Who is Stephen – A short story

“Who’s Stephen?” I said as she rolled over and looked at me.
“Pardon?”
“I pulled the quilt up earlier on, and you turned away and said ‘No Stephen. Alan would kill us both if he found out.’ ………. So who is Stephen?”
“Ah!” she said. “It’s a bit of a long story, but …….”
She sat up and pulled the quilt up to her neck and began to explain.
“Well, you remember that user group meeting that we had in Brighton? The one where I had an overnight stay, because it was such a long way to drive back,” she said
I nodded and propped myself up on my elbow.
“Well,” she continued. “After the meeting, I went down to the restaurant for the meal and met up with Margaret and James, you know from Bolton. They had decided to stay over too and invited me to join them.”
“That was nice of them,” I said although I had no idea who Margaret and James from Bolton were.
“Then James spotted Stephen. Now he is the Finance Director based in the Glasgow office. James decided that he was on his own and invited him to make up the four. He sat down with and declared that he would foot the wine bill as a thank you for not being left on his own,” she said, and gave me a little nervous smile.
“Generous!”
“That’s what I thought,” she said. “It was a great meal. I had a kind of chicken dish, with mushrooms and …. and I guess you don’t want to know that. Do you?”
I responded with a little smile of my own.
“Well, after the meal Margaret and James said that they were going off to a club or somewhere. I said I wanted an early night and apologised for not going with them.”
“Tiring day I suppose,” I said.
“Yes, I suppose it was. Anyway, it was then that Stephen said he would like to talk to me about my presentation.”
“Presentation!” I said with a slight edge to my voice. “That’s a new one.”
“He meant my talk at the user group. It was about the user group finances. You remember, I practiced on you,” she replied. “We went over it about six or seven times.”
“How could I forget,” I replied with just a hint of sarcasm.
“So we went into the bar to talk about it. We had a few drinks whilst we discussed the groups finances. Then we had a couple more drinks. You know what these places are like,” she said. “He gave me a lot of advice on how to manage the books better and lots of hints and tips.”
“Okay,” I said.
Well it got to about 11ish, and Stephen stood up and said he was going to bed. He said he had such a long drive in the morning and that he was a bit tired,” she said. “I naturally thanked him for such a pleasant evening and for all his help.”
“Naturally!”
“I stood up and held my hand out to shake his, and he leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek. I was a little bit tipsy and it must have been then that I said ‘No Stephen’. I don’t really remember,” she said as she looked down at her feet.
“All very innocent then?” I said.
“Of course. Why would it not be innocent?”
“Nothing for me to be concerned about?”
She giggled and said “No, nothing at all!”
“So who’s Alan then?”

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