Two Angry Marks

Chuck's heart lifted to see his wife alone in their rooms, nothing but a bra and matching panties to excite his interest. They were black lace, overlaid with appliqué flowers in shades of purple, green and orange. The flowers kissed the depths of her cleavage, and caressed each side of hips in a way he imagine his own lips and fingers may. He loosened his tie with as little noise as he could muster, determined not to startle her until he was upon her, hunger awakened with his studies.

Then he noticed where her hands lay and his heart plummeted downward. Blair had both palms splayed across her hip bones. They followed a familiar pattern upward to her rib cage and then down again in detailed examination. Her face was far from contented or amused. He knew why. He did not need the confirmation when her fingers stopped to trace the two bold red marks that crossed across her pale skin. Blair had given birth to their son six months ago and, while it had brought immeasurable joy into their life, it had also altered her body in a way that she was unprepared for. He hardly saw the difference, even when Blair described each for his benefit.

It was true that her stomach, which had always been entirely flat, now curved slightly beneath his touch. There were lines beneath her bellybutton that had not existed before, and two broad marks across her pristine skin that could not be erased. She had attempted it. Even after the doctor had explained that stretch marks were permanent but would fade. She had tried every potion and lotion to prove him wrong, growing fixated on these imperfections. It was enough to raise Chuck's concern.

"I want to get surgery," she clipped from her place at the mirror.

"You don't need it," he promised as he crossed the room to stand nearer her. He moved her hands from where they were fixed, intertwining them with his own so that they could not return.

"How can you stand it?"

He laughed, her irked response holding back more than the first chuckle. He definitely messed it up. She wrenched her fingers back from his. "How can I stand having the hottest wife in all of New York? To be honest, I am not certain how I endure it."

"Chuck," she rolled her eyes as she turned her face downward again, running her fingers back to their preferred place of study. "If I got surgery then they could remove these," she indicated the angry red marks again.

"I would not like that. I am quite fond of your markings."

"How can you say that?"

Chuck smirked into the mirror, waiting until her eyes came up to meet his face again. Then he removed her fingertips and replaced them with his own. He traced each ridge once as she had, then slowed his explorations deliberately. He tipped his head further forward, pressing his temple to her cheek until she relaxed into him. He waited until he had her entire attention.

Then he traced the first line again and whispered. "This is you," he explained softly before progressing to the next angry mark, "And this is me. Between them," he paused theatrically, laying his entire palm against the pale skin between, "is Henry. I can not look at you without seeing what our joined love as produced. It makes me want you more, to see our union carved out upon your flesh."

He waited for words. She had none to give but she sighed. It was not like the sighs of the previous weeks, there was a happiness and a contentment within it that warmed his heart. When she pressed more of her body against him, it warmed other parts as well. Enough that he knelt behind her and laid his lips where his fingertips had first explored.