I should have recognised him straight away. If I’d pay more attention to his words—his hilarious, often on-point verbal jousts—maybe I would have. But it would have taken a herculean effort on my part see through the cloud of the past eleven years of neglect in a marriage that left me wanting more, wanting different.
As it was, not even when the scent of Aqua Di Gio wafted over me did I put his face to the smell. After all, how long had it been since I’d smelled the spritz of a man’s cologne before he took me out for the night? Hell, how long had it been since anyone had taken me out?
Either way, all of this is just simply to explain my utter disbelief when I spun around on the barstool to see my online lover wearing the white Shasta daisy in his lapel just like I’d asked.
A month earlier, I came home from work, bags in my hand and under my eyes. My husband was in the armchair my father had given him for his fiftieth birthday, reclined with the game on mute. Everything in our lives was on mute by that point.
He didn’t look up. I would have been surprised if he did.
He’d been pulling the same evasive maneuver for three months, but this time, something snapped.
I left the groceries on the counter and stalked to my home office, turned on my laptop, and in a momentary lapse of guilt-laden forethought, went back to shut the door behind me. In less than ten minutes and a hundred keystrokes, I had an online profile on a site where the words were hot and the pictures non-existent. They understood women like me had something to say that we didn’t have the place for in our “real lives.” They also understood looks had nothing to do with that. We were all of a certain age. What did we have to prove?
I appreciated that. More than I cared to admit.
An hour later, so much to say, I had two conversations going with two different men who were in similar situations to mine.
Another hour later and I was down to messaging only one of the men. It was one line that pulled me to him: I feel like Saran Wrap, see-through and only needed to keep things together when we run out of other options.
I’d laughed—he was funny, but this was not only the dark humour I once appreciated in my husband, but the exact way I felt. Sean still reached for me in the dark, but only when he was tired of servicing himself. I was Option B. Or C. Who knew? I certainly didn’t care—either way I, too, was translucent, yet opaque.
Four hours after completing my profile, I left the office, cheeks flushed from the benign conversation that had opened the floodgates. Someone had heard me. Seen me. Felt the same sense of desolation I harbored in the darkest night hours when I would cry myself to sleep.
I was alive, thawing after a long hibernation. But I wouldn’t go online again. I just needed to tell myself it wasn’t me that was the problem in my marriage, that I wasn’t hopeless. I had things to say that held value. I could love again, be loved in return.
“Where are you going?” I asked. My voice sounded hollow compared to the one I’d established online, thick with wanting and need.
In all the years we’d been together, married, he’d never put the food I bought, cooked, wrapped, away. Not once.
I didn’t reply, didn’t move the food, either. I was done. Finished. I went back to the office, opened the laptop again. My online crush—a crush! How provincial, juvenile, invigorating—wasn’t online, so I waited.
Checked social media. Saw the highlight reel of my life with Sean and the kids. We looked happy. Not even my sister knew we weren’t. To admit I was alone, my marriage nothing more than a memory of a better time, would be to admit defeat. Failure. Besides, where would that lead?
Divorce. How scandalous.
My computer chimed. He was back online. A moment later, a private message in the corner of my screen, a two-by-one rectangle offering me a choice. I knew it wouldn’t be only a conversation if I continued. I would let myself be heard, seen, touched if the opportunity presented itself.
I would cheat.
I waited to open it, clicked back on the open photo in my social media. Sean and I with Liz, our oldest. We were at the beach, barefoot and smiling, swinging her towards a rogue wave. I could still hear the squeal of laughter from our daughter, who was asleep and unaware of how two hours later Sean when started in on me for letting her wander down the beach alone. We’d fought viciously that evening, claws out and no flaw off-limits.
I clicked on the message. Made my choice.
God, how I’d laughed. For two more hours we talked, flirted, dove headlong into a relationship outside our marriages. The guilt fled with every key I typed, every message from him bringing me further back from the dead.
That night I’d gone to bed with a smile on my face, unaware of where Sean was, and for the first time, glad to not feel the weight of him as he slides in beside me so carefully to avoid letting his skin graze mine. The cool air from his side of the bed wrapped around me, sent me straight to sleep.
Sean wasn’t there and the kids were gone till noon, which meant I could make my agreed-upon time to chat with “Micheal.” I knew that wasn’t his real name, like mine wasn’t “Virginia.” But everything else was real, at least to me.
A message awaited me.
I had a dream about you last night.
Something unfamiliar fluttered in my stomach. Lust. A foreign word and feeling.
I’d dreamt of him, too, but it was benign, vanilla. We just shopped for toilet paper, sheets, and new curtains together. But it had been a fun imaginary trip, laughter ringing up and down the aisles. In the end, he’d added the good soap he’d known I liked but never would splurge on.
I would pick up a bottle on my way to pick up the girls. I deserved an indulgence.
I had one of you as well. What was yours about?
The flutter was back when his speech bubble appeared. I waited for his response like an anxious teenager.
You were naked, lying on your side in front of me while we watched The Daily Show. You fit perfectly as my small spoon.
I fought back a laugh. It was humorous, as were the rest of his messages, but this one had crossed a line and I was left with another choice.
This time, I didn’t pause, just responded. I had no intention of telling him about the sheets, nor the soap.
I don’t know why I wrote it, why I felt the need to elevate what had been lovely conversation to sexual banter, only that it had been on my mind, and so I’d typed it.
The screen was blank for seconds. Stretched into minutes. I, too, had crossed a line it seemed.
I spun on my chair and made to go get dressed, when the now-familiar chime drew me back like a magnet.
You feel good on top of me.
The flutter turned into gale force winds, knocking my breath out of sync.
What are you doing to me while I’m up there?
I felt moisture build between my legs, my nipples harden. I was turned on for what may have been the first time since I had my youngest. She was six.
My hands are on your ass, firm and yet soft. I let two of my fingers wander until they find your clit. I’m teasing you, pulling at your sex while I take your breast in my mouth. You taste like cinnamon.
You’re fucking amazing. You’re going too fast, though. I don’t want to cum yet. Slow down, let me enjoy you.
Okay. Roll me over. Get on top of me.
I’m there, but I’m not ready to drive into you yet. I want to taste you. I am peppering your stomach with kisses, and my tongue is rolling down from your navel. I don’t stop until my mouth finds the spot where my hands were just a minute ago. I slide my tongue between your folds and suck you into my mouth. One of my fingers pulls at your clit again, while I use my tongue to Fuck you.
Tell me what you taste.
I’m coming. You feel too good.
Yes, baby. Cum for me and then flip over on your stomach. I want to do you from behind. See your ass shake for me.
I remember the first time we had sex online, the first time I came to his words giving my hands permission, I’d cried. Sobbed into the paisley-print pillow on my bed, where I’d moved my laptop. I’d cheated on my husband, let another man get me off. But what broke me in two, a crevasse opening up my chest, was the guilt that evaporated as quickly as the saltwater on my cheeks. Relief flooded in guilt’s place.
I’d needed to be fucked, appreciated, touched.
We had sex every day that week, once while I was at work, on my office computer. Each time, after he’d come, after he’d helped me come, he would write that he was holding me, his arm wrapped around my stomach. He would give me virtual kisses on my neck while I went back to plugging in numbers, another online life that gave me far less pleasure.
And every day, I went home to Sean. I will never forget how, after three weeks of the affair, one day he smiled at me.
“You seem different,” he noted.
I felt different. Better. Lighter. I’d even reinstated my morning runs around our neighborhood when the kids were off at school. So far, I’d lost ten pounds. Found my “just in case” jeans in the back of the closet would almost button again.
“I guess I’ve been finding ways to make myself happy,” I’d replied.
He patted me on the shoulder on his way out of the room with the laundry basket. He hadn’t done laundry himself in over five years. The truth was, he was different, too, and I was too wrapped up in my own new relationship to notice.
I had Michael, and Michael had Virginia. Sean wasn’t part of that equation.
So, tonight, when I put on my tiniest black dress, a long sweater over it so I could leave the house without scrutiny, I never expected to be toe-to-toe with my husband just an hour later, wearing the white flower I’d asked Michael to wear, the cologne from our youth washing over us as we stared, open-mouthed at each other, the situation dawning on us message by private message. When we’d agreed to meet in person, the last face we envisioned was the one staring back at both of us.
“Hi,” he started. If I could have found my voice, I would have given him something, anything in return, but I didn’t know whether to be horrified or pissed. “I’m Michael.”
At this, something inside me cracked and a bubble of laughter rose from my chest, expanding as it met with the stale, smoke-filled bar air. I giggled like I used to when I was tired, shrill and wholly incapable of stopping myself.
Finally, I calmed down and he took my hand in his.
“I’m Virginia,” I replied, playing along.
“You’re just as stunning as I imagined.”
“I have a feeling I’m nothing like you imagined.”
His gaze took in my dress, one I’d not worn in a decade that now showed off shapely thighs, the curl I’d added to my hair that hung over one shoulder. Each place he grazed over felt like his hands, warm and rough.
“No. You’re right. But you are what I hoped.”
“What do we do now?” I was disheartened, not only that we’d cheated on each other, had ruined the sanctity of our eleven-year marriage, but that it was over. Would we go back to who we were? Who we’d let ourselves become? How could either of us forgive the other their indiscretion?
“Do you like piña coladas?” he teased.
The song. How funny I hadn’t thought of it first, as I was always singing it to annoy him when we’d first lived together.
“I do. But after that?”
“That would be a crying shame. And a waste of a good dress, if you ask me.”
His hand wrapped around my waist, and when my back was to the bar, he slid a finger under the thin fabric of my dress. He found my thong and traced it up my backside, hooking his finger around the lace, pulling hard until it ripped. He moved his finger along the tear until he got to my other hip, where he did the same thing. He pulled the destroyed panties through my legs, igniting a heat in my lower abdomen, until they were bunched in his hand, which he removed and shoved in his slacks.
“I couldn’t agree more. Shall we?”
I could only nod, my wet pussy cold now that it was exposed to the air-conditioned room. He took my hand in his and walked me to an elevator. I was less nervous than I would have been with “Michael,” but still wary of being intimate with my husband after so long apart. His racy move down in the bar was new, and I wondered what other tricks he had up his sleeve.
I didn’t even get to wait until the room to find out. As soon as we were in the confines of the elevator, his hand slid back up my dress, this time two fingers balled up and fisted in my very damp opening. I cried out as they opened inside me, one of them sliding in and out while the other rubbed against my clit.
Fuck, I was going to cum before I got to the room. I braced myself in the corner of the small space as he continued to move his fingers in and out of my pussy. When the doors opened, he didn’t remove his hand, instead grabbing me in his arms and sweeping me up. He carried me to the room with a finger still trailing circles between my legs.
His tongue replaced his fingers, which slid up the front of my dress, pulling the tight fabric over my flushed skin as they went. Once the black chiffon was up around my neck, his hands groped at my exposed breasts, full with desire and heavy with aching need.
Michael sucked on my clit until I bucked underneath him, close to coming. My hands were fisted in his hair, which I only just noticed was longer. I liked it.
“Not yet,” he whispered against my opening, his breath warm on my liquid heat. “I have plans for you that don’t want you sated just yet.
Where had this man been the past eleven years? Our life had started with a warm beginning, leading to a chilly middle, then I was completely left out in the cold, alone. Heat like this was scorching if only because I wasn’t acclimated. My skin singed with the newness of the blaze.
When he stood up, my pussy ached at the absence. Procuring a condom wrapper from his pocket, he tossed it on the bed beside me and shrugged out of his shirt. He’d never been a muscular man, nor would I have described him as fit throughout the course of our marriage, but damn if he didn’t look like a Hollywood star with just a hint of dad bod. He’d been working out as well.
Suddenly, his pants were on the floor beside his shirt, and he was sliding on the condom. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen my husband hard for me, so the image of his shaft, erect and tall with longing for my body was almost too much to bear. I wanted him in my mouth, to suck him off, but at the same time, my needy pussy wanted him more.
It won. I spread my legs and cupped my own breasts in my hands, squeezing hard so the flesh protruded between my fingers.
Sean groaned, then growled as he climbed on top of me and thrust inside me like he’d been waiting years for me. In a way, he had been, and that we were still capable of satisfying one another was a miracle I didn’t intend on taking for granted. I raised my hips for him while I continued to massage my breasts, flick my hard nipples.
I cried out when he rammed into me, filling me more than I knew he could. My walls closed in around him, and I was close to coming. I could feel his legs shake and knew as I tightened around his cock that I could bring him over the edge with me.
“I’m close, babe.”
With two more thrusts, he grunted and collapsed on top of me. For a minute, I lay there, breathless and terrified that we’d gone back to the love-making of our past, where he’d get off, lay on top of me until he regained his strength, and then roll over and go to sleep.
When his hands wrapped around me, though, his lips finding my shoulder and peppering it with kisses, I let that part of my past go. This was better than a fantasy, better than an affair that would have had all the appeal of my shattered relationship after a few months because the physical stuff would have worn thin. I had to believe that.
As my husband’s half-hard cock nestled in the crook of my ass, his arms tight around me, hands on my breasts that were still firm, aroused, I let myself believe that meeting “Michael” saved my marriage. Maybe he’d stick around a while, but either way, I knew Sean and I would be okay as long as we had what we’d shared that month.