I looked out the window at the freshly fallen snow. Up and down the street the houses were all decorated for the season. Santa's and reindeer on the roofs, Nativity scenes in front yards, outside trees strung with lights and inside trees shining through windows. Holiday spirit was everywhere, everywhere but in my house. I turned from the window and took in the scene. The tree lying on the floor, shards of glass from broken light bulbs and shattered Christmas ornaments. I suppose I should have seen it coming; Candy always did have a temper and she hadn't liked her Christmas present. She hadn't liked it at all. But what is it they always say? It isn't the gift, but the thought that counts? I took one last look at the mess and decided that cleanup could wait until the morning and then I went up to bed.
Candy and I had been married for five relatively trouble free years. I was her second and she was my third. We both had jobs in middle management and the two paychecks, along with no kids, meant that we were able to maintain a pretty good life style. Candy and I were party people and come the weekend you could almost bet that we would be at a party, throwing a party, or out on the town drinking and dancing.
Candy was a beautiful and sexy woman and she attracted tons of male attention in staid circumstances and dressed conservatively. At parties where the liquor was flowing, the music is loud and the inhibitions lowered and she was dressed to kill the attention she was paid bordered on the outrageous. She was constantly hit on and men spend considerable time trying to separate Candy from the herd and get her to a place where some privacy would give them a chance to try their luck. Candy would fend them off good naturedly, but that never stopped them from coming back and trying again.
And me? As with most men who have the great good fortune to have as desirable woman I had to learn to live with it. This is not a hard thing to do when you have absolute trust in your partner. I'd sit back secure in the knowledge that Candy was mine and that regardless how persistent the men were she would shrug them off.
Candy had a best friend. Marlene and Candy had known each other since grade school and were closer than most sisters. I didn't know Marlene all that well, but I didn't like her. There was just something about her that did not sit right with me. When I met Candy and we started dating Marlene always seemed to be around and I know it sounds silly when I say it, but whenever Marlene was around I felt 'bad vibes'.
Fortunately, for my piece of mind, Marlene got married about six months before Candy and I did and Marlene's husband took a job in another state and they moved. Marlene and Frank were married in a civil ceremony and of course Candy just had to be there and I got drug along. I remember looking at Frank and wondering just what a together guy like him could possibly see in Marlene. Even though I barely knew either one of them I would have given odds of twenty to one against their union lasting.
Frank and Marlene flew back to be there when Marlene and I married and I could not help but notice how haggard Frank looked and I wondered if it was caused by his new job or his new wife.
Marlene might have been out of state, but that didn't mean she was out of Candy's life. The two of them talked on the phone two or three times a week and some of their weekend calls lasted for over two hours. One Sunday, after one of those two-hour calls, Candy asked me if I would mind if she took a couple of days and went to visit Marlene.
"I have some comp time coming and things are not going well between her and Frank. She needs some cheering up."
"Do you really think it wise to go down there and inject yourself into the middle of their problems? You just might make matters worse."
"She is my oldest and dearest friend honey, but I'm not blind to her faults. She can be a little hard to live with and maybe my being there will take some of the pressure off Frank."
I didn't think her going was a good idea, but I was smart enough to know that my trying to talk Candy out of it would only put a strain on our marriage so I just said:
"You know her better than I do sweetie and if you think visiting will help go ahead."
Candy was gone for five days and when she came back she seemed troubled about something. I assumed that her visit had not gone as she had expected, but I didn't pry and after a couple of days had gone by she was back to her old self.
Six months went by and then Candy again asked if I would mind if she went to visit Marlene. I didn't want her to, but I didn't have a good reason for saying no and I knew I couldn't get away with just saying, "I'd really rather you didn't." All that would accomplish is having Candy ask me why and, "Because I don't like her" would not have been an acceptable answer. Candy was gone four days and when she came back she was a little out of sorts just as she had been after her first visit. But as with the last time after a couple of days she was fine.
Over the next year Candy would take a three day weekend once every three or four months and go visit Marlene and she always came back just a hair out of whack, but after a couple of days whatever funk she was in would go away.
Then one day Candy came to me and said:
Baby, can I ask you for a huge favor?"
"I don't know why not. I never say no to you, do I?"
"You just might this time."
"Why would I do that?"
"I'm not blind baby. You've never said a word to me about it, but I know that you don't care for Marlene."
"I thought I hid that rather well."
"Maybe from others, but I know you too well."
"I take it that this huge favor has something to do with Marlene?"
"She and Frank have split up and she's moving back up here. Can she stay in the spare bedroom until she can find a job and a place of her own?"
I didn't want to say no — I wanted to scream "Hell no!" but all that would have done is make things uncomfortable between Candy and me. To keep the piece I had no choice but to say okay. A week later Marlene moved in and she hadn't been there a week and things started to change. Nothing major at first, just Candy and Marlene spending a lot of time together in the kitchen laughing and talking, which in itself was nothing, but it always seemed to taper off or stop when I came into the room.
Next, Marlene and Candy started going out one night a week for a 'girls night out.' Next it was the two of them taking off every Saturday and Sunday to look for an apartment that they never seemed to find. The one thing that it took me weeks to notice was that when returning from the night out or the apartment hunt Candy would be just a bit distant from me, just as she had been when she returned from her visits to Marlene. It never more than a day, but it was there and I noticed it.
I was at work one day when my secretary told me that there was a Frank McBride on line three for me. Frank was Marlene's husband or rather her ex-husband so I took the call. After a quick change of pleasantries he cut right to the chase.
"I've agonized over this, first telling myself that it was none of my business and thinking that maybe you already knew — that you and Candy had one of those open marriages — but the more I thought about it the more I knew I had to call you. I wouldn't want it on my conscientious if you got AIDS."
"What are you trying to tell me Frank?"
"I'm not going to tell you anything Hal, what I'm going to do is send you a package. You can check it out and make up your own mind. The fact that Marlene is up there with you says that I have made up mine. I mailed the package this morning so you should have it by the day after tomorrow. Take care and good luck" he said just before he hung up.
I couldn't for the life of me figure out what Frank was trying to tell me. I wasn't brain dead of course so it was obvious that whatever was in the package concerned Candy as well as Marlene and it was equally obvious that Frank didn't think I was going to be happy with what was in the package. His comment about an open marriage and AIDS gave me a hint of why he and Marlene split, but I had the utmost trust in Candy.
The next two days dragged. Thursday morning a package arrived at my office. I told my secretary that I didn't want to be disturbed and I closed my office door and opened the package. The box contained videotape and an 11x14 manila envelope. I opened the envelope and found two dozen 8x10 pictures and a copy of a report from Simpson Investigations. The photos were of Marlene, Candy and three men and they had obviously been taken in a bar. The lighting was poor, but the photos showed the two women and the three men either dancing or sitting in a booth. The dancing photos that had Candy in them showed a man's hand on her ass as she smiled at him, a man's hand on her right breast as she smiled at him and two photos of a man's leg between hers and pushing against her crotch. Only one of the booth shots showed Candy clearly and in it a man had his arm around her and she was smiling at him.
The other photos showed Marlene kissing the three men, being felt up by them and in a couple of the booth shots you could see a man's hand down inside her dress and on her tits as she smiled at him. In another you could actually see her hand on a man's cock as it stuck up out of his fly.
.... There is more of this story ...