~*Chapter 1*~

"I'm leaving now," I yelled up the stairs to my wife. I waited for a response but didn't get one. Rolling my eyes, I unwillingly trudged up the stairs to find her. I should have just left but I couldn't do that, it would have made things worse between us. As it was, she wasn't speaking to me, if I had left, surely I would have paid for it ten-fold. I travelled a lot for work, and this was just another business trip to Chicago like any other, but for some reason, this time, she had a problem with my trip. Our fight from earlier this morning was still playing over in my head.

"Three days, that's all it is and then I'll be home. How is this time any different than the others?" I asked her, completely exasperated with the conversation already.

"It just is, that's why," she responded stiffly. "You went to school there, I know exactly what you're going to get up to. I'm not stupid you know." She hoisted the baby on her left hip as he cried out, tears rolling down his cheek. She stuck a pacifier in his mouth trying to get him to stop crying.

"It's not like that and you know it. I'm there for work, that's all." I tried to reason with her, but I knew it was futile there was no reasoning with her when she was like this.

"So you're gonna stand there and lie to me and tell me you're not meeting up with any of your old buddies? Fuck, Edward! It would be nice to live your life for once! Do you think I want to stay here in this house day after day with these two? I'm trapped here! I can't do anything. Some days I don't even have time for a shower." Her yells caused the baby to drop his pacifier and he began screaming again… louder.

"Give him to me. You're scaring him." I reached for him, but my wife just pulled further away, glaring at me with hate-filled eyes.

"NO! Go, get on your damn plane and leave. That's what you do best, isn't it? I don't need your fucking help, I manage every day without you," she said, her voice filled with bitterness.

"What do you expect me to do? Not work? Who would pay for this house and your clothes and the rest of the stuff you love so dearly? Huh? Answer me that? I'll gladly stay but that precious little Mercedes in the driveway will go, as will the pool and God knows all the other stuff you spend my paychecks on!" I knew my accusation would shut her up fairly quickly. It was the same argument we had ever since our second child came into our lives. She was overwhelmed, I knew that. I had begged her to get some help, get a nanny or a maid, but she always refused and instead, accused me of thinking her as a failure for even suggesting it.

"Look…when I get back, we're going to look at getting some help, and only because I want you to go back to the 'Journal.' Maybe they will let you work only a couple of days a week. I think it might be good for you to be away from the house for a bit."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" She turned her lip up at me.

"Nothing!" I tried to defend myself, running my hands through my unruly hair. "I just think you miss it, that's all." I knew I should have kept my mouth shut while I was sort of ahead. I was at my wits end though. It had been eleven months since the baby was born, and fifteen months since we had sex. Fifteen fucking months! Fuck. Just thinking about it made me miserable. I had been spending a hell of a lot of time in the shower over the last few months.

After the second baby was born, my wife was just too tired, grumpy and completely over-whelmed and was never in the mood. I let it slip for the first few months, it didn't really bother me, because I figured she would come around eventually. We didn't exactly have an over-active sex life before the babies were born, but it was enough to keep my balls from turning blue each week. But these days I was convinced my balls had gone past all shades of blue, and were heading into the color palette of deep purple or even black.

A lot of my colleagues had affairs, and a few were always telling me to try it, or at least hire someone to take care of me. The truth of the matter was I never had the desire to fuck another woman. I just didn't. Yeah, my balls ached, but other women just didn't do it for me. I guess despite all of our differences, and battles, I really did love her.

I looked over at her, her long brown hair was swept up in a low pony-tail with bits of strands coming out everywhere. Some sort of foreign, yellowish substance covered the right-hand corner of her white shirt, while red, sticky, jam fingerprints covered her right boob. She had dark circles under her eyes and her complexion looked sallow. Glancing down at her soft belly, I noticed she still carried a bit of the baby weight. I hadn't even seen her fully naked since the baby was born. She was embarrassed of her body, I knew that much. She had never fully recovered from our first child before getting pregnant with our second. The two pregnancies so close together wreaked havoc on her once trim, lean body, but none of that mattered to me, because I did love her…unconditionally, my blackened balls and all.

I felt the corners of my mouth start to tug into a slow smirk, as I realized I wanted her… right now…just the way she was. I felt my balls tighten, surprised they could still feel, and my cock began to get hard and I actually snorted at this little—well more like average—development.

"What?" she snapped at me.

I made a move toward her while she backed up against the kitchen counter not having anywhere else to go. Reaching out, I grabbed her around the waist pulling her against me so she could feel what she was doing to me and to let her know that I wanted her, screaming baby, sticky jam boobs and all.

"Are you serious?" she said disgusted with me. "Fuck off. Go. That's the last thing I feel like doing right now." She pushed against my chest and slid out from under me storming out of the kitchen.

I placed my head against the cupboard rubbing against the sink feeling the pressure of it against my neglected prick. "Fffffuck!" I slammed my hand against the counter before moving it to my pocket to painfully adjust myself.

I spent the remainder of the Sunday in the garage, waiting until it was time to drag my sorry ass to the airport.

When she hadn't answered me back, I knew I had to go find her and try to get some sort of resolution before I left. I got to the top of the stairs, hearing the tub running and made my way to the children's bathroom knowing it was bath time. Standing against the doorjamb, I watched silently while my wife began to shampoo the kid's hair. I took a deep breath, listening to the laughter of my daughter as she splashed around with the water toys, trying to tell my son about the sounds that farm animals make. Looking at this serene picture, it was hard to imagine that there was anything wrong with our family. I had a great income, a lovely five bedroom house, two cars, a pool, two beautiful children and a gorgeous wife. This was the picture-book family. Too bad it wasn't a picture-book, but instead, a book filled with callous and hurtful words.

"Daddy! Have you come to have a bath too?" My daughter squealed when she noticed me at the door. I saw my wife's shoulders stiffen at her words.

"No, sweetheart, daddy has to go." I watched as her lip trembled and she started to cry with protests of asking me to stay. My wife turned around with accusation in her eyes, See! See what you do?

I leaned over the tub placing a kiss on each of my children's heads and whispered promises of presents if they were good for Mommy. I took hold of my wife's hand, giving it a gentle squeeze, hoping she would give me anything, any kind of acknowledgement of love but there was none. Leaning down, I placed a soft, lingering kiss on her forehead and whispered that I loved her. Her eyes closed at my words, and a single tear slid down her cheek. It was breaking my heart to be leaving like this, but there was nothing I could do. I had to catch the last flight to Chicago, having an early morning meeting with a client, didn't leave me any other options. It would be the first of several meetings over the next three days with a handful of clients for the firm that employed me so I could have this picture-book life.

My wife was right about one thing, Chicago was my Alma Mater city, and I still had many friends that lived there from my university days. I hadn't seen them in years, and I was going to reconnect with a few of them, including my old roommate. The plan was to meet up with everyone tonight at the bar at my hotel for drinks, and then play the next two nights by ear to see what we felt like doing. I was catching the last flight to the Windy City, but with the time change I'd arrive with plenty of time for me to drop my stuff off at the hotel and get settled.

My plane ride went smoothly, arriving on time, and I picked up the rental car, a sensible four door full-sized sedan. If I had been daring, I would have gone for an upgrade, but then how would I have explained that to the firm. So I settled into my sedan and drove directly to the hotel, knowing my way around the city just like I had never left.

While I drove from the airport, I couldn't contain my stifled excitement any longer. It had been way too long since I had seen everyone, and the next three days were definitely going to be just as my wife had expected. No rest for the wicked. I chose to remove all thoughts of the day from my head. There was nothing I could do about it now, and there was no point dwelling on it. I was going to enjoy my time and I didn't want to become a whining pussy in front my friends about how fucked up my marriage was. I could easily put on the façade— that wouldn't be a problem—I had been doing it for over a year now.

A shower was my first order of business once I got settled into my room, my second being a glass of scotch from the mini-bar. In just a towel around my waist, dripping water everywhere, and my hair slicked back soaking wet from the shower, I grabbed a tiny bottle from the fridge looking for a glass to pour it in. I was desperate for the taste of the whiskey to calm my nerves, so I said, Fuck it, to myself and cracked open the bottle shooting it back in one go, choking as it burned its way down my throat. "Aah, that's better." I sighed, rubbing my eyes. I noticed the glasses on the counter in the bathroom and figured I should really put the next one over some ice.

I stood at the end of the bed in front of the mirror with a glass of scotch in my hand. Swirling the amber-liquid around, the ice cubes clinking against the glass. I reminisced a little about my days at school. It had been eight years since I had graduated, I was over thirty now, I thought, while I looked at myself and noticed I was surprisingly still in good shape. I had taken to the gym and jogging since my wife had started denying me sex, even picked up boxing to get my frustrations out. I was impressed I actually had my six-pack abs back. I hadn't had them since I was active in my high school days. I was a lazy git in University, all my friends were. The only exercise we got was walking to the pub and lifting our elbows with pints.

I lifted my left arm, and flexed my muscles, turning from side to side to admire the contours. "Hmm…" I said, nodding my head. Not fucking bad. If only I had someone who could appreciate this along with me, I scoffed at myself. The towel was hanging on my hips and I noticed the familiar tent popping up that seemed to happen all the time lately with the slightest mention of anything sex related. I should've taken care of that in the shower, I said in my head. I've got time before I've got to go, so fuck it… I whipped off the towel and watched in the mirror as my hand took hold of my cock. I wasn't exactly large, but I wasn't small either, and I definitely didn't curve to either fucking side. Raising the glass to my lips, I took another sip as my hand continued to stroke up and down. Closing my eyes, I set the glass down, leaning my hand on the dresser and bent over picking up the pace. I was getting to be a master at this, I could practically cum on command these days knowing I was always pressured for time and that someone could walk in on me at home. Maybe I should make this one last, I thought. Reaching over to the glass with my free hand, I picked up an ice cube and placed it in my right hand without even missing a stroke.

I cursed out loud as the cold made contact with my dick, but it did nothing to stay my erection and I knew it wouldn't. I was passed the point now, and the only remedy was to blow my load. I could feel my balls start to draw up, and the muscles at the base of my cock began to tighten. I was so close. I pumped my hand up and down, the ice cube having long since melted, the water helping to create the lubrication I needed to keep up this pace. Just a few more strokes, I thought as I bit my lip, raising my head to stare at myself in the mirror. No one likes watching their cum face, but since no one else had seen it in fifteen months, someone was due to watch it. Smiling a little, I watched my hand move up and down furiously, and briefly looked away to see where the towel was because this was going to be messy. I turned my head for a just second, when a loud, eager knock banged on my door, causing me to cry out. Scaring the shit out of me, or… more like scaring the jizz out of me. I came violently all over the tacky gold framed mirror only grunting in response to the continued bangs on the door.

"Cullen! Open the fucking door!"

Fuck! The shock of being interrupted had my heart set at a frenzied pace. I panicked as I tried to control my breaths and my erratic heartbeat, but it was no use. I was standing naked in a hotel room, face flushed from having 'beaten the bishop' to a bloody pulp and the evidence of said beating lay on display all over the mirror.

"Cullen! What the fuck are you doing? I hear you in there. Open up." I heard the perpetrator of my potential cardiac arrest yelling from the other side of the door.

"I'm coming," I yelled in return. Oh, the irony of that statement. I was a grown, married man with two children and for a split second I felt as though I was back in university, regretting not putting a sock on the doorknob. Grabbing the discarded towel, I made quick work of the clean up, doing my best to wipe it all off, but it only smudged on the mirror, making it look like a white-wash of sticky goo. Shit. I ran to the bathroom, wetting a washcloth and tried to wash up as much as I could off the mirror and the dresser, but instead just made a wet mess of everything in the process. All the while, the banging continued on the door. I was secretly hoping security had been called and they would haul his ass away, but of course I was never that lucky.

I threw the dirty towel and cloth in the tub, and grabbed a clean towel wrapping it around myself. With one quick look in the bathroom mirror to make sure there was no evidence left on my body, and one deep breath to try and calm my unraveling nerves, I walked to the door releasing the latch and opened it to the wide-eyed, grinning mother-fucker who was my former roommate in university.

"It's about time! Your neighbors are nosy fuckers," he said arrogantly, pushing past me with a small black duffel bag in tow. He threw the bag on the king-sized bed and took a look around the room. "Not bad, Cullen, it'll do," he said chuckling as he turned around to finally look at me.

I stood in the narrow hallway, mouth-open, gripping tightly to the towel at my waist, my previous endeavors of a few minutes ago, completely forgotten. He hadn't changed at all. It had been five years since I had last seen him at his wedding here in Chicago, and everything about him was the same, well except for the few small lines around his eyes. His blond hair was still long and scraggly and his body still toned and fit.

"Well, look at you. You been working out?" Jasper laughed at my attire, scoffing at my nakedness. "Was I… interrupting something?" he implied with a knowing smirk.

"Still trying to grow a beard?" I countered, nodding my head in his direction, noticing the little bit of stubble on his chin and upper lip. I casually walked toward the end of the bed, near the dresser and the mirror, hoping to get a better look to make sure I had gotten everything.

"Fuck you." He grabbed his chin rubbing his hand along it. "What you got to drink around here?" Jasper asked, walking toward me and toward the mini-bar. I glanced down and was mortified by what I saw…there on the dresser… in my scotch glass was evidence of my not so subtle earlier discretion.


I panicked a little and reached for the glass which caused my towel to slip from my waist. I didn't know which to grab first, my discarded towel on the floor or the cum-filled scotch glass on the dresser. I felt my cheeks start to burn from embarrassment as I quickly bent down to grab the towel. My internal thoughts were interrupted by Jasper's howl, as he bent over letting out a raucous laugh, and all I could do was flush even redder. Bastard saw the glass.

"I see I was interrupting," he laughed harder as he continued to mock me, "I'll forgo the 'White Russian' if you don't mind, that milk looks a bit…spunky."

"Fucking hilarious, asshole… really," was all I could respond with as I rolled my eyes at him. I grabbed the glass, flushing the contents down the toilet while he continued to laugh at my expense. We really didn't miss a beat, it had been five years since I had seen him and eight years since we lived together and it was like it was yesterday. Things were so easy with Jasper. There would never be another friend in my life like him. We didn't talk often, only major celebrations or events in our lives, neither one of us were much for email or phones, but when we did talk it was like we had spoken only days ago. It was always so natural, our relationship, if that's what it was, and eight years ago perhaps it was too natural.

I watched him from the bathroom mirror, as he poured a drink while still chuckling to himself. He really hadn't changed I realized as I rinsed out the glass, and all the old confusing feelings came rushing back to me at once. My breath caught for a moment, before I hastily suppressed those feelings back to the corner recesses of my mind. It never happened then, so it sure as hell wouldn't happen now. We both had wives, and new lives that neither one of us would ever risk, especially if we hadn't back then when we had nothing to lose.

I shook my head slightly, trying to break free of my thoughts. "What are you doing here, anyway? I thought I was meeting all of you at the bar?"

"My wife kicked me out," he said flippantly while he took a sip of vodka, straight up.

My heart stilled for a moment, and there was a slight ringing in my ears. "What?" I asked completely shocked. "Really?" I croaked.

"Nah, she just hates it when the boys and I get together and told me not to come home if I was going to be drinking tonight…and…well …you know how we can get. So you're one lucky bastard, you get me tonight." He smiled, raising his eyebrows up and down.

"Don't you have to work tomorrow?"

"Of course, but unlike you, I make my own hours." He finished his drink in one gulp, and I watched as his Adam's apple bobbed up and down while he swallowed. He caught me staring at him and he slowly licked the remnants of the vodka off his lips while his eyes narrowed a little. "Get dressed, would you? I'm fucking starving and you're abs are giving me a complex."

Talk about a complex, the guy was making me nervous. I kept trying to tell myself that it was just 'Jasper,' it was easy…but that was just it, it was too easy. I hadn't felt this comfortable around another human being in years. I could hear the baseball game on the TV through the bathroom door and pictured him sitting on the bed with his hands behind his neck, resting against the headboard. His long legs straight out in front of him, crossed at the ankles, and a slight smirk playing out on his lips, the same lips I had watched only minutes ago. This is ridiculous! Absurd. You're married, Edward. You have a beautiful wife and two gorgeous children at home. I had my hands on either side of the sink, and I stared into the mirror, trying to reason with myself.

I noticed the wrinkles in my navy button-down shirt, and for a brief moment I wondered if Jasper would notice. Which only compounded my guilt. Why the hell would he notice? This is Jasper, your best friend, the same guy you've known for years, and stood beside at his wedding, and he at yours. Get a grip, Cullen. Tonight's going to be a good time with all your buddies and it's going to be like any other night. So why did I feel so different this time? Simple…I was lonely. Pathetic as it was, that was it. I hadn't touched another person in a long time. Sure, I had my colleagues, we shook hands and laughed at times, but it was all fairly superficial. I hadn't seen my parents since the baby was born, and that was probably the last time I had been truly hugged by someone who meant it. I hadn't shared something personal with someone in over a year. I lived my life as a hollow shell, like one of those chocolate Easter bunnies…all shiny and pretty on the outside, but hollow and empty on the inside.

I refused to let me feel sorry for myself. I was here for business, yes, but I was going to make sure I had a good time while I was here. No whining and no regrets for the next three days. I took a deep breath, gathering myself together, splashed a bit of aftershave on my cheeks and wiped my hands on my button-fly jeans. I'm good, no more sob story for you, Cullen. I ran my hands though my hair one last time—knowing it was pointless to try and style it—before opening the door.

Jasper was just as I imagined him sitting on the bed, and I smiled at the fact that I knew him so well. "Let's do this," I said, turning the light off to the bathroom.

He grinned at me from the bed before hopping up and making his way over to me. He pulled me into a giant bear hug, catching me by surprise somewhat.

"I feel a little more comfortable doing this, now that you're fully clothed," he said softly. "It's really good to see you again, Edward."

I closed my eyes reveling in his touch, any touch for that matter, and took a deep breath taking in his familiar woodsy smell.

"You too, Jas, you too," I replied as I patted his back a few times, until he broke the connection.

"Alright, I need a drink, a real one, not these pussy ones they have in your mini-bar."