I took a new job as an analyst with a large firm. That was almost two years ago now. It was one of the most exciting things that had happened to my wife and me in quite sometime. It meant a substantial raise, better benefits and professional status. This company had places to go for those innovative hard workers willing to put in the effort.
I hoped that this change would stick. My marriage to Kimberly had become the daily motions. We loved each other but our lives together had become stale and continued to stay that way. When I won this job (rumor was, over 400 people applied for it), Kim looked at me with different eyes. I was a successful man that she wanted to be with, anytime, especially in the bedroom. Sex had once again become fun, she was playful and sexy and wanted to intrigue me. She wanted me to want her badly so that I desired nothing else in life but to take her right then. I gladly did.
Slowly things began to change. The job was everything we thought it would be but in the end it is just another job, not a cure all, fix all magic potion but a means to provide an income that a family can live on. It did not seem too long before my wife was once again disenchanted. Don’t get me wrong, she enjoyed the money and on occasion enjoyed the feeling she got when telling people who her husband was employed by, but in the end we seemed to co-exist.
I felt like my life looked much like a beautiful house located in the middle of a massive parking lot. It just felt like a void. Where was that feeling? The one that makes the bullshit of work worth it. The feeling that makes you get up in the morning ready for another day, ready for the office, ready to make your mortgage payment, car payment and boat payment so that when there is a slice of time that is yours and yours alone… you can set that feeling free and know that this is what it is all about. Having your wife by your side and forgetting for a moment that anything else exists in the world. I just didn’t have that.
I think somehow that sex is inexplicably linked with the tone of a marriage. When times become dark in the house, looming around it like a ghostly cloud, the sex is not there. My wife takes great pains to dress nicely when going out. When I am at work and she is running errands, that is. When we go out together, she throws something on and looks like some guy’s wife. It’s like she’s afraid to look attractive and be around me at the same time. Bedtime, forget it. I lie back in bed reading a novel or whatever has my attention at the time my wife comes out of the bathroom ready for bed.
She seems to have put on some secret cream that guarantees to keep husbands at bay. Her once beautiful hair that was painfully prepared to ‘run errands’ is now frizzed and pinned back away from her face. Her face looks bleached out and shiny from the skin cream she spent more time applying than she did talking to me this evening. The cherry on top of this ensemble is her ‘nightgown’. This oversized t-shirt that brandishes some stupid redneck slogan that’s supposed to be cute. ‘I’m The Princess Kiss Me.’ I don’t think I’m alone in saying that these night shirts are about as sexy as a plumbers hairy ass under my sink.
My wife leans to me stiffly and kisses my cheek, the aroma of her face cream fills my lungs and then… she’s gone. Buried somewhere under Irish linen sheets and expensive comforters. My wife is pretending to have fallen asleep in a matter of four seconds flat. A little of my hope vanishes with her by the time I turn off my light and drift off to sleep. I’ll wake up tomorrow and wonder why it is I do this every day. The thought will cross my mind that I’m really not much different than a carnival monkey, holding my brass cup out for amused spectators to toss their coins into. The money in that cup is the only reason his owner keeps him.
Six months into my job, the job was still great. I was being put in charge of increasingly larger and higher profile projects and completing them with such success that there was talk of an executive promotion at the end of my one year anniversary. Bonuses were the best. Those who performed reaped rewards. Bonus checks were printed in the office and given out by the man himself. When he gave a bonus his attitude was that he wished he could do more, that you deserved more. That he REALLY appreciates the fact that you work for him and he considers you as an asset. That is a good feeling.
I take my check home and my wife jumps and giggles when she sees how much it is. She asks passively what I want to do with it and then begins making suggestions of her own. Her plans don’t include me. Like the loyal carnival monkey, I hand over my change and go off to make more. That particular night she’ll come to bed looking stunning. No face cream but light powdery skin and hair hanging in ringlets around her face. The trailer trash t-shirt is replaced by one of many silk gowns that I have bought for her. The panties are even different. The normal white bloomer shorts with the stained crotch are replaced with sheer fabric and lace that invite to be touched. Six months on the job and another bonus check I find myself being the object of my wife’s attention.
“Mmm baby.” She whispers to me. “Feeling frisky?”
I lower my book and look at her. “Really? I can’t remember the last time you were feeling frisky.” I lifted by book back up as if to read and then lowered it again. “Yes I do, I remember now. It was when I got my last bonus check.”
Kim seemed a little perplexed but that didn’t distract her from her mission. “Well I’m here and ready for you if you want me.”
“You know Kim, I’m here and ready almost every night but you take every effort to keep me at bay. You for some reason warm up when I bring home bonus checks. It is not necessary for you to seduce me to spend that check. You have permission, go spend it and save yourself the agony of having to sleep with me to feel good about it. I’ll sign it over for deposit and you can go spend it with people you give a shit about.” With that I turned off my light and rolled over. She tried to justify her actions but in the end I went to sleep and a little more of her left my heart.
If you are wondering, no I’m not some fat guy with sweaty armpits and excessive body hair. I’m 35 years old, a high-school athlete back in the day that learned of the benefits of eating healthy and working out. I can still lie back and press 220 on the bench. My last employer requested permission to use my picture in a trade magazine. They thought that I represented the successful American male, at least what most people think that person looks like. Would those people imagine that I have a wife that only sleeps with me when I give her extra money like a whore? I imagine not.
What does Kimberly look like? If I’m Ken, she’s Barbie. Just imagine your perfect woman. Mine has long smooth legs, hourglass figure, ample breasts, a long smooth neck and feminine shoulders. Her face is the epitome of everything soft and beautiful. Piercing blue eyes, full sensual lips and blinding white teeth that sparkle when she smiles. Her long golden hair flows from her head in a way that is elegant yet sexy. She is my angel. Used to be at least. An empty shell loses its appeal after so long. Eventually it empties the marriage and that dark cloud looms over the house. She thinks that she contributes more than required to this family. There’s no point in arguing. Let the monkey get to work.
I work in a high rise office building. Thirty stories anyway. The designers made a courtyard with trees and fountains and a walk way that meanders around it. It feels like a campus. We usually take lunch in the office. One of the assistants orders food from a local restaurant so we don’t have the expense or time of having to leave the office for lunch. If we’re doing well, which we usually are, the boss foots the tab. Another way he let’s us know that he sincerely appreciates the work that we do. After being at this firm for a few weeks, I discovered the courtyard. If the weather was nice I would sit at one of the tables and eat outside or, after finishing my lunch over a meeting, I would go to the courtyard and sit or stroll around the pathway looking at the birds and rabbits that would scurry across the path and carefully watch me as I passed. I would sometimes save a piece of bread and toss it to them as I did. This was just time that I used to clear my head and get a second wind to finish my day. Fresh air does wonders.
This is where I met Christine. I first noticed her in the halls and elevators of the office. I say ‘noticed’ her. There are probably people that I’ve seen a hundred times passing through the halls that I still don’t notice. So I should clarify. I first admired Christine as we passed in the halls and elevators of the office building. A man notices a beautiful woman. Christine was beautiful. I have to leave it at that right now.
As time passed, I was graced with Christine’s appearance in the courtyard, with increasing frequency. Christine and I didn’t work together, hell we didn’t work for the same company. We just happened to have employers that shared the same office building. She never approached me, and I never approached her. I just admired her from a distance. I didn’t want to ruin it with that sexual tension bullshit. She was a little like the rabbit in the bush. I could admire it from a distance, but if I approached it, it fled. I was happy admiring it. I would notice her looking at me sometimes and she would offer me a smile when I did. I gently returned it and would go about my business.
One day as I stood by the fountain lost in some deep thought, she approached me.
“Hey there.” Came this silky voice that startled me from my trance. I think I actually jumped. She held her hand out and smiled sweetly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m sorry, I’ll go.”
My heart leapt out of my chest. “No, no that’s okay. No I was just wondering how I was gong to meet another impossible schedule.” I smiled and laughed awkwardly. “I didn’t see you come up. I’m Mike by the way.” I offered her my hand.
“I’m Christine.” She said somewhat demurely and took my hand gently. “I’ve seen you out here quite a bit…” She said still holding my hand. “I just had to meet this mysterious guy that feeds the rabbits.”
She released my hand and we both laughed. “I grew up in the country…” I said with a boyish grin. “…I just can’t walk by the critters without tossing them a snack.”
“That’s so sweet. I’m sure they appreciate it.”
She said it as she pulled her hair back from her face. “After I saw you doing it, I tried it myself. They just come right up to you and let you watch them eat.”
“So what do you do here Christine?”
“I’m a paralegal for Harper, up on 24.”
“Oh yea, I see those people all the time. By the looks of it you must be pretty busy.”
“Why do you say that?”
Another boyish smile. “We have offices on 24, 25 and 26, our legal department is on 32…”
“Ahh, you must work for Dellato then.” She said with a brightened face. “What do you do?”
“A lot of research. I’m a market analyst… sort of. I have a degree in math and economics so…” I had said too much so I paused. “Dellato keeps me busy but I enjoy it.”
“You don’t have to be embarrassed, I know how you feel. I received my business degree from Notre Dame with a minor in history. I’m working on my law degree right now. So are you done with school?”
“Probably. I double majored in math and economics and mastered in business. I like school but it doesn’t pay too well. I had to work. So here I am.”
“I see there’s a Mrs. Mike. She must be proud to have such a man.” I felt awkward all of a sudden. I looked down and rolled the ring on my finger. “I come out here almost every day and wonder about that.” I gave Christine an apologetic smile.
“How long have you been married?” She asked as though the awkwardness did not exist.
“Almost 12 years. Is there a Mr. Christine?”
She smiled. “Nope, no Mr. Christine. School and work take up all of my time.”
Before I seemed to even think I had asked her. “I can’t imagine a beautiful woman like you not even dating the possible future Mr. Christine?”
“I haven’t dated or done anything that could be called a date in…” She thought for a moment. “…Probably since your tenth anniversary.”
“Really?!” I admonished her. “All work and no play…”
“Make Christine a dull girl.” She finished. “I know.” Her face brightened. “We seem to be out here alone every day. We should have a sociable lunch together instead of eating alone. If Mrs. Mike wouldn’t mind?”
My heart skipped a beat. “Mrs. Preston? No she wouldn’t’ mind.”
“So you’re Mike Preston. I’m Christine Gray. You can call me Christie.
So Mrs. Preston wouldn’t mind?” She asked again for confirmation or maybe searching for something else.
“Na.” I tried to be sincere. Christine gently stepped into my space. “Wouldn’t mind Mike? Or doesn’t seem to care?” It was a bold move but the look on my face told her everything. One unintentional expression told her the status of my life.
She perked up and looked up at my downcast face. “I think you spend too much time out here with the critters Mike Preston. I’m taking you to lunch. Okay?”
I felt good about it. A beautiful woman just asked me to join her for lunch. Christie pulled out a piece of paper and wrote on it. ‘C. Gray. 11:00 3rd level parking garage. Don’t forget!’
She folded it and put it into my hand. “If anything happens call me. The switchboard will patch you through.”
She was standing so close I could smell her perfume and powder. It was intoxicating. It smelled nothing like cold cream I later thought.
“I’ll be there Christie.”
“Promise?” She said with a knowing smile.
She turned and walked away. I couldn’t wait to get back to work. Today was a new day.
I passed on the office lunch that day. I went to the elevator at 10:50 and found myself in the parking garage at 10:58. I felt awkward stepping into the garage not knowing where to go. Before my thoughts went much further, a Lexus with tinted windows pulled around the corner and stopped in front of me. The passenger window lowered and there was Christie, all smiles. “Ready?”
I opened the door and got in. Christie raised the window and we drove off.
“So where are we going?” I asked to kill the silence.
“We are going to a park. I made a lunch for us to eat outside so we could visit without all of the commotion of a restaurant. It’ll be relaxing.”
We visited and laughed along the way. I pushed back the feelings that threatened to ruin it. I wasn’t cheating I told myself. Big deal. Kim didn’t want to talk or… anything, so I’m talking to someone who wants to talk to me. Besides, she’s had lunch with guys and goes and does as she chooses. Just spend and go, go and spend. Whatever suits her. We pulled onto a gravel drive and drove down and alley of weeping willows to a grass field that had tables scattered widely apart. Christie pulled her car onto the grass near one of the tables.
I couldn’t help but ask. “How did you find this place?”
“Well… It’s a park that was built after a friend of my grandfathers’ died. This was where his first home was way back in the early century. He put it in his will to have it built so that family and friends could enjoy the land as much as he did. No one ever come out here except for the family events.”
“This is great.”
We both got out of the car and unloaded the baskets from the trunk. I noticed that Christie was dressed very casually. “Your firm let’s you dress casual don’t they?”
Christie smiled. “No. I’m actually off today, so this is my dress code.”
“What are you doing up at work if your off, you should get to enjoy your day off.”
“I didn’t go into work today. I’m enjoying my day off having lunch with a friend.”
Christine and I talked and laughed. We joked about work and life in general. We ate her wonderful lunch. I told her she should give up law and be a chef. The food was wonderful.
When she talked she would place her hand on my arm. When she laughed she would put it on my shoulder. I didn’t reciprocate but I did like it.
As the humor wound down and we finished our lunch in thoughtful silence, she asked a simple question. “What are you thinking Mike?”
There was that damn boyish grin again. “Me?” Duh. “Nothing.”
“Come on Mike, your thinking something. I want to know what it is.”
I shook my head slowly and bit at my lip. “Na. It’s nothing. I’m sorry. So how do you…” She cut me off.
I tried another joke. “Hey, a man’s mind is nowhere for a lady to be, believe me.”
“Please Mike. What were you thinking just now? The truth.”
I silently stood and began clearing the table and packing the containers. Christie stood and stepped in front of me. She raised her hands and took hold of the front of my shirt so that there was little space between us. “Mike, you can say anything to me, even that you never want to see me again and I won’t be upset. I know your married and I don’t want do anything to harm that, whatever it is just tell me. It’s between you and I.”
I took a deep breath and sighed and then looked into her eyes. “I find you very attractive Christie. I really do. That’s what I was thinking.”
“I know that’s not all. What else?”
“Than that you’re beautiful? It was just a fleeting thought.”
“And I want to know it. I’ll tell you what I was thinking if you tell me.”
“Are you going to sue me for harassment?” I said with a chuckle.
“Hardly. You and I are out here in the middle of nowhere Mike. What is said here will stay here.”
“I’ll tell you exactly what I was thinking Christie.”
I took another breath. “I was thinking about how much fun I’m having with you here today and how beautiful you are and…” I paused. “I’m just really enjoying this.”
Christie smirked. That look on her face that said ‘I detect bullshit’.
My bullshit detector-detector tried to compensate. “What?!” I said with an ‘I’m busted’ smile on my face.
“I see it in your eyes Mike, I want to hear it.”
“Christie, a married man shouldn’t answer questions like that. I know, you know, And I’m married, I don’t need to say it.”
“Something was wrong long before we ever met Mike. I don’t need to know anything about that. You don’t have to be afraid Mike, I’m not your wife or whoever it is that has your insides in knots. I am saying to speak your mind because it is your mind and I want to hear it from you.”
“I really like you. You’re so sweet and so beautiful and I could never say something that would hurt your feelings.”
“Mike! Goddamnit!” Christie raised her voice. “Quit talking to your wife! I am not your wife!” Her voice softened a little. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe you thought kindly of me. We respect each other, we’re attracted to each other and we like each other. That’s out of the way, now tell me something you really want to tell me and haven’t. And try doing it in your own words!”
“I want to fuck you!” I blurted out. “How’s that for the real Mike? I want to rip your clothes off and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you.” I could feel my reddened face and was actually breathing heavier. Was I angry or humiliated at my outburst.
Christie smiled and pulled me closer to her. Was that so hard? I would like that very much Mike. I’m glad you said it that way too because it expresses how you truly feel.”
My vision seemed to cloud over and my head was swimming.
“I would like to spend that time with you Mike. You are serious aren’t you?”
I only nodded my head as I looked deep into her eyes.
“I haven’t been with a man in… a very long time Mike. You can fuck me, no strings attached, just a nice time together.”
I tried to joke. “Did you just say fuck?”