Authors: Bertrice Small
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Women's Fiction, #Friendship, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Erotica
"Nothing is for free," Nora said slowly.
"We pay for it," Carla replied glibly. "You'll see it on your cable bill. Movie. Three ninety-five."
"Doesn't Rick wonder about all those movies?" Nora asked.
"Nah, I pay the bills," Carla said. "And I took the twelve-dollars-a-month deal."
"I thought you loved Rick," Nora said.
"I do love Rick, but sometimes I want a change. I want to be young and sexy again. Doesn't everyone? I mean, hell, men do it with different women. Why are women expected to confine themselves to only one man? At least our generation thought that way. Tiffany loves her harem romance novels, so she's the sultan's favorite. Rina won't say."
Nora laughed. She couldn't help it. "Yeah, I'd expect Tiff would be the sultan's favorite. Carla! It was so real! I mean I'm actually sore."
"It is real, girlfriend. Now tell me how many times you did it with them, and who are they?" She leaned forward eagerly, her brown eyes sparkling.
"Four," Nora said, blushing with her memories. "Three times with my lover. His name is Kyle, and he's absolutely hunky. The last time was with my masseur. He's blond, has an Austrian accent, and is named Rolf. Kyle watched us while we did it, but he got jealous, and put his dick in my mouth. We all came together! It was so wild, but then suddenly I was back. God, Carla, I want to go back there!"
Carla grinned. "I am so glad you had such a good time," she said. "You're a whole different person today. How long has it been since you and Jeff were intimate?"
Nora sighed. She had never wanted anyone to know, but what difference did it really make now that she had The Channel? "Five years," she said softly.
"Jesus!" Carla swore. "Your husband really is a prick."
"I can't go back unless I'm alone in the house," Nora said. "I wouldn't want J. J. to find me, or see what's on the TV when I'm there."
"That's right. The only television you've got is in the den," Carla said. "Hell, Nora, get a TV for your bedroom."
"Jeff wouldn't pay for the extra hookup, and since each time I go it costs three ninety-five, I can't go too often. Even though I pay the bills, I have to account for every penny he gives me," Nora explained. "Too many movies, and he'll wonder why. But it's like your favorite cookies, or potato chips. Once you've tasted the pleasures The Channel offers, you're addicted."
Carla nodded. "I know," she said. "So what about Friday night?"
"We've got the AA awards. Jeff will probably come home. He'll stay the weekend. Doesn't like to look bad," Nora said.
"So you've got a couple of days to get all hot and bothered again," Carla teased her best friend. "I pity Kyle, Rolf, and whoever else you dream up come your next visit to The Channel." She grinned mischievously. "Monday nights at The Channel. Are you ready for some fucking?" she paraphrased a commercial for the autumn football programming.
Nora laughed. "You're impossible, Carla Johnson, but you sure are fun. Tell me how you manage to use The Channel? I mean Rick is always home at night."
"Ah, but my darling spouse is usually asleep by nine or nine thirty. If Maureen doesn't have a date, she locks herself in her room and plays her music with her earphones on while she does homework. Then she's on the phone. I don't see her from the time she finishes supper until the next morning when she grabs a granola bar on her way out to school," Carla explained. "So I just slip down to my basement craft and sewing room, where a television is located for my soaps. I lock the door and party on. No one ever bothers me. We all have our little methods, because The Channel is addictive."
"I wish they had it in the daytime," Nora said.
Carla chortled. "Then we'd all be caught for sure. Imagine having to come home and fix dinner for a family of four after a day of you know what? Pirates, masseurs, sultans, and meat loaf. All those delicious men who spring out of our very active fantasies, and whose sole reason for being is to please us."
"And meat loaf," Nora added, grinning. Then she said, "I wonder why Rina and Joanne won't say why they go to The Channel."
"Joanne's embarrassed," Carla said. "I don't understand it, but she is. But Rina, I think she maybe thinks it's disloyal to Sam. After all he is a most attentive husband, and there is no doubt they love each other But he is almost twenty years her senior. She's his second wife, you know."
"I didn't," Nora answered.
"Yeah, his first wife died. Cancer, I think," Carla explained. "I think Rina feels as if she is betraying Sam, but she still goes to The Channel like the rest of us."
The telephone rang, and Nora picked it up. "Jeff," she said, and she made a face at Carla. Then she listened. "You'll be home tonight? How nice. What would you like for dinner? Lamb chops. Alright. No problem, I haven't shopped yet. You just caught me on the way out. Because I've had other things to do, that's why."
Carla gave Jeff the finger, and Nora almost laughed aloud.
"Yes, I'll have dinner ready at seven the way you like it. Bye." She set the phone down. "I am not in the mood for him. I really am not. I hope he's not forgotten he's coming Friday."
"I've talked to Rick about your situation," Carla said.
"I won't do anything until Jeff does," Nora told her friend.
"You ought to file first," Carla said. "I mean the guy is hardly ever here, and hasn't been for years. That ain't a marriage, sweetie."
"No, I'll wait for him to make the first move," Nora replied. "If I'm in the terrible position that you all think I am, it's better if I'm the victim, isn't it?"
"You're not dumb," Carla said. "But Nora, you've got to be protected. With everything in Jeff's name, you really are in a lousy position." Carla sounded genuinely worried.
"I know," Nora agreed. "It's beginning to dawn on me that I've been living in a world where nothing changes, and Jeff has been living in the real world, where dog eats dog." She stood up, swaying slightly. "I better get down to Waldbaum's, or there won't be any food in this house tonight."
"I'll drive us," Carla said. "I didn't have the night you did, nor as much wine as you've been consuming with the sandwiches. You've almost killed a bottle," she chuckled. "Never saw you do that before." She pulled her own car keys from her jeans. "Come on, babe. I need stuff too, but it wouldn't do for the mother of Egret Pointe High's Athlete of the Year to get busted for DUI. My God, what a scandal that would be, especially with your pristine reputation."
"The old me is gone," Nora said. "The new me is just likely to cause a scandal," she responded with a grin.
And then the two women left the house, walking out into the late May sunshine.
"We have to talk," Jeff Buckley said to his wife as they came into the house.
"Very well," Nora replied. "Now is as good a time as any. J. J. is off partying with his friends, although I have told him he has to be home by midnight." She walked through the front hall, and into the kitchen. "Do you want something to eat? I can fix you a sandwich. You didn't arrive until just before the awards."
"Yeah, I could use something," Jeff said, and sat down. He was one of those men who just got better with age. He was tall and lean. There was hardly any gray in his dark hair, but his blue eyes were cold. They always had been.
Nora pulled out a loaf of fresh rye bread and smeared honey mustard on the two slices she cut, piling it high with Black Forest ham and tissue-thin Havarti cheese. Placing the sandwich on a plate, she cut it neatly in three slices, and plunked it down in front of her husband. Then she poured him a glass of iced tea, which she set on the table before him as she sat down. "Eat first, and then we'll talk," she said.
He nodded, biting off large chunks of the sandwich and chewing. "You always made a good sandwich," he said, and then he swilled his tea.
This was it, Nora considered calmly. He was going to do it tonight. Would he remain then for the weekend? Or would he hotfoot it out of the house, back to the city and his girlfriend? She didn't care, she thought, surprised. The sooner he was gone, the sooner she could get back to Kyle and Rolf, and whomever else her fertile imagination could think up. She almost grinned. And then the old Nora asserted herself, and she wondered what kind of a woman threw away a longtime marriage. What would her mother think? How were the kids going to react? Wasn't it up to her to try and save her marriage?
What's left to save? the voice in her head asked caustically. The man's been cheating on you for years. He isn't the same person you married. Or maybe he is, and you just didn't realize what a jerk Jeff Buckley was when you were that starry-eyed virgin who fell in love with the college quarterback. You did what was expected of you by your family. By his family. You were the good girl who saved herself for marriage, but the son of a bitch never really cared. He expected it just like he expected you to behave as you always have. Dutiful. Chaste. Patiently waiting. Waiting for what? To be scraped into the garbage like yesterday's mashed potatoes?
"I'm finished," Jeff said, breaking into her thoughts. He pushed his plate and glass at her.
Rising, Nora rinsed them and tucked them into the dishwasher, smiling to herself. She was so deferential, the good wife. She turned to him. "Would you like to go into the den to talk?" she asked.
"No, here is as good a place as any," he told her.
Nora nodded, and sat down again.
"I guess," he began, "you realize that we haven't been getting on, or rather that we've been growing apart, for the last couple of years."
"You want a divorce, Jeff. Is that it?" Nora said, surprising him.
"Yeah, I do," he replied, a little taken aback by her calm.
"You don't think we should try to mend this breach between us?" she pressed him. Well, for her own conscience' sake she had to at least make an effort, she thought.
"I think we're past that," he answered her, but a wary look was creeping into his eyes.
Nora sighed. "If you don't love me, I can't hold you, Jeff," she said quietly. "If you want a divorce, you may have one. I assume there's another woman."
"No tears? No recriminations?" He was at once suspicious.
"Jeff, I'd have to be a complete fool, and God knows I've been near to it over the course of our marriage, not to realize you weren't happy these past few years. You grew in one direction. I grew in another. It's no one's fault. These things happen. And there is another woman, isn't there?"
"You can't prove adultery," he said quickly. "Besides, those aren't grounds in this state. I want a divorce. Plain and simple."
"And I said you could have one. Plain and simple," Nora responded. So he had already checked out grounds, had he? What a bastard!
"Then I'll have my lawyer set it up, and you can sign the papers when he has them," Jeff Buckley said to his wife.
"No, I think you should have your lawyer call my lawyer," Nora told him, almost laughing at the surprised look on his handsome face.
"When did you get a lawyer?" he demanded.
"Every woman has a lawyer, Jeff. That's something you had best keep in mind, for future reference, of course." She was enjoying his discomfort immensely.
"Who's going to represent you?" he asked suspiciously.
"Rick and his firm," she said softly.
He looked relieved. "Oh." Obviously he didn't consider Rick was going to give his lawyer any difficulty. "Okay, I'll have Raoul call him on Monday."
"Do you want me to tell the children?" she asked.
"Yeah. They'll understand, and it's better coming from you, Nora. When they see how on board you are with this, they won't be so angry." Then he grew wary again. "You're not going to blame me for this, are you? I don't want you turning the kids against me over this. Hell, they must have seen how it was between us these last years."
"You're their father, Jeff. Sadly I can't change that," Nora told him.
"You were hot to be my wife," he answered crudely. "If I hadn't been certain of your virginity when we married, I would have really wondered about you, Nora. But then you were always my good girl, weren't you?"
"The girls in my generation were raised to wait, Jeff. How clever of you to understand that. But that doesn't mean we don't like sex," Nora replied. The arrogant son of a bitch, she thought. He had always been like this, and she just hadn't seen it.
"Like sex?" He laughed. "You haven't had sex since I last banged you. Do you even remember when that was?"
"I don't remember nonevents," Nora answered him softly.
"You know, you're turning into a real bitch," he said, and then he stood up.
Nora laughed. "Good!" she told him.
"I'm going to go back into town tonight," he said. "Drive me to the station."
"Call a cab," Nora responded. "As of this moment, I am no longer at your service, my lord. Tell me, does your girlfriend cater to you the way I always have? Or is it her independence and fuck-you attitude that turns you on, Jeff?" There was just the hint of a smile playing about her lips as she saw his jaw tighten.
He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed the local cab company, ordering his transportation. Then he said to her, "I'll wait out front."
"Aren't you afraid of what the neighbors will say?" Nora taunted him.
"Oh, I think they already know," he snapped back at her. "Even your friend Carla isn't as dumb as you've been, Nora."
"I trusted you, you bastard!" Her anger rose up.
"Like I said, Nora, dumb," he told her, and then he walked out the door.
She stood in her foyer for the briefest moment, shaking. Then she shut the door firmly behind him. She hated him. She never wanted to see him again. How could she have fallen in love with him all those years ago? Dumb! Yes, damnit, she had been dumb! But she wasn't going to be dumb anymore. And if he thought he was going to get away with leaving her in poverty, he was sadly mistaken. What was it Ivana Trump had once said? "Don't get mad. Get everything." Well, she didn't want everything, but she wanted her house. And alimony until she could get on her feet. The house should be hers. But she wouldn't take a penny more from Jeff than it took to get her started moving in a new direction. And the kids' schooling had to be paid for because she didn't want them starting out burdened by debt. Especially Jill. Law school wasn't cheap, but at least her daughter would be able to support herself if she turned out to be as dumb as her mother where men were concerned. Jeff couldn't leave their children out in the cold. His children. What if the girlfriend had a child? Well, God help her if she did, Nora thought.
She needed The Channel tonight. She wanted to get away from all of this, and be the woman she really was. But J. J. would be home by midnight. Unless, she considered, she told him he could stay over at one of his buddies'. She heard a car honk outside, and peering through one of the sidelights edging the front door, she saw her husband hurrying to get into a Cassandra's cab. Schmuck, she thought, using one of Rina's favorite terms. Nora turned to go into the den so she could call The Channel and escape from all this nasty reality.
"Nora!" The back door slammed shut.
Damn! She said the word silently. It was Carla.
"What happened?" Carla came into the hall. "I saw Jeff leaving."
"He's asked for the divorce," Nora said sanguinely. "And he thought he'd just have his lawyer draw up the papers so I could sign them." Then she laughed. "You should have seen the look on his face when I said his lawyer should contact my lawyer."
"The bastard!" Carla exploded.
"No, it's alright. I almost feel relieved now that it's happened. I've been such a naive little fool all these years, Carla. With Jill going to law school and J. J. off to college, what would I do with myself? Join the Garden Club? The Egret Pointe Ladies' Reading Circle? I'm only just realizing how out of touch with reality I truly am."
"You are not out of touch with reality!" Carla responded loyally.
"Yes, I am," Nora answered quietly. "I've got a college degree, and yet I've spent the last quarter of a century looking after the needs of a selfish man, and two children. I have no idea how to operate a computer, or program the VCR. But I'm going to learn, Carla. And I'm going to survive on my own, and pay my own way. Not at first, but eventually. I'm glad to be rid of Jeff. I don't really know him anymore, but what I do know, I don't like."
"Oh, honey!" Carla put her arms about her friend and hugged her.
"Now if you're convinced that I'm not going to kill myself, get out of here," Nora said, drawing away from the other woman. "I'm going to let my son stay over with his buddies tonight, and I'm going to get The Channel."
Carla giggled. "Yeah," she replied with a grin, "a good screwing always makes a girl feel a whole lot better. Have fun! Oh, Rick says come into the office on Monday at eleven a.m. so he can get started on protecting you in this mess. Night!" And she was gone with a wave of her hand.
Nora heard the door slam behind Carla as she left. She went into the kitchen and turned the lock. Then she went into the den and called the house where the party J. J. was attending was being held. It took a while, but finally someone picked up the telephone.
"If you're bringing more beer, come on over!" the voice said.
She could hear the
of the music in the background. "It's Mrs. Buckley. Find J. J. for me, Peter," she told him.
"Oh, gee, Mrs. B. just kidding," he replied.
Nora laughed. "Just don't go driving, okay?" she said.
"I'll get J. J.," Peter responded.
She waited, not surprised that Peter Mulligan's parents weren't there. They were a very liberal, let's-be-friends-with-the-kids type. And being friends with your son meant few, if any, rules and regs. She began to have second thoughts about letting J. J. stay out.
"Ma? Is everything alright?" J. J. sounded anxious. He was really such a sweet kid.
"If I let you stay over with someone," Nora said, "who would it be?"
"I don't have to come home tonight?" J. J.'s voice was excited.
"Answer the question, J. J.," Nora said.
"The twins, Mike and Joe Carter, asked me," J. J. said.
"I'll call the Carters and tell them if it's okay with them, it's okay with me," Nora told her son. The Carters were stricter than she was.
"Ma? Why?" His voice sounded so young, and he really wasn't that young anymore. He was heading to college in a few weeks. "You sure everything is okay?"
"Everything is fine, J. J. But you're eighteen now. It's almost graduation, and I remember how I wanted to be with my friends then. I mean by summer's end you'll all be scattering, honey. So I decided it was time I was a little less uptight. If you don't hear back from me, just go along with the twins. I'll see you sometime tomorrow."
"Ma, you are the greatest!" he said, and hung up.
Nora chuckled. Ma was horny. She reached for her school list to get the Carters' telephone number and, finding it, punched the number in, humming under her breath as she waited for someone to answer.
"Hello?" It was Marian Carter.
"Marian, Nora Buckley. J. J. said the twins invited him to spend the night. Is that alright with you?"
"Of course it is, and they have a twelve thirty a.m. curfew," Marian Carter said. "I hope you don't think that's too late, but it's such a special time for them."
"No, no, twelve thirty is perfect. Thank you so much for having J. J.," Nora responded.
"He's such a nice boy," came the reply. "Did you know that Mike will be at State with J. J.? He doesn't have a soccer scholarship, but he's going to try for the team. Joe decided to join the marines. He says he can make a good career with the marines."
"And if he decides not to," Nora said cheerfully, "he'll probably get college money out of it. Marian, thanks for having J. J. Send him home when he gets to be a pest tomorrow."
"Any time, Nora." And Marian Carter hung up.
Nora set her phone back in its cradle. She went to her front door, locked it, and threw the extra bolt. Returning to the den, she poured herself a glass of wine and sat down. Had she really had a sexual adventure with two men on Monday night? Or had it just been a dream? Well, she considered with a little grin, the only way to find out was to call the cable company and ask for The Channel again. She picked up the phone again.
"Thank you for calling Suburban Cable," the automated message came on.
Nora waited patiently.
"Suburban Cable. This is Francie. How may I help you?"
"I'd like to order The Channel," Nora answered calmly, and gave the requested information.
"Just go to channel sixty-nine, Mrs. Buckley. The Channel's already operational this evening," Francie told her. "Anything else we can do for you tonight?"
"No, thanks," Nora replied, and hung up. She put the phone back, and sat back in her recliner for a long few minutes. Then she took a gulp of wine. She got up and turned off the lights in the room. She took another gulp of wine as she sat down again. Then, drawing a deep breath, Nora pressed the ON button on the channel changer, punched in sixty-nine, and waited anxiously as the darkened screen began to grow light, and her dream apartment came into view. "Kyle?" Her voice sounded jittery in her ears. Oh, let it all be as good as it was last time. Especially the sex. She wondered if she would take up where she had left off the last evening, with one cock in her cunt and another in her mouth. Where was Kyle? She was beginning to get nervous, and then she heard his voice.