Authors: Diana Hunter
Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance, #Adult, #Erotica
Val knows all her husband’s moves—and that’s their problem. After five years of marriage they’ve fallen into a rut. Sex with Gary has become…mundane. She still loves him and knows he loves her, but are they still
Gary also knows they need a change. Maybe add a little kink to their sex life? Maybe Valerie tied to the bed—his to play with and command? Valerie discovers a whole new side of her husband as they peel away the “ordinary” and realize just how hot their love still is.
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Remembered Love Copyright © 2010 Diana Hunter
Edited by Pamela Campbell
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book publication October 2010
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
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She couldn’t sleep with him snoring like that. Long ago she’d learned that a nudge got her nowhere and a shove got only a grunt. Val gazed at her husband’s noisily sleeping form and couldn’t stop her thoughts from wandering.
If I had it do to over again, would I? Would I tie myself down to one man and his bad habits? To a house and a picket fence and a job? Not a vocation or even a career. Just a job. Just a marriage. Just ordinary.
Rolling onto her side, she took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, trying to relax and tune out her husband’s snores. In sleep, she would forget her mundane life, forget how ordinary she’d become. In sleep, she would once again be free to chase the dreams of her youth, the dreams that gave life meaning.
If only she could remember what they were…
* * * * *
“Honestly, Alex, she’s driving me crazy with this. I thought buying her a new house and giving her some room would work but all she does is nag about all the things she doesn’t have time to do.”
“What does she want to do?”
“How the hell should I know?” Gary exploded, taking his frustrations out on his co-worker and friend. He’d met Alex the first day he came to work at Sampson and Company, twelve years ago. Then they’d been carefree bachelors tooling around on Friday nights without a care in the world. With Alex’s prep-school look and Gary’s somewhat shorter, bantam-weight-boxer look, picking up girls had become a hobby—so many of them that they’d both lost count. But then seven years ago Alex had found married bliss. Two years after that, Gary had followed in his friend’s footsteps. Now Val’s constant unhappiness made him long for their bachelorhood and the one-night stands.
“What’dya mean, you don’t know? She’s your wife. Ask her!”
“Ask her? I’ve tried. She just throws me a dirty look and says, ‘If you don’t know, then what’s the point?’ Then she slams the door and walks away.” Gary slammed his coffee cup on the counter of the employee kitchen.
“You think she wants kids?”
Gary quickly shook his head. “No, I’ve asked her that a dozen times. She says she’s not going to repeat the mistakes her parents made.” He picked up his cup again and sipped at the strong coffee. “You know we both came from really dysfunctional families.”
Alex nodded. “Then it has to be something else. Probably she’s feeling that you don’t value her contributions to your relationship.”
Gary looked at Alex as if he’d grown a third arm. Had his friend gone off the deep end? “Would you listen to yourself? You sound like a headline from one of those stupid women’s magazines at the supermarket checkout!”
For a moment, Gary thought Alex would protest. But then Alex shook his head and acquiesced. “Okay, maybe I do. Point is, you both work and maybe she’s feeling hurt because you haven’t noticed all the things she
do. You know, dishes, the laun—”
“I do the dishes,” Gary interrupted. “She takes care of the laundry.
do the dishes.”
“And what else?”
“Outside. I’m outside, she’s inside. I mow the lawn, trim the hedges, take care of the car. She does the laundry, the dusting, the vacuuming.”
Alex shook his head. “Okay, which chores do you do together?”
“What do you mean, together?”
“You know…together. At the same time. You wash, she dries, you rake, she holds the bag open for you or the other way around. To…geth…er.”
“Okay, Sigmund. I see where you’re going with this. It’s not like that. We do lots of stuff together.”
“Like lots of things. Look, I’ve gotta get back to that report. What d’ya say we head to Lloyd’s after work for a quick beer?”
“Can’t. Promised Amy we’d go pick out curtains for the living room.”
Gary refrained from making chicken noises or any other henpecked reference, draining his cup of coffee instead. But as he watched his friend weave his way through the cubicles, Gary felt a pang of jealousy. Very few had the close relationship Alex and Amy shared. Alex just didn’t understand the real world that most of humanity dealt with.
And later, by the time Gary pulled into the driveway of his suburban home, he’d worked himself into quite a state. He hadn’t gotten the report finished because he just couldn’t keep his mind on it. Alex’s words nagged him—the ones about not valuing what his wife did for them. But he didn’t have it right. There was far more wrong with Val than just the division of labor. Feeling in high dudgeon and filled with self-pity, Gary parked in the garage and headed into the house.
Val heard the car pull in and shook herself from her reverie, quickly pulling on her sweatshirt. Her job started earlier than his did in the mornings, which allowed her a half an hour of quiet before he got home at seven. Just enough time to change her clothes and get dinner started. But today she just couldn’t shake the feeling that somewhere they’d gone horribly wrong. She’d spent her half hour staring at the walls of their bedroom, wondering what had happened to those two kids who’d been so in love.
Fresh from her memories of happier times, she decided on optimism. They could put things back together, find what they’d lost. She just knew it. Plastering on a happy face, she skipped down the stairs, ready to greet him as he entered the kitchen. The look on his face as he slammed through the door, however, pulled her up short. She didn’t know who the glower was for but her heart sank as she realized it didn’t really matter. Nothing she could say or do would move him when he was like that.
Pulling the remnants of her memories around her, she knew she needed to give it a go. Even if he didn’t realize it, they were sinking into the morass of “ordinary” and she wasn’t about to go under without a fight.
“Looks like you had a tough day,” she remarked as he walked past her. When did they stop kissing each other at the end of the workday?
“I didn’t get a report finished that Sampson’s going to want first thing in the morning.”
“Oh.” At least he wasn’t mad at her for something she either did or didn’t do. So hard to tell these days. “So you’re going to finish it here?”
Gary paused in the act of picking up the mail and looked at her as if she were a stranger. “Since when do I bring work home?”
“Well, never…but…well, there’s always a first time. And if you have to get it in—”
“You sound like you want me to bring work home. I thought our agreement was that work stays at work and home is for us? He tossed the envelopes back on the table. “I’m going up to check my emails.”
His nightly routine and hers too. Neither of them accessed their private emails and IMs and Twitters at work and the early evening often found them sitting on opposite sides of the small bedroom that had become their study—he at his computer and she at hers, each talking away with online friends, both far and near.
But they never talked to each other, she realized as she slowly followed him up the stairs and into the study.
While idly scrolling through messages, Gary tried to figure out why Val would ask him such a dumb question. Neither of them brought work home. Leaving work at work served as their assurance that any problems that started at work didn’t come home to color their idyllic life together. Ha! Some idyll he had going here.
He chanced a glance across the room to where his wife’s face was lit only by the light of her screen. She’d pulled her long, brown hair into an untidy ponytail that did nothing to flatter her face. He loved her face, which tended toward roundness. He had first fallen in love with those brown eyes that twinkled with life and her heart-shaped lips made for kissing. Only later had he seen the caring, passionate woman underneath and fallen in love for real.
Shortly she’d break to go make dinner and then she’d call up to him and he’d go down to join her at the table. They’d eat, talk about…something, then part for the night again. Some nights he took the TV and others, she did. They rarely watched anything together—they didn’t enjoy the same programs anymore.
When had she changed? He leaned back in his chair, taking a good look at the woman he’d married five years ago. Then she’d been vivacious, laughing at all his jokes, happy to see him when he came home from work each night. Now she sat there, lines of stress wrinkling her face, her back bowed and her chin in her hand.
She glanced over at him. “What?” she asked.
“Nothing, just looking at you.”
“Why?” Her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“A man can’t look at his wife?”
“I suppose, but…” She glanced at the screen and typed something before throwing another look at him.
“What do you mean, ‘what’?”
“You’re staring and, in the dark, it’s a bit creepy.”
Gary leaned over and turned on the small light beside his computer. “There. I’m not in the dark anymore. Is that less creepy?”
“What’s so creepy about a man looking at the woman he loves?”
The words were out of his mouth before he realized he meant them. Although he’d said them out of habit, he heard the truth underneath. He did still love her. Why couldn’t he remember the last time he’d told her?
“I…I love you too.” Her voice sounded hesitant and she looked at him as if she wasn’t sure where he was going with this.
He stood up and held out his arms. “Come here.”
He could tell she was still wary, but she pushed her chair away from her desk and stood. He remembered when she would have run into his arms and hugged him tightly. His arms faltered a little.
But then she was there and her familiar perfume wafted up. Not flowery, but spicy. His wife was definitely an exotic spice. He took a deep breath as he wrapped his arms around the woman he loved more than anything in the world. How long had it been since he’d shown her that?
Val snuggled into the warmth of his embrace, feeling how perfectly they fit together. She didn’t want a tall man—they wouldn’t fit together right. Gary’s five foot eight fit her five foot three perfectly. Her head rested on his chest just at shoulder height, her face turned in. Unable to resist, she stood on tiptoe to place a gentle kiss on his neck. His musky cologne filled her nose, reminding her of such wonderful memories.
“I miss this,” she murmured.
“So do I.” His words, soft in her ear, made her heart beat a little faster.
“Do you? You never touch me anymore.”
Gary stepped back and Val immediately regretted that she’d said anything. Now they’d have an argument and she had so liked being in his arms.
“You don’t touch me either.”
She opened her mouth to protest then closed it as two pieces of information registered—one, he hadn’t denied her observation, and two, he was right. Neither of them went out of the way to give the other a caress. Making a decision, she stepped into his arms again, although she didn’t snuggle in.
“I want to start touching you again,” she told him.
“I want to start doing more things together. Alex said we don’t do enough together and I think…I think he may be right.”
“Do you know what I saw today?” Val frowned at the memory, her eyes flashing with indignation as she spoke. “I saw an older couple—I don’t know how old, but older than us. They got out of the car at the supermarket and he just marched right into the store without waiting for her. Not that she made any attempt to catch up to him.
“And it wasn’t just them. I sat there, amazed. Couple after couple went by, him in front, her behind every time. One woman even took these little running steps to keep up with her husband. But she was the only one who seemed to care.
“I wanted to say, ‘That’s not us. We’d never be like that.’ Except we are. We did become like that. When’s the last time we walked together from the car into the store?”
Gary nodded, a thoughtful look on his face. “But it’s not because I don’t care, it’s just that we’re usually in a hurry. I go along and get what I need, you go your way and get your stuff and then we’re done. Efficient.”
“But not together.” She bit her lip and Gary knew she had more. He titled up her chin and she confessed it all. “There was another couple. An older man and woman. Probably in their late seventies, I’m guessing. Neither one could walk very fast but his legs were longer than hers. Do you know what he did?”