Juliette had been lost in her own thoughts whilst David sat, as she supposed, reading quietly. She had welcomed him home warmly and sincerely upon his return from Birmingham Airport and there had been no lack of genuineness in her embrace and kiss, yet she knew that she was being torn, for there could be no denying that her affections were being drawn, in part, towards the alluring persona of this new light in her social life, a light so different from that safe light to which she had become accustomed. A light flecked with hints of mystery and wildness. It excited her and she was not entirely uncomfortable with that. Thus, it took three attempts before David’s quiet voice interrupted her reverie, as she was folding her jeans. Once the contact had been made, she turned and smiled at him.
“What’s up, Ike?”, she asked, in a voice that was pure delight to David, whose admiration of Isambard Kingdom Brunel had earned him this potentially misleading sobriquet.
David smiled and looked at her for a few moments, stirring very normally and healthily at the sight of his wife, standing, half turned towards him, wearing only a dazzling white bra and shorties – contrasting irresistibly with the golden brown of her diligently-maintained tan – and champagne-coloured hold-ups. The combination of curves, from her elegant shoulders down to her shapely legs, never failed to take David’s breath away – not that Juliette was always allowed to know this! David’s gaze focused momentarily on the beautifully enticing curvature of Juliette’s firm bottom, to which the tailored shortie knickers clung like a second skin. His mind was made up. Juliette was about to witness and experience something that would have one of two effects.
As an engineer, David knew that there were, basically, two options available to someone faced with structural problems. Either repair them or take the structure apart and start again. The latter option, with the thought of losing Juliette, made David feel physically ill, but a new element was making its presence felt in his thought processes, a willingness to take a major gamble in order to save something very special. He suddenly realised how physicians and surgeons must sometimes feel, when going beyond the safe boundaries of established practice, in their endeavours to advance the cause of Medicine and Surgery. The nettle had to be grasped and there was no time to lose. Within a matter of days, the structural faults could prove irreparable.
David smiled at Juliette, put his magazine down and beckoned to her to come across and sit by him on the bed. She laughed and said something about his need to be patient and wait, as she had a busy day tomorrow and didn’t want to be late getting to sleep. Her continuing giggles and move towards the bathroom were halted in their tracks by David’s next question.
“Would Mark also have to wait, Sparks .. or should I say ‘Honeyvix’?”
Juliette was on the verge of demonstrating how she had acquired the first of those two nicknames when she wisely thought better of it and turned round, with an expression that was a strange mixture of astonishment, uncertainty, even a hint of contrition. David remained surprisingly cool – surprising even to himself – and beckoned once again.
“Come and sit here, please, there are things we need to talk about?”
Juliette tried a very brief foray into the ‘affronted party’ scenario and was about to accuse her husband of spying on her when the prudence function in her mind re-ran the mental record of how she had sent the email to Mark, signed ‘Honeyvix’. She flushed as she recalled how her finger must have slipped whilst entering the address and how she had not looked to check that it was the correct one before sending the message and deleting the copy from the ‘Sent items’ folder. A change of tactics was needed – urgently.
As Juliette’s arms flexed and her hands rested on her waist, just above the exquisitely feminine roundness of her hips, David realised that, thus far, the scenario was developing as he had predicted to himself. Now she would try the ‘what do you expect me to do on my own for days at a time’ routine, which had come up on previous occasions during pillow talk, although couched in different terms. Again, the prediction proved correct. David remained silent, and continued to beckon to his wife. For some reason, of which she was not entirely certain herself, her stubbornness refused to yield to reason and chose, instead, to persevere in ‘injured party’ mode. The stand-off continued, along with the monologue that formed the steadily weakening defence that Juliette was desperately trying to put together.
It was at this point that David faced his most difficult choice of all – when to fire the single torpedo which, if it went astray, could destroy all that he and Juliette had worked to establish over the past six years. In such matters, precise science has little part to play. Intuition is all. David pressed the ‘Fire’ button.
“Do you want this marriage to sink, Juliette?”
His wife knew instantly how serious the situation was, for David hardly ever used her real name – and then only for verbal rebuke. She had never had to face anything stronger than a well-reasoned, caring dressing down from the man who, she was confident, depended upon her as she, if she would only admit it, depended upon him. Somehow, though, she sensed that this was not to be such an occasion. The stakes were far higher and the torpedo was heading straight for her stubbornness hull. She had two choices…….. either she could call his bluff and walk out or she could take the gamble and see what lay ahead for the two of them. She shivered and her hands moved almost of their own accord, for no valid reason, to her bottom. She looked her husband straight in the eye and fixed him in her gaze. Her decision was made. Her position was held and the torpedo duly struck, with full impact, in a devastating broadside to her pride and stubbornness. For the first time in many years, a tear of remorse formed in the corner of her eye. Her left hand moved quickly to erase the evidence, but it was too late. Slowly, she walked towards David and sat on the bed beside him.
“OK, Ike, so you found out. What now?”
David remained silent for a few moments.
“What do you want to do now, Juliette?”
Juliette imagined, for a fleeting moment, that a quick and skilful back-hand volley might just catch David off guard and give her the edge, but she knew instinctively that she was wrong. She fidgeted with the duvet cover and looked down.