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Charlie Foster loosened his tie as the plane took off. He hated flying almost as much as he hated being shoved into a seat made for a small child. Why didn't airlines understand that grown men were also forced to fly on occasion?
With a sigh of resignation, he closed his eyes in an effort to escape pleasant banter with the older woman seated next to him. It had been a mistake to take the piano gig. What the hell had he been thinking? Travelling across the country less than a year after Jen's death just to play at some convention was stupid, even if he was doing it as a favour to his manager.
He often wondered how different his life would've turned out if he hadn't met Jen in college. It had been a confusing time, and falling in love with Jen had brought a sense of peace to his life-so much so he hadn't regretted a moment of their time together.
"Can I get you something to drink?"
Charlie opened his eyes and stared up at the attendant. "I'm fine, thanks." The conversation over, Charlie went back to feigning sleep, only to be nudged by the bony elbow of the woman next to him.
"I've been admiring your wedding ring. Is that a thistle?"
Charlie stared at the ring he couldn't bring himself to take off. "Yeah. My wife was obsessed with that Outlander series. It was her idea."
The woman's face lit up. "Oh, Jamie and Claire," the woman practically swooned, clutching her hands over her heart. "How sweet of you to indulge your wife like that."
"I would've done anything for her," he mumbled. Shame threatened to consume him as it did every time he thought of the woman he'd lost. He'd spent eight years with Jen, six of them married, but one drunken night with his best friend had destroyed the husband he'd thought himself to be.
"Excuse me." Charlie unbuckled his seatbelt and walked to the front restroom. He closed and locked the door before turning to lean against the sink. Jen's mom had been in town to help during the second round of chemotherapy, and, for some reason, Charlie had let them convince him to get out of the house for a few hours. Jen had been the one to call Jake and had set up the outing, just one more thing for Charlie to feel guilty about.
It had started innocently enough, a Mets game followed by a trip to the bar where they'd done most of their drinking in college. It was easy to fall back into the camaraderie he'd once shared with his childhood friend. As the evening and the number of drinks progressed, Charlie had asked Jake the one question that had been on his mind since the day he'd announced his engagement to Jen. "Why didn't you fight for me?"
Charlie bit his bottom lip as he recalled Jake's honest answer. "Because I knew how much you wanted a normal life," Jake had whispered.
Normal. Charlie's marriage had been anything but normal. Although the love he'd felt for Jen had been real, for the majority of their marriage they'd lived more like brother and sister than husband and wife. Sex every few weeks seemed to be enough for both of them. He'd enjoyed the partnership in their daily lives more than the fucking, and Charlie had always sensed Jen felt the same. It wasn't that he was repulsed by the female body-before he'd met Jen, he'd simply preferred a man's hard body, Jake's hard body to be precise.
A knock sounded against the flimsy folding door. "Are you all right, sir?" a female voice asked.
No, Charlie said to himself. "I'll be right out."