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And Baby Makes Three
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Author:

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Ken Orford

Romantic Fiction

15




Tim

“You look a bit hacked off – what’s the problem?”

Tim looked up from his laptop screen, over to his business partner who was just shutting down his PC.

“Nah, I’m okay. Another hot date?”

“Yeah, wining and dining Monica. Your family has expensive tastes – but I’m glad to say that unlike her brother, she’s got looks as well as brains. But come on – I know you well enough now to know that everything’s not okay…”

Tim smiled at his best friend, thinking that he and Alan probably knew each other better than many married couples. The fact they met while doing Psychology degrees added another good reason they understood each other so well.

“Ah, it’s just a bit hectic at home. I was going to say ‘You know what it’s like’, but you’re still young, free and single – so you don’t.”

“Come off it – you and Kath are brilliant together! I suspect Monica and I will end up together – but don’t tell her I told you that – and if we are a tenth as happy as you two, then that’s good enough for me.”

Tim nodded and made some non-committal comment. He wanted to think long and hard before continuing. Marriages were intensely personal, but he felt the need to talk the situation through. He told Alan to go and say “Hi” to his sister, and if they got chance they’d talk about it tomorrow. Alan knew that meant Tim would think about whether he wanted to tell him what the problem was, and he also knew not to push it.

“No problem, you coming too?”

“Yeah, I’ve got to finish the Brussels proposal, but it’s my turn to cook dinner tonight – so I’ll do it after Kath’s gone to bed.”

+++

Tim opened the front door and announced to his household that he was home. Silence. Hmm – and a now familiar smell. He went into the lounge. Kath was slumped fast asleep in her favourite chair. Izzy was just stirring in her carry cot in the corner. He tip-toed across the room and picked up his daughter, and kissed her on the cheek. She gurgled back and made the traditional grab for his glasses.

“What a way to greet your dad, with a stink that a chemical works would be proud of. Come on, let’s get you changed.”

With Izzy now clean, dry and, for now at least, happy, he got the dinner going and went back to Kath. He watched her steady breathing, the rise and fall of her enlarged breasts in the pink blouse. In the last weeks of her pregnancy they’d called those breasts Tim’s “new toys”. Like last year’s Christmas present – they’d become forgotten toys. Tim knelt down and stroked her tangled hair and brushed her lips with his. Her eyes flickered open, and she took a second or two to come round.  Then her face cracked into a smile that would beat Blackpool illuminations any day.

“Hello you”

“Hello yourself. Look, dinner’s on, Izzy’s all changed and happy. Why don’t you go and have a nice bath and get changed, and make yourself even more gorgeous.”

“Thank you. But I think I’d rather just stay here and doze a while. I feel exhausted.”

“I’m sure you’d feel better, then we can get an early night maybe?”

She stroked his face, and smiled weakly.

“Poor Tim, I’m no fun any more am I? I think you need to trade me in for a new model.”

“I don’t want a new model, I like – no, I love the one I’ve got. It’s just that it seems to have lost a few of the “extras” that came with it”, he smiled and kissed her again.

“I’m sorry, I know we’ve talked about it a hundred times, and I know it’s important to you, but …” and she left the sentence hanging, like a balloon floating into the distance.

She hugged him, and closed her eyes to drift off back to sleep. Tim stood up, his face betraying the disappointment. He’d been quite prepared to get up at 5am to finish the proposal, but it looked like he’d be doing it tonight after all. It wasn’t just sex – though, he was honest enough with himself to admit it was a big part. He would have been happy enough to have gone to bed with Kath and just stroked and kissed and spent some time on each other. But despite all his efforts, the physical side of his marriage seemed to be disappearing fast.

Dinner eaten, Izzy asleep for the next few hours and Kath asleep until Izzy woke; Tim sat in front of his laptop proof reading his handiwork for the company in Brussels. But his mind wasn’t concentrating on it – he knew he had a decision to make.


Kath

“Monica, it’s me, Kath, can you come round right away? I need to talk to you!”

“Christ Kath, it’s only just gone eight, what’s the matter?”

“Just get round here and I’ll explain!”

“Okay, okay, let me put on some lippy and I’ll be there.”

“Sod the bloody lippy, you don’t have to impress anyone here, there’s only me! Just get over here, will you!”

Kath hung up the ‘phone and stared at the computer screen. She read the e-mail for the millionth time. Twenty-eight words. Just twenty-eight words that’s all. Twenty-eight words to ruin a life. No, make that two lives. She looked down at Izzy, fast asleep in the little bouncy chair. She always slept well after feeding. Well, after feeding and the inevitable throwing up all over Kath of course. Kath smiled, then frowned, and the tears started to come as she looked again those twenty-eight words.

“What on earth’s the matter?” were Monica’s first words as she hurtled into the hallway. She looked at Kath, and the look on her face betrayed her thoughts… God you look a mess! That little bugger of yours has obviously given you sod all sleep, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see you’ve been crying. That once white Chanel T shirt is now half covered in baby puke, and – oh my God, when was the last time you looked at your hair in the mirror?

“Look! Look at what I’ve found!”

Kath sobbed and pointed at the computer screen. Monica’s first thought was that Tim had probably been looking at porn, and that poor old Kath (always the prude) was appalled! Then she saw that Kath was indicating the e-mail INBOX, and one e-mail in particular.

“Tim rang me on his way to work this morning, and said he’d forgotten to get the client’s number from his e-mail. He asked me if I’d log on and get it for him. Course I did, then I noticed that one … look at it! What am I going to do?” and Kath broke down in a series of heaving sobs. She was soon joined by a wakened Izzy, not accustomed to seeing her washer, dresser and food supply in this state.

Monica looked at the words, and then read them for a second time. Her statement that she was sure it wasn’t what it seemed sounded about as convincing as a Bill Clinton denial. Surely Tim wouldn’t cheat on Kath. Not my own brother. Monica had seen him become completely besotted with Kath. Within a week of his starting to go out with her, Monica knew that she’d be the bridesmaid at her brother and her best friend’s wedding.

“Tim’s going to Brussels again next week – and look what she says ‘Thanks for a wonderful dinner on your last trip. I’ve checked into the same hotel as you so maybe this time we can make a night of it!’ Oh Mon, what am I going to do?”

Monica went into the kitchen and declared that the first thing they were going to do was calm down, and typically British, “We’ll have a cup of tea.”

While the kettle boiled and the tea brewed in the stainless steel pot, Kath calmed Izzy, and Monica set about tidying up the breakfast things and miscellaneous baby items lying around the kitchen.

“Look, it doesn’t look like Tim’s cheated on you yet. And there’s nothing to say he will, is there?”

“Oh for God’s sake, Mon. Look at me! Smell me! I’m like a cross between a bloody dairy and a sewage farm. I look and feel about as attractive as a gorilla in a beauty parade. And what’s more, she – what’s her bloody name? Yvette Jarier – is probably blonde, intelligent, 36C and legs up to her armpits – while I can’t get rid of this bloody pregnancy weight, I stink and fall asleep before Tim even turns out the light. What the hell do you think he’ll be doing in Brussels next Tuesday? The poor bloke hasn’t come near to having sex for God knows how long!”

“Tim loves you. You know that.”

“I know, and he works long hours, and every weekend he tells me to go and relax and he’ll look after Izzy. He does his share of work around here, and he does his share of nappy changing and baby stuff. But there always seems to be something I’ve got to do. So how can I compete with a bimbo sex machine?”

“Okay, what are you going to do? Admit defeat, or put up a fight? If you want to fight, I’ll be there holding your coat,” Monica grinned.

Kath looked at her, her brown eyes dulled through lack of sleep. But there was something else, the first hint of a smile and the laughing eyes Monica’s brother had fallen in love with started to return.

“I think I’m going to need you to hold more than my coat…”

+++

A few hours later, Tim opened the front door and announced to his household that he was home. Silence. And what was that smell?

“Hello you” said the quiet voice, and Kath looked round the kitchen door and smiled. “Take your coat off, I’ll be with you in a tick.”

As he was hanging up his coat, Kath came up behind him and put her arms around him. Tim could smell the Chanel perfume she’d last worn god knows how many months ago, and as he turned round to ask where Izzy was, her lips met his in the kind of kiss only two people deeply in love can share. Tim gently pushed her away and looked at her. He didn’t know what to say first, so it all tumbled out in a jumble:

“Where’s Izzy? You look gorgeous! What’s that fantastic smell? What’s going on?”

“Well, thank you – you look pretty good too – though you could probably use a shower! Izzy’s with Mon, that fantastic smell is your favourite Lasagne, and what’s going on is… a marriage I guess. I thought it was about time we had a bit of US time.”

Tim looked at his wife. She always looked beautiful to him – even covered in baby poo and looking a wreck, but she’d obviously spent some time on herself today. Her short brown hair, with blonde highlights looked terrific. He didn’t care about the extra pounds, though he liked the bigger boobs. And she looked sensational in the low cut summer dress. They kissed again and as his hand caressed her bum, he realised she was wearing stockings. He stopped. She looked at him and grinned.

“Turn off the Lasagne, and you can come and scrub my back in the shower.”

“But I’ve spent ages on my hair”, she protested - as she led him up the stairs.


Tim

Tim lay awake staring at the ceiling. Kath’s naked body was draped over his and she was breathing steadily in a deep sleep. Given the amount of sleep she’d had recently, he knew it would take a nuclear war to wake her. Why can’t women see that if a man loves them, then he will love them no matter what they look like or what they smell like. All men want is love in return.

He replayed in his head the conversation he’d had with Alan a couple of days ago …


“How was my sister?”

“Fine when she kicked me out of bed this morning…”

“Too much information, this is my sister we’re talking about!  Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about something else.”

Tim had rehearsed the words, but still found it difficult, even with his friend. At the end of it, Alan had smiled, taken a deep breath and had asked:

“What is our job?”

“We’re consultants”, Tim answered quizzically.

“Thank you, Einstein. Consultants in what?”

“Change Management.”

“Very good, go to the top of the class.”

Tim was starting to get an idea where this was going…

“And why don’t people like change?”

“Because they are comfortable in the present state.”

“So what’s one of the things we can do?”

“Find a trigger to make the present less comfortable, so encourage them to change”, answered Tim thoughtfully.

“Over to you then partner!”

The Brussels proposal duly despatched, Tim had spent the rest of that morning agonising. Could he really deceive Kath that way? He’d tried talking to her about it, but it made no difference. He had done everything he could at home, whilst doing a demanding job. He had satisfied himself that drastic action was needed – because much as he loved Kath, he knew he couldn’t go on indefinitely like this.


Kath rolled over, bringing him back to the present. He slipped out of bed, went to the study, and turned on the computer.

He bypassed his normal mail account and logged on to one he’d created only two days ago. It still seemed funny pretending to be a fictitious French woman. He smiled at the one e-mail in the outbox. The twenty-eight words that might have saved his marriage.

He must remember to ask Kath if Mon could have Izzy again next Tuesday, because his non existent business trip to Brussels had been cancelled. It raised another smile, Alan wouldn’t thank him for that – but indirectly, it was his fault! So tough.




© Ken Orford, 2007



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