tagLoving WivesNever a Lie

Never a Lie

byEastPubnico©

Joey Ferguson shrugged the black suit jacket over his shoulders and smoothed it into place. He was conflicted, as he'd been for days. Artemisia, known to all as Artie since babyhood, his wife of fifteen years, had died at last two days ago and today was the funeral. Joey was half glad she was gone, free of the awful pain and suffering and weakness, freed of the consequences of that awful disclosure ten days ago, too. He was half grieved, as well, saddened by the loss of their time together, the love, the laughter, the shared tears, the loyalty and sharing, the comfort and joy. Only the fact that they'd never been able to have children had left a hole in their lives, but really it had been fine with just each other.

The doctors had promised Artie three weeks ago that the new drug ought to finally kill off the invading cells that were slowly eliminating her ability to go on. At the very least, they vowed, she would have another two years of life. Joey hadn't been sure Artie had wanted another two years of life in a hospital bed, but the prospect of getting better, of being cured, free of pain for the first time in a year and a half, made her agree. He'd supported her in that decision, prepared to do anything rather than lose her. The doctors had gone through the mumbo jumbo about possible side effects and problems, but neither he nor Artie had paid attention. The possibility of a cure dazzled them both. And now the drug had killed her. Joey didn't know if that was bad or good. He didn't know whether Artie had considered the risk worth it, or had embraced death with fervour. He just didn't know.

His mind went back to that awful day just eight days back, six days before Artie slid out of this world and into the next. She'd kept her senses to the end but he'd known she worried about losing them at the end. Joey wondered whether keeping a clear mind had been good or bad. She wouldn't let the doctors numb her mind with pain killers.

It had been a fairly grim day, overcast and cold, just above freezing, just like today, in fact. An appropriate day for a funeral. Something had died in Joey eight days ago, too.

Artie looked pale and wan in the hospital bed, completely divested of the vitality that had made her so beautiful all the years he'd known her. She wore a towel or something wrapped around her head, turban-like, to hide the fact she'd lost her hair. Artie's hair had been her pride and joy, a long fall of auburn beauty that swung everywhere with a natural wave. She was pretty enough as a girl and still was attractive, even beautiful. Joey was happy she had that much left. By now it was clear that the new drug, expensive as it had been, wasn't going to work. It wasn't that clear yet that the drug was going to kill her, but Artie was sure she was going to die sometime soon. She'd never told him she felt that way before.

The two of them reminisced about the old days, school days and after, as they usually did. The last year and a half hadn't left any good memories for them to enjoy together.

"Joey, do you remember when we first met," Artie whispered. The cancer had spread to her throat now. The musical tones of her speaking voice were in the past. "When I was a cheerleader and you were a nerd with the social skills of a skunk?"

"Not nice, Artie," he laughed gently, "but true. In those days you were always on Lyle Kennedy's arm, a fixture, almost like a bracelet. I wasn't on anybody's arm."

"You always had Karen Lovett's attention, I think."

"Yes, I suppose you're right. Karen always had time for me. She's the one who got me to clean up and pay attention. I suppose she gave me what social skills I developed. You owe her, I think."

"I've told her so, Joey." Her weak voice wandered a moment, then started up again more strongly.

"Do you think life has patterns, Joey?"

"Sometimes."

"I was a lot more experienced than you were. I'd been sexually active since the day before my sixteenth birthday. I've got to admit it wasn't much fun. I had my eighteenth birthday in the summer before we started college. That's when I first met you and Karen. You were both a couple of months younger than I was."

"Karen and I shared a birthday. I bet you didn't know that."

"No, I didn't. I always wondered why you were so close. You didn't seem to be much worth having in those days, Joey. Not the way you are now, so attractive and successful."

"I suppose not. You were going with Lyle, then. I don't think you paid attention to any of the other guys."

"Not really. Lyle was the ideal beau for any of the girls. He was attractive and a successful athlete. No one knew, or would believe, that he didn't know the first thing about making a girl happy. Or care. I hope he's changed but I'm afraid he hasn't."

"You were talking about how we got together, sweetheart."

"Yes, it was strange. A sordid tale of revenge gone wrong, or maybe right. Seems strange that it took so long for me to clue in about Lyle. We were in fourth year and Lyle was making noises about getting married. Then I guess a white knight came to save me.

"Lyle and I had had a huge fight. The cause doesn't seem important now, but then it burned into me. He'd been seeing someone else. As far as I know he was screwing her blind. It came out when we were going at it and he compared me with her. It stopped me cold."

"Knowing Lyle, I'm surprised he didn't suggest that he take the two of you on together so he could make close comparisons."

"He did. That's what we really fought over. He wanted to do two girls at a time and I was just disgusted by the notion. He ran off to his little whore and I looked around for the best revenge I could get. It happened to be you." They'd gone over the story before, though Artie had never told Joey about the projected threesome. Joey was upset about that, then remembered they were talking about something that had happened more than fifteen years before. Artie had never been as adventurous as she sometimes pretended, which had suited him fine. Going out with the nerd was effective revenge on the pretty boy.

Joey remembered, too, as Artie continued to whisper. The day Artie first approached him he was wandering the halls, likely waiting for Karen to finish class so they could hang out together. Karen went out with other guys and never with Joey, but she wasn't too attached to anyone and the two of them spent a lot of time just being with each other. They were pretty good friends. That's when Artie came up to Joey and asked whether he'd take her to the dance the following Friday.

"But Artie, what about Lyle? You're with him, aren't you?"

"Not any more. I'm sick of him and sick of jocks. I need to see another kind of man."

"I was jealous of whatever you and Karen had, Joey," Artie whispered as Joey's mind returned from the past. "I wanted to see whether I could have the same thing. I wanted to find out what was different about someone like you. I never meant to come between you and Karen."

"No, I suppose you didn't. You've always been pretty good about things like that, much better than most women would have been."

"I had confidence in your love, dear."

It took a while for Artie to convince Joey that she really wanted to be with him for a time. Joey was happy enough. He wasn't actually going out with Karen and Artie was one of the hottest girls in the college. She hadn't had any trouble making the cheerleading squad. She'd been runner-up to the Homecoming Queen. She was real quality. He'd have gone out with her if only for the bragging rights. Besides, he didn't much like Lyle and there was a little something extra that he was going to go out with Lyle's girl.

On top of the physical side that would have had his male friends drowning in drool, Artie was a genuinely nice person. Possibly she was a little more self-centred than Karen, who was plenty attractive herself, but that left a lot of room for thinking about others, and she did. She made it very clear that the others she thought of weren't just Joey and the football team. He was impressed. Artie wasn't a shallow person the way he'd always regarded cheerleaders and jocks.

Friday night he borrowed a friend's car and picked Artie up at her dorm. The residence administration was fairly liberal. There wasn't any curfew on weekends, for example. There'd been a big dustup about different rules for females and the college had lost.

It was a cool night so Artie had a sweater on over her blouse and a pair of dress slacks. She'd pulled her hair back and toned down her prettiness a bit, enough so she wasn't spectacular, just pretty nice. Joey realized that she'd done it to fit better with him. There wasn't too much fit between the two of them in those days, but she did what she could with it. She was genuinely concerned to put him at ease as much as possible.

They had a wonderful time at the dance. Artie wanted to dance every dance with him. He managed to keep up, and even get ahead on occasion. Joey had more rhythm than a geek should, so dancing wasn't too much of a burden for either of them. Artie told him she was impressed.

"I remember that you showed another side of yourself when we danced," Artie whispered from the bed. "You showed joy. That always impressed me. You held me just right when we came to a slow dance, too. Not so tight that it felt like we were screwing each other on the floor, the way Lyle always did, but tight enough to show you realized you were with someone you liked and whose physical attributes you appreciated. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling."

"I have a warm fuzzy feeling for you all the time, Artie," he replied. She looked warmly at him for a moment before getting back to her memories.

After the dance Artie had insisted that they go up to the look off "to watch the submarine races". Joey wasn't so naive that he didn't know what that meant, but he was certainly surprised. Once they parked, at Artie's direction, she turned into his arms and kissed him, an open-mouthed passionate declaration. Of what, exactly, Joey wasn't too sure. They broke for a moment and Joey moved in, sure now that Artie wanted at least some kind of attention. He kissed, slowly, his lips caressing hers, his tongue touching lightly her bottom lip and then the upper lip, treating her lips as erogenous zones of their own rather than pillows to base an oral assault on her mouth. Artie was taken aback. That's not how she had learned to kiss. It was different. It was better.

After they kissed a few more times, more than Lyle had kissed her at all in the last month that they'd been together, Joey pulled her into his shoulder and began to describe the submarine races to her. He said he had a bet on an outsider.

"That's Polaris coming up on the outside. It's making its move on the pack, now. Even with its handicap it has more power. Look at it go. There they are, almost to the finish, now. And it's Polaris, by a nose."

They laughed gaily together. Joey kissed her quickly, little more than a peck to share their good humour. He pulled her into his shoulder and they watched the night. She wondered whether perhaps she didn't attract him. Lyle had her shirt and bra off in less than five minutes every time they parked. She loved the feel of his lips on her nipples. This business of being cuddled and looked on as a person rather than an attractively packaged set of female parts (insert Tab A in Slot B, push in and out a few times, sprinkle) felt different. Like the kissing, it was better. What else could be better, she asked herself.

After a half hour of just being with each other, the most comfortable and relaxed time she'd had in a very long time, Joey kissed her again, a little more punch than a peck, but not too much.

"Time to go, lovebird."

Artie had nothing to say as they drove back. She was trying to put the new pieces into a place in her world and failing. They didn't come from her world. It was a different world. A better world. She almost missed it when he asked:

"Do you want to go to a movie tomorrow?"

"Okay. That sounds nice."

"We'll have to walk. The car's not mine."

"That will be all right." She wasn't prepared to challenge him by offering her car yet.

"Six thirty for the seven o'clock show?"

"Fine. I'll see you then." Though there were a couple of dark corners around the front of the residence Joey just gave her a quick peck on the cheek and drove off.

"I was so disappointed you didn't go farther that first time we went out," Artie whispered, her voice a touch hoarser. "But I enjoyed what you did and I especially liked sharing your company. It was sweet, and I hadn't been used to sweet."

"You always deserved sweet, love."

On the Saturday Joey picked Artie up from the residence. Without a car, she thought it would be difficult to get physically closer to him. That's what dates were about in her mind. The walk to the theatre was fun. They held hands. She couldn't remember just holding hands with someone before. It was an attachment and a sharing of something other than lust. It was peaceful and exciting all at once. Artie was entranced.

Joey had chosen the movie with some care. It might have been called a chick flick and might not. There was a hint of naughtiness but nothing overtly sexual. The two main characters were just having fun together most of the time. It was one of the few where the director had managed to maintain the level of plain happiness right up to the end. Artie was fascinated by the movie. She forgot all her intentions of snuggling into Joey and maybe getting his hands on her breasts.

When Joey dropped her off at the dorm he gave her a quick peck.

"Thank you, Joey," she told him. "I had a wonderful time. I never knew a date could be just a good time. You're really good company."

"I enjoyed the time, too. May I see you again next Friday?"

"Certainly, and you'd better not be late." She laughed to take the sting out of her words. Here she'd dumped one of the great male draws on campus, traded him in for a skinny nerd - well, Joey seemed to be bulking up a bit - and she was enjoying herself more than she ever had before. It was luminous and illuminating.

She no longer attracted envious glares from half the women on campus. Maybe that didn't matter anymore. She was going out with an interesting guy who paid attention to what she wanted. That seemed to be more important than campus status.

After they ran into each other on Wednesday, an accident Artie had spent some time contriving, they'd found a dark corner and had kissed properly for the first time. Joey had taken the lead. Artie hadn't known he read her so well. At first it was a light sharing of lips, soft brushes that sent flames spiralling around her insides. Their lips connected more fully, learning the shapes and feel of each other. Then Joey gently licked her bottom lip. She shuddered. He licked her upper lip. Her mouth opened. Very, very gently his tongue snuck in, oh so softly exploring, touching her tongue, the roof of her mouth, her cheeks, her tongue again. Artie let her tongue return his attentions, but slowly, teasingly, inflaming them both with the newness of shared care.

"Our first real kiss, Joey, do you remember?" the voice whispered from the hospital bed.

"That was when I knew I loved you, dearest."

"I think it was the same for me, though it took me a few days to realize it. You were always a good kisser."

That Friday, Joey and Artie were off to another movie. They enjoyed it as much as the one the previous week.

"So what does Artie stand for?" Joey asked.

"Artemisia," she blushed.

"A beautiful name for a beautiful person," Joey commented. "You're named for the Greek goddess of the hunt. I've always preferred her as the epitome of beauty over her more worldly colleague, Aphrodite. "

"That's sweet of you."

When they returned from the movie, Artie invited him up to her room.

"It's still early and I don't want to let you of you just yet. I have a single room this year. They don't do lights out or anything foolish and haven't for decades. Can we spend a little more time together?"

"Sure."

Artie was surprised that Joey had given in so easily. He'd resisted most of her blandishments so far. Perhaps he realized, with that sense he seemed to have about her, that, really, all she wanted was to have him to herself for a little bit longer. She enjoyed her time with him.

When they got up to her room with the door closed Joey took the lead. He drew her to him and kissed her again, the way it had been two days before. She felt that she'd burst into flames. Joey bent his head to her and kissed her once more. Long, sweet, achingly ardent. Artie's skin was flushed, delicately rather than passionately, and her lips were ever so slightly swollen from the force of his kiss. He looked quickly. He liked what he saw. He pulled her in to him again, this time running his hands down her sides, feeling the bulge at the side of her breasts. Then down her back, ending by cupping the firm, delicate swell of her bottom. He pulled her into him, drawing her private parts into his swelling erection, flattening her breasts against his chest. She sighed.

Her room was narrow, painted in an institutional green some contractor had a surplus of, years ago. Perhaps with the sun on it it might be attractive. The narrow bed took up one side and her study desk the other. He was surprised to see the bookshelf she'd added, full to overflowing. He hadn't thought of Artie as a reader. He approved.

Artie met his gaze. They kissed again, flames leaping up to engulf them both. Joey gave himself over to the fire they shared. Artie followed. They shed their clothes. Some she took off him, some he took off her, some they took off themselves. The urge to be naked with each other dominated both minds. They shared kisses and caresses, her fingers sliding over his chest, his arms, his back, while he brushed over her back, her bottom, the tops of her thighs. Desire rose within them, passion flooded their beings. Heat dominated them. Each felt the other as a naked, burning flame. Heated skin to heated skin, their passion grew to an all-consuming need.

Artie stepped free of her clothes, pooled at her feet, and gasped as Joey encircled her with his arms, warm, hot arms. They kissed again, his tongue no longer gentle, piercing her, consuming her, claiming her. Artie fought back, staking her claim on him as well, holding him, pulling him against her, feeling the force of his passion and desire for her as an elemental force not to be denied. She was dripping and ready for him, her lower lips as swollen as the ones he was kissing so fiercely. She grabbed one shoulder to hold him to her while she used the other to explore the striking heft of him, fingers tracing over his chest and abdomen, sliding lower. She dropped her lips to nurse lightly at his nipples. He gasped with the fire of his sensations. She lifted her mouth to his again and tasted the hunger and passion and desire ripping through him. And ripping through her as well.

She pressed into him, bare breasts thrust into his chest, naked hips against his strong thighs, abdomen flattening his erection against his stomach. She shifted against him, wantonly inciting, proud that she had this effect on him, that he was losing his calm detachment because of her.

Joey grasped her breast, caressing, kneading, toying with her nipple, inflaming her as she inflamed him. He dropped his mouth to capture a nipple, to suck, lick and suck again. She moaned. They kissed again. Joey dropped his hands to grasp her narrow waist. He broke the kiss, eliciting a regretful sigh, then dropped his head to trail full-mouthed kisses down the line of her jaw, the line of her neck, over her throat, her collarbone and lower, back to her swollen breasts and aching nipples. He sank lower, trailing the heat of his kisses over her midriff, her stomach, stopping to send fire through her navel, past her waist and down through the tiny patch of pubic hair until he reached her secret place. She felt sensation lance through her and her nerves flickered and jumped.

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byEastPubnico© 83 comments/ 50548 views/ 72 favorites

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