Sex stories

Short sex stories




An Audience with Carstairs Ch. 05

Back on the boards

Riding the Underground felt much more comfortable with the coat I had used to ride my bike and a baseball cap, even though I was wearing one of my suits. An old one, because it didn't matter if the Inspector looked sharp or not. I wasn't greeted very warmly by the crowd at the pickup spot, but I didn't expect much love. Only Edmund, our resident musician, was nice. In fact, he made me sit next to him and then stood up to address the bus.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say: 'Welcome back, Martin, how very good of you to save our collective asses AGAIN.' Also, for anyone who didn't watch breakfast TV this morning: this man is well on his way to sainthood, no matter what you might have read in The Sun. Even though many of you seemed very pleased with that particular piece of what, for lack of a better word, I shall call journalism. I will say this: if I catch anyone sabotaging him in any way whatsoever, I will make sure that this is your last bloody ride on this Godforsaken bus. We've all had our hearts broken at one point, it's a miracle he showed up at all. So let's give him a big hand and those of you that don't... now I know who you are."

About half the bus applauded. I wasn't entirely sure what I had done wrong, but I didn't really care. At the end of the day, I would have made 150 pounds and be on my way to Kate. She'd kiss me, probably blow me and then we'd go to sleep together and I could reach out to touch her whenever and wherever I wanted. And that's what happiness is.

I told Edmund a brief and censored version of what had happened to me from the night I had stormed off. He listened to me like a schoolkid that gets visited by a real fireman in his classroom. By the time I got to what had happened in the underground station, the silly sod's bottom lip was wobbling. In my story I had replaced one thing: it wasn't Kate that had come to get me, but Melody. That made it all sound perfectly fine and plausible. He had met Melody and approved of her and me getting together.

"Wonderful girl, Martin. Perfect match for you. So she was the one in the Daily Mail?"

"Yes."

"You didn't break up with her, did you?"

"No," I lied. "That was just the Mail, cherry-picking photos for a dramatic story."

"Good, good."

"So why is everyone here pissed off at me?"

"Envy. Pure and simple. They all want out, Martin. It's the bottom of the barrel. Well maybe not quite, but there are bigger and better things, both for technicians and actors."

"And musicians, I imagine?"

"Me? No. I'm happy. I'm out of the house, I make a bit of dosh, I can take care of my pigeons and support my son. I don't give a shit about being famous and if I have to play those five sodding songs each night for the rest of my life, I'm perfectly happy to do it. Do you know the key to happiness, Martin?"

"Is it living with ten Czech models on a tropical island with helicopters flying in supplies?"

"Ha! That's a vacation, not a life. No Martin, it's not. It's setting the bar low. We live in a wondrous age. Clean water in every house. Electricity. More books than you can ever hope to read. If you want to fuck a pretty woman, it'll cost you 100 pounds and she'll do anything you ask for an hour. And we're never hungry. That's happiness. All the rest, fame and all that... bunk. But you're welcome to it, you're a nice guy. Just don't forget that, when it goes away. Set the bar low."

"Why the hundred pounds though?" I teased, like I'm some sort of sex god.

"To get her to do what you want, not what she wants. I'd rather pay and get my way, you see? Works out cheaper. I've never given a woman half a house, Martin. But I've given over a thousand women 100 pounds and all of them sucked my cock. I'll iron my own bloody shirts."

He might just have been the wisest man on Earth. I bowed to him in my chair, like he was a Buddhist teacher. I think Lola saw me do that. She must have heard our conversation as well, haha!

I didn't have much to do and most of the other actors weren't in yet, but I had my phone and Lola gave me the password to the office Wi-Fi. I had a look at a small issue with the website as well, a simple matter of declaring the right document type now that we were also using Chinese and Japanese script on the same page. I was 15 when 'the internet' became a thing for regular people. I have already forgotten more about the bare bones of it than a 20 year old programmer will ever know. You merely adopted the internet. I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn't have Google until I was already a man, yada yada yada.

"So that should do it. Just copy/paste this header into all the other pages and you're good. Will you manage that?"

"Yes Martin, thank you." Again, she didn't actually look at me. So shy, this little whore. I had mentioned her in my outburst that ended up in The Sun too, though not by name. She must have read it.

"Not at all. Anything else?"

"No."

"Okay then. Well, I'll let you get on with it," I said, ready to find myself a comfy seat and kill time with my iPhone, or maybe ask Edmund if I could have a go on his keyboard.

"Martin? Before you go?"

Frankly, my life was going so well nowadays, apart from the fact I often worried about Melody still not being over me, that I had no desire to be mean to her. And so I smiled and listened.

"You should know... mama... Diana... was very sad when you left."

I had expected some sort of apology or a reply to what I had said in the paper, but not this.

"I see," I answered. Such a wonderfully neutral answer. No matter how bad she had felt, I had felt worse. And my grief wasn't inspired by having to find another business mentor or fuck buddy.

Apparently she waited to see if I was going to add something to that. Like: 'Who the fuck cares,' which would have been my first choice. But when I didn't, she just added:

"Thought you might want to know."

"Well, now I do. See you at dinner."

Dinner was the usual, now upgraded buffet. I didn't eat very much, because I now realised that for the techs, this was probably their most important meal of the day and a major fringe benefit. I had money in my pocket. A few hundred pounds at most, but more was on the way: my Dutch bank account would eventually be unlocked, I had made some money voicing the guided tours, 'd probably get something for doing the opening... I was fine. Those same technicians didn't seem to consider me one of them anymore, although the guy who had replaced me tried his best to be nice without alienating his colleagues. I just didn't care. Be jealous, guys. You're right to be. I'm going home to Kate, after all.

Even so, when Nigel suddenly appeared at our table that was a bit of a shock. I'd had an affair with his wife after all, even though I'd seen him after I knew and he was as grumpy as ever. Now he was actually friendly, no doubt calling on all of his acting skills. He snuck up to me, as if that would make a grown man invisible to a table full of people, and whispered in my ear:

"Hi Martin, Diana wonders if she can see you in her dressing room."

The entire table began to hoot and holler, as if their teacher had been summoned to come to the headmaster's office. I just had to laugh, excused myself like these people gave a damn and followed Nigel. He opened doors for me, but I wasn't going to let him walk behind me. He seemed to understand and clearly found it amusing, but I wasn't kidding. I didn't care what sort of arrangement he had with Diana, him and me weren't friends.

He gently knocked on her door and said:

"Darling, he's here."

Then he let me in without setting foot in the room and closed the door behind me.

I did feel a bit as though I was called to see headmaster, or 'going to the principal's office', although since I was educated in Holland and went to schools that were considerably less authoritarian than English or American ones (hall passes... seriously?), that had never been a particular fear of mine. She looked radiant as ever, albeit a bit worried today. She stood up to greet me, but the first thing she asked was:

"Hi Martin. So... are we shaking hands from now on?"

That was quite disarming. I didn't come here to yell at her, if anything I came her to demonstrate I was over it and being mature about it. I had Kate now.

"If you like," I smiled and then proceeded to both shake her hand and give her two kisses, left and right. That seemed to relax her and I was invited to sit. Bus 1 wasn't even here yet, we had some time to chat.

"I can't begin to tell you how glad I am you're here, Martin. You're a life saver once again. I'll admit I was a bit nervous about meeting you, though."

"Is that why Nigel is on guard duty?"

"Goodness, no. I think he's simply trying to prevent people from listening at the door. No, I was nervous because it took a while for me to understand what you must have been through. I did try to call you, honestly."

"I believe you. My number was cut off because my bank account in Holland was suspended by the Tax Authority."

"Really? Why did they do that?"

"I've no idea, it's going to court. And I was a bit preoccupied by the fact I was being kicked out of my house."

She just stared at me. I decided it might be fun to fill her in a bit on how my life had started to implode.

"Why?" she asked, after I just smiled at her.

"Well, that might be because a girl who actually loved me, even though I was too blinded by your beauty to notice it, had come over to take care of me because I was devastated. She then found out that I had been trying to educate myself on the BDSM lifestyle. Saw some information I'd been gathering on my laptop."

Hey, that slotted together nicely!

"For me..." Diana said, meekly.

"Yes. And it scared her so much she literally ran away screaming and crying, which made my landlord decide to kick me out out the next day. A few moments after that call, my mobile phone was disconnected."

"And what did you do?"

"Well, after a horrible night I took my motorbike and drove to her house to make amends. Sadly it broke down, so I had a rather arduous journey. I arrived at her doorstep penniless, homeless and with a broken heart, finally understanding that I should have loved her. And did, really. It's just that she was a friend for ages, I never really noticed things were changing."

"So... did you tell her?"

"I did."

"And?"

"She didn't believe me and said she never wanted to see me again. She kicked me out, literally. That's when I ended up being terribly drunk. You'll have read about that in The Sun."

She just nodded.

"I woke up in a police cell and I decided I had no other options. So I tried to get to that place where Audio Guy got his sign-up bonus to go to the States."

"NO! Were you really going to leave?"

"Absolutely. I had nothing left. Not even my clothes. I was wearing whatever they keep handy at the police station for drunks."

"But that would have meant 2 years in the desert!"

"Yes. And 500 quid in my pocket that same day. And seeing as how I was homeless, that was quite welcome. Now, as I didn't have any money to get there, I had to jump the barrier at Waterloo Underground."

I could tell I had gotten her attention. Her eyes were wide and she was clearly shocked.

"Fare dodging," she whispered. For some people that's no big deal, but for people like Diana and me it's as low as you can go without actually selling heroin.

"Didn't get very far. I was stopped by a guard. Or tackled, really."

"So you went to jail again?"

"No. He turned out to be the only friend I had left in this country and he let me go. While I was on the platform, reading about my previous night in The Sun, he called that girl and told her how and where he had found me. She rushed to Waterloo and two cops literally had to pull me out of a train, while she used the station intercom to tell me to please not leave. Everyone could hear her calling out to me, on all the platforms. I didn't want to go back because I felt she was right, in a way. That I wasn't right for her. But those cops dragged me to her and... well... I'm glad they did, really."

"My God... all this happened to you after our spat?!"

"Spat? Breakup. Yes. My life exploded in a few days. But in the end she managed to find me and stop me before I got to that office. If I had made it there, I'd be chopping onions or driving a truck in North Dakota, hiding from the world. She'd never have found me."

I checked my watch.

"What's the time difference, seven hours? Yeah. I'd be at work right about now."

"Bus 1 has arrived," said Leo over the intercom.

"Best start shaking hands. See you on stage!"

"But..."

Before she could say anything else, I was gone. That felt good!

I shook a lot of hands, posed for a lot of pictures and I'll admit to basking a bit in the positive attention people were giving either me or Carstairs, depending on how smart they were. Some had seen me on breakfast TV, others asked me if I was going to make up with that beautiful girl and there were those that demanded I report back for duty at Graham's show, as if I had a say in that.

Eventually I disappeared backstage and had Lola do my make-up. Then I made a point of sitting next to Gillian for the entire first act, even switching sides if she went offstage on the other side, where there was another row of chairs. She knew what I was doing and eventually she said:

"You're obviously very pleased with yourself."

"Well, what can I say... I'm in love, I'm in work, I'm in the papers. Yes, you could say I'm happy."

I was going to add 'Have you found a new daddy yet? To go with that baby of yours?' but it's a fine line between having a bit of fun and being an asshole, so I restrained myself.

The show went fine. I missed one line, because it had been almost three weeks, but with a bit of prompting from Gillian (of all people, she had to pretend to be enamoured by the big policeman) I made it through. My applause was as loud as Diana's. That's how we measured our popularity.

"Can you come and see me?" said Diana, when we were done posing for pictures. I was actually headed to the bar.

"Be right over, let me get something to drink first. Anything for you?"

"Thanks darling, I have a fridge."

I knocked at her door five minutes later, after having impressed on Leo that if I missed that bus, he'd be missing a few teeth by this time tomorrow. I said it with a cheerful smile, but no one laughed, except Edmund.

Diana was all businesslike, having already changed out of her costume.

"I have something for you. I'm assuming you'll come back tomorrow so here's 300 plus what I owe you from your last week in March. I didn't pay it to your account yet because frankly, I hoped it would be a reason for you to reach out to me. I do miss you, darling."

I took a brown envelope and pocketed it without looking inside.

"Glad you didn't, it would have gone straight towards funding the Joint Strike Fighter or some other government boondoggle. How did you find me anyway?"

"Not saying. But I know people, darling. I've been around for a while, I could get Lord Lucan on the phone if I had to."

Apparently that was a joke, but I didn't get it.

"Who's that?"

"Oh, right. I keep forgetting. Martin, if you ever find yourself in a bind like that hideous adventure you had... do reach out to me. Just because I wasn't going to marry you doesn't mean I don't care for you. I just thought..."

She might have faked it, but she appeared to be pushing back some emotions.

"I just thought you needed some tough love. Some motivation. But if I had known it would push you away, I'd never have brought it up."

I would feel like a terrible, terrible sucker if I ever found out this was fake. But I took a chance and assumed that it wasn't, so I gave her a hug.

"In the end I'm glad that you did. I thought you were the love of my life but it turned out she was right under my nose the whole time. And I might very well have missed out on her if I had kept fooling around with you."

"I'm glad. I really am. I have someone to share my life with, and I have a daughter. You would only have had me, on a Friday. Tell me about her? Oh! Is it Melody? She came to see the show, didn't she?"

I couldn't very well describe Kate, and it didn't feel right to keep using Melody as my cover.

"No. You've not met her. She's magical. There's nothing about her I DON'T like."

I left it at that. She let me go and looked me over.

"You need a new suit, Martin."

"I know. She sent me to get one yesterday."

"Right. Sensible woman, I like her already. Do you think she'll let you... play?"

I kissed her and I couldn't resist kissing her lips, even if only briefly. Mental note: never do that again. Apparently I still wanted her more than I cared to admit to myself.

"You are incorrigible. But I don't want to play. Especially not with you, you're like catnip to me."

I moved towards the door.

"I'll take that as a maybe," she smiled.

"See you tomorrow, Diana."

"Bye darling. And thank you."Back on the boards

Riding the Underground felt much more comfortable with the coat I had used to ride my bike and a baseball cap, even though I was wearing one of my suits. An old one, because it didn't matter if the Inspector looked sharp or not. I wasn't greeted very warmly by the crowd at the pickup spot, but I didn't expect much love. Only Edmund, our resident musician, was nice. In fact, he made me sit next to him and then stood up to address the bus.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say: 'Welcome back, Martin, how very good of you to save our collective asses AGAIN.' Also, for anyone who didn't watch breakfast TV this morning: this man is well on his way to sainthood, no matter what you might have read in The Sun. Even though many of you seemed very pleased with that particular piece of what, for lack of a better word, I shall call journalism. I will say this: if I catch anyone sabotaging him in any way whatsoever, I will make sure that this is your last bloody ride on this Godforsaken bus. We've all had our hearts broken at one point, it's a miracle he showed up at all. So let's give him a big hand and those of you that don't... now I know who you are."

About half the bus applauded. I wasn't entirely sure what I had done wrong, but I didn't really care. At the end of the day, I would have made 150 pounds and be on my way to Kate. She'd kiss me, probably blow me and then we'd go to sleep together and I could reach out to touch her whenever and wherever I wanted. And that's what happiness is.

I told Edmund a brief and censored version of what had happened to me from the night I had stormed off. He listened to me like a schoolkid that gets visited by a real fireman in his classroom. By the time I got to what had happened in the underground station, the silly sod's bottom lip was wobbling. In my story I had replaced one thing: it wasn't Kate that had come to get me, but Melody. That made it all sound perfectly fine and plausible. He had met Melody and approved of her and me getting together.

"Wonderful girl, Martin. Perfect match for you. So she was the one in the Daily Mail?"

"Yes."

"You didn't break up with her, did you?"

"No," I lied. "That was just the Mail, cherry-picking photos for a dramatic story."

"Good, good."

"So why is everyone here pissed off at me?"

"Envy. Pure and simple. They all want out, Martin. It's the bottom of the barrel. Well maybe not quite, but there are bigger and better things, both for technicians and actors."

"And musicians, I imagine?"

"Me? No. I'm happy. I'm out of the house, I make a bit of dosh, I can take care of my pigeons and support my son. I don't give a shit about being famous and if I have to play those five sodding songs each night for the rest of my life, I'm perfectly happy to do it. Do you know the key to happiness, Martin?"

"Is it living with ten Czech models on a tropical island with helicopters flying in supplies?"

"Ha! That's a vacation, not a life. No Martin, it's not. It's setting the bar low. We live in a wondrous age. Clean water in every house. Electricity. More books than you can ever hope to read. If you want to fuck a pretty woman, it'll cost you 100 pounds and she'll do anything you ask for an hour. And we're never hungry. That's happiness. All the rest, fame and all that... bunk. But you're welcome to it, you're a nice guy. Just don't forget that, when it goes away. Set the bar low."

"Why the hundred pounds though?" I teased, like I'm some sort of sex god.

"To get her to do what you want, not what she wants. I'd rather pay and get my way, you see? Works out cheaper. I've never given a woman half a house, Martin. But I've given over a thousand women 100 pounds and all of them sucked my cock. I'll iron my own bloody shirts."

He might just have been the wisest man on Earth. I bowed to him in my chair, like he was a Buddhist teacher. I think Lola saw me do that. She must have heard our conversation as well, haha!

I didn't have much to do and most of the other actors weren't in yet, but I had my phone and Lola gave me the password to the office Wi-Fi. I had a look at a small issue with the website as well, a simple matter of declaring the right document type now that we were also using Chinese and Japanese script on the same page. I was 15 when 'the internet' became a thing for regular people. I have already forgotten more about the bare bones of it than a 20 year old programmer will ever know. You merely adopted the internet. I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn't have Google until I was already a man, yada yada yada.

"So that should do it. Just copy/paste this header into all the other pages and you're good. Will you manage that?"

"Yes Martin, thank you." Again, she didn't actually look at me. So shy, this little whore. I had mentioned her in my outburst that ended up in The Sun too, though not by name. She must have read it.

"Not at all. Anything else?"

"No."

"Okay then. Well, I'll let you get on with it," I said, ready to find myself a comfy seat and kill time with my iPhone, or maybe ask Edmund if I could have a go on his keyboard.

"Martin? Before you go?"

Frankly, my life was going so well nowadays, apart from the fact I often worried about Melody still not being over me, that I had no desire to be mean to her. And so I smiled and listened.

"You should know... mama... Diana... was very sad when you left."

I had expected some sort of apology or a reply to what I had said in the paper, but not this.

"I see," I answered. Such a wonderfully neutral answer. No matter how bad she had felt, I had felt worse. And my grief wasn't inspired by having to find another business mentor or fuck buddy.

Apparently she waited to see if I was going to add something to that. Like: 'Who the fuck cares,' which would have been my first choice. But when I didn't, she just added:

"Thought you might want to know."

"Well, now I do. See you at dinner."

Dinner was the usual, now upgraded buffet. I didn't eat very much, because I now realised that for the techs, this was probably their most important meal of the day and a major fringe benefit. I had money in my pocket. A few hundred pounds at most, but more was on the way: my Dutch bank account would eventually be unlocked, I had made some money voicing the guided tours, 'd probably get something for doing the opening... I was fine. Those same technicians didn't seem to consider me one of them anymore, although the guy who had replaced me tried his best to be nice without alienating his colleagues. I just didn't care. Be jealous, guys. You're right to be. I'm going home to Kate, after all.

Even so, when Nigel suddenly appeared at our table that was a bit of a shock. I'd had an affair with his wife after all, even though I'd seen him after I knew and he was as grumpy as ever. Now he was actually friendly, no doubt calling on all of his acting skills. He snuck up to me, as if that would make a grown man invisible to a table full of people, and whispered in my ear:

"Hi Martin, Diana wonders if she can see you in her dressing room."

The entire table began to hoot and holler, as if their teacher had been summoned to come to the headmaster's office. I just had to laugh, excused myself like these people gave a damn and followed Nigel. He opened doors for me, but I wasn't going to let him walk behind me. He seemed to understand and clearly found it amusing, but I wasn't kidding. I didn't care what sort of arrangement he had with Diana, him and me weren't friends.

He gently knocked on her door and said:

"Darling, he's here."

Then he let me in without setting foot in the room and closed the door behind me.

I did feel a bit as though I was called to see headmaster, or 'going to the principal's office', although since I was educated in Holland and went to schools that were considerably less authoritarian than English or American ones (hall passes... seriously?), that had never been a particular fear of mine. She looked radiant as ever, albeit a bit worried today. She stood up to greet me, but the first thing she asked was:

"Hi Martin. So... are we shaking hands from now on?"

That was quite disarming. I didn't come here to yell at her, if anything I came her to demonstrate I was over it and being mature about it. I had Kate now.

"If you like," I smiled and then proceeded to both shake her hand and give her two kisses, left and right. That seemed to relax her and I was invited to sit. Bus 1 wasn't even here yet, we had some time to chat.

"I can't begin to tell you how glad I am you're here, Martin. You're a life saver once again. I'll admit I was a bit nervous about meeting you, though."

"Is that why Nigel is on guard duty?"

"Goodness, no. I think he's simply trying to prevent people from listening at the door. No, I was nervous because it took a while for me to understand what you must have been through. I did try to call you, honestly."

"I believe you. My number was cut off because my bank account in Holland was suspended by the Tax Authority."

"Really? Why did they do that?"

"I've no idea, it's going to court. And I was a bit preoccupied by the fact I was being kicked out of my house."

She just stared at me. I decided it might be fun to fill her in a bit on how my life had started to implode.

"Why?" she asked, after I just smiled at her.

"Well, that might be because a girl who actually loved me, even though I was too blinded by your beauty to notice it, had come over to take care of me because I was devastated. She then found out that I had been trying to educate myself on the BDSM lifestyle. Saw some information I'd been gathering on my laptop."

Hey, that slotted together nicely!

"For me..." Diana said, meekly.

"Yes. And it scared her so much she literally ran away screaming and crying, which made my landlord decide to kick me out out the next day. A few moments after that call, my mobile phone was disconnected."

"And what did you do?"

"Well, after a horrible night I took my motorbike and drove to her house to make amends. Sadly it broke down, so I had a rather arduous journey. I arrived at her doorstep penniless, homeless and with a broken heart, finally understanding that I should have loved her. And did, really. It's just that she was a friend for ages, I never really noticed things were changing."

"So... did you tell her?"

"I did."

"And?"

"She didn't believe me and said she never wanted to see me again. She kicked me out, literally. That's when I ended up being terribly drunk. You'll have read about that in The Sun."

She just nodded.

"I woke up in a police cell and I decided I had no other options. So I tried to get to that place where Audio Guy got his sign-up bonus to go to the States."

"NO! Were you really going to leave?"

"Absolutely. I had nothing left. Not even my clothes. I was wearing whatever they keep handy at the police station for drunks."

"But that would have meant 2 years in the desert!"

"Yes. And 500 quid in my pocket that same day. And seeing as how I was homeless, that was quite welcome. Now, as I didn't have any money to get there, I had to jump the barrier at Waterloo Underground."

I could tell I had gotten her attention. Her eyes were wide and she was clearly shocked.

"Fare dodging," she whispered. For some people that's no big deal, but for people like Diana and me it's as low as you can go without actually selling heroin.

"Didn't get very far. I was stopped by a guard. Or tackled, really."

"So you went to jail again?"

"No. He turned out to be the only friend I had left in this country and he let me go. While I was on the platform, reading about my previous night in The Sun, he called that girl and told her how and where he had found me. She rushed to Waterloo and two cops literally had to pull me out of a train, while she used the station intercom to tell me to please not leave. Everyone could hear her calling out to me, on all the platforms. I didn't want to go back because I felt she was right, in a way. That I wasn't right for her. But those cops dragged me to her and... well... I'm glad they did, really."

"My God... all this happened to you after our spat?!"

"Spat? Breakup. Yes. My life exploded in a few days. But in the end she managed to find me and stop me before I got to that office. If I had made it there, I'd be chopping onions or driving a truck in North Dakota, hiding from the world. She'd never have found me."

I checked my watch.

"What's the time difference, seven hours? Yeah. I'd be at work right about now."

"Bus 1 has arrived," said Leo over the intercom.

"Best start shaking hands. See you on stage!"

"But..."

Before she could say anything else, I was gone. That felt good!

I shook a lot of hands, posed for a lot of pictures and I'll admit to basking a bit in the positive attention people were giving either me or Carstairs, depending on how smart they were. Some had seen me on breakfast TV, others asked me if I was going to make up with that beautiful girl and there were those that demanded I report back for duty at Graham's show, as if I had a say in that.

Eventually I disappeared backstage and had Lola do my make-up. Then I made a point of sitting next to Gillian for the entire first act, even switching sides if she went offstage on the other side, where there was another row of chairs. She knew what I was doing and eventually she said:

"You're obviously very pleased with yourself."

"Well, what can I say... I'm in love, I'm in work, I'm in the papers. Yes, you could say I'm happy."

I was going to add 'Have you found a new daddy yet? To go with that baby of yours?' but it's a fine line between having a bit of fun and being an asshole, so I restrained myself.

The show went fine. I missed one line, because it had been almost three weeks, but with a bit of prompting from Gillian (of all people, she had to pretend to be enamoured by the big policeman) I made it through. My applause was as loud as Diana's. That's how we measured our popularity.

"Can you come and see me?" said Diana, when we were done posing for pictures. I was actually headed to the bar.

"Be right over, let me get something to drink first. Anything for you?"

"Thanks darling, I have a fridge."

I knocked at her door five minutes later, after having impressed on Leo that if I missed that bus, he'd be missing a few teeth by this time tomorrow. I said it with a cheerful smile, but no one laughed, except Edmund.

Diana was all businesslike, having already changed out of her costume.

"I have something for you. I'm assuming you'll come back tomorrow so here's 300 plus what I owe you from your last week in March. I didn't pay it to your account yet because frankly, I hoped it would be a reason for you to reach out to me. I do miss you, darling."

I took a brown envelope and pocketed it without looking inside.

"Glad you didn't, it would have gone straight towards funding the Joint Strike Fighter or some other government boondoggle. How did you find me anyway?"

"Not saying. But I know people, darling. I've been around for a while, I could get Lord Lucan on the phone if I had to."

Apparently that was a joke, but I didn't get it.

"Who's that?"

"Oh, right. I keep forgetting. Martin, if you ever find yourself in a bind like that hideous adventure you had... do reach out to me. Just because I wasn't going to marry you doesn't mean I don't care for you. I just thought..."

She might have faked it, but she appeared to be pushing back some emotions.

"I just thought you needed some tough love. Some motivation. But if I had known it would push you away, I'd never have brought it up."

I would feel like a terrible, terrible sucker if I ever found out this was fake. But I took a chance and assumed that it wasn't, so I gave her a hug.

"In the end I'm glad that you did. I thought you were the love of my life but it turned out she was right under my nose the whole time. And I might very well have missed out on her if I had kept fooling around with you."

"I'm glad. I really am. I have someone to share my life with, and I have a daughter. You would only have had me, on a Friday. Tell me about her? Oh! Is it Melody? She came to see the show, didn't she?"

I couldn't very well describe Kate, and it didn't feel right to keep using Melody as my cover.

"No. You've not met her. She's magical. There's nothing about her I DON'T like."

I left it at that. She let me go and looked me over.

"You need a new suit, Martin."

"I know. She sent me to get one yesterday."

"Right. Sensible woman, I like her already. Do you think she'll let you... play?"

I kissed her and I couldn't resist kissing her lips, even if only briefly. Mental note: never do that again. Apparently I still wanted her more than I cared to admit to myself.

"You are incorrigible. But I don't want to play. Especially not with you, you're like catnip to me."

I moved towards the door.

"I'll take that as a maybe," she smiled.

"See you tomorrow, Diana."

"Bye darling. And thank you."

with   audience   carstairs  

Jul 16, 2018 in romance

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