I arrived at the station almost half an hour early for Arlen’s train. Having not slept all night, I decided to just go when I was ready and wait there in the café. After all that to-ing and fro-ing about what to wear, I realised that I was dressed exactly the same as when we first met: no excess skin, no deep cleavage, and nothing from his fantasies. If he could have found his way to the castle on his own, I might have answered the door nude, but that would have been playing my hand too soon.
We were going to have sex, and he was going to make the first move.
After a peck on the cheek and a brief embrace, we took the long walk up the drive to the castle. This wasn’t its most imposing aspect, but with the thaw, the woods were soggy and the burn had overflowed its banks. The silence was awkward. I was certain he wanted to discuss his music, while I had only one thing on my mind.
“I hope you didn’t mind that Amelia is coming tomorrow. The flights were all booked up for the weekend. I just thought that with all your spare rooms, she could join us.”
“It’s not a problem,” I’d repeated for the n-th time. It meant that we would have little time alone together, and it also forced my hand. Tonight had to be the night. I hadn’t ovulated yet, and hoped it would come soon. I wasn’t sure I would have the opportunity to take my temperature later.
“This is quite a place you have!” he exclaimed as the castle came into view.
“It’s a bit of a noose, but I’d never leave it.”
“What do you mean by a noose.”
“It’s expensive to keep up. The profits from the visitors centre and rent on the leaseholds only just covers its upkeep. We have a Celtic festival and a few concerts on the grounds during the summer. I do my best to stay at the university when people are around.”
“Don’t you get lonely?”
“I’ve got the ghosts to keep me company, and if I’m not practising, I’m online chatting or …” I almost admitted to having a twitter account.
“Emailing someone.” That was safe.
“So how many rooms are there?” he asked as we walked closer. The weather was unseasonably warm for January, so he unbuttoned his coat.
“116 altogether,” I replied, “but a number are old servants’ rooms or part of the ruin. Don’t open any doors that have heavy iron handles or are cold.”
“I wasn’t planning on exploring without your permission.”
“Visitors often can’t sleep at night because of the ghosts, so they roam around. I think Nicole wandered around almost every night, ending up sleeping on the couch in my room a few times until the ghosts accepted her.”
Arlen shifted his luggage to his other hand, having refused to let me help him. “What if your ghosts don’t accept me?”
“They won’t haunt you, if that is what you are thinking. They’ll go about their business, but sometimes they make noises – doors closing, occasionally shrieks and other noises, like lovemaking.” I had to slip that in.
“Yes, you might hear them in the hallway.” We entered through the tradesman’s entrance. It was the closest to the drive, and I didn’t want Arlen to become too exhausted. We climbed upstairs through the servants corridors, emerging almost magically into his bedroom. “This is your room. Mine’s the next one along. Remember to keep adding coal to the fire. We lose a lot of heat through the chimneys, and I wouldn’t want you to get cold at night.”
“This is quite a room!”
“It was mine when I was young. My mother liked to keep me close at night in case I woke up. If the truth be told, she spent more nights awake than I did. She used to sneak in and sit by my fire as I slept. There’s a secret door directly through to my room in the bookcase on that wall.” I stepped over to it. “Pushing that book releases the catch.” I demonstrated.
With a noisy clank, the door opened. “Not very subtle,” he remarked. “I’m surprised she didn’t wake you.”
“The mechanism has been out of alignment as long as I can remember. If you want to be silent, you need to enter from the servants’ door, I showed you in the hallway.”
“I wasn’t planning on accosting you during the night,” he chuckled.
I shrugged, not expecting him to have said anything else. “Do you want to settle in, or should I show you around? Are you hungry? Did you have lunch on the train?”
“Let’s look around, and if there is time, I’d like to hear you play my pieces.”
“There’s plenty of time. We’ve got the whole evening together. Nicole showed me how to cook something for your dinner, which I’ve planned for seven.”
“That’s sounds just fine.”
Leaving the door open between our rooms, I showed him into the main hallway. “My door is there, of course,” I said. pointing to the door at the end of the hallway. “If you need anything, just come in. I can’t always hear a knock.” He’d get a free show, too! He knew I slept naked.
“There are six more bedrooms this way,” I said, leading him back towards the main staircase, “and more upstairs, but we don’t heat them. You can also reach them by the back stairs. Above them are servants’ quarters.”
“How many servants do you have?” he asked.
“None now. I had a nanny when I was young, but she slept on this floor, and there was also a cook and housekeeper. They slept on the floor above. A century ago, the family had a staff of thirty. Now much of the work around this place is taken care of by the estate. We shouldn’t see much of them until Easter.”
We turned and walked downstairs. “This, of course, is the main foyer. This floor has ten public rooms. The parlour on the left has the best view of the gardens. I spend most of my time there during the day. Next to it is the library, but I don’t use it much. If I need to study, I’ll usually do it in my bedroom. It also has a nice view of the gardens. On the right, there is the old parlour, which leads to the old wing and through there to the old keep and state rooms. Those are unheated, so I wouldn’t advise going there at night. If it is warm tomorrow, we can take the visitors tour before we go meet Amelia’s train.”
I directed him through to the main state room. “This is amazing. Is all that land yours?” He couldn’t resist staring at the vista, rather than the room itself.
“As far as you can see,” I replied, exaggerating, “well, as far as the river.”
“That’s still quite a holding.”
“My family is one of Scotland’s oldest.”
“But you aren’t part of the main Johnstone clan?”
“There was a major split in the 15th century, when we were on two sides of a rebellion. Ours lost, but remarkably we were able to hold on to our land. The feud came later. I don’t know all the history. The estate stewards take care of all that. I just live here and play my piano.”
“Speaking of which …”
“The next room on the right is the music room. It has an old pipe organ at one end, but it’s out of use.” The opposite end featured my Steinway.
“This is like a concert hall!”
“We can seat 150. My mother used to invite people around to show off my talents. I still play an open concert during the summer, and chamber music groups often hire the hall for concerts in season. I think we have four booked this summer. Would you like me to play for you now? I can show you the kitchen and dining areas later if you wish, although we’ll probably eat in the parlour by the fire. The dining hall is too large for two people.”
I spent the next two hours playing through his piece for him, adjusting tempos and dynamics, but mostly he was happy with my work. I left him alone while I cooked dinner, lasagne, which was a long way from battered fish and chips. Nicole said it was one of his favourites.
After eating, I joined him on the couch in the parlour by the fire. “Tell me about Amelia,” I said, trying to get conversation moving.
“What’s there to say? She studied with me right when I began teaching. We became very close, and was hurt when I chose to marry Aoife.”
“I don’t know. She was dating someone from London at the time.”
“I heard she was pregnant when you married.”
He flushed. I’d struck a nerve. “She was.”
“Everyone thinks he’s your son.”
“Your harem.” I might as well let everything out in the open. “I have to admit that the pictures I’ve seen don’t lead me to believe otherwise.”
He stared down at his hands. “Yes, he is my son.”
“I thought you never slept with your students.”
“Not while they studied with me.”
“Did Aoife know?”
“Yes, we had an arrangement.”
This was getting interesting. “What kind of an arrangement?”
“Aoife needed a husband for family reasons. She’s Catholic.”
“What does that have to do with it?” I asked. “So am I, technically.”
“She’s a lesbian, but her family doesn’t know. They were trying to marry her to a local boy, but she had a girlfriend.”
“Where’s this girlfriend?”
“Long gone. I was too much in the way.”
“Is that why you don’t have any children?”
He chuckled to himself, opened his mouth to speak, then stopped.
“How many children do you have?” I asked, making the obvious leap.
“Twelve, soon to be thirteen. Laura Liu is pregnant.”
“How many of your students have you slept with?”
“As I said, none while they were my students, but most of the ones you know. Both Amelia’s children are mine.”
“You still sleep with her, don’t you?” I accused. “You are going to rendezvous with her while you are here.”
“That was the plan,” he admitted, folding his hands across his chest.
“And Aoife doesn’t mind?”
“It gets me out of the house.”
“So she can sleep with Sandra?”
Arlen shot me a look. He didn’t know. “Aoife offered her our spare room. She stays with us as often as three times a week, but plans to move in during the summer. She isn’t getting along with her parents. I don’t think they are happy about her being gay.”
“I’m not sure she is. Gay as a fancy, maybe, but she is moving in for the kill on you. She wants you.”
“How do you know that?”
“We all do.” There, I put in on the table. “I don’t know why, but every one of us is very possessive of you.”
“Everyone wants something,” he shrugged.
“They think that they can sleep their way to a career through me.”
“They do it through their own talent.”
“But you do nothing to dissuade them?”
“I’m just … I’ve …” he stopped, playing with his wedding ring. “I have needs that Aoife is unwilling to provide.”
“And your students just conveniently fall in love with you?”
“Do you realise that Nicole is in love with you?” he asked, attempting to retake the offensive.
“What makes you think that?”
“Haven’t you been following her on Twitter?”
“No.” It hadn’t come up, and I hadn’t thought of searching for her. Twitter. Arlen was on Twitter. Did he follow me?
“I suggest you take a look. She is head-over-heels-forever-and-ever-amen in love with you. I’ll never forgive you if you hurt her.”
“I think she’s in love with you, too.”
“Maybe, but it isn’t the same. She wants to spend the rest of her life with you. You should have read her tweets from the train after she left here. That kiss sealed the deal.”
“But she knows I’m not gay,” I objected.
“She doesn’t care. She even said it: you don’t need to have sex with her.”
I needed to dump that subject. I liked Nips a lot, but not in that way. I could live with her, though. We were good together, very good. “You’ve been spying on me. What else do you know?”
“I’ve read your tweets, too. You want to have sex with me tonight. You want me to get you pregnant. So does Charlotte. So does Nicole. Surprisingly, they also want me to get you pregnant. I don’t understand why.”
“She isn’t quite so vocal online, but as you observed, she’s moving in for the kill. That’s why everyone hates her. As you now know, she’s actually a very nice person.”
“She is, but are you resigned to making that commitment? If you had to pick only one of us, would she be that one? I can’t believe you are going to be able to continue sleeping around after she moves in.”
“Amelia is the only one I have continued sleeping with. The others were just a couple of times, until they left Leeds for new pastures.”
“So you aren’t very good in bed. They all dumped you after the sex? That’s disappointing.”
“They never actually dump me. I just cease to become useful to them. I don’t have much self-control, so if they came back wanting more, I’d probably give it to them.”
This was my chance! “So if someone did this to you,” I said, dragging a finger up his thigh, “you’d leap into their bed with them.”
“It depends on who it was,” he replied, struggling to remain calm.
“It would probably take more.”
“So if Nicole unbuttoned your shirt …” I started at the top.
“If Nicole breathed on me …” he gasped. His lust for her was plain. Arlen was like a coiled spring, and mentioning Nicole had started his juices flowing.
I straddled him, finding him already firm between my legs. I untucked his shirt and stroked his chest. “… and if Charlie …”
“I’m going to break my rule with the horny redhead,” he grumbled. “As soon as she is ready.”
“I was already following you on Twitter before I met you. I’ve wanted you forever, even before I met you.”
“Why?” I asked, tracing his lips with my finger. He’d been stalking me.
“I’d heard you play in London.”
He’d been stalking me for almost two years before I met him. “So it is just my talent that attracts you?” I leaned back and unbuckled his belt.
“That made me notice you,” he gulped. “I found you on Twitter by accident.”
“So it wasn’t a blind attraction?”
“You just want to fuck me?” I said, fondling his zipper.
“I want to give you whatever you want? I assume that one thing you want. You aren’t going to have my children any other way.”
“If I asked you to give up Amelia, would you?”
“No. Amelia is different.”
“You are in love with her,” I accused, finally popping the button that held his bulging trousers closed.
“That’s why Aoife hates her.”
“And why Amelia’s husband hates me.”
“So Sandra is Aiofe’s revenge?” I slid off him, so I could remove his trousers.
“I guess so.”
“Why haven’t you touched me yet?” I asked. He was almost naked, but I, unusually, was fully clothed.
“In my fantasy, you undress yourself for me.”
“So it always goes according to your fantasies?” I replied, straddling him again.
“Yes,” he chuckled.
I lifted my blouse over my head. “Did I do this?” I asked.
“With this blouse?”
“You were dressed exactly like this in my fantasy.”
“What did I do next?”
“Do it, and I’ll tell you.”
I reached down and sucked hard on his right nipple, rolling my tongue around it. “Did I guess right?”
I unhooked by bra and slipped it off my shoulders. “This next?”
“Maybe I want you to remove my trousers.”
“It’s in my fantasy.” He unbuttoned them and slipped his hands down my bum inside my panties.
I shifted to the side so he could pull them off. “Don’t forget the socks!” I teased, kneeing before him to remove his.
“I haven’t! I’ve got a plan,” he smiled, sliding down to the floor, grabbing my calf and slipping my sock off. He took my big toe in his mouth, sucked on it, and licked the bottom of my foot. In ecstasy, I leaned back onto the rug, as he did the same to my other foot, before licking the insides of my thighs.
I was in heaven, and he had hardly touched me, but I gushed when he fondled my bush, caressing as I convulsed under his touch. I reached for him, as wet as I was.
The others didn’t leave him because he was bad in bed, but because he was mind-blowing. Once you let him have his way, no one else would ever be good enough. That’s why his harem could never stay with their husbands.
The ghosts watched us, silently approving.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle,” he whispered, lowering himself on top of me. He knew I was a virgin, of course. Fitting him in was a stretch, but feeling his weight on my chest, I clasped my legs around him, throbbing, thrusting, crescendoing to a climax.
I screamed with delight as I felt his warm flow fill me.
“You screamed in my fantasy, too,” he whispered as we relaxed.