The Cheater's Gallery, Ep. 02: Denise

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: General Erotica  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Art critic gets help after learning his wife is cheating on him.

Cheater's Gallery, Ep. 02: Denise


by Saddletramp1956

Copyright© 2023 by Saddletramp1956, All rights reserved


It was early afternoon when I pulled up to our house, an old two-story farmhouse set out in the Kansas countryside surrounded by large fields of wheat and alfalfa. Before you ask, no, I'm not a farmer. For that matter, I wouldn't know one end of a tractor from another. The fields belong to someone else, thank God.


My name is Bill Jacobs. Maybe you've heard of me, or read some of my work. I'm an art critic whose weekly articles are syndicated in about 200 newspapers across the country and featured on a number of large mainstream websites. I do most of my work here, in this quaint country house my wife of eight years and I decided we would call home. I do spend some time on the road, about one to three days a week, depending on what it is I'm writing about at the time.


My wife, Denise, works as a surgeon at the county hospital located in what the locals here call a town. Don't get me wrong – they're good people -- honest, decent, hard-working folks who take care of their families and try to do right. The kind of people who look you in the eye when they shake your hand. It's just that the town isn't quite what I'm used to, having lived in southern California most of my life.


I met her at an exhibit in Los Angeles. I was covering it for the paper I wrote for and she was there taking a break from her studies. At the time, she was a student finishing her medical degree. I remembered that day as if it were yesterday. I was examining a piece of art, making notes in my pad when she approached me.


That's an interesting piece,” she said.


Think so?” I asked.


Yes, I do,” she responded. “What do you think?”


Personally, I've seen more cerebral work done by six-year-olds with crayons,” I told her.


Don't you like abstract art?” she asked.


I like abstract art okay,” I said. “But this... This isn't abstract. It's lazy. No doubt done by someone who hasn't sold anything in a few months. Probably figured he'd slap some paint on a canvas, stick his little finger out and spout some psychobabble about inner conflict or something. He'll probably sell it, but I wouldn't give a plugged nickel for it myself.”


Are you an art buyer?” she asked.


No, I'm a critic,” I said. “Bill Jacobs,” I said, offering my hand.


Denise Blackman,” she said, taking my hand. “You're a real art critic?” I chuckled at that.


Yup,” I said. “They actually pay me real money to write horrible things about stuff like this. Some artists actually think it's a badge of honor to be insulted by me.” She laughed at that.


Sounds like an interesting life,” she said. I shrugged my shoulders.


It can be,” I said. “Mostly, I travel to see exhibits like this, maybe talk to an artist or two. Most of my time is spent on a computer, though. It can get rather boring. What about you?”


I'm a medical student,” she said. “I start my residency next year.”


Now that sounds exciting,” I told her.


It's all work and no play,” she said. “That's why I came here. I need a break from studying.”


I can understand that,” I told her. “Now if you want to see some REAL art, take a gander at that piece over there,” I added, pointing to a picture of a country farmhouse covered in snow. “Tell me what you think of it.” She looked at the piece and her face lit up.


That kinda reminds me of where I grew up in Kansas,” she said. “I love the way the moonlight reflects off the house.”


Are you sure it's moonlight?” I asked. “Stand in front of it and tell me what you think.” She walked to the picture and I followed her. She looked shocked as she stood in front of it.


It looks so much different from here,” she said.


Indeed,” I said. “The brush strokes the artist used and way the colors are blended, it's almost like looking at a different picture depending on where you stand. And if you look close enough, you'll see detail here you never would have picked up over there.”


You're right,” she said. “I like this.”


Congratulations,” I said. “You're now an art critic.” She laughed.


Oh no,” she said. “I could never do what you do. I'd be too afraid of hurting someone's feelings.”


We spent the next two hours looking at the rest of the exhibit. I had to admit, I liked hearing her input on different portraits. I hated it when she had to leave, but I understood that she had to get back to class. We exchanged numbers and email addresses before she left.


It's been a pleasure meeting you, Bill,” she said, giving me a peck on the cheek. “I'd like to do this again sometime.”


So would I,” I told her.


We spent the next few months getting to know each other and started dating exclusively. At first I was concerned she might be put off by the fact that I was six years older than her, but she wasn't. She certainly did make me feel like a younger man. One thing led to another and before you know it, we got married.


I thought I had hit the jackpot. Denise was – and still is, in my opinion – a very warm and loving woman. Sex between us wasn't just good – it was over-the-top great. She never complained about my work schedule, and never complained when I had to travel across the country to review an exhibit.


At the same time, her hours varied greatly, as she worked through her five-year residency. Sometimes she worked a normal day shift, but often had to work late or work after hours depending on what was going on. We discussed this in the beginning and I had no problem with her odd schedule, even though it often made it difficult for us to connect in the evenings or on weekends.


After her residency, she was offered a job at the hospital in her home town. They had just put in a fancy new surgical center so the locals wouldn't have to go hundreds of miles to get surgery. By then, I had become syndicated, so it really didn't matter where I worked, physically. The Internet was my office and I could submit pieces from anywhere on the planet, so long as I had web access. So we packed our things, sold the condo and headed to Kansas.


The house we bought was a two-story farm house that supposedly dated back to the 19th century. Everything had been upgraded so it sported all the modern conveniences, including central air conditioning. I made sure it had cable access, which included high-speed Internet – that was crucial for my work.


We turned one bedroom on the second floor into my office, and planned to use the third bedroom as a nursery. The master bedroom was huge and included a nicely-appointed master bathroom that could easily accommodate both of us at the same time.


The biggest adjustment for me was the fact that nights in the country were actually dark. I mean, pitch-black. You couldn't even see your hand if you put it in front of your face. This was a far cry from what I was used to in the bright lights of the big city.


What I really loved, though, was the view of the night sky. I had never seen so many stars before in my life. I used to have a small telescope when I was a kid, and enjoyed looking through it at night, but nothing prepared me for this. Seeing my interest in the night sky, Denise surprised me with a nice eight-inch telescope that had all the accessories needed for taking pictures. Naturally, I thanked her that night in bed – repeatedly.


It took a while for me to get the hang of astrophotography – there's a lot more to it than just pointing a camera and clicking. But I eventually figured it out and soon, my office was adorned with pictures of planets, galaxies and brightly-colored nebulae. Denise had even taken a few to decorate her office.


The most fun for me, though, were the nights Denise and I sat out back with the scope. After watching the stars for a while, we would often make love right there in the back yard, under the night sky. I felt like I was on top of the world.


The first seven years or so of our marriage seemed idyllic – at least to me. I had a good job I loved, a nice home and a beautiful loving wife. What more could a man want, I thought. We had even started discussing children. Denise had been on birth control, and wanted to wait until she was more established, which I understood.


Then I started seeing subtle changes in her. Her hours got longer, more erratic. She became short-tempered over the littlest things and we argued over ridiculous issues. I figured it was the stress of her job, so I didn't say much.


One year, she was asked to attend a medical conference in Wichita. The conference lasted five days, starting on a Monday. She seemed pensive and out of sorts before she left, but she wouldn't say why. I tried to make love to her the night before she left, but she begged off, claiming a headache.


The next day, she left, promising to call me every night. I had a major exhibit to review that week in New York and, looking at my itinerary, found that I could meet her in Wichita that Friday and come home with her. I hoped she would appreciate the surprise.


The exhibit went well, and I managed to get my article done by my weekly deadline. Denise called every night as she promised, but I got the feeling that she would rather do anything other than talk to me. I decided not to say anything about the upcoming Friday. I figured that maybe we could even spend the weekend there.


I got to the hotel where Denise was staying and looked all over for her, but couldn't find her. After verifying my identity, the hotel said she had not checked out of her room yet, and might be in one of the conferences still taking place. So I placed a call.


Are you alright, Bill?” she asked in a quiet voice when she answered the call.


Yes,” I said. “I thought I'd surprise you by stopping by on my way back from New York. I figured we could spend the weekend here and then go home together. Where are you? Are you in a seminar or something?”


Well, yes, I am,” she said, sounding irritated. I could hear someone say something to her in the background, but I couldn't make out what was being said. I could tell Denise covered the phone so I couldn't hear her response and wondered why she would do that. After a few moments, she uncovered the phone and spoke to me.


Listen, sweetie,” she said. “That's so sweet of you to surprise me like this, but I'm afraid I won't be very good company right now.”


Why's that?” I asked.


Well, I've been invited to observe a couple of procedures over at the hospital here by the head of surgery, so I'll be here for another day or so,” she said. “I didn't know about it until just a couple hours ago. I'm sorry. I'll be home Sunday night and we can make up for it then.”


Yeah, okay,” I said. “It's just that I've missed you all week.”


I miss you, too,” she said. “Please, go on home and I'll see you Sunday night, okay? Promise.”


Okay,” I said. “See you then. Love you.”


Love you, too,” she said. She didn't immediately close the connection and I thought I heard her say something about dodging a bullet. It's possible I didn't hear her correctly, but that's what it sounded like. So I went back to the airport and caught a flight back home. To say I wasn't very happy was an understatement. For the first time in our married life, I began to wonder if she was cheating on me.


Denise did get back on Sunday. Well, technically, it was actually Monday, at about 2:30 am. She tried to move quietly so as not to wake me up, but I was already awake. She put her suitcases in the closet, then went into the bathroom. She came out a few minutes later wearing a floor-length robe and climbed into bed. I couldn't help but notice the distinct odor of cigar smoke, after shave and something else when she tried to cuddle next to me.


Please go take a shower,” I mumbled. “You smell like an ashtray.”


I'm too tired to take a shower,” she said.


Fine,” I told her, getting up. “I'll go sleep on the couch.” I grabbed my pillow and a blanket and headed downstairs. I didn't sleep too well that night, only drifting off a couple times. I got up at 8:00, when Denise stumbled into the kitchen to start coffee.


Thought you were going to be home yesterday,” I said.


I'm sorry,” she said, wiping the sleep from her eyes. I could still detect the odor of cigar and after shave, so I kept my distance. “It went longer than I originally planned and I had a hell of a time getting a flight last night. Why were you such a sourpuss when I came in?”


Sorry, you know how sensitive I am to odors,” I said. “I could smell cigar smoke and after shave all over you when you came in this morning. What were you doing, anyway?”


Dr. Branstead took a smoke break on the way to the airport,” she said. “I didn't even think that you might smell it on me.”


And the after shave?” I asked. “Was that his?”


Probably,” she said.


You had to have been awful close to get it all over you like that,” I said.


He gave me a goodbye hug when he dropped me off at the airport,” she said.


That must've been some hug,” I told her.


Look, nothing happened, alright?” she snapped.


You're mighty defensive over something that never happened,” I said. “I just asked a simple question.”


You're right,” she said. “I'm sorry, I was wiped when I left there and I was just too tired to even think about a shower when I got home.”


So, what's your schedule like?” I asked her.


I don't have to be at the hospital until 11:00 today,” she said. “I'm meeting our new head of surgery and then I have a couple procedures this afternoon. I'll probably be late getting home.”


All right,” I said. “I'll order a pizza, then. I'd better get to it, see what my week looks like.”


Bill,” Denise said as I turned to go upstairs. “I really am sorry we didn't connect this weekend.”


Me too,” I said with a wry smile. “Maybe next weekend.”


As predicted, Denise didn't get home until after 8:00 pm, and of course, she was exhausted. I didn't complain too much as I knew how hard she works. I had an exhibit to review in Denver that week, so between that and her flaky schedule, we saw very little of each other that week. We did manage, however, to spend some time together over the weekend, but I sensed there was something else on Denise's mind.


About a month or so later, Denise announced that we were invited to a social function the hospital was holding. The reason, she said, was to introduce the new regional director. So, I got my best suit cleaned and accompanied her to the event.


Denise looked stunning in her black dress, which highlighted her figure quite nicely. It wasn't risque by any means but she still looked good enough to eat. I was proud to escort my lovely wife to the dinner that night, and that's where I met the new regional director – Dr. George Branstead.


He came up to us when we arrived at the event, and I noticed that he appeared to be a bit older than me, with a full head of dark hair that showed some gray at the temples. He filled out his suit nicely, and looked like someone who worked out. I also noticed that he was about three inches taller than me and outweighed me by a good 20 pounds, all of which appeared to be muscle. I instantly recognized the after shave he wore and the slight scent of cigar smoke that seemed to hang around him.


This must be the famous art critic, Bill Jacobs,” he said as he held out his hand. “I've heard a lot about you,” he added as we shook hands. “In fact, I have you to thank for keeping me from making a bad decision.”


How's that?” I asked.


Well, that article you wrote about the exhibit in Washington, D.C., a couple years ago,” he said. “My wife and I had been thinking about getting a couple new pieces of art that were being shown there, but after you did that review, we changed our minds.”


Glad to be of service,” I said. “I take it you already know my wife from that conference in Wichita.”


Yes,” he said. “That's quite a woman you have there.” I noticed the glances between them and wondered if there was something else going on.


Yes, I agree,” I told him.


She's quite the surgeon,” he added. “I have big plans for her and I'm quite sure she's up to the task,” he said, looking at her. I noticed her face turning a bit red and wondered what it was that would embarrass her like that.


The evening went fairly well. Dinner was nice, and we heard from several higher-ups about Dr. Branstead – how wonderful he was, how much he did for the community, blah, blah, blah. Then we were dismissed to enjoy the open bar and the dance floor.


Denise and I danced several times, and she took a turn or two with Dr. Branstead. I watched as they danced, and it seemed to me they were a little closer to each other than I considered appropriate. More than once, I saw him whisper something to Denise, causing her to laugh. A couple of times, she glanced my way after he said something to her, and I wondered what it was they were discussing. He escorted her back to me and made a show of offering her hand to me.


I think it only fitting the good doctor have the last dance with her husband,” he said with a smirk. I thanked him and took Denise's hand. I held her close as we danced and I noticed the cigar/after-shave smell on her. I wondered if this was how she got his stink on her at Wichita.


Finally, the dance was over and we left. Looking around, I saw Branstead leaving the venue alone and wondered where his wife was. We left and drove home.


I noticed George was alone tonight,” I said. “What happened to his wife?”


He said she wasn't feeling good enough to come,” Denise said.


You two seemed to hit it off nice,” I told her. “Do I have anything to be worried about?”


Of course not,” she said. “You're the only one I love.”


I'm glad to hear that,” I said. “And you're the only one I love. So, what are these so-called 'big plans' he has for you?”


There's been talk of having surgeons travel to do procedures at different hospitals in the area,” she said. “I just happen to be on the list.”


I see,” I said. “It sounded to me like he had something else in mind.”


I don't know what that could be,” she said. I had never caught her in a lie before, but something about all this didn't sit right with me. I decided to drop the subject until I had more information.


Things were a bit strained over the next couple months. Denise's schedule was even worse than before. She was placed on a team that saw her traveling to clinics and hospitals throughout this part of the state and I had no idea when she would be working. We hardly ever saw each other, and when we did, it was only to say “hello” and “goodbye.”


Frustrated, I tried to get her to change her schedule so we could spend time together, but it seemed that she was more concerned about working her way up the ladder than anything else. Something about all of this didn't quite pass my reporter's “smell test.” Part of me thought about hiring a private investigator, but a couple of things stopped me. First of all, if she was innocent, she would be royally pissed over me spying on her, and with good cause. Second, I didn't want to spend a lot of money only to find out nothing was going on.


Fortunately, I had a lot of friends in the news business who were investigative reporters, something Denise didn't know. So I reached out to a couple to see what they could dig up on this Dr. Branstead and his traveling medicine show.


I was in Seattle reviewing an exhibit when I got a call from Denise telling me she would be in Topeka for the weekend for some kind of meeting. I had just about had it with all of this and it took everything I had to hold my temper.


I'm sorry,” she said. “I know you were planning for us to get away when you got back from Seattle this weekend. I'll make it up to you.” God, if I only had a nickel for every time I heard that phrase, I thought. I counted to ten before responding. “Bill?” she asked when I didn't respond. “Are you there?”


I'm here,” I said. “Who else is going to this meeting?”


Well, Dr. Branstead,” she said. Of course, I thought to myself. “There's several others I know. Some from my hospital and others from hospitals across the state.”


Okay,” I said. “You gotta do what you gotta do. I'm not happy, but I understand.”


You're the best,” she said. “I love you.”


Love you too,” I said before we ended the call. This shit has to stop, I thought as I put my phone away. I finished going through the exhibit and made my way to the hotel. As I was eating, my phone rang again. It was Ralph Williams, a friend of mine who works as a reporter for the Kansas City Star.


Hello,” I said.


Hey, Bill,” he said. “How's it hanging?”


Yup,” I said, causing him to chuckle.


That good, huh?” he asked sarcastically.


Pretty much,” I said. “You find something?”


I sure did,” he said. “Your Dr. George Branstead is quite the guy.”


Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” I asked.


Well, let's put it this way,” Ralph said. “He's richer than God, married to a trophy wife who can't stand him, knows everyone who's anyone and has a well-deserved reputation as a philanderer. He loves married women, by the way. In more ways than one, if you catch my drift.”


Unfortunately, I do,” I said.


Rumor mill has it that he's currently seeing a cute little blonde-haired surgeon from the middle of the state,” he said, causing my heart to sink.


You have a name for this blonde surgeon?” I asked.


No, I don't,” Ralph said. “But I can tell you she's a real corn-fed Kansas farm girl. Cute as a button from the photos I saw.”


Photos?” I asked. “You have photos?”


Yeah, sure do,” he said. “They were spotted at a gathering of healthcare pros here a few weeks back. Looked pretty chummy with each other if you ask me.”


Can you email me some of those photos?” I asked.


Sure,” he said. “Be happy to.”


Thanks, Ralph, I appreciate it,” I said.


Any time, old friend,” he said. “By the way, turns out the good doctor was caught in a scandal out west a few years ago.”


What kind of a scandal?” I asked.


The kind that sees big-name doctors get a polite shove out the door, if you know what I mean,” he said. “I don't have all the details, but I know someone who does. I'll send you her info with the pictures. She writes for a society gossip blog out in California. She's expecting your call.”


Thanks,” I said before ending the call. I remembered Denise telling me she had a meeting in Kansas City a month or so ago, but she never mentioned being with George. I heard my phone ding, indicating I had an email. I dreaded looking, but I opened the email and took a look at the photos, expecting the worst.


Sure enough, there was my Denise, sitting in a hotel restaurant with George Branstead. One photo showed them kissing and another showed them walking away, holding hands. This was no professional relationship. I felt like I had just been punched in the stomach. How long had this been going on, I wondered. Was she in love with him? How could she do this to us? So many questions went through my mind I couldn't even think straight. I had one more call to make, so I rang the number for Linda Carson, the blogger Ralph told me about.


Linda Carson,” she said when she answered the phone. I introduced myself to her and told her Ralph had referred her to me.


Yes,” she said. “I've been expecting your call. You're curious about George Branstead?”


Yeah,” I said. “What can you tell me?”


Well, he was caught screwing a coed in his office about eight or nine years ago,” she said. “He got the boot and now I hear he's in Kansas.”


Do you know the name of the coed he was caught with?” I asked.


Yes, I do,” she said. “It never made it into my report, though. The school was adamant that her name be kept out of my report. Let me look here just a minute. Ah, here it is. Denise Blackman.” I thought I was going to get sick.


Are you sure?” I asked.


Absolutely,” she said. “Why, do you know her?”


That's my wife's maiden name,” I said. “When did this happen?”


I'm sorry to hear that,” she said. “Hold on, let me look at my notes. Here it is,” she said giving me the date. I brought up the archive of my day planner and checked – it was the day I first met her at the exhibit. Damn. I thanked Linda for the information and ended the call.


Somehow, I managed to get through my dinner, then went to my room and finished my article for the week. I got it submitted just in time and decided to check out and go home. I needed answers but none came to me. I prayed that the situation would get resolved and we could move on. I could only hope this wasn't as bad as I thought.


I got home early Friday afternoon, grabbed the mail out of the box by the road and went inside. The place seemed eerily quiet, more so than usual, I thought. I put my clothes away and sorted out the mail. Bills went into one pile for Denise and I to go through as we always did, and obvious junk went into the trash. There was a beige-colored envelope addressed to me in a well-done calligraphy from someplace called Rhamnousia Gallery. I never heard of the place, so I opened the letter.


According to the invitation, I had been invited to an exclusive showing at 5:00 pm that evening. I looked at the address and realized it was local. Strange, I thought. I never knew there was an art gallery in town. Perhaps it was just established and the owner wanted to give me a preview. What the hell, I thought. It would take my mind off Denise for a little while.


I pulled up to the large, two-story Victorian house right at 5:00 and was surprised when the door opened before I could knock. I stood face-to-face with a slim, petite blonde who didn't look to be more than 25 years old.


Mr. Jacobs,” she said. “Right on time. I appreciate punctuality. Please come in.” I followed her inside. After she closed the door, she turned to look at me. “My name is Adrestia Rhamnousia. Welcome to my gallery,” she told me, extending her hand.


A pleasure to meet you. I didn't know this little town had an art gallery,” I said. She smiled and flipped a strand of hair out of her face.


Trust me, Mr. Jacobs,” she said. “There's nothing like it anywhere else in the world.”


Please call me Bill,” I said.


Okay, I will, Bill,” she said. “And you can either call me Adrestia or Dr. A.”


Adrestia,” I said. “That's an interesting name.”


I've been called many things over the years,” she said. “Please, feel free to look around if you wish.” I took her up on her offer and looked at the portraits on the walls. All of them had a strange, near-photographic quality to them and all of them appeared to be of people facing their inevitable demise. It was the most macabre collection of portraits I had ever seen in my life. I looked at them, trying to determine who the artist was, but I was unable to decipher the markings in the lower right corner.


I ended up in front of a portrait of a woman who appeared to be falling backward. Her eyes were wide open and her hair appeared to be flying in front of her face. Her mouth was open in a silent scream as she realized the end was near.


This is a rather strange collection,” I said. “Do you sell many of these?”


These aren't for sale,” she said. “They're for posterity. This portrait is one of our most recent.”


They look so... realistic,” I said. “Who painted these?”


Some of them painted themselves,” she said. I looked at her, shocked. How was that even possible?


So, if these portraits aren't for sale, how do you stay open?” I asked.


Money isn't an issue,” she said. “You could say we have, well, deep pockets. Very deep pockets.” After a few awkward moments of silence, she spoke again. “Oh, I understand. You thought I invited you here to write up a review.”


Isn't that why you sent me that invitation?” I asked. She smiled and shook her head.


No, it's not,” she said. “I'm sorry if you got the wrong impression. Actually, I have something here just for you. Please, come with me.” I followed her through a set of double doors into a room that contained a covered portrait on an easel and two chairs with a round table between them. “Please, have a seat,” she told me, gesturing to the chair on the right hand side of the table. I sat and watched as she went to the portrait and removed the cover.


To say I was shocked was an understatement. There, in the portrait, was Denise, wearing a sexy black dress showing a lot of cleavage. Her hair was well done and her nails were painted a deep red. I noticed her rings were missing from her left hand, which happened to be on top of another hand attached to – you guessed it, George Branstead.


She smiled as she gazed at George with a look that screamed, “fuck me.” It was a look I had seen many times since we first met. I sat back in the chair, shocked. But this was a painting, not a photograph. How could it possibly have been done in such short notice, I asked myself. Is this real?


Is this some kind of a sick joke?” I asked, upset with the portrait before me.


No, it's not. You're probably wondering right now if this is really happening,” Adrestia said, as if reading my mind. “Trust me, it is real. I can't explain it in any way that would make sense to you, but I can assure you it's real.” She covered the portrait and sat in the chair next to me.


I know this is a terrible shock to you,” she said. I nodded my head, feeling numb.


Yes,” I stammered.


I also know you've suspected your wife has been cheating for a while, but you've gotten no real proof,” she said.


How would you know that?” I asked.


It's my job to know,” she told me. Who in the hell is this woman, I asked myself. She smiled, almost as if reading my thoughts.


Please, come back at 11:00 pm tonight,” she said. “Your questions will be answered once and for all.” Numb, I got out of the chair and let her lead me to the front door. “Remember,” she said. “11 pm tonight.” I nodded my head and left after she closed the door.


I went home, ate and tried to keep my mind off what Denise was doing, but it was impossible. I thought about drinking a beer, but decided I wanted to be clear-headed when I went back to the gallery. So I watched some television and tried to take a short nap. I finally dozed off for a bit, and woke up just in time to brush my teeth and get to the gallery.


The door opened just as I was ready to knock and Adrestia motioned for me to come inside. I followed as she went into the private viewing room. After I sat down, she pulled the cover off the portrait. I was shocked to see Denise, naked, riding George Branstead's cock. What kind of trickery is this? I looked at Adrestia, confused.


Please, come into my office,” she said. I got up and followed her up the stairs. I looked around when we entered her office. There were shelves filled with what looked like ancient books and scrolls. A computer monitor sat on her desk and another large monitor was attached to the wall. She made a cup of tea, handed it to me and sat behind her desk as I took a sip. Strangely enough, I felt somewhat better.


What's going on?” I asked. “How could that portrait have changed?”


Perhaps this will help make things clear for you,” she said. After moving her mouse around a bit, the monitor on the wall came to life. I could see Denise bouncing on George's cock for all she was worth. I could see his erect cock filling her as she ground down on it. When she lifted, I saw white globs on his shaft and knew that he had finished inside her, without a condom. She lifted one leg and lay down next to him, his semen running out of her cheating cunt.


Oh, God, that was so good,” George said. Denise laughed.


Yes, it was, sweetie,” she said. “The best.”


Think I managed to get you pregnant tonight?” he asked. What?


Possibly,” she said. “I quit taking my birth control and I've been careful about not letting Bill fuck me lately.” He laughed.


Think he'll believe it's his child?” he asked her.


I hope he does,” she said.


Why do you stay with that loser?” he asked her.


Why do you stay with your wife?” she asked in response.


You think he suspects something?” George asked.


No, he doesn't,” she told him. “He believes whatever I tell him.” I had seen and heard enough. I saw her phone on the night stand and called her. I could see her phone light up as the call went through. She picked it up, looked at it for a moment, then declined the call and put it back.


Who was that?” George asked.


Him,” she said. “Probably just got back from Seattle. Now, come over here and fuck me again.” He started to get above her, but I called her phone again, interrupting them. Denise grabbed the phone, declined it, and tossed it back on the nightstand, this time extending her middle finger.


What did you do that for?” George asked.


Cause, he's pissing me off,” she said. Fuck that, I thought. I was about to research the number to their hotel when Adrestia handed me a piece of paper.


Here's the number to their hotel,” she said. “They're registered in room 625 as Dr. and Mrs George Branstead.” Pissed, I thanked her and dialed the hotel. When I got the receptionist, I asked for room 625. I heard the room phone ring in the video and saw George pick up the receiver.


Hello,” he said.


Put my wife on the phone right fucking now,” I growled. As I watched, he looked at the receiver and slowly handed it to her.


It's for you,” he said quietly. Denise took the receiver and answered. I could tell she wasn't too happy, but I didn't care.


Hello,” she said quietly.


Well hello there, Mrs. Branstead,” I said. I saw her face go pale in the video. “Having a good fucking time, I see.”


Bill,” she said. “There's nothing going on. Why are you so upset?”


Why are you fucking Branstead?” I asked. “Why did you register as Mrs. Branstead? Did you divorce me without saying anything?”


Bill, nothing happened,” she said.


Bullshit, bitch,” I told her. She recoiled when I said that. I had never used profanity around her before and it caught her off guard. “I just watched the two of you. Did you honestly think you could get pregnant with his child and have me raise it? Are you out of your fucking mind?”


You saw us?” Denise asked, looking around for a camera.


Yes, I saw you and I heard you,” I said. “How long has this been going on? I know you and he were an item in college. And I know you were caught the day we first met. So tell me, why?”


Look, Bill, I don't know what you think you know, but you're mistaken,” she said. “This is the first time we've done anything. Please, let me come home and we can talk through this. It doesn't have to affect us.”


There's nothing for you to come home to, you lying bitch,” I said. “You might as well stay with him. I'm going to see an attorney on Monday and I'll have you served with divorce papers.”


I don't want a divorce,” she begged. “Please, don't do this. I love you.”


Yeah, I can see how much you love me,” I said. “Like I said, don't bother coming back. I don't ever want to see your face as long as I live.” I ended the call and watched as she handed the receiver back to George, tears falling down her face.


I gotta go,” she said, scrambling for her clothes. “I gotta fix this with Bill.”


Why?” George said. “I could hear him on the phone. He's divorcing you. That frees you up.” She shook her head.


I gotta make this right with him,” she said as she dressed. George got out of bed.


Well, then, I'll drive you,” he said. “You're in no shape to drive and there's no telling what he'll do to you.”


Bill would never hurt me,” she said.


Under normal circumstances, probably not,” he said. “But he just caught you cheating on him. There's no telling what he'll do. Does he own a gun?” She shook her head.


No,” she said.


Still, I'm driving you home, and that's all there is to it,” he said. As we watched, they dressed, then packed up and left the room. I noticed her rings were still sitting on the nightstand where she had left them. I looked at Adrestia before speaking.


How did you get that camera into their room?” I asked.


Trade secret,” she said. “Did you mean what you said about not wanting to see her face again?” I nodded my head.


Yes,” I said. She closed her eyes for a moment before speaking.


Very well,” she said. “Why don't you go home and try to get some rest.”


Maybe I should,” I said. She took my head in her hands and I felt a giddy warmth spread throughout my body.


Things will get better,” she said. “Trust me.” Strangely enough, I did. I left her office and went home. Denise was right – I didn't have a gun, but I did have a nice Louisville Slugger. I laid down on the couch and set the bat on the floor next to me.


I woke up when I heard pounding on the front door. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and looked at the clock – 6:30 am. I wondered if it was Denise and her lover, and was surprised when I saw a Kansas state trooper on my porch.


Mr. Jacobs?” he asked. “William Jacobs?”


Yeah, I'm Bill Jacobs,” I told him.


I'm sorry to inform you, sir, but your wife is dead,” he told me.


Dead?” I asked. “How? When?”


She was in a car belonging to one Dr. George Branstead when they encountered a freak tornado on the highway,” he said. “The trooper who witnessed it said the tornado hit, picked the car up and slammed it on the ground about a half-mile away. No one survived. I'm sorry, sir. Her body has been transported to the county morgue.”


Thank you,” I said, numb. I wondered if Adrestia had anything to do with that, then dismissed the notion. How could she have conjured up a tornado in the middle of nowhere? I showered, dressed and headed for the county morgue to identify her. While there, I spoke with the trooper who called it in.


Strangest thing I ever saw,” he said. “There wasn't even a cloud in the sky. Tornado just appeared out of nowhere, picked the car up like it was nothing, slammed it down on the ground a half mile away, then dissipated. Whole thing took just a few seconds. Sorry for your loss.” I nodded my head.


Thanks,” I said. My next stop was to the gallery. As before, Adrestia opened the door before I could knock.


Please, come into the viewing room,” she said. We went inside and she uncovered the portrait. There was Denise's face, her eyes wide open, her mouth open in a silent scream. I could see the seat she was sitting in and what looked like a swirling cloud outside the window next to her. I followed Adrestia as she picked up the portrait and carried it to the spot she had reserved for it on her wall.


With tears running down my face, I watched as she hung the portrait on the wall. I looked around and suddenly realized what kind of a gallery this was. Adrestia looked at me after she hung the portrait.


It really does get easier,” she said. She took my head in her hands and the desire to mourn was suddenly gone. She smiled and kissed my forehead. “Go now,” she said. “Live, love and enjoy life. You'll find someone much better. Trust me.” I nodded my head and left the gallery.


Denise's funeral was well-attended. She had made a lot of friends at the hospital, and most of them were there, along with her parents, who were stunned to hear that she had died in a tornado. I accepted the condolences that were offered, but strangely enough, I felt no need to mourn. I was also able to get through the day without telling anyone of her infidelity. When the funeral was over, I drove to the gallery, but was shocked to see the building was gone.


I parked the car and looked at the lot, now covered with weeds. I verified the address, and looked around but didn't see anyone else out and about. Was it all a dream, I asked myself. No, I heard Adrestia's voice say in my head. It was real, she said in my mind. I nodded my head and went back home.




For some strange reason, I decided to keep the house. There was something calming about being out in the country, and to be honest, I liked the night sky. I spent some time exorcising Denise's presence from the place, giving her stuff away to members of her family. They were good people and we still got along well, strangely enough.


About six months later, I was in the front room when I heard a knock on the door. I opened it to see an attractive brunette wearing a t-shirt and a pair of short shorts.


Yes?” I asked. “May I help you?”


Mr. Jacobs?” she asked. I nodded my head.


Yes, that's me,” I said.


I'm Kirsten Smith,” she said. “Formerly Kirsten Branstead.”


Please come in,” I said. “What can I do for you?”


I just wanted to thank you,” she said.


For what?” I asked her.


Well, it was my husband who died in that car with your wife,” she said.


I had nothing to do with that tornado,” I said. “I don't know why you're thanking me.”


I know you didn't have anything to do with the tornado. I wanted to meet you ever since you reviewed my piece at that exhibit in Los Angeles,” she said. “The one with the country house.” Suddenly, I remembered. She lifted a box and handed it to me. I took it and invited her inside.


Please have a seat,” I told her. “Would you like something to drink? A Coke, perhaps?”


Coke would be fine,” she said. I grabbed her a cold coke and opened the box. Inside was the picture I reviewed the day I met Denise.


Does it look familiar?” she asked.


Yes, it's the picture I reviewed all those years ago,” I said.


Look closer,” she said. I did, and suddenly it hit me. It looked very much like my house.


Is this,” I began. She smiled.


I used this house as the model,” she said. “And I want you to have it.”


That's very nice,” I said. “But why?”


Well, it's strange,” she said. “Everybody put me down for wanting to be an artist. Even George. They all said I'd never get anywhere as an artist. Then you wrote that really nice review. You were the only one who ever said I have any talent. I framed that review and hung it up on the wall next to the picture. After George died, I was going through everything and I heard this little voice in my head tell me to give it to you. I thought I was just hearing things, but the voice kept coming back. I even heard it in my dreams. So I finally decided to pack it up and bring it.”


Well, that's very nice of you to do,” I said. “I'll definitely hang it up. What are you doing now, by the way?”


Not much of anything,” she said. “I really don't need to work anymore, now that I've got George's money, and I was thinking I might start painting again.” I nodded my head.


Do you have someplace to work?” I asked her.


Not yet,” she said.


Well, there's a lot of space in the building out back,” I said. “It's got electricity and I can set it up so you can work there if you want.”


You'd do that?” she asked, shocked.


What the hell?” I asked. “I'm not doing anything with it, so it might as well get put to good use.” She wrapped her arms around me and thanked me several times. I took her out and showed her the space.


This would be perfect,” she said.


I'll need to put in some heat and air conditioning,” I said. “It gets awful hot out here in the summertime and cold as hell in the winter. But I think it would work well for you.”


I'll pay you rent for it,” she said. I shook my head.


Don't worry about it,” I said. “If you don't mind keeping an eye on the place while I'm gone, that would be payment enough.”


Kirsten practically lived in the workspace I set up for her, and it felt good to know someone would be around when I was gone. We got to know each other quite well, and I gave her the run of the place. One thing led to another and after a few months, she was essentially living in the house, and yes, in my bed.


A few months after that, we got married. On our wedding night, I thought back to the last thing Adrestia said to me: “You'll find someone much better. Trust me.”



Note: You can read more about Adrestia in my ebooks:


"Justice Rides"


The Cursed Phallus of Baalak-Ra”


Son of Baalak”













Submitted: May 17, 2023

© Copyright 2023 Saddletramp1956. All rights reserved.

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