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Authors: Kristina Wright

Tags: #Fiction, #Erotica, #General, #Short Stories (Single Author), #Romance, #Contemporary

Seduce Me Tonight

BOOK: Seduce Me Tonight
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Seduce Me Tonight
Kristina Wright

Table of Contents

Title Page

Diamonds and Pearls

The Story of Us

Cherry in a Glass

Fixing What’s Broken

Love and Lust

Healing the Wounds

Coming Home

The Art of Desire

More Than Friends

Their Lover

Learning Curve

Remember When

Starting Over

Right As Rain

Joe for Breakfast

Word Games

The Path Not Taken

More from Mischief

About Mischief

Copyright

About the Publisher

Diamonds and Pearls

We made it to pearl. As I packed my half of the kitchen, I just kept thinking, we made it to pearl.

I was keeping the china and the punch bowl, not because I was fond of gold leaf or crystal, but because they had been wedding gifts from my mother. My mother made it to gold. No – I shook my head at the chip in the plate I held, the gold leaf damaged – she made it to
until death us do part
.

People will tell you that it’s smooth sailing if you make it past the seven-year itch. Those are the people who didn’t make it past the three-year breaking-in period. Other people will tell you that twenty is the tough year – when you’ve spent two decades with the same person and realise your best years are behind you. Those are the people who crapped out around ten years, only to get remarried and go another ten with someone else. As if a decade per spouse is somehow better than two decades with the same person bitching about your inability to remember to pay the electric bill or put your dirty clothes in the hamper.

Our silver anniversary had come and gone and my co-worker Janine said, ‘Twenty-five years! Holy shit! You’ve been married for ever!’

At the time, I’d laughed and agreed with her, but in the back of my mind I remember thinking, it doesn’t feel like for ever. It feels like we just started and then got tired before we reached for ever.

Everyone knows twenty-five years is the silver anniversary, but no one knows what represents thirty years together. Traditionally, it’s pearl. The modern is diamond. I like diamonds better, but I have a jewellery box full of both from birthdays, Valentine’s Days. Anniversaries, too. He’d given me diamonds or pearls for many anniversaries. A strand of pearls for our eighth anniversary (traditional: bronze; modern: linen) and a gold watch inlaid with diamond for our fifteenth (traditional: crystal; modern: watches – so I guess he was paying attention). Other gifts in-between and after, gifts I admired and enjoyed and put away for some future special occasion.

There were diamond earrings and pearl hair clasps and diamond-and-pearl baubles for the twenty-sixth through twenty-ninth anniversaries, the ones no one has bothered to put on the anniversary gift lists, as if those years between twenty-five and thirty don’t matter at all. As if what Janine said was true: being married twenty-five years was for ever and there was no need to acknowledge another anniversary for at least five more years, and every five years after. I guess we took that to heart. Those years between the twenty-fifth anniversary trip to the Greek Isles and the thirtieth anniversary trip to divorce court were a blur of pot roast dinners, political talk over waffles at our favourite brunch joint and mediocre sex a couple times a week or whenever we were both in the mood and awake at the same time.

The traditional gift for every anniversary should be sex. It’s hard to complain about his snoring when he’s fucking you. Suddenly every noise he’s making is a turn-on. It’s impossible to complain about her lousy cooking when you’re going down on her and your mouth is full of the sweetest juice you’ve ever tasted. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe two people can fuck every day for thirty years and still end up where I was, packing away ugly thirty-year-old plates and a dusty punchbowl.

‘What are you smiling about?’

Nathan and I were civilised people. We didn’t fight and scream, we didn’t throw things, we didn’t pull childish immature acts on each other. No, we were a couple who had been married for thirty years, raised three children and had mutually decided a divorce was in both our best interests. And now the years were gone, the kids were grown and had their own lives and we were a divorced couple packing up our mutual belongings at the same time in the same house we’d shared for over two decades.

I shook my head as I used several sheets of newspaper to wrap a gravy boat I couldn’t remember using in a decade. ‘Just thinking that if people fucked every day of their marriage, maybe there wouldn’t be any need to get divorced.’

Nathan had his hands full of some bubble-wrapped thingy from our shared home office. Probably that ugly snow globe I’d gotten him as a last-minute anniversary gift last year. I’d seen it in one of those mall stores you see everywhere and been stricken with a bout of bad taste, buying this hideous glass and wood creation depicting Chicago in winter. I’d even gotten the damned thing engraved with our names and wedding date.

‘So, if we’d had sex every day, we’d still be together?’ he asked slowly, the consummate professor repeating the information he’s been given, looking for a different interpretation.

I shook my head. ‘Who knows? Maybe we’d be fucking right now instead of packing up all this –
fucking stuff
– and going our separate ways.’

I don’t know why I said that. Hell, outside of when we were actually fucking, I never even used that word. OK, not even when we were fucking, unless I’d had a couple of drinks first. But something about signing my name –
his last name
– to a divorce decree seemed to have loosened a knot of tension inside me. There I was, standing in the kitchen, packing our wedding china, barefoot in a sundress on a warm summer evening, saying
fucking
,
fucking
,
fucking.

Go
fucking
figure, huh?

I felt suddenly, inexplicably weary. I put the plate I was holding on top of the already wrapped stack of matching plates and leaned against the counter, studying my husband. My ex-husband, I mentally amended.

The years had been kind to Nathan. He didn’t look much different than the kid I’d met at Berkeley as an undergrad. The dark hair was turning silver, the lines around his eyes and mouth were more defined, like water etches stone after a millennium; there were a few more pounds on his always lean frame, but he was otherwise exactly the same as when I met him thirty-five years previous. Still quick to smile and slow to anger. Still stubborn as a mule and gentle as a kitten. Still kind-hearted and thoughtful. Still sexy as hell in well-worn jeans and an old Yale T-shirt.

There is a moment when every newly divorced person looks at his or her former spouse and doesn’t see their partner, lover, friend of X number of years, but a stranger. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience looking at Nathan standing in our kitchen. He was everything I had ever wanted. Still was. And yet … and yet, here we were, packing up our fucking stuff and going on our merry separate ways.

‘What do you see?’ he asked, that gentle tone of a teacher trying to coax the student to find the answer on her own.

I shrugged and turned away, fingering the single strand of pearls I wore, one last birthday present before it all went to hell. ‘I see a life together that’s fallen apart. Time to start anew, I guess.’

I sounded more carefree than I felt. Much as I’d wanted this – and I had been the one to file the divorce papers when it dawned on me that Nathan wouldn’t, no matter how much we fought or withdrew from each other – I really didn’t know what I was going to do now. The house had gone on the market once we started the paperwork for the divorce and we had gotten a more than generous offer just days after the realtor listed it. Our ‘separation’ involved Nathan moving into the guest room. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford for one of us to move out, but it seemed silly when the house was more than big enough. Our paths rarely crossed except in the mornings for a few minutes before we both went to work. It made sense for us to live together as roommates until the house sold and we could each take our half and find something new. It was civilised this way. It was also bitterly depressing to realise that after thirty years together we could live in the same house for months without talking other than to pass on phone messages, without touching because we made such a wide berth around each other, without one of us caving in and climbing into bed with the other, one late night. Depressing as hell.

I slammed the poorly wrapped plate down on top of the stack and heard an audible crack. I gasped. The tears started coming even before I unwrapped the plate and saw it had been cleaved in two. I felt Nathan’s hand on my shoulder, that gentle, familiar squeeze to comfort me. But it didn’t comfort me. It made me angry. For the first time in at least six months he was touching me and it was because he felt sorry for me.

I shrugged him off. ‘Leave me alone!’

‘I was just trying to be kind, Rachel,’ he said. ‘It’s not as if you ever liked that old ugly china.’

I whirled on him then. ‘It was my
mother’s
!’

‘Well, it’s not as if you liked her much, either,’ he said, evenly. ‘And she was old and ugly, too.’

I knew he was joking. Sort of. Nathan was a lot of things, but he wasn’t cruel. He was trying to make me feel better. Trying to lighten the mood. He never could stand to see me cry. I knew all of that, but my first reaction wasn’t to laugh. Or even to stop crying. I sobbed – and slapped him hard. The diamond in my engagement ring glinted in the overhead light, as hard and cold as I felt.

‘Go to hell, Nathan Davis.’

He recoiled, as much from the shock of it as the pain, I think, and stared at me. The look of utter horror on his face was comical. I’d never so much as raised my voice or slammed a door, much less slapped him before. I was the quiet, angry type, more likely to hide in the bedroom nursing my wounds than to vent my emotions and risk hurting someone else’s feelings. It was, I thought, a good quality. But standing there with my hand stinging and my entire body practically vibrating with anger while the tears dried on my cheeks, I felt pretty good. Furious and violent, clearly, but
good
. Alive.

As quickly as the feeling came, it faded, shrivelling up inside me like it had been deprived of oxygen. I was ashamed of myself.

‘I’m sorry.’ I watched him rub the red mark on his cheek and felt small. And sad. ‘I don’t know where that came from.’

‘I do.’

He picked up the sugar bowl from the counter, the one that went with my mother’s china, examined it for a minute, then dropped it. I gasped in horror as it hit the tile and fractured into several smaller pieces, scattering shards across the kitchen floor.

I blinked at him, certain it had been an accident, but he proved me wrong by picking up a salad plate and doing the same thing. The sound of breaking porcelain seemed to echo even as he reached for a third piece. I was frozen in place, unable to move to stop him as another salad plate crashed to the floor.

I finally found my voice when he picked up the serving platter. ‘What the
hell
are you doing?’

‘Breaking your mother’s china,’ he answered, as if that made all the sense in the world.

I looked at the fragments of the seventy-five-year-old dishes littering our pristine kitchen floor – not even
our
kitchen floor any more, as the house was officially sold – and felt … nothing. I took a deep breath, waiting for the indignant anger to explode out of me again, and simply exhaled. There was no emotion there, no sense of loss. All I saw was a mess to clean up and a few less things to pack.

Nathan seemed almost as shocked when I started laughing as he had when I slapped him. It started small, just a twitch of my lips as I mentally replayed his comment about my mother and her china, and built from there. First a giggle and a shake of my head at my own audacity – laughing at something that wasn’t funny in the least – then an open-mouthed guffaw at the idea that I should feel bad for giggling. I looked at Nathan, at his gaping ‘have you lost your mind?’ expression, and completely lost it. I was doubled over with laughter, clutching at the kitchen counter to keep me upright.

BOOK: Seduce Me Tonight
6.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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