“Are you ready yet?” He walked into the hotel bathroom, never looking better in his monkey suit, and stood near the sink.
“Tell me again why we had to share this room?” She held the curling iron to her head. “Couldn’t you have booked a suite with a separate bedroom?”
“We’ve been over this.”
“I know.” She sighed. “I just don’t understand your family sometimes.”
“We have separate beds.”
“You know my mother would die if she knew the truth, Casey.”
Lies. Of course. What does he know about truth?
“You have to tell her sometime.”
“I should’ve … you should’ve said I was ill. There’s no reason for this … this charade.”
“My mother loves you.”
He had to go there.
Silently, she stared into the glass. Into his eyes. Her lips a hard pressed line, but her eyes soft and full of the love she tried to deny. She was unable to hide it though. She loved his mother. He knew that. And she loved him. Casey had wanted to keep the latter veiled, but it was too late. He saw her love — all of it, shining off the brown of her irises. The months long separation hadn’t changed the love she felt for him. It had not even cooled. Her love for him was hotter than the iron. The iron.
A mist ascended her scalp like incense. His attention diverted to it. He grinned.
She unraveled the contraption. “Funny. Right. I’ll fry my hair. Just what I need tonight.” The steamed hair coiled and bounced.
His smile turned into a lure at the end of a line. “I remember this dress.” He touched her sangria colored gown.
With both of his palms on her hips, she couldn’t help but glance down. She stared at his fingers, her eyes like crazy glue, unable to shift, but her mind still sharp as a tack; aware that if they had stayed together he probably would have never remembered the dress he fondled, and maybe he would have never coveted her again — in the dress or ever. Now the old dress, the decoration in her closet, their closet, the closet they shared for years, was a symbol, gathering a static dust like their relationship.
“Yeah?” she replied, voice cracking.
“Yeah,” he said, holding her hips secure while peering into her eyes in the mirror.
She tilted her head down. He waited for her attention, but her gaze would not return, and so he released her and turned to walk away.
“Where, Mark?” She looked up with a start and caught the back of his head in the glass. “Where did I wear the dress?”
“At the anniversary party … their fiftieth.” He drew near and stood at her profile. “God, you know you haven’t changed? You’re still the—”
“You don’t love me anymore?” His voice was tender in all the right ways, his touch impossible to resist. She leaned into it as he stroked her chestnut curls.
“Mark,” she said, shaking her head. “Love isn’t always enough.”
“What is?” he whispered.
“We will be late.” She pulled away.
“They can wait.” He gripped her waist again.
“You are part of the wedding—”
“I’m part of you,” he said. “You can’t take the me out of you.”
“You took it.” Her thighs began to tremble. “You … you took it.”
“Tonight,” he said, his voice a balm, “tonight … I don’t want this to be a charade.”
Casey tilted her face away and pressed her palms onto the counter. Her eyes filled with tears.
“Don’t pretend you love me, C.J.” He searched her shimmering eyes. “Love me … be with me.”
“I am with you,” she said, twisting her head toward him in a flash, eyes wide, avoiding his implication. “I’m staying here, aren’t I? I agreed.”
Mark reached up and touched his wife’s cheek, stroking it. His fingers were behind her neck and tangled in her hair.
“Be … with … me.” He continued to gaze into her eyes. “I want you.”
Casey momentarily couldn’t speak. No man had touched her since Mark had moved out, and he hadn’t even touched her in the months leading up to the departure. Now his hands and breath were on her skin, and she was melting. Melting. Damn him. He could be so charming when he wanted to. Manipulative even. Everything was always about the chase though, the charm and the chase, and now he was chasing her.
Am I the other woman now?
It was nauseatingly fun for a moment, and then the moment would be gone, and yet there was still something.
There was something to his proposition of sex.
It would be just sex, wouldn’t it?
They weren’t divorced, but they clearly weren’t together. In name only. For the sake of the family. Mark’s pursuit was interfering with whatever life he had begun without her, and he was coming between the contentment she found in being alone, discovering herself again — herself apart from him. But … she was alone, she did have needs, and he could meet them comfortably. She had been unable to bring herself to be with a stranger, and she didn’t want to date. God. Date. It was too soon. And maybe it was too soon for this absent minded sexual reconciliation. It would be a one night stand.
Yes, a one night stand … unless … unless he could somehow manage to screw that up too.
There was still the ceremony and the reception to attend. He had hours to screw up, and then they might have hours to screw — each other, and their lives into a twisted bunch of irrecoverable knots. Nevertheless, the arrangement was sealed when she agreed to the whole cockamamie scheme, attending the wedding of his sister, sharing a hotel room — sealed when she said her own I do. She knew now that Mark would never truly be gone or over.
He is Mark.
He was her Marky-Mark-Mark. Somehow he would forever hold a little piece of her heart the way he held her now against the counter — hands demanding her attention, green eyes admiring her the way no one else did, making her forget every lie, fight and malice in their marriage that brought them to the moment they existed in now. No. For once in her life she wanted the moment to be the moment. No past. No future. No next minute, day or hour. No consequence. Fuck consequence. She tilted her head toward him, speaking all of the lonely and necessity without saying a thing. She stared into his eyes and parted her lips.
About the Author: A.R. Hadley
A.R. Hadley has been a creative writer since elementary school, however, she all but gave it up after her children were born, devoting herself to the lovely little creatures, forgetting the pleasure and happiness derived from being imaginative.
She rediscovered her passion in 2014, and has not stopped since — writing essays, poetry, and fiction. A.R is currently working on a set of novels as part of a romantic trilogy, and also dabbles in penning short stories.
Day or night, words float around inside her brain. She hears dialogue when awakening from sleep. She is the one who has been awakened. Writing is her oxygen.