DISCLAIMER: Not my characters. Don't sue. I'm broke anyway.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: ** denotes flash back. From Sara's POV, except where stated. Domestic violence, and a het warning for part 5.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Cobra Angel
I know it's wrong. It goes against all my principles. I have certain standards when it comes to taking lovers, rules I try not to break for the sake of all concerned. My new lover though, breaks pretty much every rule I have.
**She pushes me back against the wall gently, but in a way that won't take no for an answer. It doesn't matter; I have no intention of refusing the goddess in front of me. Kisses fall gently like summer rain over my face.**
The fact she's a woman is of no consequence. Love is love, no matter the sex of the people involved. My liberal up-bringing caused me some problems, but at least it left me with no prejudices.
**My hands are roaming over her curves, revelling in her femininity. She reciprocates and I moan softly.**
The thing I have a problem with is that she's married. Her husband, the man she swore to be faithful to, until death do them part, has no idea she's cheating on him. With a woman, no less. She says Eddie's cheating too, says she's only staying with him for Lyndsey's sake, but that doesn't make what we're doing any less wrong in my mind.
**Clothes fall in a pile on the bedroom floor. Her kisses are more urgent now.**
That's the other problem. She has a daughter. Not a problem in itself, I suppose, but it means there is someone else's life I'm going to fuck up if we're caught.
**We fall back on the bed, hands and fingers and lips everywhere.**
And it's inevitable that we will be. We've had too many close calls already, springing apart guiltily as Lynds comes into the room unexpectedly, or me slipping out the back door as Eddie walks in the front door.
**She shudders underneath me and I call her name as quietly as I can as my frantic movements still.**
But I push these uncomfortable thoughts to the back of my mind and as Eddie's car pulls off the driveway, I walk up to her front door. She is there to greet me, and I know that however wrong this is, I need her as much as I need the air that I breathe.
"God Cath, what did he do to you this time?" It is hard to keep the fury I feel with Eddie out of my voice, but it is tempered with concern for Catherine.
She is standing in my doorway framed by the light in the hallway just outside my apartment. She has bruising starting to show around her left eye that's going to be a real shiner tomorrow, and as she raises her hand to push her messed up hair out of her face I catch sight of angry red marks on her wrist. The stiff way she's standing tells me she probably has other bruising elsewhere on her body.
I step back to let her into the living room, then open my arms to invite her into a hug. Normally, when Eddie hasn't just beaten the shit out of her, I would not hesitate to pull Catherine into my embrace, but when she is like this she needs to feel in control of our physical contact.
She snuggles against my chest for a long minute, then I sit us down on the couch. I fetch a bowl of warm water, a washcloth and some arnica cream, and begin the familiar ritual. It's amazing how quickly something can become a familiar ritual, I muse bitterly as she relaxes under my gentle touch. He only started hitting her about a month ago, so it has been for less than a quarter of the time we have been seeing each other, but it feels like forever.
"What happened?" I ask again, realising she did not answer the first time.
"He was drunk. He started comparing me to one of his bimbos " She pauses and looks at me guiltily. I immediately know in what capacity he was comparing the two of them, but choose to put it to the back of my mind. It is a problem for me that she is still having sex with him. I guess I'm not really cut out for the part of the other woman. I always comfort myself with the thought that they might have sex, but we make love. She continues, "I got mad and threw a mug. It hit the wall and broke. Nowhere near him, but he saw red." I do not ask whether it was deliberate or just bad aim that it was nowhere near him. Even if it had hit him, that still would give him no right to do this to her.
"Cath, why don't you leave him?" I ask for what feels like the millionth time.
"Please don't, Sara."
"Don't what? Don't care?" My voice is raised a little, but I'm feeling angry, at Eddie and at how ineffectual I am in all this.
"I know you care, baby, I just don't want to talk about it. I come to you to forget. Please just drop the subject." She pulls me into her arms and we both settle back onto the couch. I stretch out and she snuggles down beside me, her head on my chest. My fingers run absent mindedly through her hair.
I reach for the remote for the CD player and press play. The sultry voice of Melissa Etheridge fills the room. She takes the remote out of my unresisting hand and changes track. It makes me smile that she knows my CD collection well enough to select the track she wants without looking at the CD case.
"I love you," I whisper, leaning down to kiss her on the tip of her nose.
Her eyes are warm as she murmurs, "I love you too." The outside world slips away as we lie safely with our arms wrapped round each other.
She looks surprised when she opens the door and finds me on the doorstep. I am taking a risk because I don't know if Eddie's there or not. I always wait until she calls to tell me it's safe to come over, but I think it's okay, there is no car on the drive.
"You haven't called me for ages. I was wondering if you are okay." Actually, I am wondering if we were okay, but I don't have the guts to say that.
"I'm fine, come in."
We walk into the living room and sit down. She is obviously not going to answer my implied question, so I try again. "Any particular reason you haven't called? Have I done something wrong?" I know I sound needy and insecure, but that's how I feel right now, and I need her reassurance. Luckily she knows this about me and hurries to give it.
"Sar, it's nothing you've done, really it isn't. Stuff's just been really hectic here recently. I'm having one hell of a week."
I tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear and ask softly if she wants to talk about it.
"It's just some prick at work yelling out derogatory things about me, and me and Eddie fighting even more than usual, and Lynds is sensing the tension here and it's upsetting her. Everything's just piling up and " She pauses and takes a deep breath. "I just need to forget it for a while. Can we talk about something else?"
"Sure. Christmas is only four weeks away," I observe.
"Uh huh." She raises one eyebrow at my choice of topic.
"So, have you got my present yet?" I tease. She shakes her head. "I've got yours. But I'm not going to tell you what it is." I am trying to cheer her up, but from the tension I can see in her shoulders I don't think it's working. I lean over and place a gentle kiss on her lips. "Please talk to me, Cath. Or do you want to do something else to forget about your troubles?" I smile suggestively and kiss her gently again.
She pulls back. "Hun, trust me. You don't want to do that. Not tonight."
"You couldn't handle me," she responds with a smile that doesn't reach her eyes.
"I've always handled you pretty well before," I smirk.
"Not like this. When I'm in this mood I can be a little intense."
"I don't mind."
"When I'm like this even Eddie can't handle me, and he likes it rough."
I wince at his name and the reminder that they are still having sex. It makes me more determined that she is not going to put me off. I need to prove I can handle her, especially if Eddie can't. I'm competative, so shoot me.
"Come on Cath," I murmur in my most seductive voice. My hand snakes over to run up the inside of her thigh and I lean closer to gently brush my lips over hers teasingly. She leans back away from me again but I follow her this time and when the back of her head hits the back of the couch she can't move any further. I kiss her gently on the lips, ignoring the fact she isn't kissing me back. I can feel her body wanting to respond, but she is stopping herself. I move onto her lap, facing her, and slip my hand under her shirt at her side to touch the soft skin there in a gentle caress that I know drives her wild. I am still kissing her unresponsive lips.
Suddenly I find myself on my back as the dam breaks and Catherine isn't resisting anymore. She is attacking my neck, nipping and sucking hard. There will be marks there, but I don't care.
The flood of her passion sweeps me along and I swiftly unbutton her shirt, slide it down her arms and throw it across the room, quickly followed by her bra. Catherine is less patient than me and my buttons snap under her assault. She is kneading my breasts with her hands, harder than I'm used to, but my back still arches and I push closer into her touch. My heavy breathing turns into a hiss as she bites my nipple.
I grab Catherine's hand and push it towards my centre, keeping eye contact. My nails scratch down her back as she pushes two fingers roughly into me and starts a desperate pace. If I was thinking straight I wouldn't have done that, but I'm not so I don't waste time wondering how she's going to explain the marks to her husband.
I come quickly and vocally. There are more marks she's going to have trouble explaining away after I switch our positions and bite my way not too gently down her body. She spreads her legs and urges me towards my destination with her hand on the top of my head. I suck quite gently on her clit, but increase the pressure in response to her whispered, "Harder." I nibble on her slick folds as I enter her with two fingers and my thumb rubs her clit. She is moaning incoherently now. I am sure the neighbours hear her cry out as she comes, and then we collapse, exhausted.
When we have both got our breath back, she looks at me and grins. "I never would have thought. I had you down as quite innocent and naïve in that way."
I raise one eyebrow at her and smile.
She chuckles, "I guess I was wrong."
I'm cold, hungry and covered in scratches.
Eddie was supposed to be out tonight. Catherine had arranged for me to come over for dinner, but evidently his plans changed, so ours did too. But they must have changed at the last minute giving Cath no chance to warn me, which is why I just almost walked straight into the house, straight into a confrontation with Eddie. But hearing his raised voice inside stopped me at the last instant with my hand on the door handle. I was going to go home, maybe phone later and see if he'd gone by then, but something stopped me in my tracks.
"Come on, whore, who is it?" The words were muffled a little, but the open window let me hear the venom in his voice clearly. That's the reason I'm currently hidden in a bush under the front window of Catherine's house.
"I told you, it's no big deal, just some guy at work trying to go further than he's allowed to. The bouncers stopped him before anything bad happened, but he got the scratches in first." Her tone of her voice is obviously meant to placate him, but it doesn't seem to be working.
"Don't give me that bullshit, you've been fucking someone else, haven't you? Why don't you just admit it?"
"Because it isn't true, Eddie. It was that guy at work, he had me pinned against the wall-"
I heard a muffled thump that cut off the end of whatever Catherine had been going to say, and Eddie snarled, "Like this, you mean?"
I can hear scrabbling noises, which I suppose are Catherine trying to get free, and I have to force myself to stay hidden. Every fibre of my being is telling me to go in there and stop Eddie, but I know that will make things worse. I have my cell phone on me, but I have to squirm my way out of the bush to use it so I can't be heard. Once over the road and out of earshot of the open window, I call the police. They assure me they will be here as quick as they can, so I sneak back to the house to wait.
Inside, Cath must have gotten free; I can see her standing with her back to the window through the curtains. I'd recognise her silhouette anywhere, I have looked at her so often in semi-darkened rooms when we make love. My mind throws images at me of her on top of me, arching her back, moaning.
"Eddie, forget about it, it's not important. Let's not argue. We could do something more enjoyable instead?" Catherine's voice has a tone to it that I had liked to think she only used with me. Obviously I was mistaken. I know she's only doing this to stop the argument, but that doesn't stop it hurting. I'm so busy listening to my own hurt little voice inside my head that I miss what the voices inside the house say next. But apparently Eddie has taken the bait, because I see his shadow move closer to her and they embrace.
I see them kiss, and that cuts me like a knife, a huge betrayal because a kiss is so intimate, shows emotion so clearly. I love how she kisses me. Lips so soft, yet demanding. She gives a different meaning to each kiss. It might be "I love you" or "I want you" or "I need you," or a way to give comfort or share joy. Just from the shadow I can't really tell how she's kissing him. But you can bet it isn't, "I'm in love with someone else, goodbye."
The shadows sink to the floor and I can no longer see them. But the window is still open; I can hear them.
The soft "whoosh" of clothes being thrown across the room. Catherine's sharp intake of breath. Eddie's grunt.
I am paralysed, numb, forced by my body's mutiny to listen to this.
Catherine's moans, which normally I'd give anything to hear, now make me feel like someone has punched me in the stomach. The floorboards start to creak.
The sound of a car pulling up brings me back into myself with a jolt. I sneak out of the bush and slink off down the street, leaving the police to interrupt them.
We had arranged for Sara to come over tonight. I had been looking forward to it all day. Then Eddie, who was supposed to be out with his mates, getting drunk or high or both, came back unexpectedly. He'd forgotten his wallet, or something. Thank God Sara was late, or he'd have walked in on us. He walked straight into the bathroom where I'd just got out of the shower, and spotted the scratches on my back straight away.
Which is why we're stood in the bathroom having a blazing row, even though my plans for the evening had been something much more pleasant. Probably along the lines of: dinner, making love to Sara, falling asleep in her arms, then being woken by the alarm in time for her to leave before Eddie came home.
I'm glad Lindsay isn't home to hear her parents argue like this. Ironic, really, that the reason she isn't home is so I could have a clandestine meeting with my lover.
"Cat, who did this?" His voice is low and menacing, but I stare him straight in the eye as my mind works frantically.
I feel at a distinct psychological disadvantage, dressed as I am in nothing but a towel while Eddie is fully clothed. But even that difference is not enough for him. He reaches out and yanks the towel to get a better look at my back. I desperately cling to it to keep it covering the bite marks on my breasts, but let it fall away from my back so as not to anger him more.
The seconds are ticking by and I realise I still haven't said anything.
"It's nothing, just some idiot at the club, you know, got a bit friendlier than he was supposed to." Eddie is looking incredulous, but I continue anyway, "But the bouncers got rid of him."
I walk away from his accusing glare into my our bedroom. Standing with my back to him I drop the towel and quickly pull a shirt on over my head, not bothering with a bra in my haste to cover up. I am just pulling on my jeans when Eddie mutters that he doesn't believe a word of it. He blocks my path as I try to get through into the living room, but I push past him.
"Cath!" He yells after me. "We aren't finished! There's no way the bouncers would let anyone close enough to you to scratch you like that. You're their star attraction, for God's sake! Look but don't touch, remember? I should know the rules by now, I've been there often enough myself."
This last thing is said to spite me, remind me that I'm not the only woman in his life. I feel like throwing it back in his face, telling him about Sara, but I can't, not after working so hard to keep my family together.
"You've been there often enough to know that there's always someone willing to try and break the rules, then." I am trying to sound reasonable, but I think it comes out as condescending or sarcastic.
"But that's not what happened. You're lying to me, Kitty Cat!" These last two words are spat out, almost like he resents me being a dancer. Well, he shouldn't; it's what pays the bills and supports his sorry ass. "Come on, whore, who is it?"
"I told you, it's no big deal, just some guy at work trying to go further than he's allowed to. The bouncers stopped him before anything bad happened, but he got the scratches in first." I'm trying to calm him down, but it doesn't seem to be working.
"Don't give me that bullshit, you've been fucking someone else, haven't you? Why don't you just admit it?"
"Because it isn't true, Eddie. It was that guy at work, he had me pinned against the wall-"
At this, Eddie moves, too quickly for me to dodge, and shoves me backwards until my back hits the wall. My head snaps backwards with a dull thud. He grabs my wrists and pins them at shoulder height. I try to kick out, but he presses the whole of his body against mine. Needless to say, he's a lot bigger than me, and this effectively incapacitates me. As he intended. "Like this, you mean?" He bites out.
Because he seems to want it, I gasp out, "Yeah, like that." It's hard to get the words out because he's pushing me so hard against the wall, and I follow up with a whispered plea to him to let me go. He grins nastily for a few seconds at my admission that he's in control, then eases back a little. He's still got hold of my wrists, but at least I can breath now.
"Eddie, I've done nothing, there is no-one. Let me go. Please."
He gives me a hard look, then releases my wrists. I rub some feeling back into them and step away from the wall.
"I'm still not sure I believe you. It would explain why you haven't wanted sex with me the past few days."
He's closer than he thinks with this idea. We haven't had sex in about five days, which is unusual for us. The first two days, just the usual lack of time and whatever. The third day was the day I saw Sara, and I didn't want to have sex with both of my lovers so close together. Some people may disapprove of how I live my life, but I'm not that low. The last two days, I've been making excuses because I didn't want him to have any opportunity to see my scratches and marks.
I can only see one way out of this. It's risky and not something I particularly want to do, but I grit my teeth and get on with it. "Eddie, forget about it, it's not important. Let's not argue. We could do something more enjoyable instead?"
He steps towards me and grins in a way that's almost a leer. "You have something in mind?"
I fix my best seductive smile on my face, trained by my exotic dancing, and sashay towards him. He leans down and kisses me, and I can't help comparing him to Sara. She kisses so well, showing me her soul in ever touch of her lips on mine.
We sink down to the floor, and his hands are already under my shirt. I grasp his wrist and drag his hand down to the button of my jeans. He undoes them and I slide them off and throw them across the floor. I do the same with his, wanting this to be over quickly. Occasionally sex with Eddie is okay, useful for scratching the itch. I'd prefer sex with Sara any day, but it's not always possible. But tonight I just want this to move quickly so I can get on with faking, because I really don't want this. I've never had to fake with Sara, and I wouldn't anyway because it would feel dishonest, but I do sometimes with Eddie.
I have to make sure he doesn't see the bite marks on my breasts, so I turn onto my knees so he can enter me from behind. He grunts. I gasp in discomfort. I wasn't really ready. Eddie made some attempts at foreplay, but I can't relax. I'm still wound up from our fight and shook up from him pinning me against the wall.
He thrusts faster and I start moaning, not wanting him to hold back on my account. He might be a bastard, but he's a fairly considerate lover. He has to be, I suppose, with all the women he has to keep happy.
He comes quicky.
Back to Sara's POV
"I did what I had to do, Sara." Anger flashes in her eyes. She's gone into automatic defence mode to counter my accusations.
"You enjoyed it! You were moaning!"
"What?" She sounds scornful, like I couldn't possibly know what I'm talking about.
I decide to enlighten her. "Catherine, I was there!"
"What?" Now her tone is stunned.
"I was outside the window." I sit down on my couch and bury my head in my hands. "I heard everything."
"Oh, Sara," she whispers, immediately contrite, and sits down next to me. "I don't know what to say. I'm sorry you shouldn't have heard that."
"You're only sorry I heard, you're not sorry you had sex with him," I grind out bitterly.
She stands up and starts pacing, one hand on her hip, the other partly covering her mouth. "Sara, oh God, I " she pauses, "Yes, I'm going to have sex with him, he's my husband." She sees me about to interrupt, but cuts me off, "I need him, Lindsey needs him. We can't survive on our own, we need the money he brings in, the security he gives us. Lindsey needs her mom there while she grows up."
"The courts would give you custody."
"No, not once Eddie mentioned a certain habit of mine, and my job." She half smiled, but it didn't reach her eyes.
Her right hand drifts unconsciously to stroke her left wrist. "And do you have any idea what he would do to me if I left?"
She says this last very calmly, but I can see the pain and fear in her eyes. I feel my anger drain away, or at least get pushed to the back of my mind where it normally lives, redirected at Eddie.
Catherine senses the change in my mood and sits back down next to me. She strokes a strand of hair out of my face and then wraps her arms around me. She drops a kiss on my forehead in an almost motherly gesture, but the way I respond is anything but childlike. I need to feel a connection to her after our argument, and sex has always been the best way to connect to Catherine.
We tug each other's clothes off as we make our way to my bedroom, my lips barely losing contact with her's the whole time. Catherine is stroking my skin almost reverentially, hitting all my hot-spots, making me arch against her.
It feels a little like the first time we made love; taking our time trying to memorise each other's curves and hollows and the texture of skin. But it's better than the first time, because now Catherine knows exactly how to touch me, and I am experienced at making her moan. I use that experience to my full advantage when I kiss my way down her torso, round her belly-button and through her curls. My tongue darts out to lick her clit, but I pull back just as quickly and she bucks her hips in frustration. She does not try and tell me to do anything, aware, I think, that she is still not completely forgiven. But I don't tease her as long as I normally would. I want to get to the afterglow so we can lie wrapped up in each other's arms and fall asleep. I alternate fast and slow strokes with my tongue, as I know she likes it. I can feel how near she is to release, and I slide two fingers into her and curl them in a come-hither motion.
It does not occur to me to worry that she cries as she comes. I assume it is just the emotions of the past few days coming out. Well, you know what they say Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.
I woke up and she was gone. That's not too unusual, so I was not worried. She had a whole other life to get back to. I stumbled into the shower as I always do, not fully awake before a mug of coffee.
Now, I regret that shower. It washed away the last physical reminders of something beautiful. At the time I didn't know what I was doing, of course.
I towelled myself off and threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and came out into the kitchen for the life-giving substance known to the world as coffee.
That was the exact instant when I saw it. Twenty-eight minutes and thirty seconds ago, if the clocks in my bedroom and kitchen are in synch, give or take a few seconds for getting from my bedroom to the kitchen. The note, lying next to a fountain pen with the lid still off. The pen is still sitting there without its lid, and normally meticulous me couldn't give a damn.
This is the hardest letter I have ever had to write. I know that is a cliché, but in this case it is true. I cannot do this anymore. I love you too much to keep hurting you. For the reasons I told you last night, I cannot leave Eddie. You deserve better than a coke-addict stripper who can only be your part-time lover. Last night, I thought I could keep arguing with you, make you hate me so you would not hurt so much, but I could not. I could not leave without making love to you one last time, and I cannot bear the thought of you hating me even if I never see you again.
Please do not contact me, it would only prolong the agony for both of us.
I will always love you.
Since I read it, I have just been sitting here on the kitchen floor, staring at an imaginary spot on the cupboard door. My knees are drawn up under my chin, my arms wrapped round them. I feel numb. There's a big hole where my heart was, I can feel the hollowness in my chest. What am I supposed to do? My whole life revolves revolved around when I was going to see her next, and now I'm not going to I can't see what I will do with the rest of my life.
How can she do this to me? Make my decisions for me? Apparently the times I called her a goddess have gone to her head, I think wryly.
My backside is going numb. I stand shakily and make my way over to my bedroom. I curl up on the bed, and smell her scent still on the sheets, and then it hits me. All the emotion I have been holding back for the past half an hour floods me, threatens to drown me. I sob uncontrollably as I realise I am never going to see her again, the love of my life, my soulmate. Doesn't she realise I would accept a relationship with her on any terms? I would move Heaven and Earth to make her happy.
She's hurting both of us by doing this. Or maybe she is only hurting me. I cannot see into her heart, she could be lying to try and let me down gently. She wouldn't leave her husband for me, afterall. She cannot feel as strongly as I do or she would not be able to do this.
An hour or so later I am all cried out. My gaze falls on a photo of the two of us together. Everything in my apartment makes images of us together flash through my mind. Suddenly, I cannot stand to be here. I grab a bag from the closet and drag drawers open hurredly, collecting clothes and other essentials.
My mind is ticking through where I can go. I have no friends that I am close enough to to turn up unannounced on their doorstep. My brother is in Italy at the moment. My parents would not understand. They've never gotten used to my sexuality, and I can't handle them pretending to comfort me while they secretly are pleased because now maybe I'll settle down with a nice man.
I pause in my frantic packing for a minute and straighten up. I run my hand through my hair and rub my eyes that are stinging from the salt of my earlier tears. I know this is avoidance, running away from my problems. I don't care.
Fate intervenes and a photo of me as a little girl with my Aunt Judy falls out of the jumper I am about to pack. In it, I am about seven and I'm playing with my cousin in the back garden of their San Fransisco house while Aunt Judy looks on smiling. I haven't seen Judy in two or three years, but we still send Christmas cards with the traditional "this year's news" letter inside. She was always my favourite aunty when I was growing up. Kind, capable and unflappable. She deals with things so effortlessly I'm sure a distraught neice turning up on her doorstep will be fine with her.
I shoulder my bag, grab my keys and take one last look at my apartment before I lock the door. Frisco here I come.
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