Kasen left for work at six am. He couldn’t want to face Marise that morning. He had spent the night staring at the blackness that surrounded him in his living area. Never before had he come so close to losing control. Never before had he come so close to committing the very thing that his father had warmed him about not doing. Kasen’s mind was a muddled mess and he didn’t know what to do about it.
In his office, Kasen prepared to be out of the office for the next few weeks. He knew now that he needed to get away for a moment. Being around Marise had given him a case of temporary insanity. There are so many times around her that he was on the verge of losing control. And that would be the last thing that he needed when he went to face the Captain in a few months.
Kasen quickly placed a call to his business partner and told him he was going to California to drum up more business. It was a lie, but a little white lie where his life was concerned didn’t bother Kasen. As Kasen quickly arranged his ticket, booked his hotel and tied up all his loose ends, his mind began to move in the logical fashion he was accustomed to. He would vacate his place for a few months and allow Marise to get on her feet. He would stay in California and keep his distance and his control. By the time he came back, it would be time for him to leave again to Lake St. Cassien. It would be ample time for them both to get over what almost happened.
That would have been a perfect game plan, if Kasen could keep his thoughts from Marise’s welfare. He had never seen her as vulnerable as he had last night, and the man in him wanted to take advantage of the situation. There was also the carnal desire that he had for her for two years that he had allowed to fester instead of dealing with it. Kasen had to force himself not to care, and he had to force himself out of Marise’s life, no matter what the cost to him.
* * * * *
Marise stayed up that night trying to figure out what to do with her life. What had almost transpired between her and Kasen was enough for her to think that perhaps she needed a different job. Darryl proceeded to call her cell phone but never bothered to leave a message. Marise wanted to pack up, leave, and start over somewhere. Odds were against her though, and plus, she didn’t know if she wanted to live without seeing Kasen’s face every day.
Marise went into work the same time as always, as if nothing had transpired. She sat down at her desk and began the day as she always did, checking her emails for anything that Kasen needed done early. She was shocked to see that he had arranged his own travel plans and saw that he would be out of town for several weeks. Marise did not think that it had anything to do with her. She was not someone worth all the trouble. Kasen was stubborn and sometimes a cold man, Marise thought, there was no way that their ‘encounter’ could have possibly made him make all of these arrangements.
She was engrossed in her own thoughts and the day moved without a pause. Marise called her mother and they met for lunch. Marise had no choice but to tell her mother everything. It felt good to finally unburden all the things that she carried, even though she was positive that her mother would not care. Her mother invited her to stay in her own room until she sorted life out. That took care of the problem with having a roof over her head. But Marise was still reluctant to return Darryl’s phone calls. What would she say to him?
Her biggest dilemma was sorting out her feelings for him. He was never there, and she can’t remember the last time she told him that she loved him. Marise didn’t feel as though she loved him, or did not love him enough to go through this pain together. Did she want her relationship to work or did she just want to throw it all away? The variable was Kasen. If Kasen was not in the picture, would Marise even want a divorce. If she had not had Kasen to lean on, or unwillingly seen the feelings that Kasen had for her, would she even consider the thought of leaving Darryl?
Marise didn’t know the answers to those questions. Her world was in turmoil, but she did find a bright spot. No matter what the outcome, she will never have to strip for the rest of her life. She had Kasen to thank for that. Now if she could just see him for a moment to thank him.
When Marise returned to the office after lunch with her mother, Kasen was already gone on his business trip. He left a few notes for her about what to do on a day-to-day basis, but he left without saying goodbye. He needed his own space Marise thought. Perhaps so did she.
Marise spent the first week of Kasen being gone reconciling her differences with her mother and father. There was a lot there that Marise did not know, and although Marise doubted that her parents and her would ever be close, at least she would be able to call them every once in a while and not have to pretend like they did not exist. She learned that her father’s ‘infidelity’ was a mutual thing, and in essence, there was never any cheating.
When Marise told her mother that what she had found on her anniversary, her mother was actually sympathetic. Marise told her that whatever decision she made, she would stand by her side. Unfortunately, Marise could not make any decisions because she had avoided Darryl like the plague. Marise’s thoughts left her wondering that maybe if Darryl actually made some effort, perhaps sent flowers to say that he was sorry, she would be more inclined to talk to him.
Nothing, a few phone calls the next day, and even fewer the next. After a while, Darryl stopped calling. When Marise had not heard from him in a few days, her fears that Lenny had gotten to him plagued her mind. She picked up the phone and dialed Darryl’s cell phone.
“What?” came his rough voice from the other end.
“Hello Darryl.” Marise held her breath. She did not know what to expect from him.
“MarMar! Where the hell are you?”
“That isn’t important, I was just checking to see if you were alive or if Lenny had gotten a hold of you.”
“Lenny, how do you know about Lenny?”
“Darryl, please, I know a lot more than you think I do. And if you go racking up more loans, I can’t help you. My days of overtime are done.”
“What do you mean? I never asked anything of you…”
“No, you didn’t. But I did not want to see my husband dead either. At least I gave a damn.”
“I do care Mar, but I don’t see what Lenny has to do with us?”
“Then you really haven’t been paying attention Darryl. I’m the one who paid Lenny off.”
“How? You don’t understand these dudes, they don’t…” There was a hard pause and Marise held her breath, “Did you fuck him?”
“Would it have mattered if I did? Would you have even cared?” Marise asked with more calm than she felt.
“Of course I would care, I mean you are my wife dammit!”
“Darryl, please, when is the last time you looked at me as your wife?”
“That isn’t important now.”
“The hell it isn’t! I worked my ass off paying of your debts, and that is how you repay me? On our anniversary?”
“MarMar…” Darryl’s voice was that syrupy tone he used when he wanted things his way. It made Marise’s stomach coil.
“Don’t call me that. Don’t. How many times Darryl?”
“How many times what?”
“How many other times have you cheated Darryl? How many?”
“I don’t know…” the way that Darryl said he didn’t know made the next thing that Marise had to get off her chest that much easier.
“You don’t know, huh? That many? Wow, at least now I don’t feel bad.”
“Feel bad for what?”
“Feel bad that to pay off your debt, I was sliding my ass up and down a pole at the Harem. I’ve carried that burden for months, nine months to be exact. And all the time I was up there, all I could think is that I hope Darryl will understand. I didn’t feel right doing it, but I did what I had to do. To save you and to save us. But I don’t feel bad anymore. If you can’t remember how many times you stuck your dick in a hole that wasn’t mine, it’s worse than I thought.”
“You are a stripper? Damn Marise…”
“Correction, I was a stripper. I stripped everything I had for you. I worked my ass off, and for what? To come home to my husband fucking two people in our sheets on our anniversary?”
“I’m sorry Marise, it just happened.”
“And how many times did it just happen? Did it jump on you, did it threaten your life? How did it just happen?”
“Marise, you don’t talk to me like that.” That pissed Marise off in the worse way.
“Darryl, you are way past the point of telling me how to talk to you.
“Marise, look, I know that I haven’t been there, but that gives you no right to treat me like this! I am your husband. “
“So you keep saying. But do you know what it means to be a husband? To have, to hold, to honor and cherish, those are how the vows go. Let’s see, you have not had me in a year. Strike one. You have not held me for over three years. Strike too. You didn’t come home at night, you stopped calling to check in, you have had numerous affairs. So the honor and cherish things are out too. So no, I don’t think you are qualified to say that you are my husband anymore.”
“What are you implying?”
“I am not implying anything. I am telling you that it is over, we are getting a divorce.”
“You don’t want to do this…”
“Oh come on Darryl. You know you don’t want to be tied down. And I know that I don’t want to be tied down with you.”
“Is there someone else?”
Marise scoffed. It was unladylike, and almost disgusting the way she sneered into the phone. She could not believe that Darryl had the audacity to ask her that.
“Yeah Darryl, you, Ray and the redhead were the someone else.” She hung up the phone. She had enough. She had to get the court papers filed before Darryl disappeared. She shook her head and wondered what she saw in him for so long.