Church Bells

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Saturday night was the same every weekend my husband was in town. I met Ben when I was eighteen and at a Dallas Mavericks game I won tickets to through a radio station call in contest. I wasn’t prepared for a guy like him. I was a little country girl who grew up poor in an old farmhouse in rural Louisiana about an hour outside of Shreveport. I grew up like every other girl in town. Church on Sunday was the center of everything.

My faith was strong and I tried to not be selfish in my prayers. Prayers were meant to ask for strength or clarity or for God to unblock a hateful heart, not for a new car or material things. It was hard not to ask for earthly things. I didn’t want to stay in the cycle of poverty. Living in a house that was falling apart wasn’t cutting it for me.

I wanted more out of life than getting married before I was twenty and popping out baby after baby until I couldn’t take anymore. There was a lot of world to see, and I was never going to see it if I married someone like JB du Rhone or Reese Montgomery, two guys on their way to being good ‘ol boys and spending their nights at Merlotte’s recalling their glory days on the football field. I loved my mother, but I didn’t want to live her life.

So when Ben put a four carat diamond ring on my finger six months after we met, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. It meant I could get out of the backwoods town I’d been living in and move into one of the nicest homes in Dallas. Ben made his money in automobiles. Flynn Brothers Automotive was a business Ben started with his brother Dillon and later his brother-in-law Eric took Dillon’s place after Dillon died suddenly in a horrific car accident. Since then Eric’s relationship with Aude had changed.

They had divorced three years prior, but it hadn’t affected Ben and Eric’s business relationship. Everyone knew that Eric and Aude had jumped the shark in getting married. Aude was remarried two years later. Eric was enjoying the bachelor life. The business was doing very well. Between the dealership part and the parts side, sourcing and selling parts for rare, older vehicles as well as some of the newer models was making them money hand over fist.

It meant I was a society wife. My husband’s net worth was somewhere around thirty million dollars. The days of coupon clipping and Walmart brand clothes were long behind me. Our seven car garage was filled with automobiles. My everyday grocery getter, a Mercedes Benz G class SUV, was pretty much the least expensive car in the garage. I wanted a Jeep, but my husband didn’t think that was good enough. It didn’t fit his image.

There were trade offs, though. Yes, I got to be a lady of leisure and do pretty much anything I wanted but I also had to put up with Ben’s temper. It wasn’t long after we were married that I met the Mr. Hyde to his usual Dr. Jekyll. He was mean and abusive. I got good at making excuses and playing off my bruises. My reputation for being clumsy was notorious, if only because it was obviously bullshit. I didn’t trip and fall in front of any of my friends, yet at home it seemed to happen regularly.

When I discovered that vertigo was a real thing, I decided to blame my clumsiness on that. It gave me a great excuse to not drive or to stay home. Just last month when Mr. Hyde came calling I ended up in the hospital with a twisted ankle and a severe concussion. That was the turning point for me because I realized that one day, sooner rather than later, Ben was going to kill me.

I was twenty-five. I had no intention of dying in the next two years, and certainly not because of my abusive husband. I came home from the hospital, playing the same part I always did. To apologize for his recent savagery, Ben bought me tickets for a ten day cruise through the Caribbean. He told me to take a friend. I had one in mind…

My “friend” just happened to be calling me. Ben was away on business in Carlsbad until at least Tuesday. It meant I had our huge 16,000 sq. foot house all to myself. I’d given our live-in maid the weekend off. She’d decided to go to Mississippi to visit her grandkids. It was glorious to have the house to myself.

“Lover,” I answered. Two weeks before the last attack, I’d fallen into bed with Ben’s business partner. Eric knew about the abuse. He knew about Ben’s temper. He was my escape from the shitshow that was my marriage. After seven years with Ben, it finally felt like a lie.

“Hello, pretty girl,” Eric purred.

“You know he’s gone.”

“I do know he’s gone. What are you doing with yourself in that house all on your own?”

“Right now I’m lying on the giant swing watching the fire.”

“What are you wearing?” he asked. I could practically see the silly smirk on his handsome face.

“A royal blue nightie with ivory lace trim.”

“Are you wearing anything under it?” It sounded like he was driving.

“Nope. I also gave Betty Jo the weekend off, so I’m here all by myself,” I sighed.

“Sounds like you need some company,” he suggested.

“You might be right. I guess I could call Claudine…”

“You could but I’m only two blocks away…”

“Oh yeah? Well I suppose I could go open the garage for you.” Our house was in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Dallas. All of our neighbors were millionaires and billionaires. The houses weren’t too close together, yet there were eyes everywhere. Parking his car in the garage was a necessity.

“That would be very kind of you. I will be there in less than a minute.”

“See you soon.” I hung up and got off the giant swing on the covered patio.

I hustled across the house to the garage to put the overhead door up. Just as I was hitting the button, the buzzer sounded for the gate. I ran to the control panel and let Eric in. The gates swung open and his SUV drove through. I heard his car pull in and the engine cut off. The overhead door went down and then I heard footsteps. Ben would lose his shit if he knew I was having an affair with Eric.

“Hello, handsome,” I smiled as he walked toward me. He was carrying three pale pink roses.

“Hello,” he smiled back. “You look good enough to eat.” When he stepped up to me he leaned down to kiss me hello.

He was a great kisser. Eric was older than me, just like Ben was. He’d turned forty the previous August, not that he looked it. Eric took very good care of himself. He worked out regularly, ate well and I knew he didn’t dabble in recreational drugs or drink excessively like my husband. Thankfully, being Ben’s business partner, it wasn’t unusual for him to come to the house or for us to be at the same functions.

“Are you going to Pebble Beach?” There was a huge charity event held annually in southern California and Ben finally had a car he was entering in the competition. It wasn’t until August, but Ben couldn’t stop talking about it.

“I will be there. Are you going?” Eric’s hands rubbed down over my ass.

“Absolutely,” I nodded. “I probably won’t spend much time at the event, but I’ll be around. I’ve been tasked with booking our hotel for the week.”

“Let me know which one you book. I’ll be sure to stay at the same one.” He squeezed my ass, pulling my hips closer to his body.

“That sounds like a great idea. Would you like to come check out the swing?” It was a padded platform kind of thing suspended about eight inches off the ground.

“Only if you’re going to take this off and swing naked for me.” He tugged on the bottom of my nightie.

“I could do that.” I took his hand and walked backward, pulling him along with me. “How long can you stay?”

“I cleared the rest of my day,” he answered. “I have the option to spend the day with you and I want to take advantage of your free time.”

“What if I have plans?” I didn’t. I just wanted to ask.

“Then I would find something else to do with my time.” He started to pull my nightie up over hips. Eric dipped his head and nibbled lightly on my bottom lip. “Or I would try to talk you into breaking those plans.”

“You’re a pretty good talker.” Especially with the dirty words. Ben had stopped putting any real romance or effort into our sex life years ago. I was pretty sure he was seeing other women discreetly on the sly. It had been so long since I was really in love with him that I didn’t even care. Sometimes I wondered if I ever loved him at all. Maybe it was just the lifestyle I’d fallen in love with.

“Except I mean the words I say.” He pulled my nightie over my head and dropped it on the edge of the swing.

“Lucky for me.” I dropped the roses on the swing too so I could unbutton his shirt. It was really unfair how good he looked in a suit, but it was delicious eye candy.

Eric slipped his shirt down his arms, leaving him in an undershirt and his fitted slacks.

“It is really hard to get through a day without getting distracted by thoughts of you, Sookie,” he said as he unbuttoned his pants.

“You poor thing,” I pouted. I knelt on the swing in front of him. “What can I do to make it better?”

His eyes went dark, clouding with lust. “You can be a good girl and suck my dick,” he suggested, reaching up to run his fingers through my hair.

“What would a bad girl do?” I smirked. I tugged his pants down over his sexy ass. He was very well endowed, but not so well endowed I couldn’t handle him.

“She would say no and then get bent over my knee for a spanking,” he told me. He wrapped his hand in my hair and tilted my head up as he bent over to kiss me again. It was hard and full of passion. When it broke he whispered, “But you’re always good for me.”

“I try,” I winked. I wrapped my hand around his shaft and stroked him. “Think you’ll be able to cover your tracks to go on the cruise with me?” Eric knew all about it. He had been on the verge of pummeling Ben after the last incident, but I was going to take care of it. I just wasn’t sure how yet.

“I think I need to make a sudden trip to Sweden to see my sick grandmother,” he smirked. “I can’t wait to get you all to myself for ten whole days.”

“I can’t either.” I leaned forward to wrap my lips around his tip. His fingers ran through my hair, keeping it away from my face as I got his cock all wet. I stroked him while my head bobbed up and down, taking as much of him as I could. My free hand went to his sac to play with the sensitive skin there, making his hips thrust a little bit.

His blue eyes sparkled as he watched me. He looked back and forth between my lips wrapped around his tip and my eyes. “You look so fucking beautiful, Sookie,” he whispered. “Prettiest blue eyes I’ve ever seen.”

I hummed my appreciation for the compliment, which made him growl quietly. My cheeks hollowed and I sucked a little harder on his tip. My tongue swirled around and around, teasing his sensitive tip. When I stopped playing with his balls I reached down to play with my clit. It wasn’t long before he could hear how turned on I’d gotten. My fingers were moving easily between my folds.

“Stop,” he commanded. “Lay on  your back and spread those pretty legs for me.” He gently tugged my hair, trying to pull me off of his dick.

I released his cock and shifted onto my back in front of him. My knees bent and parted to give him plenty of room to fit between them. I knew he could see everything from where he was standing.

He pushed his pants all the way to the ground so he could step out of them. He knelt on the side of the swing, looking down between my legs. Eric rubbed his fingertips up and down through my slit, rubbing over my opening to gather up my wetness. He moved his fingers up to my clit, drawing slow circles around it as he wrapped his other hand around his cock. Eric started to slowly stroke his shaft.

This went on for a minute or so before he twisted his hand and slid two of his thick fingers into me. He pumped them in and out, making his other hand on his dick. Eric’s thumb found my clit, continuing with the circles.

“You’re such a tease,” I smiled.

“I just like to make sure you’re nice and wet for me.” I was drenched.

“You know how turned on I get from sucking you off.” He liked it when I tugged on my nipples, so I did.

“Yes I do. I also know how turned on you get when I do this.” Eric curled his fingers, rubbing over my g-spot. “And you know how turned on I get watching you cum for me.”

My hips lifted off the pad I was lying on. He was rubbing the spot just right. Playing with my g-spot was guaranteed to get me off in less than a minute and he knew it. My eyes wanted to close, but he was big on eye contact.

“Oh fuck,” I moaned. “I’m… oh god, I’m gonna…” I came a few seconds later, giving Eric exactly what he wanted.

“Mmm, good girl,” he purred. He slowly pulled his fingers out, bringing them to his mouth to suck my juices off of them. He used his other hand to guide his solid erection to my entrance. Eric leaned forward so he was propped up on one arm. He used his fingers to stroke my clit as he sank into me with a deep groan. “Fuck, baby, you feel so good…” My walls were still fluttering from my orgasm.

He did too. Definitely better endowed than Ben and a million times more concerned about whether or not I got off when we had sex. Yes, our relationship was very sexual in nature, but it wasn’t just about that. I liked spending time with Eric. He seemed to like me too. We talked about things going on in our lives and Eric didn’t treat me like I was just a brainless pair of tits whose only purpose was to make him look good.

My legs wrapped around him, trying to keep him close. He grabbed my hands and pinned them above my head. His lips crashed into mine in another passionate kiss. What I had with him was everything that was missing with my husband.

Eric’s hips sped up, swiveling slightly on each deep thrust. When he pulled back from the kiss he rested his forehead on mine. Eric was panting quietly. That pant was slowly evolving into a growl as his own orgasm built.

“Sookie,” he breathed. “I’m not going to last much longer…”

“Cum in me. I want to feel it.” I was on birth control. Ben had a vasectomy before he met me. At eighteen I was okay with it because I wasn’t ready to be a mom. At twenty-five I still wasn’t exactly ready, but I wasn’t as put off by the idea. Still, if I got pregnant it would be pretty obvious I had slept with someone else. At least it was only one someone else.

He growled quietly. His hips started moving faster as his grip on my hands tightened. His crystal clear blue eyes locked onto mine just before he came, filling me completely with his release. Eric’s hips jerked a few times, making sure to give me every last drop.

“Jesus, woman,” he whispered.

“I’m so glad you can do that again soon,” I said. I kissed the side of his neck. His hips kept moving slowly, maybe involuntarily.

“Mmm, me too. Next time I’ll get the swing rocking and put you up on your hands and knees,” he offered.

“Sounds like a kinky carnival ride.”

“You know I like kinky,” he chuckled. He dipped his head to swirl his tongue over my neck.

Ben used to before he got lazy. Lately it was strictly missionary and I could practically time it. Lucky for me, he was pretty much done as fast as he started. The thrill was definitely gone.

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“Do you really believe in psychics?” I asked Claudine. She had been trying to get pregnant for almost two years. Two rounds of in vitro had been unsuccessful. We were pulling into the parking lot of the Moon Goddess Emporium so she could get a reading and find out if a baby was in her future.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,” she pointed out. “If she ends up being a phony the worst that will happen is I’m out sixty bucks.”

It would be more than that if the psychic got her hopes up, but I stayed quiet. Given that I was wearing big Jackie O. style sunglasses at nine o’clock at night, I was in no position to judge anyone. Just that morning I’d laid out the wrong lavender necktie, so Ben backhanded me.

We got out of her Lexus and walked to the front of the shop. I let her go inside first. We were greeted by a spritely girl with a pixie haircut and a dream-catcher necklace hanging from her neck.

“Welcome to the Moon Goddess Emporium,” she said. “My name is Amelia. How can I help you?”

“I have an appointment with Marnie for a reading,” Claudine told her.

“Very good. Follow me please.” Amelia turned and led Claudine to a private room off to the side.

“Are you coming?” Claudine asked me.

“No, I’ll look around and let you have your privacy,” I said.

Amelia held back a purple velvet curtain for Claudine to walk through. I’d been to the Moon Goddess Emporium before. As a teenager I’d come with friends. Holly swore she was a witch, but I never saw her cast any spells or do anything remotely witchy. Burning candles and incense didn’t make a person a witch. I wasn’t sure if I believed in magic or not. Part of me wanted to.

I wanted to believe that Claudine would get an honest answer and that this psychic lady was the real thing. Being that Claudine was a triplet, it was slightly ironic that she was having so much trouble conceiving. I felt bad for her though. She loved her husband. They had a solid, happy marriage. That was the kind of couple that deserved to be parents. It was a shame it was so hard for them.

The Lord gives us obstacles.

I walked over to a display of candles with different saints depicted on the glass jars. Hoodoo candles, I guessed.

“Can I help you find something, honey?” Amelia offered.

“No, I’m just looking. I’m not really a big believer in magic,” I replied.

“That’s a shame. Your aura says you could use a little good magic in your life.”

“My aura, huh?”

“You’re troubled. Torn between two lives, if I had to guess,” she said. “I can see from the shiner you’re not hiding very well that you’ve had a rough day. Your energy tells me you’ve had a lot of rough days.”

“My share,” I said.

Amelia walked over to the table I was standing in front of and picked up a Saint Monica candle.

“She’s the patron saint of wives,” she said as she handed me the candle. “And abuse victims.”

“What makes you think I’m abused?”

“Instinct. I’ve seen my share of battered women. I can tell you’re ready to move on.”

I sighed and said, “It’s definitely not working for me anymore. I grew up in a small town about an hour from here. I grew up poor and this ring on my finger isn’t a QVC special.”

“So you traded your soul for the good life,” she surmised.

“Something like that. He wasn’t the way he is now when I married him,” I told her, even though I didn’t know why I was spilling my secrets to a stranger. Maybe it was because she was a stranger and not someone likely to go telling Arlene Fowler, the woman in charge of the Junior League society set. Amelia was a safe person to be honest with.

“They never are, darlin’.” She motioned for me to follow her. I did.

We walked past tables of books about different kinds of magicks and religions. There were talismans, ribbons of different colors and materials, premade sashays of combined herbs and things, and then jars of what I supposed were ingredients. Normal things like sage bundles and dried flower petals, and then stranger items like monkey hair and eyeballs that I wouldn’t know what to do with if my life depended on it. With my luck I’d end up cursing myself and not someone else.

We crossed into a backroom that was kept separate by a locked door. Inside were shelves with more bottles, buy these were different. Some of them looked extremely old. Amelia perused the shelves until she found what she was looking for. She picked up a bottle containing a fine powder that almost looked like a combination of sand and dirt in color.

“Atropa Belladonna,” she said as she held up the bottle. “Specifically, the dried, ground root of Atropa Belladonna. This could be the answer to your problem.”

“What is it?”

“It was a plant grown in eastern Europe. It isn’t illegal to own. In fact, in proper doses, it can be used recreationally to invoke psychotropic reactions, but one must know the proper dosage. Too much can be deadly,” she explained.

“So… poison?”

She shrugged and said, “If that’s how you choose to solve your problem, yes.”

I stood there in disbelief. Was she really suggesting I poison my husband? That was insane. I wasn’t a murderer. Materialistic and maybe a little bitchy, but I wasn’t a killer.

“I don’t think I could do that,” I said. “I’m a good Christian. Mostly.”

Of course I’d sinned. Who hadn’t? It was bad enough I was having an affair but–

If you kill him, you can be with Eric…

That evil little voice whispered in my mind. It wasn’t even really evil, just pointing out the obvious pros to taking the Belladonna. The list of pros started to grow rapidly.

I could be with Eric.

I would never again have to explain away bruises caused by someone who was supposed to love me.

I could have a family of my own.

I would inherit everything. Ben was leaving it all to me.

I’d be free of him and still have the life I’d always dreamed of.

Having maybe come to a decision I asked, “How much do I give him?”

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I walked into the dealership three days later carrying some treats for Ben’s staff. I knew they had been working hard lately and even though he didn’t particularly like to treat the staff, I did. Loyal employees were made by feeling appreciated and being taken care of. So if that meant bringing in lunch or breakfast once in a while, that’s what I did. It was part of my job to look after my husband’s business, wasn’t it?

That day I’d decided a little Taco Tuesday Mexican buffet was in order. I had a tray of churros in my hands as I walked toward Eric’s office. Ben was on the other side of the property, probably back in his hole in the wall office on the phone with Germany or Italy, trying to get his hands in some parts. Eric saw me coming through the glass wall of his office and sprang up. He was dressed nicely in a very attractive gray suit that made his pretty aqua blue eyes seem a little bluer than usual.

“Hope you don’t mind. It’s Taco Tuesday,” I said as he approached me.

“Gorgeous, you know how much I love your taco,” he winked. “Come in.” He stood back so I could walk into his office.

“Actually, I need to put this in the break room. I have a catering van outside waiting to unload lunch for you and your crew,” I told him.

“You’re a damn good woman, you know that?”

“Well Cheapskate McPennypincher sure won’t agree with it, but I don’t care,” I smiled.

Eric’s face hardened slightly. “If he gets upset about this I may not be able to hold back my own anger this time.”

“Follow me,” I whispered. We started walking toward the break room in the back.

I set the foil tray of churros in the counter and then turned to face Eric.

“I have it under control, Eric. You don’t need to do anything,” I whispered.

“You have it under cont– oh…” He didn’t look the least bit upset about my confession. He also didn’t ask for any details of what, exactly, I had in mind for how to get the upper hand in my situation.

“He likes his drinks. He likes to unwind with various illegal substances,” I shrugged.

“Do you know how bad I want to take you back to my office, lock the door, and close the curtains right now?” he asked. I could tell he was trying to hold back.

“I have a pretty good idea, but you’re going to have to settle for a different kind of taco for now,” I smiled. “I will be at the Four Seasons in two hours to help set up for the St. Jude’s gala on Saturday.”

“Would it be in bad taste if I happened to go to the Four Seasons for a drink after work?”

“I don’t think so.” In fact, I thought it was a great idea.

“If I get too drunk will you be there to walk me to the room I’ll need to get for the night?”

“Of course. I couldn’t let you drive home. Too risky.”

“Such a good girl,” he purred quietly in his sex voice.

“I’m going to go get lunch set up.” I took the lid off the tray of churros.

“Save me an extra churro,” he requested.

“Take what you want.”

Eric politely took two churros from the tray. “I don’t want to be greedy.”

“Since when?” I teased.

“Since there are people around and I don’t want them to see me with a whole plate to churros and start talking. Believe me, when it comes to you I’ll always be greedy.”

“Eric! What the hell is that catering truck out in the lot for?” Ben yelled.

I rolled my eyes and walked out of the break room.

“It’s Taco Tuesday and your team works hard,” I said.

Eric stepped out behind me. He was sure to keep a respectable distance from me.

“The team does work damn hard, Ben. Your missus is doing a good thing here,” Eric added.

“I don’t want to them to get lazy, thinking we’re going to feed them on random Tuesdays,” Ben sighed. “This isn’t costing me an arm and a leg is it?”

“Don’t worry about that,” I said, waving him off. It wasn’t like he couldn’t afford it. “Would you like a plate? I’ll bring you one.”

He thought for a moment before saying, “Sure, I’ll take a plate. I need to eat lunch anyway.”

“Tacos and rice?”

“You know me well, dear.” He stepped up so he could lean down to kiss my cheek.

“There are churros in the break room too.” I kissed him back. “You better get some before Eric steals the tray.”

“I’m surprised he hasn’t already.” I heard the sound of Eric biting into one of the treats behind me.

“I’m trying to be polite,” Eric supplied, earning a snort from Ben.

“Anyway, I’m going out to the truck to get things set up in here. I’ll bring you a plate in a few minutes,” I promised Ben. I kissed him one more time before going outside.

The Luna Taqueria was one of the best Tex-Mex restaurants in East Texas. I showed the catering driver where to set up the food in the break room. The carnitas smelled amazing. It didn’t take long for the workers to start showing up. The fresh tortillas practically melted in your mouth. I made Ben a plate with two steak tacos and two pork tacos. Beans, rice, guacamole, some chips and for good measure a quesadilla. He’d be plenty full with all that.

I walked across the lot to Ben’s office and knocked on the door before sticking my head in.

“Lunch is served if you’re ready,” I said as I stepped inside.

“I am. You can bring it here,” he said.

I brought the plate over to his desk.

“Hopefully this will fill you up,” I smiled.

“It’s more than enough, dear. Thank you,” he smiled back. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you’re trying to fatten me up.”

“Of course not. I just wanted to be sure you had plenty.” I set the plate on the desk in front of him and set the plastic ware beside the plate. “Do you need anything else?”

“I’d say a beer but it’s the middle of a work day,” he chuckled. “No, this is enough.”

“Good. What would you like for dinner?”

“Anything you come up with is good. You never disappoint with a meal,” he complimented.

“That’s sweet of you. I probably won’t be home for dinner. I have to help Arlene get the ballroom set up for the St. Jude’s gala on Saturday,” I told him. “I may not be home until much later.”

“Damn, I forgot about that. Don’t worry about dinner. I’ll just go out and get something.”

“Alright. Well just in case you’re asleep when I get home, I’ll see you tomorrow, unless you want me to wake you up,” I said with a suggestive little smile. I wasn’t really interested in touching him, but I was good at pretending like I was.

“Depends on how late you come home. Remember, I do need to work in the morning,” he pointed out.

“I know you do. I’ll get out of your hair. Enjoy your lunch, sweetheart.” I leaned over to kiss him goodbye. He got a good look down my shirt when I bent over.

“If I had time I’d show you a good time now,” he chuckled. He reached up to grab my boob though my top.

“You’re the boss. Isn’t there always time?”

“Being the boss means there’s never enough time,” he sighed. “I have another call to be on in fifteen minutes.”

“Sounds like enough time to me,” I smirked.

“Not if you expect me to finish my lunch.” His hand moved over to my other tit.

“I must be losing it if you prefer those tacos to mine.”

“These tacos do smell pretty good.” He reached around to grab my ass.

I turned his chair so I could straddle his lap.

“Looks like you have a choice to make.” I leaned forward to kiss him again.

“You’re not making it easy.” Ben’s hands slid up under my skirt, heading straight to my ass.

“Am I supposed to be sorry?” I unzipped his pants.

“You wouldn’t be if I said you were,” he chuckled

“Tell me what you want, Ben.”

“We should lock the door and move over to the couch,” he suggested.

I winked and got up off his lap to go lock his office door.

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The gala was going well. We were raising a lot of money for St. Jude’s. Ben was rubbing elbows with the other millionaires in the room, talking about hedge funds and offshore accounts. My husband liked to pay lip service to the importance of paying taxes, but I knew he had money hidden in the Caribbean. I wasn’t sure how much, but I knew it was there where Uncle Sam couldn’t get a hold of it.

Ben wasn’t paying attention to me. He rarely did at those types of parties. Once dinner was over and we danced once to get photographed, he bellied up to the bar to suck back whiskey or expensive scotch. I moved from group to group of ladies, checking in on everyone to make sure they had everything they needed.

I was dressed in a rose gold mermaid gown with a gold lace overlay. My hair was pulled back at the nape of my neck. I’d had my makeup done by a professional. Gold, strappy sandals were on my feet. As I was finishing off a glass of Moscato my eyes caught Eric’s across the ballroom. I smiled at him and started to make my way through the room to a side exit. I slipped through the door and waited to see if he would follow me.

He did. Eric came out of a different door, walking toward me when he saw me.

“You look stunning tonight, Mrs. Flynn,” he complimented as he approached.

“Thank you, Mr. Northman. You look awfully handsome in your monkey suit,” I smiled.

“This old thing?” He was in a tailored tux. It fit him very well. “Do you think anyone would miss us if we went for a late night walk together?”

“I doubt it,” I replied. I took the arm he offered. “Are you enjoying the event so far?”

“I’m having a great time. You and Arlene do great work together.” Eric led me to a set of double doors, opening them so I could walk out first.

“Thank you. So far I’m pretty happy with the turnout. I bid on a few things in the silent auction. I wouldn’t mind a weekend getaway in Catalina.”

“You don’t need to win a silent auction for that,” he chuckled. “I’m sure I could make that happen either way.” We started walking toward the gardens on site. “There’s a stunning rose gold necklace I bid on.”

“I didn’t think rose gold was your color,” I teased.

“No, but it will look perfect on your gorgeous neck.” We walked deeper into the maze of flowers.

“Well if we both win I’ll wear it in Catalina with nothing else,” I promised.

“You’re too good to me, Sookie.” When we were completely out of sight Eric stopped and turned toward me. “I’ve been dying to kiss you all night.” He dipped his head down to press his lips to mine.

I’d been dying to get him alone too. It was hard to pretend like there was nothing going on between us. I wasn’t surprised when he led me to the gazebo that was out of the way. We were the only ones out there.

“How long do you think we have until someone notices?” he whispered. Eric’s big hands rubbed around to grab my ass, pulling me closer.

“Mmm… probably less than ten minutes.”

“Do you think I can get you off in less than ten minutes?” he asked. “Or should we wait until Ben is passed out later…”

“Like you don’t want both,” I smirked. “I have faith in your abilities.”

“Good girl,” he whispered. He started to inch my dress up. It wasn’t easy. “Fuck, I want to rip this off of you,” he grumbled When he got my dress up high enough he reached under my skirt only to find I wasn’t wearing panties. Eric groaned quietly as he pushed two fingers into me to make sure I was nice and wet.

“I should have gone with a different style skirt,” I moaned. His fingers pumped in and out a few times before he pulled them out and turned me around.

“Hold on,” he purred. I heard his zipper go down before the head of his cock ran up and down through my folds. He wrapped one hand around my face, covering my mouth as the other one held onto my hip. He slid in at the perfect angle to allow this head of his cock to rub over my g-spot. He didn’t go slow or build up to it. Eric’s thrusts were hard and deep from the beginning, trying to get me to cum for him.

There wasn’t time to waste. It was only a matter of time before someone else came outside. The risk of getting caught was pretty big. Thankfully, his big body mostly blocked me from view. He felt so good inside me. The roughness of it only made it that much sexier. It was a good thing his hand was covering my mouth. It didn’t take long for either of us to cum. I was right on the edge when Eric finished, and I came right after him. It was exactly what I needed, and I was sure he did too.

“Your cum is going to be all over my thighs,” I whispered when he removed his hand.

“I can’t wait to see the pretty look on your face every time you feel a little more seeping out of you,” he whispered into my ear. I felt his soft lips run up and down the side of my neck.

“Dirty boy.”

“You love it,” he growled.

“I do,” I agreed. I squeezed my walls around his cock.

“Woman, if you keep doing that I’m getting us a room,” he warned.

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” I squeezed again.

“I can definitely keep them, Lover,” he purred. His hips shifted, pushing in a little deeper.

“I could use a long night of hard fucking,” I told him. Full nights together were a rare treat. Usually it was stolen lunch hours or the occasional block of time I accounted for by saying I was shopping or going to yoga or something.

“Let’s hope he drinks himself stupid and he passes out in a lobby chair,” Eric chuckled. “You can spend the night in my room.”

“That’s the dream,” I whispered. I wanted him to keep fucking me, but that wasn’t an option. Eric pulled out of me and groaned when some of his cum rushed out and ran down my inner thigh.

“Soon,” he promised as he kissed the back of my head.

I fixed my skirt and Eric got himself straightened out. We walked out of the gazebo like he hadn’t just fucked me silly. Ben appeared as we walked out of the garden. He was stumbling a bit, but that was to be expected with the amount of scotch he’d consumed.

“What are you doing out here, honey?” I walked ahead of Eric to reach my husband.

“Looking for you. Someone said they saw you heading toward the garden,” he slurred.

“I was. I just needed some fresh air.” And an orgasm. “Are you ready to go?” He’d hired a car for us.

“Yes. I would like to leave now.”

“Alright. Let me go inside and say goodni– ow.” He grabbed my upper arm hard enough that I was sure there would be bruises.

“I don’t know why you thought it was okay to leave me in there all alone.” he growled. I saw Eric step up behind him. Ben was too drunk to even hear the leaves crunching below Eric’s feet.

“I just wanted some fresh air,” I replied. “You’re hurting me, Ben.”

“Ben, what seems to be the problem?” Eric said from behind us. He was towering over my husband. “I come out to get some fresh air and find my business partner hurting his wife? That’s not like you, is it?”

Ben released my arm. He gave me a look telling me I was going to get it later.

“I’m a little drunk. She was just helping me stay straight,” Ben lied easily.

“If that’s the case, allow me to help.” Eric reached out to pull Ben away from me.

I sighed and followed them to the valet station. There was a line of cars parked along the side of the hotel. I spotted our driver and headed toward him. So much for the dream. Eric helped Ben into the back of the car and I followed my husband.

“Thank you, Eric,” I said politely.

“You’re welcome, Mrs. Flynn,” he smiled.

Eric closed the door and the driver got behind the wheel to take us home.

“How much did you drink tonight, Ben?”

“I don’t know. A few glasses of Scotch.” He leaned his head back against the seat.

“Just scotch?” Whiskey made him an asshole.

“I don’t know what I drank Sookie. People were handing me drinks left and right,” he grumbled. “Why does it matter? You’re not my mother.”

“If I was you would be better behaved,” I replied.

He responded by backhanding me. His hand caught my lip and right away I could feel it start to swell. “Watch your mouth, young lady.”

It didn’t even shock me anymore. I also wasn’t in the mood to be his doormat, so for once, I fought back. I balled my fist and slammed it into his balls.

“Watch yours.”

“Fuck,” he squealed. He reached down to grab his junk.

His face changed colors, going from its flushed, rosy color to almost purple. I knew he was in pain. Just trying to catch his breath was a chore for him.

“Don’t you ever lay another hand on me, Benjamin,” I told him.

“We’ll see,” he groaned.

“I dare you.” I wasn’t scared of him anymore. I’d had enough of his abuse and his bullshit.

Ben ignored me and looked out the window.

Exactly, bitch.

We were quiet the rest of the way home. My lip was swollen from where he slapped me. When the car pulled up to the house I tipped the driver while Ben went inside. I slipped my shoes off before I went inside. Ben as waiting for me in the entryway with that devil look in his eye.

“Go to bed, Ben,” I said. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with him.

“You don’t disrespect me, Sookie,” he said.

I ignored him and headed for the bar. The day after I’d gotten the Belladonna I’d put it in a bottle of scotch I knew he could never say no to. Amelia warned me the effects of it could be unpredictable, so if I gave it to him when I planned to be home too, she advised I make sure I had a safe place to go if he got violent. It was a risk, but this night was actually perfect because there were dozens of people who had seen him drunk when he left the hotel. The limo driver might have even heard Ben hit me. It was obvious I had a swollen face when I got out of the car.

“Get your fat ass back here, whore,” he slurred.

I continued to ignore him. Instead, when I got to the bar, I pulled out the bottle I’d hidden under the sink. From what Amelia told me, the poison wasn’t something a regular tox screen would check for when he was autopsied. They would look at his blood alcohol level to confirm he was drunk.

“Here.” I unscrewed the cap from the bottle and held it out to him. The powder had mixed in and dissolved. “Have a drink and leave me the hell alone.”

To my surprise, Ben snatched the bottle out of my hand. He took a swig from it and then stared at it. For a second I panicked that maybe he tasted something funny. Amelia said it wasn’t supposed to taste like anything. That was part of why it was so deadly. It was easy to sneak it into food or drinks.

“Damn, that’s good. Why you gotta make me mad, baby?”

“It’s not my job to control your temper, Ben. You should know better than to hit anyone, especially your wife,” I told him.

“Someone needs to keep that mouth of yours in line.” He took another drink.

“Mind your own biscuits,” I sighed, shaking my head.

He set the bottle down on the bar and turned to look at me. I was egging him on on purpose. His abuse was a poorly kept secret and I was sure the people I saw regularly had figured out I was full of shit. Eric knew. Claudine knew. So I didn’t dodge it when he lunged at me and grabbed me by my throat. He squeezed, cutting off my air supply. I reached up to claw at his hands so I could breathe again.

“You’re gonna learn, bitch,” he said as he choked me.

I started to see spots and the room started to get dark when he let go of my throat. I collapsed, trying to get my breath. To prove what a man he was, he kicked me while I was down. I would have screamed if I had the air in my lungs. Ben grabbed his bottle of scotch and staggered away with it.

Usually he went out to the garage to play with his cars. It took a few minutes for me to be able to get up. My ribs hurt and I knew my makeup was ruined from the tears. Slowly I climbed the stairs. I wanted to call Eric but I knew if I did it would look suspicious. I’d watched enough crime shows to know I needed to be careful with my damn phone. No texting him for sure.

I locked myself in a spare bedroom and thought about pushing the dresser in front of the door to keep my husband out. My side hurt too much for that. Getting out of my dress was easier said than done. I pulled the pins out of my hair and it was easy to see Ben’s fingerprints on my throat. I was going to have a nasty fresh set of bruises on me thanks to him.

Downstairs I heard him yelling nonsense that I chose not to pay attention to. It reminded me of Jack Torrence at the end of The Shining after he’d come completely unhinged. I washed my face and hung up my dress. I slipped out of the spare bedroom and tiptoed to the master bedroom to get some clothes. Before we left I hadn’t been sure if tonight was the night, but I couldn’t take anymore. Enough was enough.

I pulled out a pair of yoga pants, some underwear and a loose T-shirt. I needed to wash up the mess Eric left behind earlier before I got dressed. Eventually I didn’t hear my husband anymore. I armed myself with the .22 he kept in the walk-in closet safe just in case I needed it. My daddy taught me how to shoot before I could drive a car. I wasn’t sure I was a great shot, but if I was close enough it didn’t matter.

It was quiet downstairs. I was almost afraid of what I might find. Amelia didn’t say how long it would take for the Belladonna to take effect. The last place I looked was the garage. Sure enough, there he was behind the wheel of his pride and joy, a 1950 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. The driver’s side door was open. He had one foot on the floor of the garage and his head was back, resting on the seat. The key was in the ignition and switched on enough to have the radio running.

I stood there for a moment and debated over what to do. I couldn’t tell if he was breathing, so I stepped closer to him.

“Ben,” I said. Not too loud, but loud enough that he should have heard me. “Ben!” There was no response. I took another step closer and reached out to check for a pulse.

It was very faint. As I got closer I could see that he was still breathing. The bottle of scotch was gone. I had a decision to make.

Call for help and continue the hell I had been living in or do what I needed to do to survive. I wanted to live.

So I picked up his hand and used it to turn the key in the ignition so the car started. Once it was done I let his hand drop. I walked around the garage looking for the scotch, but didn’t find it. Before too much carbon dioxide built up, I climbed into car and drove it out of the garage. It made sense to flee the house after being choked by my husband, didn’t it?

I left the Mercedes in the driveway and walked back into the garage. Ben hadn’t moved. He was still passed out on the front seat.

I just stared at him as the overhead door shut. There probably should have been words to say, but I couldn’t think of any. So I turned and walked toward the door. I left the lights on and closed the door behind me, leaving my bastard of a husband to die.

mexican-sugar-skull-dia-de-los-muertos-black-icon-vector-2074353

The church bells rang as the hearse came to a stop in front of the black Cadillac I was riding in, along with Eric. It wasn’t out of place since he was Ben’s business partner. Betty Jo was the one who found Ben’s lifeless body on Sunday when she returned from her overnight trip to a casino in Oklahoma with some friends of hers. I had been checked into the Hyatt before Ben’s estimated time of death.

Bruises on my arm, neck, ribs and face supported the story that I had been attacked by my husband. I left the house to give him time to cool off. My story was plausible, as was the idea that he got stupid drunk and passed out with the car running. Plenty of people, credible people, came forward to tell the investigators that Ben had been extremely intoxicated at the gala on Saturday night. The limo driver did hear my husband slap me and had told them that I hadn’t been injured before getting into the limo for the drive home.

Truthfully, it couldn’t have gone better than it did.

I was careful not to sit too close to Eric or look at him for too long. It was one thing for him to appear to be kind and helpful, but it was another for us to be too cozy.

“I can’t wait for this to be over.” As far as Eric knew, Ben really did die just of carbon monoxide poisoning. He didn’t know about the Belladonna or the bottle of scotch I’d taken with me when I left my house that night, making sure no one would find where I put it. There was no evidence to link me to my husband’s death.

Suspicion wasn’t basis enough for me to be charged, and as far as the coroner was concerned it was an accidental death. Case closed.

“It’s a long day,” he said. “Is it bad that I want to come over and spend a whole night with you?”

“No,” I answered. The Cadillac windows were tinted dark enough that no one could see in. The partition was up between us and the driver. I turned my head and kissed him. “After the cruise next month we can maybe have our first public dinner together.”

“I’d love that,” he smiled. Eric reached up to cup my face, tilting it up for another kiss. “Maybe a few months after our first date you can sell that monstrosity of a house and move in with me.”

“And lose the giant sex swing?” I snorted.

“Forgive me,” he chuckled. “I’ll move in with you so we can sex swing every night.”

“It sounds like the classy thing to do.”

The driver opened the door so Eric could get out of the car first. He slid out and reached in to help me out. I adjusted the mesh veil over my face because apparently that’s what grieving widows were supposed to wear. I got out of the car and watched as the gunmetal gray colored coffin I’d chosen was moved out of the back of the hearse.

My parents had come from Louisiana, along with my brother and his two daughters. I had a meeting in two days with Ben’s lawyer to officially transfer everything over to me. In many ways my troubles might have been over but I was going to have to live with what I did for the rest of my life.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a petite brunette with a pixie haircut and a dreamcatcher necklace.

“I’ll be right back,” I said to Eric before I walked away. Amelia was standing by herself under a tree. “I’m surprised to see you here,” I said to her.

“I just wanted to pay my respects and see how you’re holding up.”

“It’s been quite a week,” I said. “What with my husband’s sudden and unexpected passing.”

Of course I was sure Amelia knew the truth.

“How’s my aura now?” I was curious.

“Light,” she answered. She motioned to Eric and said, “You’ve chosen your path.”

“Yeah, I guess I have. He’s everything Ben wasn’t.”

“I think it was the right choice,” she told me.

“I think so too. At least I hope so. I suppose if it wasn’t you’ll be seeing me again.”

“I don’t think I’ll be seeing you again,” Amelia smiled. “He has a good aura.”

“I’m happy to hear that. Thank you, Amelia.” I reached out to shake her hand.

“You’re welcome,” she said as she shook my hand. “I wish you well.”

“And you,” I nodded.

The church bells sounded again as the coffin began to move toward the chapel. I hurried across the lawn to catch up. I managed to find my place beside Eric. My eyes stayed on the coffin as I walked and the bell tolled. Inside I could already hear the choir singing Ave Maria. It wasn’t for too much longer now I was going to have to keep up the charade. I took one last look over my shoulder and saw that Amelia was gone, almost like a guardian angel who knew her work was done.

I was free.

7 thoughts on “Church Bells

  1. Sookie just wanted a better life. Who knew she was only jumping from the frying pan into the fire? Yes, Ben got what he rightly deserved, but Sookie is going to have to live with the fact she killed her husband. Not only that, Sookie is religious and she made the decision to be Ben’s judge, jury and executioner.

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  2. What an amazing story. It really was powerful and moving . I don’t listen to country music so I didn’t know the song. My heart broke for Sookie and all woman in the world who suffer in abusive relationships. Very powerful story. Then I listened to the song and it brought tears to me eyes, because your story made it real.

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  3. Wow. Never heard that song. Amazing!

    And the story? Geepers. What a story. Angst baby, its there all right!

    Fantastically told. You are both geniuses. Very dark story, but you told it beautifully, thank you!

    Like

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