As soon as they could speak and move again, Sam looked questioningly at Anna.
“Now you can tell me what is so funny.”
“Tariq and your ex. It’s hilarious. He’s a very respectable financial adviser. Nothing hinkey about his business.”
She doubled over laughing again then got herself together. “His sexuality, however, really is hinkey. I believe he refers to himself as a dominant. I’d have said a sadist. Has a dungeon in his London flat, with whips and straps and all manner of yukky stuff therein. Therefore it follows that your ex wife must be what they call a submissive, and, considering how she treated you, I reckon that’s priceless. As she misbehaved tonight, he’ll probably put his belt across her backside in the taxi home.”
It was Sam’s turn to laugh.
“Oh god, Anna. That is truly priceless. Are you sure?”
“Oh yeah. He tried to get me to play. I kicked him in the nuts. But the beauty of it is he owes me big time. And he knows it. You’ll have no more trouble with Norma Jean. I reckon he’ll probably marry her and whale her ass night and morning.’
“I hope. But why does he owe you?”
“Oh. If it wasn’t for my magic fingers he’d have lost everything, and probably gone to prison for a good long time. His business partner had his fingers in the till, but he was computer savvy enough to make it look as if Tariq was the guilty party. Sadly for him, but happily for Tariq, I’m much better than him, and I traced the money to his hidden accounts. The clients got paid back. The partner got the bird. And Tariq came out of it with his reputation intact.”
“He does owe you then, don’t he?”
“Oh yeah, and keeping your ex sated and under his thumb is only part payment.”
“I wish him the joy of her. Though something becomes clearer now. Once, and only once, she goaded me to the extent where I belted her. Then she was panting for sex. Which she didn’t get. And. Norma Jean?”
“Of course. She was channelling Marilyn a bit tonight.”
“Yeah. Pathetic. But I’m guessing Tariq likes it. According to a book I once read many dominants think that Marilyn was sexually submissive.”
“Hey, ho. Whatever floats your boat. I must admit the idea of Christina being spanked in a taxi…”
“On her bare bottom, and so the taxi driver can see.”
“Oh my god,” Sam buried his face in the bed and laughed until he cried. “Poor cow.”
“Don’t think that, Sam. She’ll be loving it.”
“I guess. And at least it’s likely to keep her off our backs.”
“And on hers!”
They fell asleep wrapped in each other’s arms, and woke in the small hours to make love slowly and tenderly.
“It’s different every time, isn’t it?” Anna mused.
“It is. And yet it’s the same. The same love. The same fall into absolute pleasure. I’ll never get enough of you.”
They went home the next morning by train and taxi. They were greeted by an ecstatic Bonnie who bounded to the door as soon as she heard Sam’s key.
“Did you miss us, girl?” Sam asked as he scratched the wriggling dog behind her ears. She whined and wagged frantically. Carrie and Oscar also came to greet them. Oscar looking a bit sheepish.
“He’s a bad boy,” Carrie said. “Did a poo in the kitchen. I’m sorry about that. I cleaned up, of course, and the odour has gone, but I’m still sorry.”
“No matter. I’m sure he didn’t mean it! He probably had a tummy upset.”
“He did. But it was his own fault for eating windfall apples in the orchard.”
Sam laughed. “Never mind. The floor is hard. No carpet. No harm done.”
Carrie grinned her gratitude.
“We’ll be off then. See you Monday.”
She shoved the still sheepish Oscar into her battered van and drove off waving and beeping.
Sam and Anna went indoors with Bonnie at their heels. Bonnie went straight to the kitchen and pointed her aristocratic nose at a spot on the tiled floor. That, she was obviously saying, is where Oscar disgraced himself. Anna laughed.
“Tell tale.” Then she sniffed the air.
“No smell. No problem. Poor Carrie was so embarrassed.’
“I guess she was. She would normally have stayed for a coffee at least. Now. What do you want to do with the rest of the weekend?”
“Well. There is a thing. Would you like to meet Danny? He’s in London again, and he is just about bursting with curiosity.”
“I’d love to meet him. But what do you mean in London again? I thought you said he lives in London.”
“Nominally, but he’s a diplomat and his work takes him all over. He and Paul have just got back from a two-year posting in DC.”
“His partner. Is that a bother?”
“Nah. You might have noticed that my best mate Ben is gay.”
“Did. Partner being Colin the chef?”
“Clever girl. Most people don’t get the vibe. So. You wanna invite Danny and Paul here? Or do we go to the smoke?”
“Whichever. Though here would be nicer for Bonnie. There isn’t a lot of walking to be had at the flat.”
“Here then. Will they want to stay a while?”
“They’d love to. If you wouldn’t mind.”
“Course I wouldn’t. Anyway it’s your home too, you numptie.”
Anna flew into his arms and hugged him hard, blinking back tears. He looked down into her face and smiled.
“My home. My home with you. Our home together. It’s almost too much…”
Sam lifted her face and kissed her gently.
“Eejit. That’s just the way it is. Now pull yourself together and call your big brother. Bonnie and me will go check out the garden.”
When both man and dog were satisfied that they had no feline invaders on board they ambled gently back into the kitchen. Anna was sitting at the table grinning to herself. “We’d better get our skates on. The buggers will be on a train that gets into Cheltenham at two o’clock. They are so used to travelling that Paul boasts that they can be packed and out of the door in ten minutes. The only reason we have this much grace is the trains.”
“Okay. What do we need to do?”
“Food shop. And get the only spare room with any furniture in it ready. Fortunately all our bedrooms are en suite. I really don’t cope well with Paul wafting about the place in his rather too brief bathrobe. He only does it to annoy…”
“Yeah. Colin can be a bit brittle at times too. And he likes to rub people up backwards. Goes with the territory methinks. However. You shop. I’ll do the room. I can, you know. It’ll be clean, so I just have to make the bed and put towels and the like in the bathroom.”
“If you are sure.”
“Am. Now scoot. If we are brisk we can drive into Cheltenham and meet the train. I know you’d like to do that.”
Anna’s smile was brilliant as she scooted.