“What the hell are you doing?” Her husband stood outlined in the bedroom doorway, his heaving bare chest highlighted by the moonlight filtering in through the window. “You’re not . . . Are you leaving?”
A strangled laugh found its way out of Rosie’s mouth. “Are you really this surprised?”
“Yeah, I am!” he shouted. “Put the goddamn suitcase away.”
That was the moment he recognized she meant business. This wasn’t a fight. It was the last fight. Even fights had been few and far between, hadn’t they? There wasn’t enough passion for one. Not unless he was inside her.
Rosie started toward the dresser, prepared to clean out her underwear drawer in one sweep of her arm, but something caught her eye. A newspaper peeking out from beneath the mattress. For the past month, she’d been circling advertisements in the local paper for restaurant space. She knew through Georgie that Dominic had found her secret stash. He’d told his buddies on the construction site, but hadn’t bothered to mention it to her.
“Dominic, do you know how hard it was to circle those advertisements?” She pinched the edge of the newspaper between her fingers and tugged it free of its mattress prison, dangling it in the air for him to see. “Do you know how hard it was to let myself believe, even for a second, that I could be capable of pursuing this dream I’ve had since we were kids? Really, really hard. Because I don’t even believe in myself anymore. I forgot what it was like. To dream. To want something for myself. A-and you saw these. You knew they were there, that I’d started to hope again . . .” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “And you still didn’t say anything?”
Dominic had the grace to look ashamed, color blooming high on his angular cheekbones.
Irked to the breaking point by his lack of response, she let the newspaper flutter to the floor. “I don’t love you anymore.”
Air rushed out of him, carried on an awful, wounded sound.
Sympathy tugged at her insides, but she staunchly ignored it. There was so much more she wanted to say. She wanted to comb through the last handful of years and hurl every nuance of her pain at him. Tell him how hurt she’d been when he’d shut her out, stopped communicating with her. How she’d felt like a failure when she couldn’t reach him even though they shared a bed, a house, a life. But there must have been a part of Rosie that loved what they used to be, because she physically couldn’t make him suffer any more. Just get it over with.
“I’m going to Bethany’s.”
He rounded the bed in her direction. “No.”
Rosie moved away, her back coming up almost immediately against the wall of their small bedroom. “Don’t try to stop me.”
His body pressed hers hard into the wall and their moans joined together, feminine layered on top of rough. God, his smell. It had changed over time. Matured. Gone from light and spicy to male and earthy. She hated the way her thighs turned pliant, her panties dampening, her womanhood preparing, squeezing, aching to be filled.
“Dominic,” she whispered, her words muffled when he stooped down and pressed their mouths together.
He didn’t kiss her, though. He never did anymore. Not unless he was inside her.
“Shhh, honey. I’ve got you. I know what you need.” His fingers raked up the outsides of her thighs, disappearing beneath her work skirt and hooking in the waistband of her panties. He watched her under heavy eyelids as he started to peel them down. “My wife wants to fuck extra-hard tonight?” He caught the underside of her chin with his nipping teeth. “That’s what you were getting anyway. You didn’t have to put on a show.”
Rosie’s body was a traitor that had never stopped craving Dominic for a second. He knew every button to push, whether she wanted fast or slow, when to switch positions. How dirty talk made her extra-adventurous. When she needed a hard slap on the backside or a slow, drawn-out bump-and-grind session that left him sweaty and covered in claw marks. He could whisper to her sex drive, speak its language, make it babble like a brook. Make her scream, make her shake, make her beg.
His middle finger slid into the split of her sex, his lips peeling back on a growl when he found her soaked. “I’ve been hard all day waiting for this.”
Waiting for this. Not waiting for you.
Still, when she should have admonished him, her voice emerged sounding like a plea. “Dominic.”
His name ended in a whimper when he pushed that middle finger inside her, twisting the digit, grazing her clit with his thumb while in pursuit of her G-spot—and he found it, found it without delay and tickled it, bringing Rosie’s back off the wall in a heaving arch.
“Uh-huh. There you go, honey girl. You’re going to come right here, aren’t you?” He looked down, leaned back to watch his finger drive in and out of her—but something made him still for a second. And then he was yanking up her leg with his free left hand, propping her knee on his hip. The warmth of his touch reached her ankle, lower. “Get these shoes off now.”
Dominic lodged his hips between her spread thighs and hefted her up against the wall. The thick ridge of his erection pressed to her core—hard—making her cry out his name from behind clenched teeth. “Kick them off,” he rasped, rolling, rolling, rolling his hips and looking her square in the eye. “You’re staying.”
“I’m leaving,” she breathed, head falling back. “Accept it.”
“Fuck that.” His open mouth skated over her cleavage, his hot, quick exhales turning her nipples to tight points inside her silk blouse. “I need you.”
Dominic reached between their bodies and lowered the zipper of his jeans. The zing of sound in the near-darkness had the effect of an ice-cold waterfall raining down on Rosie’s head. He didn’t get to say he needed her. He didn’t get the pleasure of her body when he gave nothing beyond their scheduled physical contact. She was more than someone’s weekly gratification. With all the willpower she housed inside her, Rosie pressed both hands against Dominic’s shoulders and shoved him away, her feet landing on the ground a split second later.
He stood a couple feet away—far too close—several inches of his arousal showing at the waistband of his loosened jeans. She had no choice but to acknowledge how breathtaking her husband was, one last time. He was a muscled warrior with a carved granite jawline—and for the couple beers he drank every night, none of the effects of that vice showed on his body. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he kept in ruthless physical shape for her.
He didn’t even say good morning.
“Don’t touch me again.” She quickly pulled her panties back into place, ignoring the fluttering in her belly when he tracked her movements with hot eyes. “How dare you call this a show?” She kicked the fallen newspaper out of her way and moved on watery legs back toward the suitcase. “I’ll come get the rest of my things later.”
He moved up beside her, panic beginning to creep into his usually stoic expression. For a brief moment in time, they locked eyes and she saw him. The Dominic who’d sworn to love her until the day she died. Sworn it until his voice went hoarse. She saw the man who’d indulged her with a smile when she insisted they match at prom. The man who’d asked her to marry him the day they graduated high school, kneeling on the football field with a modest ring pinched between his fingers, their bright future right there in his eyes.
And then he disappeared in the blink of an eye, a shutter slamming down into place, hiding his every emotion. She knew this man well. Too well.
“Go, then. No one’s stopping you.”
There must have been one tiny stitch holding her heart together, preventing it from breaking entirely. But it frayed and snapped at his words, leaving her reeling, hot moisture pressing behind her eyelids. Blindly, she packed a drawer’s worth of clothes and unplugged her cell-phone charger, grabbing her jar of Curlsmith Curl Conditioning Oil-In-Cream and a nighttime head scarf. Everything went into the suitcase, and she zipped it up with sickening finality.
The cool fall air kissed Rosie’s damp cheeks when she walked into the garage, and she realized she’d never closed the garage door. Made things easier, didn’t it? She tossed her suitcase into the trunk and climbed into the driver’s side, audible gasps escaping her mouth. Oh my God, I’m leaving Dominic. Oh my God, I just ended my marriage.
She’d almost backed out to the end of the driveway when Dominic appeared in the garage, still shirtless and more beautiful than any man had the right to be. Her headlights caused the cross around his neck to glint . . . and she noticed he was clutching the newspaper she’d kept hidden under the mattress. What? He wanted to talk now?
It’s too late.
Her heart seized as he shouted her name a second time, striding toward the car. No. No more. She couldn’t take any more. Before she could change her mind, she whipped the car into a K-turn and floored it down the residential street, Dominic’s voice booming through the dust she left behind.
Dominic caught his reflection in the door of his truck as he slammed it. His face was unshaven, eyes and cheeks sunken in. Lines that hadn’t existed around his mouth before were prominent this morning, even partially hidden by bristling facial hair. All in all, he looked pretty decent, considering his fucking life was over.