Melly flinched at the memory. James’ lips on hers. His very expensive pants crumpled around his ankles. Biting the inside of her own cheek to keep quiet.
‘You right? You actually jumped. What was going through your brain?’ Lee asked.
Melly was leaving the school playground with Lee and Sara. They were headed out for a coffee. How could she possibly answer Lee’s question honestly. She couldn’t, of course. There was no way she could speak of her enlivening dalliance in the spartan surrounds of the rooftop bar’s disabled toilet. With Lee’s husband. No way. She couldn’t mention how his touch electrified her. How their secret tryst thrilled and shamed her. How she longed to screw him again and spent hours devising simple ways to set it up.
Over coffee, Melly burned hot as Lee talked of James’ affairs over the years. She fiddled with the sugar packets, hung her head low. She felt a kick under the table, looked up at Sara who was frowning at her.
‘So, what are you going to do?’ Melly asked, feebly. She really didn’t want to know.
‘I know he’s seeing someone now. He disappeared last week at the pub. Gone for about thirty minutes.’
‘He wouldn’t have!’ Sara screeched. ‘Not at a school function?’
‘You’d hope not.’ Lee shook her head as she spoke. ‘What do you reckon Melly?’
Oh god, don’t ask me, Melly thought.
‘How would I know? I only met him that night. I don’t know what he’s like.’
Liar! Melly’s gut lurched as a vision flashed: James and Melly, her back pressed against the bathroom wall, his hands gripping her arse. She tingled as it played like a movie, so vivid and colourful, right in front of her line of sight. Had anyone else seen it?
‘Melly!’ Sara almost shouted. ‘What the hell is wrong with you? It’s like you’re not here.’
‘Sorry. I’m tired. Just tired. You know.’ Melly cleared her throat. ‘What are you going to do?’ she asked Lee again.
‘Not sure. I think I’m done, though. He’s…’ As Lee continued, Melly checked out of the conversation again. Her mind raced at what Lee had just said. Maybe she wouldn’t feel so conflicted about screwing James if he wasn’t married to her friend anymore. Oh god, how tacky! What sort of person am I? Maybe I should just tell her. No! Idiot! That would ruin the lives of two families. Just forget it. Forget James. I made a mistake, now move on.
Melly’s phone rang. She didn’t recognise the number. ‘Sorry, I’ll just grab this. It’s the dentist, I think, confirming Beth’s appointment next week.’
She swiped her phone to answer. ‘Hello, Melly Robbins.’
At the sound of his voice, speaking his name, Melly’s tummy flipped. She heard him say he’d cleared time in his day, could they meet for an hour. She scraped back her chair, motioned to the girls that she’d be right back. ‘Yes, that’s fine. I can move that appointment to today.’
‘Are you with someone?’ James asked.
‘Not anymore. I’ve moved outside. I can talk now.’
‘Can we meet? My company has a permanent room booking at the Park Hyatt. How soon can you get there?’
‘Um,’ Melly looked at her Garmin, mentally working out how long it would take her to head home, shave her legs, blow-dry her hair, slap on makeup and get to the city. ‘Give me an hour? And a bit?’
‘Call me when you’re ten minutes away from the Hyatt. I’ll buzz you up.’
‘Thanks,’ Melly wondered why she was thanking him. ‘See you soon.’
She flew back inside, left ten dollars on the table. ‘Sorry ladies. It was the dentist. There’s been a cancellation. Got to fly!’
Lee and Sara stared with mouths agape as Melly buzzed out of the cafe as if on speed. She smiled back at them, hoping it was a winning, reassuring type of expression. At home, she hummed to herself as she quickly got ready. In the car, she dodged and weaved through traffic and texted James to let him know she was almost there. She arrived in the foyer of the hotel. Now what? Melly felt conspicuous standing on her own, as if everyone knew she was an adulterer. Such an old word, where did that come from! she wondered. Her phone buzzed in her pocket. She flicked it to life. A text from James:
Lift no.2. Coming down to foyer. Be there when doors open.
She moved to the lifts. She stood in front of number two. The doors opened to reveal James, this time dressed in a Hugo Boss suit and a crisp white shirt, with the collar opened to reveal his smooth chest. She smiled as she walked in, casting a backwards glance, hoping that no other patrons were waiting for the lift. She wanted to get started on him immediately. The doors closed. They met together like magnets as the lift whooshed to the eighteenth floor. James led her to the Park King Suite.
Three hours later, Melly stood naked in the hotel room’s huge shower. She washed away her guilt and shame, watched it mesh with the soap bubbles before spinning down the drain. She stepped out, grabbed a luxurious white towel and dried herself. As she left the bathroom she looked at the bed, the crumpled sheets rebuked her. James was sitting on the bed, sliding one leg into his pants while holding the phone to his ear. He placed his finger to his lips, to indicate she should be quiet. Melly nodded. After a few minutes, he hung up and stood, zipping his pants.
‘Here’s a key pass for you. I’ve arranged my schedule so that we can do this weekly. Every Wednesday, same time. Good for you?’ He nodded, as if there was no alternative. There actually wasn’t. Melly was hooked.