Ruth had been avoiding Neil of late, not that she didn’t want to see him but she felt she needed to get her head together. Her feelings were confused: not her feelings for Neil but the conflict she felt for her fading love of Dafid coupled with her brief fling with David. It was as if she had to somehow exorcise both demons before she could move on. Of course she didn’t think of either her husband or her French lover as ‘demons’ but their presence still cast a shadow over any future relationship she might have.
The recent band practice had gone well but afterwards when she, along with vicar Linkthorpe, Ted Sandpip, Shaz and Neil, normally went to the Frog and Radiator to celebrate their jam session, Ruth declined suggesting she wanted to pay Cybil a visit to make sure both mother and baby were doing alright. All the members of the group nodded their understanding but there was a look of uncertainty on Neil’s face. She smiled at him then blew him a kiss but the look remained.
It had only been two days since they had spent time together and Ruth felt not only guilty but also had a sense of something missing. She had called in earlier to Neil’s shop where she invited him round for dinner. The expression upon his face said more than any words could. He looked overjoyed but also relieved which in turn made Ruth’s guilt soar but also made her heart swell. They agreed a time of .
Ruth went home to tidy the place up. Her cottage was never that neat but Neil didn’t seem to mind. Cleanliness bothered Ruth but having everything in its proper place didn’t. She liked a home to look lived in and not like some sort of show room.
She worked hard at cleaning, dusting the living room, polishing the table and chairs in the small dining room before vacuuming the carpet. She left the bathroom until last, turning her attention firstly to the bedroom. Along the window ledge and on the dressing table she set row upon row of candles. Then she fetched in several bowls filled with freshly picked Rose flowers the scent of which was musky sweet.
The house work done, apart from the bathroom which she would clean following her bath and the kitchen which she would clean after the meal was prepared she then pulled out the groceries she had bought. Chopping carrots and dicing onions, she filled a large dish with vegetables, covering them with seasoning before placing the dish into the oven. She left the meal to cook then cleaned the kitchen thoroughly before running the bath water..
It felt strange bathing at in the afternoon but the heat and the fragrance from the oils was delightful. She soaked her cares away, finding the effects of the hot water calming. Half an hour later she climbed reluctantly out. She had only just finished drying herself when there was a knock at the door. Grabbing her bathrobe she dragged it around her tying the belt fast. Her feet padded softly over the floor to her front door.
Throwing the door wide, she looked in sheer amazement at the figure of David Vanderputte. He was just as she remembered him – tall, handsome, sophisticated and lean. He was dressed in a dark overcoat beneath which he wore a grey roll neck jumper. His hair was brushed back revealing sideburns turning grey. His face still bore the light tan that gave his eyes the backdrop by which they could shine
“Hello,” he smiled, his accent obvious but his English perfect.
Ruth stared, unable to believe that David was here in Fekenham nor, had she been honest with herself, as overjoyed as perhaps she should be.
“David? What a surprise. Please come in. You will have to forgive the way I’m dressed. I was in the bath.”
He smiled again, moving with relaxed grace through the front door. His body seemed to flow past her in the way a stalking cat passes by its owners leg.
“I hope you don’t mind my turning up unannounced like this?” he asked.
“Not at all. Were you just passing?”
She knew how stupid that question was instantly regretting having said it.
“No, my visit her has a purpose. I came to see you. I came to ask you something.”
Suddenly Ruth felt both elated and alarmed. She wanted to ask what is was but fear got the better of her.
“Please, sit down. I need to go and get some clothes on. Help yourself to coffee or anything you want.”
“The only thing I want is you,” he murmured.
She fluttered away, trying to pretend she hadn’t heard his response.
Ruth rushed into her fragrantly scented bedroom. She looked at how pretty it was, how sexy and made so for Neil. She leant against the door her heart beating fast. In the room next to this was the Frenchman she had met whilst on holiday. The self-same man she had spent one glorious night with. Now he was here with a question to ask her. She dressed slowly pushing her panic to the back of her mind. She put on the dress she had planned to wear for Neil then she buckled her watch around her wrist. The time was .
When she opened the door David was sitting on the sofa sipping coffee from a mug. He indicated he had made her one. She decided not to sit beside him choosing instead to sit opposite in her single easy chair.
“How have you been?” she asked. “You look very well.”
He nodded in the typically French way he did, his bottom lip sticking out slightly as he shook his head.
“I have been good. I had a little cold some weeks ago but nothing major. And you, how have you been?”
“Oh you know, okay, sort of.”
“Dafid and I have parted.”
“I see. I am sorry for you, sorry to hear this news but for me, I think, it is good.”
Ruth stared at him from over the edge of her mug. He was divinely handsome, a man that any sane woman would give her eye teeth for. She looked into his face.
She looked at her watch. It was five twenty five.
“There is something you should know.”
Her mind, so indecisive now, flitted from one choice to another like a manic moth flying from the first candle flame to the second not sure which one to end its days with. Then there came another knock at the door. She looked surprised. David looked his normal calm self.
“Excuse me,” she mumbled, “I’d better go see who that is.”
She walked the short distance to the door and opened it. It was Dafid.
“Hello,” said Dafid looking sheepish. “May I come in?”
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.