"I'm not saying it's a bad thing or I want you to keep away from her, but Terry said you and her had another lunch with Sofia in London. What's that about?" Given his regular nightly activities with Marcia's sister, he worried about girl's talk and his secret getting out. And he had become rather fond of Sofia...
Marcia realised this and skilfully threw him a curved ball.
"I asked Livia to go to lunch with Sofia because I'm certain she's got a hot new bloke."
"No, Sofia. She's saying nothing, but I'm certain he's rich... and black."
"What's going on with you and Livia!" Tony added, without menace. "Terry said you was over there last week. I thought you and her didn't get on?"
Marcia was wary of Tony, but she wasn't fazed. She knew that showing any hint of fear meant trouble.
"No we didn't," she freely admitted. "But she's the only sister-in-law I've got and neither of us have many friends, so she invited me for lunch. I thought you might be pleased, seeing that you and Terry are so close too. We had a few laughs and that, but if you want..."
Marcia gave a start when Tony tapped on her bedroom door one evening. She always kept it locked at night as a precaution, not that that would keep Tony out if he was determined to get in. What surprised her was that it was a gentle tap rather than a knock, followed by "Are you awake? You got a moment Marcia? I need to talk."
This immediately seemed out of character, so something was up. Nonetheless, she opened the door and he went in. "Yes?... what is it?"
"What's going on Marcia?" he asked calmly.
"Going on?" she queried.
On his own, Tony was thinking hard.
'The bitches are up to something, I know it. And they've roped in Sofia.'
'No, that's not it. Neither Marcia nor LIvia would dare after the slapping I gave them... or would they? They've both been behaving themselves recently'.
'Clearly Marcia has no idea about me and Sofia, because that crazy cow would kill her sister if she found out.'
'What if Sofia is taking me for a complete sucker and winding up the others? She's smart and she's certainly got balls. But why?'
'Time to have a serious talk to them all!'
Something Terry said to Tony at their office in the East End set alarm bells ringing for him.
"Apparently Marcia came to lunch with Livia last week and then they both went up to Town for lunch with your Sofia yesterday.
"She ain't my Sofia! Who told you that?" Tony was determined to knock that notion on the head.
"No, I meant Marcia's sister. You're a bit touchy today brother. Anyway, it's good to see that suddenly they're all friends." Terry added.
'Few things happen 'suddenly,' thought Tony, 'someone makes them happen... and that's never good! They're up to something!'
Livia would have let it rest at that, but Marcia kept the initiative the very next week by calling Livia to say that she was meeting her sister for lunch in London, near Harrods and would she, Livia, like to join them if they could get babysitters. That seemed like a great idea to Livia. Escape!
The three met in a discreet Italian restaurant in Pavilion Road. Sofia's lunch hour seemed endless. Her presence at lunch didn't arouse Livia's suspicion, particularly after the second bottle of champagne she had insisted upon!
All a little light-headed perhaps, the conversation darkened.
Marcia went over to Livia's house in the next town. Like her own house, it was a high-spec detached place consistent with the affluent Essex golden triangle. 'New money' exclaimed its presence.
Livia's kitchen was certainly something and they sat and ate a very nice lunch, and more importantly drank rather a lot of the Prosecco magnum that Marcia brought. She'd come by taxi so as not to cramp their style.
Livia was quite guarded initially, unsure why Marcia had come over. They did moan about their respective spouses, but gave away little.
Marcia did detect some issues though.
Livia was surprised to get the call from Marcia. She hadn’t seen or heard from her for well over six months. Strange.
“Hi Liv,” Marcia started. Very familiar, thought Livia straight away. “Oh hi!” she replied.
“Liv, I got to thinking. We’re both always stuck at home, so maybe we ought to make the best of it. What say we meet up for lunch and then we can moan about our husbands over a glass of Prosecco?”
“Sounds good”, lied Livia. “Why not come here and I can brag about my new kitchen?”
“Great! I’ll bring the booze... when’s best?”
“When you say ‘bring him down’, Sofe, how far exactly do you plan to go?”
“Well how far is there?” asked Sofia.
“The mortuary, I guess.” was the answer.
“Well that's far enough then!” Sofia added, in her deepest voice.
“There’s one problem though, you know.” said Marcia. “Terry. He may be the weaker, but take Tony down and you’ll have him to reckon with... or take him down too... or quit!”
“That’s true.. Terry would be lost without Tony. You have to be cruel to be kind!” Sofia laughed. “But we’ll need help!”
”Livia!” the women declared in unison.
“I’m saying nothing.” said Marcia.
“You don’t have to, you already have without saying a word. I spend lots of time round your house and I’m not stupid. He must have done something really bad to you and yet you’re still sticking around. I don’t want to know, but if I needed a reason to get Tony, that’s plenty enough for me! Add to that the reality that until very recently he didn’t like me at all, then that’s an even more interesting challenge. I don’t like him or his kind... but you have to keep your enemies close, until...
"The only thing I don't quite get, Sofe, is why you want to take Tony down just for being a lousy shag. Bit extreme don't you think?" Marcia chuckled again.
Composed once more, Sofia explained. "I've seen the change in you Marcia over the past year. And I see how you guys hate each other. I know we never used to be close, but when someone messes around with my big sister, they mess around with me. You were such a gutsy woman... now you're not."
"Excuse me!..." Marcia bristled.
"It's true... and there's only one person responsible for that!"
On hearing Sofia's list, Marcia stopped in her tracks.
"Oh my goodness, that is so delicious...so fucking delicious!" Marcia exclaimed. She laughed out loud, causing her sister to wonder what she'd found so funny.
"You're like a praying mantis!" she continued. "I will take him down, why that sounds almost biblical itself."
Marcia continued laughing, which then infected Sofia, who wasn't quite sure why they were laughing. When it had died down, Sofia asked.
"You don't mind?"
"Mind? Mind? No I bloody don't mind. I hate the vicious bastard. I've every reason. Bring it on Sofe... and I'll help you!"
"Before you answer Sofe, let me make it quite clear that I couldn't care less if you are shagging the bastard. If it keeps him away from me, good luck to you. Honestly. You are most welcome to him, but please don't tell him I know, and I will keep very quiet, I promise. But I'm intrigued as to why you would want to sleep with the monster..." Marcia put her arm round her sister and gave her a hug.
"OK, here goes. One, he's powerful, two I can have power over him and three, I will take him down!"
"Sorry Sofe", said Marcia touching Sofia's arm. "That was really unfair of me, quizzing you like that out of the blue. But I know Tony only too well and I could tell he was starting to like you. It was only a matter of time. He couldn't stand you at first, but when you started flitting about under his nose, well, he is so bloody predictable!"
"I'm really sorry Marcia... it just happened." Sofia started to try and explain.
"It never just happens as you put it Sofe. I just hope you'll get something good out of it.... but what?"
Sofia got a shock one day while she and Marcia were walking Giovanna.
"How are you getting on with Tony?" enquired Marcia casually.
"Oh, he's OK... why do you ask?" Sofia made it sound as casual as the question asked, but she sensed danger.
"I mean what's he like?"
This was getting very worrying.
"What's he like?"
"Oh come on Sofe. I know you're sleeping with him!" This was said without any hint of anger or rancour. "What's he like to shag?"
"Truly?" Sofia asked, still coming to terms with the question.
"Uhu!" Marcia nodded.
"Really, really crap!"
It was a regular thing from then on and always the same routine. On weekends she stayed over, Sofia gave the baby her midnight feed and Tony would be waiting when she returned to her bedroom. He avoided the nursery in case Marcia came out, but he needn't have worried, that was the last thing she wanted to do.
The sex was always the same... ‘Wham, bam’ without even the ‘thank you mam’. But Sofia liked the sense of Tony's power and she reflected upon her own power over him. This was the most delicious part of the encounters.
Typical of many men, Tony wasn't a good lover. He was a selfish one. He didn't have to try, so he didn't. Sofia was very disappointed as she had imagined rather naively that a powerful man might make a powerful lover. She was wrong. It was as if she was a task to be fulfilled... but fulfilled she was not. She understood immediately how Marcia might have been disappointed too.
If she'd been intoxicated with Tony's power until now, this was the point at which she started to 'sober up'. She had fulfilled her first goal.
Now for the second...
Silently, Tony reached for Sofia's hand, which she offered. Closing the nursery door, he led her to her bedroom which was furthest from where Marcia slept. He closed the door.
Sofia didn't say a word, She just disengaged her hand, sliding the straps of her nightdress off her shoulders. one by one, almost in slow-motion. The garment slipped gently to the floor. A nice seductive touch, but one that wouldn't 'make the cut' as Tony spoiled it by lunging at her naked body as if it too might slip away.
Then a mere mechanical process with female sound effects.
The signals were there. Something would happen tonight. However, Sofia's confidence was coming back. She said no more. She just took her time with baby Giovanna, changed her wet nappy and was putting her back into the cot. Meanwhile, Tony hadn't moved or offered to help. He'd just kept his eyes on Sofia.
Then there was a call from Marcia's bedroom.
"Everything OK Sofe?"
Sofia put her finger to her lips and mouthed shhhh! and called back "Yep, she's fine. Just putting her back down."
"Thanks." came the drowsy return call.
"Now what?" asked Tony
Silently, Sofia gestured 'Your call."
"Seen enough yet?" Sofia challenged Tony.
"Not nearly enough!" Tony's gaze lifted and he looked her straight in the eyes. Having always kept herself very composed around Tony, suddenly Sofia was taken by surprise. Her challenge disintegrated. This was it. Or might be.
All she did was say nervously "I guess I look like a younger version of my sister and you must have been attracted to her once, though you don't seem to like each other now. Maybe I'm your type too."
"Unlike Marcia, I actually quite like you.”
"You're a ballsy cow, but I like you too"