Small Cuts (7) Oliver Again #fiction

Read the opening thoughts of each of them: James, Elaine, Oliver and Genevieve. Then James again, Elaine continues and now Oliver again…

It happens this way in dreams: Once in a while in the midst of the dense fog, there is a brief moment of clarity. A parting of the mist where for an instant the terrain of the road ahead is visible and navigable. With confidence, you forge ahead until once again the clouds descend and the view is obscured. And not only is the way now hidden but the lay of the land forgotten, rendering you immobile and impotent to act.

This was the state of my mind now and really, it had been for the past few weeks, months —maybe even a year. The obstacles between Gen and me seemed insurmountable. How do two married people on opposite sides of the issue of starting a family manage to come to terms? How do you possibly compromise on that? It’s not like I could do this without her… Even if I offered to be a stay-at-home-dad, it would still be her body carrying our child, she —the vessel bringing another being into the horror that was this world we lived in.

And now, with the added variable of Elaine in the mix, I was no longer certain I wanted to fix the issues between my wife and myself. I felt like throwing everything into the fire and starting over. And yet, and yet… Without knowing for sure if Elaine shared my feelings —which to be honest were intensely strong but vague in scope— I didn’t dare make a move that could destroy not one, but two marriages, and a best friendship that had lasted decades.

Ironically, Genevieve had seemed happy on the way home from the restaurant. She actually talked animatedly about her conversation with James. Apparently, James had decided to read his way through some classic literature and she had been delighted to give him advice.

I should be jealous, I thought to myself. I was positive Elaine wouldn’t be babbling away about the things we had talked about tonight. James would have been jealous. Wouldn’t he? Or was he really that oblivious to his wife’s beauty and my attention to her? Of course the devilish solution to the whole problem whirled around in my head: James with Gen, me with Elaine. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time such a thing happened. It just seemed so … unsavory didn’t quite cover it. Could new love be founded on the bones of betrayal? Because if nothing else, I was sure of my love for Elaine. If she loved me too, was it fair to deny it? This where the fog descended and I became most disoriented. Somewhere ahead was a cliff or a gradual slope, the step I chose could be disastrous or easy to transverse. I couldn’t act rashly.

Later that evening, as I brushed my teeth, I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror. Which man stared back at me from the glass? The husband or the adulterer? A man bound for happiness or misery, love or loathing, and which of those men was which?

I set my toothbrush into the ceramic mug beside Gen’s and flipped the light off on my way out. The bedroom was dark, save for the reading light on my bedside table. Gen was already sleeping when I came into the bedroom. She looked so beautiful, so delicate with her porcelain skin and long, slender limbs curled beneath the heavy duvet. Her blonde mane fanned out over her pillow like a tawny silk shawl in the wind. She was facing away from me, so I touched one soft strand, wound it around my finger then let it drop, as I climbed in beside her. In the dark, after the lamp was extinguished, I rolled onto my back and stared at the ceiling. Only then did I become aware that her rhythmic breathing sounded forced and I wondered if her sleep was feigned. I wondered if we would both lay awake tonight thinking about the future.

Tomorrow, my fate would be decided.

Header illustration: Man In the Mirror ~ Meg Sorick, 2018

Breaking Bread – Available on Kindle

My latest novel in The Bucks County series is now available in e-book format on Amazon! And within a few days, after working out the kinks with formatting, the print edition will follow.

You can find all the Bucks County Novels in both print and e-book on Amazon. If you have read and enjoyed the books, one of the best ways to support an independent author is to 1) spread the word and 2) leave a good review of the book.

Thank you all for your kindness, honest feedback and friendship during this process.

Breaking Bread:

Maya Kaminsky has finally realized her dream of owning a French bakery cafe, despite the opposition of her rigid, narrow-minded family. But as the business grows and thrives, Maya discovers she has an enemy. Beginning with petty mischief, the cafe becomes targeted by vandals who quickly escalate to dangerous sabotage. To complicate matters, Maya’s childhood friend, Brad Logan, moves back into town and with his recent inheritance, buys her building, intending to help her out. However, Maya’s fierce independence makes it a struggle to accept help from anyone, let alone a man with whom she finds herself falling in love. Nevertheless, Maya will need all the help she can get to save both her business and her life.

About the author:

My name is Margaret but everyone calls me Meg. I am a Pennsylvania native and a Bucks County resident since 1992. I write because I love books. I want to crawl inside them and live among the characters, solve their mysteries, fight their villains, love their heroes… You get the idea! I hope you enjoy The Bucks County novels: a series of romantic suspense stories set in the region where I live.

Small Cuts (6) Elaine continues… #fiction

Read the opening thoughts of each of them: James, Elaine, Oliver and Genevieve. Then James again

And Elaine continues:

Though the dark interior of the car provided cover, I concentrated on my phone to keep my hands from shaking. James was asking me if I’d enjoyed the trendy restaurant —it was the first time we’d been there— but it felt like the opening line of an interrogation. Maybe I was being paranoid and he hadn’t overheard my conversation with Oliver. I gave him a noncommittal answer and hoped that would be the end of it. Ollie had never been so reckless as he was tonight. And it was my fault. I had led him on, flirted shamelessly even though I hadn’t any intention of following through. I loved my husband. He’d just grown so distant lately… and now tonight seeing him talking with Genevieve, I wondered if I had pushed him even further away.

If I was to be honest with myself, I knew that James and Gen had way more in common than he and I did. Gen was all smart and well read like James was. She had some fancy PR job with a non-profit organization. One of those ‘end world hunger’ outfits or something like that. When we first met, I’d tried talking to her about it but I felt my eyes crossing every time she’d go off on one of her rants about the state of world affairs. There’s only so much doom and gloom I can stand over the course of the evening. And since she never really asked me about my work —rude, if you want to know what I think— I figured we just weren’t meant to be friends.

Anyway, whenever the four of us were together, I often felt like I needed to sneak off and Google the stuff the others were talking about. I could almost feel the disdain Genevieve had for me when I would try to join in the conversation. Inevitably, Oliver would notice and take pity on me. At least that’s what I thought it was. Him feeling sorry for me. But then he started arranging things so that we could talk just the two of us. I admit it, I enjoyed the attention and I was grateful to not have to talk about the plight of the world’s refugees over drinks and dinner.

I never imagined things would go this far.

Oliver had always been playful, never serious. But tonight as I stared at him across the table, I saw in his eyes the very depth of emotion I’d been hoping to provoke in my husband. Desire, longing, love… My heart raced and though I knew I should, I couldn’t look away.

“Lainey,” he said quietly. “We should talk. Soon. Tomorrow. Can you get away?”

Tomorrow was Sunday. James was golfing with some of the other lawyers from his firm. I had the entire afternoon free. It wouldn’t be the first time Oliver and I had done something on our own. I nodded. “What did you have in mind?”

With a sideways glance at Genevieve, he said, “The Park Hotel?” And as I felt the blood drain from my face, he quickly added, “For brunch? And then we can walk around town for a bit, if you want…”

We’d had coffee together before —our offices were near each other and we’d meet before work once in a while, Just last week, we’d met for lunch with James’ blessing. Why would this be any different? But I knew, I just knew something had changed tonight, some monumental shift in our personal paradigm had occurred. Events were spiraling out of control. Why couldn’t I bring myself to put a stop to it? I had gazed into those heated, desperate eyes and said yes.

And now James, ever calm, not taking his hands from the wheel nor his eyes from the road, had just asked me another question. “Sorry, what?” I asked, because I’d been so absorbed in my thoughts I hadn’t heard.

“I asked if you enjoyed your dinner,” he said. “I’m thinking it wasn’t worth the cost.”

“Yes, yes, you’re probably right,” I agreed, and wondered if he was really talking about the food.