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Professional excellence 12
Monica first appeared momentarily in Entertaining at Large Chapter XV and then had a starring role in the next one. That’s how this all started. Be worth reading if you want to be fully in the picture, There are references here to earlier incidents. I’ve tried to include context, but you’re interested in finding out more check out the earlier tales. Other main characters’ back stories are also featured. Comments, suggestions and support are always appreciated.
I tried to make a professional appraisal of my soon-to-be companion as she threaded her way among the tables of mid-morning coffee drinkers in response to my wave from the corner table in the crowded cafe. April was petite – no more than five-foot-two – probably in her mid-thirties, slim and with a graceful gait which suggested flexibility and stamina. She wasn’t classically beautiful, but her ready smile and open demeanour made her instantly attractive. I rose and kissed air with her as she pulled out a chair.
‘Thanks for coming. I wasn’t sure you would.’
‘No. Thank you. I’ve never been in here before. Bit out of my price range. It’s nice, isn’t it?’
We smiled those superficial smiles women often share when discussing the inconsequentialities of family, children and the banal vicissitudes which can befall them. I ordered sandwiches and cakes to go with the coffees, waving away her objections.
‘My treat, my choice. Live with it.’
We both laughed and took a detour into a discussion of our pleasure at the blossoming relationship between her daughter and my son. I knew Alice was fiercely proud of her mother’s work to support her through a number of minimum-wage jobs mostly in the care sector. At various times she’d also been a cleaner and bar worker. I respected her for it. We’d only met in person when I’d invited her to a girl’s night soirée at my house. It was the first time her work schedules allowed social interaction.
Like all such events, children and partners dominated the conversations. Hardly any of my other friends needed to work so relations in the broadest sense tended to monopolise affairs – again, in all possible meanings of that word. That particular evening was well-oiled with champagne and a sale-for-charity of sex toys. Among all the admissions and confessions, April’s acknowledgement that she craved penetrative sex, but despaired of her choices in partners had passed almost unnoticed. The fact that she, and a few of my other guests, had sucked whipped cream off my son’s erect penis after he performed a striptease for us, rather put the confessions of the rest of the night into the shade.
‘I wasn’t sure you’d ever want to see me again after that night. I’m really pleased you called.’
She looked down modestly and I reached over and squeezed her hand.
‘Don’t be silly. I was impressed by your honesty and openness as well as your clear enthusiasm for the proceedings. Most of my friends don’t make any move without calculating all the ramifications first.’
She turned her palm upwards and gripped mine in return. We both applied ourselves to the food and drinks for a few minutes, in my case at least, savouring the moment.
‘You said on the phone you had a business proposition for me. I’m intrigued.’
‘I do. But first can I have your word that everything which passes between us today will remain strictly confidential. That means everyone, Alice, Nigel, my husband Howard, the bloke who collects the bins. Everyone.’
‘Of course. And now I’m even more eager to find out what this is all about.’
We smiled at each other to emphasise the reassurance. I picked up my napkin and patted my lips prior to launching on the next phase of the conversation.
‘Do you know what it is I do, April?’
‘Sure. You’re in business services. Alice was full of stories about your clothes, your car and what have you when they first got together.’
‘Any idea what business services are exactly?’
‘Good question. No one knows what job titles mean anymore. Could be anything from cleaning the toilets to hiring out private jets, I suppose.’
‘True sister, true.’
‘So, what is it? Accountancy, money laundering, property speculation? You’re not an international assassin?’
I swallowed hard and held her eyes as I prepared to tell her. They were ice blue and had a natural sparkle. They glittered when she laughed.
‘In my case I have sex with men and charge them rather a lot of money for the pleasure.’
Her gasp was loud enough to draw interested glances from nearby tables. She stuffed her fist into her mouth to suppress her shocked laughter. We moved our heads closer together almost by instinct.
“You mean you fuck them?’
‘Suck their cocks, wank them off, let them cum on my tits or down my throat. Just about anything so long as the price is right.’
I could feel her eyes boring in to me as she absorbed what I’d said and tried to work casino şirketleri out whether this was some kind of cruel but elaborate joke at her expense. I held her gaze expressionless and waited for the next question.
‘And Howard, your husband, does he know?’
‘Of course, some of it. I started because a friend gave me the opportunity. But mostly because we’d stopped having sex and I was randy as hell.’
‘And does he mind?’
‘A little bit, I suppose. But he’s started screwing me again and on the whole we’re a lot happier for it.’
I became quite stern whilst remaining matter-of-fact.
‘And if he finds out because of you, I’ll never forgive you.’
‘I wouldn’t. No. Same goes for Alice.’
We both went back to the food and I signalled the waitress to bring more coffee. When she’d gone April beckoned me to come closer again with a toss of her curly bob.
‘You said you wanted to take me on visits to clients. Work experience I think you called it. Does that mean you want me to watch you having, you know, sex with someone?’
‘Or fuck them yourself if you feel so inclined. You’d be properly paid, of course, but I meant what I said. No obligation, just the chance to consider options other than your current employment.’
She slumped back in her chair and concentrated on the bottom of her coffee cup. She signalled she was ready to talk again with another head movement.
‘I haven’t been fucked in weeks. I’m getting pretty desperate myself. I’m not saying I’ll do it, but what are your clients like?’
We both took deep breaths and grinned at each other as I parked the car on the familiar gravel outside David’s house and turned off the engine. It had been a hectic few hours of hair and make-up appointments. I’d bought April a fetching cocktail dress in a blue to match her eyes along with undies, stockings and suspenders and high-heeled shoes in matching, or complementary, shades.
The door opened almost as soon as I rang the bell. I’d been fielding questions and trying to answer frankly. April had treated the whole day as an adventure. I’d been cheered by her enthusiasm for new experiences; it had been a pleasure to treat her. She, more than anyone I knew, deserved a little pampering in her life. As we’d got closer to David’s home, however, she’d grown quieter however (save for a low whistle when we pulled into his imposing driveway). I guess this was the moment of truth.
‘Ladies, welcome, it’s a pleasure to see you both. Come in, come in.’
He hugged me lightly, his hands on my waist, and kissed me on both cheeks as he usually did.
‘Monique, a pleasure as always. Why don’t you lead the way through to the study. And who is this vision you’ve brought with you?’
He offered his hand to April who took it shyly and seemed tilt her neck slightly as if offering her own cheek too. Instead, David bent to kiss her hand and smiled warmly as she simpered.
‘I must apologise. I don’t know your name. Monique discussed your visit with me – I’m delighted you accepted the invitation, by the way – but I clean forgot to ask what you were called.’
‘I’m Sybil. I know you’re David. You have a beautiful home.’
April spoke quietly but with confidence. She was clearly overwhelmed by her surroundings, however. She was craning her neck to look up the staircase or down the corridors which led off the spacious hallway. She gasped as David led her into his study.
‘What a beautiful room. With lovely paintings. If I lived here I don’t think I’d ever want to leave it.’
I settled myself in one of the armchairs and enjoyed the experience of seeing the space afresh. David used it as his office, but as well as the desk there was a comfortable sofa and the armchair I was occupying. The corner bar was large enough to have two stools and a full set of optics. French windows gave a view of the extensive grounds – garden is too poor a word to describe David’s estate. He has his own wood for goodness sake. I could see that the older man was taking pleasure answering her questions about his art and the tasteful artefacts and small sculptures he had on stands or tables in various parts of the room.
I noticed he was often touching the small of her back as he steered her from one thing to the next. At one point he placed his arm around her shoulder as they bent to examine the small details of an Indian figurine. She accepted his attentions without demur, indeed almost as if they were a natural part of the relationship which was developing between them.
‘This must be your late wife. She was a remarkably beautiful woman. You must miss her. Oh, I’m sorry David. I hope I haven’t spoken out of turn. Monique told me you were a widower and I just assumed from the prominence and well love so clearly there that this must be her.’
‘No apologies necessary. I’m touched by your comments. This is an entirely new experience for you and you must be nervous. I appreciate casino firmaları openness and honesty and I’m glad to see you are well endowed in those departments.’
He paused before continuing.
‘As well as in so many others.’
He winked at her and escorted her to the sofa.
‘I haven’t offered you any refreshments. Remiss of me, I know, but I’m putting some of the responsibility on Monique. I’ve asked her to treat my home as if it were hers a number of times. She must take her share of the blame too. What can I get you? I can make some tea or coffee, or there’s a bar here. Wine, we have some beers and lagers, I think, or would you prefer something stronger? Perhaps a gin and tonic?’
‘That would be lovely, thank you. I don’t want to impose.’
That was an open invitation for David to go into full-on charm mode. He made her laugh with the story of how I’d pretended to get drunk to seduce an old army pal who was a serious alcoholic as well as the most boring and irritating man he knew. The small doilies beneath the glasses and the dainty porcelain bowls of salted nuts he produced were typical of his old-style manners. It was clear that whatever trepidation Sybil may have felt about my proposal to her before meeting him, it was now all but dissipated. I chipped in.
‘How is Cyril?’
‘You know very well and don’t pretend you don’t.’
He wagged a finger at me. She was smiling.
‘He’s a collector of expensive pin-up photographs of Monique here. I have to hear regularly about his latest acquisition. Talking of which, this is for you Sybil.’
He produced an envelope containing a thin wad of notes and slid it across the table on which their drinks rested before easing himself down into the sofa beside her. She glanced into it and looked at each of us with a confused expression.
‘This is simply not necessary. I am – or was – having a wonderful time. I know Monique has sex for money and I know you, David, pay for sex with women. I don’t judge either of you. Each to his or her own, I say. But I’m in something of a mix-up at the moment, trying to work out whether I’m the sort of woman who can do that. Handing me an envelope of cash for being grateful and polite is frankly insulting.’
There was a set to her jaw and steel in her eyes which I had caught occasional flashes of with Alice. In her daughter, it cheered me that my son had found someone who would stand up for herself and him, if necessary. With April, it spoke of the experience of being used and patronised all her life and of never receiving respect unless she fought for it. I was about to offer her an apology and explanation on David’s behalf when he spoke, himself.
‘Sybil. I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, please accept my heartfelt apology. But please, also, hear me out while I offer you an explanation and, if it’s not too patronising, some insight into the way my world of business operates.’
He waited for her to reply. She gave a curt nod for him to continue; the visible tension in her body, however, barely thawed.
‘Thank you. First of all, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time together so far. Let me tell you why, in as objective terms as I can. You’re young, very beautiful, a good listener, an empathetic guest, intelligent, insightful, tolerant and thoroughly female. In my world, these are all assets and therefore worth paying for. No let me finished.’
A slightly chastened-looking Sybil was trying to interrupt.
‘In the business world, I’ve spent equally pleasant hours with people with many – but not all – of your qualities. Sometimes here, often in high-priced restaurants, or the opera, garden parties or other quasi-social events. I’ve come away from many of them equally impressed and dare I say flattered. I’m an accountant by profession, you’d be shocked or at least surprised, to find that where a deeper business relationship has developed with these people that somewhere in an invoice or perhaps tax return, these special social experiences have been listed as ‘consultancy sessions’ or ‘business planning meetings’ and a precise financial value put on them which I – as a client – or you – as a taxpayer – are expected to pay.’
I heard April mutter something like oh god as her head drooped further and the whites of her knuckles became visible as she gripped her hands together.
‘Finally, just to put this into perspective from my point of view. If you really think so little of me that you can only interpret this gesture of appreciation as some kind of attack or judgement on you, at the moment, even if you took off all your clothes and offered yourself to me, I doubt I could manage an erection. I’d decline your proposal and politely ask you to leave.’
The room was quiet after he finished speaking. I thought I heard a sob from April. I went across and put an arm around her shoulder. I was a bit wary of doing more damage when I launched on my own two-penneth, but hey, some things need to be said.
‘David, metaphorically güvenilir casino cover your ears. Sybil, let me tell you you’re completely wrong about David. Understandably so, maybe, but if so that’s my fault for not describing the prostitute lifestyle properly. For someone like me, David is the perfect client. He’s polite, charming, generous and most of all well-scrubbed.’
‘We have been getting together every week for months now. Sometimes we enjoy a tender few hours together, kiss passionately at the door and I drive away regretting I wasn’t invited to stay longer. Other times we fuck like rabbits and he leaves me to get dressed and make my way out with my pussy juices still running down the inside of my leg while he goes off to play golf or transact some dodgy business deal.’
I felt the damp rag I had my arm round revive slightly. There were murmurs of objection from the other side of her.
‘You think he needs women like us – well me anyway – to satisfy some animal craving? Think about it, he’s a right charmer as you’ve already discovered, a good shag and he’s loaded. Well the loaded bit’s true anyway. He’s eligible bachelor number one for every toffee-nosed widow and divorcee between the ages of thirty five and sixty living within a hundred-mile radius. And it’s only that short because he’s not on any dating sites.’
I heard both of them laugh quietly.
‘Yes he could get into any of their knickers with the minimum of effort. But do you really think they’d have crossed the threshold until he shelled out an awful lot more than he’s giving you? Dinners in posh restaurants, theatre tickets, flowers and appropriate trinkets don’t come cheap you know. And when they got here. They wouldn’t be thinking about him at all – good or bad. They’d walk round the room you so obviously loved mentally measuring up for curtains, calculating the storage space needed to get rid of the paintings and knick-knacks and working out how long it would be before they could sack the housekeeper, move in a squad of cheap lackies and have their favourite society decorator completely transform the place.’
I made quotation marks with my fingers and put on a posh voice for the decorator bit. I felt April – or maybe it was Sybil – sit bolt upright and look around warily.
‘You’ve got a housekeeper?’
‘Yes. But if you’re worried about meeting her, don’t be. She has Tuesdays off.’
She relaxed slightly and it felt like she was preparing to launch her own monologue.
‘I haven’t finished yet. Keep those ears blocked David. If I ever got into trouble and needed a friend, David is the first I’d turn to. I know he’d be there for me. Not because I’m a great lay – though I am in case you were wondering – or because he’d be worried about his own reputation getting sullied, or even because he felt he owed me in some way. He do it because he likes me and knows that I like him and that’s what friends do for each other. You’ll have to take my word for it that his gift is not the calculating move of some amoral lecher. I can see he likes what he’s seen of you and is interested to know more. If you’ve decided you must leave, no problem. Wait in the car while David gives me the best rogering I’ve ever had. It’s the least he could do after all the crap I’ve just spouted about him. I’ll take you wherever you want to go and we never need talk about today again. I hope it won’t affect our real-life relationship too much, or at least you’d give me the chance to repair any damage. I like you too and I hope we might become at least pals.’
I felt the pressure on the sofa springs ease as David got up.
‘One last thing, and you can start listening to this bit David. If I ever hear the words perfect client or even worse great shag pass your lips, I’m going to go full Miss Whiplash on your arse. I’ll give you such a thrashing you’ll have permanent scars to remind you never to quote a tart out of context.’
I’d been staring at David as he stood looking down at the two of us. I felt Sybil’s head slump against my shoulder when I eventually shut up he walked over to my side of the sofa – he was careful not to touch Sybil in any way – and took my head in both his hands. He then bent down and kissed me on the mouth. It was tender, passionate and over far too quickly. When he released me he whispered thank you in my ear and took a step back clearing his throat.
‘Please forgive me for a moment ladies. I’m going to wash my face, I fear I may have been sobbing a little. I’m also going to take a small blue pill. Somewhere in that diatribe from Monique a challenge may have been laid down which I’ll need chemical assistance to meet.’
He turned around and left the room. I heard him blowing his nose on one of the last pocket handkerchiefs in the known world as he mounted the stairs. April/Sybil gave herself some space on the sofa, picked up her drink and drained it in one. If she’d been planning that as a prelude to what she had to say, the effect was marred by the fact she half-swallowed the slice of lemon and had to cough it back up first. She looked at me for the first time in ages.
‘God I really fucked up there didn’t I?’
‘The drink or the small incident earlier?’
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