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Authors: Jade Goodmore

Winter Blues (10 page)

BOOK: Winter Blues
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“I’d
love to be able to sing blues,” I declare. “It’s so sexy.”

“If anyone can pull it off it’s you,” he insists, tilting his
beer at me. I scoff and swig from my own bottle. “I’m serious. You’re gorgeous, but more than that, you’re talented. Why aren’t you singing professionally? I’ve no doubt you’d get a record deal.”

I smile toothily.
“Thanks, but it doesn’t interest me.” I shrug, playing with the label on my beer. “That was my parent’s life. They were in a band. Me too, for a while. I loved performing, I still do, but I’ve seen a side to the music industry that I don’t like. There are so many temptations, and we both know that I’m not the best at saying no.” I watch him smile a weak smile. “Besides, I like singing for me.”

“You sing for me
too,” he counters. I shrug. “Does anybody sing for you?”

I shake my head and catch
a glimpse of the ever fleeting time. “I really should go.”

“Let me sing for you. Just one song.” Blue
’s dangerous eyes don’t look so dangerous when they’re as wide and pleading as they are now.

I weigh up my options. Veda and Nina are putting on their jackets, meaning it will just be the two of us. I’m meant to be keeping things in the friend zone and alone time while being sung to doesn’t sound entirely platonic. But it would be rude to just run now after we’ve had such a good time tonight. He’s kindly taken me under his wing, and really, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed myself this much.

Blue notices my hesitance so I bluff my reason for it. “Let me go pee first, okay?” I smile before hopping down from my stool and walking to the bathroom. After doing my business I wash my hands, entranced with my reflection in the mirror. The curl of my hair is wild from the humidity but it works, and my makeup is a little smudged around the eyes. What really catches my attention though is how alive I look. My cheeks are flush and my eyes bright.

I look so happy
, and I am. I look so free, and I’m not.

I shouldn’t be
.

N
ot because of a man other than my husband anyway. I’ve tried to kid myself into believing that the attraction I feel for Blue is for his looks alone and that it can easily be overcome, but my attraction to Blue is burying itself deep within our shared passion for music, and when he’s all that I have to share it with then the fight is so much harder.

With the weight of my reali
zation on my shoulders I return, resolute in my decision to leave, only to be tempted by the sight that awaits me.

 

 

 

 

14

Darlene

 

The girls have gone and the lights have been dimmed. Blue is
sitting on the stage, tinkling the keys on the piano with the light of the spotlight overhead haunting his perfect profile. A cigarette burns freely in a nearby ashtray and the smoke is drawn to him, much like everyone else, me included.

I walk over, submitting to the pull that has been there all night. He doesn’t look at me when I stand next to him. Instead, he shifts right and nods to the space he has made at his stool. I sit, knowing damn well that I shouldn’t.

“I think I should go now, Blue.”

He continues to feather the keys as he shakes his head. He looks up but only to gesture with his deep browns to the Corona that sits atop
the piano. I sigh, pointedly, before I take a sip. I don’t really want to drink anymore but I surrender, my ability to say no having left around the seventh bottle of beer.

Pointing to the cigarette that simmers above us, I state, “You don’t smoke often.”

“Only when I’m stressed,” he answers, still refusing to meet my eyes.

“Why are you stressed
now?”

Finally looking at me, I can see the change in him but he doesn’t voice his reason for it. He simply regards me as if I should already know.
But I only know the reason for my own misery.

Still playing, he looks at the cigarette and raises his eyebrows and chin in a gesture of, ‘gimme’. I pick it up and place it softly on his lips for him t
o take a long drag before signaling for me to take it. Instead of putting it back in the ashtray I bring it to my own lips. Sucking gently, I reacquaint myself with the taste and feel of the smoke as it coasts down my throat. I exhale with relief at the immediate satisfaction I find.

I’m not a smoker, but I dabbled with the idea through university. So many of my friends smoked and when I spent so much of my time in bars with them I inevitably took on the habit. It never stuck though. Once I was sober, the idea seemed abhorrent, but the desire has never completely gone away, not after a few drinks anyway.

“That looks incredibly sexy,” Blue says, his eyes focused unashamedly on my lips as the smoke passes through them.

“It’s filthy,” I answer, mocking a snobby accent as best I can.

“Then…that looks filthily sexy.”

I attempt a weak smile but it feels wrong somehow. Blue’s pained expression has rendered this a smile-free zone and so I sag further into my stool and take another drag on the dwindling cigarette.

Blue’s music is a song I don’t recognize but the emotion behind it is something I am becoming rather familiar with. Is he wordlessly trying to tell me something? I wouldn’t want to presume that I have anything to do with his demeanor, even if he has everything to do with mine.

The silence that envelopes us when Blue stops playing is almost painful, so much to my relief, he starts playing again. I think I recogni
ze the tune and when Blue begins to sing I know for sure that I do. His voice is so soft that I have to strain to here the lyrics of Otis Redding’s
These Arms Of Mine
. The pressure of his words squeezes the air from my lungs and I have to grip the seat to stop myself from doing as he asks. Blue oozes Otis Redding’s smoothness but the pain is all his own. Does he find it easier to sing his thoughts rather than speak them? I can strongly relate.

Blue’s eyes leave his fingers where the
y have been for the entire song and find me, trapping me. I never could have imagined that he could hold so much depth in those dangerous eyes. He’s only ever the upbeat showman to anyone else. Is this another performance? Somehow I doubt it. His eyes are pleading and I have to fight harder and harder to stay seated.

He continues to croon, his eyes tight as his voice riffs effortlessly up and down the scale. I don’t know whether it’s the talent behind this display or the honesty, but as he continues to address my heart I find myself turning in my stool to face him. Taking his hard jaw in my hand and stroking my thumbs over his bristly cheeks I touch my forehead to his. His fingers are no longer playing but he is still singing, his voice quiet and his breath hot against my lips. “I need your, your tender lips...” So I give them to him, softly but with intent.

This is a goodbye.

Our lips are gentle as they mesh together but his hands on my hips are anything but. He lifts me from the stool and guides me in front of him, leaning me against the keys of the piano as a chorus of disjointed notes sound out. He stands and leans in to bring his lips back to mine but I deny them, instead
, wrapping my hands around his wide shoulders and burying my face into his stone-hard chest.

Pulling away, I fight the ever present desire that hounds me whenever I am in Blue’s presence. “In some other time, some other place, this could have been something amazing. But not now. I’m married.”

“Baby...”

“I’m not...” I sigh heavily, breathing out the fire that is raging inside of me. “
…I’m not your baby. If you care for me, as a friend, then you’ll let me walk out that door and you’ll never let me back in. I can’t see you anymore. When I see you, I lose the ability to fight this and I can’t...I just can’t lose.” Somehow managing to pry myself away from Blue I leave to grab my purse and my jacket from the bar and summon all of my strength to walk away.

As a strong hand wraps around my wrist and spins me, I close my eyes, not wanting to confront what I am leaving behind.

“Darlene,” he says as he snakes an arm around my waist. “Open your eyes, Darlene.”

I do, because I’m weak, and I regret it immediately. He’s so close, towering over me with a dominance that I’m struggling to decline.

“You can stop worrying about us now, because I’m taking the decision from you. Your body is screaming that you want me and yet your mouth is denying it. Stop thinking about what is wrong with us and think about what is right. We work. Whatever we have just works. Give in to it.”

Shaking my head I gather the last scraps of my strength. “Blue, I...

“It’s not a request.”

His body and lips crash against me at the same time, pinning me to the wall with such passion that I drop my jacket and purse. I contemplate pushing him away, but when his tongue teases my bottom lip I fall helplessly into his hold and part my mouth. The sweet ache that pulls at my southern muscles is too intense to ignore and the only way that I am going to soothe them is by giving in.

His hands waste no time in exploring my body
; I guess he’s waited long enough. His fingers grip at my bare thigh with such hunger that I gasp in pain, or maybe pleasure. The line is so thin that it’s impossible to tell the difference.

Guiding my legs around his waist, he lifts me from the floor with such ease that I barely acknowledge the act.
“These boots have been driving me crazy. You’re going to keep them on.” I only notice that we’re moving when he tears his lips from mine and whispers against my hypersensitive ears, “Let me have you on the stage where I first imagined how it would feel to be inside you, where I envisioned how you would look when I made you come, and how it would feel to hear you scream my name. Please scream for me, Darlene.”

I’m ignorant to his words but impassioned by the feel of them vibrating against the base of my neck. As I’m lowered onto the stage his lips lower on my chest. With my back flush against the cold surface, Blue plucks open the buttons that line the length of my dress with his dexterous fingers. His hands move slow but hard over my breasts, kneading them with intent.

My eyes are clenched shut; one part of my body that is still in denial. I’m worried that I won’t be able to fully let go if I am visually aware of the man above me. His hands slide down to the skirt of my dress, before lifting it. My underwear is at my knees when the hands that brought them there stop.

“Open your eyes, baby.”

I shake my head. My underwear drops to the floor as a weight drops to my chest. A hand the size of my head frames my tight face, stroking gently in a soft coercion.

“Open them, Darlene.”

I do, immediately finding myself looking into two dark tunnels. Where they go, I don’t know. “It’s okay to look at me. Let me help you forget what brings you here every night. Let me help you forget why you drink. Let me be your distraction, your addiction. When you’re with me you won’t be able to think of anything else, I promise.”

For several minutes I don’t believe him. How could I? But when he rolls a condom over himself and watch
es me keenly, insisting, “You keep your eyes on me, only me,” I completely lose myself in the magic of the Blue’s.

 

 

 

 

 

15

Reid

 

Darlene was weird on the phone. Not weird, like quiet weird, that would have been anything but weird. No, she was the exact opposite. Like she had forgotten her previous contempt for me, or that she was over this round of coldness that she has been showering me in. Maybe a little space was exactly what she needed. Maybe time really does heal.

Hanging up the phone was so much harder than it has been previously because there was actual conversation there, actual interest in what I was doing and how our busine
ss was going here. Which is good, actually. So good that we don’t think we’ll have to stay until Tuesday. If things go smoothly then I should be making up this week’s failings to Darlene sometime tomorrow.

I’m going to start with a bit of extravagance.

Tiffany’s extravagance.

Stepping out of the idoli
zed store with a slice of every girl’s heaven in my pocket, I smile at the joy it will give Darlene. Not because of the money spent or because of the branded luxury but because of the meaning behind it. Nobody can say that I’m not romantic. I’m the king of symbolism and gift giving. I just haven’t had many opportunities to show it lately.

I’m walking to meet James back at the hotel before we meet Clarks for Sunday brunch when my phone rings. Already smiling, perceiving it to be my wife again
, I fetch the phone from my pocket, only to be confused by the name ‘Quinn’ as it flashes from my screen. I contemplate not answering but my natural inquisitiveness overrides my sense.

“He
llo?

“Hi!” Silence ensues but it doesn’t last long. “
Umm, you didn’t tell me your name so I have you saved in my phone as ‘hot guy with the hair’. We met at the bar on Friday?”

Shit. She saved my number. Of course she did, you gave her your phone, jackass!

“Oh yeah, hi.”

“So what should I call you?” she asks, sounding a lot chirpier than she did when I last saw her.

“It’s Reid. Umm, Quinn, I’m actually kind of busy right now...”

“Oh, that’s okay. I just wanted to see if you were free tonight?”

Eugh.

James is meeting her friend later. I am certainly not going too, but I should probably keep her at bay just until James has gotten whatever he wants
from Nipples, then I can tell her the truth. Or a variation of it.

“As it happens, I’m not. But maybe I could call you in the week and organi
ze something?” I cringe at my own doucheness.

“Yeah, great! I l
ook forward to it!” she practically squeals. I think I may have been the one who got played all along. She doesn’t fit the quiet type I had her pinned as.

As we sign off I briefly contemplate changing my number, but that would be so much more of an effort than just being
upfront with her.

W
hen I turn into the hotel lobby and see James waiting for me I want to squeeze his puny neck for getting me into this. “We better get this wrapped up today because I am getting on a plane tomorrow whether we have or not.”

 

Darlene

 

My shower completed its requirements a long time ago and yet here I stand; my skin pruning as the water slowly turns cold. I could stay here all day and the burning chill of the stream would make no progress in cleansing away just how dirty I am. I am soiled in remorse, in guilt, in grief. It’s piled so thick that I feel heavy for it and it’s only getting worse because every time my torturous mind relives what happened, a part of me is happy, and in that brief flash of happiness comes more guilt.

I understand what I have done to my marriage and to Reid if he were ever to find out, and yet there is a small portion of me that feels such relief. Whatever this is with Blue has been building all week and to suddenly have been able to have an outlet for it is like being able to breathe again.

I get dressed into a fresh set of pajamas, having no intention of leaving my apartment today. Snow has been working on de-coloring the city over night and it’s a great excuse to remain housebound. I don’t want to face anyone today. I don’t want to plaster a smile over my misery and pretend that I haven’t just royally fucked everything up. I need to work out what the hell I’m going to do, and apparently that takes me all day.

I have vegged, I have read, I have sang, all in the hope of stumbling upon some dramatic inspiration, an epiphany. A decision like this seems too big to rest entirely on my scrawny shoulders. I finally ascertain that to understand what to do I need to explore what I have done and why. I mean, I know
what I have done, but was it purely down to feeling attracted to Blue, or was it a pre-emptive attack on my marriages imminent failure?

Is it even imminent?

I know that whatever we had is disappearing, fast, but my love for Reid hasn’t gone, and if the foundations are there then the rest can be restored, right? Well, not if he ever finds out what I did. He would never understand how I only succumbed to Blue because he offered what I have been missing for so long. I craved the intimacy that has been lost in my marriage, and I was weak in accepting it because my emotions were taut after a difficult week at home. Plus mucho booze.

It sounds like excuses.

That’s how Reid would see it.

I guess that’s what they are, but I know that had the opportunity with Blue arisen a year ago I would never, ever have submitted. I would have been offended rather than flattered, I would have pushed him away rather than pull him close, and I would have told Reid rather than decide to keep this the dirtiest little secret.

By late into the evening I am feeling completely alone. I’m not going to tell Reid about what has happened, so does that mean that I intend on trying to salvage what remains of our marriage? Is it even salvageable? Seven years is a lot to throw away and the thought of losing Reid is as painful as the guilt. I have to believe that we can get over this, especially now that there is a possible end in sight. The job offer I had been hoping for could be the light at the end of the longest tunnel. Maybe once the balance is restored within our careers then our relationship will fall back into place.

But what is there in the meantime?

That’s six months away.

That six months could easily see the end of us, but it’s not like we can call a timeout. I can’t break all ties with Reid so that I can screw around with Blue only to jump back into a marriage with Reid when recess is over. And that’s all this is with Blue, of that I’m certain. My feelings for him are purely physical. There is something strong that leads me to him but it lies within our love of music and his undeniable appeal, nothing more. I can’t imagine there ever being anything more with Blue, and I’m certain that he feels the same way.

Eugh.

What am I doing? Am I justifying my desire to carry this on with Blue? In a perfect world I would have my cake and eat each delicious slice, but it’s immoral. Highly immoral. So, I should suffer in silence, alone in this apartment for the rest of my jobless life? I can’t. I’ll suffer through the guilt and I’ll make amends with our relationship when I can. But
now that I’ve had a taste of the relief I find with Blue, I can’t go back to being a prisoner again. A prisoner of this home, this city, my needs. And if that sends me to hell then I’ll accept the descent. I’m strong enough for that. I’m not, however, strong enough to deny it.

 

Blue is saying goodbye to Nina when I get to The Nest. While his eyes brighten at seeing me she regards me with a thick scowl that I immediately return, because, well that’s what we women do. Even when we don’t understand the reason for it.

Blue holds open the door for me and I rush into the warmth. I hear him close the door behind us and lock its many deadbolts.

“I’ve been trying to call you all day,” he says, walking to meet me at the bar.

“Sorry, I’ve been in voluntary solitude.”

“Are you okay?”

“I will be.”

“Drink?”

“No, I don’t know how long I’m going to be here,” I reply, taking a seat on a bar stool. I remove my hands from my jacket pockets and hold them to my mouth, blowing warm air onto them in the hope of restoring some feeling into my frozen digits.

“What do you mean?” Blue asks. He walks with intent to stand between my legs, taking both of my hands and bringing them to his own lips. As his breath courses through my fingers my hands are not the only part of me that warms up.

“I mean, I’m here to ask you what last night was, and if it’s not what I want then I’m outta here.” Surprisingly, my voice is as strong as I feel. I’m completely resolved on this. If it was just a onetime thing then I can accept it and move on, or
stay still, as it happens. But if he wants what I do, some fun, an outlet to let off steam, then I will throw myself at him willingly.

“Oh, so this is an ultimatum?”

“No, not at all. This is me hoping that you wanted more than a single fuck from me.”

He blanches before shaking his head lightly. “Don’t say things like that. Your mouth is too pretty for such dirty words.” He leans in to kiss me but I pull away enough to let him know that I want a proper answer.
He sighs, relenting, “I want as much of you as you are willing to give me, and then some. You’d know this if you’d have answered your phone.”

“I’m not good with phones. I like interacting in person.

“Me too.”

Tilting his head to allow for our height difference
, he closes the small gap between us, and this time I accept his kiss. I more than accept it, I control it. I set the slow pace and it is my tongue that intrudes on his mouth. He obviously appreciates my efforts because my coat is off within the next ten seconds and I am being guided up the stairs to his apartment.

 

BOOK: Winter Blues
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