Breath. Stay calm.
That thought ran through both Doug and Judi's minds as she approached their front door. He was wedged familiarly in his favorite spot on the couch. That and the sound of the latch being turned were about the only things that were familiar to either of them.
He heard her step in onto the landing with the hollow, woody click-clock of her black leather calf-length leather boots. Size 7, purchased, on sale, by him for her two Christmases ago, for an exorbitant sum, by his standards from some hoity-toity shoe store at the mall. He had registered and remembered her lingering gaze when they had been Christmas shopping for friends and family just two days before. She had been so happy when he surprised her with them under the tree. Her present to him had also come under the tree, those new boots wrapped around him for the better part of four hours that night.
The memory aroused him.
It has always been that way for me:
Anger, distress, sadness, physical or mental pain caused Doug to seek out sexual pleasure, or at least sexual release. Yet, he never craved emotional pain for the release. Sex and orgasm were the cure, a pleasurable cure, but just a cure nonetheless. The rush of endorphins, the primal effort, the way the single-mindedness of the act drove out all the despair, all the thoughts; some people take anti-depressants, other people fuck and jerk off. Doug was one of the latter.
Reflecting on this tempered his arousal. But, his analysis was not wholly effective, and he noted the pleasurable feel of his slacks running across his semi-engorged stock as he eased himself off the couch. He was careful to wipe the expectant sneer off his face as he heard her footsteps down the hall.
A deep breath, and she slid the pocket-door open and entered the den. Lights low, sound down on whatever college basketball game was on the TV. She registered it all even as she focused on the preternaturally still figure of her husband in front of her, his tension revealed to her by the unnatural stillness of his neutral expression. He had told her, years ago, that his training as a litigator had trained him for that; a reflexive response to uncertainty. She had seen versions of it before, but none had carried the weight of it.
He knew. But she knew he knew. And he had to know that she knew he knew. And so on and so forth. Neither Doug nor Judi were stupid, dense, or even rather thick. They both knew the story thus far: she had made her choice before it was forced upon her and delivered to her tonight. She had come home, come hell or high water. Whatever it took. She shivered.
"Did you think I wouldn't be?"
"I figured 80-20 yes, but you can be surprising."
She said nothing in response.
"I, I..." Her composure shaken. Such a big question.
Seeing her confusing, he took mercy.
"I meant, why are you here, now?"
"I, I drove here..." Relief at the reprieve from the bigger question.
"Here to stay, here to go again?"
"I guess that's up to you, but I'm here to stay."
"You sure about that?"
"Don't want to be with him? Jerry, from accounting?"
"You want to be with me?"
"Yes, absolutely!" She exclaimed eagerly, studying his face.
He advanced with long, sure strides. She saw his features relax as he approached. When he was upon her, his eyes were revealed in the low lamplight. They burned. She straightened, rolling her shoulders back, breasts jutting outward almost lewdly, her chin pointed upwards, defiantly. An almost lurid pose.
"You sure about that?" He grumbled.
"Yes." She shifted her weight.
He brought his hand to cheek, rubbing it gently with the backs of his fingertips. "You knew if I found out how hurt I'd be."
"Yes," she answered, a tremble in her voice.
Leaning in closer, he whispered in her ear, "No. You didn't." The tremble ran through her body this time.
Leaning back, staring into her searching eyes, his hands went to her shoulders.
"Not again. Never again. Understood?"
"Not again. Never again."
His hands went to her throat; he leaned in, almost nose to nose.
The slightest pressure exerted by his finger tips, just enough to feel the pulsing artery. He smelled her. Mouthwash. No scent of the other man, not that he would have expected it, if she planned to stay. Familiar hair products, shampoo. She smelled like her. He closed his eyes, getting lost in her, in relief. He allowed himself this moment of weakness, even as his hands closed more tightly around her neck.
.... There is more of this story ...