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June 6, 2017
I left Norfolk Tuesday morning on Highway 168 headed south. It was a two-hour drive to Nags Head and my excitement was already building. I was anxious for some time away from the office. Three years before, I’d sold my engineering company to a larger competitor. I’d negotiated a very fair price on the deal and they offered me a great package to stay on with them after the acquisition. One of the perks of the windfall was that my wife and I finally fulfilled our lifelong dream of buying a house at the beach. We’d found a newly constructed 8-bedroom cottage with private beach access, tennis court, swimming pool and a hot tub. It was everything we’d always dreamed of. We probably could have done it several years before, but the time finally felt right.
We usually kept it to ourselves for family gatherings in June and at Thanksgiving, while we had a management company that kept it rented during the peak summer months. I was looking forward to some swimming, time in the hot tub, and a little fishing on my boat. My wife couldn’t get away from work until Friday, so she suggested that I head to the beach by myself and start relaxing.
When I arrived, I met with the management company briefly before driving to the house. They had everything ready, so I went to the Harris Teeter store to pick up some groceries. When I returned from the store, I made a sandwich while I debated going to the marina to take my boat out. The ocean looked a little too choppy to be fun, though. My phone rang. It was my wife, Tammy.
“Hey, babe,” I answered.
“Does everything look okay,” she asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” I replied. We talked a bit about what the management company had said regarding the summer rentals that had been booked.
“I’ve got some bad news,” she said. “Tessa is on her way, but not with the boys.”
Tessa was Tammy’s younger sister. She was a nurse practitioner that lived in Maryland with her family. She was supposed to come down with her three sons, but apparently there’d been a change of plans. I’d been looking forward to it because even though my wife and I decided never to have children, I loved spending time with my nephews. They always enjoyed when I took them fishing.
“What happened,” I asked.
“Chris wants them to stay for some stupid thing they’re having at church,” she replied.
Chris was Tessa’s husband. I’d met the Tammy and Tessa when we were in grade school. We’d always been good friends since we grew up across the street from one another in Charlottesville. Later in high school, Tammy and I fell in love. Tessa had met Chris. He was okay, but kind of a goofball. He reminded me a lot of my own brother, Kyle. Neither of them ever took anything seriously.
Tessa got pregnant during their junior year of college and he viewed the situation as flippantly as he did everything else. I took him aside at a family wedding and gave him a little motivational speech. I knew it would be a good warm up for the one my former drill instructor father-in-law would be giving Chris once he learned Tessa was pregnant. Chris acted like it was no big deal and his life wouldn’t change. That really pissed me off and I grabbed him by his tie, pushing him against a wall. He’s about 4 inches taller than me, but while he’s rail thin, I’m built like a linebacker. I told him he needed to take things seriously, as his slacker bullshit was beginning to affect others. He looked scared and I said he’d better get his shit straight. He finally nodded and said he would.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, Tessa lost the baby early in the second trimester. Tammy and I breathed a very silent sigh of relief, hoping Tess would finally dump his ass and move on. That was not to be. He showered her with affection after it all and she never wavered. She remained committed to him. Tammy and I both tried to talk to her, but it was no use. They married a year after graduation.
After college, Chris bounced around from job to job, never really sticking to anything. Finally, he’d decided to become a Methodist minister. I thought that was a pretty peculiar occupation for him, as he’d never seemed very conscientious about religion when he’d knocked Tessa up in college. Despite my misgivings, Tammy insisted that we should give him the benefit of the doubt. The girls had grown up in a Catholic home and still respected that. I was a committed atheist, but I did what I could to keep the peace. All I knew was that at that time Tessa and Chris had three boys ranging in age from 5 to 1, and she practically worked herself to death supporting them all, while he went back to school for four more years.
“I still can’t believe she married that idiot,” I said.
“Alex, I know. But she did. We can’t change that now,” Tammy replied.
“I know babe. I’d planned to take the boys fishing tomorrow. Chris never takes them to do anything fun,” I said.
“I know you were looking forward to it. They’ll be down this weekend, though,” Tammy tried to soothe güvenilir bahis me.
“The forecast calls for rain and high winds,” I replied.
“You have a couple weeks to make it work,” she said.
“Okay, sorry baby,” I said.
“Look, I know you’re upset. Damn. Look at the time. Hey, I better go. I’ve got a conference call in 2 minutes,” she said.
“Okay, babe. Love you. Call me when you get home,” I said.
“I will. Love you too,” Tammy replied before the phone clicked off.
Damn it, I thought to myself. I could only imagine how disappointed the boys were. I’d talked to them the previous weekend and they were all three so excited about coming to the beach. Next week I thought to myself. I got very angry thinking about Chris pulling this shit and making Tessa drive the 8 hours by herself. Knowing him, it was just an excuse so he didn’t have to drive down by himself that weekend. Whatever. Tessa could probably use some time away from everything. She and I could have fun for a few days, as she liked to go out on the boat, too. I called the seafood place down the road to see what their specials were so I could plan dinner.
Tessa arrived a little after 5. She called when she got close, so I met her downstairs to help her carry in her luggage and some other supplies she’d brought. We shared a hug as always before we walked back in the house.
“How was the drive,” I asked as we walked up the stairs.
“Ugh, traffic was horrible as always,” she said.
“Sorry, sweetie,” I said.
I took her bags into her suite and she said she was going to freshen up.
“I hope you brought an appetite. I’ve got tuna and scallops,” I smiled.
“I certainly did. I didn’t stop for lunch,” Tessa laughed.
“Good. I’ll get it started. What kind of wine would you like,” I asked.
“Whatever you want to open. You have good judgement,” she smiled.
“Okay,” I said as I pulled the bedroom door shut.
Tessa and I’d always been close since I’d met her and my wife when we were still just kids. They’d been like my little sisters until Tammy and I started dating in high school. It had been awkward because I’d always been a good friend to them both, but I realized one day that I was beginning to see Tammy as more than that. There was a little tension between Tessa and I after that. I eventually talked to her about it and she explained that she just felt left out. I told her I was sorry about that, but she just smiled and said that it was okay, that she was happy for us. She’d met Chris a few months later.
Tessa was my closest friend besides Tammy. We’d confided in one another a lot over the years. She knew things about me that only Tammy knew, as well as things that Tammy didn’t know. I’d always been the same for her. We’d talk on the phone when we could and as technology progressed, we texted often.
There was a time in my early 30’s that I was not the best husband in the world. I was under tremendous pressure getting my company started and I wasn’t at home a lot when I should have been. I also drank too much. I had a female employee that I worked late with a lot. Nothing ever happened between us, but the woman made it very clear to me that she was mine anytime I wanted. Through a mishap of modern technology, she’d inadvertently sent an email to Tammy reiterating that. Our personal email addresses were our last name and our year of birth and the woman had mistyped it.
There was hell to pay when I got home that night. I tried to explain that nothing had happened, but Tammy didn’t believe me. She threw me out and didn’t speak to me for almost two weeks. Tessa became my lifeline. She and Chris lived in Norfolk at the time, or at least Tessa did. She was working and he was off with his friends on a month-long hiking trip. She let me stay with her during that time and helped me keep my sanity.
When Tammy finally contacted me, we arranged to have dinner. I immediately started to plead my case once again. I admitted that I’d been a bad husband, but I’d never been unfaithful to her. She stopped me and dropped the bomb. She told me that she’d cheated on me the previous year with a guy from a work. I was utterly devastated. She explained that I was all she had, and when I was working such long hours she was lonely and miserable. This guy reached out to her.
She’d met him for dinner after work one night, knowing I was going to be working late on a big proposal. The guy charmed her and got her in bed the very same night. I made Tammy tell me everything about it, knowing I had to. I didn’t want to ever think about it and wonder what had happened. She told me it went on for a couple months. She said that it wasn’t even good sex, but that it had been real, and that was what she’d needed.
Tammy told me the guilt got to be too much, especially after the guy said that he planned to call me and tell me he was fucking my wife. She said that she knew that would lead to a dead lover and a husband in jail, so she ended it. türkçe bahis I nodded grimly across the table at her, she was right about that much. She explained that her rage at me the night she’d got the email was misdirected feelings she had for herself. That she’d got away with it and never felt like she’d paid her penance. I told her that I wasn’t interested in that. I didn’t need a pound of flesh.
I told her that I would hire more help and I’d be around more. The woman that worked for me took a position with another company and that helped things as well. We patched things up and our marriage improved. It took me some time to get over it, but with Tessa’s help I gradually did. Tessa was very angry about Tammy’s infidelity. She kept insisting that I never deserved that. I explained to her that I was partially to blame, and eventually she let it go. Seeing the way Chris treated her made me think some of the same things, though.
While I waited for Tessa to get ready, I opened a bottle of merlot. I lightly seasoned the tuna and added some butter to a sauce pan for the scallops. I’d got some bagged salad at the store and figured that would be an adequate side dish. Tessa was much like my wife and stayed on the lighter side of things.
I noticed when Tessa entered the kitchen, she’d changed out of her t-shirt and leggings into more beach appropriate wear consisting of a tank top, shorts and flip flops. Despite being sisters, Tammy and Tessa were as different in appearance as night and day. My wife was barely 5’3″, brunette, and voluptuous. Tessa was almost as tall as me at 5’9″, blonde and willowy. Her frame remained lean despite having her babies. I found myself appreciating her as I often did. She noticed me looking and smiled.
“What’s a girl got to do to get a glass of wine in this joint,” she laughed.
“A girl just needs to get glasses. The wine is open on the bar,” I smiled.
“Excellent,” she said.
I stepped out on the balcony to start the grill for the tuna. When I returned, I saw Tessa in front of the stove turning the scallops. She saw me and smiled.
“Sorry, I just didn’t want them to stick. I should have left that to the master chef. You know I can’t cook,” she laughed.
“Oh, it’s okay. Tammy can’t either,” I smiled.
“We didn’t inherit that gene,” she replied with a laugh.
“It happens,” I smiled again.
“So, how’re things going with your Mom’s estate,” she asked.
My Mom passed away the previous January. Naturally, when there was the possibility that there might be some money to be had, my asshole brother and his cunt wife came back around. They’d not been to see Mom once when she was in and out of the hospital for two years. I didn’t know it, but before she went in to the hospital the last time, she’d had her attorney change her will leaving everything to me. Kyle and Alicia were furious when they learned that and threatened me with legal action. Mom’s attorney stood firm and told them they would be wasting his time and their money. I was certain I’d never hear from him again.
“It’s almost finished. The house and horse farm are both under contract,” I said. “Tammy and I plan to donate the money to the Equine Society like Mom wanted.”
“That’s good. I’m sure that would have made her happy,” Tessa smiled. She handed me a glass of wine. “I guess Kyle hasn’t called to try and make things better.”
“No. He hasn’t, and he won’t,” I said.
“I’m sorry about that,” Tessa said sadly. She reached to give me a hug.
“Thanks,” I said as we embraced. “Tammy and you and the boys are all I have left.” I’d intentionally left Chris out. She knew what I thought of him.
“I understand,” she said as we parted.
“I better get the tuna on the grill. The scallops are ready,” I said. I put them in the oven to keep them warm, before I grabbed the plate of tuna and some tongs. Tessa followed me out on the balcony.
“So, this is the new grill I’ve heard so much about,” she laughed.
“Yes, isn’t it beautiful,” I smiled. I’d bought a Lynx grill with an infrared sear function earlier in the year. The management company had stored it for me as it was for my personal use, not the renters. I loved it because it got so hot, it was like cooking in a blast furnace. Perfect for a quickly seared tuna steak.
“Yeah, it is nice,” Tessa replied with a grin.
“Your sister had a minor meltdown when she saw the bank statement,” I said.
“That’s what you get when you marry an accountant,” she laughed, sipping her wine.
“Yeah, I should have thought that out a little better,” I smiled.
“Probably so,” she said. She smiled back at me over her wine glass. I’d never noticed her look at me like that before. In an instant, her expression changed and it was gone. Had I imagined it? I put the tuna on the grill and was rewarded with a satisfying sizzle. I turned them slightly at one minute to get the grill marks right and then after another minute I flipped them, repeating the procedure.
“Those güvenilir bahis siteleri are going to be good,” she said.
“I hope so,” I replied.
I’d already set the table, so when we walked back in, I put a tuna steak on each plate. I got the scallops out of the oven, as Tessa grabbed the wine bottle.
“You don’t mind if we skip the big prayer before dinner, do you,” she asked.
“You know me,” I laughed.
“Yes, I do,” Tessa smiled.
We began to eat and talk. She was telling me about her new job in a bigger hospital. She told me it was a much better position and she wished she’d made the change sooner. I nodded in agreement.
“Do you still like your new deal,” she asked.
“Yeah, it’s all right. They run things a little more rigidly than I ever did, but overall it’s not bad,” I said. The company that bought mine was very corporate, but they made money and being an employee owner, that was a good thing.
“I can tell you’re so much happier and more relaxed now,” Tessa replied.
“I am. I can turn off my computer and go home now, not like before,” I agreed.
“That’s much better,” she said.
“How’s Chris,” I asked. I figured I should at least ask.
“Oh. He’s still Chris. I think he’s more of a big brother to the boys than a father sometimes,” she said before taking another sip of wine. She’d just finished her second glass and reached for the bottle again. It was okay, I thought. She needed to unwind a little and we weren’t going anywhere.
“I know sweetie,” I said. “Are they giving you trouble?”
“No, they’re good boys, thankfully. When they’re all teenagers, though….,” she said.
“Yeah, I hear you,” I replied. “There’s something I want to talk to you about, regarding the boys.”
“What’s that,” Tessa asked.
“It’s about their education,” I said.
“What about it,” she asked.
“Mom left Tammy and I a good deal of money. More than we need. We want to put some of it into a fund for them, enough to see them all through school,” I said.
“Alex, no. You two don’t have to do that. We’ll be fine,” she protested.
“Honey, you’ve been paying for Chris to go to school or search for himself most of the time you’ve been married,” I persisted.
She looked at me blankly and nodded.
“It’s something Tammy and I have been thinking about for a long time. We want to help you with this,” I said.
She took my hand in hers. “Alex, you have no idea what that means to me. I can’t though. Chris will never accept it.”
“Then don’t tell him about it,” I said simply.
She nodded thoughtfully. “Let me think about?”
“Sure. Tammy can set it all up. Chris will never have to know about it,” I said.
She smiled and nodded at me.
We finished dinner and I put our dishes in the sink. I’d wash them and put them in the dishwasher before bed. I joined her on the sectional. She’d brought the bottle of wine and it was sitting on the table beside her. She had her long tan legs propped on the table in front of the sectional. We talked more about her kids and her Mom and Dad. There was a pause in the conversation and she looked at me very intently.
“How are things between you and Tammy,” she asked.
“What do you mean,” I replied.
“You know what I mean, sexually,” she said.
“Someone has had a little too much wine tonight,” I said laughing.
“Maybe, but that doesn’t answer my question,” she persisted.
“I don’t know. I try really hard since she messed around with that other guy,” I replied. “I pay attention to her. I listen to her. Things I didn’t do when I was young and stupid. It’s not all about the sex.”
“I understand. I don’t think Chris will ever get to that point,” she said sadly.
“I know honey. That drives your sister and I crazy,” I replied.
“Alex, I honestly don’t remember the last time he touched me,” Tessa said. “It’s like when I decided I didn’t want more kids, he lost interest in me.”
“Honey, are you serious,” I asked in disbelief.
“Yes. Very serious,” she said. There were tears in her eyes.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I mean things aren’t exactly steamy with Tammy and me anymore, but damn.”
“Yeah. I’ve thinking things I shouldn’t be,” she said.
“Is there someone else,” I asked, immediately knowing what she’d been thinking.
“No, not yet,” she said wiping her eyes.
“Tess, I think you need to talk to Tammy about this,” I said.
“No, I can’t talk to her about it. She still thinks I don’t know about what she did to you,” Tessa said.
“I know, but maybe if you’ll talk to her about it, she’ll open up and explain to you how it made her feel,” I said.
“Alex, the only reason she felt bad about it was because you’re a good man. I wouldn’t feel an ounce of guilt if I cheated on Chris,” she said.
“That’s harsh, honey,” I replied.
“It’s true,” she replied. She poured the last of the wine in her glass and took a sip. “Does it still bother her?”
“Yes, it does. We don’t really talk about anymore, but she’s told me anytime I call and say I’m going to be late or go out of town on business, she says she panics,” I replied.
“I think you should have at least one time,” Tessa said simply.
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