When We Were Married Ch. 05B


"It's both. I talked to Johnny -- Mr. August, and he did want me to send you his congratulations. And he wanted me to give you a special message."


She stared at me as if she was looking at a stranger and for some reason that made me start to get hard. It was as if she was some gorgeous wet dream of a stranger who had walked into my office for the first time and I could imagine the impact she would have had on me if I'd never seen her before.

"He said, 'You did a great job today, Bill. You handed Lew his head. But don't expect our guys to roll over for the Angel of Death in the future. You just painted a big bull's-eye on your back, and expect all our guys to be gunning for you in the future. Good luck."

I couldn't help smiling. It sounded like Johnny. He'd probably take on a case against me just to try to get his licks in. And he might not exactly be in Lew's league as a trial lawyer, but that blind country-boy, aw shucks act he put on for juries always made it hard to gain the jury's sympathy against him. Still, it would be fun.

"Tell Mr. August that I look forward to going up against him at his pleasure," Ms. Bascomb. And..."

"I just wanted to tell you that...you were impressive. Lew is flashy and I made the mistake of underestimating you, Bill. I wish...I'd done this before. Seen you work. I don't know why I never did."

I just stared at her. There was a time when those words would have warmed my heart. Now they just made me remember what I'd lost.


She glanced over at Myra who was just standing there breathing in and out and flashing a smile at me. Debbie looked like she wanted to say something else, then shook her head a little and turned around and walked out. As usual, she looked as good going as she did coming.

Myra gave her a little glance as she walked out the door, then sat down in a chair across from me and crossed her legs. I valiantly resisted the impulse to look up her dress and focused instead on her heaving chest.

"And what message do you bring from the Big Man, Ms. Martinez?"



"Would it surprise you, Mr. Maitland, to know that I have had erotic dreams about you?"

I stared into those emerald eyes and thought she was joking, but I wasn't quite sure.

"Actually, quite a lot, yes. Like, learning that Sister Teresa had had erotic dreams about me?"

She tried to be stern, but that twinkle remained.

"You're comparing me to a very old nun?"

'No, it's just that the idea of you have erotic dreams about me is as -- unthinkable -- as Sister Teresa having the hots for me."

"I'll admit, Mr. Maitland, that I've always liked you. You are one of the good guys. But...let's say you're much more visually appealing than you used to be."


"You'll get a swelled head, among other things, but...yes. And, I've thought, over the years, that you might...have a secret yen for me."

"Like every other male between 15 and 90...well, yeah."

She leaned back and took a deep breath that caused my blood pressure to spike.

"But you're always been married. And I knew you would never mess around, and I don't mess with married men."

She flashed a quick smile and added, "except....you know. But, now you're single. And available. And I...uh...thought that perhaps you might be free sometime this week. To go out for drinks. Or supper?"

I couldn't help being incredulous.

"You are asking ME out?"

"It's the 21st century, Mr. Maitland. Women do that now."

I looked at the promised land she offered and it physically hurt me to say it, but I told her, "I'm sorry Myra. But...I will be tied up.....for a couple of weeks at least. And maybe a lot longer."

"Someone moved in that quickly?" she said with an incredulous look on her face. "You're not going back to-"

"No. And, there's nothing definite about the next couple of weeks....but...there is someone. And I don't think anything will happen, but..."

"But even when you're single, you're a decent guy. You could have stepped out on her and played both of us, but you're not that kind of person. God damn, why didn't I move quicker?"

She was out of her chair and enveloping me in acres of warm breast and I couldn't keep my hands off that ass as she pressed herself into me and then kissed the side of my face.

'It's okay, Bill. I didn't think I could respect you any more than I do, but....Just remember that if things don't work out with her...I would definitely be interested in going out. Don't forget."

"I won't."

And just to make sure I didn't, she created a female symphony of moving parts and pneumatic flesh as she maneuvered her way out of my office. I didn't realize how badly Aline had set her hooks into me until I realized that even now, I didn't regret turning something like that down for a chance to be with Aline.

When she left I still had to wade through six phones calls that had to be returned, several court documents that needed signatures and two ASAs who wanted to talk. And then I could FINALLY call an end to the day and get out of there.

I glanced over at the Starbucks as I walked toward the street that would lead to the private parking lot where courthouse officials could park without having to hunt for a free parking meter. It had been recurrent chaos for years until the state had finally decided four years before to build us a covered garage next to the jail facing the St. Johns River.

As I walked past her, I snuck a quick look at her and without her being too ostentatious about it she gave the round seat she sat on a hot, and slow, lap dance. I grinned at nothing in particular and walked out the courthouse doors.

Five minutes later she was sitting beside me and we were headed out toward

Chez Alexandre, an Avondale restaurant that served the best and most authentic French cuisine in Jacksonville. The owner and Chef had been in this country twenty years chefing for a number of restaurants until he finally got up the courage and money to launch out on his own five years before. It wasn't Paris, but it wasn't bad.

He had managed to keep his doors open in a city where barbecue joints outnumbered every other kind of restaurant by almost two to one. Somebody once said that Jacksonville was really South Georgia, and judging by culinary tastes, I had to concede the point.

I didn't eat there a lot, especially since just looking at most of the entrees added a half pound where I didn't want it going, but I had always liked the food since coming back from Paris and I thought Aline would welcome a taste of home.

Alexandre Auvray was about 50, tall and lean with dark hair turning a distinguished silver. Despite being the brains, heart and soul of the kitchen, he greeted guests in a tux so that every time you came in you felt like you attending a special event.

I didn't think he'd remember, but he gave me a strange look as he took in the dark haired woman at my side and said, "Mr. Maitland, a pleasure to see you again. I believe...you were here last with...."

I nodded.

"My wife. The tall blonde. She's not my wife anymore. Let me introduce you to my friend, Aline des-Jardins."

A genuine smile lit his face and he launched into a spiel of rapid French that left me far behind and brought a smile and blush to Aline's face as well. While they talked I remembered the last time I had been here with Debbie. I'd had to nag her for six months before she'd join me and she had put down every dish in the place as a caloric nightmare.

I knew she was serious about keeping the weight off because she could very easily have been a big girl, but it hurt that she made it seem like I was engaged in a campaign to plump her up. I had just wanted to share some of the gastronomic discoveries I'd made in Paris with the woman I loved. It was another one of the those nights we'd gone home and I'd had to dress warmly to avoid frostbite in bed.

I shook my head to dislodge those memories. That was then. This was now, I told myself as I watched Alexandre eat up Aline with his eyes, discretely. He finally tore his eyes away from her and managed to look at me for a moment. He was obviously surprised by the closer inspection. I had changed a lot from the last time he'd seen me.

"Mr. Maitland. I apologize. I didn't realize you had changed so much. You realize you are blessed by the Gods?"

I swapped glances with Aline and said, "I know."

He just shook his head again, "You walk in here with two of the most beautiful women in this hemisphere. It's a good thing I have a beautiful wife, or it would be easy to hate you."

"I've seen Cybelle, Alexandre. You don't have to be jealous of any man."

"You are kind, but I assume you came in here to eat. Please have a seat and let me take your order. Oh, by the way, congratulations on your great victory in court."

For the next two hours Alexandre and his staff, finally joined by the lovely Cybelle, kept putting French delicacies in our faces and both of us indulged more than we should have. I even had a few snails. Which were one of the house specialties.

Finally over coffee and a pastry with nuts and chocolate and thin wafers of some sweet crusty pastry, I told Alexander, "Okay, I surrender. Another bite and I will explode all over the interior of your restaurant. I cannot thank you enough for feeding us this way."

He and Cybelle had sat themselves down at our table and the two women had been rattling on at a machine gun pace. Although I could not understand exactly what was said, I noticed both of them looking at me frequently and Aline blushing a lot.

When we were finally getting ready to leave at 8 p.m., Cybelle pulled me aside and whispered into my ear, "I know that there is more going on here than your friend Aline is willing to say. But she can't hide her feelings for you She told me about your giving her the Fleur-de-Lis. Such a romantic gesture."

And then she reminded me that there is such a thing as a fraternity -- or sorority -- of wives, adding with a hard look, "I remember your beautiful blonde wife, Mr. Maitland. Did you ever do anything that crazy and romantic for her? Would you be single now if you had shown that kind of romantic love for her? Wives need to be reminded that their man loves them, too."

I guess it was still a little too raw for me to be really polite.

"I guess not, Cybelle. Other than risking my life for her and winding up in a coma, I never did much to show her how much I cared."

I didn't add that that had been 20 years before our marriage crashed and burned. Maybe if I had...but I stopped myself. I wasn't going to let someone looking in from outside make me feel guilty about what had happened. You didn't do things like buy an expensive piece of jewelry for your wife 15 or 20 years into a marriage. It never would have occurred to me and I knew Debbie would have made me take it back and get a refund.

As I walked out the door with Aline, I made sure to hold her tightly around the waist and even patted her lightly on that luscious ass under Cybelle's slightly disapproving glance. I knew Alexandre would enjoy it vicariously and I wanted to figuratively give Cybelle the finger. She was a good woman, but I wasn't real fond of wives right now.

I knew Cybelle didn't, couldn't know the details of my marriage's breakup. She was just a middle-aged wife watching a husband she thought had dumped a wife for a younger pretty woman.

I parked on Edgewood at the median and opened the door for Aline. She looked around and I know what was going through her mind. There are places like Edgewood and the Westside in Paris, but you usually don't go into them without a bodyguard or an armed escort.

It's run down, but not as bad an area as it would look to a French visitor. I pointed to the sprawling saloon that was O'Brien's and said, "This is a community bar called O'Brien's. It's a pretty nice place."

There were cars out front. Even on a weekday it had plenty of traffic, but nothing like the weekend. As we walked past the long plate glass window at the entrance Aline looked around curiously. When we stepped inside she realized the size of the place, looked from the horseshoe-shaped bar to a dance floor. There were pool tables at the rear and a couple of dart boards.

"This is like a --"

"Around here we'd call it a honky tonk," I said, grinning. There were a few cowboy hats, truckers, bikers with the requisite colors and tattoos, but also yuppies, businessmen in clusters sipping what looked like martinis, girls who looked barely old enough to order alcohol and some ladies who were undoubtedly waiting for last call to see if the dimmed lights and diminished capacities of drunk guys would give them a chance to get lucky. There were also older couples sitting at some tables nursing beers in mugs.

"This is like a country café, or what they'd call a Pub in England. It's enchanting," she said with a wide grin on her face.

"That's one word," I said as I couldn't believe her characterization, but I was glad that she liked the place. I always had liked it too.

We found a table and the only waitress in the place found us after a few minutes and took our orders. Aline ordered white wine and I ordered a Bloody Mary with celery and four green olives.

"Have you wasted many evenings in a bar like this?" she said, smiling.

"No, not until after....my breakup. Before that I was a married man and the only time I ever came in here was on business or a few times with cops or witnesses I needed to talk to."

"Don't let him fool you," a rough voice said from behind me. "Many's the night I've had to pour him in a cab from here."

I looked back at O'Brien and shook my head.

"Don't believe a word he says, Aline. He loves telling stories."

"M'sieur," she said, putting out one slim hand which he took in between his rough paws.

"Mademoiselle"," he said and then started speaking French. I wouldn't have been more surprised if a hole had open up in the center of the bar and aliens poured out. O'Brien speaking French?

After a couple of minutes she looked at me and said, "Your Mr. O'Brien is an intriguing man. A pugilist and a businessman. And he speaks highly of you."

I just stared at O'Brien.

"You never cease to amaze me. How in the hell and where did you learn to speak French?"

"It's rough, but you never lose it. I picked it up when I was living in Paris."

"You lived in Paris?"

"Back when I was a young, up and coming boxer. Back in the early 70s."

"What were you doing in Paris?"

He looked at Aline for a moment and I thought I saw his eyes brighten.

"Being married, Mr. Maitland. She was my first. I was 25 and she was 22. I met her when I was on a tour. I boxed all over Europe. She came to one of my fights with a boyfriend. We left there that night together and were never apart again."

I knew he'd told me he'd been married and divorced four times over the years.

"Is she still there, O'Brien? Is she one of the ones you had a good divorce from?"

"She's still there. We never got divorced."

I didn't say anything. He didn't seem like the same O'Brien I'd known for years.

"Lung cancer. She smoked like a fish. They all did. I couldn't, not and box. She developed a cough six months after we married. It took her two years to die. After awhile she just stopped fighting. She's buried with her parents in a little suburb south of Paris."

Aline placed one hand on his arm.

"I'm so sorry."

"It was a long time ago. There are times when weeks go by and I don't think about her."

"Have you...ever been back?"

He shook his head and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and smiled.

"No. It just wouldn't be the same...without her."

He shook himself as if awaking from a dream and stepped back.

"I didn't mean to talk about that. It was just hearing your accent, and talking with you, brought it back. Anyway, Mr. Maitland, if you can, hold onto this one. She's a keeper."

"I would if I could, O'Brien. I would if I could."

When he left tears rolled down her cheeks. I wondered if she was crying for the poor doomed young wife, or for us.

So I took her out on the dance floor and while I've never been a dancer I was able to twirl her around for thirty minutes. They didn't have live music but they had plenty of canned and the Cranberries provided a lot of the dance music. O'Brien must have really loved them, or got a cut for playing their music. He played their songs a lot.

That was okay. I loved their music too. Of course it didn't really fit the country image, but O'Brien's was more than a honky-tonk.

As we danced and she made love to me with her clothes on, I felt Aline sniff.

"Women are mush."

She leaned forward and bit me hard enough on the lip to make me wince and said, "Don't give me that crap, Bill. You were about to cry too."

"Was not."

She gave me a little smile and kissed the bite mark she'd left on me and said, "Even the Angel of Death has a heart. He is a friend of yours, non?"

"Yeah. He's a good guy. A little crusty, and he's been unluckier in love than me, but he's a good guy."

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and looked up into Lew's smiling face.

"Can I have this dance? That is, cut in and dance with your charming partner. I don't want to dance with you."

I stopped moving with Aline and said, "I thought you'd be off somewhere licking your wounds."

He looked at Aline and smiled that rakish little smile that had probably gotten Mona to go to bed with him the first time and said, "I was, for a little while, but Mona does that so much better than me that I let her take over. Now I feel fine. When I got a call from O'Brien that the world was coming to an end, I knew I had to head over here."

I knew Aline wasn't following a lot of this but she looked at him curiously when he mentioned the end of the world.

He caught the look and held out his hand to her, saying, "Lew....Lew Walters. I'm the best friend, and probably the only friend, of the guy who's treading all over your toes. Oh, the End of the World? Well, we'd all pretty much decided that Bill had given up women until the End of the World.

"So when O'Brien said he was in here drinking and dancing with the hottest mystery woman to ever walk through these doors, I had to check it out. If the world is going to end, I need to make arrangements."

She looked over at O'Brien.

"He said I was the hottest mystery woman to ever walk through these doors?"

"Nah, he just said you were hot as hell and entirely too good for Maitland. So, can I have a dance and make your acquaintance, Mystery Lady?"

"You can have him," a female voice said from behind me, "and I'll take Bill off your hands before he does seriously orthopedic damage to you."

I looked back at Mona wearing something clingy and red and over my shoulder told Aline, "These are my best friends, Aline, Lew and Mona Walters. That right there tells you how desperately empty my life is."

"They seem charming," Aline said and released me to take Lew's hand. He grabbed her and twirled her away, but not before saying, "I'll give you a few minutes to adjust. Bill is a great guy, but he's the whitest white guy you ever saw on a dance floor."

She was dancing off with him when she said loud enough for me to hear, "Maybe, but he has other wonderful qualities -- that aren't immediately apparent."

Lew just stared at me and then shook his head in disbelief.

Mona fit herself into my arms and we danced away in the other direction while I tried not to step on her toes.

"Okay, so give, Bill. I can tell she's not from around here, not with that accent. And she is gorgeous. Is she a pro?"

From Debbie it would have stung like hell, but Mona didn't mean anything.

"No, she's just a...friend of mine. I met her awhile back."

"Just a friend?"

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