There was little about Rowena’s island house these days to remind her of its crofting roots: in the space of a few months she had installed central heating, a kitchen the mere contemplation of which would have made her blush not so long ago, triple glazing, and many other features of the cossetted life. All-in-all, by the time the extensions and the indoor swimming pool were completed, about two containers’ worth of exorbitantly priced luxury goods would grace the Parfitt residence, now well on its way to mansion status.
Much of this profligacy could be attributed to boredom. While Julian was busy with affairs of State, there was little for the First (and Only) Lady to do, apart from her toenails. This afternoon, stretched out on a sunbed next to her life-sized reproduction of the statue of David on the south patio and taking advantage of some rare afternoon sun, Rowena was reading the same book for a third time. Half-way between small print and sleep, she scarcely noticed the force of nature approaching from the harbour.
Then she focussed.
Striding up the steep path, his thighs tensed and thrusting against the gradient, all six foot six of Willoughby was a Greek god come to earth, an angel descended from paradise. Now, in the warmer interior of the island where his coat was a little too protective a bloom of sweat glistened on his golden skin – and, oh, lord, that hair!
Rowena surreptitiously nipped her skirt up over her thighs a few more inches and sat up so certain features of her v-necked t-shirt would be shown to their best advantage. She took a few very deep breaths.
“Hi.” She wavered, in not-very-convincing First Lady style. “Who are you?”
‘And’ she wanted to add (with a disparaging glance at David), ‘is that bulge in your jeans for real?’
“Hello. You must be Rowena – they said you would be beautiful, and they were so right. I’m Willoughby.”
Ah, and his voice was so dark, and chocolaty and warm! Rowena knew she couldn’t get up without falling over.
“Surely, you can’t be….”
“The ‘man from the Ministry’? Yes, sweetest Rowena, I’m afraid I am. Now, is your husband around?” The question was so subtly framed it might have meant anything, but the conspiratorial half-smile which adorned it left no doubt in Rowena’s mind. Unfortunately, though, Julian was around. He was just inside the door behind her – and emerging from it.
“Are you Lightfoot?” He asked, with genuine doubt in his voice.
“Call me Willoughby.” Said Willoughby.
“Come inside. Darling, could you fix some drinks for us? Willoughby, then – what will you have?”
Julian’s study had become his Oval Office. They sat in deep leather chairs.
“I’m sorry about the strip search.” Julian said, with a smirk. “We have to be so careful.”
“Not at all,” Willoughby made a dismissive gesture. “We had fun.”
Rowena did not stay for their discussion. She served some drinks, then resumed her sunbathing for a little while. With her head hidden behind her book she could dream her dreams undisturbed, and those she dreamed of Willoughby would not have been publishable.
“Truth is, Julian,” Willoughby was saying; “We want to calm this whole thing down, you know; find some mutual ground? If you’re agreeable, I wouldn’t mind staying around for a few days, sort of as a buffer between you and the Ministry. I’d really like to do that. I mean,” He treated Julian to a mischievous half-smile. “I – personally – would like to do that. The thing is, you sweet man, would you like it too?”
In the early hours, the very early hours, of the following morning, Willoughby Lightfoot’s stalwart shape might have been seen leaving the Parfitt house – would have been, if Julian’s security guards were not by then in drunken slumber, a sleep deepened by the pills which Willoughby had offered them to enhance their enjoyment of the previous afternoon. The goat in the yard watched Willoughby’s approach with suspicion, snickering anxiously.
In the time before the rest of the household awoke, Lightfoot made a comprehensive exploration of Julian’s Island; though not in a way any tourist or casual sightseer would recognise. No, Willoughby’s needs were specific – he sought, and found, specific things.
By the time he returned, Rowena was downstairs making breakfast.
Lightfoot’s muscular body framed against the light in the back doorway. “What a wonderful place to walk in the morning!” He declared, unbuttoning his shirt. “Would you like me to take off my shoes?”
Rowena nodded, aware of what was happening to her face. “Shall I take them for you?”
As Willoughby removed his muddy footwear, Rowena knelt before him, letting him see the long curve of her back, the dark mystery beneath the neck of her dressing gown. As she stood, of course, the casually tied cord of her gown parted and it fell open. Blushing deeply, she looked up at him, fingering nervously at the hem of the shortest nightshirt she possessed and hoping it was just short enough.
Willoughby looked down at her: “You are so, so lovely.” He said.
Rowena looked up at Willoughby: “Oh lord – you absolutely have to roger me – now!”
Did the earth move? Well, not immediately, even though a train of events were set in motion which would prompt it to at least consider a tremor or two.
Willoughby’s presents, once unwrapped, were every bit as generous as they promised. Rowena unwrapped them very quickly indeed. His jeans almost ripped from him, Willoughby found himself pinned against the back door with Rowena’s arms around his neck, legs around his waist.
“Julian….” He managed to pant between hammer blows; “He isn’t up yet?”
It was an anxious enquiry. Rowena shook her head. “Oh-my-god! Oh-my-god! Not until ten.”
“Excellent.” Willoughby cupped the ample cheeks of Rowena’s backside, one in each hand, in search of a better purchase; hoping to control the rampant battering which threatened to throw them both out into the back yard. Rowena, however, took this support as an opportunity to lean away from him – her idea probably was to invite his attention to her eager breasts, but the result was quite different. Rowena was neither as light nor as nimble as once she had been.
She lost her grip, panicked: clawed for Willoughby’s shirt and missed. The centre of gravity shifted, drastically. Suddenly off-balance, with jeans around his ankles, Willoughby found himself tottering for dear life just to stay upright as he and Rowena, locked in passion, careered across the kitchen. Desperately trying to avoid a crash onto the hard flagstone floor, he steered towards the softer landing of the kitchen table. This, at least, was successful. They hit the top of the table together, bringing forth a cry of ecstasy from Rowena and a cry of pain from Willoughby as his masculinity hit the table edge. In Rowena’s design for her luxury kitchen, as a sort of homage to tradition, she had retained three traditional features, two of which were the old flagstone floor and the sturdy kitchen table. Now, the grip of wooden table legs on flagstones is adequate for most purposes, but prone to defeat if hit horizontally at speed by a combined weight of around two hundred and eighty pounds. The table, therefore, offered little resistance: protesting with hideous noise it scraped the rest of the way across the floor towards Rowena’s third concession to tradition – the welsh dresser.
Arrayed upon the dresser’s shelves, dining plates, soup plates, tea plates, odd ornamental statuary, a tea pot and a very good Spode figurine waited to receive them with a conclusion as inevitable as it was loud. The table rammed the dresser with a crash, the shelves above lurched dangerously, shedding their contents as a hound shakes off fleas. Rowena screamed, flinging herself to the rescue of an avalanche of descending crockery.
No sound speaks more volubly of devastation than that of a china plate breaking upon stone: no devastation is more entire than a floor covered with shards of white dinner service. Rowena made a dive to catch the Spode figurine, only to have it slip from her grasp. Not one piece survived.
Rowena was lying on her back on the floor in the midst of the carnage with her nightshirt around her neck: Willoughby was still doubled over the edge of the table. There came a sound of running feet from the stairs.
“My husband!” Cried Rowena. “Hide!”
Willoughby groaned, well aware that the lingering evidence of his enthusiasm would incriminate him in a way that had no place in his strategy. The only possible concealment on offer was behind the side of the dresser furthest from the door. Hazarding injury from a carpet of shattered china he made his way there, pressing his back to the wall. The door opened to admit an anxious Julian.
“My stars, what happened?”
“I fell against the table.” Rowena explained lamely, trying to sound as shocked and disorientated as possible. “I fell.”
To reinforce this impression, she took a tea-towel from the table and began waving it ineffectually at the mess, as if this would somehow magic the damage away. She shrugged helplessly.
“I need to sit down. Help me through to the front room.” Casting about her for somewhere to put the cloth, she hooked it over the only projection available.
As he supported his wife through the hallway, Julian paused, trying to recreate an image in his mind. “Just a moment;” He said. “What did you hang the tea towel on?”
He propped Rowena against the stairs, turned back to the kitchen.
“Oh!” Cried Rowena, fainting to the floor.
“Darling!” Cried Julian solicitously.
As the door had closed behind Rowena and Julian, Willoughby was at last able to reach down and remove the larger splinters of porcelain from his foot. He bandaged the wound with the tea-towel.
Much later, Willoughby and Julian were sitting in the Oval Office, sipping drinks. The morning had been spent deep in negotiation, mainly concerning Julian’s proposal of a pipeline. They had both spent some time on a telephone conference line to A.J., who seemed disposed to complete a deal.
“I’m impressed, Lightfoot.” Julian complimented his guest: “I hadn’t expected to find the wheels quite so well oiled.”
“Well,” said Willoughby in his most mellifluous voice: “It isn’t often I get to work with someone of your abilities, Julian. I think what you’ve achieved here is remarkable: quite remarkable.”
“Thank you. That’s praise indeed. Do you think we might get this neatly parcelled by tomorrow?”
“Our proposals have to go to the Minister, and he has to get them sanctioned – but I know everyone wants this to be kept quiet: so I don’t see why not. Any particular reason for the urgency?”
“You may or may not know, but we have an alliance with Iran? A delegation is due to visit us tomorrow afternoon.” Julian smiled. “It would be nice to have everything tied up by then.”
“Really? Julian, you are a naughty chap, aren’t you?” Willoughby’s eyes teased. “What time are they arriving?”
“On the tide. Two o’clock, as I believe.”
“Superb!” said Willoughby. He reached forward, stroking the back of Julian’s hand with a single forefinger. “You’re a brilliant fellow, you know?” He shook his head sadly. “Such a waste – such a waste.”
There are times when you know a situation – a meeting, a look, a touch – should make you feel acutely uncomfortable: they should, but they don’t. Then what do you do? Julian found himself in just this dilemma. “What do you mean, ‘a waste’?” He asked as Willoughby got to his feet.
Willoughby looked down at him with that peculiar half-smile of his, turning to leave the room. He made no reply, but as he left, he allowed his hand to draw softly across Julian’s cheek and neck. It was an unmistakable gesture.
That afternoon Willoughby, harbouring a slight limp, went for another walk. Considering the small size of the Island Republic of Aga, walking offered few possibilities, so it was strange how little of him was seen. He returned late.
It was a night of discoveries. The first, and possibly the least earth-shattering of these, was Willoughby’s – he discovered there were only five clocks in the house, and (he could move very quietly when needed) Julian took his watch off at night. Rowena didn’t.
Meanwhile Julian was discovering – although he might not acknowledge it in the morning – a new aspect of his sexuality. His night was spent in dreams which all featured Willoughby: Willoughby caressing his cheeks, running his hands through that long fair hair, Willoughby running, naked, along a tropical shore: dreams in fact, very close to those of his wife, though Rowena’s dreams interfered with her sleep.
She discovered Willoughby in the front room of the house, paying unusual attention to their grandfather clock.
“I couldn’t sleep.” He admitted.
“Oh,” She sympathised. “Why?”
“Thinking of you.” Willoughby took her hands, gave her one of his best embarrassed smiles. “I was dreaming of you – you were naked, running along a tropical shore…”
She came to him. “Darling, I couldn’t sleep either.”
This time he was careful – very careful. Lifting her nightshirt from her, he carried her unclothed form to the settee and laid her carefully upon it. Then he lay carefully on top of her.
“Wait!” He said. “The light. Put the light on.”
“Must we, darling?”
“I want to see you, my love. I want to see your face.” She was moved to protest further, but he placed a warding finger to her lips. “For me?”
Obediently, Rowena turned on the table lamp above her head. “Now,” She whispered sweetly, taking the focus of her desires in her hand; “Shall we finish what we started?”
“Absolutely! Just move another six inches this way.”
“More comfortable, my sweet. Oh, and let’s have that watch off, yes? It keeps getting tangled in my hair.”
Willoughby made one final check that the camera he had concealed on the top of the grandfather clock had them fully in frame, then he began, with consummate skill, to administer the rogering Rowena so desperately desired.
Finally, rather late in life, Rowena discovered sex – real sex.
And that was enough discoveries for one night.
Breakfast was late the next morning. A dispassionate observer, had there been one in place, as it were, might have noticed how each of the diners avoided the other’s gaze, as though there were some unacknowledged secret between them. Julian said little through the first part of the meal, staring fixedly at the table, now restored to its rightful place. Rowena, mindful of Mahadis’s fate, avoided Willoughby’s quite open admiration of her, even if beneath the table her knees kept parting involuntarily.
Rowena it was who broke the awkward silence.
“I’m a bit worried about the goat.”
“Yes?” Julian grunted. “Now you’re going to tell us why.”
“She just stands with her back end pressed against the shed. She’s so aggressive I can’t get near enough to milk her and she won’t move.”
“I prefer the cow’s milk anyway.” Julian said, closing the matter.
“What do you guys do for exercise?” Willoughby asked brightly.
“Well, we walk a lot.”
“No, I mean proper exercise!” Boomed Willoughby, drawing a look of open-mouthed admiration from Rowena, who imagined Willoughby doing proper exercise. “Julian, you’re a fit chap. You work out, don’t you?”
“No.” Julian’s powers of articulation were peculiarly limited this morning. “I should, I suppose….”
“Look,” Willoughby said. “I’ve found the ideal place. Let’s wrap things up early, then we’ll have a few hours before your Iranian chappies roll up. I promise you’ll feel marvellous. Marvellous!”
Julian demurred: “I don’t think I’ll have time.”
Willoughby reached across the table, placing his hand over Julian’s and squeezing it. “You will, Julian, I promise you. You’ll feel marvellous.”
Julian met Willoughby’s gaze, unable to escape the mischief in his eyes.
Rowena saw it too.
© Frederick Anderson 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.