With an agonized groan, Peter Richards held his wife, Kat, still while he came, spilling his seed down her throat.
For a moment, he couldn’t move, couldn’t for the life of him pull out, pull away, from her. But, drained, he felt his legs give way. With a shudder, he slipped out of her mouth and fell to his knees to hold her close. “Katherina.” He sighed before he took her mouth with his.
He always loved her taste, the sweet warmth of her kiss. But, when she tasted of sex, tasted of them both combined, it was almost enough to make him hard again. “Katherina.” He dragged them both down onto the plush rug, wrapping her tight in his arms.
God, when was the last time he had called her that? Had really thought of her like that?
Far too long.
“Thank you, Peter.” Kat yawned and cuddled close.
“I should be saying that to you.” He wiped the corners of her lips. “I came. You didn’t.” He’d change that as soon as he could move again.
“It doesn’t matter,” she muttered against his shoulder.
“Of course, it does.” He snorted. Silly girl.
“It was still the best—” She stopped suddenly, her relaxed body suddenly going tense.
He twisted to look down at her. “What?”
She bit her lip.
She turned away. “Nothing.”
“Katherina,” he warned.
She shook her head again.
“Kat,” he said, pled, softly before he stroked her shoulder and arm. “Please.”
She shrugged, before saying very quietly, “It was the best sex we’ve had for a while.”
“Excuse me?” He straightened his glasses on his nose.
She shrugged again, burrowing closer to him. No matter how he turned or tried to hold her so he could look at her face, look into her eyes, she hid from him.
“Hey,” he said, holding her away from him by the shoulders so she met his gaze, “talk to me.” He frowned when her eyes widened with anxiety before she shifted her gaze downward. “What is that supposed to mean?”
First, they weren’t having enough sex and now the sex they were having was bad.
“Have I not been—” He shook his head, not sure what he wanted to ask, wasn’t sure what he wanted her to answer. “Have you not been satisfied? Have I not been good enough for you?”
“No, you’re always good,” she said, biting her lip and shrugging, “enough. Of course, you’re good enough.”
Enough. Good enough? Why didn’t that sound like a compliment?
He winced. Probably because it wasn’t.
“It’s just.” She sighed, sitting up, curling her arms around herself as if she were taken by a sudden chill. “We don’t really...”
“Really what?” He hated how defensive he sounded and fought hard not to pout.
She cringed and looked up at him, her black eyes pleading. “Play,” she answered, her voice quietly apologetic. As if it were her fault. Even though they both knew it wasn’t. “We don’t ever really play anymore.” She shook her head. “Not like we used to.”
He sat up too, staring at her dumbly. He gaped, at a complete loss of words.
“We don’t go to Donovan’s. We barely see our friends anymore. And this,” she said, gesturing to the bed and the array of toys spread out around her, “we never use any of this stuff anymore.” Her gaze, desperate and ashamed, met his for a moment before dropping, a furious blush climbing her cheeks. “I miss it.”
He did too.
Didn’t even really realize it until she’d said something. But, yeah, things had felt off with them for a while. Was this it?
“I feel like you don’t want to play with me anymore.” Her voice cracked, a sure sign of tears.
Peter’s heart broke.
Scooting closer to her, he grabbed her by the elbows, turning her toward him. “Kat,” he said gently, letting his hands rub her arms soothingly, “why did you never say anything?”
She still wouldn’t look at him, her face kept determinedly turned, shielding her eyes but not the tear that trickled down her cheek. “You’d made such a point about not wanting to just have sex anymore. You wanted to make love. How things were different now that we’re married and planning for a family. I didn’t want to push.” Her face crumpled, killing him. “I didn’t want to ask for something you didn’t want to give.”
He swallowed hard. God, he’d messed up.
He cupped her face with his hand, sweeping his thumb under the feather-soft skin under her eyes. He sighed. “If I’m honest,” he told her with a frown, “it does feel different now that we’re married. You’re my wife and the idea of hurting you...” His voice died. He shook his head and looked up at her, sorry and sad. It — the very thought of harming her at all — seemed wrong now. “But I did hurt you, didn’t I?” His brow furrowed and he brushed her hair off her face.
“I just don’t understand why it’s so different.” Her arms crossed over her naked body to pull her hair off to the side. Her hands fisted in the strands, pulling. Her knees clenched tight and her arms hugged over her breasts, like she were shielding herself, protecting herself. From him. “I don’t understand what changed.”
He grimaced. He didn’t think he really did either. He shrugged his shoulders, uncomfortable with being so closely examined. “I guess, before I met you, I never really saw myself getting married, you know. I figured it would happen one day, but never really gave it much thought until you.” He looked at her, curled tight away from him even as she sat in his arms, a bit helplessly. “I don’t know what I’m doing, Kat,” he said almost inaudibly, ashamed. “I don’t know how to do this.”
“You don’t know how to be married,” she asked cautiously, “or you don’t know how to be married to me?”
He shook his head. He didn’t know. “I just want to be able to give you what you want. What you deserve. All the things men give their wives. Security. Love. Respect. A home.” He touched her cheek softly. “I want to take care of you, Kat.”
He just didn’t know how to do that and do this at the same time.
He shook his head, disappointment — in himself, only himself; never her — filling him painfully. “I’m sorry.”
She nodded and swallowed, her lips thinning into a tight, unhappy smile. She leaned in to kiss him gently, almost perfunctorily, on the mouth before reaching up to grab ahold of one of the strong, oak bedposts, pulling herself up to stand before heading for the shower.
He watched her go, her head lowered, her shoulders slumped and resigned, her feet falling silent on the hardwood floor with each step like a sacrifice to slaughter. His jaw clenched as his heart lurched.
She stopped to stand in the doorway of the bedroom for a long, silent moment. Without turning to him, she said softly, “I love you, Peter.”
He heard an unsaid anyway hang heavy in the air.
Peter slumped on the floor at the foot of the bed, watching her walk away from him.
Read Part Two Here