Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Matter of Trust by Zena Wynn

Rick Quarterman was losing his wife. While she hadn’t physically betrayed him, what she had done was worse. All of the emotional intimacy that belonged to him, she was giving to another. Ten years of marriage, two beautiful children, and the home they’d built together—all gone.

Not if he could help it.

Traci was more than his wife, she was his life, and he’d fight the devil himself to keep her by his side. He tensed as he recognized the sound of the garage door opening. She was home. He positioned himself where she would see him as soon as she walked through the door.

Traci came in, head bowed as she sorted the mail. She looked up and saw him as she dropped the mail on the center island in the kitchen. “Hey, I didn’t see you standing there. Where are the kids?”

“They’re spending the night with Brian. We need to talk.”

Her already light complexion paled significantly. She drew in a deep breath and seemed to brace herself. “You want a divorce.” Her voice was dull, resigned.

“Hell, no!” he exploded. “And if you think you’re getting one, get that thought out of your mind, right now!”

She rocked back on her heels at the forcefulness of his words. With a hand that shook visibly, Traci tucked a strand of silky straight, chestnut brown hair behind her ear and regarded him with wariness in her deep brown eyes. “If this isn’t about a divorce, what was so important that you had to send the kids away?”

“Come in here and let’s sit down. This isn’t a conversation I want to have in the kitchen.” He turned and led the way into the living room. He stopped when he reached the mantel, facing her, bracing an arm upon it.

She followed behind and tossed her purse onto the couch before turning to confront him. “You’re having an affair.”

The certainty in her tone pissed him off, and his spine stiffened. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I am not having an affair. How could you even think that?” He stood at attention, focused completely on his wife.

“What else am I supposed to think, Rick? You certainly haven’t been interested in me. It’s been months since we last had sex, and it isn’t because of a lack of interest on my part,” she finished bitterly.

He winced and wiped his face with his hand. This was worse than he’d thought. For a moment, he wondered if he’d left it too late. No, he wouldn’t think that way. Defeat was not an option.

“Traci, sit down.” When she hesitated, he added, “Please.”

She sat in the recliner and crossed her arms under her breasts. Undaunted, he crossed to her side and went down on one knee beside her, getting as close as he could without physically touching her. “Traci, I love you. I have never cheated on you, and I never will. You are the only woman that I want. I haven’t even looked at another woman with desire since the day you became mine.”

He paused for a minute to let those words sink in before continuing. “I’m sorry for the way I’ve neglected you, neglected us. I took our marriage and our love, for granted. There’s no excusing my behavior, but if you let me, I’d like to make it up to you.”

Traci chewed on her bottom lip while she searched his eyes, gauging his sincerity. “I don’t know what to say.”

He knew this wouldn’t be easy, but it would have been nice if she’d have smiled and said all was forgiven. “Do you love me, Traci?”

“I…”

“Wait, before you answer that, let me clarify. I know you love me. I’m your husband and the father of your children. That’s not what I want to know. Are you still in love with me? Am I still first in your heart?”

He saw the moment she realized what he was asking. Her dark eyes grew shiny with the gathering tears, and she turned her gaze away from his and looked over his shoulder. “I don’t know.”

The pain he felt at that second in time was indescribable. “Do you…want…a divorce?” The words left a bitter taste in his mouth, but he forced himself to ask anyway.

Her answer wasn’t as forthcoming as he would have liked, and he sweated blood while he waited her response.

“No.”

It was weak and uncertain, but she’d said no. He heaved a sigh of relief. “Good, because I wouldn’t have let you go. Not without a fight.”

At his words, she gifted him a small smile.

Encouraged, he continued. “I believe that we can fix this.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Do you trust me?”

Her gaze lost focus and she searched inwardly. Rick held his breath.

“Yes, I do.”

The calm assurance he saw in her expression made him want to pump his fist in the air. If they still had trust between them, the rest was doable. “I know that the recent lack of passion on my part is one of our problems. Tonight, I’d like to correct that. Will you place your body into my keeping and trust me with your pleasure?”

She frowned. “I’m not sure what you’re asking.”

“I want to do something different. Try something we’ve never done before. It will all be for your pleasure. What do you say?”

“Different?”

He stood and held his hand out to her. “Trust me.”