She had wanted to give Gerry a surprise. After their evening meal and walk along the promenade she told him she was taking a shower but what she really did as he watched football while perched on the edge of the hotel room’s heart-shaped bed was doll herself up to a level falling just short of how she had been for her wedding the previous day. He nearly fell off the bed when she emerged from the en-suite. As well as heavy night-time make-up and an elaborate “up” hair do, she was wearing patent black stilettos and the lingerie from the Seductive range that the lady in the bridal shop had convinced her would go down a treat on her wedding night. Gerry’s expression — a mix of shock and fear— made her feel unsure as to whether the woman had been correct.
Feeling slightly ridiculous but deciding to stick to her plan, she strode purposely across the room with her heavily lined eyes boring deeply and, she hoped, sexily into Gerry’s. When she reached the bed she stood boldly before him, hands on hips, pelvis forward and shoulders back. She then hoisted one leg onto the bed and began to undo the suspender clips located high up on the thigh. Gerry’s eyes followed the movements of her fingers, but otherwise he was immobile. She rolled the stocking down as far as the knee, stopped and, after kicking off the stiletto, placed her foot delicately on the triangle of quilt in between his legs.
“Finish off the job!” she ordered in a breathy but serious tone, rousing Gerry from his dumb gaping at the leg.
Tentatively, he lowered the stocking, pulled it off her foot and primly placed it on the bed beside him. After languorously retracting her right leg, she kicked the stiletto off her other foot, which she set directly down on the depression just left by the other on the red quilt. He then snuck a glance up at her and his fingers began to work on the suspender clips. As he moved on to folding down the stocking, Claire shuffled her foot forward. Her toes began to tease at his groin. She felt Gerry’s body stiffen at first contact, but no stirrings at all beneath the rippling of her digits. When he had rolled the stocking down as far as her heel, he lifted her foot off his groin, removed the article completely and laid it beside its matching pair. He did not place the foot back on his groin, however, but gently lowered it on to the ground. Nonplussed, Claire advanced a step and sat into a straddling position over him. With one hand she began to undo the ties fastening the front of her Basque and with the other she reached for his fly.
It was then that Gerry’s manner changed from passive to belligerent.
“Get off me!” he roared. Catching her by the elbows he lifted her up and tossed her on to the middle of the bed with a force she hadn’t known him to possess. “That’s a fine way to be going on, you slut!”
Before she had recovered from the shock of his outburst, he had wheeled around and pounced on her prone body. After slapping her a few times hard on the cheek he called her a slut again and told her she was dirty.
“It’s all sex with you. All sex. You’ve been trying it on since day one. Well I’m putting a stop to that — right now!”
He put his hands around her neck and started to squeeze. There was nothing Claire could do. Gerry, whom she had always regarded as, if not exactly weak, then delicate, was set so solidly on top of her that she could neither dislodge him with the kicking of her legs nor the wheeling or raking of her arms. She really did think she was going to die until he suddenly released his grip, slid off her and turned his back to resume his watching of the football match.
To repeated calls of “Gerry what have you done?” he did not respond. The match seemed all-important to him now. Claire fled to the bathroom, where she remained for the rest of the night, and where she eventually slept. Lying on a layer of towels and using a bathrobe as a blanket, she found that the bath made a surprisingly comfortable bed. In spite of this, sleep did not come easily. There were Gerry’s pleadings for forgiveness from outside the door. And when these died away, she spent hours mulling over his assault on her. She was certain that she was leaving him; there was no way back from what he had done. She’d seek an annulment as soon as got home. She was also certain that she would get a cab to the airport first thing in the morning and catch the next flight home. She’d pack her things and turn her back on Gerry forever.
Claire reached a rocky outcrop where the beach ended and the coastline made a sharp turn eastwards. It was possible to pick one’s way across the rocks until one arrived at a small, shingly cove. She put on her sandals, gave a look down the still-empty beach and said out loud “Why not?” Once beyond the outcrop, she sat for a rest on a lowish boulder. She shut her eyes to the ruddy rising sun and thought “I’m staying! I’ll ask for another room when I get back to the hotel and I’ll have myself a nice holiday. Gerry can keep the heart-shaped bed and watch as much football as he wants. Or go home. I don’t care. It’s over.”