BENEATH HER SMILE.

She sat on the floor of the shower, letting the water pour over her; hoping it masked the sound of her sobs. None of this was real! It just couldn't be real! Things like this didn't happen to quiet, sensible women like her. She had a loving husband, a wonderful daughter. How the hell had she allowed this to happen to her? Right from the start she'd known it was wrong but she just couldn't stop herself.

Jack had moved into town and thrown everything into chaos. From the moment she set eyes on him she'd known she wanted him. She couldn't bear to stand near him and not touch him. She felt it must be visible to everyone but no one noticed a thing. Such a nice young man, everyone said, so charming, so handsome. All those thoughtful little gifts; it seemed as though he charmed everyone, especially the women. She knew there was another side to him though.

Soon she found herself thinking about him all the time. She couldn't sleep, she couldn't eat. She ached to feel his hands on her. When he stood near she felt herself go weak with longing, she felt he must know. Behind that angelic smile she was sure he knew. She had to listen to Karen and her friends eulogising about him, going over what they'd do if he kissed them and she wanted to scream. Late one night, when the craving got too much for her she went for a walk and she saw him on the beach with another woman. They were making love and she'd hid in the bushes and watched. He'd looked up and seen her there but he made no sound. He'd merely smiled that lazy smile and continued making love to the girl beneath him. He'd held her gaze, smiling, knowing she was watching, as if he were performing just for her. She'd run away in self-disgust hearing his mocking laughter ringing behind her.

After that she kept her distance, schooled herself not to think of him. Time moved on. Karen married Rick and Jack married Popuri but it was at Mary's wedding that it happened. They'd all had too much home brew to drink and they were sat at the same table. When she'd felt a hand on her thigh and she'd been astonished. Jeff just wasn't that sort of husband. It wasn't Jeff. She'd looked back at Jack and there was that killer smile. It was then that she knew. She should have brushed his hand away but she didn't. She let the hand creep all the way up her leg making her squirm and giggle. She'd laughed and made things easier for him, letting him do whatever he wanted. She'd decided to leave early and go home alone but she knew he'd follow. They'd both known what would happen. They barely made it through the front door. Right there, on the hall floor, they'd ripped the clothes of each other. She'd never known anything like it, his hands, his mouth was everywhere. She felt she would explode with the fierceness of it all. It had never been like this with Jeff. No romantic novel had prepared her for anything like this. It blew her inhibitions out the window. She screamed, she bit, she matched him move for move, in the hall, in the kitchen over the counter of the supermarket. Even now the thought of that night made her go weak.

This wasn't love. This wasn't romance but she couldn't get enough of him. She took stupid risks. She met him whenever, wherever he said. She knew it was so wrong but she just didn't care. Even when she was with him she hated what she was doing but she couldn't stop.

Tonight, though she'd come to her senses. Too late. Screwing up her eyes she tried to get the scene out of her mind. It was as if she had suddenly seen herself as other would see her, a pathetic, middle-aged woman being used by a cruel young man, a man young enough to be her son. She could still feel the roughness of the wooden shack wall against her back as he ground into her. She could still hear the harsh sounds gurgling up her throat as she clutched at him. God, it was all so sordid, so dirty, and so ugly. There was no love here, there was no romance here, there wasn't even respect. The words echoed around her head. She'd remonstrated with him for forgetting again and he'd just laughed.

" Hell, woman" he'd told her " Lighten up, it's not as if you're gonna get knocked up or anything". Then he'd seen her face.

My god, you are, aren't you. You silly cow.

She didn't know what she'd expected of him but it wasn't the way he'd laughed at her and fastened himself up leaving her there dishevelled and used. The dress she'd worn was now wadded in a heap on the bathroom floor. She picked it up; she could still smell him on it. Vomit rose in her throat and she leapt up, retching in the sink. She'd pleaded with him, she'd cried, she'd even hit him but it meant nothing. He'd said he didn't care what she did it was up to her. If she hadn't been so hot for it in the first place she wouldn't be in this position. Perhaps it was a good thing it over he's said. Popuri was getting suspicious and now his wife was pregnant he'd need to be home more. That was a laugh. She'd laugh if it didn't hurt so. It would be a shame if Jeff or Karen found out he'd threatened.

That was the thing that hurt the most. She'd never given Jeff a second thought in all this. He loved her so and she'd done this to him. How could she live with what she'd done? Another bout of retching threw up everything that was left in her stomach.

" Are you alright, honey" Jeff called from the bedroom. " That sounds even worse than you were with Karen. Can I get you anything?"

" No," she mumbled, wiping her mouth.

" Gosh, honey, I can't tell you how proud I am of you. It's twenty years since Karen, I just never thought this would happen to us again."

The excitement in his voice just made her feel worse. She couldn't do this to him. She stared at her reflection in the mirror and she'd never felt so disconnected. The face in the mirror looked back it's killer smile spreading across her face. Yes, you will do it told her. You'll do anything it takes.

Sasha put on her gown, rinsed her mouth and brushed her long blond hair. Deep inside the sobbing went on but she pasted the killer smile in place, slammed the ruined dress into the bin and left the room.