Paul And PaulabyDanielQSteele1©
"What could I do? I left. I remember you told me not too long after that about Paula's home improvement project and how proud you were of what she had done and how she had kept it a surprise until all the work was done. I know that I came by a few times and the Hummer was never there again. She was meeting him somewhere else. And then I realized that even if I caught her, what was the point. Anybody that smart, and that cold blooded, and that willing to hurt you, wouldn't stop. She'd never have any trouble finding men. At that time I thought she might hurt financially if she lost your income, but she'd wind up on her feet. It would be you that would be torn apart."
He looked into Paul's haunted eyes.
"Your kids were young and you were happy – fat, happy and ignorant. I knew she'd keep going because in that moment in the house looking into her eyes while she lied knowing that I knew she was lying, I knew she wasn't your Paula any more. I'd known her for 10 years and this wasn't the same woman. The only thing I hoped was that she loved you or cared for you or was comfortable enough with you that she wouldn't deliberately destroy you. I knew then she was smart enough she could cheat on you for the rest of your life and get away with it if she wanted to. And I was right – for ten years."
He thought he'd been cried out, but hearing the details and knowing he'd lost his wife a lifetime ago broke him again. This time Gil let him finish and then said, "Why don't you use the guest bedroom upstairs. I've got something that will help you sleep. That's what you need right now. Sleep."
Gill had been right, and he felt better physically the next morning. He slept late, then went downstairs and had coffee and toast along with the blood pressure pills he'd been on since his early 30s. As he expected, Sherry called and he told her he was still under the weather but would try to come in on Friday. He kept the conversation short but before they finished, Sherry said, "Paul, you take care of yourself. And if you need anything, we're friends right? You would tell me. You know I'd do anything in the world for you. You were there for me."
"It's nothing like that, Sherry. I appreciate it, I really do. I know we're friends. But I'm just sick."
"If you say so."
He sat on Gil's couch while Gil prepared for an outing with a 35-year-old divorced housewife he'd met on a public tennis court.
"I can cancel, Paul. We're not serious. We're just friends – right now. She's got a nice little body, but we can get together later."
"Get out of here. All we're going to do if you stay here is I'm going to hurt and you're going to try to make me feel better and it isn't going to do any good. Have fun. Hopefully, have a lot of fun."
Paul realized he was smiling, probably for the first time since he'd received what he'd dubbed "the bad call" on Tuesday afternoon. He tried to figure out why and realized it was the first time he hadn't been thinking about what he had just lost. Instead he was hoping that his friend was going to get lucky. It was good to know that someone, somewhere, might be happy with a member of the opposite sex.
Gil accepted his offer with ill-concealed eagerness.
"Well, as much as I'd like to stay here and hold your hand, the chance to ogle a pair of genuine 34ds and possibly engage in a little slap 'n tickle is a more appetizing prospect. If I get lucky I'll dedicate the festivities to you. But I'll be back by 6 p.m."
Paul nodded, just as willing to leave the prospect of the package coming from Miami until he had to face it.
When Gil had left Paul got himself cleaned up, made a few calls to his bank and credit union to check the state of his finances and his retirement and also called a friend he hadn't seen in a few years. At one time Harry Pierce and his wife had lived in Jacksonville and they had been good friends. But Harry had gotten a chance to join a law firm in Los Angeles and they had only exchanged a few calls and cards over the last five years.
But he was pretty sure Harry would remember their friendship and he thought Los Angeles was far enough away that there was no way the contact could get back to Paula.
"Paul, Paul Donnally you old bastard. Five years of only a few calls and all of a sudden you call me up with a message that you've got an emergency you need help with. What's going on?"
"I lied, Harry, sorry. There's not an emergency, but...well it could become one. I wanted to know if you still practiced civil law, particularly divorce cases."
"Yeah...they're not as much of my practice as they once were but I still keep my hand in occasionally. Wait. You're not going to tell me.."
"I got to tell you, man, if there were any two people on earth I'd have bet would have made it, it would have been the two of you."
"I thought so too. Now, I'm not so sure."
"Are you ready to start..."
"No, I'm just calling to give you a heads up. I might need some advice. I don't expect you to handle the case on this coast, but I want to know what my options are."
"You know I'll be glad to help, but let me give you one piece of free advice, okay. And I'm only going to tell you this because you're a friend. If there's any way you can keep your marriage together, if you or Paula haven't done something so terrible that the other one can't live with it, try to stay together. Nobody is ever a winner in a divorce except the attorneys. Divorce is the last resort, not the first. But enough preaching. You want to talk to me about it now?"
"No. I'm not sure where this is going. I'm going to try to take your advice, but...this might be something I can't live with. I just don't know. I'll call you, okay?"
"Okay, friend. Good luck."
For the next couple of hours Paul prowled Gil's large two-story house. He felt like there was something he should be doing, but he didn't quite know what. He couldn't start working on separating finances without making a decision on what he wanted to do about the rest of his life and he wasn't ready to do that. There was no one he could talk to.
Finally he took a chance and called his son. He didn't know if he'd catch him between classes, but he lucked out. His son answered on the third ring.
"Ben, hey son, how are you"
"Dad, what – hey I'm fine. Just getting ready to head out to a boring lecture on business theory I'll never use while I'm daydreaming about going to the movies with Justine tonight. You remember her. She's the hot blonde with the short haircut I introduced you guys to the last time you came over. Hey, is mom there"
"No. I'm actually taking the day off today. Had a touch of the flue, I think. I was getting bored rattling around the house actually and thought I'd call and see how you were. Your mom's in Miami on one of her real estate deals. She hasn't called you, has she? I've had a little trouble getting through to her."
"No, haven't heard from her since the last phone call from both of you a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, you know you shouldn't be letting her go down there by herself don't you? A couple of my friends are still raving about her from the last time you guys came by. I tell them to take cold showers."
Ben had laughed at the last comment but Paul shivered. His son had no way of knowing what his comments actually brought to Paul's mind. He couldn't fake a laugh in reply.
"She's still a very attractive woman, Ben. Guys always notice her. But she'll be fine. Anyway, I just wanted to say hello. When will you be coming back here for a visit. Your mother and I miss you."
"Maybe next month after midterms."
"Okay, we'll be looking forward to it."
After he hung up his rubbed his eyes to relieve the pain of what felt like a building migraine. That was the trouble. Paula had always been a magnet for men. It wasn't just her slender willowy frame with breasts that although they weren't huge seemed huge on her body, topped by pencil-eraser thick nipples that poked out of anything she wore altogether too easily. It was her features, her lips, her eyes, just something that oozed sexuality. He'd always been a little nervous when she was around men in party situations, but although she flirted, she'd never given him any reason to be too jealous.
It was while entertaining those thoughts that his cell phone rang again. Dammit. Once again he saw her name and almost reached out to pick up the phone, but he stopped in mid-motion. He had no idea what he'd say and it was entirely possible he'd either start screaming at her or burst into tears. Either of which would make the decision of what to do moot. She'd know.
Once again the phone rang and rang. And once again her voice came out of the air, loving, concerned and lying.
"Paul, where are you?I hope you're not still badly sick. I'm beginning to get worried. You know you never get sick. Are you okay? I hope Gil gave you my message last night that I was leaving my cell at the apartment while a bunch of us went out for drinks and shop talk. It was fun, but I miss you. I really don't like these long seminars away from you. I hope you're missing me as much as I miss you. By the way, Gil sounded...strange.. last night. Is everything okay with him? When you get this message, call me please."
After the call ended, Paul snatched the phone up and rang Sherry's extension. When she answered, he spoke quickly before she could say anything.
"Sherry, listen, this is Paul. I need you to do a big favor for me. Don't ask any questions. Paula should be calling you pretty soon. I want you to tell her that I called you guys and said I was going to turn off my cell today because I'm trying to get some sleep."
There was a long silence on the other end before she said, "You really don't want to talk to her, do you."
"Please don't ask any questions. Just do this for me, okay? I'll be into the office tomorrow at the regular time. But don't tell her that."
"Okay, Paul, but...you're going to have to talk to her sooner or later."
He couldn't believe, and he knew Sherry heard, the anger in his voice.
"Paul, please, let me come over there tonight. I don't know what's going on, but I know it's something bad. You don't know how shitty I feel remembering your being here for me and now you're going through this alone."
"I – I can't talk about this right now, Sherry. You don't know how grateful I am for your offer, but...I'll see you tomorrow."
"O – Okay. But you'd better be here tomorrow or I am going to be camping on your doorstep tomorrow night."
After he hung up, he sat looking at the cellphone for a few minutes. He couldn't even remember what he was thinking. And then he realized he'd been thinking about Sherry. She was a tall, willowy blonde, only a couple of inches shorter than his six-feet. She was wholesome, more than pretty, but there was a certain something that made men forget she wasn't conventionally beautiful. He knew she had to beat men away from her office or students and professors and administration types would find some reason to hang around there. She was probably only a "C" cup but she had, as they said, legs all the way to the ground and an ass that made even happily married men stare when she was walking away from them.
He was one of the guys who had surreptiously watched her twitch away from him and he was intelligent enough to realize she twitched more around him as well as bending over more than she had too around him so he could catch a glimpse or two of soft white breasts cradled in thin bras. She probably had a crush on him from the time three years before when she'd almost gone to pieces after her cheating piece of shit boyfriend had left her following a miscarriage. He had given her a shoulder to cry on and went out of his way to rebuild her faith in himself. If he had been anybody else, he'd have been suspicious that he was setting her up to get into her pants. But he had Paula and that thought had never – well, almost never – entered his mind,
In a way, it had been comforting to know that he couldn't do anything about the unsaid invitation she was giving him. He had seen enough office romances, even between singles, to know they usually ended badly. Somebody got hurt and it gummed up the works as far as getting business done. As long as he was happily married, he could just peek once in a while and maybe fuck Paula a little harder that night imagining his tall willowy blonde secretary underneath him or maybe the two women – big titted brunette and willowy blonde - in a Ménage à trois fantasy, which actually usually did make him come a little harder. Of course Paula never suspected, but she got the benefit of it so he didn't feel too guilty about cheating on her in his head.
But if everything blew up and there was no more Paul and Paula, what would he do about the unspoken invitation? If he passed, would she have hurt feelings? If he wound up fucking her, could they keep it on a friends with benefits level or would she want more? More than he could probably ever give to another woman. And would that piss her off?
It was just too damned complicated. Or maybe he was just overthinking things, which was another thing Paula always accused him of.
His stomach hurt and he realized that being old and married was a hell of a lot more comfortable than being a bachelor on the prowl. Of course, he'd been pretty good at it at one time, which was the reason he'd wound up with the hottest piece of ass at the University of Florida in his bed for 20 years. But that had been a long time ago.
He hadn't gotten anything more settled in his mind when, at 5 p.m., a grinning and very relaxed Gil sauntered in.
"If you had a pussy, I'd say you had a well fucked look," Paul told his friend, who grinned what could only be described as a shit-eating grin.
"You are so crude for a University intellectual," Gil said laughing. 'If you're asking if I had carnal knowledge of the lady in question, yes. Three times in four hours which is something of a record for me nowdays."
"You dog," Paul said, glad for anything to take his mind off his own troubles.
"Not only that," Gil said, plopping down onto a bean bag chair 20 years out of fashion, "but it was a trifecta."
At Paul's questioning look, he laughed and said, "you are so out of date, friend, I fucked her pussy, her tits and her ass and made it all three ways. On the first damned real date."
Paul shook his head in amazement.
"And this was your first real date? I mean, I knew things had changed in the last 20 years, but in her ass on the first date?'
"It wasn't really a first date, I guess. We've had coffee a couple of times and went to dinner a week ago at a decent Italian restaurant. We just hadn't – gotten to the physical stuff besides a few kisses and touching her tits a few times. But, yeah, it surprised the hell out of me too. I'd have been satisfied with one out of three, but she wanted it all and by God she wasn't going to stop sucking and playing with me until she got it all."
He stopped smiling.
"I probably shouldn't be rubbing this in your face, Paul, but I want you to know there is life after death – marital death anyway."
After a few minutes of mutual razzing, the doorbell rang and Paul felt like he was going to lose his lunch. Gil put a hand out to him as if to tell to sit still and he answered the door. A black guy in a nice suit shook Gil's hand and handed him a bulky package. They talked for a minute and then shook hands again and Gil closed the door behind him.
Gil walked over to the coffee table slowly and set the large, bulky manila envelope on top of it.
"There are still photos, two DVDs, and a couple of audio recordings as well," he said.
Paul couldn't make himself reach out to touch the package.
Gil grabbed it and headed for the staircase.
"Watch some television. Let me check it out first and see if it's anything you could stand to look at or listen to."
It was nearly 11 p.m. when Gil walked down the stairs. Looking at his face, Paul realized it had to be worse than he could have imagined.
Gil said down heavily on the couch opposite Paul, who could not have described one minute of the televison he had watched for more than three hours if a gun had been put to his head. It was as if he had been in a fugue state the entire time.
"So," Paul finally said, realizing how bad it was only when Gil refused to meet his eyes.
"You don't want to look at the photos, or the DVDs," he said. "But, there's a part of the audio recording you should listen to."
"Why? To make me hate her more so I'll dump her the way you want me to?"
Gil looked up at him with an emotion in them that scared Paul. It was pity, pure unadulterated pity.
"You're going to wind up hating her no matter how this goes, but you need to hear this to know where your marriage really is. Listen to it and then you tell me what the odds are that you could put it back together."
"...oh God, I can't believe how good that was. How many times did I ring the bell, baby"
" ....five the last time I counted. Every time we get together I can't believe how good it is with you."
"...I know, I feel the same way. I love Marianne, I really do, but we've got nothing in bed compared to what you and I have. It's like – we were meant to be together. It's more than just the sex. I know you feel it too."
"...I know. I didn't want this to happen. You know that. It was just good, make that incredible, sex for so long and that was enough. But, it's a fact that men fuck and women make love. I can't fuck you over and over for the last two years and not come to love you, at least a little. And in your case a lot."
"...I don't want to be an asshole and I know you still have feelings for Paul, but that's why I keep making you tell me you love me more. It's crazy, but I'm jealous of the bastard. I know he's nothing compared to me in bed. I know you love me more, the way a woman loves a man. But he's the one you go home to. He's the one you sleep next to most of the time. Sometimes when I'm lying next to Marianne and she's asleep, I think about you in bed with him. He can reach over and rub your titties, he can roll you over and play with your pussy. I know you still fuck him and suck him. I know you do it out of a sense of obligation, but still, DAMMIT, he has you and I don't. The longer we're together the more crazy it makes me."
"...I know, Greg. There are times when I'm in bed with Paul and he's sleeping and I try to remember what it felt like when I was in love with him. I was in love with him, you know. For a long time, for years. And now, I lie next to him and think about you and Marianne sleeping naked next to you and I'm jealous of her. But, with us it would be fairly bloodless. Our kids are grown. I wouldn't need alimony or support. He'll never know about the money I have, but he'll be alright. And he's still a fairly young man. That secretary of his, she'd jump him in a second if he was free. She's been in love with him for years but Paul is so damned clueless I don't even think he knows it. So I could walk away from my marriage without too much difficulty. But your kids are 5 and 7. You're younger than me. I don't think you would leave Marianne and your kids. It wouldn't make sense for me to leave Paul and still have to cheat with you."
"...I might, Paula. It would be hard, I know it would be hard, but it feels like I'm falling more and more in love with you the longer we're together. I tell myself one minute I couldn't stand to be apart from Jesse and Jennifer, and then I'm here with you and I don't think I can stand to let you go back to him again. It feels like I'm being ripped apart."
...soft sucking sounds and a man's gasping..
"Does that make you feel better, darling? I don't quite think even you can get it up again, but doesn't it feel good having it sucked like that, even when it's soft?"