It had been weeks since she saw him at the restaurant and still no phone calls or visits. She wanted to call him on his private line but was afraid of being told that it was over between them. Why hadn’t he called or come around to see her? She would rather have him accuse her of cheating on him than this silent treatment.
She lay on the sofa, trying not to imagine him with another woman. Instead, she recalled the first time they met.
It was her first time at the East India Club. She was a guest of Bradley and his wife and her friend, Emma. There were a few other people of color there so she didn’t feel conspicuous. She was wearing a pale yellow blouse with a knee length plaid skirt with calf length boots.
“This is nice,” she remarked, looking around.
“It’s a discreet place where you can meet people and are unlikely to end up in the gossip columns,” Bradley said.
Emma leaned over and say to her in a low voice, “I guess this beats going to a hotel.”
Martina looked at the men in the room and wondered how many of them brought their mistresses there. Her eyes caught one of the men’s. He looked familiar. He was tall, slender and very attractive. He was talking to a couple. “Who’s that?” she asked Emma.
“That’s Laird Pendlebury.”
Bradley chuckled. “If I hadn’t come along when I had, Emma would be Mrs. Pendlebury instead of Mrs. Cooke.”
Emma laughed and slipped her hand in his. “Don’t be silly. There wasn’t anything between Laird and me. We got along so famously that people assumed that we would end up tying the knot. I think he was relieved when Bradley came along.”
“Why don’t we go over there and say hello to him and the Smiths.”
They went over to the group and Bradley made the introductions. The Smiths beamed at Martina and warmly shook hands with her. When she turned to shake Laird Pendlebury’s hand, he was watching her closely. “Hello, Mr. Pendlebury,” she said holding out her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
He clasped her hand in a firm handshake. “Likewise,” he replied. “Please call me Laird. It sounds less formal.”
“Laird, would you mind terribly giving Martina a tour of the club?” Bradley asked.
“Not at all. Shall we?”
He showed her the bars, gymnasium, snooker room, business centre, library, drawing rooms, private dining and meeting rooms. “There’s a gift shop here as well. I’ve bought quite a few things there such as polo shirts, ties and a jumper. There’s usually a display of the merchandise in the lift foyer.”
“Are you married?” she asked, looking at the gold band on his right hand. She sincerely hoped that he wasn’t although she had gotten the impression that he was single.
“No. This is a signet ring.”
“Oh. It’s lovely.” And very expensive looking, she thought.
“What about you? Are you married?”
“Are you in a relationship?”
“Would you have dinner with me tomorrow evening?” he asked. The way he was looking at her made her heart flutter, her stomach somersault and her knees weak.
He whipped out a business card and scribbled a phone number at the back of it. “That’s my private number,” he said giving it to her. “Where can I reach you?”
She wrote down her address and telephone number.
“I’ll telephone you tomorrow morning.”
“We’d better rejoin the others,” he suggested. And they did. They didn’t spend any more time together for the rest of the evening and when it time to leave, he was nowhere to be seen. At least she was going to have dinner with him the following evening.
“So what do you do?” he asked. It was the following evening and they were having dinner at the East India Club. She was wearing her new black cocktail dress and he was wearing a black suit, matching tie and crisp silk white shirt. She couldn’t believe that she was having dinner with him.
“I’m a Reflexologist. I work at La bonne Touche. My clients are mostly business-people. I help to relieve their stress and to relax.”
“Do you enjoy doing it?”
“Yes, I do. I could give you a foot massage if you like.”
He smiled. “I would like that.”
They talked about all sorts of things, including politics. He also shared his passion for the Arts. “I recently went to an art gallery opening. The artist is a close friend and it is something she has wanted to do for years.”
“What made her finally do it?”
“It was the color of her affections.”
“You’ve lost me.”
“The color of her affections is red. Red is the color for passion. Passion is what you need to enter into the Art industry and affections for learning, innovation, and conversation. And you have to love discovering things about yourself and sharing your stories with the world.”
“Good for her. By the way, where is her gallery so that I could stop by one of these days?”
He told her the name and the location. Then, he changed the subject. After dinner, they went for a drive because it was a lovely night and then he took her home.
“Would you like to come in for a nightcap?” she asked when they were standing outside of her flat.
“Sure,” he said with a smile and followed her inside. While he went into the living-room which was spacious and tastefully decorated, she went into the kitchen to fix them each a Hot Toddy. He was standing at the window looking out when she joined him. “You have a very nice view and place,” he remarked as he went over to her and took the glass from her.
“Thank you,” she said as they sat down on the sofa. “I’ve always wanted to have a flat which had a view of the Thames. It’s especially beautiful at sunset.”
“You live here alone?”
“Yes. What about you? Do you live alone.”
“Where do you live?”
Her eyebrows raised. “You live in one of the poshest neighborhoods in the world.”
He shrugged. “I guess so.”
“I went there once with Emma, Bradley’s wife. We went to Harrods. It was Christmas and she was trying to find a present for her mother. I didn’t buy anything. The things were too expensive. Knightsbridge is very nice, though. I enjoyed my afternoon there.”
“You really ought to visit it again and check out the Saatchi Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum.”
“Maybe, I will.”
“And maybe one evening after dinner, we can go by my place for a nightcap.”
She smiled. “That sounds good,” she said.
When they both finished the Hot Toddy, she took the glasses into the kitchen. When she returned. He was relaxing on the sofa with his hands behind his head. “Ready for that foot massage now?” she asked.
She got down on the floor and removed his socks. Then, she began to massage his feet. He closed his eyes. “That feels really good,” he murmured.
She watched him. It was obvious that he was enjoying it. She continued for a while longer and then her hands left his feet and moved up to his waistline. She gently pulled his shirt out of his trousers after undoing his belt and brushed her fingers against his stomach which contracted. He sucked in his breath sharply and then moaned as she pressed her lips urgently against the bare skin.
Then, she raised her head and looked at him. His face was flushed and his breath was harsh and unsteady. She could see the desire in his eyes. “I’ve never done this before,” she told him breathlessly. “I’ve never seduced a man before.”
“Is that what you’re doing?” he muttered, his eyes leaving her face to watch her hands as they removed his belt and unzipped his trousers.
“Yes. Do you want me to stop?”
“No,” he gasped. She could see the way his chest was rising and falling swiftly and hear his ragged breathing. Eagerly, she pulled his trousers off. Next, she unbuttoned his shirt. She parted the folds and pressed kisses across his chest, eliciting deep moans from him. Her passions inflamed, she raised her head and looked up at him.
“Take off your jacket and your shirt” she urged him.
He sat up and frantically freed himself of the jacket. The shirt soon followed. Now, he was half-naked. He reached down and grasping her head, he hungrily devoured her mouth. She moaned against his lips, her nails dug into his thighs as she feverishly kissed him back. For several minutes they exchanged kisses and then she drew back, stood up and stripped.
He rose unsteadily to his feet and dragged off his briefs. Then, he pulled her roughly against him and kissed her fiercely, passionately, making her head spin and her knees weak.
Martina closed her eyes now and groaned as she remembered how they ended up making love right there in the living-room, on the carpet. She hadn’t planned for that to happen. She had only meant to give him the foot massage but when she touched him and saw the expression on his face, the desire she felt was so powerful, she couldn’t fight it. And that was how it had been from the very beginning. She became involved with him because she wanted him and she stayed in the relationship because she loved him too.
Why did she have to go and ruin things between them by showing up at the restaurant with Steven? Why hadn’t Laird called or come around, she asked herself for the umpteenth time. Was he so angry that he didn’t want to have anything more to do with her? Was their relationship over?
Frustrated, she got up from the sofa and walked over to the telephone. She picked it up and dialed his private number. There was no answer. She left a message. “Laird, it’s me. Please call me or come and see me. I-I miss you.” She hung up and going over to the sofa, she sank heavily down on the plush seat and buried her face in her hands.