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Authors: Jade Goodmore

Winter Blues (6 page)

BOOK: Winter Blues
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I re
organize my clothes as well as my thoughts and step out to confront my slutty reflection in the oversized mirror. There are a dozen spotlights lights cast over me, each further highlighting my disgust. I look the same as I did just hours ago and yet I look completely different. My lips have been tarnished, my cheeks heated with hot betrayal. My eyes are bloodshot, but that at least can be blamed on the booze. I attempt to wash the feel of Blue from my traitorous lips but I give up. I think I’d have more success with bleach.

S
napped out of my self-deprecation by raised voices from the bar, I regretfully leave my hiding place. Having suddenly sobered up, I push open the door and turn out. Planning on grabbing my coat and bag and making a sharp exit, I make my way to where they are on my stool. Except they’re not there. They’re in the arms of a stern looking Reid as he rows with Blue.

“You can’t drag her away if she doesn’t want to go,” Blue argues. His hands are in his pockets in an attempt to look calm, but he’s failing miserably.

“Yes, I can. She is my wife,” Reid rebukes, looking more pissed off by the second.

“And that makes her your property?”

“No, it makes her my responsibility,” Reid answers as his hand glides agitatedly through his wild hair.

“Then you’re doing a piss-poor job.”

“HEY!” Reid snaps, his booming voice cracking through the still air like a whip and his finger prodding sharply in Blue’s direction. Without his glasses his eyes look even more menacing.

Neither has
realized that I am witness to this pissing contest. When their chests collide I dart toward them, finding myself ineffectually tearing them apart.

“What are you doing?” I scream when my feeble attempt to separate them fails. I push against them again. “Stop!”

Pulling away enough to let me stand between them, their harsh stares fall on me rather than each other. I have never felt more pressure to resolve a dispute than I do right now, and I’m a teacher.

“You’re going to let him order you around like this?” Blue asks, acting all gallant as if he hasn’t just
had his tongue down my throat.

Reid steps closer,
about to argue some more, but I settle a palm on his chest, silently begging him to stop. “He’s not ordering me around. I want to go
home
and that’s where my
husband
is taking me.” I can only hope that my subtle statement shows my immediate regret at what just happened. I can’t say anymore with Reid here but something, anything, needs to be said so that Blue knows it was a mistake.

“You don’t have to go,” Blue says, a little too quietly.

“I want to.”

Looking deflated but accepting, Blue shrugs. “Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Actually, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do the gigs like we agreed. I mean, I obviously can’t keep away from the
drink
when I’m here. I don’t think I should tempt myself again,” I say, trying for subtle again but knowing damn well that Blue knows I am referring to him. He says nothing, but huffs pointedly. His agitation is clear and I know how he feels. I want to explain further and I have no doubt that he wants to talk too, but we can’t. And I can’t see him again. I don’t want to see him again.

“Bye,” I call, taking Reid’s arm and tugging him
toward the door. I wave apologetically at Veda and Zach at the bar. I don’t know if they saw what happened between Blue and I, but either way that display of overt masculinity was embarrassing for all of us.

The second we exit onto the street I relinquish Reid’s arm and storm ahead. I’m freezing without my coat but I can’t even look at Reid let alone ask him for it. I’m fighting an internal battle and I don’t want Reid privy to it. I’m so mad at him for his earlier lack of respect, lack of sensitivity, lack of romance, as well as the way he has just conducted himself in front of my new friends, but I know that none of that compares to what I’ve just done. I have just kissed away my fidelity, drunkenly hand
ed it over as if it were little more than handshake.

I’ve cheated on my husband.

I don’t need to have had sex to know that the line we drew in our vows has been crossed. I feel sick with guilt, or perhaps that’s the tequila. Either way, I am racing home, toward the bathroom, away from Blue and our stupid mistake and leaving Reid trailing behind me.

“Will you just stop!” he yells, as we turn onto our street.

“No!”

“Darlene!” he calls, and yet I continue to ignore him. Racing into the elevator before Reid has even entered our building, I punch our floor number until the doors close. I just about make out Reid’s flustered face as he turns the corner.

I use the short seconds that it takes for the elevator to ascend to manage my breathing. Conflicting emotions tear through my mind and my body and I’m failing pathetically at controlling any of them. I haven’t cried in years and I’m certainly not going to allow them to come now. I don’t deserve the relief that comes with tears. I will suffer in silence for what I have done to us. I can only hope that Reid will respond the same way. I don’t want to talk about my mighty error so I can’t expect Reid to discuss his.

As soon as
the elevator doors open I see Reid racing over the last few steps of the stairwell. He looks so pissed, so intent on meeting me at our door that I know that my hope for jointly feigning ignorance is void. The last thing I want is to discuss this, but judging by the look on Reid’s face that is exactly what I am going to be doing.

 

 

 

             

 

 

 

10

Reid

 

“What the fuck was that?” I pant, but she shakes her head as she passes by without even looking at me. “Why did you run from me?” I continue as I stalk after her. “Why won’t you talk?”

When she reaches our door she stops, turns and snatches her bag from under my arm. She scrambles in the deep pit of it like she’s picking for
a raffle when really she is looking for her keys. She can’t find them. Of course not, because she doesn’t have them.

“Looking for your keys? You didn’t take them, just like you didn’t take your damn phone. AGAIN!” My normal restraint used to tone down my anger is missing and so my voice is much louder than either of us expects. I remove her keys from my pocket, jangling them pointedly before unlocking and opening the door. I storm in before Darlene, slamming the keys on the kitchen counter. Every action or movement screams how angered I am, as if the frustration I have held back for so long has merely been growing in strength.

She stomps past me, looking to hide in the comfort of her chair. Not this time. We can’t keep ignoring what is happening between us. She pushes me away for weeks and then does a complete u-turn, dressing up in her ‘fuck me’ dress and cooking my favorite meal. She’s gone all out with candles, food, and music and I know damn well that it’s not a birthday or anniversary. I understand that she’s pissed it got spoiled but can’t she see that it wasn’t intentional? I would never have taken so long talking to James had I known that this was what was waiting for me.

“What was all this for?” I ask, nodding
toward the dining table.

“It’s nothing
. Clearly it wasn’t important,” she replies, blankly. Her mask is threatening to slip back on but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it.

“Clearly it was. You know I didn’t see it, right?”
              “It really doesn’t matter anymore.” She’s removed her shoes and now she’s walking back to me, to the kitchen.

“Stop saying that! It obviously matters, Darlene, or you would never have gone to the effort.
” She bites back whatever she is going to say, instead choosing to reach for a glass and fill it with water before taking a sip. “Look, I’m sorry, okay?” I say, managing to lower my voice a little. “But you didn’t need to run away, again.”

She turns to leave the kitchen, muttering over her shoulder. “I didn’t run away, I just, I needed to get out. I needed a...”

“Drink?” I finish, my annoyance already creeping back. “That’s all you’ve done all week. It’s actually getting pretty tiring.”

In one quick movement she’s finally turned to face me. Her huge blue eyes are even more expressive
as they brighten with anger.

“Yeah? WELL SO ARE
YOU!” she screams, surprising us both.

Several moments pass where we regard each other with utter distaste. Her eyes are intent and mean and her nose is pinched as if I repulse her. Her mouth hangs open as she pants from the excursion of her hatred for me. I can only imagine that my expression is an exact mirror image of hers.

Finding my voice, I ask, “I’m tiring?”

Turning to leave again, but not before rolling her eyes, she mutters, “I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Tough shit,” I call, following her as she begins to walk down the hall to our bedroom. “You can ignore me any other time,
this
we will talk about!” She continues to ignore me. “Darlene.” No response. I reach out and grab her arm, spinning her round to face me. “Just stop being a goddamn bitch and talk to me!”

The look on Darlene’s face is far colder than the glass of water she throws at me. I gasp at the surprise before shaking the wetness from my hair. When I look back to her she looks almost happy, as if her assault has given her great relief. She really does hate me. I guess that’s better than feeling nothing.

Hate I can work with.

Not allowing her a second to avert my advance, I slam my body into hers, pressing her back against the built in bookshelf that spans the length of our hallway. Our lips collide and I almost fall to my knees in gratitude that she’s actually kissing me back. It takes a moment, but she drops the glass and her hands find my hair, twisting into the wetness and tugging aggressively.

Fuck.

I bend down, lifting her
from the back of her knees and guiding her svelte legs around my waist. She grips hard and when I feel the friction of her center against mine I can’t stop the groan as it echoes into her mouth.

This is the passion that we have been missing, the aggression that we have needed to kick-start our reunion, to awaken our libido. I’ve wanted her to reject her apathetic attitude for
weeks, months, and she has. Now she burns with rage, the flames warming her coldness and hinting at what we once had, and in the ashes we will find us again.

She tastes sharp, like tequila and lime and I have to bite back the annoyance of what she has been doing tonight. I use the annoyance to up
the fervor, fisting my hand in her hair as I guide my lips down her neck, sucking and biting in a frenzy of need. I haven’t tasted her in so long. Her skin is inexplicably sweet and smooth like flavored milk. When I reach her shoulder I feel the goose-bumps under my tongue.

I can still affect her
.

Spurred on by her response, I pull aside the strap of her dress, easing my lips down until they meet the fullest part of her breast. She’s moaning in appreciation but when I reach for the zip on her back she freezes.

“Reid, I...”

I gaze up at Darlene to find her hand covering her mouth, looking completely uncomfortable. She squirms in my arms until I reluctantly let her down, silently panicking that she’s going to run a
gain.

She does.

To the bathroom.

S
lamming the door behind her before I can see her retching into the toilet. I sure can hear her though.

Leaning my forehead against the bookcase, I work on steadying my breath and readjusting downstairs, anticipating a major case of blue balls. So close, and yet now I feel even more rejected than before. Noticing all of the books that have fallen to the floor in the midst of our brief excitement, I wonder if she’ll re-alphabeti
ze. I take the empty glass from the floor and walk to the kitchen to fill it up for her, leaving it outside the bathroom door when I’m done.

There was a time when I would have
stayed up all night with her, holding back her hair and cooing sweet words of comfort. But after everything that’s happened tonight and everything that is still left unsaid, it doesn’t quite feel like the right thing to do.

 

With the rise of the sun comes an immediate reminder of the night before. I am in bed alone having left Darlene in the bathroom to deal with the aftermath of her binge drinking by herself. I am slapped with guilt, but I shake it off because I bitterly remember how I am not to worry about her.

It’s still early and the apartment is silent. I find Darlene on the bathroom floor, wearing only her underwear. She went all out there too. Champagne lace. I close my eyes and blink back the heat that threatens to pump through me. This is not the time.

At some point in the night she has kicked off the blanket I covered her in. She’s no doubt going to be freezing when she wakes up. Maybe I should put her in our bed after all. I bend down to wake her, nudging her shoulder gently.

Shit
.

Freezing is an understatement, she’s ice cold! Her skin feels taut and alien and I can feel a subtle shivering. I nudge her harder. “Darlene!” I
call, and as my voice echoes around the tiled bathroom she shudders awake, her eyes wide with panic. She flashes me a look of confusion before the depth of how cold she is hits her. I see it physically hit her. She jolts from the floor before clinging to me, her fingers like a snare around my arms.

“Oh. My. God. I’m. So. Cold,” s
he manages between shivers.

“I know, baby, hold on.” I lift her easily, and take us to the shower. Turning it on, I wait for a minute for the water to heat and then I step in with Darlene cradled in my arms like a child. She
, in turn, has her hands hooked tightly around my neck. She gasps in pained surprise when the water sprays her and the guilt I felt earlier unleashes a full blown assault on my conscience. I did this to her. Out of my petulant pride, I did this to her.

“I can stand,” she whispers.

“I know. Just let me hold you a little more.”

It’s been too long. I want to forget the reason for us being in here and just appreciate the feel of her skin against mine, but her skin is too foreign with cold right now. I just want to wait. I lean my head into her neck, relishing in the closeness but drowning in remorse. Ha
s it really come to this? I’ve dumped the majority of blame of our wilting relationship on Darlene’s neglect and yet I have just let her damn near freeze to death. I’ll never forgive myself for this, but I
will
make it up to her.

When Darlene has finally warmed up, we cleanse. It should feel erotic, I should be rock hard with desire but it feels completely clinical, even when she lets me wash her back. I savor the feel of her skin under my fingers and store it away for a time when
I don’t feel so overwhelmed by guilt.

Finally warm and clean, I wrap her in a thick bath robe and carry her to her chair. She insists that she can walk by herself but having been granted the permission to hold her I’m not going to relinquish it so easily. I make her a coffee and roll my eyes when she refuses any breakfast. There’s not much more I can do, so I get dressed for work. If ever there was a day where I wish I could call in sick, it would be today.

Last night, we came so close to opening up, to pushing through the silence that has shrouded us for months, and I feel like the more time we spend apart the quicker it’s going to return. Our reunion of minds was so close, as was our reunion of bodies, when she met my aggressive need for her and matched it. Then this morning I was able to hold her, to touch her naked flesh. I wish I could explore that more thoroughly today.

When I return to the front room she hasn’t moved from her chair, but her attention is now drawn through the window and onto the street below. She looks so lost again. Not like she is on the path to being found, like I had hoped just moments ago. I walk over and crouch at her feet, touching her leg so that she looks at me.

“Shall we do something this weekend?” I ask while the hope is still present.

Her brow creases a little before a hint of a smile makes itself known. “Like what?”

“Like, go away. Just you and me. We’ll take the car and just book into a hotel somewhere.”

“Why?”

“Because...” I sigh, heavily. “…Because I miss us.”

If Darlene was a crier she’d be crying right now. She’s biting the inside of her mouth to help p
ush away the emotion. Sometimes I wish she’s just let go. “I miss us too.”

“This is what we need. It’ll be great. We’ll sleep in the same bed and wake up in the same bed and have breakfast in bed, and watch movies in bed...and, well we just won’t leave the bed.”

She chuckles and it’s almost as melodic as her singing. “Sounds perfect.”

“I’ll work extra hard to get everything done before the weekend. Okay?”

She nods and in a brave moment I pull her to the edge of her chair. She gasps in surprise but she’s smiling.
It’s dazzling
. I bury my head in her hair and take a refreshing breath. Her honey scented locks are like air to my claustrophobic lungs. I take in as much of it as I can before I have to leave for work. To my surprise I leave with the taste of Darlene’s mouth on mine and a fluttering of hope in my gut.  

 

BOOK: Winter Blues
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