Chapter 1 - Emery
Love is a beautiful thing.
An all-consuming, soul-gratifying, earth-shaking kind of thing.
Until it’s not.
“You’re kidding?” I stare at my phone in disbelief. “This is getting ridiculous, Carter.”
“Don’t give me that shit, Emery. Whiny isn’t a good look on you.”
Ah, sweet marital bliss. Not.
The last few months have been a frustrating game of cat and mouse between my husband and me. I call, wondering when he’ll be home, and he gives me the same excuse about his absence every time. It’s always work this, work that. Work. Work. Work.
And then, when I’m busy at the office, he’s at home complaining I’m the one who never has time for him. It’s a load of bull crap. He’s a Wallstreet stockbroker, and I’m the CEO and co-founder of a multi-million-dollar empire. Yet I’m the one with more free time these days. Riddle me that.
“Fine. I guess I’ll have dinner alone…again.” I’m in no mood to fight with him, so I take one last jab and let it go.
The best advice I ever received was to pick your battles in marriage. Not everything is worth a fight; honestly, my energy is better spent elsewhere, like drinking an oversized glass of wine and soaking up some me time. Self-love is important too.
“I’ll make it up to you, Em. Promise.” His voice is softer now, less dickish.
My eyes roll way back in my head. Now that I’ve backed down, he’s returned to being his sweet self, ignoring that he just acted like a complete ass two seconds ago. But I’ve heard it all before. His version of ‘making it up to me’ involves nothing more than dull, missionary sex and a chaste peck on the lips.
“Yeah, sure.” I hang up, already putting him out of my mind and heading to the kitchen. I’m starving, and honestly, food is more important than him right now.
I toss my phone on the counter, freeing up my hands to dig through the cupboard to pull out the largest wine glass I can find, filling it to the brim with a crisp sauvignon. Ada, my housekeeper and pseudo-mom, left me a cute charcuterie for one, wrapped up and waiting in the fridge.
Bless her sweet little heart. She’s a veritable angel on earth. Hell, maybe I should have married her; at least then I’d be with someone who actually gave a shit. But, c’est la vie. I made my choice with Carter, now I have to live with it.
Armed with my overflowing glass and solo snack, I brush off my bitter thoughts, turn on the music for my outdoor speaker and dance my way to the patio to wash away tonight’s frustration in the hot tub out back.
I dip my feet into the near-scalding water, then sink to my chin, letting the jets pound against my tense muscles with the force of a jackhammer. Lavender and vanilla are diffusing on the cocktail table beside me, wafting a pleasurable aroma my way every time the breeze blows just right.
Oh, yeah. This is precisely what I needed tonight.
I settle back, swiping my book from the hot tub’s ledge and opening it to where I last left off. Popping a grape in my mouth, I chuckle out loud when the first words I read lead straight into a steamy part, where the lead is about to have her first orgasm. Not just of the night, but ever. I’m exhilarated for her and more than a little jealous.
My sex life has been a sad situation as of late. Between my absentee husband and my lack of desire for him, I haven’t had a good fuck in months. Hell, probably more like years. At this rate, I’ll be a born-again virgin any day now. So, after forgetting what a good orgasm feels like, I’m forced to live vicariously through a fictional character just to feel a little excitement down below.
Invisible husband aside, I don’t mind spending time alone. Kicking back with a good book, a tall glass of wine, and a hot soak are three of my favourite things. And then, to curl up in my fluffy bed, wrapped in a duvet that could rival cotton candy clouds, is the chef’s kiss on a perfect self-date night.
I’m even looking forward to an early bedtime. Being able to starfish myself across the mattress without Carter in the way is more enticing than it should be. I can’t wait. He’s a chronic bed-hog and master thief of blankets, forcing me to play tug-of-war with him all night long. Top that off with some snoring, and that’s my life. Cold, awake, and annoyed as shit every single night.
After a solid hour in the hot tub and ten chapters of my spicy smut novel, I turn in for the night, heading straight into my bedroom. Dropping my towel on the floor, I slather myself in lotion and slip between my cool sheets, bundling my duvet up around my head and closing my eyes.
My muscles are loose and pliable, and I feel more relaxed than earlier, my anger at Carter dissolving alongside my consciousness.
Who needs him, anyway?
“Mmm, Em. You smell divine.”
Carter’s hot breath on my neck wakes me up, his whispers tickling against my ear. A wandering hand moves over my belly, dipping into the front of my silk sleep shorts. He’s pressed against my back, his hard length nudging me as his fingers slip between my legs.
“Baby, wake up. I’m in the mood for some playtime.”
An entire month has passed since he last initiated sex. Thirty whole days since he’s accepted any of my half-ass advances toward him, yet now, when I’m enjoying a wondrous, dreamless sleep, he decides he wants to screw me?
“What time is it?” I yawn, working to force my sleepy eyes open.
“Doesn’t matter, babe,” he flutters his lips over my shoulder blade.
I flip onto my back, peering at him through squinted eyes. What’s he playing at? “I’m barely alive, Carter. Not sure I’ll be much fun.”
“I can get you in the mood.” A devilish smirk curls his lips at the corners, lighting up his clean-cut face.
I seriously doubt that.
His features come into focus as my eyes adjust, and I notice his hair is wet, the strands still dripping slightly. The tones of caramel in his eyes glint in the bright moonlight streaming through the window, and his pale skin almost glows. There’s no denying he’s handsome, and when he smiles down at me, I almost remember why I fell for him.
Like an idiot, I let myself hope; maybe this time will be different. Maybe his wandering hands can still give me what my body so desperately craves—that all-over, thigh-quivering bliss that’s always just out of reach every time we have sex.
Before I register what’s happening, Carter is under the blankets, and my shorts are around my ankles. He settles himself between my thighs, spreading me apart so he can sweep his tongue up my still dry slit.
Nothing. I feel nothing.
No pang of sexual desire, no searing need pooling between my thighs—just absolute nothingness.
My fingers tap on the duvet above his covered head, waiting for that slow burn to start in the pit of my belly, but it doesn’t come. I hate that he always hides under the covers. I want to see him get me off, not just feel it. Check that off as yet another con to add to the growing list of things I no longer like about him.
His tongue works over all my sensitive spots, doing everything it should, yet my mind wanders, taking me to a place where Carter is still at work, and I’m still beautifully unconscious.
My eyes flutter closed, and I try my damnedest to fantasize about the steamy deflowering I just read about in my novel, but even that doesn’t do it for me.
“You taste so good, babe,” he groans, way more into this than me.
Why am I not more turned on by this? Nothing he’s doing with his mouth is working for me, but he isn’t picking up on it. Maybe we should fuck instead, get it over with. Anything will be better than this unsatisfying oral adventure.
I tuck my hands under the blanket to tug Carter up my body, pressing my lips to his to play my part. He groans again, slipping his tongue between my parted lips and reaching between us, already lining his cock up with my entrance. He doesn’t even notice I’m barely wet as he pushes inside me, grinning like he just won the fucking lottery.
At least one of us is having a good time.
I stifle a yawn that Carter confuses as a moan, and he pounds into me harder, wrongly assuming what he’s doing feels good. The only thing keeping this from being painful are the remnants of his saliva from that overzealous tongue fuck.
“Yeah, babe. This is what you want, eh? My cock inside you.” I cringe at his attempt to dirty talk while he hovers over me, his breath minty, with an undertone of whiskey.
So much for working. Liar.
His dishonesty is even more of a deterrent, effectively cancelling any hope of an orgasm tonight may have brought, however unlikely.
He thrusts into me repeatedly, moaning and groaning like it’s the best lay of his life, while I count down the minutes until it’s over. With that undeniable pang of desire I was hoping for still nonexistent, I’m relieved when Carter pulls out, finishing on my stomach, in less than five minutes.
When he’s empty, he collapses beside me, ignoring my lack of enthusiasm, as he lifts his head to peek at me from under hooded lids. Cool. Now I have to clean myself up and get myself off, all because I’m married to a selfish idiot.
“That was great, baby. Love you.” He lifts onto his elbow, oblivious as he plants a quick peck on my cheek before rolling onto his side to face away from me, taking the blankets with him.
And just like that, my lying, self-serving husband drifts off to sleep without a single shit to give.