The Lavender Haze: Three Stories of Flirting with an Affair

       Paul Hina
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The Lavender Haze: Three Stories of Flirting with an Affair
Paul Hina

Published by Paul Hina at Smashwords
Copyright ©2017 by Paul Hina

Smashwords Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Table of Contents

The Lavender Haze
Lost to the Lake
On the Terrace

The Lavender Haze

Stacey sees the shine of headlights move across the living room window. She rises from the couch and pulls the curtain aside to see if it's Michael.
"Who is it?" Kelly asks.
"It's him."
"About time. Does he always work this late?"
"Just this week. They've been on a deadline," Stacey says, moving toward the front door.
She walks out onto the porch and down to the bottom stair near the driveway. "You're late," she says as he climbs out of the car.
"I know. Sorry, I should've called," he says, approaching her.
"It's alright. I could've called you if I were too worried."
"She still here?" he asks, motioning toward the red rental car in their driveway.
"For how long?"
"I told her she could stay the night."
"Stacey, no. I thought we decided—"
"I know, but it's getting late and she's been drinking."
"I'll take her back to the hotel," he says. "I could take her car to her in the morning, and have Gary bring me home after work."
"What? No, that's silly. You're not going to feel like doing that in the morning."
"What's that got to do with it? I have to drive downtown for work anyway."
"Don't worry about it. I already told her she could stay."
"You guys talking about me?" Kelly asks, leaning against the front doorway, a drink resting a little too casually in her hand.
"It's good to see you again, Kelly," Michael says as he moves toward the door.
"Say it like you mean it, Mike," she says.
"I thought I did," he says, walking by her, trying hard not to look her in the eyes.
Stacey follows closely behind him.
"Look, if my staying here is a problem, I can still—"
"No, it's fine. That's why we have the guest room," Stacey says to Kelly while looking at Michael.
"You're sure? I don't mind calling a cab if you're worried about me driving."
"Really, Kelly, I want you to stay."
"How was your trip?" Michael asks, trying to end their inane back-and-forth.
"What an original question."
"Kelly, come on." Stacey says.
"Tiresome and dehumanizing."
"So, pretty standard then," Michael says.
"That's the Michael, I remember—always quick with a joke."
"There's some dinner in the oven," Stacey says. "It's been in there awhile. You'll probably want to warm it up."
"I'll get it in a minute," he says, sliding out of his blazer and draping it over his arm. "Is Jacob asleep?"
"Do you think I'll wake him if I go up and say good night?"
"I wouldn't risk it," Kelly says. "Kid's a screamer."
"Bad night?" Michael asks.
"You could say that. I think he's starting to teethe."
"Well, I'll just take my stuff up and look in on him real quick," he says, climbing the stairs.
"He looks as tired as you do," Kelly says, moving back into the living room and returning to her spot on the couch.
"Why wouldn't he? Feels like we haven't slept in six months."
"I probably could've picked a better time to come."
"You didn't pick Philadelphia for the convention," Stacey says, taking a spot near Kelly on the couch. "You're here because you have to be here. And, besides, I'm glad you're here."
"The kids teething, you guys haven’t been sleeping, and Michael’s on a deadline. It’s just bad timing," Kelly says. "Look, you don't have to entertain me. Go to bed. We'll have plenty of time to talk before I leave on Friday."
"You sure?"
"I wouldn't have said it if I didn't mean it."
"I think I might. I'm sorry, but I don't think I'll be much fun anyway."
"You've never been much fun."
Stacey smiles at her.
"There it is," Kelly says. "First evidence tonight that there's still real happiness there."
"Oh, come on."
"I missed you, Stacey," Kelly says, leaning up to press her hand on the fleshy part of Stacey's arm.
"I missed you, too," Stacey says, obviously touched by this sudden show of intimacy.
"Now, go to bed. Just looking at you is making me tired, and it's barely nine o'clock."
"God, I'm so lame."
"I'm glad you said it."
Stacey gets up from the couch and goes to the stairs, stops, turns back toward Kelly. "You sure you don't need anything?"
"I think I've got it covered, Mom."
Stacey smiles again, shakes her head and quietly climbs the stairs.
Michael is standing in the darkened doorway of Jacob's room. Stacey approaches him, wraps her arms around him, and rests her head on his back.
"Tired?" he asks.
"I'm on the other side of tired—the side where I feel half here, half not."
"He looks so peaceful when he's sleeping. You'd have no idea from looking at him now how much of a maniac he is when he's awake," Michael says, watching the hallway light softly shines across his son's face.
"We should kill the light before we rouse the little maniac."
"What are you going to do about Kelly?"
"She can fend for herself. I'm going to bed."
"Now?" he says, a little above a whisper.
"Shhh," she says, backing away from him and walking into their bedroom.
He shuts off the hallway light and follows in behind her. He sits his satchel by the door, and walks over to the closet to hang up his blazer.
"So, she's just going to hang out down there?"
"I don't know. Until she decides to go to bed, I guess."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Go about your evening. Have dinner. Watch T.V. Get some work done. Whatever you were planning on doing, do that."
"And you don't think that would seem rude?"
"I don't think she expects you to entertain her, if that's what you're asking."
He sits on the bed and wrestles out of his shoes.
"I'm exhausted, and yet I don't want to go to bed," he says. "I know I'll just end up lying here, staring up at the ceiling. It always takes me a couple hours to wind down after work. Plus, I'm so worried about this project, it's going to keep me up one way or another."
"I know," she says, running her fingers over his forearm. "Go down and have a drink with your dinner. Relax. I'll get up with Jacob tonight."
"Eventually, he'll sleep through the night, right?"
"It's bound to happen sooner or later."
"I don't even remember what it was like to sleep through the night. It seems like a luxury at this point," he says, looking over at her. She's nodding off but manages to pry her eyes open for him.
"Sorry. I'm just so out of it."
"I understand," he says, and gets up from the bed, leans over her and kisses her forehead. "I love you. Try to have a good night."
"Love you, too," she says, pulling the sheet up over her shoulders.

Kelly is sitting at the kitchen table, looking out at the well-lit suburban neighborhood, swirling ice around in her empty glass.
"It's not the big city," Michael says, standing at the kitchen counter.
She hadn't even heard him come in the room.
"It's too quiet," she says, not missing a beat.
"I suppose it is."
"How do you sleep in a quiet like this?"
"Sleep? I vaguely remember something about that."
"Right," she says. "Sounds like that kid is more than you guys bargained for."
"It's funny, everyone tells you that you won't sleep after the kid is born. The whole time Stacey was pregnant, it's the one thing almost everyone said to us. People said it so often it got downright irritating. And we believed it. But no amount of warnings can prepare you for the actual experience of not sleeping.
"Don't get me wrong though, it's been beautiful. But it definitely has its trade-offs. And sleep is a big one."
Michael grabs his dinner plate from the oven. He takes a bite of the mashed potatoes—still warm.
"Do you think Stacey's happy?" Kelly asks, looking out the window again.
"Why don't you ask her?"
"She doesn't seem happy."
"Some people take to parenting better than others. There's no question it's been a struggle for us."
"I always thought Stacey would make a good mother."
"She is. She definitely is. But being a good mother does not always mean being a happy mother."
"Who decided that she would be the one to stay at home with the baby?"
"We both did."
"How convenient for you."
"It wasn't like that. She had an opportunity to take a year off. I had no such opportunity."
"But she's supposed to be working on the book."
"And she is."
"That's not what she says."
"Well, that's not what she's been telling me," Michael says.
"Do you even care?" Kelly asks, turning back to look at him.
"Sure I care," Michael says, putting his plate down on the counter. "What's up with the interrogation?"
"Just worried about her, that's all."
Michael grabs a glass from the cabinet near his head, and reaches for a bottle of scotch
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