Grace dances around her bedroom, holding out the double-chiffon see-through nightie she’d worn last night. She doesn’t usually wear pink, but Gerard once told her it was a feminine colour and suited her.
She wears nothing underneath, and neither had she when she answered the door to Gerard last night. His smile told her that the knee-length piece of froth was as tantalising as she’d hoped. He took her in his arms immediately and there was no doubting his desire. His dancing fingers had entertained her for most of the evening.
And now she must dress in her jersey pyjamas and make the kids’ breakfast.
As she sloshes milk onto their Frosties, she has visions of the pearl necklace Gerard had given her last night.
Grace wears sunglasses on the school run. She struggles to concentrate as she weaves her red Mini Cooper between the parked cars and the stationary bus. Flora and Niall are arguing about who had the last flapjack for their lunchbox. Flora swipes his cheek with the back of her hand. Grace pulls up outside the school and thinks she might be sick.
Last night Gerard poured champagne into a stiletto made of chocolate and put it to her scarlet shaded lips. He dribbled a little down her breasts, then licked it off. Now, as she watches Flora and Niall pushing and shoving at each other as they enter the school playground, she shivers a little, remembering how Gerard licked her spine from nape to base.
Grace drives slowly home and wonders about going back to bed. There are toys in her underwear drawer Gerard knows nothing about. Perhaps she will relive last night and forget about cleaning the downstairs bathroom.
Two hours later and Grace wakes from a deep sleep. She grabs the clock and sees that it’s almost lunchtime. Perhaps she’ll text Gerard at work and tell him to meet her at the entrance to Cawston Wood? Or maybe she’ll phone Maggie and ask her if she’s free for lunch; tagliatelle, crisp Chardonnay and gossip at the bistro in town.
“Did Gerard turn up for class last night?” Maggie asks, looking at Grace over the top of her glass.
Grace takes her time. She puts another forkful of creamy tagliatelle in her mouth and savours. There’s no hurry to answer. After all, she has nothing to hide. She’ll simply tell Maggie the truth.
Grace wipes her mouth with her napkin, sighs, then folds the napkin, and places it carefully on top of the table.
“No, he didn’t turn up. Why?”
Maggie shrugs and Grace watches her face as her friend’s eyes narrow.
“He didn’t come home last night.”
Grace smiles. “Oh dear.”
There’s no way she’s going to put Maggie out of her misery and tell her what really happened. That Grace dressed up in a 1960s nightdress, styled her hair in a beehive and imagined Gerard was a Great Train Robber.
That way she can pretend it wasn’t her.