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The Stand-In ✓

Chapter 2

Six years. That was how much time you have wasted for your ex.

Sometimes you wonder how you have managed to stay with him for such a long time, and how was it that you were able to miss out on all the signs. You should have seen it when things were never really that easy from the start, even while you were still on the dating stage where marriage had yet to cross your mind.

You started things with JB years ago as casual dating at first. You had broken it off once, or twice, or probably more during those times, all because his family had always found ways of getting themselves involved which would constantly cause rifts in your relationship until either one of you would grow tired of it and gave up. But you had always come back to him, for he had always found ways to win you back and your heart had always been too easy to get swayed by his sweet words and promises.

It was close to four years of being in an on and off relationship with the man, before it went to the engagement which only lasted for two months, until came the day when he convinced you to elope with him to avoid dealing with his conservative family.

The marriage never had that much problem to begin with. At least, things had started just nicely between the two of you, and you even had a chance to reconcile with your families despite their resentment against your elopement. But things took an ugly turn right at the beginning of your marriage.

The first spark of happiness came when you found out that you were pregnant. It was surprising, to say the least, but you were both excited about it that you immediately made elaborate plans for the future baby and you were both quick to announce it to your families. Everything was perfect until it wasn’t. You lost the baby just as you were entering the second month, and another right after. In one year, it was one miscarriage after another, as if your body was unable to withhold the pregnancy any longer than a month. Until the signs of pregnancy stopped showing no matter how much sex you have had to make it happen.

At first, you had thought that you would be able to deal with everything, every hardship and pain, as long as you had each other. Because you had loved him and he had shown you time and time again that he had loved you just as fiercely.

But as always, his family had gotten in the way.

You were headstrong enough to deal with the pressure they had been giving you about building your family with children from your own wombs. Yet as time passed on, it was clear that JB had completely crumbled under the pressure, and the man who you had once proclaimed as the best husband one could get soon changed to the worse through time.

The next thing you know, your marriage was no longer about the two of you, about loving each other till death do you part. It was more about pleasing his family and saving face.

You have always had a strong passion for sex. And once upon a time in the past, you had shared it with JB. He might have not been the best in bed, but to whatever he was lacking, you managed to cover it with your own wanton ways which would always rouse his own to match your needs. It had made you believe that it was one of the things that had made you both compatible to one another. Until the point that it was not.

When the passionate sex turned into scheduled and timed activity after workdays, filled with marking your calendars, keeping up with your fertility stats, and trying out new positions to make sure his seeds would take root, the passion was no longer there and the hot sex you had usually craved for became somewhat of an unfulfilled dream.

When the purpose of chasing your climax turned to simply put up an effort to create babies, it started to make you feel less beautiful and confident and you started looking at yourself the way you believed he was seeing you as—nothing but a vessel to produce babies for the family.

Suddenly, sex became more like hard work which you had to endure even after facing the long hours of sitting in your office. What you had once loved and passionate for became something that you loathed the most. Even his touches and kisses lost their sparks. And more often than not, you had to do all you could not push or kick him away during his hastened foreplays because every single touch he made to your skin felt just as unpleasant as sandpapers.

And not to mention all the times you had to deal with his temper tantrums on the nights you refused his advances, or whenever you announced him that your period had come. He would spend the nights and days huffing and grumbling like a child before he started throwing things around, simply because he couldn’t get his dick wet.

Even to this day, you are still jumpy at any kind of sounds, from hearing objects falling or bumping against one another, to any sudden sounds that startle you. You have even been keeping your phone on silent mode for months because the sounds it makes always scare you to bits.

You have come to the point where you have grown so tired of dealing with him and his tempers, along with all the drama you had to deal with whenever you were in the company of his—and at the latest, even your own—family, that when the day came for you to watch him pack up his things and leave, you breathed a sigh of relief instead of pleading him to stay.

You still cried over the break-up, of course, although it was more over the long years you have spent with him and fighting for him, and all the exhaustion you had kept inside. Then it was to how he had treated you throughout the divorce settlement and all the things he said only to hurt you.

At first, he blamed it on your career, stating how you had been so focused on your job and you had been too independent that you had no interest in fulfilling your promise to build a family with him. Then he shamed you on your inability to provide him with children, on your sexual drive, on how you had neglected his needs and for not fulfilling your duty as a devoted wife.

But through it all, the most painful blow which he had given you actually happened on the day he announced the divorcement right to your face, when he had acted as if the marriage life you had built together meant nothing to him, and he had broken it off merely by saying, “This is not going to work out. I can’t do this anymore,” before he just left and immediately began his new life, letting you know that he had already had a new place to stay by the time it happened.

Then, as if his torment was not enough, your own family turned against you, taking his side as they blamed you for the failure of your marriage.

“It was never your fault, you know,” Namjoon talks you out of it when he once again finds you dwelling in your own thoughts. You have been lounging in your bedroom with him, watching TV after dinner, something that you do together almost every night since the day you got here, and he must have noticed that your mind has been a million miles away.

You have no idea how he always seems to have the ability to know what is going through your mind and knows exactly what to say, but you welcome it. You were not someone who is open enough when it comes to talking about your feelings, and he knows how to coax them out of you.

“You need to stop blaming yourself.”

“I can’t help it,” you answer him with an exasperated sigh. “It’s just—I know that there is nothing I could do to change it or go back to fix it. But I can’t help but think about all the things that could have happened if things didn’t go the way they did.”

Namjoon says nothing to that, as if he is giving you the space to sulk. But he does pull you in, wrapping an arm around you to let you rest your head on his shoulder. “I’m sorry for dumping all of this on you. I keep telling you that I’d be better on my own,” you whine softly, feeling remorseful and pathetic at the same time.

You can feel his body shaking when he chuckles. “I’m just grateful that you still choose to run to me when you needed an escape, instead of anyone else. You know, with my reputation and all.”

Scoffing, you raise your head to meet his eyes. “While I do believe that you are also a bastard for changing woman like you do your fancy suits, at least I know you had never given any of those women you dated and sexed with in the past any empty or false promises or openly treat them like trash.”

He laughs, placing a palm over his chest and jokes, “Ouch, that sounds harsh.”

“I’m sorry,” you tell him with a shrug. “It’s hard not to tell the truth.”

If there is something about Namjoon which you had gotten to know about, from both the media and the man himself, then it would be his love life. Or lack thereof.

Not that he has no lovers in his life or that he is living in celibacy, when he has been known to the world that he perhaps has had too many. He must have had dated a number of ladies that could probably populate a small village over the years, and no doubt had fucked a few of them, if not all. Yet none of them seemed to have stayed long enough to be officially called as his lover.

You don’t recall hearing him talk about any possibility of them staying longer in his bed than one night, or of him having thoughts of pursuing any serious relationship than the platonic ones he had. Unless you have missed it at some point, somewhere between the naughty flirts he sends you and his sex talk. The latter which had always been a constant part of your video chats which had always left you lying in bed with ache lingering between your legs or having the need to change your underwear after talking to him.

Something which he would probably never experienced, even if you were the one living the marriage life.

Apart from his dating life, his sex life has been healthy. And whenever he is not engaging in the occasional one night stand or his weekly ventures, he has a friend with benefits which he could call in that could come in moment’s notice.

At least, you know that he used to have them. It had been quite long since the last time he talked about them.

You had never agreed to his manwhore-ish ways as you have witnessed him changing his arm candies every other week, but you can still act like his closest friend where he could confide in when needed, while at the same time, tease him about it. Now that you have fallen out of a long term relationship which he had questioned a lot in the past, you start to understand his reasons of not letting himself be tied down or to commit himself to any serious relationship.

For at least he could always come out of them alive and unscathed. Unlike you.

“Hey, why don’t we go out tonight? I have some friends who are having a small party at a new club downtown and they invited me to go. I wasn’t planning on going, but if it might help get your mind out of the gutter, then why not go together?”

“Party? But I don’t know any of your friends.” Which is true. The only knowledge of his friends you have only obtained was through his stories and never once have you ever met them directly. Even if he had told you more than once that his circle of friends know everything about you, it surely doesn’t mean that it would make it okay for you to suddenly barge in to their parties uninvited.

“Then I’ll introduce you to them,” he insists, already leaving the edge of your bed and ready to pull you up. “Come on. I didn’t open my doors for you only to have you all holed up inside this bedroom of yours.”

“What about Sua? Wouldn’t she be there?”

At the mention of her name, Namjoon merely scoffs. Sua was one of the aforementioned friends with benefits which had been constantly mentioned in your video chats, until she no longer wasn’t. You never knew much about her except that she was, and probably still is, a part of Namjoon’s circle of friends in this city. And that she was one of the ladies he had been with who had been so adamant in turning Namjoon into making things between them official.

Although Namjoon had told you a long time ago how he had cut things off between them, he had also confided how he had fallen into her trap and ended up in her bed more than once after things had ended. And the woman seems to refuse to give up still.

“Pretty sure she would have a fit if she sees you coming with me. I thought you said she’s still trying to get you under her pants?” Or skirt, whatever she chooses to wear.

Namjoon rolls his eyes and groans. “There was nothing going on between us and it never will, you know that.”

“Oh, I know. But does she know that?” you continue to tease him. “I also know that she never liked me. And she had made it clear more than once even without us actually meeting each other face to face.”

Namjoon releases a deep sigh. “I honestly have no idea what she wants from me, so I really don’t care at this point. I’ve made it clear more than once that nothing more than sex could happen between us and I am not going back to that drama with her again.”

“I do hope not,” you grimace as you remember how many times he had called you about all the drama she had caused. She was never shy in showing people what she wanted or in showing what —or, in this case, who—she thought belonged to her. “Man, I bet she had a field day when she heard that I got married.”

Namjoon merely chuckles. “She probably didn’t care anyway. She was off chasing some old geezer who just lost his wife or something like that when the news of your elopement came. I have no idea who the man was but I knew he came from money.”

This time, it is your turn to roll your eyes. “Ah yes, money. The ultimate chick magnet.”

Namjoon continues to chuckle, before he continues to mention how Sua had only been going back in the dating game recently, with her eyes set on him at some point. “The rumour says that the man had found himself an older woman who was ready to have a serious relationship,” he tells you. “I don’t follow gossips, but everyone has been saying that he had let her go because she was too wild for him.”

Shaking your head, you are still adamant in staying in bed and let him be on his own for the night. You are not the only one who had been all holed up in this house ever since you started staying here two weeks ago.

But Namjoon only pouts in response and says, “If she is going to be there, then it just makes it even more a good reason to have you there with me. I could hide behind your back and have you protect me from her when she tries to do anything to me.”

Meeting his puppy eyes, you have no other choice but to finally give in. “Fine,” you say to him while pushing yourself up from the bed. “I’m only doing this so we would be even.”

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