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As a writer — and a reasonably successful one at that — Tom’s biggest problem was how to fill his afternoons. In the mornings, he wrote — usually from about seven-thirty until midday (or thereabouts). And, in the early evening, wine glass in hand, he usually reviewed and edited what he had written earlier in the day. But that still left the difficult stretch of time in between.
Tom had tried spending his afternoons reading, but that hadn’t worked at all well. When he was immersed in the serious business of writing, the last thing he needed was having his own thoughts interrupted by words and ideas that someone else had already committed to paper.
‘You need a hobby,’ his first wife had said. ‘Stamp collecting. Model making. I don’t know.’
But Tom wasn’t a stamp-collecting model-making kind of person.
‘What do other writers do?’ Tom’s first wife had asked.
‘Well, Hector does some teaching. But that’s because he needs to. He needs the dosh. None of his books have really made money and he has an ex-wife and a couple of kids to support. And some of the others write in the afternoon. Not everyone’s a morning writer.’
Tom’s first wife, a tall leggy blonde who, if he was brutally honest, Tom had married because she looked the part, had nodded.
‘Carl and Gary go down to the Barley Mow and consume endless pints while arguing about football.’
‘But you don’t like football,’ Tom’s first wife had said.
‘What about your friend Pete? Or is he an afternoon writer?’
‘No. Pete spends most of his afternoons fucking women he picks up at the library.’
‘Don’t even think about it,’ Tom’s first wife had said.
But Tom did think about it. He thought about it a lot. And then he talked to Pete about it. ‘So, tell me, how does it work?’
‘It just does,’ Pete told him. ‘The moment that they discover that you’re a published author, their knickers are practically off. A bit like women with Premier League footballers, I guess.’
Andrea was Tom’s first conquest. Conquest? No, conquest wasn’t the right word. Conquest suggests that first there had to be some sort of battle. There certainly hadn’t been any sort of battle. Andrea had been inspecting the table of ‘New Arrivals’.
‘The Urquhart Files,’ Tom had said, tapping the spine of his just-released whodunnit.
‘Have you read it?’
‘Better than that. I wrote it,’ Tom told her.
‘Yeah? OK. Then tell me what it’s about.’
Tom gave her an outline. He also painted a tantalising picture of a few of the characters.
Andrea had smiled. ‘Well… you tell a good story,’ she said. ‘And if you’re not Thomas Traynor, then you’re a damned fine conman. Would you like a cup of tea, Mr Traynor? My place is just around the corner. I’m Andrea, by the way.’
Andrea was probably a good ten years older than Tom. And, as one of Tom’s friends was wont to say, she was a woman built for comfort rather than speed.
Her flat was immaculate. There was a place for everything and everything appeared to be in its place. It looked — to Tom anyway — like something from the pages of an estate agent’s brochure. As Tom followed her into her kitchen he had been almost afraid that he might accidentally touch something.
Andrea filled the kettle with water. But then she had hesitated. ‘Perhaps we could have tea afterwards,’ she said. And she had turned off the gas, taken Tom by the hand, and led him to her bedroom where she had partially undressed and then she had started to undress Tom.
‘Just so that you know,’ Andrea had said, ‘I like fucking and I enjoy being fingered. But if you want to finger my arse — which I also enjoy — you’ll probably need to use some lube.’ (That was a bonus. Tom’s first wife hadn’t liked having her arse fingered — either with or without lube.)
‘Do you do this every afternoon?’ Tom asked Andrea.
‘Not every afternoon,’ she had said. ‘I sometimes have to work.’
‘At the library?’
Andrea had shaken her head. ‘Not really. I stage houses. Arrange the furniture, etcetera. So that the properties sell faster. And, hopefully, for more money.’ And, from somewhere, she had produced a business card. Andrea Smith. Centre Stage. ‘I just pop into the library from time to time in search of design ideas.’
‘And authors,’ Tom had said.
Andrea had again shaken her head. ‘You are my very first. Assuming that you are indeed an author.’
‘Any footballers?’ Tom asked.
Andrea had smiled. ‘I am not a girl to kiss and tell,’ she said.
Tom and Andrea didn’t actually get to have tea that afternoon. But they did discover which buttons they liked pushing and which buttons they liked having pushed. And over the next six months or so, Tom ‘took afternoon tea’ with Andrea on more than a few occasions.
Tom might have gone on taking tea with Andrea had her mother not died, unexpectedly, necessitating that Andrea move to Cheltenham to take care of her wheelchair-bound father. True to her word, Andrea was not a girl to kiss and tell. However, Tom was not so lucky almanbahis with his next matinee partner.
Tom met Alicia when he was giving a talk at the library. She was an aspiring novelist with enough rejection slips to paper a small-sized living room. ‘I just need some better contacts,’ Alicia told Tom after they had fucked for the first time.
‘Well, don’t look at me,’ Tom had told her. ‘I don’t really know anyone. I only know the chaps at Wildwood Press — and you say that they have already turned you down.’
‘Perhaps if you could have a word with their head honcho.’
‘Dennis? I don’t think that that would make any difference. Dennis doesn’t actually read the manuscripts. That’s up to his editors. And, anyway, I think they prefer manuscripts that come through an agent.’
‘My agent is useless,’ Alicia told Tom. ‘Maybe you should introduce me to yours.’
Tom did not think that would be a good idea either. And it was shortly after that that Tom arrived home from a matinee special to be confronted by his first wife. ‘You’re having an affair, you bastard.’
‘With some writer floozy. Alice Someone.’
‘Something like that.’
‘Oh? Says who?’
‘Says the writer floozy herself. She’s running all over town telling anyone who will listen. I had to hear it from the woman at the dry cleaners. And she heard it from Mrs Patel at the corner shop.’ It was not long after that that Tom’s first wife decided that she no longer wished to be Tom’s first wife.
More by good luck than good judgement, Tom had neglected to tell his first wife that his agent, Dixie Dixon, was in the process of negotiating a film deal involving the screen rights to The Urquhart Files. With no knowledge of the upcoming payday, Tom’s first wife agreed to settle for half the cash-value of the London flat. She also agreed that Tom could have 180 days to come up with said cash.
Perhaps chastened by the near miss, Tom cut his ties with Alicia and put his visits to the library on hold for a month or two. But then Tom met Marion.
They met when they shared a table at Gino’s, a coffee shop near the library. ‘I’ve seen you in the library, haven’t I?’ Marion said.
Tom immediately recognised her as one of the librarians. ‘Yes. Probably,’ he said. ‘Are you not working today?’
‘We’ve all had our hours cut back,’ Marion told him. ‘On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I now only do mornings. The Council has to save money. Can’t keep putting up the council tax. Well… not as much as they need to if they are going to pay for everything.’
‘Are you in the book trade?’ Marion asked.
‘Sort of,’ Tom told her. ‘I’m a writer. Tom Traynor. Thomas Traynor.’
‘Oh. Yes. Detective novels.’
‘Is that OK?’ Tom asked.
‘Oh, yes,’ Marion said. ‘It’s a very popular genre.’
‘But not great literature,’ Tom said.
Marion laughed. ‘The better ones are well worth a read,’ she said. ‘And I would consider yours to be among the better ones.’
They finished their coffee and then they strolled back to Tom’s flat where he opened a bottle of supermarket claret.
‘Are you married?’ Marion asked.
‘Not anymore. Why do you ask?’
‘My ex-husband cheated on me. And, after we separated, I resolved to try not to be part of anyone else’s matrimonial mess. It’s not really worth the trouble, is it? Not really.’
Tom nodded. He knew what she meant. ‘Makes sense,’ he said. And then he topped up their wine glasses and led Marion to the bedroom.
‘Was I being that blatant?’ she asked.
Tom just smiled.
‘Are you available next Tuesday afternoon?’ Tom asked, after they had enjoyed a more than satisfactory carnal encounter.
‘I could be. I won’t be working. Do you have a phone number? I could call you.’
‘Or Thursday,’ Tom suggested. ‘In fact, now that I think about it, Thursday might be better.’
And then Dixie got the film deal across the line. ‘The producers are keen to get underway ASAP,’ she told Tom when she phoned.
‘Right. I suppose I had better brush up on my screen writing skills then.’
Dixie laughed — but not in a derisory way. ‘They have their own pro on hand to do that,’ she said. ‘Annabel Lambert. She was nominated for a BAFTA. But they want to retain you as a consultant. A sort of associate associate producer. An extra couple of grand a month just to attend the occasional editorial conference. I’ve met Annabel Lambert a few times. I think you’ll like her. But she does bat for the other side, so don’t waste your time… well… you know.’
‘Right,’ Tom said. ‘And thanks for the heads up. I suppose I had better buy you lunch then.’
And that’s how, a couple of weeks later, Tom and Dixie came to be sharing a bottle of yellow labelled Veuve Clicquot at The Green Parrot. ‘How’s the new book coming along?’ Dixie asked.
‘It’s… it’s coming,’ Tom said.
‘You don’t sound very sure.’
‘I think it probably needs a few more red herrings. A few more twists and turns,’ Tom said. almanbahis yeni giriş ‘A few more… well… surprises. I think it’s what the readers have come to expect. At the moment, it’s a bit… you know… obvious. Well… maybe not obvious. But it could definitely do with a few more twists and turns.’
‘Well, don’t rush it. In a few days’ time you’ll have a contract that you can show the bank. And that should get your re-mortgage sorted and get your ex off your back.’
‘When will I get the real money?’
‘You’ve already received the option money. The serious money you’ll get when they start shooting.’
‘Right. Is that normal? Or is that just because I’m a new boy?’
‘No. It’s pretty much normal. As a rule, the producers don’t like to pay out until they know they have the production money in the bank, so to speak.’
Tom nodded, and took another sip of his champagne. And his mind turned back to afternoons. ‘What do you do in the afternoons?’ he asked Dixie.
‘In the afternoons? It rather depends. I suppose I do whatever needs doing. Meetings. Paperwork. You know. Why?’
‘Fancy a spot of bedroom gymnastics?’ Tom asked.
Dixie laughed. ‘If that was an invitation to fuck, then thank you, but I generally like to keep my business and my pleasure in separate boxes.’
‘Well… always. Anyway, what’s happened to your librarian woman?’
‘She’s back to working fulltime. Someone left, and, rather than replacing said someone, the council divided the hours among the remaining librarians.’
‘Are we going to order some food?’ Dixie asked.
‘I suppose we should,’ Tom said. ‘If you’re sure that you don’t want to fuck.’
The following afternoon, Tom was in half a mind to stroll over to the library when his phone rang. It was Andrea. ‘My cousin Mia is coming to look after Papa for a few days,’ she said. ‘And I’m coming up to London. I wondered if you’d like to meet up perhaps.’
‘Yes. Or are you…?’
‘No,’ Tom said. ‘No, my afternoons are totally clear. Totally clear.’
‘Good. How shall we…?’
‘Where are you thinking of staying?’ Tom asked.
‘There’s an Airbnb near Paddington Station. I thought I’d see if they have a spare bed for a few nights.’
‘Why don’t you come and stay with me?’ Tom said.
Andrea laughed lightly. ‘Should you perhaps check with your wife?’
And then it was Tom’s turn to laugh. ‘My… umm… wife and I are no longer my wife and I,’ he said.
‘Yes. I think it was only ever a matter of time,’ Tom said. ‘We should never have married in the first place. Just me now. Although I’m wondering if I should get a dog. Or maybe a cat. I quite like cats.’
‘Cats do have a certain independence,’ Andrea said. ‘Which is probably better for a writer.’
Andrea said that she would get the lunchtime train from Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington on Wednesday. ‘I’ll meet you at the station,’ Tom said.
‘It’s OK. I can get a cab.’
‘No. I’ll come and meet you. We’ll get a cab together,’ Tom said.
On Wednesday, Tom woke early, feeling a bit like a kid on Christmas morning. If Andrea caught the lunchtime train, she would arrive at Paddington soon after two. And, all going well, Tom could have her knickers off by three. Just the thought of it made Tom’s cock start to swell. Was it worth starting the day with a quick outing for Mrs Palmer and her five daughters? Ordinarily… yes. But… no. There was work to be done. And it was only a few hours before Andrea’s arrival.
Tom grabbed his bathrobe, made a cup of coffee, and went and sat at his desk. He read through the last couple of pages of what he had written the previous day. Yes, it still made sense. But then, when he waited for ‘what next?’ to pop into his mind and filter out through his fingertips, nothing came. Nothing. ‘Damn.’
Tom went into the kitchen and turned on the radio just in time to catch the seven o’clock news. Among other items, the police were investigating the theft of a relatively-unknow painting by Picasso’s friend and fellow cubist, Georges Braque. Apparently, the thief (or thieves) had gone to considerable effort to acquire the roughly ten inch by twelve inch painting, by-passing a very sophisticated state-of-the-art security system.
Why? Tom wondered. He recalled his bad-boy cousin once telling him: ‘If you’re going to steal a car, steal a Jag.’ If there had been a fancy security system, why had the thief (or thieves) not gone for something bigger, something better known? And why Braque? Tom doubted that half the population would even know who Braque was anymore While Picasso’s name had become synonymous with modern art. Even in his heyday, Braque had always tended to keep a low profile. Tom seemed to remember reading somewhere that Braque himself had been quite a shy fellow.
Tom made himself a couple of slices of toast and returned to his desk. Yes… why steal a Braque? And why steal such a small one? Why steal such a relatively insignificant one?
Tom almanbahis giriş started to make a list of possible scenarios including — with a nod to William of Occam — that it had all been a bit of a cock-up, that the thieves had simply stolen the wrong painting. And then another thought occurred to him: perhaps it was an ‘apprentice piece’ — the theft not the painting. The thief (or thieves) had stolen the Braque to demonstrate to someone — possibly a Mr Big — that he (or she or they) could steal a Braque. Twists and turns? Yes, Tom could use that one in his current novel. This storytelling business was a doddle once you got into the groove.
Tom worked on until almost midday, and then he tidied the flat, took a shower, and got ready to go and meet Andrea.
The Big Board at Paddington said that the train from Cheltenham Spa would be arriving at Platform 6. Tom went and stood by the gate. And, suddenly, there she was.
‘You look great,’ Tom said.
‘Flattery gets you everywhere,’ Andrea told him.
It was only a 15-minute walk from the station to Tom’s place, but it was beginning to rain, so they joined the queue for a cab. In the early afternoon, it was only a short wait.
‘How is the new book coming along?’ Andrea asked.
Tom nodded. ‘It’s coming along. Yes. It was spinning its wheels for a while there, but I think it’s back on track. This morning’s news helped.’
‘Oh? What was that?’
‘Just the morning news bulletin. You know. On the radio. Half of the stories, you couldn’t make up. Just jot them down. Change a name here and there. Change a location.’
Andrea frowned, but then she too nodded. ‘I shall have to be careful what I say in future.’
‘Have you had lunch?’ Tom asked.
‘I made a sandwich to have on the train.’
‘Good,’ Tom said. ‘So we’ll just need a pot of tea.’
Andrea smiled. ‘Eventually,’ she said. ‘Now… which way is the bedroom?’
As Tom watched Andrea undressing, he suddenly had a fleeting vision of his late mother. Or, possibly, one of his mother’s friends. Perhaps the fact that Andrea was probably ten years older than Tom contributed to the impression. Also, Tom’s mother had been a ‘robust’ woman. And while Andrea was far from BBW material, she did have womanly hips. And a bit of a belly. And a shapely bum that couldn’t be ignored. Her breasts, on the other hand, were little more than a handful apiece. Not that Tom was complaining.
‘You know… you really are a good-looking woman,’ Tom said.
‘Thank you,’ Andrea said. ‘But you know what they say about writers.’
‘That they are honest and noble? Princes among men? And, of course, sometimes princesses among men?’
‘No. That they are just liars with typewriters,’ Andrea said. ‘Or, these days, liars with computers.’
Tom laughed, kicked off his shoes, and removed his trousers. ‘I thought that you were supposed to be a supporter of the written word,’ he said.
Andrea laughed. ‘Oh, I am. I enjoy a good book. But, sometimes, the books you love are a bit like sausages. You can love sausages, but it’s probably better not to know too much about how they are made.’
Tom smiled. ‘Haggis,’ he said.
‘Yes. Another good example.’
Andrea lay back on the bed and spread her legs. It had been a while. But, yes, everything was still as Tom remembered. Andrea’s hairy mound. Her slightly plump cunt, already opening up for business. A hint of glint from her wet valley. There was no need for anything too fancy. Perhaps a quick game of hide the sausage, and then… well, for the first time, they had all night to work out what game to play next.
But that wasn’t quite the way it worked out. Perhaps Tom really had been saving up for Andrea’s visit. And what started out as a potential wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, turned into a satisfactorily sustained game of Twister for grown-ups.
‘Gosh, you’re wet. Deliciously wet.’
‘Wet with expectation.’
‘Ha ha. Perhaps it’s a warm day.’
‘Perhaps. But I’m not complaining. Are you all right there?’
‘Yes. No. Hang on, I just need to…. There, that’s better.’
‘Oh, god, yes. That feels so good. I’ve missed you, you sexy bastard.’
‘I bet that’s what you tell all the boys.’
‘What do you want me to do?’
‘Just what you’re…. Oh, yes.’
‘Oh, fuck yes.’
‘But just let me move my leg.’
‘You want me to go on top?’ Andrea suggested.
‘Yeah. You want to?’
‘OK. There. Oops! Hang on.’
‘No. Slipped out. We’ll try again.’
‘Ride ’em, cowgirl,’ Tom said. ‘High in the saddle.’
‘Oh, yes. Yes, just there.’
‘Yes, yes, yes. Oh, yes.’
‘We can slow down a bit — if that’s what you want.’
‘Just…. Oh, yes.’
‘Oh, gawd, that feels sooo good.’
‘And now I suppose you want my arse? You bad boy. But, yes, of course you can. Just be gentle. I’m here for three days. Remember?’
‘I’ll grab some lube.’
‘Yeah. Good idea.’
‘Hey! That stuff’s cold.’
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