‎I had been planning this trip to London for months – I had pinned all my hopes and dreams on it. I’d be there on my own – well, with the babies, of course, but with a Norland nanny to fill their days with fun activities while I filled mine with… a different kind of fun activity. But, like the best-laid schemes o’ mice and men, even this modest endeavour went a-gley. I knew it would, actually, and so, instead of brimming with anticipation in the days leading up to my Great Adventure, I found my spirits slowly sinking, filled with dread.

And so it was with nary a raised eyebrow that I checked my telephone to discover that the nanny had cancelled – an hour before the Edge was to arrive at my door.

At times like this, I sometimes feel like throwing up my arms and calling the whole thing off – this whole Sex Thing, I mean. And I remember something which Cherry Popper told me once, about some 92-year-old billionaire who still demands sex every day, and a steak. (What’s the relevance of the steak? I don’t know. But looking this up on the internet just now, to check its veracity, it was with a pang that I noticed the date of the article, as it was at around the same time that Cherry Popper had repeated it to me. That was our usual topic of conversation – whatever he had happened to hear on the radio, or read in the paper.) And this article had disillusioned him somewhat, for he had always hoped that one day, when he reached a certain age, this Sex Thing would finally be over. I was surprised. Isn’t it a good thing – the Sex Thing? You have no idea how much money it costs me, he said. And I rolled my eyes. Because if you think hotel rooms and hookers cost a lot, then you have no idea how much it costs to raise a child…

Is it worth it? I wondered as I wrenched myself from the screaming infants, bid the emergency babysitter a hasty goodbye, and tripped down the stairs to the driveway. Is it?

We arrived at the rental place, where we were met by the pregnant housekeeper, who glowered at us with a kind of bemused disapproval, which I found at first vexing, and then rather titillating. She handed over the key and swiftly departed. We surveyed the studio, with its distinctive round bed which had caught my eye in the photographs, and I thought to myself, how strange! This place could be ours. It is ours. I wandered around it while he parked the car, stepping out into the little garden, with its patch of green grass and small white table and chairs. Everything was so cute, so perfect.

‎”I’ve never fucked you with your clothes on before,” he said, pushing me onto the bed. “How would you like that?”

‎I spread my legs eagerly, he pulled my underwear aside and entered me. I sighed with happiness to feel him inside me again. As his dick thrust against my G-spot, I could feel my chest and face flushing with warmth, as a feeling of blissful content spread through my body. All the stress and anxiety of the last few weeks, days and hours seemed suddenly to melt away. I was where I wanted to be…

‎We had not long that day, what with the cancellation, check-in, parking, new babysitter and all, and besides, we had so many more days to come. Except that we didn’t really, of course – we never do. All too soon, I was kissing him goodbye as I stepped out of his car.

‎But I still felt the secret delight of that warm glow wrapped around me as I bundled up the babies and we set out for the playground – that glow which shields me from temper tantrums, leaky nappies, spilled coffee, and  all the other little nuisances and annoyances of life. And just then, as we were crossing the road towards the high street, I saw him –

‎”Will that guy let us cross, do you think? Oh! Look who it is!”

‎And yes, it was he (and he did let us cross), behind the wheel of his unmistakeable car, with its unmistakeable licence plate. And he looked – oh, just like a movie star – carefree, debonair, with the sun shining down on him like a spotlight. My jaw dropped as I gazed at him in amazement. And he smiled back.

‎”So who is that guy, mama?” my son wondered.

‎I couldn’t understand it myself – why that sight should have struck me so vividly. Perhaps it was because, shrouded in secrecy as our meetings must always be, I had never glimpsed him in “the real world” – his real life, outside of me, and the lovely little bubble we inhabit together. It gave me a kind of voyeuristic thrill too, to see him like this, in his own separate existence, even as it filled me with embarrassment to know that he had seen me in mine. And to see him looking so serene, so at one with the world, made me feel a little less like an outsider – because I am connected to him, after all, whether the rest of the world knows it or not. But above all, it filled me with joy to see him so happy and content – and it didn’t even occur to me that I could have played a part in it.

‎”Well, who is he?” my son persisted, staring up at me.

‎”A friend,” I smiled, and we walked on.

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