My Second Nightmare



So now you know what I know. And for me it was way more than enough to make me miserable, but not nearly enough to really understand it.

I mean, how does a woman who is happily married fall in love with another man? I know that it happens—but HOW does it happen? Jenny wasn't unhappy with me, and I still don't believe she was out there looking.

But that cocksucker Alec got his foot in the door, and then he played her, and somehow he got her to believe that they were soulmates, destined to be together. Like Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Hero and Leander. (I read a lot of books in college.) Maybe Bonnie and Clyde. (I used to see a lot of movies, too.)

And now it's eight months later, and I was beginning to feel a little bit as though the worst was over, and I could start to think about a new life without Jenny. And NOW she tells me she wants to come back to me?


I really hoped that after the day Jenny came over, that would be the end of it. I'd listened to what she wanted, and I'd given her my answer. I hadn't exactly let her give her whole spiel, but tough shit, right?

But it wasn't even a week before my mother started in on me again. By now I wasn't ever picking up the phone, so it was all messages. "She's sorry for what she did, Nick—truly she is. You should hear the way she talks about you! You've got to give her another chance." That was the gist of it, though my mom found various ways to phrase it.

I called her on Saturday morning, just before leaving to go to karate, so she wouldn't be able to keep me on the phone. "Mom, it's me. Please listen to me, OK? I am NOT, repeat NOT, getting back together with Jenny. It is over. Thinking about her, talking about her, seeing her, they all just make me feel worse. You're my mother and you're supposed to be on MY side, right? So please don't mention Jenny any more."

There was a longish silence; then she said, in kind of a hurt voice, "well of course I'm on your side, Nick. It's just that Jenny is so..."

"Gotta go, mom—bye!" I interrupted her to say the words, and hung up the phone. My fucking mom was never gonna get it.

The next week was a good one, mainly because of karate. I was preparing for an amateur tournament in Columbus, so I stayed after my regular class every night for an additional hour of instruction, and my teacher just about wore me out. I'd come home, feeling exhausted but great, have some dinner, watch a game with Davis or do some reading, and go to bed.

Then on Saturday, when I came home after karate at about 2:00 pm, Jenny's friend Angela was sitting on my front step. For a moment I considered driving right by the house, and then I thought, fuck it, you can't dodge people forever.

She gave me a nice smile as I came up to her, and said, "hey Nick—buy a girl a beer?"

"Sure, Angie, if you don't mind being around a sweaty guy while you drink it."

"I think I can handle it," she said with another smile.

We went inside and had a beer, chatting about nothing in particular. Like I said, Angela was someone I'd always liked. She was short and curvy and brunette, all the opposite of Jenny—but like Jenny she was outgoing and fun-loving. Early in our marriage Jenny and I had hoped that maybe Angie and Davis might get together, because we liked them both so much, but they didn't really click. They'd tease each other in a friendly way, but they never dated.

In any event, I didn't mind having Angela around—she was funny and she was nice to look at—but I couldn't help waiting for the other shoe to drop. There was no way this surprise visit was about anything but Jenny. When we'd finished the beer I said something about it.

"As nice as it is to see you, Angie, there must be a reason for your dropping by. Want to tell me what it is?"

She blushed, and looked down for a minute. "You must be thinking it's about Jenny, Nick, but it's really not. I also like you, you know. I always thought I was friends with you too, not just with Jenny. And I've missed seeing you. When Jenny...when she...left, I guess I felt I should stay away, out of loyalty to her or something."

Now she was looking right at me. "But I finally thought, screw it, Nick's my friend too, why the hell can't I go see him? So here I am."

I looked at her suspiciously. "So this really isn't about Jenny? You're not working your way up to a pitch about how I should take her back?"

Angela looked a bit uneasy, but she held my gaze and said, "no, Nick, it's not. I just hoped we could...spend time together, you know? Like we used to."

I won't tell you I believed her. I'm just not that trusting, you know? Maybe I once was, but not since Nightmare #1. But I didn't push it any further.

"OK, Angie. How about I take a quick shower, and then we'll go get some lunch?"


And that was the start of a few really weird, yet really enjoyable weeks. Angela came over twice more in the next week, and we also went out for dinner and a movie the next weekend. True to her word, she didn't mention Jenny at all, nor did she pry into my feelings or my current love-life (which of course was nonexistent).

Instead we acted pretty much like buddies—almost like me and Davis, I guess, except that Angie was prettier and smelled a whole lot better. Angie liked baseball so we watched some games on the tube, and at her request I showed her some of the fancy karate moves I'd been learning. I told her about the upcoming tournament and about random things at my job, and she seemed quite interested.

And we talked about other things too, like Angie's job, and her family life growing up. We just got to know one another better. And I slowly, slowly got a little less suspicious.

No, that's not right. Let me try it again. I got less suspicious that Angie was coming to see me to talk me into getting back together with Jenny. But at the same time I got more suspicious: I mean, if she wasn't doing that, then what WAS she doing? I liked being with Angie, but why was she spending so much time hanging around me?

And what made it more complicated is that she was beautiful and sexy. She looked good and smelled good, and she was enjoying my company an awful lot. I'm only human, and I hadn't been with a woman in nearly ten months. I started to realize that the feelings I was having for her were far more than "buddy" feelings; but I didn't know if they were purely lust or something way more complex.

Before I could figure out what I felt, and what to do about it, things came to a head in a way I didn't expect. Angie invited me over for a Friday night dinner at her apartment, and I assumed it would be casual, as we had done several times before.

But when I got there her kitchen table had a tablecloth and candles on it, the lights were low, and Angie herself was ravishing. No jeans and sweatshirt—she was wearing a short black skirt, tights, and a pale blue sweater that clung to her and really showed off her cleavage. Her hair was down around her shoulders.

"Jesus, Angie—you look amazing! Is there a fancy party we're going to that you forgot to mention? If so, you're gonna have to fight the guys off with a stick!"

She blushed and looked really pleased, but all she said was, "thanks, Nick. I just felt like getting dressed up a little tonight, that's all."

At first I was uneasy, feeling sure that something was up and having a hard time believing that the most obvious conclusion—Angela was out to seduce me—was actually the right one. We made nervous conversation for a few minutes, but after that we settled down, ate our dinner, and enjoyed one another's company.

She and I usually favored beer, but tonight she'd come up with a bottle of red wine. It wasn't anything with a screw top either, but one of those bottles of Chateau-la-$42.50 that the guys at the liquor store are always trying to get you to buy. It tasted great to me, but I'm far from an expert.

We did the dishes together, like we always do when we have dinner, and I noticed Angie was standing awfully close and managing to touch her hip to mine quite a bit, while acting as though nothing was going on.

Then she led me into the living room, put some music on, and sat us down close together on the sofa. I knew I had to say something, so I just went ahead.

"Angela, I'm having a lovely time, but I need to know what's going on, OK? We've been doing buddy stuff for a few weeks now, but this is..."

She stopped me by putting a finger to my lips. "Don't talk, OK Nick? Just go with it. I've been waiting a long time to do this."

I watched her carefully, in some surprise. She looked nervous but determined, as she leaned over and gently kissed me. The kiss was delicious, and I was in no hurry to break it.

When she pulled away, she gave me a shy smile, then came back for another one. This time it wasn't long before her arms were tightly around me and we were passionately necking.

Like I said, Angie is gorgeous and stacked; and like I said, I hadn't been laid in a very long time; and like I said, I'd been feeling more and more affectionate and lustful towards her; and like I said, she was wearing a sexy outfit; and like I said, we'd just had a romantic candlelit dinner and a lot of wine; and like I said, she was coming onto me pretty strong.

So don't give me a lot of shit, OK? I had a beautiful, willing girl in my arms, and I went for it. I held her and kissed her, and stroked her back, and I told her in a soft voice how beautiful she was, and after awhile I slipped a hand down and over her breast. As I caressed it she groaned and pushed closer to me, so I figured I was doing all right.

Within a few minutes I was lying pretty much flat on the sofa with Angie on top of me, and the foreplay was proceeding nicely. I'd slid my hand gently up under her skirt and was entertaining myself by stroking her ass, most of which was easily available on either side of her thong panties. Angie was breathing hard, in between kisses, and pushing her hips down firmly against my impossible-to-miss hardon.

I can't say, if I'm going to be honest, that I wasn't even thinking about Jenny. I knew all too well that the only other woman that I'd been with like this in many years was Jenny, and even my pleasure and excitement with Angie didn't push my faithless cunt of a wife completely out of my thoughts.

But on the other hand, thoughts of Jenny weren't tormenting me, either. I was very focused on Angie and how much pleasure we were giving each other, and eagerly looking forward to what seemed the obvious next steps. Seemed like there were only two questions: here on the sofa or in the bedroom? and, would I get to lick her first, or would we be proceeding directly to the fucking?

Happily for me, there was no wrong answer to either of those questions!

So imagine my surprise—don't you hate that, such a cliché, when someone says "imagine my surprise", but unfortunately it fits perfectly in this case—imagine my surprise when Angie suddenly pulled away from me and gave me a sorrowful look, tears filling her eyes.

Before I could say a word she was on her feet, standing over me and saying, "Nick, I'm...I...I'm so sorry, I just...can't, I can't do this."

Bewildered, wondering if I'd missed some sign of trouble, I got up and moved to embrace her gently, saying, "it's OK, Ange, sorry, I guess we got going too fast."

"No!" she cried, stepping back away from me. "No, Nick, it wasn't you, it wasn't anything you did—it's just me, I never meant..."

She broke off and began to cry. Looking at me through her tears she said, "would you just go, please? I'm so sorry!" And she wept harder, putting her face in her hands, just standing there in the middle of the living room.

I tried again to take her in my arms, if only to comfort her, but she shook her head violently and ran into the bathroom, locking it behind her. At a loss, I simply waited for a few minutes. When she didn't come out, I went to the door, knocked softly, and said, "I'm so sorry, Angie—I'm going to leave now, OK?"

Her timid voice came through the door. "Yes, Nick—I'm sorry! It's all my fault!"

Utterly baffled, I got my coat and headed home.


Davis was sitting with me in my living room. "I don't know, man," he said, "it doesn't make much sense to me either. She didn't give you any explanation?"

I shook my head. "All I can think of is that we got going too fast, or that she feels some kind of fucked-up loyalty to Jenny. But what makes me really nuts is that she won't talk to me about it. I've left her probably ten messages this week, very gentle ones, not pushing, you know?

"But she hasn't called me back at all. Shit, Davis, I don't deserve this!"

He smiled at me, cocking an eyebrow. "A, nobody deserves it. And B, you especially don't deserve it. You deserve a parade a women, all of whom are hot for you and none of whom are impossible to understand!"

I snorted. "I've never met even one of those, let alone a parade of them."

"What are you going to do?"

"For now, nothing," I said. "I've got the tournament at the end of next week, and I'd like not to make a complete fool of myself. Once I get back, maybe I can get Angie to talk to me and figure out what the hell is going on."


I won five bouts out of eight, and finished up 9th in my division. Aside from being utterly exhausted, I felt pretty good as I drove back from Columbus. I'd had an intense weekend of doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and doing karate, and it was great. I hardly thought about Angela at all, and even less about Jenny. More than at any time since my wife left me, I felt like there might be a chance that I'd come out the other end of my nightmare—make that nightmares—capable of putting my life back together.

"That's great, man!" Davis congratulated me when I called him. Then he said, "and think of what a wuss you were just a few months ago—even I could beat you!"

Laughing, I said, "yeah, about two times out of ten. Any time you'd like to try me again, pal, just let me know."

"No way, buddy—now that you're a high-powered black belt you'd make firewood out of me. I can still out-drink you, though."

We exchanged some more friendly teasing before getting off the phone, and I thanked the Gods once again for letting me have such a terrific friend. Especially during the past year.

A couple of days later I decided to drive over to Angela's after work and talk her into seeing me. After all, she'd done it to me—and I was sick and tired of leaving phone messages that were never returned.

I rang the bell to her apartment and waited; after a moment I could hear her footsteps approaching, and then she must have looked through the peephole.

"I'm...I'm sorry, Nick, I can't see you." Her voice sounded slightly muffled through the door.

"Well, then, Angie, I guess I'm in for a long night. I've brought this folding chair, and I'm going to sit right here in the hall until you let me come in and talk to you. If you walk by me in the morning, I'll be here again tomorrow when you get home from work. You'll have to get used to seeing me every day."

There was a long pause, a very long pause, and then I heard the chain being removed and she opened the door. She was wearing jeans and a black AC/DC tee-shirt. She had bare feet, and must have just washed off her make-up. She looked like she was about to cry. She looked absolutely beautiful.

I realized I hadn't seen her in nearly a month, and my heart was pounding. How about that, I thought—my heart is pounding and it's not for Jenny!

"Angie, you have to talk to me. I don't know what happened, what I did to scare you off—but please give me another chance. You're important to me. Can you imagine what it feels like for you to dump me, after what...what happened to me with Jenny?"

"I'm so sorry, Nick. I...guess I didn't think about it that way. Come in—and bring that stupid chair!" she added with a little smile.

She got us a couple of sodas and we sat in her living room, me on the sofa and her across from me on a chair.

"All I ask, Ange, is that you tell me what went wrong. Was it me? Did I hurt you in some way?"

She shook her head, energetically. "No! Nothing like that—it was never you, Nick! Not anything you did. You were...I always had a great time with you."

She leaned forward. "What I've got to tell you is a long story, OK? And one that's...that is going to be hard for me to tell. So you have to promise to listen to the whole thing, and not to get so mad that you walk out on me."

I'd never seen her look so serious. "I promise, Angie. Though I can tell from your face that I'm not going to like it."

"No, you're not." She stared out the window for a while, and then turned back to me.

"Nick, Jenny is right in the middle of all this, and there's no way around it. If you want the truth, you're going to have to hear about her too."

I won't pretend I was happy about it—in fact I could feel my stomach tighten—but I just nodded, and waited for her to continue.

And what followed, as God is my witness, was yet another rendition of Nightmare #1. As if I hadn't already suffered enough by living through it! Angela walked me through Jenny's fucking affair with that dipshit Alec—except she didn't call it an affair, of course. She explained that Jenny really fell in love with the guy—as I've told you—really thought he was the man for her, and that they'd live happily ever after.

Except, it seems, that it didn't turn out that way. At first things with Alec seemed much more exciting than life with me. How could they not? He was a handsome actor, he loved to dance and party and stay out late, and life was a mad gay whirl. Hard for the routine of any married couple to compete with that.

But Alec was a total jerk—no surprise to me, I assure you! He was hyper and emotional and pretty unstable, especially when he was on coke, which turned out to be a large part of the time. He couldn't stick to any routine, couldn't manage to be where he'd promised to be half the time, and in his wild mood-swings started being abusive to Jenny.

According to Angela, it wasn't so bad at first—just occasional shouting matches, though sometimes he got so wound up Jenny hid in the bathroom with the door locked. But after a few months their fights got so bad that he'd actually hit her a couple of times, and Jenny had come to stay overnight in Angela's apartment, frightened out of her mind.

Jenny finally began to understood that she had fallen in love with a fantasy—that married life had become a little dull, and that she'd attributed the dullness of routine to me, not seeing that no marriage could compete with the excitement of something new. She had finally realized what a horrible mistake she had made, thinking that she could find magic with a shallow, immature asshole like Alec.

"Good for her!" I interrupted bitterly. I'd been sitting quietly, listening to this story as I'd promised Angie I would, but it was getting harder and harder to take. I was pretty much ready to bolt for the door.

Angie could see it, and she said quietly, "Nick, you promised!" I nodded and tried to relax. She's got to be near the end of this, I kept telling myself.

Anyway, Jenny moved out of Alec's place and got an apartment of her own; and that's when she started talking to my mother and trying to get back in contact with me. The rest of the story I knew—or at least I thought I did. But no, of course, there was more coming to further fuck up my head. How could I have thought it would be any different?

Angie sat down next to me and took my hand. "Nick, please don't be mad at me. I may be the world's most horrible person, but I did what I did because I care for Jenny AND you."

I looked at her in alarm—now what?

"After she split up with Alec, Jenny was so determined to win you back. She just knew that if you gave her a chance to talk to you, she could make you understand how much she loved you, that she'd do anything to make it up to you.

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