“I’ve put on weight again. Look at me I’m huge,” Ann wailed as she grabbed and squeezed her stomach.
Phil had put on a few pounds himself over the years and didn’t care that Ann had become a little more “Cuddly”. He knew that there was a knack to these conversations, if he said the wrong thing he knew that there could be tears, screaming or the silent treatment or if he was very unlucky all three. “Nonsense, you look great darling.” He would have got away with it if he hadn’t added, “There`s not many women your age who look as good as you.”
“So I`m old and past it? That`s good to know.”
Phil realised his mistake instantly and began to try to smooth things over. “No of course not, I just mean you look so much better than people of your age. You look at least ten years younger.” But Ann wasn’t listening and had already stormed out of the room.
Walking quickly down the street; Ann checked her watch - she was only about five minutes late; they wouldn’t start the meeting for at least a few minutes yet, and there was always some gossip or other that would take precedence. If Phil hadn’t been so rude this morning, she wouldn’t have had to change her outfit and she would have been on time.
The neighbors were all meeting to try and raise funds to save the local community center and library, anyone who was free was meeting at 10.00am to devise a plan of action to feedback to the community.
Ann walked into the crowded hall, and was surprised that the turnout was better than she had expected. As she scanned the room quickly for somewhere to sit, a chair was pulled out for her. Rowan who lived opposite her winked and gestured with his hand for her to sit down. “What have I missed?” she whispered.
“Nothing much, you look great by the way.”
Ann felt her cheeks flush slightly. She reached into her bag to get her notebook by means of a distraction but the longer the meeting went on, the more distracted Ann became. Rowan was nudging her and rolling his eyes at some of the suggestions being raised. She felt like a schoolgirl sniggering quietly, trying not to draw attention to herself.
When the meeting finally drew to a close, Ann got up and smoothed down her skirt. She smiled politely at some acquaintances from the village and went to say goodbye to Rowan.
“Lunch?” he suggested, smiling a broad smile.
“Um,” Ann paused, caught unawares. She shouldn’t really; she had ironing to do, dry cleaning to collect, and she needed to get a few bits and pieces at the shops.
“Come on after sitting through all that we need something to get our energy back. I know a lovely little place that’s not too far. We’ll be an hour, tops.”
It did sound nice to have lunch cooked for her for a change. The chores would still be there after lunch and it would be nice to have some fun company while she ate. Ann had not been feeling herself recently, she had been very moody, listless and tearful one minute and irritated and angry the next. Her husband kindly pointed out about three times a day that it was “the Change” and only to be expected.
“Okay thanks,” Ann replied and followed Rowan towards the car park.
They drove to a small country pub. It had a friendly welcoming atmosphere but, as it was a Monday, was quiet with only five other people in the whole place. Ann sat herself in the window seat and perused the menu, whilst Rowan went to the bar. She felt an excited tingle in her stomach. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt like this, it was like she was on an adventure. Ann felt alive and all it had taken was to be sat in a pub, at Monday lunchtime, with an attractive man. You are nearly fifty she chastised herself. What would the neighbors think? She smiled to herself at this; Rowan was her neighbor.
He had bought a bottle of Ann`s favorite wine and, although he could only have one glass because he was driving, he attentively kept Ann’s glass topped up. Over lunch Rowan opened up to her about his marriage. He’d had to work away a lot, flying to Milan or Singapore or some other glamorous sounding locations. He explained that as he was away a fair amount of time, his wife had developed other interests and so now they had drifted apart.
As Ann listened to him talk she couldn’t help comparing him to Phil: they were roughly the same age but Rowan looked at least ten years younger. His year-round olive complexion was in no doubt due to his globetrotting, although some neighbors had gossiped unkindly that he was really in Stoke and had invested in a sunbed. Rowan dressed smartly and bought classic clothing, whereas Phil had moved into cardigans and checked shirts, about five years ago. Recently Ann had even caught her husband searching online for trousers with elasticated waists. Rowan went to the gym regularly, and Ann had often seen him out running in preparation for triathlons. Phil, on the other hand, was out of condition and exhausted after mowing the lawn. Rowan was funny and attentive, complementing her more times over lunch than Phil had in the last ten years.
All too soon the lunch - and the wine - was finished. “Should we head back now?” Rowan asked.
Ann did not want the afternoon to end. It was like she had been sleepwalking for months and now she was alive and vibrant; every nerve in her body was tingling. “Oh, so soon” she tried to hide her disappointment from Rowan.
“We could get another bottle of wine and some dessert and take it up to one of the rooms,” Rowan suggested playfully. “They have beautiful four poster beds here.”
At this point it didn’t occur to Ann to wonder how Rowan knew about the four poster beds. She was so excited and flattered, that she only managed to nod. He wants me, she thought happily. She was desirable and not in the least bit like the menopausal, dried up, past-it lump that Phil made her feel.
Ann walked towards the Ladies, leaving Phil to deal with the arrangements. She touched up her make-up, combed her hair and added a fresh spritz of perfume. As she looked in the mirror a few doubts crept into her mind: she had never had sex with another man, Phil was her first and she had always been faithful. Would she regret this? Would she look good to Rowan naked? She had put on a few pounds. Then she thought of her future, pretty soon she would be fifty and men wouldn’t look at her that way anymore, wouldn’t find her attractive. Phil had never been a very confident lover and this was her last chance to make love to an experienced, charming, sexy man who could make her feel on top of the world. Don’t I deserve a last chance at ecstasy? Ann had made her mind up, her hormones had gone into overdrive and all she wanted to do was to rip Rowan’s clothes off.
He was standing by the bar chatting easily to the bartender. Ann felt butterflies in her stomach when Rowan smiled at her, staring straight into her eyes. Ann knew she was powerless to resist; she had never been this aroused in her life.
The bedroom was beautifully decorated and no sooner than she had sat down on the edge of the four-poster bed, there was a knock at the door. A bottle of chilled champagne in a bucket of ice along, with a silver cloche was ushered into the room.
“Open it,” Rowan gestured. Ann lifted off the metal lid to find neat rows of strawberries dipped in either white, milk or dark chocolate. Rowan selected a plump strawberry and fed it to her. Ann held his hand to her mouth and slowly licked his fingers. Rowan smoothed Ann’s hair and held it behind her ear before gently kissed her neck. She tilted herself towards him stretching her arms around his waist pulling him closer. He undid her top two buttons of her blouse exposing her cleavage, he ran his tongue lightly downwards over her tingling skin, and as he undid the last button she gasped involuntary and grasped at his top desperately pulling it over his head.
Any doubts had long since disappeared, she wanted him and she wanted him now. Ann felt like all her latent longing was erupting like a volcano, her hands were all over Rowan’s tight and toned body, grabbing, pulling, caressing. She wrapped herself around his naked body, she could wait no longer. “Own me,” she demanded. Rowan didn’t need telling twice.
Sweaty and exhausted, Ann lay with her head on Rowan’s chest and breathed in deeply the musky aroma of their frantic lovemaking. She was shocked at her own sexuality and how uninhibited she had been; she had never been like that with Phil, not even in the early days when they were first married. Feeling woozy and tired, although the alcohol might have played a large part in that, Ann closed her eyes and felt herself start to relax and drift off.
“Right, we had better make a move back now before we are missed.”
Rowan’s abruptness brought Ann back sharply; he was nudging her so that he could get up. Within seconds he was out of bed and dressed, and Ann suddenly felt a bit awkward and self-conscious; she gathered her clothing up and walked into the bathroom. She had just finished getting dressed when she looked on in horror at her face and hair in the mirror: her make-up had smeared, emphasizing all her lines and wrinkles, and her hair was plastered flat to her head.
“Are you ready yet?” Rowan called from the bedroom. “I’ll go down and sort out the key.”
Ann felt rushed, she did the best job she could with her make-up and checked around the room once more to make sure she hadn’t left anything behind. Her eyes focused on the empty bed for a few seconds.
When she got downstairs Rowan was joking with the bartender, he winked at him and the bartender roared with laughter. Ann felt uncomfortable and couldn’t wait to get out.
In the car Rowan turned the radio up loud so there was not an opportunity to talk. Ann began to realise that she had over romanticised the whole situation and she was starting to feel used and foolish. Rowan stopped the car a few streets away from where they lived. “Why have we stopped here?” Ann asked.
“It wouldn’t look good you getting out of my car in the street. What if someone saw?”
Ann gathered her bag and coat. She could probably do with the fresh air. “Oh by the way if you fancy a repeat performance one day, give me a shout. I will see if I can fit you in.” He patted her bottom patronisingly as she exited the car.
The cold air sobered Ann up quickly and panic started to set in, she needed advice, she needed help. Dialing her best friend since school, Jennifer, Ann prayed she would answer “Hi Jen it`s me, can you keep a secret?”