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The sorbet with the melon was a success after the tender venison, and though she put a cautionary hand over her glass, he lifted it aside, pouring more wine. He could see the transformation in her face. She was more relaxed, her shoulders down, and she talked animatedly about how much she loved St Andrews, and how grateful she was to him for taking an interest in her.‘I’m the one who should be grateful,’ he told her. ‘I’m honoured to have the company of a young person, who’s both beautiful and talented. You remind me so much of my late wife.’She nodded and smiled as he talked about art, but he realised that she wasn’t taking in what he was saying. There was a doubt now in his mind: had he given her too much to drink? It was obvious that this was her first time tipsy. At the beginning of the evening she had been sitting on the sofa with her legs together, but now they were apart, and she had kicked off the practical flat-heeled shoes.‘So what’s the programme for tomorrow?’ he enquired.‘Chapel, the choir.’‘But you like that.’‘Yes I like it, but it’s a big commitment in the week.’ She hesitated. ‘Sometimes I wish -’‘You wish?’ he gave her time.‘I wish that I hadn’t joined the choir. But my father was in it when he was here.’‘Listen: you don’t have to do everything that your father tells you,’ he urged her. ‘You’re a woman now, in charge of your own life.’ As he was speaking he moved towards her and sat down beside her on the sofa. Later, when he came to reconstruct this critical moment – and he would do so many times – the factor he was searching for would always be elusive. But somehow his delight in her company had turned into desire.  However it happened, he was on the sofa beside her, his arm round her shoulders. What was intended as a reassuring hug became an embrace as he drew her towards him.He kissed her on the mouth.His guest was taken aback. Her limit was a modest mulled wine at Christmas time, but she had consumed a sherry and two substantial glasses of wine. Her head was light, her vision affected. The suddenness of the kiss shocked her, but it also gave her a feeling she had never had before, it being her first kiss on the mouth from a male. The art historian ran his hand up his student’s thigh and felt it yielding. His fingers groped the no-frills cotton knickers, and she had the first climax of her life, there on the sofa, within seconds. It was too crude, too uncomfortable to use the sofa, so he took her hand upstairs to the bedroom he had shared with his late wife. He lifted the drab kimono over her head and was pulling down the cotton knickers and tights.‘No,’ she told him, gripping these garments.‘Why not?’‘Because it isn’t right.’She had been raised a devout Catholic, and had been warned in the home and at church that pre-marital sex was a sin. Her seducer knew from her stiffening body that this was a decisive moment, but to stop now was to thwart his urgent desire. He held her by the shoulders, kissing her on the mouth. He hadn’t bought contraceptives, but he didn’t withdraw. It was over in thirty seconds, and when he should have been utterly relaxed, lying beside her, the consequences of what he had done were making him rigid with terror. She could accuse me of filling her up with drink and then raping her, he thought. He saw the headlines of the scandal: dismissed from his chair, sent to prison, his book on Hellenistic sculpture abandoned.He turned his head on the pillow to look at her, and saw a tear on the side of her face.‘I’m sorry,’ he whispered. She turned her head and smiled, catching his hand and squeezing it.‘God, I love you,’ he told her, and was inside her again, this time guided by her, but withdrawing before the critical moment.They lay together, shoulder to shoulder. ‘You’re very pensive,’ he remarked.‘I’m thinking about my upbringing.’‘You have a very pleasant home and friendly parents.’She turned her face on the pillow towards him, speaking with a passion he hadn’t heard before, as if the rupture of her hymen had released more than blood. She had found her confessor at last.‘I’ve never been allowed to make any decisions for myself. My mother dictated when I was to be taken to the baths, and who I was to swim with. My clothes were bought for me without my preferences being taken into consideration. Away from school my friends were allowed to wear denims and trainers, but my mother considered these to be sloppy. Some of my friends had pierced ears and nose-studs – “disfigurements,” she called them.’He wondered if he should interrupt this tirade, but he was intrigued, and she was even more attractive in her anger, a side he hadn’t seen before.‘I started piano lessons when I was four. I loved it, but when I was nine I was told that I was going to study the organ instead, because my father played it in the chapel we went to. He gave me extra tuition in Classics, because that’s what he wanted me to study at St Andrews, his alma mater. Then my mother decided that I was to study theology. When I asked her what I would do with such a degree, she said: “you can teach in a Catholic school.” You have no idea what it is to live in that house, which looks so peaceful and welcoming. My mother makes wholesome dishes, with plenty of vegetables, and won’t allow me an electric blanket because she read that it emits radiation, even when it’s switched off.’ 
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