Electric Light Orchestra ft. Olivia Newton-John

Whenever You’re Away from Me

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TESTO - Electric Light Orchestra - Whenever You’re Away from Me


TESTO - Electric Light Orchestra - Whenever You’re Away from Me

I’m pretty sure I have everything organised for the family before I walk out the door.

    Kids’ bags packed.

    Extra food prepared.

    Outdoor gear organised.

    Jordan and Elizabeth are going on their first wilderness expedition for a week with all the dads charged with helping out given the nature of outdoor activities they will be pursuing. Great idea from a mother’s perspective, but we all know in our hearts we will miss them from the first night they are away. The kids were devastated when the expedition was almost cancelled due to a lack of funding and support for the Tasmanian Wilderness Foundation. Thankfully, some last-minute sponsorship from the Fathers4Kids program enabled the expedition to take place after all. The kids are so excited. Actually when I think about it Robert, my husband, seems more awakened and engaged by this adventure than I have seen him in years. Must have something to do with men and their exploring tendencies — the mysteriousness of the confounding thylacine providing the perfect avenue — or maybe he is just happy to be away from me. Either way, he’s excited too and they haven’t been able to sleep in anticipation of the great adventure traversing the west coast of Tasmania’s wilderness in search of the elusive Tasmanian tiger.

    I’ve decided to make the most of the children’s absence from my life to complete a series of lectures I had been deferring for the last few months until the ‘time felt right’, so I’m preparing to fly to Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne to deliver my latest findings to postgraduate students, academics and other professionals in their given field of expertise.

    I now really need to focus on getting myself organised for the first lecture this afternoon in Sydney. Mentally, I go through my checklist — I have my notes, slides, discussion themes, workshop challenges, laptop and mobile phone, so all good. I am still fascinated by the research I have been conducting on visual stimulation and its impact on the development of perception and even now I find my mind wandering off and becoming lost in my work, considering a different spin on some of the provocative challenges I have developed for the lectures …

    All of a sudden, I become intensely aware of butterflies in my stomach, so much so, I have to lean against the kitchen bench to steady myself. I never usually get nervous before giving lectures, quite the opposite, as I really enjoy it. The challenge of engaging new minds, intellects sparring with one another on a quest for deeper, broader knowledge — fantastic! But where on earth are these butterflies coming from?

    I pause for a moment to investigate these feelings and attempt to locate their source, which might seem strange to some people, but it is something that has always intrigued me. They are more intense than usual, and it certainly isn’t the lecture making me feel this way. Perhaps it is the trip away from family. No, it is not as if I haven’t been away from them before, particularly for work purposes. I broaden my mindset to include the rest of the weekend when I stop suddenly — as my stomach flips again. I surprise myself as I instinctively inhale at the thought of my 5.00 p.m. meeting at the Hotel Inter
Continental with Jeremy.

    Doctor Jeremy Quinn. My uni buddy, my best friend, the man who opened my eyes and my body to the world in ways I never considered possible. He knew me inside and out when we were younger and we shared an incredible array of experiences during our time together. It is hard to believe after all of our tomfoolery during many years at university, that Jeremy is now one of the most respected, pre-eminent medical research doctors in Australasia — I can’t bring myself to say ‘the world’ because it’s Jeremy, after all. He has just returned from presenting ground-breaking research at Harvard University with Emeritus Professor E. Applegate.

    Jeremy always had a knack for pushing conventional boundaries and wisdom, continually searching for the unknown, the unexpected or unanticipated solutions to some of our most insurmountable medical problems. I even read in a newspaper article recently that he had been in meetings with none other than Melinda and Bill Gates in conjunction with his and Professor Applegate’s research in New York. It seems as if he is certainly mixing it with the global movers and shakers. I suppose, on reflection, he always had the determination and potential to achieve mastery in his chosen field. It is amazing what he has achieved in less than forty years of life. He is an exceptionally gifted human being, intellectually and emotionally, and people just adore his company. No doubt all these traits, along with his hard work, have enabled the success he is now hopefully enjoying.

    My career needs to fit in with my family life, well, the kids really; Jeremy’s career is his life, more or less. He has always been tenacious about his quest for sourcing medical cures and has been involved in discoveries that the western world almost takes for granted these days. With that sort of personal motivation and drive, it’s not surprising he hasn’t had time to settle down or find anyone special to share his life with. At least I’m not aware of anyone. He has always attracted interest from the opposite sex, like a George Clooney of the medical world; he certainly doesn’t suffer from lack of attention.

    Anyway, that’s what is making my stomach do flips, which is utterly ridiculous at my age. I allow myself a small smile as I find it mildly amusing I am still capable of that sort of fluttering teenage reaction. I am excited and a little nervous about seeing him after so long. The memories of our university days still flood my mind and haunt me whenever I’m alone and in a dark sensual mood, usually in the early hours of the morning …
    What is happening to me? I’m going to miss the plane if I don’t get moving!

    ‘Right, kids? Where are you? I need kisses and cuddles before I leave — I won’t see you for ten whole days!’ Big family hugs all round. I tell them I love them more than life itself and wish them a fabulous adventure in the wild west as they endeavour to track that elusive tiger; apparently legend has it there have been recent sightings. No doubt a camp of school kids is just what they need to be discovered again! However, the kids’ excitement and optimism filters through regardless.

    ‘And keep safe,’ I declare, promising that I can’t wait to hear every detail of their experience when I return.

    I hear the honk of a horn indicating my taxi’s arrival and do my last-minute check to ensure I have everything I need. I am thankful the butterflies have finally subsided. My lips barely touch my husband’s cheek as I tell him to take excellent care of my children and ensure he keeps them safe. A fleeting thought passes through my brain wondering when our relationship became so plastic, so platonic … I have too many things on my mind to delve further and quickly wish them all a wonderful adventure as he dutifully places my bag in the car and I wave goodbye, blowing kisses to the kids from my window as the taxi pulls out of the drive, airport bound.


    Focus, focus, focus! I keep saying to myself to little avail. My mind is in a state of complete distraction today, which is highly unusual. I hear the captain speaking, good weather, clear flight path, not expecting any delays. Flight attendants are telling me to put my seat belt on and tray up for take-off as they do every flight. It’s not like I don’t know that for goodness’ sake, I think, my irritation surprising me. But of course, I do what I’m told expeditiously as I don’t want to cause a scene. I reluctantly put my notes away and close my eyes momentarily as the plane slowly manoeuvres toward the runway. I feel my chest rising and falling lightly with each breath. Jeremy’s face flashes through my mind, his gorgeous cheeky smile and smoky green, seemingly bottomless eyes … his lips gently kissing my neck … his fingers lightly caressing my nipples … then teasing them to life …

    What am I doing? I force my mind to a screeching stop. This is absurd. I force myself back to the here and now and suddenly notice we are in the air and the seat belt sign is off. I breathe a sigh of relief. Now, back to my lecture. I talk myself into believing I am disciplined enough not to let my mind wander off for another second.

    I am good at being disciplined, I tell myself. I run an organised house, career and life overall. I love my family and my work and have studied long and hard to achieve what I have. Dr Alexandra Blake. I work between the business world and academia given my studies in both commerce and psychology. This combination has worked well for me financially and I am forever grateful that I am one of the lucky people in life who love their work and are passionate about what they do. Enough of self-talk and affirmations … I need to think about the presentation today.

    Once again, I ponder the topic of the lecture which I will be delivering to approximately 500 people in just a few hours’ time. This fact finally snaps my mind to attention. I consider using some additional questions and challenges to open discussion and promote their thinking. I like the idea so I note down the following points on my notepad to use for the end of the session.

        *    How important is visual perception to your mindset?

        *    How much do you depend on visual stimulation to               interpret your world?

        *    What senses do you believe would most compensate for a               lack of visual perception? Why? How?

Given research shows that body language — a visual sense — accounts for more than 90 per cent of communication between people, the significance of these sorts of questions becomes exponential.
    I’m feeling much calmer now that I am once again absorbed in my work. The rest of the flight goes smoothly and I arrive on time at the University of Sydney.


    ‘Dr Blake, good morning, great to have you back.’

    I look ahead and smile toward my Ph
D examiner, Samuel Webster. ‘Well, good morning to you too, Professor; it’s great to be back.’

    ‘You know you are always welcome, Alexandra. It’s been too long. It seems to be very difficult to draw you away from the south isle.’

    ‘Hmm, on reflection, it’s been a while. I guess time flies when you are having fun.’

    ‘I’m glad to hear it. You have certainly been busy on the research front. We’re looking forward to your lecture this afternoon.’

    ‘And as ever, I’m looking forward to hearing your insights and expertise. Thank you so much for your support in bringing this together.’

    ‘My pleasure, my dear, my pleasure. Do you have time for a quick lunch with some colleagues before you take centre stage?’

    ‘For you, Samuel, always.’ I smile again warmly as he leads me along the manicured lawns beside the beautiful, historic buildings. It feels good to be back.

    At lunch with Samuel, I reflect on what an honour it was to have him oversee my Ph
D. He specialises in defensive (passive and aggressive) behaviours in the workforce and was instrumental in developing my thesis. His global connections both in the corporate world and academia are second to none and his knowledge is immense. He’s recently been working hand in hand with the Brain and Mind Research Institute, which enables him to analyse many of his revolutionary hypotheses about behaviour and sexuality in the field of neuroscience. I find his work truly fascinating and being with him today allows me to see how passionate and absorbed he has become in this branch of his research.

    I find myself reflecting just how much of an impact Samuel has had on my career. The support and the sage advice when it all became too hard, made me feel obliged to hang in there for both him and the future rewards.He drives his Ph
D students hard and wants no stone left unturned. I smile internally at those years of insanity and frustration, pleased I completed them and relieved they are behind me.

    Samuel had offered me a senior lecturing position at Sydney University and was not happy when I turned it down for a similar role at the University of Tasmania. He taught me so much, I felt indebted to him, but he understood my reasons, that it was a lifestyle choice, particularly with a young family in tow. He promised he would stay in touch and support me both professionally and personally, and he has definitely been a man of his word. Samuel was instrumental in getting my research on visual perception off the ground and more recently became my chief academic sponsor, which is how I come to be presenting this lecture series today.
    I’m touched that he has taken the time to introduce me to his team of, in his words, ‘elite researchers’, who appear to be hanging on his every word. I suppose I looked the same way when I was a new postgrad. Brad, Max, Denise and Elijah, all of whom are doing fascinating work within the world of psychology and neuroscience. It makes me feel alive, interacting with kindred folk again. It certainly isn’t the type of discussion for the average dinner party. Very quickly the specifics of their research unfold and it would be remiss of me not to say I’m more than a little astounded by the path that follows. Given the calibre of people engaging in the impassioned discussion, the comments fly around the table almost too fast for me to assimilate.

    ‘Even the source of the female orgasm is still to be scientifically determined, unlike the male orgasm which has been extensively funded, researched scientifically and agreed medically.’

    ‘Basically, medical science continually refuses to acknowledge the physical reality of the female ejaculation and unfortunately it is not a priority. Lack of funding has impacted the ability to provide coherent education on the study of women’s sexual behaviours. We are hoping to change that.’

    ‘Even today, there is a notable disconnect between medicine and science in relation to the female orgasm, to the extent that the primary understanding of female ejaculation is still urinary stress incontinence.’

    ‘Did you realise that no one has been able to medically agree on the source of the orgasm, whether it be uterine, clitoral, vaginal, vulval or a blend of any of these combinations? Even though this concept of the female orgasm has been recorded in literature throughout history?’

    ‘The main problem being a distinct lack of participants able to generate orgasmic fluid in a clinical environment.’

    ‘Nobody can agree on the most effective way to generate the female orgasm which in effect makes sourcing it extremely difficult.’

    ‘The physical, emotional, hormonal and environmental states of the female all seem to play a significant role, but at this stage it is impossible to determine whether one plays a greater or lesser role than the other.

    The hypotheses are many and varied so we are now conducting more research on the neurological connections to help develop our theories further.’

    My mind at this point envisions rows of women wearing white robes all lined up in hospital beds with legs spread open attempting to generate an orgasm to be captured in a test tube.

    I quickly shake my head to dislodge the disturbing image penetrating my brain. I notice I have barely touched my lunch; I’m so caught up in the flow of the discussion.

    Samuel eventually concludes: ‘As you can see, my dear Alexandra, there is much more to understand and discover regarding the intricacies of the female orgasm, including the impact of intellectual and emotional components. The research is still highly subjective, personal and seemingly dependent on each woman’s individual experience of orgasm. We can only aspire to develop a more consistent approach regarding our research and conclusions.’

    I can’t help but be enthralled with the history and mystery that seemingly surrounds this subject. I had no idea the topic was still so contested medically and in some areas considered career and research ‘taboo’, for want of a better word. How it is possible that the female orgasm is so under-researched, when the male orgasm is considered scientifically and psychologically a fait accompli is frankly shocking to me, to say the least. I can’t quite believe what I’m hearing, and indeed wouldn’t have had it not come from the mouths of the people seated around the table. I manage to quickly swallow a few mouthfuls of food before Samuel and his crew wish me luck as we pack up and make our way toward the lecture theatre.

    ‘Would you care to join us for a Friday night drink, for old times’ sake? I’m sure the team would love to share some of the insights of their research so far.’ Samuel has a twinkle in his eye as I feel my cheeks flush a pale pink.

    ‘You know I’d love to, but unfortunately I have other plans for after the lecture.’

    ‘Of course you have, my dear, one can only ask.’

    For some reason, a nervous laugh escapes me, as if I’ve been caught off-guard.

    ‘I’m actually meeting an old friend from my undergrad days; you may remember him. Jeremy Quinn?’ I try very hard to keep my tone neutral — difficult when the mere mention of his name makes my heartbeat quicken.

    ‘Yes, indeed I do. Dr Quinn is taking the medical world by storm I hear, causing all sorts of waves and excitement in the US in connection to his research on depression. He’s working with Professor Applegate, is he not?’

    I should have known Samuel would be more up to speed than I was in relation to what’s hot in global academia.

    ‘I believe so, albeit from an article, not from him personally.’

    ‘Send him my best regards. A very talented man, that Dr Quinn. No doubt there will be many a pharmaceutical company keen for his research. He certainly won’t have any of the funding concerns that constrain us, lucky chap.’

    I’m not sure I fully comprehend this connection as my mind automatically shifts into gear for the lecture just moments away.

    ‘Will do and thanks for everything, Samuel. It’s been wonderful catching up with you again. I wish you and your team the very best. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.’

    Suddenly, given the discussion at lunch, I wasn’t one hundred per cent sure whether that was an appropriate comment or not!

    ‘Indeed my dear. Go forth and conquer.’ We hug farewell and I head to the lectern for my imminent presentation


What a beautiful Friday afternoon in Sydney, everyone basking in glorious sunshine.

    This city can really turn it on when it needs to. The harbour is sparkling with yachts and ferries merrily bouncing along, the colours are sharp and bold and the city is bustling. Office workers are gearing up for the weekend with such a vibrant beginning, as they head off to drinks along the harbour foreshore. I see some ‘beautiful people’ bouncing along for cocktails, laughing and smiling with a buoyant swing in their step. They look like they have just stepped out of Vogue magazine. I remember when I was one of those girls, focusing on career but as carefree as the wind, with the luxury of time and whispers of what the future might hold caressing every interaction. The main priority occupying our minds then was wondering how the weekend would unfold from twilight onwards and which cocktail to choose first.

    It was on one of those nights that my relationship with Jeremy transformed from best friends constantly mucking around with each other to a high-octane sexual one. As the taxi drives past the key visual triggers where it all started in the city, I can’t help but remember the carnal lust and intensity we shared; the impact of such memories makes me squirm in my seat.

    Back then, I had just started vacation work with one of the big four banks in the city. The job wasn’t that exciting but the people were fun and it provided me with some much-needed cash during the summer holidays. It was great to be free from study for a few months and I was secretly thrilled to be wearing a suit and high heels, and mum had bought me a sensational new handbag, which I still have today …

    ‘Hi, Jeremy, I’m just going out to my first official corporate work     function—’

        ‘Yeah, I’m excited. I’ll be at the Wentworth and will be meeting     the girls at nine-ish for a drink and a boogie.’

        ‘Sure, grab them and come along. We’ll meet you there.'

No worries. Cool. See you later then.’

        I hang up the phone.

        He seems really keen to catch up with us all. Hmm, think     secretly, I wonder if he likes Eloise, most guys do … maybe I should     mention something … The girls think she is going through a phase     of exploring the other side, i.e. chicks, but we haven’t been able to     confirm or deny the rumour … I’m sure she’ll tell us either way     when she is ready. No, I confirm to myself, keep out of it, what will     be, will be …

        These corporate functions are cool because you get free food     and drinks. We stay for a while, then decide it is time for our real     Friday night to begin. We pack up and head to the club, where it’s     straight to the ladies room to discard jackets, our pantyhose, undo     a few buttons, plump up our cleavage, puff our hair, reapply     mascara, eyeliner and lipstick. We reappear audacious and     revamped, ready to embrace the evening.

        The music is pumping and given we have already had a few     sparkling wines, we hit the dance floor — as only a group of girls     can do. I’m lost in the music, dancing with my eyes closed, when     strong hands grasp my hips and pull me backward toward their     body. Instinctively, I know Jeremy has arrived and happily gyrate     into his swivelling hips in time to the music. For some reason, we     are in complete sync on the dance floor, our bodies are moving as     one. It’s hard not to get lost in the feel of his body against mine,     the pounding music creating a heady atmosphere around us. This is     hot with a capital H! I almost feel as if I am magnetically drawn     to him; some strange pent-up energy between us makes me     unwilling to let him go … Something has shifted between us as I     look into his darkened eyes, utterly mesmerised by the intensity of     his being. What is wrong with me tonight? My hormones seem to     be locked in lust overdrive.

        The music is too loud to hear his words, so he grabs my hand     and leads me in a determined path off the dance floor to one of the     shadowed corners of the club where the music is slightly muffled.     He pushes me gently back against the wall and places his hands     either side of my shoulders, his presence pinioning me against     the wall.In his fitted black shirt, his body looks toned and hot and     his face is glistening, close to mine, due to our heroics on the dance     floor. It takes me a moment to catch my breath as I allow myself to     become lost in his seductive presence.It is as if my eyes have been     opened for the first time as his sexual magnetism overwhelms and     draws me in. I open my mouth slightly to ensure enough oxygen     is getting to my brain.

        ‘I don’t think I can keep my hands off you any more, AB.’

        He honestly looks like he is pushing his hands harder into the     wall to keep them away from me.

        ‘Then don’t.’ Emboldened by this swelling of lust and desire, I’m     sure I must be producing alluring sexual pheromones.

        I pull his right palm off the wall, bring it to my lips, give his     middle finger a gentle kiss and slowly slide it over my breast. His     eyes widen as I continue its journey lower until it finds the secret     passage under my skirt. I part my legs slightly, never breaking     eye contact, and slide his finger past my knickers and lead him     directly to my sweet spot.

        ‘Jesus, Alex, you are so wet.’

        ‘Hmm. I am. Do you have a solution for my problem?’

        The shock on Jeremy’s face is truly priceless and I have to admit,     I never expected those words to leave my mouth, but they’re out     now. We are both a little stunned as we continue to silently     question each other to ascertain a true sense of this new reality.

        Seemingly compelled to action, Jeremy immediately removes his     hand leaving a draft in his wake, grabs my wrist and strides so     fast back toward our friends, I am almost stumbling along     behind him. I hope I haven’t offended him … maybe I shouldn’t     have said that …

        He stops suddenly and I slam into his body. Jeez!

        He grabs my handbag, marches straight to the dance floor and     shouts something in my friend’s ear, so she waves and smiles at     me. I raise my eyebrows at her and shrug my shoulders as I give     her a wave before I am just as suddenly whisked away and out the     front door of the club.

        ‘What are we doing?’

        No response. Jeremy is in action mode.

        He readjusts his hand from my wrist to clasping his fingers     through mine as we charge down the street. My ears are still     ringing from the noise of the club.

        ‘Are you not talking to me?’ Maybe he is as mad as hell. Oh     dear, what was I thinking? Maybe I’ve ruined our whole friendship.

        We are striding uphill and I’m panting to keep up with him. We     seem to be heading toward the botanical gardens. When we reach     grass, he swoops down, lifts me over his shoulder and walks     silently under the moonlight before depositing me in a standing     position under a particularly large tree. He drops my handbag to     the ground, immediately cupping my face with his hands and     devouring my mouth with such ferocity I’m forced up against the     tree. His body anchors me in position and I’m wild with lust for     him. He pulls a condom out of his pocket, unbuttons his jeans in     record time, slides it on … this is the first time I have seen Jeremy’s     penis and even though it is dark, what a sight. His eyes have     returned from their carnal state when he registers my look with a     mischievous grin.


        I nod in greedy agreement.

        He hitches my skirt up to my waist, lowers my knickers to my     feet, bending my knees to free them from underneath my shoes     and stuffs them in his pocket … Interesting, I can’t help but think,     kinky but interesting!

        He hoists my legs up to wrap around his waist and I curl my     arms tight around his neck with my back against the enormous     trunk of the tree. It’s rough and bark pokes into my satin blouse. I     briefly hope that it doesn’t rip the fabric but realise at this point,     I don’t care either way. He pauses before I nod again, confirming     that I am more than ready for this, beyond ready, as if we have     been teasing and tantalising and playing with each other     platonically for far too long. The sexual electricity between us     needs to explode in order for it to begin — confirming that we both     need this and we need it NOW.

        He slams into me.

        And it is glorious!

        And he does it again ...

        And it is more glorious …

        And again!

        And again!

        He impales me.

        And I am loving it.

        I stare up at the moon and release my howl in honour of its     magnificence, of our magnificence. He explodes inside me as our     carnal desire for each other is finally given physical recognition.

        Could anyone see us? Did anyone see us? Do I care …

        We lay on the grass for hours with each other, wondering at     each other, talking and playing and laughing and teasing. Until the     night lightens and dawn breaks. It’s as if we have been in a void of     time. We stumble into a taxi together; I fall asleep on his shoulder     and find myself tucked in my bed a few hours later. My first time     with Jeremy is confirmed to be a reality and not a dream by the     twigs in my hair and grass stains on my shirt. My knickers     apparently never made it home …

I let out a sigh. Wow! I’m sure I am flushing and I know I’m wriggling around in my seat. I’m glad the driver hasn’t noticed. I smile to myself at the distant, delicious memory. I haven’t felt like this for years, well, probably since the last time I saw Jeremy alone. The fun days and carefree nights, no responsibilities — although we thought we had them at the time — no kids, no house, no mortgage … Would I honestly want life to be any different from what it is now? Not really, a bit more fun and carefree every now and then wouldn’t go astray, but I am reasonably happy with my life as it is now. Not my sex life admittedly, which has been less than average since Jordan was born, or pretty well non-existent if I’m perfectly honest. That thought is a shock. How have I missed this? Have I been too busy in life to notice this key element has gone missing? Isn’t it even more concerning that I haven’t considered it an issue? No wonder I’m sitting in the back of a taxi in a state of latent, lustful desire. A vision enters my mind of sleeping beauty awaiting her sexual awakening after decades of sleep, which is quite sweet until I realise her face is mine and the prince is Jeremy. But the kids, remember the kids … Would it be worth the risk? I resolutely block my mind from receiving any more of these unproductive thoughts.

    It feels good having the first lecture successfully behind me. The feedback and questions have given me more food for thought in respect to further investigative and academic research. I think ahead to my weekend. Catching up with my old school friends over a glass of wine, their careers, their social lives and family news. Who’s still with whom, who has moved on, and I’m sure there are a few more babies I have missed since being based in Tasmania. Then catching up with my siblings and nieces and nephews for a BBQ on Sunday. It’s a shame Jordan and Elizabeth won’t be there, as they love catching up with their cousins, but next time perhaps.

    With my trip down memory lane and thoughts about the weekend ahead, I’m a little surprised how quickly we have arrived at the destination. I quickly check my lipstick and hair and decide I will definitely need to refresh in the hotel lobby. As I pay the taxi driver, the butterflies previously asleep in my stomach announce their tumultuous arrival and my palms moisten as I gather my bags together.

    That memory has certainly destabilised me more than I would have liked. Stay calm and composed, you are a professional, married woman, a mother of two … Enough with the self-talk!

    I head straight through the lobby of the five-star hotel to the ladies room in an attempt to stabilise my stomach. What is going on with me today? I shake my head and try to pull myself together. The tingle down below is certainly not helping to calm my nerves nor my ability to control my physiology. Quite frustrating to say the least. How is it that I felt perfectly comfortable lecturing to hundreds of people just hours ago, yet now my fingers are trembling so badly that I can barely unwind my lipstick?

    I gaze into the mirror while both hands grip the basin. I notice the slight wrinkles around my eyes. Were they there last time I saw Jeremy? Maybe I should have taken my friend’s advice and given Botox a try, in her words ‘before it’s too late!’ I shudder at the thought of it. I can’t stand anything around my eyes let alone the idea of an injection piercing through such sensitive skin. Oh well, I think to myself, I’ll just have to put up with what I see in the mirror until they come up with something a little less invasive.

    Distracted and flustered, I can’t decide whether to leave my hair up or take it out. I’m grateful my hair is still dark and as yet I haven’t managed to find a random grey strand, although I’m sure that day isn’t far off. I figure I will stay with the more professional look and leave it up; I am in a suit after all. Right, all ready to go, or at least as ready as I will ever be. Not too bad for thirty-six. I take a final glance in the mirror, and think it could certainly be worse, as I desperately search for a positive spin. Deep down, I am very much looking forward to catching up with Jeremy. So I let myself run with that emotion as my mind takes me on another quick trip down memory lane …

    Jeremy and I were at university together, although he was two years ahead of me. My cousin introduced us during my first year, as they were both in the same water polo team. I’m not absolutely sure how our acquaintance evolved but he was a lot of fun and as we spent more and more time together we eventually became best friends, almost by default. As time went by we explored drinking, drugs and sex — as many uni students do. Partners came and went throughout our years of study but we were always there for each other, first and foremost. It was difficult for people to describe, let alone determine, our relationship with each other, more than likely because it was also impossible for us. After a while, our friends didn’t bother to try and label us and just accepted that Jeremy and I would be friends forever, whatever came our way. Funnily enough, over time, we eventually accepted it too …

    Life took us in different directions post-university. Jeremy continued his studies before getting his pilot’s licence and joining the flying doctor service for a truly Australian outback experience, which he loved and I was always a little jealous of (the pilot’s licence anyway). I worked in London focusing on building strong financial foundations before further exploring psychology in the workplace.

    We caught up in various locations around the globe over the next decade, particularly in Europe where his medical research brought him regularly to London. We had many short funfilled flings that are treasured memories, before we embarked on the serious responsibilities of life. Although we knew our relationship was significant in our lives, we understood that it would never be long-term, or at least I knew that Jeremy was far from ready to settle down, unlike me. It was the ‘unspoken word’ between us, although, deep down, we knew it to be a fully acknowledged reality.

    His career was of paramount importance to him and I desperately wanted to start a family and our differing worlds drifted apart. Jeremy was offered a lucrative research scholarship at Harvard to further his studies and moved to America. I met my English husband, Robert, in London and we returned together to Australia. I knew I needed to put my explicit sexual past with Jeremy behind me and settle down to start a family and pursue my career academically. Which is exactly what I did.

    Although we caught up for the odd dinner here and there, for the next decade or so, we were essentially on opposite sides of the planet. And our lives continued separately …

    I pull my mind back to the here and now and tell myself firmly that camping out in the ladies is just wasting the precious time we will have together — so get moving! I take a deep breath to calm my nerves, straighten my shoulders, hold my head high, swing open the door and walk confidently out toward the man who is my best friend and my ex-lover.

    As my eyes sweep the lobby bar, my confidence evaporates as quickly as it had been conjured up — he is not here. Disappointment washes over me with such ferocity, I have to lower my hand to the lounge to maintain my standing position. Typical, I think to myself; I started the day with butterflies and ridiculous thoughts, like a teenager anticipating seeing their ultimate pop idol for the first time, and ended it talking to myself in the ladies room of a flash hotel.

    I do know how hectic Jeremy’s life is and that his schedule is ever-changing. Of course it would be highly unlikely for him to catch up with me just because we both happen to be coincidentally in Sydney this weekend. I am disappointed that I have wasted so much nervous energy for nothing, yet a part of me feels pleased that I am still able to feel those sensations when I had thought they were long gone. It serves me right really; I should have stayed and had drinks with Samuel and his colleagues. But I eagerly declined knowing I would be meeting with Jeremy and didn’t want to be late.

    Jeremy’s assistant had said he would be caught up in meetings most of the afternoon. Just as I think to check my phone for messages, a man in uniform with a concierge badge on approaches me.

    ‘Excuse me. Doctor Alexandra Blake?’

    ‘Oh. Yes.’

    ‘A gentleman asked me to pass this message on to you and convey his sincere apologies that he is unable to meet you here.’

    My heart sinks as my fears are now confirmed; he can’t make it. Disappointment washes over me all over again.

    He hands me an envelope. ‘Thank you very much, Doctor Blake. If there is anything I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to ask.’

    I smile as much to myself as to the concierge. Jeremy always insisted on calling me ‘Doctor’ once I graduated with my Ph
D, even though he is the true medical doctor and I am the philosophical kind. He knows I’m not good at medical emergencies and have an inherent fear of hospitals, so it was always a joke between us.

    I take a seat on the velvet lounge and open the envelope to pull out the typed note inside:

    To my dearest friend, Doctor A. Blake,

        My sincere apologies for leaving you stranded in the hotel lobby     this Friday evening. I had a few unavoidable errands come up at     the last minute, which have caused some delays. Everything seems     to be in order now and I would very much appreciate you joining     me upstairs for a drink. It has been too long!

        Please find the security key for the penthouse floor in the     envelope.

        I eagerly anticipate your arrival.


        J. xo

My stomach flips and turns like a gymnast competing for the Olympic gold medal. Once again I am instantly transformed into a teenage groupie — he is here after all! But what is he doing in the penthouse? The Jeremy I knew always shunned the flashier side of life, preferring to maintain a more austere public persona. Although, if I remember rightly, when surrounded by those who knew him well, he could certainly relax into a mischievous rebel at times, enjoying the finer things life had to offer. Perhaps Samuel’s comments weren’t misguided when mentioning the bottomless funding of pharmaceutical companies. I can only wonder if the Jeremy of old still exists in the Jeremy of now.


    As I gather myself together both mentally and physically, I notice the concierge still hovering in the background — does he have nothing better to do? The thought randomly floats through my brain.

    ‘Is everything in order, Doctor Blake, can I help in any way?’

    I wonder what expression I have on my face as I turn to look at him. I notice the faintest of smiles at the corner of his mouth, his eyes twinkling. Dumbfounded, I shake my head. ‘No, thank you, I’m fine.’

    Was I? I am beginning to wonder. He continues to loiter behind me. I change my mind and turn to him.

    ‘Actually, yes. Could you please show me the way to the lift for the penthouse?’

    ‘Of course, Doctor Blake, it would be my pleasure. Right this way and may I take your bags?’

    He says it in a way that makes me think he is in on something I don’t quite comprehend, and a strange feeling passes through me. Perhaps I’m just not up to speed on the service at five-star hotels these days. Knowing I’m not feeling exactly normal at this point, I push the thought out of my head and conclude that my mind could easily be playing tricks on me.

    ‘Thank you, that would be lovely,’ I say politely, and follow him as he leads the way to the lift with my bags in tow.

    Seconds later the lift is racing rapidly toward the lofty heights of the penthouse floor. I take a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm my nerves. What a wonderful idea to have a drink while overlooking the city as twilight descends, always a spectacular view with weather like today. I’m not sure if Jeremy is staying in the hotel, but if he has access to the business lounge we may be able to have complimentary nibbles and drinks. Strange how the concept of free drinks still resonates with me, must be left over from uni days … I let out a little chuckle. The concierge must think I’m crazy.

    As the doors open, I realise I am genuinely excited about seeing Jeremy; he is an amazing man and a truly great friend. The disappointment of believing he couldn’t meet me had hit me harder than I ever imagined possible. Now I feel happy, excited and very much looking forward to a wonderful heartfelt reunion as only best friends can.

    I am assaulted by the magnificent views in front me as I step out of the lift and into a carpeted room with floor-to-ceiling windows — I had forgotten how truly captivating Sydney Harbour is from these spectacular heights. I take a moment to absorb the visual feast before my eyes. Sparkling blue water with tiny white flecks. Ferries and yachts curve arching ripples across the silky water, and the buildings imbued with a rosy glow, reflecting the light of the sinking sun. Looking around to orientate myself, it seems strange I can’t see any bar on this level.

    ‘This way please, Doctor.’ I almost forget the concierge is standing beside me with my bag. I check the security card and notice the symbol on it matches the one the wall. I follow the arrows with my eyes as we walk in silence. ;Finally I find myself standing tentatively in front of large double doors. Before either of us have a moment to press the buzzer, the door flies open in front of us. And standing before me is Jeremy. More sophisticatedly handsome than I had dared allow myself to remember.

    ‘Hey AB, there you are. Welcome.’

    ‘Hi,’ I respond, fairly quietly, almost shyly. ‘It’s been a while.’

    ‘I see Roger found you in the lobby. Thanks for taking care of her for me. I’ll take it from here, cheers.’ He takes my bag from the concierge and ushers me in, closing the door behind me.

    ‘You’re right; it has been too long, way too long in my opinion.’ He excitedly wraps his arms around me, almost lifting me off the floor in an all-embracing hug, his eyes twinkling all the while.

    ‘Let me look at you.’ He holds me at arm’s length and his eyes absorb my face, my hair, my body, my legs, right down to my toes. I had forgotten how penetrating his stare could be and it catches me unawares, leaving me suddenly feeling utterly self-conscious. I quickly look away to avoid seeing any further analysis.

    ‘You look wonderful, Alex, still my young green-eyed Catherine Zeta-Jones,’ he says intently, this time embracing me softly, lightly kissing my forehead, as if giving me his stamp of approval.

    ‘And you aren’t looking too bad yourself given you’re almost forty, Dr Quinn,’ I say cheekily, needing to immediately lighten the mood, both because of his possessive words and the intense emotions rushing through my body.

    I don’t trust myself to fully absorb his appearance but at first glance it doesn’t look like much has changed over the years, except a little salt gently peppering his dark hair. Still confident, toned, mischievous … he does look good. If I’m really honest he looks great, actually; broad, square shoulders, six foot two inches tall, clean shaven. He smells beautiful. It has been many years since I have been this intimate with his spicy, outdoorsy scent but the cloud of arousal it stirs up penetrates deep within my core; his tight round arse looks sensational in his causal trousers. Dear god, I am in sensory overload and I have just arrived … Stop it! Look somewhere else, I scream internally as I command my eyes to slide off his body to the broader environment.

    ‘Wow, this place is amazing. Are you staying here?’

    ‘Yes, indeed I am. I’m here for the week.’

    ‘Well, you have certainly moved up in the world, my friend.’ He shrugs his shoulders and grins sheepishly. I love that smile. I love those lips. I love those lips on my breasts. God! Stop this, now.

    ‘Come on in. Relax, please make yourself at home.’ Jeremy leads me to the lounge room, obviously sensing I’m far from relaxed. Working myself into a right state would be more accurate.

    ‘I thought we were meeting at a penthouse bar for a drink. I wasn’t expecting to be in your suite.’ I try to keep my voice conversational, tempering my rising level of anxiety.

    ‘Does that cause you any concern?’ he asks directly.

    ‘Ah, oh, no.’ I stumble the words out. ‘No, not at all.’ Should it? I think to myself.


    I hear the pop of a cork, which startles me a little, and Jeremy pours me a glass of champagne. It is perfectly chilled and the bubbles within the crystal glass provide me with a visual representation of how my stomach has been feeling most of the day.

    ‘Cheers, Doctor Blake. I’ve missed you, my friend, my confidante.’

    My heart skips a beat as he utters these words, my mind comprehending the emotional depth attached to them.

    ‘Cheers to you too, Dr Quinn.’ We clink our glasses together as our eyes capture one another’s gaze for the first time in a very long time.

    ‘How are you, Jeremy? How is your life going? Have you met anyone? Are you enjoying the US? And what about work, you sound so busy with everything …’ God, I can’t stop myself blathering! He laughs as he raises his hand to interrupt my inquisition.

    ‘You’ve never been short of a question, Alexa, have you?’ He raises one eyebrow and pauses. ‘I suppose some things never change.’ His comment is teasing and laced with innuendo.

    His look is direct, though somewhat mischievous at the same time. I shuffle uncomfortably at the intensity of his stare and the weight I assume is behind his words. I wish I could read his facial expressions more clearly but as we haven’t seen each other for so long, they are unfortunately too masked for me to decipher at this point.

    ‘It’s just that there is always so much to catch up on in the time we have. I don’t want to miss anything, don’t want to waste our conversation,’ I reply in my defence.

    ‘We won’t, I promise you. Now drink up.’

    I notice I still haven’t touched my champagne. We both sip a mouthful of the golden bubbles at the same time. It tastes so delicious, initially dry with a sweet aftertaste and I feel the bubbles pop on my tongue. I can’t help but take another.

    ‘Now, before I attempt to answer your myriad questions, tell me, what are your plans for this weekend? Who has the pleasure of your company?’

    Happy to ease back into conversation, I comfortably rattle off the details of my weekend, particularly as he knows most of the people I am seeing. I tell him about Robert and the kids being away on their great adventure and about my catching up with Samuel at the university, my family and my old school friends.

    He listens attentively, without interrupting, and I barely notice as he refills my glass. I can’t say whether it is nerves or excitement that keeps my chatter going and the champagne flowing.

    ‘Enough about me.’ I realise Jeremy hasn’t spoken in some time and we have plenty to discuss other than my plans for the weekend. I stop to look at him more carefully and notice his tense expression. ‘You’re very quiet, Jeremy. Is there something wrong?’

    He stands up and walks deliberately toward where I’m seated on the lounge. Silently, he squats on the floor ensuring he is looking directly into my eyes and places his hand on my stockinged knee. A mild electric current travels straight up my leg and I jerk at the sensation. The hint of a smile emerges on his face at my reaction, as if pleased he still has this impact, before it quickly disappears and he regains focus and control of the moment. I immediately blush, blending perfectly with the rose cushion at my back. There is no way he can’t notice that I am practically beside myself at his touch. Completely embarrassed, I shift my body weight uneasily on the lounge, while his position is statuesque. My rising anxiety immediately prevents me from uttering a sound.

    ‘Alexandra, I want to ask you something and I’m honestly not sure what you will say or how you’ll react.’

    It must be serious if he is using my full name.

    He pauses, staring unrelentingly into my eyes.

    ‘Which is unusual for me …’ he muses.

    He fixes both hands firmly on my knees, as if anchoring my feet to the ground lest I should fly away like a helium balloon. ‘So, I’ll just come straight out with it.’

    I don’t move an inch.

    I do nothing except hold his gaze.

    I concentrate on moderating my breathing.

    I wait for him to continue.

    ‘I would like you to stay the weekend here with me and cancel your other plans.’ He pauses, looking at me from beneath his long, thick eyelashes. My heart literally skips a beat.

    Or two. Or maybe three.

    As his gaze intensifies, I become lost in his eyes.

    Our shared, ancient memories come flooding back into my brain: flashes of university days, ridiculous pranks, lust and love and orgasms and sex, friendship, tears of laughter, tears of pain, experimentation, stolen moments. It was fun, it was edgy, exhilarating and exciting, and there seemed to be no other way with Jeremy.

    The look in his eyes conveys all of that and more to me in a few long seconds. I never knew quite what was going to happen next with Jeremy and here I am, all these years later in the same situation.

    Albeit with very different life circumstances. Our silent dialogue continues dancing between us. Once again daring us to take a risk that would never be taken with anyone else, only each other.

    My mind begins to race as fast as my heart.

    What if I did stay? Would it be the worst thing I could do? People always talk about living life to the fullest, expecting the unexpected … Wouldn’t a weekend with Jeremy make me feel more alive than I have in years? Given the effect of his touch on my knee, I can only imagine how I would respond to, well, his touch on other parts of my body …

    Finally, my motherly instinct anchors these abstract and fleeting thoughts so commonsense can prevail. My children. My life isn’t just about me any more; there are consequences for my actions. The guilt … the betrayal … Robert …. My stomach is in knots. How can I feel such anticipation and remorse simultaneously? It doesn’t make sense to me. My clinical mind quickly shifts a gear and makes a mental note to explore the psychology around such intense emotions and the resulting change in my physiology. My immediate situation renders my clinical experience redundant. God, what am I doing, thinking, feeling? Jeremy still has his hands on my knees as his eyes bore into my soul. Moments pass until, as if reading my thoughts, he releases his hold on my eyes and withdraws his touch, rising to step toward the panoramic view.

    I immediately inhale as if I have been released from a spell. I must have been holding my breath for quite some time. As he continues to stare out toward the harbour, he says, in a bemused voice: ‘Let me guess. You are currently analysing every angle of this situation.’ He turns to look into my eyes once again before returning his gaze outward and nods, as if to confirm for himself that he is on the right track before continuing.

    ‘You are weighing up the pros and cons of accepting my offer. One side of you is excited, enticed almost, about the possibilities of the experience, the other is fully grounded in the responsibilities of your existing life, giving rise to endless questions and what-if scenarios and which mean you need more time for consideration and reflection. Truly, Alex, it would take many lifetimes’ worth of experience to answer your questions and even then, never reach a satisfactory conclusion. Am I right?’ Once again, looking toward me for confirmation.

    All I can do is nod my head in agreement. He is reading me like a book. Actually, if I’m truly honest about it, he is reading me better than I can read myself, which disturbs me no end. The accuracy of his words catches me off-guard, his summary both measured and precise. Am I that easy to read or does he really know me that well? I thought he would have forgotten over the years … but if I haven’t, how could I naively assume he had? That is a truly scary consideration given my current predicament. He continues with his barrage of my presumed concerns.

    ‘What about your family? Do you really want this? What will it mean if you stay? What would your friends think? How would you justify your decision? Could you live with yourself? And dare I say it, what would happen if you truly let yourself go, even if it were just for one weekend?’

    I sit before him, embarrassed at the truth behind his take on my questions, by the depth of his knowledge of my thought processes. But I also know he isn’t playing fair now and is deliberately pushing my personal boundaries.

    His last question was the summation of many of our conversations throughout our relationship. He knows I put others before myself and always castigated me about it, particularly if I chose paths he could see ending badly for me. He always made me ponder the question of ‘what if’? What if, just once, I didn’t try to control or orchestrate myself and others, didn’t play it safe? What if it was a good thing to not know what was going to happen next or how someone was going to feel about it? Could it still be worth the risk?

    My immediate concerns were, unfortunately, way too easy to summarise given the moral dilemma I faced. The real issue for me is, in reality, quite simple — can I say no to Jeremy?

    He is playing me well. I know it and he certainly knows it. Even though I try to erase any distinctive emotion, he can read my face intuitively, see through any mask I put on. His understated smirk causes me greater anxiety than the myriad other feelings I am filtering through my head.

    My voice arrives quietly but firmly.

    ‘That’s really not fair, Jeremy. Do we have to have this conversation right now? Can’t we just catch up and see how things go?’ My voice trails off at these words. He knows I’m trying to hedge my bets and he can easily see through my attempted poker face, never a good position to be in with him. I unconsciously brace myself for our battle of minds, knowing that my brain is in a boxing ring with the right side fighting with the left, both deftly defending their position without understanding they are both on the same team — not helpful.

    He walks slowly and deliberately away from the glass panels over to the champagne bucket, carefully picks up the bottle and walks back toward me. He silently notices my hands trembling as he slides his hand down along my fingers and removes the glass I’m holding, refills it and places it carefully on the side table next to the lounge. He kneels in front of me, holding both my hands in his and lets out a sigh. The power and presence emanating from him is in stark contrast to his apparently submissive position on the floor. I can barely breathe the air between us it is so thick with tension. I feel like a deer caught in headlights.

    ‘Now Alex, listen to me, and please listen carefully.’ His voice is slow, firm, commanding. ‘You and I go a long way back and I want to spend the next forty-eight hours with you. I don’t want to have a few drinks and have you disappear into the universe again.

    ‘I know it has been tense between us since you arrived and that’s because we’re constrained by time. If we know we have two full days together, we will be able to really get to know each other again. Let it be just about us, no one else — just this once. It’s important to me, Alex, I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t. I don’t want to argue with you, I don’t want to scare you, I just need to know now that we will have this time together, time we haven’t had for many years.’

    My ears are ringing in confusion, as is my heart. The electric current running from his hand into mine lands straight between my legs, so much so, that I almost believe he can feel it.

    He wraps his fingers around my wrists, his eyes pleading with mine. ‘Please. Alex, I’m begging you … forty-eight hours? Tell me you’ll stay.’

    My mind has gone AWOL. I can barely breathe, let alone speak. What is he doing to me? I have never heard him sound like this, so needy, so longing. I think to myself that maybe he is in some type of trouble or pain and needs to talk about it. My heart says, Yes that’s it, he is my best friend and he needs me. Of course, I should have picked up on it before. Why else would he sound so beseeching? He probably doesn’t have too many close friends he can talk to like he can with me, particularly given the pressure and responsibility of his job and research commitments. He obviously needs to talk otherwise he wouldn’t be putting me in this situation. And here I am, contemplating not being there for my friend, my best friend, just when he needs me.

    Needless to say, I lose the battle as my voice concurs with my heart’s logic. And I hear myself say ever so softly, ‘I suppose … I could …’ I can barely get the words out of my constricted throat as they form an almost inaudible whisper.

    But because Jeremy is still so close, he hears them. With eagerness written all over his face he asks, ‘Did you say what I think you said?’

    Is he really trying to make me say it again? It was hard enough the first time.

    ‘I need to know you’re committed. You have no idea how important this is to me.’

    I take a deep breath.

    ‘Yes, I will stay for the weekend,’ I confirm, a little more clearly.

    A smile instantly washes over his face as he releases my wrists, sweeps me off the lounge and embraces me tightly as he spins me around the room. I can’t help but laugh as the tension vanishes between us.

    ‘Thank you, Alexandra. You won’t regret it, I promise.’

    He excitedly reaches for the waiting glasses of champagne. ‘Let’s toast. To the next forty-eight hours.’

    To which I can’t help but think, Oh dear, but toast him nonetheless and allow the bubbles of the champagne to join their butterfly friends in my stomach.

    Before I can come to terms with the reality of my agreement, he says, quick as a flash, ‘Right. AB, where’s your phone?’

    Of course, I will need to let others know of my sudden change of plans, the forthcoming consequences to my family and friends finally dawning on me.

    ‘What am I going to say? What will they think?’ I am talking out loud as I fumble around in my congested handbag and locate my phone. Reservations once again creep into my thoughts.Am I doing the right thing? Was it a moment of weakness or desire that made me say yes? Undoubtedly both!

    ‘Jeremy, maybe I shouldn’t … it’s not right …’

    ‘No buts, no regrets, AB!’

    Jeremy bounces right next to me on the lounge, as if sensing my apprehension and second thoughts. He snatches the phone out of my hand and strides to the other side of the room. The excitable puppy is turning panther-like with frightening ease and grace.

    ‘Let me take care of that for you,’ he says with a huge grin on his face.

    He has completely regressed. Where is the distinguished, globally acknowledged and multi-award-winning medical research doctor? I am apparently back at uni with my cocky mate, still teasing and tormenting me.

    ‘Please give it back.’

    ‘Not on your life, sweetheart, you’re mine for the weekend. You just said so yourself. Don’t worry, I will send through a message on your behalf.’

    I have no idea whether he is serious or not.

    ‘I am more than capable of sending a message from my own phone.’ I walk over to where he is standing, my hand outstretched, waiting. ‘Give it to me, now.’ My voice is stern as he ducks and weaves, manoeuvring himself away from me like a complete idiot.

    ‘I need to call home. JEREMY!’ I scream at him as he continues his childish movements around the room.

    ‘No, you don’t need to call home. You just told me they are in the wilderness, with no phone reception for the next week. There is absolutely no reason you need to call them or worry about it.’

    So that explains the intense interest with which he was listening to my plans. I should have known he had an ulterior motive.

    ‘Jeremy, stop mucking around.’ Panic starts to permeate my voice as he runs into the bedroom closing the door behind him.

    ‘This is not funny. Give me my damn phone, you bastard.’ I furiously pound on the door he is obviously leaning against to keep me out.

    ‘Ah, there’s the feisty Alex I know. There’s the spark I’ve been hoping for … Now, whom do we need to inform of your intriguing change of plans? Your brother. And Trish, she can then send to the others … oh, and Sally. That should just about do it, shouldn’t it?’

    ‘Jeremy, don’t you dare!’ I am seething.

    He comes out from behind the door, ensuring I am well away from him as he reads out the message. Before I can respond, he presses Send.

    ‘You didn’t?’ I gasp.

    ‘There, you are officially mine for the next forty-eight hours.’ He looks like the cat that swallowed the canary.

    He then turns off my phone, walks over to the cupboard, opens the door, presses a code to open the safe while blocking my view, places the phone inside and promptly locks the door.

    He spins around to see the look of absolute shock on my face.

    ‘What the hell do you think you are doing?’ I explode. ‘I need to have that phone with me. Anything could happen.’

    I feel as if he has temporarily disconnected me from my life. I realise that is exactly what he is hoping to achieve. I find it a very strange, weird sensation, being completely uncontactable.

    ‘Explain to me, AB. Are you saying that the world won’t survive with your phone switched off for a couple of days, or you won’t?’

    The tone of his voice and the look in his eyes clearly tells me that any arguments regarding this matter will be futile.

    ‘Why are you doing this?’

    ‘Simple. I’m being selfish. I know that you are always available to your family and friends and I have no intentions of sharing you with anyone else this weekend. That means no interruptions.’

    I stare at him dumbfounded. ‘When did you become so bossy and controlling?’

    ‘I had a good teacher at university, and I’ve been practising for the past few years,’ he says, winking at me.

    As I move toward the cupboard, his octopus arms grab me around the waist and hoist me into the air before firmly depositing me on the lounge.

    ‘I don’t think so.’ He is grinning now.

    ‘We are not at uni now, Jeremy. I’m a grown woman, for god’s sake!’ I sound like a school teacher. He stands over me, eagerly anticipating my next move.

    ‘Fine,’ I say, folding my arms across my chest, clearly not happy. ‘Well, you put your phone in as well — that’s only fair.’

    He laughs. ‘You always did have to have the last word, Alexandra, didn’t you?’

    He turns his phone off and with elaborate arm movements, opens the safe, places his phone next to mine and swiftly locks it again.


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