It was an awkward moment when Gil ran into Marci at the pharmacy on a cold December evening.
Their last night together - what had it been, four years, five maybe - had not ended well.
But she seemed genuinely happy to see him; and, damn, she looked good.
She looked so inviting, even eager, as she invited him to her apartment to catch up, "for old time's sake."
Gil took off his gloves, looked pointedly at the ring finger of his left hand, sighed wistfully, and said, "Thanks, but I need to get home."
With a smile and a contented sigh, Gil's wife comments on how much more ardent his love making has become.
She doesn't realize that at those most intimate moments, when Gil gazes deep into the beauty of her doe-like eyes, he is haunted by thoughts of Marci.
She isn't aware that, since that chance encounter at the pharmacy, Gil's thoughts keep returning, unbidden, to long-ago memories of Marci's moist lips, subtle curves, and tender moans.
She doesn't know that in the midst of their seemingly perfect marriage, Gil is now conflicted.
She must never find out that Gil sometimes goes miles out of his way, and drives past Marci's apartment, just hoping to get a glimpse of her.
One evening when Gil's wife is out of town on business, he runs into Marci in the wine section of the market near her apartment.She gestures toward a bottle of imported Chardonnay, saying, "My boyfriend Rob is quite fond of this."
But she reaches for a bottle of Gil's favorite Pinot Noir and looks at him in a way he understands very well.
Gil suppresses a nervous laugh and blurts out, "I get kind of unpredictable when I drink that."
"I know," Marci says, as she slips the bottle into her basket and heads for the checkout line.
THE JOY OF . . .
Gil empties his wine glass of the last joyous ruby sip, then reaches past Marci to place it on the counter.
Then he puts his other hand on the counter, enclosing her in his arms.
She puts her arms around his neck.
He slips his hands under her blouse; gripping her slim, taut waist.
Her smile is knowing as she takes his hand and leads him toward her bedroom, pausing to whisper in his ear, "Just as I remembered - not so unpredictable, after all."
Marci is tall and thin, with a dusky oval face framed by straight dark hair hanging just past her shoulders.
She is reasonably attractive, though not one to turn many heads.
But in the early dawn grey, as she lays with one long leg draped over Gil's thighs and one tiny breast pressed tight against his chest, she is as beautiful as a Greek goddess.
Gil’s joy darkens to grey as he thinks about Cheryl.
Marci, as if reading his mind says, “Don’t worry. I don’t want to take you from your wife -- just borrow you when she’s away.
As Cheryl and Gil are preparing dinner, she says, " We haven’t cooked together for a while."
Gil catches her meaning.
Later that night, as they lay with their limbs entangled, Cheryl whispers, "I really do love you."
"Really?,” Gil wonders. How much was she doubting herself?
"And I really do love you," Gil replies.
DEAD RECKONING [vision]
Gil tries to act normal, but isn’t sure how to navigate his marriage, now that he’s an adulterer.
Is he overcompensating, being too attentive, not attentive enough; how does he act when he isn’t acting?
That night when they make love, Cheryl seems uncharacteristically different in some undefinable way, almost as if she were desperate.
He really does love Cheryl, but Marci has an allure that quickly became addictive.
He’s sailed into rocky shoals without a chart or even as much as an astrolabe to guide his muddled vision.
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