"Check... the... ASS... on... that! "
I turned my head to see what the loud-mouth was talking about just in time to see a familiar head pop up and move away. Yelps and jeers rose from the crowd at the bar.
I've heard a bullet is hot when it enters your body. That's the feeling that came to my chest, like a furnace, blazing.
Two sentences formed in my mind as I tried to stab my way through the sea of suits. "That's MY wife you're talking about. I don't appreciate the comment you made about her ASS."
But I was trapped in the midst of thirty or so thirsty men. By the time I could have gotten to him and tapped him on the shoulder he would have forgotten about Karen's ass and his crass remark. Besides, I only knew the general direction the remark came from. I only knew him by voice.
I considered yelling in his direction. "Hey, ASSHOLE, comment about your own wife's ass. Lay off of mine."
But that would only draw attention to me. A bunch of men I didn't know would snicker and make jokes about my wife's anatomy. Loud-mouth probably wouldn't even look my way. "Oh Well."
The bar was stacked three deep. Free booze brings out the worst in some men, although, at one thousand dollars per couple it was not really free. It took another fifteen minutes to move within shouting distance of the bartender and ask for a scotch, neat. He ignored my request to make it a double. I guess we were all trying to get our money's worth.
I lost track of Karen until I saw her at the auction, bidding on an item. She was standing by the wall on the other side of the room. She didn't bid again. She was too busy fending off some guy who had her pinned against the wall. His chest was almost touching her breasts and his mouth was very near her lips. At one point he leaned over to whisper in her ear. I waved to get her attention but she didn't look my way.
I watched them. Karen was looking up at the man demurely, a shy smile on her lips, being very feminine. Was she enjoying the attention? Even from a distance I could see that her head was tilted back, something she didn't have to do with me. In normal heels she is my height and that night she was an inch taller.
I didn't mention loud-mouth's remark about her ass on the way home. I couldn't bring myself to admit to Karen that I had not defended her honor. I saw how Karen fled the scene. Was it what he said or the reaction of the bystanders that made her trot off down the hall? The guy was right though. Karen definitely does have a nice ass.
Nor did I mention that I had watched her with the guy in the crowded auction hall. She seemed to lose interest in bidding when the guy said something to her. What had he said? Had he told her she had a nice ass? I shuddered to think of what she must have endured.
It had not always been that way. In college she would have been the first to admit that she was... well... nicely stacked but a little overweight. She dwelled on it, saying that she didn't understand how I could be with someone with flabby thighs and rolls of fat around her tummy. I told her she was exaggerating, they were not flabby and they were not rolls and anyway, I was the only one that saw her naked.
I both credited and blamed her job for the transformation. The job began as 'mother's hours' when the boys were nine and ten. "It will get me out of the house and the money will be nice too," she said at the time. It wasn't long before she was telling us funny things that had happened at the office that day. I noticed the boys were wearing better quality clothes and there was an occasional gift for me, a new tie or a monogrammed shirt.
When her father died and her mother came to live with us, Karen accepted a full time job with the company. Nancy was great with the kids. She soon became an indispensable member of the family.
At first the changes were subtle; new friends, visits to the gym and a more engaging personality. Karen was promoted twice during the first year and I lost track of the advances she made in the second.
I did know she had increasing responsibilities. One night at dinner she rose from the table and excused herself.
"What's wrong with mom?" Dennis wanted to know.
"She's taking a call," his brother answered. Tom had seen his mother retrieve her cell phone from a pocket.
"What's unreasonable about it? Meeting deadlines is part of your job," Karen said impatiently as she walked away from the table, her voice fading as she moved farther away. Nancy looked at me and shrugged, obviously shocked at her daughter's demeanor. We were not accustomed to hearing Karen talk that way to anyone. But when she returned to the table there was no indication that she had spoken harshly to one of her subordinates. "Mom, you've outdone yourself with this meal," she said, looking around the table at us, smiling.
With the increased responsibility came longer hours and a generous salary. Although she didn't boast about her position or her pay I could tell that her success was gratifying to her. For the first time in her working life, my wife was being rewarded for her efforts, both financially and in terms of praise. The gradual changes that were taking place in her personality and appearance were almost unnoticeable, except by me. I watched in awe and admiration.
With Nancy available to watch the boys and Karen's increasing income, we were free to get away together without straining the budget. The only problem was the long hours she was working. I was about ready to voice my concern that the boys needed their mother at home more when she mentioned the car. She knew that for years I had coveted a Benz.
"We can't afford that kind of car," I lamented, knowing I was right, but wishing it was not true.
"I want you to have it," she said, handing me her latest bonus check, which by itself would cover half the cost of the car. I was overwhelmed, both by Karen's generosity and the unpretentious way she told me about her bonus. I postponed the talk about the kids' needs and we settled on a CLK 320 coupe with silver metallic paint, leather throughout and a moon roof. It was far from the top of the line but the price was extravagantly affordable to us. We drove it for the first time to the Charity auction.
I remember quite well the conversation when we got home from the auction that night.
"Where were you tonight? She was undressing, hastily. I watched her shimmy out of the dress, and then bend to remove her stockings, all while looking directly into my eyes.
"Mostly at the bar trying to be served," I said, trying to avoid telling her I had seen her with the guy at the auction. Should I tell her I was sorry that I had not made more of an effort to cross the crowded room and tell the guy to get lost? I decided not to say anything. She would know I saw her, looking up at him, completely absorbed by what he was telling her, wouldn't she?
"Did you have a good time?" She was dropping her bra in a pile of clothes and looking at me compliantly, the same way she had looked at the auction, as she pushed her panties down.
At thirty-five, my wife had blossomed into a shapely, very attractive female. I noticed men blatantly staring at her when we were in public together, and she pretended not to notice when they nudged their friends. What was it like when I wasn't with her, I wonder?
"It was all right, I suppose. The place was too crowded and I didn't know anyone so I just people-watched and talked to a couple of guys at the bar. I didn't get their names," I said, thinking of the guy at the bar who made the lewd comment about her ass.
My suit needed to go to the cleaners anyway so I dropped my clothes in a pile too. And, seeing that she was getting into bed nude, I tossed my shorts on top of the pile and joined her.
In college we had tried various positions but neither of us was experienced enough to know that sex was supposed to last more than thirty minutes, including disrobing and foreplay. We read about technique, talked to our friends and watched porno films until, by the honeymoon, we were up to an hour, three times a day. Tom was born a year later, followed by Dennis.
After Dennis was born Karen obsessed about her weight. Nothing I could say seemed to relieve her concerns. With the full time job came two noticeable changes; Karen discovered exercise and our weekly love making sessions were reduced from three to two, until now.
Karen was naked and ready when I hopped into bed with her, then wild and vocal as we made passionate love. I worried that we would wake Nancy and the boys. I had never seen her like this; one time was not enough.
"Do you think I'm sexy?"
"Yes, I do and you have a nice ass," I answered, taking her butt in both hands and feeling how firm it had become.
Sometime during the night I awoke to find her riding me. How did she get me on my back? I never sleep on my back. How did she get me hard? Worrying about such details was silly. I reached up to show my approval and to urge her to continue.
The next day was Saturday and we spent the afternoon in the bedroom. Karen maneuvered it. That morning we went to the mall to do some Christmas shopping. We all piled into the new car and Karen drove. I took the boys to shop for gifts for their mother and she went off alone. We were to meet at the car and go from there to lunch. I noticed the boys had more money than I would have dreamed of having at their ages, eleven and twelve. They wanted to buy their mother something nice, something expensive.
"Mom's already here," Denny said as soon as we got off the elevator in the parking garage. He was right. Karen was thirty yards away, standing by the car talking to a man.
My wife was wearing her leather jacket over a white knit sweater and smooth slacks which accented the marvelous shape of her butt, leaving nothing to the imagination. She was looking up at the guy, smiling.
"Hi guys," she said when she saw us approaching. The jacket was open, putting her breasts on display. "Rob, I'd like you to meet my family," she said to the man without introducing us by name.
"He was admiring the car," she said as we exited the garage. She was dialing her cell phone. Rob wasn't admiring the car when I saw him. He was admiring my wife's perky breasts.
"Mom, we've decided to eat at home, just sandwiches I think. The boys need to do some more shopping. Can I tell them you'll take them for ice cream later? Good, thanks mom."
The mention of ice cream with their grandmother did little to soften the boys' groans, especially from Denny. Tommy was nearly thirteen and didn't mind spending the afternoon back at the mall.
"Do you think I'm sexy?" Karen asked as soon as we heard Nancy's car back out of the drive.
"Damn right I think you're sexy." Why did she need to be reminded? She undressed us both on the way to the bedroom.
I couldn't help but wonder what the guy in the garage said to her? Had talking to him provoked this renewed bedroom energy? I was beginning to see a pattern. Something had stimulated a similar reaction the night before at the charity auction. Was it the guy I had seen her with? What had he said to her? She was a wild woman. As long as I was the beneficiary, should I really care what brought it on?
"Yes Karen, Do that! You're sexy and you've got a cute ass too," I practically shouted.
A few nights later she shyly confessed, "I had to kiss Mr. Shiver today."
"What? Who's Mr. Shiver?" I said, wondering why she waited until we were ready for sleep to bring this up. We had been alone for two hours after the boys were put to bed. Why now? She was back to her normal nightwear, a silk mid-thigh gown and probably panties.
"He's a big shot from the fifteenth floor, I think. I was coming out of the ladies room and he wouldn't let me pass."
"What do you mean? Who is this guy? How do you know his name if you think he works on the fifteenth floor?"
"It was nothing, honey. You know how guys get at Christmas parties."
I did know how guys got. I also knew how women got. After a couple of drinks they wanted to kiss every man they saw. Just that day Miss Prentiss from bookkeeping, she still called it bookkeeping, had pressed her slender body to me and shyly pushed her lips to mine. Julia from human resources had cornered me in an empty office.
"Was it just a peck? Like this?" I touched her lips, lightly, like Miss Prentiss had kissed me before she scurried down the hall, giggling.
Karen's arm came up to hold my head in place and her head came off the pillow. Her lips parted and she held me captive the same way Julia had done. I had tentatively returned the kiss, circling Julia's body with my left hand to draw her to me, tasting the rum-laced punch on her lips.
"Or was it more like this?" My tongue lashed out and Karen responded, moaning into my mouth. I pushed my hand up her inner thigh; no panties.
"It was longer," she said as she kissed me passionately, reaching for my shorts. In seconds she had removed the gown, hurled it across the room, rolled me onto my back and molded her mouth to mine.
I was in ecstasy. My wife of nearly fourteen years had evolved into an exceptionally attractive woman and she was reveling in the attention she was getting. I was the recipient of her elation. She was using me to express her heightened excitement.
"What did dad ask you last night, mom?" Denny wanted to know the next morning at breakfast.
Karen put her thumb to her month before deciding not to chew on the nail. She looked at me, her upper lip quivering, disguising the hint of a smile.
"I believe she was telling me we could go to the Robinson's party for New Years Eve after all," I said to Denny. He nodded, relieved to hear that he hadn't been dreaming. Karen had screamed, "YES!" very loudly when I smacked her butt and asked if Mr. Shiver had complimented her on her ass.
We settled down and got through the holidays without more incidents. Even the New Years Eve party was fairly mild, although I did notice how much attention Karen was receiving from the men. They all wanted to dance with her and two complimented me, jokingly saying I had married above myself. We had fantastic sex that night and, of course, I reminded my wife that she had a nice ass.
I also wondered if she just didn't notice or was not telling me about guys who would see her on the street and turn and whistle. It was winter, and when out she wore a long coat that covered her shapely charms. But the outfits she wore to work were, well, more revealing. I wondered if her body provoked talk around the water cooler. Shit, I could almost hear it. I stood near a few water coolers in my time.
Then she bought one of those five-in-one exercise machines, saying it was for all of us. But when I saw the schedule posted at the head of the basement stairs it was evident she intended to get her share of use, and some, out of the machine. "I'm going to cancel my membership at the health club because I never have time to go there any more. We can run outdoors when the weather breaks," she said
As we swung into the new year things in the bedroom quieted down. We both worked long hours and I was having dinner with only Nancy and the boys more often than I liked. One night I went to the basement to talk to Karen about it.
I leaned against the pool table and watched as she performed the rowing exercise. Her arms and legs moved in unison, contracting and flexing the muscles, reaching new heights. Her hair was tied back and her work-out suit was drenched with perspiration. She didn't notice me until she slumped forward, breathing deeply.
"Hi honey, isn't this great? It's like a home gym and it's so compact."
I was impressed with what I saw and I wanted to compliment her on her dedication to fitness and what she had achieved. I considered what motivated her, wondering if it was me. Frankly, sometimes I missed the girl I had known back at school.
I walked around the exercise machine, admiring the knobs and buttons, wondering if I could operate it without reading the instruction manual. Karen tried to explain the information provided on digital read-out. I interrupted her.
"Karen, we need to talk about the boys."
This got her attention. The towel she was using to wipe down the exercise machine stopped moving and she looked at me, a stunned look on her face. "What happened? Is something wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong, not yet anyway. But they're growing so fast and I'm concerned we're not spending enough time with them," I said, taking some share of the blame, but hoping she would see my point that it was her involvement the boys were missing the most.
"We do things with them," she said defensively. "Besides, their grandmother is devoted to them. It's not like some stranger is taking care of them when we're not here."
She was not getting my point. I would need to be more direct. "Nancy's great with them and she seems to like being depended upon, but is it really fair to her? Dinner without you being here isn't the same. The boys ask when you're coming home and I can't tell them because I don't know either. They have other questions I can't answer. We all miss having you here with us."
Karen looked stunned, as if she had not considered she was failing to fulfill some of her responsibilities as a mother. What I said hurt her and I felt badly that I had been so blunt. I half expected her to remind me of the new car and her generosity to the boys but she didn't. She simply said that she would do better.
Satisfied that our little talk had achieved the desired result, I didn't press her with what was really nagging at me. I wondered what could be so compelling at her office that would keep her there until after the boy's bedtime.
A week passed with Karen getting home in time to have dinner with us, but then working at her desk until it was time to put the boys to bed. After a short workout she would shower and resume working at her desk. At least she was coming home from work at a decent hour. Our own conversations were restricted to family business - what's for supper sort of talk. We were both busy and didn't notice we were losing touch with each other and our marriage.
On the first Sunday in March she announced that she had to attend a seminar in Baltimore.
"When?" I needed to know which day she was going to be gone so I could arrange my schedule to be home from work in time to have dinner with the boys.
"Wednesday through Friday but don't worry honey. Ellen's going to take us to the airport."
"Ted's wife. You met them. Ted is going with me."
I remembered. Karen and Ted worked together. We had met him and his wife for dinner once. I recalled Karen introducing Ted as a coworker, and that was two years ago. "They're devoted to each other," Karen remarked later. To me, the younger woman seemed over protective of her man, as if she detested the camaraderie her husband and my wife shared. Was her apprehension justified?
Ted was maybe forty, tall and muscular with dark hair. I remembered his glasses. They were small, metal rimmed. Ellen was younger, a mousy woman with a high-pitched little-girl voice. "Ted's going too?"
On Tuesday evening she excused herself from the table saying, "I have to pack." I felt her hand on the back of my neck and then down, inside my shirt. She rubbed my chest and pinched a nipple before scurrying off to the bedroom. I began to get ideas but when I went to bed she was already asleep.
Ellen called on Wednesday evening. "They're not coming back until Saturday," she sounded frantic.
"I haven't heard that," I said, wondering how she knew. Karen had called and spoken to the boys before I got home but Nancy hadn't said anything about the change of plans.
"Your wife dragged him off. It was only supposed to be three days and two nights."
"Hold on Ellen," I said. Her voice was grating, giving me a headache. "Karen didn't drag him anyplace. They went together."
"It was her idea to take him. He had to go." She paused to let it sink in. I didn't understand. Someone higher must have ordered them to attend the seminar. What was the topic anyway?
"He didn't have to go because of Karen?" That was inconceivable. What was she saying?
"You don't seem to get it. Your wife is my husband's boss now. He jumps every time she snaps her fingers."
This news stunned me. Karen hadn't mentioned another promotion. "I'll speak to her and call you back," I offered, wanting to end the conversation. I needed to think.
What was Ellen complaining about? Did she know something I didn't? Or was she merely imagining things? Perhaps she was just insecure? Should I tell her what Karen had told me about their marriage? But, Ellen's accusations were making me anxious.
I went snooping in Karen's desk and found her company's latest annual report. There was a group photo and individual pictures of the directors. Harold P. Shiver, 56, director since 2001, President of H.P.S. Enterprises, Baltimore, Maryland. He was a young fifty six with a receding hairline and a touch of gray in his moustache. What does the P stand for? Predator?
My mind was racing. Ellen had asserted that my wife dragged her husband off to Baltimore, inferring she had designs on the tall man. Now I found that Mr. Shiver, a man who, with a kiss and a compliment, had engendered such a desire for wild sex in my wife that she had fucked me raw, was from Baltimore.
"Did you find out where they're staying?" I asked Nancy when she told me Karen had already called before I got home on Thursday evening. She had. Then Nancy broke the news to me, confirming what Ellen had told me the night before. Karen was coming home Saturday morning. She did not give a reason for the change in plans.
Karen didn't answer the telephone in her room so I left a voicemail message. When she didn't return my call I tried again at midnight. There was still no answer in her room. I gave up and went to bed at one A.M. I couldn't sleep.
Why hadn't my wife told me that Ted worked for her? And why had she "dragged him along?" as his wife put it. Thinking of this reminded me that I had not called Ellen as I promised. It was too late and I had nothing to tell her anyway.
"Why can't you come home tonight?" I pleaded with Karen when she eventually called early on Friday morning.
"Well, I see someone got up on the wrong side of the bed. What's the matter darling? Do you miss me?" She sounded chipper, like she had gotten more sleep than me.
"Why didn't you return my calls last night?
She had broken our travel rule. When either of us was out of town we were to call to let the rest of the family know we were thinking about them. I abided by the rule when I traveled and I expected Karen to do the same.
"I'm calling now, aren't I?"
She skirted both of my questions. I didn't find out why she couldn't come home that night or why she hadn't returned my calls. Instead, she gave me the flight she would be arriving on the next day and practically ordered me to take Nancy and the boys out for dinner that evening. "Tell the boys I have gifts for them. I'm bringing something home for you too honey. You're going to enjoy it," she cooed in that special way that always excites me. She knows this and often makes the sound intentionally. Why now, over the phone from so many miles away?
I invited Ellen to have dinner with us that evening and since we couldn't all squeeze into the new car we drove the SUV. We were all in a quiet mood, probably wondering what had kept Karen and Ted in Baltimore. I know it was uppermost on my mind all through the evening.
Ellen, out of respect for the boys and their grandmother, said nothing about her husband's absence. But the next morning on the way to the airport she let me have it right between the eyes.
"Do you think she's fucking him? He idolizes her, do you know that?"
"What are you talking about?" I acted flabbergasted although similar thoughts crept into my conscious thinking after such a forthright question. I didn't know about Ted's fascination with my wife, his boss.
"Don't play dumb. I've seen them together. So have you."
"Let's not jump to conclusions," I said, trying to sound practical and way more confident than I actually was.
"What will we do? What will we do if we find out that they're... you know?" Poor Ellen was near tears.
"You've got to put those thoughts aside. You don't want Ted to see you like this, do you?" This was as much for my benefit as Ellen's. Her agitation wasn't helping me, but I squared my shoulders and concentrated on trying to make her less anxious.
The flight was delayed due to heavy air traffic. Ellen kept talking, conjuring up various scenarios about what telltale signs to look for, and how we would know if they had been screwing. She claimed to know all of Ted's facial expressions and said she could tell when he was trying to deceive her. She worked out an elaborate scheme to signal one another as soon as we recognized something was awry.
I was relieved when she at last excused herself to go to the ladies room. Karen had branded Ellen and Ted's marriage secure but I wondered if they had ever discussed trust.
Karen came into view carrying two giant shopping bags. She looked spectacular, dressed in travel togs, jeans and her leather jacket. Ellen unraveled when she saw her husband walking behind Karen, a carry-on bag slung from each shoulder. They spotted us and waved excitedly.
Karen dropped the shopping bags and wrapped her arms around me, pressing her lips and body to me. She was making that cooing sound she knows drives me insane.
We separated, and at arm's length I gave her a once-over appraisal. "Don't look at me that way. I've gained three pounds."
"No you haven't. You're stunning," I said honestly.
She was hugging me even tighter as she whispered in my ear, "We'll work it off together."
Ted had Ellen's legs wrapped around his waist and he was supporting her ass in his hands. She was squealing wildly. We had just recently gone over the signals. I tried to remember what a high-pitched squeal meant.