“Are you angry with me?” Michelle asked, an alcohol induced slur clearly evident in her voice. “No!” I retorted. My hand was firmly on her elbow as I guided her back to our suite. “Yeth, you are.” Her drunken laughter echoed off the walls of the short hall that lead to the inner door. “Your jealous and pissed off that I fucked Marcus! And what was with all that ‘Old Boy’ nonsense?” “I just thought it added a kind of James Bond slant. An unusual situation called for an unusual approach. You no like?” She shrugged and sagged at the knees. “I still think your jealous.” I gently assisted her regain a more upright stance before I continued. “Michelle,” I spat, as I looked firmly into her liquid eyes. “I don’t give a flying fig about who you fuck. In fact, the sex is irrelevant; you said as much yourself. However, I am uncomfortable at being made your unwitting accomplice. The conniving is…is…” I lost my train of thought as she slowly slid down the wall to the floor. “Too much of a good thing,” I said to the walls as I hooked my arm around her waist and shuffled us through the door. “Where are you taking me?” she asked as she briefly roused from her stupor. “You, my dear, need to get to bed.” “Ohhh,” she giggled and fell onto the edge of the bed, bounced and gracefully slid to the floor again. I managed to get her undressed and piled her under the sheets. I looked at her, unsure if my feelings for her now were the same as when we had first arrived. Her determination to cause the downfall of Marcus’s brother (and Marcus, if the truth be known) was alien to me; to my way of thinking. Michelle was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it, that I understood. Just how far she would go was now quite evident and it was something that greatly disturbed me. I made myself a cup of tea knowing full well I had consumed my fair share of alcohol for the day as well. The lights were off, Michelle was soundly asleep and I sat and pondered as I looked out the window across the tranquil Quay. I fleetingly contemplated leaving then and there but that would have been a less than gallant and an ungentlemanly thing to do. “Maybe we just need to cool things a little, Michelle and I?” I asked the night. It did not reply. I woke about seven in the morning. The brilliant morning sun streamed in across the tops of the Opera House. The Quay was already busy with the morning ferry services shuttling back and forth, disgorging their passengers upon the wharves en-route to their work places. Michelle still slept soundly, so I took the opportunity to have a shower and freshen up. When I re-emerged Michelle was still in bed but her red, bleary eyes peeked out from under a pillow. We briefly discussed the events of the previous night and I reiterated my misgivings. She was very apologetic for getting me involved but insisted her actions were purely opportunistic and that she had no idea Marcus’s brother was still employed at the hotel. All I could do was accept her apology and her reasoning but the taint of my involvement in a borderline blackmail situation was palpable. We dressed, breakfasted like royalty, and made our way homeward. The journey only took twenty minutes but Michelle slept most of the way. Her hangover was quite heavy and all she wanted to do, once inside her door, was to head straight to bed and sleep it off. She kissed me fondly before we said farewell but I knew, instinctively, that our relationship had suffered a bit of a rift overnight. I was unsure how I felt about that as I walked to my letter box before heading inside to get changed out of my day old clothes. “Where have you been?” Daph’s voice jolted me out of my daydream world. “Oh! Hi… Daph.” I stammered and nearly walked into the garden bed. “Sorry, I was miles away and didn’t see you.” “Are you okay?” she reacted. Concerned at my stumble, she reached out her hand to help me regain my balance. As our fingers entwined a spark seemed to ignite anew between us. “Yes…yes! Fine…thank you.” I felt embarrassed at my clumsiness but welcomed the touch of her hand.I quickly tried to re-compose myself and took the opportunity to dive in and give her a welcoming kiss. As I tilted my head closer to hers she started to move as if to receive my lips upon her cheek, in the manner of the usual greeting one gives to a friend. However, I changed tact and made for her mouth. She responded immediately and repositioned her lips to contact mine. As our lips met I surreptitiously moved my hand and grazed my right thumb along the full curve of her left breast. It was only a quick gesture but significant nonetheless. “That will get the neighbourhood talking,” she tittered. “Let them!” I replied with a defiant laugh. “We could go at it full bore and really give them something to gawk at?” “Let’s not but just say we did.” She laughed again and her breasts giggled delightfully under her clothes. Sheepishly, we stepped respectfully apart but I was more than happy to reconnect, albeit briefly, with my mature aged neighbour from across the road. “What can I do you for, this bright sunny morning?” I asked in a jovial manner, now properly focused. All thought of the previous night had been, thankfully, pushed aside. “It’s not what you can do for me,” she said and smiled brightly, “it’s more what I can do for you.” “Ohhh! Really!” I said with a sly smirk. “That sounds like an invitation too good to refuse.” I looked her over lasciviously, from head to foot. “Particularly after what transpired the last time we…” “You’re being naughty, Ray,” she chided me, quickly cutting me off from further comment. She playfully added a gentle tap upon my arm. “Now stop it.” “Sorry, I could not resist.” “Apology accepted. Naughty man.” However, a slight flush had risen in her cheeks. “I was wondering if you might be free in an hour or so?” “I’m not free! I’m expensive.” “Oh, for goodness sake,” she said in an exasperated tone, yet her broad smile told me she was enjoying the banter. She quickly returned to what she wanted to say. “Actually, my visit does relate to ‘part’ of your last visit.” “Go on!” I encouraged, smiling like a Chester Cat. “My niece, well my goddaughter actually but she is more to me than that, as you might be aware.” “You mentioned her last time, yes. You raised her after her mum has killed in a car accident when she was ten. But you called her your niece?” “Long story short, she is not a blood relative. However, I view her as close being so integral in her upbringing. Her mum and I went to school together and were firm friends until…well, the accident. I call her my niece escort beylikdüzü because her mum and I were like sisters.” “I’m sorry.” I whispered and gently caressed her arm. “It happens,” she shrugged and reflected momentarily before continuing. “Anyway, she’ll be around soon. I told her about your aunt and the WRAAF and Bob’s medals. She would like to see them?” “Sure.” My excitement about possibly finding out more on that front was too much to suppress. “What’s the time now?” “A bit before ten. My niece is due soon but when I saw you I wondered if you had a moment…” She trailed off not knowing what else to add. “I just need to do a few things here but I can be over in, say, an hour?” “Perfect. See you then.” Our lips met with the lightest of goodbye kisses but the eyes said it all. It was just on eleven as I ascended the steps to Daph’s front door. The garden was as tidy as ever and the scattered pots on the veranda were awash with blooms. Last time I stood in that very position it was cold, windy and threatening to pour with rain despite it being only early Autumn. To ward-off the cold back then, I had worn a white Kashmir jumper under a dark brown bomber style jacket. A look that had prompted Daph to comment about my resemblance to a WWII pilot which ultimately lead to the discovery of our respective WRAAF connections. Despite it being closer to winter now the days had returned to warm and sunny. However, I still wore a snug baby blue jumper over a T-shirt with jeans, to keep the chill that prevailed in the shadows at bay. I rang the door bell and expectantly waited. “Come in.” Daph beamed as she opened the door. “My niece went up the road to get some more milk for me. She’ll be back in a jiffy. Tea?” “Definitely.” I placed Rene’s (my aunt) old suitcase next to the lounge in her front lounge room. The same room where our first sexual encounter had transpired. Those memories were still fresh and vivid in my mind. “I wonder if Daph reflects on them as she wanders about her home?” I quietly pondered. I followed her into her kitchen as she busied herself making the tea. We chattered about various nondescript topics when there came a noise from the front door. “That will be my…,” Daph stopped herself mid-sentence. “I mean my goddaughter.” She rushed past me to aid the woman entering. They exchanged greetings and a few hushed words; I assumed my arrival was the bulk of the discourse. They started toward the kitchen and the younger woman looked up and smiled. As the silhouette materialised into a complete, statuesque form, my jaw all but hit the floor. “Well, well, well. Look who the cat dragged in?” Her goddaughter uttered. “Ray, this is Clare. Clare, this is my neighbour from across the road, Ray.” “We’ve, um, met.” Clare said with a hint of suggestiveness that was not lost on Daph. “Oh, have you now?” Daph asked. A look of supreme interest on her face. Clare and I kissed each other on alternate cheeks and then she went on to explain to her Daph about the music tour and my part in it, to date. “And how did you two meet, may I ask?” Daph’s curiosity had increased with every passing moment. “Through Michelle,” Clare explained. “Michelle!” Daph exclaimed. “Ray’s next door neighbour?” “Yes, that Michelle,” I responded flatly. Clare looked at me closely at my response. “Well!” Daph exhaled, surprised. “That explains a lot.” “Excuse me?” I asked, incredulity rose in me like a fast running tide. “You and Michelle,” Daph went on. “Oh, Ray, don’t look so shocked. I might be old but these eyes see a lot. I’m not a busy-body mind but I know you two have been…, well, having a fling…” “A fling?” I retorted sternly. “Calm down Ray.” Clare cut in. “Denial is futile. Just let the lady finish. Besides, you’re amongst friends.” “With friends like you two, who needs enemies?” I replied, “Not that I’m getting all defensive or admitting to anything.” “Let’s take our teas into the lounge room and discuss this like adults.” Daph insisted. We did as she suggested. I felt like my world had started to close in on me, fast. “Ray,” Clare addressed me as she sat next to Daph on the lounge opposite the arm chair I had selected. “You and I have become, um, ‘close’ over the short time we have know each other…” “Real close!” Daph added. I looked at them both, stunned. “Clare tells me everything and I do the same with her. We have a ‘close’ bond Clare and I, as you might have guessed?” I nodded but added that I did not have any idea of names and faces, as it were. I did know, from my previous time with Daph, that she had raised her Clare from the age of ten after Clare’s parents were killed in car accident. “Quite,” Clare resumed. “That’s why I love this woman so much.” Clare put her arm around Daph’s waist and kissed her warmly on the cheek. “Is this a mutual admiration club meeting or something?” I joked tentatively. “Relax Ray.” Clare said dismissively. “We are not hear to judge or criticise. Nor are we going to broadcast your dalliances to anyone. On that score you have our iron clad guarantee.” “Some comfort I suppose, although it better be more solid than Tony Abbott’s.” “As I was saying,” Daph interjected, ignoring my political satire. “My eyes are still good and I have a prime view into your front yard as I told you previously. I enjoy watching him shirtless as he mows the lawn,” she said to Clare. “But more to the point, I have seen you two together and it didn’t take much to connect the dots. I also know you have screwed Clare but it was not until you two met that I knew for certain it was you and not some other Ray.” “And I know you have fucked my dear, lovable aunt,” Clare jumped in as she placed her hand on Daph’s thigh. “Right here in her lounge room and again in her shower. Your prowess impressed her. You made her feel extremely good about herself again, after a long period of feeling left on the shelf. You should be proud of yourself. I mean it. Some might call your actions opportunistic but I think they’re better categorised as neighbourly love. You not only make love to us pour love-starved females but you satisfy our desires, sexual and otherwise. As well as your own of course.” “Just doing my bit in the community.” I offered weakly. “You two certainly don’t withhold information from each other.” “Every detail.” They responded in chorus and then giggled at their spontaneous response. After Michelle’s carry on the previous night, I was starting to wonder what sordid sequence of events had I got myself involved with since the beginning of the year? Clare continued, “Ray, escort akbatı we are not going to keel-haul you or anything. Just be up front. Like I have said to you from the first time we met. We admire your ‘community involvement’ and want it to continue to go from strength to strength.” “Okay and thank you.” I said, looking at the floor. I was not sure whether to feel happy, sad, overjoyed or threatened. All of the above seemed like a balanced alternative. “Look, including Michelle, Daph and I, and there’s probably others, which is irrelevant anyway, we have had the pleasure…no, privilege of having you and your cock in many of our orifices. I assume you feel the same?” “Absolutely!” I spurted in eager agreement. “Excellent, so there is no reason for us to be perturbed with one another. Time to change the subject.” She cleared her throat and continued. “I understand you have something you wish to show me?” Clare laughed at her little joke, as did Daph. I smiled, bewildered by this sudden turn of events. With a small shake of my head I tried to clear my thoughts. “I’ll just whip it out!” I said suggestively as I looked at the two women opposite. “If you insist,” Clare replied. “Although it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before.” “Each time is different,” suggested Daph. We all chuckled. “Okay, to the WWII stuff.” I pulled the suitcase onto the coffee table between us and retrieved the photographs from Daph’s mantlepiece. “See that person on the end, on the right?” They both looked toward the photos. “That’s my mother,” Daph said as she pointed to the person standing central in the group of nine women in overalls. “And that’s my mother, there on the far left!” exclaimed Clare, a slight tear in her eye. “That is my aunt, Renee.” I said, pointing to the last woman on the right. “She passed away about six years ago. She was 93.” “Isn’t it a small world?” Daph said to Clare who nodded and continued to survey the picture. “I didn’t realise our mothers where stationed together? Well, to clarify, we knew, by way of this photograph, but over what sort of time frame we had no idea. We are/were light on, like you Ray, for details.” She looked up at me as the tear trailed down her pale cheek. “Thank you, Ray. I mean it.” She reached out and clutched my hand firmly. “I haven’t done anything yet.” I shrugged. Uncertain what to do next I directed them to look closely at the second photo. “See this man in the middle? Do you know who he is?” “Yes, my mum talked about him a lot. His name was Robert; Bob as he called himself.” “Bob and Renee never married but ever since I can remember she always carried a torch for him, if you know what I mean?” I explained. “My mum spoke fondly of him and always said he had a secret admirer but no one ever knew who.” Daph told Clare. It was like being involved in an instant replay of the first time Daph and I discovered the hidden connection as Clare, Daph and myself poured over the photos. I continued to dig into the suit case of Renee’s papers and pulled out the large envelop that contained the medals. There were two sets, each in their own smaller envelop. The first envelop bore Renee’s name, written in her hand, and inside there were six medals on a long pin with a note detailing what each medal was for. I handed them to the ladies. The second envelop bore Bob’s name, also penned by my aunt. “These are the medals Daph mentioned.” I handed them to Clare as Daph continued the commentary. “Mum mentioned that Bob went over to England in about 1943, to take up a Non-Commissioned Officer’s (NCO’s) position with a bomber squadron. I think he went over as a navigator.” “There are eight descriptions here but only seven medals. The missing medal was a Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM). I had no idea about his service overseas until Daph mentioned it.” I informed Clare. “If my limited recent research is correct, I think it was 460 Squadron that operated out of Binbrook in Lincolnshire. But that is all I know.” “This is amazing.” Clare said and reclined into the lounge. “I wonder what became of the missing medal. Surely there is someway of tracing the citation down?” “I held off doing anything until you saw it.” I commented to Clare. “Daph was rather insistent that you see the medals.” Daph smiled and hugged her goddaughter. “She gets emotional when looking back on this sort of thing. She did not, does not, know much about her mum’s service involvement either. Like a lot of people who served, she did not speak about it after they returned.” “I do know she was stationed in Wagga and the photograph confirms that. But after Wagga there is a black hole. I have not been able to get a trace on her military movements from about 1943 onwards.” Clare told us quietly, her usual ‘bold as brass’ confidence had slipped away to reveal her softer side. I felt for her but did not know how to give her comfort without looking and/or feeling foolish. Daph continued the discussion. “We have to get Bob’s citation, that’s for sure. That document should give us a good starting point to track down his medal, if it still exists. As for your mum’s record Clare, um, do you have anyone she knew at that time who can answer any questions? It seems ironic that 1943 seems to be a common date for both your mum and Bob to have significant changes in their service history.” “Yes, there is Olga. She lives in Salzburg, she and mum go back a long time.” “How did your mum and Olga meet?” I asked hesitantly. “They met here while mum was in the WRAAF. Well, I think Olga was a WRAAF.” “Where were they stationed when they met?” “You know, that’s a very good question, Ray?” Clare uttered. She gazed out through the venetian blinds. “Their relationship is something I just took for granted, much like your aunt and Bob’s. I know zip about it and little about Olga, to tell you the truth. I know about her superficially, you know, number of children, where she lives now, married to an Italian, things like that but nothing earlier. Maybe I should start to investigate? I must confess, taking the music tour to Salzburg was partially an excuse for me to catch up with Olga but now I have an even more significant reason.” “Maybe you should call her first? She may not want to talk about it.” I suggested. “Maybe this is something we could all do together?” “Many hands makes light work.” Daph commented. “Tea or coffee anyone? I think we need a break.” Clare sighed and sank back into the lounge. She looked at me with her teary eyes. “Looks like we might all be working ‘closer’ than we would have thought an escort beylikdüzü hour ago?” “The closer the better,” I offered and smiled. The intent behind my words was not lost on Clare. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to duck home for a moment. I want to get my laptop so I (we) can start to formulate an action plan. Its best if I do it on my computer as it is the same one I would be taking on tour so I can update it whilst we’re away. Back in a few minutes.” Just as I entered the my front door my mobile went. It was Michelle. My heart sank. In reality, she was the last person I wanted to speak to at that point. “Hello? Ray?” she said tentatively. “I hope I haven’t got you at a bad time?” “No, um,… no.” I replied, trying to hide my displeasure. “I was just getting some things together for Clare.” I knew that would probably rile but I didn’t care. “Oh? Things for Clare? Is it related to the music tour? Can I help?” “Yes, it is for Clare and no, your help is not required at present, no offence. We’re just discussing some things…” “Did she call you?” “Yes,” I lied. “She had some queries and I’m looking for the information from the last tour that might supply an answer or two?” “Like what?” “Why all the questions?” I asked, a little too sharply. “Sorry,” she sounded like she was going to back off a little. “I…well, I’m sorry about last night and…” “Michelle, I really don’t want to talk about that right now. In fact, I have said all I want to say about it. Can’t we just let it go at that?” “I suppose,” she replied. Her despondent tone was not going to dissuade me from my other considerations. “We are good, you and I?” “Yes, we are fine.” I took a deep breath to try and clear my head. “Michelle, I really don’t want to discuss any of this right now, okay? Sorry!” “Okay. If that’s the way you want it!” The sudden anger in her voice was astonishing. She reminded me of my wife and her sudden mood swings at the drop of a hat. “It is.” I replied firmly. “The tour is rapidly approaching and Clare is in need of my help, that’s all.” “I bet you’ll give her extra special help?” “Now who’s getting jealous?” “It just seems…” “Michelle, you are being irrational and unreasonable. You fucked Marcus and I filmed it, at your request and, apart from the scheming, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I have fucked Clare and Daph, and you categorically said that that didn’t bother you. You asked me to get involved with the music tour and, somehow, that now bothers you.” “I’m sorry, Ray. I just felt bad about last night particularly in light of the previous couple of days and how magical they were, just you and me.” “It was absolutely wonderful. But now reality is back in town and Clare has asked for my assistance and I think I have the wherewithal to provide some answers, so that is where everything is at right now.” “Okay.” Her voice sounded flat. “I was going to ask you to come around.” “Even if I didn’t have this Clare thing to attend to, I couldn’t, sorry. I have some work to do and all normal household routines will be resumed come 4pm, so time is not my friend right now.” “I know,” she admitted grudgingly, “your right! I guess I just wanted to keep…” “I’m sorry Michelle…” I cut in and then stopped what I was about to say. “Look, I have to go. See you around. Okay?” “I love you, Ray,” she added. “Same here!” All I wanted was to get off the phone and avoid further discussion. Her disappoint had made itself evident but I could not help what had transpired the night before nor my reaction to it. If the fallout was that a little distance came between us then so be it. After a few deep breaths I tried to refocus. Within moments I was back on Daph’s doorstep. I was about to knock when I heard a feint moan from inside. “Oh, god Clare, I want to as well but he’ll be back soon,” Daph said. “But I don’t know if I can wait that long.” “I know how you feel, my love,” was Clare’s reply. The sounds that followed were muffled and indistinct, but if asked to identify them, I would have plugged for the sound of passionate kissing. Curiosity might have brought the cat to grief but I had to investigate. I peered through a thin slit in the venetian blinds. The sun was behind me which made clear sight into Daph’s lounge room almost impossible but I was able to discern two pairs of legs very close together and somewhat intertwined. “So they do have a closer than a usual relationship?” I whispered to myself. My jeans suddenly started to feel tighter with that thought. I approached the flyscreen door again but hesitated to knock as the hushed voices started again. “…tied? As in bound up?” Daph asked. “Why not!” replied Clare with a sudden burst of excitement. “I’m sure he won’t object. Besides, it would satisfy our ‘special’ fantasy and then we can take of any other needs that may have ‘arisen’ in the meantime!” “I love the way your wicked mind works, my dear.” More muffled sounds of wet, passionate kissing followed. I swallowed nervously and knocked. “Come in Ray,” Clare called without getting up. “We knew you were there, by the way. We saw your shadow cross the blinds.” I entered and found them wrapped in each others arms. “Clare needed consoling,” Daph explained as she disentangled herself from the younger woman’s limbs. “I think she feels better now, though.” “Yes, I do! Thank you, my dear,” replied Clare. “Although, we can’t help but wonder what you heard as you stood at the door before you knocked?” I stood before them unable to put two words together. My mouth simply opened and closed and nothing came out. Daph looked a little abashed but Clare was her usual confident self. She stood and approached me. There was a definite swagger in the way she walked reminiscent of our first meeting in her office. “Daph asked if you knew of our special bond, well, now you know just how ‘special’ it is.” Clare gently took the laptop from my hand and placed it on the coffee table. “I’m not sure I follow.” I lied. “Don’t be coy, Ray. You were standing out there for quite a while. Tell us what you think you heard?” “Nothing I can be one hundred percent sure about.” “You can do better than that.” Clare slid her arms around the back of my neck and pressed her groin to mine. “It would seem you heard something to ‘peek’ your attention?” She ground her crotch against my hardened member. “Agh, well, it sounded like…um… kissing.” “Go on,” she pressed, in every sense of the word. “And there was something about tying.” My throat was drying out faster than the Simpson Desert. “Is that all?” “Yep.” I shrugged. Clare turned to her aunt. “My dearest Daph, how about you do as we discussed while I get our guest a bit further informed, as it were.” Daph quickly rose and, before she left the room, she kissed Clare softly on the lips. “She’s an amazing woman. Don’t you think?” Clare asked as she took me in a heated embrace.