The days after the wedding passed in a blur of activity. After a few wonderful nights at home with his wife, Hank felt the itch to go out. Conveniently his phone rang with a party invite. He hastily accepted, than went to see if Crimson wanted to come with him. He hoped she would come with him. He wanted to show off his beautiful new wife to his friends. Crimson didn't want to go with him. There was too much still to do with Heather, and she would be aging up soon. Hank tried to stay home, but Crimson shooed him out the door with a smile and a kiss, telling him to go and have a good time.
So he did. He got to the house and headed straight for the bar. He was pounding down drink after drink when the dark haired stranger walked up to the bar. She looked Hank up and down and shot him her best flirtatious smile.
"Beat it lady, I'm married..." He slurred. She sulked off and Hank beamed at himself. Ha! I told her! Crimson will be so proud he thought blearily. Across the room he spotted a friend of both his and Crimsons, who's name now escapes me. He stumbled over to her.
"Hey didja see that? That chick over there tried to pick me up. And I told her no! Ha" Hank leaned into woman as he spoke and smelt her sweet perfume. It smelt like Crimsons. In his drunk state, his mind became confused.
He crept up the stairs to check on his darling daughter. She was still awake, but just barely Hank smoothed down her hair and sang to her for a moment. Soon her breathing was smooth and deep. He turned out the lights and headed to bed alone. Crimson must never know what I almost did. Hank thought as he fell into a heavy sleep.
As she picked up Hanks shirt, she noticed the strange spot on the collar. She brought it closer to examine it and was assaulted by the reek of cheap perfume. It smelt something like hers, only it was far too heavy. Rather like an imitation perfume sprayed on in excess. Senses on high alert, she peered at the collar. It was a small lipstick stain that had caught her eye. A shade of pink Crimson did not own. She felt her heart sink to her feet as a nagging doubt started to enter her mind. She shook her head as though to shake out the horrible thought. Get a hold of yourself, Girl! She silently scolded her self. Hank would never cheat on you. He loves you. He would never do something like that to hurt you. Crimson Rayne, you should feel horrible for even thinking it for a moment! She looked at the shirt still clenched in her hands. As she let it drop back to the ground, she looked at Hank. She shook her head again and headed to the nursery. Heather was cooing contentedly to herself in her crib. The second she saw her mother her face broke into a wide grin.
"Mama!" She called, reaching up her little arms "Up, Mama!"
"Yes, my sweet little girl, mama will pick you up." Today was Heather's life stage day, and Crimson still had to finish teaching her to walk. She busied herself with the task at hand, pushing all doubt about Hank out of her mind. Just as Heather finally got it down, Crimson heard the toilet in the on-suite bathroom flush. Hank was up. Crimson drew a long shaky breath and put little Heather down in the hall. Heather cheerfully pulled out her doll Peanut, and started chattering away to it.
"Morning, sexy mama. How's my pretty lady doing this mor..."
"How was your night last night, Hank? Anything you want to tell me?" Crimson interpreted. She could hold it in no longer. Her words had come out sharper than she had intended, and for a second they hung in the silence between them, the ugly insinuation floating unsaid between them. Hank recoiled as though she had slapped him.
"What are you talking about, baby? I had a few drink, then I came home because I missed you like crazy. Some ditsy chick tried to pick me up but I told her to take a hike and then I ran into..." Hank trailed of as he saw the look on Crimsons face.
"Is that who's lipstick is on your collar Hank? Is that who's fraking perfume is stinking up MY house?"
"Your house? Ow baby. Now I see how it is. And yes, that must be who's it is. I told you. She threw herself at me. I sent her packing. I came home to see YOU. Home to what I thought was OUR house. But YOU were asleep. Terribly sorry I failed to wake you up and tell you about some drunk cra..."
Hank's words were again cut off, this time by Crimsons mouth crushing down on his. He became aware that his face was wet. Not with his tears, but with hers.
"Hank, baby. I'm sorry. So very sorry. I had no right. I had no..." Hank held up a finger to silence her.
"Not now Crim. I'm in no mood for it. It's time for Heather to age up. Let's just drop it and be happy for her, okay?" Hank hated himself for deceiving her, hated himself for allowing her to shoulder all this guilt. Guilt she had no right to feel. She was right. But he still stung from the comment about the house, and he fooled himself into believing that made him justified.
Crimson went to the bathroom to reapply her makeup and try to calm her swollen red eyes. She felt horrible for what she had said to Hank, and yet doubt still lingered in her mind. Perhaps the problem wasn't Hank. Perhaps it was Crimson herself that was to blame.. She quickly changed into her sweatpants and a tee shirt, pasted on her best fake smile, and went to join her family downstairs. The candles were already lit on the cake, and Heather wanted mommy to help her blow them out
"Hey, there's daddies big girl! Mind if I come in young lady?" He said from the door to Heather's room. She giggled and nodded, and Hank was struck by how beautiful she was. Barely out of her nappies, and already she had the look of a heart breaker. The looks of her mother. Same bright, expressive eyes. Pale pink in colour, same as the sunrise when it broke over the mountains. God, how he loved those eyes on both his special girls.
"So what does my special girl want to do before bed?"
"I wanna have a pillow fight daddy" She said, grinding her toe into the carpet. Hank was taken back to a time when Crimson had done that, a time when she carried Heather inside her still. The night Hank had realized exactly what she meant to him. His heart felt like it would break from the weight of his betrayal.
"Than a pillow fight you shall have princess"
Heather woke at 5 am, excited for her first day of school. She grabbed a leftover cake slice for breakfast, expecting her parents to come downstairs at any moment. As she was washing her dishes up she heard a noise on the stairs. It was just Peanut
"Crim? We missed seeing Heather off to school. You going to get up sweetie?"
"No Hank, I don't feel so well. I'm just going to stay in bed"
"Crim, baby, you got to get up. Look if this is about yesterday..." Hank took a second to take a deep swallow. He wanted to tell her the truth so desperately, but knew it would only drive her further from him " Baby, it's okay. I forgive you sweetheart. It's water under the bridge. I love you darling, now come on. get out of bed for me please?"
"I love you too baby, and thank you for forgiving me. But that's not it. I really don't feel good baby" She opened her eyes to look up at Hank, but couldn't bring herself to look at him. She still had that little voice inside her head, telling her that he had cheated, and it was driving her mad. She needed the silence, and she prayed he would just leave.
" Okay baby, if your sure. I'm going fishing across the road. You just holler if you need anything" He got out of bed and walked to the door, taking one last worried look over his shoulder at his wife.
Hank had already gone to bed, as he was back to work in the morning. Heather had decided to shower, and fell victim to Peanuts prank. Damn you Peanut!
"Hey Heather, dad snores like some kinda pre-historic beast, huh? *giggle*"
"*giggle* Mommmieeee! *giggle*
Feel like having a few drinks with the girls tomorrow. I know you it's your first day back and you'll want to socialize, but can you please be home just after 6 to make Heather dinner? I may leave b4 than.
Thanks baby, kisses!
Your girl, Crim"
Crimson read back over her note. She told a few little white lies, but she was sure Hank wouldn't question her, or begrudge her a night of fun. After all, he had been allowed a night out alone. She hoped he would trust her more than she had trusted him. She trudged to bed with what felt like the weight of the world still upon her shoulders.
When Crimson awoke, everybody had left the house, and Heather was due home shortly. She entered the kitchen and noticed Hank had left a reply note. As she read his words a slow smile crept over her face, the first in days.
Have a blast tonight babygirl. Hope you shake that fine booty of your like no tomorrow. But don't forget who your coming home to, and in who's arms your going to be. Love of my life, save the last dance for me
All my love,
Crimson smiled as she understood Hank's strange paraphrasing. In his own little way he had quoted one of her favorite songs, Save the Last Dance, by the Drifters. Just when she thought it wasn't possible, Hank again managed to surprise her. Heather burst through the door with one of her little school friends, and Crimson went upstairs to get ready to go out.
Hank was just cleaning up the kitchen when she walked in the door. He turned his head at the sound of the door and sighed with relief when he saw the coy smile on Crimsons face, the sparkle back in her eyes. She also had a new found swagger in her walk, accentuated by her skin tight red dress and heels. He opened his mouth to ask if she had fun, but Crimson was already on him, wrapping her warm arms around his body. Her desire chased away any questions he may have had.
"Hank baby, let's go make Heather a sibling" She breathed into his ear. She felt his body respond far faster than he could utter words, and led him to bed.
Heather had some sort of opportunity, and rode her bike home after school. On the ride home she thought about what she wanted to do when she got in. Homework? Nah. Tv? Nope.
"Hey babe. Have a good day at work?"
"Not really, but it's much better now that I'm with you. But never mind me. Any morning sickness yet? Was operation 'Make a Baby' a success?"
"Nothing yet stud, but it's still early. I was thinking once we get Heather's dinner ready, do you want to go out? Just the two of us, like days of yore. If I'm not pregnant, we can try again."
"Now your talking my language. After all sexy mama, practice makes perfect!" Hank walked over to his guitar, winking at a blushing Crimson over his shoulder.
"Ready to go, lover?" she breathed as she brought her mouth to his.
"More than ready, light of my life. Lead the way"
"So, Hankbaby, any regrets on the whole marrying me thing? Sick of me yet?"
"Crimson, my dear. Everyday I wake and look at you lying next to me. I ask the maker what I ever did to be so lucky as to win your love. I thank the maker everyday for giving you to me. Then I think to myself I couldn't possibly love this woman anymore. And the very next day I prove myself wrong. My only regret is I didn't rush you to the alter the second I met you."
Crimson did not speak, could not. She simple squeezed Hanks hand. They finished their meal in silence and headed back to where it all began.
"I love you Crimson Rayne, with all my heart. Today, tomorrow and always."
"And I love you, Hank Rayne. With every fiber of my being"