Things had gone well since Miles had come to England, Iris had decided, a glass of wine in her hand and a cigarette in the other. Usually, she did not smoke, but old time habits died hard… such was the nature of life. Her eyes were focused on the sight outside from her frost-paned window. She smiled as her fiancé, Miles, slammed the boot to the landrover shut, before stumbling over the suitcase now half buried in snow. She waved at him and placed down the wine on the oak sideboard, which was littered with torn notes and old photographs. She headed towards the door and no sooner had she opened it, she was presented with a soft kiss on her lips, and Miles gazed at her. 'I told you I'd be back for Christmas,' he said.

'Bloody hoped so and all,' said Iris, grabbing the suitcase and hauling it inside and dumping it in front of the couch, 'Else what would I have done?'

'Not offer another house exchange, I hope.' Miles took off his coat and draped it over the armchair, and then turned to her with a cheeky grin. 'Right missy, are you going to make me some coffee or do I have to do it myself?'

'Charming.' Iris took the abandoned coat and hung it up with the others – hers and his – before frowning to herself. 'After a whole month being apart, the first thing on your mind is bloody coffee?'

'Not bloody preferably—' he headed towards the kitchen and bustled about, getting down too mugs and filling the kettle, 'But yeah, you know me well.'

Iris sighed. 'A bit of romance would have done me.'

Miles copied her sigh before turning serious. 'Sorry, babe.' He wrapped his arms around her middle and gazed at her with adoration in his dark eyes, 'I'll make it up to you.'

She melted. 'Yeah – and you can start by not making a mess…' her words vanished as he pressed a finger to her lips and raised both eyebrows. 'No, no,' he said, 'that can be fixed… later.'

'Hmm. So you say.'

'I do say…' he looked at her strange for a moment, before turning away. He flicked the stove on and then looked back at her. 'Iris, babe, is something wrong?'

Yes, she thought.

'No, no not at all! I'm just tired, bad sleeping and all. I'll be fine!'

He did not look convinced. 'Huh. You should see a doctor then, Iris.'

'Mmm…' she crouched down to light the fire. As she straightened, she felt the warmth of his chest on her back and the hot breath on her neck. Her eyes closed and she turned, eyes closed and lips parted. His own lips met hers eagerly and he took her by surprise when he wrestled her to the couch, still kissing fiercely. 'God…' his hands felt their way to her top which was removed without another thought, 'I've missed this, babe, I've missed you…'

You missed the sex more than you missed me? Bastard. Her own arms obediently unbuckled his belt and slid off his jeans, and he groaned.

'Yeah, that's the…' he seemed lost for words as he pushed his weight against hers, longing for that closeness. A closeness, Iris decided, she just wasn't feeling.

* * * * * * * * * *


Amanda sat up in her double bed, pulling off a sleeping mask and throwing it on the floor with little care. The side next to her, usually occupied by her husband, Graham, was strangely vacant. Perhaps he had gone to check on the girls…

'Graham?' she called again. She swung her slim legs over the side of the bed and padded onto the landing. 'Where have you got to?'

'Oh, not too far I'd say…' she turned around and there he was; trousers and nothing else. His hair was tousled and his eyes seemed circled with exhaustion. 'I was working in the office,' he said, answering her unasked question as he walked closer, an apologetic hint in his eyes, 'Business is demanding and unfortunately, seeing as I'm working from L.A. now, my workload seems to have doubled. Tripled, even.'

'I've told you,' Amanda sighed; watching him rub his eyes sleepily, 'You don't need to work anymore.'

'And I've told you I'm not living off your money.'

'Go to bed… I can take care of the girls…'

'No need.' Graham held up a hand and smiled tiredly, looking at her from underneath his long eyelashes. 'They're staying at a friend's for today and tomorrow.'

'Thanks for telling me,' said Amanda, only half jokingly.

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and sighed. 'Is it because we didn't have sex last night?'

She smiled. 'It could have been…' her hands rested on his warm body and he took control for a moment, all fatigue lost, as he pushed her against the wall and rested a hand either side of her head. 'Could have been,' he repeated, his face close to hers, 'That's something I don't like to hear…'

Amanda looked up at him, her lips parting. 'Then I'm sorry…'

His lips met hers and in a battle for dominance her hands entangled themselves in his curls, her hips brushing against his thighs ever so gently. His tongue slid over hers, warm and soft, and he wrapped both arms around her tightly, pulling her body closer to his. He pushed her into the bedroom, where he dropped her gently to the bed before pulling off his trousers. Her legs wrapped around him and dragged him closer in a swift movement, and his jaw tightened as he suppressed a light groan. His kisses varied from her mouth and dotted over her eyelids, cheek, chin and neck. They were lost in a moment of passion, and just as she was about to pull her skirt off, the phone rang.

'Ignore it,' she muttered into his neck, eyes closing as his mouth kissed her chest very delicately. He did, for a moment, but it persisted and so he answered. 'Hello? Carol, oh, hi… no. The piece isn't complete… WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH?'

Amanda jumped at his sudden anger and slid back, drawing the covers of the bed over her.

His tiredness was more profound now; the paleness on his once tanned skin seemed so… startling. It didn't suit him and all. His eyes were sunken but they still held the glitter, the magic…

'I WAS ISSUED THAT DOCUMENT LAST NIGHT, AT ELEVEN PM CAROL; DON'T TELL ME IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH! IT'S ONLY… Amanda, sweetheart, what time is it?' He glanced at her.

Amanda started. 'Oh, um…' she glanced at her BlackBerry, '9am.'

'9AM!' Graham slammed his fist down onto the bed and Amanda winced inwardly. 'I HAVE TO SLEEP TOO YOU KNOW! I SWEAR TO YOU CAROL, IT WAS GOING TO BE DONE BY THIS LUNCH! … Yes, I emailed the piece on child abuse to you… yes… yes; it'll be done by 1pm, if not sooner. Goodbye.' He slammed the phone down and turned to her apologetically. 'I'm sorry.'

'You should quit, I could get you a job easily…' Amanda's eyes narrowed.

'I like my job for the most part,' he pointed out, 'I just don't like being over worked. They think that because I've gone to L.A I have the most time in the world, and I don't, I have the same twenty four hour as anybody else. I just wish they'd back off a bit…' his hand rubbed his forehead. 'Oh, sorry. Where were we?'

She smiled coyly at Graham, whose own smile widened as she gently placed both hand on either shoulder and sat tormentingly on his lap. 'Oh… let me think…' Her hands cupped either side of his face and her kiss met hers once more. Graham responded for the best part but pushed her away after a moment. 'No, the mood has gone. Listen…' he kissed her neck and then her lips once more, causing her to shudder pleasantly, 'I'll have a few hours sleep and then we can…' he kissed her shoulder, 'Continue?'

'Sounds good to me,' Amanda murmured.

He kissed her once more then climbed into bed, and his head hit the pillow in seconds. He must be really bad, she thought sadly, standing up and padding over to her computer.

! Ping !

'Oh, it's an IM from Iris…' she sat in the seat and maximized the conversation, smiling widely.

IRIS: Hey, Amanda Panda. How's it going with my brother?

Amanda smiled and proceeded to type back quickly.

AMANDA: Good, but the company is over working him. He's done so many reports in just a few weeks, its un nerving. How are things for Miles and you?
IRIS: Not too bad.
AMANDA: Not too bad? Spill, girl.
IRIS: It's gone.
AMANDA: What's gone?
IRIS: The attraction. I think it's temporary, but the first thing he said he'd missed was the sex. And then me. Not quite so blunt obviously, but that's how it sure felt.
AMANDA: Don't worry, he's a guy. So he missed the sex more than he missed you… you must be pretty good at shagging if he misses it.
IRIS: True. It's probably just me. So, are you still madly in lurve?
AMANDA: Of course. I wouldn't be anywhere without Graham. Gods, Iris, he makes me feel alive. I love him so much.
IRIS: I'm happy for you. I have to go; Miles wants me to listen to his new music…
AMANDA: Tell him to email me the sound wave! I want to hear it too.
IRIS: Will do. Ta ta for now.