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Samantha, I have to say, the forty-five million quid I won on the lottery sits in my bank account like a fucking tumour. I only ever bought one ticket, see, on the day of your funeral. Like a middle finger to the cuntiverse. Pretending like I had still some fucking hope left in my soul.

Instead of going on a spending spree, or a cruise, I’ve spent the last three years working on our house. I paid off the mortgage at least, with our other debts. Yes, the house is too big for one person — even someone my size — but I won’t sell it because it’s all I have left of the dream of us. Also, you know me, I have to work. I’m a carpenter, third generation. Sawdust for blood. Why pay some other fucker to do a worse job than I would?

That’s what they don’t tell you about winning the jackpot. The press get hold of your story (“Woody Widower Makes Millions”) (Fucksake) and true, you don’t have to work again, but then you can’t anyway. Your workmates know you don’t need to be there like they do. It’s like you’re taking the piss.

Honest, Sweetheart, I miss a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay almost as much as I miss you. I’ve always been defined by my job, just like my dad, and my grandad. If I’m not a carpenter what am I? What’s the point of me? I don’t exist if I don’t work.

It’s like the money’s rubbed me out, too.

Not that I worked much today, it’s too bloody hot. I started at dawn, routing out some new Georgian sashes, but then did more standing than sanding. Then I got into a spiral about how working for myself like this — without a pay-check or even a pat on the back at the end of it — well it’s just wanking isn’t it?

Then this van pulled up next door. It unloaded a crate of champagne before knocking on her door and getting no answer.

She’s new next door. Just moved in last week. She seems young to have one of these big houses to herself, if you ask me. Late twenties? Or a few years younger than me at any rate. Your age. I mean if you were still aging. Apart from that, she’s the opposite of you. Sort of small and bouncy, not tall and leggy. Black hair, bobbed, not wavy and gold. A massive gob and podgy lips, next to your neat little kissers. Yep, I reckon you’d think she was pretty. In a braniac way. That’s what scares me about her because, honest — and it might come as a shock to you — I’m not that clever.

I only met her briefly, earlier, but I’ve certainly heard her tonight. Our bedrooms must be right next to each other, and maybe we both had our windows open on account of the heat. She woke me up just now, with this sudden long, loud squeak then, “Fuck! F-fuck! FUCK!”

I don’t know what she was up to, and don’t want to know.

That’s why I’m sat here in the middle of the night, writing to you after all this time. My imagination, well, it went off on a bit of a porno about what this girl was doing. I’m sorry. I know I said I’d never cheat on you, but imagining is OK isn’t it? I didn’t cum or nothing.

OK I did, but that was imagining us, not her. Remember that time you begged me to come home from work? I still got the text. “Quick! I want it! Everything!” And when I got home you were perched on the edge of the kitchen table, feet up, skirt up, no knickers, fingers busy. What a picture. All I had to do was pull up a chair and tuck in.

I never guessed that afternoon’s licking and fucking would see me through so many nights on my own. I reckon you knew, though. I reckon that was the day you found out about your tumour, because that’s the only time I ever made you cum until you blubbed.

I suppose I should make some effort with my neighbour. Our mates keep telling me that, after three years, I should move on.

Anyway, I offered to take in the crate the bloke couldn’t deliver. Then I hefted it round to hers later, when her door whamming shut rattled my windows. She’s the noisiest woman, all slamming doors and feet pounding round the house. No tippy-toed sprite like you. I suppose it’s no surprise she even sleeps loudly.

I knocked, and waited and knocked again. And I knew she was in, but she took an age to get to the door. Finally, there was a quick thump of feet and the door opened a chink. One big, spooky disk glinted at me. Fucking scary eyes. Pale glassy blue, ringed in sharp black. Too startling to look at, because if you do, you stare. She had your sixties, “Bewitched”, eyeliner thing going on though. Nice to see that out in the real world and not just in my head.

“Hey!” she said. She’s American and has this squeaky childish voice. I don’t know if she recognised me or not.

I presented the crate. “I’m from next door, love. A delivery came for you earlier, but you were out.”

She blinked at my shoulders.

I shrugged.

“Umm…” her voice trailed off into a long croak.

The door stayed put. I offered the crate to the small opening she’d made as if to prove it wouldn’t fit unless she opened up.

She cleared her throat, then swung the door a little wider, shuffling behind it. etlik escort Her shoulders and legs were bare, and she’d wrapped a little towel around the rest. And not too well. I clocked this but didn’t look, obviously. Her hands were gripped to her towel, so I stepped into the hallway and left the crate inside.

Then we shuffled this awkward dance. It didn’t help, me trying to respect her state of (un)dress and her not looking me in the eye. Her cheeks were purple. I was in my vest and work trousers and the way her eyes boggled I felt like the half-naked one.

She drew her towel tighter. “Man, It’s so hot. I was just about to like…” another long croak.

I nodded and slid carefully past her as if she might explode.

Before she shut the door behind me, though, she shouted, “Oh hey, I’m having a housewarming tomorrow night? Just, like, a couple of friends? You’re welcome to…” another long, fucking irritating, croak.

So, that was my day. Then she goes and wakes me up with this outburst and I suppose you guessed my porno: that she was lying on her front, legs spread and moonlight on her bare bum, hips shoving at her fingers. Pretending she was on top of me…

Anyway. That’s what I wanted to say sorry for.





“Jim, you have to go.” That was your mate Helen calling this afternoon. Fred calls at breakfast. Bob calls at lunch. Helen, tea. Every day for three years. She wanted me to go to my neighbour’s party.


“For her sake. And for yours. She’s just moved in and she doesn’t know anyone. You don’t want her thinking Londoners are miserable bastards, eh?”

“We are, though.”

“Only you, mate.”


OK. Next night now.

You were the bright one, so you’ll understand that today wasn’t totally my fault.

It’s because of Helen that I was back on my neighbour’s doorstep this evening. And dressed in our wedding suit, no less. Because It’s still my only posh outfit and because it’s still — thanks cuntiverse — pretty much brand fucking new.

This time the door flew open straight away. The girl beamed out at me. “I’m dressed, today!”

Her cheeks immediately purpled. I have to say I like that about her, that quick blush. She was right though, she was dressed. A little black dress. She looked beautiful. Sorry.

Her jaw dropped showily. “Look at you Mr Bond! Come In! Come In! Anyone ever tell you you’re like a massive Daniel Craig!”

“All the time!” I ‘joked’. Only you ever said that.

Her jollity made me want to run for my life, but I followed her trail of earthy perfume into the house. I’d nailed this smile onto my face, ready to greet whatever, but was surprised to find the party empty. Anyway, I’d decided I was just going to have a drink, be nice, then fuck off home. So, I was glad I didn’t have to talk to strangers.

The house was perfectly decked out and fancy, with Jazz wafting from some hidden sound system. Plants of all size and colour lined every flat surface. It didn’t look like she’d just moved in at all. I’m embarrassed at the state of our gaff, now. She clocked my gawping.

“Oh, none of it’s mine. Well, just the plants, they’re my babies. It’s a corporate let, for employees on secondment? Like me?” She thrusted her hand out. “I’m Bess.”

Her palm and fingers were soft, but her grip and shake were very enthusiastic. Funny how tiny things can suggest what people are like in bed. Then I remembered the night she woke me up, and what cheekiness those fingers might get up to. Sorry. But that’s what I thought.

I think she must read minds, though, like you. She giggled. I swallowed.

She was barefoot in her dress and I had another flash of you on That Afternoon. Is it wrong that since that day, bare feet in a skirt always makes me think a woman is commando underneath and craving oral sex?

Shit. You don’t need to answer that. I just read it back. Let’s put it down to three years without a shag. Odd though, Bess wore a ring on her little toe, just like you. A Celtic spiral, too.

Then I clocked the perfect parquet and expensive rugs and wondered if I was supposed to have taken my shoes off at the door. Then I realised we were still shaking hands. “Jim,” I said.

“Jizz Fim?” She slapped her hand to her mouth. Saucer eyes. “Sorry!” She swallowed her laughter. I mean. Fizz, Jim?”

I nodded. She swivelled on her heel, shaking her head. “Sit-sit-sit!”

She quickstepped to the kitchen and I wondered if all women swung their hips that much when they walked, and I’d just never noticed. Maybe it was my state of mind. Either way, I didn’t look, as usual. Well maybe enough to note her bottom looked great in that dress. I hope you don’t mind me saying that. But that is why I’m writing, remember.

Returning with a cold bottle and two glasses, she gave me a drink and only then offered to take my jacket and that caused some fumbling. We sat next to each other on the sofa. On the edge. Our gaziosmanpaşa escort knees touched. I moved mine away and Bess shuffled closer, so they touched again. She put the bottle down, pushing aside some spider-plants to make space on a side table. “Sorry darlings…” she chimed to them.

“You bring all these plants with you?” I said

“No!” She punched my arm. “I grew them here, silly. I rescued most of them.”

In two weeks? I blinked at the lush forest around us, but felt too stupid to argue.

“What do you do?” Bess held her glass daintily, between the fingers of an upturned hand. It looked wrong on someone as kittenish as her. Like she was pretending to be sophisticated.

I shrugged. “Not much. I work on my house. I used to be a carpenter.”

Bess took a long glug. Her big glassy eyes looked like computer screens, calculating. “You lost your job?”

“In a way. I won the lottery.”

Her eyebrows arched up her forehead. “No way! You win much?”

I nodded.

“Wow. You’re so lucky. I’d love to quit my day job. Concentrate on my novel.” She tugged at the hem of her skirt, but it wasn’t going anywhere. The heat of her bare knee warmed a patch on mine. Was I supposed to ask about her novel?


The way she smiled at her glass made me feel like I’d fallen into a trap. “Yep. It’s very steamy. Would you like to read it?”

“It’d be wasted on me, love. I don’t read much. Anyway, it seems like you’ve got a pretty good job to me.” I gestured to the house.

“Mm-hmm.” Another slurp. She licked her lips. “Still.”

“I miss working. I feel dead without it.” I don’t know where that came from. Bess made me feel like I could say anything. So I did. “I just wish the cuntiverse had kept the fucking money, instead of killing my wife, and my fucking purpose in life.”

My outburst sucked the life from the whole house. I expected Bess to slide away from me, take my glass. Ask me to leave. But her eyes sort of swelled up until they filled the room. Then she sniggered.

“Cuntiverse!” she said.

And you know what? I laughed too. We tittered like schoolkids. She poured more champagne into my glass, even though I hadn’t drunk anything, so it fizzed right up to the rim and was about to overflow. She quickly dunked her finger into my froth, and waggled it. Like magic, the bubbles died down.

She sucked her finger and clinked her glass to mine. “Here’s to bringing you back to life.”

We both glugged, then a knock at the door had her leaping to answer. I swilled down my drink and wondered if I should go now while I was ahead.

I guess Bess didn’t know I could see her reflection in a hallway mirror when she greeted her guest — a tall, elegant woman in her own little black dress but with wild red hair. I say that because as the woman removed her sandals in the doorway (I’d definitely missed the footwear memo) they whispered to each other. The exchange ended in Bess rocking her hand. The guest nodded, and made to come in, but Bess grabbed her arm and raised the hem of her dress at the side to reveal, well, nothing. Just skin. The guest thumbed up, grinning. She reached up her skirt and removed her underwear. They mimed hilarity. The guest bunched her knickers and put them in her handbag.

She was still fastening the bag when Bess led her into the lounge.

“Jim, this is Agnes. Agnes, Jim.”

Agnes pressed her cheek to each of mine. She was wearing the same wet-earthy perfume as Bess. I shook her thin, cool hand, which Bess then filled with a drink. “Jim, you know Agnes knows a friend of yours. Helen?”

“Yes, I’m her… hypnotherapist.” Agnes touched my arm. “I’m so sorry about your wife.” Her voice was deep. Soothing. I took a breath of the girls’ doubled-up perfume and the room lurched. Was it familiar? Did you used to wear it? I wished I hadn’t necked my booze.

Agnes smiled, one of those smiles that turns down, not up. Sweetheart, sorry, but she was beautiful as well. Doe-eyed and elfin. I wouldn’t have been surprised if her hair hid tiny horns, covered in ginger fur. In fact, together, glittering at me, the pair looked… magical. Not corny Disney magical. Deep-dark-wood magical. Does that make sense? Fuck I think I’m still a bit drunk.

I was expected to say something. But my head was full of hot air. The same air that swirled freely under their skirts. That breathed up their inner thighs. And stroked nude bottoms while kissing explicit pleats and folds.

My ears burst into flame.

“Sorry,” I blurted and lunged for my jacket, hung on the back of a chair. I nodded at the floor, and marched out.

They were so well-mannered I couldn’t tell if they were offended. Bess thumped after me and squeezed my arm and asked me not to go. But I would only have ruined it if I’d stayed.

So that was tonight. Bess’s party is still going by the sound of it. Though I didn’t hear anyone else arrive. They’re blaring the kind of music you loved. Goth ankara escort pop. In between tracks there’s much squawking and cackling. Some familiar hissy squeaks from Bess, though, and abandoned swearing… You reckon they’re…?


I think I made a bit of a prick of myself. Still am. But I had to tell you anyway as I was probably pretty flirty. In my head at least.

You know what I noticed, though, in my gallant retreat? Agnes had one of them Celtic toe-rings too. Just like yours and Bess’s.

Women. One big club.



What a day. Perhaps I should start this as I ended last night. With another apology.


Last night I was woken by a loud crash. Then nothing. Deep quiet.

Then Bess screamed, “JIM!”

I know what you’re thinking. But it wasn’t that sort of scream. This was raw-throated. Terror. I ran out of my house in just my shorts, and found Bess’s door kicked open. She shouted again; this time stifled. I charged into her place and found her on her kitchen floor.

With this big fucker pinning her down.

I grabbed his hair and hauled him off her. He was my size at least but my rage made his bulk light as a fucking kitten. I chucked him up the hall and shoved him out of the house. He tumbled down the front steps like a cartoon cat, but rolled to his feet. He was pretty drunk but lunged at me. I walloped him once in the face. Hard. He staggered back, then he ran.

“Motherfucker!” Bess shouted after him, suddenly beside me on the pavement and waving a frying pan.

Curtains twitched.

We headed back into her house.

“Jim, I’m so sorry.” Shivering, Bess sat on her hands on a stool in her kitchen. She was still in her party dress. “That was Jeff, my ex. He turned up and creeped us out.” Her face hardened. “We made him leave, but he waited till Agnes had gone and bust his way in. I can’t believe he followed me all the way to England.”

Was I supposed to ask more questions? Probably. I was shaking too. From the adrenalin. I can’t remember the last time I punched someone. I have to say I liked it. My mind played fantasies of chasing the bloke down. Beating him up. I wanted more fighting. Or something.

But then Bess pierced me with those spooky eyes. And fight turned to flight. I realised I was stood there in my underpants.

The air crackled. My heart jolted up a gear.

“Thank you so much,” she croaked. “I knew you’d come.” She slid down off her stool and took a step toward me, whispering, “I knew you’d come.”

The front of my hips warmed in the fire from under that skirt.

I retreated to the hallway. More blood diverted from my fists to my midriff. Sorry. But let me say again, I was just in my shorts, so this wasn’t welcome. I turned my back to Bess to hide the animal shifting going on in my underwear. “He’s fucked your door-frame. Let me fix it up for you. It’s not safe.”

“Oh man…” Bess frowned at the mess. “No biggie. I’ll call a carpenter in the morning.”

“It is morning. And I’m already here.” I was so excited at the thought of a job, I probably even put my hands on my hips like fucking superman. Albeit with a ferret down his pants. Bess bit back a smirk so lecherous, she might as well have got her tits out.

“Make us some coffee and I’ll get my tools,” I said. “Maybe I’ll get dressed too, eh?”

I laughed.

Bess didn’t.


I planned on doing a quick fix but in the end re-used a load of leftovers from our house and rebuilt her frame. It looked pretty smart. While I worked, Bess showered (“I reek of motherfucker”) then sat relaxed — brazen, even — on the stairs in just her underwear: white vest and knickers. I suppose it was already pretty warm.

She watched me work with hooded eyes, sipped her coffee, and filled me in on her and Jeff. They’d lived together in Seattle, and were even engaged, until Bess found some kid’s drawings in his briefcase. His kid’s drawings. From another, secret, marriage. Worse she’d really wanted a baby with him, and he’d said he wanted to put his career first.

“That’s the cuntiverse in action,” I said.

Bess snorted. “Plain cunt, I think.” She sighed. “Tonight he said it was my fault. That he’d only risked losing his family because of my blowjobs.”

“Motherfucker. Literally.”

Bess chuckled, but politely. Probably wasn’t the best time to make that bad gag I suppose. She stretched and yawned. With her mouth closed it made her nostrils flare. Is it wrong that — because of the way she was sitting, knees drawn up — I clocked that the gusset of her underwear was spotted with wet? OK. It is wrong. But I still saw it.

She released her stretch and locked her arms between her thighs. She squirmed. “Can I admit something cheeky to you?”

I’d finished the doorframe, to be honest, but was fucking about. I think I must have been enjoying the moment. Sorry.

I shrugged.

“You know, I have this sun deck, out the back? I spend all my time there because I’m practically solar-powered and, well, it’s completely private and I can like tan… without getting tan lines?”

I didn’t get this for a bit. When I did, she rolled her eyes at how long it took.

“Well,” she sighed. “I can see you from there. From behind these bushes, so you can’t see me?”

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