She lies back on the bed and raises her left knee slightly as he takes off his pants and straightens the creases in the legs. Turning away from her, he drapes the pants across the back of the chair in the corner of the room, then removes his cufflinks. She smoothes the sheets beneath her arm as he glances at her and she smiles at him politely, watching as he starts to remove his tie then pauses, still staring at her, his hand clutching the knot near his neck.
“I missed you,” he says.
She nods in response, her eyes wavering. Earlier today, she wondered what it would be like right now, during this moment. Tiptoeing through Victoria’s Secret, scooting hangers aside, peeking, searching, hoping to find the perfect combination of Let’s Forget What Happened, Move On and We’re Having Fun, I Promise.
She looks down at her stomach, her skin exposed beneath the lace negligee, her right foot stretched forward, calf taut, shadows highlighting the lean muscles stretching up to her hip.
As a child her dream was to grow up and become an actress. She remembers telling her mother this one morning before school, as they said a curt goodbye to her father and piled into the car. Her parents were both still fuming in the aftermath of that morning’s fight—the words “money” and “expenses” had been thrown around a lot—and she remembers describing to her mother her aspirations to be on stage, on TV, on a movie screen; the pat on her leg when she finished talking, the look of sadness in her mother’s eyes, the tight smile.
“Marriage is an act, honey,” her mother said. “All the acting you’ll ever need.”
She didn’t understand until now what her mother meant by that statement. It only upset her at the time, the transformation of her dreams into a backhanded insult.
But now, watching him as he places his tie on a hook in the corner of the bedroom, she suddenly imagines a camera behind his head, watching them, watching her, judging. She widens her smile, curves her leg even more, arching her back, enticing him. Enticing herself.
“Forget about the clothes,” she whispers.
“What?” he asks.
“Forget about the clothes,” she repeats, louder, less sexy.
He glances at her again, then looks down and slowly unbuttons his shirt.
“Wrinkles are annoying,” he mutters, focusing on his fingers as they work each button free. She closes her eyes but keeps her smile, imagining hands on her breasts, strong, disembodied hands, hands that tear at her bra, at her underwear, hands that pick her up and place her on the desk in her office on the other side of the house. Hands that close the door then reach towards her, caressing every inch of her body.
“Honey,” she says, sternly. “Forget the clothes and get over here.”
“Ok,” he says, exasperated. “Alright, hold on. Don’t rush me.”
She opens her eyes and he’s stopped unbuttoning his shirt halfway, his slight paunch visible through his undershirt, wisps of curly hair erupting from the top of the v-neck.
She smiles again, wider this time, so wide her face hurts.
“I’m not rushing you, honey,” she says. “I just…miss you too.”
“I just don’t see why we have to rush it. It’s been so long, so much has …” He pauses. “I just want to take my time. I can take my time.”
“Yes,” she says, closing her eyes again, “you can.”
The hands reappear in her mind, brushing against her stomach, now accompanied by his eyes, staring longingly into hers. Moonlight gleams through the window to her left and she raises her chin, exposing her neck. Her flesh tingles suddenly, blood pulsing just beneath the surface. She exhales softly, her breath brushing against the hands as they run the length of her shoulders and arms. The office door won’t open for another ten minutes, the outside world seemingly miles away. His hands, his eyes, are all she can see now, and the freedom of sin is so energizing that her thighs tense with excitement, wrapping around a waist that instantly moves with her own.
“Wow.” The voice coming from beside her.
She opens her eyes and her husband is standing above her in just his underwear, grinning and scratching his furry chest.
“I guess you really did miss me,” he says sheepishly.
She looks down at herself, her back slowly reclining from its arch, her legs spread with gooseflesh visible from her shoulders to her ankles.He climbs on the bed and lies next to her, gingerly touching her belly button.
“I just thought…” he starts and she avoids his eyes, frowning deeply and staring at his shirt across the room, folded neatly on the chair next to his pants. “I thought this was going to be awkward.”
She sighs and adjusts the hundred dollar black bra that suddenly seems so lifeless that her eyes well with tears the moment she touches it. He circles a finger around her belly button and her stomach flexes with the tickling sensation, an unpleasant feeling.
“How long have we been together?” she asks, gently moving his hand to her hip and patting his arm. “We’re past the point of awkwardness.”
He smiles and rolls on top of her, and she imagines the camera again, the little red dot indicating that it’s recording, the same red light dimming then finally going out completely a few minutes later when he rolls off and promptly falls asleep.