Disclaimer: Please see Part 1...
Authors Note: I cant apologize enough for the length of times in-between posts. I could give you explanations, but it would just keep you waiting for a longer time before reading the update. So please accept my deepest and most sincere regrets in not getting the update done sooner.
If it makes any difference at all, Im working on a full-length novel that has been taking up all of my time. Ill post it soon .
August 17, 2001..
My arms fly around Graces back automatically as she hurls herself into my waiting arms. Startled, I drop the cluster of balloons and bouquet of flowers I brought for her.
"Shh, sweetheart, whats the matter?" I ask as I hug her close to me.
She doesnt answer, but simply buries her face further into the crook of my neck and tightens her grip around me.
The balloons float up to the ceiling and I sigh.
"Grace?" I question, my frustration level growing.
Silence sounds back and I ponder what to do next. Mostly I want to find out what is wrong and fix it so things can go back to normal and I can salvage whats left of the evening and my wifes birthday.
"Listen, if this is about me missing dinner tonight, I truly am sorry. Something came up and I just couldnt leave in time." I tell her honestly, hoping shell forgive me.
"Something came up, or someone?" Grace asks bitterly.
I push her away, a little stronger than I mean too. "What do you mean?"
Rubbing her arms, Grace looks at me with tear-filled aqua eyes. "I know what you did."
"What I did?" I question, honestly at a loss about what shes talking about.
Her eyes turn angry. "Dont treat me like Im stupid. Michelle saw you last night at the bar kissing some guy."
My jaw drops in surprise as my normally sane and peace-loving wife starts stomping around the hotel room, disrupting everything in her path.
"I cant believe you! After all weve been through youre going to destroy our vows and relationship over some asshole you just met? Or have you known him for a while now? Maybe hes one of your past boyfriends thats come back into the picture to destroy what we have. Wasnt one enough, or would you prefer I was shot again?"
Graces last statement sets my temper loose and it takes everything I have not to grab her and shake her senseless, just so shell stand still and listen to me.
"I didnt kiss anyone!" I argue in self-defense, but Grace keeps storming around.
"Are you telling me that shes lying? That you werent at a bar last night with some guy who had his hands all over you?" She asks, finally standing still.
"I was, but it wasnt like that." I try to explain.
My admission sends her further over the edge and she practically collapses onto the floor sobbing. The sight of her agony makes my heartache, but I am still boiling mad and not about to let her accuse me of something I didnt even do.
"Do you want to hear my side of the story, or believe the sister who hates your guts?" I ask with venom as I fold my arms across my chest.
Grace looks up at me warily with an expression of profound hurt on her face. When she doesnt respond, I continue.
"I was pressured into going out with people from the force last night after our shift. Im trying my best to get us the hell out of here so we can go home and I figured if I socialized with them more they might be more apt to participate in the program. We went out, had some drinks, and I ended up playing pool with one of the guys."
Her expression turning to that of poorly concealed disgust, Grace still says nothing.
"We didnt get drunk and fuck on the pool table. We chatted for a while and then when I opted to leave, he asked me to stay longer. I knew what he was after and I turned him down, he hugged me and kissed my cheek. I did nothing wrong. I flashed my ring and told him I was married and I left the bar." My words come out clipped and angry.
"Thats all that happened." I add, resentful of the fact I have to defend myself over something I didnt even do. "You can choose to believe me; the one person who has never lied to you, or the sister you just met."
Seemingly mute, Grace just stares at me, her expression unreadable. For some reason, the fact that she wont respond makes me angrier and I feel the need to get the hell out of here before I do or say something Ill regret.
"Fine, Ive had enough." I state as I grab my bag off of the floor and leave the room.
I ignore the sound of Grace sobbing as I storm down the hall and to the elevators.
My hands shaking, I dial the number and press the receiver to my ear.
After a few rings, my own voice answers me, causing a new wave of tears to emerge.
"Hi! Jaden and Grace arent home right now, but if you leave your name and number well call you back." BEEP.
"Um, hi, Kim?" I start, my voice choked with emotion. "Kimmy? Its me, Grace, and I really need to talk to you so if youre screening can you pick up? Please?" I wait for what seems like an endless amount of time before continuing. "Okay, but can you please call me back at the hotel? Thanks."
Defeated, I hang up the phone.
Looking out into the gray Chicago night, I notice its begun to rain. Jaden is out there somewhere, angry and upset at my accusations.
If they are just accusations. I dont know what else they could be, Jaden was correct when she stated shes never lied to me. Withheld information, but never outright lied.
But why would she even let that guy hug or kiss her? I know my wife, and shes not the touchy-feely type. So it doesnt make sense to me that she would even let him get that close.
My mind flashes images of Kim, leaning over and kissing me before I even understood what was happening.
Maybe thats what happened, it all occurred so fast she didnt even have time to push him away. According to her, its not like they were making out or even having a lip-to-lip kiss.
Putting my head in my hands I have the urge to pull my hair out. Its all so confusing and mixed-up. All I wanted was a nice, normal birthday with my family and wife before we leave to go back home.
I dont even know when shes coming back. Or if she is.
Shaking my head, I push away the sudden onset of fear. Of course shes coming back, why wouldnt she? Jaden just needed to blow off steam and then shell come home.
Shell come back. I repeat to myself as I remove my clothes and climb into bed, smelling the sweetness of the rain through the slightly open window.
Jaden will come back.
Slamming my glass down on the bar, Im immediately offered another by the attentive bartender.
"No thanks." I state as I fish the money for my tab and hand it to him. He nods in appreciation for the tip and I gather my things before heading out.
I probably should go back to the hotel. Grace will probably be asleep, its so late, either that or shell be really worried. I shouldnt have stormed out, but it seems lately Ive been at my wits end.
I know its this assignment; the lack of progress is driving me crazy. I want to get out of this city and head home, to our quiet little apartment that overlooks the sea and sit by Graces side with our dogs.
Its silly to miss them, but I do. Theyre like our children and the lack of quiet time is driving me insane.
All of those things combined added with Graces insane accusations were about to push me over the edge. I had to get out. I just hope Grace understands.
Standing outside the bar, the drizzle from before has now turned into a pounding rain. I try to hail a cab, but there are none to be found this late in this weather. Resigned to my fate, I begin to walk the 18 blocks to the hotel.
I unlock the door and creep in, unable to see until I turn on the small table lamp. This sends a formerly slumbering Grace scurrying under the dark covers like a vampire.
"Sorry." I offer, feeling bad for waking her up.
"Sokay." Grace mumbles, her voice thick with sleep. "Are you okay?" She asks, and I know shes only half-awake. She probably wont even remember any of this in the morning.
I slip out of my drenched clothes and pull on a dry t-shirt and boxers. "Yeah, but we ne.."
The shrill ring of the phone interrupts me.
Graces slender hand snatches it from the receiver before it can ring again. "Hello? Oh hi Kim."
My head turns sharply when I realize its Kim on the phone. Why is she calling at almost 2am?
"Yeah, thanks for calling me back. No, its not to late. Yes, Im fine. Its not a big deal, Ill talk to you later, okay?" Grace pauses. "You too. Bye."
"Isnt that nice, your girlfriend calling to wish you sweet dreams." The words escape my mouth before I can stop them.
Grace looks at me through stricken eyes as I turn off the table lamp and leave us in darkness.
Climbing into bed I deliberately turn my back to her and close my eyes, pretending to ignore the shaking of the mattress as she begins to cry.
Pounding awakens me, and as I sit upright in bed I first think its the door. It takes a few seconds to realize its actually the rain.
I glance at the clock, and then to the phone, hoping it will confirm my suspicions. Theres no way we can practice pursuit drills in this weather, it would be risky both for horse and rider. As if on cue, it rings and I answer it.
"Jaden, Tom here. Assignment is off for today because of this blasted weather. Plan on reporting tomorrow as planned for your last official day."
"Sounds good." I answer, a slight grin appearing on my face. "Ill be in later to work on a few things in the meantime."
"No, youve been putting in more than your share of hours. Enjoy the day, if you can manage it." Tom answers and I feel relieved to be off today.
"Thanks." I set the receiver down and glance at Grace.
Shes only feigning sleep. She just doesnt want to open her eyes and face me. Not that I really blame her.
Throwing the covers off of me I stand, stretching briefly before heading into the bathroom. Ill take a shower and clear my head a little more, and then Ill suck it up and apologize for flying off the handle and walking out last night.
I turn on the water and head back out into the room to gather some clean clothes. Graces birthday balloons are hanging in mid-air, and her flowers are still on the floor from where I had dropped them. I never got around to giving her the other presents I had for her. Maybe shell want them today.
After showering, I dress quickly and open the door. Grace is gone...
As soon as I hear Jaden step into the shower I make a break for it. I throw on some clean clothes, grab my bag and leave the hotel room.
Im not sure where Im going or what Im going to do, but I cant face her. Not as shes showering and primping to go and meet her boyfriend.
Or whoever that was that called. It sounded like someone from work, but that could have been a cover. She probably didnt want to say "Oh hey loverboy, my dumpy wife is lying here next to me so I cant talk about your sexual prowess right now, but Ill see you later where you can fuck me good and hard," when I was lying right there.
Im a fool.
Stepping out of the lobby, I pull my hood up to guard against the pounding rain. The sky is ominous and overcast, with heavy gray storm clouds.
Its perfect, fitting my mood exactly.
I hail a cab and slide in to the ripped vinyl back seat. It smells of stale tobacco and mold.
"Where too?" The polite middle-Eastern man gives me a smile in the rearview mirror.
Wheres the best place to lose yourself on a rainy day when your entire world is crumbling? Its too rainy outside to walk the city and shop, so I give the driver the first other option that I can think of where no one will ever find me.
Countless hours later, I wander through the gift shop, several stuffed animals in my arms for the young ones in my life. Kasey gets a dolphin, JJ a shark, Jillian a turtle and Lydia a penguin.
I saw every show here at the Shed Aquarium today; and though the exhibits are beautiful and all the animals healthy and well cared for, I still cant get my mind off of Jaden and my suddenly messed-up life.
Maybe I should not try to put it out of my mind, but everything is a little too painful to think about. Besides the entire question of weather Jaden did or did not cheat on me, the other issue is her walking out on me during an argument, and saying that horribly hurtful thing about Kim last night.
I really had thought she had no more unresolved issues about what happened a few months back. She must still be harboring something that is bothering her.
Sighing, I glance over the expansive gift shop once more, adding a big stuffed lobster to my collection. Bean and Bella will love to rip the stuffing out of this.
Maybe I should get Jaden something, you know, a peace offering. I cant believe weve been married for such a short time and already we have both been kissed by someone else. Its like theres something or someone watching over us that is adding constant strife so we cant possibly be happy.
I dont really believe that, I know. I guess I just selfishly wanted to have a perfect birthday surrounded by those I love.
I guess nothing really is perfect.
A huge, blue, stuffed humpback whale with an adorable expression beckons me to pick it up. Its precious, and I cant help but think of a seemingly simpler time when Jaden and I were on the small whale watching ship.
Goddess, Im being over dramatic. I cant believe I just thought that being on a sinking ship, in fear for my and Jadens life was easier than this little bump in the road were enduring right now.
Decision made, I add the whale to my basket and head to the checkout.
Its time to go back to the one I love.
"Jaden, stop or youre going to have to pay to replace the hotels carpeting." Dianas comforting voice instructs me.
I stop my pacing and flop down on the bed. Pressing my cell phone to my ear, I sigh in frustration.
"I fucked up, big time." I admit and my closest friend just chuckles.
"I know, but its not that bad. You just need to get all of your brooding tendencies to go away and talk to your wife." Di instructs me.
"But its so hard, I hate that she doesnt immediately trust me." I complain, knowing Im being whiny.
"And why should she? Did you immediately believe her after what happened with Kim? A little bird told me you had about five minutes of serious freak-out before you were calm enough to listen." She mentions, her tone slightly scolding.
"I never said I was the calm one."
"Jaden, for Christs sake, stop this. Think of it from Graces perspective. Youve been working night and day, youre in a foul mood whenever youre around her, you missed her birthday for crying out loud, and her sister saw you being kissed by a guy in a bar. How do you expect her to believe anything else that what every sign is pointing toward?"
I sigh again. "Youre right." The sound of the hotel door opening diverts my attention from the phone and I sit up on the bed just in time to see a waterlogged Grace creep into the room.
"Di, I gotta go." I tell her and she sighs.
"Dont fuck this up, Jaden." She warns me.
"I wont." I promise her. "Bye."
"No brooding!" She responds before hanging up the phone. I click my cell phone shut and bring my eyes to meet Graces.
"Hi." I tell her softly.
"Hey." She answers, her eyes a deep blue-green. My beloved Gracie looks profoundly sad, worry lines etched deeply into her forehead, her normally bright eyes bloodshot.
"How are you?" I ask, knowing its a stupid question.
"Me too." I say. Clearing my throat, I stand up and approach her. Im surprised and heartbroken to see an unreadable expression in her eyes, a combination of hurt, regret, and a little bit of fear.
"Why did this happen?" She asks, her voice broken. "Everything was going so well, then suddenly we just stopped talking or something."
"Its nothing we did, its just this stupid project. As soon as we go home it will be better." I argue, trying to keep my tone calm and low-key. I dont want this to escalate into a screaming match.
Grace holds up her hands. "I dont know if thats true. Weve lost something, Jaden. We dont have trust in each other any more. You dont trust me with Kim, and I dont trust you after what Michelle said." Her eyes start to well with tears. "It breaks my heart to think of you with someone else, and I want so badly to believe in you. But I dont know if I can."
"Why?" I ask, my voice becoming shrill. I consciously lower my tone, not wanting to frighten Grace. "What have I done to make you not believe in me?"
"Why did you let that guy close enough to you to kiss you?" She asks, her eyes flashing.
"I was drinking, I didnt expect it I guess." I answer, feeling defensive suddenly.
"Thats not like you, Jaden. Youre super sensitive to everyones movements. I cant believe you would let someone get that close." Grace responds, and I have to admit that shes right.
"I dont know, maybe it felt good to be flirted with." I tell her honestly, and there is no way I could have expected the utter expression of hurt visible in her green eyes. "Jesus, Im sorry Grace. I didnt mean that the way it sounds." I add, knowing Im unable to heal the pain I just caused.
"Oh Gods." She says before staggering and falling to her knees. I reach my arms out and catch her before she falls, and she immediately fights my embrace. "Let me go, I cant be near you right now."
She is still struggling, but I easily outweigh her and I use my strength to an advantage as I hold her to me. Shes still dripping wet from the rain but I dont care.
"Im sorry, Im so sorry." I tell her over and over, but its not sinking in. Grace struggles and sobs in my arms before finally going still.
"How could you?" She whispers against my shoulder. "Dont I give you what you need? Dont I love you enough?" Sniffling, I feel huge tears drop from her eyes. "Are you not gay? Dont you love me enough?"
I take her face in my hands and plant soft kisses along her jaw line and mouth. She tries hard not to flinch at my loving administrations, but I see the tightness and resistance she has for me.
"Sweetheart, you give me everything I need and you love me more than I love myself. Thats probably not the healthiest way for me to think in this relationship, but its true. You love me so much that sometimes I feel like Im this invincible hero in your eyes that always has to be perfect. So when something happens that tarnishes that, like when I feel guilty for not spending enough time with you, I feel like a huge disappointment." I try to explain all of the thoughts that have been circling through my brain.
"I dont understand." She says, hushed.
"I know. I dont really get it myself sometimes." Clearing my throat, I continue to look into her eyes.
"I guess what Im trying to say is that no matter how much I love you, I still dont love myself all that much. And that combined with stresses such as work and not seeing you sometimes makes me do stupid things." Ashamed, I lower my eyes.
"I am sorry, and I didnt mean for it to hurt you. Please know I would never cheat on you. Ever. That is something I can promise you." I add softly.
Meeting her eyes once again, I find them less angry than before.
"The situation was entirely my fault. I knew Steve was flirting with me, and I chose to ignore it rather that discourage it immediately. I wont lie and say it wasnt a bit flattering, but please believe that I was and am not the least bit interested in him or anyone besides you." I tell Grace.
Taking her hand, I place it over my heart. "This beats for you only."
"It should beat for you, too." She says, her voice quiet.
"It doesnt." I tell her honestly. "Only for you."
Her eyes grow even sadder than before, if its possible. Huge tears flow down her apple cheeks as her lower lip trembles. "Oh Jaden, why cant you love yourself?" She throws herself into my arms and resumes her sobbing.
I sigh into her golden hair. "I dont know."
We sit for what seems like eternity. I hold the precious bundle of my wife in my arms, relishing in the feel of her body next to mine. I missed her using me as a body pillow last night in bed, and never want to sleep apart from her again.
"Jaden?" She finally says, her voice rough from crying.
"Please take me to bed." She struggles roughly to her feet and begins to discard her rain-covered clothing.
"Dont you want to talk more or som.."
"No." She says firmly. "Get undressed."
"Grace, maybe this isnt the best idea." I try to reason with her, but one look from her deep green eyes instantly stops me.
"I know this isnt the best idea, and that Im using sex to temporarily solve our problems. But I need to feel you tonight, Jaden. Ive missed you." Grace tells me directly.
I stand in front of her, unmoving.
"Get undressed." She practically orders, and I comply. I lift my t-shirt over my head, revealing my naked torso to her and pull down my boxer shorts.
"Youre beautiful." My Gracie states reverently as she drinks in my nude form. Then suddenly her sweet demeanor changes into something more demanding, more possessive. "Get in bed."
I pull back the freshly made bedclothes and lie down as she finishes undressing.
"Grace, I want you to know th.."
She presses a finger to my lips. "No talking, please. I just want to feel you." She slides on top of me, parting my legs with her thigh.
Removing her finger from my lips, she kisses me, soft at first before roughly claiming my lips with hers. Her tongue greets mine and she moans long and low into my mouth.
Grace breaks the kiss, her darkened eyes meeting mine. "Show me how much you love me. Please show me."
I switch positions, rolling Grace over onto her back. Kissing her once again, I run one hand through her damp hair. My hand trails lower, to her smooth neck, shoulders, and resting on her breast.
She groans into my mouth again as I caress her silky skin, pinching her nipple roughly as she cries out. This is how she loves to be touched when she needs me in this way.
Her kisses then turn frantic, and its as if shes trying to devour me.
"More." Grace orders as I lower my hand to her hip. "Please, take me now."
I part her with my fingers, her essence coating my hand. "Oh, you are so wet." I tell her as my fingers glide over her slick skin. Spreading her legs wider for me, I enter her with two fingers and she hisses sharply in pleasure. She moves one thigh in between my legs and moans when she feels my wetness grind against her firm thigh muscles.
"Harder." She orders as my hand pumps in and out of her. I comply and lower my mouth to suckle her tight nipple.
"Harder!" Grace commands now, roughly grabbing onto my hair as she presses my mouth against her breast. My hand couldnt possibly move faster or harder, and her smooth thighs begin to tense around my arm. Shes so very close, and I desperately want to bring her over the edge.
"Oh Jaden." Her voice is all I need to climax and I thrust myself against her thigh as she reaches her peak. My fingers feel her inner spasms as her hands clench the bed sheets. Grace cries out in pleasure, her eyes opening to reveal fresh tears.
"I love you so much." She tells me as she curls her body into mine. "I just want you to love you."
"I know." I tell her as I kiss her soft hair. It feels like a repeat of the end of our former conversation, but I dont know what else to tell her.
I wish that I did.
My hands create intricate patterns on her back until I hear her fall into a deep sleep. Her body rests boneless against mine and tears fall freely down my cheeks.
I allow Grace to sleep, despite all the things I want to say to her. I want to tell her how much she means to me, how sorry I am for everything, how I cant wait to go home with her and live our normal lives, and how excited I am for her to finish school and become who I know she can be.
I know Ive told her these things a thousand times, but now, at last, I want her to believe them.
"Spots?" A voice whispers and I frown and try to pull Grace tighter to me.
"Go away, Im tired." I grumpily answer, and I feel Graces body shake with laughter.
"Wake up." She demands.
"No." I state more firmly, not even remembering falling asleep.
"Yes, or Ill tickle." Grace states, and I reluctantly open my eyes, adjusting to the low light in the hotel room. My wife is on top of me, her strong thighs straddling my hips. Her nude form is bathed in the light of the dim lamp and she is beautiful.
"Youre a goddess." I tell her, raising one arm to trace her gently swaying breasts. She blushes as my hand makes contact, goose bumps breaking out over her fair skin.
"Im sorry." She answers, her green eyes boring into mine.
"I know." I state, smiling slightly. "Im sorry too."
"I know." She mirrors my response. "We have a lot of things to work out, huh?"
"Yeah." I tell her slowly, smiling wider now. "But we have forever to work them out."
"Forever." Grace says, rolling the word around in her mouth. "I really like the sound of that."
As she lowers her lips to mine, I know that eventually; everything will be just fine.
Jaden and Grace will be continued in their next story, Answer. Coming Soon!
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