At first it seemed an utter disaster. I heard the door slam and something glass smash in the hallway, and before I could call out asking what it was there stood Helen in the doorway of my study, an avenging angel, livid, her body one huge clenched fist, eyes glaring out of her head.
"Is something wrong?" I asked.
I already knew the answer. She had finally found out. Nearly a year ago. I'd never altogether forgotten it, though I'd tried to bury it in my mind with all those other lapses and indiscretions people mean to make up but forget about after a while, because there's nothing to be done about them, really, and anyhow noone knows about them. All those debts never repaid, and promises not kept. But here it was. The big one, now found out. For me the big one, anyhow, because I was never a great sinner, just an average well-meaning kind of guy, brought up to be decent enough, to keep my word no matter what, not to lie, or cheat, or steal.
Well, anyhow, not to steal. A year earlier I had cheated on my wife, and for a while I'd done a lot of lying to her to hide it. Understand me, that was the only time I ever fell off the monogamy wagon into a real torrid no-holds-barred affair. I've never been a great seducer, just one more account executive worried about middle-aged flab though still fairly thin, a nice guy, always polite to everybody. To get along, go along, was always my motto. I never understood why Estrella picked me out to be her sex partner while she was in town. I guessed it was because she knew I'd be no problem for her. And I wasn't, not at all.
One afternoon there she was, Estrella, this ripe, sultry Sales Manager from downstate somewhere, sent up for a six-week training course she said. She was related in some way to Dora, our across-the-street neighbor and my wife's dearest friend, though it didn't appear they ever spent any time together. Apparently it was Dora who suggested that Estrella drop by my office to meet some people, and to ask me about the available after-hours entertainment.
Which turned out to be me.
When Estrella stood over my desk to introduce herself I went weak in the knees, even though I was sitting and it didn't matter. I couldn't take my eyes off her.
"You're Dora's friend's husband?" she asked. "This is where you like to play with yourself?"
I looked up and my mouth gaped open. Her lips were moist, red, and curled all over themselves. Her eyes were sparkling black smudges, looking down at me amused. Her slender red fingertips clicked lightly on the top of my desk, and when I glanced at them I saw her crotch just behind, sheathed in form-fitting spandex slacks tucked tightly into her slit, rubbing and pressing against the corner of my desk. I looked back up embarrassed, and saw that she had just reached some kind of decision about me. She smiled to herself and leaned forward, and her cascading brown hair tumbled down over me. My field of vision closed over and became a fragrant tent filled with shadowy dark tips on the peaks of the lacy bra I could see she wore under her transparent chiffon blouse.
"I haven't even checked into my hotel yet," she was saying, "Do you think you'll have time to show me around first?"
I suppose I was ripe for it. My sex life had gone quiescent, because I didn't want to violate my wife's desires, and she didn't have too many. Helen had never gone in for gratifying physical appetites, or even encouraging them. No bingeing of any kind. She ate moderately, and never indulged with junk food, chocolate, or second portions of anything. Not that she was thin -- there were some curves there, but she thought their purpose was to fill out the trim suits she favored wearing. She was gentle, never stiff or prissy but never provocative either, even by accident. Not exactly shy, but no way assertive. I sensed early in our relationship that to ask her to do something she didn't want to do would violate something within her she valued deeply, her innate sense of tidyness, or neatness. It wouldn't have been nice. She might have accommodated me, but it wouldn't have been fair. It would have been taking advantage of her good nature.
So our sex life leveled down to what she liked, and that wasn't much. It was pretty tame. She didn't care for oral sex, or anal sex, or most of the time any sex at all. She liked to cuddle, and to kiss gently, and she liked me to stroke her hair, and just hold her. After lights out, when other couples turned to fulfill each others' desires, she liked to settle down and just "make nice." I think she decided to marry me because I was so considerate, never insisting we make love all the way, settling most of the time for gentle caressing. She seemed to want full scale sex with me only occasionally, to recharge some moderate libidinous energy within herself perhaps. Some nights she'd let me know it was all right, and I'd penetrate her, and she'd have a small orgasm after a while, then she'd wait for me to finish, and then she'd turn over without a word and go to sleep, and that was that for another few weeks. Or longer. I can't say she was ever really passionate. No. Then in the morning, when I began to renew my affectionate stroking of her in the hope that it would lead to something more, she'd wait me out, and after a while I'd get the message and ease off. "That was nice," she'd say when I'd stopped nuzzling and caressing her. Then she'd get up to dress for the day.
But she enjoyed hearing me talk about who at the office was doing whom, and to hear any speculation about how they were doing it. In her imagination she could deal with any kinds of sexual coupling, no matter how raunchy, any numbers and combinations of matings. She liked sex at one remove, I suppose because then it was safe and undemanding, and had nothing to do with her. She's the only woman I've ever known who liked not only Harlequin romances, where sex is a blurred fusion of stars and floods and explosions and things, but also liked hard core sex novels, the kind that inventory specific peculiar and perverse cravings and body parts and then let rip. She kept a stack of them by the bed. I suppose for her it was like reading science fiction or the National Geographic, depictions of other people's strange folkways, novel and interesting, maybe even educational. But it never touched her behavior, or her attitudes. In her real world there was very little physical desire.
Even when we were making love I always had the impression she would rather be doing other things altogether, like planning menus or vacations, or keeping the family finances at her little spindled desk. She could be relentless following out and making sure that workmen around the house did what they had said they would do. A deal was a deal, and she expected that everything promised would be fulfilled. Once when a house painter overbooked himself, as they like to do, and started our job late and finished it much later still, she wanted to sue him, to return what she conceived was injury with injury, to "get even," to re-establish a balance in her moral universe. It was only with great difficulty that I persuaded her to forget it, and I'm still not sure she ever did.
Above all what she loved doing was lunching or shopping with Dora, whom she saw all the time. Dora lived close by, was divorced and childless and well-off, and had time on her hands. My wife managed the Art Shop at our local museum, where Dora was a Docent and would often drop by to chat. They had a lot in common. Dora also didn't seem much interested in sex. She didn't date that I ever noticed, or talk about men other than her ex-husband, whom she had left, as she said, for good and sufficient reasons she didn't find interesting enough to share. We were also childless. But then we'd only been married a few years, and I can't say we'd worked frenziedly at making babies. As I've said, when sex did happen between us, it was...well...nice. That's the word, nice. Helen liked hugging and snuggling, and the other less messy ways to be nice.
Not Estrella. Sex with Estrella was always frantic, and never merely nice. I couldn't stop her from overwhelming me, and after a while I didn't want to. She became an obsession. So far as my wife was concerned, I spent the next six weeks working nights and weekends, called out-of-town overnight repeatedly, with scarcely enough time to stop at home to pick up fresh shirts and socks. It was glorious. Estrella led the way, and I followed eagerly. We began by climbing all over and into each other all night, night after night, juiced up and overflowing and sucking from each other in a kind of wet frenzy. It was madness. I couldn't get enough of her. She was a tease, always testing how far she could go with me and then goading me further. By the end of the first week she had me drinking any fluid she could produce from between her legs, my own or hers, nursing at her crotch like a baby for hours at a time, and by the second week she had me begging to let me nibble at her rear no matter what. I wanted any part of her around me and inside me.
.... There is more of this story ...