Jalen sat up straight away, his chest heaving up and down as he listened for footsteps.

Thin heels clicked on the tile floors that led down the long corridor from the front door to their bedroom.

She didn’t even attempt to creep; barged in with a smile on her face, a song at the tip of her tongue, and tossed her keys on the dresser.

Everything about the woman looked different in Jalen’s eyes, but he held his accusations at bay.

“Hello.”

She paused momentarily, peering over her shoulder before sauntering seductively into the master bathroom. “You still up? What a surprise.”

It wasn’t. She knew it would be impossible for Jalen to sleep. She had counted on it, the pained expression on his face exciting her a bit. “I was worried.”

“Why? I was just out with a friend. You know how carried away things can get, how time just slips away.” He knew too well. “I sat down for dinner, and next thing I know it was nearing four am.”

“Yeah,” he spoke through gritted teeth. Her gleeful tone was beginning to bother him. “Who were you with?”

“Dante.” She was all too happy to say his name, Jalen thought. It did not amuse him. “You remember him, right? We grew up together, hung out a few times in our youth. He was in town, thought it’d be great if we caught up before he left.”

“It was just you two?” She remained silent for a while, checking her appearance just before she began the long hassle of removing her make up. “Kiara…”

“Yes?”

He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat, hating instantly the jealousy that bubbled within him. Jalen wanted to play it cool, but he couldn’t. “Was it just you two?”

“Yes. Who else would have joined?”

“Shit, I don’t know. A wife. Doesn’t he have one?” YOU have a husband, he thought to himself.

“Not yet.”

He threw the covers away from his body, jumping up and charging straight into the bathroom.

This startled Kiara greatly, the dress she held falling straight to the floor. Jalen observed her body from head to toe, looking for marks he did not recognize. Signs that she had been the unfaithful being he imagined all night.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“So you had dinner… Until four in the morning?”

She smirked, shaking her head as she moved towards the tub. She remained silent another long while, drawing herself a bath. To Jalen, it seemed a lifetime had passed by the time she responded. His stomach was in knots, and his anger boiling over.

“It would be quite a foolish lie to say all that time was spent at a restaurant.”

“Well.”

“We went dancing as well, I gave him a tour of the city.”

“Hm, and let me guess, it all ended in his bed, didn’t it?”

Kiara paused, looking towards Jalen with the coldest glare. “That’s the nightcap that usually comes so easy for you.” Jalen stood straight, dropped his head as the weight of his accusation and her words compounded. “I didn’t cheat on you, but I wanted to. Guess I value this shell of a marriage too much, and I’m still wishing you valued it too.”

Pushing him out the door, Kiara spoke her final words for the night. “Doesn’t feel great wondering who your spouse is sharing themselves with, does it? It’s a pain you deserve.”

3 thoughts on “Maybe I Deserve by Cortney Joseph #ShortStoryAugust

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