“Helen, how did you get these bruises?”
It was three days later and Jack had been undressing her carefully, planting tender kisses on flesh as he’d uncovered it. Now he’d stopped and, still kneeling, looked up at her with concern.
“It’s nothing. Tom was… Tom got…”
She was suddenly crying, furious with herself, her weakness.
He stood and wrapped her in his arms. “Tell me.”
“Stupid really,” she sighed, but she told him, watched his face shift from concern to anger.
“How long has this been going on for?” he asked over dinner later.
She shrugged. “Does it matter?”
They sat in silence for the rest of the meal.
“I’ve never said no,” she told him, as she climbed into her car after the meal.
“You should never have needed to,” he said gruffly, before closing the door.
It was, she realised later, the first time they’d met and hadn’t had sex. I’m falling in love with this man, she thought. I don’t care about tipping points or excitement or finding myself. I just want him. I just want to be with him and be myself with him.
Jack had, she knew, easily filled the emptiness she had been feeling for so many months. This relationship – Affair? Fling? she wondered – had been the leap of faith that was bringing her back to life. Without doubt there would be a cost. There was always a cost. The question that plagued her was: how high?
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