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It is July in Vegas; that proverbial seventh circle of hell. I have found refuge in a casino ice rink, of all places; refrigerated air blasts over my bare thighs, rendering them puckered gooseflesh. I watch my lover play hockey this afternoon–Icemen vs. the Nords–while his wife watches from the glass observation booth. She is stunning: smooth olive skin–Latina, maybe–all legs, deep black eyes, lush Farrah Fawcett feathered hair.

He smiles at me from the penalty box below her, lifting his beautifully cleft chin in greeting. My insides clench, and quiver. She knows, I think; that subconscious inkling of a woman married to an unfaithful man. He skates onto the ice backward, slicing, swooping, chest puffed out. Showoff. The lion, longish blond hair and glittering grey-blue eyes; the lioness, pacing the length of her glass cage, tawny and angry. The mistress: Me.

It was so easy–like that brief instant of weightlessness, stepping off from the high board, eyeing chlorine-clear pool water far below, before gravity begins its earthward pull–our becoming lovers.

We are physically beautiful together: Tall, blond, blue-eyed. “You’re perfection,” he tells me. I feel protected and desired in the muscled circle of his embrace.

When we make long, luxurious love, steam rises from our nakedness like a benediction. I set the air conditioning lower. We melt, meld, mingle, mend. He whispers heated, urgent litanies of homage to my body. Candlelight and rough fingertips caress my nakedness. I glower, goddess-like, astride him, blonde hair ribboning over my breasts.

He leaves multiple messages on my voicemail, all urgency and schoolboy giddiness, high on hormones and my scent. Silently, constantly, I analyze, rationalize. You know better, my inner voice chastises me. My mother, an old-world Catholic, did not raise me to be this kind of woman.

I tell no one, not even my best friend, Juliet, who lives on the East Coast and goes to bed alone every night. It is my secret place, ill-fitting my psyche. How incongruous. Me, ever the “good girl”. Now, the “other woman”.

So many labels.

His marriage will last a mere two years, by his own estimation.

Contempt shrivels my heart.

Lust heats it to a delirious, delicious boil.

Without a trace of shame or rancor, he tells me that he has visited a sex worker, here on the outskirts of Vegas. He describes her careful routine: washing him with hot, soapy water, scrutinizing his pinkening penis under the unrelenting glare of a 150-watt bulb, while he reclines, selecting from a “menu” the sorts of fantasies he will pay her to fulfill.

He is everything I despise.

I should hate him.

I am ashamed for him.

Instead, I pull him close, peel off his snug running shorts, guide his cock inside my warm wetness. Our skin sweat-slick, breath catching, his hard flesh slams into me.

Beneath the veneer, my upbringing still percolates: Catholic, Midwestern, too easily titillated, so easily seduced; the virginal valedictorian who tongue-kissed the Jesus-haired carnies under the bleachers at the county fair, our soles sticky with cotton candy, our bodies inflamed with lust. I let them suck my pale breasts and slide their calloused fingers into my ready wetness; I felt guilty, dirty, shameful–courtesy of the priestly condemnations of my youth. Shivers of the claustrophobic confessional and countless “Hail Marys” taunt me still.

I am repulsed yet fascinated by my lover; his stories of group sex on the beach with nameless girls, blow jobs under his parents’ roof, the sex worker, hard-ons at ten years old, snorting rings of coke off of a lover’s areola.

And me.

We sit on the deck, watching the setting sun plunge into craggy mountains, gulping icy Grey Goose–shot after shot. We tell ourselves that our work life creates this desperate, addictive behavior; trauma nurses working 12-hour shifts in an Emergency Room filled with constant chaos and cacophony, desperation and dashed hopes, arguments and anger; and, inevitable death.

As sanity returns in cool, buzzing waves, his raspy, tenor voice describes the intimacies of his past, traveling over years and geography–New Jersey, Arkansas, Connecticut. He tells me of his first wife; two fresh, unblemished lovers encased in love’s youthful protective cushion. I smile, knowingly.

He tells me of the drugs, the long sexy spiral downward, the grueling, repetitive rehab studded path back up.

And, of his children.

Surprised, I choke on my vodka, feeling its fiery fumes flame in my throat. The story of Chase and Reed unfolds from his Ümraniye Escort Cupid perfect lips. I watch his hands; sexy, strong, roughened hands that have traveled over intimate inches of my body, fingers that have invaded me, have caressed and stroked and massaged me into languorous stupor, become father’s hands–diapering, cuddling, wiping away toddlers’ tears.

He closes his eyes, stretches his tanned, muscled arms overhead, and whispers, “Reed-bastard, we called him, because he would wake us up screaming his lungs out every night. We’d discuss who was going to get up with him, our red-haired devil-child.” His smile is rapturous, transcendent. It punches me in the gut.

The story winds on, winds down. Black night arrives, silent. Our bottle, emptied. His eyes, rimmed red.

His voice thickens, darkens, catches. He recounts the day that his young wife packed the motor home and left with his children and her 60-year-old lover to Spirit Lake, Iowa. Of threats, coercion, a stranger absconding with his flesh and blood, of thousands of dollars in legal fees: his bitter battle, lost.

He whispers of rending pain, enormous and scorching, pinning him to his bed for months. My heart–scarred and fibrous–constricts, his anguish my own reminder.

“You make me sad,” I whisper, to staunch the sorrow tumbling from his lips. The room where we lie on cool sheets has suddenly shrunk, close and stifling. Words clump solid and unsaid on my tongue. I see him, saddened, broken, childless. Diminished, subdued, aged.


As years tack on, we no longer exist unblemished, unimpaired, unmarred, pristine. We are bested, broken, vanquished. Initially, my lovers conceal their psychic damage artfully, their lies emboldened by lust, their nakedness archetypal and flawless. In a blinding, ugly flash, one stuttering misstep, the shroud is ripped back on the bed of sordid debris, exposing the chimeric trickery, the dashed fantasy.

I take him in my arms and press his head to my left breast, so he can hear the anguished throbbing of my heart. Our lovemaking this night is soft, gentle, expressive; our fucking, hard, grunting, tearing, violent. Sometimes I scream out from the sorrow and the ferocity. He whispers, “Shh, baby.”

He tells me he loves me.

I believe him.

His heart is huge.

He says he loves his new wife, 18 years younger, for her innocence, her sweetness, her fear of god. Woman-child, he can mold her, guide her, parent her. He sees his lost children in her.

He loves me because our hearts are kindred. We both have been knocked down, broken down, pinned down. I am not innocent. Hardly am I sweet, either. The edges of the rose petals are brown. I know how to make his battered psyche restful, calm, sated.

I am refuge from his demons. I hold him; my body molds perfectly to his, skin sliding over skin. For hours, until he must return to his life, I let the calm of my soul speak to him, leeching from my bones. And, I feel him quiet, slow, melt. The candles sputter, fizzling out. Darkness covers us. He grinds his teeth as he sleeps, chasing the demons, the demons chasing back.

“Rest lover,” I whisper. “Pretend, and rest.”

He shows up early to drive me to the airport on a blistering summer desert morning, wanting me every possible moment. Barely inside my door, he drawls, “What’s happening, lover?” pulling me into the embrace I have come to know, to expect. His need, his desperation, his addiction, is palpable, physical. We kiss, gentle, extended, tongues probing, tangling. He exudes sweetness, softness, while indenting my hip with his throbbing hardness.

Later, we wait for my flight in a cocktail lounge adjacent to the airport, drinking Bloody Marys, watching tourists frantically feed bill after bill into jangling, blinking slot machines, eyes riveted forward, watered down drinks sloshing carelessly, gripped between their knees.

He is bad for me.

I crave him.

My liver protests as he asks for double shots. We spiral dizzily into languid silence. Alcohol softens the rough, awkward edges of this affair, this secret. He says sensitive people are often addicts, “medicating” to blunt the darkness, the shameful truths.

I teeter on the edge: Fatigued and worn, drinking too much, thinking too much, crying too much, hurting too much, alone too much. Our fingers lace. I feel his heat, beads of sweat where our arms touch.

We are ready to ignite, to combust, to incandesce.

There is unfettered freedom, being the “other woman”. Reckless, audacious, ardent. I am always “on” for him. He saves İstanbul Escort his best for me. We sparkle and groove–sweet, heady bliss. I recognize that we are approaching the “Danger! Dead end!” signs at breakneck speed. We will shatter, splinter, and disintegrate.

When we kiss each other in the crowded airport, I am distracted, wondering if anyone recognizes him. I want to conceal him. I am unconcerned for his wife’s potential anguish. Or even his. I am discreet, and force him to be, merely to continue our liaison. I am aghast; I am disgusted by this newly discovered part of myself–greedy, covetous, lascivious, selfish. The priests and nuns of my yesteryear would have a field day.

We kiss goodbye and his thin gold band leaves a groove in my cheek. I touch it long after my crowded flight has lifted me far away. My eyes remain dry.

One evening, as our shift winds down, his wife enters our workplace, his hockey uniform clutched to her chest, feathered bangs drooping prettily over her thick lashes. The good wife. The ER bustles around her, alarms beeping, overhead announcements squawking. My brain swarms; I feel jealous, relieved, exposed.

Does she know?

My heart slams into my ribs.

Can she possibly know?

Suddenly, she deflates from tough, would-kill-if-she-knew, to blushing, adoring, stupid lamb. Her toothy grin is perfection—radiant, soft, girlish. Babe in the fucking woods.

She is sweet-faced, angles where I am curves, smooth where I am creased, shy where I am brazen. Suddenly, I feel badly for her because of women like me, a man like him. We will damage her–mar her pristine goodness, break and scar her heart.

My throbbing heart: it shrivels. Antithesis. Light meets dark. Tonight, I am agitated, twitching in my own skin, stripping off my scrubs, climbing into the steam-filled shower, letting the water burn its way over my naked body. I want him to stay away from me for a while.

I sit on my bedroom floor in the dark, late into the night, naked, washed and deep-conditioned hair dripping down my back, one candle flickering like a beacon, lemon vodka crackling over ice: I wait. He does not appear. The disappointment itches: it burns. Jumpy, I hear phantom footsteps on the stairs outside. I have been sucked into his vortex, spinning, twirling, going nowhere, splitting asunder. I smolder, enraged at a man who is not mine.

The following night we are tender with each other. Sweet. Loving. Soft. Generous. We lie on the living room floor, a candlelit sanctuary, and he mentions “getting away together”, planting the seed of escape in my burning mind. He tongues my nipple; he sighs.

He strokes my face, my hair, my jawline. He whispers, “Your body is gorgeous. Lush.” For a silent, still moment, I no longer feel heavy in my own skin, hiding my thighs, sucking in my rounded belly. Uninhibited, I straddle his thighs, believing him. At once, I feel cushiony, curvy, sexy.

“I love you,” he says, holding my face in his palms, lips spilling the words I crave. Tears drip from my eyes, bouncing off his jaw. I can’t stop them.

“Don’t cry,” he whispers. He does not want me to ruin the fantasy. His skin smells woodsy, safe. Muscled arms enfold me. “I know this relationship isn’t how you and I would like it to be.” My psyche bends under the weight.

We work the last hour of our ER shift in a blissful haze, having made plans to go away to my sister’s ranch for the weekend. We share knowing glances; he rubs hard against me in a patient’s room, reckless, wanton. I stroke him through his scrubs, to his very edge.

We board the flight, pushing toward the back row. Sitting down, immediately we kiss. Big, passionate, moaning tongue kisses. The flight attendants snicker behind us. I am lost in it, this gut-twisting, breath-snatching, oblivious pleasure. We sip cocktails, and, as always, get hazy and loose and horny.

My older sister scrutinizes us, from the moment we stumble–giggling and groping each other–into the foyer of her old adobe home. I watch him drunkenly kiss her; hard, and extended, on her lips. She wants to approve, watching us frolic naked in the pool, the July sun bronzing our bodies. Perhaps she thinks of the nameless, faceless woman responsible for the breakup of her short marriage. Yet, she too, craves the heightened excitement of the addict.

He tells me this weekend that he has fallen in love with me. That “we fit”. Yes, we do. Closet lovers always do–it’s the skulking secrecy that molds us like warm, pliable putty, one to the other.

Returned to Vegas, we embrace for long, Anadolu Yakası Escort quiet moments in the parking garage. Something nameless has transpired. We have truly sinned. He wears my Irie beads looped around his wrist, beads that have hung low between my breasts.

“I love you, girl,” he says, squatting by his backpack, digging out the gold band that tells me everything that I need to know. In a goofy, put-on accent, he says “I am sorry. I must be married now,” with his crooked, bad-boy grin. We laugh as our eyes burn and mist.

He awakens me early on my next day off, the telephone shrill, insistent. “I called in sick today.”



My heart is a machine gun, exploding into my throat, relentless. “I can’t wind down after being with you. I stayed out all night at the Mirage bar. My wife and I got into a huge fight over the phone. She came in and poured a beer over my head when I said maybe we shouldn’t be married anymore.”

My mind catapults forward like a young Thoroughbred racehorse blasting out of the starting gate.

Did you tell her of us?

My lips itch to ask. Panic pools in my chest, suffocating me.

“She said she was going to call my parents,” he whispers, and I picture him sprawled on the bed, chest bare, his fingers raking through his long blond hair. Of course, she will, I think. Like the child she still is, with so few resources to draw upon, cornered, frightened, sad. Bambi in the woods.

“Come over,” I hear myself say.

I calm him, bathe him, talk him to sleep. I start a complicated Bolognese sauce, defrost a baguette, wash tender romaine leaves for Caesar salad, open a bottle of Syrah to breathe. He sleeps on, prone and naked, a long sinewy arm crooked over his head. He is Adonis, beautiful in repose.

I enable him.

Much later, absently swirling the deep blackish-red wine, clockwise, then counterclockwise in my glass, I hear his pressured whispering to her on his cell phone. My mood deflates and darkens; bitter jealousy casts its pall over me, pressing on my shoulders, my heart.

“I feel so bad,” he tells me, his eyes wet. “She’s crying. She says she doesn’t have anyone to talk to.” I cry as he leaves to comfort and cook for and to make love–to his wife.

I simmer, brooding and distracted at work. I exhaust myself; alternately pissed off, depressed, sad, dazed. And lonely. I flirt with the barrel-chested hospitalist; on a whim, I ask him out for cocktails after work.

Sitting at the far side of the nurses’ station, blatantly eavesdropping, my lover slumps down in his white lab coat; fuming, jealous, slamming his keyboard. He is addicted to sex, pushing his hip hard into me in the locker room, pulling my hand onto his hard-on as we change out of our scrubs, oblivious of the others.

We meet in darkness, touch in silence, kiss in desperation. In the beginning, I slaked the thirst of my lust with this affair. Sated, tormented, spent, I have decided–in the quiet solitude of the morning’s copper and violet dawn–to end it. To end us. To feel his solid naked body–vibrating with desire, with need–no more. I grieve, already missing his intoxicating adoration of me, my body, my spirit.

“Let’s go to Spirit Lake and get your kids,” I hear myself say, my insides tensing, twisting. I witness his transformation, weak morning sunrays illuminating him like a halo. I see then, in that passage of a millisecond, what he must have been like as a younger, undamaged, whole man, his eyes brightening as if I have adjusted the dial of a dimmer switch somewhere deep and buried in his wrecked soul. His shoulders broaden, straightening.

Lover to dad in one searing second.

Awakening to turbulence, my head bouncing against his sturdy shoulder, I stare out the window, 30,000 feet up, sandy red desert replaced by undulating grassy hills and matchbook squares of gold, green and beige, square white farmhouses, and red barns with curved, gray roofs.

He squeezes my hand, whispering, “I just think of you, of us, of how perfect we fit together, and I come to a big stop sign: Look no further. I mean it.” He holds my face in his strong, tanned hands, and worships me with his wet, ocean eyes.

“I love you for all eternity,” he whispers, softly, sweetly, like honey dripped into my ears. He will always mean it.

I close my eyes again, shriveling, shrinking from the changing topography of it all.

I know he will cross my threshold no more, caress me and love me with his body no longer.

I leave him in the hazy, stifling humidity of the Iowa heartland with one final, perfect kiss.

Back in the artificial light and cool of the airport, I scan the departure monitor. I am a fish out of water in this life. Literally. Pisces: March 11 to be exact, and no water in sight—-only the kitty litter-like rubble of the Mojave awaiting my solitary return.

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