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Pleasure Party Excerpt

In a New Jersey suburb two best friends host a Pleasure Party. It’s supposed to be a fun gathering with decadent snacks and homemade sangria. At least that’s the plan, until a gun-wielding guest out for revenge takes the party hostage.

Soon, the scary and life-threatening scenario affects all the women present. Truths are told. Secrets long kept in the dark are dragged kicking and screaming into the light and unexpected bonds formed. No one will be the same and maybe not everyone will survive to tell about it.

You’ve never read a story like this.



Read on for an excerpt of the explosive thriller, PLEASURE PARTY, by Hugh O. Smith




It started with an angry voice that caused hands occupied with wine glasses and finger foods to freeze midway to waiting mouths. The small group of women turned and stared wide-eyed at the source of the commotion, an angry, dark-haired woman standing by the open door. Her hands were clenched into tight fists like smoking grenades at her sides, and her mouth was set in a grim line. She spoke once more, and her Brooklyn-accented, cigarette-roughened voice pulled apart the words and reconstructed them with drawn-out vowels and hard G’s.

“What the hell are you doing here, you whore?”

“What the hell are you doing here, you whore?”

The party was thirty minutes old and gathering steam slowly. Strangers gathered and chatted amiably among themselves. As the minutes passed and they grew more comfortable, they nonchalantly picked up the catalogs their hosts strategically placed around the room, leafing through them together and whispering conspiratorially, giggling like schoolgirls.

The new arrival’s voice was a knife in the heart of the party. Conversation died, and those holding the catalogs put them down guiltily and looked around to see who the recipient of the furious woman’s wrath was.

“I know you heard me, bitch,” Laura Green said through gritted teeth. “What the fuck are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be somewhere wrecking another home?”

The kitchen door swung open, and a curvy redhead, Kristin Zbornak, one of the hosts of the party and owner of the home, emerged. Her ample rear held the swinging door open, and, smiling, she walked carefully into the room, a pitcher in each hand.

“Okay, ladies, I’ve got homemade sangria. Come get it while . . .” Kristin stopped in mid-sentence upon seeing the enraged Laura standing in her doorway. Her smile disappeared, and she looked around the room, confused.

A tall and pretty Black woman used her hip to open the kitchen door a moment later and backed into the room, laden with yet another pitcher and a large tray of finger foods.

“Ahhhh yeah, ladies, it’s on! You’re about to taste my famous crab cakes. It’s time to get this party started.”

She looked around at the silent guests, and her smile also disappeared, replaced by the same uncomprehending look her best friend wore.

“Um, Kristin, what’s going on?” she asked the redhead.

“I have no idea, Bianca.”

“Wanna know what’s going on?” the woman shouted, pulling on the hem of her too-short and too-tight dress, wobbling from foot to foot drunkenly. A few stray hairs covered her eyes, and she brushed them out of the way.

“That bitch over there on your couch is a fucking whore!” She pointed, and the accusation flew from her finger like a lightning bolt, landing directly on an attractive young brunette seated on the tasteful couch in the middle of the room.

One of the last to arrive, Veronica Castillo entered hesitantly and helped herself to a bottle of sparkling water. She chatted with the other attendees, and soon her face lost its anxious look and she relaxed, sipping her sparkling water contentedly as if she’d just then made up her mind to stay.

Veronica was the first to notice Laura’s arrival. She saw the doorknob turn with no result, as if someone on the other side pulled instead of pushed. A moment later, the door fell open and Laura staggered in. Veronica’s blood ran cold, and she fought the instinct to find the back door and run far and fast, away from the new arrival. She wasn’t frightened, but she knew how and when to pick her battles, and this was not one worth fighting. Not here and most definitely not now. She averted her eyes, praying Laura would pass by without recognizing her, thus providing the opportunity to slip out unnoticed.

Laura lurched into the house, glaring at the doorknob as if it had somehow mistreated her as she tugged on the hem of her dress. She glanced around at the décor, the comfortable but tasteful furniture, a couple of framed Edward Hopper prints and a large landscape painting that looked like something her six-year-old twin grandsons might have painted in kindergarten and smirked as if she’d judged the home and found it not up to her standards.

Veronica sat motionless, awaiting the inevitable explosion. Before long, Laura’s dark eyes landed on her, but barely stayed a moment or two before they darted off again. Veronica lowered her head, and the hope flared that Laura hadn’t recognized her and she could make her escape. But when she lifted her head again, Laura’s eyes were firmly fixed on her, burning with an intense fury.

“What the hell are you doing here, you whore?”

“Hello, Laura,” she said.

“You slut! I knew I would find you sooner or later.”

“Ladies, what the hell is going on?” Bianca asked. She put down the food she carried and stepped between the two women.

“Who the fuck are you?” Laura asked.

“Bitch, watch your tone with me. Who the fuck are you?”

“Who am I? I’m the bitch who got her husband stolen by that whore over there!”

“Who am I? I’m the bitch who got her husband stolen by that whore over there!” She said, pointing at Veronica.

Veronica lowered her head, mortified. This was a battle she didn’t want to fight, but now she had no choice. “It’s good to have someone to blame, isn’t it, Laura?” She said. Her voice was low and lyrical, sweetened with a slight Spanish accent that lent extra strength to her words.

“Who else should I blame? Who broke up my home? Who killed my husband? You did it, you whore! You!” Laura screamed, underscoring her words with jabs of her bright red fingernails.

“You can call me whatever you like, but I’d rather be a whore and a slut than a sick, degenerate, alcoholic bitch.”

Veronica drew the phrase out, as if doing so gave each word extra power.





Bianca still stood between the two women and held up her hands. “Let’s just calm down, okay?”

“Fuck you and fuck your calm!” Laura shouted. “I’m gonna beat that bitch’s ass!”

Laura dropped her Hermès purse, pushed Bianca out of the way, and stepped toward the younger woman. For all their murderous intent, the steps were unsteady, and she stumbled. Just then, one of the guests, a large African American woman, broke off from the group and moved in between the combatants.

“Laura is it? Laura, can we take a minute?” the woman said.

Laura scowled. “Who the fuck are you, you fat bitch?”

The woman’s smile faded but only for a moment. “I’m Jessica, the party planner. I met you at the school, remember? You were picking up those adorable twin grandsons of yours, and I invited—”

“Get the fuck away from me.”

Laura pushed past Jessica and took another unsteady step. Almost as one, the women closest to Veronica hastily shifted to the other side of the room.

Bianca rushed to get in front of Laura, and Kristin moved quickly to intercept Veronica.

“Ladies,” Kristin said, “we’re supposed to be having fun. This is a party, after all.”

“Some party,” Laura said. “I never would’ve come if I’d known you invited that no-good slut.”

“Like I said, I’d rather be a slut than a degenerate alcoholic,” Veronica shot back.

“Oh, how the worm has turned,” Laura said. “You used to be quiet as a mouse when you worked for us. Oh, well, I guess you don’t talk so much when you’re scheming to fuck someone’s husband!”

“That’s not what happened,” Veronica said.

“That’s exactly how it happened, bitch. You weaseled your way into our office, then into my husband’s pants.”

“I loved him, and he loved me.”

“Yeah right, bitch.  You loved his money.”

“I didn’t care about money. I loved him.”

“And what about me?” Laura screamed. “I was his wife! I helped him build that business. I raised his kids. Then you come along and convinced him to divorce me. Next thing I know, he’s dead!”

“Convince him? Please! He finally opened his eyes and saw you for what you are.”

Laura’s face tightened. “That’s it, bitch. I’m gonna kill you!”

Laura stepped forward, fists clenched tightly and murder in her eyes. Her step was unsteady and the next even more so. She would have fallen if Bianca hadn’t held onto her arm.

“Ladies, ladies, it’s a pleasure party, not a UFC fight party. That’s next week,” Bianca said, trying to lighten the mood.

Laura scowled, and Bianca quickly released the grip on her arm. No one as much as grinned at her joke, and she continued in a sterner tone. “Remember this is Kristin’s home, so let’s show some respect please.”

Veronica’s face reddened and she stayed seated, but Laura kept standing, staring at the younger woman with undisguised hatred.

“You killed him,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion. “You killed my husband. I hate you.”

“No,” Veronica said. “I brought Dave back to life. For years you tortured him every damn day with your anger and your insecurity and your evil ways!”

Laura’s face became even redder. “You had no right! He was my husband! Mine! And you killed him!” she screamed, tears burning trails through her makeup. “You killed my David!”

“Your David? What did you ever do for that poor, sweet, man besides tell him how useless he was? He wasn’t your David anymore. He stopped being your David a long time ago.”

“You . . . fucking . . . whore . . . I . . . I . . .” Laura stammered, her face a mask of rage and pain. “You think this is over, bitch? It isn’t! This isn’t over!”

Laura shot Veronica one last, murderous look before she stalked out, slamming the door behind her.

CHAPTER TWO – Kristin and Bianca – One Month Earlier

Kristin arrived at her son’s school and searched in vain for a parking space. She was early,  school wouldn’t let out for another forty-five minutes, but as usual, there were no spaces anywhere close to the Oak Street Academy. She cruised around for a few minutes more before finding a space a few blocks away. She walked back to the school and took a seat on a faded green bench under a huge oak tree that spread gnarled branches over the street. Her seat gave her a clear view of the playground, and she watched the school’s only male instructor, Mr. Hector, play a raucous game of tag with a group of screaming first graders. Hector was the school’s newest teacher, a twenty-something ex-Marine who seemed to have more muscles than brains, but he was gentle and patient and quickly became a favorite with the children. A favorite with the mothers, too, Kristin thought as she watched other mothers ogle Hector with undisguised lust. She quickly grew tired of watching them and dug in her purse for her iPhone and opened its e-book application. She’d bookmarked her page in the latest Shaun Harmon novel and couldn’t put it down. The bestselling author recently moved to their town, and his daughter had become fast friends with her son, Lucas. His new book was said to reveal explosive secrets about their town. She didn’t know if all that was true or not, but the man certainly could write an exciting novel.

“You’re not fooling anyone, you know,” Kristin’s best friend, Bianca, said when she arrived a few minutes later.


“Oh please,” Bianca said. “I see you, sitting here, pretending to mess with your phone when it’s obvious you’re checking out Hector’s fine ass.”

“Um, no. I was reading the new Shaun Harmon book.” She held up the phone so Bianca could see.

“Whatever, girl. Denial’s not only a river in Egypt.”

Kristin rolled her eyes at her friend, who was now staring at the handsome teacher.

“You’re talking about me. You’re the one checking him out, hard!”

“I sure am. I mean, look at those arms! OMG! Can’t you feel him manhandling you, throwing you down, and just taking it?” Her eyes took on a faraway look. “Using those big-ass hands to choke you and pull your hair and smack your ass until it’s all red . . .”

She stopped talking when she noticed her friend staring at her.

“What?” Bianca asked.

“Choke you? Smack your ass?”

“Hey, ain’t nothing wrong with a little slap and tickle. Don’t knock it until you try it.”

“No thanks. I like my sex a little more . . . civilized.”

“Booooring. The rougher the better.”

“I had no idea my best friend was such a freak. This is a new side of you.”

“Freaky deaky,” Bianca responded.

“Well, he is hot,” Kristin conceded. “Maybe I would have a chance with him. Hispanic men like a woman with a few curves and booty. God knows my ex sure didn’t.”

“Oh please! There are plenty of guys who would love to date you. You’re a thick white girl with curves and booty, and a natural redhead at that. You’re damn near an endangered species! We should make a website for you or something,” Bianca said, laughing.

“Yeah, I bet that’d get a lot of hits.”

“Yeah, but you’re not bitter, right?”

“Screw you,” Kristin said, laughing.

“Such language,” a voice said from behind them.

Kristin and Bianca smiled at the new arrival and scooted over to make room for her on the bench.

“Have a seat, Jessica. I was trying to counsel Kristin about her obsession with Mr. Hector over there.”

“What? We were not,” Kristin said, laughing. “Don’t pay her any mind, Jessica. Come sit down.”

“No thanks. I’ll stand,” Jessica said.

“There’s plenty of room,” Bianca said.

Jessica eyed the bench as if doing mental calculations involving the space on the bench and the proportions of her big backside.

“No, I’m okay,” she said, looking uncomfortable.

“Hey,” Kristin said, changing the subject, “we have the invitations.” She dug a stack of envelopes from her purse and handed them to Jessica. “I handed some out at the gym before I got here.”

“They look great,” Jessica said. “Now who do you guys think we should hand them out to?”

“You’re the party planner,” Bianca said. “You tell us.”

“Well,” she said, “the thing about this kind of party is you never know who might come. The woman who looks like a freak might be a total prude and vice versa, so don’t go by looks alone. Hand them out to whomever and see what happens.” Jessica glanced at her watch. “If we’re gonna do it, we better hurry before the bell rings.”

She divided the invitations into three equal stacks and gave one each to Kristin and Bianca, keeping one for herself.

A few minutes later, they returned to the bench just before the bell rang and the children poured outside like ants from an anthill.

“How’d we do, ladies?” Jessica asked above the joyful screams of the children. “I gave out all of mine.”

“So did I.”

“Me too.”

“Do you think they’ll come?” Kristin asked.

“They’ll come,” Jessica said. “A girl’s night out with food, a little alcohol, and sex toys is a winning combo, watch and see. Oh, there’s Brianne. Her ballet class starts soon. I have to run.”

After Jessica left, Kristin shot a look to Bianca. “I wish I could be as confident about this as she is,” she said.

“It’ll be fine. Like she said, liquor, sex toys, and food. What could go wrong? If someone invited me to a party like that, I’d be there in a hot minute.”

Kristin grinned at her friend. She loved how Bianca could see the bright side of anything. She, on the other hand, could always cloud up a sunny day, as her ex-husband, Stan, always said.

“Hey, don’t look so depressed,” Bianca said. “Wasn’t it you who had this idea? Have a pleasure party, you said. Let’s make a little extra money, you said. It’ll be fun, you said.”

Kristin frowned. “You’re my best friend. You should know I don’t have any damn sense. Why would you listen to me?”

“Girl, you’re so full of it. You’re a psychiatrist, for God’s sake. You’re the smartest person I know!”

“Psychologist. I didn’t go to medical school, as Stan was fond of reminding.”

“See, there you go again, putting yourself down. You need to stop it, girl.”

“It’s hard when someone put you down for the last ten years,” Kristin said sadly. “Stan never had anything good to say. I was too fat, I was only a psychologist, I was . . .”

“Forget that fool, Kristin! You’ve been divorced for almost two years. It’s about time you put it behind you, and this party is just the thing.”

Across the street, Bianca’s younger son, Christopher, spotted them and made a beeline for the bench. He grudgingly accepted a kiss and hug from his mother, said hello to Kristin, then sat on the bench and immediately became engrossed in his handheld video game.

“Even if it doesn’t work out, you can play with the toys yourself,” Bianca spoke under her breath so her son wouldn’t hear. “You haven’t been with a man since forever. I know you could use a good um, you know.”

“Toys?” Christopher asked. He paused the game and looked up curiously.

“That he hears,” Bianca said. “I scream for him to clean his room and he’s deaf, but for this, he develops super hearing. No, honey,” she said to her son. “Not kids’ toys. Toys for, uh, adults.”

“Oh, boring,” Christopher said.

Kristin shook with silent laughter and Bianca punched her shoulder playfully.

“I’m glad you think this is funny,” Bianca whispered.

“Don’t worry about it. You know how kids are. He’s probably forgotten about it already.”

“Mommy, what kind of toys do adults play with?” Christopher asked suddenly. Kristin and Bianca looked at one another, then went into fresh gales of laughter while a puzzled Christopher shook his head and resumed his game.

“Mom, are you guys okay?”

Kristin and Bianca looked up from their laughing fit to see both their fourth graders standing in front of them. Kristin’s son, Lucas, and Bianca’s son, Max, stared at their mothers as if they had six heads.

“Are you okay, Mom?” Lucas asked again.

“I’m okay, honey.”

“What’s so funny?” Max asked.

“The adult toys,” Christopher said without looking up from his Nintendo.

At another mention of toys, Bianca and Kristin broke out into yet another gale of laughter.

“I blame you for this,” Bianca said once their laughter subsided and they walked to their cars.

“Oh please, he’s already forgotten about it.”

“Right. Until Thanksgiving dinner when he tells my in-laws Mommy plays with ‘adult’ toys.”

“Oh, speaking of in-laws, I saved an invitation for Gloria.” Kristin dipped her hand in her purse and handed the invitation to Bianca.

Bianca scowled. “Keep it. Ed already told his mother about the party.”

“Are you ever going to tell me what’s up with you and your mother-in-law?” Kristin asked. “I thought you guys got along great.”

Bianca sighed. “We used to, but . . .”


“Nothing . . . it’s nothing.”

“So, you’re okay with bonding with your mother-in-law, who you don’t get along with, over giant dildos and cock rings?”

Bianca made a face but remained silent as she stared at the boys running and playing ahead of them.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me. Forget I asked,” Kristin said.

“No, it’s not that.”

“It’s fine, Bianca. I’m sorry I brought it up.”

“I cheated on Ed,” Bianca blurted out.


“I cheated on Ed. With his father.”

Kristin stopped dead in her tracks.

“What? I don’t think I heard you right.”

“You did. I slept with my father-in-law.”

“It’s fine, Bianca. I’m sorry I brought it up.”

“I cheated on Ed,” Bianca blurted out.


“I cheated on Ed. With his father.”

Kristin stopped dead in her tracks.

“What? I don’t think I heard you right.”

“You did. I slept with my father-in-law.”

Kristin’s mouth fell open. “Damn. I mean . . . holy crap.”

Their sons scampered almost a block ahead of them, and they began walking again to catch up.

“You must think I’m a huge whore,” Bianca said.

“Nah, I always thought you were a huge whore. This just confirms it.”

The two friends walked together, chuckling nervously.

“Okay, so I get why you would be uncomfortable around Will, but why Gloria? Does she know?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

“Bianca, I have to ask. How on Earth did it happen? I mean, did you, um, have a thing for Will?”

“No way! He’s sexy for an older man, I guess, but no, not really.”

“Then how?”

“Remember last summer when I told you Ed and I were having problems?”

“I remember.”

They arrived at their cars and Bianca used her key fob to open the doors.

“Get in the car, boys. We’ll be leaving in a minute.”

The boys piled into the car, all too happy to have a few more minutes to spend together while their moms continued to talk.

“This was about the time Ed made partner at the law firm. He was working so much that even when he was home, he was so preoccupied it was like he wasn’t there,” Bianca said. “Our guest bathroom needed a lot of work which Ed planned to do himself. I told him we should just hire a contractor, but he loves to do that handyman stuff, but because of his caseload, he had no time. Anyway, his parents came to visit one weekend, and Will realized the bathroom wasn’t getting done, so he volunteered to do it. He’s pretty good at that kind of stuff, I think he did construction or something when he was younger, so we were glad to have his help. The plan was for him to stay with us during the week, while he worked on the bathroom and go back home to New York on the weekends. Honestly, I was so lonely I glad to have him around. Ed was busy, and the boys were about to leave for sleep-away camp, so I figured it would be nice to have a little company for a while.”

Bianca teared up and she paused.

“Bianca, you don’t have to tell me the details, honey. It’s okay.”

“No, I want to.” Bianca wiped her eyes and continued, “I swear something was different about Will that day. He was always a bit of a flirt, but before this, it seemed, you know, harmless. I would catch him staring at my chest sometimes, but he always looked away. Men have been staring at my boobs since I was twelve years old, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.”

Kristin nodded. “Uh-huh. I know the feeling.”

“Right? Anyway, it was a little creepy—he was my father-in-law and all—but I let it go. Like I said, he always looked away, but that morning, he didn’t. Something was . . . different. There was tension in the air. Ed left early for New York, and the boys were already at camp, so we were all alone. He was like a predator, and he was hunting me, you know?” She shook her head. “No, it was like he already caught me, only I didn’t know it. All morning he stared at my chest. I caught him looking a bunch of times, and he didn’t even look away like he usually did. He just smiled.”

Bianca sighed and leaned against the car. “It was kinda uncomfortable, but I tried to ignore it. Later on, I made lunch, and he suggested we should eat out by the pool and said he would make us some rum punch. The rum punch was delicious and super strong, and he just kept on refilling my glass. Before I knew it, I’d had too many drinks. It was a hot day, so he suggested we go swimming, and I said okay.” She paused to wipe the tears that were quickly forming. “So we were in the pool, just cooling off, you know, and things get weird.”

“Weird how?” Kristin asked, almost in a whisper.

“I was in the water, and he kept walking around me, circling me like a shark, telling me how sexy I was. He said when he was younger, he had a girlfriend who looked just like me. He told me how hot she was and how much he enjoyed fucking her.”

“He said that?”

“He sure did. And the whole time, he’s still walking in circles in the water around me. Then he told me to guess what he liked most about his old girlfriend. It’s like I was hypnotized. I couldn’t say a word. Then he said he liked her because she loved to take it in the ass.”

“No! Way! He said that?”

“He did. Right there in our pool, Judge Will Truman, one of the most respected judges on the whole East Coast, hell, in the whole damn country, went into explicit detail about how he used to have anal sex with an old girlfriend.”

“Wow. I mean . . . wow!”

“As he’s talking, something floated up to me in the water, and I realized it was his damn swim trunks, Kristin. He was butt naked. I couldn’t help it, I looked down and, well, you know how when you look at something underwater it looks kinda distorted?”

Kristin nodded, repulsed but at the same time entranced by the story.

“He was hard,” she whispered. “I swear it was about to pop out of the water like a telescope. He took my hand and put it down there, and it was no distortion, let me tell you. I know I should have stopped it then. I should have run out of the damn pool and cursed his old ass out.”

Bianca looked around guiltily to make sure no one could hear her. “He was hard,” she whispered. “I swear it was about to pop out of the water like a telescope. He took my hand and put it down there, and it was no distortion, let me tell you. I know I should have stopped it then. I should have run out of the damn pool and cursed his old ass out.”

“What did you do?”

“I stroked it. I stroked it, and it got even harder, Kristin. And God help me, I swear I never wanted something so bad in all my life.”

She paused, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.

“Then he made me get out of the water and lay down on the side of the pool, and he started kissing my thighs.”

Bianca’s eyes were still closed, and a slight smile appeared on her face.

“Kristin, I was so shocked, but I didn’t stop him because it felt so damn good to have someone want me. We did it right there by the side of the pool, and I knew it was wrong, but I loved it. I’ve never had so many orgasms in all my life. He treated me like some whore off the street. He pulled my hair and choked me and slapped my face and spanked me. He fucked me to within an inch of my damn life, and, Kristin, I loved it. I. Could. Not. Get. Enough.”

“Jesus Christ,” Kristin said, her eyes wide. “So then what?”

“Then nothing. He got dressed and continued hanging drywall and cutting tiles. Me, I felt so guilty and confused I went inside and cried. I tried to fool myself into believing it was the alcohol that made us do it. Then I tried to blame Ed, since he was working so much and I was lonely, but the truth was I wanted it. That’s the worst part, Kristin,” she said. “I knew what I was doing.”

Kristin hung her head and nodded. She knew all too well what her friend meant.

“Will went home a couple of weeks after, but I still felt guilty, and I guess Ed could tell something was up. One night he confronted me, and we had a huge argument. He said I’d been acting strange and asked point-blank if I was having an affair.”

Bianca pushed off of the car and stomped her foot.

“I should have lied to him, but I didn’t. I confessed. Kinda. How could I tell my husband I’d slept with his father? I told him an ex-boyfriend was in town, we met for lunch, and one thing led to another. I said it didn’t mean anything. I was lonely and vulnerable and it just . . . happened.”

“What did he say?”

“I’d never seen him so mad, Kristin. The look on his face was pure rage! For a minute I was sure he was going to hit me. And you know what? I wanted him to. I did! I craved the punishment.”

“You what?”

Bianca continued as if she hadn’t heard the question. “I swear to you, I would have been happy for him to choke me then fuck me to within an inch of my life. I wanted it, just like his daddy gave it to me.”

Kristin couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Suddenly the remarks Bianca made earlier about getting treated roughly made sense.

When Bianca spoke again, the glazed look was gone, and her voice returned to normal.

“He didn’t do any of those things. He calmed down and just kinda looked at me like I was some poor soul, then walked out the front door.”

“Did you ever find out where he went?” Kristin asked, looking down at her feet.

“No. He didn’t come back until after midnight, but when he got home, he was so calm it was almost scary. No—more than calm, he seemed happy. He said he loved me and forgave me and we needed to find a counselor and work some things out. I’d just made a mistake, but things were going to be okay, he told me. Then he kissed me on the cheek, and in about a minute flat, he was asleep. I don’t understand it. His wife told him she’d slept with another man, and he just fell asleep.”

“That was a good thing, right?”

“He and his mother are close, so I think he drove to New York and told Gloria everything.”

“Ahh . . . so that’s why you have such a thing about her. You think she knows what you did? Did she ever say anything?”

“Not a word. We saw them a bunch of times after that, and she was the same robotic Stepford Wife she always is. Everything was normal—even Will acted like nothing happened. But I’m pretty sure she knows.”

“Don’t you think if she knew her husband slept with her daughter-in-law she would have said something by now?”

“I guess,” Bianca conceded. “But I just can’t shake the feeling something is going on. Call it woman’s intuition.”

“Or paranoia?”

“It’s more than that. Something’s up. I can feel it. Ed’s been different. He seems, I don’t know, happier.”

“What’s so bad about that?” Kristin asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Nothing, I guess.”

“I would leave it alone. It sounds like you dodged a bullet. Things could have turned out a lot worse.”

“I don’t know. Ed’s been ‘working late’ an awful lot lately. Maybe he found himself some floozy to run around with like Stan did.”

Kristin gritted her teeth and said nothing.

“Oh God, Kristin, I shouldn’t have mentioned your ex. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Kristin said. “Bianca, the truth is you’re super guilty about what you did and you’re projecting that guilt onto Ed. It’s making you see things that just aren’t there.”

“There’s that psychology degree of yours at work,” Bianca said. “I’m sure you’re right, but you should have seen him when he came home that night. There was no anger in him at all. I mean zero. Something happened when he went out, I’m sure of it. There’s something I don’t know, and it drives me crazy. I know I need to just let it go, but—”

“But nothing. My advice is to quit obsessing over some imaginary girlfriend and process what’s going on in your head. You did a bad thing, Bianca, and you feel terrible about it, so finding out Ed did the same thing would make you feel less guilty, but it doesn’t work like that. Ed probably had a couple of drinks and thought things through. Maybe he owned his part of the blame for what happened and came to terms with it. You should be grateful; most marriages wouldn’t have survived. Mine sure didn’t.”

“You’re right,” Bianca agreed. “But how do I let it go?”

“You made a terrible mistake, girl,” Kristin said. “But it’s not unforgivable. Nothing is. Sleeping with Will was a mistake you made. It’s not who you are.”

“What do you mean?”

“What people do, especially we women, is take our mistakes and make them a part of who we are, our identity. So instead of saying, ‘I’m a person who stole,’ we say, ‘I’m a thief.’ Or instead of saying, ‘I’m a person who cheated,’ we say, ‘I’m a cheater.’ Understand?”

Bianca nodded, fighting tears.

“But our mistakes are just that, mistakes. They’re not who we are. So remember that and forgive yourself. That’s how you move on.”

“I’ll try,” Bianca said. Just then, the boys began a loud argument in the car, and she knocked on a window to quiet them.

“Let’s get these boys home before they kill each other,” Bianca said, wiping her eyes.

“I think you’re right,” Kristin replied. She opened Bianca’s car door and motioned her son out.

“I’m glad I told you, Kristin,” Bianca said once Lucas was in Kristin’s car. “I needed to get that off my chest. So, do you want to hang out later? I’ll bring the boys over for a playdate. Ed’s working late again.” She rolled her eyes.

“Ah, n-no,” Kristin stammered. “Lucas is spending the weekend with his dad, and I, uh . . . have a client this evening. Then I’m going to stay at the office and catch up on my notes.”

“I thought you didn’t see clients on Fridays?”

“I don’t usually, but this one is in crisis, and since Lucas will be with Stan, I figured I’d make an exception,” Kristin said, surprised at how smoothly the lie slid from her mouth.

“We’re a couple of high rollers, aren’t we? Such big plans on a Friday night. Well, girl, thanks for listening and not judging me, and thank you for the advice. I love you, Kristin. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

Kristin smiled. “I love you too.”

The friends hugged goodbye. Then Bianca started her car and took off down the street, shouting at her warring sons.

Kristin made sure Lucas was securely buckled in then started her car, but tears blurred her vision. She wondered if she would ever have the courage to confess to Bianca she knew exactly where Ed went that fateful night, but she knew she never would. She didn’t have the courage. Kristin wiped away her tears as she checked the rearview mirror to make sure her son hadn’t noticed her crying. Then she started the car again and headed home.


“You killed my husband, bitch! Trust me, this isn’t over!”

Laura’s words hung in the air like a terrible smell while the women listened to her unsteady footsteps as she stomped down the driveway, slammed her car door, then burned rubber and sped away.

As the sound of Laura’s car faded, all eyes turned to the young woman to whom her toxic words were directed, but Veronica, red-faced and crying, fled from the room, leaving behind a stunned silence.

“Ladies, I swear we’re not shooting a reality show,” Jessica joked a moment later, trying to clear the air. No one laughed.

Bianca and Kristin glanced at one another. Then Bianca forced a smile and faced her guests, who were still standing around, shocked.

“Okay, girls, that happened, but we have a ton of good food, plenty of liquor, and lots of fun toys, so let’s get this party back on track.” She filled glasses with sangria and handed them to the subdued guests.

Kristin left Bianca to try to salvage the party and hurried out to the deck, where Veronica sat, crying silently.

“I’m sorry,” Kristin said as she sat down. “We didn’t know . . .”

“It’s not your fault,” Veronica said. “Willows is a small town. I knew I was bound to run into Laura sooner or later. I thought I would be better prepared when it happened, you know? I had so many things I wanted to say, but . . .”

“It’s okay, Veronica. It’s not your fault.”

“I swore I would never mess with a married man, then I met Dave. He was the nicest, most generous human being I’ve ever known, but inside he was so sad. Laura just beat him down. She treated him like shit, and he didn’t deserve it.”

She began to cry again, and Kristin offered her a tissue.

“God, what these women must think of me,” Veronica said. “God, what must you think of me?”

“I don’t know about them, but I sure don’t think any less of you.”


“It’s true,” Kristin said, thinking of her own secret and what would happen if it were made public. “No one’s perfect. We’ve all got our skeletons.”

“Not like this,” Veronica said.

“Oh, you’d be surprised. Anyway, I’m not judging you, and neither is Bianca.”

“Then you’re the only ones. They’re all probably wondering which one of their husbands I’m going to steal next.”

“Hey, maybe a few of them are hoping you will.”

Veronica smiled. “Thanks, Kristin. You’re being very nice about this, but I think I’m gonna go.”

“You’re not going anyplace except to the bathroom to fix your makeup. Then you’re getting your butt back inside and buying so many toys you won’t need a man anytime soon.”

Veronica shook her head. “I’m going, Kristin. If I stay, your party will be ruined.” She sighed. “Who am I kidding? It probably already is.”

“I wish you would stay.”

“Kristin, would you stay if you were me?”

“No, I guess I wouldn’t. Come with me. I’ll show you where the bathroom is.”

Kristin showed Veronica to the restroom then returned to the party, happy to see their guests looked much less stunned as they talked among themselves. Bianca and Jessica pulled her into the kitchen and huddled at the kitchen table.

“Is she okay?” Bianca asked.

“Okay as she can be, I guess. She just got called a slut and a whore in front of a room full of strangers.”

“She deserved it because that’s what she is,” Jessica said. “I feel terrible for Laura. My mother went through the same thing. One day my dad suddenly up and got himself some young whore, divorced her, and—poof—he was gone.”

“Are you kidding me right now? Bianca asked. “It’s Laura’s fault. She’s a psycho. Who wouldn’t leave her crazy ass?”

Jessica shook her head. “How would you feel if you showed up somewhere and your husband’s side chick was there? You might go a little psycho too.”

“You might have a point there,” Bianca admitted.

Kristin turned red and quickly changed the subject. “That’s neither here nor there. The drama is over, so let’s figure out a way to salvage this party before everyone leaves.”

“They’re not going anywhere now,” Jessica said. “A little drama is a good thing. I guarantee this is a party they will never forget.” She picked up a pitcher of margaritas and put on a big smile. “Okay, ladies, let’s get this party started,” she said as she walked back into the living room, holding the pitcher high.

As the kitchen door swung shut, Kristin gave Bianca a side-eye, hands on her hips. “Let’s throw a pleasure party, you said,” she called in a high, mocking voice. “We’ll make a little money, you said. It’ll be fun, you said.”

Bianca laughed. “You worry too much. You heard Jessica. She’s right—a little drama will be good for sales.”

“Oh really? I wonder what she’ll say when they start slamming each other across the head with my furniture like Hulk Hogan and the Macho Man in the WWF.”

“Hulk Hogan? WWF? Girl, you need to get up on your wrestlers. That was like a hundred years ago. It’s the WWE now.”

“You get the point. It’s gonna be a disaster. I just know it.”

Bianca rolled her eyes as she removed trays of appetizers from the oven. “You’re my best friend, Kristin, but you can be a real Debbie Downer sometimes.”

“Maybe,” Kristin said. “But you have to admit what just happened was reality-show level crazy. And did you see your mother-in-law’s face? She looked mortified!”

Bianca’s face fell. “Yeah, well, she’s the one who invited herself along. I didn’t tell her to bring her happy hips from New York to crash our party.”

As if on cue, the kitchen door opened, and Gloria walked in.

“Well, that was an auspicious start,” she joked. “I felt like I was in a scene from Days of Our Lives.”

Kristin smiled at the older lady’s joke, but Bianca said nothing. She continued to pile appetizers on trays, looking uncomfortable.

“Do need any help?” Gloria asked after a moment’s awkward silence.

“No,” Bianca began.

“Thanks, Gloria,” Kristin interrupted. “We would love some help.” She pointed to the tray of coconut shrimp Bianca prepared. “Could you take these out to the ladies, please?”

“Certainly, honey,” Gloria said as she took the tray and disappeared into the living room.

“Do you need any help?” Bianca mimicked after her mother-in-law was safely out of earshot.

“Will you stop.”

“She knows,” Bianca said. “I can feel it.”

“No, she doesn’t. Don’t you think if she did she would have said something? What kind of woman attends a party with the woman who screwed her husband and—”

“Kristin! Shhhhhh!” Bianca opened the kitchen door a sliver and peeked out to ensure no one was within earshot.

“See, now you’re acting guilty,” Kristin said. “Stop being so paranoid. If Gloria knew about you and Will, we would have another Laura-type situation.”

“No way. That’s not her style. She keeps that crazy smile on her face and pretends everything is okay no matter what. Ed’s the same way, the two of them are buttoned up so damn tight. God, I’m so sick of them.”

“Maybe you’re right about Gloria’s personality,” Kristin said, bristling at Bianca’s insult of Ed. “But think about it. This situation is completely different from anything in the past. Her daughter-in-law fucked her husband—that might get a rise out of her if she knew, don’t you think?”

Bianca stamped her foot, then peeked out into the living room once again. “Kristin!” she hissed. “Will you stop saying that? OMG, it’s like you want someone to hear you.”

“Will you relax. No one can hear us. Anyway, Gloria doesn’t know. You have nothing to worry about.”

Bianca exhaled. “I guess you’re right. A minute ago, I was lecturing you about being a downer; now look at me.”

“It’s okay, hon. You’re just stressed. Listen, remember when we met Jessica a couple of months ago and decided to throw this crazy party? What did we say we were going to do, no matter what?”

“Have fun,” Bianca replied unenthusiastically.

“Have fun,” Kristin repeated. “If we’re not going to have fun, we might as well tell everyone to go home.”

“You’re right,” Bianca said. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. Let’s go out there, drink some alcohol, and sell some big ol’ dongs.”

“To hell with that,” Bianca said, laughing and raising her glass. “Let’s go out there, drink all the alcohol, and buy some big ol’ dongs.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Kristin said, raising her glass in agreement.

They returned to the living room, where their guests seemed to have recovered from the shock of Laura’s appearance and were busy discussing the drama they witnessed.

“So the husband died while in bed with her?” Asked a pretty blond, chuckling. “Damn, she must have some killer pussy. Get it? Killer pussy?”

Gloria looked aghast. “Really, young lady? Is that appropriate?”

The blond chuckled again. “The name’s not young lady, it’s Brooke. And that was a pretty funny joke.”

“Cheating is not funny,” Jessica said. “I feel for that poor woman.”

“You feel sorry for that lunatic?” a tall, thin, woman asked, rolling her eyes. “That bitch is obviously—”

“Maya!” a fit-looking older woman with stylish short hair said. “Judge much?”

Maya smiled. “Maybe you’re right, Tina, but you have to admit the chick was mental. Thank God she left.”

“You might be mental too if your husband died in his young girlfriend’s bed,” Gloria said.

Bianca rolled her eyes at her mother-in-law’s comment. “I’m with Maya. That bitch looked crazy. If I were her husband, I might have found me a side chick too.”

Gloria scowled. “There is never an excuse for infidelity, Bianca. They took vows, and he broke them. Period, end of story.”

“Life is too short to be unhappy,” Bianca said. “Her husband went out and found happiness. I say good for him.”

“Amen,” Maya said, looking lovingly at Tina.

Gloria was about to respond when a petite Indian woman spoke up. “Excuse me, but wasn’t he the wealthy real-estate person? With the ads on the bus stops?”

“I think you’re right, Dr. Dee,” Tina said. “My husband and I bought our first house from his company.”

“Have we met?” the Indian woman asked.

Tina smiled. “I think I’ve read every magazine in your waiting room. You were my daughter’s OB/GYN. I took her to your office a bunch of times before she was old enough to go on her own.”

“Ahhhh shit, we have a gynecologist in the house. I bet you can tell us about killer pussy. Right, doc?” Brooke asked the embarrassed doctor.

No one laughed, and Brooke made a face. “Y’all are a bunch of squares. That’s still a funny-ass joke.”

“I think my son and daughter-in-law bought their home from his company too,” Gloria said. She held out her hand to the woman who’d spoken. “I’m Gloria, by the way.”

The woman shook her hand. “I’m Tina, and this is my, uh, friend, Maya,” she said, gesturing to the tall, thin woman.

Maya nodded hello to Gloria.

“Since we’re making introductions, I’m Brooke,” the blond woman said.

Kristin smiled. “I think you’re going to be the life of this party, Brooke.”

“Hell yeah! C’mon, it’s time to get this party started.”

Just then an embarrassed-looking Veronica entered the room and all conversation ceased.

“Thanks for inviting me, ladies, but I’m going to go. I hope you have a great time. I’m sorry for all the drama,” she said.

“Bye, Felicia,” Jessica said under her breath.

Kristin shot Jessica a nasty look. “Veronica, I meant what I said earlier. You’re welcome to stay,” she said.

“Thanks, but I’m going. I’m sorry this happened, I didn’t mean to—”

Just then the front door flew open with a bang, startling them. “Going somewhere, whore?” a familiar voice said.

“Oh, hell nah,” Bianca said under her breath.

“Laura. I’m happy you decided to rejoin us.” Jessica said in a cheerful tone. “Veronica is just leaving, so if you want to take a seat, we’ll . . .”

Laura glared at Jessica as if she were something distasteful on the bottom of her shoe.

“She ain’t going nowhere,” Laura said.

Veronica shook her head in disbelief. “Get out of my way. Your bullying won’t work on me. I refuse to take it.”

“Refuse nothing, bitch. You’ll take whatever the fuck I tell you to take,” Laura said as she pulled a shiny revolver from her purse and pointed it at Veronica’s chest.

Veronica’s olive complexion went deathly pale.

“Yeah, I thought so,” Laura said with a smirk, gesturing toward the couch with the pistol. “Now sit the fuck down! I told you this wasn’t over.”


“Yeah, I thought so,” Laura said with a smirk, gesturing toward the couch with the pistol. “Now sit the fuck down! I told you this wasn’t over.”

CHAPTER FOUR – Bianca – One Month Earlier

Bianca hugged Kristin and started her car, shouting at her warring sons.

Two minutes later, they were at peace occupied with their video games, but Bianca’s mind was still in turmoil. She felt better now she’d finally revealed her secret, but a part of her wished she could confess the whole truth.

The boys began arguing again, and she glanced in the rearview mirror. “Boys, take it easy,” she said. They calmed down, but two minutes later, were at it again.

“Boys!” she said, more sternly. “Cut it out!”

“He started it!” Christopher shouted, pointing his finger at his brother.

“No, Mom, he did it. He keeps on touching me.”

Bianca suddenly swerved to the side of the road and whirled around to face her shocked sons.

“I said shut the hell up!”

The boys’ eyes went wide, and they sat back, quiet as church mice. Bianca pulled the car back onto the road, mentally kicking herself for losing it.

They arrived home a few minutes later, and the boys ran up to their rooms, still subdued. Bianca poured herself a glass of wine, brought it outside by the pool, and thought about the lie she was living.

What the hell is wrong with you, Bianca? she asked herself. But she needn’t have asked because she knew the answer.

It was Will.

The affair didn’t begin quite the way she told Kristin. She’d caught Will staring at her body—that was true—but they weren’t the shy glances she’d told Kristin about. Will ogled her constantly. He hid it well when Ed and the boys were around, but once Ed went back to work and the boys were away at camp, Will made no attempt whatsoever to hide his true feelings. His stares usually began at her feet and moved up to her thighs, traveled up to her stomach, and lingered for a while on her breasts before he looked her right in the eye, his thoughts crystal clear. Will’s stares made her uncomfortable at first, but very quickly she came to enjoy his stares and soon met his lustful gaze without looking away. It wasn’t long before she jumped into the flirtation with both feet, bending over to pick something up way longer than was necessary when she knew he was watching or going braless every day. She was very well endowed, and Will practically salivated at the sight of her large, full breasts rolling free and her nipples trying to poke holes through the fabric of her thin T-shirts.

Their affair began in the morning, not at lunch over rum punch. She swam laps in their pool every day in her usual swimming attire, a hideous one-piece thing for triathletes made for comfort and function, but that fateful morning, she dug up a sexy two-piece number that barely covered her breasts or anything else. Will sat by the pool, sipping his coffee, and his eyes widened as his daughter-in-law sashayed out of the house and dropped her towel onto a chair.

“Morning, Will,” she said with a coy smile.

“Morning B,” he said. She stretched in front of him, bending over to give him a good view, then walked into the shallow end. Will sat poolside, taking her in. Their eyes met as he drained the last of his coffee then removed his shirt then shorts to reveal a long, thick manhood that stopped Bianca’s swimming cold. Her father-in-law was almost seventy years old, but he had the solid, muscular build of a much younger man. Will’s smile showed his teeth, like the fox who successfully infiltrated the henhouse, and he walked slow circles around her in the warm water. She felt like prey, mesmerized by a predator who had her well and truly trapped.

“You know who you remind me of?” he asked.

She shook her head.

“You remind me of an ex-girlfriend from back in the day. A sexy ass chick named Joanna. Well, she wasn’t an ex-girlfriend. She was . . . what do the kids call it nowadays? A hookup. A fuck buddy. She looked a lot like you. Cute face, little waist, big, juicy titties, and a fat ass. Man, she loved to fuck. And she loved to suck dick too. I mean, loved it! Trust me, that was like finding gold! Ain’t many chicks sucking dick in those days. Unless you paid for it.”

The profanity startled Bianca. She had never heard him curse before. He circled in front of her again, and she glanced down again to see his erection was long and strong and showed no signs of going down. If anything, it looked even larger and stronger.

“I fucked her everywhere. In the shed, out in the woods, in the root cellar, even snuck into the church and did it there a time or two . . . I gave her this fat dick every chance she got, and I never pulled out. It was a miracle I never knocked her up.”

He smiled his sly predator smile.

“I was dating Gloria the whole time I was fucking Joanna.” He put a finger up to his lips. “Shhh . . . don’t tell her. God knows I love her, but she would not give up the pussy at all. Not even a taste. So Joanna got all this good, long dick.”

The day was hot and the water warm, but Bianca’s blood was ice cold and she trembled at his gaze.

“Know what I liked about Joanna the most?” he asked, stopping in front of her.

“What?” she asked, her voice barely audible.

“She looked innocent,” he said. “You should have seen her, sitting in the front pew of church next to her momma and daddy, praying and singing like a sweet angel. But I’d sit in church, remembering how the night before she was butt nekkid on her knees sucking this fat dick. Man oh man, I sat in church many a Sunday right next to Gloria, thinking of all the nasty things Joanna and I did.”

Will resumed walking circles around her.

“Then one day she was just gone. Didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. Her parents shipped her off down south. Last I heard, she got married to some preacher, some hick who probably doesn’t know the first thing about how to please that pussy. Anyway, the first time I saw you, that’s what I thought about. You’re just like her, with your big titties and fat ass. Same kind of innocent look, too, but ain’t a thing innocent about you. I can tell.”

He grabbed her hand and thrust it between his legs.

“Will, what are you doing?”

“This is what you want, isn’t it?”

Without waiting for her reply, he roughly ripped off her bathing suit top and tossed it into the deep end of the pool. His actions rendered her speechless, and he took advantage of her shock and thrust his hand roughly between her legs. Involuntarily, she opened her legs wider to grant him better access, and he smiled cruelly. I knew you wanted it, bitch, his smile seemed to say. He led her from the pool, lay her down on the hard concrete, and quickly removed her swimsuit bottom. She lay naked and soaking wet under him, and he smiled again as he placed the head of his penis between her legs. Then with one hard, brutal, thrust, he plunged its full, thick length inside of her.

“Will . . . what . . .”

“Cut the shit, bitch. You know you want it,” he said. He put a hand on her neck and expertly squeezed, hard enough for her to struggle for breath but not enough to cut it off entirely.

God help her, she did want it.

She quickly stopped struggling as the feeling of his strong hand on her neck and the sensation of his insistent, rhythmic strokes overcame her, and she spread her legs wider.

“Yes,” she said. “Take it, take it!”

And he obliged.

When multiple orgasms made her weak as a kitten, Will turned her over and entered her in a way she’d never experienced. He went slowly, but it was still painful. And she reveled in the pain, almost blacking out from sheer pleasure.

She’d loved Will’s rough handling of her body, the feel of his lips and tongue in places his son long neglected. She’d loved how Will didn’t treat her like some precious breakable object like her husband did.

She’d loved Will’s rough handling of her body, the feel of his lips and tongue in places his son long neglected. She’d loved how Will didn’t treat her like some precious breakable object like her husband did.


He hadn’t cared if she was ready. He simply spread her legs and took what he wanted while saying the filthiest, most degrading, most amazing things anyone ever said to her. He saw past the false suburban wife facade and told her the things he saw so clearly inside her head. He said he recognized her for the dirty whore she was the moment his son brought her home. He’d been thinking of this for years, and now her entire body belonged to him, and he could have it any time he wanted. She wouldn’t say a word about it, ever. If she did, the world would see past her facade, too, and finally realize how dirty she truly was, inside and out.

He read her like a book. And God help her, he was right. He was so right!

She was freshly violated in the backyard of their dream home, where their children played, where they made a life together, and she didn’t care. Her vagina and ass throbbed painfully, but she didn’t care. She lay naked and exposed, her father-in-law’s seed drying to a hard crust on her body, and she simply did not care. She had faithlessly betrayed her loving husband with his father.

She. Did. Not. Care.

After a while, she tried to dress herself, but her mind could not make sense of whether she should put the swimsuit back on before the T-shirt or which foot each flip-flop went on. Finally, she abandoned her clothes and stumbled naked into the house, her mind a blank, the better to enjoy the bewildering, amazing, terrifying new sensations.

In the days and weeks following, Will took her whenever he wanted. And he wanted her a lot, multiple times per day. Every morning after taking Ed to the train station, she sped home to Will. She parked the car in the garage, shedding her clothes as she went. He was always naked and ready for her and she for him. They did it everywhere. In the bedroom, in the children’s rooms, in the garage, on top of the washing machine. Will’s drive and stamina were amazing for a man his age. Hell, it was amazing for a man of any age.

Each time was better than the last. He knew of countless ways to bring her to quick and devastating orgasms, leaving her weak and useless for hours. He used his lips, tongue, and even his teeth to make her scream his name as climax after earth-shattering climax possessed her body. The rough, taboo sex that hurt the first time became rougher and still painful, but she didn’t care. She was addicted and didn’t give a damn about the pain. She only wanted him inside her, and it didn’t matter where he entered so long as he did, and the rougher the better.

When she and Ed made love, it was slow and gentle, and he took pains to hold and caress her afterward, telling her how much he loved her. If he only knew this treatment only made her feel so much more unworthy, so much more unlike the queen he held her up to be. She hated it, but she tolerated it because she knew it was his way of showing her love and affection.

Will, on the other hand, took what he wanted, slow and gentle be damned. He continued to call her filthy names and treat her like a slut and did it with a smile that said he was one hundred percent sure of his control over her. When he was done, he shot his seed wherever he wanted, whether inside her body or anywhere on it, then he pulled his clothes back on without even offering a towel to clean her up. To him, she was only a collection of holes for his pleasure, and God help her, she simply could not get enough.

Bianca’s dread grew as the day drew closer to Will completing the work on the house and returning home. She had grown addicted to the sex and could not imagine living without being violated daily. She cried the day he returned home and continued crying every day for a week, until her husband, suspicious at his wife’s sadness and sudden mood swings, confronted her. That was when she lied and claimed the affair with a nonexistent ex.

Part of her felt better at the false confession, hoping his fury would be the catalyst for him to manhandle and punish her. She hoped he would grab her neck and choke her as his father did so expertly; she hoped the anger would overwhelm him and he would throw her around the room before roughly taking her by force, reclaiming what was his. Her heart beat with anticipation as she lied about what she had done, and she watched with glee as his face grew darker and his body become tense. The story grew more salacious by the second, and she reveled in the telling of the lies, adding embellishments and obscenely graphic details designed to stoke his rage and provoke the inevitable explosion. When she finished, veins stood out on Ed’s temples, his fists were clenched, and his breath came in short, angry bursts. She watched his hands carefully, waiting for the inevitable flare of temper that would surely result in her man using his big, strong hands to give her the punishment she richly deserved.

It never came.

“Is that all?” he asked.


“Are you sure?”


His fists were still clenched, but he closed his eyes and took several deep breaths until the veins pulsing at his temples subsided. He unclenched his fists, which had been clamped so hard his fingernails left deep, crescent-shaped marks in his palms. As Bianca watched with dismay, his breathing returned to normal, and his eyes regained their gentle look. He sighed. Then without another word, he left their home.

A shocked and disappointed Bianca watched as he drove away. She hoped to bear the brunt of Ed’s anger, but she knew her husband was a calm man who, like his mother, prided himself on his control over his emotions. Control or not, she reasoned, no husband in the world would stay calm for long after hearing the filthy things his wife did with another man.

She hoped against hope the time apart would serve to fuel the fires of her husband’s anger. She fantasized about him storming home in a rage, kicking the door open, and grabbing her by the neck with his big, strong hands, choking her until she struggled for breath. She would try to move his hands from her throat, but he would be much too strong. Once she was weak from lack of oxygen, he would lift her skirt and rip her panties cruelly off her body before bending her over and roughly violating her, leaving marks and bruises for her to treasure. It wouldn’t be long before he would finish, leaving the evidence of his violation on her face, her chest. Then he would walk away and leave her where she lay, bruised and battered and violated.

And happy.

Like father. Like son.

She hoped, she prayed, but no such luck.

When he returned hours later, he seemed like his old self. Ed was completely calm and reasonable and assured her he’d forgiven her, and they would quickly move past the indiscretion and regain their lost happiness. He resolved to be a better husband and spend more time with her and the boys so her mind would be at ease. He would be such an attentive, loving, and dedicated husband she would never again be tempted to stray.

Bianca forced a smile as she thanked him for forgiving her, then she hugged her sweet and gentle husband while shedding crocodile tears and mouthing the right lies.

Inside, she wanted to scream.

An hour later, she still lay wide awake in the dark beside Ed, confused by this new person she’d become. No, not new. She had mentally cast off the disguise she’d worn for so long to reveal the person she always was, she now realized. All her life she believed she was strong and confident and capable, an independent woman with the power to change the world.


Lies of the worst kind, because they were lies she told herself.

She wasn’t any of those things, not even close.

Will opened her eyes to her truth. All she was was a body that craved punishment and subjugation, with absolutely nothing to offer but a collection of orifices that, God help her, she would gladly offer up to anyone, anyone at all, who could give her what she wanted and treat her the way she needed to be treated.

At that moment, her life changed irrevocably, for she knew with certainty she was damaged. She knew she could never get what she so desperately needed from her gentle and oh-so-loving husband happily snoring next to her. She could never go back to slow, romantic, weak, lovemaking or live each day treated like a delicate queen. She didn’t want that life. Not anymore.

At that moment, her life changed irrevocably, for she knew with certainty she was damaged. She knew she could never get what she so desperately needed from her gentle and oh-so-loving husband happily snoring next to her. She could never go back to slow, romantic, weak, lovemaking or live each day treated like a delicate queen.

She didn’t want that life. Not anymore.

She wasn’t worthy of that kind of love.

She wept silently as she imagined being held tenderly in her husband’s arms, subject to his sweet, pathetic words of love falling like burning acid onto her. Ed’s love once comforted her, but now those days were over.

They were over forever.

She knew that now.

She was ruined.


“What did I say, bitch? Sit the fuck down! Didn’t I tell you this wasn’t over?”

Veronica’s eyes went wide with shock and fear, but she did as Laura ordered.

The rest of the women stood still as statues, all eyes locked on the woman with the gun.

“Now what, bitch?” Laura asked with an evil grin. “Not so chatty now, huh?”

“Laura, this is crazy,” Veronica said. “You can’t just—”

“Oh? I can’t what? I think I can, bitch, and I sure as hell am. I told you this shit wasn’t over.”

Just then the muted ring of a cell phone sounded.

“Whose phone is that?” Laura asked, waving the gun around wildly.

There was no answer, and she pointed the gun at each of the women in turn.

“Whose fucking phone is that?” she asked again.

“It’s m-mine,” Kristin stammered.

“Turn it the fuck off,” Laura ordered. “Matter of fact, all you bitches, get your phones out and turn them off.”

The women hesitated, no one willing to make the first move.

“Now!” Laura screamed.

Slowly, they all reached into purses and pockets to get their mobile phones.

“Turn them off,” Laura ordered.

There was a series of beeps and buzzes as the devices powered down. A large, decorative bowl of potpourri sat near Laura, and she grabbed it and emptied it, causing dried flowers, cedar wood shavings and mint leaves to fall in a pile onto the floor. She then gestured toward the empty bowl with the gun.

“Put them in the bowl.”

One by one, the women filed past her and dropped their phones into the bowl then stood as far away from Laura as they could get.

“You, too, whore,” Laura said to Veronica.

Veronica reached for her purse, removed her phone, and began to walk over to the bowl, but Laura stopped her.

“No, bitch. Stay right here. Gimme your phone.”

Veronica returned to the spot she had vacated and handed Laura her device.

Suddenly, Laura took the phone and smashed it against Veronica’s head. It fell to the floor, miraculously undamaged, unlike Veronica, who held onto the arm of a couch to keep from falling, the side of her face rapidly swelling where she had been struck. For a moment, no one spoke. Then Maya approached Laura, anger on her pretty features.

“Wanna be a hero, bitch?” Laura said, pointing the revolver at her. “Go ahead. Do something. I dare you!”

“Maya, just do what she says,” Tina said, pulling her back.

“Believe me, bitch, I don’t have a problem blowing your goddamn brains out, so do what the fuck I say,” Laura said.

She moved closer to the immobile Veronica and pressed the gun into her forehead, moving her manicured finger toward the trigger.

“I knew I would catch up to you one day and give you what you deserved. Just one bullet is all it will take. Quick and clean,” she said, smiling.

A soft voice came from the corner of the room. “If you shoot her, it will be quick,” it said, “but not clean at all.”

“Who said that?” Laura asked, waving the gun toward the group of cowering women.

No one answered for a moment. Then Dr. Dee detached and stepped forward.

“I did. I said it,” the Indian woman said softly, holding up her hand.

“Dr. Dee, don’t,” said Kristin.

“Shut up, bitch,” said Laura, swiftly turning the gun in Kristin’s direction. Kristin paled and quickly stopped speaking.

“You’re a doctor?” Laura asked Deepa.

“Yes,” Deepa said. “If you shoot her, it won’t be—”

“Shut the hell up. I didn’t ask you for your opinion. Go sit the fuck down.”

Deepa’s face reddened, but she remained standing.

Brooke spoke up. “She’s right. It’s gonna be messy as fuck.”

“Brooke, don’t antagonize her,” Gloria said.

“I didn’t ask your fucking opinion either,” Laura shouted, pointing the gun at Brooke.

Brooke glanced at the weapon pointed at her chest and chuckled.

“Oh, you think this is funny?” Laura asked.

“Listen, lady,” Brooke said, “this ain’t some movie. There ain’t no special effects. This is real! If you shoot that chick in the head, they’ll be scrubbin’ brains out of the furniture for weeks.”

“I don’t give a shit,” Laura said.

Deepa took a small, hesitant step forward. “Please, don’t hurt her,” she pleaded, tears starting to run down her face.

“Goddamn it, didn’t I tell you to sit down?”

Deepa ignored the order and took another step forward toward the bleeding Veronica. “Please just let me look at her head. She is bleeding, she might have a—”

Laura threw her hands up in exasperation. “Why are these bitches so concerned about you?” she asked Veronica. “Are they your friends? Did you tell these bitches all the juicy details when you were fucking my husband!”

“He was your husband,” Veronica said. “Then he divorced you and married me.”

“It wasn’t hard, was it?” Laura asked, ignoring Veronica’s statement. “David was, what, twenty-five years older than you? Easiest thing in the world to bat those big Latin eyes and twitch that fat Latin ass and show him them big, juicy Latin tits. It probably wasn’t long before you had that weak asshole by the balls.”

Veronica began to cry and Laura grinned, happy to see her words were having an effect.

“I bet you put it on him reallllll good,” Laura continued. “I can see it now, David’s skinny ass with you in bed. Pathetic! I bet he got himself some little blue pills, and you did all the nasty things whores like you know how to do. Then when he shot his pitiful little load, I bet you told him he was the best you ever had, didn’t you?”

“That is not the way it happened,” Veronica said, her eyes red with tears.

“And you kept on giving it to him real good, I bet. As much as he wanted, whenever he wanted. Did he fuck you in the office? In our house? Did you hide underneath his desk on your knees and service him while he was on the phone telling me lies about working late?”

“That is not what happened,” Veronica said again.

“I bet it wasn’t long before you had the old man exactly where you wanted him. You got him addicted to hot young pussy, then you convinced him to divorce his wife of thirty years. Then one day you gave it to him extra, extra good, and his old heart just couldn’t take it. I have to hand it to you, you had a plan and you stuck to it.”

“I bet it wasn’t long before you had the old man exactly where you wanted him. You got him addicted to hot young pussy, then you convinced him to divorce his wife of thirty years. Then one day you gave it to him extra, extra good, and his old heart just couldn’t take it. I have to hand it to you, you had a plan and you stuck to it.”

Veronica wiped her tears and composed herself. “You have one thing right,” she said. “He had a plan. The plan was to get away from you as soon as possible. He finally woke up and realized you were poison, Laura. Toxic. He could not wait to get away from you.”

“You shut up, bitch. David loved me. He did.”

“No, he didn’t. Not anymore. He used to love you, but one day he saw you for what you really are, and he just felt sorry for you.”

“You shut up. He loved me!” Laura bellowed. “He loved me!”

Laura grabbed a handful of Veronica’s long hair, yanked her head back, then placed the revolver’s stubby muzzle flush against her forehead. The cylinder had five identical holes drilled into the shiny steel, holes that seemed small until you saw them up close. Then, they looked like huge caves from which death emerged at subsonic speed. Bullets peeked out from the darkness of the holes like deadly eels poking their heads ever so slightly from their dens.

“Laura, please,” Kristin said. She took a hesitant step toward the woman with the gun, her eyes filling with tears. “Please don’t hurt her.”

“You’re so concerned about her, but this slut could have done it to any of you. Any of you! One day my husband was sweet and loving, then out of the blue, BAM! D-I-V-O-R-C-E. No explanation, just some stranger giving me papers and meetings with lawyers. Didn’t take me long to figure out there was a little Latin whore whispering in his ear.”

“Please, Laura,” Kristin implored. “You don’t have to kill her.”

The angry look on Laura’s face faded, replaced by one of confusion. She released her death grip on Veronica’s hair and unlocked the gun.

“I don’t have to kill her? What the fuck do you know about me or what I have to do?” she asked, waving the gun in Kristin’s face.

Kristin opened her mouth to speak, but the gun just inches away from her face, made her speechless. All she could think about was Lucas, her son, coming home to find dead bodies in their living room.

“I . . . I . . . have a son . . . please . . .”

“So what, bitch? So fucking what? I have kids too. Or I did. I had a whole goddamn family. I was happy,” she said as she lifted the gun and pointed it at Veronica’s head. “I was happy!”

“Please . . . you don’t have to hurt her,” Kristin pleaded once again. She wiped her tears and tried to fight the fear that threatened to overwhelm her. “You don’t have to hurt anybody. We can talk about—”

“I was happy!” Laura screamed again. “And now I have nothing! All because of this whore!” she screamed, waving the gun around and pacing the room frantically, never taking her eyes off of Veronica.

Kristin swallowed hard and tried to find her voice.

“I’m really sorry that happened to you,” she said. “I can see that you’re in pain, but I don’t think she deserves to die for what she did. Look what you did to her face. Isn’t that enough?”

Laura laughed.

“No, bitch, it’s not enough! It’s not nearly enough.”

“Please, Laura, don’t do this.”

Laura raised the gun and pointed it at Veronica.

“Please, Laura,” Kristin said again. “Shooting her isn’t going to bring your husband back.”

“No, it won’t,” Laura agreed. “But she took my life away from me. She took my family away from me. She’s gonna get what she deserves.”

She turned her attention to Veronica and raised the gun again, her hand shaking visibly.

“Laura don’t,” Kristin said. “You don’t really want to do this. It’s just the anger talking. But if we just take a minute to—”

“Why the fuck do you care what happens to her anyway, huh?” Laura interrupted Kristin. “Why do any of you care what happens to her?”

“I-I just don’t think she deserves to die for what she did.”

“Are you a whore too? Is that it? You fucking someone’s else man like this whore did?”

Kristin’s eyes went wide and her heart skipped a beat. She didn’t think it was possible to be more terrified than she was, but at Veronica’s question, her blood ran cold, and for a second, she believed with all her soul that Veronica somehow knew her secret.

“Is that it, bitch?” Veronica asked again, looking at Kristin through narrowed eyes. “Then you deserve one of these bullets too.”

She drew the hammer back with a murderous click that caused each woman’s heart to beat a little bit faster. Two things happened simultaneously: the trigger moved backward almost as far as it could go, and the cylinder’s action revolved precisely and smoothly, placing a bullet directly in the path of the poised hammer. Laura smiled, then pointed the gun directly at Kristin’s face.


“Kris, I gotta go, honey.”

Kristin knew this was coming but dreaded it all the same.

“I know, baby. Just five more minutes?”

Ed smiled. “Okay. Five minutes.”

Kristin lay her head on his chest, savoring their last minutes together. For the hundredth time in the two hours since Ed had been in her bed, she was tempted to reveal his wife’s secret. It had taken her a few hours to process Bianca’s confession, and to her surprise, her reaction had been anger. Anger not for what Bianca did—after all, who was she to judge—but for who she’d done it with. She couldn’t believe Bianca would sleep with her husband’s father. Disgusting!

There were some things you just didn’t do. It was unforgivable.

After much thought, she resolved to tell Ed everything. After all, both his wife and his father had betrayed him. The entire foundation of Ed’s family structure was rotten, and it was up to her to let him know it. Wasn’t it? After all, Ed was fast becoming much than just a lover and she had an obligation to him. Or so she tried to convince herself before her training as a psychologist kicked in and she questioned her motives for wanting to tell Ed. She had no moral ground whatsoever to stand on. After all, earlier that day she’d lied to her best friend about having to see a patient, and now she lay naked with that same best friend’s husband after making love to him for the past two hours. She knew she was being a hypocrite; her betrayal was just as bad.

But still . . .

She thought often of how she came to this, in bed with her best friend’s husband every chance she got. She loved being with Ed, despite the guilt she felt when she thought about the lies they both told in order to be together. Since their affair began, guilt was ever present, but it evaporated the moment Ed climbed into her bed, only to reappear again with a vengeance the moment he left. The only way of dealing with it was to recall how it felt when he held her, when they made love, when they looked into each other’s eyes. It wasn’t only the sex. That was part of it, but the best part of being with Ed was how much he needed her. She felt his body melt when she hugged him and when he kissed her . . . My God, when he kissed her, he meant it. He was happy when he was with her, and she loved that, needed that, guilt be damned. Even so, every time she saw Bianca, the guilt reared up like a wild stallion, and she was forced to beat it back into submission.

She put the guilty thoughts out of her head, she didn’t have much time left with Ed tonight, so she hugged him closer and tried to enjoy the few moments they had left, but her mind couldn’t help but replay how their affair began.

That first night began horribly.

Her ex-husband, Stan, promised to take their son, Lucas, to a hockey game, but at the last minute, he decided to cancel. Instead of calling with the bad news, he came by to give it in person. Not because he wanted to apologize in person, but because he wanted to see the rise he got out of her. She knew because he had done it a thousand times. She’d let him in, but one look at his smug face, and she knew he was going to disappoint Lucas. Again.

“Stan, you’re going to break your son’s heart. You know that, right?” she’d said to him.

“Don’t overreact, Kristin. Lucas will be fine. He’s a big boy.”

“He’s only ten years old, Stan, and you promised to take him to the Devils game weeks ago. You have no idea how much he’s looked forward to this. He’s upstairs getting ready right now.”

“This isn’t the only hockey game they’ll play. It’s a long season. I’ll make it up to him. Stop making everything such a big fucking deal!”

Stan picked up a banana from the fruit bowl on the counter and began to peel it, but Kristin slapped it from his hand.

“Ow! What the hell?”

“This isn’t your house anymore, and this isn’t your food.”

Stan grinned.

“C’mon, hon, be nice to me. What’s the matter?” He put one arm around her waist, and the other hand snaked around to rub her ample backside.

“The fruit isn’t the only thing you don’t get to sample anymore in this house,” she said as she grabbed his hand and squeezed his long, thin fingers. She knew Stan had a thing about his precious hands. He was a plastic surgeon, and his career depended on them.

“That’s not funny, Kristin . . . c’mon . . .ow, ow, what the hell?”

“Don’t ever touch me again, Stan. Next time, I’ll break them.” She gave his fingers one last vicious squeeze then released him.

“I didn’t want to touch your fat ass anyway,” Stan whined as he massaged his hand.

Kristin rolled her eyes. Same old Stan. If he didn’t get what he wanted, he immediately got nasty. There was a time when his remark would have caused her to run crying from the room, but those days were long gone. Being with him forced her to develop a thick skin.

“It might be fat,” she shot back, “but Bruce enjoyed it. He enjoyed it a whole lot.”

“Didn’t we agree to never bring that up again?” Stan asked, turning red.

“I never agreed to that,” she said, grinning.

Stan looked on the verge of tears, and she couldn’t help but twist the knife.

“And for your information, my ass isn’t too fat. Your hand is too tiny. And that’s not the only thing too small to handle me.”

Stan’s eyes got the fake hurt puppy dog look that used to touch her heart and make her do stupid things in the name of love. “Fuck you, Kristin.”

“What are you going to tell our son, Stan?” she asked. “Your new girlfriend got tickets to Ariana Grande so you’re going with her instead of taking him to the game?”

“Hey, for your information, Ariana Grande is very talented. Those tickets were super expensive.”

Kristin threw up her hands. “Are you being serious right now? You are forty-two years old. What the hell are you gonna do at an Ariana Grande concert? You’ll be the only one there with hair plugs.”

“See, that’s why we’re not married anymore. You’re an emasculator. Energon says your emotional insecurity causes you to try and emotionally castrate me, but—”

“Come again? Megatron said what?”

“Energon! My energy coach. He’s helping me to grow my aura.”

Kristin rolled her eyes. “Megatron,” she repeated. “Good grief. Is Optimus Prime there too?”

“I said his name is Energon and that’s exactly the type of thing he warned me about. My energy is all over the place because of you. He said if you would quit putting shame in my pride bucket, then maybe I could get over my fear of intimacy and be a better partner in my new relationship.”

“Hang on! So the fact you’re a shit boyfriend is my fault? Please let Megatron know you were a shit husband, fast becoming a shit father.”

Stan hung his head, and Kristin knew she had struck a nerve.

“Are you finished?” he asked.

“No, I’m not, you delusional, narcissistic, little worm! Tell Galvatron—”


“Whatever! Tell your energy being it has nothing to do with your aura or filling your damn pride mug. We’re not married anymore because you shoved your pathetic little prick into your nurse.

“Whatever! Tell your energy being it has nothing to do with your aura or filling your damn pride mug. We’re not married anymore because you shoved your pathetic little prick into your nurse. Oh, pardon me, you shoved your pathetic little prick into your bimbo nurse after she made you gift her a new set of tits. Not your best work, by the way.”

“Screw you. I did a great job on Flossie’s boobs,” Stan said, pouting.

“Maybe you’re right. Soon as she got them, she found herself a bigger sugar daddy. He’s enjoying the hell outta them, I bet.”

“That’s not true!”

“Didn’t she meet some rich old guy and move to Venice?”

“Milan. And she didn’t ditch me. We . . . grew apart.”

Kristin rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. Stan, you want to be a better person? Fine. Tell Megatron to teach you how to be a father to your son.”

“Energon,” Stan said in a sad, defeated tone. “I have to go. Your negative vibe is sending me down a shame spiral right now. Energon said when you target me with your anger arrows, I should get away from your toxicity and do something to fill my emotional bucket.”

“What am I supposed to tell our son, Stan?” she asked his back as he walked out the door.

“Tell him I’ll make it up to him,” he shouted. She heard the door slam on his midlife-crisis Tesla before he peeled away.

“Fuck!” she said, pounding the dining room table in frustration just as Lucas ran down the stairs wearing his New Jersey Devils jersey, looking around for his father. He didn’t see him, and the look of disappointment on his face broke her heart.

“I thought I heard Dad. Did he leave?”

“I’m sorry, honey. He said he’d . . .”

“Make it up to me?”

“I’m sorry, honey,” she said again as she put her arm around him.

“It’s okay,” Lucas replied. “It was going to be weird anyway. Brandy was coming to the game, too, and Dad acts like a stupid teenager when he’s around her.”

Lucas acted like he didn’t care, but she could tell he was disappointed. He took his beloved jersey off and threw it in a crumpled heap on the couch.

“Can I spend the night at Bobby’s house, Mom?” he asked. “I can watch the game with him and his dad.”

“Sure, if his mom says it’s okay.”

After a phone call to her neighbor to confirm it was okay for him to spend the night, Lucas packed his handheld video game and his pj’s into his backpack, hugged his mom, and ran out the door. Kristin watched from the window as he ran down the block and into his friend Bobby’s house. Once he was safely inside, she dropped onto the couch next to Lucas’s jersey and let the tears flow freely. Stan’s self-centeredness ruined their marriage, and now it would probably ruin his relationship with his son too.

The doorbell rang, and she quickly wiped her tears and answered it.

“Hey, Lucas, did you forget . . .” she began but stopped when she saw it wasn’t her son at the door. It was Ed, her friend Bianca’s husband, looking flustered and confused.

“Ed,” she said, surprised. “Is everything okay?” She looked behind him into the driveway. “Where’s Bianca?”

“She’s . . . she’s not here. She’s at home. Hey, do you think I could come in for a minute?”

“Of course, come on in.”

“What’s the matter, Ed? What’s going on?” she asked after he dropped wearily onto her couch.

“I’m sorry, Kristin,” he said. “I shouldn’t have come here. It’s just . . .something happened with Bianca, and I was hoping . . . I mean, I know you guys are close, I was hoping . . .”

“Ed, it’s okay. Just tell me what happened. Is Bianca okay? The boys? What happened?”

At the mention of his wife’s name, Ed’s eyes flashed with rage.

“Apparently . . .” He sighed and tried to compose himself. “She’s been . . .” He made a face as if saying the words physically hurt. “She’s been having an affair. Did you know anything about it?”

Kristin recoiled in shock.

“That cannot be true, Ed. There is no affair! Bianca loves you. She wouldn’t do that!”

“She confessed, Kristin.”

“She what?”

“You heard me. She confessed. She told me the whole disgusting story. She met up with an ex, and they had sex in some dirty motel.”

“I don’t believe it. Bianca would never.”

“She told me everything,” Ed repeated. “You should have seen her. She told me the guy practically assaulted her and how much she loved it!”

“What the? Assaulted? She said that?”

“Yes. In detail.” He closed his eyes, but a tear squeezed out. “She said—”

“Ed, you don’t have to tell me. It’s okay.”

“No, I want to,” he said. “I know . . . I know you know how it feels since Stan cheated too. I guess I just wanted to talk to someone who’s been through this, you know? Someone who could relate.”

She nodded. She sure could.

Kristin held his hand and was alarmed at the tension in his body. His muscular forearm was knotted and hard and every vein was visible.

“She said he . . . he grabbed her and pulled her hair,” he continued. “He ripped her panties off and he—God, I can’t even say it—he took all her clothes off, then he smacked her on her ass. No, not just smacked. He spanked her. That’s the way she put it. She got spanked like she was a disobedient child.”

Kristin could not believe what she was hearing. If anyone other than Ed was telling her this, she would be laughing in disbelief.

“He spanked her, until her ass was red. That’s what my whore of a wife said to her fucking husband!” He put his face in his hands.

“Ed, you don’t have to tell me any more. Really.”

“No, I want. You haven’t heard the best part. Then she said . . . he . . . fucked her. That’s just the way she said it. Not had sex, not made love, no, they fucked. Like two disgusting animals. Then he choked her. He choked her while they were . . . fucking,” Ed spat the words out as if they made a rotten taste. He stopped talking, and Kristin offered him a Kleenex.

“Then she said . . . God, I can’t believe this. Then she said he . . .”

“What did he do?” Kristin asked in a whisper.

“They had . . . anal sex. He made her beg for it. She literally got on her knees and begged.”

Kristin didn’t think she could be more surprised, but this bit of the story almost made her fall off the couch in shock. “She did what?”

Ed cried again, his body deflated.

“I don’t know the person you told me about,” Kristin said. “It sounds like you’re talking about a stranger.”

“That’s what I thought too. It’s like my wife transformed into another person overnight.”

Kristin wished there was something she could say. The story Ed told had left her speechless. She had noticed a change in Bianca over the past few weeks. She’d become withdrawn and distant, and her mind always seemed to be elsewhere.

“You know what the worst thing was?” Ed asked.

She shook her head.

“Her face. It lit up when she told me about the disgusting things she did. I actually think she expected me to do the same things. How could she betray me like this, Kristin? I do everything for her and our boys. I work hard to give her a good life and she . . .”

He hung his head, and his eyes teared up once again. He tried to turn away so Kristin wouldn’t see his tears, but the emotion got the better of him and he broke down.

She knew all too well what he meant, having herself felt the sharp sting of betrayal. For years she, too, had worked hard for her spouse. She’d stood by his side as he built his plastic surgery practice, putting her own career on hold while the practice grew. She’d been a maid, nanny, secretary, bookkeeper, cook, and janitor for him, and in the end, it hadn’t been enough.

She was surprised to find she was furious at Bianca. Too many times to count Kristin had confided in her about Stan’s betrayal and how much it hurt her then and still did, and then Bianca went ahead and did the very same thing to her husband.

That damn fool, she thought. She has everything, and she throws it away.

She put her arm around Ed’s shoulders and drew him closer. The tears were still wet on his cheeks, and she wiped them away. He looked at her face, also wet with tears, and his eyes opened wide with concern.

“Kristin, you’re crying? What’s going on?”

“I know how you feel,” she said. She began crying again, and now it was his turn to wipe her tears away, caressing her cheek as he did so.

“I’m sorry I upset you,” he said. “I shouldn’t have come here. I thought maybe . . . I don’t know what I thought. I should go.”

“No. It’s okay. Stay. Please.”

He caressed her cheek again, and she closed her eyes and leaned into his large hand, savoring his gentle touch on her skin. She wasn’t surprised when she felt his lips on hers, and she kissed him back with a passion she never expected to feel again. Ed pulled her onto him, but she resisted. The one time she’d straddled her husband, he’d complained she weighed too much. The disgusted look on his face made her so self-conscious and humiliated she’d vowed never, ever, to make that embarrassing mistake again.

“What?” Ed asked.

“I’m too . . . heavy,” she whispered, ashamed.

“No. No you’re not!” he said as he easily pulled her up onto him and kissed her passionately. She gasped in pleasure as he gently ran his hand over her curves, then pulled her blouse up over her head before he reached around and gently used both hands to unhook her bra. Her breasts dropped heavily from the constricting garment, and he caressed them gently and ran her large, erect nipples between his fingers. She threw her head back and let herself enjoy his touch, then, wild with desire, she took his hand and led him upstairs to her bedroom.

Once there, he hesitated, as if the sight of the bed cemented in his mind the thing they were about to do. Kristin hesitated, as well. This was the moment of truth. They could stop now with little damage done, but she resisted the thought and quickly undressed him. Then she slipped off what was left of her clothes while he watched and joined him on the bed. Ed was a big man, but in bed, he seemed like a little boy waiting for her to take charge. That was okay with her. She took her time with him, smiling as she felt the tension draining from his body. His lovemaking was slow and sweet and steady. Nothing was rushed. He took his time exploring every inch of her. Her climax wasn’t earth-shattering. It, too, was slow and gentle, but she didn’t mind. She didn’t scream or shout, just gasped and held him tightly as it gently washed over her body.

“Kristin, just so you know, I didn’t come over her intending for this to happen,” Ed said a minute later when their rapid breathing had slowed, and they lay on the sweat-soaked sheets.

“I know.”

“I don’t want you to think I came over here to—”

“Ed, let’s not think,” she’d said.

She meant it. She didn’t want to think. Thinking meant she would have to acknowledge how she had just betrayed her best friend.

“This was great,” Ed said after a minute’s silence. “I mean, really, really, amazing. But we can’t do it again. I mean, never.”

“I know,” she admitted. “I … I loved it… but I think we made a mistake.”

He agreed, and they both comforted themselves by resolving not to compound the mistake by repeating it.

One week later, Ed was back at her door, and Kristin led him upstairs to her bedroom without a word. As she undressed him, she knew she’d been deluding herself. The week since their “mistake” had been torture. She’d spent it reliving their time together over and over again, wishing with all her soul they could be together, even if it were just one more time. Now that Ed was here, she knew there was no way they would stop. Their supposed one-time mistake would blossom into a full-blown affair.

One week later, Ed was back at her door, and Kristin led him upstairs to her bedroom without a word. As she undressed him, she knew she’d been deluding herself. The week since their “mistake” had been torture. She’d spent it reliving their time together over and over again, wishing with all her soul they could be together, even if it were just one more time. Now that Ed was here, she knew there was no way they would stop. Their supposed one-time mistake would blossom into a full-blown affair. She kissed his lips, then his chest, then moved lower. If you don’t want him, Bianca, Kristin had thought as she felt him grow even harder in her mouth, then I’ll gladly have him.

“I’m gonna go now, baby,” Ed said.

Kristin mentally kicked herself. The last few minutes they had together, and she had spent it thinking about the past. Time never meant so much, she now realized, as when you don’t have enough to spend with someone you cared about. The two or three hours she got to spend with Ed once or twice a week flew by too much too quickly.

“When will I see you again?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Soon I hope. The senator’s trial begins next week, so I’ll be going 24–7 until it’s over.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, rubbing his shoulders.

He shrugged. “I’ll live.” He turned a bedside light on and found his socks.

“But you know what kills me about the senator?” Ed asked. “What absolutely kills me is just because he’s a buddy of my father’s, he expects me to wave some kind of magic wand and get him off.”

That’s it, Kristin thought at Ed’s mention of his father. I’m going to tell him. I have to.

“Ed, I have something to tell—”

“You know, Kris, sometimes I really hate being a lawyer. I don’t know how my father did it for so many years. He’s just so good at handling people, you know? He makes it seem so effortless. The man has a talent for getting people to do what he wants them to do. I wish I were more like him,” he said, looking defeated. “Anyway, I’m sorry I interrupted. What did you want to tell me?”

The words she was so eager to say a minute ago died in Kristin’s throat, and she knew for certain she would never, ever tell Ed what she knew. Ed loved and respected his father, and if he were to find out what he did, his world would explode and he may never recover. Maybe one day Ed would find out how rotten his family had become, but not from her.

“I wanted to say good luck with the trial. I know you’re stressed out about it, but you’ll do great.”

“Thanks, baby. That means a lot.”

“Can you do me a favor, Ed?”

What’s that?”

“Stop comparing yourself to your dad. I know he was a great lawyer, but you’re not him. You’re your own man. And you’re great too.”

Ed smiled and hugged her tightly. “Thanks, Kris. I needed that.”

A few minutes later, Ed was gone, and Kristin waited for the crushing guilt that always settled in whenever Ed sneaked out her back door under cover of darkness to return to his family. Bianca had the type of man Kristin dreamed about: a good, kind, gentle, loving, hardworking man who she threw away without a second thought so she could get slapped, choked, and abused. And by her father-in-law no less. Still, that was no excuse. Kristin knew she was violating the most ironclad rule in the BFF rule book—never ever mess with your friend’s man. But now she didn’t care.

No, that wasn’t exactly true.

She did care.

But she was trying hard not to.

As much as Kristin tried to justify her actions, she knew she was wrong. The guilt might never go away, but for now, right this second, she had it under control. And for now, right this second, she would hold onto Ed. She would trace her fingers along his chest to memorize the contours of his body, she would inhale the scent of him and commit it to memory, she would meditate and quiet her mind using the rhythm of his breaths because when he was gone, the memories would be all she had until the next time he stole away to be with her.


end of excerpt

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