One - @GerbenRosenberg


    He detected both surprise and curiosity in the way she had framed his name. Surprisingly, there was no trace of hostility. He put a mental tick in the positive box. Even so, her ample frame blocked the doorway, defiantly barring access to the apartment. Still fences to mend.

     On impulse, he took her hand and planted a delicate kiss, his lips hardly brushing the back of her fingers. As her gaze followed this gesture of outmoded chivalry, he ran his right hand up from the waistband of her loose fitting cream silk dressing gown, avoiding her breast and gently squeezing her shoulder. She shuddered, a brief, but unequivocal response, yet there was no defiance. Another tick in the box.

     “Why?” she asked, standing erect, pulling the dressing gown straight and tight around her, re-knotting the belt and folding her arms – actions that all said don’t do it again, but she hadn’t slammed the door in his face.

     “I wanted to see if you had forgiven me, Chantelle. It’s over two years now.” Should he ask to come in? Better not force the pace.

     “And you feel this is the right approach? Touching me up like fruit at a market stall? Come on, Gerben. Get real!” A trace of a smile creased her cracked lips.

    She wasn’t conventionally beautiful. Yet her heavy features and unkempt appearance somehow enhanced the earthiness. He’d never asked her age. Early thirties, he guessed. She’d look like shit when she was sixty. Chauvinist maybe, but true. “Words when dealing with emotion are so often misunderstood,” he answered. “They tend to over or understate your intentions. Actions provoke an immediate and singular response. They can tell you much more and a lot quicker.” He smiled. “Besides, I couldn’t resist the temptation.”

     “You never could, as I recall, Gerben. A bet, wasn’t it? The memory seemed to bring a flash of anger to her eyes. Her hand smudged yesterday’s mascara across her eyelid.

     Going back over that incident was dangerous. He decided to fast forward, buy some reconciliation time. “I came to your office nine months ago to apologise, but you wouldn’t see me.” The recollection jarred. “You sent down some snotty little hag of a secretary to tell me to bugger off in front of everybody in reception. It must have made the little cow’s day.” How could he still be so angry? Wounded pride? If he could just have put his hands around that bitch’s throat.

     “You didn’t come to apologise, Gerben.” Her voice cracked. “You came to sell me some smutty little photos, like all the other times. You must have thought I’d got over our little encounter. What was the bet? Five hundred Euros if you managed to shag a lesi? Well, let me tell you, Gerben. Your little bet cost me a long term relationship and a great deal of heartbreak.” She sounded annoyed, but he felt somehow that it was staged for his benefit.

     “You got over it.” He sounded unrepentant.

    Once again, she retightened the belt of her dressing gown. “The bitch had been having an affair for over a year. I never guessed. I was well shot of her.”

For an extended preview of the novel, click on the following link: https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?asin=B01I73U7ZO&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_POgczb985QS52

Geoff​ Cook