The Thrill of It All
Peggy Duffy

I tell my husband I am going out. He stands by the closet door, hovering between opening and closing it. The reflection from the hall light streaks his straight black hair. He watches me leave.

The lights in the bar aren't bright enough to reflect off anything, not even the rows of glasses hanging from the wooden racks on the ceiling. I order a Dirty Martini, straight up. Wedged between bodies, drink in hand, I scan the room. Kim's already seated in the far corner across from the bar, sucking down a beer. I raise my drink in recognition, then move to the far end of the bar. His eyes watch my approach. My jeans and sweater are dark, and tight. I put my glass on the bar beside where he stands, pull out a pack of cigarettes and drop them. The move is calculated. I twist and bend to retrieve the fallen pack. My sweater rides up. I feel the red strip of my thong peek through the top of my waistband.

A wave of dizziness crashes into the side of my head when I straighten. I have low blood pressure and shouldn't stand so quickly. His hand rests lightly on my hip to steady me. It's all too easy, and predictable. He takes the pack from my hand, shakes out a cigarette and places it between my lips. I pucker my mouth around his fingers and he lets them linger for a few moments before offering me a light. I let the couple making their way for drinks press me against him, sense his hip thrust into mine. Our bodies meet in a palpable thrill of attraction.

A little over a year of marriage and it has come to this. The only way to please and be pleased. I check to see if Kim's still watching. Sure as shit, eyes riveted. I lift my drink from the bar, let the salty wetness fill my mouth, swallow hard. I press my lips into this stranger's ear, whisper words I know most men want to hear. Except my husband. He's not a man of words, isn't turned on by murmured promises or seductive phrases. Kim likes to watch from the sidelines, waiting his turn before joining in the game. But I can see tonight the rules have changed, the stakes grown higher. He's no longer satisfied with the look of eager expectation on an unfamiliar face, the assuredness in which a hand rests on the small of my back, the way a randomly chosen man leans his body into mine. He's sitting, watching, waiting for more.



First published: August 2005
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