Do Not Pass Go
Chapter 1

Copyright┬ę 2005 by LightontheSound

Erotica Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Peter has just lost his job and things are going from bad to worse. He's tipsy and horny and there's a woman twenty years younger than him trying to get into his pants. Sadly, his marriage is about to end and that's not even the bad part.

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


It's cold in Minnesota during the winter especially when you're used to the mild weather of Virginia. But it's even colder when you're sleepless and alone.

I'm just feeling sorry for myself. God knows I've got it better than most and it's ridiculous for me to feel like this. Still, I do, and even though I'm keeping it together, without the kids and my sister, I would have been ready to be locked up in a nice, white, padded cell.

My life is full of hows. How is it a basically intelligent person can act so stupid? How did I miss so many clues? How could I go around acting like life was a fairy tale?

It started with the girl or at least it seemed to start that way.

Karen was pretty, but there are lots of pretty women around. It was because she was young, fun, and -- most importantly at that time -- she was into me. That might not seem like a lot to qualify her as someone to screw your life up over, but it had been a long time since I'd gotten that kind of attention.

I was a chubby hubby, not a bad looking thirty-nine-year-old but a tired one. Formerly handsome, now pudgy, though still sporting a full head of dark curly hair. Deep, dark, brown eyes and easy laugh or not, women didn't flirt with a man wearing a gold band and surrounded -- at least most of the time -- by a pack of loud and anxious children; I've gotten a few nods from housewives and pats on the head by nearsighted grandmothers, but in each case the attention was sympathy not desire.

It wasn't a midlife crisis, just a hoping for a scrap of something different in my life -- a change from the usual schedule of carpools and teacher conferences and bagged lunches. Was it too much to ask for just one hour of flirting with a hot blonde in a slinky, red, half dress/half negligee wraparound who smelled like some exotic jasmine essence? The smell was distilled from sex and fantasy, not the reliable Chanel #5 from that liter jug-like vase on my wife's vanity.

Of course I was tipsy and Karen acted buzzed. The bar was a trendy restaurant/bar, but because of construction that had closed down the parking garage and the street outside it was almost abandoned. Aside from the staff, three couples, a scaly looking guy in a booth and another guy who was talking to himself at the bar it was just Karen and I.

The temptation was there, but I loved my wife. So normally it wouldn't have mattered except for the alcohol. To be honest tipsy had come and gone a couple shots ago. The whole point was not to think. But my life was still looking awfully pathetic and contemptible when the blonde bought me a drink.

Cheating wasn't anything I wanted to do, but flirting wasn't a crime. Honestly, my goal was to come as close to cheating as possible without doing anything to screw up my life. This was the tequila at work though. That and two weeks of sexual deprivation. But kids or not, Chanel #5 or not, lackluster, irregular sex or not, it was losing my job that made Karen attractive.

When you're fucked up this bad you had three choices, sit there and whine to the bartender, kill your boss or get laid.

My boss was a nice guy though and he had been fired just as thoroughly as I had. Also there didn't seem to be much point in talking and sex was not going to happen at home. So the rule had led me to Karen, this twenty-three-year-old, hazel-eyed temptress with fine long blonde hair that hung down past her shoulders, the kind you could twist your hands into during a slow teasing blowjob.

My wife had short brunette hair and it was fine. Still in my fantasies this was the kind of girl I wanted. Maybe it was a fetish, but ever since I was thirteen, blondes had dominated my fantasies. Just being close to Karen brought all those fantasies bubbling to the surface.

My downfall had been letting Karen convince me to feel how her new conditioner made her hair so soft. Once my hands were on her I didn't want to let go. Twenty years disappeared in the kiss that followed. Lost in memories of hot, meaningless high school sex, I raped Karen's mouth even as she stroked my bulge and pulled me in closer.

"Damn, that was a kiss," I said panting heavily.

Karen smiled, took a shot and leaned in to share. I waved her off still sucking wind from the kiss still tasting the tequila and the cinnamon from the breath strip she took before the last shot.

"Let's not screw this up with a lot of talk." She rubbed her fingers over my belt clasp. "So are you going to come back to my apartment and fuck me or am I going to have to rape you here?"

Her hand wormed under my waistband, fondling and fingering her way through a progression of chords that left me weak. Feeling my prick surging, she leaned in until her lips were over mine, sucking my hot breath deep inside her.

"So, need more convincing?" Her smile lit her face with that horny, young, promiscuous look you see on the women in beer commercials. "Jeff, I don't want you to rush this, but I'm really, really horny."

"Me too." My body was so ready. Just a minute of hard jerking would get me off. "But..."

Karen kissed me again, her tongue flitting over my lips as she slowly jerked my cock.

Fuck was she hot, but this was as close to cheating as it got and it was time to stop. "It's not that I don't want to. It would be great. Really great, but I'm married... not just married, very married."

Her grip got tighter as she continued to jerk my cock with slow steady strokes. "That's probably why you're wearing a wedding ring... Jeff." She laughed. "Don't freak out. At the start I was just going to tease you, but I was hooked the minute I felt this cock." She gave me a long stroke up and then rotated her hand. "Actually I prefer married men."

It took an effort to pull back when she leaned in. Her hands drew me back in.

"Jeff, you want to do this and I want to do this. If you didn't you would have stopped me long before now. And," she whispered into my ear, "it feels like you're only kinda married now." Her fingers tickled my glans and then her hand slipped out of my pants.

"Jeff..." she purred, drawing the name out. Her tongue snaked into my ear, swirling wetly from the tip to the center and then chewing lightly on the lobe.

"Baby?" she whispered, startling me out of my rapture. I woke to the feeling of warmth and moisture against my hand. Looking down I saw that she had unzipped her jeans and pulled her thin pink panty to the side and stuck my fingers against her sex. My middle finger rubbed softly around her outer lips and pushed inside her. God, her pussy was so warm, so warm and wet and even at arm's length I could smell her musky arousal. She kissed my lips softly. "That's good, but I can think of two things that would feel better there."

Shaking my head wasn't easy, but pulling my hand away was torture. "It's not that I don't want to do this, but I really can't." I raised my right hand and stared at the gold band. "Sixteen years..." But as obvious as the ring was, so was the sheen of her juice on my fingertips. Without conscious thought, I raised my fingers to suck her cum off. In that second I would have been lost -- my hand two inches from my mouth, two inches from heaven and infidelity and maybe screwing up my kids life with a divorce.

"Come on... Jeffff," Karen said drawing out the name, managing to sound both seductive and nasty at the same time. "We both know we're going to fuck. It's just a question of how hard you're going to make me work for it and if you're going to feel guilty later. It's time to let go and get your reward. Don't feel guilty, you've made it tougher than I'm used to. But now it's time to reel you in."

It must have looked like I was about to run because that was how I felt. The flirting had been fun, but now, now it was... dangerous.

Something in my face faded her smile fade. Stripped of that predatory smile her features looked young and vulnerable. It happened so fast I almost missed it. Afterward, her face settled into a kind of smoldering sexy. "I've seen you in here for three weeks now... The other times I was working, so it wasn't like I could do anything about it." Karen smiled. "I waitress here. God, Jeff, you would think that the way some of your friends stared at me, you might remember me a little.

"It's funny when I heard you talking to your friends I swear they were calling you Peter.

"I came in early to talk about trading shifts tomorrow before going out tonight and who do I see? It's Jeff and this time I'm going to gobble Jeff all up. How does that sound? Do you like the idea of me gobbling you all up or would you prefer me to miss a bit and see it leaking down my chin or letting you shoot it all over my body?

"This is just a moment. It doesn't have to have anything to do with your life. It's just now and in this moment I know you want to take me back to my apartment, throw me onto my bed and fuck me so hard, taking me on my bed and the floor and pushed over the sink and in the shower, taking me and making your little sex toy your little cum toy and slut and sighing, screaming, ball of orgasms. And then after a couple hours it's over. Jeff fades out of existence and Pete goes back to his wife with his battery recharged."

Looking into her eyes -- and God, how could I help not looking into those hazel eyes -- I wanted that moment she talked about. I had never been this hot and horny. And it would be amazing. I was so hard up the first load would be a geyser that would shoot down her throat in the parking lot and after that the rest of my cum would surge inside her belly or on her face and chest and finally all over that long blonde hair. It could, but it wouldn't. As quickly as I almost lost myself in that dream, it was over. It should have been thoughts of Jessie that had brought me out of it, but actually it was thinking about my kids.

Once out of my trance, there was something about this situation that felt shallow and cold. Maybe I wasn't perfectly happy with my wife, but at least I cared for her and she cared for me. For Karen this was just a fuck buddy relationship, just a convenient guy with a cock when she wanted it. The more that I looked at her now, the more fucked up it felt. There was arrogance in her eyes... no more than that, almost contempt for me. It could be as we were having sex she would be seeing an old boyfriend, but maybe it would be her father and that creepy thought made my dick wilt.

Horny or not, unless the kids were shot up with tranquilizer darts and wife's coffee got spiked it wasn't like I was going to get sex on a weeknight. Why couldn't I have just let myself get drunk? Drunk, the complications wouldn't have been there. I wouldn't be thinking about my children and wondering how sleeping with this girl was going to help me get a job tomorrow. After the sex all this would do is just give me something else to feel guilty about.

"Oh fuck it," I said, getting up from the bar and heading toward the door as Karen scrambled to get herself pulled together.

It had come together. I remembered Karen now. Maybe it was how she talked about how in this moment it wouldn't be me cheating, but this alias, she was as much Karen as I was Jeff. Her name was Terry... no Theresa. I remembered her waiting on me and some officemates a few weeks back. She had been sweet and cute in maybe a nineteen-year-old way. She had been lying to me just as much as I had been lying to her. Most likely she was just horny and trying to keep her slutty self a secret to herself, but for whatever reason she did it, it didn't smell right.

Though it made sense to leave, it isn't a good time to sit around and think when you're depressed. Being 2/3 drunk and driving was probably an even worse idea, but taking a taxi home was too humiliating. Drunk was bad enough, but my family finding out about it just didn't bear imagining.

By the time I took the exit off the highway, the booze was hitting me harder. I wanted to be home now, but I wanted to hide too. At just past 9:30 PM the neighborhood was dead. Jessie's mom, Barbara was watching the kids tonight and, knowing that white haired sanctimonious and disapproving ball of bobby pins that was my mother-in-law, I knew if I turned my phone back on there probably would be half a dozen voice mails, politely wondering why I had abandoned my kids tonight.

If Jessy hadn't had some sort of endowment function, Barb would have been relieved at 7:30 and even then I would have gotten a couple of accusing voice mails and a long talk about how a different man -- the good, decent, imaginary man her daughter should have married -- would have acted. Despite this it felt bad leaving my mother-in-law holding the bag, but it was better to come in a little later than coming in now and having my kids see me and start throwing pennies at their drunken lush of a father.

Jessie's meeting might even be done by now and then she would be home. And then Daddy could come home. Mr. Breadwinner, except that he had just been laid-off and except that Jessie earned more money than I had, and had much better benefits. Even though I worked a forty-five hour work week, it was nothing compared to Jessie's seventy-five to ninety hour weeks. So I was the one, along with the infrequent assist from Jessica's mother --when I couldn't find a half-dependable sixteen-year-old girl -- who took care of the kids.

I pulled the car to the curb a block and a half from home and stared down the street. If anything I started to feel worse seeing my wife's car in the driveway. Barb would be gone and Jess was waiting inside, waiting for me to come home. Except I didn't know how I could go in there until the kids went to bed.

Twice a pair of joggers ran by and I hunched down so they could see me. Luckily the car had slightly tinted windows. After a while I fell asleep. I woke to the sounds of tires squeaking from a car which was stopped just about fifteen in front of me. If the car hadn't been a Porsche I would probably have fallen back to sleep. But I had always loved Porsches and the one parked in front of me was a sleek red dream. It was the perfect pussy bait and, judging from the action in the front seat, it looked like it had done its job.

The couple in the car were clearly in lust; even though I could barely see them, I could tell they were fogging the windows. They kissed for a minute and then she started to make to get out of the car and then he would touch her shoulder or she would glance back and they would be kissing again. A few minutes later it was the honk of a passing car annoyed at their double parking that ended the goodbye.

Watching the woman get out of the Porsche and walk down the street was getting me turned on. Even a faithful could cheat in their fantasies and in my mind I was the guy sitting in the Porsche with the satisfied smirk.

The woman wiggled out of the car, putting her ass on display for the driver's benefit. Looking back in token annoyance, the woman motioned for him to get going, a little shooing gesture and playful scowl. And it fucking killed me.

The joke was that seconds before I had been depressed and guilty about almost breaking my marriage vows and the next my slut wife was putting on a performance, wiggling her ass out of her lover's car and making the gestures I knew from having been married to her for sixteen years.

It was all like the post-coital teasing she had done when we had been dating. Seventeen years ago her flirting shimmy of adjusting her dress and the hippy strut would have been for me. Tonight, though her ass doing a private performance for her lover, probably saying you'll just have to wait until my husband goes to sleep before you fuck me again.

My hands trembled. I wanted to explode, wanted to run her over or pull her out on the front lawn, scream WHORE so loud the neighborhood could hear, rip her clothes off so the children could see and tattoo SLUT on her forehead, on her breasts and just over her pussy so that anyone who ran into her would be able to see through the smokescreen.

How could she? She didn't even like sex. After Tommy had been born her diminishing sex drive had almost dried up completely. So much so that most of the nights she indulged me it took lots of lubricating jelly. Most times my hand would show more gratitude as a sexual partner than my wife would.

It wasn't the chubby hubby thing either. After Tommy, Jessica had kept the weight on and it was only about five years ago when she started losing weight and I started gaining it. Shit, how many times had I gone down to the kitchen to have one of the kids pudding packs because of the frustration of night after night of frustration sleeping next to a beautiful woman.

HOW COULD SHE? Right in front of me, I had watched sixteen years of marriage swirl down the drain without even realizing it until she had shooed off her lover. No not just the marriage, it was my life that was flushed. Fifteen hours ago if someone had shot the happily employed, family man pulling out of my driveway, I would have died a happy man. God give me a gun and a time machine and I would have killed that man.

Right now, Jessie was kissing our kids and acting like some perfect TV sitcom mom. Actually that was about right, a sitcom lasted a half hour and that was as long as Jessie could play house.

What was there for me now? What happened to the plan for my life that I had wrapped around me like a security blanket? It was stupid and childish, but for long minutes all I did was stare off in the distance wishing today could unhappen.

I flinched as someone began tapping on the passenger side window.

"What are you doing out here in the cold?" My mother-in-law asked as she opened the unlocked passenger door and poked her head inside.

Of course, it had to be my mother-in-law, my day couldn't be a total disaster unless she was here. "Nothing... I was just thinking about something."

"You've been out drinking, haven't you?" She took a deep breath preparing to give me a tongue lashing, only waiting for me to acknowledge her before starting in.

"Yeah Barb, I've been out drinking. Third day of a week long bender. I've got a crack pipe in the glove compartment, a couple guns under the seat and a dead hooker in the trunk. Plus a couple of empty spray paint cans from putting a fresh coat of paint over the satanic symbols I put on the church yesterday." My mother-in-law just glared, but it amazed me that she recognized that my words had been sarcastic. "Let's say that I have been drinking and then let's agree that I don't give a damn what your opinion about that is, okay?"

My mother-in-law rubbed the AA pin prominently displayed on her collar for a second before she got in the car and closed the door. "This is about your job, isn't it? You've been fired, haven't you?"

"No Barb this is not about my job." Fifteen minutes ago it would have been a lie, but it was true now. I laughed to myself remembering being stupid enough to confide in Barbara after coming back late from work six months ago when the rumor had started about our office being closed down. "If I need to get another job I will. Honestly, it's not the most important thing in my life."

"What you need to do is to finally have a plan for your life. You should look into a career change..." Her face scrunched up. Knowing my mother-in-law she thought I should look into being a rodeo clown.

"Barb, you need to be getting home now."

"You have to have fallbacks," she said ignoring me. "It's not that your job isn't fine. But is it the kind of job security for a family man?"

Right, after all what society needs engineers?

She seemed to hear my thoughts, because her already curdled face curdled even more. "It's not that your kids need your salary with Jessica's job, but..."

"You're right, my family doesn't need me, do they?" I said trying to keep the anger out of my voice.

"Of course they need you. Not financially, but..." Her eyes looked lost for a second as the moment stretched out as my wonderful mother-in-law tried to think of some reason for my existence. Let's see, hmm, no use as a breadwinner, no use as a partner or sexual companion for the wife, not particularly attractive or funny and as a father? As a father she probably felt anything I contributed could be taken care of by a small group of El Salvadoran women who came in three times a week.

I shook my head. "Okay I've got the message. The universe has been speaking to me loud and clear tonight, but it's always nice to get the personal touch."

My mother-in-law sniffed in annoyance.


"I'm just telling this for your own good..."

"Well thanks," I said trying to stare her out of the car.

"If there's something wrong you should tell Jessica about it..." As she said it though she had a grimace so sudden it looked like a seizure.

Seeing the discomfort on my mother-in-law's face gave me a tiny spark of joy. "Something the matter, Barb? Maybe there's something Jessie hasn't told me that we should talk about?" It felt good to see her at a loss for words for once. It felt even better to see her squirm.

"I saw that Jessie just got home." I just let my words sit there and watched my mother-in-law pale. "It's funny that the guy dropping her off did it a block and a half away from the house."

Barb shook her head. "A marriage isn't simple..."

"Thank you Barb, it's so great that YOU tell me what a marriage is. There's nothing like going to an expert when you're having a problem."

My mother-in-law's face quickly returned to the pinched disapproving cast that was its normally shape. "Neither of you talk to each other anymore. I know that it's difficult with the hours my daughter has to be in her lab..."

"But it's not just her job is it?" I asked, beginning to grow hot. "And you knew about it," I said it out of spite, but the fleeting sullen look of guilt on her face astounded me. Maybe I should have known it before, but in that moment it became crystal clear.

"You did. You knew it. You sanctimonious... you knew Jessica is screwing around and you're trying to lecture me about having a drink? Lecturing even when every second you don't tell me about Jessie you're lying to my face.

"Barb, you're so good at this advice have you thought about being a marriage counselor, because I'm so glad you're sitting here telling me what it takes too have a good marriage. I'm curious which part involves a wife screwing another man?"

She was floundering. "Maybe if you..."

"Maybe if I what, Barb? You've shoved yourself into the middle of our family. Please stick your nose into the marriage bed now. Why don't you just sit down and make some diagrams for me to follow."

"I'm not excusing my daughter's action, but..."

I was tired of listening to my mother-in-law. Tired of every annoying word I had put up with through sixteen years of marriage. "BUT? I don't give a damn about anything you have to tell me anymore. No, that's wrong. I want to hear one thing from your mouth. How long? How long have you been lying to me and how long has my wife been fucking around on me." The rest of my breath blew out of me like a train whistle. "Don't just gawp at me answer the fucking question, MOM. How long has she been breaking her marriage vows? Because while you might not like me, there's no vow for us to be nagged to death by our in-laws until death do us part, but I kind of think that screwing another man blow the 'love, honor, cherish and forsaking all others' part right out of the water."

Her face had gone pale. "This isn't what I wanted, to happen. Maybe you won't believe me, but this doesn't make me happy. "

"Bullshit. What a fucking load. Do you even believe what you say anymore?"

"You don't have to swear, Peter."

"Actually, BARB, yes I fucking do. Because at least when I say fucking, it's just a word. I don't feel the need to act it out with other people. But your daughter likes to be clear about things, so when she's demonstrating things I guess you see it really as an act of Christian charity?"

Barb grabbed onto the crucifix around her neck halfway through my rant. "Whether you've been the best husband or not..."

The laugh grated out of me. "Don't give me more crap. You've never liked me. The only thing you're sad about in this situation is that Jessie fucked this guy before the divorce."

She stared up at me, but bit her lip forcing down her bile.

"Don't even try to say it isn't. Because yes, it fucking is, Barb."

She shook her head. "I talked to her until I was blue in the face, but Jessica made me give my word not to tell you." She looked down, her eyes studying her crucifix. "Maybe it would have been better to have broken the promise, but I tried to do everything I could..."

"Well I'm glad you can sleep at night."

"... I tried to do the right thing for my family, if..."

"If what MOM," I spat out. "If I had been a better husband or father? Because clearly your darling little girl has been the perfect wife. But if you did the right thing for your family, I'm glad your conscience is clean. Because no matter how much of an ass my wife is, she is family. All I did was provide a little DNA. If I even did that."

My mother-in-law looked up and shook her head in a tight gesture. "That's wrong and it's spiteful."

"Thanks for the morality lesson. Thank you so much." I was gathering steam again, but, as it built up, the pressure was getting dangerous. Even now, with both her and her daughter up to their necks in sin, Barb tried to make me the villain. I was getting angrier and angrier and as much as I hated my mother-in-law, words felt less and less adequate to express my rage. "Well I'm glad we had this chance to talk, but it's time for you to go now, Barb."

She shook her head. "It would have been better for the two of you to settle this on your own..."

"Well, we're going to do that MOM. Now MOM would you mind getting out of the car? There's a lot of things to take care of tonight and I don't have time to chat."

Reaching past her I opened her door and pushed it wide open.

"Don't do something in the heat of the moment that you'll regret later...

"Yeah, thanks for the advice. I wonder if you said the same thing to Jessie or was it just make sure to use a condom. But no you wouldn't say that because you're against birth control so you probably told her to be sure not to use a condom." I didn't even get any pleasure by the shocked look on her face. "Okay, I'm done talking, get the fuck out of my car."

My mother-in-law probably wouldn't have gotten out if I didn't crank the ignition and gun the motor. I began pulling out into the street even before she closed the door. Heading into my driveway I saw her walking back toward me probably headed to her car.

The rage left began to drift away almost as quickly as it happened. My anger was for my mother-in-law and somehow Jessica's betrayal seemed minor. Barb's betrayal was personal and spiteful, while Jessica's, well pretty much any emotion was wasted on her. My wife just didn't care anymore. At some point, love had turned into comfort and then comfort had turned into convenience. Now her lover had just become more convenient. Except that I didn't really believe that there was real passion in her trysts. It wasn't the sex, but the infidelity that brought excitement to her cold blooded heart.

Since Tommy had been born Jessica's work had slowly been taking over her life. Once we talked about our work and the kids' school there usually wasn't much we had time to say. Day to day, I spent more time with my mother-in-law. The only emotion I saw in her now was nervousness or an occasional pissy attitude when the order of her day was disrupted.

In the last few years Jessie had become another person. Between the increasingly rare attacks of motherhood or wifely affection, her life was divided between sleeping and spending time in the lab. Even during the times she played house, she had changed. The truth was in the last year there were maybe three times I had felt close to my wife. The rest of the time she was just a counterbalance that allowed for even wear on our mattress.

Inside the house it was like nothing had changed. My ten-year-old, Tommy, was doing his best to get an early start on Carpal Tunnel though he paused his game to show me that he had finished his homework. "I'm in the middle of the game."

"It's already past your bedtime. Is there a save function on the game?"

I could see my son hesitating, wanting to lie. "Yeah, but I'm almost done with this level." He saw my look and started to save the game.

Tommy looked up in one last puppy dog appeal.

"Okay, you've got ten minutes. Then I want you upstairs and in bed." It would have been nice to get a hug, but at least when I leaned down and kissed him on the forehead, he didn't try to wriggle away.

My twelve-year-old, Traci, was watching television in the kitchen and during commercial breaks she went about putting the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaning the countertops. She was watching Sex In The City. It wasn't HBO though so the most explicit stuff had been cut out of it, thank God.

"Dad which one of the girls do you think I'm like the most?"

I'm pretty sure Traci didn't want an answer, she just wanted to watch by herself. The way she laughed as I slunk out of the room was a tip off. Before I left I opened my mouth, but Traci beat me to it. "Yeah dad. After this up to bed." For sheer brainpower Traci was maybe even smarter than her mother, though at this moment that didn't make me feel very good.

My fourteen-year-old, Jenna, wasn't around, but there was loud music coming from behind her door and when he knocked on it, she poked her head out for a second, saying hi and giving me a quick kiss on the cheek.

"In bed in thirty minutes?"

She nodded her head in acceptance. Then taking her phone off hold, she immediately said, "Oh, it was just my dad."

Just because I knew our happy home was a mirage, didn't mean my children should. If I could have taken the last half hour away, maybe it could stay the same, but there was no way I could pretend that nothing was different. Confronting my wife was going to be a piece of cake compared to talking to my kids about what was going to happen. It would have been nice to force my wife to do it by herself, but this wasn't revenge, this was my children's happiness.

When I went into the bedroom, I could hear the shower going in the master bath. The only thing that disturbed the peace was the incessant buzzing of Jessie's cell phone. Picking it up out of my wife's purse, I saw that it was Barbara calling. I turned off the cell phone and figured that my daughter Jenna would take care of blocking out anyone calling on the house line. I settled down on the bed and flipped on the tv turning it to the cable news and tried to let my mind numb out.

It was all so ordinary. Cheating was such a minor thing to my wife that it didn't even disrupt her routine. This morning as she was drinking her orange juice she must have ticked through her to do list: go to work, pick up dry cleaning, fuck stranger, watch tv in bed with husband, go to sleep. How long had it been going on that it had become effortless for her to cheat on me?

The more I thought about it the worse it got. I could see her fucking him... or was it them? Fuck, she could have been doing this for years. The kids were mine though... the genetic testing we had done to check for diseases proved that. Didn't it? She couldn't have gotten someone to fake the tests. Could she?

A half hour ago my wife had loved me. Shit, no she hadn't. I had just thought that. No, a half hour ago I had loved my wife. There had been no reason why. It wasn't that she deserved it, it had become automatic.

How many times had we made love with passion in the last few years? During our last anniversary she had taken a call just as we had gotten in bed. Two hours later she had woken me up and we had fucked, quickly though because she had to get in to work early the next day. It had probably been the guy in the car and they had phone sex in the other room as her chubby hubby read his Robert Ludlum novel for a half hour before falling asleep.

If I broke into her computer files, I bet I'd find a date circled sometime in 2013. Her day of freedom. The day Tommy would head off to college and the day she could shake me off and get on with her real life. But probably she didn't even care about the kids. I'm sure it had more to do with the scandal. How many times did the university play up the fact that their molecular genetics wonder girl was a happily married mother of three? Her liberation day was probably more geared around funding issues than family.

It was a petty thought, but I knew that I had to beat her to the punch. The thought of her walking in the kitchen on some morning and handing me the front page and the sports along with divorce papers just about killed me. But I couldn't think that way. The most important thing now was my kids and losing my temper wasn't going to help any when it came time for a custody hearing. This was just a fucking business deal that I had to close.

Jessie walked out of the bathroom still rubbing at her hair with a towel. She smiled at me in passing and sat up against the bed near me and watched the tv tick through the headline news.

"You're awfully quiet tonight," Jessica mentioned as the commercials started.

And I was quiet. I was being a wimp, putting this off.

I cleared my throat. "I got a job offer and I'm going to take it..."

She went back in the bathroom and started getting her coldcream out and rubbing it into her hands.

"Does it pay more?"

"A lot more actually." I avoided laughing at the thought. "You remember Tate?" Jess shook her head. "J. Tate Peeler? He was one of the guys I shared the house with Junior year." My wife just shrugged. "Well, I'll be working under him. The only complication is that it's in St. Paul."

She stopped rubbing. "You're kidding."

"It's going to be rough for the kids to move in the middle of the year, but they're tough. I figured we would stay with my sister in that broken down palace of hers until we find something permanent."

"You're not funny."

I ignored her. "Actually, my sister was one reason St. Paul sounded so good. Jenna and Traci actually like their cousins, so I figure they would already have a couple of friends to start off."

Jessie was just staring at me. "And I'm supposed to convince the university that I want to move my lab a thousand miles away?"

"I didn't say that."

My wife just look poleaxed, still though more surprised than upset. How could she be otherwise. Our lives were such quiet, regular things. Hell, I bet she used a damn metronome when her lover was fucking her so that her schedule wouldn't suffer.

Jessie tried to smile as if it was a joke, but seeing my expression her lips thinned. "You want me to commute from Northern Virginia to Minnesota?"

"If you like you could fly in on the weekend, but I wouldn't really expect you to do that," I said heading into the bathroom. "You'd better get to sleep pretty soon. Friday's always a long day for you. If you want to talk about this more, we can either do it or breakfast or you can call me during the day when you have some free time."

Jessie walked into the doorway of the bathroom, staring at me, as I brushed my teeth.

I made eye contact with her in the mirror. "They laid off our division today."

I could see her mind trying to connect the dots. Trying to figure out how something that happened in my life effected hers.

"There were some vague rumors months ago, but just in case I have been shopping my resume around. It's just lucky this happened now. Tate and I talked last Monday and he really wanted me to come work for him. He said he had a spot he could keep open for me for a couple more weeks. That's why this is happening so quick.

"The way I see it I'll fly down there in two weeks and commute back here on the weekends until we get everything settled here that way the kids can spend some time saying goodbye to their friends and adjust to the idea of moving a bit."

"I can't just move my lab. There's grants and tenure and..."

I tore off some floss. "Relax, I'm not asking you tuh... muhve."

It's not like my wife is dumb, but, just as I was, she was stuck in the routine. "You're divorcing me?"

I reached for the mouthwash. "No, just moving. If you want to fly in on the weekend, or maybe just alternate weekends you're welcome to. I figure after we sell the house, you could stay with your Mom or get a small place closer to your office." I expected her to say something as I rinsed, but she kept quiet. My wife was always one for plans and fallbacks and for once it looked like I had caught her flat footed.

I rinsed my mouth and spit. As I came back in the room, I hesitated in the doorway. "Light on or off?"

"ON!" Her body was tense and it looked like she wanted to punch me out. "So you just assume you'll get custody?"

I stared at her as I picked up a well worn copy of The Eiger Sanction. "Jessie, would you even want to have custody? I'm sure you have problems with me, but you know that I'm a good father. You really think the kids would be better off with a nanny than with me?"

"There's my mother..." she said, her voice trailing off as even she wasn't convinced by her suggestion.

"Even if the kids liked her, Barb's sixty-one and has bad knees, bad eyes and smokes a pack a day. Either her or the kids would go nuts inside of a month. She can't handle it physically. If you went through with it that would be bad for both her and the kids.

"Give it some time." I opened my book and started trying to figure out where I had left off. The book was familiar so it was easy, relaxing even, to read it and talk. "See how it is flying in alternate weekends for a couple months. As it is you're pretty much a ghost to the kids during the week..." I closed my eyes and bit down on the rest of what I wanted to say about that. I put the book down and looked at Jess. "Doing it this way you'll get twelve days to work as late as you want and then spend two days with the kids, free and clear. Actually, I bet you'd end up spending more time with them than you do now."

The look she turned on me made me sick. An attempt at affection, so poorly acted even a soap opera character wouldn't believe it. "Peter, it's not like I like being away this much..."

I opened my mouth to say something but the image of her making out in the guy's car choked me.

Since crocodile-affection had failed, Jessica put on her diplomat's face, the one she used when talking to journalists or to our kids -- that polite, happy condescending smile. "We've talked about my spending less hours at the lab. Didn't we agree this was just a temporary thing and we could get put up with it for a little while?"

I nodded. "You're absolutely right. And now the agreement's off. If you're unhappy about that why don't you see if you can get a judge to enforce it."

Jessica looked so logical, so rational. Hell, even I was acting like this was a contract negotiation and not a marriage. God, I wanted to scream at her. Whore. You fucking whore. This whole time we've been talking about her seeing the children and not once has she said a thing about missing me or loving me.

Jessica shook her head. "You can't just uproot my life like this..." What ever emotion she was working herself up to drained out of her and she stared at me in confusion.

I was glaring at her. Even now this was all about her. As much as she fucking cared, she could have been talking to a door that told her it and the hinges were moving to another house.

"Let's just bottom line this," I said speaking slowly and firmly. "Unless you want to hire nannies or farm them out to boarding schools, there's no way for you take the kids. Either way though I'm moving to St. Paul. So decide what you want to do."

It would have been nice to have gotten a reaction out of her, but I really hadn't expected one.

"I don't think I'm going to be able to get any reading done in here, so I'll just read in the den for a little while." Sadly, I was still looking at her face, hoping for one look of genuine concern. "By the way, I think your mother's been trying to call you on your cell phone."

I fell asleep on the couch. Though I woke up at 6 AM, Jessie had already left for work. Actually looking at our unruffled bed, it was more likely that she had never slept there to begin with. With three kids to get to school there wasn't time to spend a lot of time thinking about that.

Tate didn't make it into his office until late, well 10 AM his time, but it was 11 AM for me. I wanted to get started on everything, but until Tate officially told me that I had a job, there was no way I was going to disrupt my kids lives. After that I started to check out movers. My cell phone rang off and on all morning, but it wasn't like I had any desire to talk to Barbara.

When my mother-in-law showed up at my door, there was no avoiding her.

"It's not right for you or the kids..." Barb choked out white faced.

"Could we talk about this another time? This is pretty far down the list of things to worry about."

"I don't mean last night." She reached out her hand, but didn't lay it on my arm when she saw me glaring at her. "I meant this morning."

"What the hell?"

"I told her that I wouldn't help take care of the kids and if I had to go in front of a court I would tell the truth."

"Why would I..."

"Jessica went to the bank as soon as it opened."

After that I stopped hearing. Before this it had seemed like a nightmare, but it had been lucid, like I had some control. From that point on it was an avalanche. The kids went berserk at the news almost as unhappy about the divorce as the idea that they were headed to St. Paul. Jenna even left to stay with her mom at Barb's house. Traci just seemed to scream at me. Tommy, well, Tommy was just withdrawn and depressed. This was before I had to leave for St. Paul to start my new job.

Forget taking the kids, my wife had her lawyer bar me from doing that until custody had been determined and of course she dragged that out for months. But while the divorce proceedings were merely interminable, the custody hearing was a long, drawn-out blood letting.

Maybe I should have stayed in Virginia until the custody was worked out. Looking back on it, of course I should have, but back then it seemed that my getting custody would be a no-brainer. Also every interaction I had with Jessica, Barbara or the kids became an armed encounter. Maybe I should have told them about Jessica's cheating. I don't know. It was like Jenna, Traci and Tommy had become different people. They hated the divorce and they hated St. Paul and they hated the idea of losing all their friends.

Oh yeah and they hated me.

Hating me, it became easier to love their mom. I understood Tommy being fooled, but I was sad that Jenna and Traci had bought into the role their mother was playing. Still in a way I understood. After all my love was common, but even a morsel of affection from Jessica was precious.

Pleading with Tate for more time, I put off the move to St. Paul for another month and a half being able to take care of some work by telecommuting. But six weeks in the job was going to disappear and by then I had just been beaten down. My children and mother-in-law hated me -- though for now, all Barb kept talking about was my over-reacting -- and my wife told me I was mistaken about her cheating on me or that in any case I couldn't prove it.

I had been worn down. Staying in the house was an endurance contest. But it wasn't a fair fight. Every day my kids begged me to stay, pleaded with me not to do this. Breaking down I started to tell Jenna about what her mother had done, but she refused to listen. It only made her angrier at me. That was when she swore she would never talk to me again.

Saying I was broken down is just an excuse. Leaving was an act of cowardice. I know that, but it was hard to realize that at the time.

In St. Paul my sister Billie took me in. Suddenly I went from being the evil father to the loving uncle to John and Allie. It's hard to go back to a place where you're hated when you're suddenly surrounded by people who love you.

Having left, the kids had dug in. They swore they wouldn't talk to me until I agreed to come home for good. By the time we saw a judge in the formal custody hearing, it was a case of abandonment. I was an absent, hated parent and my wife, at least on paper, was a full-time, devoted mommy. I wanted to scream when the president of my wife's university made a declaration to the court that Jessica had changed her schedule and now was only working 20 hours in the lab.

Jenna broke her vow not to talk to me. Well, kind of. She was sworn in and testified that she desperately wanted to stay with her mom. When, after swearing on a bible to tell the truth, Barbara stood before the judge extolling her daughter's virtues, it was like the world had turned inside out.

But even my being an unloving, absentee father was not enough., so Jessica's lawyer submitted records to the court proving my mental instability.

It was a load of shit, but there it stood before the judge. And caught flat footed there was nothing to do, but try to explain it in my testimony.

While I was in college my father had a massive heart attack during a screaming match over the Christmas holidays. Jessica and my friends made me go to the school's counseling services... and somewhere there had been an admitting form that some physician-crat had made some note that said "... history of depression and suicidal thoughts?" As if being sad when my mother died or saying that as a six year old I had felt so sad then I just wanted to lay down and die was an attempt at suicide.

But the judge didn't even look like he was listening to my explanation. The fact that someone somewhere had written down "history of depression and suicidal" was enough for him.

Jessica's lawyer asked for a ten minute recess just before the judge was going to make his custody ruling. God, it was like being in a small town and everyone in the court knowing which way things were going to go before the first word had been said. The fix had been in from the start and now being ushered into an armpit of a meeting room everything was coming to a close.

Before going in I had to walk by my children. Jessica glared at me while Traci and Tommy looked desperately unhappy.

It took a moment for us to get settled once we got in the room. After turning for a second nod at my counsel, Jessica's lawyer, a petite florid little man in an Italian suit, smiled. "I think we all know which way the judge is going to rule, don't we?"

What was I feeling? Legal and social claustrophobia. Only my sister and her family supported me now, but they were far away from me now. Even my lawyer seemed unsympathetic, perhaps hoping for a joint agreement between the parties to avoid the record of a humiliating defeat.

I looked at Jessica's lawyer. "No, question you've done a masterful job. If I were the judge, even I would rule against my getting custody."

The florid man's smile became icy. "You wish it was just full custody. We're going to ask the judge to bar any visitation or if there has to be to make it limited and supervised."

I looked at my lawyer and found her avoiding my gaze.

"If you agree to return to the home and the marriage resumes we'll settle for primary custody. Assuming you act in good faith this whole matter is moot in any case."

There it was. All or nothing. My wife had turned our children into tools to bring me back into the fold and protect the precious order in her life.

I leaned over and whispered into my lawyer's ear. "It's a tough decision, wouldn't you say..."

The woman just nodded, but her expression transformed as I continued.

"Tough to figure out whether you are incompetent or if you were bought off."

Maybe it was melodramatic, but my anger had to go somewhere and my lawyer, whether intentionally or not, had offered me up as a sacrificial lamb.

Seeing that I was coming to a decision, Jessica looked over at me and gave me what passed for her as a genuine smile. "This would be the best for everybody, Peter. Just come home and everything is forgiven."

I nodded. "Jessie, you are nothing if not consistent." I smiled at Jessica and her legal shark and got up and motioned for my lawyer to follow me. "Okay, bring on the executioner."

Despite my words, I still clung on to hope.

It's nice to believe in fairytales, but in real life there are no magic pumpkins or itinerant fairies. The truth is Cinderella would have died a spinster after being worked to death in one of her stepsisters' homes.

The judge gave Jessica a polite smile as she entered the court and gazed fiercely at me. He had it easy. Add mentally unstable and a possible danger to self and others to the laundry list of my supposed shortcomings as a father and it was all over. As I found out later, even in a fair fight I wouldn't have had much of a chance in the hands of this 73-year-old southern gentleman who believed a father should get custody only if the mother was in a persistent vegetative state.

As the judge put it, my wife got "Full and Total Custody." Though after considering for a second and expressing serious reservations, he allowed me limited supervised visitation at my wife's convenience.

It's been four months since the custody hearing and I'm at the airport headed for a taxi to take me to my first supervised visitation. To start I have two hours to spend with my kids. Two hours and I don't know if Jenna will be there or if Traci and Tommy will speak to me.

I've got myself up for this. Maybe it seems like nothing to people who can see or speak to their children anytime they want, but two hours with my kids are gold. Afterward I'll go back to my motel and do some work before getting up early tomorrow and taking a morning flight back to St. Paul.

This is my life and, no matter how you see it, it really isn't so terrible. The avalanche is over. As bad as it was, I'm digging out. Step one is to see my kids again and do everything I can for them to get over the divorce. Step two is to get the court to give me unsupervised visitation. Step three is to get a new custody hearing.

Today is the start of step one.

More than hope, I have patience on my side. There's only so long that Jessie can pretend to be the devoted, loving mother. And I'll be ready for that mentally unstable bullshit in the next hearing. Most importantly of all -- unless God truly hates me -- the next family court judge won't be a relic of the Confederacy. Well, at least I won't get that one; he died about two weeks ago, my guess choking to death on the ice in his mint julep.

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