Alex sipped her breakfast coffee and nibbled her crispbread. Charles had left very early this morning and Amelie was taking the twins to nursery school today. Thank God for a plain looking au pair. She tossed the newspaper to one side and picked up the programme from the previous evening’s concert. She had not read it properly last night and she had only just noticed that it included a translation of the motet’s title from the original mediaeval Latin. ‘Spem in alium nunquam habui praeter inte’, meaning ‘I have never put my hope in any other but you’.
Of course she knew that this was a reference to the only One, the One Above, but she read the translation aloud and then laughed. She would never put her trust in only one person. Alex had always relied on several people close to her to provide her with her needs at any one time. She could not ever imagine relying on one sole being. “Even if I did believe in God, I would still need human company. Who on earth puts all their faith in one person?”
But as she read this again and wondered about its meaning, she felt once more that unsettling tingle on her skin that she had experienced when the choral music captivated her last night. Only now it was not rapturous, it was fear or at least unease and she remembered that unknown figure, that female interloper who appeared to be challenging her, no taunting her with her arched brows and her satisfied smile. Alex knew that the two men closest to her, men whose desires she thought she understood and could accommodate, were drawn to this woman. They both seemed so deeply attracted to her, as if she had an invisible force, that Alex began to think that perhaps they were both fastening all their hopes and desires on this strange woman.
Coffee finished, she lit the first cigarette of the day and checked her diary. She planned to go to the auction house viewing at Grayswell Manor today. Perhaps she would give Nick a ring and see if he was thinking of going too. He often went to auctions and this was the first big country house sale in the area that she could remember.
Flicking through the illustrated auction catalogue, she saw quite a few paintings listed. She would rather like a large oil for the dining room; tones of plum and lilac perhaps. Although she rarely bought at auction, ( too unpredictable, darling) she loved the atmosphere, the combination of big money, phone bidding, wads of cash and the variety of personalities, from the smooth suited dealers to the rough leather jacketed traders.
Nick was not answering, but she left a message on his mobile. “Hi sweetie, just wondering if you’re going to the Grayswell viewing today. Might see you there and thought maybe we could grab some lunch after?”
Later, just as she was coming out of the bathroom, fresh from a tingling shower, her hair wrapped in a large towel, Nick returned her call. “Alex my love, got your message. I was going to pop over to Grayswell later this afternoon, but if it means seeing you I can drop everything and go earlier.”
“I wouldn’t want to drag you away from anything important Nick…”
“Important? What’s more important than seeing the best looking girl I know. Best dressed too…”
“Well I will be soon. I’ve only just got out of the shower.”
“Damp and steamy eh?” He made a mock groan. “Don’t Alex, stop there, don’t get me all excited! I’m in the office!”
She laughed, “I’m wrapped up in towels, silly, but I can be ready in an hour. Shall we do the sale first?”
to be continued February 29