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Chapter 4

In the days that followed, Alex and Claudia’s connection intensified. They were in the centre of a perfect storm, both knowing that at any minute the walls around them could come crashing down.

Both were aware of the dangerous ground they were treading on, particularly Claudia who knew that with every word she exchanged with Alex, she was one step closer to the tipping point in her marriage.

Claudia wanted nothing more than to run. Pack her bags, close the front door, get into her car, and drive.

Away from this life that no longer served her.

But she knew that could never happen. She was shackled to the contract of a failed, empty marriage and she knew that Gareth would no sooner kill her than let her go.

Alex was acutely aware of the risk of any deeper contact, be it in the flesh or otherwise. He ached to dial her number, to hear her voice as she answered the telephone, and to simply say, “Guess who?”

In an attempt to ground himself, he started sculpting a work of art in the background, a picture of a time where they would be reunited, free from the shackles of their past. An erotic love thriller of epic proportions…


Claudia Stevenson

8:32pm August 20th

Hmmm Alex, I like the sound of this work of art…

Kyle is writing a Technology test on Friday and has to learn about different types of wood, how to hold a hammer, and…well, I’m helping him with that in an attempt to distract myself from thoughts of you. Which, I might add, are completely out of control.

I had a quick bath before coming down to the office. It was hot and steamy…kind of like this exchange we are sharing with each other at the moment…


Alex Winterton

8:51pm August 20th


You really are the proverbial multitasker: wife, mother, teacher, and right there in the middle, sexy, cyber soul mate. Now I know why we men are slowly becoming extinct.

As for the bath, I think you’re going to need a few more, you bad, dirty girl.

Now sitting with an excited and naughty grin and contemplating the concept of wood…

I really battled to sleep last night. I had thoughts of you running through my head and I kept tossing and turning. I cannot even begin to explain this tantalising excitement that has flooded my core since you came back into my life.

I think Christine picks up on me lately (not you and me or anything like that – so don’t worry).

It’s just that there is this weird thing going on: I have really been battling with my feelings and have been very conscious of hers – trying to give her the strength she needs, (there is a very long story here and this one I will only tell you in person), but over the last few days she has been picking up on my stronger sense of self and it is making her feel very uneasy (right now as I type this I am not sure if I should be telling you all this – I feel like I am betraying her somewhat).

Today, we had a bad session with each other. I had to come home early because she went into a deep depression. We spoke and there were tears and then we spoke some more. As I was saying though, I kept thinking of you. I think it’s all the things we were chatting about, especially all the stuff from Saturday and Sunday. That was truly deep and involved.

I must still mention to you, (and I know we have touched on this and you need not reply, but I just need to get it out there, so you know), but it really does pain me that you and Gareth are not one hundred percent in your happy place. It is really sad when couples lose that connection and just can’t make it work beyond a point.

The only thing I think – and this is maybe how I am dealing with my own situation – is that the Universe gives us the opportunity to be with special people all the time, and we need to totally absorb every moment and share everything we can. We need to make the most of it because sometimes it’s not forever (and this happens with acquaintances, friends, lovers and marriage). The real gifts are the times we spend together with those people that touch our lives and the memories we leave with each other. Sadly though, some people choose to remember only the bad, and that is where the tragedy creeps in.

Well, I’ll be hanging around and hoping I might see something, but if not, for now, that’s absolutely cool.

By the way, do you use Skype?


Claudia Stevenson

10:07pm August 20th

Do I use Skype?

What I wouldn’t do to hear your voice, I have little electric prickles going through my body as I imagine it

Having said that though, we would have to be very careful if we took the step to chat in a live environment like that…


Alex Winterton

10:19pm August 20th

Don’t worry, I wouldn’t phone you online, we can just type for now. I think the pressure would be immense and I couldn’t put you through that.

Send me your details and I’ll do the rest.


Claudia Stevenson

11:10pm August 20th

Oh my word, I’ve just added you as a contact on Skype…

I feel as if I have just taken a freefall dive off a cliff…

Alex                Hey you!

Claudia         Oh my God, there you are! This feels so surreal.

Alex             Well my sexy cyber soul mate, this is totally real and happening.

Claudia         Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we’d be talking to each other like this.

Alex             Me neither. But I am glad we are.

Claudia            Alex, I really want to say how sorry I am about what happened between you and Christine today. It doesn’t sound good.

Alex                Thank you. I appreciate that. It’s all pretty intense at the moment, but I guess we are both focussed on the end goal and we can’t allow ourselves to get derailed in the process.

Claudia         Gareth and I have said about ten words to each other tonight. We’re miles away from the end goal!

Alex                 Are you sure things can’t improve for you and Gareth?

Claudia            Alex, I don’t know, honestly. I actually don’t know how to even begin to explain. I am caught between a rock and a hard place, literally.

I keep thinking that moving out to the country will fix everything, but the more I think about it and see the dynamics of our marriage the more I know that it is not the solution. There are deeper issues which neither of us see eye to eye on.

The only common goal we share at the moment is selling our house, building our dream house, and our children, and we hardly see eye to eye over them either. It’s just so damn tiring. He wants me to love him but I can’t. There’s no love left. There’s nothing about him that excites me anymore. It’s so sad to have to say it.

I just think he deserves better. Someone who’s more on his wavelength than I am.

Alex                 You know what, this is so weird…your words sound exactly the way Christine feels about us.

Claudia            I feel guilty sitting here talking to you (even though I love it so much) because I wish I could be talking to him like this, but it’s like there is this big brick wall that I’ve built up between me and him.

Alex                 I’m not comparing you at all.

Claudia          I know that.

Alex                It’s just…how does the other person turn that around? I mean, you feel you need more from Gareth and Christine feels she needs more from me. I know in my heart I have tried all I can and then some.

Claudia            But neither of us can give it because there’s something blocking it. I’ve also tried so hard and I’m not a difficult person, I just can’t stand the verbal abuse anymore.

Alex                And here are two people sharing this sort of stuff with someone other than who they should be sharing it with.

Claudia            Even our friends have picked up on Gareth and I, which is really sad because everyone can see it.

Alex                I know that feeling. The thing that is in my space the most is that we will eventually have so many people to tell: People that have always known us as a couple.

Claudia            Yes, I know, that’s the hardest part.  Shit, it’s hectic. I wish I could wave a wand and have this all behind me. Right now I’m worried about how this is going to impact everyone’s lives. It is so damn scary.

Alex                Okay, guess what? I refuse to allow either of us to go off to bed on this extremely solemn note, so let’s both close our eyes and send each other a virtual hug.

Claudia           Okay, but let me first mop up the tears.

Alex                 No, now come on my sexy cyber soul mate. None of that. Now close your eyes.

Claudia           Eyes are closed.

Alex                Imagine me kissing you on each of your eyelids. Feel my love for you right now.

Claudia          That’s beautiful Alex. Thank you.

Alex                You’re so welcome.

Alex                 PS – I really sifted through your photos on Facebook tonight

Claudia          Oh yes? And?

Alex                It was such fun actually.

Alex                And you have really beautiful boys.

Claudia         Thank you Alex.

Claudia          You are one gorgeous human being you know that?

Alex                I am glad someone notices. Thank you!

Alex                You’re pretty special yourself you know.

Claudia           I wish you could see the smile on my face right now.

Alex                Rather than see it, I can feel it.

Alex                I’ve really enjoyed tonight…

Claudia          Me too Alex, more than you know.

Alex                Okay, don’t make me beat you – off to bed with you!

Claudia         Okay then, sweet dreams you sweet person.

Alex                Night, night


Claudia locked the door to her office and walked upstairs. She knelt down beside Ross and Kyle as they lay sleeping in their beds and kissed them both on their foreheads. She hated herself for the double life she was living and deep down in her soul she knew that there was going to come a time where enough was enough. Something had to give.

She woke up the next morning and Gareth rolled over and looked her in the eyes.

“You’re the best thing that ever happened to me, Claudia,” he said.


 Claudia Stevenson

7:25am August 21st

Alex, I cannot begin to tell you how much you are consuming my thoughts. The more I think about you, the more I have to pinch myself to remind myself that you are real. In your soul you are still the same boy that I fell in love with all those years ago, yet you seem so different.

I truly love the person you have become.

I just wanted to tell you that.

I know we went over Christine and you and Gareth and I last night, but I must just say once again how freaky it is that we are basically sitting in the same boat. Both feeling this guilt because of the strength we are drawing from each other – it is immensely powerful I tell you – so much so that we feel we almost have an edge over our situations.

Gareth knows something is up. This morning he told me that I am the best thing that ever happened to him. Why would he say something like that when deep down he is so unhappy in our marriage? He’s always moaning about how much I’ve changed.

He says he’s proud of who I’ve become but can’t understand why there’s no closeness between us, even though I’ve told him why so many times, I swear he thinks I’m making things up.

On Friday night we went out for pizzas with the boys and I bumped into a friend who’s going through a divorce but who seemed incredibly happy. I was telling Gareth about her and he looked at me and said “Is that what you want?”

So I said “Maybe”.

“Or maybe a six month break”.

And he said there was no way that I could live without him for six months.

Sometimes I think he is so conceited.


Alex Winterton

9:55am August 21st

Falling asleep last night was no easy task at all. Thoughts of you consumed me too.

Young lady, seventeen years ago I was a young and immature punk with very little if any focus at all. It was all about going out with mates and getting as drunk as possible. Today, you are being re-introduced to a well-groomed, exceptionally intelligent, keenly focused young man. (Did I tell you I was in marketing?…grin)

As for the spouse’s saga, I sense your frustration, and for that I am truly sorry, but at the same time I am glad that we can share this part of our lives with each other.

I am so happy with us right now. In fact, you have no idea…



Claudia Stevenson

18:10pm August 21st

I like the description of the New You. I didn’t quite ever see you as the young, immature punk you described, but I totally love the man you have become!

You think you’re happy? I’m totally and blissfully elated. I am still pinching myself that we’re here; that you’re here, in my life, in a way I never could have dreamed possible.


 It was hardly noticeable at first, but the pounding walls that surrounded the eye of that perfect storm had begun to gain momentum.

Tips of white were forming on the crests of the waves that surrounded Alex and Claudia as they tried to escape. Escape from their current lives. To see the sun shine again. To feel the gentle breeze of the ocean dance between them.

The sky grew dark and the sun clenched her golden rays into her fist.

The black swan had begun his approach…

 Read Chapter 5










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