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Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies
By Trice Hickman
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2009 Trice Hickman
All rights reserved.
Still Going Strong ...
"Listen," Victoria whispered. "Did you hear that?"
"V, it was nothing," Ted whispered back in a low moan, breathing hard into his wife's ear as he pressed his hard body against her soft curves.
"No ... listen. I think she's up."
Knock, knock, knock.
There was no mistaking the faint sound of small knuckles rapping on the door. Victoria quickly adjusted the spaghetti strap of her silk teddy as she sat up in bed. She could still feel Ted's warm body next to hers as she gathered the sateen sheet around her waist.
"Mommy, Daddy ... it's morning time!" Alexandria called out in a high-pitched squeal, peering into her parents' bedroom through the crack in the door. "Are you up?"
Ted sat up beside Victoria and sighed. As much as he loved his precious little daughter, he also cherished his alone time with his wife, especially since it was something they seemed to have very little of lately.
Over the last several months he'd been spending extra-long hours at the office in preparation for taking his company public next year. ViaTech had survived the telecom industry's downturn several years back and was now poised to make a strong initial public offering next spring. And Victoria's days were just as long and hectic, because her business kept her equally on the go. Divine Occasions, her event-planning and catering company, was in its sixth year of full-time operation and had established her as one of Atlanta's most sought after event coordinators.
But despite Ted's and Victoria's jam-packed work schedules, they always made sure to carve out time for their daughter. She was the single most important part of their lives. On evenings when Victoria didn't have an event to oversee, she was diligent about spending quality time with Alexandria, making sure that she prepared dinner so they could eat together. And most nights when Ted wasn't out of town on business, he managed to return home from the office just in time to tuck her in and read her a bedtime story. After their professional and parental duties ended for the day, they'd steal a few treasured moments together before falling off to sleep.
"Yes, we're up, sweetie," Victoria answered.
With that, Alexandria came barreling into the room, ponytails flying and a grin on her face as big as the sky. She ran up to her parents' large four-poster bed, using the antique mahogany footstool as a springboard to hop in between them. She giggled hard as she made an indentation where she landed in the soft jacquard-print comforter. "It's morning time, Mommy and Daddy!" she shouted again, full of all the excitement that a combination of Saturday morning cartoons and the promise of an afternoon playdate could bring to a five-year-old.
Ted put his hand to his chest and fell back onto the bed, pretending to suffer an imaginary attack. "You yelled so loud, I think you gave me a heart attack," he teased.
Alexandria stopped grinning and stared at her father. Her face carried an odd, serious look. "Daddy, are you all right?" she said softly, putting her small hand on his broad chest. "Don't have a heart attack," she whispered, peering into his deep blue eyes.
Ted couldn't help but let out a laugh. Alexandria Elizabeth Thornton was the joy of her parents' hearts and, as they had both come to agree, was one of the most serious five-year-olds to ever own a pack of Crayolas. She was playful and exuberant, yet incredibly mature and cerebral for someone who could claim only graduating from preschool as her highest level of academic achievement to date.
She was what her nana Elizabeth called an old soul. "That child has been here before. Any child who has that much common sense has walked this earth and seen things in another lifetime," Victoria's mother often said.
"No, sweetie. Your father's fine," Victoria reassured. "You just startled us. What have I told you about using your inside voice?" she lightly scolded.
Alexandria didn't answer right away. "Daddy, your heart's not right?" she said, tilting her head to the side, making it sound more like a pronouncement than a question.
Victoria didn't know why, but something in her daughter's tone put a chill on her arm.
"Daddy's fine, princess." Ted smiled, grabbing Alexandria and tickling her until she dropped her frown and began smiling along with him.
Victoria tried to smile, too, but she felt unsettled by Alexandria's comment and reaction to what should have been a playful moment. She looked into her daughter's eyes, wanting to reassure her again. "Sweetie, your father's fine. He was just playing around, okay?"
Alexandria nodded in compliance but still didn't look completely convinced. "Can I watch Big Bird?" she asked in her small, high-pitched voice.
"Sure, princess. I'll set it up for you downstairs." Ted reached under the comforter, pulled his pajama bottoms up to his waist, then leaned over and whispered into Victoria's ear. "When I get back, we'll pick up where we left off." He winked, then scooped Alexandria off the bed and headed downstairs.
Victoria watched her husband and daughter as their heads disappeared down the long hallway. She marveled at the way Alexandria had Ted wrapped around her finger. It reminded her of the relationship she'd shared with her own father when she was growing up. Alexandria was Ted's little princess, just as she'd been her father's little queen.
Victoria stretched her arms high above her head and thought about the busy day that lay before her. First on her list was dropping off Alexandria at her first Jack and Jill playdate, then making a quick trip to her office to go over the remaining details for a large celebrity wedding she was coordinating next weekend. After that, she planned to head back over to pick up Alexandria, drive across town to pick up Ted's dry cleaning, and then swing by the grocery store before she took Alexandria to their neighbor's house for a sleepover.
At times, Victoria felt as though she didn't have time to think, let alone breathe. She always seemed to be going to this, hurrying there, or coming from that. Running her business required her to put on a good face for the public, even when she felt crappy. Motherhood demanded that she appear eager and attentive, even when she felt exhausted. And being a wife meant she had to master the delicate art of compromise, even when she wanted to do her own thing.
But she knew there were worse things than having a busy life, and she knew that a lot of women would gladly trade places with her in a heartbeat. She was blessed to have a happy, healthy daughter who was as smart as a whip, and whose loving spirit made her a joy to raise. And even though she wished her husband spent more time at home and less time away on business, and had fewer late nights at the office, she knew that he loved and adored her. She lived in a custom-built home in an exclusive, gated community. Her child-care service was reliable and trusted, and she was fortunate to have neighbors and friends who gladly pitched in to help. She had quit her corporate job several years ago to pursue a passion she'd had since childhood, and to top it all off, she was in good physical health. Yes, she knew she was blessed, and she knew there were worse things than busy days.
After Ted secured Alexandria in front of the TV, with her juice box in one hand, the remote control in the other, and her favorite DVD playing, he hurried back upstairs, taking the steps two at a time. When he walked into the bedroom, a smile slid across his face.
Victoria was waiting for him, perched on her knees in the middle of their king-size bed. Her silk teddy and lacy thong had been tossed to the side, and the look on her face said she remembered his parting words. She was ready to pick up exactly where they'd left off.
Ted was struck by the fact that even though he had seen his wife's naked body a million times, her sensuous allure and striking beauty never failed to stir him. He loved the velvety smoothness of her deep chocolate brown skin, which always felt soft to the touch. He took pleasure in running his fingers through the silky thickness of her long, black hair, which draped the slender elegance of her neck. And he felt he could lose himself in the gentle curve of her lower back, which gave way to the seductive pull of her soft, round behind. Motherhood had given her slim figure slightly more weight and an added sexiness that he loved.
"Damn, you're beautiful," he said, removing his pajama bottoms. He pulled the door closed behind him and walked toward the bed.
Victoria smiled, enjoying the look that always came over Ted's face when they were about to make love. It let her know that he wanted her. He climbed into bed, covering her naked body with his. She embraced the feel of her husband's tall, muscular frame as she prepared herself for the pleasure to come.
He kissed her slow and deep, gently tweaking her hardening nipples with his fingers before moving down, alternating between his hands and mouth as he suckled her soft mounds of flesh. He eased his way farther down her body, placing small kisses along a manmade trail, until his head rested between her legs.
"I love it when you're this wet," Ted breathed, gently rolling his tongue over her throbbing tenderness. Victoria threw her head back, digging her heels deep into the mattress as she clenched the bedsheet between her fists. He placed one hand under her hips and the other at the center of her warm middle. He worked with diligence, licking, sucking, and gently kissing her glistening folds. He took his time, devouring every inch of her sweet spot until she shuddered into a creamy orgasm that made her tremble. She released a deep, ecstasy-filled moan that rumbled in the back of her throat.
After a brief moment, Victoria regained her senses, ready to give Ted the same intense pleasure she'd just received. She secured her hands around him, holding him in her firm but gentle grip as she stroked his hardness, massaging him with care. A long, slow "mmm" escaped his lips as Victoria worked her magic. She opened her mouth wide and swallowed him, sucking and licking with controlled precision. When she squeezed the tip of his head deep into her tightening mouth, he could barely hold on any longer.
"Ooh, V," Ted moaned, perspiration dampening his skin. He shifted positions, gently laying Victoria on her back as she wrapped her long legs around his waist, arching her pelvis into the air to meet his. He slipped inside her with smooth, even strokes as they made love. Her body received him as he moved in and out, delighting and electrifying her all at once. Their rhythm was a slow and easy grind that flowed into a growing and heated frenzy as Ted went deeper, increasing the speed of his thrusts. Victoria moaned, clinging to his sex-drenched, sweaty body while she worked her hips at an equally hungry pace. Finally, they both surrendered to a second wave of pleasure.
Victoria reveled in her husband's ability to fulfill her sexual desires. He knew exactly how to please her, anticipating her wants and knowing her most intimate needs. Over the course of their six-year marriage, even though the frequency of their lovemaking had slowed, he had never left her wanting. This was yet another one of her many blessings, and again, she knew there was a multitude of women who would kill to be in her shoes.
She had heard more than a few of her friends and clients complain about their dead sex lives, citing disgruntled husbands, overactive children, and underactive libidos as major culprits. One of her best friends, Debbie Long, who was like the sister she'd never had, had recently confided that since the birth of her son seven years ago, her love life with her husband had dwindled to a state of near nonexistence.
"We're like roommates," Debbie had told Victoria a few months ago. "We love each other, but the passion is gone. We're just going through the motions. As a matter of fact, I can't remember the last time Rob and I made love," she'd complained.
Victoria had been shocked to learn that Debbie and Rob's marriage had shriveled into the dull, sexless picture her friend had painted, especially since she and Rob had always been romantic and affectionate with each other. Aside from her parents' strong and lasting union, Victoria had regarded Debbie and Rob's relationship as the gold standard by which marriage could be measured.
But as Victoria would soon come to learn in the weeks ahead, time and circumstances were instruments that could change the tune of one's life in shocking and unexpected ways.
Looking at her own relationship made Victoria feel grateful that she and Ted were still going strong. She knew their marriage wasn't perfect, but they had love and trust as their anchors. The sex was hot, and he made sure that he pleased her. He was in excellent physical health, and his age-defying good looks made him appear a decade younger than his fifty-two years. His vanilla-hued skin had a hint of olive and was taut and supple, with hardly a trace of wrinkles, and the subtle hints of gray that now peppered his thick, black hair added to his outrageous sex appeal. He kept his muscles strong and well toned with regular workouts, and jogged several times a week to round out his physical fitness regimen. Having a mate like Ted was what Victoria had always dreamed of, and again, she knew she was blessed.
After making love, Victoria lay next to her husband, running her fingers across the faint dark hairs on his broad chest. "Alexandria's movie is probably half over by now," she said.
"Uh-huh," Ted answered in a dreamy, after-sex voice.
"I'm gonna take a shower and go downstairs to make Alexandria's breakfast. We have a busy day ahead, and I need to run a few errands before I drop her off at Susan's later this afternoon."
Ted pulled Victoria on top of him and grinned. "That means we'll have tonight all to ourselves."
"Mmmm, we sure will." She nodded.
They enjoyed a long kiss before Victoria rolled out of bed.
That Thing ...
Fresh from the shower, Victoria headed downstairs. She walked into her large family room, adjacent to the gourmet kitchen, and found Alexandria engrossed in the classic Big Bird's Big Adventure. The movie held her complete attention. It was a treat for Alexandria, because Victoria and Ted didn't allow her to watch television on weekdays unless it was educational programming. Weekends were her time to "veg out," as they liked to say.
Victoria poured Alexandria's Cheerios into her cereal bowl and set it on the breakfast table, along with a glass of orange juice. "Alexandria, come and eat your breakfast, sweetie," she called out.
Alexandria walked slowly toward the breakfast table, pulling out the chair closest to the family room, angling it so she could see the large-screen TV from where she sat.
"Wash your hands before you eat, young lady," Victoria said as she split a bagel and popped it into the toaster.
"Yes, ma'am." Alexandria made her way over to her step stool by the sink, singing along with the song that Big Bird was belting out.
A few minutes later Ted walked into the kitchen, still wearing his pajama bottoms and T-shirt. He came up behind Victoria at the large, granite island and rubbed his pelvis against her curvy backside. He lifted her heavy mass of hair to the side and kissed the crook of her neck.
"Ted, your daughter's right over there," Victoria playfully cautioned, tilting her head to where Alexandria was sitting at the breakfast table.
"She's so into that DVD, she doesn't even know we're here."
"You're probably right," she laughed. "Didn't you get enough this morning?"
"Not hardly." Ted held Victoria close and kissed the side of her neck again. She was his second wife, but his first and only love.
After being trapped in a miserable marriage by a conniving, gold-digging wife for more than twenty years, Ted had given up on the possibility of emotional happiness, let alone the idea of love. Instead, he had concentrated on his career, successfully achieving the professional goals he'd set for himself by following in his father's giant footsteps. But after moving from Los Angeles to Atlanta seven years ago to assume the position of CEO and part owner of ViaTech, one of the Southeast region's leading telecommunications companies, his plans all changed the day he met Victoria Small.
Excerpted from Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies by Trice Hickman. Copyright © 2009 by Trice Hickman. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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