Chapter Six – Tabs

 

 

Jane sat in her car. The engine was running and she stared at clock as yet another minute passed by. She was in disarray. Her mind was racing. She was trying to reconcile what she saw with what she wanted to be true. She had reached an impasse and could go no further. Now she sat in confused contemplation, stalemated between a harsh reality and an unbelievable lie. She held her phone in her hand rotating it slowly while she tried to decide what to do next. She wanted to call Nathan and tell him she saw him, but the thought of the repercussions frightened her to her core. She wanted to call Sarah, but how would she judge her now? After all she was the one that had suggested Jane divorce Nathan. She went even as far as to suggest a gigolo to help her work up the courage. How could she possibly be any help right now?

 

Jane clenched her jaw and shut her eyes tightly. She tried to push the thoughts out of her head. The memories she wanted to erase. She wished she could go back to the way it was. The way everything was before she learned the truth about her husband. “Oh god it is the truth isn’t it?” she finally said aloud to herself. Jane coughed and felt herself wanting to wretch again. Even worse, the moment the nausea subsided the tears came in earnest. A flood of them poured down her cheeks and Jane felt a misery she could never imagine in her worst nightmares. She bent over in the car and placed her head on the steering wheel, content to while away the time sobbing like a 2 year old. Suddenly there was a gentle rapping on the driver side window. Jane looked up to see where it came from.

 

“Are you ok?”

 

It was Tabitha. She stood outside Jane’s car with a cardboard box under her arm and a concerned look on her face.

 

“I–I’m fine.” Jane lied obviously after rolling down the window. “I–uh–” she struggled to think of any plausible excuse, “–allergies.” she mumbled.

 

“Yeah, that’s bullshit.” Tabitha said candidly. “Look, I’m on my way home. Do you need me to call someone for you?” Tabitha asked sincerely. Jane shook her head without looking back at Tabitha. “Or if you want to talk to me I’m cool with that too. Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger you know?” Tabitha paused before continuing, “–cause honestly you look like shit right now.”

Her frankness was both insulting and refreshing. As much as Jane wanted to tell her to just go away, she no longer had the capacity to hold her emotions back. “I–I just.” she stopped for a moment to look up into Tabitha’s deep brown eyes, “I saw something and–” Jane struggled to string the sentence together, “–now I.” She winced and a more tears joined the rest streaking down her cheeks. She took a big breath. “I saw him–” she turned to look into Tabitha’s eyes again as the young woman looking at her with concern. All at once Jane decided to let go, “I saw him–with someone else.” she finally finished. “My hus–band.” The word caught in her throat like a peach pit dipped in acid. “I saw my–my husband–with someone else.”

 

“Yeah that look is plastered across your face hun.” she said as soothingly as she could.

 

Jane winced and more tears streamed down her cheeks. She finally opened her eyes again and looked up at Tabitha once more, “He–he’s cheating on me!” she exclaimed suddenly, “–with–with a man!” she bellowed.

 

“Oh sweetie.” Tabitha tilted her head and reached out to put her hand on Jane’s shoulder. “Oh sweetie that’s just awful.” Tabitha patted her gently. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked softly and Jane nodded slowly. “Ok hun, lets get you out of that car. I’ll take you to my place while you get sorted. You’re not in any state to drive.” Tabitha said with a maturity that was beyond her years.

 

Jane nodded and sniffled, “Oh–ok.” she unclipped her belt, opened the door and followed Tabitha.

 

“I’m just over here.” she pointed at a large condominium complex across from the mall. Jane didn’t bother to look where she was pointing, instead merely nodded and followed petite black haired shop owner.

 

The two women walked in silence, save for Jane’s occasional sniffles. They proceeded into the lobby, Tabitha called the elevator, and soon they were on there way up to Tabitha’s condo. Jane was in a daze. She felt as if she was sleepwalking. Stumbling forward in this confusing fog as she followed a complete stranger to her home. “This one’s mine.” Tabitha broke the silence and Jane snapped out of her daze to look at the young woman.

 

“Ok.” is all she managed to croak out.

 

“Would you like some tea–or coffee?” Tabitha asked politely. She placed the cardboard box on the countertop beside her.

 

Jane nodded at first, then realized that Tabitha was ahead of her and unable to see her gestures, “Uh–yes. Yes some tea please.” she managed to stutter.

 

“I’ll fix you some camomile.” Tabitha replied from the kitchen, “It should help a little to calm your nerves.”

 

“Thanks,” Jane responded as she slowly strode past the kitchen into the living room. The walls of the living room were bright white, but were completely covered in art. The dark oiled paintings depicted grotesquely beautiful and highly sexualized biomechanical human forms in various suggestive poses. Jane looked at them and found her mind was less foggy than it was a moment earlier. Something about the art on Tabitha’s walls was equal parts disturbing and enticing.

 

“Do you like them?” she asked, startling Jane with her sudden appearance.

 

“I–I’m not sure.” Jane replied honestly. “They–they’re kind of weird, but beautiful.” she admitted.

 

Tabitha chuckled, “Well thats Giger for you.” She walked up to one of the paintings, “All of these are prints except this one.” she smiled with pride as a mother might. “This one is an original. I can’t even tell you what it’s worth.” She stroked the monolithic frame lovingly before turning back to Jane.

 

Jane was staring at it with keen eyes. Mesmerized by the intricacy of the design. She turned to Tabitha, “No I’m sure now. I do like it.” she nodded as if to agree with herself, “Definitely like it. They’re so–” she paused, trying to find the right words.

 

“–suggestive?” Tabitha queried, curious as to what Jane was thinking.

 

Jane smiled widely at Tabitha, “Yeah that’s it. It’s like, you’re looking at human forms that aren’t really human forms and your brain fills in the details.” she responded. Her voice was less croaky than before and Jane felt her chest feel less constricted as she was finally able to breathe. She took a sip of the tea Tabitha had given her, “I’m not sure if I’m saying it right. I’m not the art person, my hus–. Well he’s the artsy one.” she shrugged and took another sip.

 

Tabitha put her hand on Jane’s shoulder and smiled, “It’ll get better hun, trust me I know.”

 

Jane frowned at the younger woman. How could she possibly understand what Jane was going through. Here she was in her own condo with her own things and her own shop where she was the boss; how could she possibly understand what Jane felt. How humiliated she felt. How angry she felt. How could that even be possible. Jane immediately became irritated with Tabitha and before she knew it she blurted, “Look I get you’re trying to be helpful, but you have no clue what I’m going through.”

 

“I beg your pardon but yes I do.” she said, raising her eyebrow at Jane and nodding.

 

“How could you possibly–”

 

“This–” she interjected cooly, gesturing around to the condo, “–this is the new me. The old me was you. Just four years ago.”

 

“Wha–huh? What do you mean? You–” Jane stammered.

 

“Yes. I was both married, and got cheated on as well. But before I divorced him I had my fun.” she smirked. “I met a guy when I was going through the worst of it.”

 

“The worst of it?”

 

“The point that you’re at now. When your fears and suspicions are realized. When the reality you dread becomes the reality in which you’re living.” Tabitha explained softly.

 

“So what–what happened with you?” Jane asked apologetically. A little embarrassed at her outburst.

 

“He married me young.” Tabitha explained, “We were in high school together and he got me pregnant.” She took a sip of her tea and continued to look into Jane’s eyes, “I lost the baby; stillborn.” She shook her head and frowned, “You think you’re in the shitter now, trust me babe, that’s worse.”

 

Jane tilted her head to the side and winced, sympathizing with Tabitha’s pain without being able to truly comprehend it.

 

“So there we were, married teenagers with no reason to be married. We decided to stay together anyways, mostly because both of our parents told us it was a bad idea. We worked through all the negative bull that comes when you lose a child. The blame game. The silent blame game that is.” Tabitha sighed and motioned for Jane to sit on the couch behind her. Tabitha followed and sat next to her, placing her teacup on the H.R. Giger inspired coffee table.

 

“I’m so sorry.” Jane managed to whisper softly, unsure of what else she could say.

 

“It’s ok. You end up working past it, which is what we did, but his dad was furious.”

 

“His dad?”

 

“Yeah. His dad was some real estate tycoon on the east coast, worth millions.”

 

“Oh. Ok.” Jane responded. She was starting to get the picture.

 

“You see we eloped. We didn’t ask anyone’s permission. We didn’t consult with lawyers or anything. We just got married because that’s what we thought we were supposed to do. My ex had no idea that by marrying me I was going to be able to be entitled to a chunk of the huge trust fund his dad had set up for him.”

 

“Ah. I see.” Jane nodded, finally grasping the situation.

 

“Fast forward a few years and that trust fund day is coming closer and closer. The moment he turns twenty-one, boom, instant multi-millionaire. And that draw of the money, it changed him. Day after day he got worse. Acting more like an entitled jackass. He began to treat me like a maid or live in servant more than a wife. He was hanging out with his dad more and more, learning the ropes on how to be a dick businessman just like his dear old dad. But even as he was changing I was there, stupidly hoping beyond hope I’d get the old him back again. I tried and I tried and got no where.” Tabitha sighed, took a quick sip of tea.

 

Jane shook her head and sipped her tea as well, hearing more similarities to her situation with every sentence. “So then you suspected he was cheating?”

 

Tabitha nodded, “Yeah. All the signs were there. I just didn’t want to see them. The late nights. The missed dinners. The late night phone calls and random texts. If I questioned him about anything he became instantly irate and came down on me.” Tabitha rolled her eyes, “He was so condescending to me. He treated me like I was a moron for questioning his integrity.”

 

Jane squirmed in her chair hearing the last few years of her marriage being replayed for her in Tabitha’s own life.

 

“Sounds familiar doesn’t it?” she asked quietly.

 

“Yes.” Jane nodded, and frowned, “Yes it does. So then what happened?” she asked, now hooked on the raven haired woman’s story.

 

“Well at the time I was trying to figure out what I should do. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. All my friends from high school had abandoned me when I became pregnant, and after I got married I didn’t really meet anyone else. I was really alone. No one to talk to, no one to help me out.” Tabitha turned and looked back at the painting on the wall again, “Then everything changed.”

 

“How?”

 

“I met a special man.” she smiled to herself before turning back to Jane. “A mother fucking, cunt killing man.” she laughed.

 

Jane smiled at Tabitha but was completely baffled as to what she was talking about.

 

“This guy was just perfect for me.” she began to explain, “I ran into him at a coffee shop and there was just something about him that made it easy to talk to him. He listened, you know? Like really listened. He seemed to understand exactly what I was going through.”

 

“That’s nice.” Jane smiled, but inwardly she was jealous.

 

“It was, he helped me decide what I needed to do.”

 

“He did?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“How?” Jane asked in earnest.

 

“Honestly?” Tabitha looked at Jane pausing for a moment. Jane nodded quickly, “Honestly, by being the best lover I have ever had, or probably ever will have.” she giggled and bit her lip before nodding, “Definitely the best.”

 

“Seriously?” Jane frowned, “That’s the solution?” she was irritated. This was the second woman in as many days that had suggested that the only way to fix her issue with her husband was to get royally fucked by another man.

 

“In part.” Tabitha corrected. “It wasn’t just the sex. It was the way he went about it.”

 

“I don’t get it.” Jane responded, the annoyance in her voice was readily apparent. “How can a man fix what another man has broken?”

 

“He’s not fixing it.” Tabitha explained, “Far from it. He broke me down till I had nothing left. When he’s done with you, you’re–you’re like atoms cast out of a black hole. You’re nothing, and at the same time, you’re everything.”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“You get to rebuild yourself, the way you always wanted to be. You get to begin again. You get to be born again.” Tabitha sighed and stroked the table in front her lovingly much like she did the painting. “It’s the best gift you could ever get.” she said with a smile.

 

Jane sat quietly, contemplating Tabitha’s words.

 

“After that, I divorced my husband. I got a little money from him just to set my life up again and that’s it. After our day in court I never saw his punk face ever again.”

 

Jane looked over at the painting and then back to Tabitha.

 

Tabitha smiled, “Oh that? He’s not even the one that got me that.” she smirked. “I got it for my divorce anniversary.” She shook her head and smirked.

 

“But–the money?” Jane asked.

 

“When we came to court my ex drummed up this story saying that we should have had an annulment. That I was never faithful from the get go. He even claimed the baby wasn’t his and I was only after his family’s money. It was disgusting.” Tabitha explained rolling her eyes, “But I realized I didn’t need it. I didn’t need his money. I was holding on to the marriage because it was comfortable. What this man taught me is that being uncomfortable–being in pain, it’s a bridge. A bridge to a better experience and a better life.”

 

“A better one?”

 

“Yes.” Tabitha nodded. “This may not be the Taj Mahal, but this is my Taj Mahal. I had to go through hell to get here, but good god I’m glad I did.” she smiled widely, beaming with pride.

 

“So what happened with the guy? You two aren’t together?”

 

Tabitha shook her head, “No.” she smiled, “We’re still friends and I see him every once in a while but we’re not an item. Actually he was just in my shop today, when you were in.”

 

“How come?”

 

“Oh he had to pick up ‘supplies’ as he likes to call them.”

 

Jane shook her head, “No, how come you’re not an item?”

 

“Oh.” Tabitha chuckled, “His job got in the way.”

 

“I see. Well that’s unfortunate.”

 

“For me, yes, but not for other people.” Tabitha replied. “Though he told me today that he’s–changing fields.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yeah, he decided it would be more fulfilling to work for his competitors.” Tabitha explained with a giggle. She looked over at Jane for a moment, looked off in thought, then back to Jane.

 

“What?” Jane asked catching Tabitha’s eye.

 

“Maybe I’ll get him to call you.” she offered with a smirk.

 

“Call–me?”

 

“Yeah–if anyone deserves a good soul exploding sex romp it’s you.” she chuckled.

 

Jane looked at Tabitha with a blank stare. The woman, despite her laughter was sincere in her offer. Jane blinked rapidly for a moment and thought back to the scene that she just saw in the restaurant a few hours earlier. Before she could stop herself the word shot out of her mouth, “Sure.” followed closely by, “Why not.”  Jane leaned back on the couch for a moment, thinking about what she just said and the possible consequences.

 

“Kay, give me your number then.”

 

Without thinking Jane quickly rattled off her number to the young giggling woman. “Do you–do you think he’d actually call?”

 

Tabitha nodded as she quickly entered Jane’s phone number into her cell, “For sure.” she confirmed, “Trust me you’re his type.” she chuckled. A few keystrokes later there was a “woosh” sound coming from her phone. “There, I just sent him your info.”

 

“Oh god.” Jane blubbered nervously. As much as she was surprised with herself, she was equally excited with the possibility. She had never considered being with another man. The thought had never crossed her mind. Now that had all changed. Now she had crossed that line and taken the first step to finding her power again.

 

Tabitha laughed loudly, “Jane, if he calls and you two get together, you’ll be saying that a lot–trust me.” she winked at Jane and the two women laughed uproariously.

 

A moment later Jane’s phone buzzed. She quickly retrieved it from her purse and stared at Tabitha. “It’s–it’s him.” she stammered nervously holding out to show Tabitha. She felt like she was a teenager again. All twisted up with tumultuous thoughts of what to say, how to say it, what he’d think of her, and all the other nervous insecurities that come with meeting someone new.

 

“Told you.” Tabitha smirked. “What did he say?”

 

“Says–Hi. This is Jack. In a meeting right now, will call you later. Say hi to Tabs for me.” Jane recited from the message.

 

Tabitha laughed again, “He’s in a meeting huh? Too funny. I’ve been to a couple of those–meetings.” she winked at Jane.

 

“Oh god seriously?” Jane looked at her phone both in shock and awe. “You mean he’s–right now?”

 

“Probably.” Tabitha chuckled. “He answered the phone once when he and I were in the thick of it.” she shook her head, “I was wailing away like a mad banshee and there he is talking into his phone like it’s nothing. Told them he was in a meeting but he’d call them back as soon as he was finished.”

 

Jane looked at Tabitha with wide eyes, “That’s so bad!” she exclaimed, outwardly condemning the practice while inwardly squirming in her chair wishing that it was her.

 

Tabitha smiled widely, “That’s only the tip of the iceberg Jane.” she nodded and bit her lip.

 

Jane looked back down at her phone and smiled. She felt like she was bad too, but at the moment she didn’t care. In this moment, it was good to be bad for once. Like Tabitha said, she deserved it. Jane looked up at Tabitha, “Thanks Tabitha, I really needed this–and this.” she held the teacup up, then her phone and the two women laughed again. “I better get going home. But–” she paused for a moment not sure how to approach what she wanted to say, “–call me sometime ok? I–I really enjoyed hanging out with you here.”

 

Tabitha smiled, stood, and hugged Jane, “Same babe.” she agreed kissing Jane on the cheek. “Besides, you need to tell me all about what happens later. Right?”

 

Jane stood and sheepishly nodded. “Yeah.” she giggled then walked to the door with Tabitha. “But seriously–thanks.” she repeated again, hugging the smaller shop owner once more.

 

“No problem babe. Stay strong.” she smiled. “Oh–Oh!” she suddenly exclaimed, “Here you should take something for the road.” Tabitha giggled as she shuffled quickly over to the cardboard box laying on the kitchen counter. “Let’s see, what do you need.” she said talking to herself.

 

Jane walked around the kitchen counter to look into the box. She let out a quick squeak as she saw what the box contained.

 

“Ok, you definitely need this,” Tabitha said handing Jane a pair of furry black cuffs, “They go with your riding crop. Oh and this,” she passed Jane a box. “Trust me, you’ll need that soon.”

 

Jane looked down at the box and raised her eye at the picture on it. “SuperLube?” she said aloud and Tabitha nodded.

 

“It’s awesome–especially for anal.” she giggled.

 

Jane’s eyes grew wide as she looked at the items in her hands. “Here, take this too, just cause, well–I’m guessing you don’t have one.” Tabitha passed Jane another box with a brightly colored wand shaped item labeled, “Personal Massager” Tabitha turned back to Jane, “Let me get you a bag for those.” she laughed.

 

Jane looked at the items with childish wonder. It was like she was discovering a whole new world that was hidden behind the veil. “Thanks–Tabitha.” she placed the gifts in the bag as Tabitha held it.

 

“No worries.” Tabitha responded quickly, kissing Jane on the cheek again. “Call me kay?”

 

Jane nodded and turned to leave. “Tabitha?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“You’re awesome.” Jane said with a smile, then closed the door behind her.

 

She left the building and made her way back to her car. On the way back home her mind was swimming with dirty thoughts about Tabitha’s friend Jack. She could only vaguely remember what he looked like from the shop earlier, but that mattered very little. The thought of him was more enticing than the visual. As she drove home Jane found herself aimlessly running her hand over her body as she wove between cars. She cupped her breasts, pinched at her nipples through her bra, ran her hand up the inside of her legs and dreamily imagined Jack doing all of these things to her. She looked over at her phone sitting on the center console and silently begged it to ring.

 

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