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Beth Walsh watched her husband, Mark, eat. She found it hard to sit still.
"How come you're not having anything?" Mark lifted a forkful of eggs.
"Not hungry yet." Beth sipped her coffee. Black, scalding. "This is enough for now." She wished he would hurry up and finish. Some divorcee would need him soon enough in his LaSalle Street office to write up a petition for an increase in child support or something like that. Didn't he have lots of work to get to? Clients to see? Beth glanced at the clock above his neatly cut and combed blond hair: 9:15.
"What's up for today?"
A tiny bit of coffee sloshed onto the newspaper's Tempo section. The question startled her, made her heart pound just a little harder.
It had been a week since the negative HIV test, a week since she had whispered her fevered promises and petitions to a God she'd hoped was listening.
A week of no shopping.
Beth needed to shop.
"Nothing much," she said, hoping Mark didn't notice how her voice came out a tad higher than normal. "I need to call about getting the living room rugs cleaned. Might stop by Nordstrom." Beth managed a smile. "See what's on sale."
"Life of Riley." Mark smirked. Even at thirty-four, his face was still boyish.
Why wasn't he enough? Last night, the sex had been vigorous, bordering on rough. Three orgasms for her, two for him. It was still good. Sweaty. Athletic. And now, sitting before her, adoring glances directed her way, the perfect "golden boy." A young Robert Redford, slender and strong in a navy Brooks Brothers' suit, crisp white shirt, red silk rep tie.
So why did her stomach churn with impatience? Why didshe want nothing more than to hear the close and latch of the front door of their graystone on Fullerton Avenue? Why did she need to see him get out now, so she could scrape the remains of his breakfast into the garbage disposal and hurry into her bedroom, to search through her private collection: the clothes she kept hidden at the back of her closet? Leather skirts, Manolo Blahnik stiletto heels, clinging print blouses, thongs, bustiers, and push-up bras ... searching for the perfect bait for an adoring and so, so passionate man.
How could she sit here with Mark and conjure up this perfect dark stranger, someone who would take her and hurt her, forcing her to serve, to set the stage for his darkest, most depraved fantasies? How could she sit here with the pureness of the sun streaming in through their kitchen window and picture herself in the grimy half darkness of a cheap motel room with a stranger ... locked and interwoven in lust and sweat?