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Mixed Doubles
A Romantic Affair

by Arnica Butler

Will thought that Scarlett’s affair with her tennis instructor ended months ago, but her strange behavior makes him suspect otherwise. As evidence of Scarlett’s cheating mounts, Will discovers that he enjoys the thrill of Scarlett’s now very illicit affair: the casual lies, the deleted texts, the sneaking around. But there is much more to Scarlett’s renewed affair with Alessandro than meets Will’s eyes, and she may be in way over her head. Is there any way to untangle the delicious mess Scarlett has made, while salvaging the trust in their marriage?


“Is that going to be a problem?”
Scarlett’s question shook me out of my reverie. I was staring openly at her figure by the window, mired in a bittersweet, pining reflection of my love for her. She was staring out into the snowy backyard with a distant expression. Scarlett was thinking about something intently, and I could only guess at what it was.
Until she spoke, my money had been on her thinking about the six feet and four inches of tanned Italian muscle, dark wavy hair, and occasionally stubble-dusted jawline of her “tennis instructor,” Alessandro. I had sipped my coffee, entertaining the simultaneously painful and arousing idea that her mouth was watering for his cock, or that she was privately re-enacting the way he manhandled her in bed.
“What?” I said, setting down my coffee and addressing her question after a lengthy pause. She was already gesturing into the backyard. She gave a sigh of impatience, which meant she had already told me “what,” possibly more than once, and I hadn’t listened.
“That pool thing, it looks like it’s going to break. Is it supposed to be like that?” Scarlett and I had recently purchased a lovely house in a charming Santa Fe neighborhood. We had been delighted, at the time of purchase, that the house had a pool. Like most transplants to Santa Fe, we had nurtured the mistaken belief that Santa Fe was like all of New Mexico, and very very hot. We spent our first summer making much ado about the relatively few hot days, shivering with determination while sunning ourselves, as we believed we should, next to our pool. We quickly realized the pool would have been much more useful in a Chicago summer, but we maintained the facade right through a rainy July, all the way to August, when a sprinkling of high-altitude snow laid the deception too bare for even our stubborn imaginations.
We were even more shocked, in winter, when Santa Fe turned out to be snowy and quite cold. It had nothing on Chicago, but it was chilly, and our pool required maintenance and closing down. We were now utterly perplexed by the pool, and wished we didn’t have one.
I rose from my chair and stood next to Scarlett. She had her sunny blonde hair in a professional twist, and was wearing a smart navy suit she had recently purchased. It was crisp, clean, professional. She even had stockings on.
All so very professional.
Except I knew that the stockings were thigh-high and made of silk, with intricate nude lace at the top, matching her panties, which were also quite elaborate and lacy. Designed to tease a lover. I hadn’t bought them for her. I hadn’t even seen them on her. The lover they would entice was not me.
I glanced down at the vague outline of lace beneath her white blouse, her pert breasts pressing against the cups, almost overflowing. Her flawless skin, now a creamy white with little remaining of the tan she’d acquired playing tennis all summer, was kissed by a healthy pink glow. She had painted her lips with a drab, professional mauve, but a hint of bright pink in the center of her mouth made her teacup lips look ripe and youthful. A dusting of gray shadow and thick black mascara made the gray-blue of her eyes pop.
To someone who didn’t know her very well, there was nothing different from the usual about Scarlett’s appearance. If you didn’t know, as I did, about the expensive new underwear, you might miss all the little details – the stain of pink, the smattering of eye shadow, the very faint whiff of perfume – that were not usual for Scarlett.
“You want me to call the pool guy again?” I asked. Scarlett’s mouth twisted into a half-smirk. She played absent-mindedly with the turquoise pendant I had given her, sliding it sensually along the silver chain. There was an erotic appeal to the conflagration of secret underwear beneath her getup, and her inclusion of the pendant, a stunning chunk of polished turquoise, almost indigo blue in color, and shot through with such large veins of coppery red metal that it looked as if someone had splattered paint on rust. It had delighted Scarlett, and I was very proud of it because I had picked it out myself.
“Ugh. I’m sure it’s fine,” she breathed. She looked up at the clock, then jumped. “Shoot. I have to go.”
She leaned toward me to give me a quick kiss. Because I had gotten a little wound up watching her, speculating about her wayward thoughts, thinking about her thigh-high stockings, I reached around her waist and pulled her toward me.
She relented, melting into my embrace, kissing me wetly. She opened her mouth to let me explore hers with my tongue, and I felt her soft belly relax against me.
Then her hand was on my chest, her lips tugging away from me, making a noise, making an excuse. “Uh, honey, I have to...” She kissed me again, and then pushed away. “I have a hearing. I have to run.”
She hurried around the kitchen and scooped up her things. I watched her, fascinated. She had her briefcase, and she even opened it to check inside. She smoothed her hair and her suit in front of the mirror, showed her teeth to make sure no lipstick had gotten on them, and then shimmied into a coat. “No hat?” I asked, spinning a woolen hat she had tossed on the counter on my fingers. Playfully, smiling at her. Messing with her, just a little. She looked at me, pulling up her collar and straightening her coat around her shoulders. “With this hairdo?” she scoffed, her voice friendly. Her eyes were shifty, though, going from her phone to me and around the house.
“It’s cold,” I countered.
“I’ll have to man up,” she quipped. “Okay. Bye. Don’t forget I’ll probably be late tonight.”
Oh, I haven’t forgotten.
“Sure. I’ll just get some takeout.”
I watched her as she slid her fingers over her phone, a worried expression on her face. For a moment, I could almost believe that the frown was due to a deluge of emails about labor disputes and union negotiations, for the busyness of her understaffed and overworked law firm, Katherman and Sanchez.
But Scarlett wasn’t the kind of lawyer to get so flustered that she would let that go. The comment about the takeout, that is. I waited, sipping my coffee, hoping that the cold ache in my lower abdomen had not spread so obviously to my crotch. Scarlett turned, and put her hand on the door, opened her mouth to say something, and then seemed to think better of it.
“Yeah,” she began, and then gave her head a light shake. “Wait. Takeout?”
She looked at me.
I looked right back at her.
“That’s rude,” she said, smiling, trying to make a joke. I wondered if she suspected that I was up to something, or if she was just so caught up in her own little world that she didn’t notice these things. I slurped my coffee as I looked at her over the rim of the mug.
“Them’s the breaks,” I said.
It isn’t nearly as rude, I challenged her in my mind, as lying to your husband about your Italian lover. Is it?
My stomach knotted up again, the now-familiar wrenching coiling tightly, cold and hot at the same time, as Scarlett blinked, started to cock her head slightly, and then was distracted by the buzzing phone in her hand. She shrugged, turned, said something like “okay, bye,” and then disappeared out the door.
I waited, listening to the car start up, the garage door close, and then a few beats more. Blood was pulsing in my ears, and a curtain of a sentiment I have yet to name was falling down, blurring my vision.
It would pass.
My hands were shaky as I reached for my phone, but by the time I began to swipe at the screen, they were steady again.
I swept through the countless, useless, one-time apps I had piled up on my phone to get to my current addiction, the app I used day and night, the app that was taking away time from work, driving me crazy.
Highster Mobile.
I wasn’t proud of myself, but then, Scarlett was no angel either.
I swept through her messages, all neatly displayed on the control panel of my app. I preferred to use HM on my laptop – the preference curiously similar to my preference for watching porn on my laptop, the sensation almost equal.
I scanned the messages. I knew Alessandro’s number by heart, though the man suspiciously changed numbers as often as every two weeks.
Whatever. His sultry, surly, Italian smarminess was simple enough to detect.
My heart fell.
No new message from Alessandro.