Beyond the Quiet: Romantic Thriller (19 page)

BOOK: Beyond the Quiet: Romantic Thriller
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An hour later, Terry groaned and flopped onto his back. I curled up next to him, my head on his shoulder, my body tingling with satisfaction. Playfully, I leaned over and nipped Terry’s nipple with my teeth.

“Good God, woman, aren’t you ever satisfied? I’m gonna need vitamins.”

I laughed and played with his penis, lifting it up, then letting go and watching as it flopped back down. It was astounding, but after twenty-five years of marriage, I was just now learning about the male body.

Terry folded his arms behind his head and watched.

After a while, I curled my hand around his penis and it immediately hardened.

“Amazing,” I said. I squeezed, and it hardened even more.

Terry groaned. “I’m not sure I can go another round so soon.”

“Oh, you’re safe. I just want to see.” I concentrated on his penis, watching his reaction when I squeezed and let go. “Show me what feels good.”

“It all feels good.” His voice sounded strained. I glanced up and saw beads of sweat on his forehead.

“Show me. I want to learn what pleases you.”

He reached down, covered my hand with his, and
showed me. This time he was the one  clutching the sheet with both hands.

I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing, but I tried to mimic the x-rated movies I’d seen years ag
o and took him into my mouth.

It seemed like just a few seconds, but soon he whispered urgently that if I didn’t want
to taste him, I’d better immediately pull away. But I didn’t move.

Moments later, l
ying beside Terry, I felt so smug that I’m sure I was grinning like the Cheshire cat from
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Propping my head in my hand and watching, I calmly waited until he began to breathe a little more normally.

“I’m hungry,” I finally said. “Want a snack?”

“Lord above, woman. I need something. You’re gonna kill me.”

Laughing, I rolled out of bed. Always, in my married life, I kept my robe by my side of the bed so I could slip into it immediately after sex. I wasn’t exactly ashamed of my body, but since I knew I was lacking, I didn’t show it off. Now, I stood nude and l
eisurely made for the bathroom.

Feeling Terry’s heavy-lidded eyes watching me, I exaggerated my walk, swinging my hips like a sex kitten. When I glanced back at him, he winked at me like a lecherous old man.

I laughed and changed direction, strolling to his side of the bed. I leaned down to give him a kiss.

“Damn, I’m a lucky man,” he said with a grin.

Heading for the bathroom, I donned my robe, letting it hang open. In the kitchen, while gathering ingredients for soup and salad, I found myself smiling. I’d smiled more with Terry in the past couple of days than I had in my entire life. If I didn’t quit, the men in the white coats would be after me.

Then the phone rang.

“Mom?” It was Shanna’s voice.

Chapter Twenty-Three


Hi honey. I’m so glad to hear from you.” For some absurd reason, I tightened and belted my robe.

“Do you have some time? I just wanted to talk.”

Something was wrong. Shanna never called to just chat. “Are you okay? Kyle? And Leif?”

“We’re okay, Mom. I just needed to hear your voice.”

“What’s wrong, honey? How’s your pregnancy going?”

There was only silence on the other end. I gripped the phone. What on earth was wrong?

“Mom,” Shanna finally said, her voice a whisper, “can you come? I’ve been bleeding, and I’m scared.”

Oh no. “How bad?”

“It was just a little spotting, and it’s stopped now, but the doctor wants me to take it easy.” She laughed. “You can imagine trying to take it easy with Kyle around.”

I wanted to rush to my baby, but I couldn’t go now. My commission hadn’t come through yet and I’d cut up my credit cards. My bank account balance wa
s almost zero and I didn’t have money to pay for a plane ticket. Damn, everything was such a mess. If I didn’t get more sales coming in, I couldn’t even pay the mortgage, much less plane fare.

“I’m so sorry, honey. What does the doctor say? Is there any danger of miscarriage?”

“You know how doctors are. He says any bleeding in the first twenty-two weeks can be dangerous, but he also said many women experience spotting.”

“Are they doing anything else? How about putting you in the hospital?”

“He doesn’t think that’s necessary yet. They’re doing some hormone tests. I guess I’m just wanting my mommy.”

“Oh, honey, I wish I could be there.”

“Why can’t you? Surely you can get away now.”

How could I tell her what had happened? I didn’t want to risk upsetting her, not now when she was bleeding. Yet I didn’t want her to think I didn’t care. I suddenly remembered a new credit card that had been in the mail with one of those introductory offers. The only problem was that I’d tossed it in the garbage. Had I thrown the trash out? But even if I filled it out, it would take a few days to get approved. Oh Lord, what should I do? I felt helpless and even more angry at Mac f
or putting me in this position.

Terry entered the kitchen, and after a quick peck on my cheek, rinsed the coffee pot and refilled it. I waved, trying to get his attention so he’d keep quiet. The last thing I wanted was for Shanna to know about Terry. At least not yet. Since he was rummaging in the cupboards and didn’t see me, I went to him and made
keep quiet
gestures, pointing to the phone.

“What’s going on, Mom?”

“Just getting something to drink.”

Not realizing it was Shanna, Terry laughed.

“Is that a man? Mom, do you have
a man

“It’s the repairman, honey.” Repair for what? I went totally blank. I frantically gestured to Terry. Help! “The, uh, faucet, uh, plugged up.” Shi
t. That didn’t even make sense.

“How could you get something to drink if the faucet was plugged? Mom, something’s going on.” Her voice changed, became harder. “Are you seeing someone? Is that why you won’t come here?”

I had to tell her everything. But how? What was the best way to explain things so it wouldn’t endanger her or her baby? “That’s not the reason, Shanna. I need to talk—”

“Not the reason? So there
a man involved?”

“Honey, let me explain—”

“How could you? How could you have someone so quickly after Dad died? Well, forget coming here. I wouldn’t want to take you away from your new life.” Then she hung up.

Feeling breathless, I stared at the dead phone.

“Honey?” Terry said. “You okay?”

I know I looked in his direction, but I couldn’t get my voice to work. As if in slow motion, I looked at the phone, still clutched in my hands. Terry gently pried it out of my hands, placed it on the ta
ble, and folded me in his arms.

“I’m so sorry, honey. If I’d known, I would’ve stayed in the bedroom.”

I rested my head on his shoulder, and when my legs gave way, he picked me up and carried me to the bed.

The next couple of hours passed in a daze. I slept, woke, and slept again. Terry was always near, sitting on the chair next to the bed, and one time when I woke, he was lying next to me, his mouth slightly open in a gentle snore. I snuggled next
to him and went back to sleep.

When I woke again, I heard the clink of pots and pans from the kitchen and caught the spicy tomatoey aroma of spaghetti sauce. My stomach rumbled and I realized it was around nine and I was hungry. After splashing my face with cold water and clearing the fuzz from my mouth
, I made my way to the kitchen.

The table was set for two, and Terry stood at the sink rinsing the noodles. Squinting in the harsh overhead light, I filled a cup with cold coffee and stuck it in the microwave.

Terry put the noodles on the table and gave me a hug. “Feel better?”

I nodded. The microwave dinged, so I fixed my coffee and took a sip. “Need some help?” I asked, eyeing the table.

“Nope, about got it. Hope you’re hungry, ‘cause I think I fixed enough for four.” Besides spaghetti, he’d made a tossed salad, hot garlic bread and a fruit salad for dessert. We didn’t talk much over dinner, just kept it light. After dessert, we left the dishes and wandered into the living room.

He sprawled onto the wing chair. “Want to talk about it?” He opened his arms in invitation and I settled in my favorite place, on his lap with my head on his shoulder.

Over the next couple of hours, I told him about Shanna and me and finally, what she’d said in our last conversation.

“I don’t know what to do. I can’t risk her pregnancy by telling her about her father, but I don’t want her to think I don’t care.”

“You’re going to have to tell her sooner or later.”

“I know. Just not now.”

“Honey, you have to go to her. She’s your daughter and there’s no other way.”

I knew he was right, but why did this have to happen now? And why couldn’t I ev
er seem to get things together?

“Don’t worry about the money,” Terry said. I’ll pay.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I can’t let you do that.”

“Let’s don’t waste time arguing about it. Your daughter needs you, and, you may not realize it, but you need her.” Before I could say another thing, Terry went on. “How soon could you be ready?”

How soon? I sat up.

“I’d have to get clothes together, call the office, make reservations, and....”

Terry picked up the phone. “I’m going to get you on the next plane out of here. I suggest you go pack.”

“But I can’t just leave, not like this.”

“Give me one good reason why not.”

“I can’t take your money.”

“Sure you can. If it’s your conscience bothering you, marry me. That way I can take it out in trade.” He grinned in that lecherous way that melted my heart. “When you return, we can make our plans. As soon as my divorce is final, we’ll be married. We’ll travel and you won’t ever have to worry about money again.”

I was going to Shanna’s! I gave Terry a quick kiss, scrambled off his lap
, and ran to the bedroom closet to pull out my suitcase. What clothes should I take? I’d only be there a few days, just until I made sure Shanna was okay. And when I could see to my satisfaction that she was doing well, I’d tell her about her father and her half-brother. I wasn’t sure yet what I’d tell her about her aunt and uncle. Even though I’d love the satisfaction of ripping away any affection Shanna might feel for Stan and Maggie, I didn’t want her to lose her aunt and uncle. I’d just have to tell her the entire story and let her make her own decisions. What a relief to finally have it all in the open.

I heard Terry on the phone with the airlines and smiled. He took such good care of me. I couldn’t remember when I had felt this good. When I returned home, we’d move in together, and when his divorce was final, we’d...We’d what?

Just after I closed the suitcase and picked it up, I thought about what Terry had said. Marriage? Travel? He was going to take care of me? Wasn’t that how I’d felt when I married Mac? What about my new-found sense of independence? Was I ready to give that up before I even had time to fully experience it?

Still clutching my suitcase, I sank onto the bed, knowing I couldn’t do it. Not right now. Terry’s plans sounded wonderful, and I felt sure some time in the future I might want to do all those things. But now wasn’t the time. I was still learning about myself. If I ever married again, I had to feel I was a full partner, not someone who needed to be taken care of. And I ha
d to know the timing was right.

After placing the suitcase back on the bed, I walked back into the kitchen and caught Terry’s eye.

“Just a moment, he said into the phone. “The next flight leaves in an hour, but we can’t make that one, so there’s a red-eye in four hours. That’ll give us time to—”

“Put down the phone, Terry. I can’t go.”

He stared at me, mumbled something into the phone, then hung up. “Why, Lisa? I don’t understand.”

“I’ll try to explain.” I slid onto a kitchen chair. “When I was a child, my mother and step-father governed my life and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Then, when Mac offered a stable life, I was grateful. When I started feeling dissatisfaction, Mac wouldn’t talk about it so I thought it was me. I didn’t want to upset everything so I reverted back to my childhood and stopped feeling, but the only way I could make life bearable was to make sure everything was perfect. Everything had to be perfect, you see, because then I would be acceptable. And safe. But in trying to make everything perfect, I pushed
my husband and daughter away.”

“Your husband was an ass.”

I leaned over to kiss Terry.

“Yes, in some ways,” I said. “But I allowed it by closing down instead of fighting back. With you, I’m learning, for the first time in my life, who I really am. I’m discovering that perhaps I am a different person.”

“Just don’t get too different. I happen to like you just the way you are.”

I settled on his lap. “That’s wonderful, but I’m still in the process of discovering
I’m forty-four years old and just now discovering what I like, even what I really think. Until I get to know that person a little better, I don’t want to lean on you or anyone else.”

“Can I still be in your life while you’re discovering you?”

I gave him a quick kiss. “I’ll gladly share my life with you, but I can’t let you govern it.”

“I’m not sure I understand what that has to do with lending you money, but I’ll go along.”

“Whatever it means, I need to be my own person and find my own way, emotionally and financially.”

“Okay, person. What are you going to do about your daughter?”

“I don’t have the slightest idea,” I told him. “I just wish that being independent wasn’t so damn hard.”


At midnight, I was pacing the house. What could I do about Shanna? I hadn’t wanted to burden her about everything that had happened since Mac died. Losing her father had been terrible enough. And now, because of her medical condition, I didn’t want to risk a shouting match on the phone and upset her further.

But now she thought I was sleeping around after her father’s death, and worse, that I preferred being with a man ra
ther than going to comfort her.

I had thought the exact same thing a
s a child.

The similarity hit me so violently that my legs gave way and I sank into the nearest chair, thoughts, scenes of the past whirling through my mind so fast that I felt dizzy. I saw Mom standing by as my stepfather made more of his cutting remarks, making sure I knew how lowly I was, how insignificant my life was in the
issues of the day, such as making sure his brand new suit was pressed just so, spending money on his suits and ties and French cufflinks when neither Mom nor I had a decent outfit to wear.

For years, Mom proudly kept a snapshot of my stepfather and me when I was fourteen, taken in front of the old sofa she and I had scrounged from Salvation Army. There he was, looking all dapper in new suit and tie, and I was dressed in cutoffs and a threadbare tee-shirt. It wasn’t threadbare because I
’d wanted it that way. Couldn’t Mom see?

When I needed something for school, I had to work for it because there was never any extra money, but when my stepfather wanted new cufflinks, she alw
ays found money for him.

How many times had I longed for her to say something to my stepfather when he harangued me for something, and how many times had she avoided my eyes. Most of the time she simply looked away or left
the room. I’d felt abandoned.

Was I doing the same thing to Shanna? Had I made her feel insignificant in my life? If so, I had a lot of correcting to do.

I’d call her first thing in the morning, but even now I knew it would be difficult. The last few times we’d talked had turned ugly, and what I needed to tell her was too important to chance her hanging up. Almost running to the computer, I logged on and began a letter, consumed by the need to set things right.

BOOK: Beyond the Quiet: Romantic Thriller
5.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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