“I’m mad about you, I can’t stop thinking about you, please please please can I see you again?”
“But you’re married,” the beautiful woman told me.
We were relaxing in the large bed in the tiny hotel room, and I was in heaven, unable to believe my luck.
The moment I held her in my arms I knew, I just knew, that she was the last woman I would ever love, and the only person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. No more affairs for me, not ever.
This was it.
“We have an open marriage,” I lied. “Besides, we’re probably going to be divorced. Nowadays we hardly ever speak to each other.”
“That’s not good enough,” Elizabeth told me firmly, tossing her beautiful mane of black hair and pulling away from me. “I’m not going to be just some casual affair. You either leave her and start a proper relationship with me, or we end it right now!”
I kissed her again, and in those moments I could feel her resolve dwindle, just as it usually did when a new woman came into my life. Though I say it myself, I am extremely attractive to women. Can I help it, if they throw themselves at me?
“Let’s get this straight,” she whispered, flustered, her cheeks flushed, desire in her eyes and confusion in her voice as she stayed in my arms. “We only met this afternoon, we came to this hotel to make love because we both wanted to, but we don’t really know each other, do we? I thought we both just wanted a one-night stand. Yet you’re telling me you want to see me again? To have a proper relationship?”
“Yes yes yes!” I protested. “I don’t care about my wife. I don’t care if she drops dead. The moment I set eyes on you-”
“I know it sounds crazy, but you’re the one I want to spend time with. Forever. You. No one else. From now onwards, you’re the only woman on earth I will ever love. Forget about my wife. She doesn’t matter!”
“You’re sure about this?”
“More sure than I’ve been about anything else. I’ll leave my wife, the stupid cow. It’s you I want.”
She looked into my eyes. Then she nodded, and turned away, getting out of bed and finding her handbag, and rummaging inside it to get a pen. When, she came back, somehow it seemed incredibly sexy and intimate when she made me open up my left hand so that she could write the numbers on my palm in absurdly large script, the digits running from the base of my thumb, right along to almost the end of my middle finger.
“Call me,” she whispered, before wordlessly slipping on her clothes and leaving me there alone.
My heartbeat eventually returned to normal, and I reflected on this earth-shattering chain of events. I’d gone to the party, not expecting to meet anyone, and Elizabeth had come across to talk to me and mesmerised me, almost bewitched me I suppose.
However, I reflected, it had happened before, and, in spite of my current feelings, I knew it would probably happen again, even if I did leave Marian. Indeed, in the cold light of day, I knew that I probably never would leave her.
My wife is fifteen years older than me, and I only really married her because she was rich. She’s a lot cleverer than I am, too, she has a top job in the civil service, MI6 or something, though she never talks about it. While Marian works hard and pays the bills, I tend to do the opposite. I used to have an office job, but soon after we were married it hardly seemed worth bothering – letting her be the breadwinner suited me fine, it allowed me to be a perpetual student, doing course after course, with no intention of ever actually working. Loitering around universities is a grand way of meeting girls, and I would often meet women and have affairs. I couldn’t help it. Marian had never had much interest in the physical side of marriage, so the cessation of sex was a mutual decision that suited me fine. She resented me having other women though, so I always had to be a bit cautious there.
But meeting Elizabeth had changed all that.
At least that was how I felt right now.
Later that afternoon, at home in our luxury penthouse flat, I fantasised about my possible future. Over the ten years of marriage I had been able to sort quite a bit of money into a secret account, and I knew that if I divorced Marian I’d be entitled to a fair whack of money from the sale of this place – even though I’ve never contributed towards the mortgage, a mate told me I’d be able to get a few quid since my name was on the title deeds. I continues my little daydream where Elizabeth and I got married, and l got a job like other people did, and we were happy. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and I knew right then that for the first time in my 45 years I had met the love of my life, and I would never love anyone with that intensity again.
Although, if I’m honest, I had felt this way before. And time after time it usually ended in the same way. A bitter break-up after a game of cat and mouse and terrible fears of Marian finding out, and ultimately sticking to the life I knew.
Deep down inside I knew I’d never leave Marian. I craved the security of having the bills paid and living like a playboy.
But where was the harm in having my little fantasy?
Right now, of course, I had practical problems to solve. Marian would be coming home soon, so I had to behave as if nothing had happened, but at least I could secretly plan where to take Elizabeth for our first proper date.
I keyed Elizabeth’s number into my phone contacts, before washing my hand to get the incriminating ink off.
Funny thing. It was a devil of a job to clean it off. Finally I tried using some white spirit in the kitchen, but even that wouldn’t shift it. What the hell was I going to do? Marian would he home shortly. She’d become suspicious lately, ever since discovering I’d been having an affair last year, meaning I had to be super careful. Indeed, she had warned me that if she ever found out about me having an affair again I would regret it. So getting rid of that phone number was a priority!
The phone rang and I answered it. “Working late?” I said to Marian, relief flooding through me. “Sure. I understand. No, I know you’re on an important project. That’s fine, no I’ll see you later.”
Elizabeth. Elizabeth. She was all I could think about.
I dialled her number. But it just rang and rang, eventually going to voice mail. I gave up after leaving a message, bitterly disappointed.
Then I thought more about my fantasy. It was going to be true this time! She was going to be the love of my life – the last woman I ever wanted to have sex with, the last woman I would ever want to kiss!
Then, a strange thing happened.
The palm of my hand started to sting where I’d been scrubbing it, and I wondered if it was the white spirit irritating the skin. The palm beneath those apparently indelible numbers seemed to be red raw. Then, suddenly I found that it was getting harder to breathe. My vision started to dim, an odd feeling, of things coming closer, then going away, as if I was about to faint.
It was getting harder and harder to take my breaths. I had a strange sensation like vertigo. I couldn’t fucus on anything properly.
Then, as panic set in, I remembered Marian telling me that during her time working for the security services, she had once worked at Porton Down, the centre where they evaluated poisons used in warfare, including the terrible NOVICHOK, the Russian nerve agent.
That’s when I remembered what had struck me as odd when Elizabeth had taken the pen from her handbag. While she had been stark naked, for some reason she had been wearing a glove that she’d put on specially. . .
I called 999 and waited for the ambulance as my breathing got worse and worse, and my vision dimmed until I could hardly see at all.
I decided to switch my phone to record and started talking, relating what had happened to me today, just to be able to tell someone. . .
Then, as I heard the doorbell ring I tried to get up and answer it, but my legs wouldn’t move.
And then I knew, for an absolute certainty, that Elizabeth was the last woman on earth that I would ever love.