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Authors: Mark Henry

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Balustrade

BOOK: Balustrade
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Balustrade

by

Mark Henry

 

 

 

Balustrade

Book One in the Carnal Staircase Series

by Mark Henry

 

Copyright © 2014 by Mark Henry

Cover Design © 2014 by Mark Henry

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

 

 

1

 

 

To call the
road grumbling beneath Hilary and Jack a “highway” would be unreasonable, silly, even deeming it a “road” would give the bumpy stretch of weedy dirt too much credibility, too much caché. And yet, someone had seen fit to spike the sides with flashy speed limit signs, as if traveling faster than ten miles an hour were possible without breaking an axle in its knee-deep potholes. If anything, the route was merely a path, a long, zigzaggy thing that meandered through either prairie, vacant farmland, or if you blinked really fast, a huge desert.

Her husband
Jack had called it the “scablands,” looking up from the atlas, a smirk rippling his lips in lieu of an actual joke.


That’s dumb,” she’d said, but now, she could certainly see the resemblance to a slow-healing sore.

D
ry patchy spots fought for space with tufts of hair-like grasses. Gashes cut through arid soil like the cracked skin of psoriasis victims. It was almost as dire as the ache spreading through Hilary’s back with every violent jostling.

If
someone could just Band-Aid the road’s gouges, cuts and pockmarks before they throttled my insides out, that’d be great.

They did have somewhere to be, after all, regardless of whether
Hilary wanted to actually get there.


It’s not built for a smooth ride, honey!” Jack yelled over the roar of the car’s straining shock absorbers. “It’s a fire safety road!”


That’s optimistic!” she cried out, bracing her hand against the roof of the car as they bucked over another spat of deep potholes. “Do you have a match?”

As usual, Jack neglected to laugh. One of a plethora of reasons their marriage was as stagnant as an under sink drip pan.
Emotional blackmail, little white, gray and black lies, incompatible food cravings. The list went on and on.


I mean, would anyone really mind if the entire place caught fire? There aren’t any homes in danger, no towns, not even a single rustic hut.”

Jack sniffed.

Hilary rolled her eyes.

As far as
she could tell, in a place like this, it was impossible to determine the beginning from the middle of nowhere, or the end for that matter.

As the road seemed to even out,
Hilary relaxed a bit and fiddled with the black envelope in her lap, an invitation to a couples retreat carelessly named Balustrade—didn’t that mean stair rail? Would they need to hold on to something to make it through the week? Was a step climber involved?

If they were shooting for a
metaphor with “Balustrade” they hadn’t succeeded. Not had she had put much effort into figuring out what it meant. That would belie her supreme indifference to the whole thing.

Her mind was pretty much made up.

She’d been venturing toward the D-word for a while and so when Jack suggested therapy, she’d barely registered the request, merely nodding as though sitting on a couch talking shit about your “loved” one had become an accepted step on the road to single, right next to separate bedrooms and clandestinely deleting the other’s DVR programming.


We don’t make love,” Jack had said, pacing the living room after finding an episode of his favorite show had mysteriously disappeared from his recorded queue. He’d worn what she remembered to be his “earnest” expression, one eye narrowed, its correlating cheek puffed up in a sad wince. Hilary figured he was shooting for “pained” or “neglected” but hit the bull’s-eye on “constipated.”

She’d fo
llowed him into the bedroom anyway, noticing his big bare feet padding on the hardwood, leaving damp impressions that faded quickly. She wondered when he’d taken off his shoes and socks, but not why. Jack had learned his lesson about forgetting to take those off as part of an argument that included the following exchange:


Those dark socks make you look like a retired insurance salesman.”


Do you want me to turn off the lights, so you don’t have to see them?”


No, I want you to take them off so I don’t imagine I’m fucking my father.”

He
had laughed
then
.

The car bucked and rattled her out of the memory.

They passed a sign that read: “13 More Miles” in big block letters.

Beneath that, in red swatches of paint, so sloppily rendered, Hilary suspected finger painting:
“Until You Burn.”


Jesus,” Hilary breathed and glanced over at Jack, who shrugged it off like a muscle stitch and kept driving, the tires grinding out a rhythm in the gravel. A pock-pock-pock that soon coaxed her eyes to close and their history to well up fresh.

 

***

 

Jack had pushed the door open and slipped out of his suit with his back to her, folding his pants neatly over the arm of his bedside chair, rolling his tie into a cinnamon roll and balancing it atop the pants. The shirt, seemingly aged beyond its usefulness, had been wadded and dropped to the floor. He turned, revealing the tented front of his striped boxers, the elastic pitched away from his belly.

Their sexlessness
wasn’t that he’d let himself go, either.

Jack worked out religiously. He even called his gym
“church” as in, “No, I can’t take you to brunch this morning, I’m going to
church
” or “I’d rather work out at
church
than go for a walk. It’s too cold outside, don’t you think?”

Clueless but beautiful
ly constructed.

Jack still had the smooth abdomen of a twenty-something despite his rapid descent into his late thirties. Meticulous trimming of his chest
hair—the sight of which made Hilary occasionally self-conscious of her decision not to shave her own pubic hair (despite Jack’s requests or probably because of them)—revealed the striation and cabling of a much younger, unfamiliar man. Jack had been doughy and pale when they’d first met. A body built on cafeteria fries and beer. Intense blue eyes hidden behind thick, black framed glasses, perfect cheekbones and jaw line peeking from behind the freshmen twenty. The body of that studious kid had long since been pumped and cross-trained into this person.

A stranger.

He’d crossed the bedroom, a smile playing on his lips and a forgotten promise twitching between his legs.

Hilary
glanced up at his head. It vaguely complimented his body, she supposed. Jack had been going prematurely gray since high school and now a shock of white pulled at his temples, blending back into the salt and pepper in a classic horror monster way. His face was tan, smooth except for his eyes that crinkled like paper at the corners.

Jack wore
, as always, a sad little smile, crooked at one corner like an idea got caught there and never escaped. When they'd first met, she'd been intrigued by that smile,
not
fallen for it—as so many of the girls she knew had. Hilary was too cautious to make decisions based on mannerisms or even genetics. The way he looked at her as though he'd already lost her, now, that was something.

Jack had been a thoughtful
young man, not in the sense that he'd open the door for her instinctively, not in a gentlemanly way, but rather he was lost in his own head for a good deal of the time.

Smart. An intellectual.

The glasses ended up in the junk drawer a few years after they were married, about the time he'd begun to worship cardio—keeping that gym life separate from their interactions, never inviting her, rarely discussing it. He opted for disposable contacts that oddly enough suited him as they reddened the water lines of his lids as though he'd just been crying.

Always just.

Hilary slipped the pajama bottoms down her slim legs and stepped out of the mound of cozy cotton at her feet. She hadn't worn panties when they were younger and would often walk around their apartment in just one of Jack's tanks just short of covering her. It wasn't that she enjoyed being provocative, entirely—Hilary was comfortable going unnoticed in most situations—but for Jack there'd been a wildness to the act that kept him in a constant state of arousal (in those early days). Slipping the panties off next, she watched as Jack bit his lip, eyes tracing her outline, her furred mound, and underneath, the subtle cleft of her, the swelling petals of her sex.

Jack watched her intently as she cupped her breasts through the thin
tee shirt, as she coaxed her nipples hard and sighed for him, playing the part one more time.

Just once more, she’d told herself.

She hadn’t wanted to be cruel, despite the fact that they both knew the relationship was underwater; Hilary taking in big mouthfuls of bracken doubt, Jack still treading.

His hands found her waist, smooth palms brushing up her sides,
tugging at her shirt. Hilary lifted her arms and tossed back her head as he slipped the garment over her shoulders, hands brushing her skin. He hurriedly released himself from his boxers, rolling them down impressive thighs and then pushed in close, nuzzling Hilary's neck, laying kisses into the hollows, placing his tongue there, tasting her, his cock trapped between them, stiff and throbbing against her belly.

Years before she would have been eager to drop to her knees and suck him off, but not now. She could tell he wanted it. Hell, she didn’t need to keep that in her register of denied
requests; he mumbled the words often and did so then as he took her nipples into his mouth, smacking his wet lips against them. “Do it. Please.”

She pried
him away and met his gaze again, reaching down and gripping his cock, slipping her fingers around the girth of it, pumping it briefly until she coaxed a sigh from his slack mouth, a whisper that hung between them sadly.


No,” she said and turned away, still holding him, guiding him to the bed. With the other hand she gestured to the condoms he'd already extracted from his side table drawer. Despite stopping the pill a couple of years back, they’d been unsuccessful at creating a huge mistake—the only time possibly—and so they’d returned to the old standby, regardless of Jack’s insistence that “Rubbers reduce sensitivity.”


You’ve yet to have a problem coming, however,” she’d said in response.

Hilary
leaned over the bed and straightened her legs, squeezing them together and positioning her cunt, setting the tone. “Fuck me like this,” she said, resting her chin in the palm of her hand. If she’d had a magazine, she’d have feigned flipping the pages. If for no other reason than to get the point across that this was all for him.

Also, she couldn’t reach the remote.

Jack didn't need to be told twice. He tore into the wrapper, rolled it on and was rubbing the head of his cock between her labia, lingering on her hooded clit, before she could even consider changing her mind. Hilary heard the soft smacking of his mouth wetting his fingers and then they were testing her, slipping inside her, opening her, readying.

Despite
Hilary’s lack of enthusiasm, it had nothing to do with Jack's cock. Thicker than most, it was never their problem. Nor was her ability to enjoy fucking. Hilary could orgasm grinding zippers, but even this, her husband fitting his hard cock inside her, forcing a gasp from her lungs, had become hollow, perfunctory.

Something needed to change.

And then, as so often happened, Hilary was able to stop thinking about her dissatisfaction and gave herself over to her need.

She
matched his thrusts, pushing back on him violently as though their love could be exhumed from the depths of penetration. He moaned and kneaded her shoulders, swept his palm up and down her spine as he fucked her. Hilary slid her hand between her legs, spreading her lips then tightening them and her fingers around Jack's thrusting cock, his pelvis slapping her knuckles.

He hunched over her, wrapping her in a hug as he
shoved deep, whispering, “I love you” over and over like a mantra, like brainwashing. But she pushed away the thought.

One of her problems, thinking too much.

Jack lifted her, laying her on her side without withdrawing. He pressed his face into her hair and breathed her in. His cock was all fluid motion, and taking her in long strokes. He'd learned to work the subtle depths and valleys, coaxing yelps and moans, ribbons of pleasure that coiled beneath her skin.


Yes!” Hilary shouted.

She clutched at her sex, her fingers vibrating in a frame about her engorged clit, occasionally teasing it, stealing juice from Jack's pounding cock and rubbing herself until her stomach finally clenched and her breath caught in the prison of her chest and the waves of pleasure washed through her
, coursed, pulsed. She cried out as she came, the sound a struggling choked vibrato.

Jack was panting, close, he clutched at her instinctively as he drove his hard prick deep. She'd expected him to slip out of her after he came, but he held on and she heard a soft sobbing even as his cock
jumped within her.

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