For my Christmas season contribution, I’m offering a few excerpts from my mystery, Two Wrongs, which relate to one of the Christmases in the novel. These excerpts concern the inner battle Danny, the main character, faces as he fights an attraction toward his wife’s sister.
At Christmas, the family congregated for dinner at Cathy’s parents’ home. His wife sparkled in a tartan silk vest over green toreador pants. He caught short glimpses of Dora in a cranberry sweater as she sped back and forth from the kitchen to the dining room.
After a delicious roast lamb and accompaniments, they all retired to the family room and sat contentedly. Dora volunteered to clean up, refusing Cathy and Danny’s offers of help. As soon as she’d rejoined them, Ted, removing his arm from Nancy’s shoulders, asked, “What about those presents?”
“Sit back…I’ll hand them out,” Dora said in a cheerful voice, though her eyes glinted brightly.
Why was she keeping so busy? Did she feel out of place in her own family?
Danny eyed Dora as she reached for the presents beneath the tree. Her earrings sparkled in the semi-darkness. The Christmas tree lights cast a twinkling glow, illuminating her face, making her look sexy and mysterious.
He let go of his wife’s hand. Dora’s fingers brushed his as she handed over Cathy’s present. Ignoring the unexpected tingle, he turned and extended the gift-wrapped package to his wife.
At home later that evening he and Cathy exchanged their own private gifts beneath the seven-foot tree they’d picked out themselves at the forest preserve. Among its ornaments was one labeled Our First Christmas, which Cathy had discovered at a craft fair. They glanced at it and exchanged smiles.
Pushing aside disturbing thoughts of the lonely figure beneath the other Christmas tree, Danny gathered his wife into his arms. He made love to her amidst the twinkling lights of their own tree, while the aroma of pine needles tickled his nose. Life was good.
And later in the story after Danny suffers an injury:
He loved his wife, yet at this point he felt extremely vulnerable. It was not a good time for Dora to be around. The seeds of doubt had been sown and he was powerless to ignore them. Cathy’s sister understood him. Right now he needed to be with someone like that, someone who’d encourage him and tell him he still had a chance.
He glanced at Cathy, but her innocent face revealed no idea of his torment. He’d keep it that way. She must never guess. There had to be a way out of this. “Doesn’t Dora have law school?”
“Yes, but remember, she’s through early on Mondays, so she can get over here by three-thirty. I told her the key will be under the flowerpot, so you won’t have to get up. You’ll see. It’ll all work out fine. She’ll fix dinner and that’ll give me a break too. I may have to stay late at the shop.”
He almost choked on his food. Feeling like a craven coward, he badly wanted Cathy here to protect him. Appetite gone, he pushed aside his pancakes.
That evening he couldn’t sleep. No matter which position he tried, he was uncomfortable. His foot hurt despite the medication. On top of that, anticipation welled inside of him at the thought of seeing Dora. He hadn’t seen her since Christmas and next week was already Valentine’s Day.
A picture stole into his mind of Dora wearing the cranberry sweater, sitting alone under the McGuires’ Christmas tree. The ornament-shaped earrings glinted in her ears, catching the reflection of the flashing tree lights. Her eyes flashed with unshed tears. Her full breasts strained as she passed over the brightly wrapped presents.
He’d told himself then, as he did now, it’s wrong to lust after your wife’s sister.
He and Cathy had made love that very night under their own Christmas tree. The urge had been strong, but had he given into it to block out the image of Dora? How would it have felt to have Dora beneath him instead?
As soon as the traitorous thoughts slipped into his mind, he wished he could take them back. It wasn’t right to think of Dora as he lay beside his wife.
His ears caught the sound of Cathy’s soft breaths. She was his angel. She’d put up with a lot. To be honest, he had to admit his road trips were rough on her. After a long day at the shop, she had to feel lonesome stepping into an empty house. He shouldn’t blame her if she wished he had another job. Yet he did. And he knew Dora didn’t share Cathy’s feelings. Resentment flared. Why couldn’t Cathy be more like her sister? Swearing inside, he punched the pillow.
You'll need to read the book to see how it ends. (G)
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