Ronny tried to remember the last time he had spent so much time alone with his sons, probably not since Sandra went to stay with her Mother after her Father had died. The boys must have been only young then, six and eight, no older. He remembered how shocked they had looked when he told them that he would be looking after them while Mum stayed with Grandma to help her arrange Grandpa’s funeral. They just stared, not speaking, just two little faces looking up at him bewildered and confused. At first Ronny had tried to treat it like an adventure. He took them swimming and even offered to cook them their favourite food for tea, but Martin and George had very different ideas about what was their favourite and squabbled so much that Ronny had lost his temper with them and had ended up taking them out for fish and chips which none of them had enjoyed.
Martin had cried himself to sleep the first night and Ronny hadn’t known what to do. This was Sandra’s job, not his, he was meant to go out to work and come home when the boys had been fed and bathed. They should be there ready to say goodnight to him before Sandra took them upstairs for a story before bedtime. DI Ronny Cousins was out of his comfort zone. He could cope with a squad room full of coppers waiting for his direction, he was in his element questioning some low life who had just battered his girlfriend to death because she wouldn’t go to the shops for his cigarettes, but put him in charge of his sons for one night and he was lost.
But this was different, they weren’t little boys anymore, they were grown men who would have to realise that he knew exactly what was happening to them. Their world had changed, their family had changed forever. Dad was no longer the old bugger who’d retired from the force to live out the rest of his life in the same house with the same wife doing the same thing day after day. He was a man whose life and been torn apart by the bastard who had murdered his wife, the mother of his children and he wouldn’t rest until he found the scum who had done this to him.
Ronny jumped as the door bell rang and opening it he saw from the expression on Geoff Lintott’s face that he wasn’t here with good news.
‘Geoff, you on your own?’ asked Ronny as he led his old friend into the Lounge.
‘I wanted a word in private, off the record so to speak. Have the boys gone home?’
‘Yes, I’ve manage to convince them that I wasn’t going to fall apart if I was left on my own for a few hours.’ he laughed
‘Ronny this is very awkward and I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but I’ve just come from the post-mortem and there’s something I need to clarify with you. You told me last night that the last time you saw Sandra was when you waved her off to work yesterday morning.’
‘Yes thats right, as I said, we had a lunch date but she didn’t show up.’
‘And before she went to work how did she seem?’
‘You know what mornings are like Geoff, she was running around getting ready to go to work, nothing unusual.’
‘And before that how were you two?’
‘Before what, what are you getting at?’
Geoff looked at his friend and knew that what he said next could alter everything Ronny felt about his wife. He didn’t want to make this conversation part of a formal interview, not yet, he owed his old boss that much.
‘I’m sorry Ronny but I’ve got to ask this, did you and Sandra make love yesterday morning.’
‘What the fuck do you mean you’ve got to ask? Are you trying to tell me that Sandra had sex yesterday?’ Ronny grabbed the arms of the chair, his face was blood red and his heart was racing.
‘Just answer the question Ron. Did you and Sandra, have sexual relations yesterday.’
‘Was she raped, is that what you’re trying to tell me?’ he snarled
‘Please Ronny don’t make this any harder than it already is.’
‘No Detective Inspector, we didn’t have sex yesterday, or the day before or the day before that.’
‘Were you and Sandra having problems?’
‘She’d gone off it, sex I mean, said it was to do with the menopause. Had terrible hot flushes some nights and slept in the spare room, said that she didn’t want to disturb me.’
‘How long?’ asked Geoff feeling very uncomfortable about how this conversation was going.
‘A couple of months, maybe more. She’d been to the doctor and asked for HRT but that takes a while to kick in apparently.’
‘But apart from the sex, you were OK?’
‘Of course we were OK, we’d been married for thirty years. What’s not to be OK? What is it Geoff, do you know something that I don’t?’
‘No Ron of course not but I’ve got to ask. That’s why this conversation is off the record, I wanted to speak to you as a friend before it all becomes official.’
‘You want to know if I think that Sandra was having an affair?’
‘Well do you?’
‘What do you think? Would I still be here if I thought she was carrying on with someone else? Give me credit for a bit of pride.’
‘And what about you Ron, have you never been tempted?’
Ronny suddenly felt very cold. What was Geoff driving at? Did he know something or was this just a fishing trip? His little indiscretion had been years ago and they’d been very discreet. It was a fling, nothing more than that, well at least on his part. He hadn’t meant for it to happen, but she was young and lovely and he was horny and lonely. Sandra had taken the boys away to the Isle of Wight for the week with her parents. They’d rented a cottage by the sea. He couldn’t go. They were in the middle of a murder enquiry and all leave had been cancelled.
It had been so innocent at first, a drink after work with some colleagues. Working on any murder case was tough but when the victim was a kiddie, well sometimes the only way to sleep at night was to go out and get pissed. Ronny had suggested that they went on for a curry after they left the pub but only Jo had joined him, the rest of the team had cried off and gone home. After the meal Jo had invited him home for a coffee and he’d thought ‘why not’. It wasn’t as if he had anything to rush home for and where was the harm in it, they were just two friends having coffee.
Ronny couldn’t remember who had kissed who first. Maybe it was him who had reached over and held her face between his hands. He remembered her skin being so smooth and clear. His fingers had touched her pink lips and the next thing he knew they were locked together in an embrace that had him unbuttoning her blouse with an urgency that he hadn’t felt for years. They hadn’t made it to the bedroom that first time. He’d thrown the cushions on the floor and had taken her there, no foreplay and very little conversation but he knew that she’d wanted him just as much as he’d wanted her and neither of them were prepared to wait.
And that was the start of an affair that they both knew had no future but they didn’t care. Each time they met up was like the first time and their lovemaking was as passionate the last time as it was the first. But it couldn’t last. Ronny had his career to think of, nothing came in the way of that.
Geoff broke the silence ‘Ron, you know I’ve got to ask this, have you been playing away from home?’
‘What do you think?’ he answered
‘Sorry mate but I had to ask.’