This work is fictitious, and any similarities to any persons, alive or dead, are purely coincidental. Mention is made of persons in public life only for the purposes of realism, and for that reason alone. Certain licence is taken in respect of medical procedures, terms and conditions, and the author does not claim to be the fount of all knowledge.
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This is only a story, and it contains adult material, which includes sex and intimate descriptive details pertaining to genitalia. If this is likely to offend, then don't read it.
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The legal stuff.
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A big man is awake.
Thursday saw the Marriotts back at work. Although ‘Katie' had been told she didn't need to go in, she had a couple of tasks to fulfil in relation to checking some data on the company records. Robert had told Rob precisely what he needed, and so there was no doubt as to what he was looking for.
It was remarkably easy; and related to some minutes of meetings with some executives from the Tech -American Group. He found what he wanted, copied what he needed and returned to his office. Sheena was waiting for him.
“Hi Katie, how are you?”
“Fine Sheena. I haven't seen you for some time, are you okay?”
“Yeah, still looking for that special person,” she said with a smile.
“Well, that's life. What can I do for you?”
“I heard you're off to Paris with the big cheese.”
“I was wondering, if you'd like some company, I could meet you at your hotel?”
“That's very sweet, but I don't think it would work,” Rob said, trying not to be too harsh. Actually, Sheena was a very attractive girl, but Rob knew that his secret was just too tricky.
Sheena looked disappointed.
“How about a drink tonight, just to chat?” she said.
“Okay, just a chat, right?”
“Well, if things progress, you know how it is?” Sheena said with a small smile.
“Sheena, you're very sweet, but actually I think I've found someone.”
“Lucky person. May I know if it's a he or a she?”
Shit! How to get out of this one?
“It's the opposite gender to me, does that help?” he said.
“He's a lucky boy. Well, if you ever want to come over the fence, I'll be here.”
“Thanks, I'll bear it in mind.”
“Still okay for the drink after work?”
“Just a quickie.”
Sheena smiled and left him alone.
Relieved at his quick thinking, Rob went back to work, to try to calm himself down.
In the legal department, Pru was having a slack moment. The phone rang.
“Tremaine's, legal department.”
“Peter, I have to see you.”
It was Tony.
“Where are you?”
“In my car, I'll be in town in about an hour.”
“This sounds serious.”
“Is it a legal matter, I'm not a solicitor, yet.”
“No, it's not legal, it's more, I suppose one could say, a matter of the heart.”
“The heart? And you need to speak to me?”
“I do. I need your, ah, advice.”
“My advice. I'm flattered, but I'm hardly an expert in this field. What makes you think I can help?” Pru asked, suffering turmoil in her mind. He'd met someone else, and she was dying a little.
“I can't drive and speak. I have to meet someone in about an hour, will you be free for lunch?”
“Anywhere you like.”
“The Duke of York is quite good, do you know it?”
“Yes. I'll be there at half twelve.”
Pru put the phone down, and noted she was shaking. Tears threatened to engulf her. She quickly went to the lavatory and shut herself in a cubicle.
She'd lost him!
The tears came, and she just let them, crying silently. If only she'd told him. Cursing her father, her brother, herself and the whole world, there she sat, a picture of dejection.
Somehow, she managed to regain composure. After about ten minutes, she waited for the lavatory to be clear, emerged and washed her face in cold water. Then she returned to her desk, engrossing herself in her work. She watched the clock, and time seemed to be made of treacle, all of a sudden, as that second hand seemed made of lead.
At a quarter past twelve, she got up and casually sauntered out to go to lunch. No one stopped her, and she found herself walking very fast towards the pub, which was about a five-minute walk from the building. On entering the pub, she noted it was filling up with the usual lunchtime regulars. She couldn't see Tony, but she was a few minutes early. Going over to the bar she ordered a half pint of lager, and found a secluded table in a corner. She sat, toying with a beer mat, looking up expectantly every time someone entered the pub.
At about twenty-five to one, Tony arrived. Pru was surprised as he was in his scruffy old farmer's gear, including green wellies. He stood in the doorway for a moment, scanning the crowd. Then he saw he, and with a brief nod and a smile, made his way over to her.
“Got a drink?” he said.
“Sorry I'm late, bloody lawyers.”
“Thanks,” she said, trying to smile.
“I'll just get a drink. Have you ordered food?”
“I'm not hungry.”
He looked at her with a strange expression. Then he nodded and went to the bar. Pru sat there, feeling tormented, and thinking of all the ways she could tell him the truth. It seemed to take ages for him to return, but she realised it was only a couple of minutes.
Pretending to be calm and that nothing was wrong was hard, but Tony simply sat and said nothing for ages. He was frowning, and looked troubled. Pru's heart went out to him, and she longed to reach out and hold his hand.
“So, what's the problem?” she asked, forcing her voice to be businesslike.
“There's this girl,” said Tony.
“Well, it's slightly complicated, but I'm not sure how she feels about me.”
“Ask her, it's usually the best way, or so I'm told.”
“Hmm, I want to, but I think I'm more likely to complicate things if I do.”
A couple of office workers sat really close, the pub was becoming crowded, and Tony looked very uncomfortable.
“If you want, we could go for a walk. I can always catch a sandwich later,” suggested Pru.
Tony nodded and finished his pint in one long gulp. Pru finished hers and they left the pub and the noise behind.
It was a crisp sunny spring day, and both felt better outside. They strolled down the pavement towards the embankment.
“How do you think she'd react?” Pru asked.
“I'm not sure. I think I might scare her a little.”
“Because she's a complicated soul, and I think I'm an extra complication that will cause her undue problems.”
Pru was quiet for a moment, her brain going into overdrive.
“Does she know what you feel about her?”
“No, at least I don't think so. I've been careful not to let my feelings show too much. But it is quite hard.”
“Because I love her.”
They had reached the river. They stood, side by side, watching the boats moving up and down in front of them.
“Then I should tell her at the first opportunity,” Pru said, her heart breaking as she said the words.
“I shall. But I need to know the best way to do it.”
“I don't think there's a right way or wrong way to say it. You'll make her day however you do it.”
Tony smiled, still staring across the river.
“Are you sure?”
“I'm sure. She'll be the luckiest girl in the world.”
Tony looked sharply at her, watching her every expression.
“I don't want to make an arse of myself,” he said, turning away again.
“Why should you?”
“Probably because I'd be sticking my nose into something I have no knowledge about.”
“No, her complicated life.”
“How so?” she asked, looking at him, a glimmer of hope in her heart.
“Well, for some strange reason she's pretending to be something she isn't, and I just want her to know that I don't care. How does one get through to someone deeply into a strange deception?”
At this point, he turned and looked at her, his eyes piercing her very soul. Pru's heart rate increased and she felt slightly faint.
“What?” she stammered.
“Look, this can't go on, I can't take the pretence any more. You're brilliant, but as I've come to get to know you, I am as sure as I can be what you really are. I just need to know why?”
Pru felt a rushing sensation in her ears, and as she wavered two strong arms reached out and steadied her. She looked up into his eyes, and saw the deep feeling he had been hiding from her.
“I can't!” she said, fighting back the tears. A passing tourist saw two men almost embracing and hurried along as if he might become infected.
“Walk with me,” he said.
Both with hands rammed into their pockets, they walked slowly along the embankment.
“How did you guess?” she asked, her voice calm and now up to her usual pitch.
“It was a slow process. It started at the dinner. I actually saw the wine going down the sleeve. It's a trick I learned ages ago and on its own would have meant nothing. Then, the following morning, your reaction to me puzzled me. I thought you might have been gay, but then my instincts kicked in. You really are very good you know?”
“Thanks, I've still failed,” she replied.
“May I know your real name?”
“I won't, I promise.”
Tony didn't laugh, but he smiled, nodding.
“It is very fitting, somehow.”
“My friends call me Pru.”
“May I be a friend?”
“I don't deserve your friendship.”
“You do. So, your sister, she obviously knows, who else?”
“My sister, my father and Theresa.”
“Your father wouldn't be Robert Tremaine, by any chance?”
Pru stopped walking.
“Is there anything you don't know?”
“Lots, but I am now confused. Tremaine is supposed to have had a son and a daughter. Not two girls.”
Pru said nothing. They started walking again.
“No! I don't believe it, not Katie?”
She nodded, still saying nothing.
“I'll be buggered!” said Tony.
“Not by me you won't!”
“I'm sorry, I didn't mean…., but Katie, a boy? I don't believe it!”
“Believe it, he is so much better than I.”
“I don't know the whole story, and in a way it's sad that you have exposed me now, as we are so close to the end. Dad was framed for an embezzlement he never did. The men responsible know Dad has evidence that can harm them, so they've been trying to locate and kill him for years. We've had to use extreme measures to keep hidden, and these role reversals have been one of many ploys.”
“You can trust me, I'll not betray you. Why should I? I want you to be my wife.”
Pru stopped walking again.
“What did you say?”
“Pru, I love you. I love your courage, I love your steely resolve and I love your loyalty. I want to take you away from this deception. It isn't right. I want to carry you off to my farm, and allow you to blossom into the wonderful woman you should be.”
These words broke Pru's steely resolve, and she broke into tears.
They came to a bench. They sat close, but still not touching. Pru's control was still in place, just, and she wasn't going to break with her discipline.
“How can you love me, I'm living a lie?”
“I don't know. I just know I do. Once I'd guessed, I had to spend as much time with you as I could, but in the end, being with you and not being able to speak to you as I wanted, and not being able to touch you or kiss you. It was driving me mad, so I went back to the farm. I kept thinking about you all the time, and in the end, I knew I just had to come and force you to admit what you really are.”
Pru was silent, wanting to reach out and touch him, but so entrenched in her role, she couldn't.
“Tell me, was the highwayman your talented brother?” Tony asked.
“No, I've only just worked it out. So he was the one who freed Letty from the kidnapper. My God, what a family!”
“Poor Rob, he's still slightly screwed up by the role playing.”
“Ah, so it's Rob. I was wondering what his real name was. I can imagine it does. He does a very good girl, I even fancied my chances, until I realised I loved another.”
“I feel such a fraud.”
“I so want to be the woman for you.”
“You are, on the inside.”
“Tony, you don't need someone like me. There are so many respectable women who'd leap at the…”
He kissed her, interrupting her. In broad daylight, two supposed men kissing on the embankment of the Thames.
He stopped and she looked up at him.
“There, that wasn't too bad, was it?”
She shook her head.
“Now. How do I find out what she feels about me?”
“How do you feel about me?”
“I love you with all my heart, all my soul and all my life.”
“Tony, I can't, I have to…”
He kissed her again.
“Oh all right!”
He burst out laughing.
“Oh, with such grace. Thank you. Now, when can you give up this charade?”
“A week, not much longer.”
“I'll hold you to that. Now, I'm starving, how about some lunch?”