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Книга Third Degree. Страница 23

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“Laurel?”

She looked up. For the first time today, Warren looked as vulnerable and confused as Grant sometimes did.

“So, I guess this guy you’re seeing is some kind of sex god or something, huh?”

“Warren. I’m not having an affair.”

He grunted in stubborn disbelief.

“Besides,” she said, “what do you mean ‘this guy’? I thought you said you know it’s Kyle.”

He laid his hand on the letter beside the computer. “This doesn’t really sound like Kyle. I know he’d fuck you without a second’s hesitation. And I don’t know what you might do to hurt me. But this letter…” Warren shook his head. “This really hurt.”

Even sitting duct-taped like a prisoner awaiting execution, Laurel felt guilt surge within her. Had getting involved with Danny been the only answer to her marital problems? Of course not. She simply hadn’t been brave enough to confront them directly, or to face what leaving Warren might mean. She’d waited for an emotional parachute, and only by chance had she found real love.

“Tell me what it’s like,” Warren said dully. “With the guy who wrote this, I mean. Tell me what you feel when he does it to you.”

You mean with me, she thought. Not to me.

Warren’s transition from fury to depression had been almost instantaneous. Laurel felt as if someone had slammed on the brakes of a speeding car, and she hadn’t yet recovered. All she knew was that she wasn’t about to tell her husband one detail about how being with Danny compared to her conjugal sex. Warren was like the boys she had known in high school; he had a powerful biological urge that needed release, and her body was the vehicle for that release. His sexual routine hadn’t varied significantly in years. The tension would build in him for a few days, or even a couple of weeks, and then he would come to her and spend himself. She occasionally managed a vaginal orgasm by sitting astride him. But the only reliable orgasms she got were from his licking her, and as the years passed, he had become less and less willing to devote the time required to bring her off this way. She was always left wanting more, and the few times he’d been able to go back inside her, she’d been unable to reach the peak she sensed just beyond the horizon.

Danny, on the other hand, instinctively understood the dynamics of female arousal and release. Some days Laurel wanted hours of foreplay punctuated by staggered moments of release, and other days she wanted to be stormed like a city under siege, plundered until nothing remained but a faint pulse of life and dreamless sleep. Danny knew within moments of seeing her which kind of day it was, and he could often tell by the timbre of her telephone voice as they arranged their rendezvous. Laurel had once arrived at a hotel room only to have a gloved hand clapped over her mouth from behind, her skirt hiked up, and her body ravished from behind without ever seeing the man’s face. Only after he had ejaculated and let her fall to the bed had she been positive it was Danny. She didn’t want that kind of adventure regularly, but to know that it might happen at any time…that was the thing. Warren could pound violently at her in a fit of drunken passion and still leave her unsatisfied, while Danny might force her to lie absolutely still while he moved at a glacial pace within her, yet by the time he finished, her body felt like a desiccated husk of fruit, sucked dry of all moisture.

Laurel watched her husband from a bottomless well of sadness. The truth might set people free-in theory-but it was difficult to see any upside to sharing her most intimate secrets with Warren. His jealousy had always followed his insecurities. He’d never worried about buff pool boys or bohemian types, however sexy they might be. Warren worried about other doctors, or businessmen who earned more money than he did, anyone who might be ahead of him in the eternal competition that was life. If he were to learn that his whole worldview was wrong, that the greatest threat to his marriage had come from a man who wasn’t competing with him in any way-who in fact cared nothing about competition, but was only and profoundly glad to be alive (and who touched a part of Laurel so deep that her husband had never even glimpsed it)-Warren might not survive that. Watching him now, Laurel suddenly understood the essential nature of what was unfolding before her. Warren was a control freak who sensed control slipping inexorably away. First at work, and now at home. The fear growing inside him probably had no limit.

“Hey,” Warren said softly. “If I untaped you now, would you go in the bedroom and make love with me?”

She closed her eyes involuntarily. “If you really want it, I suppose I would. But what we need to do right now is talk. I think someone is trying to hurt you, Warren. Maybe to destroy you.”

His chin began to quiver like Grant’s when the boy tried not to cry. “Yeah,” Warren said, his voice completely different from the one he’d spoken in a moment ago. “You. I don’t know what I was thinking, asking you for sloppy seconds. I just wish I knew how long I’ve been getting them.”

The words stung her more deeply than she would have imagined. “Warren, please listen to me-”

“I’m going to find out,” he vowed, slapping the side of the Sony’s screen. “This porn is just the beginning, I’m sure. I’m going to dig out every last secret in this pile of garbage before I’m through.”

Laurel felt tears coming again.

A savage light had entered his eyes. “Maybe we should show some of these pictures to the kids when they get home. Show them what Mom does in her spare time.”

Her heart seized at the mention of the kids. So Warren was well aware that they would soon be home. But how did he think they would get here, with her trussed up like a turkey? Did he plan to lock her in the trunk of his Volvo and pick them up himself? The idea didn’t seem as impossible as it would have an hour ago.

“Screw you,” she said. “You want them to stay up and watch you jerk off to soft-core on Cinemax after we’re asleep? Dictating medical charts, my ass.”

He stared at her with visceral hatred.

“God, we’re pathetic,” she said, meaning it.

She had no idea what to do or say next. Warren wasn’t going to listen to anything from her. His obsession with her infidelity had nothing to do with love. It was about possession. Ownership. Someone had appropriated his personal property, and he wanted revenge. She was like all his other possessions, something to be jealously guarded, not because of her intrinsic worth, but because she was his. That concept was laughable now. The issue of ownership had been decided within two weeks after she first kissed Danny McDavitt. No matter whose ring Laurel wore, no matter who mounted her in the dark of the night, Danny owned her, body and soul. That was the reality, and nothing but death could change it.

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