Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013 -

The Castle

by Abigail Armani
Published: Jun 22, 2013
Words: 22,700
Category: romance, fantasy
Orientation: M/F
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Beth arrived home early and dumped her bag on the kitchen table. The sound of soft music emanating from somewhere upstairs made her smile. Joe always listened to music when he worked; it helped him to concentrate and gave him added inspiration to write his novel. Taking a bottle of chilled white wine from the fridge, she grabbed a couple of glasses and made her way upstairs, intent on surprising him.

She did. Their bedroom door was ajar and she kicked it fully open with her foot.

"Surprise!" She burst into the room, her face wreathed with smiles.

Joe was lounging naked on the bed, his head cushioned by the satin-covered pillows. He looked like a Greek God with his dark blonde hair curling into the nape of his neck, and his honed body stretched out invitingly. His eyes opened, flashing sparks of blue. He was obviously startled.

"Beth! Bloody hell! What are you doing here?"

"I live here, silly. Sorry - were you asleep? I didn't mean to wake you."

Beth deposited the wine and glasses on the bedside table and bent to give her boyfriend a kiss. "This novel writing must be very taxing if it makes you take a nap in the middle of the afternoon. Still, now that I'm here, I may as well join you and wear you out properly."

Beth grinned and began unbuttoning her blouse, but her fingers stilled as she saw the look on his face. He had paled beneath his tan, and was looking extremely agitated.

"Joe? What's wrong?"

"Beth. I - we ... Oh God, I'm sorry, Beth."

"Sorry? Whatever for?" Her euphoria faded.

Outside, the sun hid behind a cloud, casting dappled shadows in the room. And then the bathroom door opened and a naked woman walked out, her skin still damp from the shower, her golden hair cascading in damp tendrils over her pert breasts. She entered the room and involuntarily clapped a hand over her mouth when she caught sight of Beth.

Beth looked at Jane. The two of them had been best friends since junior school. Jane stared back. She lowered her hand, and her pouty pink lips curved into the semblance of an ironic smile. She made no attempt to cover herself. Beth reeled in disbelief. Jane and Joe? How could they? She staggered backwards and looked once more at Joe. His guilt was evident by his hangdog expression. He held out his hands. It was a strange gesture, almost an entreaty.

"I'm sorry, Beth," he repeated.

"Well - she had to find out sooner or later," quipped Jane. She moved languidly over to the dressing table and picked up a brush, and began smoothing down her damp curls. It was Beth's hairbrush, on Beth's dressing table, in Beth's bedroom - and it was readily apparent that Jane had been shagging Beth's boyfriend. "These things happen, Beth. It's nothing personal."

Nothing personal? The words echoed hollowly. Beth felt physically sick.