Keith’s parents were sitting, and after a nice dinner and a movie, Keith had suggested a drink. Part of her wanted this to work, after all, he wasn’t a bad man. Just his kisses all tasted the same, and she could tell you how he would approach making love to her – the side hug, the rush to wash the dishes, the way he would come up to bed early rather than stay glued to the laptop or the phone.
The hand on her thigh, patient as a spider.
Warm, stale breath at the nape of her neck.
There had been none of that with Andy. Which was what made it right and wrong at the same time. She had met him at the writing group, the first time someone, anyone had taken an interest in her writing.Going through with her how she could express the ideas that she had, make them real and refine them.
Her orgasms were bone juddering affairs that left her gasping afterwards. He had been the first guy to go down on her and help her come from it. She had suggested it to Keith once, but he said that he kissed his children with that mouth. Her humiliation was such that it took a lot of playful coaxing from Andy to allow him to do it. His skill and enthusiasm soon helped her out of that rut rather well. Her school was his bed and she was an eager pupil. He listened to her, hard and intently. They built dreams together, piece by piece, like a jigsaw. The guilt was horrible, however and even though he went to great lengths to make her forget her circumstances, she would still feel haunted, tainted by her actions when she picked up the kids or Keith would do something nice without asking. They rolled along, driving by the headlights in the dark of the world they wanted to build with one another.
Right up until they were caught.
She had panicked, chosen stability over passion and Keith had been painfully decent about it all. Hence tonight, watching a competent, soulless cover band put blues rock standards in a choke hold and nursing a glass of wine. Keith got up and went to the bathroom.
Andy slipped in and went to the bar.
It was like she could smell him. He grimaced and looked around him, finished his drink and went outside.
She got up and followed him.
He had lit a cigarette, a habit he had stopped because she didn’t like the smell and he had shaved, cut his hair back to shadow on his scalp. His shirt collar was loose around his neck and there were purple half moons of fatigue under his eyes.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t think you’d be out.’ he said.
She hugged herself, in lieu of what she really wanted.
‘He got his parents to sit for us. It’s been nice. We saw that new movie.’
He shrugged his shoulders, sucked on his cigarette.
‘I didn’t think I’d see you again.’
Seeing him brought it all back, which wasn’t true.
That implied that it had ever gone away.
He shook his head.
‘I’ll be gone soon. My brother’s got an opening at his bar and then I’m going back to finish my MFA in the fall.’
She began to cry and he moved towards her. She went to push him away but she couldn’t do it. She never could say no to him. Until she had to and even that wasn’t about her. The kids deserved a good mother and Keith wasn’t a bad man. He took her in his arms and she shuddered, saying that she was sorry over and over again.
They rocked together and she felt the tension in him, all that he was holding back.
‘I’m sorry, baby, I couldn’t do it to them.’
His lips were warm against the top of her head.
‘I know. That’s why I’m going.’
She looked up at him.
‘Are you angry at me?’ She could not stand it if he were, but she understood it. She was angry at herself.
He shook his head and squeezed her against him.
‘No, and that’s why I’m leaving.’
They rocked together in the moonlight. The band were playing something maudlin and she wanted him to take her hand and drive her away from it all.
He was a good man though, which was why he wouldn’t.