Chris left, but he didn't go home. It wasn't late enough for him to go home, dejected, and do nothing, anxiously awaiting Seth's arrival. So he drove aimlessly, thinking that maybe he'd end up somewhere soon enough.
While he drove around, the darkness seeping into the car, he couldn't help but think that it couldn't have been that long ago when they shared that drafty studio apartment. Seth in medical school, Chris writing. He missed the cramped space sometimes. Their house now, big enough to get lost in, didn't allow for them to constantly have to touch each other to do something as simple as walk from room to room.
Chris pulled into a bar, not even sure why he ended up there in the first place. He was in D.C and he figured, why the hell not?
But a million reasons why he should not surface in his mind. He was married. He was a father, it was his anniversary. He was a respectable man who did not go to gay bars certainly not in D.C and certainly not by himself.
Then, there he was, despite his better judgment, sitting at the bar with a strong drink in front of him and gorgeous men around him. For some reason unbeknownst to him, Chris slid off his wedding ring and tucked it neatly in his pocket.
"Here all by yourself?" Someone asked him right before taking the stool to his left and grinning broadly at Chris.
He nodded stiffly in reply.
"Let me buy you a drink," the guy offered, eyes twinkling.
He had to have been as old as Chris, but not as worn down from chasing toddlers all over the house all day. Hair the color of gold. Eyes like grass. The bartender set down two shots of vodka in front of both of them and walked away.
The bass of the music changed Chris' s heartbeat. Or maybe it was the guy grinning at him that changed the speed of his blood pumping through his body. Inside, he laughed. No one had looked at him like that in fifteen years. He told himself it was normal to feel giddy about someone noticing you.
But that didn't account for why he wasn't wearing his wedding ring, or why he wasn't discouraging this man from hitting on him.
"Zack." He said.
"You're married." He stated it bluntly, but doesn't lose his smile. It's an observation, not an accusation. At his puzzled look, Zack grabbed his left hand. "Tan line."
That made Chris start laughing. Sure enough, the place around his finger where the band usually sat was as white as White-Out.
"So," Zack said, leaning back and grinning that cocky little grin. "Either the wife doesn't know you're gay or-"
"Or my husband's never home." Chris cut across.
He raises one eyebrow and his dazzling green eyes smoke over.
"Does that bother you? That I'm married?"
Then, it was Zack's turn to laugh. He touched Chris's hand and leaned closer to him, whispering in his ear the way Seth had earlier. "Not in the slightest."
After an hour, Chris was wasted. Both of them were silly-drunk. Finally, they both stopped laughing long enough to breathe and take another shot. "How long have you been married to Sam?"
"Seth," he corrected. "Twenty years. Today."
Zack looks suddenly surprised. "You look a little young to be married for that long," he admits.
"I'm forty, if that helps you figure out my bad choices."
"Tying the knot at twenty."
"I was young and dumb." Immediately after he said it, Chris regretted it. So, as if he had to shove something into his mouth, he took another drinking. Then, laughed this humorless little laugh. "He's off doing something great while I stay at home and do the husband-and-father thing, ya know? I'm so sick of it."
He nodded, but Zack didn't really know.
"I don't get any recognition. At all. For anything I do."
"How's the sex?" Zack asked lightheartedly, as if they were talking about the weather or something else equally irrelevant.
He snorted. "Nonexistent."
At that point, Chris didn't even care that he was talking to a stranger about his sex-life, or lack thereof, in some bar. He didn't love this stranger, but, God, he was beautiful, and he was in love with the idea of sharing on night with him.
"I could help with that." Zack said haughtily.
And that was that.
Chris had two requests. One, not to leave marks that would be hard for him to explain to Seth, and two, to use a condom. Respectfully, he was married and if Zack was sick with something, he couldn't very well bring it home to Seth. That was, if Seth ever decided to touch him.
It felt good to know that, at that moment, Chris was the only thing on that guy's mind. That, for just a couple of moments, someone was thinking of him. Because he knew for sure his husband wasn't even thinking about him.
Chris lost his virginity to Seth what seemed like a million years ago but it didn't work that way the other way around. He had been with a couple of guys in high school, he admitted, and another two in college. Time and time again, he told Chris they didn't mean anything, no not like Chris did. They were one-night stands or weak relationships. Seth repeatedly told Chris that he had sex with those guys, but he didn't make love to them; that Chris was the only one he made love to. Chris had always understood but the basics were still the same. Seth had not been an innocent little virgin when they met. And, even though he knew that Seth couldn't change his past, it still sat with Chris unsettlingly that Seth had slept with other guys before him. Maybe now, this was sort of like payback.
Or maybe it was just the loneliness.
He only let himself stay until eleven. By then, he had started to sober up and he figured Seth might've been coming home soon. Zack typed his number into Chris's phone and he did the same. He promised he would call but Chris knew he wouldn't, and that was okay with him.
Chris only wanted that one night, that one fuck. That one time.
When he got home, the house was still empty and Seth's car was still gone. It was too late to call his parents, he figured, so he stalked upstairs, surrounded by the deafening sound of silence. By then, he was completely sober and he felt like hell. Guilt weighed on his conscious heavily. He had betrayed the vows he made to his husband on that day twenty years ago and slept with a complete stranger.
In the mirror, the face looking back at him had dark circles under his eyes and a pale, sullen face. Messy hair from rolling around on a bed for a couple of hours. Honestly, he looked like he had just had sex.
"Who are you?" Chris whispered to his reflection.
Quietly, Chris slipped into the shower, desperate to wash Zack off of him. He felt like he had just been raped, but that wasn't the case. He didn't have anyone to blame but himself for why he felt cheap, used and dirty. He could use drunkenness as an excuse. He could use spite. He could use anger. Honestly, Chris could've used just about anything to justify his actions.
He wasn't broken. Not yet.
At least, that's what he told himself.
Chris dried off, feeling better, and quietly slid into bed, hopefully falling into an undisturbed, dreamless sleep.
Around one in the morning, Seth pressed his body against Chris, holding him close and inadvertently waking him. He kissed Chris's cheek. "Honey," he whispered. "Where are the kids?"
"At my parents' house." Chris murmured, even though there was no reason to.
He paused and held back his tears. This night, their anniversary, the night he was determined to make perfect, was such a disaster. "It's our anniversary." Chris said softly. Seth faltered behind him, groaning.
"Oh, God. I'm so, so sorry."
Seth wanted to make it up to Chris, he begged to. But Chris wiped away his tears before Seth saw, thankful for the darkness, and told him no. That he was tired tonight. That maybe tomorrow, maybe. He couldn't deal with looking at Seth's face as they made love. Not tonight. Not after what Chris did to their marriage.
A/N: Okay, so I'm not sure if this is clear and if it's not, it will be in the next chapter. This is taking place in Virginia. And this might not seem very important to you but this book had become pretty taboo to me. I never write about places that are intimate to me. And, in this particular case, I lived where they live now, in the exact city. Lots of this book, I decided would be about things I've gone through or know someone who has. And that's honestly hard for me to do.
And as for the speedy update? I'm on spring break. :D
And I of course have no life. :( But that means more updates for you guys!