No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.
Being terrified of what your husband is capable of doing to you is a horrible way to live, but for the sake of her children, TARA FLEMMING is willing to put up with anything. Even if anything means being beaten and raped by a man who swore to Honour, love and protet her. Writing takes her to a world of fantasy and love, something she craves for her every waking moment. Her children are her life and friends have been driven away. A chance meeting with a stranger on a train, who would rival any modern day Mr. Darcy, throws a beam of a brilliant light on her normally dark and formiddable life. She doesn’t believe in love at first sight, unless she’s writing about it, but something unexplainable is happening and life will never be the same for her again. Whatever happens she knows she is in for a serious beating when she gets home, so she might as well enjoy herself and feel the tender touches of a man, instead of the thrust of his fist.
INDISCRETIONS is a completed novel of approximately 75,000 words. Humour and heartache run side by side throughout with a very real in-sight into what a lot of women put up with for the sake of their children. I have tried to show how a loyal, loving woman with no self esteem and a very abusive partner eventually fights back and takes control of her life and family, finding real love and the gift of a friendship she’d thought she’d lost forever.
Holding my breath I clutched the letter to my chest.
They wanted my book.
The corners of my eyes began to sting and the inside of my nose tingled, tears were imminent. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this wanted, but realisation
dawned and dread flooded my body, my glorious smile was replaced by a thin flat line.
He’d never let me follow this through.
The letter said they wanted me in London for three days to go over the details and the revisions of the first three chapters they’d asked for.
My mind raced.
How could I make it look like it was his idea I should go? I could ask him infront of the children, he hated looking bad in front of them. But then I would have to leave
him alone with them.
He wouldn’t hurt them.
My pride and joy sat cloaked in its leather wrap on the Formica table in front of me. I’d always thought that traveling in a first class carriage to London would have more luxury attached to it, obviously from the frayed upholstery and dirty windows I was wrong.
The train was busier than I’d expected, the morning rush applying to first class too; who knew?
The seat opposite me seemed to be the only one not taken by the hoards of suits heading to the city. I felt a little intimidated by the male dominance surrounding me, but my task for the day kept my spirits high and my mind occupied. I flipped open my leather bound treasure and read over the contents once more. I’d done the revisions for the first three chapters like they’d asked and now It would take all my power to leave my pen topped.
I’d done enough re-writes, but I was scanning the thick double spaced lines for the millionth time when a tall, broad shouldered man attempted to access the seat facing me. Actually there was no attempt about it, he politely asked the gentleman on the end to move, then ensconced himself firmly in the seat.
I looked up for the briefest of moments and caught a glimpse of two sapphire jewels staring back at me. The blush hit my cheeks before I had a chance to register why I was blushing.
He was just a boy, twenty if he was a day.
His broad muscular physique was playing havoc with my concentration. I read and re-read the same line over and over. It was a good job I knew my novel inside out.
Months of writing late into the night made my characters part of my life, embedded in everything I did. I even left a meeting early one day because the main character was screaming in my head. I was indeed besotted with my treasure and on my way to hand it over to a perfect stranger.
I stole a few more glances at the handsome stranger sitting opposite me and found myself ducking for cover from his unyielding stare. His leg touched mine on three separate occasions, the tingle speeding through my body until it reached my unsuspecting fingertips. If I’d been travelling with Phil my eyes would have remained fixed firmly on the floor as any eye contact with a male, especially a good looking one, would’ve resulted in pain. My pain.
A mass exodus at Guilford left the train a skeleton of its former fleshed out self but my staring stranger still held his place.
“That must be good.” The deep baritone voice surprised me.
“Excuse me!” I couldn’t believe he’d spoken to me, or even that deep enveloping voice came from someone so young.
“Whatever you’re reading it must be good, you’ve been engrossed.” He gestured towards my leather bound treasure.
I clasped it tight, over protective, as usual.
His words were perfectly clear and formed in a striking upper class English accent, but his stare reduced my senses to candy floss.
“Oh, this.” I rocked it in my hands, “It’s part of a novel I’m writing.” I was so cross with myself for dismissing my hard work so lightly, I blushed.
Why did I blush?
I wasn’t ashamed of it and the agent I was meeting seemed really keen.
“What’s it about?”
Mmmm this would be a hard one to explain. How could I tell him that it was about a woman meeting a man on a train, hence starting the downfall of her marriage.
“It’s just a chick book.” I hated calling it that. To me it wasn’t just anything. It was blood, sweat, tears and lots of missed dinner parties and non existent lunches.
“Well you won’t impress an agent with that attitude.” His smile was so arrogant but inviting too.
“Well it would be hard to describe to you, I’m not sure you’d believe me.”
Oh please, was I flirting with this mere boy? Get a grip woman!
“May I?” He held out his hand towards me, and reluctantly, I handed over my world.
The sigh I gave altered his gaze, he looked up from the pages into my eyes.
“Don’t worry I’ll be gentle.”
After I picked my jaw up from the table and adjusted myself in my seat I sat back and watched his face as he read. I expected him to return it to once the prologue had been devoured, but he kept going. He held the first three chapters in his hands and only returned my baby once completed.
“Mmm I see why you would think I wouldn’t believe you. This could be fate.” He was mocking me. The look in his eyes shifted from serious reviewer to cocky stranger.
“Is this why you are traveling to London? Are you meeting an agent?”
I took a deep breath before I answered. “Yes.”
He nodded, a hint of a smile across his face. “Do you know who you’re meeting? I know some agents in London. I might know them.”
“I have her card here.” I handed over the small silver card that I’d given pride of place on the inside of the leather wallet surrounding my creation.
I wasn’t sure of his reaction when he read the name, it looked like he recognized it but didn’t say.
“Do you know her?” I was sure I saw some form of recognition on his face.
“The name does look familiar, but I can’t be sure.” The cocky smile was back on his face along with the imposing stare.
“So are you meeting her at her office in Kensington?”
I was taken aback by his interest. I hadn’t told many people about my writing so talking with a complete stranger about it was a whole new experience.
“She’s taking me to lunch at The Ivy.” I still didn’t know why I was telling him all this.
“The Ivy, wow they must be really interested. You should hold out for a great deal.” He looked completely serious, no hint of sarcasm. I would be able to tell, I was so often the target of that form of wit at home.
I hadn’t thought of it like that, now my nerves were really beginning to peak.
“So why are you on the train?” I asked.
Although I loved talking about my book with him, it was starting to make me nervous. There was only about thirty minutes of the train journey left before I made my way to my hotel and I was beginning to panic.
“I’ve been at a family wedding in Oxford all weekend. My sister had a meeting today that she had to prepare for so she took my car this morning; leaving me to get the train.” He leaned across the table, his elbows planted firmly in place with his fingers entwining both hands. He looked older now. The fleeting glances I’d given him on our first encounter hadn’t taken in the roughness of his skin or the depth of his perfect blue eyes.
“Do you work in London?”
He smiled and for a moment I thought he was going to tell me to mind my own business.
“Sorry, I always ask too many questions when I’m nervous.” As soon as I said it I wished I hadn’t.
“Do I make you nervous?” The cocky smile was back- along with a new look. Amusement.
Through my burning cheeks I attempted an answer. “No! I’m just nervous about my meeting.”
“Oh, nothing to do with me then?”
Not only his lips but his whole face lit up with a smile now, his eyes taunting me with a dazzling glint.
“So is your story a true story?”
“No! definitely not.” I folded my arms across my chest, furious at such a personal question.
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
“So now you are going to quote Shakespeare to me.” I had to admit to being impressed. Not only could he quote Queen Gertrude’s line from Hamlet, but he did it correctly.
He made a mock gesture of a bow, rolling his hand out towards me.
“So would you ever consider a liaison with a perfect stranger on a train?”
Feelings stirred within me, no doubt the effect of the smoldering stare emanating from his perfect face. A rush of adrenalin coursed through my veins, bringing with it a new found strength.
“Are you flirting with me? Because if you are then I need to tell you that I am probably twice your age. You can only be about twenty.” I too leaned against the cold Formica barrier between us.
I studied his face for a second. Amusement was back to accompany the dazzling eyes that never dulled.
“Mmmm, well now you’ve told me something about you.”
“What?” I asked, curious.
“Well if you think I am twenty and that you are double my age. Then that must make you for…”
I stopped him before he could finish. No one needed to hear the ‘f’ word.
“Don’t say it…no I’m not quite there yet…I’m thirty nine.” I hated saying that. Usually when a woman says she is thirty nine the question in most peoples mind is, and how long have you been thirty nine?
“And now I know you’re touchy about your age…which you don’t look by the way. And yes, I am flirting with you.”
I couldn’t help the stupid school girl grin that spread across my face. As much as I tried to quash it, it sprang back to its full force.
“I must not look my age either because you got me wrong too. You are not even close to twice my age. I’m thirty, so no big difference at all.”
Looking at him now, I had misjudged his age, fine lines framed his glorious eyes and his chiseled features were rougher on closer examination. There were no boyish words to describe his looks now I’d looked this closely, even by the way he spoke I should’ve been ablt to tell he wasn’t a boy. I suddenly remembered he’d completely dodged my last question.
“So don’t you want to tell me if you work in London?”
“Oh yes, your question. Well I do sometimes, but I’m mainly based in New York. I’m meeting my sister today so I’m not actually going to work.”
I dreamed of going to New York.
My husband had been a few times but he’d said it wasn’t for me. He didn’t think I would enjoy it.
How little did he know me – even after fifteen years of marriage. A pang of guilt tore through me. That was the first time I’d thought of Phil in this entire interlude.
Asking him about this trip in front of the children was a low blow. I felt like I’d dropped to his level of manipulation, but knowing the kids wouldn’t be at home while I was away made it easier. I couldn’t imagine he would let me stay the full three days, the control freak in him would order me back after two at the least. Oh boy would I have to be grateful to him and tell him over and over how lucky I was that he let me go at all. I could deal with everything he dished out to me as long as I got to do this one thing for me.
Things hadn’t been great between us for a while, but that was no excuse to be flirting with this extremely gorgeous, intelligent guy before me, I wouldn’t be like him.
“Hello, are you day dreaming?” His thoughts cut through my guilty moment.
“Sorry. No, not exactly.” Nightmares sprung to mind not dreams.
The announcement of our imminent arrival at Waterloo sent my heart plummeting. I wondered if it had the same effect on him. How stupid, he would probably be glad to get away from me and I could go back to panicking about my meeting.
Heading out of the station together, my intention to get a taxi to the Thistle hotel. I was booked in there for the next two nights.
“Where are you headed?”
I wasn’t expecting anything other than goodbye, it was nice to meet you, so I was slightly taken aback.
“Erm, The Thistle in Kensington.”
“Can I drop you there? My car is waiting out side.”
“I thought your sister had your car.” I wasn’t trying to catch him out, but he’d definitely said that.
“My sister does have my car, but I have a car and driver waiting to take me to my place here.” His eyes were locked on mine, his words hung in the air unclaimed for a second.
“Oh right, okay. I mean you don’t look like a serial killer.” I laughed but the thought had crossed my mind. ” I don’t even know your name.”
“It’s Mark. Mark James and yours?”
“Tara. Tara Flemming.” I flinched for a second, the unfamiliar sound of my maiden name taking me back to a better time.
He held his hand out towards me. “Well it’s really good to meet you Tara Flemming.”
His hand was warm and strong and my body was still quivering from the way my name rolled off his tongue. If I could liken that feeling to anything it would be like drowning in a bath of chocolate.
The trip to the hotel was interesting, I learned that he split his time between here and New York. Preferring the latter. Which made perfect sense to me.
I still wasn’t quite sure what he did for a living, something in marketing I think. Whatever it was he was highly paid for it. Black, chauffer driven Mercedes weren’t rolled out for the coffee boys.
“Thank you for the ride, it’s been a pleasure meeting you. I hope you have a good trip back to New York.” I was babbling, nerves getting the better of me again.
“You say that like you are never going to see me again….it’s a small world Tara Flemming.” His smile blinded me. It took more effort than I knew I possessed to pull myself from its grasp.
I laughed. I would barely be venturing out of my room unless for a meeting, so the chances are this was goodbye.
The room was bordering on luxury for me. I was used to a double or a family at the Travelodge. This was in another league. The bathroom was bigger than my entire bedroom and everything screamed quality.
The agency was paying for this for the next two nights. Perhaps Mark was right, maybe they were keener than I thought. I’d inquired on my way in, the distance to The Ivy.
The concierge informed me that it was either a fifteen minute walk or a five minute taxi ride. I was all for saving the environment, but getting lost and arriving late to my first agent meeting was not an option. The concierge booked the taxi and I now had one full hour until it arrived.
A fresh shower and change of clothes was high on the list of things to do. I should phone home, but the kids would still be in school and I wasn’t in the mood for another round of arguments. I sent a quick text to him announcing my arrival and intentions to ring later this evening.
I hated leaving on an argument but they became so common of late that I didn’t pay much attention to them anymore. I couldn’t help that I had this opportunity, I was still performing all of my wifely duties. The house gleamed with show home vigor and restaurant style meals adorned the tables every night. I never faltered from my duties but he would always find fault and leave me feeling worthless and dejected.
Time to banish all negative thoughts from my mind and head to my chariot. I gave myself one final look over. Not bad. The body hugging grey trousers hung perfectly from my size eight frame and the slight sheen to my navy fitted shirt finished the look.
There wasn’t much I could do with my hair. Dark unruly curls had been tamed only by the exquisite short choppy bob my magician of a hairdresser created. I would do.
Mark had told me I didn’t look my age so that added to my confidence right now. Then again he could have just been trying to get in my knickers. A laugh shot from my lips. My God it had been along time since anyone had tried that using charm; especially Phil.
The Ivy was stunning. Living up to its first class reputation. I gave my name at the front desk and was told my party had already arrived.
Party? Party. I thought I was just meeting one agent.
My mouth felt drier than a kitty litter tray and the confidence of a few minutes ago had obviously taken off in the taxi I arrived in. My eyes locked on the fabulous theatrical décor of the restaurant, scanning the famous faces that adorned the walls.
I couldn’t bring myself to look in the direction we were headed and the young man that greeted me at the door now stopped at a round table with three other ladies on it.
“This is your table.”
He pulled a chair out for me to sit and then returned to his post.
“Tara, it’s good to finally meet you. I’m Lucy, this is Janie my assistant and Chloe our marketing girl.”
I shook hands without registering names or positions they held. I could so do with a brandy and lemonade to calm my nerves, but gulped at the water instead.
They all seemed pretty normal, there were no horns, sharp teeth or claws between them. The stories I’d heard of agents had described a different breed altogether.
Within minutes of sitting, Lucy plunged straight into the formalities of our meeting.
“Tara, I have to say I couldn’t put your manuscript down, and I can tell you it’s been a while since a book has got me this excited.” She paused, no doubt taking in the look of surprise on my face.
“I thought maybe today we could meet informally, hence this place,” she motioned her hands to the restaurant around us.
“I know you will have lots of questions, but I thought we could order first and discuss what our agency can offer you over lunch.”
I nodded in agreement, I didn’t have a clue how these things normally worked. If she would have asked me to sign on the dotted line now I probably would have.
The other girls on the table didn’t say alot, and although, like I said, they didn’t have the horns or scales I’d been expecting, their was a hint of sulphur, their dragon breath just misting the air.
We were just about to order when the familiar voice ripped the breath from my body. No sooner had my mind registered the exquisite baritone voice, the face was by my side.
I was stunned into silence, my body frozen in place.
Lucy stood and greeted the late comer.
“Hi, What are you doing here?”
All the other girls nodded and smiled, blushes streaked their over made up faces.
“Tara Flemming, I’d like to introduce you to my brother. Mark James.”