It was all a mistake.
But what a mistake it was. My wife Lauren is a diplomat, while I make my living doing commercial IT training. She works at the Foreign Office on Whitehall, while I work from home, travelling to client sites from time to time, but mainly working within companies in London on three to six month contract terms. It pays well. Lauren normally works on the Caribbean section of the FCO and, occasionally, she’s asked to go abroad for a short while to deputise for someone who is on mid posting leave or off sick. Which is why she was currently working as the management Officer at Government House in Tortola. She had been there for four weeks and had another two weeks to go before she flew home.
I was sitting at home, in front of my laptop, making up the final invoice for the contract that I’d just finished and, as was usual, I had a few weeks off before the next and I was looking forward to Lauren getting home and the pair of us setting off for foreign parts for three weeks.
My phone pinged to tell me I had a message. When I looked at the screen it said ‘MMS:Lauren.’ She was in the habit of sending me messages. According to the clock on my home screen it was eleven-thirty pm making the time in Tortola seven-thirty, roughly when she’d be going out to dinner. She had a habit of sending me nude selfies of herself around this time, just, as she said, to remind me of what was in store for me when she got back, so I didn’t look at the message immediately. I finished the invoice, saved it, and emailed it to the client.
Then I looked at the picture and, as I thought it would be, it was a photograph of her, naked and standing in front of the bathroom mirror in her room at the Treasure Isle Hotel, just outside Tortola Town Centre, opposite the Marina. It was a picture the like of which I’d received every day while she was away, for the whole three years that she’d being doing that job. With two minor but significant differences. Firstly it was not the bathroom that she’d stood in to take the picture on all the other ones she’d sent this time and secondly, reflected in the bottom corner of the mirror she was standing in front of was the bed in the room behind her and lounging on that bed, as naked as Lauren was, was a man.
My first thought was to ring her and confront her with it, but then I thought it would be better if I was sneakier and turned back to my laptop.
One of the perks of being a diplomatic spouse is, you get to use the FCO’s travel office with all the discounts that they have, I dialled the number, gave them my ID code and asked them to book me on the first available flight to Tortola and a room for the seven days after that at the Treasure Isle Hotel. They rang me back less than an hour later and told me that if I could get to Heathrow by two am, they could have me on a flight to Miami overnight with an onward flight via San Juan, Puerto Rico and confirmed that they could book me a room at the Treasure Isle for tomorrow night onwards. I took it and they charged it to my Amex Card.
I kept a ready bag at home with clothing for a week and apart from packing my bathroom necessities, laptop, phone charger and tablet into the rucksack that I usually used as a carry-on bag, I was ready to roll. Since we live in Enfield, it’s an quick and easy drive to Heathrow, where I parked the car in long-term parking and took the shuttle bus to the terminal. The BA ticket desk was open and I presented my passport and Amex card and they printed out my tickets for me.
I stopped for a pint in one of the many bars after security and four hours later we were pushing back in the American Airlines 767 to start the first leg of my journey. An eight hour hop to Miami. It was another eight hours for the two hops to Tortola, including the waiting time at the two airports and I landed, sixteen hours after first taking off at noon on Beef Island in the British Virgin Islands. After reclaiming my bag and clearing customs, I found an ATM in the arrivals lounge, drew three hundred dollars in cash and left the building.
A short taxi ride got me to the Treasure Isle by two and I was checked into my room up on the hill by two-thirty.
I have to admit, the view from my balcony was spectacular and under different circumstances I could have sat there and admired it all afternoon, but I had things to do.
First thing was food. I walked down to the poolside bar and ordered a club sandwich and a Red Stripe beer.
I was the only customer, so I sat at the bar and chatted to the bartender.
“Nice place,” I said, “do you get many British tourists?”
“Mainly Americans,” he replied, the only Brit we have beside you is a lady from Government House, Miss Peters.”
I knew that for professional purposes Lauren used her maiden name so I wasn’t surprised to hear him use it.
“So does she come to the bar?”
She usually calls for a cocktail after work, usually arrives about five-forty five.”
“Well, maybe I’ll come down and say hello, it’s always nice to meet a fellow Brit abroad.”
I finished my sandwich and beer, paid in cash and returned to my room. I noticed that if I stood to one side of the sliding doors out onto the balcony, I had a clear view of the path leading to the poolside bar and that the curtain would hide me from the view of anyone on it. At five forty I positioned myself and ten minutes later I saw Lauren walk up from the road and turn into the pool area where the bar was.
Time to go into action.
I grabbed my keys and my broad-brimmed sun hat and left the room to walk down the path to the pool bar.
Lauren was seated at the bar, with her back to me when I walked in. I walked up to the bar and sat on the seat beside her.
“Buy you a drink?” I asked, putting a slight accent in my voice.
“No thanks, I’m meeting someone,” she said before turning to me.
The look of shock on her face when she recognised me was worth the ticket price to fly over.
When, after a long pause, she managed to pull herself together she looked at me and pasted a smile on her face.