They sat for a moment in silence. Then David spoke.
“Perhaps I should go, Mrs Drake.”
“No, please. Call me Olivia.”
“Yes, David. I like that name. I always think of David and Goliath.”
“He treated you abominably,” David said jerkily.
She gave a short laugh.
“Oh, he can be much worse, believe me.”
“Why did you . . . I’m sorry. It’s none of my business.”
“Marry him? To be honest, for his money. Does that shock you? For security. For what he could provide for me and, more importantly, for my parents. They are dead now. And, believe it or not, ten years ago he was an energetic, dynamic man who became a bully with an inferiority complex. Then, of course, I couldn’t provide him with an heir for his kingdom. So there you are.” She shrugged and gave a sad little smile.
He stood up, walked around the table and took her hand, the hand that Andrew Drake had grabbed at. He held it very gently.
“Will he bother you again tonight?”
She squeezed his hand and smiled up at him.
“Oh, no. Every evening he goes to his study. Mrs Norris takes him a decanter of whisky. In another hour he’ll be slumped in his chair, dead to the world. At eleven o’clock I’ll shake him awake when I go to bed. I used to lock my bedroom door. I don’t need to now.”
“Olivia, I’m so very sorry.”
She stood up and released her hand.
“I’d better let you go. But I’m so glad you came tonight.” She walked him to the hall where he put on his coat, and stood at the front door with him. She was very close.
Olivia was fragrant, fragile and vulnerable and her sad, dark eyes were looking into his. Then she was in David’s arms and he was kissing those soft red lips.
She pulled gently away from him.
“Goodnight,” she said. She raised her hand and touched his face. “I’m so in need of a David,” she said.
As he drove down Break Neck Hill, his heart pounding and his mind racing, he thought of what she had said.
David slew Goliath, didn’t he?
* * * *
And so the affair began. They had to be careful. It was a small town and she, at least, was well known. The secrecy, the danger of being caught out, added to the excitement and made each snatched moment vibrant, pulsating, precious.
Sometimes they met in other small towns further down the coast. David had a stone cottage that was secluded and near to the beach. On Saturdays, Olivia dropped Andrew off at the golf club. He would be safely occupied there playing, eating and drinking with his cronies till late in the evening when a pal or a taxi would bring him back to Holly Mount very much the worse for wear.
But those Saturdays were bliss for David. He could walk hand in hand with Olivia along the beach in all weathers or just stand and watch the sea churning and smashing on the rocks, the crashing waves as fierce as his passion for her.
The cottage was basic. The cooking and lighting were provided by Calor gas. They cooked simple meals and sat on a rug in front of a fire of logs or sea coal.
As they sat looking into the flames, Olivia half lying in David’s arms, he said, “Leave him, Olivia. Leave him and come to me. Ask him for a divorce.”
“I have. Many times. He just laughs. I belong to him, he says. Bought and paid for, and he has no intention of giving me away. And you, as a lawyer, David, tell me, could I divorce him? Do I have grounds?”
“Another woman?” he suggested.
“No. Never a hint.”
“Well, there’s cruelty, physical or mental, but that isn’t easy to prove.”
“I know, darling. I’ve been through it all.”
He looked into her eyes.
“Just leave him. Come and live with me.”
She shook her head.
“And what kind of life would we have? We couldn’t live here or anywhere near here. He’d make sure you got no meaningful business.”
“We could have a decent life,” he insisted.
Olivia sat up.
“No, David. He owes me for what he’s put me through. Why should we live hand to mouth? You know, sometimes I think I could kill him. One night when he’s in a drunken stupor I could . . .”
“Stop! Stop!” David pulled her to him. She was crying, sobbing, her body convulsed against his. He put her hand to her throat. “Olivia, your neck was made for pearls, diamonds not for a rope, my love.”
“Oh, David, what shall we do?” He could feel her tears hot against his cheek.
He was staring into the fire.
“I’ll kill him.”
She pulled away from him and stared at him.
“What?” she whispered.
They both sat looking at each other, the firelight flickering across their faces. A sudden patter of rain splashed against the window and a rush of wind moaned in the chimney
Olivia leaned closer to David, her voice a husky whisper.
David’s mouth was dry.
“I know a way.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. He went on, his voice as low as hers.
“I’m good with cars. I was a mechanical engineer. I’ll tamper with the brakes of his Bentley. When Andrew sets off down Break Neck Hill he’ll never make the bend. It will be over in seconds.”
Olivia was shaking her head.
“He doesn’t drive. I drive him to the golf club or various places or he takes a taxi to wherever he wants to go.”
David threw back his head and gave a sigh of exasperation.
“It would have been simple. An accident. I was sure I’d thought of a way.”
She touched his cheek gently.
“I have, David. I have.”