I didn’t mean just the sex; was it real?’
‘Yes, it was real, real for me anyway.’
As he said those words, the words that Verity had been hoping to hear for the last thirty years, Ralph picked her up as though she were a small child. He carried her back to the bed where he laid her down before he laid himself across her.
‘Sometimes it takes a lifetime searching for the right one and when you find that person you make damn sure they don’t get away.’
He kissed her then made love to her again.
Outside the cottage Seamus Fliphook hovered like the lingering aftertaste of bad alcohol. He had arrived early wanting to catch the woman he called the damn snobbish tart before she left for work. He had seen the Aston Martin parked in her drive and, even with the brain the size of a shrivelled pea, realised that someone else was in there with her.
He suspected it was that yank she had been seen with and since he, Seamus, was only a small man and the American rather large, common sense overcame his natural avarice.
The sounds he heard coming from the bedroom, not that he minded listening, made him realise he would be waiting for a long while. He sloped off with shoulders hunched determined to catch her later in the day.
Some way distant the man in the mirror tugged the knot of his necktie, brushed his hands across his lapels then smiled to himself.
Outside Winchester was waking but as always he was one step ahead of everyone else. He splashed aftershave into the palm of his hand then smoothed it across his chin and neck. He turned away from the mirror pleased with what he saw, collected his briefcase from beside his desk then walked downstairs. A cup of hot coffee awaited him. His wife, an attractive woman in her late thirties greeted him with a peck on his cheek. His children, a boy and a girl, sat at the kitchen table eating their breakfast. He drank his coffee, placed the empty mug into the sink then bade goodbye to them. He walked out of the kitchen door and onto his gravel drive. A large Bentley, its silent engine running, waited. Beside it, a uniformed chauffeur stood.
‘Good morning Mister Snatch-Kiss.’
‘Good morning Humpledorf.’
‘Fekenham Swarberry is it sir?’
‘Yes, please. I need to find a small property; in fact, I need to find several small properties.’
No one in Fekenham knew of the imminent storm of change about to come their way but coming it was. And what a monster it would prove to be.