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No Turning Back

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She could have blamed it on the wine. On the bottle they consumed as they sat together on the front porch. But that would have been a lie.

Not that she hadn’t felt any effects — there had been that warm buzz that made everything just a bit brighter and funnier and happier than it had been in a long time — but it wasn’t enough to sway her into something if she hadn’t wanted to do it in the first place.

She could have blamed it on Natasha. On the barely there shorts and tank top she was wearing as they sat outside, trying to keep cool on the hot, muggy night. Her hair had been piled on top of her head, and she was laughing and smiling, and maybe flirting, because that’s what Natasha did, and when Laura touched her, she hadn’t moved away. Instead, she had moved closer, sunk into her.

But it wasn’t Natasha who kissed her first. It wasn’t Natasha who was hovering above her, pulling down her shorts and her panties and lowering her mouth. It wasn’t Natasha who said that it was okay while her fingers were buried inside her, who said that they weren’t doing anything wrong and that she would enjoy it more if she relaxed.

She could have blamed it on a lot of other things too — how tired she was, how bored of her life she had become, how she had wondered off and on for years what it would be like to fuck Natasha — but she didn’t. Not because they weren’t true, but because they both knew those weren’t the reasons and they never had been.

Maybe she could have not said anything at all. Maybe she could have pretended it was all okay. Maybe she could have hid her guilt — Natasha would have, if she had asked her to, even if it would have killed her inside.

But Laura didn’t do that either. She couldn’t. She owed it to Clint — and to Natasha — to not make excuses or denials or pretend that everything was okay when it wasn’t. And so she waited, sitting in a chair in their living room, for him to come home, the kids off at a friend’s so they would be alone.

Natasha had cried in the morning — real tears — and Laura had kissed her, told her to leave, that she would call her, that it would all be okay.

“What have I done?” she’d asked Laura, and she had looked so lost, so broken, that Laura had kissed her again, pulled her into a hug, told her she would fix everything and it wasn’t her fault. And then she had ushered her out the door.

That had been eight hours ago. Eight hours to think and remember and to brace herself for what was coming. But then the front door opened, and her husband was home, and it still hadn’t been enough time.

He stared at her, almost frozen in place, as she told him, his face unreadable, like he had been getting lessons from Natasha back when they first met her.

When she finished, she folded her hands in her lap and waited. Waited while he stared at her, and then waited longer until the flood of emotions overcame him. The fury, the hurt, the disappointment, the bitterness.

“My wife,” he finally said, and anger and disgust laced his tone. “And my best friend. Why?”

He stared at her, his eyes piercing, his face hardened.

“I don’t …” she started, but then she stopped. That was a lie. She did know. Had always known. “I love her,” she said. “And somewhere along the way, what you and I have stopped being enough.”

She kept her eyes on him, not backing down. She watched the anger fade just a little and the hurt increase.

“You should have told me.”

“I know.”

“I don’t know where we go from here.”

“I know.”

She watched him almost crumple before her.

“Was it worth it?”

She paused, the question hitting hard. Her marriage, her husband, her children. A woman she had secretly loved for years.

She didn’t want to answer. But she owed him that too. She owed him the truth.

“I don’t know.”