New Man Pt. 10
Morgan and I clung together at the front door, me still in my bathrobe, her in clothes from a day or two ago. She buried her head into my shoulder, shaking like a leaf. I worked my way slowly backwards, pulling her into the house, nudging the door shut with my toes. When I got her into the dining room, I made tea. Chamomile, her favorite. Morgan didn't get further than five feet from me, and when I poured the hot water from the electric kettle, she burst into tears. I wrapped her in my arms again, and we rocked together, me kissing her forehead, her skull. We sat, and I said quietly, "Talk to me."
Morgan brought the mug to her lips, her hands shaking. "We've been arguing. You knew that." I nodded, and she settled the mug down. I don't think she'd actually taken a sip. "He wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas. He was so... cheerful, I should have known something was wrong. I told him..." Her words crumbled, and I thought she might start crying again, but instead, she held her hands against her chin, one over the other, and drew a deep, shaky breath. "I told him if he was serious, I wanted us to go to therapy. That's what I wanted for Christmas. To try and mend things one last time."
I nodded encouragingly. I understood that.
She sniffed and sipped her tea, and this time I was certain it touched Morgan's lips. I wanted to wipe away a drop with my finger. Not the time. So very not the time. "He started listing all this other stuff. Jewelry. A new TV. A car. A trip to Europe. Just insane babbling, things we really couldn't afford, and finally I snapped at him that I told him what I wanted. He took my phone, and he broke it in half. Just like that. No warning. Douglas told me... told me he saw how long I'd been talking to you that one night, and that he smelled the sex when he came in. He figured it out, and I... I didn't try to deny it. I told him about listening to you sleep with Sarah and Jenna, and..." She gestured at her eye, smiling bitterly.
"Did he hurt you in any other way?" I asked
"No," Morgan said. She reconsidered, and held up her wrist. A few bruise marks glared against her skin. "That." I nodded, and she continued. "He started throwing my things. Everything, really. I think he would have hurt me more. I ran. I didn't grab anything but my purse and my keys. I've been driving since last night. Lionel, I'm so tired."
My girlfriends shuffled in, quiet as cats. They formed a loose semi-circle around Morgan, reaching out to brush her shoulders, her arms.
"You heard?" Morgan asked no one in particular.
Sarah said, "Yes. We didn't mean to, but..."
"It's okay," Morgan said.
Jenna said to me quietly, "The bed is made. We're going to give you two some time."
"Thank you," I said.
"Morgan, what can we do for you?" Yvonne asked.
"When I wake up, we can get to know one another," Morgan said. She smiled, but it was a wan thing. "I'm sorry to have-"
"No," Dakota said, squeezing her arm. "No. Absolutely not. You don't apologize for a thing. We're so glad to finally meet you, but it's shitty it has to be like this."
"You have a home here," London said. "Not just with him, but with all of us. We're serious. Anything you need, you let us know. We'll leave our numbers and our addresses here."
Morgan cried again, just a few more tears, and then I was guiding her upstairs as my girlfriends shuffled out of the house. The only clothes Morgan had were what she wore. I loaned her one of my shirts, and gave her the privacy to take a shower and change into it. When she emerged, she said to me, "Before I go to bed, can I see his room? I just... I just need to."
"Of course," I murmured, and walked her down the hallway to Isaac's room. She wandered through it, touching everything. His blankets, his pillows, his action figures, his books, his clothes. When she came back to me, she embraced me without hesitation, looking up into my eyes. I leaned down and kissed her, and she melted into me.
"I love you," she breathed against my lips. "I love you so much."
"I love you too. You're home now," I murmured back.
"Do me one favor?"
"What's that?" I asked.
"Don't tell him I'm here. I think it'll be fun to surprise him."
Morgan stared up at me. "As long as you'll have me."
* * *
Morgan pulled the thick comforter up to her chin and rested on her side, curled up in the fetal position. I rested on top of the blankets beside her, stroking her shoulder through the material.
She opened one eye and looked at me before she slept. "You're going, aren't you?"
I nodded. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
I thought maybe she'd try to tell me not to go, but Morgan knew me well. She held up her hands, and with a long breath, she plucked off her engagement ring and wedding band. "Throw these somewhere along the way. Somewhere ugly and terrible."
"Kiss me again?"
I did, stroking Morgan's cheek until her eyes closed and her breathing evened out. I waited twenty minutes. There was no rush, and I wanted to drink in every detail of her. Then I was out of bed and moving. Not furious, not even angry. Just cold. I grabbed a shirt and a pair of boxers, and then I was rushing downstairs, snatching up my car keys and my wallet. Snow was falling again outside. Had to move, had to move, had to move.
Jenna opened her door before I could even knock. I said without preamble, "She's sleeping. I'm going back there. I need some of you watching and taking care of her. She doesn't have a damn thing, and if I know this asshole, I'm not coming back with any of it. If one of you could, take her shopping. I'll pay you back."
Behind her somewhere, Yvonne said, "Stop. She's family. Of course we'll help her." Jenna nodded too, and I kissed them both.
* * *
That trip back isn't something I care to relive. Once I got over the adrenaline, I was tired, but I kept on throughout the entire night, sometimes only making fifteen or twenty miles an hour through the snow. I drove through conditions bad enough that they closed down highways just hours after I passed. At times, I wondered what the hell I was doing, why I didn't stop at a hotel. I didn't know the answers then, and I don't know now.
Instead of going into the details, I'm going to lecture you.
None of my girlfriends argued with me. None of them tried to tell me to stay, that violence wasn't the answer. But here's the goddamn truth of the matter, and it's ugly, and it's bleak. Sometimes punching a fucker in the face Is justified.
That's not a popular opinion. We live in a society where modern culture has instilled in us a form of tacit pacifism. That we should let authorities handle it, except take a fucking look around you. There's no authority anymore. There's no culpability. No responsibility. No one is being made to suffer the consequences of their actions and we're burning for it.
I'm not talking about insane, unwarranted acts of revenge. I am talking about justice. About standing up when there's a wrong that's been done. A man touches his wife or his child, the odds are depressingly slim that he'll ever experience any sort of repercussion from it. The abuse will stand for a thousand shitty reasons. Maybe people don't know who they can call, who they can trust. I mean, fuck, look around you. Bad apples have ruined the bunch, and even a good cop can only do so much with a system strained to its absolute limits. Maybe the victims think it won't be any better without the abuser. Maybe they've just been abused so goddamn long they don't know any better, that they've stopped crying out for help to a world that keeps on ignoring them.
One in seven kids are abused. One in fucking seven. In the United States alone, there are over three million incidences of marital abuse. And that's just the shit that gets reported. How high does that number go when the wife won't talk about it? When she just takes it?
Their abusers know they can get away with it too. Oh sure, there are waves of victims getting brave enough to call them out, and those times are extraordinary. But abuse is, by and large, a silent crime done by cowards who know at worst a cop's going to come around and they'll have to pay a fine, and that's even if the cops listen to the victims.
Not every solution is to drive nearly a thousand miles and pop an asshole in the jaw. What I'm talking about is standing up and making sure people who do wrong are told that there are people who won't stand for it. You ever see the guy in a restaurant snapping at his wife and kids? Maybe the asshole at the store who treats a clerk like shit because he got overcharged for his merlot? Maybe the fuckwit on TV making fun of the disabled or women and the people around you laugh at it? Maybe the people you consider to be leaders keep moving their moral goalposts to match whatever greedy needs they have at the moment? Instead of rolling over and letting it pass, stand up. Say something. Tell them that shit isn't right, that it won't stand with you. Maybe you'll take a punch. Maybe worse.
The point is to try. Just try. It's not going to land you my six girlfriends and my stunning, lovely wife -- and oh yeah, spoiler here, but Morgan does marry me. If you're doing anything in life because you think it'll get you the girl, or the promotion, or the Internet fame, go fuck yourself. Stand up because you've got morals. Because you see something wrong and you don't want to be another lemming going along with it. Stand up because in this world, not many people are going to. Stand up because someone's gotta shout down the assholes.
Rant's over. I got there eventually. Douglas was at work. I drove there, I walked into his office, and I punched him so hard he crashed backwards on his chair and into a filing cabinet. When I stood him up again, I asked him for his keys so I could pick up the last of Morgan's shit. Like I thought, he told me through a bloodied mouth there was nothing left. He tried to goad me into another fight when his coworkers arrived, but I was done. The message was sent.
"When she divorces you," I snarled at him, leaning onto his desk, "you act like a man for once in your fucking life and you let her go without trying to hurt her again. You hear me?"
"Fuck you," Douglas said, but it was more miserable than angry, and when I walked away, he was sobbing.
* * *
I stayed at my parents' place. They were shocked to see me. I offered no explanation, except that Morgan would be staying with me, and that they could expect a bit of awkwardness there. Then I walked up to my old room, and dropped face first onto the mattress and slept until my mom's cooking woke me up again.
Once I wolfed down three helpings of cottage pie and drank about a gallon of coffee, I hugged them both. My mom gave me a small box. A small jewelry box, of the ring variety. My grandmother's, by means of my grandfather. She also sent with me a tin of cookies and fudge, and my father told me with honest-to-God tears in his eyes that he was proud of me. Don't think I've ever walked out of my parents' place with my head higher.
Then I went home. I talked to Isaac for a good hour or so along the way. He was having fun, but he confessed he was lonely too. There were few kids at my ex-wife's.... compound? Commune? I'm not sure what you'd call the gathering of ecologists and scientists Tina was working with. At least they were close to Anchorage. She had a week off soon and planned to drag him into the city proper, so I assured him there would be fun to come. I wasn't sure if that was the truth or not, but hey, sometimes you have to help the ex-missus.
My girlfriends called too, and through them, Morgan. I was on the phone with her when I pulled off the highway and threw her rings out into an empty field. She cried some about that, but it was a good, healthy cry. The kind of cry that helps you let go.
The weather was better going home, and not long after dawn, I pulled up to my house. Jenna, Yvonne, and Morgan came out to greet me. The original trio, I called them, not sure why except that I was bone tired and loopy. I kissed them, each of them, a good, long, passionate kiss. Even Morgan, who seemed unsure of things still.
Outside, by the truck, Jenna and Yvonne held each other's hands. Jenna said, "Lionel."
They looked at each other, then at me. Yvonne sniffed and smiled. "All of us agreed to give you two through Christmas together."
I broke away from Morgan, not even aware I'd been holding her hand. "No, hey-"
"Stop," Jenna said, and her smile was honest and beautiful, if pained. "We love you. And we're not going anywhere. Spend some time with Morgan. Love her. Please. We'll be fine."
Yvonne added, "Seriously, you're not the cornerstone of this... what, six way? We can spend some time apart and things won't break. We're going to enjoy exploring what we all mean to each other. So no guilt, no hard feelings. It's not forever. It's just a few days."
I nodded, mute. They came to me one more time, and when they kissed me, they wished me a merry Christmas. They headed across the street, and both Morgan and I distinctly heard Jenna wonder out loud how long I'd wait until I proposed.
When they were gone, I looped my arms around Morgan's waist, and she wrapped hers around my neck, staring up into my eyes. "Make love to me?" she murmured.
"Here? Now?" I asked. "Well, it might get a little cold, but I'm down to try it in the driveway if you want."
She laughed, and pulled me in for a very long kiss. Her hands fell to my back, then my waist, and down to my butt. Mine roamed her back, squeezing her tighter to me, our lips dancing in the most wonderfully natural way I'd ever felt. Morgan was safe. Morgan was home. Morgan was mine. Finally.
Then she pulled away, blinking. "What?" I asked.
"There is something very squarish and very hard in your pocket. Am I crazy, or is that a ri-?"
I dropped my hands to her ass and lifted her. "Time to go upstairs and make love like teenagers," I said, ignoring her question.
For the moment, anyways.
* * *
"Morgan," I said, peeling her blouse off her and staring down at her perky breasts in a new pink bra. I forced myself to look upwards, into her smiling face. The black eye was gone, or at least covered in enough makeup to hide the bruises. "Before we do this, I think we need to talk."
"About your other girlfriends?" She worked my belt with deft fingers, not even looking. Impressive.
I drew a deep breath, and nodded. "I do love them. All of them."
"I know. I like them too." She shrugged. "I'm not here to break anything up."
"You're always going to have a place here in my bed. You and I, there's always going to be something there that the others-"
"Lionel. You don't need to make the sales pitch." Her eyes searched mine. "We have to find out if we're compatible, but I had dinner with them last night. They're wonderful. I'm very much looking forward to getting to know them."
"Okay. Good. What Sarah said when we were, ah, on the phone with each other, about wanting me to give her a baby, she was serious about that. Yvonne too."
She undid the fly on my jeans and slipped a hand inside. "Ohhhh wow. They were not exaggerating."
I grinned. "Thank you. But focus."
I unclasped her bra as she spoke, and this time, I didn't peel my eyes away. But she broke me out of ihttps://www.cancerandcareers.org/blog/tracey-sharing-the-news
t completely when she leaned in to whisper into my ear, "I was serious too. That night when you asked me what it was I wanted. I want kids. With you. And I'm not on the pill."
My eyes widened. She smiled, and our bodies pulled together again, hunger and plain simple human need taking over.
Morgan and I were together.
We finished undressing each other and took our time looking over one another. Morgan traced the hard curves of my muscles with two fingers, eyes alight, and practically purred when she reached the vee of muscle above my cock. I stroked her cheeks, then let my hands wander where they wanted to touch, holding nothing back as I cupped her breasts and stroked her hard dark nipples. Then lower, to the thatch of unruly hair above her pussy, and down to tease her lips. I slid a calloused finger through her wetness and her thighs widened for me, her mouth opening in a silent whimper of my name. I brought my finger to my lips and tasted her for the first time.
"Don't tease this first time," she murmured. "We can play all we want to later. Right now, I need you."
I nodded. There was only one way I was going to take her that first time, the way we both wanted it. I followed her onto the bed, unable to help a warm kiss of her thighs and her delicate pussy lips. I slid up her body, kissing her stomach, her breasts, her neck, her chin. As Morgan rested back against the pillows and I guided myself to her entrance, I marveled that I could be this content, this fulfilled. Our hands joined on my prick, and I searched her eyes as I spoke the words again. "I love you."
"Show me," she whispered.
And for the first time, I sank into the woman I loved most in this world.
Morgan's body accepted every inch of me. Her core gripped me, but not too tight, and from the spreading of her thighs and the deep moan she gave me as I reached her depths, this was as good for Morgan as it was me. A wicked idea crossed my mind, and I squinted, making a sour face.
"Oh God, it's too good," I grunted, stiffening.
"Wait, what?" Morgan asked.
Then I blinked innocently into her eyes and grinned. She burst out laughing so hard she snorted, my favorite thing to make her do. Her hands joined behind my head and brought me down for a long, good kiss.
"Way to ruin the mood," she said, booping me on the nose with her fingers.
"Let me try to make it up to you."
One of my hands slid down between us, down to her prominent clit, and her smile vanished in a hurry as I began to rock into her again, this time teasing her bud along with the gentle thrusts of my hips. Her hands rose, tentative at first, then looping around my neck again.
"Tell me how you like it," I murmured.
"Just like this," she whispered. She leaned up to kiss me, and again, until our lips were as much a connection. I dream of that moment in time, of her beneath me, her legs coming up slowly as her pleasure arced. Morgan's spill of reddish-auburn hair on the pillows, the beautiful doe eyes closing slowly like she was sinking into sleep, the way her kisses trailed off, breath hot against my lips. And then my name, spilling from her lips. "Lionel... Lionel, tell me you love me again."
"I love you." I thrust into her and her legs jumped, rising high. "I love you forever, Morgan. Be mine."
"Yesss," she cried out. "Yours... forever..."
Her body clenched. She came, liquid warmth bathing my cock. She was always so wet like that, so ready for me. I eased back and into her, my passion, my devotion to Morgan in every thrust of my hips. Her foot came down, twined around my ankle, and she cried, cried for us, cried for what was lost, cried for happiness and love and a fulfilment so deep it seeped from her soul into mine.
There would be costs to our love. Her parents' and extended family's derision would hurt Morgan the most. Her divorce would drag on and on, leaving her sobbing in my arms some nights at the cruelty of her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Walking out on her job like that, even given the circumstances, came with a severe loss of credibility.
But in each other's arms, we would find refuge from all of that, and so much happiness. Together, our old hurts would heal, and it began that morning together, that wonderful, life-changing morning.
When Morgan came down from that first orgasm and I kissed her tears away, she laughed softly again and nudged me until I was on my back. Now it was her turn to make love to me, and she did so with no more tears, just raw pleasure. My hands roamed all over her as she bounced more than rocked back and forth, taking control and having fun. She made a game of teasing me with kisses and pulling away when I tried to reciprocate.