I had always been mates with my ex-father in law Joe and was still on reasonable terms since his daughter left me for another man and we divorced. I hadn’t seen him in ages and was quite pleased that I had bumped into him in the town square as he wandered aimlessly around in that way that older married men have about them when deprived of that essential direction their spouses’ provide.

“Hey Joe,” I called across the square and wandered across and shook his hand, enquiring what brought him out on such a sunny day and where his wife was.

“Oh,” said Joe, “She’s up at the Duchess of Kent,” he pointed up the road to the local hospital, “She’s having chemo, she’s got leukaemia mate.”

“Oh shit, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah, it’s a bastard right enough, but they’re doing all they can.”

“Come on then, let me buy you lunch.”

Knowing his lunchtime preferences quite well (I had gone out with then married his daughter for nearly six years) I took him to a smallish café; one of those little vanity places set up by someone and their best friend who are convinced that they can go up against the chains by doing simple wholesome food well-cooked and presented and aimed at those hungry people with slightly more cash that don’t want to be surrounded by the old men in their tracksuits hugging three pints of Carlsberg and a copy of The Sun newspaper at 1030 in the morning.

I dragged him in and bought him a full English and what they called the ‘endless’ mug of tea, one that they just kept filling up until the meal was finished.

Joe ate like a starving man and told me all about his wife’s illness and the prognosis which wasn’t as positive as it could have been. As he downed his third mug of tea he told me about how my ex-wife was doing with her new partner,

“He’s just as much of a twat now as when he was with Cassandra Tom,” he said, “I’m still intrigued why she left you for him.”

“No more than I am mate,” I said, although I did have my own thoughts on the subject.

Rachel, and me I suppose, had suffered her second early miscarriage in a year after almost three years of trying to start a family. It had hit her badly and I tried to be supportive both physically and emotionally. She seemed to come back fighting but I know she had felt down about it, so we went on holiday with her twin sister Cassandra and husband Martin. We went to an A-rated five-star hotel in Egypt and there was lots of excellent food, an open bar and we all had a great time by the pool and got great tans.

While Rachel and Cassandra weren’t identical twins they were obviously sisters and both looked equally sexy and incredibly hot in the half a dozen matching high cut teeny-bikinis they had gone out and bought and then wore on the same days, and this made even more of a splash at the poolside with them both being classic Anglo-Saxon raven-haired beauties. Cassandra was fractionally taller and about five minutes older, and while Rachel worked in the financial services industry the more Amazonian Cassie was a firefighter.

Her ‘husband’ Martin had been a firefighter but had left and taken his qualifications to work as an assessor in the insurance industry for more money.

Rachel had sworn off of the booze two years before the holiday because she was either trying for a baby or actually pregnant, so when the wine and the cocktails started to appear she got very drunk very quickly and I did carry her back to our room at least twice in the first week.

As I held her hair back from her face while she vomited into our toilet, I jokingly said that she might like to ‘pace herself a bit’ with the alcohol as her system wasn’t quite used to it in the way that her sister and brother-in-law were, and me to an extent. Semi-hungover she lost her temper with me for the very first time and with the benefit of hindsight I see that as the beginning of the end. That two and a half years of frustration, anxiety and then loss boiled up, over and out of her system and was directed at me.

We didn’t talk for twelve hours, including the eight we shared a bed, and the next morning after a shower, breakfast and a bit of a bollocking from Cassandra who heard her outburst the evening before through the adjoining wall and closed door, Rachel apologised and burst into tears then hugged me and begged for my forgiveness.

I gave it of course and all was back to normal, bar the huge elephant in the room that neither of us addressed, that with no one else to blame or feel angry with Rachel still had those feelings and apology or not, at some transcendental level still felt me responsible for, perhaps because it had happened to her and not me.

Cassandra and I had hopped on a trip to the Valley of the Kings, both having an interest in that sort of thing and wanting to see more than the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid and ride a camel with a tea-towel on our heads. This was the point where Rachel and Martin were left to their own devices for a day and first güvenilir bahis started to ‘chat’.

Holiday over we all flew home and carried on with our work. I work for the Ministry of Defence as a Quantity Surveyor and it’s steady, occasionally hard but quite well paid in the scheme of things requiring the occasional evening away in some remote army base, naval facility or air station across the country and occasionally the globe. While I was away it turned out that Rachel was ‘chatting’ to Martin more and more, me only realising when she was able to tell me what was going on with her sister and brother-in-law at great length, even though firefighter Cassandra was on an exchange visit to the Hamburg Fire Brigade for five days.

I asked Rachel about this new friendship that hadn’t been there prior to my trip to the Valley of the Kings,

“Oh he’s just a nice bloke and was very understanding when we…” she paused, “when we had our little falling out; Martin is… very easy to talk to.”

I desperately wanted to point out that SHE was the one that had the falling out while I stood there and got shouted at and blamed for everything up to and including the Brexit Referendum.

“Well he said that he and Cassie have decided ‘no kids YET’, and that not having that pressure was marvellous and she’s come off of the pill and has an IUD fitted instead – well since I’ve had all of the problems that the gynaecologist reckons is to do with being on the pill for so long..”

“IUD?” I said, trying to lighten the moment, “Isn’t that a bomb?”

She put her hands on her hips and I could see the storm rolling across her eyes ready to burst and smiled at her to let her know it was just a man-joke. She pursed her lips and shook her head, but far from the usual feminine ‘bloody men’ disappointed grin I was expecting I got a look of utter contempt that I had never seen in her before.

She stormed out of the room with folded arms and I knew, no I HOPED I knew that this was her depression from before and it was something we could work on.

I bought her flowers hoping that it might heal the rift, but it was for just a few days. It soon became clear that as soon as I expressed any kind of opinion she was going to take a contrary position and it would become an argument.

And it did, every time; from election results to flavours of ice cream. I asked her, begged her to talk to me about our problems, marriage guidance, anything – I was desperate to not lose what we had, I was still very much in love with her.

We went to two marriage guidance sessions before she told me that she’d had enough of my negativity and wanted a trial separation. While I tried to get her to put my negativity into context, she just rolled her eyes and frowned and looked at her watch. It was evident that she had already packed her bag so my response was to say rather coldly that she had obviously already decided that was going to happen and why was she asking me.

“There… there might be…”

“Might be what Rach?” I said with a tired and pretty much resigned growl, “If there was something I could have done or have been doing you would have asked me eight weeks ago when all of this started; I guess that you are just wanting some kind of agreement from me, some kind of acceptance that it’s all over, some sense of responsibility.” She folded her arms and pursed her lips, angry that I had come straight to the point, “I’m desperately sorry that we lost our baby – twice – but I take no more blame for it than you, it wasn’t something either of us did. If I’ve become so bad that you can no longer live with me then again, I’m sorry – it wasn’t through lack of trying believe me.” I could see a few tears now much as she was fighting to hold them back, “if me being supportive and loving and helpful wasn’t what you wanted then I apologise, it’s just the kind of bloke I am.”

Her bottom lip started to tremble as it came home to her and I desperately hoped I hadn’t killed any remaining feelings she might have had for me. She shook her head and I could see that whatever thoughts she’d held for that short period had gone with that mental exorcism.

“You’re not making this any easier!” she snapped at me.

“What? You want me to make it easy for you to leave me?” I shook my head in shock, “I lost two babies as well Rachel!”

“You bastard!” she cried.

“You’re leaving me for undisclosed reasons, yet I’m the bastard?”

Her face creased into tears and I made a single step forward. She spun on her high-heels and was gone.

The door slammed. I stormed about the place calming down and feeling angry and sad, lonely but also with some tiny sense of relief that the storm clouds and the terrible sense of not knowing had finally cleared.

She had left and had taken her iPad and my multi-charger so with almost no charge on my phone I had to resort to my old laptop (three years – that’s old for a laptop) and a USB cable to charge it and then check my emails, türkçe bahis and something that I could take to bed and watch Netflix on. Slumped back on the sofa I opened the machine and checked my emails. It had been OUR laptop and WE had used it for everything so nothing was password protected, we’d had nothing to hide after all.

There in the corner of the screen was the ‘Messenger’ icon and it was showing the ‘new message’ tag so I double-clicked it. I hadn’t used messenger in months and it was something that Rachel and I used for some cute chatter and face time when I was away but since the miscarriages and Egypt that had stopped.

There were our two Messenger accounts as they had sat innocently for the year since Rachel had her tablet and I’d used my Galaxy Note for everything. I opened the app and thought about re-establishing contact with her and perhaps she’d see the lovey-dovey stuff we’d had going on before and perhaps make her remember I hadn’t been so bad. Both of our accounts opened and rebooted as they always had and I saw that all of the new messages were to her from… from Martin. I flicked back to the last message I’d sent her and there it all was.

Since our return from Egypt Rachel had been chatting to Martin on an almost hourly basis in those two months.

That chat started as very light and easy and gradually worked up to the more personal as she opened her heart to him, even telling him medical things that she hadn’t told me; then she discussed me with Martin, initially saying what a thoroughly decent, loving and supportive bloke I was and how lucky she was to have me.

Some days later she countered that by saying that she felt I loved my job more than I loved her sometimes which was insulting; I’d lost count of the number of times she told me how she thought that my job was the mainstay of our relationship and how we could never have afforded our great house, both of our cars and our excellent standard of living, and she was so grateful.

The days went on and the messages gentler and shorter, with some very cute shorthand and it was clear that the sister-in-law and brother-in-law were in fact courting each other electronically.

The messages went further and it became evident that they were meeting during the day initially for lunch and I was less of a splendid bloke and more of a ‘how can he leave a beautiful sexy woman like you on her own’, up to the final ‘I had such a wonderful time last night’ a month before. This coincided with her anger at me reaching a new high the moment I walked in the front door following my two-night stay in Scotland. I guessed that Cassandra must have been working a night shift as well.

Their messages eased off some and I guessed that they were talking on the phone and avoiding this more obvious method of contact, but the lovey-dovey aspect was still there and I read the number of late night messages, sometimes just heart and smiley face emojis that had passed between them and I guessed that the oxytocin levels must have been at their highest when they had declared their love for each other; every other fucking message was about how much they were in love and how they might be together.

It seemed that Rachel was the more insistent, but in her defence she shied away from Martin’s suggestion that she accuse me of being the one in the wrong, to fabricate evidence of if not necessarily violence, at the very least aggression from me and have me move out. At that point I went back to the beginning and started to take screen shots of each page and what the discussion had been about. If I was going to be divorced at least I would have all of this premeditation from my wife and her lover whatever story might appear.

And finally there were the messages she had sent that morning, “It’s got to be tonight, I can’t live without you, I love you Martin and I need you…” kind of shit, the same kind of thing that she’d sent to me when we were young and in love, which kind of made it worse.

It seemed he wasn’t quite ready, and as I was watching the little scrolling dotted cloud appeared to tell me that someone was writing a message; it was Rachel, telling him that she’d left me and was staying with her parents, and much as she loved her sister surely it was time for them both to be together and enjoy the rest of their lives?

I screen-shot that one as well, saving them all to my cloud storage.

I heard nothing from Rachel for three days until she came to our house to collect clothes.

“Please Tom,” she said formally but not making eye contact, “can we please keep this civil.”

“Absolutely,” I said coldly, “I’m not sure that Cassie will want to be that understanding.”

“C… Cassie?” she stuttered.

“Yes,” I replied, “I’m guessing that Martin hasn’t left her yet because the answer machine doesn’t have a whole mess of messages from her snarling at you.”

“Martin…” she tried to come up with something, I had obviously wrong-footed her with güvenilir bahis siteleri my prior knowledge, “Martin and I have been in contact…”

“Oh is that what they’re calling it now,” I said stepping into the kitchen and the mug of tea I had cooling there, “I wish you could have told me that our marriage was over before you were ‘in contact’ with him while I went to Garelochhead, would have saved a fuck load of trouble don’t you think?” Her face whitened and jaw dropped, “Call it a lucky guess Rachel.”

“Tom please,” she said altogether giving up on any pretence, “I’m really sorry, sorry about all of this.”

“Yeah Rach, so am I; the thing I’m most sorry about is that for two months, EIGHT FUCKING WEEKS you went on with this fucking charade, constantly arguing with me, trying to make it so that somehow it was my fault when all of the time it was you and him, and you were just looking for reasons to get shot of me, to blame me.” I drank my tea, “You win Rachel, I’ll give you a divorce, one of those nice no fault ones they do these days, and I don’t have to start citing Martin as the co-respondent.”


“But what Rach? You annoyed that I know all about it? Pissed that all of a sudden I’m not begging to save our marriage like I was?” I put my mug down on the drainer, “No, you and him are all loved up and shagging each other stupid I expect, until Cassie finds out of course – I’d be minded to put a bit of distance between you and her if I’m honest, she has bigger muscles than Martin.”

“Please don’t tell Cassandra,” she said breaking eye contact and actually looking scared. Rachel and Cassandra were like best friends and in almost daily contact and while I was hurt, upset and severely pissed off, that wouldn’t come close to how Cassie was going to take it

“Oh no Dear, I’m more than happy for you and the new love of your life to do that; If I was him I really would be minded to do that over the phone.”

It wasn’t that Cassandra had a temper, from experience it was actually no worse than Rachel’s, but she spent part of her working life in the gym and could lift human beings and run with them and all that firefighter jazz. I was kind of hoping that she might black two or three eyes and knock out a couple of teeth just for fun.

But she didn’t; it turned out that while he and Cassandra occasionally referred to each other as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ they had only carried out one of those marriage centre weddings while drunk on holiday in Las Vegas and it had been a very cute ceremony with lots of photo’s and a video, and while a ring was exchanged, the certificate wasn’t legally binding outside of a hotel in the State of Nevada – Martin had been very insistent about that.

Rachel and I had our no-fault divorce and I did thank her for not trying to make me look like some kind of bastard even though her lover had asked her to.

“You read my messenger account on the laptop,” she said as the light went on with that part of or break-up.

“You took my charger,” I said, “had to check my emails somehow when my phone went flat.”

“Fair play,” she said. That was pretty much our last spoken word for three years.

Through our excellent solicitor who insisted we stay civil we split our worldly goods straight down the middle, and I rented a one bed flat, saved my money, stayed sensible and eventually some months later I bought what was left of a late Georgian/ Early Victorian farmhouse and all of the adjacent outbuildings and land in the country for peanuts having found it and the very old ‘for sale’ sign while touring Wiltshire and Somerset for the Ministry of Defence.

It was effectively the shell of an old farmhouse that had fallen out of use and had been partially robbed out over the intervening years; It was still viable because of the agricultural value of the surrounding land and outbuildings many of which were still roofed and with doors, two of them chained and locked shut since the last owner had died some fifteen years back, the house having gone up in flames five or six years after that.

I had been driving around and looking for the entrance to a large piece of training ground and the few wartime brick buildings that the records insisted were on it.

The GPS was good but thanks to a lack of maintenance and some overenthusiastic planting by a tenant farmer the entrance had totally disappeared. I found the next nearest farm track and turned.

There was a distinct lack of signage about ownership and I figured that seeing as I was there on behalf of the crown I’d take my chances and drove down it.

Nothing; although I knew that the buildings I wanted to get to were a clear three miles to the north east there were no paths or tracks, so it would be one for the contractors and their flail tractors and rollers to cut their way into before I could survey.

As I walked back to my car parked on the muddy track I saw signs of recent movement, both boot and hoof prints and saw the horses responsible grazing on a couple of adjacent meadows. Then leaping out of the greenery was a large ‘For Sale’ sign indicating the 60 acre plot with many useable agricultural outbuildings, ideal for crops, stabling, grazing etc.



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