They are all here: the banker, the doctor, the CEO; three polished performers, three beautiful wives. Carlton would call them power friends. I'm still not used to any of them, but I am trying to fit in because my husband-I still tingle at the sound of that-is so sure that I, we , need these people in our little world. He was a little terse with me tonight, which worries me; so I'm here, wearing a green dress that feels a bit too skimpy for this crowd. I'm getting lots of stares.
All the important members of Carlton's exclusive men's club have arrived, as promised.
John and Maggie Driver-he's the banker, a zillionaire I'm told, with a crusty formal expression and an authoritative attitude that gives me chills-and I mean this in an oddly sexual way, even if it also feels a little creepy. Maggie is beautifully blonde, well-kept, not even the tiniest flaw on her pretty face; at least not that I can see. She's also the most welcoming of the women, effusive when she needs to be, drawing me in with her one hand grabbing for mine as if we are old pals. When she plants a kiss on my cheek, I feel grateful for her acceptance. CEO Bronson Kent's wife, Jane, bores me with her highbrow talk. She wears her dark hair in a pageboy with bangs, and dresses in nothing but black. Jane does book reviews for the Journal and takes on obscure wildlife causes that only she can care about. The others laugh at her behind her back, although I think she knows this and doesn't care-nothing phases Jane. Still, she's part of their crowd. Of the three, she's the most dismissive of me. The third, Trina Reeves, is a voluptuous redhead, a bauble to decorate her husband's arm.
I flirt with them, batting my lashes and smiling coyly. It's a female body language that usually works in my favor-they find me charming if nothing else. Although I don't think anything would work in my favor with Jane; she's just a hard ass bitch. I'm sure she tolerates me only because the others do, and because her handsome husband, who thinks of me as 'eye-candy'-his words-told her to be nice.
"Hey there!" Maggie waves, cheerily as I approach. "And look at you! What a dress! So daring, but so...so you."
Why me? Why's this tight thing me?
"You know before I had the baby, I could fit into something like that," Trina says.
"This was Carlton's idea," I dash off glibly. "I told him I thought it was a bit much... but, well."
"Ah, he's still the new groom, you're the bride, of course he'd want you looking like a sex pot," Maggie says.
Like a sexpot?
"I have a little presentation to make," Jane tells us, having completely dismissed the discussion about my dress. "You'd better listen up, because I'll be quizzing you all afterwards." This should sound like a joke, but she does it with a straight face, sounding completely sincere, and then moves off.
We wait, wonderingly, then as she begins to speak, I see Daniel Cody, my editor standing alone on the perimeter of the room. I wander his way to give myself a needed break.
"Hi there, gorgeous," Daniel greets me as he usually does. I'm just a lowly copyeditor at work, while here I'm part of the royalty.
"Hi." A cursory hug follows, and we're ordered to listen up, as Jane taps on a wineglass with a knife. We stare through the crowd. "What do you think she's going to say?" I ask him.
"The usual nothing," he replies.
Daniel has an animal magnetism that has always attracted me to him. In fact, we had a brief affair before Carlton arrived on the scene-and one brief tryst afterwards. He fucks like he's ravenous, even slapped me around a bit, mostly on the ass, but sometimes on my tits. I get so hot I come on his hand, while he keeps slapping my bare skin. It's all head back, eyes rolling upwards, losing myself in the amazing sensations, that are, on the one hand, too much to