I know that I had approached the meeting with Angela's lawyer thinking that the whole idea of doing business with a guy who was fucking my girlfriend would be a bit weird ... but it turned out to be even more weird than I was expecting.
I had formed a mental image of what Richard Gravin would be from some of the things that Angela told me and the guy in that image was definitely not the guy who sat behind the desk. I was expecting a man with some gravitas, a head of white hair, a deep suntan from years spent on the golf course, maybe a little overweight but a presence that could sweep Angela off her feet.
What I got was a fussy, balding little man who wore thick glasses, had lily-white skin, a definite paunch and a meek manner that had me thinking that he would run away screaming if I even spoke to him. Angela introduced him and then sat back with a faint smile on her lips as she saw me struggling to come to terms with the little man behind the desk.
I explained what I wanted to do and he listened to me without saying a word. I handed him the documents that the Old Man and sent and Richard perused each one of them carefully ... twice ... before placing them in a neat pile to his right.
When he had finished reading them he picked up his phone and dialled a number, "Hello Nigel, I've just been reading some interesting documents"
'Damn,' I thought, 'he's talking to Nigel Blackall ... The Old Man!'
"Don't look so surprised Mr Barrington," Richard said when he ended the call, "Nigel and I go back many years and I'm impressed, he speaks very highly of you ... which is very reassuring considering our other involvement."
I looked across at Angela and I'm sure both she and the little man behind the desk thought my thoughts were focused on that 'other involvement' but what I was actually thinking about was Angela's part in recommending that I come to see Richard and where that line of thought might take me.
"I'll take the necessary steps to register your company Mr. Barrington. Your registered office for business purposes will be here, there's nothing unusual about that, and I suggest that you actually attend the physical office that Nigel has set up for you from time to time.
"I know that these days everyone sees their mobile phone as their office, but you never know when you might need people to believe that you do have a physical address. Is there anything that you want to do in your company's name in the next few days?"
"I was hoping to purchase a car and register it in the company name sometime next week but I can't think of anything I really need apart from that."
"Hmmm," the little man frowned, "I think that you will find that Nigel has taken care of that and a vehicle should be delivered to you in the next day or so. He'll also have a laptop provisioned for you with all the software you will need along with a mobile phone that will come with some extra features.
"He has also asked me to give you these," he took a small pack of what looked like business cards out of his desk draw and slid them across to me. I glanced at them and they were what I expected, a small phone number in the top right-hand corner and a large four-digit number printed on it.
"Nigel also asked me to tell you that you're back in the system."
"Forgive me for being rude but, how many of these companies have you set up for Nigel?" I could have couched my question differently and just asked him straight out how long he had worked with Nigel but I chose a slightly less confrontational approach and got the answer I really wanted.
He peered at me over his glasses, "I'm not at liberty to say Mr Barrington but you can be assured that Nigel and his department deal with me because I understand their needs and I am most discreet."
So, Angela recommended that I see her lawyer who just happened to be a very good friend of The Old Man and they went back a long way ... where was that all going and why were they playing silly games with me? Why had the Old Man chosen to set up a company in my name instead of having it set up in a fake name?
"Ahh ... are still with us Mr. Barrington?" I smiled and mentally shelved my thoughts about Angela and the others.
"Sorry Mr Gravin, I was just thinking about the business."
"Hmm, I'll be in touch with you by Wednesday to let you know when you can officially start operating as a business. But now I would like to talk about another matter with you.
"I believe that you and Angela will be having dinner with my wife and me on Sunday night and Pip wondered if you had the time to spare to have lunch with her tomorrow. I am sure that you will understand that she would like to meet you before Sunday, just to get to know you."
The man was basically discussing the possibility of me fucking his wife and yet his tone, his demeanour, didn't change. It was as if fucking his wife was an extension of setting up my company.
I looked across at Angela and she smiled and gave a slight nod. "I would be delighted to have lunch with Mrs Gravin. I don't have her phone number so perhaps she can text me the time and location?"
It all sounded so polite and civilised and ... totally weird to me. I was going to have lunch with this guy's wife and end up having sex with her and it was all going to be done in the most civilised manner ... but then why not?
While it might involve sex and passion it really did come down to a basic business transaction. Angela and I had a product that was for sale; the Gravins wanted to buy the product and when the purchase was made it was a win / win for both the producers and the consumers. All so very neat and tidy ... just like the man behind the desk.
With all business concluded we stood up to leave, I shook hands with Richard and once my back was turned, Angela kissed him. I heard her murmur, "One day you really must have me on your desk ... it is so crying out to be used for our pleasure." I didn't hear Richard's reply but Angela's wicked little laugh suggested that he might be going to take her up on that suggestion quite soon.
"What was that all about, 'being in the system' and those cards he gave you?" she asked as we walked back to the elevators.
I just smiled and she frowned, "You're not going to tell me, are you?"
"Those things just mean that we now have some protection if we need it. If I had been back in the system when those guys were trying to kill we wouldn't have had to run anywhere, I would have just made a call and help would have arrived."
There were other people waiting for the elevator when we got to it and they stayed in the elevator all the way to the ground floor, which was very convenient because it gave me time to think and marshal some of the thoughts about Angela's involvement with The Old Man that were whirling around in my head.
There was no doubt in my mind that she was involved in some way with The Old Man but how deep was that involvement?
She would make the perfect information source for him. She would be much sort after as an escort and companion by the upper levels of many embassy staff and she would hear a lot of pillow talk that she could pass on to the Old Man. But had she been tasked with targeting me, for whatever reason, or was it a coincidence that The Old Man then began taking advantage of?
A nasty little thought popped into my head just then ... Angela would have clients in politics and business and she could give The Old Man a window into those worlds as well. What might he use that information for? I pushed it away ... I definitely did not want to go there.
If it wasn't a coincidence that Angela and I met how could she have been tasked with becoming my girlfriend? Surely that would have meant that the people who introduced me to her were part of The Old Man's network too ... but that seemed very unlikely but there was little doubt in my mind that The Old Man was now using Angela to guide me in the direction The Old Man wanted me to go.
And if she was doing her job she would be passing information about me back to The Old Man.
So what should I do now? Should I walk away? Should I continue on with her as if nothing had happened and not give her any hint that I knew what she was doing? Should I go on with this unusual request to front a company that was really just an extension of The Old Man's fiefdom?
"Are you OK?" Angela was looking up at me and frowning slightly and all I could do was smile at her and tell her how beautiful she looked. This was not going to be easy.
Chapter 12 - Will we fall apart?
Once we were in her SUV I started the engine and got the aircon running and then turned in my seat to face her.
"When were you going to tell me that you're spying on me for Nigel Blackall?" I asked calmly.
She looked at me for a moment and then her head dropped. "I don't know," she whispered.
"Why are you spying on me?" I reached across and put two fingers under her chin and lifted her face up till she was looking me in the eye ... except she couldn't look me in the eye and her gaze kept going off to my right.
"The Old Man asked me to."
"That's it? The Old Man asked you to?"
"Yes, that's it. Sure, he gave me some reasons but it all boils down to the fact that I did it because he asked me to ... anything else would be an excuse."
I turned away to look out the windscreen, I really didn't know what to do. I didn't want to go on questioning her because every question seemed like one more step in dismantling our relationship ... a relationship that had become so important to me.
"What are you going to do?" it was almost a whisper.
"I don't know," I said as I slipped my seatbelt on and pulled out into the traffic. I took a deep breath to try and settle the anger that was building in me because I knew that anger would do nothing to resolve this situation.
"Please tell me what he said that that made you want to spy on me?"
At first I thought that she was going to continue to refuse to answer but then she sighed, "He told me that you were a loose cannon ... that you had been under a lot of stress for years and that he needed someone he could trust to keep an eye on you and report to him because he wanted to keep you safe.
"I've been listening to pillow talk for him for the last five years so doing this extra task just seemed like the right thing to do. I knew that you wouldn't want me to be doing that but if it was going to help keep you safe then I thought that it was something I could do that would help you."
I glanced across at her and saw tears streaming down her cheeks even though she hadn't made any sort of sound to indicate that she was crying.
"So, what are you going to do?" I asked her.
She shrugged, "Go to work tonight and be the perfect courtesan. Come home in the morning and hope to find that you're still here ... still part of my life. Leave you to make the decision on what happens to us because I know what I want for us but the 'us' depends on what you want."
She turned and looked out her window and I let the conversation die.
Dee was home when we got there but she took one look at our faces and didn't say a word. I grabbed my laptop, found recliner and a shady spot by the pool and left the girls to get ready.
The first thing I needed to do was put an end to something. I dialled The Old Man's direct number and as soon as he answered I took control.
"So you set someone who is very important to me to spy on me ... and your little lawyer mate gave the game away so don't try to deny it you bastard. I'm done with you ... and you can tell your little mate to tear up all those documents because it's not happening. And while you're at it ...oh fuck just piss off!"
I wanted to say more but I was so angry I didn't have the words. I wanted him to tell his little mate that I knew why he wanted me to hook up with his wife and it wasn't the reason Angela gave me. He and The Old Man wanted even more access to my thoughts and what better place to get it than on a pillow in his bedroom.
I was so angry but somehow, through that short call, I had kept my voice calm, but once the call was ended I began to shake so badly that I had real trouble punching the right buttons on the keypad to block his phone number.
After three attempts I got the job done and then leaned back and closed my eyes so I could focus on stopping the shaking ... before I could do that it moved on to twitching where my whole body would jerk and then settle only to jerk again as if I was having some sort of fit.
So much for me thinking that maybe I was over my PTSD. I had almost succeeded in suppressing the twitching when I heard a noise and opened my eyes to find Dee standing beside me.
"Steve, what's the matter? Are you OK?" Dee sounded really concerned and that didn't surprise me. She might have been a health professional but I had seen enough of those who had been involved in my treatment to know that she would have trouble dealing with what she saw.
I took a couple of deep breaths, "I'm fine Dee ... it's just my dirty little secret being not so secretive. It will pass in a few minutes." Or maybe a few hours.
She knelt by my sun lounge "Are you sure? Is there some medication I can get you ...?"
"Nope," my whole body almost lifted off the sun lounge, "just some space so I can get back in control."
"OK, but what happened with you and Angela? She's lying on her bed crying ... I've never seen her like that before."
"You better ask her about that Dee." I gritted my teeth and tried to tense every muscle in my body to stop the next twitch ... but that had never worked in the past and it didn't work this time either.
"I tried but she won't say anything. Are you two splitting up?" The concern in her voice was obvious and when I looked at her I could see tears welling up in her eyes too. "Don't forget that I'm part of this too ... so whatever is going on between you two ... it will affect me too ... and we don't want to lose you."
"I know Dee," I reached out and took her hand. "I want a positive outcome too ... but it's something that goes deep and I've got some thinking to do tonight."
"Will you still be here when we get home in the morning?"
I shrugged my shoulders and that set off another spasm. "I don't know Dee ... I want to be here but I really don't know."
The attacks always left me exhausted and unable to stay awake. It seemed that my brain needed sleep ... deep sleep ... to try and heal itself after each attack ... and this time was no exception. I was asleep before she had even stood up to leave.
When I awoke the sun had set and twilight was setting in. There were lights on in the house so I knew that at least one of Angela's friends was seeing clients and I knew that Angela and Dee would have already gone so I picked up my laptop and phone and moved up to the flat.
I looked at my phone and there were two messages and a missed phone call from one of the messages, so I had a look at that one first. They were from Phillipa Gravin and the phone call was a follow-up to the message she sent me wondering why I hadn't responded to her message.
I responded with 'Tomorrow is off - ask your husband why,' and deleted her message before blocking her number.
The other message was from Dee and it contained a photo that had been taken outside the entrance to a rather impressive looking building. It didn't appear to be big enough to be a hotel, but it could have been the entrance to an embassy.
The photo showed both Dee and Angela standing together chatting to two guys who had their backs to the camera. The girls were smiling and Dee had her hand on one of the guy's arm while Angela's body language towards the other guy was open and inviting and he must have been getting the message that she was available.
Dee, who was standing slightly side-on to the camera was wearing a full-length emerald green dress with a square neckline and low back. It was tight and shaped perfectly around her boobs and ass and was split to her thigh. Even I could tell that she was wearing nothing under it.
Angela was standing more front-on to the camera and I groaned when I saw what she was wearing. It was a champagne-coloured full-length gown with a deeply plunging V-neck that showed her deep cleavage to perfection.
It was tight around her hips but then fell to below her ankles but, with a high split on each side that was open from her hip, it allowed her to tease and flirt with all the guys in the room simply by moving her feet. In the photo she was standing with her left foot slightly forward and the split on that side allowed her gown to fall away and show her shapely leg all the way up to her hip.
Two beautiful women I cared about, and I couldn't have either of them. The ache in my chest was stronger than it had ever been with my ex ... I wanted Angela and Dee but it would be the other guys who would be fucking them that night.
I kept looking at that photo for quite a while and when I finally put my phone down, I knew what I had to do.