After the whole thing with Ethan and his ex girlfriend, I decide to no longer bring it up for a while. It still bothers me that Ethan didn’t tell me, but it’s his business and I suppose some topics are off limits. However as the week gets closer to the weekend, he returns to his usual chipper self. I know he wants to ask if I’m returning to the club, but I know he doesn’t want to push it. Kate hasn’t asked either. I don’t know if they’ve talked about it and agreed to give me space, but it seems like they are on the same page.
I still don’t know if I want to return to the club. I know I told Ethan that we can do it together as like a couple thing, but having sex with him and Kate was by far the most sexual things I’ve ever done and it’s left me quite confused. Are we a packaged threesome at the club? If I want to have sex with Ethan at the club does that mean I have to with Kate? I don’t know if I’d be able to tell her no without feeling bad about it. I know she like me a lot and I like her too, but this isn’t a polyamorous relationship. I’m with Ethan. If anything, Kate is the actual play toy for us. I just don’t know if Ethan and Kate see it that way though.
At dinner with Ethan Thursday night, we eat at this little swanky restaurant that he brings clients too. I know my finances are a lot more secure these days, but I’d take pizza or spaghetti over some barely cooked fish with a leaf and lemon juice on top. While sipping some white wine that’s a little too tart for my taste, Ethan sits across from me eating his food in silence. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but I so badly wish I did. Has he been thinking about his dead girlfriend? Has he been thinking about the club? I need to know.
“So, the club this weekend.” I say discretely so no wandering ears can hear from the other tables.
“What would you say if I didn’t want to go?”
His fork and knife pause for a millisecond while cutting into his fish and I already know the answer.
“I thought you want to go as like couple bonding.”
“I do. Well, I did, but every weekend? Is every single weekend reserved for the club? What if I wanted to do something different like go out of town or something?”
He doesn’t say anything for a moment as he chews his food.
“I guess, but I have financial commitments to the club. Wouldn’t make sense for me to pay what I pay and not go.”
He’s making it seem like this is about money, but I know better. There’s a reason that Ethan is so dedicated to this damn club. I know I said I wasn’t going to bring up Gabrielle, but I need answers and he owes them to me.
“Did you and Gabrielle go to the club every weekend?”
“Don’t start, Thea.” His voice takes a sharp turn for the angry, but I don’t care.
“No, Ethan. You can’t know everything about you and not get something in return. How are we going to be together if I feel like I don’t know you? Why I this damn club so important to you that it’s the foundation of this relationship?”
“It isn’t the foundation of our relationship.”
“Oh, really, because when I agreed to go to the club with you after you found out I’d been there, you seemed a lot less upset about me “lying” to you.” I hold up finger quotations and he shakes his head.
“You knew this was a part of me from the start.”
“Bullshit. I had to go behind your back just to find out about the club. Now that I’m actually asking questions suddenly it’s off limits.”
“My private life is just that. Private. So drop it.”
“No, I’m not going to drop it. Did you go to the club with her? Or maybe you met there? Is that it?”
When he doesn’t say anything, I realize that I found my answer.
“You met there, didn’t you? You and Gabrielle met at the club.”
Ethan doesn’t speak, but his body language says all that I need to know. I don’t know why he just didn’t tell me. I would’ve understood.
“What happened between the two of you?”
“Thea, it’s none of your business.”
This time I get fed up, slamming my fork down on my plate.
“Yes, it is!”
Around me, people dining on their dinners stop to look at the chaos unfolding at our table. Ethan looks down at his plate in embarrassment, but I continue looking at him. He’s done nothing but keep secrets from me and I’m done.
“You know what, don’t worry about it. Keep your secrets to yourself. I’ll find a way home.”
“No, Ethan. This is what happens when you shut me out. I’m not sticking around to be with someone I don’t even know.”
Getting up, I grab my bag and leave. Outside, I manage to find a cab to take me home. I would probably lose my mind if I had to be in a car with Ethan right now. The silence would kill me. Right about now, I just want to drop it and go to bed.
When I get home, I take a long hot shower and fall into bed. I hope to fall asleep quickly, but it doesn’t happen. I lie away, staring at the ceiling for an hour before I hear a knock on my door. It doesn’t take a genius to know who it is.
However, for safety precautions, I look through the peephole. True enough, it’s Ethan.
“Go home.” I say through the door. Through the peephole, he looks tired and frustrated. He wouldn’t be either of those things if he just talked to me. It’s not like he can’t trust me. If anything, I’m the most trustworthy person in his life.
“Thea, don’t be like this.”
“Don’t be like what, Ethan? I can’t be with someone who keeps secrets and yells at me when I want to know more.”
“Gabrielle and I were as perfect as people thought we were. I assume you’ve done your research. Every article claims we were perfect and amazing, but it was an act. We were far from it. Thea, please let me in. I don’t need your neighbors hearing this.”
Unlocking my door, I crack it slowly. Ethan’s eyes find mine and for the first time all week, I see the Ethan I know…or at least think I know. Opening the door wider, he comes in and I close the door. Ethan flops down on my sofa and lays his head on, taking a few deep breaths. I sit next to him and to my surprise, he lifts my legs up to rest over his lap.
The room falls silent and I give him time to speak.
“I met Gabrielle at the club when I started going. We kept running into each other and we started talking. We hit it off. Eventually, we met outside the club and the chemistry was still there. I was already established for the most part and she was into her modeling. We went to events together and the club. It was a good thing at first. Then she started dabbling into heavier play.”
“BDSM and not just the light stuff. She liked to be beaten and stuff. I wasn’t into it, but she made it seem like it was just for fun in the club. Then she started talking about it at home and asking me to slap her when we had sex. I’d say no and she’d get pissed at me. It got progressively worse over time. We hid it for the sake of our careers though. We didn’t a bad relationship overshadowing our success. Then I started noticing a huge change in her. She wasn’t booking any shoots and she lost weight. That’s when I found out about the drugs. Cocaine and pills were her things.”
Ethan pauses and I see his expression take a sad turn. I know this story is about to get worse.
“She started seeing other men at the club on the slower nights during the weekdays. She would lie and tell me she was going to late shoots or out with her friends. So one night I decided to follow her to the club and I found out what she was doing and with whom she was doing it. I broke up with her that night. I told her it was over. She was so high that she didn’t even care. It wasn’t until she sobered up the next day that she came to the office begging to talk to me while I was in a meeting. I told her to leave. She pleaded that she’d stop going to the club and stop doing drugs, but I knew she was lying. She left in tears and I felt like shit. That night I went to her apartment to offer her some help, but….it was too late. I found her in her bed.”
I don’t realize that I’m crying until Ethan reaches up to wipe a tear from my chin.
“I’m so sorry, Ethan.”
“It’s okay. Well, after that the media went crazy with it. No one except me knew the real reason why she did what she did. The news made up their own story that she was failing at her career and was broke. It was all lies. I struggled a lot after that and dove head first into the club, sleeping around and such and now I depend on it. It’s like a drug to me.”
And now I have my answer. Ethan doesn’t want to leave the club, because he feels like he needs it to cope and forget about Gabrielle. Maybe, he just doesn’t know what he’ll do without the club now.
“Thank you for telling me.”
“Thank you for making me tell you. It didn’t need to be bottled in anymore especially now that I’m working on this relationship without. I don’t want anything coming in between us.”
I can’t help but smile at him. Leaning forward, I kiss him gently and it’s like all the stress of the subject has melted away. I’m about to keep kissing him until something he says comes to mind.
“You said she started going to the club and seeing someone else for the BDSM stuff. Did you ever find out who it was?”
He nods slowly but hesitates to tell me.
“You know them.”
“I do. Who?”