sometimes said that anticipation is better than the event. Kashi knew
that in this case that was definitely not true. She had been
anticipating getting into the warm flat, putting her feet up and
pouring a glass of red for the last hour. The tube journey had been
even more chaotic than normal, and then the walk from the station in
the rain - why did I wear my four inch heels today? - had capped a
really rubbish day.
As well as a glass of wine, she was also looking forward to a cosy
evening in front of the television snuggled up next to Tim. But first
she had some precious time to herself, to recover from what had
definitely been one of those days.
She pushed the door open, feeling some resistance. No doubt that was
the post and the usual freebie newspapers – Did anyone
actually read them? She threw her damp coat over the banister and
picked up the pile of paper that had indeed been blocking the door.
Kicking off her shoes as she went, she made her way to the kitchen
whilst simultaneously giving the wedge of paper in her hand the once
Two free newspapers went straight into the recycle bin. An electricity
bill and a credit card bill for Tim went into the growing pile of bills
to sort out. Our credit rating must be slipping, there’s only
two credit card applications! They joined the free newspapers. That
left just one item of post – and as Kashi looked at it, her
eyebrows raised. She turned it over in her hands, the frown growing. It
was a brown, A4, stiff envelope – the kind you put
photographs or certificates in. The label, addressed to her, was
printed rather than written. Who the hell’s sending me
something that they don’t want to get bent? Only one way to
She got a knife out of the drawer and sliced the envelope open, careful
not to damage the contents. The single photograph inside was slightly
blurred, but easily sharp enough for Kashi to recognise the people and
the situation. It took her a few seconds to realise she was holding her
breath, and that her mouth was hanging open.
The photograph brought back all the smells, textures and sounds of that
evening – was it really a week ago? The truth was that Kashi
had hardly thought of anything else since. Her head was filled with the
image of Adam’s tanned, muscular body. In her mind she
recalled the light-headed, almost giddy feeling of euphoria. She could
still smell his deodorant slowly replaced by the scent of their
perspiring bodies and then the strong scent of sex. Her breasts tingled
as she remembered his touch. Her thighs parted slightly at the memory
of his powerful legs sliding between them. She closed her eyes,
reliving the sensations … as she looked again at the image
from the envelope, she licked her lips. In the photograph, her head was
thrown back as she knelt astride him, her eyes were closed and her face
showed a mixture of intense pleasure and fierce concentration.
Then the other thoughts that she’d been having all week
flooded into her mind washing away the good feelings and replacing them
with the weight of guilt. The tightness in her chest was replaced by a
growing nausea. She felt she was going to throw up. Someone had been
spying on her! She rushed to the sink, her hand shaking as she filled a
glass with water and gulped it down. Her hope was that it would also
wash away the feeling that she had been violated by some dirty old man
photographer who had a half decent camera and a telephoto lens.
Although she was still breathing in short, rapid breaths the urge to
vomit had subsided, and was replaced by chaotic thoughts crashing into
her mind. Who the fuck had sent the photographs? Had the photographer
known they would be there or was it just some voyeur who had lucked out
being in the right place at the right time? And how the hell did they
know where she lived? Then the more serious thoughts: What did the
sender want? She checked the envelope again – no message, no
demand for money. As waves of thoughts crashed into her head, she
suddenly felt sick again … Could it be Adam? Why
would he do that? Then she dismissed the thought – no, that
She glanced at the clock; Tim will be home soon, so the first thing was
to hide the photograph. Tim must never find out about Adam, and what
happened last week. If he does then it will be like my life is over.
Why in God’s name did I do it? How could I have let it
happen? How could I have been so fucking stupid? She put it back into
the envelope and went upstairs – hiding it in one of her
drawers. Kashi had never been one for tears, but right now she had
never felt more like crying. But if she did, Tim would want to know
what had caused it.
She decided to shower and change – in an attempt to calm
herself and to wash away the growing panic she felt. But somewhere in
the murky depths of her mind was the notion it might somehow cleanse
her from last week’s act of betrayal that she so much
Sitting on the edge of the bed, her shoulder length hair still wet, she
smelled clean and she looked clean. But clean was still the last thing
she felt. She reached out for her mobile phone and flicked through to
her stored numbers. The number she wanted was on the first screen
– there aren’t many names earlier in the alphabet
than Adam. She couldn’t believe she was about to dial the
number she swore she’d never ring.
“Hi this is Adam. I’m sorry I can’t talk
just now – but leave me message. Bye”
His voice sounded light and happy. Then she remembered how it had
sounded when he whispered in her ear as they were in the middle of the
hottest, most explosive sex she had ever had. Yes, it had been so
exciting that it had made her light-headed and dizzy, but that
momentary pleasure paled into insignificance when compared to the
endless guilt and regret she had felt in the pit of her stomach every
Kashi looked at the phone. She didn’t know whether to be
relieved or not that Adam wasn’t there. She hadn’t
even been sure what she would say, she just wanted to share the burden
with the only person in the world that she could. She was still sitting
on the bed, her hair slowly drying, when she heard Tim’s key
in the lock and the door swing open. He shouted up to her with a cheery
She glanced around quickly, checking the envelope and its contents were
well out of sight. She drew a deep breath, and mustered all her
strength to call back as cheerfully as Tim had sounded. By the time he
came into the bedroom she felt composed. He smiled and gave her a huge
hug and went to kiss her. At that point Kashi realised she was a lousy
actress. He pulled away from her, still holding her shoulders, and
asked if she was okay.
“Yeah fine, just a bit of a crap day at work.
He smiled at her and nodded.
“Okay. Fancy a drink?”
She forced a laugh:
“I thought you’d never ask. Vodka tonic would go
down a treat.”
With a “Coming right up”, Tim left her to finish
dressing and she heard the clinking of glasses and ice coming from the
kitchen. She decided she didn’t need underwear around the
house, so just put on a t shirt and some loose jogging bottoms
– real slobbing around gear. Plus, the easy access might
tempt Tim into something a bit more than a cuddle. She wanted to feel
Tim’s arms around her, to feel his warmth and strength, to
feel him inside her and to freely give all of herself to him: as if
that act would somehow take away the guilt she felt.
She looked around the bedroom, a place where she had felt happier than
at any time in her life. It was Tim’s flat and
she’d left her rented place three months ago. She remembered
her surprise when she had offered to share the rent, and he’d
told her the flat was his, and he owned it. It had been a present from
his parents when he was twenty-one. She remembered being amazed that
he’d never let on that his family was pretty well off. She
knew Tim worked hard though and didn’t rely on his
parents’ money – of course, not having a mortgage
millstone or monthly rent helped. So, Tim was pretty rich, had a nice
flat, a great car and could take her to expensive restaurants. But
she’d fallen for him a long time before all that had become
apparent to her. It hadn’t been the money or the car, but the
smile, the wit and the warmth of his character. He was very bright,
very talented, very funny - and rich, but didn’t brag about
his Oxford first, or the fact he’d been offered a
professional Rugby contract, or that he’d been paid for doing
some stand-up. But most of all, he didn’t talk about his
As she contemplated the last three months she realised that she had
fallen in love with Tim in a big way. And that made last week all the
more bizarre and all the more painful. It also made her all the more
desperate to sort it out, find out what was going on and put it behind
her. Why the fuck did I do it? Yeah, Adam was nice, he’d
treated me well and complemented me. The whole evening had seemed like
a dream. He’d made me feel special. But so does Tim! The
tears started to form, but she fought them back and forced herself to
go downstairs, and try and have the evening she so craved.
It had been two days since that envelope had arrived, and as Kashi lay
in her and Tim’s bed, although she was only half awake, the
first thought that came into her head was what if another one comes in
the post today? The early autumn sun was showing itself around the
edges of the curtains. She reached out for Tim, but his side of the bed
was empty. Oh God, suppose there’s something in the post and
he gets there first. She started to panic and pushed the covers back to
get out of the bed just as the door swung open.
“Morning sleepy head.”
Tim was carrying a tray with juice, coffee and croissants on it. Kashi
bit her lip:
“Err, this is very nice, but …why?”
“I’m trying to lull you into a false sense of
security because I’ve got something to ask you.”
Kashi felt her pulse quicken. But if he knows, he wouldn’t be
bringing me breakfast in bed! He’d probably be throwing me
out on the street. She pulled the covers up a bit:
“Okay, ask away.”
Tim put the tray down beside the bed.
“Well, you know we’re going to mum and
dad’s for dinner tomorrow…”
She nodded in response. How could she forget? Although she’d
been there several times and had even stayed there for a long weekend,
Kashi never felt relaxed, never felt fully at home. His mum had always
been warm and welcoming, but Tim’s dad had seemed to be the
archetypal, upper class, domineering head of the household. And he
always made her feel slightly out of place. She’d even
mentioned it to Tim, but he’d just laughed it off saying his
parents adored her.
“Well,” Tim continued, “I want to be able
to tell them that we’ve got engaged. But before I do that, I
thought I’d better check with you…”
“Oh my God Tim!”
Kashi threw back the covers and flung her arms round him. She planted a
long, lingering, intense kiss on his mouth, and forced him onto his
back on the bed.
“I take it that’s a ‘Yes’
Kneeling astride him, with tears forming in her eyes, she grinned and
nodded, and then she kissed him again.
The coffee was cold by the time they had stopped, and she lay coffee
brown leg draped across his white body, with his arm hugging her and
playing with her black, wavy hair.
“You know, that was probably the worst proposal I have ever
“Christ! How many have you had then?”
She grinned, looking over at him. He looked into her eyes and rolled
over, pinning her to the bed.
“God I love you.”
Kashi reached up and stroked her fiancé’s face. My
fiancé, doesn’t that sound good.
“And I adore you, and you’ve made me the happiest
woman in the world. And I love you more than anything.”
Kashi was quiet the next morning on the drive up to her future in-laws.
It was Sunday – No post today, thank God! No opportunity for
my dreams to be shattered. But Kashi knew she had to do something.
Whoever had sent the photos was going to be in touch again. And it
would be soon. Abruptly, she came to a decision. She’d seen
enough television programmes and read enough stories, to know that the
truth has a habit of coming out. And that the deeper the lie, the more
drastic the fallout. I’m going to tell him. I’m
going to tell him everything and hope to God he can forgive me. I
can’t take the anguish any longer. I’m going to
tell him tonight that I don’t to this day know why it
happened, but that it will never happen again!
“That’s one of dad’s companies over
She was jerked out of her thoughts by Tim’s pointing at a
modern looking building, with a high security fence, and security men
manning the car park barrier – even on a Sunday.
“Why all the security? It looks like Fort Knox.”
“Drugs, babe. Dad’s companies do research
– and that one is a drugs research lab. There’s
probably a couple of million quids worth of MDMA in there, plus other
Kashi asked him what that was, and Tim just smiled:
Kashi just looked at him, with a crooked smile.
“E. Ecstasy. XTC. But don’t worry, the old bill
aren’t on the way round to dad’s to bang him up.
They do a lot of research into Amphetamines. They’re used a
lot in helping people. E was widely used before it was made
They were still talking drugs as Tim swung the car up the long drive to
what Kashi thought of as his parents’ mansion. A far cry from
the terraced house she was brought up in. As he turned off the
ignition, she grabbed his hand and stroked his cheek. She looked into
his eyes, and smiled at him:
“Tim, when we get home tonight I’ve got to tell you
something really important. Really important! Don’t let me go
to sleep without telling you, and don’t let me put it off.
Tim looked at her with all the adoration and innocence of a puppy.
“Okay, no problem.”
She squeezed his hands, her eyes still fixed on his:
“Tim, it’s really important.”
Tim nodded, then he smiled at her, kissed her on the lips and headed
for the house.
Tim’s mum answered the door and gushed suitably over the
flowers Kashi handed her, and Kashi started to feel some of the tension
ease. Why do I feel so nervous? They’re only people, and if
Tim doesn’t throw me out after tonight, then I’ll
just have to get used to them. And them to me! Tim asked where dad was,
and his mum replied he was in his study, and that they should go and
say hello, while she poured the coffee. Tim grabbed her hand and led
her in to see his father.
The study was a mass of bookshelves and photographs. The tidy
desk’s only adornments were a writing pad and a PC. Maybe
Kashi was just getting used to him, but for the first time she felt at
ease with Tim’s dad. He was more relaxed and quite openly
cheerful, almost boyishly enthusiastic. She could see a lot of Tim in
him today – something that had not been easily visible
Kashi looked round at the photos while Tim and his dad caught up about
the latest goings on at the cricket club, where his dad was the
Chairman, and Tim had been the star batsman. There, in pride of place,
was a photo of his mum and dad with the Queen when his dad got the CBE.
Then there was one of the cricket team, Tim’s dad, the
captain at the time, in the centre and a very young Tim next to him.
She made a comment about it, and before Tim could say anything, his
father said it was Tim’s first match for the first eleven,
and at twelve he’d been the youngest ever first team player.
“You got a fifty if I remember rightly.” The pride
obvious in his father’s voice.
With typical humility, Tim just said something about the bowlers going
easy on him because he was just a kid.
Kashi squeezed his hand and kept looking round. Then she stopped. She
stifled a scream, but a startled noise came out and she squeezed
Tim’s hand hard. Both men looked round, interrupted by the
“Are you okay babe?”
“Errr, yes. Yes I’m fine.”
She tore her eyes away from a photograph of four golfers holding a cup.
“Sorry, just a bit of a pain in my ankle. I twisted it
running in my heels the other day.”
They fussed over her for a minute, then resumed their conversation
while she turned back to the photo. There was no doubt about. It was
definitely him. He had a golf cap on, but there was no mistaking it;
the handsome guy holding the trophy, standing next to Tim’s
dad … was Adam.
Kashi thought she was going to throw up. There was a pain across her
chest and the growing feeling of nausea in her throat. She had to get
out of that room, away from that picture. All she could see in her head
was the other photograph. Her astride Adam, her eyes closed and
… Oh God, make it go away!
She amazed herself at how calm she sounded when she said
she’d go and help Tim’s mother. Tim nonchalantly
said “Okay” and kept chatting while his father just
looked at her, with an unblinking, steady smile. Oh God, he knows. He
bloody well knows. He’s going to tell Tim. Oh fuck, fuck,
As they sat in the Autumn sunshine drinking the coffee, Kashi studied
Tim and his father. Tim’s body language was relaxed and his
father kept glancing at her and curling the corners of his mouth up in
that knowing smile. Kashi wanted to kill him. Then in the middle of a
conversation about the garden, he remarked that Kashi hadn’t
yet seen his roses:
“Come on Kashi, come and see my pride and joy.”
It was clear from his tone that this was a command and not a request,
and Kashi knew as well that the topic of conversation would not be
roses. Tim said he’d come too, but his dad told him to keep
his mother company, and Tim, a bit reluctantly Kashi thought, took his
When they were out of earshot, Tim’s father smiled that
hated, superior, “I am untouchable” smile and
remarked that he noticed she’d seen the picture of their
“Yes, I noticed Adam.”
“Such a nice chap. Very good with women I understand. But of
course, you know that already.”
Kashi said nothing, but felt the hatred and loathing rising in her.
When she didn’t rise to the bait, he went on:
“I thought the photograph quality was slightly disappointing.
For what I’d paid the photographer I had expected
Kashi stopped, and looked at him. Her forehead was furrowed and her
nose screwed up in an expression that broadcast a
“What?” Tim’s father looked her in mock
sympathy and resumed their walk.
“Oh dear, we aren’t very bright are we? Still, I
suppose education at a comprehensive school and a so called degree from
a jumped up Polytechnic of a University doesn’t really
promise much, does it?”
“Excuse me! It may not have been Oxford but I worked bloody
hard for that degree. And I appear to be bright enough for your son to
want to marry me.”
“Yes, I was rather afraid of that. That’s why I
decided I needed to make sure it didn’t happen. It seems I
was just in time.”
Kashi stopped again, looking at this man who she would gladly cover in
petrol and set on fire; her hatred was now so intense. Her voice was
almost a whisper:
“You. You set it all up. You bloody bastard!”
“Bravo! I knew you’d get there in the end. I
offered to pay Adam a grand. But he said you were such a good fuck
– especially with a bit of … er, shall we
say… ‘help’ - that he did it for
Kashi now wanted to scratch his eyes out.
“You mean he drugged me?”
“Just a bit of something from the lab. Nothing like Rohypnol,
or anything like that. Just something to ‘loosen you
up’ a bit. Though Adam did say you were far from loose, if
you get my drift.”
Kashi flung a fist at his smug face, but he was waiting for it and
caught it with ease. He squeezed it until she winced in pain.
“Reflexes of an opening batter, my dear. Now, let’s
discuss this situation like two civilized adults, shall we?”
Kashi exhaled, relaxed her arm, and he let go as her shoulders slumped.
She felt crushed, defeated. She knew what was coming next.
“Now, we don’t want Tim hurt, do we? We
don’t want him to see the true colours of the little tramp
from the Leicester slums he thinks he fell in love with, do
Kashi didn’t answer, but she could feel the tears forming in
“No, I didn’t think so. So you’re going
to have second thoughts. You’re going to tell him you
don’t love him at all, and that you need to get away and want
to get out of his life. Well, you can tell him whatever you like, but
just make sure it ends. All right my dear?”
“But I was set up. I was drugged.”
He sighed and looked at her shaking his head slowly:
“Poor little thing. You don’t look drugged in the
photographs. Oh there are others of the whole sordid evening. No, that
won’t stand up. Let’s face it, you try and expose
this and I’ll make sure you’ll be shown to be some
working class gold digger. And that will really hurt Tim. This way,
he’ll always think of you with fond memories and not hatred.
No, it’s much better my way – for all of
“This has nothing to do with my working class origins, has
it? Nor my Comprehensive school education, nor my degree from an ex
Polytechnic. The thing that really makes me hate you, is that you
can’t even be honest with me. We all know what the real
reason is ...”
The two weeks since the meeting in the garden had been hell for Kashi.
Going round estate agents had become almost therapeutic. There were a
couple of affordable possibles here. She sat alone at the desk leafing
through the prospective properties. The salesman came back with a
couple more leaflets in his hand; and he stopped and looked round:
“Oh, where’s your friend gone?”
Kashi indicated towards the front of the shop.
“Outside. Phone call.”
The estate agent started rambling on about double aspects, and gardens
and locations. When the door opened, they both looked up. Tim walked
over shaking his head:
“Mum’s moved into my old flat. She’s
invited us over there. She said she’s going to take the old
bastard for everything he’s got. She said I can have half,
but I told her I don’t want anything that’s been
touched by him. I’ll make my own way, because I’ve
got all I want now.”
Kashi looked at him, stood up, put her arms round his neck and kissed
him. Then she turned to the salesman, picked up the leaflets and said
they’d be back later. On the walk round to his old flat, he
hugged her and said for the millionth time how glad he was
she’d said before they’d even seen his father, that
there was something she wanted to tell him.
“It all seemed so far fetched to me, and at first I
didn’t really know what to think. But when mum said Adam had
been round for dinner and he and dad had spent ages huddled in his
study. And that he’d asked if we had a photo of you, then it
all fell into place.”
They rang the bell of Tim’s old flat, and she turned to face
him, and put her hand against his cheek:
“What I can’t understand is how a man like him
produced someone like you.”
“There are lots of reasons I think. Remember his generation
grew up with racial prejudice and social classes. As it all got torn
down, most people got over it and ultimately found it easy to accept
everyone, regardless of their skin or background. He was obviously
someone who couldn’t. As for me, well remember it took two
people to make me, and the other one always saw you and accepted you
for what you were… someone that made her son ecstatically
happy. But nature is only part of it. As for nurture, remember I went
to public school and Oxford, where it’s more multicultural
than the centre of London on a Friday night! I wonder if he will ever
realise that his decision to send me there would be the catalyst to
opening my mind.”
Ken Orford, 2008