Hello again, dear Readers!
Do you think Claudia’s troubles are over? Dream on… I mean, read on!
Claudia’s key slid into the lock and she pushed the front door open. “Wilson? I’m home darling.”
There was no reply.
She entered the majestic entrance hall with the Victorian mahogany staircase that stretched to the second and third floors.
“Wilson? Are you here?” Her voice sounded harsh and loud, like it was bouncing back and forth against the walls. Claudia stared. Wilson’s grandmother’s tapestries no longer hung on the walls. Had Wilson sent them away to be cleaned? She turned towards the drawing room and opened the door. “Wilson? Where—”
Claudia’s voice died on her lips.
The room was empty. There was no sign of Wilson. What on earth was going on?
Claudia raced across the entrance hall and flung open the library door. The antique desk, bookshelves and leather-bound books were gone, together with the Persian rugs. Even the heavy velvet curtains framing the French doors had disappeared.
Claudia heard a roaring in her ears and her bowels turned to water. She gripped the door jamb to steady herself. She must be hallucinating… or in the middle of a terrible nightmare.
She spun around and pounded up the staircase, running from room to room and throwing open the doors. They were all the same. In the space of a few hours, her comfortable home had become a mausoleum: hollow, cold and dead; stripped bare of the life she and Wilson had built together.
The realisation hit her like a blow to the chest. Wilson had left her. He’d taken everything and left her with nothing: Zilch. Zero. Nada. Nil. Claudia was ruined. But when she’d left that morning, Wilson had been sitting in his smoking coat, having breakfast in the sun-room and reading the newspaper. He’d kissed her cheek and asked how she slept—just like he always did. He couldn’t have found out about her and Dominic; she’d been so careful. So what made him change his mind?
Claudia sniffed. Aftershave… the same scent she’d smelt earlier at the apartment. A closed door stood at the end of the upstairs hallway—their bedroom. Claudia glided towards the door as though in a dream, pulled forward by an irresistible force. The scent grew stronger as she approached. With shaking hands, Claudia turned the doorknob of polished brass.
The door swung open with a squeal. Like the others the room was empty except for a solitary object lying in the middle of the floor.
Claudia jumped. She stepped towards it, approaching it like she might a dangerous animal.
The cell-phone vibrated again.
Stooping to the ground, she picked it up.
New Message flashed across the screen. Heart pounding, she pressed the Read button. A video loaded and played. Claudia gasped.
Two men were making love in their George III period four-poster bed. She peered at the screen, her eyes widening. One was Wilson… her puny, flaccid husband had transformed into a raging, ravenous bull. Claudia watched as he mounted his lover and thrust deep inside him, his face a moving portrait of desire, lust and ecstasy. As the men’s cries grew more frenzied, the picture moved from Wilson to a closeup of his lover.
It was blonde man from the apartment. He was even more beautiful than Claudia remembered – olive-skinned with high cheekbones, a square jaw and aqua-colored eyes. Their movements grew more frenzied, the men’s faces twisting into paroxysms of delight as they cried out and climaxed in unison. They fell apart and slumped onto the pillows, panting and laughing. After a minute, Wilson rose to his elbows and poured two glasses of wine from a bottle on the side table. He clinked glasses with the blonde man lying beside him then his face filled the screen.
“Hello Claudia, my love!”
She jumped at the sound of his voice. It sounded reedy and shrill through the microphone.
“Did you enjoy your wine? I’m certainly enjoying mine!” Wilson smacked his lips. Claudia heard a muffled laugh.
“Such a shame about Dominic. Helmut said he was a nice man… if a bit stupid.” Wilson sighed. “Men and their cars, hey Claudia? If it wasn’t for Helmut’s car, I don’t think their friendship would have blossomed.” Another muffled laugh. Wilson looked at the man beside him with fond eyes.
Claudia turned up the volume.
“I suppose you want to know what this is all about, dearest Claudia? God knows, you don’t deserve any explanations, you sneaky, lying cow. But I can’t wait to tell you what I’ve done and how clever I’ve been so I can relive the fun all over again!” Wilson frowned into the camera. “I really tried with you, Claudia. You’re not my type but you were perfect in every other way: beautiful, elegant, cultured, from the right pedigree—even though your old man gambled away all the family money. I was prepared to overlook that. All you had to do was stay faithful and not embarrass me. It might have been the perfect partnership. So how do you think I felt when I found out you were screwing a green-grocer for God’s sake? How could you? What sort of woman are you that you could do that to me? You’re a dirty, greedy, ungrateful bitch, that’s what you are!” Wilson spat a mouthful of wine at the camera. Claudia drew back, shocked.
The screen went black for a second. Then Wilson reappeared holding the bottle of wine in his hand. He read from the label. “1990 Château Cheval Blanc St. Émilion… With an intoxicating perfume of fresh truffles, tobacco and ripe plums, this wine grabs your attention. Full bodied with exotic, decadent textures, the wine finishes with a sensuous, kinky black cherry and kirsch component. As good as it is, this will only get better—” He broke off and giggled until tears formed in the corners of his eyes. “Did it get better for you, Claudia my pet? Did you enjoy the wine we left for you? No, better question: did Dominic enjoy the wine?” Wilson turned to the blonde man who lay on his back smoking a cigarette, one hand behind his head. “What did you put into the wine again, Helmut?”
Claudia couldn’t make out the man’s reply but Wilson nodded slowly. “I thought so. During one of their heart-to-hearts, Helmut found out that his dear, new, best friend Dominic was taking digoxin following his heart operation. It kept him alive. Were you aware of that Claudia, dear? Probably not. Science never was your strong point, was it? Anyway, too much digoxin has the opposite effect, apparently. It causes Ven-tric-u-lar tach-y-cardia—did I say that right Helmut darling? He’s a doctor—very smart,” Wilson simpered to the camera, nodding and tapping his temple. “So Ventric—” He waved his hand. “Oh, whatever it’s called, means you suffer from irregular heartbeat which, in a person with a history of heart disease, can lead to a fatal heart attack… especially if they’re engaging in vigorous… er… activities.”
Wilson smiled, revealing his pointed eye teeth. “Do you see how clever I’ve been? I knew all along about you and Dominic! I arranged for Helmut to meet him and offer his apartment as your love-nest.” He yawned. “I’m tired and we’ve come to the end of my little home movie Claudia darling. I hope you enjoyed it. When you watch it, the house will be empty and all the bank accounts cleared and the credit cards stopped. Oh, and I meant to tell you: I’ve already sold the house… about a month ago. The new owners are due to move in tomorrow. Lock the door when you leave, there’s a pet.” Wilson blew a kiss at the camera then the screen went black.
END OF PART 3