My eyes flew open as I quickly sat up in the bed. What was that noise, a door slamming? I scanned the dark bedroom and waited for another sound. The voice I heard shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.
“Where the hell is my dinner?” Aaron’s voice boomed through the house.
I scrambled from the bed, falling to the floor, my feet tangled in a mess of sheets and blankets. Ignoring the pain in my wrist and hip from my ungraceful fall, I slipped my robe on and practically ran down the flight of stairs.
“Taylor, get your ass down here! A good wife wouldn’t let her husband go hungry!”
I spotted him standing in front of the open refrigerator, his back to me. Without a word I made my way to the oven where his food was already fixed and waiting. I could feel his eyes on me, tracking my every movement as I slipped in front of him and grabbed a beer from the fridge. I refused to meet his eyes. Instead I stole a glance at the time on the microwave. It was a quarter past three. Working late again, huh? “I made you shrimp carbonara. I hope you like it,” I said as I placed the beer and food on the island in the center of the kitchen. Finally meeting his eyes, I pulled the stool out for him. He said nothing, simply stared at me. My heart pounded in my chest. Why wasn’t he responding? “I kept it warm for you,” I said as I closed the refrigerator and took his hand. Without protest, he let me guide him to his seat. I tried to give him a quick peck on his lips, but he turned his head away. A smirk played at the corner of his lip. My lips settled for his cheek and I stepped back. “How was your day?” I asked.
“I want to take a shower when I’m done eating,” he replied.
And just like that, I was dismissed. I took my time going upstairs, hoping he’d call me back. I could at least get a hug, right? I knew that would never happen, but that didn’t stop me from lingering on the stairs. The only sound that came from his direction was the fork as it scraped the plate and the occasional soft thud from him placing his beer bottle on the counter after he sipped. By the time he made it to our bedroom I had a fresh pair of boxers and pajama bottoms laid out for him and the shower was the perfect temperature. He undressed as he made his way past me in silence. I quickly scooped up the trail of clothes he left in his wake. While he showered I tossed his towel into the dryer, so that it’d be warm for him when he used it.
“Dinner was actually very good. I’m impressed,” he said when he finally emerged from the bathroom.
“Thank you. I’m glad you liked it.” I tried not to be, but I was mesmerized by his body. At 32 years old, he looked just as good as he did when we first met and he was only 25. His smooth, brown skin pulled tight against muscles that teased me with their presence. Not big and bulky, but just right for his 6’ 4” frame. His wavy hair was always kept cut low, cropped close to his head. Beautiful brown eyes stared back at me from behind dark lashes. If he’d smile - which I knew he wouldn’t - I’d see perfect teeth lined up behind those thick lips. He glanced at the boxers on the bed then smiled smugly as I gave them to him. I snapped my mouth shut, realizing he knew I was admiring him.
“Take that off,” he commanded.
I glanced down at the nightie I wore under my robe then back at him. My confusion allowed him a moment of amusement. With that same smug smile locked in place, he removed the towel that hung loosely from his waist.
“Your turn,” he challenged.
My heartbeat picked up its pace again as I hesitantly removed my clothes. He closed the gap between us and let his fingertips skim across my chest. I fought the urge to touch him, while silently begging him to touch me more. I hoped against all odds that this wasn’t as far as he would go. He hadn’t made love to me in months. He still blamed me for his embarrassment. He blamed me for his boss’s actions. My only crime was accompanying my husband to his firm’s annual charity banquet in the evening gown that he picked out for me. I looked beautiful in it. It gave me curves where I knew I had little to none. It gave me a confidence boost that I knew I didn’t even need. Well, at least not at that time. Right now a confidence boost would be greatly appreciated. When Aaron’s boss, Bryan, told me he wanted me to help him with some of the evening’s presentations, I was flattered and honored. I agreed to retrieve the notes for a speech he had forgotten in his office, but when I got there he cornered me and tried to kiss me. I’d never been in a situation like that, so I had no idea what to do. When I pushed him away and slapped him, he came back even stronger. My body froze in fear as his hands gripped every part of me that he could touch. When he tried to force his tongue into my mouth I bit him. He laughed and went for my neck. Over his shoulder I saw Aaron and the two other partners from the firm standing in the doorway. One of the other partners, Kaleb, asked what was going on. I tried to tell them he attacked me, but he assured them it was just an innocent hug. He said I’d had a little too much wine – I only had one glass and I didn’t even get to finish it - and he’d caught me when I tripped. A hug was my way of thanking him. Aaron hadn’t said a thing. He only stared at me, rage carefully concealed within his gaze. Of course he hadn’t said anything. He was up for a promotion to become a partner at the firm; his lifelong dream. He’d given Bryan and the others a tight smile before reaching for my hand and telling them he had to take his drunken wife home. That was six months ago…six long and lonely months.
“I can’t even make love to you anymore,” Aaron whispered as he slipped an arm around my waist, pulling me closer him, my body flush against his. The erection that should have been pressing against me was nowhere to be found. For Christ’s sake, we’re both naked!
“Aaron, please? You can.” My pleas fell on deaf ears. He let me go and slipped his boxers on.
“Wake me up at seven,” he said as he climbs into our bed.
“You know I didn’t betray you, Aaron.”
“Taylor, I’m going to sleep. I have a long day ahead of me.”
“Aaron, please? Just talk to me. I didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t keep shutting me out like this,” I pleaded. I was innocent. I was there for him. I was put into that situation because of him. I’m his wife. He was supposed to protect me. It didn’t matter if his career was on the line. His marriage should have been his priority. I should have been his main concern. Instead he blamed me. He told me I was lying; Bryan would never do anything like that. Instead of protecting me when I needed him, he turned his back on me and made me out to be the culprit. I didn’t think I would survive that. I still don’t think I will. “Aaron?” Silence was my companion.
The promotion decision wasn’t supposed to be made until two months later, but the partners announced Aaron as the recipient that following Monday. I pushed my feelings aside and became the supportive spouse; celebrations and lavish outings with my husband and the man who attacked me. Posing for pictures, being nice, and accepting keep quiet gifts like the perfect little wife. Aaron had shunned me since then. I made it my mission to get him to forgive me, but it still hadn’t happened. Six months is a long time to bear the burden of an act you didn’t commit. I put my nightie back on and climbed into bed. Although I longed for it, sleep abandoned me.