I fought back tears when I saw the spots of blood that heralded the onset of my period. Despite the increased use of fertility drugs, I was not going to be a mother this month.
I crawled back into bed with my husband Todd, waking him to cuddle with him. Sunlight shone through the blinds.
"What time is it?" he asked with a start. I sniffled in response. "What's wrong?"
I broke down in tears. "My period started," I cried.
"Oh Liv," he soothed, wrapping an arm around me. "Don't worry, the doctor said these things take some time."
"It's been seven months already!" I wailed. "The drugs aren't working!"
"Well, make another appointment," he said with a yawn. "Maybe you need a different kind of drug."
"All the drugs in the world aren't going to increase your sperm count, Todd," I said shortly. "Can't we look into in-vitro?"
He rose up on his elbow. "We've been over this, Olivia. We can't afford in-vitro. Our insurance covers the fertility drugs, just give it some more time. We can look into other options once I get that promotion."
"That could be a year from now!" I paused, hesitant to raise the issue again, but said softly, "We could adopt."
He sighed, rubbing his eyes. "I don't want to raise someone else's baby, Liv. You know those 'adoptable' babies are all born addicted to crack and – and have AIDS and stuff."
I continued to cry softly as all avenues to motherhood were closed to me. It seemed I would never have a baby, and I felt bereft.
Todd jumped up out of bed and began to dress. "Sorry hun, but I have a tee time with the guys at 10."
I stared incredulously at him. "How can you leave when I'm a wreck like this?"
"Honey, you're just a little hormonal because of the drugs," he said patronizingly, his back to me as he put on his polo shirt. "Go back to sleep for a bit, you'll feel better when you get up." He didn't even glance up at me as he finished dressing.
"Sorry, hun, I'm already running late." He leaned down to give me a quick kiss on my tear-stained cheek. "I'll be home in a few hours. Get some rest."
Feeling more alone than ever, I curled around my pillow and cried myself back to sleep.
The following week passed uneventfully, but his Todd's unsupportive reactions had left me feeling alienated. He was oblivious, blaming my poor mood on my fluctuating hormones. But we were approaching my fertile window, so I became determined to rectify the status quo. I traded schedules with another nurse at the hospital in the hopes that some intimate time with my husband would not only thaw the chill, but also achieve our goal of finally starting a family.
I decided to surprise Todd with my shift change. He came home late, as he often did, to find me reclined on the living room sofa in sexy lingerie.
"Liv! What - uh, what are you doing home?"
I rose from the sofa, gliding across the floor in heels and thigh-highs, to wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him.
"I traded shifts so we could have some you-and-me time." His eyes brightened, and he kissed me deeply and passionately. Maybe it was the fertility drugs, or the fact I was indeed entering my fertile window, but within moments I was on fire and aching to have him inside me.
"I've wanted you so badly these last few days," I whispered. "Let's make love and see if our luck improves this month."
He paused and pulled back. "Oh, you're, uh, ovulating right now?"
I blinked. "Yes - but don't think of this as 'baby-making sex', all mechanical and goal-oriented. Let's just make love like we used to, and whatever happens happens."
He smiled down at me. "Look at you, you're so sexy in your outfit. You put so much effort into tonight, I want it to be special too." He put his hands on my shoulders and said, "Tell you what, let me go take a shower. I stink of office sweat. Then I'll come into the bedroom and make love to you all night long."
I grinned, kissing him deeply. "I'll wait for you in the bedroom."
I went to our bedroom, lit some candles, and lay on the bed, the lull of the shower humming from down the hallway. I felt the effect of the shift change on me, and a yawn escaped my lips. No matter, I could hold out a few minutes, then Todd would easily keep me awake into the night. But five minutes grew into ten, then fifteen. I closed my eyes for just a moment.
When I woke it was 7 a.m. I still wore my sexy lingerie. Todd had long since left for work. Damn.
I showered, intensely aware of my body's fertility. These same changes had arisen every month since I began the fertility drugs. Intense horniness, hard tight nipples that could cut glass, and a pussy that dripped wetness at the drop of a hat. I carried a perpetual flush and glow on my cheeks for several days during my peak fertility, noticeable enough that my co-workers had asked more than once if I was already pregnant. I masturbated quickly in the shower to take the edge off, painfully aware of how temporary that solution really was.
When I stepped from the shower, my cell phone beeped with a text message from Todd. "Forgot, cocktail party tonight at boss house, pick you up 7pm." I sighed, exasperated. No lovemaking last night, and now there was another convenient obstacle to our lovemaking tonight. My womb ached for a baby, and I had to make nice at a stupid cocktail party.
I worked my shift at the hospital, irritable about the upcoming cocktail party in my hormonal state. To add insult to injury, my shift trade was in pediatrics instead of my usual ICU. Surrounded by children, I felt a hollow ache and a despair that I would never become a mother.
Well-meaning co-workers asked softly how "The Quest" as they called it was going. I did at times feel like some kind of crusading warrior, on the path to the holy shrine of motherhood. Alas, no progress thus far, or perhaps at all this month.
That evening I showered and dressed for the cocktail party. At 6:30 I received a text from Todd, "running late, eta 720" I sighed again, my irritation level escalating rapidly. I decided to check into the online forums for expectant moms, only to remember that my laptop was in the shop. Grrr! I saw red for a moment, and took a deep breath. Damn hormones. Well I could at least use Todd's computer in his office.
I logged onto his computer to see a slew of IMs from yahoo messenger. Now, I'm not one to snoop, but they were all piled up there on his desktop. Most were spam, but not all. I got those too when I forgot to log out, but I was determined not to pry. I trusted my husband.
I clicked the address bar and deleted its contents, ready to type in the address for the pregnancy forum, when the drop-down history appeared. I glanced over the addresses. Gmail, Amazon, Facebook. Then something with "dad" in the url. Touched that Todd was so determined to be a dad that he was doing research on his own, I clicked into it. The happy feeling disappeared quickly when I read the title of the article: "10 Great Ways to Lower Your Sperm Count."
A wave of nausea hit me as I skimmed through the article, which recommended obesity, smoking, hot tubs, and tightey-whiteys as methods to lower a man's sperm count. With trembling hands, I clicked into his browser history which he had not cleared in weeks. Countless porn sites, some several times a day and many in the middle of the night. No wonder he never wanted to make love anymore. And of course, by constantly draining the tank, he virtually guaranteed he would never father any babies. I wondered if his sperm count was naturally low or if he had fooled the doctors as well with his deceptive tactics.
Tears of rage filled my eyes as I realized my loving husband had taken every precaution to avoid becoming a father. Months of despair and anguish, the roller coaster of hormones and mood swings, and all for naught! I could have screamed. I viewed the screen through blurry tears, but I fought them back. I'd put on my brave face tonight for the cocktail party, but I knew in that instant there was no future for me with a man who didn't want a family as much as I did.
Just then, an IM popped up from "Jessica", aka "nobabymama24" that read, "still dodging the bullet?"
I glanced at the clock. This would indeed be the time Todd was usually online "working." I had 30 minutes until he arrived to pick me up. I placed my fingers on the keyboard and typed, "so far so good."
"glad to hear, sexy!" she replied.
Determined to discover the level of his deception, I typed, "did I mention, I think she's onto me!"
"deny, deny, deny!" she replied, then, "when u coming to see me again?"
My mouth fell open and the room seemed to tilt. Stunned, I typed, "her schedule has me tied at home, but it's been too long. It seems like forever."
"at least 3 weeks. I know it's hard for you to get up here, but let me know."
Bile rose in my throat. Not only had my husband been trying to avoid impregnating me, but he'd been cheating on me to boot. I typed, "I have to go, I'll be in touch."
I archived the exchange, copying all his previous IMs for the past few months and e-mailing them to my own account for later review. Then I went into the browser history and print-screened and e-mailed it as well. I didn't know if it would be of use to me in the divorce proceedings, but I wanted to have it on hand.
I finished up and logged off just as Todd came up the road. As he pulled into the drive, I decided on a quick costume change. I quickly stripped off the modest sweater and trousers for a sweet flirty mini-dress and heels. As a quick afterthought, I slipped my panties off and left them on my dresser. I fluffed up my hair, applied some lipstick, grabbed my purse, and breezed out to Todd's Escalade.
I smiled secretly to myself as his mouth gaped open. "Wow, you look beautiful, Liv!"
"Thanks, Todd. It's so sweet of you to notice."
This was not my first company cocktail party, but I thought I'd been to all the big suits' houses. This place was palatial on a hill overlooking the city. It was contemporary, stylish, your typical corporate house. Todd escorted me slowly toward a group of suits, filling me in as we walked. "You've met the big balding guy on the left - my supervisor Bob Jefferies. Next to him is Mary Landon, head of marketing."
There was a third man with a lean muscular body and penetrating dark eyes. The kind of man that reeked of danger but at the same time made me want to fall into his arms and let him ravish me. Clearly the hormones were surging. I took a deep breath and cleared my throat nervously. "And the, uh, other man?"
"I'm not sure, I haven't met him yet." He greeted the group as we approached, introducing me to his superiors, who in turn introduced Todd to the unknown man.
Bob Jefferies spoke with great importance. "Todd, I'd like you to meet our host and new COO, Hunter Rothschild."
"Pleasure to meet you, Todd," he said in a smooth voice, shaking Todd's hand. His bearing was undeniably superior. "I hear you're in line for a promotion soon. Congratulations."
"Thank you, sir. This is my wife Olivia." He practically pushed me at him.
"Mr. Rothschild," I murmured, extending hand. His eyes sought mine, and I found their intensity a bit unnerving.
"Olivia," he said in a voice like dark chocolate, shaking my hand. His hand was warm, his handshake firm, and his touch sent goosebumps up my arm. To my horror, I felt wetness between my thighs and reconsidered the wisdom of leaving my panties at home. "Are you enjoying my party?"
"Oh yes," I replied, blushing slightly. "You have a beautiful home."
"Thank you. I wish I could claim credit for it, but it came fully furnished. Not exactly my style – rather... impersonal. Would you like a drink?" he asked, gesturing to a waiter. I took the glass of champagne Hunter Rothschild offered me and nervously sipped from it.
"You look a bit flushed," Hunter said quietly. "Perhaps some fresh air would do you good?"
I hesitated, glancing at Todd who had begun to talk business with his boss. Hunter seized the opportunity to take my arm.
"Todd, I'm going to borrow your lovely wife for a moment." He wasn't asking permission. "Excuse us."
I glared at Todd as I was ushered away from the group, but he just shrugged inertly and smiled.
"So, Mr. Rothschild," I began.
"Please call me Hunter."
I blushed again. Damn hormones! We stepped out onto the veranda, and the cooling breeze did indeed feel refreshing. The enigmatic man at my side, however, still set my pulse racing.
"Um, Hunter, is Mrs. Rothschild here? I'd like to meet her."
He turned to me, a slight smile on his lips. "I've been divorced for some time now."
"Oh." My cheeks were to be perpetually pink this evening, I realized. "I'm sorry."
His eyes took in my discomfort with amusement. "Don't be. Sometimes people have different goals in life and they have to part ways. It's no great tragedy."
I glanced in at Todd, who was unabashedly currying favor with his superiors, and I'm sure my disgust with him was clearly written on my face. I took a long drink of my champagne, and Hunter gestured for another which I gladly took.
"You have quite a glow about you," Hunter said casually. "Word around the office is that you and Todd are starting a family soon. Congratulations."
Emboldened by the champagne, and still glaring at Todd, I bit out a response. "I want nothing more than to have a baby and start a family. But... Well those plans may be on hold indefinitely."
His eyebrow rose slightly, then his gaze raked my body thoughtfully and I blushed yet again. "I bet you'll make a beautiful mother."
I thought that a very personal thing to say, but when I opened my mouth to reply, nothing came out. Hunter Rothschild stood close enough that I could smell his scent – not cologne, something earthier. He smelled like Man. The wetness between my legs was becoming problematic, and I could smell my own arousal, which meant at this proximity, so could he. My cheeks burned.
"I'm sorry, where is your restroom?" I murmured. He directed me and I quickly excused myself, determined not to find myself alone with him again.
The rest of the evening, I was able to circulate with and without Todd, artfully avoiding the magnetic and virile Hunter Rothschild. Though I swear every time I glanced his direction, his eyes were on me like laser beams.
Finally I spotted a friend of mine, Maria Gomez. Her husband and mine had climbed the ranks together before diverging into different departments last year. It was a relief to see a friendly face as the party grew louder and drunker, but I couldn't help but envy her the baby she'd had last year. I felt left behind. Our children were supposed to grow up together and go to the same school. Maria's figure was enviably more womanly, and the pregnancy glow about her hadn't completely gone. We caught up briefly, but she appeared distracted.
"Maria, is something on your mind?"
Her face softened. "Honey, you know I don't want to upset you. But I wanted you to hear from me..."
My stomach dropped. No! Please don't let her say...
"We're having another baby!" she said in a hushed excited voice.
A knife twisted in my gut, and I glanced up to see Hunter a few feet away, looking curiously at me. I forced a smile and turned back to Maria.
"That's so great, Maria, I'm... so happy for you."
She hugged me. "I was so afraid to tell you. I just overheard Todd saying that you were having trouble conceiving, you know, 'despite his best efforts'," she said with a mocking laugh. "Guys always think it's all their –"
"What? Who did he say that to?" I began to shake with repressed rage.
"Oh, uh, to Bob and that new guy. Now why he would tell them that is beyond me," she said with a dismissive wave. But the shock must have been clearly written on my face, because she took my hand and said softly, "Sure it was tactless, but maybe he felt he needed to explain why you've been trying so long but it hasn't happened yet. You know guys and their pride. You may be having problems conceiving, but it's not your fault, honey."
"Damn right it's not my fault!" I fairly shouted, taking Maria aback. "Excuse me."
I marched right over to Todd, excused him from the group and dragged him none too gracefully to the back hallway.
"What the hell, Liv?" I could tell he'd drunk more than a little.
"Why are you telling everyone I'm having trouble conceiving?" I hissed.
"Well... you are."
"No, we are, but I think I know who's to blame for that!"
He frowned. "Huh?"
"Well Todd, it's a little hard to make a baby when you never make love to me! When you're masturbating to porn three or four times a day!" Fury made my voice rise. "When you're following advice from a website on how to lower your sperm count! When you're taking off to god-knows-where to meet some slut named Jessica No-Baby-Mama24!" By the end of my tirade I was shouting, and hoped we were far enough from the party to not make a scene.
Now it was Todd's turn to be shocked. He just gaped at me.
Near tears, my voice began to break, "And I've been on damn fertility pills for months now, dealing with mood swings and breakouts and night sweats, all so we could have the family we always wanted – the family you said you wanted! Not only have you been deceiving me, you're not even man enough to tell me you don't want to be a father! And all the while..." I started to hyperventilate. Todd reached for me, but I slapped his hand, turned, and staggered away, aiming for the outside terrace.
As I turned the corner, a hand reached out for me, steadying me and escorting me to the door. It was Hunter Rothschild. I leaned against him and let him lead me. His presence was somehow comforting. He seated me at the edge of the terrace, away from the crowds of people.
"I'm sorry," I said breathlessly, "I didn't mean to cause a scene."
"You didn't," he replied, taking my hand. "I was the only one who heard."
I trembled with rage. I saw through the window that Todd had rejoined the party, trying to look casual while he searched for me. I turned away and looked into Hunter's eyes.
"I just want a family so badly," I said through gritted teeth. "The time is right... and he told me he wanted the same. How could he just lie to me like that?"
Hunter's hand squeezed mine. "Sometimes people have different goals in life and they have to part ways." I squeezed my eyes shut. "Look at me, Olivia," he said pointedly, "It's no great tragedy."
My eyes widened in surprise. "Your ex-wife?"
He nodded. "I wanted to start a family with her, but she was career-driven. She said a baby was an inconvenience." He shrugged nonchalantly. "No matter, it's for the best. I don't think she had the mothering instinct."
His hand reached up to caress my cheek. "You, on the other hand, were born to be a mother, Olivia, and once that baby is in your arms you'll never let him go."
Tears slipped down my cheek, and I turned back to glare through the window. There was Todd, carrying on with his bosses like nothing happened. Disgusted, I turned back to Hunter. I instantly saw in him the father Todd could never be, and it struck me to the core.
"You're angry, and rightfully so," he murmured low, his eyes penetrating into mine. I nodded, feeling desire building in me so quickly it scared me. "You need to feel a sweet baby filling your belly... But you need something else too, don't you?"
I swallowed hard, wrestling with my desire, hormones raging. But again I nodded, and his hand reached up to caress my cheek, sliding up into my hair and gripping it firmly. I gasped at my body's reaction, at the instinctual desire to surrender to him. He smiled knowingly, then rose, leading me firmly by the hand around the corner of the house to another set of doors.
No sooner had we stepped through the doors and closed them behind us, Hunter was upon me. One hand gripped my hair and the other crushed my body to his in a searing kiss. I don't know whether it was the hormonal roller coaster or his inescapable magnetism, but I melted into him, my body on fire, my cunt dripping wet. I hungered for his touch, and instinctively knew that his sexual prowess would make a mockery of my sex life with Todd.