A/N: This was a little plot bunny that was encouraged by StarlightSuccubus, and as today is her birthday, I thought it would be appropriate to post it for her. This is completely out of my norm in many aspects, so it has been interesting to write on and off for a while now. It will be a very short story, so it will not be taking over my other projects, but I know she's been looking forward to this. So Happy Birthday bb!
This wasn't me. This had never been me. I had a wife and kids, whom I loved more than anything in this world.
Well, I definitely loved my children. Aimee and Zach were my entire world, everything I lived and breathed for. My wife and I barely even spoke anymore when we weren't arguing, and sex had become a distant memory since right after Zach was born. The instant I discovered that she'd been with another man, and even questioned the paternity of our son, all desire I'd ever felt for her dissipated into nonexistence.
I'd elected to remain in the marriage to stay close to my children, once DNA tests confirmed that he was mine, but there was no reconciling the passion between us. Even after all this time, I was disgusted by the thought of touching her, and she'd quit even trying at night about a year ago. Which was fine by me, as long as I had my kids.
That was until she walked into the casting office that day, preparing to audition for the role opposite me in the company's upcoming production. She had a fire and determination about her, both in and out of character; and also, nearly a decade my junior.
Which was perfect for the part, hell on my libido. And I realized how much I'd missed feeling something.
Even at the worst of times in my ten-year marriage, I had never thought once about cheating on my wife, nor had I ever been unable to keep myself separated between reality and the part I was playing in my profession on the stage.
However, acting out the fantasies of my character, night after night, with his much younger love interest, had led me to many evenings just like this.
In the shower while everyone else was asleep, seeking release from the arousing images of a scantily clad brunette that had been writhing beneath me on stage just two hours before. Her soft, firm skin like satin beneath my fingertips, her perfectly pouted lips capturing mine heatedly, her hands gripping me wantonly until the lights went down. Just that image alone was enough to get me through one more night beside my wife.
"Cullen, Swan, what the fuck was that out there tonight?" the director, Steve, shouted as he stormed out of his office as we were all preparing to leave for the night.
"Sorry, sir?" Bella inquired, her forehead wrinkled in confusion while my body stiffened in response.
"Steve, everyone has an off night once in a while," I replied tensely, shaking my head.
"No, I'm not buying that," he retorted firmly, advancing on us both quickly. "In twenty years of theater, I have never seen the chemistry that you two possess up there. And in the last six weeks, you have set that stage on fire every single night. I don't know what happened tonight, but I will not see another performance like that again. Saturdays are our biggest draw. So you will both report here first thing tomorrow morning for a run-through of that performance to ensure that it will not happen again."
"You know I can't do that, Steve. I have my kids tomorrow. My wife has to work," I protested, feeling her eyes on me without having to look.
"That is not my problem. My only concern is the presentation of this production. Just remember that you are not indispensable," he snapped, turning on his heel and returned to his office, slamming the door behind him.
I gave a disgusted laugh and reached into my pocket for my phone, only then realizing that I had left it and my ring in my dressing room. "Perfect. Just fucking perfect," I mumbled under my breath as I made my way to the back.
After calling my father and making sure that he would be available to watch the kids in the morning, I made my way out to the parking lot that was completely empty, with the exception of one vehicle. A large, red Chevy pick-up, that appeared even older than I was with the sound of swearing coming from the inside. A chuckle escaped my lips until the occupant turned her head and I was met with the familiar set of brown eyes that had been tormenting me through countless weeks of rehearsals and performances.
The door creaked loudly as she stepped out and again when she shoved it closed behind her. "Well, I guess Murphy's Law strikes yet another unsuspecting soul."
Folding my arms over my chest as I stopped in front of her, I nodded to the immense vehicle behind her. "Car trouble?"
She sighed heavily. "Car trouble. Job trouble. Life trouble." Her eyes met mine as her fingers froze in its motion as they ran through her hair in frustration, and she released a small, embarrassed laugh. "I'm sure you really didn't need the epic rant."
I shrugged casually and shook my head, attempting to mask my edginess. "Need a jump or something."
"I wish," she replied, her jaw tensing as she shook her head. "Mike already tried that before he left, and it still wouldn't start. Then he got a call from the hospital to tell him that his girlfriend is in labor. And genius that I am, I forgot my phone at home tonight. So I can't call for a ride or a tow or anything."
"Oh," I nodded, and reached into my pocket for mine. "Here, you can use mine. And I can give you a ride home if you'd like."
"Thanks," she smiled shyly as she took the phone from my hand.
Turning back to her truck, she opened the door and stretched across the seat, reaching into her glovebox. I quickly averted my eyes, trying to will away the image of her jeans stretching tightly across her ass and the effect the sight had on me. I heard her voice talking into the phone and chanced a look in her direction, where she was now seated in the cab; yet, the change in position did little to help my situation.
Her foot was propped on the seat with her knee resting on the steering wheel, while the other leg dangled out the door. Her head leaned back against the seat as she sighed heavily and her eyes closed, her fingers weaving through her brown locks again. As she ended the call, her gaze fixed on the screen of my phone for a moment before looking back to me.
"They said it would be at least forty-five minutes before they could get a truck here. I can just call my dad, he wouldn't mind coming out," she said and then began to dial.
"No!" I replied a little too urgently before I could stop myself and her thumb froze over the buttons, looking up to me again. "I mean, I don't mind waiting here with you for the tow truck."
The hint of a smile teased at her lips as she gazed at me, and then ended the call before she hit the last number. "Thanks... again. He may not have minded, but I doubt he'd appreciate the hour."
My laugh joined hers as I stood awkwardly beside her truck. We'd never had the opportunity to talk much before then, and now that one had presented itself, I couldn't think of a single thing to say.
"They're beautiful," she said suddenly, handing my phone back to me with the screen still illuminated, a picture of my kids staring back at me. "How old are they?"
"Uh, Aimee's eight, and Zach is two," I replied quietly, gazing down at their faces before sliding the phone back into my pocket.
Her eyes remained on me for a moment and then she hopped down from the cab, making her way to the back of the truck. "We're gonna be here for a while. Might as well enjoy the nice night. I promise, I don't bite."
Lowering her tailgate, she hoisted herself up to sit upon it, folding her legs in front of her. I slowly made my way to join her, resting back against the metal door and avoiding her gaze.
"I never would have pictured you for the married type," she began suddenly and I turned to look at her. She bit her lip with her head tilted slightly, before lowering her gaze and picking at the hem of her jeans at her ankles. "The wedding ring is usually the first thing I look for. Or at the very least a tan-line. And you never really seem to be in a rush to get out of here at night. I just assumed you had no one to rush home to, I guess."
"And here I thought my anti-social, boring personality exuded off me," I replied with a small smile, looking down to my hand and sliding my ring up a bit. "I'm a night owl, no tan line. The most time I spend in the sun is Saturdays with the kids. And they're all usually asleep by the time I get home."
"Anti-social, maybe. But I wouldn't go so far as to say boring," she chuckled, shaking her head and then looked up at me. "I'm just usually a lot better at reading people than this. Here I was wondering why you hadn't been grabbed up."
I shrugged, my gaze falling back down to the ground. "I just tend to keep my personal life separate from my professional. Makes it easier to keep things in perspective, I guess. Keep everything in its place."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to intrude. Just glad I chickened out on inviting you for a coffee or something. That would have been humiliating," she replied with a soft laugh, nudging my shoulder lightly with hers. I only managed a brief smile and a nod, keeping my eyes focused on my boot. I heard her slow intake of breath and felt her touch on my shoulder. "Don't worry. I don't do those kinds of things. I'm not a home-wrecker."
My gaze slowly met hers again and her eyes flickered over my face, her hand falling slowly from my arm and into her lap. Before I could think on my actions, I turned to her, driving my fingers into her hair and pressing my lips firmly to hers. She inhaled sharply in surprise but slowly began responding, her legs unfolding and pulling me to stand between them. Our chests heaved together as her back arched slowly against me, her hands gripping at the back of my shirt.
Just as quickly as I started it, my conscience got the better of me and I pulled back, taking a few steps away from her with my hands rubbing over my face.
"Way to prove your point, Bella," I heard her mumble behind me, the clunk of her heels echoing against the metal beneath her. "I can still call my dad if you want."
I shook my head and then turned back to face her, sighing heavily. "That was my fault, not yours. I'm sorry, it'll never happen again."
She released a sad laugh and nodding before raising her eyes up to mine again. "It is my fault that I want it to. And I wish I could say that I'm really sorry about that."
Moving off the tailgate, she closed the distance between us and slid her arms around my neck, claiming my lips with hers as I embraced her tightly around the waist. Everything about the moment was wrong, but she felt so good against me. Passion radiated from her that I hadn't felt in years, and never with that intensity. My need for her was mounting, until it was spiraling out of control.
Stepping out onto her front porch nearly two hours later, I adjusted the collar of my jacket and exhaled heavily, staring up at the night sky. She came to stand beside me with her arms folded around her waist, her posture stiff as she gazed down at the walk below.
"I'm not gonna tell anyone," she murmured softly, shaking her head as her body curled in on itself. "Despite my actions, I meant what I said. I'm not a home-wrecker."
I nodded silently and made my way to my car, unable to even bring myself to glace up at her as I pulled out of her driveway.
My hand ran roughly into my hair as I began the drive home, gripping the steering wheel tightly with the other. Regardless of the state of my marriage, there was no justification for what I'd just done. I was married, with a family and responsibilities. And burdening a young, beautiful woman such as Bella with the chaos of my life—all self-inflicted—was unfair. There were only three more weeks of the production, and then she would be gone, onto other things, and out of my life.
A little after two in the morning, I silently closed the bedroom door behind me and grabbed my robe from the bedpost, almost making it to the adjoining bathroom before the light behind me flickered on.
"You're late," my wife's voice carried across the room and I froze as the pit of my stomach knotted.
"Yeah. Someone had car trouble, and I stuck around to help out," I replied tonelessly, taking another step toward my destination.
"Who is she?" she retorted, sitting up in the bed and I could feel her eyes boring into my back.
"You know, that's really funny coming from you of all people. What makes you think there's a 'she'?" I countered, turning to return her glare, albeit less forcefully than it might have been in the past.
She shoved the covers aside and swung her legs out of bed, standing up to walk over to me. "You think I don't hear you at night? I'm not stupid. No man can go without sex for this long, even 'holier than thou' ones such as yourself," she sneered with narrowed eyes, gripping me through my jeans. "You don't want a divorce, so this is mine. If it would make you feel better, you can always pretend I'm her."
Clenching my teeth, I brought my hand to cover hers, removing her touch from me while never breaking eye contact with her. "Maybe you should have thought of that when you were spreading your legs for someone else's. I was completely and utterly devoted to you and this family. And now you want to stake claim?"
"You're my husband, Edward," she growled, her hands fisted tightly at her sides.
"On paper, that's it."
"You're mine. You always have been, you always will be. And nothing or no one is ever going to change that," she retorted insistently, shaking her head.
"You lost me a long time ago."
Her jaw noticeably tensed as I turned away again, closing the bathroom door behind me and locking it. Leaning forward on the sink, I glanced up at my reflection in the mirror, disgusted by what I now saw. Everything I swore I would never be, would never lower myself to.
I was a cheater, and no longer only in my mind.