Alice and Mark Bradshaw lived in a quiet picturesque countryside in the New Forest. A well-respected couple in the community, who owned numerous properties in London and around the world, they entertained regularly to a host of celebrities. They had no children as Mark was a bit selfish and liked to travel the world with his beautiful wife on his arm. Alice desperately wanted children and hoped that one day they would, but realise they were still young at 28 and had plenty of time to have them.
With Mark away on business abroad, buying and selling property world-wide, Alice struck up a friendship with their mature, rouguish, very handsome gardener. Leaving Alice lonely Mark enjoyed the high life rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. Mark also had a string of affairs. He was a dashing looking man with striking blue eyes, who was very charming and had a way of drawing in female company. Alice knew of his affairs but with no family of her own, being an only child and both her parents died in a car accident 10 years previously, she had no one in whom she could confide.
Paul was 35, down to earth, good looking in a rugged sort of way, funny with a very caring nature. As well as tending to the 3-acre land he also helped fix things that needed doing around the house. Alice looked forward to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when Paul would arrive at 8. 30 prompt in his battered red van to begin his work. She always made him a coffee before he started work, probably just as an excuse for someone to talk to I imagine. He would chat about his busy life, what he did, where he went, mostly with his two children he had with his ex wife.
He adored Sophie, 8, and Max 4 and spent most weekends having fun trips to the zoo, theme parks or just simple walks in the forest with Leo their golden retriever dog. After inviting Alice on a trip out with his children, and taking home two exhausted, joyous children they began an affair. None of the two were comfortable with the deceit to Mark but could not help the feelings and emotions that were drawing them together. Mark returned home early after a trip to Germany to overhear a conversation on the phone to Paul.
With a few days at home with Alice Mark thought up a plan to stop Paul from ruining his “happy” life. Mark had given Paul time off and was tending to the garden himself. While in the shed one day he put the final touches to his plan. He begged Alice to go on his next trip abroad to Bali saying she needed a holiday. Alice agreed so as not to upset him anymore, as she suspected he knew things were no right between them and couldn’t bear for Mark to cause Paul any hurt or upset.
The day they returned from Bali all sun-tanned and relaxed, the police were there to greet them and Informed the couple of a tragic accident that occurred that morning in the garden. Alice caught her breath, with heart racing she tried to calmly ask “what sort of accident”. Paul had been up a tree felling it when the safety harness broke and he fell the policeman had told them. Swinging round to look for Mark for support, she noticed briefly that he had a smile on his face. The police officer reassured them that he was still alive but in a critical condition.
After weeks of visiting Paul in hospital to see him just lying there with all these tubes attached to his body and to see how upset his children were, Alice returned home one afternoon to find Mark drunk. An argument erupted between the two with Mark disclosing his knowledge of their affair. He also in his blind rage admitted to tampering with equipment and requesting Paul fell the trees while they were away on holiday. Alice couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She knew Mark would never let her leave him but she never imagined he could be so cruel and selfish.
As the weeks passed Mark made life unbearable for Alice, insisting she go on more and more trips with him. Then one sunny morning she woke up with flu like symptoms and persuaded Mark to go on this trip alone. Alice weeded the garden and cut the grass in between visits to the hospital. He was still in a coma and the doctors were doubtful he would ever come out of it. She could never forgive her husband for this sadistic act. On Mark’s return Alice agreed to try again and make their marriage a happy one.
They both began socialising again together and with Paul in hospital they even looked after the garden together. Alice was making lunch for them one Saturday afternoon when she heard an almighty scream and thud. She knew what that would be but thought she had better check. Mark had been felling the rest of the trees when the safety equipment failed and he fell out of the tree. As Alice walked down the garden she could see his body lying still, very still, and no noise, just the birds singing in the trees. Only when she was standing over him did she see the blood trickle from his mouth and ear.
Must phone for an ambulance she thought as she slowly walked back to the house. He was dead on arrival to hospital. Paul made a slow recovery after months of physio and speech therapy. They live together now happily with a son of their own, Luke 6 months, along with Leo the dog and Sophie and Max visit weekends. She never told Paul that Mark was the cause of his accident, as she was now blissfully happy. She occasionally wonders how her life would be now if she had not encouraged Mark to fell the tree that fateful day and set up the safety equipment for him to use!!