Sorting Out The Smiths Ch. 05byandy_charles©
Tales From Sechs City -- welcome to Sechs City, a wealthy, middle-class costal area of Western America in the state of California. A gorgeous, quiet largely uneventful place, people move to the city to follow their dreams, to live their day-to-day lives. It's almost too perfect to be true...
Lewis was full of excitement as he charged through the front door. He dumped his briefcase and jacket right in the middle of the hallway, focussing himself entirely on finding his beautiful wife. This was important news, it was brilliant news. He knew she was going to love it when he told her.
He rushed through the kitchen, past a rather startled looking Jack, who for the second time that week was surprised to see his father back home from work so early. This time, though, the only action he was caught in the middle of was pouring a bottle of lemonade into a glass full of ice.
"Where's the fire, dad?" he asked.
Lewis stopped with one hand on the back door handle. "Where's your mother?"
Jack shrugged. "Haven't seen her this afternoon. She might still be locked away in her bedroom, I'm not sure."
Lewis spotted movement at the end of the garden. He raced out of the house and into the still considerably impressive afternoon heat. Already he was a little taken aback at what he was seeing. There, chatting away like two old friends, were his wife and Elizabeth, dressed in short, cool summer dresses and sipping tall glasses of cold juice.
"Hi," he managed to say, wondering if he'd fallen asleep and this was all a beautiful dream.
The two women noticed him; Lianne jumped up and quickly threw her arms around him, while Elizabeth smiled and waved.
"You came home early," sang Lianne happily, giving her husband a big kiss on the lips.
"I did," replied Lewis, now smiling too. "Listen, I've got some wonderful news to tell you..."
But Lianne put a finger over his lips; it smelled of sun tan lotion and orange juice. "Me first," she said. "I owe my husband an apology. A very big apology, actually."
Lewis raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"You were so right about Elizabeth. I was a real bitch to her and to you. I'm so sorry. It's stupid, isn't it -- all I had to do was start talking and...well, look at us now!"
"I see you."
Lianne squeezed him tightly. "I think we're ready to start talking more, the two of us to her, I mean. She really seems to know what she's talking about."
"I would hope so, darling; after all, she is a professional."
Something was wrong; what was it? Lianne had heard something been said, but it hadn't seemed quiet right. She shook the feeling away and dragged Lewis over to the garden chairs. "Come on, sit here with me and tell me your big important news, my big important man!"
She pushed him onto her chair and wriggled onto his lap, kissing him quickly on the neck before reaching for her glass of juice.
"Well, it's about work," Lewis started, putting his arms around his wife's waist. "Things have got more than incredibly busy, they've got insane..."
"I noticed," said Lianne dryly.
"Yeah, I realise things haven't been great there for a while. I also realised -- eventually -- that I'm just doing too much. I'm putting too much pressure on my own shoulders."
Elizabeth smiled knowingly, but said nothing.
"So this morning I made a decision: I've hired someone to take my place."
Lianne stared wide-eyed at him. "You've done what?"
"I've taken a step down, or rather a step up. I created a new position for myself. It means I don't need to go into work as often, that I could even work here at home if I needed to. It also means more time off spent here with you and Jack."
If Lewis expected Lianne to look as happy as he was about this new arrangement he was going to be disappointed, thought Elizabeth as she gazed concerned at the brunette's pretty features.
"Lewis, when did you decide this?" Lianne asked now.
"Without talking to me first?" Lianne's voice was getting harder, colder. She stood up off Lewis' lap and turned to face him.
Oh boy, thought Elizabeth, here we go.
"I thought you'd be happy," protested an obviously confused Lewis. "I did this for you!"
"I appreciate that, but you're not hearing what I'm saying, Lewis! It's the same thing over and over again -- you never talk to me about these things."
"I'm talking to you about them now..."
"Maybe I'd like a say in something important like this, hmm?" Lianne went on, turning redder and redder. "Who did you hire, for instance?"
"Stan Parker, he's a great...."
"Maybe I would have liked some say in who takes over our business, our welfare!" Lianne continued, brushing aside the grudging mental thumbs up she was giving of her husband's choice. "And its other things too: Elizabeth, for example."
"You just said..."
"I KNOW what I just said, Lewis, but it's the principal of these things. You always, always go off and do what you think is best for this family. I'll bet even this house was bought before I knew anything about it!"
Lewis stood up, facing his wife. "Now you know that's not true," he said, trying to keep calm in front of their guest, forgetting that she would probably have seen something like this play out at least a dozen times in just one situation. "And I've talked to you about all kinds of important things affecting our family..."
"Yeah, that's right, TALKED. Past tense, Lewis. You used to talk to me all the time; now you just talk at me, like I'm stupid, like I wouldn't understand..."
Lewis was getting angrier now. "Don't you see, you stupid bitch, I'm trying to stop things falling on top of you again?"
Lianne looked as if she'd been slapped in the face. "How dare you," she said quietly. "How dare you bring that up when you know full well that has nothing to do with this?"
"Doesn't it?" asked Lewis, an almost pleading look in his eyes.
Lianne glared at him. "Fuck you," she said finally and walked off down towards the house.
Lewis called to her, but she ignored him, slamming the back door of the conservatory as she stormed in and quickened her pace through the rest of the house.
Elizabeth watched, her heart going sympathetically out to them both, as Lewis sunk slowly back down onto the garden chair, his head in his hands. "What happened?" he murmured to nobody in particular. "What the hell just happened?"
Dinner that night was one of the most muted affairs Elizabeth had ever been to. You could have heard a pin drop in the dining room, even as the food was being served by an obviously concerned Jack.
"I, er, hope its okay," he said. "Wanda isn't...erm...feeling too well so she asked me to cook again..."
If it had been any other time Elizabeth would have had to try and hide a satisfied grin, but her worry about Lewis and Lianne was too great now for that. Things were not going according to plan; they rarely did, of course, but for things to become so fragile at this stage of the healing was a turn for the worse. The progress she had made with Lianne was particularly dangerous; she had to tread very carefully now, otherwise Lianne, already naturally confused, would delve deeper into that confusion and make some silly mistakes.
Lewis was trying desperately to make some kind of conversation with his wife, but it seemed to be falling completely on deaf ears. Lianne ate very little and spoke less, dressed in her nightgown and robe, her gorgeous brunette hair tied up behind her head in a bun, ready for bed as soon as the meal was over, which is exactly what happened.
Though he wasn't hopeful, Lewis went up after her a little later but found, for the third night in a row, the door to their bedroom locked. He put his arms round the back of his bead and sat opposite the door, resting on the high wooden banisters that surrounded the open air landing.
It was past midnight when Elizabeth crept out of the guestroom, dressed in her pyjama bottoms, t-shirt and pink robe. She tiptoed over to the master bedroom where she knelt once more at the keyhole and peered in. It was dark in the room and it was difficult to see much, but there was definitely a Lianne shaped mass lying on the bed. Whether she was asleep or not was hard to tell.
The blonde made her way down the stairs and towards the kitchen. The air was still warm but thankfully had cooled down considerably, and the house ceiling fans were still quietly humming away.
Elizabeth walked into the kitchen to find Oliver, in only a pair of loose jogging bottoms, pouring a couple of drinks into two thin glasses. He looked up, startled as Elizabeth walked in but quickly grinned and continued to pour.
"Still here, Oliver?" Elizabeth asked, more than a little impressed but trying not to show it.
"Took your advice, Miss Callaghan," said the young stud gleefully. "Sure glad I did, too."
"I'm pleased," replied Elizabeth. "You two make a nice -- if interesting -- couple."
Oliver smiled and, picking up the drinks, made his way to the back corridor of the house and to Wanda's room.
Elizabeth watched him go, shaking her head, before pouring herself a small glass of milk. When she had been a little girl, whenever something was bothering her or she was unhappy about something, the first thing her mother would do would be to pour her a glass of milk. It seemed corny now, but it was apparently a family tradition; and Elizabeth found it still helped in a situation such as this, where she wasn't exactly sure what to do or where to go next.
As she walked back through the large hallway of the house, sipping the milk as she walked, Elizabeth noticed a small slither of light shining through the crack of the lounge door. Biting her lip slightly she knocked gently at the door and, after a moment, heard a croaky, "Yes?"
"It's only me," she said quietly, putting her head round the door to see Lewis sitting in t-shirt and shorts on the couch, a sheet by his side, as well as a tumbler and a half empty bottle of whiskey. "Can I come in?"
Lewis nodded. He was a little bleary-eyed, but Elizabeth didn't think he'd had too much of the alcohol to drink; he still seemed sober.
She closed the door behind her and sat down next to him on the couch, placing her glass of milk by her feet. "Quite a week," she said, looking at him.
Lewis stared into the distance. "It's been mad," he said. "Things have happened so fast I'm struggling to keep up with them."
They sat there in the dim light of a long standing lamp that was to one side of the couch; Elizabeth watching Lewis, waiting for him to speak; Lewis trying to figure out what best to say.
Finally he looked at her, at those green eyes, and said softly, "Are we the worst family you've ever worked with?"
"Never," she replied, smiling slightly. "You're improving by the minute, all of you."
"Sure doesn't feel like it, Elizabeth."
"Well, that's because you haven't been here to see it for yourself."
Lewis grunted. "Fat lot of good that's going to do me now. I followed your advice and look where it got me."
"You didn't follow my advice," Elizabeth said quietly but sternly, "because I didn't give you any. I made a suggestion, that's all. You interpreted it in your own way. That's all my job is, at the end of the day. I interpret you, and you interpret what I say to you. Most people will get it spot on, one hundred per cent correct, first time, every time. But that doesn't mean you're in a small minority. There are a lot of people out there who will get things wrong -- we all make mistakes, Lewis. The problem is we're supposed to learn from them."
She put her hands over his wrists. "Take this for example," she said, and slowly raised them up onto her small breasts, pressing them up against her, looking him square on while he watched his hands on her. "Whose breasts are you touching right now, Lewis?"
"Yours," he croaked softly.
"And it feels good, doesn't it? You like touching my breasts, don't you? You've wanted to ever since I first walked into this house."
Lewis swallowed. "Yes," he replied.
Elizabeth dropped her own hands, but Lewis' stayed there. He felt her nipples harden underneath the t-shirt, and his own hardness was starting to become more noticeable in his shorts.
"But it's a mistake, isn't it?" Elizabeth continued. "You know it is. Because although you've fantasised about this, turned yourself on with thoughts of touching, caressing, maybe even licking my breasts, it's just fantasy. Deep down, whose body are you really thinking about; whose body are you really lusting after?"
Slowly, Lewis put his hands down by his side. "Lianne," he said. "It's always been Lianne, ever since the day we first met."
"Tell me about it."
"I was working at a college bar; nothing special, just one of the security guys. One night I look over, and there is this gorgeous creature, sitting at the bar, all by herself, watching her friends dance, pretending to enjoy herself. I wanted her right there and then. She was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen on two legs."
"She still is," replied Elizabeth, brief memories of that beautiful pussy in the hot midday sun flashing through her mind.
"Yes," said Lewis, whose own mind was suddenly flooded with memories of Lianne in various states of undress, on various wonderful nights -- Paris, Rome, that beach in New England -- but more than ever their own house, their own bed, held close together, sweating, panting, still coming together after all these years. It hadn't been quite like that for some time.
"I want to ask you something," Elizabeth said slowly, "but I want you to know that you don't have to answer if you don't want to."
Lewis nodded and waited.
"I want to know what happened three years ago."
As Lewis shifted uncomfortably, Elizabeth continued quickly, "Its things that people have said, that they've alluded to, that's led me here, nothing I've tried to find out for myself. I think it may be the key to unlocking what's happened to your family. Do you want to tell me?"
"It was three years ago," said Lewis. "How could something that happened three years ago have that much of an impact?"
"I don't know, but I'm willing to bet it was something big; something you obviously don't want to tell me."
Lewis leant forward, picking up the whiskey bottle and tumbler in one hand. "It's not that I don't want to tell you; I do. It's just that I'm starting to realise my brain works faster than my common sense."
"You're right, it was a big thing that happened three years ago," continued Lewis, pouring warm brown liquor into the glass, "but it was between me and Lianne; it's stayed that way all this time, not even Jack knows anything about it. If I told you, and she found out that I'd told you, never mind sleeping on the couch; I'd be sleeping on the streets."
"Lewis, you can trust me," said Elizabeth gently, as he downed the whiskey. "Both Lianne and Jack have told me things that I would never tell another soul...we've done things in their therapy that, though helpful, needs to stay hidden. I won't tell Lianne anything about what we've already said tonight and any more we might say or do."
"I don't know..."
"We're on a trust-trust basis. I trust you with something, you trust me with something."
"How do you mean?"
"Well," said Elizabeth, reaching for his hand again, "I can trust that if I take your hand and place it here..."
Carefully but firmly, she took the slightly shaking hand over to her body and down into her pyjama bottoms. Lewis felt her sex; the bare skin above it which she shaved, the wetness that was forming, the heat radiating off of it. He watched as Elizabeth closed her eyes and breathed out deeply.
He knew what any normal, sane man would have done in his situation now; they would have teased the wetness more, caressed it, then entered with one, maybe two fingers. But his hand was frozen, as if it had been turned to stone. It wasn't that he couldn't; it was that he didn't want to.
"See?" breathed Elizabeth. "I trust that if I put your hand down my pants, the temptation will be great but you won't be able to succumb to it. I trust that you love your wife so much that you would never cheat on her in anyway by your own decision."
She took Lewis' hand from the pyjama bottoms and smiled warmly. "I also trust that you realise how big a deal this is. Not everyone has been this successful when it comes to this particular trust test -- even in front of their own wives or partners."
Lewis absentmindedly cleaned his fingers with the sheet. "I don't think I've ever heard of that particular kind of test before," he said slowly. "I'm not even sure I've come across your particular brand of therapy before."
"It's not unique," explained Elizabeth. "But it's not common in the States either. It was developed a few decades ago by our founders, using techniques discovered in some of the most mystic of cultures. Sounds a little New Age, said like that -- maybe it is. Fact is it works, and has done successfully more times than failed."
Lewis leaned back into the couch. "Well, you're obviously doing something right. Both Jack and Lianne; even Wanda seems to have lightened up a little, though I haven't seen her all day."
"So would you like to talk more?" asked Elizabeth.
Lewis thought about it, then replied, "No, but thank you. I think the person I really need to talk to about all this is my wife."
Little bells began to ring in Elizabeth's head, while large banners unfurled themselves with the word BREAKTHROUGH painted on them. "No problem," she said, picking up her milk before quickly, cheekily adding a couple of drops of whiskey to it. "Good night, Lewis."
"Good night, Elizabeth."
Lewis didn't sleep that night. He stayed up on the couch and thought things through carefully, one step at a time. As the dawn sun began to filter through the windows, his mind briefly floated over the prospect of the barbeque they would be hosting today, but he knew right now that this was probably the least important thing he should have been worrying about.
It was about seven in the morning when he finally made a decision. Standing up and stretching to wake the tried muscles of his legs and back, he made his way to the downstairs bathroom, where he stripped and showered in steaming hot water, feeling it hit his skin and waken it to a new day; opening his mouth and letting it fall there, where he swivelled it round his gums and spit it back out onto the shower floor.
He dried himself briskly with a large brown towel and sprayed his arms with deodorant. Finding his blue dressing robe he put it on and tied the rope loosely around his tight stomach. He made his way to the kitchen where he found Wanda, dressed in her own nightgown, with a huge grin on her cheeks, sorting out the various morning trays.
"Good morning, Wanda," said Lewis. "Is this the tray for Lianne?"
"Yes, Mr Smith."
"Would you mind if I took it up for her?"
Wanda eyed him curiously. "Not at all, Mr Smith. Your house."
Lewis laughed. "Thank you."
He carefully picked up the tray, which had on it a small pot of black coffee, a clean mug and a small jug of cold milk. Walking slowly, taking his time, he made his way from the kitchen towards the stairs, where he stopped to take a few deep breaths. Why was he suddenly so nervous? Was it the fact that, if he didn't get this right, his marriage could very well be over?
He steadily made his way up the stairs and across the landing towards the master bedroom where, balancing the tray across his arm and chest, he managed to knock three times on the door, all the time wondering how Wanda did this every morning.
He heard Lianne say, "It's open." That in itself was a success. The fact that she was up already meant she was still thinking about the barbeque herself, and getting everything ready for it. Of course, this might also have meant nothing -- just Lianne doing her wifely duty for the last time?