Gabriella Ch. 02bysoular©
Ella stared out of the window as Simon drove them to school. The tree lined route he took whenever they had to make up for lost time looked grey and gloomy from this morning's drizzle. Everything felt grey and gloomy. He'd broken up with her as soon as her mother had left for work. She apologized for the so-called rude comments she'd made to her mother but Simon insisted they were through.
The first time she kissed him, he pushed her away. The second time she kissed him they ended up making love. That was his way, always contradicting his words. But he hadn't uttered one since they'd rushed out of the house. Part of her loved not knowing what came next with Simon as much as she hated it.
"I had a dream about you last night," she confessed, desperate to end the silence. "Want to hear it?"
He sighed. "No, Gabriella, I don't."
"Why not?" She'd hoped everything between was okay again but his tone said different.
"Because I don't."
Ella ignored him. "We were living in England together, in some trendy little flat. We owned some tiny corner bookstore and sat around drinking wine and stuff with these cool English friends. And you—"
"—wanted to have a kid and we—"
Ella looked at him. A sick feeling washed over her.
"Get this image of a future with me out of your head. Do you understand that it's never going to happen? Ever."
"There is no 'but', Gabriella. I'm married to your mother. Goddamn it! Don't you get that? Does it not matter to you? She's your mom, does that not fucking resonate with you at all? Don't you feel even a little guilty?"
"Yeah, sometimes I do. I mean, my mom...I don't know, I just don't think you two make a good couple. She doesn't get you the way I do. I think you and I make a better couple."
"You and I aren't a couple."
"Sure feels that way when you make love to me."
"Gabriella, what you and I do isn't making love." That stung. Ella looked away and pretended to pick lint from her pants.
"Oh, that's right. You make love to her and you fuck me. But did you ever stop to think that maybe she doesn't care about you as much as I do?"
"And why would you say that?"
"Because I'll let you do anything. I have let you do anything. And maybe I do that because I care more than her."
Simon chuckled then sighed. "Gabriella, don't confuse sex with love. They aren't the same thing."
"I know that."
"Well, then know that I love your mother. I love Patricia with all my heart despite how I've wronged her. I'm married to her. Plain and simple."
"You sure don't act very married," she muttered, knowing it would get a rise out of him.
A few seconds later she felt the car slow down as he veered off the side of the road and parked. She stared at his profile while he just looked ahead through the windshield.
"You're right," he stated. And those were the last words Simon spoke. It wasn't the first time he had ignored her, but it always hurt when he did.
Patricia still couldn't believe the big day had come. She'd officially turned forty. Her morning began with breakfast in bed and a birthday card courtesy of Simon. Although his cooking lacked...well, taste, it was definitely the thought that counted. And the card had been beautiful, listing forty reasons why she was the most special person to him, with reason number one being:
Because no matter how dark the night, you bring light to my world.
Patricia glanced over the list at least three times that morning, tearing up with each read. For years she had resigned herself to believe she would only be a mother and not much else. She more than likely would never be married or find a man who'd love her the way she imagined love was supposed to feel. Some days, she still believed it couldn't be real. Life taught her that happiness was easily pulled away, a lesson her mother had reminded her of at a young age.
She had come home from school one afternoon, to find her mother sitting at the kitchen table crying. At the time, she had only been seven, but was used to her mother's frequent sobs.
Patricia had just painted a picture of her mom and hoped the gift would brighten her day. She handed it to her, proud of her accomplishment. But her mother only glanced at it, before she set it aside.
She turned to Patricia and said, "Life's a bitch and then you die. It's not even worth the time to get up in the morning."
No matter how much she tried to shake those words, they stuck with her throughout her life. But she was determined to prove her mother wrong. That life was worth something, even if it didn't always go as planned.
"Will you still love me even though I'm old?" she had asked Simon after she shoved down as much burnt food as she could stand.
"You act like forty is one foot in the grave, babe."
She pouted. "I feel like it." He leaned back against the headboard and pulled her in close.
"Come here crazy woman." He wrapped his arms around her. "Are you fucking kidding me right now? Seriously, do you know how many hot women over forty there are? Want me to start naming my 'if I got a pass' in Hollywood list?"
"Might make me feel better." At the moment life was great and she should be thankful for another year on earth but the lump in her stomach persisted.
"Okay. Elizabeth Hurley, Kenya Moore—"
"Kenya is not forty, I don't think."
"Well, whatever, she's on my list. Elle Macpherson, Salma Hayek and let's not forget my top, along with half the men I know, Halle Berry, so there. Want me to keep naming?"
Patricia laughed. "No, no, I get your point. Thank you. I needed that." He leaned down to kiss her and she held his bottom lip between her teeth.
"Oh, so you want an early birthday present, huh?" he asked, his voice deep and husky. Patricia nodded and slowly slid her top over her head in a teasing manner.
"Fuck me," he muttered, his eyes scanning over her chest.
Patricia giggled. "Like what you see?"
"Hell yes. Want me to show you how much I like?" He kneeled between her legs and slowly slid her panties off. Simon moved back on the bed and smiled devilishly before he pulled the covers over his head. Patricia waited in anticipation as she watched the adorable lump in the sheets crawl further up while his lips caressed her legs.
She leaned back in the bed when she felt the warmth of his breath hovering right above already wet pussy. She gripped the pillows beside her when she felt his tongue flick her sensitive bud. And after a few seconds of teasing her, his mouth latched on and she felt her legs tremble almost instantly.
"Simon," she whimpered.
Patricia shook herself from the steamy moment earlier that morning to look at the faces staring at her around the table. If she had fairer skin, they would have noticed the deep blush across her cheeks as she thanked God they couldn't read her mind. But she had a feeling Simon could by the knowing smile he flashed at her.
It had been a while since their friends had gathered at their home. The dining room had sprung to life with candlelight and a lavish arrangement of pink roses—Patricia's favorite and instead of relying on his false sense of culinary skills, Simon had hired a caterer. Despite the rough start, the dinner party had turned out great.
Patricia grinned as he stood and cleared his throat. He tipped is champagne glass towards her and smiled.
"Here's to forty, though you don't look a day over twenty-five. Happy birthday honey and I love you." He leaned down to kiss her as applause sounded around the table.
"Thank you," she whispered to him, when he sat down.
Everyone waited on her to give a speech, something she always dreaded doing. "Thank you all so much for coming, I really appreciate it. And thanks for no 'over the hill signs'." Everyone laughed.
"I had one in the car, but Simon threatened bodily harmed if I brought it in," Steven Ashbury said. He was Simon's rake of a best friend. Patricia never knew what to make of him, but he and Simon had known each other since college.
"Good looking out, baby." Patricia leaned over and kissed him again.
"Anytime," he said, giving her a seductive smile.
"Aww, isn't he sweet. Someone's getting laid tonight," Steven mumbled before taking a sip of champagne. But he choked when Simon punched him in the arm.
"Hey, I meant that as a compliment," Steven said, wiping up the mess.
Patricia playfully rolled her eyes at him and looked down the table where her daughter sat. Ella had her elbow on the table with her chin resting in her hand. Her eyes, which were fixed on her plate, didn't hold the same brightness they once did.
Patricia wondered if Ella was still upset about the argument the three of them had about an hour before everyone showed up. An argument that had stemmed from her choice in wardrobe.
Ella had always dressed more provocative than Patricia preferred. Even back in high school, Patricia would come home and find her daughter wearing some skimpy shirt and short skirt that her school had actually let her get away with. For all Patricia knew, maybe she hadn't gone to school that day.
She had argued with Ella once before a date about her revealing outfit, to which Ella rolled her eyes and walked out anyway. That became the nature of their relationship, and Patricia eventually gave up questioning her for the sake of peace and quiet. But that was before Simon. When he entered the picture, the two of them battled it out constantly over things like that.
"You are not coming to your mother's birthday dinner dressed like that. Period," he had said to Ella, when she appeared in a light gray halter top dress that looked more like a shirt. The neck line plunged deep while the hem of the dress barely settled below her underwear.
"This isn't for mom's birthday party. It's for my date afterwards, Simon, so don't worry about it."
Patricia never knew whose side to take in these arguments. Ella wasn't a baby, so technically she could dress however she wanted, but Simon was trying to teach her self-respect, something she desperately needed. Something Patricia had failed to get through to her.
But Ella had won the argument, refusing to change. At the end of the day, there wasn't anything Patricia or her husband could really do to stop it. And as a result, Simon and Ella had ignored each other all through dinner.
Patricia continued to watch her daughter as she looked down at her cell phone and smiled. She hopped up and walked towards her.
"Nolan's here. I'll be back late. Happy birthday," Ella whispered to her, leaning down to give her a quick hug.
"Oh, okay. Ha—have fun," was all Patricia could think of to say.
Behind her, she heard Simon ask, "Where are you going?" The tone of his voice, the way he stared at Ella, made Patricia tense when she turned around. Please not here.
"None of your fucking business," Ella replied.
"Ella," Patricia whispered while she nervously looked around. The entire table fell silent as everyone pretended to eat, but she knew they were all listening. Only Myra didn't hide the fact that she was looking back and forth from Ella to Simon. Even though Patricia loved her dearly, Myra had always been in everyone else's business.
Ella stormed out of the dining room while Patricia plastered on a smile for everyone at the table.
"Well, when do we get cake?" Steven asked, breaking the intense silence.
"Oh! Speaking of, does anyone watch that show Cake Boss?" another friend, Jocelyn asked, as the chatter continued.
Patricia found Simon with his eyes fixed on the empty doorway where Ella had been. He chugged down his drink and stood.
"Excuse me," he said, then walked out.
Patricia watched his retreating form before she looked back at the table. Myra's gaze traveled from Simon's direction then towards her. Patricia smiled at her and Myra gave her a little smile back before she took a bite of her food.
Ella rushed to the foyer, searching for her keys to make sure they were in her handbag. Just as she opened the door, it slammed shut, scaring her. She turned around to find Simon glaring at her.
"What the hell is your problem?" he whispered harshly.
"You're my fucking problem, now move." He had the nerve to question her? Especially after everything he had said, especially after he hadn't spared her a glance in two days?
"You don't seem to understand that us knowing where you are is for your own safety."
"Do you see my mother standing here? Does it look like she cares where I go or what the fuck I do?"
"She's kinda preoccupied at the moment if you hadn't noticed," he snapped.
"Yeah, isn't she always?" Her mother had always disappeared somewhere. Sometimes work, sometimes not. The older she got, the more she understood, but she wished someone could have explained that to her ten-year-old self. The one that started not trusting her mother. And she knew it was more than just work that had plagued her mind about her mother's absences years ago. Secrets she had never even discussed with her mom.
"Look, just tell me where—nevermind." Simon stepped around her and snatched the door open.
Her jaw dropped as she watched him walk toward the car that had been waiting for her. Immediately the headlights shut off and her date, Nolan Jeffries stepped out. No doubt the two would recognize each other, since Nolan was in her ancient civilizations class that Simon taught, although neither knew about the others relationship with her. She quickly ran out to the scene unfolding. When she reached Simon's side, Nolan's eyes were as wide as saucers.
"Pro—Professor Graham, I didn't know, um, I—" he was at a complete loss of words. Not that speaking had ever been a specialty of Nolan's. He was a sophomore like her and starting linebacker on the football team, a big guy with shaggy dirty blond hair and friendly green eyes. She hadn't met any guys that she would ever consider as boyfriend material, but Nolan would be the closest. He wasn't the brightest bulb, but he was kind to her which was a hell of a lot more than most of the guys she knew, especially those who knew of her reputation. Nolan was aware, but never treated her that way. He mainly followed her around like a large, lost puppy and she found that endearing.
"Nolan," was all Simon said placing his hands in his pockets.
Ella stepped forward and grabbed Nolan's hand. She watched as Simon's eyes flickered from the gesture.
"Um, Ella never told me that you were her dad."
"Step," Simon quickly interjected.
"Uh, yeah, step-dad."
"Well, now you know."
"Come on," Ella said, pulling Nolan back to the car.
"Where are you two going tonight?" Simon asked.
"You don't have to—"
"The Cineplex to watch that end of the world movie. And um, afterwards we were going to stop by my friend's party. 8653 Pinehurst Avenue, the second house on the right," Nolan rushed out.
Ella shook her head in disbelief as he gave Simon a play-by-play of their entire night.
"Thanks Nolan," Simon said.
"Um, and I did my homework." Nolan was cracking like a rat being interrogated by the police.
Simon nodded before he turned and disappeared into the house.
Ella stared over at Nolan shaking her head.
"What?" he asked.
"You did your homework?" Ella scoffed. "Seriously, what the hell? Are you scared of him or something?" She got in the car and folded her arms over her chest, still upset that Simon had gotten the upper hand. He no longer had a say so in her life.
"He's our fucking professor. Why didn't you tell me Graham was your stepdad? Fuck, that was so trippy. And I wasn't scared, I was just nervous."
"Oh man," he said, wiping his hand over his face before he backed out the driveway.
At the theater, Nolan led her up the steps to the top row where they were tucked away in a corner. It wasn't until after the movie started, that she questioned his intentions.
"Pay attention." She laughed and pushed his hands from her bare legs.
"This movie is boring," he whined, pulling her face toward his for a kiss. He ran his tongue over her teeth before she pushed him away again. "Come on, Ella. Please?" She laughed again. He sounded like a little child wanting to open a Christmas gift early.
"No, I like this movie." Ella turned her attention back to the screen and sipped her soda. A second later, she felt his hand moving up her leg again. She pulled her straw out of her drink and stabbed him with it.
"Oww," he whispered, shaking his hand off.
Ella giggled and returned the straw to her drink. She hadn't decided if she were going to sleep with Nolan. Although he was a good guy and she had already been with him twice before, she didn't always want to be that girl. And she was pretty sure that he knew she had been with his teammate, Bryan. Ella cringed thinking how that might look to him because no doubt Bryan had reported it to the entire team. And to think she had done it all to get back at Rebecca.
She sighed and turned to find his eyes on her. He smiled then turned his attention back to the movie. She leaned her head against him as he wrapped his strong arm around her. He wasn't Simon, but he made her feel safe.
Simon stared over at his wife's sleeping form. Once everyone had finally piled out of the house, he carried her to bed where they made love. Everything about her was so gentle and supportive, even during sex. The way she placed tender kisses all over his face and chest to the way she held him tightly against her body while he was on top. Every little action turned him on, so why wasn't it enough?
Simon ran his hand down her side and rested it at the curve of her waist. He wasn't sure how long he had lain there staring at her back, trying to make sense of everything. He loved her, of that he was certain. She was everything he could have ever wanted in a woman. Her attributes were plentiful, much more than his. But if he held the perfect woman in his arms, why was he drawn to Gabriella?
His life was spinning out of control. He wished he had a relationship with his father. He would call to ask him if this is what an early mid-life crisis was. But he hadn't had a conversation with his old man outside of a quick greeting before the phone was passed to his mother since the early nineties. And Patricia had never even met his folks, which was just fine with him.
The morning he had gone back on his word and slept with Gabriella, he decided then that it really would be the last time. His self-control had broken for a moment, but he was on the right track again. It had officially been forty-eight hours since that morning and the last time he had touched Gabriella. That was a definite improvement over the past year. The longest until then had been one week. One week a few months back when he just couldn't take the deceit any longer. But as always, he broke. If he'd just kept it together then, he might have ended this cursed affair once and for all. He still remembered clearly how she had gotten to him. He tried to blame her, but he knew it was just as much his fault if not more.
"Stay away from me, Gabriella," he had said when she cornered him in the kitchen. It had been seven days since he had last touched her skin. He hated seeing her in tears, but fuck if he could do anything about it. This double life was killing him.
"I just wanted to talk to you," she said, her voice hoarse from crying. "I know you don't want me anymore, but you don't have to ignore me."
"I'm not trying to ignore you, but I—I have to do this, okay?"
He had desperately been praying Patricia would come home soon. She was at a baby shower. A shower that was about to cost him a happy marriage.