Between the Pages of Adultery
Chapter 1

Caution: This Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Cheating,

Desc: Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Laura finds a book that bares her soul

Laura reached up with both hands and interlocked her fingers behind her golden hair. I have it made, she thought as she leaned back in her leather chair. The corners of her mouth turned upward in a broad smile as she felt the material of her blouse pull up and rub against her thinly clad nipples.

Just a couple months prior she would have been wearing a plain white cotton bra and probably wouldn't have felt a thing through the thicker material, but the new Laura was a much more sensual creature ... sensual and sensuous, at least that's how she felt.

The new Laura wore an ultra-thin, satin and lace bra that allowed the slightest touch to tease and tantalize her sensitive, little pink cherries. She closed her eyes and envisioned her next "appointment" with Brad Griffin, her company's largest client. She felt that familiar tingling sensation between her legs; it was the same little erotic thrill she always felt whenever she thought of him.

Laura opened her eyes to make sure her office door was completely close before hiking her short skirt up to her waist. She raised her right leg and rested her foot on the corner of her desk for better access. With her left hand, she reached down and pulled her lace panties to the side. God, she couldn't believe it as she touched herself with the middle finger of her right hand, she was already wet.

Again she closed her eyes and fantasized about being with him as she lightly glided her finger up and down her wanton slit. Her lips pursed tightly, her tongue was dry. Steadily she picked up the pace. Her breathing quickened. "Oh yes," she moaned under her breath. Instinctively, her hips bucked upward in an effort to assist the long, slender finger that penetrated the warm confines of her womanhood.

If she could just let it out, scream and rejoice in her ecstasy but her secretary sat just on the other side of her door. Just like yesterday and the day before, and the day before that, her pleasure would have to be subdued. God, it was so frustrating.

In her dream-like state, she could feel his presence. He watched her with an evil smile. She could feel the wickedness of his touch as she pulled her love juice up, smearing it over her clit.

Faster she rubbed the sensitive little button, back and forth, in circles, faster and faster until she could hold back no longer. Her chair rolled back on the carpeted floor as her body convulsed upward pulling her foot from on top of the desk. "Ahhh-ohhh-ummmm," she whimpered trying desperately to suppress her cries of euphoric mischief.

Still breathing heavily, she slumped back into her chair. Laura finally opened her eyes and glanced around making sure she was still alone. A small, devilish grin materialized on her pretty face.

The now appeased woman stood and took a deep breath as she pulled her skirt back down and straightened it out with her hands.

"I really need to get some work done," she mumbled to herself while wiping her fingers with a tissue.

As she sat back down at her desk; however, she found herself still daydreaming. Hmmmm, she thought, maybe some new lingerie; something really unscrupulous, like ... like a bra with holes cut out for my nipples and some crotchless panties. I wonder if he'd like something like that? Ha, she chuckled to herself, of course he would, he's a man.

Briefly she pictured her handsome lover licking and biting her nipples as they stuck through the flimsy fabric. Laura looked at her desk clock, it was a little after four in the afternoon. Screw it, she told herself, I've done enough work for the day, I'm going to take off a little early and hit the mall on the way home.

Anticipating she may be at the mall a while, Laura called her daughter.

"Hi Ashley, it's mom."

"Hi Mom, guess what, I got an 'A' on my history test."

"Oh Ashley, that's wonderful. Keep up the good work, young lady. I know you want a car when you turn sixteen next year; if you keep getting grades like that I don't see how your father can refuse," Laura said encouraging her only daughter.

"Really Mom, you really think dad will buy me car?"

"Well you keep your grades up and we'll work on him together. We both know he can't refuse the two of us when we gang up on him," she told Ashley with a chuckle. "Listen honey, I have to go to the mall and do some shopping on the way home, so will you be a dear and start dinner. Everything's in the fridge on the top shelve."

"Sure mom," Ashley replied still excited over the possibility of getting a car. "Are you buying dad's birthday present?"

Her daughter's innocent question caught her by surprise. Shit, she thought, I forgot all about Harrison's birthday. On the other hand, it's the perfect excuse for stopping at the mall.

"Yes honey, but don't tell dad."

"Oh I won't, mom. Ah, could you do me a favor and put my name on it too. I kind of blew through my allowance this week," she admitted sheepishly.

"Yes honey, I'll put your name on it too; any suggestions?"

"Not really, mom. You've known him longer than I have," she joked.

"All right, young lady, just keep the wisecracks to yourself. I'll find something nice, don't worry."

Damn, thought Laura after saying goodbye, I'm glad she mentioned it or I would have forgotten all about my loving hubby's birthday.

Laura stood undecided in the middle of the expansive aisle while hordes of people hustled by her on all sides. Decisions, decisions, she thought with Victoria's Secret on one side and Frederick's Of Hollywood on the other. Victoria's has better quality lingerie, but Frederick's stuff is sluttier. Since I'm probably not going to be wearing it more than once or twice, she reasoned, cheap and slutty it is.

An hour later, tickled with her purchase, Laura almost forgot again about her husband's birthday. Only as she passed the bookstore did she recollect her daughter's plea for the shared gift. Damn, get your head out of the clouds, she scolded herself silently as she turned and walked through the doorway.

Now, let's see, she wondered, what would he like? She roamed aimlessly around the store glancing at titles and book covers. Her husband had a wide range of interests, everything from non-fiction to science-fiction, from history to fantasy.

Laura's eyes scanned bookshelf after bookshelf looking for the perfect gift when a title jumped out at her, "'A' is for Adultery."

Adultery, she silently repeated. She never realized before what a crude word it was. Almost immediately the word seemed to take on an evil connotation. A small chill went up her spine as her mind pulled up images of dirty motel rooms and illicit sex. Why couldn't they have named it, "'A' is for Affair," that sounds so much better, not so harsh.

Laura couldn't help herself; she took the front copy from the shelf and started thumbing through it. Stopping at the table of contents, she skimmed over the different chapters.

1.) The difference between men and women.

2.) Women's two needs; emotional, and sexual.

3.) The subtleties of discontent.

4.) The, "maybe," trap.

She read the subtitles of all twelve chapters but it was the last one that almost knocked the wind out of her...

12.) Can you salvage your marriage?

Almost as if it had been a snake that bit her, Laura quickly returned the book to the shelf, grabbed one she saw earlier that she thought her husband might enjoy, and headed for the checkout counter.

"Will this be all, ma'am?" asked the little clerk behind the desk. Laura wondered if she was even twenty years old.

"Yeah," she replied digging in her purse for the cash. What do they mean, 'can I salvage my marriage?' My marriage isn't in trouble she told herself, rejecting the very concept while still rummaging through her purse.

Suddenly her hand stopped, she looked back up at the pretty cashier. "No, wait," she said almost frantically. "I'll be right back." Laura left the other book on the counter and almost ran to claim a copy of the troublesome hardcover for herself.

Does she know? Laura wondered as she set the book on the counter next to the other one. She watched the young woman for any hint of disapproval or judgment as the cashier put both books into a bag and rang up the transaction. She'd have to get wrapping paper later, she thought, at that moment she just needed to get out of there.

Chapter twelve felt like a weight pressing on her shoulders as she hurried to the car. Damn it, thought Laura while navigating the streets that led home, I don't really think my marriage is in jeopardy. Millions of people have a little fling now and then; they get away with it. Harrison suspects nothing, he'll never find out unless I tell him and I'm not about to do that.

Still ... she couldn't get her mind off the subject, I really do want to read that book, but when? I can't very well read it at home and I'm too busy to do it at work. I'll ... I'll have to limit myself to lunch hours, she told herself.

Harrison and Ashley were already seated at the kitchen table when she walked in.

"Hey honey," spoke a smiling Harrison, "you're just in time. Everything's still hot."

Laura grabbed her dish from the table and started loading it up. "Everything looks delicious, Ashley. Thank you so much. You're getting to be quite a cook," she said bending down and kissing the top of her daughter's head on her way to her seat.

"Thanks mom."

Even though he knew he'd never get it out of her, Harrison was going to have fun teasing his wife and trying get her to spill the beans. "So, what'd you buy at the mall, huh; some sexy lingerie maybe, for your dashing husband's birthday?"

Suddenly it seemed she was drowning in a sea of guilt and disgrace. Yes, she had bought sexy lingerie, but not for her husband! Desperately she tried to mask her shame. "Wouldn't you like to know," she replied with a forced chuckle.

All night she tried to act normal and evidently succeeded because neither her daughter nor husband implied they'd sensed anything wrong. That night Harrison climbed into bed but made no overture toward making love. Laura was relieved. She didn't think she could, she was too upset. That twelfth chapter kept haunting her thoughts. What if he did find out, would he forgive me? She worried. She tried closing her eyes but it was no use. Her mind was a whirlwind of, 'what if's.'

The next morning wasn't much different. All she could think of was how her little tryst could affect her marriage. As she pulled into work she grabbed the book from under the driver's seat of her car. It was still wrapped in the plastic bag from the bookstore. Originally she was going to leave it in the car and only read it on her lunch hour but maybe she'd get a break during the day.

"Good morning, Laura," greeted her middle aged secretary.

"Good morning, Cathy. Oh, Cathy," she replied as a second thought. "Do me a favor and screen my calls today, would you. I've got a busy day today and I don't want to be bothered unless it's something important, okay?"

"No problem," Cathy countered. At the same time she wondered what it was that would keep her boss so busy, she made up the itinerary, and as far as she knew, there wasn't that much on the agenda.

Laura removed the hard bound copy from the bag and laid it on her desk before removing her suit jacket and hanging it on the back of her chair. She stared at the foreboding publication. It was written by a well know psychologist who specialized in marital relationships. She recognized his name when she saw it in the store. He had been on TV talk shows and even on PBS. She was sure he knew what he was talking about.

As much as she wanted to jump ahead to chapter twelve and learn how to save her marriage, Laura decided to start at the beginning. She opened it and stared at the first page, "The Difference between Men and Women," loomed at the top. She forced a nervous chuckle, hell even I know that, she thought unconsciously trying to lighten her mood. Just then Cathy knocked on her door.

"Laura here's your coffee," she said merrily walking in like she did every day. Laura quickly opened the middle drawer of her desk and tossed the hardcover inside.

"Thank you, Cathy," she said taking the cup with a phony smile. Inwardly all she wanted was for her secretary to disappear so she could get started reading.

"Don't forget you have an appointment with Brad Griffin tomorrow. I thought I'd remind you today because I know you always like to dress a little sexy when you see him," she said with a wink.

Suddenly Laura's whole body seemed to break out in a cold sweat. If Cathy noticed was it possible her husband also noticed? Did Cathy know? Laura didn't know what to say. Should she admit to dressing sexy for him, or should she deny it? Before she could speak, Cathy let her off the hook.

"I know ... a little innocent flirting never hurt anybody, especially when it comes to keeping our biggest client happy, huh. I don't blame you one bit. If I looked like you I'd flirt with every guy who came into this place," she said walking out of the office.

Laura's hand was actually shaking as she took her first sip of machine coffee for the day. She anxiously pulled the book from the drawer and opened it again to the first page.

She was already well into the third chapter when a knock on the door broke her concentration.

"Laura I'm going to lunch, do you want me to bring you back something?"

She glanced at the clock, it was twelve-thirty. She was staggered. Where the hell had the time gone? She hadn't even looked at anything work-related all day.

"No thanks, Cathy, I'll grab something from the cafeteria," she answered. Laura waited to make sure her secretary left then lower her eyes again to the ominous text.

Almost every word she read so far seemed as though the author had written it just for her. Each chapter was an education, an insight into her own psyche. How was it possible that a man she'd never met could know her so well. He appeared to be familiar with her inner most thoughts and fears. She pondered over the various reasons why men and women have extramarital affairs and identified with several of them.

Yes, she was learning a lot about herself but she was still anxious to discover this wise man's secret to saving her marriage. Within moments of her secretary's departure, Laura had forgotten all about her stomach and delved back down into the depths of her soul as it was transcribed within the pages before her.

"That must be some book," said Cathy startling her boss. "You've hardly poked your nose out of it all day. Did you ever get anything to eat?"

Laura should have known she couldn't hide it from her secretary. She knew everything that went on in the office. Laura put another forced grin on her face before speaking. "Yeah, it's very good," she said still not showing Cathy the cover. "It's a psychology book. It's never a bad thing to learn more about what makes people tick," she explained.

"Well I just wanted to let you know I'm heading home; see you tomorrow," Cathy cheerily declared walking out the door.

Again Laura looked at the clock. It was a quarter past five and she hadn't done one lick of work all day. She felt guilty but still considered it time well spent.

That night at home, Laura was upbeat. She'd learned a lot about why people turn to infidelity when other things in their life seemed to be missing. She had only two more chapters to read the next day. She would be done before noon. By that time she would also know how to make sure her husband never found out about her little mistake.

When she and Harrison went to bed that night Laura wasn't horny, but she felt she had to reaffirm her love for her husband. Even if he never found out about her dalliance with Brad, she'd always know. She needed to make love to him for her sake.

"Ummm, someone's hormones are raging tonight," he whispered with a grin.

"It's those he-man pheromones radiating from your body," she replied matching his biological reference with one of her own.

Laura loved running her fingers through his chest hair. She could feel the toned muscles lying beneath the curly strands. She reminded herself just how lucky she was to have such a man in her life. Slowly she let her hand drift southward where she discovered another patch of curly hair, only this one had a hard cock rising from it.

"Oooo, it looks like pheromones aren't the only thing radiating from your body," she chuckled.

He moaned in exquisite, hedonistic pleasure as she gently wrapped her fingers around his stiff shaft. With her full lips and agile tongue, Laura worked her way down to her target. She licked, slurped, twirled, and bobbed up and down until he thought his skin would rip apart.

When Laura knew the time was right, she scooted into position and mounted her hunky husband with a moan of her own. She leaned forward, resting her hands on his masculine chest and rocked back and forth. She could feel her vaginal walls gripping him, devouring his love. Together they moved in unison, their tangled bodies wet with sweat.

Laura threw her head back, pounding on her stallion's chest as every nerve in her body raced to ecstasy. She could feel his hands around her waist, encouraging every thrust.

"Oooooo GOD!" she screamed as her body shuddered with euphoria. Almost by instinct, she knew Harrison was coming as well. She could hear his guttural groan as her body took her higher into conjugal bliss.

With a mighty exhale she collapsed on her husband's heaving pecks. She felt his arm encompass her as they lay struggling to regain some respiratory rhythm.

Harrison chuckled from sheer exhaustion as he wrapped his partner up in both arms and held her close. "God, I love you so much," he told her. "What would I ever do without you?"

His words pierced her heart as if they were arrows. She wiped a tear from her eye as she prayed he'd never have to find out. Luckily his eyes were closed so he didn't see it. She looked at the only man she ever loved and wondered how she could have been so stupid.

The next day Laura couldn't wait to get back to her book. She didn't even bother to hide it when Cathy came in with her coffee.

"Back to the book? It must be good. Can I read it when you're done?"

Laura looked up. "Well I think it's promised to someone else, next, but maybe after that."

Cathy noticed her boss' conservative business suit and wondered if she'd forgotten about her appointment. "You haven't forgotten about Brad, have you?"

Laura had forgotten about him ... all about him. She had no intention of keeping their "meeting," but she didn't want to waste time explaining it to Cathy, for the moment. She'd simply call him a little later and tell him herself, but for right now, all she wanted to do was finish her book.

She smiled up at her secretary. "No, I haven't forgotten. Thanks for reminding me though. Ah, just like yesterday, screen my calls for me, okay?"

"Sure," she said walking out and closing the door behind her.

Laura wasted no time, one sip of coffee and she picked up right where she'd left off the day before. She inhaled every word. At the end of the eleventh chapter she was astonished with the author's understanding of human emotions and his ability to explain them in layman's terms. What an education, she told herself. She'd learned so much. She had a much fuller understanding of what led her to that motel room, and why it was so exciting to let Brad stick his dick into her.

Laura took a short break and leaned back in her chair. She closed her eyes to give her weary brain a rest. Everything she'd learned, all the self- examinations, introspective analyzing and soul-searching ... none of it could ease the pain she felt for betraying her husband and daughter.

With a soulful sigh, Laura straightened up and turned to the next page. "Chapter twelve; Can you salvage your marriage?" It had been what she was so interested in reading but now her hand trembled. Now she looked at the page with trepidation. What if the answer was no? She couldn't bear the thought of losing Harrison. Surely the author, with all his wisdom, will inform her of a full-proof way to keep that from happening. Laura started to read...

Chapter 12

Can you salvage your marriage?

So far we have examined the many traps and pitfalls that give some a license to commit adultery, at least in their own minds. We have discussed the most common needs, both physical and emotional, that were lacking in their lives and not being met by their spouses or their circumstances. We have inspected and scrutinized the emotional ties they felt with their lover. Now comes the hard part, taking full responsibility and facing the consequences of their actions.

She read on...

Finished! Laura closed the cover on the tear-soaked pages of chapter twelve.

Cathy thought she heard crying from inside Laura's office. She gently knocked. "Laura, are you alright?" There was no answer but now she was sure her boss was crying. The concerned secretary and friend cracked the door open and poked her face inside. Laura was slumped over her desk, her head lay on her folded arms, her body heaved with each sob.

Cathy walked to her side and affectionately laid her hand on her weeping friend's back. "Laura, honey, what's wrong?"

It was a couple minutes before Laura could compose herself enough to talk. "I'll ... I'll be alright," she wept. "I have some ... some personal problems right now, that's all. I'm sorry, Cathy. Please don't worry, I'll be fine," she assured her friend and co-worker.

For the first time, Cathy caught sight of the title of the book that had Laura so engrossed. Her heart suddenly went out to her boss as she immediately assumed the cheating spouse was Harrison. She had been the sounding board for other girlfriends in her position. She knew they were usually reluctant to talk but she wanted Laura to know she was there if she needed her.

"Honey, anytime you want to talk about it, please don't hesitate. I'm a good listener," she said.

Unaware of Cathy's thoughts, she thanked her and promised to take her into her confidence at a later date.

Cathy set a box of tissues on her desk along with a hot cup of coffee. "I'm going to give you some privacy, Laura, but don't forget I'm right outside your door if you need something."

Laura thanked her but was more thankful for the privacy. She had to think, she had to sort this out. How could she ... there was no way, the pain it would cause...

She was confused, frightened ... no, terrified was more like it. She needed to talk to someone but not Cathy ... Val, her best friend, her one and only confidant through all her trials and tribulations since high school.

Laura pulled the cell phone from her purse and hit speed dial. "Hi Val, it's me."

"Hi girlfriend, what's going on? You sound a little down."

"Val, I need to talk to you. I know it's short notice but could you meet me somewhere?"


"Now ... where ever you say, I'll come to you."

Valerie could hear the desperation in her voice and was immediately concerned. "Sure, honey. Are you at work?"

"Yeah, but I'll meet you anywhere."

"Okay, well I'm in Arlington Hills right now. Why don't we meet at that little outdoor café on Devon and River, that's about half way between you and me ... say, in half and hour?" she said checking her watch.

"Perfect, Val. Thanks so much, I'll see you there." Laura disconnected the call, stuffed the book into her purse, and hurried out of her office. "I'm going to take a long lunch, Cathy. If anyone calls, just take a message and tell them I'll call them back," she said as she hustled through the outer office.

"Wait ... Laura, what about Brad? Are you..." Laura was already out the door. Cathy jumped up and tried to catch her but Laura was already in her car. "Shit," she said out loud. "This isn't good."

It was a little after eleven when Laura pulled into Plato's parking lot. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself before walking to where they had the outdoor area set up in a little garden behind the building. She couldn't ever remember being happier to see her friend's smiling face.

Laura bent over and gave her high school chum a big hug before sitting down on the opposite side of the small, round table. "Thanks for coming, Val."

"Okay, Laura, now what's this all about? You sounded frantic over the phone."

Laura took the book from her purse and laid it on the table. "Val, I ... I've done something terrible," she was barely able to it choke out.

Val looked at the book, still not comprehending what her distraught friend was trying to tell her. She gave Laura a puzzled look.

"Val, I cheated ... I cheated on Harrison," she blurted out as the tears started to flow again.

Valerie's face showed her definite disapproval, her voice turned harsh. "You ... I can't believe it. Laura how could you?" she asked with vehemence.

Laura's body was trembling again. She could feel her friend's disappointment. "I don't know," she said slowly shaking her head. "That book outlines practically every human emotion you could ever experience and then some. That guy knows what people are thinking, how they feel and act. He can give you a million reasons why people do what they do. I read every word and I still can't explain why I did it. Oh, I can tell you why the book says I did it; I just can't believe it myself."

Once the initial shock was over, Valerie saw the pain and suffering Laura was in. "Okay, okay," she said reaching over and patting Laura's hand. "Are you still seeing this guy?"

"No ... well, I was supposed to meet him today but I'm not going to. I'm going to tell him I never want to see him again."

"Well that's at least a step in the right direction. Who is he, does Harrison know him?"

"No, no, the guy's a client. Harrison's never met him."

"Thank God. Chances are they'll never run into each other then. If you don't ever see him again, maybe you'll be lucky and Harrison will never find out."

It sounded so logical, but... "Val, I wanted to talk to you because ... well, according to that book, the best chance I have of saving my marriage is to confess."

"Confess; to who ... Harrison? Are you nuts, it'll kill him. He'd never forgive you, Laura. You can't."

"I know, but according to the book..."

"Oh book, smook; think about what you're saying. God, if Harrison doesn't know, just pray he never finds out, and go on like nothing ever happened, that's all. Shit, Laura, think of what this could do to your family, how it would affect Ashley."

"Val, I am thinking about my family. My God, I'm terrified. I know exactly what it could do, I could lose them, I'm aware of that, but the book says it's keeping secrets that tears families apart. Val, adultery is about deceit and betrayal. It's about breaking trust. How do I ever get him to trust me again if I continue to deceive and betray him? Being open and honest from the start is the first step in regaining his trust."

She pulled a tissue from her purse and wiped her nose. "I know what I have to do, Val, but I've never been so scared in my life. I've got to tell him but how can I hurt the man I love like that. It's going to be devastating for Ashley too. I was so stupid and selfish before when I decided to have a little fun, but now I have to think of my family. They come first," she said wiping her eyes again. "I just wish I had thought of them before I slept with Brad."

"I don't know what to tell you, Laura. It sounds like you've already made up your mind and when you put it that way, it certainly sounds like the right thing to do ... it's just ... God girl, you're taking such a chance."

Just then the waitress came up to take their orders. As she left, Val remembered another case of infidelity.

"I don't think you ever met my cousin, Marilyn, did you?"

"No, I've heard you talk about her but I've never met her," Laura replied.

"Well her husband cheated on her and she divorced him. He begged her to forgive him but she couldn't do it. A couple years later we were talking and she told me she didn't think it would have hurt so much if she didn't love him like she did."

"How did she find out about the affair?" Laura asked.

"Ah, well yeah, he sure as hell didn't confess. He was screwing one of her best friends. A mutual acquaintance ratted on them and told Marilyn. They were still going at it when she found out. The fact that it was a friend of hers made it even worse. How long have you been seeing this guy?"

"About two months ... well, that we've ... you know. I've actually known him for several months."

"Two months, is that all? I don't know, Laura, if you've only been doing it with him for two months, and Harrison doesn't even know him, what are the chances that he'll ever find out?"

"I know, I know, but what if he does? What if someone saw us come out of the room together or somebody overhears Brad bragging to a friend; can I take that chance? I don't want to lose my husband, Val. I can't lose him. I think I'd die without Harrison."

"No, you wouldn't die. You might wish you were dead sometimes but you'd survive. Don't forget, you have a daughter, too."

They both fell silent as the waitress brought their food and refilled their coffee cups. Both ladies needed a little break anyway so they started on lunch.

Half way through eating, Laura's cell phone rang. She looked at the display and saw it was Cathy. "It's work, I'd better take it," she said tapping the connect button.

"Hi Cathy, what's up?"

"Laura, Brad Griffin called looking for you. He sounded upset. I tried to remind you before you left but you were too quick for me."

"I'm sorry, Cathy. I'll call..." she was interrupted by her phone's call waiting. "Cathy, he's calling me right now. I'm going to take it so I have to let you go."

Cathy was shocked to hear Brad had her boss' private cell number but before she could ask about it, Laura disconnected. Cathy made a mental note to ask Laura about it when she came back in.

"Hello, Brad," Laura answered while looking at her scowling friend across the table.

"Laura, where are you? Is everything alright? I've been waiting in this stupid motel room for over an hour."

"No, Brad, I'm sorry but everything isn't alright. I can't do it anymore, not now, not ever. It's over, Brad. I never want to see you again."

There was a moment of silence on the other end. When he spoke again the confidence in his voice was gone.

"Laura, what's wrong? Did I do something to offend you?"

"No, Brad, it's nothing like that. This is wrong. Us seeing each other is wrong. I'm a married woman with a teenage daughter. I love my family. It should have never happened in the first place and it'll never happen again."

"Did, ah ... did your husband find out? Is he making you do this?"

"No, no he doesn't know anything. This is my decision, no one else's."

"Well can't we at least talk about this? I mean, you and I were just starting to..."

"NO, I mean it, Brad. Please don't try to call me again or see me ... nothing, it's over."

Laura's voice was firm, full of resolve. He knew she meant every word. Too bad, he thought, she was fun and they were just getting to know each other. He had been looking forward to many more months of enjoying her body. Oh well, he knew she was married, he knew this would happen sooner or later, he was just hoping for later. I'll give her a little time, he thought. I'll still see her now and then at her office; I can always try to pick it up a little down the road.

"Okay, Laura," he relented. "But if you change your mind, I'll be..."

Laura disconnected the call before he could finish his statement. "That's, that," she said dropping the phone back into her purse.

"What did he say?" ask Val.

"Nothing much, just that he'd be around if I changed my mind."

"That's right, you said he was a client." A thought struck her. "You don't think he'd try and blackmail you, do you? You know, hold his business over your head if you don't continue to sleep with him?"

"I don't think so. He needs us as much as we need his business, besides it wouldn't make any difference, Val."

"No, no of course not. Not if you're going to tell Harrison anyway." She took a small sigh. "I don't envy you, honey. I wouldn't want to be in your shoes for anything." Her heart was going out to her good friend of twenty years. Again, she reached over the table and held her hand. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

Not once during their luncheon, had Laura's eyes stopped watering. She moved her thumb to caress the loving fingers of a true friend.

"There is one thing," she said looking up. "Would you be able to take Ashley tomorrow night for me? I've got a few things to do between now and then. I'm going to tell her tomorrow when she gets home from school. If you could come over about five, that would give me time to prepare to tell Harrison when he gets home at six. I'm not sure how he'll take it, but I don't want him to feel he has to restrain himself because of his daughter. He'll need to be able to express himself freely. I know it'll be hard on Ashley, but I think it's best," she said wiping her eyes again with a tissue.

"Of course, honey, but you're not going to tell Ashley everything, are you?"

"Val, she's part of the family. She's going to be as deeply affected as any of us. She has a right to know the facts."

"I'll be there, Laura. Good luck, I don't think I could do what you're doing," she said.

Laura got up and hugged her. "Thank you," she said with appreciation. "I don't have much choice; I'm fighting for the life of my family. I just pray I'm not too late." She grabbed the check and was gone.

It was after three o'clock by the time she got back to the office. "Cathy, I'm sorry I rushed out on you like that. It was kind of an emergency. Did anyone else call but Brad?"

"No, just him." She couldn't stop wondering, she had to ask. "Laura, why does Brad have your cell number?"

"Cathy, bear with me until tomorrow. Then I'll tell you all about it, okay? Right now I have a ton of things I have to get done. I'll be in my office working. Just let me know when go, will you."

True to her word, two hours later, Cathy knocked on the office door and announced she was leaving for the day. Laura left soon afterward.

That evening Laura watched her family with a new appreciation for what she had, and fear of what she might lose. It would be the last night her family would be this happy for a very long time, if ever again.

She stood in the kitchen doorway and watched with tears as Harrison helped their daughter with her Algebra. With the patience of a saint, he painstakingly explained each mathematical formula. She chuckled at their father-daughter banter. If it came down to it, who would she chose to live with, she wondered; more than likely, her father. Maybe that's what's she deserved, to have her family taken from her, but just the thought was unbearable. If it really happened she didn't think she'd be able to survive ... what would be the point?

The whole time, her mind searched in vain for another way. Was Valerie right, what were really the odds her husband would find out what she'd done? Maybe she COULD just go on as if nothing had ever happened; it'd just stay her dirty, little secret. 'Secret, ' there was that word again. The word that tears families irreparably apart; the word that destroys the trust we have in our partners.

She finally had to turn and walk away. She had to gather herself just to speak. "Honey, I'm going to relax in a hot tub for a while, okay?"

"Go ahead, honey," responded Harrison.

"Yeah, mom, we'll be another hour here so take your time," Ashley told her.

Once in the sanctuary of her bath, Laura could hold back no longer. She prayed no one would come upstairs and hear her as she broke out and sobbed like a little girl.

That night she felt compelled to make love to Harrison again but she could tell he wasn't in the mood. Instead of pushing it, she cuddled up and spooned him. "I love you, Harrison," she whispered.

"I love you too, babe," he responded. "Good night."

The next morning Laura appeared to be in full work mode as she greeted her secretary.

"Good morning, Laura," Cathy said, laying her coffee down. "No book today?"

Laura thanked her for the coffee then responded to her question. "No, no book today. Cathy, I'm going to need about two uninterrupted hours this morning, okay?"

"Yes ma'am."

It was a little after eleven when Laura asked Cathy to step into her office.

"Hi, Cathy," she said looking up with red eyes. "Please, have a seat."

Cathy was beginning to wonder what was going on. She could tell Laura had been crying again but now she sounded business like; something wasn't right.

Laura continued, "Cathy, yesterday you asked why Brad had my cell number; for the last two months, he and I have been having an affair."

Cathy thought it must have been something like that; the way Laura had been acting, the tears then Brad having her number ... still, to hear it was actually true was a shock. "What ... Laura, no..."

"I'm afraid it's true. Up until the time I bought that book I was reading, I would have described it as an innocent little tryst, but as I found out, there's nothing innocent about adultery."

"Oh Laura, I don't know what to say."

"There's nothing TO say, Cathy. It's my mess. I created it, now I have to clean it up. Here are two envelopes," she said handing them to her over the desk. "They both have my signatures and confirm the emails I sent off to corporate a few minutes ago. The first one is my resignation..."

"Laura, no," Cathy broke in.

Laura held up her hand to stop her secretary from interrupting, then continued. "The first one is my resignation. The second one is my recommendation for you to take my job."

"Me?" Cathy uttered with surprise. "But I'm just a..."

"Yes, you; you were Mr. Barester's secretary before you were mine. You were the one who helped me take his place. You probably know more about running this place than he and I put together."

"Why, Laura, why do you have to quit?"

"Because as long as I work here I will still have to have contact with Brad, and if I want to stand any chance at all of keeping my family together, I can't allow that.

Now," Laura said with a sigh," I've cleaned up all the loose ends that I know of. You shouldn't have any emergencies popping up, at least not today. Right now it's lunch hour at corporate but I image your phone will start ringing as soon as the big wigs get back from their liquid lunches. Oh, by the way," she said opening the file drawer on the side of her desk and pulling out a sheet of paper, "this is a glowing letter of recommendation I wrote for you as well, just in case you ever need it. Hopefully you won't" she said sticking it back in Cathy's file.

Cathy was truly saddened by her boss' decision to leave. "Laura, I ... I don't know what to say. Isn't there any other way? Do you have to quit?"

"Cathy, I let my stupidity, my inflated self-worth, and my ego, lead me into the worst decision of my life. As a result, the people I love the most are going to be terribly hurt. It's too late to prevent that. All I can do now is try to start the healing process as quickly as I can, and it starts today."

Cathy's tears now matched her boss'. They both stood and hugged one another.

"Good luck, Cathy. Make sure you get those letters in today's mail. Corporate will want verification of my emails as soon as possible."

"I will," she wept. "Good luck to you too, Laura, I don't know what made you do what you did but I always liked you. I was so happy when they picked you to take over for Mr. Barester. Please take care of yourself."

"I will," she confirmed. "Now," said Laura looking around her office just once more, "it's all yours, my friend." With those parting words, Laura left her office for the last time.

Cathy flopped down in the leather chair while still trying to comprehend what just happened. While reaching across the desk for a tissue, something caught her eye. Sticking partially out of the trash can was a box from Frederick's of Hollywood. She knew it was wrong to open it. There was no doubt it belonged to her former boss, but you know what they say about curiosity.

She dabbed her eyes with the tissue then reached in and pulled the box from the can. She laid it on the table and lifted the top. It was certainly a day for surprises. Never in her wildest dreams could she image Laura in such an outfit ... then again, she couldn't imagine her cheating on her husband either. I guess we all have a dark side to us, she thought.

Just then the phone rang and brought her back to reality ... and so started Cathy's new job.

Laura walked into her home a little after noon. She thought she had everything worked out but all she could do was stand in the hall like a lost puppy. It would be three hours before Ashley got home. I'll go nuts if I just sit and wait, she told herself.

There was still some coffee left. She decided to sit and have a cup while she tried to think of something constructive to do. Her eyes fixated on nothing but air as her mind ran through one scenario after another. At first she tried to think of ways to soften the blow of her confession. Then she remembered what the book had told her; be totally honest, don't make excuses, don't try to minimize the gravity of the situation or the severity of pain your loved one feels, and answer all questions directly and to the best of your ability.

"Mom, are you home?"

Suddenly her daughter's voice jolted her back to the moment. She looked at the wall clock and was shocked to see it was after three.

Fear gripped her entire being. She froze, her body went rigged, her mind went blank as she saw her daughter standing in the doorway. She felt tears filling her eyes but she couldn't move her hand to wipe them away.

"Mom, what's wrong? Are you sick?"

Slowly Laura forced herself back to a conscious state. "No, honey, I'm not sick," she said finally able to wipe her tears. "I've got some bad news..."

"Is it dad," Ashley cried, "Did something happen to dad?"

"No, no, honey, you father is fine," she responded immediately. "It's ... your mother has done something bad, very bad, and I need to talk to you about it."

Ashley felt relieved. She thought something drastic had happened, something horrible. So her mother did something bad ... this was her mother, how bad could it be?

"Mom, you scared me. Can I get a sandwich or something before we talk? I'm starving."

"Yes, honey, of course," answered Laura grateful for the small reprieve.

With all the energy of a teenager, Ashley navigated the kitchen quickly and deftly as she prepared her afternoon snack and poured herself a glass of milk. She sat down to the side of her mother at the kitchen table.

"Okay, mom," she said just before biting into her sandwich, "what did you want to talk about?"

Laura got up to get the last cup of cold coffee and stuck her it in the microwave. "I'll wait until you're done, honey. What I have to say will require your full attention."

Wow, thought Ashley, this sounds serious. She wasted no time in devouring her ham and cheese. She took the last swallow of milk while her mom quietly sipped the stale brew in her cup.

"Okay, mom, I'm done."

"Let's go into the living, honey. It'll be more comfortable there."

Laura sat on the couch and Ashley sat next to her. Both faced one another with their knees almost touching. Laura felt all the air in her lungs was gone and took a deep breath.

"Honey, I've done something very bad, something that I'm afraid is going to hurt you and your father very deeply, I cheated on your dad."

At first Ashley didn't grasp what her mother was saying. Cheated? Then it hit her, but she had to be wrong, that couldn't be what her mother meant, her mother would never do such a thing.

"What do meant, cheated, mom? You mean you had sex with another man?" she said needing clarification while her eyes were already starting to get watery.

"Yes, honey, I'm afraid that's exactly what I mean," she was barely able to choke out the words.

"HOW COULD YOU, mom, how could you do that to dad?" Ashley exclaimed with tears now streaming down her cheeks.

"I'm sorry," Laura blurted out, "I'm so sorry to hurt you like this." They almost fell in each other's arm and hugged. Ashley laid the side of her face on her mother's shoulder for comfort but couldn't stop weeping. The two held their embrace, trying to soothe one another while they cried themselves out.

It was several minutes before they broke the clinch. Laura grabbed a tissue and offered one to her daughter.

Ashley was still sniffling as she wiped her nose. "Mom, how you could do this? I don't understand, you love dad, how could you cheat on him like this?"

"It's hard to explain, honey. I bought a book that explains how things like this happen, but after reading it, I'm still not sure I understand it all. I can tell you that my promotion at work played a definite roll. I'd worked so hard through the years, there. When I was finally made the manager it gave me a sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately it also gave me a feeling of entitlement; I needed to enjoy the spoils of my success."

Laura grabbed another tissue before continuing. "According to the book, it's one of the most common reasons successful men cheat. It's a way of extending the control and power they have in the work place, to their personal lives. I guess I felt the same way," she admitted.

"I won't say a thing, mom. I'll never tell, don't worry."

"Honey, this isn't something we can keep from your dad. I have to..."

"YOU CAN'T TELL DAD, YOU CAN'T," Ashley yelled. "Mom, he'll divorce you! You know he will. You can't tell him, PLEASE, you can't!" Again she threw her arms around her mother and sobbed.

Laura's heart was shattering into a million pieces. Why, she kept asking herself, why did she do it?

"Honey, I did a terrible, terrible thing and now I have to try to make things right again."

"But, mom..."

"Honey, what if your dad ever found out on his own? He would be even more hurt than if I tell him about it; and, if that ever did happen, how could I ever convince him to stay with a woman, who not only cheated on him, but kept secrets from him as well?"

"Oh, mom, I'm afraid," cried Ashley. "Daddy's going to leave us, I just know it."

Laura held her sobbing daughter. She wanted to tell her that would never happen, her dad would never leave them, but she knew the reality was, he very well might leave.

"Honey, if it comes down to one of us leaving, it'll probably be me," she said while clearing her daughter's damp hair from her face.

"No, mom. I don't want you to go either. I want us all to stay together."

"I know, I know, honey. I'm going to try, I'm going to try as hard as I can, but I can't promise you."

Laura tried to console her daughter with loving touches as Ashley cried herself out again. By the time she finally started to calm down some, it was almost five o'clock.

"Ashley, I'm so sorry, none of this is fair to you, but I've got to ask you to be brave for me. I'm going to tell your father when he comes home today. As much as I hate to do this, I really think it'll be better if you're not here when I do it..."

"No, mom, don't send me away, please," begged Ashley.

"Honey, I not sending you away. I've asked Mrs. Collins to care for you for just tonight. You'll be back tomorrow, honey, I promise."

"Mom, can't I stay?"

"Honey, when I tell your dad, he's going to be very angry. He's going to have to let that anger out and I'm afraid he won't be able to if you're in the house. Please try to understand, honey. I'm so very sorry for this."

"Okay," responded Ashley wiping her nose again. "I understand. I'll go upstairs and pack."

Laura watched while her brave daughter climbed the stairs. A couple minutes later she heard Val knock.

"Hi," she greeted while stepping in. "How did it go?" she asked in a hushed tone.

Laura sighed. "About like I expected, I guess. The poor girl is devastated. Val, if I live through this I think I'm going to write a book of my own. I want to warn every woman out there about what it feels like to betray your family, the people you love the most."

"Actually, that doesn't sound like a bad idea, Laura. Maybe it would be therapeutic. Who knows, you might even make some money."

Just then Ashley came walking down the stairs with her overnight bag. "Hello, Mrs. Collins."

"Hello, Ashley," she replied. "I've got fried chicken for dinner tonight."

It was heartbreaking to see the sorrow in Ashley's face, for both women.

"Thanks," Laura told her friend. She looked down at her grief stricken daughter. "I know it's hard, but try not to worry too much, honey. Your dad is a fair man who loves us both very much."

"I love you, mom," Ashley said hugging her mother. As she was walking to the car she turned to beseech her mother one more time. "Mom, please don't tell dad, I'm afraid. I don't want you two to get a divorce."

"Honey, please. It's the only chance we have if we're ever going to be a real family again."

They had one more tearful exchange of goodbyes and Laura watched her daughter and best friend pulled out of the drive. She sat heavily on the first step that led to upstairs. She had to get herself organized. Thinking about her daughter packing for the night made her wonder, should I pack some clothes? It's probably not a bad idea incase Harrison throws me out, she thought.

Laura ran upstairs and packed enough clothes for several days then slid the suitcase under the bed so her husband couldn't see it. As Laura turned to leave she saw her purse on the dresser. She looked at the time on her cell phone; it was five-forty-five. In another fifteen minutes he'd be walking through the door. She took the book from her purse and carried it down stairs with her.

Almost zombie-like, she walked into the kitchen and made a fresh pot of coffee. She couldn't wait for the full pot. Her hand shook terribly as she poured herself a cup. She glanced at the wall clock ... ten till.

Laura sat at the table, her heart was pounding in her chest; her eyes glistened with tears.

"Hi, hon, I'm home," she heard as he walked in the front door.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Consensual / Cheating /