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There was something embracing about Vera's cottage, thought Lesley as she snuggled down deeper into the soft cushions of the sofa, which always made her feel as she imagined a kitten would feel when curled up next to mother. Was it the sofa, old and well worn, but an inanimate thing all the same, or was it Vera's presence. Or maybe it was simply that the cottage, half hidden in a combe on the side of the western escarpment offered such welcome warmth and comfort after Lesley had walked the mile of bleak Pennine moorland, braving the raw autumn winds that carried a chill threat of rain, in order to visit her friend.

"Coffee: and a little side order," said Vera as she stepped through from the kitchen to set down a small tray revealing two large cups of milky coffee, two glasses of brandy and some slices of ginger cake. " Comfort food, comfort drinks, now get stuck in and then tell me what brought you over The Withins on such a foul day?"

Vera, as dark and willowy as Lesley was voluptuous and fair, sank elegantly onto the sofa and stretched out her long legs as she reached out to pick up a brandy glass.


"Oh, you know..."

"I do, but you need to tell me."

"It's... I feel so disloyal."

"Well OK, but its no easy walk over the tops, you didn't come that way just to scrounge a cup of coffee." Lesley cradled the large china cup in her two hands and looked at her friend, eyes glistening as emotion welled up in her. Vera looked back enquiringly.

"You're in trouble, aren't you?"

"Not - well - my head is. I have a comfortable life, a beautiful home and my man never looks at another woman. And yet something in my head keeps screaming."

In the long silence Lesley looked around the room which might have been cluttered had everything in it not seemed so right. A bowl of pot pourri from Vera's own garden gave off the delicious scents of the departed summer, the old wood of beams and doors, complemented by antique furniture was set off by pastel paint on none too smooth walls. There was something about the room that spoke to Lesley. Vera tilted her head slightly to one side in a silent question.

"Oh, I was just admiring your room, it always makes me feel so welcome."

"Its the 'fuck - off' style of decorating."

"The what?"

"The 'fuck-off' style. None of the stuff goes together really, but I like it and it makes me feel good and anybody else can fuck off." Lesley giggled.

Vera sensed she had opened a door. "You said Peter never looks at another woman but I guess what you meant is he never looks at a woman, including you."

"Oh Vera, how do you get to be so smart? Sex for us is as routine as going for a dump."

"Darling, I've had many an orgasm while having a dump."

"Oh no, wow, I mean yeah? seriously?"

Vera smiled a mysterious half smile, "Maybe I have a uniquely orgasmic anus but I think its not uncommon." Twirling her glass with slender fingers she too a sip of brandy.

There was another long silence and Lesley sensed she was expected to break it

. "Vera, I hope you don't mind me turning up like a bad penny. I was just, I get, it sounds stupid I know but I'm...


Lesley smiled and nodded.

"Do you have any idea how many lonely women are slowly being smothered by loveless marriages. Some men marry in passionate love and it lasts a lifetime, with others it burns out in a few years. Then the woman can leave or she can decide sex and passion are not that important and settle for comfort. The majority of men however marry to find a mother substitute who will run around wiping their arses for them. And that soon turns to misery for the wife."

"Pete is certainly one of those. So what do I do about it?"

"You can leave him and find something better, you can change him - or, seeing as you are a woman and you deserve it, you can have your cake and eat it." Vera slid along the cushions until she was next to Lesley, picked up two pieces of the sweet, spicy cake, put one in her friend's open mouth and popped the other in her own in a way that was somehow suggestive.

"Is it true what they say around the village about you Vera?"

"That I murdered my wealthy husband and dropped his body in a peat bog? Absolutely."

"No, I mean I've never heard anyone say that, that you are a witch."

"Such a question to ask a girl on the twenty - first of October. What's a witch anyway? I had a small business selling natural beauty products made from traditional recipes. That kind of thing became fashionable, I sold out to a big firm and live on the proceeds. You knew all that though."

"People say you're a wit - pagan?"

"So I am, but that just means someone who lives close to nature and you can't get much closer to nature than this place, almost a mile from my nearest neighbour. Pagans don't believe in the devil. Honestly darling, I've never danced naked under the full moon. Weeeeell, not as part of a religious ceremony at least. But I do know things that could help you."

"Help me what? Get rid of Peter. How would I live?"

"Help you have your cake and eat it if you must. First though, you need to find out who you really are and what you want." Without Lesley noticing, Vera had inched closer and now their faces were only inches apart.

"Vera, what are we, what are you doing?"

"We're having an intimate conversation about your love life."

Lesley saw in close up the way the full, well defined, so tempting lips formed the words, observed the pupils of large, tawny eyes swell slightly and felt warm breath on her face. The logical, conformist side of her was saying, no this is not what we do, we're straight, but the other voice was goading her to carry on, to find out what would happen.

Vera had never been a conventionally pretty woman, her rather strong features could best be described as striking. Consequently she looked better now, approaching middle age that through her teen and twenties years. She spoke softly, assuringly, as desire fought with convention in Lesley's mind.

"Look, we've been friends for nearly a year but we've never had chance to be close friends. Sweetheart, your loneliness has been obvious to me, I have wanted to be able to get through to you." Vera reached out and let her fingertips wander down the smooth skin of the other woman's cheek, follow the line of her neck and continue. Though only the slightest pressure was being exerted and that through the fabric of a T shirt and sports bra, when the caressing fingertips wandered over her nipple Lesley gasped as if she had received an electric shock. It was she who move her head forward until their lips met.

"Shall we go somewhere we can stretch out?" Vera asked a few minutes later.

"I'll finish my drink," said Lesley with some enthusiasm.

"Just grab your glass, we'll take the bottle with us." Vera had said, leading her partner by the hand to the place where she would reveal the great secret. ..................................Continue Reading: PART 2

The Spirits Of Wycoller Sceptics scoff at the old man's stories of paranormal activity in an abandoned village and its ruined manor house. But when a group of young professionals decide to spend a night within the walls of the old house, the ghost hunters become the hunted. If anybody needs a reminder that it is always unwise to mess with the dark side they'll find it here. The Strangers Field [ Part 1] ... [Part 2] ... [Part 3] ... [Part 4]
The Grey Lady Of Dunkenhalgh Hall
The Kiss [Part 1] ... [Part 2] ... [ Part 3 ]
Mr Wilde's Farewell
Girl In A Blue Dress