“I won’t take no for an answer Tara, surely you must know that by now?”

She withered under his steely gaze.

“James, these things take time, I know you don’t expect me to marry you so soon after Hardy’s death….it’s only been two months, it’s much too soon, people will start to talk.”

“Well, let them talk dammit!” he thundered. “If I wanted to wait any longer I wouldn’t have killed your goddamn husband for you!”

She watched as he paced back and forth across the tiny motel room.  Though he was agitated she knew he’d calm down soon.  She knew exactly how to pull his strings.

James Arlen was powerfully built, he was handsome yet average looking at the same time, he had the sort of face that might stand out in a small crowd yet could be easily forgotten in larger ones.  He had an aristocratic air about him, and was undeniably snobbish, yes—quite snobbish. He always wore his glasses perched upon his nose and would stare at you over the the rims; when he regarded you, you tended to feel as though you were under a microscope.

I remember now how I’d met him.  He’d been  one of the  associates in my husband’s accounting firm for  four years  and had been introduced to me at a Halloween party about two years back.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget the night I met James.

As usual Hardy had gotten himself thoroughly drunk and ran off with one of his little interns. He’d truly made a spectacle of himself that night,  he’d staggered up to me, hands linked with that little intern broad’s and slurred, “Don’t wait up for me tonight, I’ve got a place to crash”. Their laughter mocked me even after they’d then stumbled out together. I was left in a room filled with his colleagues, utterly embarrassed, wanting only to get away but still playing the role of the good wife.  I’d smiled and tried to make excuses for his behavior. But I could tell no one was really listening. The poor Tara look that they all gave me was enough to assure me of that. Being the trophy wife had never been what I’d wanted for myself. But that’s the card fate dealt me.

James had been keenly observing Hardy’s going-ons the whole evening; Once Hardy and his little intern had exited the building, he’d casually strolled over.

“Mrs. Bradley, I do believe you need a drink”, I nodded curtly and watched as he signaled the waiter to bring us two cocktails. A moment later he handed me a glass of Cosmopolitan. With unsteady hands, I greedily accepted and finished my drink off in no time. He signaled the waiter for another. I polished off my second with unabashed gusto.  Before we go any further, let me just explain that I’d always been a lightweight, during my college years a glass of red wine had been enough to get me drunk. “Ah, Mrs. Bradley, let me just apologize for your husband’s behavior, I know I may be out of line, but a beautiful woman like yourself deserves to be treated with much more respect.” The edge in his voice was enough to tell me he was serious.

I vaguely recall assuring him that it was fine, and that I was “used to it”. He seemed to have found my response quite annoying, but accepted it anyway.

A while later I’d begun feeling a little woozy and was pathetically unsteady on my feet. He’d been quick to offer me a ride home, and I’d gladly accepted. After all, Hardy did leave me without a ride. The drive to the house was quiet, the tension in the air palpable.

As he’d pulled into the circular driveway, I’d gently brush my small hand against his arm, intending only to thank him for the ride, but he’d caught my hand in his and held it to his chest.

“Tara”, he’d whispered feverishly, “I know that you’re not happy, I can see it in your eyes. The way that Bastard treats you is just not right. I’d do anything for you, I’ll do anything you ask, I just want you…want you to be happy….with me”.

His passionate outburst had caught me off guard. In that moment I wasn’t sure whether it was the liquor or my heart speaking, I whispered “I’ll be with you, I want to be happy….but I want to get rid of Hardy”.

He’d stared at me with such reverence, his reply so sincere “If I have to kill the bastard myself to make you mine…then I will.

From that point on I’d become a master puppeteer, and James was my puppet, audience, and biggest fan all at the same time.  James and I carried on with a two year long affair; an affair that was supposed to die along with Hardy’s death.

Now as I stared at the man who’d cleverly orchestrated my husband’s fatal car accident, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. He’d done all this for me.

“James, my love, look at me” I walked over to him and affectionately wrapped my hands around his neck. “I know it’s been difficult for you, it’s been the same for me too, but I’ve decided. We can get married now.”

He looked down at me with the most intense gaze, eyes bright with excitement. In that moment I knew I made the right choice. Our twisted little love affair was worth it all.

**Please note all the pieces posted are originals, written by myself or by occasional contributing writers. Contributors will always  be credited properly for their pieces whenever posted. Thank you for understanding! We put our hearts into what we write– we don’t want anyone to take it and pass it off as theirs. **

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