The Promise Pt. 04

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The Promise Pt. 04 of 4

Previously: When Rob Cumberland leaves his job at a Further Education college in inner London to take up a lectureship at a university, the last thing he is expecting is to be embarking on an adulterous affair with an ex-colleague of twice his age. Popular and politically correct Rob assumes his safe sex promise to be a measure that also guarantees his fidelity to girlfriend Stephanie, the mother of his child, who is at that moment out of town. But domineering college administrator Christine Cutler spots a weakness in this assumption, and decides to personally add a carnal postscript to his leaving celebrations, by ensuring he has a supply of condoms and treating him to a night of casual sex. Although loathed by his friends, by a succession of cunning advances and blackmail tricks, the scheming bureaucrat succeeds in overcoming Rob’s initial reluctance and initiating intercourse. Rob then finds that he enjoys sex with her so much that he has no desire to stop. So, rather than making good his escape and owning up when he rings Stephanie, he instead returns to Christine with an erection, and begs her to become his mistress. The acid tongued social climber begins to see possibilities in having a university lecturer lover. But when Rob tries to honour a prior engagement with some friends that Christine dislikes, they quarrel violently and she tells him they’re finished…

Note about Sunday Trading Restrictions: In Britain in 1992, most shops were shut on Sundays and pubs were closed from 2 pm right through to 7 in the evening.

***********

The George in the Borough High Street is what remains of a timber framed inn of some antiquity on the pilgrims’ road to Canterbury. They serve Sunday lunches there and hence Linda’s plan for a discreet send-off for their popular colleague.

Rob had no idea what he was going to do as the bus approached this destination. Rubbing his chin, he found himself unable to assess whether there was going to be a visible mark where Christine had hit him as he hadn’t been near a mirror. He was on the top deck sitting at the front. The sun was shining into the windows of the bus and, he thought, into the windows of his soul. It was bringing him to clarity. He was just coming up to the stop when he looked out and saw Linda hopping heavily across the road like a giant frog, while Ell pulled on behind like a ghostly remnant. No, he thought. No.

He went downstairs but instead of getting off, he lifted himself onto one of the high seats at the front. He was going to stay on for another stop and get some thinking time. In the state he was in they’d know there was a story, and winkle it out of him. And the bag was the clincher. The bag would be a dead give-away. He thought for a moment about putting it into the left luggage in London Bridge station. But instead, when he got off, he went and sat in front of a pint of bitter in the Wheatsheaf in the Borough Market.

He meant to apply reason to these matters. Instead, he fell into a reverie and images of Christine passed before him.

Fuckit…

Again he felt the devastating confidence in her turning hips as she made that slinky leopard print parade to the toilet in the Mitre. She had paused, on turning to open the door, to give a long stare in his direction. Her eyes flashed fiercely out of the overdone dark makeup with neither irony nor mockery: it was just staring. Her whole presence there screamed that she was out to make a pickup. This was nothing to do with the gentle days of flirting in the School office, and he had turned away, in part intimidated by the ferocity of her glare, but also to see if there was someone behind him.

At this point he had realised that he must have been staring at her, at her arse and its wonderful undulance and that this was her way of calling him out. He had been picturing himself dancing with her and taking liberties by feeling her bottom in a grubby student union disco manoeuvre.

He found that he was somewhat nervous of her re-emergence, in case she challenged him again. Passing, she flashed an indulgent smile with her rouged up lips, and trailed a look behind her, through mascara laden lashes. He realised he was not to be pursued and punished for his lechery.

This, perhaps, was the point where everything changed. With the long bob and the low fringe, she looked like Anjelica Huston—that is, he thought, she looked like Anjelica Huston playing a hooker. He thought about that. He liked it, and he knew that he’d get a nasty raw feeling if she left with anyone apart from her fat companion, Sam.

Other images played in the dark chamber of his head, like the sheer black nightdress she had worn for lounging around. Her breasts bobbed slightly under the restraining fabric. The nipples were deliciously and conspicuously erect, pointing outwards and upwards like a gun emplacement.

“To the Snow Queen,” he mumbled as he raised his pint and sipped from it. This took him back to Narnia, and the stories he had read as a child, stories which pay bahis firmaları homage to the legend of the Snow Queen, in the person of Jadis the White Witch.

Edmund, the soon-to-be-corrupted boy hero, enters Narnia with a sulky attitude. Through the snows of the frozen world he has stumbled into, there comes the sound of bells and a sleigh drawn by reindeer. As it approaches, an astonishing woman comes into view: snug in her furs, a tall, imposing, frightening figure with an inhumanly white complexion, bearing a high spiky crown and a sorcerer’s wand. She interrogates him harshly at first, with the manner of one who is feared and used to unquestioning obedience. After she learns more about him, she softens to provide the shivering, exhausted youth with magical food and drink. Then she allows him to get onto the sleigh and under her mantle, treating him to a sudden burst of charm as she starts to work her enchantment on him, to make him hers.

He remembered a strange, wobbly but pleasurable feeling, as he read about Edmund snuggling under the wrap, while the Queen reveals to him again and again how specially favoured he is in her eyes, and how far she might be prepared to go to please him. The book said nothing of what happened under the wrap, but hidden proximity to the body of this exciting, beautiful and evil woman was more alluring to Rob than whatever it was that she provides for Edmund to eat.

Under the mantle, in Rob’s visions, her body was soft and welcoming, as he pushed against it. In this world, to live as a favourite of this exotic and dangerous creature, worshipping her as he rode by her side through the pervasive white of eternal winter, that sounded infinitely better than joining Edmund’s dullard siblings in some crusade of do-gooding, tedious in intent.

In short, what he wanted was, he wanted to be seduced.

Earlier, on the way to the bus stop near the flats where Christine lived, a voice had rung out from across the road. It was Sam, Christine’s boisterous friend. “Hallo, Rob. Thanks for the chaperone, the other night! I’ll tell Christine I saw yer. I think she took a little shine to you.” As she walked on, he could just make out that her face was cracking up with ill concealed mirth.

He had stopped for a moment, alone on the pavement; and suddenly felt very alone.

He thought now, there in the Wheatsheaf, about that nasty raw feeling. That was basically where he was now: looking at a two thirds empty beer glass with a nasty raw feeling.

**********

Forty minutes later, he was outside Christine’s door with no idea of what he was going to say. He was about to give a hesitant knock, but caught it and steeled himself to deliver an assertive one-two-three. Presently she opened the door but held it at a crack to withhold entry.

She was wearing a white floral dress with buttons all the way up the front. Its skirt flared slightly, and it had cuffed sleeves which went a little way down the forearm. It was all suggestive of good sense and an even temperament.

But her eyes were as welcoming as stone chips.

“What do you want?”

He breathed out sighing, and made a helpless gesture by way of answer.

“Is that how you lecture?”

He pushed a bunch of tulips at her by way of answer. In his other hand he had a carrier bag.

She made an act of smelling the tulips and looked at her watch which read quarter past one. She paused momentarily and there was a palpable relaxation.

“We’ve been quite shit to each other haven’t we?”

“Are you alright?”

“I’m okay. I didn’t get decked by a madwoman and… oh yes, my daughter came round for a while. So that was a bit of distraction. I didn’t mention anything about us… I didn’t feel like showing her I’d been making a fool of myself again.”

“You’ve got a daughter?”

“Yes. Duh. I’ve got a daughter, just about your age. She’s a legal secretary and a very good kid, and she’s my best pal in all the world. What have you got in that bag? Another present?”

She bent forward to pick up the carrier bag by his feet. She drew out a bottle of Gordon’s. Gin seemed to preside over their courtship.

“Well. You mean business. Shall I?”

“You can. I… I’d be drinking on an empty stomach.”

“So you didn’t have… a roast dinner?” Her smile was like the sun coming out.

“No. I sat in another pub, staring at a pint of beer and thinking about you.”

“You sound like Hank Williams.”

“I probably feel like him if knew who he was.”

“I don’t have any of his records but I should.”

“There’s something else in there.”

She looked into the bag again and started to laugh with joy as she pulled out a record, a 45 in a picture sleeve, a copy of ‘Man of the World’.

“Oh Rob, you really are a lovely guy.” She hugged him and kissed his cheek. “I never would have expected that in a thousand million years. How did you do that, for god’s sake?”

“I was mooching round a vintage record stall in the market and I was looking for it, because I was thinking kaçak iddaa about you. I mean—really thinking about you, and I said to myself, ‘If she won’t see me, I’ll take it home and listen to it until I go stark staring mad, and empty this gin bottle and… Please… Please… Please…” His voice was tremulous as he grasped her upper arms and his hands shook slightly. “Sounds like maybe I should have bought one of this Hank Williams’ records, too?”

She leaned in so that her mouth was near his ear, and whispered, “If you let me go, I might cook you an omelette.”

“Oh.”

“Well would you like one?”

“I would. I would. Christine? I’m sorry. Totally.”

“You’re forgiven. Am I?”

“Totally.”

“Well come and talk to me in the kitchen. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, did you know?”

“Yes, I do know that. Got it.”

“How many would you like?”

“Oh… three.”

“I’ll make it five. I need you to be strong. I promise not to break anything else.”

Rob grabbed her and lifted her right up in the air. She looked down at him and said:

“So why didn’t you lunch with the ugly sisters?”

“Those losers? I just thought why do I want to hang around with a bunch of horny spinsters when I could be here, ‘screwing the arse off’ a real woman? They’re repulsive and they wear stupid shoes. Linda is a fat bully and I despise her, and I will always hate her for what she’s tried to do to you.”

It was a shame really. He felt sure that there had been a time when they were not like this.

Christine landed with her arms around his neck. “If you’re going to ‘screw the arse’ off anything, then I think we’d better feed you.” She looked at the clock. “Well I am going to have some of that gin, to celebrate. You sit down and I’ll put this away.”

She took Rob’s bag into the bedroom, and as she did so, she looked back briefly to make sure that he wasn’t following her. In no time at all she was back, minus her panties, and got down to pouring drinks.

“What are we celebrating?”

“Well… am I still your mistress?”

“Well no one else has taken that position. Do you consider yourself to be a suitably qualified candidate to resume your duties in this role?”

“I don’t know.” She put her her hands on his shoulders and looked down at him. “I don’t know what the qualification is.”

“I do. You’re a dirty fucking bitch and that’s the qualification.” He grabbed the outside of each of her thighs..

Christine put her head down close to his and said in a murmur, “If you don’t leave me alone for a bit I won’t be able to make your lunch or our drinks. You’ll just have to go back and see if you can get Linda’s leftovers, if there are any—which I doubt. Actually,” she looked at the clock again, “You’re too late. Ten to two. The pub’ll be closing in ten, and if you can’t sit still and keep your hands off me for a couple of minutes or so, you’ll have to sit in the other room, think of Linda and play with yourself.”

“No thanks. I’ve done enough of that for long enough.”

“What? Wank over Linda? You could have had the real thing. Great floppy tits flapping in your face?”

“That’s nauseating.”

“So it is. How long is ‘long enough’?”

“Long enough.”

“Well, speaking of long enough’, how long are you—when’s your wife coming back?”

“Tonight, by the sound of it. It doesn’t take long before she’s had enough of ‘Grandpa and Grandma’. It’ll probably be quite late, so I should be able to stay till the early evening. I might have to ask you to keep my bag. I really don’t think I can walk in the door with that.”

“Take your point.”

**********

Meanwhile the colleagues laboured over the remains of what had turned out a dismal dinner in the George. Without Rob, it was more of a wake than a feast. Not only was he the guest of honour: he was the very meaning and purpose of this jolly. Without him, it had no meaning and it had no purpose. They consoled themselves with a favourite topic of conversation:

“It’s not the unpleasantness of it,” said Linda. “It’s the downright incompetence. Get this: apparently these Record of Achievement forms are now printed yearly. So they’re still worthless but they cost more. So, anyway, they now have ‘Session 1991-92’ printed on them. Did you know that?”

“I’ve done mine,” said Carol.

“On the forms we already had?”

“On the RA forms.”

“We’ve got to do them on the new forms. Apparently they’ve got a bar code.”

“You mean we’ve got to do them again?” Carol’s voice started to rise.

“Yes.”

“Who says that?”

“Christine fucking Cutler, that’s who. She won’t accept them on the old forms. Told me they’d go straight into the shredder.”

“But who told us about this?”

“Nobody.”

“So who’s supposed to tell us?”

“Hmm.” Linda licked her finger and raised it as if trying to read the wind. “Oh, uh, Christine fucking Cutler.”

“Why didn’t she tell us?”

“They had a School floor meeting, convened by Roy but scheduled kaçak bahis by… uh Christine, and none of us came because it clashed with open day.”

“So we ‘know’? I’m not doing them. I’m not doing them.”

“She says she’ll get another temp from the agency to do them—meaning copy what’s on the forms we’ve done to the new ‘better’ ones and then record that as a charge incurred by the department—and make up the figure as if the temp has done the whole thing—our work.”

“Is she actually going mad?”

“Well as it happens, this week she really seems like she doesn’t care. Pure poison: even by her standards it’s a new high.”

“Lin? Monday, go into the pantry and hide the bread knife. I can’t answer for myself otherwise. The fucking frustrated rat faced old bag! I feel like jumping up and down on her face…”

“Yes Carol, so violent, so good,” said Ell. “What was it you were saying about young Robert when you came in—that is when you came in late?”

“Oh yeah. Know what? I saw some guy who looked just like him heading for the Borough Market. I nearly called to him, but I thought ‘can’t be him’ heading over there.”

“Well I’m sure it wasn’t, but ladies what was this about Robert leaving the staff refreshments with Mrs Cutler?”

“Lin got Rob to walk Christine and her friend who looks like Biffa Bacon’s mum home.”

“Linda?” Ellen turned to her, as if she was chairing a meeting. “Linda, I hear that she had arrayed herself like a prostitute; quite a different uniform from the one she wears of a day-to-day… Or is it? Alan Thornton is acquainted with the cab firm where she used to work, and they adumbrated with no great subtlety that she may have played the part as well as donning the clothes. Not the sort of thing, anyway, to appeal to a young man of Robert’s disposition and values… Or is it?”

“She looked like Bet Lynch with different hair,” Carol put in.

“Hate to spoil a good story but I wouldn’t treat Alan Thornton as a reliable source. Where are you going with this, Ell?” said Linda.

“To bed, obviously, to bed.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Carnal knowledge, Linda, carnal knowledge.” She gathered herself in her cardigan, as if a sudden chill had intruded.”

“You’re going mad. You—are—going—mad. For one thing, he’s been going on all week, boring us senseless about some romantic treat he was going to spring on the girlfriend’s birthday. He went on about it so much, I can even tell you what what day it is—Thursday if you really want to know. “

“I think I can live without that knowledge, Linda. So I’m going mad am I? Maybe I am. Anyway, I never made much of it, but I’ve told you long ago that there was… a frisson. I think the woman is revolting, but it seems that men sometimes find that revolting women excite them. That’s what people tell me. I wouldn’t know.”

“Ell, you seem to be saying that I’ve dispatched Rob to see to her probably enormous sexual needs, if you can count a backlog running back to her heydays in the sixties.”

“I’m saying it was unwise, Linda. I’m not a clairvoyante. But it was unfortunate timing. We all know that his err partner is away from home. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? And what happens? He leaves on Friday night with Mrs Cutler and doesn’t turn up here on Sunday morning.”

“And your point is?”

“Come on Linda. If he’d been servicing the lusts of La Cutler, and you’d started ribbing him about this assignation you set up, he would likely not survive your interrogation. In fact, he would spill the beans by the catering pack and suffer enormous embarrassment. If he has been so unwise, I’m sure he’ll put it down to experience and move on. But he still won’t want to expatiate thereon.”

“What about Sandra? The tribunal, didn’t that happen?” said Carol. “And didn’t Cutler save Roy’s arse there?”

“Did she? Do we know that?”

“Roy is a slimeball and a groper,” said Linda, but possibly not in this instance. However the fact of his coming up smelling of roses is after a particular statement from—tarantara!—Christine Cutler.”

“Aw, I really can’t believe it. That old witch running her claws over Rob? Vo-mit,” said Carol.

**********

As Carol spoke, elsewhere Rob longed for the the hands she hated to descend on him and cast their toxic spells again. He had not two hours ago chosen between civility and sex and having chosen the latter he was frustrated by Christine’s impassive mood as she sat on a stool sipping a gin and tonic and looking at the clock from time to time..

“How was your omelette?”

“Great. Really good. I feel like a new man. Far better than some great stodgy roast dinner with those guzzlers.”

He looked at her in her floral dress. It was the first time he’d properly seen her legs bare, up and about; still looking good, though. At first sight, she seemed the vision of suburban wholesomeness, dressed for some light gardening in the Summer. He had already spotted that she was now wearing no panties. The pretended innocence of it only made him feel more aroused and his main thought was whether to start undoing her dress from the bottom or the top. But he decided that it would be better to wait when dealing with someone as volatile, and unpredictable as Christine.

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