I am not a stupid man. No doubt many of you will disagree when you understand the situation in which I found myself. I had the hubris to believe that I was perceptive and insightful. Had this been true, things would have happened very differently.
From the first I knew that Carol was willful. When she wanted something, there were few things she would not do to get it. She played it down while we were dating. She almost made it seem admirable, this single-mindedness in pursuit of a goal. I guess when she decided she wanted me, she pursued me with the same zeal. It was certainly flattering to be pursued, but there was much more to it than that. She was very attractive, intelligent and had a wide range of interests, which made her fun to be with. Truth be told, she had a very nice body although that would have gotten her no more than a first look had she not possessed the rest of the package.
She loved to show off the physical package. She bought her clothes according to the SLoT principle, short, low cut and tight. An important part of the experience of going out for Carol was that she be noticed and admired by other men. I think she got an even bigger charge when she got envious looks from other women. She watched her diet and worked out assiduously to make sure that she would remain an object of interest. No amount of reassurance from me would suffice to convince her she was still hot. She required outside validation.
The early years of our marriage were filled with fun. Carol loved to travel and I had no serious objection, so we did. She would do the research and make the plans. It was actually nice for someone else to have to be in charge sometimes. She would also plan, and insist on, the theater. But what guy wouldn't gladly go along with a woman who would not only watch any sport I chose, but could discuss it knowledgeably?
We still had a good marriage, but our blissful, all right happy, married existence was disrupted when I took a job with a computer consulting firm which started sending me out of town frequently. There was nothing we could do about it. Jobs were scarce, let alone good jobs, and we couldn't pay the bills on Carol's income alone. Although we had no children, it had been in our plans. But we agreed that it would be unfair to place most of the burden on Carol while I had to spend so much time away and postponed the thought of any additions to our family.
I can't say that I remember many of the nights on the road with any particularity. They run together. The memory of a single night might really just be pieces of many nights jumbled together, like the night I saw those two gorgeous young blondes showing themselves off at a Red Lobster. Nobody has to go to the bathroom that many times during one meal. They walked slowly. They wiggled.
I had time to take it all in. I had arrived before them. After ordering, I got to sit at my table and await my meal. I was at the table alone. I had no book to read. I had no dinner partner with whom to share conversation. I was alone with my thoughts. I speculated as to how many people were looking at me and wondering if this was the loser's big night out. No one else ate alone. They all got to share conversation. People would laugh, point at each other; perhaps one would touch another as they spoke. Sometimes I would see someone looking at me. Were they judging? Did it matter? I knew I wasn't a loser but I felt desperately alone, isolated. As they passed, the blondes would cast a sidelong glance, as if making eye contact would make some of whatever caused me to be alone rub off on them.
After dinner I went to a minor league baseball game. I love to watch baseball. Thousands of little details make up each game. I sat there among the couples, groups and families. Whatever interest they might have had in the game, they shared their experience. They could have been sharing it somewhere else. It didn't matter. Sharing the experience let them know they were not alone, that they had each other to rely on, to care for. That was not my experience. I had myself and the baseball.
I'm not really sure I saw that game the same night I saw the two girls. I'm not even sure what city they called home. Time on the road was mostly a black and white collage of meaningless moments.
When you are happily married and on the road, the emptiness of the experience is easy to recognize. You can call your wife every night. What can you say about your day? "I had lunch alone and got back to work and figured out that much of the sales information can be shared with the marketing department." You can tell her you had dinner in the restaurant last night and went back to your room to watch TV. You ask how her day was without you. This scintillating exchange is not the stuff that binds relationships. At best it keeps them on life support. At least she has her friends at home. You are alone.
You are likely to meet some attractive and engaging young women during the course of your work. You can't date them. Even if they were willing to save you from the overbearing solitude, it wouldn't be fair to them - the relationship can go nowhere, and it wouldn't be fair to your wife. Such is the carefree existence of a road warrior. Sometimes you will go to the hotel bar for a drink. It's not that you want to drink. But being there among other living, breathing, talking, laughing people is a better reminder that there is life out there in which you might someday participate than just locking yourself away in your cell. Occasionally you will have the opportunity to dance with someone. What a refreshing change it is to be able to share some conversation. It needn't lead anywhere. It won't lead anywhere. But it is human contact.
Perhaps I slightly overstate the case. I remember three evenings to distinguish them with sufficient clarity from all the other amorphous nights.
Carol had noticed the effects that being away had on me. Occasionally she would sneak something into my suitcase to cheer me up, sometimes a candy bar, sometimes a note to remind me that she missed me as well. On one trip she included a note that promised me a surprise. It was my third week in Chicago and I was having dinner in the hotel restaurant.
As I was waiting for my onion soup, looking at the other patrons and wondering what they were thinking about the lonely guy, I heard a woman's voice to my left.
"Simon, Simon Newsome."
I turned and saw an attractive 5'4' brunette, early 30's, about ten pounds north of perfect. Engagement and wedding ring on the fourth finger of her left hand. Stupid, isn't it? I'm not in any way available, but that glance to check is almost involuntary.
"I'm sorry I can't place the face. Do I know you? "
"No, you don't. My name's Annie Carson. My old friend Carol Newsome asked me to have dinner with you tonight. That wasn't her name when we were friends in college, but I hear she's gotten married to a good-looking guy since then. Do you mind if I join you?"
"Of course not." I was stunned.
"Carol said you eat by yourself a lot and she wanted you to have company for once."
"Wow. She is something special."
"Yes, she is. You're a lucky guy."
"Amazing. I think this is the most incredible gift I've ever gotten."
"You don't know the half of it. She harassed me until I rearranged my whole schedule so I could meet you here."
"Carol doesn't know how to take no for an answer."
"No, she doesn't. It took her five phone calls to make this happen."
"It's good to know how important it is to her to take care of me."
"It is. You know, you have a nice smile Simon. Remember to tell that to Carol. She gave you that smile. You sure didn't have one when I came in."
"I'm going to have to thank her properly when I get home."
"She mentioned that. She said she'll be waiting in her little black nightie for you to thank her when you get home."
An attractive man came up to our table. I have no interest in men, but I can distinguish attractive from ordinary.
"Simon, this is my husband Richard."
I rose and we shook hands.
"You seem surprised, Simon," she said. "Did you think your wife was going to set you up with a beautiful temptress while you're lonely and far away from home?" She giggled. "Richard is here as our chaperone. You didn't have any improper thoughts, did you?"
"Of course not. That never crossed my mind." I stammered.
"You fluster so easily. Carol was right."
I had one of my best nights on the road just having dinner with Annie and Richard. It wasn't just that I got to have dinner with enjoyable company, Carol had been thoughtful enough to set it up. I thanked her copiously when I got home.
On another trip a memorable incident occurred.
I had just finished a swing dance with a fortyish woman whose husband was more interested in drinking than dancing. They were both grateful that I had danced with her although for entirely different reasons.
"It's so nice to dance with an attractive young man," she told me.
"I'm not that young and you're not that old."
"You look like you're barely out of college."
"That statement suggests to me that you may have had too much to drink." She laughed. It was an attractive laugh. "I'm 35. College was quite some time ago."
She glanced back at her dormant husband. "If I were a few years younger and I didn't have Fred here along, I'd show you a memorable night."
"I'm married. And it has already been memorable."
She emitted an elongated, satisfied sigh. "Your wife is a lucky woman. With talk like that you could get laid any time you want."
"I just want to get home. But you have helped make my absence more bearable. Thank you for dancing with me. Maybe Fred is feeling some of that absence."
"I wish," she said as she walked reluctantly back to him.
I returned to my drink. I was not as good looking as she had suggested. I was just younger and more engaged than Fred. I'm not bad looking, but I'm also nothing special. The only thing at all remarkable about me is that I have a pretty good build. When I'm on the road, it's easier to forget that I'm lonely when working out in the weight room. So I do it a lot. The side effect was that I had enough lean muscle to make it possible to eat a lot of restaurant food without putting on much flab.
I looked up from my drink and saw a vibrant redhead carrying a drink and moving purposefully in my direction. Some lucky guy was going to receive some very pleasant attention. It turned out to be me.
"Hi, I'm Sandy." She reached out to shake my hand. "You're a good dancer. Mind if I sit down and talk for a while?"
Mind? She was the most gorgeous woman I had seen in all my time on the road. She was the stuff of fantasies. "Sure, if you'd like. It would be my pleasure." That was a substantial understatement.
"I don't get out much and I thought it would be nice to talk and maybe dance with a good-looking young guy."
Okay, I needed a mirror now. Either I was inhabiting someone else's body or someone had stamped "young guy" on my forehead. She was no more than 25 and could have had any guy in the room. I even think she was hot enough to bring Fred out of hibernation. Why was she coming on to me? "Well, you're in luck. I know how to both dance and talk. Sometimes simultaneously."
"And a sense of humor too. Just the kind of guy I'd like to spend some time with." As she said that, she touched my hand for a moment.
I didn't know how to respond. This made no sense. If she had gotten to know my intelligence, sense of humor and charm before, maybe she could have had a legitimate interest in me. But based purely on looks, without knowing anything about me I didn't understand how she could be interested. There were several younger, better looking guys just in this bar. How did she focus on me? My curiosity and suspicion resulted in a silence that threatened to become protracted. She saved the day.
"Why don't we dance?"
I stood and offered her my hand. We walked to the dance floor for some swing. When the dance was finished, the house band switched to something slow. I tried to start back to the table, but she held onto my left hand and put her left arm around my neck. Okay. I can dance slow.
Sandy didn't seem to understand that this was a dance. She moved her head toward me so that her right cheek rested against mine. She let go of my left hand with her right and moved it around my neck as well. She moved herself in closer and suddenly I had grown breasts, albeit in the wrong direction. When she moved her hips in, it ceased being dancing and became frottage. It was making me very uncomfortable, particularly as I became aware that if this were to be prolonged, I would likely evidence a socially undesirable response. Mercifully, the song ended before I succumbed and I managed to recapture our table with her clinging to me.
Had I been single, we would have immediately departed for my room. I would have capitulated to this irresistible beauty and thrown caution to the winds. But I wasn't single and that represented an immovable obstacle to me.
"You know my name but I don't know yours. There can be something exciting and dangerous about that, but I think I would prefer to know your name if you would be willing to part with it."
If she had ended the sentence with "withal," I would have thought she was reciting Shakespeare. "I'm Simon."
"I find you very attractive, Simon."
Why? Maybe she was just a hot single girl out to get laid. But the question remained, why me? My radar had been activated. There was something wrong here even if I couldn't ascertain what it was. In the mean time, I had nothing to lose by acknowledging the compliment. "Thank you. That's a nice thing to say."
"I'm very serious, Simon." She took my hands in hers. "I'd enjoy spending the night with you."
Am I some kind of idiot? A staggeringly beautiful woman wants to spend the night with me and my reaction is to look around for the candid camera. It didn't matter anyway. Even if my radar had not been engaged, there was a predetermined resolution to this invitation. "I'm attracted to you too, Sandy. Hell, so is every man in the room and probably quite a few of the women. But I'm married."
"I know. I saw the ring. You're obviously staying here alone. You're out of town on business. It's just a fling. She'll never know. What's the harm?"
"I'll know. It's wrong whether she finds out or not."
"Relax. You're out here by yourself. You spend all this lonely time on the road. You deserve a diversion. And I'm sure I would have a nice time too."
"I'm sorry, Sandy, I can't. I mean, I guess I'm not even really sorry. It's just not something I can do."
"Anything you want, Simon. Any way you want. I can be unforgettable." She spoke sincerely and seductively. She knew how get to a man. There was a distinct possibility that she had never in her life been refused.
Until now. "I made some promises when I got married and one of them covers this situation, Sandy. When I give my word, and it is within my power to keep my word, I keep it. You are absolutely the most beautiful, sensual, seductive woman I have ever met, including my wife. But this is something I will not do. God knows I'm going to remember the opportunity I blew, but I won't do it."
She seemed very surprised and yet something in her reaction also seemed a little pleased. I couldn't explain it but I'm sure that's what I saw. Of course, I've been wrong before. "I'm sorry to hear that, but I understand. Your wife is a lucky woman."
"You're the second woman to say that tonight. Could I get a testimonial to take home?"
What a delightful laugh she had. "Don't worry. I'll put it all in my report." A sense of humor too.
"You'll need the correct spelling of my name." As enjoyable as this repartee was, I excused myself to return to my room.
Now my only problem was whether to tell Carol about the incident. If she were to find out, my explanation for not telling her would be that nothing happened and that she wouldn't have believed me anyway. Why would such a stunning woman come on to me? If I did tell her, she might give me a hard time. She would doubt Sandy's beauty and she might accuse me of trying to flirt. I guess it wasn't that difficult a decision after all.
To someone observing us from the outside, it probably looked like Carol was the dominant partner in our relationship. Come to think of it, it probably looked that way to Carol too. She got her way most of the time.
It wasn't that I didn't have the backbone to stand up to her. It was that the things about which we disagreed were usually much more important to Carol than to me.
For example, I don't know why, but I can't stand green in a home. It is a lovely color for a forest, but I don't think it belongs indoors. Despite knowing that, Carol had her heart set on a lime green loveseat. To me it was a puke green affirmation of bad taste. But it made her happy and I was away often enough that I decided to live with it.
I must have seemed even more spineless when it came time for Carol to replace her car. I drove a Honda hybrid. It is my feeling that, since they aren't making any more dinosaurs, we have a responsibility to use as little oil as we can to accomplish what we need. Carol had her heart set on an SUV, a Ford Explorer. She argued that the planet could afford it because I was driving the hybrid. It wasn't just the mileage for me, it was how they make driving more dangerous. You can't see past them making it impossible to scout out and plan for possible traffic difficulties ahead. I was fairly passionate on both issues, but finally decided that, even if I paid the personal price Carol would exact for losing the argument, other people would keep buying the damn things and my sacrifice would not gain anything in the end.
As I have said, Carol was relentless when she wanted something. But, to her surprise, she discovered that I was not a complete pushover. If the matter were important enough to me, I could be more than intractable, I might go on the offensive. I think she came to that conclusion the day she told me she wanted to buy some expensive lingerie. I told her that we could not afford it. She immediately jumped into action.
"I know how we can afford it."
"Here we go again." But I was likely to give in and do without something we needed if she were sufficiently committed to making my life miserable.
"You can pad your expenses. Below a certain amount they don't even require receipts."
"Not really. They expect everybody to bump up their expenses."
"No they don't. They expect honesty."
"Don't be so na‹ve. Everybody does it."
"Don't give me such a hard time. You always give me such a hard time. I'm asking for something trivial and you get all in my face with this honesty at all costs crap."
"Who are you? Do you hear what you're saying?"
"You don't have to yell," she said.
"You think this is yelling? Keep it up and you'll hear yelling. You're being petty, petulant, abusive and singularly selfish. Some people try to live their lives according to what they believe and you want me to throw it away for a fucking nightgown? I know how you can afford to buy it. Divorce me and get enough in the settlement to buy whatever you want. You're always pushing the limits, Carol, and this time you've gone too far. What are you, a teenager?"
"Calm down! It's not that important. Geez, don't go talking about divorce over a nightgown. Talk about escalating the argument. Where did divorce come from?"
"When you tell me I have to violate my beliefs to keep you happy, the only logical answer I can give you is that you're going to have to be happy without me, because I won't do it."
"I'm, I'm sorry I asked. I wasn't thinking. Of course I wouldn't want you to have to violate your beliefs. I was just, I didn't think of it that way. Please. The lingerie isn't as important to me as you. I'll prove it to you." Carol started unbuttoning her blouse.
This was just plain strange.
She removed the blouse and stripped off her bra. Her argument was looking just a little better to me. "Here, I'm going to burn it. I want to show you how unimportant it is to me."
I grabbed for the bra but she evaded me. "This is silly, Carol. Burning that bra only makes you need to buy another one."
"I'm going to burn it."
I started to chase after her and she ran across the bed to escape. I realized that I wasn't so angry anymore. I managed to grab her and she started laughing. It was catching.
We made up.
Some time later I thought back on the argument. I couldn't believe how far she was willing to ask me to go to get what she wanted. I was also far from convinced that this was just an error in judgment. I believed that this was a fight she decided she couldn't win and it would be better for her future demands if she backed down as quickly and completely as she could. Maybe I'm just a suspicious guy.
Of course, I had surprised myself in this argument as well. She was right about escalation. I had leaped from being cajoled to threatening divorce. Was it all out of proportion? Likely. Did I mean it? I don't know. My reaction was visceral and not logical as I had suggested. I guess we both understood the ground rules for future confrontations a little better. I hoped she didn't think she could win an argument just by getting naked, as persuasive as that might be. These clashes were infrequent and paled in importance to the good times.
Carol and I took advantage of weekends by spending as much time together as we could. By no means were these naked, stay-at-home weekends. I hadn't married her to be a fuck toy. I valued her companionship, her intelligence and her generosity - except for those times she was trying to wheedle something out of me. The movies, museums, games and dinners I had to spend alone out of town, I shared with her on weekends and the odd days I worked locally or had off due to lack of an assignment. I thought we were happy. I may even have been right about that despite subsequent events that cast doubt on that belief.
One weekend, lying naked and sweaty in a small pool of bodily fluids, she surprised me with a delightful tidbit. "Some of the girls at work told me their husbands fantasize about watching them with another man. Is that a fantasy you've ever thought about honey?"
"Nope. That's something their husbands really fantasized about?"
"Some more than fantasized."
"Really? I don't get that. Why not just stay single if you want to be with other people?"
"They say they're excited by seeing their wives get so much pleasure. How about you? Wouldn't you like to see your honey ecstatic?"
I chuckled and lifted the covers. "Does it look like the idea interests me?"
"Maybe you don't want to just watch. Maybe you want to join in."
"Are you asking for permission?"
"Ask your next husband. The current one has no interest. If I wanted us to be screwing around, we'd be single. Lord knows I've had plenty of opportunities on the road. But it's not something I would ever do. You just don't know when to stop, do you?"
"Oh, relax. I'm just kidding around. Some of the girls told me about it and I thought it would be fun to tease you. You're always so serious. Can't you take a joke?"
Again, my suspicion told me she sensed that she had gone too far, that I was on the verge of unrestrained escalation and she had decided it would be unwise to press the issue. On the other hand sometimes I am too serious and occasionally I'm slow to pick up on a tease as Annie had found out.
"In fact, if I found out you were cheating on me, I'd think very seriously about leaving you. At the very least, I would get some nasty revenge," she said.
"I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. I'm not interested in anyone but you, Carol."
"You better not be."
I needed to understand this better. Had I completely misunderstood? "Is this just a fantasy, Carol? Is that what I was overreacting to? I wouldn't want you to be afraid to express your fantasies. Fantasies are just in your imagination. It's not like you really do them. Everyone has fantasies."
"Oh? What's your fantasy?"
"That same one that almost all straight men have, of being with two women, one of them you. But I would never do anything to make it a reality."
"No, you wouldn't. And no, it wasn't a fantasy. I told you I was just fooling around. But look, if it will help you feel better, I'll burn my bra."
"That's not the answer to every problem."
"Just fooling around."
Without any compelling evidence to the contrary, I let it drop.
It was a Friday night in Evansville, Indiana and I couldn't get a plane out until morning. This was my fourth straight week on the road and I was relieved that I would get to spend a week at home. Not only was I weary, but I was in pain. I'd had a toothache for the last three days and today I'd picked up a prescription for Percocet and an antibiotic from a local dentist. Pain wears me out and affects my judgment. It's more difficult to concentrate through pain.
The work was finished and I was having dinner in the restaurant in my hotel. Not that I wouldn't have eaten but I was supposed to take the Percoset with a meal. Unexpectedly, a pair of female hands covered my eyes from behind. A pair of breasts pressed into my back. I felt her soft hair against my neck as she spoke gently into my ear.
"Imagine meeting you here, stranger."
We were not strangers. I immediately recognized the voice. "Nicole? What are you doing in Evansville?"
"That was too easy." She pretended to pout. "A trip for work. I go back tomorrow. What about you?"
"Me too. I've been working here during the week for about four weeks now. You know how often I get sent away." She knew because she was my wife's best friend. "Does Carol know you're out here? Did she send you?"
"I don't even think she knows I'm out of town."
"I'm being rude. Have you eaten? Would you like to join me?"
"I don't know. I don't want to impose."
"You make a good point. Do I want to lose the opportunity to eat alone yet again because I'm being imposed upon by a good looking woman?"
She sat down. "You don't always have to be such a smart ass."
"Why are you sitting? I haven't made my decision yet."
She flagged the waitress and asked for a menu.
This was a very welcome surprise. I liked Nicole. She was fun to be with. Even if she hadn't been, it would have been much better than being alone.
It turned out to be way better. Dinner paled in comparison to the sparkling conversation. I hadn't cared much for Carol's fantasy but I now had one of my own. Had Carol sent Nicole like she had sent Annie just so I could have another good night on the road? What a thoughtful wife I had.
After dinner I had a black Russian and Nicole had a Manhattan and we danced for a while. There were some slow dances mixed in but Nicole did not take the same liberties that Sandy had. We wound up back at the table and each ordered a cup of coffee.
"Nicole, I've really enjoyed your company tonight. This was kind of like a very nice first date. I hope I run into you again when I'm on the road. Better yet, I hope I can get off of the road."
"I know what it's like to be alone on the road too."
"Nah. You're single and you're hot. I'll bet you don't have many dinners alone."
"I didn't think so. Excuse me for a minute. I have to hit the men's room."
"I think I'll go to the little girls room."
I stood to slide out her chair from under her but waved me off.
"I have to find something in my bag and then I'll go. Don't worry, I'll come back."
Nicole returned around five minutes after me. It reminded me of how lonely the night could have been.
"Do you take sugar or cream?"
"Sugar," I said.
We sat and sipped and talked for a while. I was beginning to feel strange even though I had only consumed one drink. "I'm not feeling too good, Nicole. I wonder if I was supposed to stay away from alcohol after taking the Percoset. I didn't read the damn instructions. I think I better get back to my room."
"I'm sorry the evening has to end so early. I hope you feel better."
I started to get up but felt dizzy and fell back into my seat.
"I think you better let me help you back to your room."
I'm often reluctant to accept assistance, but my legs were shaky and I felt uncharacteristically compliant. I accepted her offer.
The side of the elevator aided her greatly in keeping me upright. She took my card key and guided me into my room.
I was feeling strange. Not ill, just strange. In fact, I was surprisingly mellow. Were it not for the extreme instability of my legs, I would have thought I was just a bit tipsy. Percoset is a narcotic, isn't it?
"Thank you for helping me back to my room. That was so niiiice."
She helped me over to the bed. "Do you feel okay? You're acting a little peculiar."
"I feel fine." I must have. I had a big smile that just wouldn't go away. "Let's dance." I tried to get up but my legs reminded me of the folly of that notion.
"Be careful," she said.
"You're so sweet. What a good friend."
"You're sweet too." She kissed me on the cheek.
"Thank you." I put my arms around her and gave her a big hug. It must have been a long one too because at some point I realized I was hugging her and didn't remember when I had started.
"I think I better put you to bed. You don't seem to be in very good shape."
"No. I can do it myself." I lifted a leg up with my hands, fell off the bed and started laughing. For some reason that escapes me now this seemed hysterically funny.
"Sure you can." She got on the floor with me and removed my shoes and socks. I wasn't much help. She took off my jacket with some difficulty, got up and hung it over a chair. Then she returned and helped me back onto the bed. She took off my tie and shirt and I started laughing again. After she hung them up, she returned again to the bed and undid my belt. After unbuttoning my pants and lowering the fly, she pushed me onto my back and struggled to get my pants off. I was unable to help.
"You're trying to seduce me." This too seemed really funny and I laughed until I was getting short of breath.
She pulled aside the sheets and pushed me around until I was in position to be covered up. Then she suddenly whipped off my boxers.
"Okay," I said. I had no idea what was okay.
"I don't like the way you look. I'm going to stay for a while in case you need help."
"I just don't think I should leave you alone."
I heard her moving around and most of the lights went out. After a while I felt the bed depress. She moved next to me and pulled the covers over us.
"I'm going to stay here with you and take care of you."
"Okay." I was in a surprisingly good mood. I usually can't bear not to be fully in control. But for some reason it wasn't bothering me.
She snuggled in closer and that's when I realized, "Hey, you don't have any clothes on."
"I didn't want to wrinkle them."
"That's good thinking."
"You just relax and rest."
I did. I think I was asleep for a while. I awoke to Carol kissing me. I thought I'd been away but I must have been confused. Sometimes the days all run together. Carol was especially passionate tonight. I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder. And hornier. My god, I didn't remember the last time I felt such need.
I returned her passion with a vengeance almost seeking to consume her with my mouth. Her moans and explorations bespoke an urgency I shared. She grabbed my buttocks and pulled me on top of her. I felt everything. I smelled everything. I heard everything. Never before had my senses been this acute.
"Carol, this is amazing. I've never felt so close to you."
"I'm not Carol. I'm Nicole."
I hesitated. What was I doing? How did this happen? This was wrong.
"It's all right, Simon. It's all right."
It was all right. I moved forward and was enveloped. It was warm and sensual and luxurious. I slowly moved in and out.
Carol, Nicole tired of the pace. "Faster." It was more than a suggestion.
I tried to comply, but I did not seem to be able.
"Okay. We'll try it your way."
As far as I could tell, my way was working pretty well. I couldn't count, but occasionally I felt movements and heard sounds that I recognized as her orgasms. At some point I felt sensations that signaled mine. It was electrifying but exhausting. I slept.
Some time later I awoke to find her on top of me. Which one was this? Was it Carol or Nicole? Even though I had slept, I was ever more fatigued. My senses were fatigued as well. Nicole, I could recognize her now, rode me with an enthusiasm that made up for my tepid participation. She succeeded in wringing another orgasm from me and I passed out.
It was morning. Sunlight streamed into the room. I was aroused, but it was not the morning variety. Carol's mouth was down there shepherding my pleasure. I stretched. I opened my eyes and looked down at Carol's - "Nicole! What the hell are you doing?" I grabbed her head and pulled her off of me with considerable difficulty. "What are you doing here?"
"It's okay, Simon."
"It's not okay." I pulled the sheet over my lower body. My blood pressure shot up. My skin flushed.
"It's okay. You seduced me and I stayed the night."
"I seduced you? I don't..."
"It was wonderful."
"I'm so sorry. I, I don't know what came over me. Please forgive me. I never meant to do it. I mean, not that there is anything wrong with you but I love Carol. Oh, God, what have I done?"
"Don't be sorry. You couldn't have seduced me if I hadn't wanted you to. I'm not upset at all. I feel great."
I didn't. A deep sadness and shame pervaded me. I had spoken with such conviction, almost arrogance, of the impossibility of ever doing this and I had done it. It didn't matter that I had let Carol down, well, it did, but the worst part was that I had let myself down. I was not the man I thought I was and that devastated me. "I'm just another jerk, like all those other jerks."
Nicole tried to console me but it lacked conviction. She seemed more pleased with the situation than empathetic.
What would I do? Had I lost Carol? Had I cost her Nicole's friendship? For the moment I chose to focus on the details of getting home.
"How did my suitcase get packed?" It was sitting on a chair.
"I did it. I went back to my room and got my stuff and then I came back here and packed your suitcase so we could have more time together this morning."
"Thanks. I'm sorry. I shouldn't use that tone with you. This wasn't your fault."
She sat there on the bed naked, appealing. "So are we going to take advantage of my planning?"
"No. This should never have happened. Doing it again would make it worse."
"You've already committed the crime. One more time isn't going to make it any worse."
"I... I don't understand why I did it last night but this is a new opportunity to decide whether to do the right thing or the wrong thing. The least I can do is choose to stop doing the wrong thing. I'm sorry. It's nothing against you. I just have to start behaving correctly."
"No. What do I do now? I don't know. Carol has a right to know. I owe it to her. But if I tell her it's really going to hurt her. Is it selfish to unburden some of my guilt at the price of her pain?"
Nicole didn't answer, but her demeanor changed. She had been very positive and accepting of the situation. But now, somehow, she seemed sad.
"I guess I can live with the guilt myself. But if she finds out on her own, she is going to be even more hurt. Talk about having to choose between two equally unattractive options. You're her best friend. What do you think?"
"I don't know what to tell you. I'm sure you guys will eventually work it out." It seemed like there was more she wanted to say, but she refrained. There was a look of pain, perhaps of regret, in her eyes.
"Are you okay?" I moved to give her a reassuring embrace, but the sheet dropped and I realized we were both naked. "What can I do to make this right with you?"
She smiled, leaned over and squeezed my hand. "It's okay with me. You don't have to do anything."
I headed for the shower. It would have been absurdly immodest to try to cover myself at this point.
Nicole and I spoke just enough to manage the details of getting to the airport. Thankfully, we were not seated together on the plane. I had the whole flight to think about whether or not I was going to tell Carol. There being no good choice, I came to no decision.
I took a cab home from the airport. Until I decided, I would have to act as if everything were fine.
Carol greeted me enthusiastically. "Let's get you unpacked, tuck your stuff away and then I want to tuck you away, cutie."
"You have such a dirty mind. I'm such a lucky guy."
While we were unpacking the choice was made for me. I heard her shout. "What the hell is this?"
I turned. She was holding up a blue pair of lacy bikini panties. I turned red.
"Who does this belong to and how did you get it?"
I didn't answer immediately.
"Don't go trying to make up some story. You're busted, buster."
"No story. No excuses. I can't even explain it. I don't understand what happened myself."
"Who is she?"
"My best friend? You fucked my best friend? You make me sick. Get out. Go stay in the guestroom. I don't know if I'll even be able to talk to you again. Get out."
It had gone better than I had expected. I was still married, at least for the time being.
On Monday I went to the doctor for testing. I had no reason to believe that Nicole had any diseases but it would have been stupid not to be safe, to the extent that was possible at this late date.
Carol didn't talk to me for three days. She was still angry when she spoke.
"I've decided not to divorce you but I'm outraged and I know what I need to get past this. I'm going to get revenge. I'm going to find somebody to fuck, and I want you to be there when I do it."
"Carol, two wrongs don't make a right."
"They do for me. I'm just going to fuck a stranger. You fucked my best friend."
"I didn't mean to. I didn't have any plan or intention. It just happened."