Copyright© 2010 by Texrep
As if on cue, Eve phoned me later that afternoon. She phoned after office hours, when the lines were put through to my desk. It was good to hear from her.
"John I need to see you. It's all happening, but I need someone to talk to. It's not about making decisions just someone who will listen while I get it all off my chest. Would you do that for me, just listen and give me strength?"
"Of course I will, Eve. Where would you like to meet?"
"Can I come to your flat? I will probably do a lot of weeping so I don't want to be anywhere that's public. Would that be alright with you?"
"Will you want anything to eat?"
"You're not going to suggest a take-away curry, are you?"
"No, I was thinking something light, like poached egg on toast."
"That will be perfect. I'll see you about seven, if that's ok."
"That's good for me, the address is..." Eve interrupted.
"I know where you are. See you at seven."
Promptly at seven the door bell rang. It was a different Eve that stood there. The chic, the confidence had gone. In place of the glamour there was a woman, still beautiful, but with an aura of wretchedness, and tension. I opened my arms and Eve rushed straight in to be held close. This was not desire, nor any vestige of lust; it was comfort of one to the other. I kicked the door closed with my heel all the time maintaining the hold I had around Eve. I felt her relax a little and a small sob seem to squeeze out of her. The grip she had relaxed and she leant back a little, lifting her face she wordlessly asked for a kiss. As with the hug, it wasn't a kiss of desire it was simply a kiss re-affirming our contact.
We moved down the small vestibule and into the living room. Funnily no words had been spoken since I opened the door. She sat down and exhaled, like a punctured balloon. She smiled at me.
"John, you don't know how many times I have wanted to phone you, or even jump in the car and drive here to see you."
"You should have." She shook her head.
"No, I couldn't. If Aubrey had found out he would have found some way of involving you in this messy business. As it is he has now signed the papers and we should get the Decree Nisi within the next three weeks. Six months after that I can apply for Decree Absolute."
"Do you want to talk about it?" She did.
"Yes, John. I want to get it out of my system, but could I beg a cup of tea first? I'm parched." Eve followed me into the kitchen. It had no more room than for one person to turn round in and open overhead cupboard doors without having to duck, so she hovered in the doorway as I boiled the kettle and put the cups on a tray.
"The private detective did well, she got incontrovertible proof of what he had been up to, and when Mr. Gaunt, the solicitor, saw it he offered the opinion that it should be a simple divorce. I moved out before Aubrey got the papers." The tea was made and I picked up the tray.
"Shall we go and sit down?" I followed Eve back into the living room, and pulled up a small table for the tray. Eve took her cup and held it in both hands.
"It was horrible, John. What he was doing. Horrible! I had never thought that he could be like that. He denied it all at first, and then when Mr. Gaunt wrote to him with some of the detail, he gave up and signed. I was surprised he gave in so easily, but as I wasn't asking for anything, apart from my clothes and the jewellery he bought me, he decided not to bother. Mr. Gaunt suggested that if Aubrey contested the divorce it would have to go to Court, and Aubrey would not want the publicity, it would reflect badly on him. He advised me to claim a lot of the capital in the house, but that would have delayed the divorce so I told him not to do that. I went to a hotel at first, and then found a little flat to rent. I have been looking for a job; there are one or two possibilities, so hopefully I shall have an income soon. I would think that by now Aubrey has cancelled all the credit cards, but I couldn't spend his money, could I?" It was all tumbling out without order, yet it served for Eve to get this out, even if it was some kind of verbal diarrhoea.
"How are you managing? I can help if you like." She shook her head.
"No, I'm alright. I kept all the jewellery. Now Aubrey has signed, I shall sell it, a little at a time. I shall never wear any of it again."
"Do you want to tell me what he was doing? Don't if it upsets you." She thought and then said.
"No. That wouldn't be fair. You have to work with him. You would lose respect for him if you knew. Let's just leave it that he was cheating."
"I don't have much respect for him anyway. He tried to get me sacked."
"I'll tell you later, go on with what you were saying." Eve thought again, she straightened her shoulders and took a deep breath.
"He goes to a house on the south side of Birmingham, the woman is a Dominatrix, and Aubrey allows her to humiliate and beat him. I understand that he, sometimes, gets to beat another woman and have sex with her." My mouth dropped open. I would count Aubrey as capable of many things, but that?
"You have the evidence?" Eve nodded.
"Yes, all the details, and she even managed to get some photographs. It has been going on for a couple of years, but I only got suspicious six months ago. That's when I employed the detective. My solicitor said it was important to establish if it was a regular arrangement. He's been going off every six weeks for two years. I assume that many of those trips were to see this woman." She sobbed. "I should have known that his going to all these seminars was a lie." Wiping her eyes she observed sadly. "No wonder he wouldn't come to bed with me. I may have noticed the bruises."
I went and started making some toast and poached eggs, needing time to digest that shock. I had already chopped some Rocket salad, and made a light dressing for it and with the dressed salad on top of the toast, and the poached egg placed on top of the salad it made an appetising sight and light meal. Eve ate hungrily.
The conversation was light, until we finished eating and I had made more tea. Eve picked up on what I had said. "You said Aubrey tried to get you sacked?"
"Yes," I replied, "for divulging his whereabouts to an unauthorised person."
"Who was that?"
"Yes. I was accused of telling you that Aubrey was not at a Fenestra seminar that weekend of Atcham. Only Aubrey didn't inform Bob that you were the unauthorised person." She laughed at this.
"So a wife is unauthorised to know if her husband is cheating. He has a bloody nerve. I am glad I told you now."
"Well I may not be working with him too much longer." I suggested. Eve looked at me sharply.
"Why? What's happened?" I explained Bob Sellick's decision, and how it affected me.
"Why would he do that?" Eve was puzzled.
"Because my dad made loans to him in the early days when Bob was starting the business. Dad never said anything to me, but Bob didn't forget, and has decided that he would rather I run the business than anyone else. His son Andrew is more than happy to leave it on my shoulders, he's a Veterinary Surgeon, and he doesn't want to get too involved. So when Aubrey finds out that I am in effect his boss, I suspect he will leave." Eve was looking at me with a questioning face.
"And if you and I get together, he will jump to the conclusion that it has all been a plot against him. Perhaps we should forget about us. Aubrey can be very vindictive you know."
"No! Rather than that I will refuse the partnership. I can, you know."
"You would give up that opportunity for me?"
"Gold or glister, I'll take gold." Eve's eyes glittered.