Tuesday

MY WIFE IS TRYING TO KILL ME







 
My short story, "My Wife Is Trying to Kill Me" has just been published in the online literary journal Slow Trains. You can read it here:

http://www.slowtrains.com/vol9issue4/webervol9issue4.html

There is strong language and sexual content, so if that's not your cup of tea, you may want to skip it.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

My Wife is Trying to Kill Me

It is a Tuesday afternoon in winter, and in less than an hour it will be dark outside. In Arizona, where we have a house on the fifth fairway of Cochise Golf Course, it is just a little past two. And if I were out there right now I would probably be finishing up the front nine with Posnick and Hanratty and Lerner. 

But I am not in Arizona, I am in my attic office in Ridgewood, New Jersey, where the thermometer just outside my window reads twenty-two degrees and there is half a foot of snow on the ground. No, I am not in Arizona because, as with so many other couples in their middle years, my wife’s career is blooming just as mine is nearing its end.

So instead of golfing, a pursuit which comes easily to me and to which I am hopelessly addicted, I am at this very moment trying to write a short story, though I haven’t a publisher, nor an agent, nor am I convinced I have anything much to say –- just a vague desire to wear a houndstooth jacket in the front of a classroom of adoring coeds sitting in a semi-circle on the floor, the prettiest ones in short skirts with their legs crossed at the ankle.

I am suffering from a slight head cold and have chosen not to do my usual half hour on the Exercycle. So I bathe earlier than is my custom (I have taken to bathing now that I am “semi”-retired), shave, and by the time I am finished dressing for dinner, it is only 5:45 and I have a whole two hours to kill before Miranda gets home from the office.  

I pour myself a Glenfiddich on the rocks and start the Times’ crossword puzzle.  My nose begins to drip copiously on the puzzle itself, and so I take a Benedryl, which soon mixes nicely with the scotch. Miranda phones and says she’s running late and doesn’t feel like cooking, so I should meet her at 8:15 over at the club for dinner and that the Dittricks and some friends of theirs are joining us. I finish the puzzle, pour myself another Glenfiddich, and watch “Access Hollywood” and then the first forty-five minutes of the Woody Allen clarinet documentary on the Independent Film Channel.


Stirring vaguely in the back of my mind is a question: Is this how I will spend the rest of my days? While I worked, there were dramas. Would I land the Home Depot account? Would Uncle make me president of the family business, or would he pick one of his own children? Would I leave Miranda for the young art director who designed our product brochures and with whom I was having an affair (or should I say screwing on the side) and start a new family?

If there are any, what will the new dramas be? Will Dolly, our eldest, get into med school? Will the stock markets suddenly tumble, forcing me to go back to work? Will Miranda leave me for one of her partners, the surprisingly handsome Rahim Sen Sharma? Will I be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis?

Don Dittrick’s friends turn out to be the young bond trader, Eric Handelsman. He has jet-black hair and an imperious air. Although I am at least a decade his elder, I find myself playing to the man, just as I did to my father, another imperious man with dark hair. I plan on ordering a salad and the swordfish, but when the waiter comes I can’t bear the thought of an entire meal that I won’t really enjoy. At the last second, I switch to the French onion soup (after all, I have a cold), and the New York strip.

“The eight ounce or the fourteen, Mr. Phayer?”

“The eight,” Miranda answers for me.

“No, Edgar, make it the fourteen,” I say. “I had a salad for lunch,” I tell Miranda, and she raises her eyebrows skeptically.

All evening long Miranda leans over and touches Handelsman on the arm; and though I try not to look, I am mesmerized. What is it with middle-aged women? They do so much more pawing than they did in their twenties and thirties. Are they marking potential new mates in case their present one dumps them for a younger woman, or is stricken with pancreatic cancer? Do they live in such dread of spending the next twenty-five years alone?

In my agitation, I drink a third and fourth glass of cabernet and then cap the evening by ordering a double Courvoisier V.S.O.P., straight up. Edgar brings me a giant snifter that must contain eight full ounces of cognac. I plan on drinking only half, but as we get up to leave I notice I’ve emptied the entire glass.

When we get into bed and she turns out the light, I tell Miranda she touched Eric Handelsman on the arm (I pick a number out of the air) eighty-three times.

“I did not,” she counters.

“You did, too. Every time you sit next to a guy with a lot of money, you touch his arm. The more money he has, the more you touch him.”

“That’s absurd,” she says.

We’ve had this discussion before. I know I’m not going to get anywhere, but I take a perverse pleasure in irritating Miranda nonetheless, like working a scab. In the early years, like most young men, my jealousy consumed me. Perhaps it was all the testosterone. Now I rather enjoy it. Would I really want a woman who only had eyes for me?

Miranda pulls the blanket over her shoulder and turns her back to me. I work my way under the blanket until I am pressing my crotch against her bare behind. My stomach feels bloated with steak, and I don’t fit against Miranda as snugly as I do in the morning.

“God, I ate too much,” I groan. “I feel like an anaconda who has just ingested a peccary.”

“What’s a peccary?”

“A small, wild boor. Like a javalina.”

“What’s a javalina?”

“It’s in the peccary family.”

I begin to rub Miranda’s belly. “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asks.

“Mmmmmm.”

“I thought you were getting a cold.”

“Just the sniffles.”

“Well, just don’t kiss me,” she says, rolling onto her back. Some friends confide they have absolutely no desire to have sex with their wives anymore. Others joke about the savagery with which their wives squelch their advances. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised at Miranda’s compliance.

Sometimes I think that when we married, we struck an unarticulated deal: she gives me sex, I give her money. Only now, with Miranda bringing in more money than I, how does that affect the contract?

I roll over on top of her, and she moistens the tip of my penis with her saliva and guides me into her, centimeters at a time. “Slowly,” she says. “Slowly.”

Why have I initiated this? My erection is half-hearted, and clearly Miranda is not even remotely aroused.

I have trouble reaching orgasm and cast about for my never-fail icon. The night we met, Miranda, a stewardess at the time on the overnight Northwest flight to Tokyo, instructed me to meet her in the first-class lavatory. Upon entering the tiny bathroom, I noticed she had already taken off her royal blue silk panties and bunched them on the counter next to the sink. The image has stuck with me.

I pump harder and faster, but the panties are not having their usual effect.

Miranda says, “It’s okay. You don’t have to come.”

“I’m fine,” I say.

“My first appointment’s at seven tomorrow.”

“I hear you.” I begin thrusting furiously, still without much feeling, and then I picture Handelsman pushing aside the crotch of Miranda’s little blue panties and inserting his fingers between her lips. There is a stirring. I thrust away, faster yet, and the feeling, which had felt the far side of a canyon, inches closer, still weak in intensity but now suffusing my genital region so that finally I am able to pump out a small, anticlimactic little dribble of an orgasm.

I slump across Miranda like a sea lion, my heart pounding frantically. I roll onto my back to give it greater room to beat. There is a launched quality to its racing, as if I had to work to get it up to speed, and now it will keep on galloping on its own accord like some kind of perpetual motion machine.
I lie on my back in silence, listening to my heart, no, feeling it pound away, while Miranda once again rolls onto her right side, pulling the blanket over her shoulder, her back to me.

“Man,” I say. “This is scary.”

“Raymond, you woke me,” Miranda fibs.

“My heart won’t slow down. It must be beating 190, 200 beats a minute.”

“Oh, that’s ridiculous. You have no idea what you’re talking about.” Now that she is a licensed orthodontist, Miranda can’t help but act the junior physician. She pulls the blanket tighter across her shoulder. “Now go to sleep. I’ve got to get up at six.”

“Listen,” I say, “it’s really racing. I know how it feels when I’m on the Exercycle and I get it up to one-forty and this is faster. Way faster.”

“Well, relax. I’m sure you’re okay. Just stop eating so goddamn much red meat.”
Poor red meat, the whipping boy of our times.

I probably wouldn’t have thought much about that evening again, for you know how it is with disturbing events, we tend to put them behind us, their power and intensity ebbing geometrically with each passing day, so that a week or ten days afterward, they’ve been pretty much swept under the rug, just another of the little shadows that make up our pasts and dimly haunt our present.

But the very next week, after dinner with friends at Jean George that included much wine and several glasses of cognac, we return home past midnight and again I feel a sort of rote impulse to have sex with Miranda. As the expression goes, my heart isn’t in it, and I have to work much harder than usual to reach orgasm. At which point my heart is far more into it than I want, beating wildly and showing no inclination to slow down. I lay there in silence, my finger on the pulse in my neck, checking the clock every two to three minutes.

“Miranda,” I whisper ever so softly, “what would happen if I died while I was having sex with you?”

Silence. Miranda is pretending to be asleep, her traditional response whenever I bring up an unsettling subject in the middle of the night. I repeat the question.

“Raymond, go to bed. I’m exhausted.”

“My heart is doing that thing again,” I say. “Listen.”

Reluctantly, she places her head on my chest. “So, it’s beating fast,” she says. “We shouldn’t have screwed in the first place.”

There is something about her body draped across my chest, and the smell of the cigarette smoke her hair has picked up in Jean George’s bar, that re-excites me. I find her lips and am surprised when she kisses me back rather passionately. She rolls on top of me.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“You had your orgasm. Now I want mine.”

“This isn’t like you.”

“How do you know what I’m like?”

“What about my heart?”

“What about it?”

“It’s beating like a maniac.”

“Good,” she cackles. “You’ll die in the saddle, just like Rockefeller.” She lifts her nightie and finds my stiffening member.

I wake up at 3:15 to pee and shuffle back from the bathroom half-asleep. But when I lie down, I am suddenly fully awake. I am worried about my heart. I am excited but alarmed by Miranda’s sexual aggressiveness. I am shocked at the callousness of her Rockefeller reference. I am surprised she is even aware of the rumor.

Normally, if something is bothering me about my health, I am loath to visit the doctor, for I am always afraid of having my worst suspicions confirmed. But having a second heart episode in less than a month is a bit more alarming than I can bear, and so I go to see my internist Alfred Priestley. He listens to my concerns in all their details and then asks a myriad of questions. He nods sagely, scribbling little notes as I speak.

“It’s the cognac,” he says finally. “It’s a notorious stimulant of the heart.”

“You’re sure?”

“Who’s ever sure,” he answers.

I insist he run every manner of test on me, and so spend the better part of the day both in his office and over at Valley Hospital on treadmills, in MRI chambers, having blood drawn. In the end, although my cholesterol level is a touch high, Priestley finds absolutely nothing wrong with my heart. My blood pressure is normal, my arteries unclogged and elastic, my overall cardiovascular system, he assures me, that of a man a full ten years younger than myself.

My difficulty in achieving orgasm is simply a byproduct of aging. “When we’re young,” he says, “we ejaculate before we want. When we get older, we ejaculate after we want. Be happy your wife still lets you have sex with her.”

I leave Priestley’s office joyously relieved, given a new lease to pursue a vigorous and active life. When I get home I sit down at my laptop without my usual sense of futility and am actually able to eke out a few paragraphs that somehow, for once, don't seem fatally trite. The phone rings. Miranda wants to know how my appointment went. I am a bit surprised, because normally she views my little health crises as nothing more than an eruption of hypochondria. “I’m fine. Priestley says I have the arteries of a man in his thirties.”

“Oh, that’s great, Raymond.” Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think I detect just a hint of disappointment in Miranda’s voice. Could it be possible? Could the woman with whom I have just celebrated our silver anniversary want to be rid of me? Why not? Have I not contemplated which of our friends’ wives I would seduce were Miranda, God forbid, to be killed in a car accident. You can be sure of one thing: if you are thinking it, so is your mate.

When Miranda gets home from the office that night, I find myself devising a little experiment. We are sitting up in bed, Miranda watching a rerun of Friends, I doing the crossword puzzle. “Actually,” I say, “Priestley did find a little something he wants to keep an eye on.”

“Really? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to get you alarmed at the office. It’s nothing much really. He thought maybe he saw a little valve deterioration on the echo cardiogram.”

“What does that mean? Valve deterioration?” This time I think I hear in her voice a touch of excitement, of optimism.

“He said not to worry, it’s probably something I was born with that they’d just never picked up before. The equipment is so much more advanced these days.” I speak matter of factly, my nose buried in the puzzle.

“Are you supposed to do anything, take anything?”

“Uh uh. He just doesn’t want me getting my heart rate up too high. Easy on the Courvoisier, that sort of thing.”

“Well, that’s true for everybody, for God’s sake,” says Miranda.

Friday night we are invited into the city to the Lerner’s for dinner, a couple we met two years ago in Arizona. Sarah has marinated a butterflied leg of lamb which Ethan barbecues on a brand new state of the art Weber gas grill on their deck overlooking Central Park. He opens a bottle of ’86 Lafite Rothchild from his collection, and it complements the lamb magnificently. The meat is tender, the marinade subtle, and I make a big show of eating seconds and thirds.

After dinner Ethan and I play a game of chess, while Sarah and Miranda clear the table and bring out dessert. Ethan opens a bottle of Napoleon brandy, and I let him pour me a more than generous amount. I think I see Miranda watching me out of the corner of her eye. I bring the snifter with me into the bathroom and pour the brandy down the sink. When I return to the chessboard, I let Ethan refill my glass. On the drive home, I say, “God, I hate myself. Priestley told me to lay off the cognac, but who can resist the Napoleon?”

“You should really do what the doctor says, Raymond,” responds Miranda with, to my ear, very little conviction.

While Miranda performs her evening ablutions, I, whose nightly bathroom ritual is considerably shorter, spritz on a bit of Eau Sauvage, something I normally do only before going out at night. I get into bed and turn off the light. Will she? Or won’t she? It’s true that during the course of our marriage Miranda has only very rarely been the one to initiate sex. But if, as I suspect, she finds herself intrigued at the thought of getting my heart rate up too high…

I hear Miranda’s heavy end-of-the-day step thudding toward the bed. She climbs up onto her little footstool and flops onto the mattress. I hear her setting her alarm clock. I roll onto my side, facing her. Perhaps the wafting of my aftershave will catch her attention. It is as if the entire surface of my skin is reaching out to her, willing her to caress it. I feel on the very precipice of something, I know not what. I want more than anything for her to sidle over and press herself against me, for then won’t I be clever, the master manipulator. And yet am I not terrified that my plan will actually work?
I feel the sheet being pulled taut as Miranda rolls onto her side, facing away from me. Within moments I hear the soft melodious little snore that signals Miranda has fallen asleep.

Two weeks later it is Lobster Night at the country club and we take a table with five other couples. For sixty-five dollars a person you can devour as many lobsters as you want. As luck would have it, Miranda winds up sitting next to her little crush, Eric Handelsman, the bond trader, and the two of them chat animatedly and laugh abundantly, never once, to my eye, turning to the dinner companions seated the other side of them.

I sit directly across the table from them, downing two three-pound lobsters and a bottle of chardonnay all by myself. At one point, Handelsman says something that Miranda apparently finds uproarious and she leans forward and touches him on the thigh, by my estimation, no more than four to five inches from his cock. I wonder what’s going on in her panties. I feel a rush at the thought that the dark-haired Handelsman might, however unwittingly, be abetting my scheme.

After dessert I employ my increasingly familiar gambit, telling Edgar to bring me a double Courvoisier straight up. I try to speak loudly enough for Miranda to hear, but I’m not sure, what with her infatuation with the bond trader, that she even notices. I leave the cognac untouched.

As we climb into bed, I tell Miranda that she has to help me withstand my passion for cognac. “You know what big glasses they pour at the club. I must have had a pint. My heart feels like it’s going to explode.”

“I’m sure you’ll be okay,” she replies, curling into sleeping position. I can’t stand it and snuggle in behind her. “Please, Raymond, let’s wait till the morning. I enjoy it so much more when I have more energy.”

“This is Eric Handlesman’s dick pressing between your cheeks,” I say.

“I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait till the morning, Eric. Good night.”

I lie on my back till I hear Miranda’s breathing ease into sleep, and then I masturbate into a tissue experiencing the most intensely felt of orgasms.

I realize that making a public display of drinking a whole lot of cognac is not going to do the trick. I must turn up the heat.

“Your ass is looking a little big,” I say, as she stands on the first tee at Ridgewood, about to hit a drive.

“You’re starting to get a second chin,” I declare over breakfast. “Maybe you should get a consultation with Danny Baker. We went to high school together. I’m sure I can get you an appointment.”

And when she gets home from a particularly long day at the practice, “Honey, I think you must be working too hard. You look positively haggard.”

I think of things that will disgust her: Getting into bed at night without brushing my teeth. Not flushing the toilet after a particularly gruesome dump. But these ideas disgust even me. Besides, it’s not so much that I want to repulse her, I want to antagonize her. I want her to hate me, or should I say, discover how much she already hates me, has always hated me.

We are invited to a small dinner party, six couples counting our hosts. I have two Glenfiddichs while waiting for Miranda to dress. On the way over in the car, I remark that her smart new Prada black suit, which cost well over $2,000, may be trying a little too hard to say “young.”

Upon our arrival at the Stillman’s, I quickly down two double Dewar’s; and by the time we are seated for dinner I am a bit woozy to say the least. During the salad course, I hear Tom Marino clear his throat, wait for a lull in the conversation, and then pointedly address Miranda, who is seated directly opposite him, all the way over on the other side of the table.

It is as if everything is developing in slow motion, as if I had anticipated this was going to happen one day, and now it actually is, just as I somehow always knew it would. “Lizzie got her braces off today, and I tell you, Miranda, her teeth look absolutely perfect,” declaims Tom. “The kid’s in ecstasy. Her self-esteem is virtually skyrocketing.” Personally, I’m getting sick of kids with soaring self-esteem.

Ellen Marino chimes in, “I mean, if you told people that just fourteen months ago this kid who had an overbite that made King Kong look good…”

Ellen is joined by a fusillade, no, a barrage, no, a virtual chorus of hosannas – “Little Alan’s smile lights up the entire house,” “Rebecca has just become engaged to a resident at Boston General,” “Get this, a photographer in Chelsea has asked our Justin to do a Calvin Klein catalogue,” and Miranda’s face turns from one dinner companion to the next so as to sop up every last drop of praise. Who can blame her?

They say that one mark of those who achieve greatness is their ability, when the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself, to recognize that moment and exploit it for all it is worth. I can tell you that in my nearly thirty years in business my timing was never that good. An offer from Uncle Harold to take over operations on the West Coast, a chance to pick up a retro design of 1860’s screwdrivers from a small Canadian toolmaker, an invitation from Uncle Harold’s chief competitor to come over as head of their European operations – I shied away from all of these opportunities because, I suspect, I did not have the resolve it would take to turn them into the gargantuan successes they eventually turned out to be. I did not, as they say, “step up.”

But this time is different. This is like an eighty mile-an-hour fastball with no movement on it whatsoever heading right down the middle of the plate. My bat is cocked. My eyes are focused. This is my turn, and this time I am going to drive the ball deep, deep over the center field fence.

The symphony of praise finally trails off into a melodic little hum, and Miranda sits there in its afterglow like a bride, and it is into this communal love fest that I plunge. I clear my throat. The entire table turns my way, their faces expectant, anticipating the husbandly valedictory, the maraschino cherry, if you will, that will crown this evening with the perfect salute.

“Isn’t she wonderful,” I say. “Isn’t Miranda great?” And there is just the tiniest trace of irony in my voice so that the more alert in attendance find themselves, without quite knowing why, ever so slightly on guard.

“When you think how far she’s come, it really is amazing.” I nod my head, amazed.
Miranda flashes me a small but ferocious warning with her eyes. I am undaunted. “You know, you probably don’t know this, but when Miranda and I first married, she could barely read. I’m not kidding. I mean, not even the funnies.” I turn to Miranda. “Isn’t that right, dear?”

Miranda simply stares at me, her eyes beaming pure hatred. The rest of the diners are looking at their plates, their hands, the walls.

“It’s a sad commentary on our schools,” I continue, “but they just kept on promoting her from one grade to another till before you know it she was graduating high school with” – I look over at Miranda – “what was your grade point again?”

She glares at me like a statue, silent and unmoving. I shrug and go on. “I don’t know, a C plus average, I think. Something like that. Can you imagine? A kid who is virtually illiterate graduating high school and being sent out into the world totally unprepared to do anything? What do they call it these days? Social promotion?

“Which is okay I guess but what about those poor kids who don’t have Miranda’s looks, her legs – ” I chuckle to myself – “her tush.” I catch Tom Marino’s eye and wink. “You know what I’m talking about.

“Of course, I didn’t really know any of this till after we’d actually tied the knot – not a clue. I can remember it like it was yesterday. We’re sitting at breakfast, reading the paper, and I say, ‘Sweetie, do you want the entertainment section,’ and she says, ‘Raymond, I can’t read.’ Just like that. ‘Raymond, I can’t read.’ No warning. No, ‘Honey, there’s something I want to talk to you about.’ Just straight out. ‘Raymond, I can’t read.’

“I think she’s kidding, of course, like, maybe she means she doesn’t like to read, or she’s not particularly good at it, so I hold up the front page of The Times, and I point to a headline – OPEC To Cut Production – and I say, ‘Read this.’ Well, she sits there for about five minutes and finally she goes, ‘Oppy, ah-ah-ahpee-ckkk…’ and then she just dissolves into tears. She can’t read it, and what’s worse, she has absolutely no idea what it means. She doesn’t even know what OPEC is, and slowly it dawns on me that this is so much worse than I could ever have imagined that I’m actually thinking about leaving her.” I look over at Miranda. “Isn’t that right, sweetie?” Ice.

“Well, of course, I don’t. Who could ever leave a face like that? But I do insist she go back to school. She doesn’t want to and fights me like a banshee, I mean, the crying, the carrying on. But I won’t have any of it. I’ve always believed that you’ve got to face down your demons in this life, look ‘em straight in the eye and say, ‘Get ready, pal, ‘cause here I come.’ Anyway, in the end I prevail, and we get Miranda a spot at Fairly Ridiculous. I know, it’s not Yale, it’s not Columbia, it’s not even Rutgers, for Christ sake, but it’s an accredited college, and besides this is a kid who has a lot of ground to make up.

“ At first, it’s not easy. The kicking and screaming continue. She cuts class. She drops out. I make her go back. She doesn’t want to. I bribe her – Mikimoto pearls to the tune of $18,000 a strand. She takes a biology lab. I get her a tutor. It helps. She gets a B-minus. There’s a bit of positive re-enforcement. I get her a physics tutor. She gets an A-minus. We discover she has some ability in the sciences. One success builds upon another. I say, ‘Okay, now you’re into it a bit, you need to pick a field of concentration.’ Again, there’s massive resistance. She says she wants to ‘experience a little bit of everything.’

“I won’t have it. My philosophy has always been: pick something you’re good at it, then give it your all. Miranda says I’m ‘suffocating’ her. I get an inspiration. ‘Look,’ I say, ‘you’re good in science, you’re good with your hands, you like people, what does that say to you?’

“She looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. ‘Come on, think,’ I implore. She shakes her head. ‘Dentistry!’ I say, and her face lights up like she’s just won the lottery.”
I look around the table as if I expect to be the absolute focus of eleven pair of adoring eyes. “So when you think about it,” I conclude, “Miranda’s not the only one you have to thank for all those beautiful smiles.” I wait a beat. I hold up my snifter. “By the way, who do you have to fuck around here to get some more of this delicious brandy?”
Miranda won’t talk to me on the ride home, nor as we fan out through the house, checking the answering machine, locking doors, turning off lights. Nor in the bathroom as we wash our faces, floss, brush our teeth, do the Water-Pik. As usual, Miranda is still creaming herself as I depart the bathroom. I climb into bed with an extraordinary sense of optimism, of having knocked one out of the park.

I turn out the light and wait in the dark, my whole nervous system poised like a panther’s. I can hardly wait to hear the bathroom door open and Miranda’s slippered feet begin to pad toward our bed. At the same time, I feel as patient as a Sphinx, for I have accomplished exactly what I’ve set out to do. Surely, it will take Miranda time to find the courage to do what she knows she has to do. But I have all night long.

I don’t know whether I have been asleep for minutes or hours, but I am awakened by the warm, cozy sensation of my cock in someone’s mouth. I can only remember this having happened once in my life before, the night I presented Miranda with her three and a half carat engagement ring. I put my hands on her head and gently play with her hair. “What’s got into you?” I whisper.

She doesn’t answer, in fact is absolutely silent as she climbs on top of me, shimmying her hind quarters toward my cock like a bee backing into a flower. Suddenly, she begins bucking wildly, and it isn’t long before she draws out of my quite still body a long and intense orgasm with a monumental climax of her own.

She rolls off me in silence. I put my hands under my head. My face feels flushed in triumph and horror. Miranda snuggles close and lays her head on my chest. I sense her trying to position her ear over my heart.

“Are you okay?” she coos.

“My heart is fucking flying,” I say. “I’m freaking out.”

“Do you think you can go again?” she asks. “I think I have another orgasm or two in me.”

Without words or planning, we fall into a pattern. We get home from dinner, and I am the first one finished in the bathroom. I don’t sit up with the crossword puzzle anymore but almost immediately upon getting into bed flip off the light and pretend to be asleep. I hear Miranda in the bathroom, peeing with the door open. Instantly, I get a hard on. Soon she will be finished washing her face and creaming her skin, then she will tiptoe into the bedroom and ever so quietly push herself beneath the covers. She will lay there for a few minutes, very still, then ever so slowly, inch by inch, begin to sidle closer. She will actually believe that I am asleep. Or maybe not.

And I? I will lie there like an addict, ashamed and broken, a prisoner of Miranda’s treachery and yet so wildly excited by it. I can barely contain myself knowing that in mere moments Miranda is going to be all over me, grinding her snatch against my thigh, holding her cunt-scented fingers under my sleeping nostrils, all in the misguided belief that she is somehow going to be able to fuck me to death.

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