Segments - 18 - Levelling

01 - Meeting Her

02 - The Services

03 - Exeter Hotel

04 - Christmas

05 - New Year

06 - The Old Man

07 - Why He Started

08 - Cambridge

09 - Norwich

10 - The Party

11 - Millau

12 - Heading East

13 - Nice in Nice

14 - Making Progress

15 - Revelations

16 - Doubts

17 - The Connection

18 - Levelling

19 - Space

20 - Finale

Clem can't stand it any more. He needs to know. These questions are gnawing at him and the pleasure of life is being replaced by not knowing. He needs to know. He will have to confront her.

Clem calls the old man. "Can you get an address for her in Cambridge, I can't find one?"
"I've checked the electoral roll, she is listed." Clem feels so stupid, how obvious. "I'll email it to you. Why?"
"I need to talk to her, ask what's going on."
"Do you have to? There's more to learn, you can go in better informed."
"Yeah. but it's troubling me now."
"OK. Contact me when you get there, and later so I know you are OK."
"Why! She's not going to murder me."
"Probably not, but I'd like to know the outcome."

Janet reluctantly runs him to Inverness. Clem spends some of his money on a coach to London. It's a long long trip. He tries to sleep, it's not coming. He remembers Mandy and cries. He thinks of Joanna and gets cross. Then horny. Then confused. It's a boring and tense trip. He keeps on looking at the image of Mandy in the hospital. She has the sparkle in her eyes still but it is obvious she is not well. He looks at Joanna, the sparkle in her eyes with a future that Mandy didn't have.

London to Cambridge is a much shorter trip. He walks to her address. He is tense. He notices he is shaking.

This is a big, modern and stylish house on an estate of similar properties. A curtain twitches as he gets closer and he feels out of place. This is not like the house up north, that belongs to the successful middle class, this belongs to the elite, those with too much money. This is true wealth. He feels even more used. He feels like a rich girl's toy, plaything. That fucking bitch.

He presses the doorbell, a crisp chime rings out inside but no-one comes. She's not at home. That's OK. He's prepared, he switches on the tablet. It won't be long. He imagines her opening her tracking app and seeing his position outside her house. He texts the old man then sits under the porch and buries his head into his knees. Considering his present situation it's much of a surprise to him that he falls asleep, deeply.

His phone rings, it's her. He mutes it. It rings time and time again. It stops. I wonder where she is? If she's up north it will be midnight before she can get here. If she's in London it won't be more than 2 hours. Mind you, it's rush hour, maybe longer. Half an hour later the phone rings again. He want's to answer but forces himself not to.

He is cold from sitting still and it's starting to rain again. Then he hears an engine being treated without sympathy or mercy. It'll be her then, he laughs. With a screech the big Audi stops sharply in the driveway. Clem is bricking himself, he's tense and scared. Right now, right at this moment this is the wrong idea. He wants to be back in Ullapool, back with the old man, back with her up north in her bedroom. Shit, what have I done?

She sees him in the headlights. She opens the car door slowly. "Shit."
"No shit."
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm waiting for a brew, and some answers."
"Shit." She lets him in. Big, open plan, white and cream, designer, big windows, airy. So what. "Shit shit shit."
"So Joanna, what is this all about?" She turns on her heel and looks shocked to hear him say her real name. "huh?"
"Shit. What do you know?"
"Enough. Joanna Kemmet, 46, successful author, charity patron, husband in prison, acquaintance of Angela Stocksmith, aka" he lowers his tone "Tabitha..."

She turns back to the kettle. She won't look at him as she gets 2 cups and makes the tea. Clem looks at her back. Tight jeans, broad belt, big jumper, hair over shoulders, heeled boots. Oh for gods sake, he wants to hold her and comfort her, he wants to undress her. No. No. This is not the time. It is still there within him. Damn.

"And...and..." can he say it? "and acquaintance of Mandy." She bursts into tears, dropping the sugar bowl onto the counter. He wants to help her. He resists. He stands his ground. It seems an age but he stands. She finishes the tea.

"I met Mandy in December 2012. I am a patron for Cancer Research. It was a hospital visit for some promotion or other."
Clem speaks softly "I saw the picture of you and Mandy on the bed at Preston hospital."
"Yeah, yes. We hit it off. She was so, oh I don't know, inspirational. She was only receiving treatment that day. We emailed a lot, talked on the phone. She helped me come to terms with what was going on with Keith, my husband."
"So you knew her quite well?"
"Yeah." She starts to sob.
"So, " Clem takes a deep breath, he is trying his best to take it all in and remain calm "what kind of fucked up logic brings you to the point where you seduce the partner of your deceased friend?" This only creates a flood of tears.

It takes her a while to regain her composure. "Her diary."
"What diary?"
"Mandy's diary. Towards the end when she was in the hospice she gave me her diary. She knew I was struggling to write and she thought it would inspire me. It's very personal, she talks of you a lot." Clem imagines Mandy, writing her most personal thoughts down. Intimate details mixed in with nonsense about her hair or what a friend's kids were up to. When he thinks of her writing about her various treatments he shudders. "She loved you. She talked so much about you. I wanted to meet you."
"Yeah? Huh, just contact me via the blog, meet me in a cafe, have a tea and a chat. That's the normal approach. Where the fuck did you get the notion to hire a bimbo that doesn't like wasters to catch my eye? Where the fuck did you get the notion to take me back to some random house and make me cum on your nightie? That's some weird shit that is."
"Oh yeah! I didn't see you complaining, I didn't see you saying no, you loved it Clem, you fucking loved it all."
"Well of course, I didn't know back then you knew my dying girlfriend, I didn't know you'd read her diary, I didn't know anything!"

She calms her voice. "I could have just met with you in a cafe. I could have got to know you in the usual ways. Maybe you'd have liked me and we'd have hit it off. But what kind of a dull storyline is that?"
"Storyline!" She may be quiet but Clem is still livid. "Storyline! This ain't no fucking book ya know, this is real life, real people. Real feelings."
"I know." She's still calm, tears down her face. "I know. I wanted something new, something different, something exciting, something, oh I don't know, out of the ordinary."
"Well don't we all, but why me, there are thousands of men out there, why me?"
"Because of the way Mandy talked of you. Because of the sexuality you both shared. Because of the different lifestyle you lead. I wanted something different, I needed something different."

"Did you ever, for one moment, consider my feelings?"
"Yes. Yes. You want adventure, did I not provide that?" Damn, she's got a point there.
"Yes. Oh god. I can handle the idea that you might want to intrigue me, to be 'interesting' if not a little scary, but, but, you KNEW Mandy. You didn't tell me. You KNEW Mandy."
"Yes." She looks down shamefully.
"So, Joanna, was it in Mandy's diary that I liked her to dress up in cute dresses?"
"So, Joanna, was it in Mandy's diary that I like bondage?"
"So, Joanna, did you do anything with me that YOU wanted to do, or was it all simply to please me?"
"Mandy never mentioned pain. That's my fetish." Yeah...yeah, perhaps. His ego recovers a little. "And cum. I have this big big thing about a man's cum, your cum."

So, let me get this right in my head. A fairly wealthy woman from Cambridge meets a dying woman from the north west. They become friends. Before the dying woman dies she gives this woman a diary. From the diary this woman decides she's going to seduce the now dead woman's lover. He repeats this in his mind as she just sits there. She seduced him, her dead friend's lover. And she didn't tell him they were friends.

It's not unusual for a bereaved partner to seek solace in the arms of a friend. There is nothing immoral about a bereaved partner taking on a new lover. Is there a moral issue here? Is it wrong that Clem has been intimate with his now deceased lover's friend? Erm, no, he can't see an issue. Would he have felt differently if he had known they'd been friends?

It's the way he's been played. Hell yes he wanted adventure and he sure as hell has had it. He's been scared, elated, curious and excited. Sitting here now, looking at her he can't help but want to play with her. The notion that she really does like his cum, the notion that she really does like pain makes him want to get up right now, spank her and cum over her. It's what he wants but even Clem knows this is probably not the time.

No matter how much he's enjoyed this he feels a fool. He feels like her plaything. He feels like she's been in control and he's been the obedient little puppy, doing as he's told, going where he ought and behaving as he should. He reflects. There is something alluring about a strong woman. Yet he has his pride, he doesn't want to be her plaything. He's not a tough guy but he is still a man.

She looks back to him, he's almost staring into space. "There is one other thing." It takes Clem a while to respond.
"Uh, what?"
"Mandy loved you. I can see why. I dare say I've fallen for you too." He doesn't know what to do with this information. He doesn't know if it's true. He doesn't know if she's just trying to please him after upsetting him. He says nothing. How does he feel? He doesn't know. All he wants right now is for his mind to clear, to return to simple thoughts like where to camp or what to have for tea. Too much information. Too much.

He wants to leave, he wants to stay. He wants to tell her to fuck off and leave him alone, he wants to watch her cum. He wants to lie in bed with her all soft and warm, he wants the space and simpleness of the road. If he leaves will he leave for good? If he stays will he be trapped?

"Did, you, have, my tent robbed that first night."
"Did you have me followed the next week."
"Why not just give me a mobile and ask me to call?"
"Magic. The thrill of it all. Something exciting. My life is as dull as anyone else's and I wanted something, something, something more!" She's perked up. She's presumably impressed with herself.
"Magic. huh." Clem laughs "It's like you've been writing your next book!" He sees her shoulders drop, her tell. " this what this is all about?"
"" The silence is consuming.
"Wow. Just, like, wow."

He stands in the bus shelter, keeping out of the rain. He calls the old man and relays the story, or his version of it at least. The old man says he'll come and collect Clem but Clem refuses. He needs some space, he needs no opinions, friendship, help, afterthoughts, guidance or assistance. He needs to be alone with the world, his tent, his thoughts and space. It is quiet at this late hour. At least the weather is on his side, the rain is stopping and the low clouds mean it won't get too cold.