a marriage: scene one (version two)

It is dusk.

Rapid rain drops forceful against glass, an angry wind, lightning followed by the thunder – startling in its force and depth.

From the outside looking in, a reflection of The Husband, standing tall, tense, erect.

He is staring, blankly, pass his reflection at the lights, skyscrapers, and rain. In the room, elegant and austere in its demeanor – only a faint light from a lamp to his right.

On his feet, tan burnished leather cap-toe shoes. On his body, a three piece impeccably tailored striped wool black suit. Hands in his pockets forcing his jacket open, reveals a vest framing a narrow waist; a navy-blue shirt is fitted perfectly to his broad chest and wide shoulders; a thick matching tie crafted in silk is expertly knotted around his neck, sitting just below a prominent Adam’s Apple. He wears initialed gold cuff links, an anniversary present from The Wife.

His face: serious,

Eyebrows scowling,

Jaw, tense.

Nostrils, flaring as he breathes slowly, deeply, deliberately.

Eyes, tender, sad, tangled in thought.

A loud sigh, then quickly and suddenly, his face falls into his chest.

Slowly, his hands slip out of his pockets and reach up to encapsulate his face.

His wedding band of silver and diamonds shimmers in the relative darkness.

“How did I get here?” he whispers. “How did we get here?”

A gentle knock on a door, luring him reluctantly to the present Moment.

“It’s me,” she whispers, her voice filled with joy and anticipation.

He looks up, turns his body as if by force, and fixes his gaze on the door, frozen.

Another knock, slightly louder than the first and a little less confident.

She hesitates; he deliberates.

A bit of a stalemate.

He finally gathers himself, walks to the door and – slowly – opens it.

Their eyes meet, their lips smile.

She exhales; he inhales.

Both relax just a bit.

He reaches for her hand and gently draws her in, closing the door.

As her eyes adjust, she takes in the space – a large, elegant living room occupied with two massive couches facing each other and separated by an intricate modern chandelier that hangs low from the high ceilings, a baby grand piano, coal black and glistening, is framed by a wall of windows, floor to ceiling bookcases, and art everywhere – paintings and sculptures – a distinctly masculine vibe emanates from both the room and her host.

She continues to study the room, beyond the couches, a bar comes into view as if an oasis. A sudden urge for drink, for calm and grounding.

He is studying her intently, standing still, by the door, hands in his pockets.

The only sounds in the room – rain against the windows, the occasional howl of the wind outside, abated breaths.

She begins to remove her coat (long, fitted, soft black leather). As if by cue, he is behind her, helping.

He takes her coat; she moves toward the bar.

Her attire: a shiny cobalt blue, two-piece silk tailored business suit – slim jacket paired with a pencil skirt that fell a few inches above her knees. On her feet, four-inch black pumps. No jewelry. Manicured hands, minimal makeup. Her dark black hair pulled back in a tight bun.

“What would you like to drink?” he asks, joining her at the bar.

She settles into plush stool, feeling its softness on her hands and the back of her thighs.

He is behind the bar, waiting and watching.

She looks fully into his eyes for the first time since arriving, searching…

“I’ll have what you have,” she says – never losing contact with his eyes.

They smile and blush. He breaks their gaze to pour their drinks.

Every move he makes, she notes and remembers why she is here, why she is taking such a risk for the first time in her life.

“He is worth it,” she thinks. Her heart softens, her smile broadens as she accepts his drink.

Their fingers touch and eyes soon follow suit.

Cheers!” she says.

Cheers!” he responds, himself beginning to relax, just a bit.

The potency and complexity of the cognac are a welcome to both.

Feeling somewhat fortified, he says: “I have never in twenty years, been unfaithful to my wife.” Another, fuller hit of the expensive spirit.

“I have never even considered a married man,” she responds, and quickly takes in a mouthful of the cognac, swallowing quickly, craving the subtle burning at the back of her throat.

Their eyes meet, anxious smiles on the surface, desire simmering underneath.

That desire propelled them here today, arising – subconsciously – from the moment they first met, three years ago when she arrived at his firm, adeptly lured away from a formidable competitor by his younger brother and partner.

She quickly became an invaluable asset, working long hours by his side – they, the first ones into the office, and always the last ones to leave.

Professional and respectful always, she had met his wife, and admired her a great deal – creative, smart, funny, and utterly fearless, she perceived His Wife.

He had met her longtime boyfriend and got along with him famously. So much so, there were many double dates. Fun, memorable evenings – hours filled with exquisite food, excellent wine, intense, endlessly flowing conversations, and so much laughter.

One day – exactly a year ago – it all changed. She felt it coming. Her boyfriend decided to leave, citing the need for a more traditional relationship, one where the woman did not willingly work twice as many hours as her man and earned substantially more.

Tethered to no one and now a vested partner in The Husband’s firm, she worked harder, giving her all to work she adored and found profoundly meaningful.

He, too, invested more of himself to work. They would often share late dinners and early morning breakfasts.

Professionalism and respect continued between them, although it was becoming more and more challenging – she grew closer to The Husband, becoming a confidant as he pulled farther away from The Wife, his first love going back to University, and the mother of his children – twin boys now in college.

One late night – just last week – as they prepared to leave the office building to their respective homes, there was a passionate, lingering kiss as if long destined, a wave they could not contain.

No words were spoken nor plans made aloud.

There was an impending and important business trip that had been diligently planned six months earlier.

And here they are now, at the bar inside a dimly lit hotel suite, silently taking each other in. Outside, a cacophony of sound and sight: rain, wind, lightning, and thunder.

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