Jack stared at the reflection looking back at him from his bathroom mirror. His baby blue eyes filled with excitement as he slicked back his golden hair ready for his secret rendezvous with Jill later that evening.
His chiselled jaw sporting just the right amount of designer stubble – rugged yet obviously cared for.
He had finally managed to convince Jill, after months of stolen glances in the street and hidden strokes of the thigh under the dinner table, to spend the night with him.
They were to meet at the old well just outside the village at 6.30 after Jill’s husband Chuck had headed off for his lads’ trip to Vegas.
Jack didn’t like deceiving Chuck, who had a notorious angry streak, but Jill was worth the risk.
He had already laid out his choice of clothes on the bed. Charcoal slim-fit chinos, black t-shirt and the brown leather jacket that Jill had always said looked so good on him.
His decision on shoes was still to be made – formal Kurt Geiger or laid back hi-tops. He was leaning towards the Nikes.
He checked his watch and, noting he still had a couple hours to kill before he needed to head off, grabbed a beer from the fridge.
The TV flicked on and Jack settled back on the sofa to catch up on some of the game he had recorded last night.
His mind wandered as he fantasised about the secret night that lay ahead for him and Jill. He fantasised about the touch of her skin and pulling her naked body close to his.
He imagined lying next to her and holding her through the night, feeling the beat of her heart as she slept silently next to him, the rise and fall of her chest as she dreamt of their future together.
Two or three bottles of Bud and a touchdown later, Jack glanced at his watch and decided it was time to go, grabbing his leather jacket from the bedroom.
As he headed for the front door he slipped on his black espadrilles. The third and previously unconsidered option of footwear.
Jill was already waiting at the well as Jack climbed the dirt path just north of the village.
Her auburn hair glistened in the early evening sun as a gentle breeze swept her loose curls out behind her.
She was wearing a blue floral dress that fluttered around her knees. Her pale skin appearing to glow in the sunlight that engulfed her.
The picnic basket she had promised to bring lay at her feet covered in a red polka dot blanket. Next to it, a bottle of Moet and Chandon stood invitingly with a couple of champagne flutes.
“Hey, you,” Jill said as Jack walked over to her.
Jack didn’t reply, he just ran his fingers through her hair, looked her in the eyes, smiled and then kissed her passionately on the lips.
“Hey gorgeous,” he said. “Sorry, I couldn’t wait any longer to kiss you. Been dreaming of that for weeks.”
“That can’t be all you’ve been dreaming of,” she said mischievously before she chewed her bottom lip seductively. She took both his hands in hers, shaking out her hair.
“Care for some champagne?,” she asked, picking up the bottle and glasses as she sat down on the edge of the well.
Jack sat down next to her and held the glasses as she filled them up, his right hand resting on her thigh as he waited.
They both took a sip and leaned back on the wall of the well, gazing into each other’s eyes, blinded to all around them by their youthful love.
Jack broke the silence, asking if Jill wanted to head over to the summerhouse he had prepared for their first night together.
They walked hand in hand from the well as a glorious sunset shot fiery bolts of red and gold into the sky.
But, unbeknown to them, a shadow sat watching from the edge of the forest.
For Chuck Peters had never made his lads’ trip to Vegas. Chuck Peters had never had any intention of going to Vegas once he had heard about his wife’s indiscretions.
Instead he sat watching in the shadows of the trees, his cap pulled down low to shield his eyes from the evening sun. Watching every kiss, her every deep stare into this other man’s eyes.
And as Jack and Jill went up the hill to the summerhouse, Chuck followed silently, his muscular frame moving effortlessly through the undergrowth.
Jack opened the door and motioned for Jill to wait outside. When he called her inside what she saw was romance itself.
On every beam a candle burnt, casting light and shadow across a bed strewn with rose petals. On the side table next to it stood the half-empty bottle of champagne and the rest of the feast Jill had brought for supper.
A single iris lay on one of the pillows, a box of her favourite chocolate truffles on the other.
Jack took Jill’s hand and led her over to the bed, her green eyes amazed at what he had done for her. Chuck had never done anything like this, not in all the years they had been together. Not even for their wedding night had he been this romantic.
Jack silently lay Jill down on the bed. He brushed back her hair and softly kissed her neck. Jill inhaled and let out a quiet moan as she closed her eyes and let the passion of this moment take over her body.
Jack slid the dress off Jill’s shoulder, kissing the spot he had just uncovered. He then pulled off the rest of her dress to reveal her slender, porcelain-like body.
He sat for a second, just staring at the girl lying before him, naked apart from a lacy red thong and a bewitching smile.
Then he leant forward with a devilish grin and took her delicate, pink nipples in his mouth, circling them with his tongue as she arched up her back and ran her fingers through his hair.
He worked his lips down her stomach, gently kissing her as he moved further down her perfect body, stopping to pay particular attention to a small birthmark that sat just above her left hip bone.
Suddenly Jack sat bolt upright as a thunderous bang erupted inside the summerhouse.
Jill looked towards where the sound had come from and for a second thought she could just about make out the silhouette of her husband standing in the doorway as the summerhouse was flooded with light.
Then, as the towering figure stepped inside, Jill realised to her horror that Chuck had never made it to Vegas. Chuck had found them.
But it wasn’t that that made her scream.
That came when she spotted the axe he was holding in his hand, the head of which lay heavy on the ground next to his right foot, glistening threateningly in the light from the candles that surrounded them.
“You fucking whore,” Chuck said quietly as he stepped inside.
Jack stood up to face him, pleading with him to stay calm.
But without breaking stride Chuck picked up the axe and in one smooth swing struck Jack across the side of his skull with the back of the axe head.
Jack slumped bloodied to the floor as Jill let out another scream and ran over to her lover who lay motionless in a pool of blood.
Chuck pulled her up from the floor by her hair and threw her against the wall with a thud.
He took the handle of the axe and pressed it against her throat, staring into his wife’s eyes as he watched the life being squeezed out of her.
Jill tried to struggle free but Chuck’s strength was too great.
“Did you think you could get away with this, you bitch?,” Chuck whispered. “Did you think that I would let a scrawny little shit like him fuck my wife?
“Well I’ve got a message for you: no one fucks with Chuck Peters.”
Jill fought to breathe as she listened to Chuck whispering into her ear, fighting the darkness that started to cloud her mind.
But as Chuck continued to press the hard wood of the axe handle against her throat she began to lose consciousness, and slowly she slumped to the floor as the world around her went black.
When Jill came round her wrists were bound and tied to one of the beams that supported the summerhouse roof, her feet barely able to reach the floor. The coarse ropes that bound her dug into her delicate skin as she turned to try and find Jack.
She caught sight of him to her left, lying motionless on the floor with ropes securing his wrists and ankles. His head had stopped bleeding but his blonde hair was matted and stained a deep crimson. A dark bruise had crept across his temple and down his cheek.
Behind her she heard Chuck laughing: “Awake now are we little princess?”
He walked round in front of her and punched her hard in the stomach, knocking the wind from her lungs. She gasped for breath as her husband swiped the back of his hand across her left cheek.
Jill wanted to cry but she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction.
Chuck walked over to Jack and prodded him with his boot caps. Jack stirred and Chuck threw a glass of water over him to make sure he was fully awake and aware of what was about to happen.
He pulled a hipflask from his jeans pocket and started circling Jill.
“Listen up Jack,” he said. “You see, you thought that you could steal my wife away from me. You thought you‘d have a nice little romantic night together up here but, I can’t let that happen.
“Because, Jacky-boy, this slut is my property. And no one takes my property.”
Chuck threw the duvet off the bed at Jill’s feet and started pouring the whisky over them, only pausing to take a swig from the flask before tossing it aside.
It was then that Jill realised Chuck was not going to let them leave that summerhouse.
Chuck took a packet of Marlbrough’s from the chest pocket of his red plaid shirt and placed it into his mouth, ignoring the pleas of Jack and Jill as he struck a match.
The match fizzed to life and Chuck put it to the tip of his cigarette, inhaling the smoke with a satisfied sigh.
The match burnt out and he flicked it at Jack lying on the floor as he screamed for Chuck to let them go.
Chuck knelt down next to Jack’s bloodied skull and whispered into his ear.
“See, this is what you get when you fuck with Chuck Peters.”
In one swift motion Chuck flicked the butt of his cigarette over Jack’s chest and into the whisky soaked duvet under Jill’s feet.
It instantly caught fire and flames whipped up around Jill’s ankles as she let out a torrent of agonised screams.
Jack strained against the ropes that bound him, but he was helpless on the floor.
In his terror he hadn’t even noticed that Chuck had picked up the axe from the corner of the barn.
And as the axe came tumbling down, the last thing Jack saw was Jill’s bright green eyes shining out through the flames that tore up around her, a solitary tear running down her blackened face.