...And Stay There!byBigK10©
"She hasn't roped me in—yet! Let's just say that she's got the rope out, and she's got that lasso ready." Jim grinned as he lobbed my metaphor back at me. He wouldn't tell us any more about her except that she was cute and special.
That was six days ago, and I was out doing my three mile Saturday morning run, anticipating that Jim and his mystery girl would arrive about noon for lunch, like usual. So, when I got home at ten, I thought I had time for a shower and rest before they arrived. I was wrong—boy, was I wrong.
When I rounded the corner of my block coming home, I saw a red car in my driveway, but I didn't know whose car it was. As I got closer, a sinking feeling hit me; then all the anger and pain of my freshman year came flooding back to me. I couldn't believe that he had somehow hooked up with that stupid slut, Jenny! The license plate confirmed my worst fears.
My first instinct was to fling open the front door and scream, "Get that cheating slut out of my house!" As I grabbed the handle on the storm door, I hesitated and reconsidered. 'How would that affect my relationship with Jim?' I asked myself. No, as much as I wanted to do it—as much as she deserved it—I couldn't do that to Jim. I took a deep breath and stopped to think a minute. I would hold in my feelings, and later I would warn Jim tactfully. He'd be more receptive to that method, and maybe I could save him some heartache. If he didn't heed my warning, I'm sure she wouldn't want to come back here anymore than I wanted her to. Either way, this was the last time that bitch would set foot in my home.
I took a deep breath and reached for the door handle again, hesitated, and took another deep breath before opening the door to my house and my acting career. "There he is!" Jim shouted to the girls in the other room as I came in.
"Jim, you got here early. If I'd known, I'd have done my run before now. Good to see you!" We gave each other a one-armed hug as we always did.
Catey and Jenny came in from the kitchen so they could complete the round of introductions. I had the upper hand here because I knew who she was and maybe she hadn't realized that 'Jim's friend Ray' was 'her old boyfriend Ray.' I was right.
Jenny followed Catey into the family room and saw the cold look on my face. She let out a "Whoooop!" and covered her mouth with her hand to stop more of that noise from slipping out. For a moment, she looked like she just might pass out.
"Hello, Jenny." I stated coolly. "Long time—no see."
"Oh, you two know each other?" Jim inquired.
"Yeah, we met at a party during my freshman year at college." I turned away from Jenny, changing the look on my face to friendlier one, and asked Jim, "So, do you think the Cardinals will take the division this year?" I steered him away from the girls, towards the TV showing a preview show for the baseball game this afternoon. I thought this might be a little fun to torment Jenny, if I could behave myself and not outright insult her.
Catey looked at me in disbelief that I could be so rude. Then she looked at Jenny and saw the look on her face and decided there was a lot more to this story. Catey tried to get Jenny back into the kitchen, ostensibly to get a round of lemonades for us all, but really to get to the bottom of it all. Jenny decided not to leave Jim's side for fear of what I might tell him. After a moment, I remembered that I needed to get a shower and excused myself.
I had the water running and was almost naked when Catey came into our bathroom with the inevitable question, "What the hell was that about?"
"It's kind of a long story that I never shared with you because I didn't want to reopen those old wounds. She is the reason I wanted to go slow in our relationship. I'd rather not go into a lot of details right now, and I will tell you all about it later. For now, just understand that this is the last time that cheap slut will be welcomed into this house!" She looked at me in shock; I realized that I may have raised my voice a bit loud, but I hoped that the shower noise would cover it.
"You can't mean that! She seems like a good person. What if she and Jim hit it off and get married? Will you quit seeing Jim?"
"I really hope it doesn't come to that. I guess Jim will have to come without her!" I closed the shower door, hoping to close the subject as well. I knew better, as Catey is like most other wives. I did say 'hoping.'
The rest of the day was tense; even Jim sensed something was wrong, but Jenny never left his sight. I could wait; I wasn't in a hurry as I didn't look forward to doing this at all.
Bedtime came, and as I expected, they shared the queen sized bed in the first guest room. When I shut the light off and laid down in our bed, I knew the phase two of Spanish Inquisition would be starting any moment, so I got off the first round. For the next hour, I went into detail of our meeting, dating, and public breakup. I tried to be objective, but it's very hard to do that with as emotionally charged an issue as a cheating slut girlfriend. I even told her that I was thinking of asking her to get married soon, when I found them together that day.
Her first question shocked me as I'd never even considered it a possibility. "Do you still have feelings for her?"
"Only disgust, and a little anger. I told her that day that I won't tolerate cheating, not even once—and that goes for you, too. I'd be a total hypocrite if I even considered cheating myself, let alone with the likes of her. Hell, after what she put me through, I could never do that to someone I love. I drive myself off a cliff first. If she hurts Jim, I may just have to put her in her stinking Mustang and send her over a cliff!"
"Okay, I believe you! Just calm down or they'll hear you. What are you going to tell Jim? You have to tell him something...he's wondering what went on between the two of you."
"At first, I just wanted to tell her to get her cheap slut ass out of my home, but I calmed down because I didn't want to hurt Jim. I don't think I'll go into any details unless he demands it, but I will tell him to be careful as she has cheated before, and may do it again. I wonder what she's telling him, because I'm sure that he's been asking her a few questions, too."
"Maybe she'll come clean to him so you won't have to tell him. I think you should consider tolerating her—for Jim's sake. I'm not saying that you should be friendly to her, just don't be cold or insulting. Do you think you can do that—for Jim?"
"I hope they don't get serious, but I'll think about it cuz he's like my brother—hell, he's closer to me than my real brother. Damn, I hope they split up soon."
The rest of the weekend was almost as tense as Saturday, but now that I had an ally in Catey, it seemed somewhat better. Maybe it was better because I had let my feelings out to Catey last night, but don't let it get out that I even considered that a possibility—I have a reputation to consider. They left shortly after lunch on Sunday; I'm sure that Jim could feel the unease, also. I missed that he didn't stay for the game that afternoon. It was just a sample of what could happen if she came between us.
After they left, Catey and I had a long talk and she agreed that I had to tell Jim, and we came up with a plan about what to tell him and how to tell him. She slightly modified my ideas on how I was going to do it, but thought I was being fair to all concerned. She even brought up a couple of good points about different possibilities.
I thought that I'd call Jim Monday after supper, but my afternoon was interrupted at work when Jenny walked into my office as I was going over the recruiting reports on our new crop. My door was open, so she stepped in and when I didn't notice, she spoke, "Ray, I was wondering if..."
I spun around like she startled me, which she had. It was my turn to have a shocked look on my face when I saw her, but I recovered quicker, and without the embarrassing noise. I sighed loudly, "I guess I should have expected this, but I figured it would be a phone call. Sit down, Jenny."
She began to close the door before she sat, and I responded, "No, leave the door open. The guys will think something funny is going on if you close it, especially with a woman in here. I almost never close my office door; none of the coaches here do. We have an 'open door' policy, and the school makes us take it literally.
"I'd ask what you want, but I think we both know what you want. I'm telling you straight up that I plan to warn Jim about you. However, I don't plan to go into all the nasty details—unless he drags them out of me. Since I don't want to relive that episode again, he's going to have drag them out real hard.
"I wouldn't be much of a friend if I didn't give him a heads up, but I hope you've changed your ways. If this is to work out with you and Jim, which I'll also tell you honestly that I hope is doesn't, you are going to have to be faithful to him—and I mean one hundred and ten percent faithful.
"Two more things you should know: I'll be watching you. I still have friends back home that would be happy to help Jim be rid of a cheating girlfriend. They'll be my eyes and ears. The last thing you need to know is this: if you hurt him like you hurt me, you had better run fast and run far. If I find you, there will be no coming back from hell this time!" I didn't know if she remembered my last words to her or not, but I made the reference anyway.
"Ray, I wanted to say something before we got into that, but you covered it so well...and it's fair, I guess, considering what happened between us. I still want to tell you this: I'm sorry. He was an old boyfriend of mine from high school and I'd skipped my last class and had a few beers with him. One thing led to another and..."
"Stop right there. You don't owe me any explanation and I really don't want to hear any excuses. It happened over six years ago. I told Catey what happened and she asked me if I had any feelings for you. I truthfully told her just anger and disgust—mostly disgust nowadays." Jenny's face showed surprise at that revelation. I think she wanted to use any positive feelings I might have to buy my silence. Maybe I'm just flattering myself, too.
"I also told her that I'd tolerate you, but only while Jim's around. That means you're not welcome in my home, or in my life, unless he's with you. I won't try to sabotage your relationship with Jim only because I don't want to piss him off. He's been like my little brother for over ten years and in my family, we put family first. So, I'm trying to be fair and not 'get even' with you for what you did. I'm warning you right now: don't give me an excuse to come after you."
"Ray, I'm really sorry. I can only imagine how bad I hurt you, to still feel so strongly after all this time. I want you to know that I didn't mean for it to happen. I thought we had something special, you and I. Now, I feel that way about Jim. Don't worry; I've grown up a lot since then.
"After we broke up, I cried for days. Then I took a look at what happened and realized that I had only myself to blame. I couldn't even bring myself to face you to apologize and try to explain. The last thing you said to me was to 'go to hell and don't come back.' I was in hell without you, and I had only myself to blame. I almost flunked out that semester."
"Okay, you had your say, but I'm not changing my mind. I'm still not convinced you won't cheat again; like I also told you that day, 'Once a cheater, always a cheater.' Can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me that was the only time in your life you cheated?" She looked at her shoes in shame. "Crap! I was hoping I wouldn't get that answer."
"It was before I met you." She still wasn't looking me in the eye so I figured this was a lie.
"It doesn't matter anymore. Cheating is cheating. How you could put someone you claim to care about through that emotional roller coaster, I'll never know. First, I wondered what I did—or didn't do—that would make you do that. Then I wondered if I just wasn't 'man enough' for you; if I didn't ring your bell in the sack. I was angry at you, and then I was angry at me for whatever I had failed to do.
"I tore myself apart wondering how long it had been going on and why. Was it a one time thing, or had it been going on the whole time we were together. It was several months before I trusted another woman enough to just go out again. Even then I doubted whether I would be enough for her. Unless you've been through it, you really have no idea what it's like to be cheated on. That's why I won't let you hurt Jim. And if you do..."
"I...I get the idea. I want you to know that I have grown emotionally, and I haven't cheated since. I had no idea that I hurt you so bad..." She reached out to touch my hand, but I pulled it away.
"It's been long enough now, that I'm over you. The love of a good woman, my Catey, has also helped. I've forgiven you, but I won't forget what you did—I can't. When I saw your car in my drive, the vision of that dick wad fucking you in your backseat was just as vivid as the day I first saw it. Now, I think we both know where we stand, so goodbye." I turned back around and held up my reports and pretended to read them as I waited for her to leave my office.
I heard her get up and thought she was leaving, when I felt her hand caress the back of my neck. "If you remember, we were pretty good together. I could make it worth your while if you could see your way to..."
I spun around suddenly with an angry fire blazing in my eyes. I spoke slowly, barely controlling my anger, through gritted teeth.
She wasted no time in getting out of there, this time. I couldn't believe she'd try that—I'm married and she knows how I feel about cheating! I had to get up and walk around the gym a few times to cool off. How does she get to me like that? I can't frigging believe that one moment she's trying to convince me that she's changed and will be loyal to Jim, and the next she's trying to bribe me with sex—effectively cheating on him—with me! Surely she didn't think that's what I was after—I had made myself perfectly clear from the beginning. I was even more grateful now that she was 'out' and Catey was 'in.'
I got home that night just as Catey was pulling in the drive ahead of me. I got out of my car and called to her as she was heading in the house from the garage. "Babe, you won't believe what happened to me today."
She quickly went into the house, so I figured that she had to hit the john in a hurry, so I casually entered my home. I thought that I'd have to wait to speak with my wife about my crazy afternoon until she finished, but she was waiting just inside the door to ambush me.
"I thought we agreed that you'd be civil to Jenny for Jim's sake! She called me this afternoon crying that you threw her out of your office and told her to go to hell. Just tell me, Ray, what did she do to deserve it? Why did you do it, Ray? She was in complete hysterics!"
"Whoa...slow down there. She told you what?"
"She said that she came by to apologize and try to be civil to you for Jim's sake. She said that she just wants us all to get along. She said that you told her to go to hell and you unceremoniously threw her out of your office. Did you?"
"She's partially right..."
"Jim, I can't believe you'd do this! We agreed on the plan! Now, you do this..."
"Hold on a minute; I think you'd have done the same thing. Let me tell you the whole story." It took a while, but I replayed it for her as best I could.
"You expect me to believe that, Ray? She came on to you, so you lost it and tossed her out. Puh-lease..."
"That's what happened, as best I can remember it. I laid it out for her, just like we discussed it. I tried to be civil, I didn't yell at her—until the very end. I couldn't believe that one minute she was telling me how she changed and the next she was rubbing my neck, offering sex to be me quiet. It made me appreciate how much better off I am with you."
"That's quite a stretch, Ray. She told me that she came to see you to apologize. Then you told her that you were going to tell Jim all about her and even tell some lies. She'd be toast in his eyes, and you laughed about it. I know you can be vengeful sometimes. She said that she really likes Jim and couldn't let you do that. She said that she was sorry she hurt you, but she was young and stupid, and a bit drunk. Then she said that she'd do anything to make it right. She said that she'd tell Jim that you two had a history and what it was, if you wouldn't lie or exaggerate about it.
"That's when you told her to either take it up the butt, or get the hell out of my office...so she left."
"Okay, I can see that if you were worried about Jenny and me, that any jealousy you might have would make that believable— not to mention the almost automatic sympathy for another crying woman. I ask you to remember one thing; our 'open door' policy at work. My office door has to stay open except for certain confidential events. If my door closes, it sends off an email alert to Coach Fields. So, do you think I yelled loudly at her and demanded sex with my door open? Do you think I'm that stupid?"
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Ray! I forgot about that. I shouldn't have doubted you! Can you forgive me?"
"Of course, I can. I know how convincing and conniving she can be. She played on your emotions and had you on her side before you could begin to doubt her. She is bad news—even worse than I thought. Now she's trying to come between us; I'm getting worried that she'll come between Jim and me. I'm not looking forward to calling Jim tonight."
Right on cue, the phone rang. We looked at each other and I got this bad feeling in my gut. Just like I most feared; it was Jim.
"Ray, I need a word with you!" Jim began as soon as I sputtered out my hello. "Actually—a bunch of fucking words! What in the hell is going through your mind? I just left Jenny at her place, and she was crying her damn eyes out. It was so bad I couldn't make out but half a dozen words. The one that kept coming up was 'Ray,' and then she'd break down even worse. Then she finally blurted out 'Ray hit on me!' After that, she went nuts and locked herself in her room. I think she finally cried herself to sleep, so I stepped outside to find out what you did to her. Ray, if you hit on her, I'll rip you in to so many pieces they won't even be able to find fingerprints! What the hell did you do?"
"Jim," I said as calmly as I could. "Take a breath, bro. We can discuss this and I'll gladly tell you everything that happened—from the beginning, or if you want the short version, what happened today."
"Let's start with what happened today." I heard Jim huff out a couple of breaths and begin to calm down.
"Hey, if I was you, I'd be upset, too. As crazy as it sounds, here's what happened today. As you could tell when you brought her over on Saturday, Jenny and I knew each other. Without getting into too many details, Jenny and I dated for about eight months my freshman year of college. When she saw me and realized we were buds, she was worried what I might tell you about her. As you noticed, she was never far from your side all weekend, but I didn't say a word.
"Shortly after lunch today, she came into my office to see me. Before she could ask me not to tell you anything, or what I was going to tell you: I laid it out for her that you were family to me, and I had to warn you about her. I told her that I hoped she had changed, but I feared she hadn't, or that she might go back to her old ways in the future. I had planned on telling you, without any of the gory details, that after we dated for eight months, she cheated on me.