Tom woke with a start. He was fully dressed. He looked at his bedside clock; it was 11.27 pm. He had been asleep for almost fourteen hours. His wife Penny was asleep next to him no doubt having only recently gone to bed. He quietly got up and went down to the kitchen to make some coffee, then headed for his study. His mobile ‘phone had been in his pocket all that time, switched on. There were no signs of text messages or voicemails from his mistress.
He had been so stressed with the previous day’s events when the fire destroyed his business, that uninterrupted sleep had been the tonic he needed to recharge his batteries. It had worked; he felt more like his old self.
The uncertainties and worries of what may happen next in his relationship with his mistress had subsided and he was back in control. He knew how lucky he had been and couldn’t contemplate a repeat of the day’s events. One way or another, he had to find a way of dealing with Susie without Penny finding out.
His mind focused on the conversation he’d had with the insurance assessor when he discovered the electrical system at his business wasn’t compliant after it had burnt down and wondered how much he could reasonably expect to claim on the policy?
His mobile pinged. It made him jump. It was Susie, wishing him a good night. This was a good example of how she had put aside any concern that Penny might see the message or question who was texting him. In the early stages of their relationship, Tom had made it clear that if she wanted to have a relationship with him, she would have to agree to a set of rules. After all, he was married, happily married in fact, and it was important that he was able to distinguish between the two relationships. She was not to go to his home. She was not to leave text messages or voicemails unless they were business-related. She should in no way do or say anything that would undermine his relationship with Penny. Susie agreed. She was his mistress and mistresses behave at least at first, but very quickly, those rules crumbled away as emotions took over. It was difficult for her to accept that Tom wasn’t hers. That he belonged to another woman. That he could continue with his everyday life, sleeping with that other woman while she had to put up with snatched moments with him or the occasional overnight stay at the apartment. She became increasingly jealous of Tom and Penny going away at weekends and leaving her in the apartment alone. She was also frustrated seeing them take long holidays to exotic locations or sail away on their yacht while she had to stay behind and keep his business going.
She had given up her long-term boyfriend, who she had been planning to marry, to be his mistress. He’d demanded that she did so. He didn’t want to share her with anyone else. She was a beautiful woman and could have her pick of young men, but she wanted Tom. On a couple of occasions, she had signed up to an online dating agency and attracted a substantial number of eager men wanting to take her out but had abandoned the idea fearing Tom would find out and the relationship would be over. In the early days of the relationship, he knew he had his cake and could eat it at any time depending upon his desire for her. As time wore on, the familiarity and predictability of the relationship became tedious, but he knew it would. He had been there before. Despite enjoying the comforts of a beautiful mistress, it wasn’t enough. There had to be more, and more meant finding new women to seduce.
The trap he had fallen into was allowing the relationship to continue for as long as it had, but the complication was that they worked together, and while they were able to define roles and get on with their jobs in the business, the two began to merge - business and pleasure. Susie had become increasingly flirtatious with him in the office and saw nothing wrong with it; after all, he was her man. The staff in the business almost certainly knew what was going on, but that did not deter her from taking risks despite Tom’s insistence that in the office, they had to put the relationship to one side.
Penny, Tom’s wife had undertaken Susie’s job before her and knew the staff well. That, too, wasn’t lost on Tom. All in all, it was a mess. With the other affairs he had had, the women in question had never worked for him. It was easier to administer and manage.
Tom went back to bed, carefully avoiding waking Penny. He spent the rest of the night thinking about his plight.
It was just coming up to 6.00 am. He had obviously fallen asleep, although it did not feel as though he had. He was tired, but he needed to get on with the day. He made tea for Penny and woke her. They chatted for a while before she made breakfast. Once again, he had to make an excuse to be out for the day and dreaded raising the subject. He’d promised to spend the day in bed with Susie and the threat of her revealing the relationship to Penny if he didn’t was hanging over him like a noose.
“By the way darling, I shall be out this morning into mid-afternoon. I’m going to see Peter our solicitor about some legal matters.” If he was expecting any resistance from Penny, he was mistaken. “Okay, darling. I’ve arranged to play golf with Ginny and I’m really looking forward to it.” “Great stuff, you enjoy yourself and give her my love.”
Tom got showered and dressed, then headed off to Susie’s just after 9.15 am. He called her to let her know he was on his way.
Of course, she was thrilled with the news. He wanted to give her sufficient notice to ensure that she prepared for his arrival. The thought of spending several hours with her in a relaxed, but highly sexual encounter pleased him.
Tom and Susie were intertwined when his mobile ‘phone rang. She didn’t want him to stop what he was doing to answer the call and Tom was not about to displease her. After a few rings, it stopped. Penny never liked leaving voicemail messages; instead, she decided she would call a few moments later. She called again. Tom had more than an inkling it would be her, but they had reached a delicate moment in their encounter. “Don’t answer it, Tom, not now…” Tom knew it wasn’t the right time to stop what he was doing, and again, the ‘phone went silent after a few rings.
Tom and Susie had spent four hours in bed and took time out to talk about the progress she was making on her list of business tasks. He was mindful that in her fit of anger the previous day, she had threatened to tell Penny about their affair and destroy all the business data on the company server. Such an action would be devastating, making it almost impossible for him to reignite the business quickly after the fire. The thought of her doing such a thing worried him. He was only too aware of how volatile she was, and in hindsight, he knew he had abrogated too much power to her. She had control over every aspect of the business in one way or another. She was the touchpoint for the bank, accountants, lawyers, insurers, distributors, printers, and the staff. It was Susie they would go to, not Tom. The mistake he had made, though, was avoiding responsibility rather than delegating it. If he had been clear with Susie on her job description he would have his finger on the pulse and be able to take over if she were out of the business for any reason. Instead, he had chosen to let her get on with it and over time, he’d found he knew less and less about the systems, processes, and procedures. In fact, left to it, he wouldn’t know where to start.
Ending the relationship meant potentially ending or debilitating his livelihood, not to mention also potentially leading to his divorce. It was a conundrum to which he had no answer. Like it or not, Susie had become an integral part of the metaphorical furniture, and time would tell when - not if - it would all blow up in his face.