Bo Johnson sat in the garden, and stretched his long legs out along the full length of the extra-large sunlounger to which Patsy had treated him when he'd left work five years ago.
He applied some more Factor-40 to his reddening thighs and cursed his pale complexion. He picked up the small hand mirror and inspected his nose. It was fine, thanks to the total sunblock he'd applied first thing this morning. His hair looked great too, bright and glossy, almost silver-blond where the sun had bleached it.
He spent most of his time in the garden while Hilary and Evelyn were at school, so being a house-husband was no hardship.
It had been Patsy's idea anyway. She loved work. He hated it. He had helped her to launch her career in the BT Complaints Department seven years earlier. During his mentorship, they had discovered a great many interests in common, work aside. They liked the same films and comedy shows,and had the same taste in music, and chatted non-stop between phone calls. Within days of Patsy starting work, she and Bo were regularly having their coffee and lunch breaks together, and within weeks they were an ''item''. He proposed to her, on one knee in the middle of the office, on the first anniversary of her joining the staff, and an ecstatic Patsy flung her arms round him and shouted ''YES!'' to him - and an audience of around fifty wildly applauding BT Complaints staff.
When they returned from their honeymoon a few months later, to the news that Patsy was being offered a promotion - to Deputy Chief Complaints Officer, Bo had swelled with pride and hugged Patsy, lifting her off her feet.
''Well deserved, sweetheart - just don't forget who got you started on the road to BT success though.'' he chuckled.
A year after that, Patsy had given birth to twin boys, pale-complected and blond, like their father. Bo had seen Patsy's boredom and frustration at being a full time mum, while he took to fatherhood like a duck to water. Thus, they quickly decided that the obvious thing was for Patsy to return to her much-loved job, which was being kept open for her, as soon as her maternity leave was over. His paternity leave still had a few months to run, but as soon as he could, he wrote to inform the company that he would not be returning.
Patsy's career had continued to bloom. Just last year she had progressed to a Directorship, and was the second highest earner in the company, and thanks to his clever wife, they were the tenth wealthiest couple in the country.
Bo smiled happily and applied more sunblock to his nose. He was just rubbing it in when he heard the telephone.
''Bother!'' he said, getting up and striding into the house. He snatched up the handset and said, ''Yo! Bo here.''
There was silence, interrupted by some crackling. Whoever was calling was using antique equipment, he thought.
He heard a disturbance at the other end, what sounded like a scuffle, then small voices. Small, frightened voices...
''Dadda.'' one of the voices whimpered. ''Dadda, please help...'' came the other, even more desperate.
''Hil? Vlyn?'' he whispered, then repeated, this time in a shout.
Another voice came on the line.
''Meestair Yohnson...'' It was a female voice, husky and low, but decidedly female. ''Ve haff your zons...''