Paolo sat down to take it all in. His initial anger morphed into feelings of fear and desperation. He couldn’t believe Sofia was doing this to him... or could he? He was busy thinking back and analysing how it could have happened. He was pretty certain when, but he internalised his anger, realising that under the circumstances he had been foolish to let his guard down with a woman he’d almost strangled in a fit of rage. Maybe that was why she was doing this to him... but maybe... probably in fact... she was hard-wired to deceive and manipulate.
The note gave account details. It continued:
You need to know that I have lodged two further envelopes containing these photographs with my solicitor, instructed to send one to Tony and the other to the Metropolitan Police should I instruct them or should anything untoward happen to me.
To give these some tangible support, one severed left index finger, with, I believe, your fingerprint on the fingernail, is being kept in a frozen state in case it is required later as evidence.
To ensure this confidential material remains confidential, payment must be cleared by Midnight tomorrow, no ifs, no buts.
The note accompanying the photographs was typewritten. It read:
Paolo. You’ve been been very clever in gaining the confidence and trust of Tony and somehow, without his knowledge, managing to extort £400,000 in ransom for his beloved brother whom you had already brutally killed. The trust he affords you can change though.
As the enclosed photographs show, you have also been rather careless in allowing someone access to your freezer and it’s gruesome contents, one of which seems to have gone missing.
Carelessness costs; in this case £200,000, 50% of your gains, to be paid into the following offshore account...
Paolo had quickly opened the larger envelope and the first thing he saw was a photograph of his tiny freezer with the five-pack of Terry’s fingers, then the same fingers out of their freezer bag and on the bedclothes next to him asleep. He felt a sudden knot in his gut. He instantly knew what this was all about. He uttered nothing until he’d skimmed his eyes over Sofia’s note. Then he spat out “The bitch, the fucking bitch. I’ll kill her!”
He might well want to kill Sofia, but a careful re-read of her note suggested otherwise.
He saw the small envelope first. It contained a card with the legend ‘THANKS!’ on the cover. Inside, Sofia had written a brief message.
Dear Paolo, thanks for a wonderful ‘games night’! You were such a good sport. Sorry I had to leave so soon, but I have to work to make ends meet. I’m so glad our ‘ends met’ (hehe!). I’m sure we’ll meet again, but they might not! Sofia X.
PS IOU repayment details and stuff in large envelope. Sx
Paolo smiled at the ‘Xes’ and reminder of their games.
A smile that quicky turned into a scowl...
Both Paolo and Sofia had very good sleeps, in separate flats. Paolo woke refreshed, but bewildered that he was alone, with no sign of Sofia ever having been there. Part of him was a touch relieved because despite a wonderful climax to ‘games night’, she’d rather unnerved him. Another part of him would have liked an early morning ‘aperitif’.
He called her name, wondering if she was in the bathroom, kitchen or living room of the small flat. No reply. He got up, stretched, scratched himself below...
He ambled naked into the living room.
There on the table...
Ready to leave, Sofia turned and gave the sleeping Paolo one last wistful look, part admiration, part pity and a tiny, tiny part regret. Her sigh was silent as she turned, checked the two envelopes on his table, quietly switched off the light as she left the bedroom and silently closed the flat door behind her.
It was after midnight, but she had noticed a minicab office a short step down the street, where she sat while waiting for a cab.
Had she been a man, maybe she wouldn’t have entertained any thoughts of regret. But she was a woman.
Sofia nimbly scoured the room silently for the playing cards and hoops used in her games. It wasn’t too difficult as she’d carefully planned her exit. As she’d taken off her clothes during their Poker game, she’d been deliberate in the way she carefully smoothed and placed each item on a chair, ostensibly to heighten Paolo’s anticipation - making it last. It may have made it last but it also made them easy to find... and still smart enough to wear.
Dressing silently, she packed her bag and placed two envelopes, one large, one small, each marked ‘Paolo’, on his table.
As Paolo lay there on his back exhausted, Sofia snuggled up to him, skin to skin. His left hand made a half-hearted attempt on Sofia’s inner thigh, which, in that simple and direct way that women have, she moved back on top of him. ‘Time’s up,’ she thought, ‘find your own playmate,’ which he promptly did.
Holding his own wasn’t going to prevent Paolo from drifting off to sleep. Sofia wouldn’t be succumbing here tonight though. She lay patiently until she was certain he was out like a light and then she gently slid out of bed.
Not thinking anything into Sofia’s ‘the last time’ comments other than an encouragement to take it easy and make it last, Paolo managed to restrain himself early on until Sofia beneath him started to respond to her own physical needs, at which point he was unable to temper his need for sexual resolution. He became much more physical, like an autopilot on steroids.
It had exhausted him as he lay beside Sofia. Still naked and now without the physical effort or Paolo’s body to keep her warm, Sofia pulled a sheet over them both.
Later she would pull the rug...
Sofia delighted in Paolo’s embarrassment. Rather than let him off the hook, she joked.
“What’s happened to your ardour, Paolo? You’ll ‘ave to try ‘arder to get ‘arder, won’t you?” That really wasn’t the way to get Paolo back in the mood. Sofia laughed... then apologised.
“Sorry Paolo. Let me give you a hand... or in fact two.”
Sofia expertly attended to the problem and even had to stop herself over-priming him.
“Now,” she declared, “let’s make this like the last time we’ll ever do this. Take it slowly, let’s make it last. We may never do it again.”
Paolo agreed to Tuesday for his date with Marcia. The phone call and Marcia’s last throwaway comment had rattled him. For some reason he felt he needed to explain the call and he started to craft a limp lie about meeting a mate of his, but Sofia quickly closed him down.
“Don’t bullshit me, Paolo. That was no mate. I think it was Livia because you’re sweet on her and she has you dangling on a string.”
Paolo could live with that explanation. But his lie wasn’t the only thing that was limp.
“Now Paolo... what do you call that!”
Marcia continued, “I don’t really care who you’re with Paolo, provided you’ve enough left in the tanks for me next week. What day can you come over?”
“Any” was Paolo’s reply.
“Any day you mean?” Marcia was pushing. “Which day? You choose Paolo.”
Paolo wasn’t sure if Sofia had guessed that the caller was a woman and whom she might be. Anyway, he didn’t want her knowing his arrangements.
“Any” he repeated, slightly nervously.
“OK Paolo, I know you’ve someone with you. Let’s say Tuesday at 2pm. Oh, and I hope for your sake that’s not Sofia. She’s Tony’s girl.”
When someone’s lying on top of you speaking on a phone it’s difficult not to hear the whole conversation. Sofia heard all right and delighted in the squirminess of Paolo’s responses to her sister. This was fun.
So, the little devil was shagging Marcia too. Sofia couldn’t care one jot because if so, for once in her life, Marcia was getting Sofia’s hand-me-downs and not vice versa.
Aware that Sofia might be able to hear, Paolo had no option but to disengage from her as naturally as possible and stand up. Nature helped him by standing him down.
“Yes, it’s me. Who else did you think it might be?” Paolo decided to go slightly on the attack, although Marcia wasn’t going to let him off easily.
“Do you know who this is then?” replied Marcia, testily.
“Of course I do.” Paolo wasn’t getting the best of the conversation so far.
“Well then... aren’t you going to tell me?”
“Now you’re being a bit silly!” was all Paolo could think of to avoid saying her name. But there was no fooling Marcia.
“You’ve got someone with you haven’t you Paolo? Something’s up, and I think it might be you.”
Paolo had done his duty by Sofia and was busy staking his own claim to satisfaction when on the table next to the bed his phone rang. Sofia instinctively reached out her left arm to pick up the phone. Instantly realising it wasn’t hers, she passed it to the over-eager Paolo, noticing as it passed her eyes that it was Marcia calling.
‘This could be interesting’ she thought as Paolo, clearly embarrassed, merely answered “Hello” although he knew it was Marcia. ‘What delicious embarrassment.’ thought Sofia, ‘let’s make it last too!’
“Is that you Paolo?” asked Marcia, mildly irritated.
When the ten minutes was up, so was Paolo. He whirled round like a schoolboy leaping up when he’d heard the school bell and Sofia realised that the games were over. There would be no stopping Paolo now, so she didn’t. She did, though, insist upon him satisfying her needs before he attended to his own.
“It’ll get you even more in the mood Paolo, not that you seem to need any encouragement young man!” she added. “Let’s call it your ‘amuse bouche’!
Once Sofia was satisfied with his attentions, she let him know it was his turn. The entrée.
Sofia quickly broke away.
“I have another game!” she declared. “We stand back to back, bum to bum and we’re allowed to reach behind each other and touch and feel anything we can, provided that our bottoms remain in contact. Eyes closed; no turning round. I’ll set my timer for ten minutes. OK?”
That seemed a much better game to Paolo, particularly after his humiliating deflation. The reality was that it was more difficult for Paolo to touch that much of Sofia’s naked body, but by contrast, her slim fingers were quite able to tease him into arousal once again.
Paolo was relieved at Sofia’s poor aim. One IOU clawed back. This was silly but he would humour her.
His relief was shattered when Sofia, who had used the first attempt to get her eye in, turned out to have an extremely good aim. One by one, all the remaining nine rings encircled their target. Each ‘click’, as ring after ring collided with the previous, contributed to Sofia’s delight and Paolo's humiliation. Eventually, that humiliation dampened his ardour and the rings clattered to the floor.
Sofia took pity on him and went forward to kiss him, safe for the moment.
“This is how it works Paolo. I’m giving you the chance to repay some of your IOUs.” Sofia held up the large coloured plastic hoops, gesturing towards his upstanding manhood as she stepped back about six feet. “I have ten rings here. Every time I miss, one of your IOUs will be rescinded. OK? Does that seem a good game?”
It didn’t seem like a good game to Paolo, but what did he have to lose but a bit of dignity and he’d lost that already. He had lots to gain.
The first ring flew low, falling to the floor.