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After the kids graduated from university, Quinton and I had the house to ourselves. I thought that would spice up our sex life, but it resulted in me being lonelier. Quinton started going out more with his friends, spent more time away on business trips and less time at home. When he started acting strange, I thought I did something wrong, so I asked him about it. He snapped at me, so I left it. Although I felt that he was seeing someone, I never even thought about cheating on my husband.

I walked into the study. “Honey, did you get a chance to check your luggage? I just want to make sure that I packed everything.”

Quinton kept looking at the monitor. “Carrie, can you not see that I’m busy?”

“I’m sorry, honey. I just want to make sure you’ve got everything.”

He kept frowning while looking at the monitor, making me believe that he was annoyed with me again. I went back to the bedroom and double-checked that I had packed everything. The thought of him calling me while on his trip and shouting at me for forgetting something made me anxious.

A phone beeped. I thought it was mine, so I turned around but saw Quinton’s phone on the nightstand. The light was on as I approached, and I saw that he received a photo message from Liz. Who’s Liz? Probably someone who works for him. I looked at the case over my shoulder and thought about continuing. Maybe I should check the message and see who Liz is.

I unlocked the phone, and a lump developed in my throat as I looked at a photo of a woman in lingerie. ‘Can’t wait to see you, xoxo Lilly,’ was the message that accompanied the photo. I felt like my lungs were clogged and restricted oxygen from entering. My heart felt like it stopped beating, and my shoulders were stiff.

I didn’t know how to react, whether to confront Quinton or delude myself to believe that it never happened. The truth that I had suspected for years was staring at me in the face, yet I didn’t want to believe it.

I sent the picture to my phone, put his phone on the nightstand, sat on the edge of the bed, compressed my lips and frowned to prevent the tears from spilling out. They slid down my face as my shoulders trembled. I covered my mouth with my hand to suppress the whimpering.

I sniffed and wiped my eyes, then walked into the bathroom and washed my face. The thought of Quinton going to that woman and being with her replayed in my head.

He was rummaging through his bag as I stepped into the room. “Where’d you put my shaving kit?” I kneeled in front of the bag, lifted his draws and picked up the shaving bag. “Jesus, Carrie. It’s not a diamond pouch. Leave it on top, so I can see it.”

In the garage, he put the bag into his boot and looked at me. “Hope everything goes well,” I said.

“This is the big one. If they like my presentation, we could be signing the biggest real estate deal this town has seen in decades.”

“Good luck, honey.”

I stood on my toes, pouted my lips and leaned in. Quinton turned his cheek, whereas I aimed for his lips.

I smiled and waved as he pulled off, but my heart sank and all of my energy depleted. I had never felt more alone than at that moment. This is the worst festive season ever.

I scuttled to my room, leapt onto the bed and cried. After feeling sorry for myself, I decided that being home alone was not healthy for me. I needed fresh air and to see people.

I drove around the city centre for ten minutes, then saw a massive Christmas tree in the square. Several people had gathered around it and admired it. Some took photos in front of it.

I looked at the golden globes and the angel perked on top of the tree, smiling as I crossed my arms and pressed my jacket against my chest to prevent the breeze from reaching my skin.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said a man standing behind me.

I looked over my shoulder and saw a tall man with brunette hair and shiny teeth looking up at the tree. “Yes,” I said.

“There’s something about this time of the year that puts a smile on your face regardless of how tough the last twelve months have been.” I smiled with compressed lips. “Oh, sorry.” He jerked his hand out of his coat pocket. “I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Leo.”

“Carrie. Nice to meet you.”

“Hope you don’t mind me asking what brings you by. I figured someone as beautiful as you would be with her husband, sitting by the fireplace and gazing in each other’s eyes.”

“My husband is away on a business trip.”

“Really? This time of the year?” I nodded. “Okay. I guess some of us are still working hard and are fortunate to have work.” Leo looked down.

“What’s the matter?”

“It’s nothing. I’m just feeling sorry for myself because I lost my dream job.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Yeah, the timing wasn’t the greatest. Not a great way to end the year. Worked so hard to please my boss, and she decided that she could find someone better.”

“Everything happens for a reason. I’m sure something will come up next year.”

“Let’s hope so. There aren’t too many openings in my field.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a campaign manager…was. Political stuff, don’t wanna bore you with the details. What do you do?”

“I’m a housewife. I cook, clean and look after my husband.”

“He’s a lucky guy to have you.” I smiled with compressed lips and looked at the tree. “I’m sorry. Did I say something wrong?”

“No. I’m fine.”

His sly smile and stare made me believe that he knew my marriage was the reason I was out of the house.

“This might sound random, but do you wanna get a cup of coffee? It’s cold out here,” said Leo.

“Where?”

He pointed at a coffee shop. “Over there looks good.”

I wondered for a few seconds if that went against the sanctity and the marital obligation that I had worked so hard to uphold. It’s only coffee. That’s all. We’re going to talk a bit, and then I’ll go home.

At the coffee shop, I looked at my watch and said. “Oh, wow.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. Can’t believe that an hour and a half has passed.”

“You lose track of time when you’re having fun.” He smiled.

I smiled and felt that my shoulders were relaxed. I was present in the moment and had no thoughts, besides intrigue towards the stranger sitting opposite me. He smiled, making me feel that everything was going to be okay.

I took a sip of the tea and noticed that he was still looking at me as I glanced over the mug. It felt slightly uncomfortable, yet arousing.

He escorted me to my car. “Thank you for the tea,” I said. “And the conversation.”

“No problem.”

He opened his arms, making me feel the need to reciprocate. I leaned in, and he put his arms around me and squeezed me. As I pulled back, he kept looking at me, then leaned into me.

I pulled back. “I can’t. I’m married.”

“Sorry,” said Leo. “I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable. I got lost in the moment.”

“Right. I better get going.”

“Take my card. In case you need to talk, that’s all.”

I looked at his hand, reaching into his pocket. I wanted to say no, but I thought it would be rude. Besides, it’s just a card. I could put it into my glove box and never look at it again. “Okay,” I said.

I drove home and felt so guilty for considered cheating on my husband. Thank goodness that nothing happened.

Two days had passed and Quinton had not called. I got worried, so I called him. The phone kept ringing and then went to voicemail. He hadn’t called back two hours later, so I called again. The phone was off.

Tears slid down my face as I lay in bed and wondered if he was okay. I had no idea when he was coming back or if he was okay. I finally managed to fall asleep in the early hours of the morning.

While I was preparing lunch, I heard a car pull up into the garage. I scuttled there and saw Quinton. A smile appeared on my face. Oh, thank God he’s okay.

He stepped out of the car. “Hi, honey,” I said.

“Hey.”

I kissed his cheek. “How was the trip?”

“Went well. They liked the presentation and want to go ahead with the deal.”

My smile broadened. “That’s great. I’m so proud of you.”

“Their chairman is away at the moment, but they said he’ll sign as soon as he comes back from Asia.”

“That’s wonderful, honey. Are you hungry? I made your favourite.”

“No. I ate already.”

“Oh, okay. Perhaps, later.” Quinton dragged his case ahead of me and went to the bedroom, and I followed him. “I called to check up on you, but you didn’t answer.”

“I was busy.”

“But surely you could’ve called back? I was worried.”

Lines appeared on his forehead as he frowned. “Carrie, stop badgering me, please. I just walked in and you’re already on my case.”

“Sorry. I care about you.”

“Well, you don’t have to.”

My eyes broadened. “How can I not? You’re my husband.”

“Maybe I don’t wanna be your husband anymore.”

This time, my heart definitely stopped beating. I felt like someone sucked the oxygen out of me and duct-taped my face. “Surely you don’t mean that?”

“Carrie, I’m tired of this. I’m tired of pretending to be in love with you. I don’t wanna do this anymore.”

My forehead wrinkled as tears filled my eyes. “You don’t mean that.”

“I want a divorce. I can’t do this anymore. It’s best for both of us that you leave.”

Tears slid down my face. “What?”

He nodded while looking at the floor. “Both of us need to start new lives and that can’t happen if we’re living under the same roof.”

I can’t even remember packing my back and putting it into my boot. The next thing I recalled was driving around, not having a place to go. I opened the glove box and pulled out Leo’s card, then called him.

He opened the door after I rang the bell. “Hey,” he said. “Come in.”

Leo helped me to take my coat off, and he put it on the rack. We sat on the couch, and he rubbed my shoulder as I explained to him what happened.

“You’re welcome to stay here,” said Leo.

“Are you sure? I don’t want to bother you.”

“It’s not a bother. I enjoy your company.”

“Thank you so much.” I threw my arms around him.

As we pulled back, our faces remained close to each other. Leo’s lips crashed into mine, and he slid his tongue into my mouth. His lips felt so soft, and his cologne crept into my nose and refreshed my lungs while flaring my heart.

He grabbed my hand and escorted me to his bedroom. I wrapped my legs around him as he pulled me up and screamed as he fell on me on the bed. He ripped my shirt apart and ravaged my chest like a wild animal on a fresh piece of meat. I closed my eyes and moaned, feeling his dick harden and press against me.

Leo pulled down my pants and ripped my g-string, then parted my legs and rubbed my clitoris. I squeezed his shoulders as he licked my pussy, then ran my hand down his arm and felt his bicep.

He lay on top of me, stuck his dick in and smiled. “You’re ready?” he asked. I smiled and nodded.

After riding me for fifteen minutes, he flipped onto his back and I sat on him. I pressed on his chest, straightened my back and jumped on his dick. It went in all the way, making me raise my chin as I closed my eyes and sputtered screams.

I squeezed his tight pecks and grimaced while riding his hard dick. As I stopped, I leaned forward, and he pulled me towards him and bent his knees. He drilled his dick into me, making me scream. I was out of breath ten minutes later, so I panted while looking down at him, our noses centimetres away from each other.

He grabbed my face, pulled me into him and shoved his tongue into my mouth. I rocked on his dick as our tongues slithered against each other.

Leo pushed me off him, and I landed on my shoulder with my back to him. He lay beside me and shoved his dick into my pussy. He ran his hand down my leg as he rocked, and he bit my neck and shoulder. I reached over my shoulder and grabbed the back of his neck.

My hand ran down the side of his body and over his ass. As he drove a hard thrust into me, I jerked forward and grunted.

“Oh, my God. I’m cumming,” he said and shot his load inside me.

He lay on his back, and I flipped over and fell asleep on his chest.

In the morning during breakfast, we kept smiling at each other. I felt like a teenager, falling in love for the first time.

“What’s your plan for today?” asked Leo.

“I thought I’d clean your place and make us dinner.”

“Okay, sounds good.”

“I also thought about going to the deeds office to make sure that everything is still in order.”

“All right. Need me to go with you?”

“It’s fine. I’m sure you’ve got things to do.”

I went to the deeds office and returned two hours later. As I walked through the door, I puffed. Leo heard my despondence and walked up to me. “What’s wrong?”

“Quinton transferred everything over to his mother’s name, so I won’t get anything in the divorce.”

“So, the bastard cheats on you, asks for a divorce and leaves you with nothing. What a nice guy.”

I plunked onto the sofa and closed my eyes. “I’m sure he’s gonna enjoy everything with Lilly, Liz or whatever her name is.”

“Is that the mistress you’re talking about?”

I opened my eyes. “Yes.”

Leo frowned and stepped toward me. “Why did you call her Lilly and Liz?”

“She sent a message to him and signed off as Lilly, but he had her saved as Liz.”

“Huh, that’s strange. My boss’s name was Liz, short for Elizabeth, but only a few of us who were close to her called her Lilly.”

“What’s her full name?”

“Elizabeth Klausky,” said Leo.

“That name sounds familiar. I’ve heard it before.”

“She’s running for the mayor of the city. I used to handle her campaign.”

“I’ve never seen her before,” I said.

“As much as I’ve grown to loathe her, I have to admit she’s quite a looker,” said Leo as he grabbed his phone and googled the name. He turned his phone toward me. “That’s her.”

“Oh, my God,” I said, eyes widening and lip lowering. “That’s her.”

“Who?”

“My husband’s mistress.”

“You’re kidding me?” asked Leo. “Where did you see her?”

I pulled my phone out of the bag and showed Leo the photo. “She sent this to him.”

He smiled. “You gotta be kidding me.” He paced while looking at the photo. “Lilly, Lilly, Lilly. I always knew you were a horrible person, but now I have proof.” Leo looked at me. “She campaigned on family, telling everyone how important it was to stick together because family was all that we had and that she would provide family grants. Her constituents felt for her because she didn’t have a family growing up. Her parents died in a car crash when she was young.”

“Is she married?”

“Yep. And here she is preaching family values while tearing up a family.”

“Why did she fire you?” I asked.

“She made up some excuse about how I hadn’t helped to boost her poll numbers high enough. I stuck by her side for years when almost everyone was resigning because she was impossible to work with. She was running out of money and couldn’t pay me because she was living a lavish lifestyle with her campaign funds. Being the mayor is her last chance to make up for all the money she’s spent.”

“She does sound terrible. It’s not right that she treated you that way. You should expose her. You’ll be doing me a favour as well.”

“I’ll come across as a disgruntled employee, and people might not believe me. But if you talk about her affair with your husband, it’ll be more damaging, much more damaging.”

“Me? Talk to whom?”

“I’ve got media contacts. They would take this scoop in a heartbeat and interview you on TV.”

“Are you serious? I mean, I don’t want to ruin anybody’s life.”

“Carrie, you’d only be telling the truth. The residents of this city deserve to know who she really is. She ruined your and my life.”

I looked down and contemplated it for a few seconds. “Okay, I’ll do it. Set it up.”

Three days later, Leo accompanied me to the studio, and the host made me feel relaxed by running me through the procedure. As I spoke about Elizabeth and my husband on air, the picture she sent to my husband appeared on the screen in the studio.

The following day, Elizabeth was on the front page of every newspaper.

“Oh, my God. Carrie, you’re amazing, ” said Leo. “I just looked at Liz’s poll numbers. They’ve tanked like a rock. There is no way she’s winning this race. Not only is she gonna be broke, but she’s going to be a broke loser.”

My phone rang. “Hello,” I said.

“It’s me, Quinton.”

“Yes.”

“Not only did I regret marrying you, but I regret even more divorcing you. It’s like you can’t stop making me miserable.”

“Why?”

“The chairman who was supposed to sign my deal wants nothing to do with me because you implicated me in a scandal. Thanks a lot.” He hung up.

I put my arms around Leo and kissed him. “Merry Christmas.”

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