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Blueberry Pancakes

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In hindsight, she should have seen it coming. She's almost forty, she's born and carried four children – of course she doesn't like the sixteen year old girl he'd went to prom with anymore. It doesn't make it sting any less, that, after twenty years of marriage, he'd traded her in for someone half her age. And yes, maybe she could have even forgiven him for this indiscretion (it's just the only one she knows of, she keeps reminding herself unnecessarily) in time, had she not been humiliated while finding out about it.

He doesn't know yet, that she knows everything. All he does is, that after all her shitty day had thrown at her already, she went by the automobile dealership he'd run into the ground (another thing she'd might have forgiven him for their children's sake) to confront him. Only to walk into the scene she had tried not to picture for the last hour – her husband screwing his barely legal secretary. She didn't say anything, just turned on her heels and left his office with him scrambling off his secretary and calling after her to please just wait and they could talk about this. She hadn't even cried – and in that moment she'd realized that she didn't care what he's doing and who with – but that he was doing it behind her back.

Beth had never before entertained the thought of divorce, confident, that she still as in love with with Dean as when they first met. But seeing him doing things with (to) that child he hadn't done with (to) her in years, she couldn't help but realize she wasn't – or start to think that she maybe never really had been at all. If he'd left her, even asked her for a divorce, she'd gladly have given him his wish. It was not the girl – or the fact that he had needs she fulfill anymore – it was the cheating (and the lying) that made her hate him so much right now.

And yes, maybe it was her own fault (and yes, maybe that should have also made her realize a few things about her feelings sooner), because she hadn't been intimate with her husband in years. She'd felt no desire to have sex with anyone for a good while after her second youngest child and when he'd coaxed one even halfway enjoyable night out of her, she ended up pregnant with their youngest – and with permanent birth control. It had been her last sexual encounter in the last five years (not his obviously). Where she felt no need to be with Dean, the desire to just get laid had come over her often enough. But her marriage vows had meant something to her and so she had resigned herself to her vibrator, because she didn't want Dean and she wouldn't be looking for it somewhere else. And she had thought Dean to be thinking along the same lines – or that at least the end of her marriage would come before the new girl. And not because of it.

An hour after finding her marriage finally over and done with, she does cry in an almost empty parking lot of some bar she'd never heard of until now.
The credit card company had confirmed for her the purchases of a shit ton of expensive lingerie she'd neither bought nor had been gifted, when she'd asked why her online purchase had been declined. She'd been told they were way too much over their spending limit this month and without any insurance, there's no way they can let her put her children's new winter coats and shoes on the card. At her insistence, that they had a house and a business, she'd been asked to make an appointment with her bank. And that's where she had spent the last 45 minutes after leaving Boland Motors.

Their house had been mortgaged three times over, to try to save the car dealership that was supposed to pay for the house and the family, not the other way around. With the rest of their non-existent money, Dean had opted to buy expensive underwear for someone who's actually going to wear it for him.

They have nothing, not even her house is hers anymore, and that's what had finally broken her. The fact, that she has no idea, how to provide for her children and to make sure they'll always have a roof over their heads.

She would have gone to her sister to vent and scream and cry and curse her cheating, lying future ex-husband's name, but Annie's at work and Beth feels another wave of tears hit. Her sister might not always have been the most responsible person around, but she's been raising her 12-year-old teenage pregnancy result on her own for the last nine years. Granted, cashier at the local supermarket doesn't pay much, but it seems like at least enough to get by in a small 2-bedroom apartment and public school.

And Beth?
What had she done?
Married the handsome senior who's idea of a first date had been to ask her directly to accompany him to his prom and became a stay-at-home mum, with a two-story, three bedroom house, a dog and four children in private school. They could afford it, all of it, their very own business doing the great things Dean had always promised it would.

Until now.
Now? Now she's a future divorcee, that can't pay off one mortgage, let alone three. She hasn't worked in 13 years, and no job at a grocery store desperate enough for employees to hire anyone will pay for five people and the mess her husband created. Because yes, she's sure she's getting to be stuck with that, too. She would never regret her children, not one of them, but she can't help but think she could have done it all and be independent from her husband as well.

When she finally feels like there are no tears left to cry in her body, she takes a deep breath and wipes a tissue under each of her eyes in turn. A glance in the rearview mirror confirms she looks like shit (glassy eyes, ruined makeup, red cheeks and all), but, for maybe the first time ever, figures she doesn't care. And so would nobody else. She's about to get drunk in a dimly lit bar at 9.30 on a Monday morning - everyone she could be encountering inside is either faring the same as she is or is generally in no position to judge her in any way.

Dragging a hand through her hair once, twice, she grabs her purse from the passenger seat and exits her car. Her head keeps swiping left to right, making sure, even though she's far enough from her usual hangouts, nobody she knows sees her. Her car's standing in the far back, a precaution (and for having been left in peace to cry), but the rather long walk across the parking lot to the door makes it just as easy to be spotted as if her car was parked in plain sight. A few steps later, she decides she doesn't care here either.

She won't be able to hide her impending separation and divorce from her acquaintances either, so what did it matter if they saw her mourn the loss of two decades worth of her life?! With her head held high, Beth pushes open the door and steps in.

If she'd taken the time to look around, Beth would have noticed the place not to be as shabby as she imagined it to be from its sheer location only. The mostly empty booths (red leather - and she would wonder if it's genuine or just convincing looking plastic covering), the vast open space occasionally interrupted by wooden columns to hold up the high ceiling and the polished wooden floors making it a place she would have, once upon a time, enjoyed a night out with her husband in.

Beth doesn't care about all that. What she wants, no needs, is a drink - and fast. She makes her way over to the bar without a second thought, noticing the few people around looking at her. She knows she looks a mess, but she can't help thinking, that that's not why they are looking. Yes, they are probably all wondering what she is doing here (at this time of day, dressed like this), but there's something else, too. And after having been witness to her own husband not finding her attractive enough anymore to at least try, it lifts her spirits just that much.
Even when it comes from a bunch of seedy drunks she has no intention of taking up on their obvious attraction. What matters to her right now is the confirmation that it had not been her fault - had nothing to do with her looks - but all with her husband being a selfish and arrogant bastard.

She slides up to the bar, leaning against the high stool behind her back instead of sitting up on it. It doesn't take ten seconds before the bartender takes her order and when he places the Bourbon in front of her and she reaches for her purse, he won't let her. Tells her, this one is on him. ("A pretty woman should never be paying for her own drink"). She gladly accepts with a small smile, because with her current plan, she's happy for every drink she would not have to put her own money behind. What's left of ir anyway, she thinks with a groan and takes a generous sip, because that's what she's here for - get drunk and forget.

She's no expert (even though Bourbon had always been her drink of choice), but she knows enough to know that this is the good stuff. More importantly maybe, the expensive stuff. It's incredibly nice to have been treated to such, but she has to remember to aks for the cheaper version for her next drink. Even on her good days she wouldn't have spent money in more than one of those. Today, she's not even sure she could afford half a glass.

That thought brings on the guilt, and she's almost putting down the drink and leaves. How can she be mad at Dean for spending money they don't have on someone other than his children when, on a much lower scale, she's doing the same shit right now?!
The answer comes just as soon as she'd finished her inner guilt trip. She hadn't been the one to lose all the money they used to have and she's the one already thinking of ways to make ends meet and provide her five-people household with a roof over their heads and three daily meals on the table. She has earned the right to spend their non-existent money on herself for once, before moving heaven and earth to bring more in.

She celebrates this conclusion with another long sip, only to realize that, when she sets it down onto the bar, her drink is already gone. A glance at her phone tells her she's already been here for thirty minutes and she figures it's as good a time as any to order a second drink.

"Another one?" The bartender asks, leaning casually on the bar counter top,studying her. He's neither creepy nor hitting on her but, it seems, rather just curious as to what brought her here. She's not about to tell him, but she has to admit she doesn't mind the attention.

"Yes, please" She gives him a flirty smile, because why not. He doesn't seem to be interested in her like that and she isn't interested in a random hook-up in general. There's no harm in flirting, especially since she considers herself single as of two hours ago. "Let's go down on the price a bit though, yes?"

He returns her smile and acknowledges her request with a slight nod of the head. She reaches for her purse while he walks over to the desired liquor. And then. "Actually, never mind"

She's staring at the empty contents of her wallet. Her last cash is sitting on the kitchen counter, where she counted it to see if she has enough on hand to make a trip to the store to purchase her children's clothing the old fashioned way. All she has with her are a stack of business cards for her husband's bankrupt motor dealership, IDs for her and her children, her driver's license and the credit card she can't use.

She puts her wallet back into her purse, closes her eyes for a second. With a heavy sigh she pushes off the barstool she's still leaning on, when her path is temporarily blocked by an arm reaching over her and pushing a fifty across the bar.

"That one's on me. And make it the good stuff" The voice comes from directly behind her, smooth and like honey and Beth feels like melting into the floor. "Actually, make it two" Then he slides around her to squeeze in between her body and the high stool next to him. He leans against the counter sideways, facing her, and when she mimics his posture, she almost stops breathing.

He's the complete opposite of everything she ever thought she's attracted to (the complete opposite of Dean, a helpful voice provides in her head), but damn, he's hot.

"Thanks" she says when she's finally found her voice. "But it really wasn't necessary" Nevertheless, she accepts the glass when the bartender puts it down in front of her.

"Nah, mama, you looked like you needed it" The slight smirk and the obvious run down of her body should unnerve her (she doesn't know this guy and should have no interest in wanting to) - but it doesn't. In fact, it's doing the exact opposite and she bites the inside of her cheek to stifle the groan when she feels the first stirrings of heat pool within her. Yea, so much for no interest in a random hook-up, but it looks like her body hadn't gotten that memo. Or had just decided to ignore her head's clear instructions.

Beth smiles at him then, letting her eyes roam over his figure just like he had done her. She's still not planning on taking him home with her (or anywhere really) but there's no harm in looking. Even when he seems a lot more interested in taking things further than looking as the bartender had been. She might have to turn him down later, but for the time being she decides to cherish the attention her husband hasn't paid to her in way too long a time.

"Thank you" she says again and when he shrugs his shoulders in acknowledgement, still with that smirk on his face, she catches a glimpse of some kind of tattoo on his neck. She takes a sip of her drink, watches him do the same and hopes she's not blushing as furiously as she thinks she is.

Beth pushes off the barstool then, turns and heads for some to him unknown destination further back in the dimly lit room. Her bottom lip catches between her teeth when he finally calls after her.

"Ain't nothin' wrong with leavin' me standin' here, sweetheart, but don't I even get to know your name?" His smile hasn't vanished when she looks over her shoulder at him.

For a moment she debates on teasing him, asking why'd he need to know her name when he's so obviously keen on pet names. In the end, what she says is" Well, are you coming or not?" She just barely makes it to the booth before he slides in next to her.

"Beth" she finally answers on a short laugh at his eagerness when they made themselves comfortable. She doesn't see him talking or forcing her into something she really doesn't want, but yea, turning him down is probably going to be more work than she thought.

He does not provide his own name and she doesn't ask. She won't ever see him again after this - and she's still not even sure what this is anyway - so she doesn't need to know his name.

They make it through about twenty minutes of small talk, gradually draining their glasses, before he orders two more drinks (ignoring her protest on him paying and what he's spending on her) and fixes a curious glance at her. "So, what that husband of yours do to make you get drunk that early in the morning?"

Beth's mouth opens and closes a few times without producing any words. How could he know it's Dean's fault she's out here? He takes a long sip of his fresh drink, hiding a smirk behind the amber liquid. Then he finally sets on glancing meaningfully towards the hand that's holding her own glass.

That's when she notices she's still wearing her wedding ring. Of course she is. She has been wearing it for the last twenty years and her first thought had definitely not been to take off a ring she barely even consciously registers anymore most days. Still, how does this handsome stranger the guy behind the wedding band is also the guy behind her early morning drinking?

She doesn't feel anything as she pulls the ring off her finger. It disappears somewhere in the depths of her over large purse and she doesn't particularly care where it actually ends up. It's the last confirmation she needs for herself that this marriage is over. She maybe could have forgiven Dean for all he's done (for their children only and with a good long amount of time), but that sue doesn't even care if she wears his ring or not makes it clear that this marriage had nothing to do with love anymore. Hadn't for a long time probably.

"I'm not married" she tells him with a slight shrug. It doesn't even feel like a lie, even though she's not divorced yet.

He contemplates her for a long minute before he settles on what to say. "Look, I was just guessing" It's an answer to her unasked question and she gives him a smile in return. But he's not finished. "I get it, you don't wanna tell me and you don't gotta, but..." He drags a hand over his face and swipes his lower lip with his tongue. "I'm gonna be honest here Elizabeth, you're hot and if you're offering, I'd be very much interested in taking this further than this booth"

He searches her face for a moment, sees a faint blush spread over her face and neck and how she startled at the use of her full name. "What I'm not" he continues softly, "is interested in getting in between a marital spat that's gonna be over in an hour"

What he's saying is, that he's not gonna be her revenge hook-up to get back at the guy she's never going to leave anyway. He's not proposing a relationship (or even more than a one off) but he also won't be the one to destroy her current one.

"You wouldn't" She does not say out loud that she hasn't made up her mind yet if this is even leading further, but they can both hear it. And then, because she's not sure he believes her or not, but no matter where this leads she really doesn't want him to leave right now, she elaborates slightly. "He lost all our money and he's cheating on me. I'm gonna kick him out the next time he comes home"

It's still not an invitation, but at least he stays.

An hour later he has discarded his hoodie somewhere on the bench next to her, which gives her the perfect view of the bird tattooed on his neck. Her own jacket is lying on the same heap and her legs tangle with his under the table more and more every time one of them moves closer. There's barely any space between them anymore and he's talking directly into her ear (the bartender had turned the music up when more people came in and she couldn't hear him anymore otherwise - at least that's the official story). He never gave an explanation for the hand on her thigh and the overwhelming arousal she feels course through her body at his touch makes her think she doesn't need one either. Beth herself is playing with the hem of his black shirt, her gaze straying to his neck every chance she gets.

She has no idea what bird it is supposed to be, but what she knows is, that she'd like to trace it - with her eyes, her fingers, her lips.
She also knows where this thing between them is heading and she decides to not fight it anymore.

When his hand leaves her thigh to wave over the bartender for another round of drinks, she reaches up and takes it in her mid-air. Then she leans over and, for the first time, speaks right into his ear. "Why don't we take this back to my place and I treat you to a glass of Bourbon I have already paid for?"

It is, first and foremost, really just an invitation for another drink and they both know it. It doesn't matter though, because when he accepts, they are also very aware of what said dnk will lead to. As if to prove a point he reaches over he to grab his hoodie and she lets out a shaky breath against the shell of his ear when their chests brush for the briefest of moments.

---

They drive in separate cars, mostly so Beth won't have to drive him back to the bar later, partly so there's no awkwardness should either of the decide not to do this on the way over. But she parks her car in the driveway and he exits his own a few meters down the street and neither of them has changed their minds.

She takes him through the garden and the unlocked back door. She doesn't need noisy neighbors spreading rumours about her when news of their separation and divorce will eventually get out. And he doesn't seem to mind. It's probably the same idea that had been behind him not parking in front of her house.

She drags him through the door and into her kitchen by a hand that feels so natural in his, that she didn't even know she'd grabbed it. She only notices when the door falls shut behind him and she drops his hand quickly. She takes the bottle of Bourbon from the right cabinet and fills two glasses. With her back still turned to him she takes a generous sip to calm her nerves. She pushes the second glass across the kitchen island towards him, watches the bird move as he swallows and drains her own drink in one more gulp.

Suddenly, she feels ridiculous.

He's this gorgeous looking stranger that has to be at least ten years younger than her. She can't help imagining what he must look like under these tight fitting clothes and a moan almost escapes her lips. Then she remembers what she looks like under loose fitting red spring dress and the moan turns into a quiet, but audible groan. She had four children and no desire to please her husband in any way for a long time. So, while she does want to look good for herself, she just doesn't look like she's twenty anymore. There's no way he could actually want her.
And does this really make her any better than Dean?! For all intents and purposes, she is still married, even if it's only on paper.

Hell, she doesn't even know his name. Here he is, learning everything there is to know about her just by standing in her kitchen.
Her children's drawings on the fridge. The bowls in the corner, belonging to a dog of whose whereabouts she should be way more suspicious right now. The open laptop and the small bundle of cash on the island between them. The four sets of dirty dishes she hadn't bothered to clean up yet, the last remains of homemade blueberry pancakes drowning in maple syrup.

And she didn't even know his name.

There are exactly two things she knows about him. She wants him - badly. And that it's a very bad idea.

She thinks her hands are shaking when she sets her empty glass down and reaches for the open bottle again, but she can't say if it's nervousness, frustration or arousal that causes it.

"Elizabeth, relax" She likes her name coming from his lips and he must have caught on to that, because he's used it quite often now over their short acquaintance. He puts the Bourbon back onto the counter and takes her hands into his for a moment. She hadn't even noticed him coming over. "I ain't gonna force you into anything, but..." He searches for something in her eyes, seems to have found it just a fraction of a second later.

And then he's kissing her and she can't remember why she ever thought this was a bad idea.

For all his forwardness in initiating the kiss in the first place, he’s almost shy now. He’s giving her the control to take this as far as she wants it to, and as disappointed he’d be if she actually left him hanging now, he would not do anything she doesn’t want.

But then her arms wind around his neck and she walks them backwards until the back of her knees collide with the kitchen table. She wastes no time scooting onto the little bit of free space (she’s pretty sure her dress catches on something anyway), pulls him closer to stand in between her legs and it’s like a switch.

His hands, suddenly, are all over her body. Trailing from her hip up to her breasts and back down, where this time, he doesn’t stop at her hip again, but moves his fingers further down all the way to her left knee. They break for air the same moment his hand disappears underneath the hem of her dress. Beth can’t stop the gasp at his lips on her pulse point, that drags over into a low, long moan when his hand reaches his intended destination.

His fingers trace the front of her soaked panties lightly a few times, eliciting another string of moans and gasps and he thinks he might have actually heard an almost silent fuck. And then, finally, he catches the waistband of her underwear and drags it down her legs.

The moment he’s back between her legs, after discarding the fabric and ridding them both of a pair of in-the-way shoes, her arms come down from around his neck and it takes about half a minute for his pants and boxers to join her underwear at some forgotten location somewhere on her kitchen floor.

He steps even closer and pushes her dress up over her hips. It might be incredibly too late to thinks about this right this second, but still he pauses in his actions once more. He looks deep into her eyes, asks a question without asking and hoping that the answer wouldn’t be a sudden last minute change of heart.

Beth fists her hands in the front of his black shirt and pulls him impossibly closer so his lips are in kissing distance and she brushes them with every word. “If I was in any way unsure of this” She can’t resist and kisses him properly once before she continues. “you wouldn’t have even gotten this faaahh..” Her arms wind back around his neck, her legs around his hips and their lips crash together in another kiss, when he pushes into her.

He sets a leisurely pace for a few strokes, lets her fully adjust to being filled by him and she appreciates it more than she would have thought. It has been a while since she’s had anything inside of her her other than her own fingers or her vibrator. But when he stills completely, it’s Beth encouraging him on to move and a few strokes later, to pick up the pace.

She meets him thrust for thrust. Her fingers are finally tracing the bird tattooed on his neck like she had been fantasizing about since almost the moment she’d met him. His hands grip her hips hard enough to probably leave bruises, but she doesn’t care. Just like she doesn’t care, that the spot on her neck he’s sucking and biting in turn is going to turn into a massive hickey.

And he feels so incredible inside her that she can feel the warmth and the pleasure and the lust cursing through her entire body. But it’s not enough, she can feel it. For her, their position is getting more and more uncomfortable and as much as she loves what he’s doing to her, she can’t suppress the thoughts about her legs around his hips cramping for much longer. Needless to say, it significantly dampens her desire.

She has no idea however, how to voice her predicament. She feels incredibly embarrassed that she even has to bring it up. But while she’s still wracking her barely functioning brain for the right words, he seems to have caught on on his own. He slowly and carefully detaches her legs from the tight grip they have around his waist and pulls out off her when he can move backwards. Beth wants to bite her lip to keep the whine from slipping out the moment his cock does, but she hears him make the same sound, and so she doesn’t.

“Turn around” he says, his voice strained. He didn’t need to though, because she’s already spinning on her heels, because yes, this makes so much more sense. Her right hand is gripping the edge of the table, the left one coming palm down in-between her sons’ plates. She starts to think how she should have just cleaned this mess up before she’d left the house this morning. And then he’s sliding back inside her with one hard thrust and she doesn’t think anything at all anymore.

This time, he doesn’t ease into a rhythm, but just picks up where they left off. Like this, it doesn’t take long before she notices his movements getting sloppy and she realizes he’s close. But he’s waiting for her to fall first.

Beth feels her orgasm quickly approaching and she just knows she won’t be able to come like that. She’s always needed those few quick, practised flicks of her own fingers against her clit to push her over the edge - and that’s exactly where she wants to be right now. So she makes an effort in prying her fingers from the edge of the table and she’s halfway where she wants to be, when she slams that hand back onto the table to keep her upright. Her orgasm hit her out of nowhere and she bites her lip from screaming out, even though they are alone in the house. He follows just a few strokes later, muffling his own curses into her neck. They don’t move for what feels like a pretty long time.

---

Her hand resides in something liquid and sticky and when Beth finally has the energy to find out what it is, she sees her fingers sprawled in her daughter’s pool of maple syrup in which a good amount of pancakes have met their end at breakfast. At the other side of the table she vaguely registers a cup dangling dangerously close to the edge and a second one missing. She tries to remember if she’d heard it crash onto the floor earlier.

She turns around when he finally moves behind her and for a moment she almost reaches forward and kisses him. But then she remembers that they don’t know each other and that this is a one time thing and not a romantic interlude between lovers. That’s when the awkwardness sets in. She has no idea how to do this. Does she kick him out? Is he supposed to pack his shit without her mentioning it? Or is it okay to linger and want to kiss him again? Does he want to do the same?

Beth decides to wing it. It’s not like this is what she’s been doing from the moment he’d stepped up to her in the bar. “There’s a guest bathroom down the hall” She makes it clear he doesn’t have to accept her invitation to clean himself up, but pushes off the table herself and takes slow, wobbly steps towards her bedroom.

“Thanks” There’s definitely a smirk in his voice. She hears him picking up his jeans off the floor and close the bathroom door just before she steps into her ensuite and does the same.

She thinks the regret and shame about what she did is going to kick in soon. But she’s turning the taps to let hot water spill into the bathtub, uses the toilet, stops the waterflow again and slips out off her ruined dress and all she feels is pleasantly incredible. She drops the dress into the hot water, adds a few drops of shampoo in hopes to get the mess out off it, and lets it to soak. Deciding to take a real bath later, when she’s definitely alone, she wets a washcloth and wipes herself as clean as possible. Then she slips into her robe and enters her bedroom.

She slips into a fresh pair of underwear and some yoga pants before she dares discarding the robe again. It’s stupid, she knows. She’s just had sex with him, but she has no idea if he’s still in the house and suddenly the chance of him seeing her in just her bra seems way too intimate.

With her shirt already in hand, Beth takes a moment to look at herself in the vanity mirror. Her fingers come up to trace the already visible outlines of her new love bite, but she’s still feeling too good to think about how she should have made sure this didn’t happen in the first place.

“Suits you” She hasn’t heard him approach, but now she can see him leaning against the open door frame of her bedroom - the one she hadn’t closed for reasons she couldn’t relay now. She catches his eyes in the mirror and gives him a smile.

He pushes off the door and she turns around and before she can even fully make her mind up as to what she’s supposed to say or do now, he’s captured her lips in a slow kiss and there is probably nothing in the world that could have kept her from kissing him back.

All too soon, however, he pulls away. “I should leave”

“Yea” Is all she can say and she’s not even sure if it’s more than a whisper.

And then he’s gone and Beth is pretty sure, that this had been a mistake, but what a wonderful one at that.

Chapter Text

The shower won.

After he left she's been standing in the same spot for a solid ten minutes, thinking about what just happened. This is so not her - or maybe it it? How would she know what is her and what not, when she's never taken the time to try.

There's been something she wouldn't quite label a relationship a few months before Dean had asked her out, but she never let it progress any further than hand holding. Then Dean had come along and had swept her off her feet (today, she's not even sure with what exactly). He'd been her first real relationship, her first kiss, her first time, her first husband - she scoffs at that, because he was supposed to be her only husband.

She loved him once, no matter how much she hates him just now, she would never pretend otherwise. But she's not sure anymore if that had been the reason she'd said yes when he asked her to marry him. He was older, set to take over his father's car dealership. In other words, he was her ticket into a better and financially stable future.

so no, she has to admit, between that there had been no time or opportunity to go and find the real her. She's always just assumed that whatbshe had with Dean was it (or at least close enough), but apparently she has no idea.

But what is it, that thrills her so much? Is it him? (And she curses herself because she still doesn't know his name) Or is it just the incredible sex? Does it matter who she has it with, as long as she keeps continuing to?

But the moment she asks herself the question she already knows the answer. She is very attracted to the handsome stranger who'd left her house just a few minutes ago - she can't deny that. And apart from his name, there are many other things she also doesn't know about him, but she has the suspicion thay this attraction isn't only physical. Or at least won't stay that way for long should she ever meet him again.

Sex with Dean had, up until the moment she stopped desiring him, been great. Nothing earth-shattering, but great for someone with nothing to compare it to. Now that she does however, she's not sure if she needs to upgrade her description of sex with the handsome stranger or downgrade sex with Dean.

The effectively pushes all thought of her (ex)husband from her mind and, absentmindedly tracing the love bite on her neck, she can almost feel his hands back on her skin. His cock inside of her. His lips on hers. Imagines them somewhere else entirely.

Beth bites her lower lip and clenches her thighs together. This is ridiculous, she's not a teenager anymore. But...

But that kiss!
What did that mean? Did it mean anything? It must have if he made the effort to risk rejection (ha, as if, she thinks pathetically) after they already did the only thing they came to her place for.
Did it mean to him the same thing she realizes it did to her? She wants to see him again, and in that moment she realizes something else, too. While she's out there pretending to try to find her real self, she's learned that she's not the type for random hookups and one night stands.

She lets out a groan about how pathetic she is for falling for the first guy that screwed her in the last five years (who is probably not even thinking about her anymore) and flings the shirt she never got to put on onto the bed. He's gone. She's alone. She figures it's as good a time as any to clean herself up properly before real life continues to go on around her.

She grabs her robe from the floor and enters her bathroom again, just to get stuck in a mental debate on whether to take long, soaking bath or a quick shower. She has about four hours until she needs to leave to pick up her kids. She has a dog to probably reprimand for sleeping in her daughter's bed. She has a mess of a dining room to clean up. And she has no idea when (or if) Dean decides to show.

The shower won.

She soon finds another advantage of picking the shower stall over her bathtub. After thoroughly leathering up and rinsing her body and hair (she has no idea how syrup ended up even in there), she turns the spray to cold and spends another five minutes freezing under the steady stream. She feels only slightly less hot when she finally steps out.

Beth towel dries her hair and puts back on the same yoga pants and underwear she discarded on top of the closed hamper. She takes the shirt off her bed in passing, slips it over her head while stepping out into the hall. Then she ignores the mess in her dining room on purpose, instead going in search of their dog. Upstairs, she finds him exactly where she suspected and, more importantly, where he shouldn't be. Sprawled on her youngest daughter's bed, the girl's teddybear between his front paws. And he's fast asleep. No wonder he hadn't felt the need to come investigate the not-quite silent mess they made downstairs.

She wakes him up, prying the stuffed toy from his grip and shoos the animal down the stairs, where she's opening the backdoor to let him outside. She loves that furr ball but god is she not in the mood to take him for a walk right now.

Looking the other way she passes the dining room table and flops onto her back onto the couch. She's also in no mood to clean up yet.

Instead, her mind wanders back to him and what is, undoubtedly, the best sexual encounter she's ever had. She can't stop thinking about it - about him and damn, she hadn't even been this bad when she was a teenager and sex was new and exciting and she's spent her saturday cooped up in Ruby's bedroom blushing furiously at every word after she and Dean had finally done it.

Her breaths become quicker when she thinks about his touch, the way it trailed up her bare thigh and over her wet underwear. She probably should have been embarrassed at how fast and easily he managed to turn her on, but she had no intention of ever telling him that she's spent half their bar conversation in uncomfortably soaked panties already. Her own hands seem to have a mind of their own as they slip beneath the waistband of her yoga pants and underwear. She moans when she imagines it to be his fingers.

Thirty minutes. She's managed half an hour before he'd turned her into a pathetic, turned on mess again. And he's not even here. Not even Dean could ever do that.
What the hell is wrong with her?

She vaguely hears noises, indicating the dog walking back inside and start munching on his food bowl - at least she hopes it is and not some lone pancake scraps that ended up on the floor during her bout of irresponsibility. Then she closes her eyes and pretends he's still right there with her.

Her own fingers feel so unsatisfying after he had his cock buried deep inside her not so long ago. But she keeps going, adds one more. Her other hand grabs at her bra clad breast under the lose shirt, pinching her niplle through the fabric. Anything is better than leaving her half finished in this state. She can almost see him leaning above her. With every pump of her fingers it gets easier to forget that it's not him. She craves release so badly, because maybe then she can start forgetting she ever met him.

And she can feel it. She's hovering right there at the edge, it shouldn't take more than a few touches over her aching clit and she catches herself wishing she had a name to moan or scream or...

There's a key turning in the front door.

---

Don't let this be Dean, she hears herself think in the far back of her mind somewhere and then it doesn't matter anymore who's standing in her front hall. She comes just as Annie steps over the threshold into the living room, sees her sister's feet over the arm of the couch clench around thin air and hears her emit a barely audible shit followed by a low moan and an almost whine.

"Did I just catch my sister masturbating?" Annie asks in disbelief, because this is Beth, who hadn't had sex with anyone but her husband ever. Beth, who hasn't had sex in the last five years at all and who blushes and changes the subject whenever Annie or Ruby talk to her about it. She rounds the couch and flops down where Beth's head had just been.

"Of course not" but she hears the lie just as clearly as her sister does. "Stay here, I'll be right back"

Grabbing her third pair of fresh panties for the day and some sweatpants, she makes quick work in the bathroom. She drags a brush through her still damp hair and tries to rearrange the collar of her shirt enough so the sizeable bruise isn't the first thing her sister's eyes will land on. Only partly satisfied with the result she walks back to the living room before her sister decides to explore the house, particularly the remains of breakfast.

"What are you even doing here?" The dog jumps off the sofa, curling around the bare foot Annie has on the floor. Beth gives them a clearly unamused look. They both know he's not supposed to be on any furniture.

"You texted" The blonde pries her foot out from under Buddy and uses it to pet him instead.

Beth raises an eyebrow at that. She did, but "Shouldn't you be at work?" She's been pretty preoccupied the last few hours, but still it can't be much later than noon, maybe half past.

"About that" Annie makes herself more comfortable on the couch, tickling buddy behind the ear with her big toe when he looks at her reproachfully. "If anyone asks, I've probably caught that flue Sadie definitely had last week" Another raised eyebrow and an eyeroll is all Beth does to signify her sister's words. She sinks next to her onto the couch, incredibly glad she's here.

"What's going on?" Beth feels herself blush. "With Dean" Annie clarifies. There will no doubt be a discussion about what she just walked in on later, but for the moment she sticks to the important parts.

"My marriage is over" And then she very objectively tells Annie everything she's learned this morning, calling him everything from a douche to a bastard. The cursing does not make her feel better, but she doesn't cry either, so she thinks maybe there is nothing to make better. It's an even more startling realization then when she took off her wedding ring earlier, because it finally really sinks in. Her marriage is over. And she doesn't care. Thinks it should have ended years ago - before her youngest child, as much as she love the girl.

What she leaves out is the bar and the guy and the sex. Not because she doesn't plan on telling Annie and Ruby at all, but because she thinks maybe now is not the right time for that. Also, she would really rather not tell that story twice.

"What an asshole" Annie's feet are now tucked under Beth's thighs, knees bend and she's comfortably leaning back against the throw pillows. Beth has one leg folded underneath her, looking at her sister sideways. Buddy's gone checking out the backyard again through the door Beth didn't have the energy to close yet. "How can he think there's anyone better or hotter than you out there?"

Beth is incredibly grateful Annie doesn't rub in the fact that she never liked Dean anyway, that she never thought he was good enough for her. Well, obviously, that's true.

"You're my sister, you have to say that" She grabs at Annie's ankle to keep her from moving when the blonde starts to wriggle her feet underneath Beth. She knows it has no other purpose than to annoy.

"Doesn't mean it's not true" They are silent for a minute after that. Beth's still trying to comprehend how she can just feel nothing about the end of her marriage. Annie just doesn't know what to say (or not say given the list of expletives her mind's providing).Then. "I need a drink. You want one?" She peels herself off the couch and is already on the way to the kitchen when Beth answers.

"I think I've had enough already" Annie doesn't even say anything about the fact that it's just 1 in the afternoon. If it were here, she'd probably be too wasted to even have this conversation.

"Holy shit" Beth sinks as far back into the cushions as possible. She's forgotten there's a reason she didn't want her sister walking around the house. "What the hell happened in here?"

She takes a deep breath, drapes an arm over her eyes and only exhales when she feels ready to tackle that particular question. "I want to say it's not what it looks like, but I actually haven't found the courage yet to go and see what it looks like"

"It looks like a hot quicky in the breakfast dishes" It's a joke, Beth can clearly hear that. She probably thinks Buddy made a mess while she went and confronted Dean. It's also probably her best shot of opening up that conversation without randomly blurting it out.

"Well in that case, it is exactly what it looks like" She hears Annie's sarcastic haha as she gets up from the couch, then there's a sharp, surprised intake of breath and Beth can't keep the smirk off her face. She wonders if she saw the two glasses of Bourbon on the kitchen island or found Beth's panties discarded somewhere on the floor.

"You know where to find me" She has no idea what that is supposed to mean but when she enters the dining room, her sister is intently reading a scrap of paper. She's at the table in two quick steps and almost rips the note out off her sister's hands.

Rio. His name is Rio. And he wants to see her again.

She doesn't delude herself with imagining this to be the start of a great and lasting relationship, but after their earlier encounter she won't deny, that she would be so down for that to continue. Obviously, she thinks, she isn't the type for one-night stands but, maybe, she could see herself as the friends with benefits type of girl. Only that they aren't friends, but that's just a technicality really. At least she finally has a name to her fantasies. Rio.

Annie rips her out off her thoughts rather abruptly. "You're serious?"

Beth nods.

"You, the responsible one. The woman who had no desire to screw anyone in the last five years, just had sex with some random stranger?" Only her sister would address it that bluntly. "Damn I have to meet this guy" Annie mutters to herself, then she grows more serious again. "And all that without protection?"

Beth starles at the almost perfect description of what happened - only "First of all, the only one I didn't want to screw was my husband" She's never said that out loud before. "And of course we..." She breaks off when Annie motions to the paper in her hand.

While Beth mouths the last line she had ignored in favor of learning his name, Annie reads it aloud from memory. "P. S. I'm sorry, but I promise I'm clean"

Beth pales. Of course they didn't use a condom. Where did she think he produced that from in between her riding him off his jeans and him sliding into her? She had barely let go off him long enough for him to kick the clothing to the side.

There's no possibility for her to get pregnant and, while she doesn't have it on paper, she's pretty sure the one place she hasn't contracted an STD from is her vibrator. Knowing what she does now, Dean might have been a different story and maybe that's one of the good sides to her five year dry spell.

And she believes him, too. Rio. Now that he mentioned it, she dies believe Rio' s not lying to her, but damn, she should have thought about that before she let him screw her.

"Okay, yes, maybe that's what happened, but you won't find out how it did if you keep being judgemental" Really, with Annie's track record of bad decisions and rash reactions she doesn't even have any right to judge Beth in any way.

The blonde drags a hand down her face, schooling her features in such an obviously forced neutral expression that Beth almost laughs. With her drink finally in hand Annie pulls her sister back into the living room and onto the recently vacated couch.

"I met him at a bar where I was trying to drown my problems. He bought me a drink" Beth lifts her shoulders in a slight shrug, as if this was nothing out of the ordinary for her.

Then she provides Annie with the full story of how that turned into two drinks and an hour of flirting before she invited him back here for another drink. Annie's eyes widen comically when Beth reaches the part about his looks and the neck tattoo that Beth seems to be having an unhealthy obsession with. Never would she have thought that to be the kind of guy her sister felt attracted to. Of course, she pries for details about the sex that has her sister in such a good mood despite the circumstances. But Beth isn't drunk enough for that conversation unfortunately.

"So how long before I got here did he leave?" She's started poking Beth with her foot again. This time, it's to keep her sister's mind on their talk.

"Half an hour, give or take" She swats at Annie's toes.

"Wow, you got it bad" Her sister laughs. And Beth blushes. She's successfully managed to suppress just what the blonde had seen when she arrived.

"I don't" It's only half believable at best and it's not like they both know it's true anyway.

"Don't worry. It looks to me as if he's not as unaffected as he should be either" It is a definitely teasing smirk that accompanies that observation.

"Annie, I found out my husband is cheating on me just this morning. I'm neither divorced yet nor have I technically ended things with Dean yet - officially" She hasn't told him yet, that's all. After her departure from the dealership earlier there can't be any doubt, even for him, that it's over. "I'm not looking to throw myself into another relationship right now" And she means it - at least she makes it sound like she does.

"Not talking about a relationship, Bee" The foot finally stops poking and Annie's face looks so incredibly serious that Beth just knows that whatever comes next is anything but. “But getting laid regularly is not a crime. Especially when it seems to be that good”

Beth groans. They really, really,really need to be talking about something else than how good sex with Rio is. She doesn’t think she’ll ever hear the end of it, if she has to go and change once again. “I’m going to go clean up and prepare lunch. You and Sadie will be staying because you will be picking up all the children in an hour.”

“But Beth, we’re not done here” Annie whines.

“Yes, we are” She checks her purse for her phone. “Ruby’s coming over later for an hour or so and if you behave, maybe you’ll even get those details you begged for”

With that, Annie’s off the couch and shoves Beth over to the kitchen, voluntarily cleaning up the dirty breakfast dishes in the dining room (she refuses to pick up the pair of dirty underwear however). She doesn’t mind picking up her nieces and nephews and a lunch she doesn’t have to prepare herself sounds enticing, too. But what really motivates her, is the promise of drunk Beth opening up about a topic she rarely speaks about - and that it has nothing to do with Dean this time.

“He didn’t show up yet, you know” It brings Annie back to her task. She sends a questioning glance at her sister. “Dean” Beth sighs, closing the fridge with her foot and dumping her armload of supplies on the island. “I catch him half-naked with his secretary and he doesn’t even come home to explain” Bad choice of words maybe, she knows, because there is nothing to explain. “I think he might have actually realized that I’m done talking”

“Honestly?” Annie starts putting the plates in the dishwasher. “I think he’s just stupid”

---

“Yea, no, you are not getting away with that half-assed description of what let to what your sister said she had to clean up in the dining room” And it’s not like she hadn’t known that her best friend would be just as bad as her sister.

Ruby had shown up just an hour ago with no idea what was even going on in Beth’s life since that morning and had promptly called up Stan to ask how much she can extend the hour she had to spare for her visit. Forty-five minutes isn’t much, but Stan has to get to work and the children can’t be home alone and so Ruby had made Annie stop interrupting and Beth retold the story of what happened and how she found out about Dean. Ruby had a lot to say about that particular topic and not even Annie had used those kind of words to describe her brother-in-law during their cleaning up.

It had been silent for a short while after Ruby had finished ranting and telling Beth how much better off she’s going to be now. Then Beth had started her next sentence with “I did something” and Ruby had let out a groan. She hadn’t been sure if she even wanted to hear the rest of that sentence, but Annie convinced her that it was so worth it and when Beth went on with her story, Ruby had to admit that yes, it was.

“Exactly” Annie chimes in. “You promised details” As of now, there is nothing Beth had said Annie hasn’t heard yet. She’s sprawled out on the couch, feet in Ruby’s lap, both of them nursing a glass of red wine. Beth, who has her feet curled up under hear in the arm chair, has decided to stick with her non-alcoholic drink choices. She’s afraid she will have to face Dean tonight also and for that she really needs to keep a clear and sober head. There is absolutely nothing he can say, that would make her crumble and let him stay, but a few drinks too many might make her say some things she probably shouldn’t. Even if he seriously deserved them.

“I’m pretty sure I said maybe” She tries to sound more annoyed than she actually is. She loves the two of them way too much to be anything but fond of their occasional antics. “Also, I’m not drinking”

It’s a great excuse, but actually Beth doesn’t know if she would want to provide any details otherwise either. She’d really rather keep Rio and the fantasies creeping into her mind based on their hookup all to herself. Maybe not forever. But definitely for now and especially until she finds out what she’s going to do with his note and about seeing him again.

“We can fix that” Annie answers confidently and Ruby agrees with some enthusiastic nods of her head. There’s no denying that, at some point in time, Beth will not be able to talk herself out off this conversation.

“I have five kids playing upstairs. You” she points towards her sister lifting her wine glass to her lips “had at least two of those in addition to finishing off my Bourbon earlier and I’m mentally preparing for a confrontation with my husband” She thinks she hears a car coming to a stop in front of the house. “I will so not get drunk right now”

The door to the car outside closes and Beth closes her eyes. Takes a deep breath. This could still just be the neighbor or a random visitor to anyone on the street, but she just knows it’s the last person she wants to see right now.

“Shit, I’m sorry” It seems like her sister and her best friend are agreeing on everything today, as the latter echoes the formers sentiment. Then Annie waits for the moment the door opens to time her next words. “Do you want us to stay?”

“Can you go stay upstairs with the children?” All three of them ignore the closing front door. At least he hadn’t announced his presence yet, making the kids aware that their father is home. It looks like he wants to get this conversation over with, without them noticing.

Her sister nods in agreement, giving Dean a hateful look when she crosses him at the foot of the stairs. Ruby apologizes for the third time that she can’t stay and that she will make it up to Beth, who tries to convince her friend that it’s okay. After giving Beth a long embrace, Ruby leaves through the kitchen and the back door. She can’t promise she won’t punch Dean right in the face if she has to move by him.

Beth follows her friend, still ignoring her husband, who starts to trail behind her to the kitchen. At least he’s smart enough to keep his mouth shut, she thinks. Beth pours herself a glass of red wine, because being directly confronted with the situation, she suddenly doesn’T think she can do it completely sober anymore.

“Where the hell have you been?” She puts the glass down and resists the urge to refill it instantly. Instead, she turns around and looks at her husband for the first time since this morning. He looks exactly like when he left the house in the morning and not in the least bit as if something had been bothering him during the day. The only indication that he has to make up for something at all is the bouquet of red roses he’s carrying.

She hates roses and his appearance just makes her angrier. How many times and with how many women had he already cheated on her with and had come home looking like nothing had happened when he managed to do it even now that she knows that something did? Yes, she reassures herself, this will be the last time he’s doing that to her.

“I was at work of course” Nothing. They could be having the same conversation they had every day for the last twenty years after he came home.

“Seriously?”

“What? It’s only six. I had to go and get these” He holds the flowers out to her and Beth doesn’t even look at them. She tries to read his face. Is he really thinking she’s mad because he’s home later than usual or is this him way of avoiding the inevitable? But Beth won’t let him.

“I walked in on you screwing your secretary and all you did was go back to work and pretend this is a day like any other?” Her fingers grip the edge of the kitchen island hard. She has to work hard to keep her voice down. In no way does she want any of her children to hear this fight.

“I was just thinking about you” He shrugs his shoulders, tries pushing the roses her way again. She still won’t take them. “I thought you might need some time to calm down. Maybe you still do.” He lets the hand with the bouquet sink onto the kitchen island across from her when he steps closer.

“Calm down?!” She takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, does it again. “No, I’m calm. Totally calm. And I want you to leave”

There, she said it. Now she just hopes she doesn’t need to repeat it too often, because as much as she knows her decision won’t change, she just hasn’t the energy to fight with him for another hour.

“Leave?” Dean’s eyes widen and she sees him rising the stupid flowers from the counter again. Does he really think those will make her more approachable? Especially since, after twenty years of marriage he doesn’t even know she doesn’t like roses? “Why?”

“Because you were screwing your secretary” She deliberately uses the same words she used before, because she thinks he might not even have been listening to her. “And I’m pretty sure that this was neither the first time nor is she the only one”

His face is all the answer she needs. But she’s had the whole day to come to terms with that realization already and her conclusion is that it doesn’t even matter. She doesn’t care enough about this marriage anymore to care if she leaves him for one or ten girls. He doesn’t get it, of course, thinks there’s still something to kit if he just finds the right explanation and maybe one day it might have worked. “But Bethie, you haven’t wanted…”

“So now it’s my fault?” She really wanted to avoid this tonight, do this in a few days, but she’s in full fight mode now. “Because I didn’t want to have sex with you in five years?” She finally grabs for the bouquet of flowers just to toss them into the trash next to where she stands. “You know, that’s a great explanation for your conscience, but it doesn’t excuse you being an asshole”

She doesn’t talk like that and she has to bite her tongue to keep the rest of her thoughts inside. He deserves all of it, but is her children hearing any of that it really worth it? She thinks probably not. She also wants to get him out off her house as fast as possible, so picking even more of a fight is only going to be counterproductive to that.

“That’s not…” This time she doesn’t interrupt but rather he trails off on his own. Because he realizes it’s a lie or because he doesn’t have the energy to fight either, she has no idea.

“Yes, Dean, that’s exactly what you said” She drags her hands through her hair and down her face to calm herself down again. “And now I want you to go”

“So there’s nothing I can say?” He motions to the bare spot where her wedding ring used to be up until a few hours ago. “Your mind’s made up apparently” He sounds dejected, but she’s not stupid enough to think that he will give up that easily. Maybe not tonight, but it won’t be the last time he unsuccessfully tries to make things better.

“There’s nothing to make my mind up about.” She shakes her head lightly. She wants to tell him that this marriage had been over for a while. She wants to rub in the fact that it has been him specifically she didn’t want to have sex with over the last years. She doesn’t, not tonight, but somehow she thinks he knows at least part of it already.

“Where the hell am I supposed to go?” Beth had actually thought about it. Not in the way that would help him any, but a few hours ago, she was still thinking about letting him sleep on the couch and pack his shit in the morning. That, however, would give him way too much time to try and weasel his way back inside her good graces and while he would never end up there again, she does also not want to give him the opportunity.

“I really don’t care” Beth walks around the kitchen island, side steps his attempt to reach for her hand and moves towards the front door. She hears him shuffling on the spot behind her for a long time before he finally follows her.

He stands a bit too close, but he doesn’t try to touch her again. He avoids looking at her almost all together as if he had only just realized what is going on. “Can I at least say goodbye to the kids?” He sounds so sad that she almost gives in.

“Come by tomorrow after school” He opens his mouth to say something, to argue, but closes it again without a word. She’s pissed and she seems to hate him at the moment, but she’s giving him the opportunity to be around when she tells the children their father is moving out and to hopefully explain that they still get to see him. If that’s all he gets, he’ll take it. For now.

Annie and Sadie end up staying and Beth spends the night curled around her little sister until she has successfully suppressed all thoughts of her husband and their fight. That’s when she decides to relocate towards the couch in the living room, because the thoughts running through her mind then are none she wants to have sleeping next to her sister.

Chapter Text

She has Annie come by when they tell the children about Dean moving out, just in case she needs emotional support.

The conversation goes about as smoothly as she had anticipated - which is to say not at all. The children don't understand, apart from maybe Kenny, but if he does he's not letting on. Dean uses every opportunity to say something to sawy her mind into letting him stay. She finally tells him to pick whatever he needs and get out when he starts using the children as reasons not to separate.

And there's not a single thing he can say that she hadn't considered yet, but not even their children's well being as he put it, is worth keeping up this charade where no one is really happy anyway.

The rest of the day and most of the following two Beth spends deciding on what to do about Rio's note. She knows what she wants to do, she's just completely not sure if it is also what she should be doing. Jumping from a failed marriage right into an arrangement for casual hookups sounds anything else than healthy. But she can't deny that she's spent the last two night dreaming about him. She has relived that dining room fuck more often than she ever even had sex, and Anni would probably tell her to stop exxagerating, but damn it really feels like it.

Friday, she drops the kids off at school, takes Buddy for a walk. Opens the want ads in the newspaper and closes them again. She can only accept one hard truth in her life right now and her marriage had taken priority over her state of bankruptcy and unemployment.
She thinks about lunch and dinner options before she remembers she's allowed Dean to take the kids to their grandparents' for the weekend, like they had planned to do weeks ago. She'll only have to pick them up from school on Monday. That leaves her with absolutely nothing to do and she's bored enough to think about taking Kenny's tablet and taking a stab at any of his weird games.

She changes instead.

Dean has left her with some of the money he definitely had other plans for and she decides it’s enough for a drink or two and feed her children until she’s hopefully found a job of her own. He’s offered the money only after she told him she knows about the lingerie and the dealership and the house, but really she doesn’t care why he did it, as long as she never has to walk into anywhere without money ever again.

This time, she parks right at the front, doesn’t care who might see her and heads inside with no hesitation. It’s the same guy behind the bar and he acknowledges her with a short nod while filling a drink order at the other end of the bar. It’s a little later than when she’s met him, but she can’t find him anywhere in the room. Beth tries not to let her disappointment show when she steps up to the same place she’s occupied monday. Only that she climbs up on the bar stool now, puts her purse on the counter in front of her. She catches herself thinking how many drinks it would take to drown the humiliation if he doesn’t show, when she feels someone behind her and she just knows it’s him.

“Damn mama, I do love that dress” She turns with a smile.

“You’re lucky it’s even still wearable” He looks just as good in his dark clothes as she remembers. He’s not wearing his hoodie and she blushes when her eyes stray to his tattoo immediately. What is it with that thing? She can’t wait to find out if he has any more. And where they are.

Beth is still debating whether or not it’s okay to lean forward and kiss him when he takes the decision from her. So, yea, apparently they do that now. She slips her tongue into his mouth momentarily, hooking a leg around his waist to pull him closer. One of his hands is in her hair and he’s pushing against her just right. Beth squirms against him and he grips her hip to keep her from moving.

“If you don’t stop that” his hand squeezes lightly while he whispers in her ear. “I’m gonna have to fuck you right here”

She moans into his neck where she has her lips pressed against the wings of his bird. Then she lifts her head. looks him straight in the eye and says “I’m probably the only one in here who wouldn’t mind”

Rio drops his forehead against her shoulder with an audible groan and winds both his arms around her waist. “You can’t say stuff like that in public”

She laughs and feels him shiver as she traces her fingers lightly up and down his back. Honestly, she has no idea where that even came from. She’s never been that forward (and she would never have sex out in the open in a half-crowded bar), but then, she’s never been infatuated with somebody so much that she thinks about sex with them half the day. Maybe it’s him that brings out all these new sides to her.

He motions for the bartender and not a moment later two glasses of Bourbon appear on the counter. She’s not sure if she should be impressed or worried that he doesn’t even have to say a word to get served the right drink.

“Her’s is on the house” The bartender tells them with a wink in her direction. She wonders if he recognizes her or if this is his standard procedure.

“Thanks” She smiles at him, slinging her purse over her shoulder and grabbing her drink. She lets him pay for his, because she thinks it might look just that tiny bit rude to pay for someone else’s drink right in front the guy that just bought you yours. She’ll pick up their next round, no matter what he says.

“We gonna have to find another bar if he keeps hitting on you” Rio tells her conversationally when he leads her by the hand over to quiet booth. Beth rolls her eyes. She’s not entirely sure how this is supposed to work, but she’s pretty certain he doesn’t have the right to any claim on her. If she wants him to, that’s a totally different question - and one she’s not prepared to answer or even think about.

“As if he doesn’t have your drink order memorized” She scoots down into the booth with another eye roll at his hand that disappears on her thigh under her dress almost immediately. If he keeps that up, they won’t make it through even one drink.

“Spend a lot of mornings here when my son’s in school” He shrugs, lifts his glass to take a sip as if he hadn’t just told her something vital about himself.

Isn't that against the rules? Would she have told him about her kids if he hadn’t been to her house? Then again, this is their second meeting, this is definitely not a one-time-thing anymore, so are there even still rules? Had there ever even been?

“What?” Rio asks at her raised eyebrow, a smile tugging at his lips. “Meet most of my clients here for work” He’s not an irresponsible drunk, glad for every minute his son is out off his hair in order to come here.

“And what is it you do?” She wants to know about his son, but she doesn’t dare ask.

“I’m a businessman” Beth doesn’t push further. “Have full custody of Marcus, so I try attendin’ most of my client business while he’s otherwise occupied” Twenty minutes into this second meeting and she already has the feeling he might not only be hitting her up for sex. But of course that’s stupid. Why would he be interested in anything else? She still can’t believe he even wants her at all.

“How old is he?” She asks. He’s opened up the topic, she she thinks it fair to be curious.

“Five” And he looks so proud when he talks about the boy.

“My daughter’s that age. Almost. Well, one of them” She’s rambling, she knows, but his opening up about his son had thrown her. She hadn’t really expected any more conversation than their superficial small talk from last time - if even. “Jane”

She doesn’t really know what to say after that. They are not supposed to share personal information (At least according to Annie) , but this is a dark bar she came to because he left her a note after screwing her and still this feels more like a date than almost every outing she’d gone on with Dean. And if this is a date (which she doubts, but still) then she’s so completely out off her element. She hadn’t been on any in years, let alone a first one.

“So, what you doing when you not picking up strangers in a bar?” She thinks he knows how she feels. The hand on her thigh starts smoothing over soft skin and she feels less nervous instantly. It’s probably because all she feels now is aroused, but does it really matter if it helps?”

“Okay, first off all, we’re not strangers anymore” She shifts in her place, turns so she’s looking at him fully. Her movement makes her shift closer and when his hand slides higher as a result she bites her lip to stifle a moan. “And I’m sure you were picking me up” She tries to sound offended but the smile gives her away.

“Technicalities” This time she reaches over and kisses him.

“Looking for work now” She finally answers his question. She leans back in for another kiss and he lets her for a moment. Then he pulls away, not far, and cups her chin softly with this hand.

“So I guess he moves out?” Rio glances at her bare finger. It’s been five days and she’s still not wearing it. He thinks that’s a pretty good indication that she hadn’t changed her mind. Okay, she’s here with him, but that does not automatically mean she doesn’t have plans to forgive her asshole husband.

“Is moving out actually” And she feels like she has just committed to something she didn’t know was even on the table.

Rio laces his fingers through hers where she put her hand on the one on her thigh, and suddenly they are not talking anymore.

His tongue is exploring her mouth as if it had never done anything else - as if it hadn’t any other purpose and somehow she ends up in his lap. Hands under her dress, hers pushing at his shirt. She should be embarrassed, but, damn, nobody knows her here and as long as her panties stay where they are supposed to, she’s not doing something illegal either. At least she is a little bit embarrassed that ‘illegal’ is the only line he won’t make her cross. Straddling her lover and shoving her tongue down his throat in a bar that gets more and more crowded by the minute is something she wouldn’t have thought herself capable of just a week earlier anyway. Hell, even having a lover in the first place would have been pretty out there last Sunday.

One of his hands stays firmly at her hip, holding her to him. The other moves up her back, roaming over every inch of skin ha can reach under the lose fitting material of her dress. She knows she should care that it's the wrong one, that if she moves too much she's exposing more of herself than she ever wanted to, to whoever walks by their booth right now. But when she grinds her hips down against his and feels that hew spark of heat hit her she's not sure anymore if she even can. If she's capable of caring about anything else than him and what he's doing to her.

She doesn't know the last time she's made out with someone (thinks it's way too juvenile a word for her and him and 'this'). Definitely never in public and it had never felt so incredible either. She finds herself thinking that she could do this all day and, by the way he's not pushing for more, she knows he's having the same thought.

That's new, too.

With Dean, kissing had almost always been a prelude to sex and while she knows that, yes, this is of course heading in that same direction, she doesn't feel the pressure to actually go there. She feels comfortable in his arms, on his lap, because this is essentially a booty call but if she changed her mind, he'd let her. Rio wouldn't guilt trip or force her into having sex with him if she didn't want to.

Not that Dean had ever done the latter, but there had been enough occasions where he just said things that had her end up saying yes only because she felt like she had to. Like the night Jane was conceived. She doesn't regrett giving in that particular time, but damn does it feel good to not be out into this position for a change.

Rio's fingers start playing with the clasp of her bra, lips pressing gentle kisses into her neck because unfortunately they do need to breath, and she finally reaches behind her back and intercepts what he's doing. Should (when) they ever get to a point where him taking off more than just her panties is something they do, she'll gladly let him. She's just not very keen on that being right here with already more people looking her way than she ever felt comfortable with.

She laces her fingers through his and pulls their joined hands to rest low on her belly. She keeps her hand interlocked with his to prevent him from doing exactly what she knows he wants to and laughs against the shell of his ear when he bites her collarbone in answer. She pushes her hips down against his again and he loses focus long enough for her to tug his face out off her cleavage and look into his eyes.

"I'm not a complete hundred percent sure about this, but I think I'm going to head back there" She has no idea how she's even producing words right now as she's nodding in the direction the restrooms should be in. The look in his eyes stops her from getting off his lap though. "Not you, I'm more than a hundred percent certwin about that. The location" So, here she is proposing another thing she never thought she'd do.

"We could go to my place" He barely gets the words out, his thumb pressing circles into the skin just above the elastic of her underwear.

"Ha" It's a breathy half-laugh half-moan when she presses against him as if to prove some kind of point. "I think we both know we won't make it there" And she has no idea where he lives, but common sense dictates it's definitely farther away than the restrooms.

She scrambles off his lap as gracefully as she's abke to make it and, with a last taunting look he won't refuse, leaves him sitting there.

Rio walks into her right in front of the locked bathroom. She hadn't even thought about the fact that it could be occupied. But before her nerves can set in, trying to tell her that waiting will only make this awkward, he turns her around in his arms and walks her backwards until her back crashes against the wall. She gasps when he collides with her body and he takes the opportunity to kiss her.

She kisses him back without a single moment of hesitation and, in a move so unlike everything she ever had been, takes his wandering hand and pushes it under her dress. In no way will she be shedding her underwear without the save confines of the locked bathroom door, but she's wo incredibly turned on and damn why couldn't they just have been drinking on either one's couch?!

This is still completely freaking public, but no one comes back here except for the toilets. And it's dark.

That's how she justifies her decision to let him push her panties out of the way and her eyes slip shut the moment his fingers slips into her. Beth bites her bottom lip in a vain attempt to keep every and all noise to a minimum as he starts to move. Her head leans heavy against the wall, his lips fixed to the same spot he had already sucked a hickey into on monday, while he fucks her at a torturously slow pace.

He slides two fingers in and out, back and forth in an almost lazy rhythm, all the while trying to enhance the lifetime of his lovebite by continuing where he'd left off five days ago. Her hips move in perfect synchrony with his fingers, at least until he adds a third one and picks up the pace just so much that she loses all focus und digs her nails almost painfully into his shoulderblades.

There's no sense of time anymore. She doesn't know how long it's been from the first touch of his fingers against her folds to this point. She doesn't even know if anyone sees them back here. All she knows is the pressure building inside of her, hears herself let out a whine that sounds suspiciously like his name and shivers at his answering whisper. Nobody ever calls her by her full name and she didn't kniw how much she liked it - how sexy it can sound from the right lips - until now.

His movements quicken, become faster and faster. She feels herself right there on the edge, ready to just fall.

And the he suddenly stops.

It takes almost more effort than she can muster to pry her eyes open, but then she's staring right into his. She wants to say something - anything - but she can't.

His lips crash into hers to muffle a probable scream the same time his thumb oresses against her clit and she comes hard around his unmoving fingers.

Gradually, he starts his movements back up at a leisurely pace, trying to prolong her pleasure for as long as possible. When he finally removes his fingers she slumps against his chest, breathing heavily.

"Did that..." She stops, takes a deep breath and tries again. "Did I just..." But this time she finds it's not the breathlessness alone - she simply can't 'say' it. She just 'did' it - came on his fingers in freaking public - so what if she can't voice it. Her newfound adventurous streak seems to be materializing step by step. Who knows, maybe one day she'll be actually able to say the word 'fuck' when she tells him what she wants from him.

Rio places a quick kiss to her forehead and she would have questioned what it means if she were able to think properly. "Pretty sure that just happened, yea" Her face buries deeper into his shirt so he won't see her blush. "Come on, ma"

"No" She almost whines when he wraps his arms around her waist and tries to pull her off the wall. "I can't move"

"Can't? Or don't want to?" He questions with one of his smirks. "Because that bathroom's been empty for as long as I had my hands up your dress"

Beth looks at him then, doesn't even care that he sees her ever deepening blush. Whoever had been in that room had seen her getting screwed against a wall like some horny teenager. "And you knew that" She tries to sound accusatory, but her knees are still weak and honestly she's not sure she's even all that mad about it. Would she have gotten exactly what she'd experienced just now had she stopped him to move location?

There's a pretty high probability that the answer is no. So she grabs his hand and pulls him with her inside the bathroom.

---

The door's not even completely closed behind them, let alone locked, when his arms are back around her and his lips are trailing kisses over the half exposes skin of her shoulders.

Rio turns her around, pushes her into the door and flicks the lock all in the same move. She reaches for his face, pulls him in for another kiss that leaves her breathless when they have to part for air.

Her eyes are still closed when his forehead comes to rest against hers and she blindly reaches for his waist. Clumsily, she fumbles with his belt and she only has it about halfway open when she already tries to get his pants undone. He lets out an amused chuckle into her cleavage at her frustrated huff. She takes a deep breath, slows her hands and tries again. This time, she gets his belt and jeans off in record time.

It's not before she has her hand inside his boxers, fingers wrapped around his growing erection, that she realizes he's not doing anything. His breathing is ragged and uneven, so she knows he is not objecting to what she's doing, but he's just not participating at all. Not even his lips are on her skin anymore.

Beth opens her eyes to him doing his best to keep his open and directed at hers. Hands firmly planted against the wall on either side of her hips. But he's not touching her and suddenly she sees the question in his eyes. She answers with her own rolling so heavily she's surprised they don't stay like that.

"If you are going to ask me if I'm sure about this" She squeezes hsi cock lightly, revels in the sounds coming from his lips and then she frees him of his boxer shorts as if to prove a point. "I will be leaving" She tries to make it sound like she means it, too, but in reality there's no force in this world or beyond that would make her walk out off this bathroom right now.

"Can't be too careful" It's accompanied by a lazy shrug of his shoulders and a smug smile. And really, she would have asked if the fact that he just fucked her outside that door not five minutes ago isn't confirmation enough that, yes, she's sure, but just in that moment her panties slide down her legs. She decides that it's not really worth it keeping that particular conversation going.

He pulls away from her long enough to rummage through something he's picked out of his pants. She only realizes it's his wallet when she hears an annoyed 'shit' at what he's looking for not being present.

At the look he gives her she suddenly has to laugh. "Seriously?" He raises one brow at her. "I mean, I know where you're coming from and normally, I'm there, too. But on monday we had sex without either of us even thinking about condoms and now you're worried because you don't have any?" She knew what she came here for, so why didn't she bring some? Because she didn't think about it, plain and simple. Just like she hadn't on Monday. She makes a quick mental note of hopefully remembering to keep protection around next time.

"Just thinkin' 'bout you, mama" He leans in to kiss her slow and gentle and damn, if this isn't the sweetest thing happening to her in a pretty good long while. It's also pretty certain against the casual, no-feelings-thing she was sure this was going to be.

"There's no possibility for me to get pregnant" She leads with that because she thinks she shkuld have told him thag way earlier. Just like he told her not to worry about any diseases. "And if you say you're clean, I can assure you there's been no one I could have gotten anything from in the last five years"

She can see how he decides to ignore the question as to the husband she's currently divorcing. She's extremely for that, too, because she thinks she needs at least one more date that's not actually one before she can tell him that embarrassing story.

Also, there's way more important things to focus on. Like the hand she's wrapped back around him to show him just how sure she is that this is happening. Her hand moves over his cock, teasing him, committing the sounds he makes to memory. He sharply hisses her name into her neck and she removes her fingers after only a few strokes. There will be a time when she makes him come like this, but right now, she desperately wants him somewhere else.

They reach for her dress simultaneously, but in the end neither of them can tell who actually pushed it up and around her waist. It’s not like either of them cares though, because the moment the fabric of her clothing isn’t in the way anymore, he sinks into her in one fast movement. Beth’s fingernails dig into his back and her eyes close of their own accord when Rio’s teeth bite the skin on her shoulder lightly.

And then he finally moves and she pulls her bottom lip between her teeth to keep from making too loud of a noise. The door behind her back might be locked, but it’s still only a thin piece of wood and she has no desire to stop this incredible feeling of him inside of her, bringing her to another orgasm faster than she would have ever thought possible for anything. Hooking one leg around his waist, she pulls him ever closer, almost impossibly so and meets his thrusts in perfect rhythm. Rio’s hands on her bare skin of her hips underneath her dress is driving her crazy.

It doesn't take more than a couple more of his thrusts and she's right there again, exactly where she wants, needs, to be. Rio isn't far behind her, judging by the sloppy kisses he trails over the exposed skin of her neck and shoulder and the way his movements lose focus, become more uncoordinated. He musters enough presence of mind to lift her other leg to wrap around his waist, too, holding her against the door solely with his body slamming into hers repeatedly.

The new angle has her moan in pleasure way louder than she would later admit to, as well as a string of curses and encouragements that definitely hadn't happened when she's questioned about them later. One of her hands travels from his shoulder down his side, slips under his shirt and retakes its former position again, this time without yhe annoying fabric in the way of skin to skin contact. With the other one, she reaches for one of his and pulls it exactly where she wants his hand, his fingrs, to be.

Yes, he's made her come withiut the extra stimulation on her clit once, and yes, she knows how to touch herself to ger her off. But she had one taste of his fingers replacing hers in giving her pleasure and now she's pretty sure her own won't ever be enough again. Actually, she thinks she might be hooked on everything that's him, but that's a revelation for another time she figures.

Rik obliges immediately, manipulating her swollen and aching clit in ways that have her swear they'd be doing this for years already if she didn't know better. He builds up the heat and the pressure in her core until she feels it overtake her whole body. She comes with his name on her lips and it's enough to push his release only a few strokes later.

His face stays buried against her neck for what feels like an eternity and when she pulls her hand from under his shirt, she tries to make a mental note to check if he's bleeding later. Her nails certainly feel like that could be the case.

He gingerly helps her legs back onto the floor and they both let out the same sound at him slipping out off her. Before he can step back, she leans in for a kiss.

"Next time" He rasps against her lips. "There gonna be a bed and way less clothing involved. I promise." She hides the stupid smile at the fact that he's already thinking about seeing her again behind another quick kiss.

"There better be. I'm getting too old for this" She says it with a smile and a laugh, but she can't help but know there's also some truth behind it. And he's still pretty sure at least ten years younger than her - maybe more. Shit, she thinks, she really has to find out his age.

"Darlin', I'mma show you exactly how old you ain't"

They clean themselves up eventually and she really hopes it hasn't taken the hour it felt like it did. This is still a public place and they'd spent way too much time in there as is it already. He helps her into her panties before flipping the lock at the door.

"I'm going to need a minute"

---

She ignores the look she gets from the girl in the hallway when she finally exits the bathroom. She hasn't taken more than maybe a minute or two to make herself more presentable to the other people around the bar.

Rio is waiting for her with a smug smile, leaning against the wall opposite. "Been waitin' long enough to at least watch me come our there" He motions towards the closed door lightly with his head.

And old Beth would have been incredibly embarrassed by that. But the Beth that had just had sex in (semi) public, with a guy she's met twice now, tries to be cool about it. What does she care whag some girl that's barely reached legal drinking age think about her?

So she only lifts one shoulder in a slight shrug, grabs him by the hand and pulls him. back towards their booth and their belongings.

"Pretty presumptuous of you" She turn to him. with a smile at the two glasses of Bourbon sitting at their table. She'd swear on her kife they had been empty when they left to fuck.

"What?" He asks with the same smile. "You in a hurry?"

"No" She doesn't really want to leave, even if she were. Shaking her head at his hopeful expression, she slides onto the bench and pulls him in right next to her. "My kids are with their grandparents for the weekend" It's definitely an invitation even though she tries to tell at least herself that she's not that easy.

He sips his Whiskey for a while, contemplating his next words. Finally, he settles on. "So, what you up to then?" It's not often that he doesn't have his son on the weekend, but he knows how boring and strange a feeling it is to suddenly not have a single thing to do.

"Probably answering a lot of questions about you" She tries to sound non-chalant, only pulls it off partly. His questioning gaze makea her blush. "My sister might have seen my dining room ans your note before I did. Been trying to avoid the conversation ever since. Only half successful by the way" Her hand stops midway to her lips to glare at him for laughing at her.

"I'm sorry" And he sounds amused enough that she doesn't believe him. "Was just thinkin' how embarrassing it woulda been for me to ask if you wanna see me again and get rejected." This, she believes. She just can't figure out why the he he thought she'd ever reject him.

"You leave me with that kiss and you honestly think I'd say no to that?" Beth finally takes a sip from her drink. One of these days she has to make sure she's actually paying for one of these.

"Took you five days to show up here" He reminds her. Arm draped around her shoulders, Rio pulls her into him.

"Fair enough" She leans into him then, kissing him almost possessively and he's not complaining, but he can't help but question this sudden urgency. That is, until he catches the girl form before walking by their table, giving Beth an evil eye and checking him out at the same time.

They spend the next hour between making out and getting to know each other.

Chapter Text

Dean comes by to pick up the overnight bags the kids have left at home so they won't have to drag them around school all day.

There's an actual text involved, asking if he could come by in a few minutes and though Beth has just made it through the front door, she tells him yes. The sooner the better, is her immediate thought. She is in no mood to deal with him right now, because her head's still in some bar in a corner booth, flirting and making out with a guy she definitively should not be falling for but has a slight suspicion that she might, should this continue.

But she has also no desire to stop whatever it is she has with Rio. Even if that means doing exactly what she always tried to tell her sister not to do - fall from one failed relationship into another one. (They have never said the word relationship in regards to what they are doing or discussed how far this is going to go or how long this is going to continue - but still, she's pretty sure there's only two options to her and Rio. Stopping this now, or continuing this into an actual real relationship)

But Dean has to come and pick up the kids' stuff or else she would have to bring it over and where it technically doesn't matter if she drops it off or he picks it up, Beth thinks it might be an advantage for her to be in her home. She can just kick him out if the conversation gets too much or if he tries to weasel his way back into her good graces. She feels, if she turns on his doorstep and walks away (wherever it is that he's actually crashing right now), she's not as in control of the situation as she would like to be. Or that it looks like she's giving up instead of standing her ground.

To her surprise, their exchange is civil enough, but she sees his eyes move from her bare ring finger to a certain place on her neck.

There's been no time to get changed before he let himself in with the key she definitely needs to get back from him and so the hickey is on full display against her pale skin. She has four very active children and an equally enthusiastic dog running around the house, it's not the first time she somehow finds bruises in interesting and unexpected places. But Dean has a clear and complete view of the discolored patch of skin and its just so freaking obvious what it is.

Initially, it had started to fade rather quickly and this morning there had only been a faint marking still, indicating there had been any love bite at all. But Rio had made it his mission to try and enhance the lifespan of her fading bruise earlier and he had done a rather admirable job of it, too.

She finds a small part of her wondering whether the minutes she had before Dean's arrival really hadn't been enough to put on something with less cleavage, or if that same part of her maybe wanted him to see it.

Beth has no desire for a fight right now, she really doesn't. She has an appointment with her lawyer on Monday and she thinks that's early enough for that. But showing her soon-to-be ex-husband that her life isn't over just because she doesn't want him in it anymore - no matter in what way? Yes, she thinks, that might have influenced her decision to put away unnecessary shit instead of getting changed in the almost 10 minutes she had to herself.

Dean doesn't say anything about it for a long while, almost leaves without much more conversation than to the children's bags and pick up schedules for the day. She should worry, that this is just the calm before the (very probable) storm, but she had decided that the weekend is not for that.

She wants to relax, call her sister and best friend over and maybe get drunk, think some more about Rio and when she's maybe seeing him again. And entirely ignore that she has a husband.

Then she hands over Jane's favorite toy without which the girl won't sleep at night. She crosses one arm over her stomach, the other bends at the elbow so she can play with the fabric of her dress where it meets the bare skin of her neck.

And that had been a mistake.

Where Dean could see the hickey and already knows she's not wearing her wedding ring, having both paraded in front of him right next to each other seems to have broken his last resolve of civility. It's like the end of his marriage is steadfastly glaring at him, mocking him and Beth knows he can't deal with that.

"Was it really my cheating that drove you over the edge?" Four little bag packs are decorating the floor by his feet, because apparently he needs both hands to get his point across.

Still, she has to ask. "Excuse me?" Her hand drops from her neck and she wraps the second arm around her stomach, too.

"No wonder we didn't have sex in the last years." He raises the hand with Jane's toy to push his hand over his hair, drops it midair when he realizes it's not empty. He shakes his head instead. "How long have you been waiting for an opportunity like this so you won't have to be the one responsible?"

Beth's eyes widen almost to the point where they pop out off her head. How dare he accuse her of something like that? As if she didn't have obtained accidental front row seats to his indiscretions.

"I never cheated on you" Dean lets out a huff that definitely signals his disbelief and she would so like to hit him for his behavior and the whole situation they find themselves in because of him. But no matter how much she thinks she changed in the last week, she's still not that person. So she digs her fingers in the fabric of her dress at her hips and sticks to talking. "I've been faithful to a guy who's probably cheated on me more times than he dares to admit right now - or ever - because I gave a shit about our marriage vows" Another glance at her neck and the very prominent bruise. This time, one of his eyebrows raises at the gesture. "What I've been doing since Monday is none of your business anymore"

"We're still married" And she would bet that this was supposed to be a firm reminder towards their relationship status and not the almost plea it comes out off his mouth as. But whatever it is, she doesn't care.

"No Dean we're over" She says it with such a confidence to her voice that she is almost sure he is going to pick up their kids' stuff and leaves.

Instead, he drops the toy carelessly to the rest of the children's things and reaches for her. Beth instinctively takes a small step back, because his touch won't influence her decision in his favor, but she really doesn't want to give him any indication that it might.

"Beth, come on. I made a mistake I'd really like to make right" He doesn't get the hint, tries touching her again and this time Beth stops him with an unmistakably clear look even he can't ignore. It doesn't stop him from talking, even though it's pretty obvious really fast that he should have kept his mouth shut. "And you were hurt, so of course I'll forgive you"

"You forgive me?" Is he actually serious? "For cheating?" Her fingers dig even deeper into her hips to keep herself from doing something she'll only regret later. Like strangling her children's father. "Dean, you are the one that destroyed this marriage. There's nothing to cheat on or for you to forgive" She's done with this conversation and she frankly doesn't care what he thinks about it.

She had left the bar happy and in a great mood and though she finds thinking about Rio helps lifting that mood again instantly, Dean is testing her patience in that regard. "And now I need you to take the kids' things and leave your keys."

"But Beth, I..." She cuts off his reply almost instantly. She's not the least bit interested in what he has to say.

"No, I've been taking your shit for way too long without even realizing it." Damn, Annie would be so fucking proud of her right now. "I won't take your kids from you, because for what it's worth, you're actually a good father, but we are no longer together and you don't live here anymore."

"This is still my house" And as much as this argument would not have helped him on any given day, today Beth has to bite her tongue, hard, to not laugh out loud. Should she ever be able to pay off those three mortgages he took out without her knowledge or permission, then yes, he would at least have an argument to prove. Today, neither of them has any actual claim on the house.

"Get the hell out, Dean"

She has no idea if he actually leaves, but at least he's not following her as she finally goes to take off the dress she should have half an hour ago. Just before she reaches her bedroom the front door slams shut way harder than necessary and Bet lets out a relieved sigh.

---

She is home for barely two hours after that when she feels bored out of her mind again. She's never actually been alone like this. She'd either had her husband or children around, or she at least had a shit ton of things to do for the latter before they came back from school or various practices.

When the kids have been with their grandparents, both Beth and Dean had been with them and they had packed them back into the car and taken them back home in the evening. Or she had her husband in the same house to do something with, even if in recent times that had been sitting in the same room not talking to each other mostly.

This empty house is driving her insane.

Dressed in comfortable clothes finally, Beth takes care of Buddy, feeding and walking him while she still has the energy to. Then she makes a sweep of the house, putting away some last children toys she forgot in her tidying up before and empties the hampers in all the bathrooms, as well as picking up the clothes that never made it into one. It's not much, because she's done all the laundry yesterday (on Thursday, like she always has), but it's enough to put on one load that's washing while Beth seriously thinks about rearranging her kitchen drawers.

Fortunately, the washing machine indicates the end of its cycle before she actually has to resort to such measures and then she opts for foregoing the dryer but hanging the clothes up onto the line in the backyard just so she has something to do for a while longer. And when she's done, she's faced with the exact same problem. What the hell was she supposed to do with all her alone time?

She makes it another twenty minutes before she finally pours a glass of the red wine Annie had brought with her Tuesday and texts her and Ruby to come over. She drains her glass way too fast, refills it almost instantly. The two drinks she had with Rio are definitely not enough for the conversation awaiting her.

A long exhale leaves her lips at Annie's over-exited question on if there finally will be the promised details to Monday. At Beth's confirmation, the only content of her sister's next message is a string of unrelated emojis. Ruby's way more collected, but in no way less interested.

Beth takes the two bottles of wine she has into the living room, along with three glasses and a bag of Cheetos she knows Annie likes to munch on. Then she sinks into the couch and plans on not getting up again for a good while, if not ever. She hasn't felt so sore but simultaneously so incredible in ages.

When there's a loud and insistent banging on her front door, Beth lets out a deep breath. She really hopes this is either her sister or best friend, or both of them, and no one she actually has to get up off the couch for. She decides to risk it, raising her head just enough to shove a throw pillow underneath it and getting more comfortable, before calling out to whoever is still knocking against her front door. "It's open"

"Yeah, I'm not ever just walking into your house again without announcing myself five minutes earlier" Yes, that's Annie alright. She hears a muffled voice saying something, probably asking the question Beth would have liked an answer to as well if she weren't clued in. So Ruby's here already, too. Perfect, that makes it way easier for Beth to not having to repeat everything at least twice.

"First off, I don't even believe that" Beth rolls her eyes at her sister's antics. She loves that girl but she's just so over dramatic all the time. "And come in already, I'm not getting up"

The front door opens slowly and Annie and Ruby enter the house just as carefully. From her position on the couch, Beth can't see a single thing, but she can almost feel her best friend's exasperated eye roll at Annie's insistence to be mindful of what they could walk in on. And that's when a mischievous smirk makes its way upon Beth's face and she scoots down on the couch until her legs are hanging off the armrest. She's wriggling her feet experimentally up and down, stretching her legs out and clenching her bare toes every now and then. Until...

"Seriously?!" Beth has to bite her lower lip to keep from laughing out loud. It takes no effort at all to imagine Annie's facial expression upon walking in on what she thinks is the same scene the young woman hadn't wanted to see five days ago already. "Beth, we literally just had a conversation about that"

"What the hell is going on here?" It's Ruby's no nonsense way of asking that question that has Beth almost breaking, but she's determined to drag this out just a little bit longer. She's completely interested in what Annie has to say in order to describe what IS going on. So Beth just keeps up her comfortable position, wriggling her feet for good measure and waits her sister out. "Oh my god, is she...?"

"I really hope not! For all our sake" Now Beth can't hold herself back anymore. She rises up on her elbows to peak over the back of the couch at her sister and best friend. She's happily laughing at the two women, one of them looking seriously pissed while the other is nothing but confused at the situation.

"Relax guys, I'm just kidding"

"Beth, I swear, if I come around this couch and see you only half dressed, I'm going to kill you" Yea, Beth believes that. Without a second's doubt. She pushes off the couch a little more and pulls her feet back under herself. With her back against the back of the couch, she tilts her head back in a silent but insistent invitation to finally get in and join her in the living room.

"So, which one of you brought the good stuff?" She can't and won't get drunk on half-cheap red wine and god, she really hopes one of them had the good sense to bring a bottle of Whiskey or two. She could have bought some on her way home, but there were really so much more interesting things on her mind back then, making a trip to the store was nowhere near important enough.

Ruby steps around the couch first, not nearly as cautious as Annie still is. Of course not, seeing that she has no idea what the blonde is so disturbed by. "I did" She removes her shoes and jacket and plops down onto the sofa next to Beth. In her hand is a pretty tempting looking bottle of Four Roses Yellow Label. "Not gonna hand this over until I find out what has her so edgy though" Ruby nods her head in Annie's direction, who has finally made it around the couch and let out a relieved sigh at what greets her.

"Come on" Beth whines. The drinks with Rio definitively hadn't been enough to get her drunk enough to gossip and relay details, so she really, really, likes for Ruby to hand over the bottle so Beth can blame the blush on being buzzed and not the embarrassing story her friend wants to hear.

"Nuh-uh" Ruby shakes her head, stretching her arm farther away from Beth. Then she looks at Beth and Annie alternately until one of them finally has the grace to tell her what they've been (not so silently) conversing about.

Annie is the first to break. She flops down on Beth's other side and fixes her with a look. "You haven't told her that story yet?" It's been five days and the two friends have definitely seen each other during the week, mostly at the playground to supervise six active children and surrounded by other people, but still. She'd have really thought Beth would have mentioned anything, even if just to make fun of Annie.

"Seriously?" At that Beth actually has to laugh. "Aren't you the one always telling me I'm way too closed off when it comes to sex and talking about it?" Beth finally reaches across Ruby, catching her off guard and extracts the bottle of Bourbon from her hand.

"Right" Annie answers the mostly rhetoric question. Then she grabs the three glasses from her end of the table and pushes them right before Beth, anxiously waiting for it to be filled - with either Bourbon or Wine the blonde really doesn't care.

"I'm still here waiting, you know" Ruby sounds annoyed but not angrily so and gladly accepts the drink her best friend is putting in her hand.

Beth takes a sip, then another one, resisting the urge to drain it in one go and refilling it immediately. She sinks back into the couch and heaves a sigh before she finally answers Ruby's inquiry. "Annie might have seen something she didn't want to on Monday" Why is it so hard for her to say what happened? Especially after everything she's done with Rio just a few hours ago. Shouldn't making out - heavily - in public and having sex against a wall in a bar bathroom kind of help with that?

This time, it's Annie who can't help but laugh. At Beth's crappy description that doesn't really say anything at all. At Ruby's face, that portraits more and more confusion by the second and especially at Beth's words. "Honey, I walked in on you with your hand inside your panties"

Beth thinks she's never actually blushed that hard, not even when said event occurred. And then she proves herself to be a liar and flushes even deeper at Ruby's reaction. "Woah, hold up" Her best friend's eyes go back to moving between the sisters, seemingly not sure where she is supposed to look first. Or where to look at all. She drains her Bourbon, refills her glass carelessly with the red wine waiting for her and only then is she able to form her next thoughts into words. "Our Beth, the woman who hasn't been sleeping with anyone else than Dean ever up until this week, has been masturbating while thinking about a hot mystery guy we haven't met yet?"

"I am sitting right here" Beth halfheartedly complains, but she knows she loves them too much to ever be pissed or angry at what they are up to.

"And you're not really participating in the way we both hoped you would" Annie shrugs, topping off Beth's glass even though she's managed not to empty it yet. But Annie knows the only way to get her sister to open up about what she wants to know about is getting her drunk enough that she feels comfortable to share.

Ruby seems to second that revelation with an enigmatic nod of her head. Still, Beth takes her time doing exactly what her sister had intended her to do, drain her glass and studying Annie while the younger woman refills her empty glass once again.

"Alright" She finally relents and can't keep the smile off her lips at the two surprised faces greeting her from her left and right. "Yes, okay, that guy's been in my head since the moment he walked out off this house" And then she tells them everything she's left out off her story on Monday evening, starting and ending with that kiss she can't stop thinking about.

Actually, she has no idea why she's left this particular detail out off her retelling of happenings, it's not like this was the big, uncomfortable topic Beth feels to awkward to talk about normally. It was, after all, just a simple kiss.

But it was also kind of the prelude to Beth falling head over heels for a guy she knew nothing about. Not his name, not anything. Least of all, if he would actually want to see her again.

Yes, she would have probably been hung up on the sex for quite a while, too, but that was only physical. She thinks she could have lived with them teasing her about being physically attracted to a guy she had no intention of ever meeting again and yes, even the teasing about a certain incident and further fantasies might probably not have bothered her. It's the simple fact that, after that one particular kiss, she herself had no idea what this actually means or where this might be headed, that had kept her from relaying any feelings as of yet.

 

There won't be any introductory drinks or dinners any time soon, but since Beth had realized that this thing with Rio is heading somewhere, she thinks she at least ows them some kind of forewarning that this could very well turn into something more serious given the time.

"So I guess that answers the question whether or not you plan on seeing him again" Ruby says diplomatically. It's not that she isn't just as excited about the news as Annie is, but Ruby just knows how to hide it better. She plans to be the voice of reason should this enter dangerous territory and she can't very well be doing this when she's visibly jumping in excitement at the slightest good news.

 

"It does" No idea why she just doesn't come out with it, but she kind of wants them to ask. Wants them to be interested in more than just the juicy details of her one-time-fling or her husband and his affair.

She groans at the thought of their earlier conversation and suddenly she does want them to be hearing about him a litte longer. She really plans to have Rio in her life longer than she intents to keep Dean in it still and so her priorities lie in getting the conversations with and about the husband over and done with before anything else. There's time for talk about Rio and whatever it is they are doing.

"Dean came by earlier"

Annie lets out an incredibly unpleasant sound from her right and tops off three glasses that have barely been half drained. For all the liquid courage Beth thought she'll need, thinking and talking about Rio had her all but forgetting the drink in her hand. "What did he want?" The disdain for the man she never particularly liked in the first place clearly recognized.

"Covil conversation about the kids' pick up schedule" It's so casual she even throws in a slight shrug of her shoulders. It's not casual enough for Ruby not to pick up on something else.

"Yea, and how did that go?"

"Civil" Another shrug, this time she doesn't even bother lifting both shoulders. "Until he might have seen this" She adds in a low voice, not makeing eye contact with either woman anymore. Then she slowly peels the collar of her shirt to the side to show them the love bite she's managed to successfully hide for the last week. Might as well go all in.

Ruby and Annie are presented with the exact same picture as Dean had been earlier - a prominent bruise next to her bare finger where she used to wear her wedding ring - and for a moment their reaction is the same. Disbelieving stares and no words to be found. Only this time, they morph into equally satisfied smirks and when Annie finally says something, Beth has to roll her eyes.

"Wow" and then, after a brief pause to make sure she's really looking at what she thinks she does. "How did I not see this before?" Her tone is almost accusing and so much just Annie that even Ruby follows Beht's example.

"Because I made sure to hide it" Also, maybe because it hadn't been as visible anymore up until a few hours ago. But she plans on keeping this secret for a few minutes longer. Annie's mouth opens again to surely carry this particular conversation along, but Beth doesn't let her. "Do you want to know what happened or not?" Instaed of saying anything furtherher sister takes a long sip from her glass.

"He accused me of cheating on him" And then she relays their whole fight almost word for word. And damn, if she hadn't been right before, but the bear hug she receives from her sister definitely shows how proud she is for Beth standing up to Dean like she had. Between thw three of them there's about an hour's worth of name-calling and head-shaking and questions about a certain man's stupidity.

Beth tells them about her appointment with her laywer on monday and, while both Annie and Ruby had not been shy in sharing their very low opinions on Dean just moments ago, there's still that one question neither of them dares to ask.

Isn't this a bit of a rash decision?

There had been surely more than one occasion on which he had been unfaithful to her, but they hadn't talked that out yet and so, Beth can't possibly know that for certain. For how much they don't believe it, there is still the possibility of as much of a chance that he hadn't been lying and that this incident had been a one-time mistake he is going to make up for if she gives him a chance. The last five or so years might not have been the best (or even actually considered great at all) but Beth had not ever voiced a real, big problem or the desire for a divorce in all that time.

The general, unspoken, consensus is, that there should maybe at least be a conversation held and if that ends up not changing her mind, then her friend and sister will of course support her in any way possible.

And then, suddenly, it's like a lightning strike in which Ruby realizes what she's sure Beth hasn't yet. This divorce has, at least niw that she's thinking more clearly about it and not taking off wedding rings only because she's (rightly) pissed off, not a single thing to do with cheating.

"You really like him" She hasn't meant to say that out loud and, even after everything Beth has told them earlier about her feelings, Ruby is extremely glad it didn't come out sounding as shocked as she first felt about the realization.

Of course, she's happy for her friend, but Beth had always been the one-man kind of girl that hadn't even looked or talked about other guys in that way and now, she's almost already in love with a guy she barely knows. Dean might have triggered all this a week ago, but had she met Rio under other circumstances, the result would have, eventually, been the same. And yes, Ruby thinks, she's pretty sure allowed to feel shockrd about that.

"How pathetic do I sound if I said I do?" She hides her face behind her hands for a long moment and only drops them when Annie shifts next to her and speaks.

For just a srcond maybe, Annie contemplates whether to tease her a bit or not, because isn't that exactly what her big sister always told her to avoid? But she can see how this is getting to Beth and decides to be serious for once. "Not one bit" she assures and engulfs her sister in a quick but warm embrace.

"There is just one thing that's bothering me about all this", Ruby starts in a tone that sounds almost teasing but Beth, who's on edge about it all anyway, isn't completely sure at the time. "His name is Rio, apparently he's hot as fuck and he seems to know exactly what he's doing" At that, she raises one eyebrow suggestively and points at the hickey Beth hasn't bothered to cover back up. Beth blushes a scarlet red at that but doesn't deny a thing. "So what else is there to know and why don't we know it already?"

Despite the shitty topic of conversation they had just closed Beth has to laugh at that, only enhanced by her sister's encouragements.

"He's 35" And shr might not have believed him at first, but damn had she been relieved to hear that. "He has a son a little older than Jane" They hang on her every word while Beth tells them everything she's learned about Rio this morning.

"So" Annie starts the question when they are finally done gushing about him like teenage girls. "You know when you're seeing him again?"

"I don't" It's the truth, because they parted without any specific talk about a repetition, only shure that it would happen. "I did see him this morning though"

She's getting better at this being casual about stuff. Unfortunately, it seems like this isn't really ehat she ought to be doing right now, if their reaction is anything to go by. "Left the bar just maybe half an hour before Dean showed up"

At this point, Annie's eyes are almost bulging out off her head. "Did you...?" The most adventurous thing Beth has ever done was kiss Dean on their first date.

"Twice" And it's definitely the alcohol speaking now. If she needed any more confirmation on that, it would be the smug smile upon seeing her sister's face.

"Nuh-uh, wait. What you're saying is, that we're sitting here talking about your cheating ex-husband and marriage, while you are sitting on that informatiin?"

"Maybe" It almost sounds like a question.

"Girl, you really have to know how much I love you for me not to smack you right now"

It's several hours and a lot of embarrassing conversation later, when Beth is finally alone again. Only this time, she's not the slightest bit bored when she heads for her bedroom.