"Jan! Jan, over here please." Gwen Tolliver bounced up and down in her attempt the attract notice of her best-selling author. She grasped Jan's elbow and lead her to the photographer's area. "The photographers would like to take some photos of you and the awards."
"Congratulations again, who'd have thought we'd end up here? I hope you appreciate that you truly do deserve this. Let's look at you and make sure everything's in place." Gwen fussed with Jan's appearance and gave her an appreciative wink. "You look great... I have to ask, have you had "work" done. I mean you are just glowing, you really do look spectacular. I know, you have some young stud stashed in that room next to your suite — nothing like the stamina of a hot young man. Eh Jan... Jan?"
Jan didn't answer her long-time friend and editor. Jan wasn't just miles away, she was years away —20 years away to be specific. Twenty years ago Jan had a torrid affair with a man sixteen years her junior. The affair — her one and only infidelity - transformed her view of herself as a woman.
Twenty one years ago Jan Matheson was dying. Outwardly she was in great shape for a woman facing forty. Inwardly though, she was dying, the three great tracks of her life; wife, mother, and teacher, seemed to be headed for dead-ends.
Maybe that was an exaggeration, she loved her husband Matt and knew that he loved her, but the flame of their love seemed to be no more than a glowing ember. Their sex life had become dull and routine.
She loved her kids too. But as young teens, they no longer looked to her for advice. In fact, they seemed to be acting more and more like the kids she'd been teaching for years. Hovering somewhere between dismissive and disrespectful.
And then there was "The Call." Growing within her was the desire to write. She felt as if she was pregnant with stories that would die if she didn't give birth to them. Her "at home" efforts were, in her eyes pathetic. Incredibly, it was her husband Matt who suggested she looked at taking a class or two at the local college.
That one semester, led to her seek admission to a year long Master's writing course in Iowa. She applied with the idea that to be accepted would be validation enough. How could she leave her husband, family and career for a year? Amazingly, it was at Matt's insistence again — "we can afford it now, but once tuition for the kids begins... so it's now or never Jan."
She decided on "now and enrolled, flew West and found herself in the greatest conundrum of her life. While the school work was exciting and stimulating, the separation from her family was heart-rending. She was homesick beyond belief. Every week away seemed more and more difficult to bear. She said as much in the regular phone calls to her family. Finally, she couldn't stand it any longer and flew home for the weekend.
Her first weekend back at home Jan found Matt and the kids perfectly capable of carrying on without her. The house was clean, meals prepared, sports events attended. The day-to-day activities of her home had continued unaffected by her absence. It was the same in her marital bed.
Simply put, Jan was itching to be fucked. Had been for the last couple of years actually. How was it possible that Matt did not sense her physical need for him? How could he not smell her near constant state of arousal? Didn't her kiss at the airport tell him anything? She had practically devoured his mouth!
Matt's response, "How many drinks on the plane did you have?"
After being politely ignored Friday night, Jan had gone shopping at the mall the next day. She walked by Victoria's Secret three times before finally going inside. The young clerk (she seemed about the same age as the college students back in Iowa; the same effortless sexiness) was very attentive and helpful. Jan had spent hours finding the perfect combination of peignoir, bra, garter belt and panties. She was planning an evening of seduction.
Matt was planning an evening with the family. He and the kids returned home that afternoon with dinner plans already made. The team bar-b-q lasted from the afternoon to late at night. Matt had drunk freely and by the time they got home, he was too exhausted and she too angry for sex.
Jan wanted to be so thoroughly missed that Matt would not be able to control himself. After no sex Saturday, Matt went golfing Sunday and then they went to dinner at his parent's house. That night Matt made love to her. It was nice and all, but sadly unfulfilling. Jan had returned the to school the next morning. The lingerie sat unused in a box in her closet.
That week she poured her loneliness into her writing assignment. It was chosen by the teacher as the best effort in class so far. After class she was congratulated by her fellow writers. The validation of her peers turned her attention to her fellow students, and she began to socialize with them. That's how it began with Jake. He praised her writing. He expressed amazement that she had teenaged children. She reveled in the attention. He asked her to edit a story he'd written.
It was a blisteringly hot September evening that had Jake showing up at her apartment with his story in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. The Chardonnay was perfectly chilled. The story was hot - border line pornographic — the writing was mediocre, but the detail incredibly explicit. The wine was drunk as they argued sentence structure and grammar.
Jan kept returning to his seemingly endless references to the size of the protagonists penis, "If you're going to refer to it again and again, at least make it realistic. The world in not filled with men with twelve inch penis'."
Jake had simply stood, pulled his T-shirt over his head and pushed his shorts down to his ankles. A great lump of flesh dangled before her. Jake challenged and chided her to touch it, to see its true size.
Jake always teased her after that night that he "had her from the moment she made him erect." Her touch became a stroking. Her stroking became a need for release. Her need for release became her infidelity.
That scene was repeated the next night and the next after that. Jake fucked her with abandoned. There were no words of endearment. There was no cuddling afterward: just pure, hard fucking. He fucked her Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and Thursday night.
That Friday Jan was due to fly home. Jake drove her to the airport, kissed her as she got out of his car, and gave her an envelope telling to her to read it on the plane before she got home.
The envelope contained a letter, detailing their exploits of the previous week, and promising delights for the week to come. Jan realized she would not, could not, turn Jake away if he did show up upon her return. What surprised her was her reaction to seeing Matt. She practically raped him in the airport parking lot. There was no guilt involved (well maybe a little) it was lust' impure and simple. She was on fire with lust.
The affair with Jake continued unabated throughout her entire year at Iowa. Her returns home were likewise — she made sure to leave Matt exhausted but smiling. And the letters from Jake continued, filled with the details of their time together — sordid tales of lust and abandon.
It reached a crescendo on the day she graduated. Matt and the kids had flown out to attend; she insisted that they meet her at the event site claiming not enough room at her small apartment. She stood proudly when the masters' graduates were introduced, she beamed when her academic honors were announced, and she felt deliciously wicked as she received her diploma with her lover's cum leaking freely from her freshly fucked cunt and ass.
That feeling was fleeting at best. One moment she was feeling the absolute empowerment of a woman in complete control of her life, her body, and her sexuality. The next she realized just how out of control her life had become.
She saw Matt standing before her. He was holding a beautiful red typewriter, his graduation gift to her. Jan had been rocked to the very core of her being. Matt had made this all possible. Matt had supported her all along, encouraged her, and now rewarded her for her hard work.
Matt had insisted that she have her own apartment to have time to herself to devote to her writing. An apartment she had refused to let him see because her lover had spent the night and fucked her that very morning.
She stood before he loving husband with her lover's cum dripping down the length of her legs; the guilt nearly brought her to her knees. Jan was devastated and tears poured down her cheeks. She wanted nothing more then to shower and go home. She never saw or had any contact with Jake again.
Everything in her apartment was quickly packed and shipped home. It was only when she unpacked the boxes that she realized she had packed Jake's letters — all of them. She cried herself sick and took to her bed. Matt's gentle care only made her feel worse.
"Jan. Earth to Jan." Gwen smiled as she waved a hand in front of Jan's face. "The photographer's are ready for you now. A penny for your thoughts Jan, just a moment ago I would have said they were X-rated. Then you looked so sad."
"Oh sorry Gwen. It's nothing, nothing at all." Jan smiled at Gwen and posed with her awards as the photographers requested that she look this way or that. 'A penny for your thoughts, if they aren't X-rated.' Jan wondered why she never destroyed Jake's letters. They were certainly X-rated. She couldn't recall the number of times she had them in hand ready to burn or shred them. Yet she never did. Instead, she carefully hid them beneath her ever-present open ream of heavy writing paper. Paper she kept beside her beloved typewriter Red.
God she had been such a fool. She could smile at her foolishness now. A year ago it was an Act of God that nearly ended her marriage. She was on a book signing tour when a large earthquake rocked their California home. Both of their kids had chosen colleges in California. Her firstbestseller had infused their family income and she and Matt had moved from the Midwest to just north of LA.
Once again, Jake's letters moved with them.
Jan smiled at the affect the earthquake wrought in her marriage. She'd used the metaphor dozen's of times in her romance novels. The real-life effect was anything but romantic. She couldn't even blame Matt for snooping about. She had asked him to check on her writing cottage. The fact that Jake's letters were there never entered her mind.
Jake's letters. She had done things for and with him that she would never have considered with Matt. He was her husband, there were expectations, and there were limits. With Jake there had been none. She had given her body fully and completely to him. There was never a question of love. Jake was about sex and desire — nothing more. The letter's contained it all in Jake's lurid attention to detail style. It was all there written in Jake's masculine hand on that ridiculous cheap recycled paper he had used.
And there, amidst the blizzard of her scattered journal pages, Matt had seen Jake's letters. There Matt read Jake's letters. And there, in Jan's "sacred" writing space, Matt had lifted up her beloved Red; the very typewriter that he had given her upon her graduation. The typewriter she had used to write each and every manuscript. Matt lifted Red high and smashed it to the floor, again and again, until Red was destroyed.
Matt never gave her the slightest hint that anything was wrong, other then inform her Red was broken. Only when Jan returned home and began to clean her office did she see what papers lay beneath the smashed machine — Jake's letters. She had sat on the floor and cried. Matt knew! Great wracking sobs of sorrow. Matt knew! And a growing chill of fear — oh my god Matt knows!
It had taken her hours to compose her self, prepare herself, and steel herself. With Red's platen and a small bookstand she had walked slowly to the main house. The bookstand was set on the mantle and Red's platen was placed carefully there.