Charity Begins at Home, Chapter 11 – Remorse

Lorna entered the Royal Hotel with a flutter of trepidation – how should she greet Richard and how would he treat her after she had treated him so shabbily? She need not have worried; he was his usual well-mannered self. He stood up to greet her, took her hand and kissed her on the cheek, told her how well she looked and then invited her to sit down to order a drink before luncheon. They chatted about the weather and the latest news, like casual friends, as they waited for the drinks to be served.

Glass of wine in hand, Lorna took a long drink for courage, then turned to Richard, “I am so ashamed of the way that I have treated you, Richard, and I can only say in my defence that I was overcome by passion, lust, call it what you will, and nothing could have stopped me from accepting Alan’s invitation.”

“Typical Lorna”, thought Richard, “Straight to the point and no skating round the subject.”

“All I want is for you to be happy and if he makes you happy, then I am pleased for you. However, I have known him for a long time and he has not shown himself in a good light with his dalliances in the past, so I just wanted to warn you to be careful and not to let yourself be hurt by him, either emotionally or physically.”

“Physically?!”, queried Lorna, “Have you heard stories about him hurting his women?”.

“Well, it’s an unknown area to me, but I have heard him say that he likes being tied up and whipped, though he may just have been larking about!”

Lorna thought about this for a moment and then laughed. “He was probably making reference to 50 Shades of Grey”, she said, “though I haven’t read it myself, I have heard about some of it. He certainly hasn’t introduced any of that into our relationship.” She blushed as she said this, as she wasn’t too sure that Richard really wanted to know details. He most certainly didn’t and quickly changed the conversation to reading the menu and deciding what to have to eat.

They enjoyed their meal and chatted inconsequentially about what they had been doing over the last few weeks, without further reference to Alan, and were relaxing with coffee when Richard stiffened and sat upright, placing his hand over Lorna’s as he did so. “I am so sorry, Lorna, but Alan has just walked in to the hotel”. She turned, to see Alan with an extremely attractive young woman on his arm, standing at the hotel check-in desk. That was bad enough but then she heard him say “Room 5 please”, as if he was staying at the hotel and had already checked in. What did she do? Just sit there and hope that he didn’t see her? Call his name and probably embarrass him?

She didn’t have to worry about it; Alan turned from the reception desk and saw Lorna and Richard in the restaurant. He said something to his companion then walked over to them with a broad smile on his face. “Richard and Lorna! How lovely to see you both again; have you had a delicious lunch?” He turned to the girl and said “Maria, may I introduce you to some old friends of mine from my banking days, Richard and Lorna”. She smiled at them both and said “Hallo” shyly. “This is Maria, who I met on holiday in Portugal a few months ago; she’s come over for two weeks and I’m showing her the delights of Yorkshire”.

Richard pressed Lorna’s hand firmly, both to give her courage and to stop it shaking, then said how delighted he was to meet Maria and he hoped that they would have a lovely holiday together. Lorna was incapable of speech and simply smiled at them both. Inside she felt as if someone had ripped out her heart; she hadn’t realised how much she had invested emotionally in their brief relationship and now she was hurting more than she had ever hurt in her life. It was sheer torture to keep the smile on her face and look interested as Alan chatted on about where he and Maria were going the following day; perhaps a day out in Whitby, then across to York on Saturday, and so on. Richard kept his hand firmly on hers and she was so grateful to him; otherwise she would have struggled up from her chair, screamed, punched Alan or Maria and run out of the restaurant!

She could not believe that Alan could behave like this, as if he hardly knew her. This was the same man who knew every part of her body and had done things to her that no-one else had ever done and taken her to heights of passion previously unknown to her. Now he was looking at her as if she was a slight acquaintance who he would forget as soon as they left. How could she have been so stupid, so naïve, to think that a man like him would see any future with a much older woman? She had kidded herself that she was in it only for the sexual experience but now she knew differently. “No fool like an old fool”, she thought bitterly.

Once Alan and Maria had gone up to their room, Richard paid the bill and gently escorted Lorna to her car. “Do you want me to come home with you”, he asked quietly, “or would you rather be left alone at the moment?” “Thank you, Richard, I don’t deserve your concern and I would rather lick my wounds in private. Is it OK if I give you a call in a few days?” “Of course, my dear, but I warn you that, if you don’t call me by Sunday, I will drive over to make sure that you are all right”. With that, she got into her car, buckled up the seat belt and drove off, before bursting into a torrent of tears of rage and hurt. She had to pull over to the side of road and park up for a while or she was going to have an accident. At the moment, she didn’t care about hurting herself but didn’t want to hurt anyone else in the process.

Friday morning was the hangover from hell. She had managed to get home eventually, taken off her clothes and had a scalding shower, as if that would cleanse her body of Alan’s touch, then emptied the gin bottle as well as what was left of a bottle of wine in the fridge. She had crawled into bed and curled up into a foetal ball at the edge of the bed, hugging herself, rocking and crying until she must have eventually fallen asleep or into a drunken coma. Now the physical pain threatened to outweigh the emotional one but it was a close call. Black coffee and paracetamol were doing their best to allay the physical pain but nothing would do for the heartache.

What had she been thinking of? An old woman, a pensioner, for goodness sake, having rampant sex with a younger man she hardly knew, a man who had obviously used her for her novelty value. Why did woman have to apply their hearts to sex instead of behaving like most men and treating it as just another appetite to be fed? It had taught her a lesson, but at what cost? She felt stupid and unclean and was only glad that their liaisons had been out of the public eye or she would have to had to face questions from her acquaintances as well.

Was that it? Was she to spend the rest of her life as a lonely, asexual being, sitting at home with her music, TV and knitting? Might as well end it all now if that was the future. “Oh dear”, she thought to herself wryly, “I’m getting myself into a real stew here. I’ll allow myself another 10 minutes “wallow”, then there’s housework and shopping to do. Life does go on, however unpalatable it might be at times”.

Richard checked his ‘phone yet again, no message from Lorna. He had said that he would give her until Sunday then call round if he hadn’t heard from her. It was only Saturday afternoon, but he was really worried about her; the stricken look on her face had been imprinted on his heart and all he wanted to do was to make life better for her. He hadn’t realised until that moment just how fond he was of her, in fact, he admitted to himself that he loved her and would be desolate if she wasn’t in his life. This little “blip” with Alan was just that and, if he was being absolutely honest, might have done him a favour! He wondered how she would react if he asked her to marry him? He knew that a lot of people these days just moved in together but he was old-fashioned and wanted to do it properly. Ah well, there was only one way to find out….

To read chapter 10 click here

To read chapter 12 click here

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Laura Wickham

Retired and living in Hampshire, I read and write a lot, as well as doing the occasional work on-line, to try to keep me solvent.

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