tagLoving WivesPoke-her Night Ch. 02

Poke-her Night Ch. 02

byBigGuy33©

This is a continuation of my recently published part 1. This would more accurately fit into Romance but I prefer that stories stay within the same category so I put it in LW with part 1.

Disclaimer: As you read this story, keep in mind that I try to include something for everyone, and some people are always looking for mistakes. So, if you find any errors, please remember that they are there for a reason.

*****

Poke-Her Night Ch. 2

Henry starts anew.

*****

I had to get out of this city. Everything I saw reminded me of Shelley. I wasn't necessarily looking for a permanent move since all my friends were here as well, but I did want to get away for a while. Unfortunately, I didn't have the money to go without working.

And then I remembered a program that my company offered. Like most companies, we were always looking for the most efficient way to do things, and the differences in our facilities meant that the best way in one place wasn't necessarily the best for another. This resulted in a program they developed that essentially allowed personnel to take a temporary transfer to another facility to learn how they did it and how that could be adapted to their own facility. These were 6-month assignments and were perfect for what I needed. I applied and was on my way across the country just two weeks later.

My time there was unremarkable. Everyone was very kind but knowing I was a short-timer made me wary of creating anything more than friendly working relationships or short-term physical ones. And yes, I mean one-night stands, during which I was meticulously careful about the use of protection, sometimes to the disappointment of that evening's partner.

When I returned to my hometown I didn't advertise it. I just moved back into my apartment, thanked the guy that had been sub-leasing it, and went back to work. I guess word got around because I was back for about 3 days when I got a call from Warren.

"Hey buddy. Welcome back."

"News travels fast."

"Steve-o saw you leaving Left Field last night and spread the word that you're back."

Left Field is a local sports bar that chose its name solely so people could talk about someone (or something) 'coming out of left field'. Sometimes it even worked.

"Yeah, I was planning to keep a low profile for a while. So much for that, I guess."

"Yep, that's over. We're starting poker night again. Same schedule so I expect to see you Tuesday."

"Warren, man, I don't..."

"If you don't show up I will find you and drag you there, and you know I can do it." He paused. "Bill will be there."

Now he had my interest. The end of my marriage had caused me to retreat into myself quite a bit so I didn't have the latest news. I knew that Bill and Donna had been trying to work it out while Shelley and I were divorcing and were still together when I left, but that was the extent of my knowledge.

"How're they doing?"

"Still together but we don't know much more than that. Both you and Billy cut yourselves off while you recovered so we'll all find out together I guess."

"All right, I'll be there."

Tuesday came quickly, and as much as I had been dreading it in the days prior, as the day itself progressed I found myself looking forward to it. I think I was just anticipating the idea of getting back to some sort of normal, and hanging with my friends was a big part of that.

With no one to go home to, I ended up at Warren's house far sooner than I expected. I rang the bell and Maureen opened the door, breaking into a wide smile when she saw me. She wore an oversized gray sweatshirt and an ankle-length denim skirt.

"Henry! Gosh, it's so good to see you."

I stepped inside and she gave me a tight squeeze, which is no small feat considering her petite size and that I stand just over 6 feet.

"Hey Mo, how've you been?"

"I've been okay. I'm glad the games are starting up again. I've missed you...guys, all of you guys. You're the first one here. Warren isn't even home from work yet."

"I couldn't find any other way to kill time. Need help with anything?"

"I'm just making the sandwiches. I'll take some help."

We walked into the kitchen, where she had a few varieties of bread laid out and a few packages of lunch meats. She handed me a small rubber spatula.

"Everyone like mayo so put some on every slice of bread. I tend to do this assembly line style."

I did as I was instructed and then moved on to putting on slices of cheese. This was followed by lettuce and tomato and finally the meat itself. I found I really enjoyed myself. Maureen is incredibly sweet and cheerful, and it had been a long time since I had done anything really social. We talked about nothing and laughed at just about everything. It felt good.

And then Bill arrived. With Donna.

Bill actually walked in first and I gave him the handshake-man hug combo and I was glad to see him. And then Donna walked in seconds later. I was immediately upset, and seriously considering walking right out the front door. For the moment, I just walked into the living room. A minute later, Bill spoke.

"You all right, buddy?"

"I wasn't expecting her to be here."

"Sorry about that. I keep her pretty close these days. It was the only way I could see playing again. But she would like to talk to you, if you'd be willing."

"To say what?"

"To apologize. I know it won't change that you and Shelley split up, and I wouldn't blame you for telling her to go to hell, but I'd appreciate it if you'd listen."

I thought about it for a few seconds. I didn't really want to hear what she had to say, but I decided to let her say it.

"Fine, I'll listen, but only as a favor to you."

He nodded, then turned and left. About 30 seconds later Donna walked slowly into the living room. There was already tears forming in her eyes. Donna stands about 5'3", which was slightly shorter than Shelley's 5'5". As I mentioned before, she is a little chubby though not fat by any means. She stopped about 3 feet away from me.

"Henry, how are you?"

"I'm fine, Donna. Divorced, but otherwise I'm fine."

"I...I just wanted to apologize for my part in what happened. I know Shelley told you how it started and that wasn't my doing, but I still should've stopped it, if only for my own sake."

"Why didn't you?"

"At first it didn't seem like a big deal. It was all so casual, just catching up with old friends. It was fun and, yeah, kind of exciting. The truths were interesting and the dares were fun. And as we did it more and more the truth is that every time we did it and got away with it we got more confident that we'd never be caught. We never really thought that would happen."

"That shouldn't have mattered, Donna. You shouldn't have been doing it at all."

"I know, Henry, I know, and I feel just awful about what happened to you and Shelley. You guys were so good together I just..." She paused to wipe her tears and get control of herself. "I feel just awful at what we've done and...well, I just wanted to say I was sorry for everything I did. I'm so..."

She broke into tears before she could finish and turned to leave. Damn it, I hate seeing a woman cry. I grabbed her arm and turned her back toward me and pulled her into a hug. She stayed there for a few minutes until she got herself together.

"Thank you, Henry. I'm sorry, it's just hard."

"How are you and Bill doing?"

"Okay, I guess. It's only been about a year so...Things are mostly getting better but some days are worse than others. He doesn't trust me out of his sight. I insisted he start playing cards with you guys again so here I am. I think eventually it'll be okay, but it'll never be like it was. I sure do miss that."

"He loves you, you know. That's why it hurt so much, but that's also why he's still here."

"I think that's more about the kids, but I do believe he loves me. And Henry, please believe me when I tell you that I never stopped loving Bill and Shelley never stopped loving you. It had nothing to do with that, as hard as that may be to believe."

"It is hard to believe, Donna. I don't think real love allows you to do something like that. Would Shelley believe I loved her if I was screwing an old girlfriend a couple times a month? Would you?"

"No, I probably wouldn't, and I pray every day I never have to worry about that. For what it's worth, I'm committed to making this work. I know it'll be hard but I plan to spend my life with him."

"My advice, Donna, is to just love him. Don't walk around on eggshells and worry about every little thing you say. He's gonna keep having bad days now and then but if you keep acting guilty it will just remind him of what you did. Just remember he loves you and wants to work through this too."

"I'll try. Thank you for listening. I know you didn't want to."

"You're right, I didn't. But I'm glad I did. And for what it's worth, I believe you're sorry and won't do it again."

"Too bad you're not the one I need to convince. And Henry...I really hope that one day you can forgive me and we can be friends again. I know it won't be like it was either but..."

"Look Donna, your loyalty will always be to your sister, and I understand that. The truth is that will probably always be between us. But hopefully we can find our way to something that'll work."

"Thank you Henry. I guess that's the best I can hope for."

The game that night went well. Donna spent the evening helping Maureen in taking care of the players, though Donna understandably focused most of her attention on her husband. For his part, Bill made a point of expressing his appreciation to her. He later told me one of the things Donna had told him was that she felt like he was taking her for granted. It wasn't an excuse but it did leave her open to kind words spoken by others. I really hoped they could make it work.

I went home that night feeling better than I had in a long time. I really enjoyed getting back with my friends and wondered why I had distanced myself in the first place. Mostly I think I was just feeling sorry for myself and isolating myself made me work my way through it without having to put on a front for others. But I had felt like my old self and that told me I was on my way back.

I admit I was thinking about the time I had spent with Maureen when I showed up early again two weeks later. I had known Maureen for years, though she had always been Warren's little sister. We knew each other pretty well, though I doubt I could pass a test or anything like that. Mostly I had enjoyed the easy conversation we'd had the last time and I went looking for that again.

"I wondered if you'd be early again tonight."

"I'm just coming straight from work. My apartment is kind of out of the way and I have no need to go there first."

"Aww, and here I thought it was my charming personality."

"That's just the icing on the cake, Mo. Can I help again?"

"You bet. Come on in. Your timing apparently puts you right smack dab in the middle of sandwich prep. I think you know the drill."

She was wearing a teal knit sweater with long sleeves and a pair of blue jeans. As I've said, Maureen has always been very modest in her dress, but for some (like me) that only served to heighten the mystery. Not that I had never seen her wearing less; I had seen her in swimsuits a number of times. She favored one-piece suits, usually in darker colors that set off her pale skin. In previous conversations she'd made reference to being built like a little girl.

I had a good game and ended up as the big winner. After the game Bill and Donna left quickly, and Steve and Matt left not long after. Steve had just married his longtime girlfriend, Cindy, before all the stuff with Shelley and Donna came down. Some of us expected him to bail on the game, at least for a while, but Cindy insisted he keep playing and even came over to hang out during the game sometimes. Matt, like Warren, had never been married, but where Warren was something of a player, Matt was quiet and shy. We sometimes wondered if he was gay but he had never given us a hint one way or the other. And it was his business so we just let it be.

Warren said good night and trudged up to bed and Maureen started the clean-up. I looked around at the mess and had an unpleasant thought.

"Hey Mo, is it always like this?"

"What do you mean?"

"Are you always left alone to clean up our mess?"

"Pretty much. Why?"

"I'm sorry. That's incredibly thoughtless of us. I guess I thought Warren stayed up to help you.?"

"Warren? Help me clean? Yeah, right. No, it's fine. I don't mind."

"But I do, Mo. You're not our servant and we're imposing on you. You make us food beforehand and then clean up afterwards. It's not right and I'm sorry I wasn't aware of it."

I started loading glasses into the dishwasher and then packing up the leftovers.

"It's fine, Henry. You had a wife and work the next day. Besides, I like taking care of you guys. But I won't say no to help."

We spent about 30 minutes cleaning up the room, including running the vacuum. We started the dishwasher and looked around the living room and dining room with satisfaction. It looked darn good.

"There we go. Mission accomplished. I should probably get home and get some sleep though."

Maureen walked over to me and wrapped her arms around my torso and have me a hug.

"Thanks a lot, Henry. I really appreciate it."

I hugged her back and made my way out to my car. Maureen was such a kind person, and I was surprised that she hadn't gotten married yet. She was about 25, 6 years younger than the rest of us. (Warren, Bill, Steve, Matt and I had met in college when we lived on the same floor in the dorms. We bonded over marathon sessions of playing Hearts and listening to Pink Floyd).

Maureen had dated a guy in college and Warren had said it was pretty serious. They broke up shortly after graduation and, to my knowledge, she hasn't dated anyone serious since then.

It was a week later that the first contact came from Shelley, in the form of an email. I wasn't surprised to hear from her. She didn't specifically ask for us to get back together. She simply apologized (again) and asked how I was doing. I assumed she was going to take it slow to try and build a friendly relationship, with the long-term goal of us getting back together. Frankly, I was interested in neither. I had no problem with us getting to a point of being cordial, even friendly, if we happened to be in the same place at the same time, but that was about it. I didn't bother responding to the email.

The next Tuesday came around and I again went straight from work. This time Warren was there and opened the door to let me in. I presumed Maureen was hard at work in the kitchen. Warren was watching a ballgame and suggested I grab a beer and have a seat. I went into the kitchen, where Maureen was diligently working away. I snuck behind her and covered her eyes from behind (juvenile, I know) and she didn't even flinch.

"It's about time my staff got here."

I uncovered her eyes and she turned around with a big grin on her face.

"Staff?"

"Well, you know," she said with a smile. "Beer's in the fridge if you wanna grab one and go watch the game with Warren."

"I see him enough. I'd rather help you with the sandwiches."

My response elicited a big smile and we went to work. Tonight she was wearing a brown calf-length skirt and a pink and brown short-sleeve floral print top. I found myself admiring her slim, smooth calves before focusing on the task in front of me.

We worked side-by-side, and if I didn't know better I'd say she was actually initiating contact between us. I mean, this was Warren's little sister after all.

I broke even this week, and then stayed around again to help Maureen clean up. But this time, rather than rush off, I stayed behind for a few minutes to talk with Maureen.

"Has Shelley tried to contact you, Henry?"

"She sent me an email a week ago. I think she's trying to get something started. I didn't respond."

"Now that some time has passed, is there any chance you guys will get back together?"

"None. I could never trust her again. I'm glad Bill and Donna are trying to work things out because of the kids, but I refuse to live like that. I can't imagine having to drag your wife everywhere you go because you can't trust her."

"It's been really hard for both of them. I know it was Donna's doing but I've known her a long time and I hate to see her suffering."

"What about you. Mo? Anyone special in your life?"

"Just all of you guys. That's why I enjoy helping with your poker games."

"You had a steady guy in college. Am I being too nosy in asking what happened?"

"I don't really like to talk about it but I it's okay. I started dating Claude my junior year. We got along so well and pretty soon we were spending every minute we could together."

"Did you ever talk marriage?"

"Oh yeah. Most of senior year was about deciding where we were going to apply for jobs and all of that. He hadn't actually proposed but I just assumed he was waiting to make it special."

"So what happened?"

I saw her face go red.

"I was a virgin and planned to be one on my wedding night. Claude had been kind of pressuring me. He wasn't being overly pushy but he made it clear he wanted us to go all the way."

"You guys messed around a little?"

"Some, yes. Lots of kissing and touching and stuff, and we even did...oral a few times. He was pretty big on me doing it to him but wasn't so interested in doing it for me. But that was as far as we went, and as far as I knew he was okay with that."

"I take it he wasn't."

"Apparently not. After graduation we had moved in together and I was working a temp job while I looked for something permanent. I went into work only to find they didn't need me anymore so I went back home."

"I have a bad feeling about this."

"And you'd be right. I walked in on him and some girl in our bed right in the middle of...well, you know."

"Did you say anything?"

"I yelled at him and called him a lot of names. He blamed me, said if I'd just taken care of his needs then he wouldn't have had to do it with other girls."

"Other 'girls' plural?"

"He'd been doing it all of senior year. Nothing serious, just hooking up with girls at parties and stuff. He said he loved me and wanted to marry me so he just found other girls to take care of those needs until we were married."

"I take it you didn't buy that."

"I moved out the next day and was back home with my parents a week later. He tried to convince me it didn't mean anything and that he loved me but I told him to take a hike. I haven't dated anyone seriously since then. I've been on a few dates but none of the guys was much interested in more than a third date since I wasn't willing to put out."

"Wait, so you're..."

"Still a virgin? Yep. Oh, I've worn out more than a few...substitutes, but strictly speaking I still am. God, I can't believe I just told you that. I can trust you, right?"

"Of course, Mo. I would never betray you or your trust. I promise."

"I believe you. Thank you."

At that point I took my leave. As I drove home I got a warm feeling knowing Maureen was comfortable enough with me to reveal such deeply personal information. I may not be married anymore, but I had several very good friends that I knew I could count on.

I got home to find another email from Shelley. This one expressed sadness that I hadn't answered her first email and asking me to please not shut her out of my life. I didn't respond to that one either.

Over the next two weeks I received 3 phone calls and 2 more email from Shelley. The emails and the voice mails all carried the same basic message: she was sorry, she still loves me, she wants me to give our marriage another chance. I ignored them all. We were divorced and had been for some time and I had no interest in going back.

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