Honor me, p.4
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       Honor Me, p.4

         Part #6 of Men of Inked series by Chelle Bliss
 
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  I hoisted myself up on my elbow and pulled backward so I could see her face. My stomach knotted at the distant look in her eyes. “Sugar, I think you need some help.”

  She dragged her eyes to mine, staring at me for a moment before squeezing them shut. “I think you’re right, Joe.”

  I stroked her cheek, wishing I could take her pain away. “I love you more than life itself. I’ll be with you every step of the way, love.”

  She stared up at me with tears in her eyes. “Thanks, baby. You can’t help me out of this, though.”

  “I know,” I said, wiping away the tears as they fell. “I’ll make an appointment for you to talk to someone.”

  She turned to her side, weeping into my shirt. I rocked her, rubbing her back, and said a silent prayer for the love of my life.

  Life Unfiltered

  Suzy

  I spent my life being in control.

  Every moment planned out.

  I had lists for my lists. I wasn’t the type of girl who winged anything. I’d never been able to be a free spirit. Joe had changed me slightly, but I still had my OCD tendencies that needed to be fulfilled. When the babies arrived and everything seemed to be out of my control, I sank deep and felt helpless.

  It consumed me. Overtaking every bit of my life and overwhelmed me.

  By the time I walked into the therapist’s office, I was ready to make a change and gain some of my control back…become the master of my own destiny again.

  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do—delving into the darkest corners of my psyche. There were things lurking there that I hadn’t shared with another soul. Not even my husband or best friend.

  It didn’t happen right away.

  At first, our sessions were about how I felt that day and how things were at home. She never passed judgment, always kept her face devoid of emotion, and just listened. After a while, I felt like sharing more. I’d tell her stories about Joe or our children, and that would lead to a barrage of questions. She didn’t bombard me with them, but she’d ask them as if we were having a casual conversation over drinks.

  Little by little, I exposed every crack in my carefully constructed veil of happiness. As a mom and a wife, I put on the mask I was expected to have in public. There was always a smile on my face, even when inside I felt nothing. I laughed when it was called for and pretended to be happy.

  I even tried to put that happy facade on for Joe. But sometimes, when my guard was down, the mask would slip and I’d be exposed. I couldn’t hide it forever. Joe knew me too well for him not to see how I truly felt. He probably knew before I even realized he’d caught on.

  “How does that make you feel?” Karen, my therapist, asked after I let it slip that women came on to my husband in front of me in the most blatant and obvious ways.

  “Unworthy,” I mumbled and stared out the window, watching the raindrops as they splashed against the sill.

  “Why?”

  “He’s just so beautiful, and many of the women trying to get his attention are too. I know exactly what I look like.”

  “And how is that?”

  “Gross.” The frown lingering on my lips deepened.

  “Does your husband do anything to make you feel this way? Does he stare at other women and reject you in any fashion?” Even without looking at her, I could tell she was staring at me, appraising me.

  “No. He doesn’t even notice the women. He’s always watching me, flirting with me, and trying to get my attention.”

  “Then why does it matter what other people do that you can’t control?”

  “Because I look at them and then I look at me and—” I sighed and glanced down at my hands that were resting in my lap. “I can’t see why he stays with me.”

  She jotted something down in her notebook and my stomach turned. “If Joe were to gain fifty pounds, would you love him less?”

  I finally dragged my eyes to hers. “No. He’s the love of my life.”

  She tilted her head, and I could feel her passing judgment. “If he let himself go, would you be any less attracted to him?”

  “I’d still want him. Although he’s the handsomest man I’ve ever seen, I’m with him for the way he loves me, not because of his looks.”

  She chewed on the end of her pen for a moment as we stared at each other. “Why do you think he’d love you any less because of some baby weight you’ve already started to shed?”

  “Because he’s just that pretty.” I bit my lip and closed my eyes, exhaling the breath I’d been holding. “And he’s a man. Men are more visual.”

  “When we’re in love, we’re often blind to our partner’s supposed flaws. You may think that your body is unattractive, but your husband still looks at you with the same love in his eyes. He sees the woman he fell in love with. Does he ever point out your flaws?”

  “Never!” I answered quickly. God, I couldn’t love a man who would do that to me. “He claims I don’t have any.” I laughed softly, probably halfway to the funny farm.

  “You wouldn’t love him less with flaws or fifty pounds, and he doesn’t love you less with baby weight and stretch marks. They’re what make you you. They’re the storyline of our life. Each mark on our body is a piece of our life story being etched in skin as a remembrance of our journey. Instead of looking at them as a flaw, you should view them as a badge. They’re marking an accomplishment or a milestone in our life.”

  “My sash is just about full, Doc.” My eyes drifted to my thigh that had peeked out from my sundress. One of the supposed badges was visible. Whiter than the other skin even though I had lost a lot of the pregnancy weight, the aftermath was still there. Lingering and reminding me of what I used to be.

  “Our outsides will always change, Suzy. We can’t be young forever. Someday, we’ll all grow old and our skin will be riddled with wrinkles and blemishes. We fall in love with the soul of another human being. If you love your husband for the way he loves you, and it seems from our conversations that his love runs deep, then why wouldn’t he love you for the same reasons?”

  “I don’t know.” I twisted my hands together and let my eyes drift back to the rainy picture playing out just on the other side of the window.

  “This week, I want you to write down any negative comments or situations that occur in which you feel he doesn’t love you. Bring the list next week, and we’ll see what your triggers are. Maybe if we can determine what brings about the feelings, we can work through them.”

  That was lingo for: we’ll figure out why you’re so fucked up. I knew what she was doing. She was trying to prove a point, and for once, after thinking about how much I loved my husband, I decided to play along.

  Present Day

  It took almost six long months before I felt like myself again. Walking out of Karen’s office for the last time, I glanced up at the sky and took in the beauty of it all.

  For months, everything looked gray. Like there had been a filter placed over my eyes that made everything dull and lifeless. But now, as I stood there staring up at the big puffy clouds and the bright rays of the sun bouncing off the windows around me, everything and anything seemed possible.

  My phone beeped, and I cupped my hand around the screen to block out the light.

  Joe: When is my love coming home? I miss her.

  I smiled and felt the warmth of his words stronger than the rays of the sun.

  Me: Give me two hours. I’m meeting the girls for drinks.

  Joe: Call a cab and come home tipsy.

  My belly flopped at the idea of a little drunken sex with him. I stopped breastfeeding a month ago, for sanity’s sake. I felt like a dairy cow always hooked up to the pumping machine. It was the last step to getting a piece of my soul back.

  Me: I’ll see what I can do, big boy.

  That message earned me a cock photo. His giant hands were wrapped around his even bigger member, with the piercings shimmering in the light.

  Joe: We’re waiting for you.

  I
giggled and headed toward the bar three doors down from the doctor’s office. When I walked in, Mia, Izzy, Angel, Sophia, and Max greeted me. We were family. All the girls most important to me were here to celebrate the end of my therapy and my return to normalcy.

  We did it when Mia finished her therapy after having Lily, and it was only right for me to allow them the same privilege of a girls’ night out and a reason to get shit-faced together.

  “Here she is!” Izzy announced, holding up her martini in my direction as I walked toward where they were seated.

  “I am!” I curtsied, playing up the fact that we were here to celebrate me, even though it was really just an excuse to escape our husbands and kids for the night. “I see you didn’t wait for me.”

  Everyone had a drink in hand, and most of them were half consumed. “We just got here five minutes ago. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. Here,” Max said, pushing the untouched martini waiting in my spot toward me as I sat.

  “It’s your favorite.” Mia smiled, tipping her glass in my direction.

  I licked my lips. The mere thought of the deliciousness in front of me had my mouth watering. When I wrapped my hands around it and brought it toward my mouth, Sophia spoke. “Let’s toast, ladies.”

  Everyone hooted and hollered in excitement. “To Suzy—” Izzy pushed back her chair and raised her glass as she stood. “It’s nice to have our girl back. We’ve missed you. I always wanted sisters, and looking around this table, I realize I have everything I wanted in life. We’re a family. We love you, Suzy. Here’s to our sisterhood.”

  “Drink up, ladies. We have a long night ahead of us,” Angel added before taking a small sip of her drink.

  I eyed her over the rim of my glass, but she diverted her eyes. When the cupcake martini slid across my tongue, there was an explosion of taste I could only describe as orgasmic. The deliciousness of the mind-altering vodka and sweet white chocolate liqueur sliding down my throat had my head spinning.

  “Slow down, partner,” Mia said, placing her hand on my arm.

  I turned to her with the biggest smile on my face. “Just figured I’d catch up.”

  Mia laughed and shook her head. “We don’t need you drunk after only one drink, Suz.”

  “It takes more than that, Mia. I’m not completely a lightweight drinker anymore.”

  “That’s right, bitches. That’s because of me,” Izzy added. “No more virgin daiquiris for that girl. She’s a big girl now. Has the panties to prove it, too.”

  I leaned forward with the glass still in my hand but holding it carefully so as not to spill an ounce. “Not today, Iz. I didn’t put any on,” I confessed and felt dirty and sexy at once.

  “I don’t want to know,” Izzy said, waving her hand in front of me.

  “Your brother doesn’t like when I wear them anymore.”

  “Stop!” Izzy placed her hand in front of my face. “Don’t say anything more.”

  Sophia elbowed her and laughed. “Don’t listen to her. We all want to know. How is Joe?”

  My belly rolled at the mention of my husband. “Sexier than ever, Soph.”

  “Fuck,” she hissed, throwing back her martini like it was water before setting the glass down on the table. “Do all you bitches have pierced junk at home?”

  Everyone smirked, knowing that what they had was special and totally freaking amazing.

  Sophia dragged her hands down her face and grunted. “I hate you all. Kayden won’t get his dick pierced. He said he doesn’t need it to give me what I need.”

  Kayden, her husband, had always been a trip. He never lived life in the shadow of anyone else. Their life hadn’t always been easy, but their love was much like that of Joe and myself—meant to be.

  “You’re not missing out on anything.” I tried to make her feel better.

  “Lies,” she groaned.

  “Pierced or not, we’re all pretty damn lucky,” Max said before waving over the waitress for another round.

  “Yeah,” I sighed.

  “Speaking of dicks, what’s the plan tonight?” Mia asked Izzy.

  “We’re going to see a dick or two.” Izzy giggled and took a sip of her martini with a glimmer of mischief in her eyes.

  “Ladies,” I said, my voice almost a song. “I’m going to have to pass on seeing a penis that isn’t my husband’s.”

  “You’re such a pussy,” Angel chimed in, and it took everything in me not to spit out my drink. She typically didn’t use that word, and it took me completely by surprise.

  “Yeah, she is. I thought maybe some of my dirty had rubbed off on her, but clearly she needs an ‘attitude adjustment,’ as James calls it.”

  I rolled my eyes and ignored their nonsense. I wasn’t a pussy for not wanting to see the junk of strangers. I was happily in love. Hell, I still lusted after my husband. After months of being depressed and uninterested in sex, I was finally back on the Joe train, and I planned to ride that beautiful cock as much as possible. I wanted to get home to my husband, a little tipsy, and see what he had planned for me. There was no way I was going to a strip club with this group of horny biddies.

  “I bet you get a lot of those.” Max nudged Izzy’s arm and cackled.

  Izzy’s grin widened. “I can’t help myself, plus I’d be lying if I said I hated them. I’m always up for a spanking.”

  “Jesus,” Max mumbled and pretended to gag.

  Izzy turned quickly, giving her full attention to Max. “Oh, shut your face, Max! You’re a dirty whore too.” Izzy wagged her finger in front of Max’s face. “Don’t act like you’re a nun. I know Anthony. I know him better than almost anyone in the world. That man is kinky as fuck and all about the spankings.”

  “Well…I…” Max cleared her throat. “He doesn’t give me an attitude adjustment.”

  “That’s because he knows there’s no hope for you. You’re just attitude all the time.” Angel laughed and lifted her chin high. “Which is why we love you.”

  Max’s eyes narrowed into tiny slits as she glanced across the table at Angel. “Are you saying that because I’m black?”

  Angel leaned forward and her face morphed. “I’m saying it because you’re Max. Anthony wouldn’t love you if you weren’t all filled with piss and vinegar. I bet you probably spank him.” Angel smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you?”

  “The man deserves a whipping, not a spanking. He’s more than I can handle.”

  “Pssh. Bullshit,” Izzy quipped. “You handle him just fine. The same way I handle James.”

  The table erupted in laughter. There wasn’t a woman at this table who hadn’t taunted her man. It was part of the fun. Even Joe. The man could be merciless, and I loved every second of it.

  “Back to our original topic,” Mia said as she glanced down at her watch. “What time do we have to go?”

  “We have thirty minutes to finish the next round to still get there on time with traffic.”

  I turned the delicate stem of the martini glass in my hands and kept my eyes veiled because I felt guilty not being able to hang out with the girls. But I needed to see my husband. “I can’t go, ladies. Sorry.”

  Izzy pulled out her phone, punched a few buttons, and lifted it to her ear. “Hey, brother. We’re taking Suzy out tonight. Okay?” I glared at her, unable to hide my annoyance, but she just stuck out her tongue at me like a child. “Why don’t you tell her so she doesn’t think I’m bullshitting her?”

  She held out the phone to me, and I snarled as I took it. I loved Izzy, but at times, I also wanted to knock her on her ass for being so goddamn bossy. “Hey, baby.” My voice sounded sugar sweet, but if I knew Joe, he could hear my aggravation.

  “Sugar, go out with the girls for a while. I’ll come get you around eleven and bring you home.”

  “I want to come home and be with you.” I pouted even though he couldn’t see my face, which earned me a smack on the hand from Izzy.

  She mouthed, “Pussy,” and I flipped her the finger.

/>   “We have all night. You have a little girl time. I’ll put the kids down to bed and ask Mike to stay here while I come and get you.”

  “Mike’s there?”

  “He’s stopping by. He said he wanted to talk to me, so I figured Gigi and Lily could have a playdate.”

  My husband is the best one in the world. “All right, Joe. As long as you’re okay with it.”

  “I’m happy you’re taking some time for yourself. Love you, sugar.”

  “Love you too,” I said before handing the phone back to a very smug Izzy.

  “Thanks, bro. I’ll make sure she behaves.” Izzy winked at me. The last time she was supposed to make sure I behaved, strippers showed up and Joe and I almost ended. “Later,” she said before hanging up. “Everything’s set. Let’s drink up. We have a party to get to.”

  “I don’t think I should have another.” I’ve never been a big drinker, but over the years I grew more accustomed to it, especially hanging out with this crew. Once they introduced me to the flavored martini, there was no looking back. “My lips already feel a bit numb. I think if I have another, I won’t be able to see straight.” I bit my lip, and just as I had said, it was tingly.

  “Perfect,” Izzy snorted.

  Hopefully, in the hours between drink two and Joe picking me up, I’d sober up enough to enjoy a night with my husband.

  I pulled up my proverbial big-girl panties and tossed back the last of my martini before dragging the second one in front of me. I deserved to let go a little.

  * * *

  “Can I take this off now?” I asked and started to tug on the blindfold that Izzy just happened to have in her purse.

  Izzy slapped my hand away. “Stop that. It’s not time to take it off.”

  I gritted my teeth, annoyed with not knowing exactly where I was, but it wouldn’t be a night out with Izzy without a little blindsiding. “Does everyone have on a blindfold or just me?”

  “The other girls do too.” I knew she was lying as soon as they all started to giggle.

  “Let’s do this,” Sophia said from my side.

  I leaned over toward her voice and hoped I was close enough that she could hear me if I whispered. “Should I be scared?”

  “Nah,” she muttered. “I promise you’ll have a smile on your face soon enough.”

  “I’d better or I’m beating you after I beat Izzy.”

  A door opened and the vibrations of a musical beat in the distance caught my attention. Without my sight, my other senses became more acute. “Are we at a club?” I asked as Sophia’s body moved before she opened her door.

  “You can say that,” Angel replied in a strange voice.

  After climbing out of the car, I held on to Sophia’s arm and walked on shaky legs. Martini number two hadn’t been my friend. My entire body felt like jelly. I wasn’t even sure my words came out without a slur, but I was so relaxed that it didn’t really matter either.

  The crunching of the gravel under my feet made it even harder to walk. “I’m taking this shit off,” I whined and tried to remove the blindfold, but I almost lost my balance.

  “No,” Sophia jerked her arm, causing me to stumble further.

  “Don’t do that!” I yelled, grabbing on to her with both hands. “Are you
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