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Rediscovering Danielle

  • Golden blonde hair to match her golden skin. Rich blue eyes. Tiny black dress. Legs encased in black silk that went on and on. She sat alone at the bar, waiting.

    Dean’s drinking buddies thought she was hot, and as Dean watched her cross her legs and bring the Cosmo to her lips, he couldn’t deny it.

    She was also his wife… Danielle.

     

  • The bar swam as I stood. I laughed, steadying myself on a table strewn with empty pints, and collected myself. When did I get so drunk? A quick glance at the empty pints that covered the cocktail round in front of me helped answer that question. “Gentleman.” I nodded at Johnny and Michael and made my way to the restroom.

    My obligations at the Consumer Electronics Convention had wrapped up several hours early, and after three days filled with speakers and workshops and meandering through the maze of trade show booths, I was ready for a drink. Or three. When a group of guys I’d gotten to know suggested we hit up the hotel bar, I figured it was perfect. My wife, Danielle, wasn’t due back for another few hours, so I had the time to kill and the willingness to kill it.

    My phone buzzed just as I pushed into the bathroom. A text from Danielle.

    —i’m almost there

    I put the phone away, almost sad that my time with the guys was coming to an end. After ten years of marriage, I’d forgotten how fun it could be hanging out with the guys. Three days ago, we were strangers. Now, at the conclusion of the conference and the introduction of booze (more the latter than the former), we were all pals—temporary pals, but pals nonetheless.

    As I relieved the pressure in my bladder, I thought about the first few hours of the afternoon. When we were in that awkward stage, nursing our beers and searching for things in common, we talked about the convention: what each of us thought of it, why each of us was there. The booze flowed, our group splintered into smaller conversations. Talk ranged from sports to stocks to women.

    The reflection in the bathroom mirror was smiling back at me. I splashed cold water on my face. Some of the guys had the craziest stories. Johnny, a self-professed lifetime bachelor, had finished regaling us with a story of his first threesome. Part of me envied these guys and their wild experiences, but I could hardly complain. Not with a wife like Danielle.

    I loosened my tie and popped the top button of my shirt. That felt better. I didn’t mind ties until I started drinking, and then they became unbearable. Drying my face, I stared at the reflection, skipping across my Roman nose and the gray that was forming in my dark hair—and only 33 years old. How did I land someone like Dani?

    Feeling a surge of drink-fueled playfulness, I retrieved my phone and sent a text back.

    —hey there, stranger 

    It was a stupid little game I’d read about somewhere. Danielle would pretend to be a lonely single woman away on business; I’d be the stranger picking her up. We’d played it a few times in the past year, but I always got the feeling that I was more into the roleplaying than her. Still, those nights always ended with tear-our-clothes-off sex.

    Feeling aroused, not to mention much steadier on my feet, I returned to the bar. It had filled up as more people were let out from their conference sessions, or came in from sight-seeing to quench their thirst. I checked my watch: six-thirty.

    As I slipped through the thickening crowd and back to my table, I found that everyone but Johnny and Michael were gone. The two that remained were staring at something just out of my sight, their beers clutched in their hands and smiles stretched across their faces. How hot was this one was?

    I caught my first glimpse of her as I reached our cocktail table, and she was very hot. Her long blonde hair looked fresh from some high-end salon, teased into loose ringlets and clipped back with gold and ivory combs. The style bared her face and slender neck. No, she wasn’t just hot; she was breath-taking.

    Her nose was long and slender, her eyes blue and expressive—even from across the bar. Delicate gold dangled from her ears, leading my gaze down her bare neck. Her skin looked tanned and unblemished as it disappeared into the swooping neckline of her little black dress.

    This couldn’t be the woman I’d married ten years ago, could it? This wasn’t the sweet thing I’d kissed goodbye this morning…

    “Check out the blonde. She’s fucking hot.” Johnny was practically leering.

    Danielle was chatting with the bartender, her face awash with a smile that couldn’t be anything but genuine. When she talks to you, she gives one hundred percent of herself. I loved that generous spirit, her tender personality matching her physical beauty.

    “She’s very pretty.” I couldn’t wipe the shit-eating grin off my face. I knew it was wrong, but it felt like I was showing off a new car, or unveiling a new plasma television. It was flattering as hell that a guy like Johnny couldn’t take his eyes off my wife—even if only half of Johnny’s stories were true. How could I not smile?

Date: September 17, 2012