"There`s nothing else to be said John. I`m sorry. It`s just the way it is, and it`s better that I tell you now than.... Well, you know now."
John nodded. He wasn`t happy. In fact, to say that he wasn`t happy was the understatement of the year, but like Kelly said, that was just the way it was.
"Anyway," Kelly continued. "Stop looking like a told off school boy, and get ready."
His head came up and he looked at his wife. "Ready?"
"Yes. Ready." She paused and looked at his confused face for a second. "Don`t tell me you`ve forgotten. I told you last week. My sister`s back from Africa. We`re going over to my parents to meet her!" She turned and started to get ready herself, slipping out of her night-gown, giving him a teasing glimpse of forbidden fruit, and walked into the en-suite bathroom.
Annoyed with himself that he`d not realised the trip was this weekend, and even more annoyed and upset at the revelation that had just been revealed to him, John slowly began to get ready.
The two hour drive to her parents was done mostly in silence. Twice Kelly tried to strike up conversation, but John was clearly still unhappy with his lot, and only grunted replies to her. She came close to loosing her temper, but that would only have led to a full scale argument, and Kelly did not want that. She still loved her husband, even though right now she was sure he did not think so.
The problem was deep. It was deep inside her head, and she only hoped that time would prove to be a good cure. The more he pushed it, the worse the problem became. And today she had told him.
Four months ago Kelly had lost the baby she had been carrying. She had not been pregnant long - less than three moths - but she had already felt like a mother to the unborn child. Losing it had almost destroyed her. Her recovery had been slow. Whilst her body had healed, her mind had not coped so well, and this morning, when John laid his hands on her body, caressing her with obvious intentions, she had told him plain and simple: Right there and then she could not have had sex with him if her life depended on it!
So now he was dejected. Dejected and probably still frustrated. He glanced at her. Much to his annoyance he saw that she was still beautiful, and that he still, despite his mood, fancied her.
They pulled into the huge gravel drive of her parents country house. Mansion, he thought. Ridiculous and impractical for two retired people. Status symbol - nothing else.
John had never met Lisa. He`d seen photos, and was surprised to see how similar to Kelly her sister was, despite being four years older. She was a doctor, and had moved to Africa where she believed she could make a real difference. This was her first visit home in two years.
Kelly opened the front door herself, and immediately ran into the house calling after her sister. John closed the door and slowly made his way through to the large conservatory, where he knew Kelly`s father Bill would be, carefully tending to his many plants and flowers.
"Morning Bill," he said. They exchange small pleasantries, neither too keen on the other, but willing to get along for the sake of peace. Anything for an easy life, was an un-spoken law they both seemed to agree on.
"Let me introduce you to Lisa, John." Kelly suddenly said behind him.
As he turned round, somewhat lethargically, he suddenly looked straight into her eyes. She was similar to Kelly, but to John she was far more attractive than his wife. Her eyes were alive, sparkling, her lips were sensuous, yearning to be kissed, and she was genuinely pleased to see him. His heart skipped a beat.
Lisa ran up to him, girlishly happy, giggling and grabbed both his arms as they hung lamely by his side. She stopped in front of him, smiling so hugely it was as if her face would split. Nothing happened for a second. Time stood still. And then something moved behind her eyes. She knew it, and he recognised it. But best of all, no one else saw it.
The moment passed. As quick as it was there, it was gone, and had the two of them not seen, felt and known it, it may never have been there.
"So give me a kiss then brother-in-law!" She cried mischievously. As if to confirm what he might have missed, Lisa kissed him full on the mouth, a split second longer than should have been proper for the occasion.
"Oh put him down Lisa!" Kelly sighed, un-noticing - uncaring? - John thought. Of one thing he was sure: Problems were looming!
Dinner was grand. Fitting for the return of a king, let alone the return of a daughter who had thought the idea of working as a doctor in Africa was romantic.
"So," Started Kelly`s mother, Joan. "Any sign of romance out there in the dark continent?"
Lisa replied with her mouth full of prime sirloin steak, a large piece of garlic bread in one hand, a glass of ridiculously expensive red wine in the other. "You must be joking! Aids is rife in Africa," She began, watching her mother gasp in horror at the thought of her daughter exposed to such life threatening nightmares.
"Besides which," She continued, "The doctors are thought of as Gods out there. If I were to have a relationship," She chose the words carefully, "With any of the locals, I wouldn`t have the respect I need. And as for the male doctors, well they`re all twenty-two year old adolescent boys!"
Kelly was genuinely amused at this. "But you`ve been there two years! Surely you...."
"Nope. But I`m well ready now..."
"Girls really!" Bill interrupted.
They were sat in the lounge later. John had decided to accept the offer of a cigar and some cognac from Bill, and he was enjoying himself, sat between the two sisters. Joan announced it was time to do the dishes.
"You sit and talk to Lisa, John. You can get to know each other," Kelly said. He watched in disbelief as the rest of the family left the room and made their way to the kitchen.
The door clicked closed quietly, and as if in a dream, Lisa put her hand high up on his thigh, leant forward slowly and meaningfully, and kissed him again on the lips.
It wasn`t until three in the morning that they managed to meet up, discretely, in the prized conservatory, to ravage each other like animals.
"So we`re all agreed then?" John asked, still scared, still shaking. It was three months later, and though he was determined in his actions, he was shaking with fear.
The other man nodded, quietly. "I can begin as soon as the money is deposited into that account. After that.... Well, just sit back and wait!" The man finished his drink and left the pub.
John left to make the bank transfer.
"Your wife called!" Johns secretary told him.
He stopped in his tracks. "Really?" He said thickly, swallowing heavily.
"She didn`t sound happy. She says you`re to meet her at your usual restaurant at 7.30."
The day dragged from that moment on. Why had she called? What had happened? If she`d found out about him and Lisa, everything could fall apart! It all seemed to be going wrong!
He arrived at the restaurant early. Several whiskeys were consumed before Kelly arrived, looking beautiful, happy, and alive with something that he`d not seen in a long time. She kissed him warmly on the mouth.
They made their way to their table, ordered food and wine, and started exchanging stories of the day.
"Is there something you want to say?" He finally had to ask. But she declined, and insisted they at least finish their main course before starting the heavy conversation. The wait nearly killed him.
The waitress removed the dishes. They declined a sweet and opted for coffee and liqueurs, and she finally told him.
"I know about you and Lisa." His heart stopped. "But," She continued, "I know you need someone. I`m happy for you to continue seeing her. I just don`t want it to be too public, and I don`t want a divorce. I don`t want to discuss it, or even to talk about it again, so unless there`s any argument, that`s the end of the subject." She took a deep breath. It had clearly been a pre-arranged speech - one that had not been easy to deliver.
They left the restaurant, hand in hand for the first time in months. He turned to say something to her when the shot rang out.
When he opened his eyes to speak to her, he found that she was still holding his hand. She bent close to speak to him, and though there was already a small crowd gathering, she whispered so that only he could hear.
"You bastard! I once told you that I couldn`t sleep with you if my life depended on it! Well my life did depend on it! So I slept with him! I just thought I`d tell you that, because I didn`t want you to die thinking that he was just a crap shot!"
John lay there, life slipping away at an alarming rate, due to the large hole in his chest.
"Now if you`ll excuse me," Kelly continued. "I`m off to have dinner with my sister. I have a feeling it`s going to be her last!"