Author's note: I seem to be getting some really good ideas lately from recently posted stories. This one comes from DG Hear's story "Stay At Home Dad." I liked the concept of the threat to a heretofore-strong marriage between a rich girl and a poor boy, and decided to take that concept in a little different direction.
I was sitting in the dark, on my back deck, staring out into the black night. The moon hadn't come up yet, and the darkness of the night suited my mood.
Out there, I could hear the sounds of the crickets, the neighbors' dogs, the light breeze in the trees. It provided background noise for the troubling questions I had to face that night.
For the first time in my 13-year marriage, I had to seriously consider the possibility that my wife was having an affair. The very thought made my stomach turn, because I knew without a shadow of a doubt that if she was, we were through.
And I love my wife. I've loved her from the first time I saw her, and my love for her has only grown stronger. She's been my friend, my lover, my rock of support, a good wife and a great mother to our three children.
But I was not going to stay married to a cheater, especially if she was cheating with whom I suspected. Loyalty and trust mean too much to me, and once they are lost, they can never be regained. And a marriage without loyalty and trust is no marriage at all.
The thing was, I had no proof, nothing concrete to suggest that Dee Dee was cheating, just a lot of unsettling things, which by themselves didn't mean much, but added together ...
I guess I should start at the beginning, and explain how I came to the crossroads of my life.
To begin with, I'll admit it. I married into money.
I didn't intend to, but by the time I found out that the Dee Dee had a rich daddy and a socialite mother, we were madly in love.
Deirdre McGough – that's Dee Dee – is the youngest child, and only daughter, of the president and CEO of a large, nationally known publishing company.
Dee Dee went to a private high school, then to a private college and when she graduated with a business degree, she landed a job with a Fortune 500 company that is headquartered here in the city where I was born and raised, and where I'll probably live the rest of my life.
She was an excellent student and got the job on merit, but it probably didn't hurt that she was Malcolm McGough's baby girl.
At any rate, she had every opportunity to be a first-class snob, but she was blessed with a housekeeper in her youth, a salty black woman named Georgia who taught her down-to-earth values. That's the only reason I can think of for why Dee Dee gave me the time of day in the first place, then said yes when I asked her for a date.
My name is Doug Manning and I am about as far removed from Dee Dee's world as you can get. I'm the oldest child, and only son, of a long-haul trucker and my mom was – and still is – the dispatcher for the same company my dad worked for.
Just about the first thing my dad taught me was the working of an internal combustion engine and I soaked up everything he taught me.
Engines of every sort fascinated me, but especially car engines, and from the time I was 8 years old, my only ambition was to be the best auto mechanic on the planet and to own my own shop.
Daddy always tried to talk me out of that ambition, pointing to the fact that I was quite smart, made good grades, was an upstanding citizen and that I could have a future as an engineer. And by the time I got to my junior year of high school, he'd about talked me into going to college.
But that was before he was involved in an awful traffic accident that left a woman and her two children dead, and left him paralyzed from the chest down.
The investigators said there was nothing he could have done. It happened in the midst of a heavy rainstorm, the woman had lost control on a two-lane highway and had swerved into his path.
That didn't do anything to ease Daddy's guilt, however, nor did it do anything to ease the financial burden on our family.
At any rate, any plans I may have had for college flew out the window when Daddy became disabled. My grades and my ACT scores were good, but not good enough to interest colleges in scholarship money, and besides, I felt like I needed to go to work full-time to support Mom and my two sisters.
I wanted them to go to college, because I knew that's what they needed. I knew I could make a good living with my hands, but for them to get ahead in life, college was a must.
We were able to get enough in grants to pay for their tuition and books, they were close enough to the state university that they could live at home and commute and I was more than happy to help them financially with spending money for gas, clothes and other extras.
When Daddy got hurt, I had been working part-time for Mr. Johnson, who owned what everyone said was the best auto repair shop in the city. Whatever Daddy didn't teach me about engines – which wasn't much – I learned from Mr. Johnson.
After I graduated from high school, I went to work full-time for Mr. Johnson, and stayed with him for the next three years. After that, though, I felt like I needed to make a little more in salary, needed some continuing training that he couldn't provide and needed more in benefits than he could offer.
By then, he was starting to get a little older, his business had stagnated a little and he just couldn't afford that for me. I understood, and didn't hold it against him, and he understood that I needed more than he could give me. So with his blessing, I went to work for a national chain.
I had been with that company for almost four years when I met Dee Dee. I like to think it was fate that brought us together, because the circumstances were quite unusual.
At this time, I was almost 25 and had never had a really serious girlfriend. Oh, I'd had relationships, many of them sexual, but none that had developed into "the one."
Daddy took to drinking heavily after his accident, and that just put an added burden on Mom. He drank because he had nothing to do and he drank because of the intense guilt he felt about the accident.
He wasn't a violent drunk, but he was a very morose drunk, and I'm ashamed to say that it was almost a blessing for my mom when he wheeled himself out of the house to go drinking.
By then I had moved into a place of my own, but I was still close enough that I could come at a moment's notice, and I was often called to gather up my father after he'd passed out drunk at the bar he frequented.
The house where I was raised was three blocks from a main drag, and there was a tavern on one corner and a liquor store on the other. That became his little world. It broke my heart, but there wasn't much I could do about it.
The upshot was that Mom needed some time to herself on occasion, some time when she could go out and enjoy herself without worrying about Daddy.
Believe it or not, one of Mom's great interests is classical music. Now I don't know Shostakovich from Sid Vicious, and I couldn't tell Beethoven from the Beatles, but Mom sure can, and she's passionate about it.
As a result, one of our few extravagances was a membership to the city's symphony orchestra, and I routinely accompanied Mom to concerts. She had her one cocktail gown that she always wore, I had my one good suit that I would wear, and for a few hours we would forget about our troubles and pretend we were part of the city's high society.
We picked our spots to attend, because there were times when Mom was just too tired to go out or it was a night when Daddy was in a bad way, but whenever a major guest artist performed with the symphony, we were there.
That was especially true when Itzhak Perlman came to town. Like I said, I don't know a lot about classical music, but I know a virtuoso performer when I hear one and if there is a better violinist than Perlman, I haven't heard him.
So we got all dressed up, went to a very nice restaurant for dinner, like we always did, then went to the symphony. We were loitering in the lobby before the performance, when I happened to turn my head and there she was.
I just stared at her for several seconds, and to this day I don't know what it was about her that arrested my attention. Dee Dee is very pretty, but she's not so gorgeous as to make an otherwise rational adult stop in his tracks the way I did.
I think it was her smile, her eyes, the way she carried herself. She's a little taller than average with straight blonde hair the color of flax. She's slim, with her breasts and butt perfectly proportioned.
I guess she felt me staring at her, because she turned toward me and our eyes locked. I think in that one moment something clicked, because she smiled at me and kind of blushed, then the guy she was with said something and she looked away.
But just before they disappeared up the stairs to their seats, she turned her head, looked back at me and smiled again.
It didn't take me long to locate where she was in the arena. They were in the section to our left and below us about three rows. I hardly remember the concert, because I just kept gazing at her – and studying the man she was with.
He was a tall, imperious-looking gent who appeared to be around 30. He was handsome, but he exuded a palpable air of privilege and arrogance, and it didn't appear that they were terribly intimate, didn't give off the appearance of being a couple.
At the intermission, I accompanied Mom back to the lobby, so she could use the restroom and we could get some refreshments. I picked up two flutes of champagne and had turned to wait for Mom when I saw her again.
She was just standing off by herself, frowning while her date chatted several feet away with someone else. A lack of confidence has never been a problem for me, so I casually walked over to speak.
"Hi," I said. "You don't look like you're having a very good time."
"Oh, I'm all right," she said, then she gave me her megawatt smile when she saw who I was. "I'm just waiting for the program to resume."
"You know, if I was out with a girl as pretty as you, I think I'd be paying her a little more attention," I said, nodding toward her date.
"You'd think," she said. "But you're one to talk. Looks to me like you're neglecting someone as well, or maybe you're just a double-fisted drinker."
"Oh, I'm here with my mother," I said. "I go to these concerts with her because my dad's disabled and can't get out."
"That's sweet," she said. "I like a man who honors his mother and father."
"So are you two a couple?" I asked.
"Henry? Good gracious, no," she said. "We work together and we've dated a few times, but this is probably the last time. He is SO self-absorbed."
"Well, then," I said as I drained my glass, set it down and held out my free hand. "I'm Doug, Doug Manning."
"Dee Dee McGough," she said and she held my hand just a fraction of a second longer than normal when we shook in greeting.
We just stood there, not quite knowing what to say, wondering where this was going. We both looked over at her date, and he was engaged in an animated conversation with several other men. He seemed to have forgotten Dee Dee.
"Well, I guess I'd better get this glass to my mom before it gets too warm," I said. "It was a pleasure meeting you."
"Look, here's my card," Dee Dee said, fishing one of her business cards from her clutch and handing it to me. "Call me sometime. I'm sure you can show me a better time than Henry."
"Thanks for the compliment," I said. "I hope I can live up to your expectations."
We shook hands again, and again we held the grip a trifle longer than normal before we went our separate ways. Mom had a bemused look on her face when I handed her the glass.
"I sure hope you got her number," Mom said.
"Oh I did," I said, distractedly.
"Good, because you've been staring at her all night," Mom said.
"I didn't realize it was that obvious," I said.
"Douglas Manning, you should know by now that I can read you like a book," Mom said. "I don't think I've ever seen you stare at a girl with that kind of intensity."
"Mom, she's beautiful," I said.
"Just be careful," Mom said. "Rich people have a little bit different value system than we do."
"How do you know she's rich?" I asked.
"I don't," she said. "But she looks rich, her date looks rich and she's here. I'll be very surprised if there isn't money in her background somewhere."
"Well, she seems like a nice girl," I said as we returned to our seats.
I knew I had made an impression, because when the performance resumed, I saw her looking around, and when she located me, she smiled quite broadly. Something in her look sent shivers through my body, and I knew instinctively that this was a woman I was going to try hard to win.
The only dark spot came when Henry saw her looking back at me and saw me looking back. In that second, I got such a look of intense loathing that it kind of set me back. I knew I'd made an enemy there, but I was beyond caring.
I called Dee Dee the next afternoon on my lunch break and asked her out that night. I told her my entertainment budget had about been depleted from the night before, but if she didn't mind we'd go for pizza and a movie.
She said that would be fine, then she gave me her address and that was my first clue that she was from a whole different socio-economic group from the one I'd been in all my life.
She lived in one of these high-rise apartments in the high-rent district, a place that has a liveried doorman. I felt real strange pulling into the loading drive at this place in my pickup truck. I could see the look of disdain on the doorman's face as I got out of my truck, but if Dee Dee was taken aback, she didn't show it.
She came right out the door, hugged me in greeting, and scooted right in the passenger's seat when I opened the door to let her in, like a gentleman should. She may have lived in the high-rent district, but she was dressed for pizza and a movie, in jeans, a plain white blouse and flats, nice but not dressy.
Now, when I take a date out for pizza, I don't go to Pizza Hut. No sir. I go to Angelo's, a true pizzeria located in a hole in the wall not far from my old neighborhood. Angelo's specializes in Chicago-style deep-dish pizza pies, along with lots of Italian music, laughter and camaraderie.
Apparently, Angelo's was a revelation to Dee Dee, because she kept going on about how delightful it was, and how warm the atmosphere was and how friendly the people were.
As usual, there were several people dining there that I'd gone to high school with – not counting Angelo Jr., who was always there – and we told lies, sang songs and laughed until we hurt.
In between the laughter, though, Dee Dee and I learned about each other. She told me about her job and about her college days.
She was a little vague about her family background, though, saying only that she was from Chicago and that she had two older brothers. But that was OK, because I was a little vague about my family as well. No sense scaring her off with horror stories about my father.
I was honest when she asked me what I did for a living. I figured that if she couldn't accept me for who and what I was, then I didn't need her. I was gratified, then, when she appeared to be sincerely impressed.
"Wow!" she exclaimed. "All I know about cars is you put the key in the ignition, turn it on, put it in gear and hit the gas."
"Well, it's not the most glamorous job in the world, but I do all right," I said. "Certainly not like what you do."
"Doug, listen to me," Dee Dee said. "It's an honest living, you like what you do and I'm pretty sure you're good at it. As long as you're happy, then I'm happy."
As far as I was concerned, that cemented it. She may have been from the high-rent district, but she had her feet on the ground. She showed for the first time, but not the last, that she could see past a person's exterior and find the real person inside. I knew right then that I was in love.
We finally got out of Angelo's, but instead of going to a movie, we decided to go dancing, to an old rock-and-roll club I knew about. It was a little rough around the edges, but I was friends with the bouncer, so I knew we wouldn't have any hassle.
The band that night, as it was most nights, played a pretty raucous stew of classic and alt rock dance tunes, and we danced to most of them. I found myself captivated by the way she moved, and on the few slow numbers, I could feel the warmth of her body as she pressed herself to me.
I learned pretty quick that this girl could be raunchy when it suited her. We were dancing one number, late in the show, and she pulled me close and started grinding her crotch on my thigh.
Needless to say, I quickly got a hard-on that could cut steel, especially considering the smoky stare I was getting from her. I knew right then that we were going to be lovers, and soon.
We had our hands wrapped around each other's shoulders as I drove her home. I was hoping she'd invite me in, but I could wait if she didn't.
We pulled into the loading area, and when I put the truck in park, she reached over and shut off the ignition.
"I had a wonderful time tonight," she said. "I knew you could show me a better time than stuffy, old Henry."
"Did I live up to your expectations?" I said softly, as I brought my face close to hers.
"I'm not sure yet," she whispered.
Then she leaned into me, our mouths met and I kissed her hard, with more passion than I'd ever felt for a woman in my life. I wanted Dee Dee and I wanted her forever.
As we kissed, our hands roamed over each other's body. I could feel her hard nipples boring into her bra and she could feel my hard cock filling my pants.
Finally, we had to come up for air, and we just stared at each other, panting hard.
"Doug?" she whispered. "Do you have any plans for tomorrow night?"
"None that I'm aware of," I said.
"Good. Will you come up to see me tomorrow night?" she said. "You entertained me tonight. I think it's only fair that I entertain you tomorrow. We can have dinner, then ..."
"Dee Dee, I'll do anything you want," I said.
Then we kissed again, with as much ardor as before. Finally, Dee Dee broke the embrace.
"Jesus, I've got to go, or I'll fuck you right here," she said. "Tomorrow night. Let's say around 8-ish."
"It's a date," I said, then got out to escort her to the door.
The doorman – a different guy from earlier – had an ear-to-ear grin and he winked at me as he held the door for us. He discretely walked off while Dee Dee and I kissed again in the foyer of her building.
Then she pressed her index finger to my lips and sent me off.
"Tomorrow," she said.
To say I was knocked out by Dee Dee's appearance when she answered her door the next night would be a serious understatement. She was quite well made up, and she was wearing a strapless red dress with a halter-style top, black stockings and high heels.
Dee Dee's apartment suited her. It was tastefully decorated, and there were a few items that looked expensive, but there didn't appear to be anything ostentatious about it. I was beginning to get the idea that this was a girl who was used to having nice things, but she didn't appear to be too materialistic.
We sat together on her sofa, had a glass of wine, then Dee Dee set out the dinner. It was some sort of casserole, and it was delicious. Dee Dee laughed when I complimented her on the meal.
"Oh, I'm not much of a cook," she said. "I got this from the caterer, but I'm glad you liked it."
We were in a sort of spell as we ventured to the sofa. Cool jazz was playing softly in the background, and I was on fire with lust – with incipient love.
"Doug? Will you kiss me?" she asked in a soft voice as we relaxed on the sofa.