They met at her friend, Anne’s engagement party. He was there with Anne’s niece, Elizabeth. Anne introduced them.
“This is Clive, Liz’s class-mate. Clive, this is my childhood friend, Margaret.”
They shook hands. She blushed when she noticed the way he was looking at her. It was very obvious that he liked what he saw.
While Anne left them to attend to the other guests, she chatted with Elizabeth and him. At the back of her mind, she wished that Elizabeth would leave so she could have Clive all to herself. Several minutes later, she got her wish. Elizabeth excused herself.
Alone with Clive, Margaret felt giddy like a school girl talking to the guy she had a major crush on. “How old are you?” she asked.
“I’m twice your age, you know,” she replied.
“Really?” he sounded surprised. “You look like you’re in your twenties.”
She laughed. “Thank you.” She cocked her head to one side as she looked up at him. He was quite tall and looked very stylish in his grey suit, blue and white checkered shirt and navy blue tie. His hair was neatly combed, giving him a very polished look. They chatted for a while and then, she suggested, “Why don’t we help ourselves to some of the delights and deliciousness over there and then go out onto the terrace where it’s nice and cool?”
He smiled. “Sounds good to me.”
They helped themselves to the lavish buffet and then went out on to the terrace. Another couple was there but after a few minutes they went back inside. Clive and she found a table in the corner overlooking the courtyard. It was a mild and beautiful evening. They spent the rest of it out there.
“Will you walk me home? I live about ten minutes from here.”
They went inside and said their goodbyes to Anne and the other guests and left.
As they walked they talked about different things. Every now and then, she shot him a glance. He was not only very handsome and elegant but he seemed so mature for his age. He couldn’t have been older than twenty. “So, are you and Anne dating?” she asked.
He glanced at her and shaking his head, he said, “No. We’re just friends.”
“Good. And I’m currently not in any relationship. How would you feel about dating an older woman?”
“You mean you?”
“Yes. I know you’re attracted to me and I’m extremely attracted to you. So, what do you say?”
“I say, sure.”
“Good. Have dinner with me tomorrow night. My treat. Pick me up at seven.”
“Okay.” He walked her to the entrance of her building.
“Thanks for walking me home, Clive. I’ll see you tomorrow evening. Goodnight.”
She wanted to reach up and touch his face but smiled instead, waved and went into the building.
The following evening when he showed up at exactly seven, she was waiting for him. She smiled when she saw the way his eyes traveled over her, lingering on her legs and perfectly pedicured toes before returning to her face which felt hot. She stood up and walked over to him. “Hello.”
“Hello. You look amazing.”
“Thank you. And so do you.” He did in the grey charcoal suit, no ties and the pale grey shirt.
He opened the car door for her and she caught a whiff of his aftershave as she passed him. As she settled into the soft leather seat and fastened her seat-belt, she shivered in anticipation of what promised to be a very stimulating evening.
All through dinner, they couldn’t keep their eyes off each other. They talked about university, his plans after he graduated, her work as a real estate agent but she knew both of them were anxious to be alone. As soon as she paid the bill, they left. He parked his car and they went up to her flat. After locking the door, she turned to face him. They came together like magnets and then they were kissing wildly. Several minutes passed before she broke off the kiss, panting and grabbing his hand, she pulled him behind her to her bedroom.
As soon as they got there, she hurriedly unbuttoned his shirt, her fingers trembling slightly with anticipation. The pale light of the moon streamed through the windows. When he was standing naked in front of her, she frantically removed her clothes, her breath quickening when she saw the desire on his face. Eagerly, she ran her hands over his chest before she covered his body with passionate and hungry kisses. That night she took his virginity and gave him her heart. For three and a half years they were lovers.
Then, she met Charles who offered her what Clive couldn’t–marriage and security. She continued seeing Clive even after she was married. She had moved to Yorkshire but kept her flat in Oxford where she and Clive had their trysts. She never wore her rings when she was with him. He was not supposed to find out that she was married but he did that day when he came to the manor in the summer after he graduated from Oxford. It was the worst moment of her life when Clive walked into the drawing-room and saw her. She would never forget the expression on his face when Charles introduced them.
That night when everyone else was in bed, she sneaked into his room. He was standing by the window and turned when she let herself in, closing the door quietly behind her. She went over to him. The baby pink nightgown flattered her. He was wearing just the pajama pants. Unable to resist, she touched his chest and he pushed her hand away. “Clive, please…”
“Please try to understand–“
“Understand what? That you married my father? That you continued our relationship even after you married him?”
“Clive, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to deceive you but I was afraid that if I told you that I was married, you would end our relationship and I couldn’t bear that.”
“Well, what we had is over. You’re a married woman now. You’re my bloody step-mother.”
“Please, Clive, don’t do this to me.”
“I’m not doing anything to you. I’m doing the decent thing. I will not have an affair with you. I will not betray my father’s trust. Now, go away and never come to my room again.”
“Get out of my room!” he muttered between clenched teeth, his hands tightening into fists.
With a muffled sob, she turned and ran from the room. The next morning at breakfast, Clive announced that he had accepted a job offer in Windhoek, Namibia.
The whistle of the train jolted her back to the present. They were approaching Windhoek station. Her heart began to pound. Nervously, she checked her hair and face in her compact. What it a terrible mistake for her to come? Should she forget the whole thing and just take the next train back to Johannesburg? No, she resolved, getting up from her seat when the train stopped, it was imperative that she saw Clive. Her life, her marriage depended on it.