|Primary Characters:||Karen, Jack, Will, Grace|
|Warning:||m/f sex implied|
|Description:||Karen wants to celebrate her divorce, and finds Jack. They get drunk (and drugged) together, and end up in Vegas. When they get back, it turns out the trip’s had consequences.|
It was nearly lunchtime, and Grace’s assistant, Karen still hadn’t made an appearance, and she hadn’t even called in to report a shopping or hair emergency. Grace sighed, and decided to go for lunch. Like she had about ten thousand times before, she considered letting Karen go.
After all, she had to do all the work herself, answer the phone 90% of the time, while Karen did her nails, or browsed through glossy fashion magazines. On an impulse, Grace picked up the phone and called Will. Maybe he’d have time for lunch. And he did. He would come by some 15 minutes later and pick her up. So the day wasn’t a total loss.
Grace told Will about the hot young lawyer she’d just met, and Will told her about what hot young or not so young men he’d met recently. They could do that at home, but since this had been a very busy time in their lives, they hadn’t had time to catch up. Which was why these lunches were so invigorating.
After a very long, relaxing lunch, Grace’s conscience struck her, recalling that she’d taken on two jobs that needed to be finished by the end of the week. This wasn’t the way to do business. For a second she wondered how Will could have taken such a long time off. Before he left, she asked him.
“How could you take such a long lunch today?”
“Oh. I could tell you needed to talk, so I canceled at the gym. Now I’ll have to work out tonight, after work.”
“Call me. I’ll go with you. All this Italian food will expand my waistline if I don’t do something about it.”
“It’s a date.”
Grace produced the smile she knew Will expected, but she wasn’t very amused. Years ago, she’d have taken his words literally. How could things turn out so wrong? Back then, if she ever imagined herself this old, she would have visualized herself married to Will.
By now, they would have had two kids, and a house in the suburbs. Maybe not. But at least a larger apartment, somewhere marginally child-friendly. And now look at them. Living together, or at least sharing a place, but far from married.
But this kind of thinking never led anywhere, so she picked up her purse and took a cab back to the office. She half expected her assistant to be there, but Karen was still suspiciously absent. Oh, well, it wouldn’t be the first time Karen had taken off for Palm Springs, Tahoe or any other place that took her fancy. As Grace well knew, she got more work done without Karen anyway.
So she got down to work, and soon she was deeply immersed in her work. At 7.30, her back and feet were killing her, so she sat down in a chair, totally exhausted. At least work did that for you. Made you forget about all your minor troubles and inconveniences in life. Then she remembered Will and the gym. He hadn’t called, so she assumed he was still at work, too.
Just as well. She was way too tired to bother with a workout. Most likely she had used up all the calories from lunch anyway. If she walked to the nearest subway station, she’d get more exercise and that would be enough, she reasoned, while she picked up her coat and purse and turned out the lights.
Slowly walking towards the subway station, she missed Karen when her limousine pulled up outside, some five minutes later. Karen got out, shook out her chic coat, smoothing out some imaginary crinkles and subconsciously struck an elegant pose. No one noticed, however, except for her old driver, who’d seen her too many times before to really appreciate the apparition. Too bad.
Grace would appreciate the news, if not Karen’s elegance, she was sure of it. Not bothering to check her expensive watch, Karen rode up in the elevator, mildly curious about all the people going in the other direction. Downstairs, outside. But Karen never really cared about other people’s business, so she found herself outside her workplace.
When she tried the door, it wouldn’t move. Locked? That was odd. Grace was usually such a little busy bee. Fishing around in her purse for the key, Karen suddenly realized how quiet everything was, and dark. Every door on this floor appeared to be locked. Now she really did cast a glance at her watch.
“How inconvenient. I really needed to talk to someone. Hmm. Let’s see, do I have any other girlfriends? No. Why would I need girlfriends? Who else can I talk to?”
Her face lit up as she thought of the obvious solution to her little problem. Jack. He wasn’t exactly a girlfriend, far from it, but he’d listen and sympathise and rejoice for her. Well, as much as Jack ever looked outside himself. He was her kind of guy. Apart from the chronic lack of money. But who was perfect anyway?
It didn’t take Karen long to track down her friend Jack. Her divorce was finally – finalized. And the alimony her attorney had been able to secure for her was quite simply enormous. The state budget of a small South American republic couldn’t even compare.
And she had been right. With many ooohs and aaahs, and ‘I’m so happy for you’, Jack danced around her, most likely celebrating her financial situation, not her newfound freedom. But that was ok, that was how Karen looked at things as well.
“Now, darling, let’s go and celebrate. My treat.”
“Oh. I can’t. Tonight’s my night at Marcel’s.”
“It’s the most divine new place. Oh. Here’s a thought. Why don’t you come with me? You’ll absolutely adore it. The music is fantastic, the drinks are fabulous, and the men are – I lack words to describe them.”
“That’s a gay place, right?”
“So what? You’ll be an instant hit.”
“Mm. I know. Aren’t I always? Alright, darling. Since you’re all set to go, I’ll come with you. But I’ll go on to another place later.”
“Excellent. Still your treat, right?”
“Of course. Let the celebration begin.”
Just like Jack had predicted, Karen was universally adored, and for a moment, Jack even regretted bringing his friend. But when he overheard a whispered conversation, in which it was revealed that many of the men at the bar took Karen for an especially lovely, petite drag queen, his party mood was restored.
A distinguished older man, with a moustache that Jack admired enormously tried to catch Jack’s eye, and being Jack, he only played hard to get for a moment. Soon he was happily immersed in conversation with the handsome stranger. What he didn’t know, however, was that the man was notorious for slipping his young dates spiked drinks, to aid in the seduction.
On the other hand, the best laid plans of men and – men can go astray. No one had taken Karen into the account. Unlike most of the other guests, Jack’s admirer clearly saw that Karen was a woman, and thus unworthy of his attention. Consequently, he ignored her, which was a mistake. Karen selfishly grabbed Jack’s drink and finished it, before Jack came back from the washroom.
Realizing what had happened, Jack’s admirer hurriedly called for a new drink, which he deftly doctored while Jack’s attention was elsewhere. This time, the intended recipient finished the drink himself.
Unfortunately, for the older man, this was when things spiraled out of control. Karen, by now not only drunk, but also under the influence of the drug, became increasingly amorous. The object of her affections, quite naturally, was Jack, her best friend. (Grace, of course, was totally forgotten, by now.) Jack, always ready to be wooed, and admired, turned his attention back on his friend, and from then on, the other admirer was erased from his mind.
Giggling, like an adolescent, Karen leaned on Jack’s shoulder, giving him one eager confidence after another. Jack responded by performing choice bits from his one man show, and as the night wore on, confidences of the same kind Karen had just bestowed on him. All this was perhaps not so strange. However, what followed, can’t really be explained, unless there had always been a latent attraction between them, a physical one, not the sympathy of two very shallow souls.
By the time they were ready to move on towards the expensive restuarant Karen had in mind, Jack and Karen had forgotten all about dinner, and in the limousine, they began to not only devour each with their eyes, but shamelessly undressing each other.
Fortunately, Karen’s driver wasn’t the easiest man in the world to impress, spook or otherwise cause to lose his cool. He merely raised his eyebrows over his employer’s taste in men, then he returned to his driving. Since no orders had been given about their destination, he at first took to driving around the city, but as the gas meter was approaching the red, he spoke up, coughing delicately to call the attention of his passengers.
“Ma’am. Excuse me -”
No reply, which wasn’t entirely surprising, considering what the pair was doing, but the driver knew that he had to break through to them, or at least find the nearest gas station to fill the tank.
“Yes, what it is? Can’t you see that I’m -”
Her sentence was broken off by a stoned giggle, and when she tried to finish it, her mouth was covered by another one, just as eager.
“What? I’m busy. Shut up, Jack, I’m talking to the – the – the man in the front seat.”
“Ma’am we’re running out of gas. Where to?”
Again, the giggles from the back seat reached deafening levels.
“Oh. Oh. Let’s see, where would you like to go, baby? My treat.”
“Can we go to Tahiti?”
“Well, of course you can, poodle. Know why? Because I’m rich. I’m loaded, I’m – Help me out here. What am I, sweetie?”
“The hottest babe in the entire city?”
“Wrong. In the entire world. No, universe.”
“How right you are, my love. And what am I?”
Karen leaned closer to Jack’s ear and whispered something that was only partially inaudible. The driver felt his ears heat up a bit. Who would have known his mistress even knew those words? He cast an appraising glance at her. These rich women really had hidden depths. But still waters and so on.
“Where was I?”
“In the backseat with me.”
“I know that, silly. We were going someplace.”
“That’s not it either. Now, I’ve got it. How about Vegas?”
“You’re reading my mind, honey bunch.”
“There. Drive us to Vegas, my good man.”
“How about the airport, ma’am? Like I said, we’re running out of gas and -”
“That’s an exshellent idea. What am I paying you?”
“Quite well, thank you, ma’am.”
“It’s not enough. Let me give you a raish.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
At the airport, it transpired that no plane was leaving for Vegas within the next hour, and also, that the staff seemed to be notoriously prejudiced against two people so obviously enjoying themselves. There also appeared to be some kind of dress code, that did not include underwear. All this was extremely disappointing, but Karen immediately thought of a solution. A private plane.
Many, many hours later, in fact, more than 24 hours later, Jack and Karen woke up, lying on a king size bed, in a hotel suite they couldn’t remember falling asleep in. Their heads hurt worse than ever before, and –
Jack was the first to spot the next inconvenience. Inconvenience? More like a disaster. They weren’t wearing any clothes, and – oh, the horror – a few disjointed fragments of memories resurfaced in his head: They’d had sex! Sensational, ecstatic, world-shaking sex. As far as Jack could remember, it had been the best sex he’d ever had. But this was a woman! How nauseating.
His horrified screech woke up Karen, but she didn’t have time to focus on him, before he vanished into the bathroom. From in there came some highly un-charming noises that told her Jack was being sick. In fact, Karen hadn’t heard anyone be that sick, since her brother had eaten too much pie that summer more than thirty years ago. Ugh.
After a while, Karen’s eyes began to function properly, and soon after, her mind got back to normal as well. She too, began to remember. The contented smile on her lips didn’t in any way match Jack’s reaction. But then Karen was straight. Sex with a man wasn’t anything to get all worked up about. What was she thinking? Of course it was. But not in the way Jack was carrying on. Fondly, she dismissed Jack from her mind. It was time she returned to New York. If only room service would send her some aspirins, she’d see about going home.
Will was having a cup of coffee in peace and quiet. His first client of the day wouldn’t be in until around ten. It was now 8.45 and so far it had been a good day. In fact, really great. There had been a really cute guy on the subway train. Will was pretty sure the guy had been trying to catch his eye. He couldn’t be exactly sure, because it had looked as if the guy also tried to catch the eye of a stunning blonde sitting nearby. But all in all, it had been a relatively good day.
That ended the second the door to his office flew open and a very disheveled Jack burst inside. He was in a near-hysterical state and Will sighed inwardly. Here we go again. Had a boyfriend dumped him? Was the IRS on the warpath? Had Jack had a fight with his mother? Was he simply having a bad hair and clothes day? To Will, Jack’s fits were frequently incomprehensible. At times, his straight friends looked to him to explain Jack’s theatrics. He couldn’t, but being Jack’s friend, he’d lie and made something up anyway.
This time, Jack appeared to be unusually distraught. Surely Jack’s dog couldn’t be dead? Will was beginning to feel a little concern. His thoughts were interrupted by Jack, who threw himself into Will’s arms. Will winced. What if his secretary should walk in? As if thinking about the woman had summoned her, she appeared on the doorstep. With Jack virtually on his lap, Will felt distinctly at a disadvantage.
“I’m sorry about – that. He just ran past me, before I had time to stop him.”
“Oh. That’s ok. Could you get us -”
Yes, what would help in a situation like this? Drugs? Two handsome paramedics? Will gave up and shook his head.
“Never mind. I’ll deal with it. Thanks.”
His secretary stared at him, eyes filled with pity. She cast Jack a look filled with wonder, before turning on her heel without any comment.
If he was lucky, she wouldn’t call all her friends in the building, secretaries of other attorneys and – With an effort, Will pushed that thought too, away.
While this exchange had been going on, Jack had been sobbing and crying loudly and expressively, as if he was auditioning for a part as a high strung diva of some kind.
“Hey. Come on. Jack. What’s wrong? Calm down.”
Even though there were no witnesses, Will hesitated to physically console his friend. Jack had a tendency to misunderstand the slightest physical contact as a come-on.
“Jack. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“Oh, Will, it was horrible. I can’t believe this would happen to me.”
“Were you mugged? Jack, you haven’t been -”
“No, no, no. It’s much worse than that.”
Worse than what? Being mugged? Or –
“Will, I woke up in bed with Karen.”
Will relaxed slightly. If all this was about was some friendly tiff between Jack and his second best friend, Karen, then maybe the rest of the day could be salvaged.
“Why are you making such a fuss? What’s the big deal? Grace and I share a room all the time. It saves money and if some loser hits on me, I’m ‘married’. Try to get a grip, Jack. Whatever you and Karen got in a fight over, I’m sure it’s not worth crying your eyes out. Come on, you know how red and puffy your eyes get when you cry.”
“That’s not the same.”
“About you and Grace. Grace is so -”
Slightly less sympathetic now, Will pushed Jack away a little and subjected him to a cool stare.
“What about Grace?”
“Well, apart from being confused, irrational and wacky, she’s a – well, not very attractive, is she?”
“What are you talking about? Grace is such a pretty girl.”
“Whatever. Forget about the redhead. Try to focus on me. My life is over.”
“There. There. I’m sure it isn’t so bad. Let me check if you have a tissue or something.”
Will rifled through Jack’s pockets, wondering as he did so, where Jack’s jacket and sweater had gone, not to mention his socks.
It was rare to see Jack this disheveled. Hysterical, yes, but never in the years Will had known his friend, had he shown up dressed like this. Something out of the ordinary definitely must have occurred.
His fingers closed on a piece of paper that couldn’t be a tissue. He pulled it out to have a look. At times, Jack had a tendency to sweep things under the rug, and unless Will checked in time, Jack might even be facing a court date.
But what he saw, took Will’s breath away. He was unable to talk or pay much attention to Jack’s whining and whimpering for a while.
What he had in his hands was a marriage certificate. And the two people who had apparently been married were Jack and Karen.
This had to be someone’s idea of a joke. Jack had a number of really weird friends, every one of which might be responsible for something like this.
But for some reason, Will didn’t doubt the veracity of the document. So this was what was on Jack’s mind.
“Jack, why didn’t you tell me you and Karen were married?”
An incoherent wail greeted this statement, and Will was seized with an unworthy impulse to press his hand down over Jack’s mouth. The walls in this building weren’t as thick as they might be. If the guy next door heard –
“Jack. Calm down.”
By now, Will was running out of patience. Why did Jack need to carry on so?
“Stop crying now. I’ll help you out. This is no problem. I can easily have it anulled, since there’s no way you guys will have consummated the marriage.”
“Speak English. What’s consom- something or other?”
“It means, well – you obviously never had sex with Karen, right?”
“Sure we did.”
“Ok, Jack. That’s not funny. If you want me to help you, stop this charade.”
“This is no charade. I’d have expected you to be a bit more sensitive.”
“Jack, it’s not funny.”
“And you’re telling me that. You’re not the one who slept with her.”
“Don’t be absurd. You and Karen – That’s ridiculous.”
“What’s so ridiculous about it? As usual, I was fantastic. No complaints there. It was the best sex she’d had in years. Will, you have to help me. Pay for my therapy.”
“You’re serious? What was it like?”
“That’s the worst part. It was absolutely divine. What’s wrong with me?”
A slightly cruel smile was playing on Will’s lips. This irony appealed to his twisted sense of humor.
“Don’t ask me. Ask your mother. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled, and naturally your father too. I hope you’ll be very happy.”
“Don’t leave me in this mess. You have to do something.”
“Like what? You seem to be doing great on your own. That reminds me. What do you and your lovely bride want as a wedding gift? And where do you plan on living? Oh, of course. Karen’s mansion. How silly of me.”
“I was going to ask you if I could move back in here with you. You did say I was always welcome.”
“Absolutely out of the question. But you can go back to my place now and shower and change. And get a shave. Unless you’re going for that rugged, masculine look now that you’re a married man.”
“That’s not funny, Will. Do something.”
“I really don’t know what. Honestly. I’d help you out, you know I would. But after that night of passion, you’ll have to get a divorce. And you know how Karen usually does in a divorce. She’d sue you for all you’ve got. Unless you can come to an agreement. Or you might leave things the way they are. I could probably get you alimony or something. After all, it’s only fair that she supports you.”
At the thought of all Karen’s money, Jack brightened considerably. Maybe Will was right. There were possibilities.
In the meantime, Jack’s bride was reporting to work, slightly disoriented and much the worse for wear. Her expensive fur coat had vanished somewhere during the hours of confusion. Karen’s Italian shoes were gone too, and so was part of her underwear.
Grace stared at her friend and assistant in wonder. This was a totally new Karen, her hair disheveled, and her makeup a ruin. What could be wrong? Like a child, who’s held all her frustration in, and finally meets a sympathetic listener, Karen let all restraints go. Unchecked, she threw a fit, worthy of – Jack.
Alarmed, Grace stood helplessly watching her assistant.
“You have no idea.”
“Come on, sit down.”
“You wouldn’t happen to have any spare clothes?”
After subjecting Grace’s outfit to a merciless stare, Karen shook her head.
“Never mind. I’ll have to go home and change. My nerves are totally shot. Let this be a lesson to you, Grace. Never get drunk with a gay guy. Oh, what am I thinking? You must have done that a thousand times.”
“Well, actually – yes, but what’s that got to do with anything?”
“I’ll tell you – But first get me a Valium, dear. I’m absolutely worn out.”
“I don’t have any Valiums.”
“Here, look in my -”
Karen held out her purse, with an extravagant gesture.
Grace rummaged through the contents of Karen’s purse. Her hands made contact with a glossy piece of paper, and out of curiosity, she picked it up to take a closer look. What she saw stunned her, and she couldn’t stifle an exclamation.
“What’s the matter, dear? I know the inside of that thing is a mess. Just give me the Valiums, will you?”
This was turning out to be a very tiresome day. First Grace had arrived late at work, because some intolerably rude person had grabbed the cab she’d intented to get into. Then the coffee machine wasn’t working and now this –
She was holding a photograph in her hand. A photo of a very happily newly married couple. Jack and Karen. Was this someone’s idea of a joke? They were partially undressed, and their hands were all over each other’s bodies.
What was going on? Jack and Karen were married? Jack – the drama queen no 1? If anyone was marrying a gay guy, it should by rights be Grace who married Will. And she knew very well that the only way she’d be able to marry Will was if she had a sex change operation.
“The Valiums, dear. Have one yourself. You look like you could use one.”
“What is this?”
“What is what? Come on, get me those Valiums. Today, preferably.”
Grace managed to find the requested pills and impatiently poured them out into the palm of Karen’s outstretched hand.
“Yes, yes. Take them. But this – Look at this!”
“If you insist.”
As Karen’s eyes fell on the photo, she screamed right into Grace’s ear. Clutching her heart, Karen dropped back down onto the chair.
Grace’s eyes assumed abnormal proportions as she took in the contents of the photo.
“Talk to me. Why didn’t you tell me? You and Jack. I can’t believe it. What were you thinking? Oh. Wait a minute. This is one of his get-rich-quick schemes, isn’t it? He got you drunk and -”
“No. No. Now I remember. We had sex. Amazing, incredible sex. What am I saying? Grace, you have to do something. Call Will. He has to take care of it.”
“You and Jack had sex? Why?”
“It seemed like a good idea at the time. I think. Most of it’s still hazy. We drank too much, and I woke up with an intense headache. Worse than I’ve ever had before. Funny. Anyway, we’d been to one of Jack’s places.”
“A gay bar?”
“Don’t tell me you haven’t been to one.”
“Actually, I have. Will’s taken me. The music’s terrific. Unfortunately, some of the men are pretty wonderful too. Too bad they won’t even look twice at me. But go on.”
“We had a few drinks. Danced. Talked. You know how it is. One thing led to another and suddenly we were in Vegas.”
“Darling, you really need to pay more attention. Yes, I said Vegas. I got a plane to fly us out there.”
“Because we felt like it. I don’t remember. If you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going home to go to bed now. My head still feels a little weird.”
“Aren’t you going to do something about this -”
Grace waved the photo about.
“Not now, dear. I have to sleep.”
“Karen? You don’t think you got a doctored drink somehow? In that bar?”
“Why would I get a spiked drink in a gay bar? Wait a minute. There was this old guy who was crazy about Jack. He bought him a drink. Very rude of him not to buy me one too. So I took it anyway. Jack was in the little boys’ room. That guy bought him another one and – Oh, my god. Could that be why we – I guess that explains it.”
“Why you got married?”
“No, silly. I meant why we had sex. It was -”
Karen sighed regretfully as she remembered some details of the wild nights in Vegas.
“The best sex I’ve had in years. I forget how many -”
Coughing to cover her near-indiscretion, Karen managed to catch herself in time.
Too late, though. Grace wasn’t hungover, so she got the message alright. It grated on her nerves. Everyone seemed to get good sex except for her.
“With Jack? I can’t believe it. If it had been -”
Catching herself in time, Grace managed to prevent Will’s name from leaving her lips.
“I wouldn’t have believed it either. But he was terrific. Much better than my ex-husband. In fact, better than all my exes.”
“Amazing. Ok. I’ll call Will and we’ll see what he can do.”
“That’s sweet. Call me tonight and let me know what he says.”
“What? You’re going to leave me deal with it?”
“If you would. Can’t you see how I look? I need to get back home and fix my hair and my makeup.”
And without waiting for a reply, Karen gathered up her decimated possessions and left Grace standing in the middle of the room, her mouth open.
How extremely typical of Karen.
Grace shook her head, to get rid of the unreal feeling, unconsciously twirled her already curly hair, and picked up the phone.
“Hi. It’s me. Karen just -”
“I know. She just married Jack.”
“She wanted me to call you and ask your advice.”
“How is this possible, Will? She says they had sex.”
“So did he. Unbelievable.”
“Did you ever -”
“What? Have sex? Once or twice.”
“You know what I mean. We never got round to it, before you ruined that holiday for me, but did you do it with someone else?”
“Yes. A couple of times in high school.”
“Something was missing. But this isn’t about you and me. Does Karen want a divorce?”
“I don’t know. She just said to call you.”
“And you have.”
“Is Jack there?”
“He was. I think he’s going home to his mother. To tell her the good news. He’s quite excited about being married.”
“What? Karen was a wreck. She needed to take her Valiums – Will -”
“She thinks she and Jack were drugged at that gay bar. Some older man who was crazy about Jack -”
“Are you serious? I mean, was she sure about this?”
“No. But it does seem that way, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, you’re right. That’s terrible. In a way, it was lucky they ended up together. Who knows what would have happened to Jack if things had worked out the way that man had planned?”
“I didn’t think about that. This has all been such a shock. But how do you think -”
Grace had been about to ask Will how someone like Jack could have made himself have sex with a woman, but realized it was a stupid question.
“Ok. I’ll take you out for lunch and we can discuss this further. My next client will be here in five minutes and I need to look at some papers.”
“Right. See you soon.”
The unlikely match was much discussed in the next couple of weeks, but like Jack, Karen seemed to be reluctant to initiate divorce proceedings. The alimony would be lost to her, but it wasn’t as if Karen didn’t have a bit tucked away, from her earlier marriages.
They would manage more than nicely on what was left. It wasn’t even Jack’s first marriage, though the circumstances had been different the last time. What really put a stop to the divorce was an unexpected development, one that no one could have been able to foresee.
Again, Grace was rudely disturbed as she was trying to get some work done.
“The worst possible thing has happened. What am I going to do?”
“Sit down. Get a grip. What’s wrong now?”
Grace had to force down an impulse to ask Karen if she’d woken up with another man again, and found a new wedding picture, but at the last minute she thought better of it.
“I was feeling a bit off. So I went to see my doctor. And she had the nerve to suggest I -”
“She did the rabbit test and I -”
“Jack, of course. With my ex I always used -”
“Oh. What are you going to do? Have you told Jack about it?”
“No. What does he have to do with this? He’s not the one who’s going to be sick every morning for the next couple of weeks, maybe months. Is he the one who’s going to go through agony giving birth? His figure isn’t going to be ruined. I think this is my business, not his.”
“Good point. But what are you going to do? Have an abortion?”
“I don’t know. This is my last chance, Grace. If I don’t do it now, it will never happen. I know – I never wanted children in the past, but now – It’s already here.”
While she was speaking, Karen’s hands came to rest over her flat abdomen. Nothing showed, yet. But she was right. Someone was in there. A little person.
Grace was beginning to feel quite sentimental, though she hoped she wouldn’t be in Karen’s situation for a number of more years.
“I guess this means I’m not going to divorce him after all.”
This really did change things.
“I’m going to let him move in with me. He’s been dying to, ever since that Vegas trip. And it gets – lonely. We have a lot in common. He’s funny. Charming.”
Judging by Karen’s voice, she really was a bit partial to her unlikely husband.
“Oh, I guess I need to tell him sooner or later. It’s going to show sooner or later. Thanks for listening.”
What? Karen never thanked Grace for anything. And she certainly never showed as much respect as her voice now seemed to imply.
“You’re welcome. And Karen -”
“Any time, ok.”
Karen returned to her house, feeling emotionally drained like she’d hardly ever felt before. She expected the place to be empty, except for the servants. A noise startled her and she whirled around. But it was only Jack. With a sigh, she decided she might as well talk to him now.
“Are you going somewhere?”
“No. Just got back from the gym. Why? Want to have a few drinks and share the latest gossip?”
“No. No drinks and no gossip either, but I would like to talk to you if you don’t mind.”
“Is this about the divorce, because if it is I don’t think I want to hear it. Things are working out fine, aren’t they?”
“Yes. It’s not about the divorce, in fact it’s the opposite.”
“You want a massage? Ok. Lie down. Get out of that coat and I’ll -”
“Mm. Ok. But I still need to talk to you.”
“Go ahead. I’m all ears.”
Jack made his usual silly gesture with his hands behind his ears, but Karen didn’t even notice.
She was far too self-absorbed even at the best of times. This really was a match made in heaven.
“Have you ever thought about having children?”
“Me? Don’t be silly. How would I do that? Adopt? Maybe one day, when I’m much older. But can you really imagine me as a dad? The thought is absolutely ridiculous.”
“So you wouldn’t -”
“What’s this about? Oh. You’re not – you are, aren’t you? Oh, my god, oh, my god. My mom’s going to love this. How far are we gone? When are we going to buy all the cute little baby stuff? Is there any way to check if we’re having twins?”
“Slow down. Isn’t one kid enough?”
“I guess so. You’re going to have to get him through college, and maybe me too, if I ever decide to go.”
“Him? We might have a daughter, you know.”
“Yes. A little figure skater. This will be so neat. You’ll hire a nanny, won’t you? I can’t change diapers and things.”
“Yes. We’ll hire a nanny, because I wouldn’t want to do any of that stuff either. Ugh.”
“And we can get Will to babysit.”
“So we can go out any time we want. My mom will want to babysit too. I have to go call her right now.”
Karen thought about her own mother and decided, rather surprisingly, that she too wished to call her and tell her the news. Her mother would be almost as surprised as Jack’s, she was willing to bet. All in all, Jack’s reaction hadn’t been too disappointing. In fact, he seemed to regard the new development a bit like she did. Selfishly, but enthusiastically. She had expected far less from him. In fact, from herself as well.
For whatever reason, all this only served to make Grace even more depressed. At the moment, she was going through a period of intense work, and had very little time for herself. It had been months since her last date, and she was feeling as if her life was passing her by.
She tried to deal with her low spirits by immersing herself more in her work, which wasn’t really helping anything but her bank balance.
One night, Will came to pick her up at work.
“What are you doing working this late? Come on. Let’s go home. I’ll call for takeout.”
“Ok. I’m really tired anyway. I’ll just put this stuff away.”
Grace yawned and stretched, but Will could tell she wasn’t happy. There was no smile to greet him this time, as there usually was. Knowing Grace the way he did, Will could easily guess what was bothering her, but unfortunately, there was very little he could do to cheer her up. Still, tonight, he wanted to do that. Inadequate as it was.
When they got back, Will wouldn’t let Grace do any of the preparations. He just made her sit down on the sofa in front of the tv. After dining on Italian food, Will thought of something else that might cheer his room-mate up.
“How about a movie? You pick.”
Will used the waiting time to go into the kitchen to bring back a second bottle of champagne. He loved to surprise people. And Grace had already been surprised once that night, when he’d opened the first bottle. It was a good vintage too. Will never settled for anything but the best.
Grace got up and walked over to the stack of tapes and DVD:s beside the VCR. After some shuffling, she came up with the movie of her choice.
When Will saw which one it was, his smile faded a bit. She couldn’t be serious. Was she making fun of him in a particularly twisted way? He’d expected her to pick a classic, one of the films noir from the 40’s or a musical. But this –
“Do you really want that one?”
Will was embarrassed to say the least, and he still couldn’t believe Grace could seriously be interested in watching that particular movie. It was an erotic movie, of the kind that Will liked to watch only rarely, and then only when Grace wasn’t in the apartment. He liked it. When he was watching it on his own or with a date. But this was Grace, practically his sister.
“Why wouldn’t I? This is a movie with ‘hot, sexy, young studs’. I’m a woman, I like men. What’s not to like?”
True. Put like that, Will couldn’t find any fault with her reasoning. And unlike many other erotic movies he’d seen, this one actually had a plot, and had even had good reviews. The acting was good, the setting, the camera, everything. The only problem was it was also pretty damn hot, and sexy, like the young guys appearing in it. Would he be comfortable watching it with Grace?
Oh, why wouldn’t he? Grace, after all, was the one who had held him when his last serious boyfriend had broken up with him, the one who had listened to his crying, been there for him in the first horrible weeks on his own. She was the one he’d held in his arms, when her second boyfriend dumped her for her best friend, and room mate at college. What they didn’t know about each other wasn’t worth mentioning.
“Right. Let’s watch it. Have you seen it before?”
That was just a shot in the dark, but it paid off. Grace’s face turned a pretty shade of pink. Oh, this was revealing.
“Yes. Once. Give me that bottle.”
Will hurriedly filled her glass to cover her confusion. Why shouldn’t she watch naked young men? She had as much right to do that as he did. It just didn’t fit in with his image of his friend. At least that was good. They’d gain a better understanding of each other. Maybe they’d even end up being better friends.
So they watched the movie, finished the bottle, and ended up both drunk and – frankly, ridiculously aroused. After all, what’s there to get worked up about on a screen? It’s just movie magic, of whatever kind. Yet, magic has the power to move people, sometimes in directions they might not wish to go, or places they didn’t even know they wanted to go.
It wasn’t that Will wanted to give Grace what he knew she’d always wanted from him. At that moment, he wanted it too. For his own sake, as well as hers. He could see it in her eyes, but most of all he could feel it in his own body.
She wasn’t someone or something he had to close his eyes to, pretend she was someone else, in short lie to. For once, she was what he wanted. And it didn’t seem at all odd to reach out, run his fingers through her hair, trace the lines of her face, letting his hands move underneath her top, exploring her skin like he’d never allowed himself to before.
She didn’t stare at him in confusion or ask him why. Moving closer, she too, began to touch his face, his hair, his back, pulling him closer as she did. He didn’t resist, and moments later, she was in his arms. The end of the movie continued playing for another ten minutes or so, but the audience wasn’t paying attention to it anymore, so absorbed were they in each other.
At some point they must have adjourned to Grace’s room. That was where Will woke up just before dawn. He was able to disentangle himself from Grace’s possessive arms without too much trouble. When Grace slept, she slept soundly. It took a lot to wake her. When she finally did wake up, Will was still waiting around. If she wanted to comment on what had happened between them, he wouldn’t be chicken enough to sneak off to work to avoid her.
When he heard her moving about in her room, knocking over something on her bedside table, he decided to bite the bullet and stick his head inside her doorway.
“Good morning, sleepy head.”
“Good morning. Will -”
Here it came. Will braced himself for the awkward moment, but it never came.
“You know, I had this weird dream -”
“Yeah? What was it about?”
Grace screwed up her face in that funny, cute way she always did, and then shook her head.
“Nah. Never mind. Could you get me an aspirin?”
He stared back at her, thoughtfully, and it dawned on him that Grace was probably doing the only thing she could think of under the circumstances. Ignoring what had happened. She was right. Any other reaction on her part would eventually end up with loss of dignity for one of them or both of them, and that in the end would cause irreparable damage to their relationship. So he just smiled, sadly, and went to get her that aspirin. At least they still had their friendship.
Awkward as the situation might have turned out, it did seem to have lifted Grace’s spirits a bit. She was more cheerful when she went to work, and it wasn’t long before she was once again dating. A few weeks later, she ran into a man who was to assume an importance in her life to rival Will’s though in a different way. Oscar was a lawyer, young, good looking, successful. Ironically, he not only physically resembled Will, but was also an attorney.
Strangely enough, this didn’t make Will happy at all. If it had been any other guy, Grace’s friends wouldn’t have hesitated to diagnose his sulking as jealousy. But as Grace frequently pointed out to those friends, that evaluation couldn’t be further from the truth.
Even so, she couldn’t help worrying a little about Will’s far from enthusiastic reaction. The last time he’d felt this way about her boyfriend, or rather fiance and future husband, he’d been just in time to save her from making the mistake of a lifetime. And what was worse, she had really sensed that herself, but had been unwilling to face her insight.
This time, she knew there were no doubts, and she couldn’t believe Will could find any fault with Oscar. After all, with one small, but vital exception, Will and Oscar were so much alike they could have been brothers. No. Grace firmly pushed that thought away. Been there, done that. But she really needed to do something.
In the end, she decided to discuss the matter with Will. He appeared unwilling to enlighten her.
“Will, please. You know I trust your judgment when it comes to this kind of thing. Tell me honestly, is there something wrong with Oscar? Should I back off?”
“No. He’s a really nice guy. And he’s obviously your type.”
“My type but not yours?”
“Would you really like me to say that he’s my type? No, don’t worry about it. He isn’t.”
“So there’s nothing wrong?”
“No, why would there be?”
“Honestly. He’s a great guy. I know you’ll be very happy with him.”
Will made an effort and put his arms around her, holding her for as long as he deemed was safe, then let go.
What a relief. Not until now would Grace allow herself to trust in the relationship.
As he watched Grace walk away, to get ready for her date with Oscar, Will was prey to conflicting emotions. Part of him knew perfectly well that he was jealous. Yes. Jealous because a woman was falling in love with another man. He wanted Grace all to himself. But that wasn’t fair. Whatever twisted reason he had for wanting that, he knew he could never give Grace what she deserved.
Another part deeper down was happy he’d finally found out what he was missing. When he’d felt impelled to tell Grace about his sexual orientation, he’d been in two minds about the whole thing. Despite everything, he’d been disappointed that he would never have the chance to know what he was missing. Now he knew. But he wasn’t all that much wiser.
All he knew was that, unreasonably, he wanted to put a stop to her relationship, drive Oscar away, get things back to normal. But how could he expect her to give up all other men, when he wouldn’t? Forget it, Will, there’s no way you can ever win this one. Let it go. Let her go. She’s not for you.
Determinedly, he began to look through his little black book. Who would – Yes. Raul would do. He was really one of Jack’s exes, and if Jack knew about this, there would be hell to pay, but what Jack didn’t know couldn’t harm him. Pushing the image of Grace out of his mind, Will began calling Raul’s number.
Grace closed the door to her room behind her, leaning against it to keep it shut. Of course she knew what was wrong with Will. Just like she remembered the night they’d spent together. And she thought she knew what was going through his mind. For a second she wanted to go back to him, hold him, tell him it was ok. She’d settle for what he could give her.
But deep down, she knew that wasn’t an option. He’d closed that door forever when he’d come out of the closet. Part of her had been so angry, she thought she could kill him. That part had never truly been able to get over him. But most of her, the grown up Grace, had moved on. Being with Oscar wasn’t settling for less, it meant finding something just as good. And that would have to be enough.
Oscar wanted her, not in Will’s hesitant, vacillating way. He wanted her completely, unreservedly, openly. So. If everything was fine, then why was she still dwelling on this?
Decisively, Grace opened the closet door, and began to rifle through her clothes. The date with Oscar was what she ought to be focusing on. Nothing else. Not the night all her dreams had come true. Don’t be stupid, she sternly admonished herself. Just get on with your life. And so she did.