Chapter 9 – What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

My cell phone buzzes on the passenger seat and startles me as I pull into the parking lot of the Hit Club, the biggest lesbian nightclub in WeHo. Fuck I’m nervous. The last time I was here, was the last time I went out with Tina and the gang, except for the Provocations show of course. It seems only fitting that this is the first of my scheduled time with her. Putting the car in park, I hesitantly reach for the phone as if it might burn me. Looking at the screen, I see it’s Alice, show time. The text reads, ’The black hole of Calcunta has landed. Good luck with that shit. She’s been a walking nightmare since our talk. Don’t forget to call me as soon as you’re done. I want details!’

I lock the phone and tuck it into my clutch with a heavy sigh before getting out of the car. Locking it, I stow my keys away as well, and make my way up the front steps to the bouncer. He gives me the once over with a lecherous grin, pulls a neon pink strip from his pocket, and offers it to me as he unclips the velvet rope and steps aside. If looks could kill, he’d have burst into flames.

The club is packed with a sea of glistening, barely legal, half-naked females grinding together to the deafening beat the DJ is mixing. It’s so loud that I have to fight to stay upright. I work my way around the edges trying to limit how much I’m jostled, but wind up pushed back against a bar, a few hands having touched me in places that couldn’t have been accidental. I look down and adjust my red sleeveless blouse and black slacks and swipe the scuff off my new Valentino heels. Adopting a ’fuck with me and die’ aura, I turn to see a scantily dressed, leather-clad bartender, that can’t be older than fifteen, leaning towards me on the bar with a markedly crooked smirk on her face. ”I’ll have two rye manhattans and a gin and tonic on the rocks!” I have to yell to be heard over the den.

She pushes off the bar and makes of show of mixing the drinks in front of me before finishing with a flourish, hopping up on the counter, and leaning in close to my ear where she says, ”There ya go gorgeous, on the house.”

She practically slides off the bar while undressing me with her eyes. I take one of the manhattans and down it before strapping the pink strip to the glass of the other, grabbing it and raising it to her in a thankful but uninterested manner. She winks and walks to the equally prepubescent blond at the other end of the bar. I know I need to take it slow because I’ll need my wits about me if Tina’s mood is as foul as Alice indicated, but this helps to take the initial edge off, which is very welcome.

I turn to look out at the mass of bodies and half sit, half lean on the nearest bar stool. The women who walk by, even the couples, eye me appreciatively. I roll my eyes. I hate being meat tagged. And how am I supposed to find Tina in this mess? I’ve been hiding in the lowest dregs of the bar scene for so long, that this all feels new and a little overwhelming. Tina and I never did care for places like this, unless we were surrounded by our friends. It’s a little disconcerting that this is where she plans to start her new ’vacation’ without that safety.

Standing to my almost six-foot-with-heels height, I grab both drinks and make my way around the throbbing mass of bodies, hoping to get lucky and happen upon Tina. I take shelter in an alcove on the nearby wall, which turns out to be a stairway to the upper levels. Height might make my search a little easier, so I make my way up carefully, hugging the rail and lifting the drinks over my head to avoid a group of drunken young lesbians yelling and stumbling towards the bottom. Shaking my head, I manage to reach the top safely only to be stopped by another bouncer, this one an extremely large and muscular woman so tall that I have to look up to see her face. She puts her rough hand on my forearm as I try to pass and in a deep booming voice says, ”VIP’s only.” She didn’t shout or even yell; her voice is just entirely penetrating. She crosses her arms over her chest, flexing her enormous biceps which pull her black shirt even tighter.

I hold my manhattan up to her eyes. She eyes the pink strip, smirks, and steps aside saying, ”Enjoy your evening.” Crossing into this area, the noise level is decidedly more comfortable, the music slower and more sensual. The people here are much fewer, more relaxed, and separated into groups lounging in seating areas or dancing. It’s definitely much more comfortable and I breathe a sigh of relief.

I make my way to the railing to scan the crowd below through the glass. Peering over the edge, I hear an all too familiar laugh behind me and to the left. I’m still for a moment, but eventually turn to spot Tina sitting on a rounded sectional sofa in the darkest corner of the room. My breath is stolen from my very lungs.

Tina is wearing an elegant, sleeveless cerulean blue dress, the neck line plunging dangerously low into her cleavage. Her hair is wavy and styled up off her slender neck, where a long, simple gold pendant hangs. She reaches up and tucks a tendril of unruly honey blond hair behind her ear and a brunette who seems very familiar is pressed in close to her side, her arm around Tina’s shoulders, running the knuckles of her other hand up and down Tina’s exposed arm. Their heads are leaned in closely together and the brunette smiles while Tina laughs again at something else she’s said.

I close my eyes and down my manhattan. Going slow isn’t a possibility just now. I know I have no right to be jealous or possessive. She’s not mine and most likely never will be again. No, I gave up that right. This doesn’t change the fact that she’s quite literally the most striking woman I’ve ever seen or the deeply ingrained feeling that she is my wife, divorced or not. God, how I miss her.

I have to remember why I’m here. I’m not here to get Tina back. I’m here to help her the way she helped me for all our years together. Her happiness has to come first, even if that means she is free of me. After all, it’s me and the pain I caused her that put her in this position to begin with. If I never have her again, I’ll have to find comfort in knowing I played some part, however small, in restoring her joy.

As if she can feel the depth of my stare, she turns and locks her eyes on mine, pinning me to the floor with all the intensity of being impaled by a spear. Her smile turns feral as her hazel depths travel the length of my body, returning to my face with a gaze that could burn a hole through granite. It certainly boils my blood with something markedly not anger. I feel a warmth settle low between my hips. Fuck. This isn’t good.

She dips forward and pushes up off the sofa with feline grace, the dress stretching and struggling to contain her, before starting toward me like an incurably hungry panther stalking its prey, and licking her full choral lips as if preparing her sharp teeth for my warm thudding jugular. The brunette on the sofa lets her arm fall and watches Tina leave with a disbelievingly petulant face. She catches my eye and her disappointment turns to jealous indignation. She stands to come after Tina but stops when she sees the thinly veiled threat in my eyes. I shake my head slowly indicating that any closer and she will lose what remains of her miserable life. She glowers at me with so much contempt that I swear there is smoke rising from her eyes, but she turns and leaves without further conflict. The first victory of the night belongs to me. Fuck, she’s so familiar. Who does she remind me of? Tall, dark skin and hair, feminine, strong, fit, decidedly alpha…fuck, it’s me. She looks like me…

Before the shock of this revelation can fully express itself, I look back to find Tina now standing so close to me that I can feel the warmth of her body and smell her light perfume mixed with the salty clean bouquet that is unforgettably hers alone. I realize that I’ll have no other victories this night, and I gulp.

None of her usual anger that’s been so ever present is there. Instead, her face becomes sweetly seductive as she takes both glasses from my hands. With a small smile she downs the gin and tonic. Turning, she sets the now empty cups on the railing before looking at me over her shoulder and slipping her hand into mine. The delicious sincerity behind this touch can’t be false, can it? Tugging a little, she walks backwards and I follow her like a devout man to salvation, to the center of a small, dimly lit dance floor where the other couples around us stare as they move suggestively against each other to the slowly thrilling beat.

The temperature of the room increases several degrees as Tina pulls me close to her and reaches her right arm up around my shoulders. She’s so soft but firm against me, her breasts lightly rubbing against my own. She tucks her cheek next to mine and starts a slow grinding rhythm that sways her hips in a truly erotic fashion.

I lift my left hand and caress her high under her arm, my thumb barely grazing the underside of her supple breast. She turns her face more fully, letting her lips caress me so subtly that I almost believe it didn’t happen, the jolt of pleasure that runs through me the only indication that it did. I tremble at the sensation and barely feel the satisfied smile that crooks her lips. I run my hand down her side and to the small of her back as she tangles her hand in the hair at the base of my neck and lifts her other arm up around my shoulders, pressing her body deeply into mine and embracing me with every luscious inch of herself.

We sway together and I tighten my hold around her waist. A shudder runs through me as she brushes her face up my cheek to my hair, breathing deeply just below my ear lobe. Her body expands in my arms with each breath, and I feel as if I’ve travelled back to a place in time where none of the heartache and pain ever touched us, where she is still my wife and we’ve had the family we dreamt of. My heart could burst it’s so full.

The fingers of her left hand track a hot path up my exposed right arm in a hesitantly worshipful touch, only to travel back down and leave a searing trail of goose flesh. The room swirls a bit, from her touch, the temperature or the friction of her breasts pressed against my own, I’m not entirely sure. I am only sure that I need to touch her.

Starting at the bottom of her left thigh, just below her dress line, I press my palm into her and run my hand up the front of her body, creating a hot friction that tugs at her dress, lifting it dangerously higher. I stop and grip her waist firmly to ground myself, but she drops her arms beneath mine and slides her hands up my back further inviting the intimacy of the moment. I’m nearly lost.

We turn and sway a bit more before she drops her right hand down into my own and presses her palm into mine, slithering her fingers up my forearm. The touch is scalding, the movement slick with the flush of arousal that coats us both. She leans back and brings her mouth as close to mine as she dares without touching. Her breath is hot and sends a fiery tendril of warmth down my spine that licks at my center until it melts and throbs with need.

The motion of our swaying brings our lips closer together with each slow and steady step but she manages to pull away at the last second. We raise our palms twisting them together before she reaches up to stroke my hair, still barely avoiding my mouth.

Having had enough of this sweet torture, I lean forward and press my lips to hers in a deep, open-mouthed touch that’s light but full and intimate. She returns the kiss, pressing her tongue against mine and caressing it with the familiar sweet taste that quickens my already racing heart with its familiarity. It’s wet, and warm, and so deep it’s soul rending. My soul lightens and sheds all of its insecurities as a surge of unbridled lust burns in my sex with a great flood of desire and a guttural moan, the impact likely to float me to the ceiling.

I take her hands and pull them behind me, grounding myself with her weight, willing her not to go away, willing her to continue. She leans further into me and the safety of the gesture causes me to release her only to grasp the back of her head and deepen the kiss as much as possible. She returns the gesture and we continue this way several long moments before she pulls back, sweetly kissing me once…twice…a third time.

Gazing into the others eyes, we smile warmly and tears well in my own. She leans up to my ear just as the song fades and says, ”I was expecting someone tonight, Alice promised as much. I’m glad it was you.”

I turn my head to breath in the lavender smell in her hair and whisper, ”You are?”

She lets out a deep breath that flutters against my neck and causes the fine hairs there to stand up. Her voice is sweet and melodic as she says, ”Mmmm, yes, I am. You see, I came here tonight looking for someone, someone completely and utterly disposable, to take home…and fuck…” She says the last word so harshly that I realize that I’m the one who’s completely fucked. ”…until the early hours of the morning. How fortunate for me that I found you.”

I lean back and look into her eyes. Her face, her very demeanor makes my blood run cold and I can’t believe what I just heard. My disbelief makes itself known in a whispered, ”You can’t be serious…”

She smiles sweetly and reaches her hand up to my face, running her finger along my jaw to my chin. ”I can’t? Why not? You came here to fuck…with me…didn’t you? Isn’t this what you wanted?” She laughs and the chill that runs up my spine settles in my heart, turning it to stone. ”Let me guess, now that you’ve got what you want, you don’t want it because you didn’t get to control it.”

I close my eyes and allow a single tear to fall at her insinuation. Not because it just hurts, though it does, but because it’s true, or at least it used to be. I feel intense grief and realize now that the old axioms aren’t true, not always. ’Once a cheater, always a cheater,’ is bullshit in this case and she knows it just as well as I do. No, the only reason people believe that others can’t change is because they refuse to believe it. It’s just too hard to let go of the pain of that betrayal and forgive. What’s worse is that she’s toying with me, using the one thing she knows to be my weakness: her.

This thought starts to fester and I allow it to start burning bright with anger before realizing that this is what she wants, to hurt and infuriate me, to punish me, to push me away, not because it’s necessary or she even truly wants to do it, but because misery loves company. She just doesn’t want to be alone with her guilt and anger. There are a lot of things I deserve, and given what we plan to put Tina through, what I’ve already put her through, maybe I deserve it. I can’t control how she’s treating this situation, but I can control how I react to it. If there is any trace of the woman I love lingering beneath this cruel and indifferent façade, I will find it.

I open my eyes to see her staring at the tear track on my cheek, glorying in it with a touch of shock that it occurred. She looks in my eyes and I do the only thing that I can do. ”T…” Yes, she’s still T and always will be, whether she likes it or not. Her face hardens at this. ”…If you think you can push me away by showing me what I’m fighting for, then you didn’t plan this seduction very well. I know exactly where this is coming from. I own this game. I invented this game. Did it really only take a year for you to forget who you’re dealing with?”

I grip her waist in a delicate but firm hold. I’ll never hurt her again or use physical force against her, but I have a goal; a mission; a purpose: her. Right here and now I promise any power listening that each encounter I have with her will have made her laugh or bring a piece of the woman I loved to the surface, even if it’s only for a moment, and she will know just how much she is loved and not alone. She will enjoy our time together despite herself.

She watches the determination flash over my face and leans back from its intensity. ”It’s strange to me, that you seem to think that hurting me or pushing me away gives you power. I mean, you’re doing this because you’re hurt and angry, and maybe even scared. I put those feelings there and you’ve given yourself freely to them, to me. Don’t you get it yet? I’m still controlling you, one way or the other.”

Her slender throat flushes with the anger glistening in her eyes but I soldier on with all the sincerity I can muster. ”T, I don’t want to control you anymore, I want you to be free of me, truly free. You want so badly to win, to dominate, but that’s not you. You’re better than that, better than me.” Her face pales and she blinks her eyes like she’s just been abruptly wakened from a deep sleep and while dazed, this is the real Tina. But before the doubt of her resolve can take root, she turns to storm away. Oh no you don’t! I stride a couple steps forward and grab her hand, pulling her to a stop.

”Let me go.” Her voice is quiet and defeated and my heart skips a beat.

”Okay, but there’s something more that you should know before I do.” She doesn’t turn towards me but she doesn’t move either. ”Winning isn’t everything. What good does it do to win at anything in this world if you lose your own soul? If you really want to win, just be you, the real you. She was…is…loved, and she’s not alone.” Again she doesn’t say anything, but after some time passes she pulls away and makes a hasty exit.

I follow her out just in time to see her enter a cab and hear her give the cabby her own address before they quickly pull away. I enter a cab as well, too weary to drive home, and text Shane, ’She’s on her way home now. Tag, you’re it.’

Continued in Chapter 10 – I think people should act out of love, not obligation.

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