Brothers Are Forever
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2009 by WaywardOne

Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Pete and his Mexican wife Maria opened their home to Pete's brother Joe when Joe's marriage broke up. None of them had any idea what the effects of that simple gesture would be, though it didn't take either Joe or his sister-in-law long to discover they were playing with fire. Curiously, a blah marriage also caught fire in what ensued.

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Mult   Consensual   Heterosexual   Cheating   InLaws   Group Sex   Pregnancy   Slow  

"Of course you can, Joe. You're my brother. You're always welcome here."

"I know, but I feel guilty about dropping in on you this way. It's just that Jenny is driving me up a wall. I've taken all of her bitching I can take."

Pete shook his head. "I don't know how you stood it as long as you did. The whole family's been saying that woman is bad news. You've got to get rid of her, Joe, once and for all."

"Yeah, well I told her I wasn't coming back, not that she believed me."

"Why, do you want to go back to her?"

"Shit, no. I hate her."

"So why didn't you leave her a long time ago?"

"I don't know, Pete. Maybe just because we stood up in church together and told the world we'd be together forever, for better or worse."

"But it wasn't the first time she stood up in church and said that," Pete pointed out, "and now maybe you can guess what happened to her other husband."

"Uh, she always told me he beat her, and that she finally left him because of it. I really did believe her, and I think maybe I still do, 'cause I know for sure she's the one that started the divorce proceedings."

"Maybe, but did you ever get so mad at her that you felt like hitting her?"

"God, yes! Lots of times, but I never did."

"So you're a better man than he was. If he did hit her, I'll bet we both know why, now."

"I don't know, Pete. Does that make me better, or just weaker? Let's face it, you and I were both brought up not to be demanding, to go the second mile. Well, right now I've taken about all the shit I can take. I think it's time I starting thinking about me; time I started getting what I want."

"Hey, bro, you deserve it after what you've been through."

"How the hell did you get all the luck, Pete? I married for what I thought was love, and ended up with a she-devil. Then you let the folks talk you into an arranged marriage, and wound up with an angel."

"Yeah, well, you know perfectly well that Mamá and Papá still stick with their old pueblo ways, including setting up marriages the way it was when they grew up in Tehueco. And then our cousins down there kept telling them how wonderful Maria was and how she deserved the chance to come to the States.

"So, maybe I'm the weak one, but Mamá kept at me about it, Pedro this and Pedro that, and how it was the least I could do to help Maria." Pete shrugged, "I finally gave in.

"But it hasn't all been perfect, Joe. At first she was scared shitless. You saw how shy she was. What you couldn't see though, at least not the way I did, was how bewildered she was. Hell, she didn't know how to do anything."

Joe laughed. "Not even sex?"

"Not even sex," Pete agreed. "Not that I knew a hell of a lot more than she did. Can you believe it? She was only my second one."

"Well," Joe drawled, poking him in the ribs, "you must have figured it out, seeing as how you have two kids."

Pete blushed. "Yeah, I guess we did," he mumbled. "But look, let's go inside and tell her what's happening. We're going to have to clean up the spare bedroom a bit, and then you'll have things to move in."

"Wrong, Pete. We're going to go in and see if she asks me to stay for a few days. You're going to keep your mouth shut, and you're definitely not going to tell her you already invited me."

Maria's face lit up when she saw Joe. "José, I did not know you were coming over. Can you stay for dinner?"

"Thanks, I'd love to. I, uh, kind of got kicked out at home, and I'd probably end up buying a burger, otherwise." He gave her a quick hug and a grin. "I know for a fact your food will be ten times as good as that, no matter what you're fixing."

She pushed him away and gave him a playful slap on the arm. "Now, stop that, Joe. You just say that so you can ask for more."

Then her face fell. "But, kicked out? What do you mean? Is that woman not going to let you come home tonight?"

Maria knew Jenny's name, of course, but the whole family tended to refer to her as "that woman" when they weren't using even more disparaging terms.

Joe shook his head sadly. "No, Maria, I'm afraid she isn't. And I don't think I'd want to go even if she would let me."

"Well, then, you stay here, and don't try to argue. Pedro, go start to clean out the other room. Go, go, go. I have to finish dinner, and I want to talk to Joe."

Pete nodded, and gave Joe a wink as he started down the hall.

Maria looked Joe straight in the eye. "I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I do not like that woman. I say you should leave her and not go back."

Joe took a step closer while not breaking their eye connection. "Yes, Maria, I agree. I'm sure I can find someone much better than her. Someone more like you."

Maria blushed and looked down. "I hope you can," she said. Then she looked up again, all business. "But until you do, you must stay with us. Mi casa, su casa. How would you say it in English? This is now your home."

"Oh, Maria, I can't thank you enough. You're so good to me. You're so good to, and for, all of us - Mamá and Papá, my brothers and sisters, all of us. But now, can I help you fix dinner?"

She laughed. "No, you would just bother me ... I mean, you would just be a bother. English is so hard. I will never get it right."

"You're doing a great job, Maria. Really. I can't believe how much you've learned in less than four years. But I promise not to bother you, at least not right now." Then with a sly grin he added, "Of course, if things were different I wouldn't mind making you feel hot and bothered."

Maria frowned. "I don't understand that."

"That's good, because I shouldn't have said it."

"No, José, please explain. I want to understand. I need to learn."

"Look, Maria, you are a beautiful woman, and I am a lonely man right now, and I was sort of teasing you. But I shouldn't do that, because you're my brother's wife."

"So, it was a thing you might say to a girlfriend? And the 'hot' part might mean like wanting to go to bed together?"

He nodded.

"And the 'bothered' might mean like thinking it might not happen even if I wanted it to?"

Joe sighed. "You are altogether too smart for your own good, young lady."

"Well," she said, blushing and looking away, "now I will say something I should not say, but if I was not your brother's wife I might like to feel hot and bothered by you." Then she rushed out to the kitchen.

'Damn, I wish she wasn't married, ' Joe thought as he went to look for Pete. He found him in the spare bedroom, of course.

"Anything I can do to help?"

"Sure, Joe, see that box on the bed? It needs to go down to the garage. There's a place in the corner where we've got a couple of other boxes. You'll see them."

"Got it. But can I ask you a question, even though I probably shouldn't?"

Pete laughed. "Ask me anything, but I won't promise to answer."

"Yeah, well, outside you said something about your marriage not being perfect. Hell, I know marriages are never perfect, but you and Maria aren't having serious problems, are you?"

Pete stopped what he was doing and slumped onto the bed. "Naw, not serious ones, at least I don't think so. It's just that ... I don't know, I guess I thought we'd fall in love over time, but..."

"Do the two of you fight?"

Pete shook his head. "No, but we never do much of anything else together, either. I guess it's sort of like if we were roommates."

"She doesn't ever come up and put her arms around you and kiss you?"

He shook his head again.

"What about you? Do you ever sneak up behind her and give her a squeeze?"

"I tried it a few times, in the beginning, but she just said 'Pedro' in a shocked voice and pried my hands away."

Joe scratched his head. "So where did those babies come from?"

"Yeah, well, we do sleep in the same bed. And when it's dark at night, and I'm feeling horny, I'll whisper that I want to do it. And she'll kind of sigh and say OK. Then she'll pull up her nightgown and take off her panties and spread her legs for me."

"And you mean you fuck her, just like that?" Joe was incredulous. "You don't even do anything to get her going first?"

Pete shrugged. "If I try to kiss her, or something, she'll just move away, and ask are we going to do it or not. It's obvious she just wants to get it over with as soon as possible."

Joe couldn't believe his ears, and he sure as hell didn't know what to say, so he came out with, "Oh, man," then grabbed the box and took it down to the garage.

The garage door opened off the kitchen, and when he came back in he saw Maria there at the stove, with her back to him. He stopped in the doorway for a moment to admire, and ponder. Then on an impulse he stepped up very quietly, close behind her, and whispered in her ear, "Smells good."

She jumped. "Madre de Dios! You frightened me, Joe."

"Sorry, I didn't mean to," he lied, while letting his hands touch her waist ever so lightly, just a breath of a touch.

"No es nada," she whispered, backing almost imperceptibly against him.

"Now, get out of here, before I am hot and bothered."

"Yes ma'm," he grinned, giving her waist a little squeeze just before walking away.

Joe didn't go back to the bedroom. Instead he sat down in the living room to think this out. Pete believes his wife is a cold fish. But that woman in the kitchen is something else; more like something as steaming hot as the food she is cooking out there. Yeah, she's a pressure cooker with a clogged vent on a hot fire, and the pressure is building. 'Oh, God, ' Joe thought, 'would I love to be there when the pressure blows.'

What a sorry excuse for a husband his brother is. He has no clue what he's got; no idea of how to use it. And what about Maria? The poor woman deserves to feel what a real man could do to her. 'I could be that man, ' Joe thought, 'I could give her what she needs. What I need. What we both need together.' The decision was made before Maria called the family in for dinner.

'Oh damn, ' he thought as he sat there eating, his hard-on hidden under the table. 'This is going to be so fucking good. And it won't take long before she blows. Oh, fuck, Maria, I'm going to blow you wide open. You're gonna be mine, baby. You're gonna beg me for it. You'll do anything in the world just to get my cock in your cunt, just to get it there again, and again, and again.'

That night in bed he jacked off three times.

What a setup he had! Hot wife and clueless husband had both invited him to stay as long as he wanted. Hot wife was a stay-at-home mom with two small kids; kids too young to know what sex was, or to think it strange if Mommy and Uncle Joe spent time in the bedroom together. Clueless husband had a day job, 8 to 5, Monday to Friday, and he took the bus to work, so he was out of the house from seven in the morning to six at night, with no chance of coming home for lunch. Horny brother worked a rotating schedule at a grocery store; sometimes home before three in the afternoon, sometimes not leaving for work until after lunch; and usually at least one day off in the middle of the week. Oh, fuck, yes, what a setup he had!

It didn't get off to a very good start, though. He was working the early shift for a few days. Between scheming and sexual fantasies, excited thoughts and trips to the bathroom to clean up his messes, 4 AM rolled around far too early, and he had to be at work by five. On top of that, Monday was one of those days at the store, and by the time he got home at 3 PM he had no thoughts of anything except flopping on his bed. Pete had to wake him for dinner.

Monday night was pretty much a repeat of the night before: too keyed up to sleep, several cleanup trips to the bathroom, and an alarm that went off at 4 AM. At least Tuesday wasn't quite as crazy at the store as Monday, but God, was he ever looking forward to two days off. Those two days were coming on Wednesday and Thursday, and Joe decided he was going to make the most of them. No point in trying to hit Maria up this afternoon when he was tired and not thinking very well. He'd wait 'til he had two whole days with her.

Once more he headed to his room almost as soon as he got home, but not to sleep this time. No, he was fantasizing about that hot juicy cunt not fifty feet away on the other side of his closed door, and it was a good thing he had snuck that towel and wet washcloth out of the bathroom before he came to bed. The washcloth needed a lot of work to look presentable again before he joined Pete, Maria, and the kids for dinner.

That night he willed himself not to jack off at all. He'd save it all for Maria! Oh, fuck, this was going to be hot.

Joe was awake at 6 AM, but forced himself to stay in bed until after Pete left. Then he pulled on a pair of pants and ambled out to the kitchen, naked to the waist. 'Let's see what she thinks of my pecs, ' he thought.

She was there in the kitchen, working at the sink with her back to the door. He stopped in the doorway and watched her, not that he could see much with the bathrobe she was wearing. Then with a hand on the door sill he came out with a sultry, "Good Morning."

"Oh!" She whirled. "Joe! I, I thought you were at work."

"No," he grinned, "this is my weekend. I've got today and tomorrow off."

"Oh, dear." She looked down at herself. "I am not dressed. Oh, what am I going to do? I should be getting you breakfast, but you must not see me like this. What would Pete think?"

"You look perfectly decent to me." He intentionally let her watch his gaze travel slowly down her chest and belly and on down until it reached to bottom of her robe below her knees. "I can't see a thing I shouldn't see."

"Joe! Stop that! You are very naughty."

"No, I'm not being naughty. Just checking to see that you are decent. Besides, what about you? How come you're checking out my bare chest?"

"Ohh!" She covered her face with both hands to hide the bright flush. "I was not looking, not really."

"Oh, I saw where your eyes were looking, all right. By the way, I should probably tell you that when you pulled your hands up to your face like that, it spread the bottom of your robe, and I could see part of your thigh."

"Nooo!" she shrieked, and dashed past him, pushing him out of the doorway so she could run to her bedroom and slam her door.

It was only an instant, and he wasn't sure, but he thought he caught a flash of a naked boob as she pushed him. It was enough to drive him back to his bedroom, to a lust that could no longer be denied. God, but that cum was good.

When he came down from that one, he realized he was still hard, and started jacking himself lazily again. 'I wonder what she's doing right now, ' he thought. 'Maybe she's lying in bed with her knees in the air, spread wide so the split in her robe has exposed her panties. Could be she's rubbing her pussy through those panties. What if the robe has come untied, and her tits are exposed, with rock-hard nipples that are sticking out half an inch. I'll bet she's rubbing and pinching a nipple with her other hand. Now rubbing her panties isn't enough, and she shoves her hand down inside them. Oh, she's juicing like crazy, I just know she is, and humping up wildly against her finger. She needs my cock in there. I know it and she knows it, and she's about to cum. Yes! I can hear her starting to wail. Oh ... fuck ... yes!

When Joe finally calmed down he got a shock. The wailing was even louder than it had been. My god! Was she still cumming? No, wait. He suddenly felt very foolish. That wasn't Maria wailing, that was little Tina crying. And now he could hear Maria comforting her. The whole fucking thing was just his fantasy.

Joe got quite an education that day on what it means to be a mother; at least a mother of two preschool kids. There was never a dull minute, and that meant never a minute that he could work his wiles on her. Finally, at two o'clock, she had both of the little ones down for a nap.

"Finally," he said, somewhat sympathetically, "you get a break. Maybe we could sit down and talk a bit."

She shook her head. "Your brothers joke that I do not have a job. Maybe now you see I do have. Pete tells he gets a break two times in a day. This is the only break for me, and I need it so much. I nap when they nap."

With that she disappeared into her room.

Joe felt his entire scheme crumbling around him. In his frustration he stomped out of the house, slamming the door behind him, and took off in his car, gunning it down the street. "Damn it, I need to get laid," he screamed out loud, but there was no one to hear him. He started cruising the bad part of town, but came to his senses before he actually stopped to pick up any of the floozies he saw there. Instead, he got drunk, and didn't get back to Pete and Maria's place until well after midnight. Thank God Pete had given him a key.

Joe woke up at nine o'clock with a headache and a horrible taste in his mouth. 'Well, ' he thought wryly as he looked at the bedside clock, 'I guess I don't have to wait for my idiot brother to leave this time. Not, ' he corrected himself, 'that it makes a shitload of difference, given Maria's schedule.' By the time he had pried himself out of bed, showered, shaved, brushed his teeth twice, and dressed, it was nearly ten, and he still had a headache.

When he got out to the living room, Maria looked up from changing Tina's diaper with a frown on her face. "José, we worried about you yesterday. Where did you go?"

"Sorry," he mumbled, "I just needed to let off some steam. I know I should have said something before I left, but you were taking a nap."

"It's OK, but maybe next time you can call so we don't worry so much," she suggested.

"Yeah, I should have done that. I'm sorry,"

"No es nada. Now go get something to eat. I left a plate on the table, but now it should go in the microwave to get hot again."

"Thanks, Maria. You're too good to me. I don't deserve it."

"That's silly. You are now my brother."

'Ouch!' he thought as he went out to the kitchen. 'What the fuck am I thinking about doing?'

He spent the rest of the morning watching her, still frustrated that he couldn't get what he wanted so much but, to his surprise, starting to feel something else, too. Maria was no longer just a cunt that he was dying to have. She was a hardworking woman who loved her children, and was making them her whole life. The passionate love she deserved was missing, but she was trying to fill the void it left with feelings for her two little ones. He felt an ache for her void, and knew his reaction must be only a dim echo of what she felt, day after day after day, every day the same.

That afternoon he went out for a walk while the three of them were napping, and when he came back he had made a decision.

He wasn't at all sure what he could do with a baby, but maybe at least he could help keep little Petey occupied. The boy was an Energizer Bunny that never ran down, and Joe had little experience with children, but he tried. They played cars, which Petey insisted on crashing, again and again. They went out and "played ball", which was frustrating for both of them, because Petey threw wildly, and couldn't seem to catch anything. But despite his repeated failures, the boy kept saying, "Again, Tio," and kept trying.

When Joe and Petey came back into the house, Maria ran up to him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and pressed her cheek against his.

"Thank you, thank you! It is so wonderful not to have to think about Petey every minute. You can't imagine how much more easy it is for me. Look, I already am starting to fix dinner."

Joe grinned to himself. Oh, yes, his plan was working. Unfortunately he had to go back to the store tomorrow, on the late shift, but just for four days. After that he would have two days off again, and he was determined to see how much "more easy" he could make it for Maria. When nap time came on those two days, she was going to be rested, relaxed, overflowing with gratitude, and - oh yes - quite available.

Friday morning he took Petey to a nearby park and spent two hours helping him swing, go down the slide, and round and round on a little merry-go-round. He tried a seesaw, but that was way too tame for the little bundle of energy. When they got back in time for lunch Maria came running up to Joe with her arms spread wide. She grabbed him in a bear hug, smashing her boobs against his chest, then reaching up on tiptoe to give him a long wet kiss on his cheek.

"Muchísimas gracias! It's so wonderful to have you helping."

"De nada," he grinned, and gave her a kiss back that matched hers in both length and intensity. She clung to him the whole time, and he was very tempted to nibble his way around to her mouth, but he figured he shouldn't push her too fast. Besides, the plan said Tuesday, when he would have the whole day.

Joe let Pete handle his own son on the weekend, but Monday morning he was up as soon as Pete was out of the house. Bingo! he caught Maria in her bathrobe again.

"Hey, there, luscious!"

She tensed, but didn't even turn. "Joe, you are up early. I ... I ... was not expecting you. Do you not have to work today?"

"Sure do, but I don't have to leave until after lunch, just like the last three days." He walked over to her as he added, "But you already knew that, didn't you? I don't think you're as surprised as you're trying to make out."

He came up behind her and put his hands on her waist. She moaned, "Joe, this is not right. I am not dressed, and Pedro is not here."

"Right, Pete isn't here, so you needn't worry about what he thinks. Let's just talk about what I think, and what you think." He leaned in very close to her ear and whispered, "I think I like touching you. What do you think?"

"No, Joe, don't do this. We must not."

Pulling her back against him, Joe said, "Hmmm, maybe I used the wrong words. It isn't so much what I think; it's what I feel. I feel like touching you. Don't you feel like being touched?"

"Yes ... no ... It doesn't matter what I feel like. It's not right."

"Of course it matters what you feel like. It matters very much. You held me tight Last Friday, and it felt wonderful, didn't it? You feel like holding me again now, just like I feel. I'm sure of it. It's OK, so long as we don't let it go too far."

"Ohhh, are you sure?"

"I'm sure. I've never been more sure of anything in my entire life."

"Oh, Joe!" She turned to face him. "Oh, yes!" She wrapped her arms around his chest.

He tipped her chin up so he could stare directly down into her eyes. He saw uncertainty there, but also desire. "Just a little kiss, Maria, not a long one."

"No," she shook her head, "most definitely not a long one."

That's all she had a chance to say as he bent down so his mouth met hers. Then neither of them could say anything more lucid than a moan.

"I'm sorry," Joe said when he pulled away a bit later. "I'm afraid that was longer than it should have been."

"Oh, I not care. I not care." She still clung to him and rested her cheek on his chest as she added passionately, "It was wonderful."

"Yes, it was."

"Joe," she asked after a bit, "what do you have on? It is so soft."

"My pajamas. I didn't think I should come down with a naked chest this morning, the way I did last week. I'm afraid I shocked you a bit that morning."

"No, it not was you that shocked me that time, it was me. I did not think I should let you see me when I was not dressed."

"Of course, I should have realized. But now we're talking about feelings, not thoughts, right?"


"Does it feel wrong that you should be here holding me when you aren't fully dressed? Do you feel scared, or shocked, or panicked right now?"

"No, not scared; not shocked. It feels good to hold you like this."

"But I suppose that's because you have your bathrobe on. I'm sure you wouldn't feel comfortable holding me right now if we took your bathrobe off, would you?"

"Oh, my, no. I could not. That would be ... oh ... oh ... oh."

"No, of course not, because you probably don't have much on under it, do you?"

"No, I only ... I mean ... oh dear ... only ... only ... only one tiny thing, that not even covers me. I mean, it sort of covers a little bit below my waist, but not above, so you see..."

"Please, Maria, we must stop talking about that. It's giving me feelings I shouldn't have. I hope you understand. I can't ... there's no way I can control it. And now I'm so embarrassed I have to go. I have to go right now. Please don't look down when you let me go. You have to promise."

"Yes, yes, I won't look. I'll let you go, now. Go, go, go."

Actually, she did look. It was only a glance, but Joe saw it, and it made the obscene tent in his pajama bottoms jump. Oh, yes, she was his, and tomorrow was the day.

Meanwhile, he had some urgent business to attend to in his room. Twice, it turned out, before he could get things under control.

When Joe came out a bit later Maria was dressed, but much more prettily than he had seen her before. She was wearing a white silk blouse, thin enough that he could tell for sure she had a white bra under it. Her pleated skirt had a sort of Scottish Tartan pattern, and was cut well above her knees. Her legs were bare, from the sandals she wore up to ... what? He would have bet on white panties, and he might have been able to settle that bet if she would only twirl that pleated skirt of hers. It was a good thing he was wearing heavy jeans, because they made it easier for him to hid his third hard-on of the morning.

He and Petey "raced" up and down the front sidewalk that morning; race after race after race. That helped him control the sexual tension, though the hard-on never completely went away, and it surged again every time he thought of Maria, which was every time they stopped running. At least he finally wore Petey out, who was eventually satisfied to be pulled in his wagon.

"Go faster, Tio!" he kept saying, and that helped, too.

Maria looked up from playing with Tina when they came in. She got slowly to her feet, eyes locked on Joe, and walked tentatively toward him. They met with a groan from each, clutched their bodies together, and then the kiss started. They both lost track of time, until Petey finally interrupted with a plaintive, "Mommy, I'm hungry."

She pulled her face away just far enough to say, "Yes, baby, just a minute," then her mouth lunged against his again.

Joe broke the kiss, saying, "We have to stop, honey."

"Yes, I know," she acknowledged, but still she clung to him.

"Oh, Joe, what am I feeling," she asked, rubbing her crotch back and forth against his.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. I can't help it."

"It feels ... wonderful!" Now her pelvis was humping against his.

"Well, we can't do anything about it. We have to feed two hungry kids, and then I have to get to work." He gave her another quick kiss, and pulled away.

Tuesday Joe woke from dreams about Maria; woke with a hard-on that would not go down. He also woke much too early, and had to wait what seemed forever for Pete to leave.

He had planned to go greet Maria in pajamas again, but that would be too much, with a tent sticking out six inches in front of him. So he settled for the jeans instead. Remembering what she had said, he strode out naked to the waist. Maybe, just maybe, she would have taken his hint from yesterday, and left the robe off this morning. Oh, he knew she wouldn't be in her panties, but he was hoping for a nightgown.

No such luck. She was wearing a rather plain tan dress that came down below her knees. She turned when he came into the room, but her eyes darted about, avoiding his. The dress, he noted, had a curved neckline in front that showed very little skin. And it had sleeves that came down to her elbows. What the hell? This was a granny dress. What happened to the luscious doll he saw yesterday?

Sadly, at least from Joe's perspective, the dress was an accurate barometer of the climate inside Maria's house that day. He did try to tease her, and when she ignored him he found things to do with Petey, but all he got when they came in for lunch that noon was a quick peck on the cheek.

'Damn, ' he thought, 'I must have pushed her too far yesterday.' But the more he thought about it, the less sense that made. He hadn't pushed her yesterday, not really. If anything, she had pushed him. So it had to be guilt. 'Yeah, that's got to be it. She was all hot for me, really hot, but after I left, she cooled down and her conscience got to her. Shit! I should have called in sick. Instead, I let the moment slip away.'

Joe was so bummed that after lunch he made some excuse about having to run an errand. He spent the afternoon just driving around, but he did have the wits to call Maria about four o'clock and tell her not to cook dinner, because it was his treat; he'd bring something home for all of them.

Wednesday was pretty much a repeat of Tuesday, except that Maria was wearing jeans and an old sweat shirt instead of her granny dress. Oh, and one other difference: Joe forced himself to stick around all day and help with Petey. But she still couldn't look Joe in the eye, and squirmed away if he made any attempt to touch her.

Thursday morning Joe had to start a 'week' of four early days, and his reaction was relief. He had to laugh at himself, though. No way on earth would he have expected three days ago that he would be relieved to go back to work. Women! They're impossible to understand.

Before he had gone to bed the night before he had told Pete and Maria that he was planning to go see Mamá and Papá after work, so they shouldn't plan on him being there for dinner. It was just an excuse, but he convinced himself that he really should talk to them about what had happened to his marriage.

Friday afternoon he was out of excuses, but he did stall after work by loading up on groceries for the household before he left the store. That still meant he got home two hours before Pete, but the void was filled when Petey came running to him, screaming, "Tio Joe! Tio Joe! Let's go play!" Maria at least flashed him a smile when he laughed and told the boy that of course they could.

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