Just One Night,Part 2:Exposed

By: Kyra Davis

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CHAPTER 1

ELEVEN DAYS AGO I met a man with strong, beautiful arms and salt-and-pepper hair. Robert Dade. We were in Vegas and he bought my attention with a smile. We talked, first at a blackjack table, then at a bar, and later in his hotel room.

I should have thought of Dave when Robert sat down by my side. Dave, the man who I’ve been dating for six years, the man who wants to make me his wife. I should have remembered my commitments before I opened my body for Robert on that Vegas night. But Robert, he unleashed an animal from within me, one that clawed his back and bit his neck. I didn’t know what kind of beast it was. I didn’t understand the chaos it could unleash.

And yet that chaos had been so sweet. Like ice cream after a lifetime of dieting.

How many times have I tried to say good-bye to Robert Dade? In Vegas, in his Santa Monica office, on the screen of my computer . . . every time I’ve ended up breathless, naked, caressed by his eyes and his hands. All he has to do is say my name, Kasie. . . . That’s it. That’s all it takes to make me tremble. “Kasie,” he whispers and I throb.

Robert thinks I’m strong. He says he wants to free me from my self-imposed confines. He says he wants to walk by my side on the beach, have dinner with me, and celebrate the little pleasures that make up our lives . . . together.

He says he cares for me, not the woman who I like to show to the world, but the woman who lays underneath all that, the woman who refuses to be suffocated with the expectations of others.

He told me all that as we stood on his boat.

In my mind I’m still on that boat in that moment. Yes, that’s the reality I choose to believe in. I give Robert my hand and he whispers words of reassurance. He tells me we can be together and no one needs to be hurt. We’re just two people; we don’t have the power to conjure deadly storms or turn the whole universe inside out. We’re just two people falling in love.

He tells me we can run away, just for a little while, and that when we come back, everything will be set as it should be. I’ll still have my position at the global consulting firm where I’ve steadily risen through the ranks; my career path will still be assured. He will still be the CEO of Maned Wolf Securities, my firm’s biggest account. We will work together, play together, be together.

We don’t have to feel the pain of guilt and consequences. Only pleasure. As if to demonstrate that, he reaches out to me. Brushes my cheek with his hand. Hands that are gentle and rough.

He’s built things with those hands, delicate woodwork and powerful companies. He runs those hands through my hair and tugs just slightly.

“Kasie,” he says, and the cage is opened.

I feel his mouth on mine as his fingers slip between my legs applying just a little pressure . . . just there against my clit. The fabric of my clothes feels flimsy and weak against the heat that we generate. I wonder if I’ll take them off or if they’ll just melt away on their own.

But Robert answers the question when he pulls my shirt from me, cups my breasts, pinches my nipples as they strain against my bra. We’re on the deck of his boat, docked in a slip in Marina Del Rey. People can see us. I can feel their eyes as they shift from the ocean to the fire. They’re watching him undress me, watching him touch me and I just don’t care.

Because I’m with Robert. Because I know that when I’m with him, I’m safe.

He pulls me to him as he gently sucks on the curve of my neck. I can feel his erection press against my stomach; I feel myself getting wet as I anticipate welcoming him inside. People are watching as I pull off his shirt and reveal a perfect body, hard and chiseled with the artistry of a sculptor. People are watching as he opens my bra and lets it drop to the deck.

I lay back on a deck chair . . . had that been there on the boat?

It doesn’t matter. In the reality I choose, it’s there and I can recline all the way back, half naked, inviting him to take me here in plain view. Let them watch. Let them take pictures for all I care. None of them matter. This is my world; I choose what rules are to be followed and which will be burned. I lay on this chair and I smile as I feel Robert’s fingers working on the buttons at my waist, smile as I feel him pull my pants off me, gasp as his fingers brush against my soaked panties.

“She’s magnificent,” a man murmurs. He’s all the way over at the end of the pier, but I can hear him perfectly. He’s never seen anyone like me. He’s never seen someone consumed by this kind of passion and power.

I watch as Robert pulls off his belt, his eyes never leaving mine. He is oblivious to our audience. He sees only me, the woman he wants, the animal he’s unleashed.

As he strips down I find myself breathless. He’s the reason the Greeks decided that the human form was worthy of worship. His desire is on display and I reach for him but he doesn’t immediately oblige.

Instead he kneels before me, pulls down my soaked panties, opens me with his tongue.

I arch my back and cry out. I’m so tender now, so ready. More people have come to watch. Women and men. They touch me with their eyes as surely as Robert Dade touches me with his hands and mouth. His tongue continues to toy with me, moving slowly at first and then faster as his fingers plunge inside of me, making the experience complete.

This time it’s me who runs my hands through his hair, me who tugs as an overwhelming desire pounds through my body. My hips are raised; the orgasm is coming, I hear the whispers of the onlookers, hear the clicks of their cameras as I explode, unable to contain myself for even a moment longer.

And then Robert pulls away, smiles. . . . The lounge chair I’m on seems wider now, sturdier, too. He straddles me, lies on top of me, presses his cock against my core . . . but not entering, not yet.

He looks into my eyes as I silently plead and the audience holds their breath. They share my anticipation, share my need and, when, with a hard thrust, he pushes inside of me, I feel their approval as my entire body rocks with the force of him.

I move my hips with our rhythm. I run my nails down his soft skin, feel his hard muscles, feel him push himself farther and farther into my body.

He pulls my leg over his shoulder and drives in deeper still. His eyes never leave mine. I can feel his breath, smell his aftershave on my skin.

I can barely contain myself; the passion is too much but he holds me still, pinning my arms above my head as he sometimes does, forcing me to do nothing but receive this pleasure as the world watches.

Now every part of me is palpitating as he leads in this erotic dance.

“Robert,” I moan his name, the only word I’m capable of saying, the only word I can think of in this moment.

He smiles and speeds up the rhythm. It’s the final push I need. Again my back arches, my head thrashes from side to side, my breasts reach up, my nipples brush against his chest as I cry out again, and this time his voice joins mine as we climax together, there on the deck of the boat.

People are watching, but they can’t touch us. We’re too powerful to be bothered by their attention. We don’t even bother to acknowledge them as we try to catch our breath, holding each other, drenched in our sweat.

People are watching, and they see me, see the woman Robert sees, see the animal, the strength, and the vulnerability. But I don’t see them. Everything right now is the man who is on top of me, breathing deeply. He looks into my eyes and I know we are safe.

“I’m falling in love with you,” he says.

And I smile.

* * *

THAT’S THE REALITY I want to believe in, but as I lie in Dave’s bed, untouched but completely violated, I find that the fantasy doesn’t have enough substance for me to hold on to. It floats away into my subconscious, waiting for sleep to come where it can live again.

But I know sleep is a long way off. Dave is snoring by my side, seemingly at peace. Yet how is that possible? How can he be peaceful after the violence of our last encounter?

Because I didn’t choose to stay on the boat. I left Robert standing on the deck. I walked away as he called my name.

Dave had found out the truth. Robert doesn’t know this, but I left because I got Dave’s text. He was waiting in the parking lot for me, and he was ready to use the new information he had gleaned to humiliate me at work, with my family . . . he was threatening to make my nightmares come true.

I went to Dave to stop him, yes. But more than that I went to Dave because I owed him. I needed to make up for the hurt I had caused by choosing Robert.

Had I done that? Was he satisfied in his revenge? Maybe yes, maybe no. Dave would say there had been no revenge. He would say he was helping me.

Months ago, on some cable news channel, I heard a terrorist interviewed by a reporter. He had hostages, but he called them “guests.” On cue, the hostages nodded their heads and sung the praises of their captor. He was the perfect host, they said. They loved every moment of their forced imprisonment.

Had those words scraped at the captives’ throats?

I’m not a hostage in the Middle East. I know Dave has no plans to kill me. Physical torture is not in my future.

But I do understand what it feels like to have to praise the man who is intent on making you suffer. I know the humiliation and the impotence. I felt it when I talked to my parents earlier in the evening before they took a flight back home. With the phone pressed to my ear I thanked them for coming out to the “wonderful” surprise engagement party Dave had thrown me. I looked down at the red ruby engagement ring on my finger, a ring I once coveted, and told them I couldn’t wait for the day when I would become Mrs. David Beasley.

Dave stood in front of me the whole time and fed me my lines.

I felt it when I texted my friend Simone to tell her Dave is my choice. I texted because I didn’t think I could speak the word “choice” without crying. In truth, my choices are gone. They vanished when I got off the boat, handed Dave the keys to my car, and let him drive me to my prison. He drove and I sat in the passenger seat wringing my shaking hands, like a hostage. Like a liar.

It’s not just my parents who love Dave. Dave is the godson of Dylan Freeland, the cofounder of the firm I work for. “He’s like a son to me,” Mr. Freeland had said at my engagement party. It had been a subtle reminder that my career and my love life are not as separated as I’d like them to be.

And Dave knows the secrets of my family . . . he knows about my sister who lost control as she recklessly danced with self-destruction. He knows that she used her own irresponsible impulses to the same ends as Cleopatra used her snake and Juliet used her dagger. He knows I wanted to be different from my sister.

He knows that I failed.

And so he drove me to his home and for ten minutes we stood in his living room without exchanging a word. I had wanted to break the silence but I couldn’t find a way to add actual gravity to the words “I’m sorry.”

So in the oppressive stillness we had stood across the room from each other. I had tried to meet his eyes, but the ferocity of his glare had forced my gaze downward. He’s barely five foot ten but in that moment his anger made him taller, more menacing.

He had stood there, in front of his fireplace, holding on to the mantel as if he intended to tear it from the wall.

“You’re a whore.”

“I made a mistake,” I said feebly. “I . . . I think I got scared. I wasn’t sure about marriage. . . .”

He took the Waterford vase on the mantel into his hands, stared at it before hurling it across the room. It crashed into the wall behind me . . . too far away for me to think that he was aiming for me.

But still.

“You’re a whore.”

“Dave, I’m so sorry—”

“I don’t want your apologies.” He took a step forward. He has blond hair and pale blue eyes, gentle colors that are tainted by brutish enmity.

I did that to him. It’s my fault. “If you don’t want my apologies,” I said carefully, “what is it that you want?”

“I want you to admit it.”

“Admit what?”

“That you’re a whore.”

He stepped closer.

The last time I made love to Robert, it had been in his home. He had held me afterward. We had giggled and shared the casual details of our lives. He had been kind and loving, a perfect and compelling balance to our rough desire.

I feel guilty as hell . . . but I don’t feel like a whore.

“I think,” I said quietly, “that you should give me my car keys. We should talk about this when you’re calmer.”

My steadiness had brought him to a new level of fury. He grabbed my arms and pushed me up against the wall.

When Robert had me up against a wall, it had been exciting . . . but that had been the touch of frenzied ardor.

Hate is a very different thing.

Dave’s violence affected me in ways I couldn’t have predicted. It’s like I came out of myself. I wasn’t the woman he had pinned against the wall but simply a bystander, watching, observing. I saw Dave, and the more enraged he became, the weaker he seemed. I hurt him, I betrayed him, I was wrong.

But his reaction makes me think that maybe I had cause.

“I need you to let go of me.”

Dave hesitated. He wanted to hurt me. Maybe he wanted to hurt himself, too. But unlike me, Dave has mastered self-discipline.

He took several steps back and looked away as he gathered up his willpower. I can’t help but admire him for it.

“My keys,” I said again.

He continued to stare at nothing . . . or maybe he was staring at the past. Maybe he was seeing all the missteps that led us to this place.

“I told your mother that it could have happened to anyone,” he said.

I froze. “You spoke to my mother?”

“This was years ago,” he clarified. “We were visiting them in their Carmel home during the Pebble Beach car show. You, your father, and me . . . we all went but your mother pleaded out. A migraine, she said.”

“I remember.”

“I left you there with your dad about an hour into it. I’ve never been into cars and you two don’t get a lot of alone time. I came back to your parents’ house and there was your mother, sitting on her cream-colored couch in her vacation home, photographs scattered all over the coffee table. She was crying.”

“What were the pictures of?”

“Your sister.”

“Those photos don’t exist.”

“Did she tell you that she destroyed them along with the memories? And you believed her?”

I hadn’t answered. I knew everything of Melody’s had been discarded. Her clothes given to Goodwill or thrown in the trash, her old stuffed animals thrown into the Dumpster, her diaries burned with the photos . . . I saw them do it. I watched them as they found a thousand little ways to spit on her memory.

“She kept some,” Dave says gently. “If you were able to see outside yourself, you’d have known that your mother isn’t so callous as to destroy all of it.”

There are some insults that can’t be brushed off. That was one of them.

“Your mother told me she’s haunted,” he continued. “She wanted to know how she failed and I told her that all we had to do was look to you to know that whatever demons consumed Melody were of her own making. If it was your parents’ fault, you would be out of control, too.”

I didn’t want to hear anymore.

“Your mother told me your sister was a whore. I told her you were nothing like that.”

That’s when those mutinous tears escaped, rolled down my cheeks, and left streaks in my foundation.

“How will she live with this, Kasie?” He asked. His voice had grown soft even as the words had grown harsh. It was like being caressed with barbed wire.

“She doesn’t have to know,” I had pleaded.

“If we split up, she does. I’m not like you. I don’t believe pretty lies are better than hard truths. Maybe your parents won’t fail you now the way they must have when you and your sister were children. Maybe they’ll help you, because God knows you need help . . . if you don’t get it . . . think of what happened to your sister, Kasie—”

“That’s not fair.”

“At the very least they need to know that they can’t trust you. They need to know you’re a liar.”

“I lied to you,” I screamed, my calm disappeared—memories of Melody, of the pain in my parents’ eyes, of the confusion around her death. . . .

As I lie by Dave’s side now, it’s hard to remember he’s supposed to be the victim and I the outlaw.

“I cheated on you, Dave,” I had said, not quite as loudly this time. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to lie about other stuff. It doesn’t mean I can’t be trusted.”

“And I’m sure that when Melody was first caught doing vodka shots at fourteen, she insisted that it didn’t mean she couldn’t be trusted to resist drugs. You know the saying, once a cheater, always a cheater? Well that’s not basic enough. Cheaters are liars. It’s a perversion. A pervasive problem that colors everything you touch. You’re a liar, Kasie, and you can’t be trusted. Not by me, not by anyone because now we know that when it serves your purposes, when your . . . pleasure’s at stake, you will lie.”

“Dave—”

“Your parents should know that,” he continued. “Your employer, too. The team that works for you should definitely know that. They should know that you’ve been fucking your client. They should know that you got down on your knees and sucked his dick to get the account. After all, your actions affect them. It’s their account, too. They should know that when he tires of your attentions—and he will tire of you—they should know why he’s taken his business elsewhere.”

“Oh God, please, Dave—”

“And if your parents, your employer, your coworkers, if they all decide to reject you, cast you out the way your parents cast out your sister, you shouldn’t be angry, Kasie. They have the right to protect themselves. They have the right to choose to spend their time with people who have better values and judgment than you.”

“Dave, I’m begging you—“

“Are you?” he asked. His eyes seared into mine but I couldn’t read them. I don’t know that man who stood before me, who sleeps by my side now.

Maybe I don’t know myself, either.

“Are you begging me, Kasie?” he asked again. “Do you want my help?’

I didn’t know what to say. It was easier when he was being violent. I’d prefer the blows of his fist to the stabs of his words.

“I want to help you,” he says. “You don’t need to be Melody. I can help you find your way back. If you let me help you, no one will need to know what you did. Do you want that?”

I nod, unable to talk.

“Good. That’s what I want, too.” He walked over to me, stroked my face with the back of his hand. I stood motionless. I felt sick.

“I want the woman I fell in love with. She’s still in there; I know it. You know it, too, don’t you?”

Another nod, another tear.

“Good, good. Because if we’re going to get her back, you have to acknowledge the problem. You have to acknowledge what you’ve become.”

I squeezed my eyes closed. I thought of Robert Dade. I thought of his smile, of his warm hands and kind words.

“I need you to say it, Kasie. I need to know that you realize the full extent of your debasement. I need you to acknowledge where you’re at so we can start to get you back to where I . . . where everyone needs you to be.”

“Dave,” I whispered. His name is acidic against my tongue. “Please don’t—”

“Say it, Kasie. Say it so I don’t have to expose all this. Say it so we can get back to where we were.”

I opened my eyes. I wanted to come out of myself again. I wanted to be the bystander.

But I’m in this now and I can’t see a way out.

“Say it.” The look on his face was as cold as it was expectant.

Pain, hate, totally futile anger, memories of Robert Dade’s kisses, memories of peace . . . But that’s gone now. I did this; I gave away all my power, my freedom, my moral compass. With so much already lost, how can I expect to hold on to my pride?

“Dave . . .” I choked the word out again, “Dave . . . I’m a whore.”

And he smiled as I crumbled.

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