Wilmington Woman's Club Ch. 61byParis Waterman©
"Can I take your coat, Val?"
Realizing she was nude under the coat, Val hugged herself as if chilled and shook her head. "No, no thanks. I'll keep it on if you don't mind.
"Well sit down, dear. You've had a horrible experience."
Val sat, careful not to let the coat open, fearing with some justification that should Wanda see her nakedness, she would mistake Val's reason for being there.
Wanda, concern etched on her face, gave Val time to compose herself, along with a good-sized snifter of brandy, then sat down next to her and said, "I'm not at all certain of what I should say to you, Val. So I'm going to talk. I'm going to talk about infidelity and its ramifications. I won't lay the blame anywhere. I know you'll do that on your own. So here goes.
"Your first instincts are to wound him; with words, or even throwing things at him. Even destroying something he considers of great value. Maybe you will when you see him. I know it's natural to want to inflict as much pain on him as possible after the pain he's caused you. The term "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," comes to mind." nowhere!
"He's a son-of-a-bitch, Wanda!"
"He's a man, Val. And they all think with their dicks."
Wanda sat silent for a moment, thinking. She nodded more to herself than to Val, and said, "If you go home and start screaming at him, it may drive him right into her arms. I don't think you want that."
"I'd like to kill the both of them. Do you know someone that does that, Wanda?"
"Don't be silly, Val. And no I don't. Even if I did I wouldn't tell you. Why that would make me an accessory. Did you think of that?"
"No. No, I hadn't, Wanda. I'm sorry; I didn't mean to involve you in . . ."
"What you need is some time to think. I mean to think clearly about what you want to do. Do you want to divorce him? Do you want to reconcile with him? Do you think you could ever trust him again? I say this because you don't stop loving a person the moment you caught him cheating on you. You're in a great deal of pain, that's certain. But you haven't fallen out of love with him yet. Maybe next week, after thinking things over you'll decide you despise him, and nothing will save your marriage. Maybe you'll find that there were extenuating circumstances . . ."
Val waved her hand at Wanda, signaling her to stop that line of conversation.
"Okay, maybe you won't. But that is a possibility. What I mean is, maybe you'll come to regret throwing him out before thinking things through. Think about your daughter. Think about your life style. Yes, I mean it. He controls the money. He might get the best in a divorce. With his money he might gain custody of your daughter."
"What!" Val shrieked, "Caroline, never! Why the courts would never . . ."
"It's happened, Val, believe me. It has happened and more than once. For example, he could, and I'm just supposing here. He could use the affair you had with Gerry Attric to show that you are an unfit mother."
"He'd never . . ."
"It has happened before, Val. That's my only point here. So be careful, all right?"
Val took a long gulp of brandy before answering. "Yeah, you're right. I'll take time and think things through." Wanda placed her hand on Val's and smiled. "If you find that you still value your relationship with Joe, then try to work things out. Divorce is not a forgone conclusion. You can still salvage this marriage. It will take work, and of course he has to be willing to help make it work."
They continued talking along these lines until Val stood up, and said she had better be leaving.
'I understand," Wanda told her. Please think before acting impetuously. Promise me, Val."
"Val gave her a wan smile, and nodded her head. "I will, and thanks for the brandy and the advice."
"You're welcome. I'm truly sorry it came to this, honey. The two women kissed, not the usual air buss that women prefer to maintain the perfection of their makeup, but a warm, wanton kiss, that ignited arousal in both.
They ended the kiss and broke apart.
"If you need me for anything, call," Wanda said, her eyes brimming with tears.
Val was already crying, and her mascara was running. "I . . . I'm a mess," she sobbed.
"You're a lovey mess," Wanda said kindly. "As lovely a mess as I've ever seen. Would you care to lie down with me? I can hold you, comfort you, but only if you want it."
"He's off to another of his meetings."
"You trust him, don't you?"
"Of course, but he trusts me too," she said with a leering smile.
"Oh," Val said in understanding. "It's a nice thought, and under different circumstances . . . well, I hope you understand."
"I do. So go home. Think things through. Call me if you want to talk."
"I will, and thanks, I needed a shoulder tonight."
"Good night, Val," she said and hugged Val close to her chest.
"Good night, Wanda."
Val & Gerry Attric
Val started home, then had another thought, and made a left turn toward Arlie Gardens. Gerry Attric lived in a sprawling home overlooking the inter-coastal waterway and she decided to call on him for his advice to help her think things out.
She had no idea how lucky she was to find him at home. He had been on his way to a meeting with Carlson and other influential friends, as well as a certain Joe Marcolina.
"Val, how nice to see you!" Gerry said after his manservant showed her into the library where Gerry was sipping a scotch. Can I get you something to drink?"
"No, um, yes. Perhaps a brandy?"
A brandy it is. Jason, will you please get Mrs. Marcolina a brandy?"
"Yes sir," the servant replied, and went off to the bar.
"It's good to see you, Gerry."
"And you too, Val. But I can see that you've been crying. Are you in trouble?"
Jason brought the brandy to Val and she nodded her thanks and took a sip. The brandy warmed her belly and she allowed herself a moment to collect her thoughts.
"I caught Joe fucking his receptionist, or secretary, or whatever the hell she is."
"Oh my, indeed!" she said caustically. "Gerry, what do I do?"
I walked in on him. I was caught up with the idea of taking him out to dinner. He'd been spending so much time at the office . . ."
"It must have been a tremendous shock," he said kindly, and placed his hand on hers. I can imagine what you're thinking."
She looked up at him. "Can you?"
"Yes, I think so. You feel anger, and you're confused. You resent the fact that he's cheated on you. You feel soiled."
"I guess you do have an idea of how I feel,' she admitted. "Gerry, what do I do?"
"Hmmm, first take a day or two to think things out. You need to make a series of possible life altering decisions. Whatever you do, don't rush off and act impulsively on this. It's just too important to you. And I should add, to Joe.
"If staying together is not an option, try to let go of the anger and resentment. Those feelings will not allow you to go forward in life. You have to let go. Know that you did your best and try to move on. Tell yourself that "this too, shall pass". You may not believe it now, but someday, you will be calm again. You will get through this, Val." His hand moved slowly up her arm to the elbow, as he spoke, then reversed and backed slowly down to the top of her hand and applied a light pressure.
"The anger will subside, the sun will shine and you will smile again. You may never be quite "the same" but you will be fine.
"As I see it, Val, you only have two options here. One, stay with him and he continues to cheat, maybe openly, maybe showing you some respect and doing furtively, but cheating nonetheless while you accept it. Or, two, you don't tolerate it; any of it. You lay down the law. Tell him you won't stand for it, and you won't have your intelligence insulted with any cock and bull stories."
"Thank you, Gerry. I was thinking along those lines myself. But of course I realize that under the circumstances, I'm not seeing things as clearly as I might otherwise."
"Val, I was about to have some dinner. Would you do me the honor of joining me?"
It occurred to her that she was starving, and she nodded her acceptance.
"Good. Wonderful," he said rising to stand before her. "May I take your coat?"
"No!" she blurted a little too quickly to imagine that Gerry would be fooled by any lie she made up. "I'm naked under the coat. I didn't plan it that way." She thought about what she'd just said and said, "What I mean is, I didn't plan it that way for us. I had planned on surprising Joe."
"And he beat you to it, eh?"
"Gerry, I should go home and put something on."
"Yes, I believe you should. But let me take you to dinner anyway. The Men's Club in town has great food, and I'd love to treat you to a wonderful meal. I promise it will help you feel a little bit better."
Val, wanting to cover her nakedness, agreed, but only if she could take her car home and get properly dressed.
"Certainly, my dear. I'll follow you to make sure you get there safely, and when you're ready, we'll dine in the finest restaurant in town."
"I'm only agreeing to this because I suspect you have even better advice for me," she said, and managed a smile.
"I do, so let's hurry, but Val?"
"Open the coat, let me see that magnificent body, eh?"
For the first time that evening, Val laughed. She threw open her coat, giving him a long, leisurely look at her perfection. Then, still laughing, she closed the coat and they left the house feeling giddy.
Dinner with Carlson and the others
The Wilmington Men's Club was on Chestnut and First, and had been there for years. The majority of its patrons were counted among the elite of the county and state. It offered restrained, yet elegant décor, and the unobtrusively impeccable service that only private clubs in the South were known to offer. The tables, set luxuriously far apart, were hardly ever taken, nor were there often more than three or four of them vacant.
Joe Marcolina saw he was a few minutes early and had his driver drop him at the corner. He walked around the block, studying the various displays in the shops along the way, thinking of what they might offer him and how he would reply. The possibilities came to mind most readily. But foremost on his mind was what, if anything, he could say to Val that evening when they would undoubtedly confront one another.
The three middle-aged men were waiting for him when he arrived, a contrived five minutes late. Marcolina, wearing a blazer and tan slacks, wondered if he should have worn the standard dark blue pin-stripe. No, he decided, the meeting was their idea and he wasn't coming to them hat in hand.
They were on their feet when he reached their table. He knew Edwin Carlson, of course, his superior and mentor at the bank, who said, "Joe, it's good to see you. You know these fellows, don't you? Early Tobed and Tommy Wringum."
Joe knew both men to be prominent developers in New Hanover County and beyond. He shook hands all around, apologizing for having kept them waiting, and was assured that they had just gotten there themselves. They had drinks in front of them, and when the charcoal skinned waiter came over, he ordered a Bombay martini, straight up and extra dry, with a twist.
Early Tobed, who had a drinker's complexion, took a refill on his Scotch. Carlson and Wringum said they were fine.
The conversation throughout the meal steered clear of Topic A. Politics in Washington was covered in hushed tones as they dissected the senior U S Senator from North Carolina and the monies they had funneled to him for his campaigns and other purposes. Someone brought up a current scandal involving the health inspector's office. "I remember when the papers used to print a list of restaurants that got cited for violations," Tommy Wringum said. "You'd check the list; see if your favorite place was there, hoping it wouldn't be."
"And what did it mean if you did?" Joe said, with a broad smile. "Somebody forgot to slip the inspector a few bucks."
"But it killed your appetite, didn't it?" Carlson said laughing heartily.
They ordered another bottle of wine, and Tobed had another Scotch to back it up. Joe and Carlson took turns telling jokes, all of which went over very well.
Joe was growing more comfortable with the possibility that these men were about to offer him their backing to run for mayor the following year, when he spied Gerry Attric escorting his wife, Val to a table across the room from where he sat.
The smile froze on his face.
"Now that's interesting," Gerry Attric said as he held Val's chair for her. Gerry had purposefully faced her away from Marcolina. She had no idea her husband was having dinner a scant twenty paces away.
Val ordered clams on the half shell. Gerry had the swordfish. They shared a bottle of wine and Val took a moment to study her benefactor. His grey hair was shaggy, his suit imperfectly tailored for his fleshy physique, and his tie showed an old food stain. Yet he was an extremely attractive man, despite his age and the wrinkles on his craggy face. If a woman let herself go like that, no one would look at her twice, she thought. But with a man, well, if he had the right sort of energy flowing, a woman would overlook the flaws and might, as Val was thinking, call it character, and wind up with wet panties.
"What's that, Gerry?"
She had noticed him looking over her shoulder and watched his expression changing.
"Oh, for a moment I thought I was looking at a man who I'm certain died, oh, perhaps ten years ago."
"I was wrong."
"You know, Val, he'll keep doing this to you if you allow him to."
She tensed up as he renewed the real subject at hand.
"You can't control how he acts, but you do control how you react to him. He can't make you feel inferior without your permission. You have to take back that control and power from him. Something has to give her somewhere. A person can only take so much of something before they break. The question here is when is your breaking point? How much longer are you willing to put up with this horseshit before you finally say that's it, no more?
"I know Joe. I'm telling you he's not likely to change his ways. He'll promise you the world and break your heart the next day. No one wants to go through a divorce. Face it, they suck. They are devastating and emotionally draining to do, with lots of drama involved at times. But something has to be done or it's only going to get worse. I think you need to sit down with him and have a serious heart to heart talk. He needs to know exactly how this is affecting you. And what you're willing and unwilling to put up with in this marriage."
"I hear what you're saying, Gerry, but what leverage do I have? I can get a divorce . . . hell almost everyone gets one these days . . ."
"Val," he said gently. I'm going to give you some very good advice. Be quiet. When I tell you to, look around. You'll see a table maybe twenty feet away with four businessmen. Now, get control of yourself, and whatever happens don't make a sound. Keep that same expression on your face, understand?"
"Yes, but why?"
"No more questions. Are you going to do exactly as I say?"
"Yes, I guess so."
"Good. So look!"
She turned and glanced over her shoulder and saw three men in suits and one in a... "My God, it's Joe!"
Her voice was calm, and more importantly, low. She turned back to Gerry and said, "What the fuck!"
Joe wasn't looking at his wife when she'd turned around to look his way. He was forcing himself to listen to every word the three men at the table said to him. They wanted him to run. They were promising financial and moral support.
"You've got what they call vision, Joe."
"You think so, Early?"
"Yeah, we all think it, Joe. It was your presentation at the Hilton. I thought, the nerve of this guy, telling us we could make money buying up property now that I-40 was going to connect Raleigh to Wilmington. What we liked was how you explained the way we could get the necessary capital to buy those tracts of land that got our attention."
"It worked, or should I say, it's working like a charm, Joe," Carlson said through a cloud of smoke from his Havana cigar.
"I'm humbled," Joe said softly, wondering if Val were going to walk over to their table and destroy him.
"Sweetheart, please excuse me," Gerry said as he pushed back from the table. "I'll be right back."
"What if he comes over, Gerry? You can't leave me here!"
"He won't, Val. I promise you, he wouldn't dare." He leaned in her direction and whispered, "You can take everything he's ever accomplished and toss it out the window by exposing him in front of these men he's with."
"The only one I know is Carlson."
"He isn't important enough; you don't know the others?"
Val laughed as a feeling of calm swept over her. She felt the weight lifting off her shoulders, and was about to remark on it when Gerry smiled and turned away, headed to the lavatory.
Two minutes later, he finished emptying his bladder, and then washed his hands. He looked at himself in the mirror, "You haven't got much longer, kiddo," he said aloud. "But then again, you don't look half bad for a guy riddled with cancer."
He went back to the table, and evidently he'd been gone long enough for the waiter to have brought dessert, and for Val to answer her own call of nature because she was absent and his cheesecake and her strawberries were on the table along with a pot of coffee.
He sat down and regarded his cheesecake, and his mouth watered. He picked up his fork then decided he could wait. It wouldn't take her that long; her bladder was decades younger than his. He reached for the coffee, stopped himself when he felt a hand on his thigh.
Jesus Christ, she was under the table! What did she think she was going to do down there?
And wasn't that a stupid question?
If there was any doubt, it was erased quickly enough. Her hand moved to his groin, her fingers worked the zipper, and in seconds he felt her breath on him, and then she had him in her mouth.
Gerry sat there, thrilled beyond description, and wondered if anyone in the room, especially, Joe Marcolina, had a clue as to what was going on. Had he seen her ducking under the table? No, he reasoned, if he had he would have acted somehow, he knew Joe well enough for that.
Did it really matter? Gerry asked himself. He got his answer quickly enough. Fuck no, it didn't matter.
And the sheer pleasure of it; a secret blowjob in a public place and with her husband only a few feet away. Moreover, she was taking her sweet time, making it last, probably enjoying herself as much as I am, he thought and smiled.
"I've had my problems with his honor over the last two years," Tommy Wringum huffed."
"As have I," Early Tobed said, chiming in.
"And that's why we invited you here, Joe," Carlson said, taking over. The real estate and developers here in New Hanover want a man who is willing to look out for their interests in the coming years. It's reasonable to expect a lot of opposition to all the building projects that are anticipated."
"It'll dwarf anything in the history of the state," Tobed said, interrupting Carlson.
Joe was listening intently, but still had to glance over at Val's table.
She wasn't there! He whirled around expecting her to come up behind him.
"Hey, Joe, stay with us, will ya?" Carlson said jovially.
"Sorry, I got a little tick and was trying to shake it off."