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Authors: Bertrice Small

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Women's Fiction, #Friendship, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Erotica

Private Pleasures (3 page)

BOOK: Private Pleasures
9.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

The sex between them, at first red-hot, had quickly cooled. Not because Nora wanted it to, but because she wasn't allowed to really participate in a shared passion. The novelty wore off, and he seemed less interested. Looking back, it seemed to her as if his only interest in her sexually had been her virginity, and ability to give him children. Then five years ago sex between them had stopped entirely. She even remembered the date. It had been September 5, Labor Day weekend. Jeff had been drunk. He had called her Lanie. Oh, yes. The date was etched firmly in her mind.
Whenever her friends talked about their husbands' ardor, and the fact they weren't getting as much as they once had, Nora was silent. She knew they all assumed it was because she was reticent in discussing sex, but of course that wasn't it at all. If they had known about her situation, they would have pitied her. Nora didn't think she could stand being pitied because her husband no longer found her lustworthy. So she kept her mouth shut, and went on with her life as if everything were fine and dandy, but of course it wasn't. And now it appeared as if her husband was going to dump her like rubbish for another woman. A younger woman. There was no hiding from that.
"I'll bet they're having great sex," she grumbled to herself. She wondered what the other woman looked like. Probably blond. How old was she? Probably in her late twenties or early thirties, which was a good twenty or more years younger than Jeff. Women in their early thirties were really in their prime sexually. At least the kids were grown, or almost grown. There wouldn't be any nonsense about custody or visitation. Nora wondered how much they knew or suspected about Jeff's peccadilloes. Neither Jill nor J. J. had ever been close with their father. He had never been home enough to allow it, but she was very close with both of them.
Her thoughts led her right back to her problem. What was she going to do about it? Rina was right. Nora Buckley was helpless, and she didn't like the reality of that knowledge at all. What was the matter with her that she hadn't gotten a little bank account just for herself? Something for a rainy day. Jeff had never been really cheap with her, and she could have siphoned off some of her household moneys every month. He would have been none the wiser as long as it had been just a little at a time. But no. Nora Buckley had been too busy trying to please her husband to consider herself. What a fool she had been!
The phone rang, startling her. She picked it up.
"Hey, Ma!" J. J.'s voice came over the wire. "Lily's mom has invited me to stay overnight. She and Mr. Graham invited a friend to dinner. The guy's a bigwig at State. They wanted me to meet him. I told 'em it would be alright with you, right?"
"Why can't you come home afterwards?" Nora heard herself asking.
"Maaa!" J. J. sounded exasperated. "You'll make me look like a real dork if I have a curfew. What if this guy from State and I are in an important conversation? The clock strikes ten, and I have to get up, saying, 'I'm sorry, Mr. Blank, but my mommy wants me home.' Do you want me to look like a jerk?"
"No, of course not. What about clothing for tomorrow?" Nora asked her son.
"I'll jet over after school, grab some, and my toothbrush too. Okay?" He sounded anxious and so excited.
"Okay." Nora gave in gracefully. What other choice did she have?
"Great, Ma! See ya!" The phone went dead.
Nora set it down, but then as an afterthought picked up the phone again, dialing the Graham residence. Maris Graham answered. "Maris, Nora Buckley. J. J. just called. This isn't going to be a problem for you, is it? He can always come home."
"No, no," Maris Graham replied. "He can sleep in Peter's room. There are bunk beds there. Michael Collier is the director of admissions at State. I know J. J.'s gotten in without any difficulty, but I thought if Mike met J. J., he'd like him," she laughed. "What isn't to like? But I thought it might help J. J. get a better on-campus job, and maybe a bump in his scholarship money. I wish they could have met earlier, but Mike only gets down to see us once a year. He and John were at Princeton together."
"Well, fine, then," Nora replied. "And Maris, thanks so very much. You have been very kind to J. J., and we appreciate it."
"No problem. He's a good kid," came the response.
Nora had no sooner hung up the phone again when it rang once more. Her husband's voice came over the line.
"Don't you ever do anything but yak on the phone?" Jeff greeted her. "I've been trying to get you for hours."
Nora sighed. "Don't prevaricate, Jeff. I've been over at Rina's this morning. There were no messages." She pressed the caller ID. "You haven't called until just now, and I didn't get a beep. You must have dialed the wrong number. I was just on the phone with Maris Graham. J. J. is staying over there tonight. I wanted to make certain it was alright with Maris. What's up?"
"I can't get home tonight," he replied curtly, ignoring her explanation. "Big campaign, and the client is in from Detroit. By the time the meetings are over, and we've wined and dined him, it will be just too damned late. I'll stay at the company apartment."
"Of course," Nora said, an edge in her voice. "You stayed all weekend, Jeff, but of course I understand. Just remember that the Athletic Association awards at the school are Friday night. J. J. is picking up a scholarship for soccer from the local booster club. I damned well expect you to be there for your son!"
"What the hell has gotten into you?" he demanded. "The Change, I suppose. I work like a peon to keep you and the kids comfortable, and all you can do is bitch at me."
"I've been on hormone replacement therapy for two years now if you had ever bothered to notice. Are you having an affair, Jeff?" Nora shot back at him, astounded even as the words left her mouth that she had said them.
"I don't have to dignify that question with a reply, Nora," Jeff said loftily. "I'll call you later this week."
"Don't bother! Just be home for the awards. J. J. is your only son," Nora snapped. "At least the only one that I know of, dear."
The phone line went dead, but not before she had heard the sharp intake of his breath.
"Omigod!" she half whispered as she put the phone back down in its charger. He hadn't denied a thing. He had practically confirmed it by not answering her question. If he wasn't having an affair, he would have said so. But he hadn't said so. She was surprised that he hadn't asked her to define the word
. When had Jeff become such a son of a bitch? Or had he always been that way, and she too blind to notice? You are in big trouble, girlfriend, she thought to herself. And you are all alone. Her father was dead, and she certainly wasn't going to go running to her mother. Margo had never really liked Jeff in the first place. She had no siblings. What the hell was she going to do? There was really no one to help her. It frightened her to realize that Jeff seemed to have all the cards in this terrible game they were playing.
Nora stood up and paced the room. She had no idea of the time, but it had to be afternoon because the sun was flooding the den with its bright light. She had never expected to come to this point in her life when she married Jeff. Nora believed when you got married, you stayed that way until one of you died. That was the way it had always been. That was the way it was supposed to be. It was like that here on Ansley Court, but then, they had all been lucky. No one worked at marriage anymore, it seemed. Divorce was so commonplace nowadays.
She walked into the front hallway and stared at herself in the large mirror over the hall table. Alright. She was heavier than the 120 pounds she had weighed when they were married. She wasn't a flaming redhead anymore. She pushed at the hair near her temples. It was faded even more than the rest of her head. She peered closely into the mirror. Okay. She had a few laugh lines around her eyes. But everyone she knew did too, damnit! But she wasn't a bad-looking woman. In fact she was in pretty good condition for a woman in her late forties if you overlooked the fact that her boobs were going south, and her waist wasn't quite as narrow as it had once been, and her thighs were a bit mottled. Weren't everyone's at this point?
Nora sighed. So she wasn't the girl he had married anymore. He wasn't the boy she had married either. But there was no doubt about it, unfair as it seemed. Men simply did age better than women in most cases. She knew that Jeff worked out at the gym in his office five days a week. He insisted on low-fat, low-carb meals when he was home. He didn't smoke, and drank rarely except very expensive wines. The truth was that he looked better now than he had when they were first married.
Nora wandered absently back into the den. He hadn't said anything to her yet, but he was going to, and she sensed it was coming soon. She flopped back on the couch. Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn! There was that niggling question again. What was she going to do to survive this disaster? Suddenly Nora was exhausted with her newly discovered tension. She dozed restlessly for how long she didn't know. Her confusion and reverie were broken by a young voice calling.
"Mrs. B.? It's me, Maureen. I've got your KFC."
"Thanks, honey," Nora called back. "Leave it on the counter, will you?" She didn't want Maureen to see her, for she realized that she had been crying in her sleep. She must really look like hell. If Maureen saw her, she would call Carla at the hospital, and Carla would call her. There was nothing anyone could do for her right now.
"Okay, Mrs. B. I ran into J. J. coming in. He said he didn't want to disturb you. He'll see you tomorrow. Daddy got you mashed potatoes and coleslaw. I hope that's alright," Maureen said.
"Fine, sweetie, my favorites," Nora assured her. "Tell your dad I said thanks, and ask him to let me know what I owe him, okay?" She heard the kitchen door close behind the girl. Standing up, she went out into her kitchen to get her dinner. Taking a plate down from the cabinet, she opened the cardboard box. Rick had gotten her a breast and two wings. It was still hot, and it smelled good. She put it on her plate along with the biscuit, which she buttered. Then she emptied the container of mashed potatoes and gravy onto the plate, opened the coleslaw and took it into the den. Returning to the kitchen, she grabbed a fork, a napkin, and a glass of peach iced tea. Back in the den she turned on Peter Jennings, and sat down to eat. The news was the same as always. War and a fluctuating stock market.
Mick and Jerry, the family cats, appeared magically, licking their chops and meowing. They looked up hopefully at Nora. She laughed, pulled the meat from the two wings, put it on a napkin, and set it down on the floor for the two felines to devour. When the news ended, she turned the set off. The clock on the fireplace mantle struck seven o'clock, and as it did she considered her conversation with her friends this morning. She was alone tonight. No one but her and the cats in the house. She could order this channel thing. They all seemed to like it, and damnit, she could use a lift. She suspected it was some sort of X-rated channel, but why not? Carla was her best friend in all the world, and Carla wouldn't steer her wrong. Nora picked up the telephone and dialed Suburban Cable.
Two rings, and an automated voice was droning in her ear. "Thank you for calling Suburban Cable. If you are experiencing technical difficulties, please press one. If you would like to order one of our pay-per-view movies, please press two. All other callers, please remain on the line for the next available representative. Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received."
Was The Channel a movie? Nora wondered. No. Carla would have said so. She hung on the line as the elevator music kicked in, playing that golden oldie, and rather applicable to her situation, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." Nora felt a grin crease her face.
"Suburban Cable, this is Joyce. How may I help you?" a cheerful voice suddenly chirped in her ear.
"I . . . I'd like to order The Channel," Nora said, the words rushing out.
"Your telephone number, please," Joyce said, sounding totally disinterested in Nora's choice of entertainment.
"It's 567-2339," Nora replied.
"Buckley? At 720 Ansley Court?"
"And you are?" Joyce asked.
"Mrs. Buckley," Nora replied.
"Very good, Mrs. Buckley. You'll find your selection tonight on channel sixty-nine at eight p.m. Is there anything else I can do for you at this moment?"
"No. Thank you," Nora answered, and then she hung up. Omigod! She had done it. She giggled to herself, and began to finish her supper. She realized now that she couldn't wait until eight. It probably was a porn channel, she decided, but she didn't care. She and Jeff had once watched a couple of movies from the video store. Her husband had claimed to be turned off by them, or so he had said. Nora had thought the films silly, but they were certainly stimulating, she recalled. It was probably just what she needed. An evening of dirty movies, and a pint of caramel praline ice cream. She picked her chicken down to the bone and cleaned her plate of everything else.
Putting her dishes in the dishwasher, Nora went upstairs, showered quickly, and got into a clean nightshirt that had a teddy bear on the front of it claiming, "I don't do mornings." Giving her ice cream ten seconds in the microwave, she got a spoon and a glass of water, and set them on the table by her large recliner. Then settling into the chair with a contented sigh, she picked up the remote as the clock struck eight p.m., pressed it on, and coded in sixty-nine. The screen was black.
"Oh, for God's sakes," Nora muttered aloud. Did they forget to send her the signal? Damn! She had been looking forward to this.
But then suddenly the screen lightened, and a rather mellifluous voice said silkily, "Good evening, and welcome to The Channel, where your fantasies become your reality."
Well, that was certainly confusing, but absolutely intriguing. Then the screen changed again. Nora found herself looking into a rather large living room that came into perfect view. "Oh," she said softly. It was a beautiful room. Just like one she had always imagined, but certainly not one that Jeff would have liked. It was very modern and elegant. All glass and chrome and brass with large overstuffed white sofas and chairs, with emerald green and sapphire blue silk pillows. Even the carpet was creamy white. It looked as if when you stepped on it you would be ankle-deep in the pile. The lighting was indirect. There were candles on every table. In her imagination they would be scented and give off the faint fragrance of gardenia. She adored the smell of gardenia candles. Large windows offered a night cityscape. Dipping her spoon into her ice cream, she slid it into her mouth, enjoying the taste of the caramel praline on her tongue.

BOOK: Private Pleasures
9.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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