My purse is without any money, a fact that I forgot in my angry stubbornness. I check once, twice, but no money magically appears. What the fuck do I do now? I’m huddled under a sparse tree and already shaking from the cold. All I have is makeup and my phone. I doubt Reid would come back even if I called him. Not that I want him to.
I can’t believe his actions tonight.
He was completely out of character and so far removed from the kind soul I fell in love with that it scared me. If I understood it I could maybe accept it, but it was so random, the anger coming sharp and from nowhere. He has never called me names like that before, and whether I deserve it or not, I didn’t like it.
A yellow cab sails past in the distance and I briefly contemplate hailing one and asking it to wait while I retrieve cash from the apartment, but I know I have none there and I’m not about to ask Reid for help.
I flick through my phone contacts and single out all of five numbers from Chicago; Reid, my new school, Veda, Nile and of course, Blue. Nile doesn’t have a car which means my only hope is Veda.
She doesn’t answer.
I’m about to sit on the cold floor and cry when my phone lights up with her returned call. I answer quickly and immediately hear the sound of a noisy bar.
“Where’ve you been, girl?” she greets, clearly multi-tasking.
“Around,” I mumble. “Hey, Veda, are you busy?”
“I’m working, but I get off in an hour. What’s up?”
I sigh. “Nothing, it doesn’t matter.”
“Darl, is everything okay? You sound weird.” I hear Veda being spoken to away from the phone. “Hold on,” she says. “…Yes…I don’t know…Blue!”
There’s a shuffle down the line before…
“No, but I’ll figure it out.”
The background noise suddenly disappears at the sound of a door closing. “I tried calling you earlier,” Blue continues.
“You did?” He didn’t. I heard nothing. “I couldn’t have answered anyway. I’m at a charity dinner.”
“Well, I was.”
I can’t possibly talk to Blue about this, nor can I ask him for a ride. “Can you put Veda back on please?”
“Where’s Reid now?”
I hesitate before answering, “I don’t know. We argued. I’m stuck across town. And it’s raining.” I fold my arms around myself as the reasons for my being here push to the forefront of my mind.
Thunder claps and I flinch. “Wait, you’re outside? In this?”
“Yes,” I answer, my chin wobbling. I bite my lip to stop the weakness I feel from spilling over the phone.
I hear him curse. “What’s the address?”
I rattle off the best attempt of an address that I can. Having lived here all his life he knows exactly where I mean. Thank God. Before hanging up he promises me he will be as quick as he can.
He’s not lying.
He cuts ten minutes off the thirty minute drive it took Reid to get here. I’m a shivering mess when a sleek car pulls up curbside. It’s shiny black all over except for two matt lines that run parallel over the top of the body. The passenger door pops open and I move quickly inside.
“What the fuck happened?” Blue asks, his voice sharp as he scans my dripping, shuddering body. I shake my head, determined to hold back the tears. A rumble echoes from deep in his chest as he exits the car. I watch in surprise as he rushes to the rear. He retrieves something from the trunk and slips back into the driver seat. A thick tartan blanket is unfolded and wrapped around my shoulders. I pull it close and stutter out a thank you.
“When you’re warm you’re going to tell me exactly what happened.” His voice is hard, unarguable, as he turns up the heating and moves us into the road.
We drive in a tense quietness, the only sound being my chattering teeth. Blue watches me more than he watches the road, making me increasingly nervous. When my body is thawed and my jaw slack Blue eyes me expectantly and so I distract him.
“I like this car. What is it?”
“A Dodge Challenger. Stop trying to distract me. So...?” I turn from his stare, finding the rain against the window more comforting than this conversation will inevitably be. “Pilgrim…” his voice is soft, pleading.
“We had an argument, Reid and I. I didn’t want to be around him so I told him I’d get the train home, only I forgot I had no money on me.” I’m embarrassed by my stupidity. The flush of my cheeks is evident of that.
The car swerves harshly to the right, taking an exit onto a quiet, dimly lit street. I look to Blue to find his jaw tense and his knuckles taut over the steering wheel as he shuts off the engine.
“He left you there?”
“No, I told him to leave me there.”
“I’ll kill him,” he grinds through tight teeth.
“What? No, you’re making this sound worse than it is.”
“He left you alone, miles from home, in an area you don’t know. Team that with the fact that it is pouring with rain and you’re wearing next to nothing. How am I making that sound worse than it is?”
He sure paints a vivid picture.
But he wasn’t there.
He doesn’t know how it all went down.
“I deserved it,” I whisper.
“Don’t you dare!”
“It’s true! He accused me of sleeping with his colleague.”
“He’s not way off the mark though, is he? Regardless of who he thinks I’m fucking, I’ve still fucked someone other than him! I deserve this.”
“Hey!” He turns in his seat until he is facing me as much as his large frame will allow. “Don’t undermine what we had by painting it with such a shitty word. Despite what you think I didn’t fuck you. And despite your actions you are not a bad person.”
“I’m serious. If you were getting everything you needed at home then you wouldn’t have been tempted to stray by an idiot like me.”
“You’re not an idiot,” I placate after a moment of silence, shaking my head. “You’re sweet. You drove all the way across town for someone who’s treated you like crap.” I slip my fingers over his hand, stroking softy with the pad of my thumb in a silent thank you.
“I drove all the way across town because I care for you. Babe, I think...I think I’ve fallen in love with you.”
A noticeable breath rips from my mouth. I slump backwards but Blue gathers my hands in his and holds them to his chest. I feel the heavy pounds of an accelerated heartbeat. He nods, answering a question I have not verbally asked.
“I love you, Darlene, and it’s killing me watching you with him, especially when he treats you like this. You should be worshipped, daily, hourly. Let me worship you. I love you.” He brings my hands to his mouth and brandishes my cold hands with hot kisses.
“You’re not in love with me. You’re in love with the idea of me.”
“You’re in denial. What more do I need to do to prove my love to you?”
“Blue, please. This is the wrong moment to confuse me with your idealized confessions.”
“I’m not trying to confuse you. I’m trying to help you see that there are options other than your husband. We could have so much fun.”
“And for how long?”
“Let’s find out.” Heated kisses spread up my arm until I am so hot I no longer need the blanket.
“It’s too much, Blue. I’m trying to get you out of my head.”
“Maybe that’s where I’m supposed to be.” I don’t have the brainpower to find a fault with his logic. Rationality is vanishing with the chill. Before I know it I am pulled across the short distance between us and into the arms I have been denying all week. Sitting astride him, he claims me immediately, with his mouth, his hands.
His ability to make me forget my loyalties is a gift, or a curse. He’s about to claim me completely, his trousers undone and his impressive length ready at my entrance, when uninstructed tears pool in my eyes. My defenses have been left unguarded and consequently the dam has been broken. Again. Tears fall, hot and sticky, and I am reminded of why I held back for so many years. The release that comes with crying is bittersweet; the body is grateful but the mind is not soothed. Not mine at least. With the tears comes the reminder of how poor my life has become.
Two hands cradle my face as dark bullets pierce my eyes. “Don’t cry. Not because of me.”
“It isn’t your fault. It’s me. I’ve never hated myself as much as I do now. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I want this so much, but it’s wrong. I wish I could love you and not Reid. It would make this so much easier, but I can’t. I can’t and I’m sorry.” I speak through sobs and sniffles and when I’m finished I am crushed into Blue’s chest.
“Shh. Stop crying, I can’t bear it.”
“I don’t think I can stop,” I sob.
“How can I make this better, babe?”
I take a deep breath and muster some resolve. “Take me home, Blue.”
His sigh matches mine as he kisses me softly on the forehead. “Okay, let’s get you home, Pilgrim.”
Trains come and go and Darlene is not on any of them. I’ve been at the station waiting for the last thirty minutes and I’ve been increasingly going out of my mind. I finally leave the station and get back in my car, panicking that for some reason she didn’t get on the train.
The drive back to where I left her is quick. My anxiety levels are high enough to disregard the fear of being caught speeding. I make it there in twenty minutes but I’m still too late. She’s not here. I check the whole of the station and ask several employees if they have seen her. They haven’t. I call her for the hundredth time but it is left unanswered.
Weaving through the city, I check the stations on the same line as ours, wondering if she got off at the wrong stop. My panic levels are through the roof when they offer nothing. If she hasn’t gotten the train then where the hell is she? I’ll never forgive myself if anything happens to her, heck, I will never forgive myself anyway. I can’t believe I let my anger lead my actions. I was stupid to speak to her the way that I did, but an outburst was unavoidable. However, leaving her alone in the middle of the city was stupid, neglectful and something I will be ashamed of for the rest of my existence.
It’s with a heavy heart that I head home. I’m hoping to find her warm in our bed, shit, I’d even take her sitting in that damn chair. But my hope is thin. The elevator is too slow for my impatience and so I drum my foot to a frantic beat. When it opens I all but race to our apartment, my nervous hand struggling with the lock. I open the door and fall softly into the frame when I immediately hear the sound of the shower from down the hall.
I pad into the apartment on heavy feet, the adrenaline having left my body tired. I can’t relax yet though. I have a mammoth apology to undertake and I don’t think it’s going to be easily received.
I shrug off my jacket and undo my tie before knocking on the bathroom door. There’s no answer. I don’t want to wait any longer than I have already, so I open the door and step inside. The room is cloudy but I can see her dress thrown over the bathtub and her underwear on the floor. I swallow hard, not wanting the thought of her being naked to overpower the sincerity of what I am about to say.
“I don’t want to talk to you right now, Reid,” she calls over the top of the water. There’s no surprise in her voice.
“Well I think we’ve gone long enough not talking, don’t you?” I step closer to the shower. I can see her bare body’s silhouette through the frosted glass. The blurriness does nothing to hinder her beauty. “Please, just let me apologize.”
The door to the shower immediately opens and Darlene’s head peers out. Makeup is smeared over her eyes, her hair wet and clinging to her face. “Apologize for what? Leaving me or your behavior before that?” Her blue eyes are rimmed with pink and it’s obvious that she has been crying. The weight of guilt I feel doesn’t feel like an actual weight at all. It’s as if gravity has intensified, pulling my whole body to the floor and leaving me struggling to stand.
“For both. I was upset and angry, and I acted on impulse. It’s no excuse, but...I am sorry.”
“Do you really think that I’m sleeping with James?”
“Then why were you so upset?”
“Because...” Another opportunity to admit it all passes by unused. “Because I know what James is like and I hated him showing you so much attention. Then I saw his hands on you and I saw red. I reacted without thought and I can barely even remember what I was thinking. I can’t apologize enough.”
“Regardless of what you think of James, do you think I would do that to you?” Doubt consumes her; it’s obvious in all of her features, as does remorse, so how can she ask me this? How can she make me feel guilty for thinking this way?
Her chin quivers with noticeable restraint and she bites her lip. She turns her head away. “Can I finish my shower now?”
I’m mid nod and about to turn away when I remember. “I waited at the station for you. I went back for you and then I searched everywhere. You wouldn’t answer your phone. I’ve been worried. How did you get home?”
The second I see her eyes widen, I know.
“I got a ride.”
My breath escapes me and my fists clench in a reflex reaction to that name falling from her lips. His name is like a punch to the windpipe. I don’t even see red; the upset I feel transcends that. I’m cold, not hot. The fine hair on my neck and arms is standing to attention. I swallow repeatedly, quenching the bile that lingers in my throat, and when I can finally breathe again I stare harshly.
“You said you’d never see him again.”
She narrows her eyes at me. “No, you told me not to go to The Nest anymore. You didn’t tell me to never see Blue again. Besides, I didn’t agree to either.”
My determination to stick this out is melting before me. If I’ve made no headway in this sickening competition with Blue after I have already suffered so much at his hands then what’s the point? All I have is hope, and now that’s fading too. The pain has been bearable when I felt like I had the advantage, but knowing that she has fallen straight back into his arms the moment my game slips makes the pain intolerable.
“But,” she continues, her voice soft and her eyes sad. “You don’t have to worry about that anymore. I won’t be seeing him again and I won’t be going to The Nest.” She sighs heavily and then her chin lifts as if she has taken pride in her decision. “Happy now?”
I step closer and she angles herself behind the door. I can’t see anything, but I’m not even trying to. She’s decided of her own accord that she is not going to have any more to do with him. Even after my despicable behavior. The very moment that could have seen them running off into the sunset together has seen her running back to me, angry, but she’s here nonetheless.
She chose me.
She chose me.
I try not to smile, lord, I try not to smile. A smile now would look bizarre in the shadow of this evening, but I can’t bite back my happiness. I cover my mouth with my fist as I step closer still. She looks bewildered.
“Why are you smiling?” she asks, her nose wrinkled.
“Because I’m happy.” I’m inches from her, the heat of the shower breathing over me and the lure of her nudity pulling me closer.
“Reid...” In a risky move I place my thumb over her lips, my fingers faint against her jaw.
“I love you.” I replace my thumb with my lips but the enjoyment lasts only a second. She flinches away. Her breath has quickened and I can tell that she is as equally affected as me, but she’s stubborn.
“I’m still pissed at you.”
“I’m pissed at myself.” I kick off my shoes and tear off my socks. She eyes my actions with confusion.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m seizing the moment. My wife has finally submitted to what I have asked of her and I want to celebrate.” I nudge the shower door open and step to her. She in turn steps back, straight into the stream of running water. It hits the back of her shoulders and careers over her curves.
“I’m not doing as I’m told, I’m...” I pull her to me, resting my forehead against hers, silently pleading with her to stop talking.
“Please, just let me have this one.”
Confusion laces her brows together. I can only imagine how my actions mismatch my words. I’m a huge contradiction and I hate not being able to explain myself to her. But I don’t need to anymore. She has chosen me and I won’t have to worry about Blue ever again. I intend on celebrating that, and reclaiming her.
“You’re clothes,” she breaths, running her hands over my white shirt that has turned sheer with the water.
“I don’t care.” I take the black tie from around my collar and place it loosely around the back of her neck. Slowly, I unbutton my shirt and slip it from my shoulders, letting it pool at my feet. I remove my trousers and boxer shorts and kick the collection into the corner.
We are standing a foot apart, our breathing equally heavy. I reach up and guide her to me by either side of the tie. She doesn’t resist my kiss, nor does she respond. She offers nothing, her hands weighted at her sides, but she can’t fool me. Her eyes are softly closed and her nipples are hard against my chest. I’ll tease her from her stubbornness. I won’t stop until she’s boneless in my arms.
My hands hold each side of her face as I work with dead lips. I seek entrance into her mouth and at the touch of her tongue I find electricity. It’s not powerful but it’s there. It’s enough to stir this ice queen to life. She angles her head and tangles her tongue with mine, her hands falling gently to my chest. I drop a hand to the small of her back, forcing her flush against me, against all of me. She groans at the hardness against her stomach, but it’s reserved, she’s still holding back.
I tear my lips from hers, leaning them against her sensitive ear instead. “You’re mad at me?”
“Then use it.” She pulls back enough to look at me, the heat in her eyes growing with anger. “Show me how pissed you are.” Our eyes don’t relent for several seconds, and then she surprises me, crashing her lips to mine with aggression and purpose. Her hands lock around my neck as she pulls me to her. Falling against the tiled wall, her leg immediately hitches up around my waist. I follow her lead, taking her knee and lifting it higher until my erection is between her thighs. She grinds her hips, looking and finding some friction and I groan in uncontained elation at the feel of her wet against me. My mouth drifts to her breast, immediately taking her into my mouth, sucking hard and using my teeth with restraint. Her hand tangles roughly into my wet hair, keeping me at her breast as she pants with pleasure.
“Let’s see if you’re ready, baby,” I say as my hand glides around her thigh, between her legs, over myself and eases into her effortlessly. “Fuck. You’ve been ready all along, haven’t you?” She moans angrily as my fingers pump into her and my thumb brings her to the edge.
“Now, Reid!” she orders between gritted teeth.
Lifting my mouth to hers, I hover there as I push into her, feeling her heated breath against my lips as she expands around me. I’m throbbing already so I hold still, attempting to reign in some control. I lick the water from her neck, her collarbone, her breast, admiring her perfect form.
“You’re so beautiful, Darl. You feel so amazing,” I breathe as I begin to move slowly.
“No, don’t be sweet. Be mean. Fuck me hard like I deserve,” she snaps. I’m shocked, even more so when I look up to see her eyes glistening. The water against us camouflages the tears, but the glassiness of her eyes is unmistakable. I don’t let her know that I’ve seen her upset. To acknowledge it would mean having to ask what’s wrong and I already know. I don’t need her to feel even worse for having to admit it. She needs this and I’ll give it to her.
I take her bottom lip between my teeth and tug harshly. Her eyes snap to mine, out of her own world and back into this moment. I suck her bottom lip into my mouth before letting go.
Nose to nose, I ask, “You want this hard?”
“Yes. God, yes,” she says, her head rolling back.
In one swift movement I lift her completely off the floor, wrapping her other leg around my hip. With her hands braced on my shoulder she grips me tight.
“Yes, you’d better hold real fucking tight.”
With a harsh grip I guide her hips, moving them with my hard thrusts. I completely let go, pounding into her aggressively, spurred on by the healthy screams of pleasure pouring from her mouth. Her nails dig into my skin, threatening to draw blood. I’d welcome it. We are bound by no restraints, no etiquette, and it’s empowering, energizing. I delight in her thighs squeezing me tight and her breasts, bouncing with each movement.
“Fuck!” I call as I begin to feel her squeezing me internally. The feeling is out of this world and it’s impossible not to be drawn to the edge by it. I’m not jumping without giving her everything I have. “Wrap your arms around my neck and...just hold on.”
She does, and I push us away from the wall. I have a firm grip of her ass as I turn her away from the stream of water, letting it fall against my back instead. I work against her, bucking her off of me wildly as I go balls deep inside of her. I can feel every bit of her against me as I hit a soft wall at her very deepest.
The sensation is mind blowing.
“Oh my God! Reid!” she screams as she comes and it echoes against the tiled tomb around us, coercing me into an extraordinary finish. I groan loudly as she wrings out every bit of my release. My head is buried against her chest and her dainty fingers are fixed into my hair. I want to stay like this forever, joined and sated, but my legs feel like they are about to buckle. I set her down and hold her to me, steadying her as she sways softly.
Once out of the shower I reach for a towel and use it to dry the ends of her hair. She doesn’t bat me away like she usually would and the thought is all too sobering. I wrap the towel around her and choose to forego mine.
I’m not done with her yet.
I guide her to our bedroom and take her soft lips once more. She’s more susceptible to my advances now that she has burnt off some anger. A smile even toys at her lips as I kiss her nose, her forehead, her cheek.
Pulling back, I wait for her reaction to what I am about to say. “So, now that you’ve got your fuck, do I get my love?”
Her eyebrows lift a little before they narrow together, her little V appearing and causing me to kiss it. “That was love. It’s always love with you.”
I nod, not really believing her. “Still, I want to make love to you in our bed. I want to savor every single bit of you, slowly. I want to be able to tell you how beautiful you are without you shutting me out. I’ll never want to stop telling you how beautiful you are. It’s your own fault for looking the way you do.”
She chuckles lightly and I take that as my cue. I lean her back onto the bed and linger over her.
“I love you so much, Darl. These difficulties we’re having are powerless to my love. Nothing can defeat it. Do you understand that?”
She sighs sadly but nods and moves to kiss me. I let her. And then I show her how I can make it all better.
Love is easy. It requires no thought, just feeling. What you do with that love is up to you. You can shut it out, refuse it, and live the rest of your life looking for it again, or you can embrace it and work through the issues that accompany it. Most issues are resolved easily, then when the timing is right, well then there’s marriage.
Love is easy, marriage is hard, but trust? Trust is the hardest.
Reid and I have never truly tested trust. I mean, there were issues when we first met regarding my gigs, but nothing as substantial as what we are going through now. My loyalty to Reid has been broken and while I work to fix it karma has crept up and hit me on the head. Here I sit, debilitated in disbelief as I hold Reid’s phone in my hand. The text message is from a Quinn and it reads...
-So when am I going 2 get 2 c u again? We could hit another bar, w/o Missy tho. I want you all 2 myself this time! xxx-
I don’t know what drove me to check his phone when it buzzed. I have never looked through his phone before. I have never needed to. It’s only ever work that calls him since we moved here. But it was just sitting in my eye line when it sounded and when I saw the female name I couldn’t stop myself from picking it up and investigating. Turns out my own trustworthiness has blighted the ease in which I trust others.
The shower is still echoing from down the hall but Reid has already been some time. I have minutes to decide how to proceed. That’s not long enough. I need a moment away from here to think this through. I’m dressed in my yoga pants and a thin t-shirt, so I throw on a jacket, maybe I’ll go to the park. I slip on some running shoes, maybe I’ll run. I take some cash, maybe I’ll grab a coffee.
Or maybe I’ll just go.
I leave Reid’s phone open on the breakfast bar and scribble a note.
And then I leave.
I’m whistling as I leave the shower. The very act has me smiling, which makes it difficult to whistle, but the whistling is just further evidence of how happy I am this morning. Last night was amazing. What preceded it was excruciating but it if resulted in Darlene being able to finally shut down her Blue affair then it was totally worth it.
We made up all night. We made more promises and we reminisced. We barely managed any sleep but today is Sunday and if Sunday’s aren’t for being lazy then I don’t know what is.
The apartment is quiet as I approach the kitchen. I left Darlene finishing her breakfast so I assumed that’s where she’d still be. I guess I took longer than I thought. I wonder, hopefully, if she went back to bed. I check the bedroom, nothing. A little nervous now, I look for my phone to call her, finding it on the breakfast bar, on top of a scribbled note.
I need a moment.
My heart flutters quickly in my chest as I unlock my phone to call her. It opens up to a message rather than to the home screen. It’s a message from Quinn.
My mind blurs with activity. Has she left me? If she has then that’s a little weak considering her recent behavior. Has she gone to him? I don’t know if we will come back from that. What do I do? Do I stay here, look for her, call her? I pride myself on working under pressure and dissolving a crisis but I am completely out of my depth here.
My mind shuts down as I work on autopilot. I dress quickly and leave the apartment with my phone pressed to my ear. I call her repeatedly, but she doesn’t pick up.
Finding myself at The Nest without any intention, I peer through the window. It’s closed. It isn’t even midday yet. I can’t shake the feeling she is in there though. I back away, glancing up at the apartment above. I bet he lives there.
“BLUE!” I shout, my words running from adrenaline and fear rather than rationality. There is no answer and so I call him again, and again, and again. People are looking, I’m sure of it. I don’t care. My wife is in there and I’m not leaving without her.
“What the fuck are you doing?” a voice calls. Blue is leaning out of the window, shirtless. My blood is boiling. I’m faint from the heat but my body is tense and alive.
“Get. Down. Here!”
“Are you out of your mind?” he yells, looking back into his room worriedly. I fucking knew it.
“Get down here now or I swear to God I will smash my way in!”
“Fuck, Reid!” He’s pissed but it doesn’t come near what I’m feeling. “Stay there.”
The window closes and I pace the pavement, trying to calm my breathing and unclench my fists. I fail. Minutes pass before Blue opens the door. I push past him into the bare bar, shouting for Darlene and hearing nothing but my echo in return.
“I don’t know who you think you are barging in here like this, but you need to calm the fuck down,” Blue snarls, but I ignore him, looking everywhere, including the toilets, for my wife.
“Where is she? I know she’s here!”
“You think Darlene’s here? You’re insane...”
His eyes drift to the door behind the bar. It must lead to his apartment. I fucking knew it. Only now do I realize that he’s half naked. I’ll kill him. Pure, ugly rage rules my mind as I lunge for him. Anticipating my actions, he sidesteps my attack, dodging clear of my grip. Before I know it, we are matched in aggression, my hand around his neck and his fisted in my shirt. I see nothing but my own hatred for this person who has taken everything that was ever important to me. I see my own failure and all that I’m lacking as a man. Blue is everything that I’m not and I hate him. Hate him.