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Guilty Pleasures

By:Kitty Thomas

ONE

When will this be over? The headboard of the bed thumped against the wall in rhythm to Michael’s thrusts while Vivian perfected her dead fish act. What was the saying? Close your eyes and think of England? It had been six weeks since they’d had sex. Her husband’s nagging had finally pushed her over the edge.

Nothing in this interaction could be called making love. But it couldn’t be called fucking either. With fucking, you at least got off. Vivian hadn’t had an orgasm in two years, and even then it was acquired with her own fingers. Whoever said the thirties was a woman’s sexual peak had sold her a line of shit.

A trickle of sweat from Michael’s brow dripped off his face and slid between her breasts. She wondered how much time, free from his touch, this mockery of the sexual act would buy her. Vivian’s shopping list scrolled through her head, a welcome distraction.

He grunted indelicately and came.

Birth control for such an infrequent joining. What a waste of money. Then again, Michael was rolling in money. He collapsed on top of her with a groan, his skin slick with sweat. She lay there, barely breathing, waiting. A couple of minutes of this pseudo-intimacy passed before he rolled off her.

“I’m going to take a shower. I’ll be late for work.”

She didn’t bother bringing up the fact that he owned the company. Michael had a pathological need to be punctual.

He reached out to touch her again, and she couldn’t stop the instinct to pull away. His answering look of contempt made her feel dirty for having had sex with her own husband.

“You’re never here with me,” he said.

Vivian rolled over, ignoring the accusation. He’d just had an orgasm. She hadn’t, and he never seemed to care to help her with that matter. Even as she thought it, she knew she was lying to herself.

He’d made the effort, and she’d been just as unresponsive. Just as frigid. She’d pushed his fingers away from her clit, just wanting him to do what he was going to do, so they could be done with it, and she could try to forget her day had started this way.

A loud sigh came from his side of the bed, then footsteps receded to the bathroom. The door slammed. Vivian waited for the shower to start before getting up. She’d use the bathroom on the first floor, and with any luck, Michael would be out of the house by the time she got through.

She’d almost finished washing the memory of him off her body when a sharp rap sounded on the door.

“Vivi!”

She shut off the water and wrapped a towel around herself.

“What?”

“After the shit you just pulled you’re really not making me breakfast, either?”

She flung the door open, the steam flowing out of the bathroom as if pre-announcing her ire. “You have some fucking nerve. You knew I wasn’t in the mood.”

“When are you ever in the mood?”

There were a million things she wanted to say, but she didn’t know how to express how violated she felt every time he touched her. She wasn’t even sure it was his fault anymore. She wasn’t sure it was anyone’s fault. She just couldn’t come. It took too long. It was too difficult. She’d given up her own pleasure and resented her husband for not joining her and giving up his.

Though how much satisfaction he got fucking her limp, disinterested body was anybody’s guess.

Instead of saying any of this, she brushed past him down the hallway to the kitchen, leaving a trail of water in her wake. “What do you want?”

“Coffee and toast is fine. An orange if we have any. I don’t have time for much else. I have a meeting.”

She felt his eyes on her as she took the bread from the bread box and slid two slices into the chrome toaster. The appliance made four at a time, but she couldn’t bring herself to sit across a table from him. When she turned, the look in his eyes was hungry for something he hadn’t gotten upstairs and wasn’t about to have served to him on a plate with a cup of coffee.

Vivian turned away again to get his fruit. She had some idea of where his mind had just gone. Seven years of marriage will do that to you. He was likely picturing himself ripping the towel off her and fucking her on the kitchen island. It was a hot idea in theory, but in practice sexual fantasies weren’t hot for her. She’d long given up fantasizing because she was tired of the disappointing reality.

It wasn’t him. He was beautiful. His blue eyes used to make her heart beat faster. The slight dimple in his cheek had brought out her own smile. He worked out three times a week and had a golden tan. Nearly every time he stepped out of the shower she had the almost maddening urge to lick the drops of water off his body.#p#分页标题#e#

But that would lead to sex.

“This shit has to stop, Vivi. You act like it’s a crime for me to want to have sex with my own wife.”

She bristled. “You treat me like I’m your fucking property. Here to cook and clean up after you and spread my legs whenever you get the urge.”

The glare in his eyes was predatory, just shy of pure evil. “I get the urge every day. More than once a day. I’ve pressed for sex maybe three times in the past month.”

“Whatever.” She put his toast and orange on a plate, poured coffee, then set the dishes on the table as hard as she could without breaking anything. The coffee sloshed around the edges of the mug.

“Are you going to clean that up?”

Vivian left the kitchen without a response and climbed the stairs, locking the bedroom door behind her. The tears she’d held back came spilling out. She bit back the sobs before they became loud enough for Michael to hear. He’d only think she was crying to get her way. He’d never understand.

She felt trapped in a marriage everyone believed was perfect. And she couldn’t tell anyone they were wrong because the illusion was the only good thing she had going. She had no marketable skills, no fucking degree. He’d been Prince Charming, and she’d been in a fairy tale. She hadn’t realized her happily ever after came with the strings of a gilded cage.

How had she allowed herself to become so isolated? There was no one Vivian could call family, but she’d once had friends. Before Michael had whisked her away into a socio-economic class that seemed to shut everyone but others of means out. The connections she’d forged with her husband’s social circle felt shallow and claustrophobic at best.

The front door slammed, and she went to stand in front of the window, wiping the tears off her face. The next door neighbor was working in her garden, wearing an outfit that made it look like she only pretended to garden in porn. Her shorts were short, frayed denim that showed too much of her ass. And she wore a bikini top tied together with strings that looked as if they were about to come undone. Her feet were encased in the least sensible shoes it was possible for a gardener to wear.

Vivian raised the window as quietly as possible.

“Good morning, Jewel. You’re up awfully early this morning,” Michael said, oozing charm.

Vivian gritted her teeth as she watched the rehearsed bullshit artist and aspiring porn star. Jewel giggled. “Hello, Michael. You know I get up this early just to see you off.”

He chuckled and got in the car. When the BMW left the driveway, Vivian slammed the window shut. Jewel looked up from her garden and smiled, her hand moving up in a wave. Vivian smiled and waved back.

It was hard to know if her neighbor was the most conniving slut this side of the Atlantic, or if she really was that innocent and unaware of her own glaringly loud sexuality.

The doorbell rang a few minutes later, and Vivian raised the window again. “Just a minute.”

She threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, pausing in front of the vanity to swipe a dab of concealer under her eyes. Maybe it wouldn’t look like she’d been crying.

“Have you had breakfast yet?” Jewel said as soon as the door opened.

“No, I just made something for Michael.”

“Good. I made homemade muffins, and I want you to try them.” She grabbed Vivian’s hand to drag her out of the house.

“I don’t have shoes on.”

“It’s not hot out yet. You’re fine. Don’t be such a baby.”

Vivian sighed and allowed herself to be dragged. What the hell is wrong with me? She’s not a slut. She’s just a 21-year-old kid with a trust fund, having fun.

“Do you like my new shoes? I was coming over to show you but got side-tracked by some weeds. I don’t get why they keep growing in the flowers. I’m doing everything right.”

“They’re very cute.” Great. Keep talking so I feel like an even bigger bitch.

They pushed past three yapping Yorkies into the kitchen. “It’s my grandmother’s recipe. I don’t think I have it right yet, but hopefully they’re edible.”

The tears Vivian thought she’d managed to stifle, came pouring out again.

“Oh honey, what’s wrong?”

She wiped her face quickly as if in doing so she could make Jewel forget the sudden outburst.

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

The woman arched a brow but decided to let it go in favor of prying the muffins out of the pan.#p#分页标题#e#

“Are these fresh blueberries?” Vivian asked when she bit into one.

Jewel beamed. “Oh good, you can tell. I picked some up from the farmers’ market yesterday.”

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