Victor showed up at Nedra’s apartment later that night. She called him a few hours ago, but he was in the middle of some work and told her he would be there that night. He asked if she was all right, and she said yes. He asked if she had good news, and all she said was that she had news. There was no inflection to her voice, and Victor didn’t know how to feel about it at first.
As he drove, he realized he had no need to worry, because he was going to get what he wanted regardless of the outcome between Nedra and Jon. It came down to two things: either Nedra was now single, or Victor would split time with Jon. Either way was fine with him, as long as he continued his relationship with her. Splitting time was easy when Jon was gone six months out of the year. Nedra told him that Jon was considering altering his schedule so that he could be home more, but that didn’t concern Victor. He would follow her lead. As far as he was concerned, the situation could work as long as all three remained open-minded.
One thing was for sure: if he had the chance to fuck Nedra, he would. They hadn’t gone this long without sex in weeks. The thought made Victor smile and he wondered if Jon was curious enough to ever watch him with Nedra. He was, if the shoe was on the other foot. He thought he’d mention it to her.
Victor knocked on the door and Nedra opened it. She sported well-worn jeans and a Ruby Rhod Super Green T-shirt. She didn’t have on a bra, and her hair framed her face in thick spirally curls.
“Victor,” she said, hugging him in the doorway. He slid his arms around her and grabbed her ass. She felt so good. Nedra kissed him slowly, stroking his ears and he found himself holding her tight for an extra few seconds. She felt like good news. Reluctantly, Victor pulled away. Nedra was smiling and he thought she was beautiful. She pulled him inside and closed the door.
“You look a million times better than when I last saw you,” he said.
“It’s because I feel better,” she said. “Come now, come into the living room.” She took his hand and led him there. Jon was on the couch, watching TV and drinking a beer. He looked at Victor as Nedra led him to one of the chairs. Victor sat down and she asked him if he wanted a beer.
“Sure, why not?”
Nedra darted into the kitchen. Victor watched her go, smiling at her exuberance. Jon watched him watching her. “She’s amazing, isn’t she?”
Jon jumped right in. “Because she is, I have to know…are you a good man, Victor von Doom?”
Victor looked at him. “Define ‘good.’”
“Are you a stand-up gentleman? Can I trust that you will do right by Roxy? Will you put her needs before your own? Will you take care of her? Will you give her anything she wants? These are important considerations. I have to know that you will do at least my minimum when it comes to her. Otherwise this arrangement won’t work.”
Victor leaned back in the chair. “Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. I’m already doing all of those things, Jon, so those questions are redundant.”
“I have to believe that I can trust you. Roxy does, but she knows you far better than I do.”
“Do you trust Nedra?”
“Yes,” he said.
“You’re right to do so. If Nedra thought I wasn’t a stand-up guy, or that I treated her in any way other than the way she prefers, I wouldn’t be here.”
Jon finished his beer. “This whole thing has fucked with my head, but I did what you said. I did some research. I don’t know if I understand all of it, but it isn’t something I can ignore. Roxy and I had a long talk this morning. It’s going to take getting used to, but what you need to know is that I’m okay with you being in her life. She needs you.”
Victor nodded. “I didn’t give you a choice about that, Jon.”
“You missed the part where I said that I’m okay with it.”
Victor eyed Jon carefully. “Really?”
“Really. I love her way too much to let you just step in and take her away. To hell with that. I have almost 20 years invested in her and our relationship. I understand why, even if I don’t 100% care for it. I love her enough to give her anything she wants and what she wants—needs—is you and…that…which you can give her.”
Victor studied the man’s expression. Jon might have been talking about the weather for all his expression and tone revealed. “So you’re not going to leave her, then?” He had held out some hope that would occur.
“No. Not even close. You think I would just let Roxy go that easily just because I didn’t understand a significant aspect of her character? Nah. I’m better than that. We’re getting married.”
Victor stared at Jon for a long moment. “Married? Nedra said she wasn’t the marrying kind.”
“I’ve wanted to marry Roxy for years. I now know why she didn’t want to at first and we’ve cleared that up. We’re not going to have a ceremony; just a quick stop at the courthouse and off on our honeymoon.”
“When is this happening?”
“I’m going to be home for three more weeks, so sometime next week.”
“Um…okay,” Victor said.
Jon looked at him, his expression revealing nothing. “How do you feel about her becoming my wife?”
Victor shrugged. “It doesn’t change anything, Jon. I don’t give a shit what her last name is. Nedra and I are still going to do what we do regardless of what you do. Congratulations. I have a question for you, however.”
Jon saw it coming. “No, my decision to accept your relationship was not based on whether Roxy married me. She could have said no and still have you in her life and I would be okay with it. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with a conversation we didn’t have a decade ago. Which I have to thank you for, Victor.”
“What do you mean?”
“Roxy and I assumed a lot of things in our relationship were fine when they weren’t. We cleared the air completely this morning. I know all her secrets and she knows mine. Thank you for putting us in the position where we could be nothing but honest with each other and reveal our scars. Goes to show you what you can take for granted without realizing it.” He paused, looking at the picture of her on the wall, smiling in the red sweater. “I will never do that again.”
Victor followed Jon’s gaze. He remembered his reaction to it and found himself asking, “Who took that picture?”
“My brother Noah.”
“Whom is she smiling at?” Victor asked even though he knew.
“I was playing with Naomi, Noah’s three-year-old daughter. Roxy adores Naomi.”
“I love that picture,” Victor heard himself say, quietly. Then he remembered that they were in the middle of a serious conversation. “So does it matter to you when she spends time with me?”
“I’d rather not know about it, but I’m sure that will be impossible.”
“What if she needs to spend time with me when you’re here? It’s like that sometimes. Nedra is…passionate and insatiable.”
Jon glared at him and cracked his knuckles. “Victor, are you trying to goad me?”
“I’m just being real with you, Jon. Nedra and I do Motel Spin every week. We… engage…often. Did she tell you that? It’s something you should know.”
“I never asked.”
“Well, man to man—and I mean no disrespect—but Nedra is a live wire. I shouldn’t have to tell you this because I know that you know, but now that you are aware of the nature of our relationship, I wouldn’t want it to taint yours.”
“I’m sure Roxy can go a week without a…motel visit.”
“Of course she can.” Victor wondered how much longer she could go, as it had already been over seven days. That aspect of their affair was a door not easily closed.
“If she needs to spend time with you, she will. She doesn’t have to lie to me, but a call or text saying something innocuous will be okay. I will deal.”
A few minutes passed before Jon spoke again. “Victor, if you do anything to cause Roxy distress, I will kill you. I can do it a dozen different ways and not break a sweat nor be in the room. So you make sure you do your part to keep her happy. That’s what matters to me; her happiness. That’s the only reason why you’re sitting there…you please her in a way that I simply am unable to.”
Victor emitted a chuckle with a snarky undertone and looked Jon directly in the eyes. “Nedra’s more agreeable to suggestion when she’s content.”
Jon decided instantly he didn’t want to know what Victor meant by the word ‘suggestion.’ The guy was a dick of the first order.
Nedra entered the room with Victor’s beer and one for herself. She handed it to him and sat on the couch next to Jon, but turned her gaze to Victor and smiled at him.
“You’re okay with this, Victor?”
“Of course,” he said. “I told you I wasn’t going anywhere, Nedra. I’m going to be in your life whether Jon is cool with it or not. But I think things will be a whole lot easier for you now that he knows.”
Nedra nodded and looked at Jon. She kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”
He cradled her free hand and kissed her fingers. “You’re welcome.”
Nedra put her beer on the table, got up and went towards Victor. She bent over his chair and kissed his cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered. She felt like the luckiest girl in the universe.
He looked into her eyes and nodded his head. “It’s been over a week,” he murmured.
Nedra nodded and whispered, “I know,” and returned to her seat. “Jon and I are getting married sometime next week.”
“He told me.”
“It won’t change anything.”
“I know that.”
Nedra tucked her feet underneath her legs. “Are either of you hungry? I can order food.”
Jon yawned and stood up. “I need to get some sleep, Roxy. I haven’t had a good night’s rest in about four days.”
Nedra got up. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah,” he said, rubbing his face. “I’m starting to get a headache and my eyes are burning.”
“You’re staying here tonight, right?”
“Yeah. I’m too tired to ride.”
“Good,” she said. “Go to bed. I’ll bring you some aspirin and water.”
Jon nodded and kissed her lips. Then he turned to Victor and calmly said, “Victor.” He extended a hand.
Victor stood up and put his beer on the table. He took Jon’s hand and shook it. Without warning, Jon punched Victor in the face and he hit the floor like a sack of potatoes.
“Good night, asshole,” Jon said.
“Jon!” Nedra yelled and squatted next to Victor, who was laid out, unconscious. “Jon, what the fuck???”
Jon shook out his hand and rubbed his knuckles. “Believe me when I tell you he had it coming.”
Nedra examined Victor’s face and rolled back his eyelids. “You knocked him out!”
“Good. Maybe your boyfriend will show some goddamn respect next time.” Jon went into the bedroom and closed the door.
Three months later…
Nedra was talking to Jon on the phone as she walked from her car to the door. “I’m glad you arrived safely,” she said. “How long was the flight?”
“About 15 hours. I slept through most of it. It was daytime when I arrived.”
“Do you feel any kind of way being back in Kabul?”
“Yes and no. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but it passed. I’m all right.”
Nedra entered the building and took a short flight of stairs, pulling out her key. “As long as you’re okay.”
“I am, Roxy. How are things with you? How’s the lab coming along?”
Nedra stopped at the door and slid the key into the lock. “I’m good, baby. They’ve finally began working on my new lab spaces. If they work steady, both areas should be ready in six weeks. My electron microscopes will be arriving in eight weeks’ time, so they can’t dick around on this schedule. Franklin assures me that everything will be.”
She opened the door and entered the apartment. It was nice and tidy.
Jon continued. “Franklin isn’t stupid. He knows that there are other think tanks that are interested in you and your research. He will do whatever it takes to make you happy.”
Nedra locked the door. “I’m not going anywhere, Jon. At least they haven’t given me a reason to consider leaving Baxter.”
“He’s not stupid, baby. Franklin won’t let you go without a fight. You have that effect on men.”
Nedra walked into the bedroom. It was mostly dark, but a swath of moonlight was enough to give her enough light to change clothes. “I’m glad you’re okay, Jon. I’m glad that you have the chance to make new memories in Kabul; hopefully good ones. I admit I was nervous about you accepting that particular assignment, but if you’re fine, I’m fine.”
“I’m good, Roxy. Look, I know it’s after midnight and you just got off work, so I’ll let you go. I know you’re tired.”
“I’m glad you let me know that you arrived safely and your head is in a good place. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“I love you,” he said.
“Love you more,” she replied. “Bye.”
Nedra hung up and put the phone on the dresser. She began to undress, removing everything except her USMC T-shirt. As usual, she folded her clothes and left them sitting on a chair. She walked into the bathroom and turned on the sink, grabbed her toothbrush and toothpaste, and began to brush her teeth. Then she washed her face and quickly twisted her hair into four sections. Nedra opened the drawer underneath the sink and grabbed one of her headscarves and tied down her hair. She walked back into the bedroom and got in bed. No sooner than she got under the covers and turned on her side, he rolled over and spooned behind her. She craned her neck to see if he was awake.
A half-hearted light snore was all she got in response. Nedra smiled and got right with her pillows. Victor slid an arm around her waist and under her shirt. He copped a feel.
Nedra opened her eyes. “Baby, are you awake?”
“No,” he murmured as he gently squeezed one of her breasts.
Nedra closed her eyes and murmured, “Okay.” She snuggled against him and let the sound of his breathing lull her to sleep. It didn’t take long, for she had had a long day in the lab and was thoroughly exhausted. Tomorrow Victor would give her a massage, they would have an encounter, and then they would spend the day lounging in front of the television. According to the weather reports, it was supposed to rain. She and Victor took advantage of rainy days.
Things were good between them, as they had been for the past six weeks. Nedra was able to find a satisfactory balance between her husband and her boyfriend. She knew that she was extremely fortunate (and lucky) that Jon and Victor were willing to tolerate knowledge of each other if it made her happy. So she made sure that both men got exactly what they needed from her and that they were as satisfied as she could make them. As a result, Nedra was a very happy, very content woman.
Nedra never worried about how long things would last; there was no point. Whenever Victor decided he’d had enough of the situation, he’d leave her.
Nedra never worried about how long things would last; there was no point. Whenever Victor decided he’d had enough of the situation, he’d leave her.
Three weeks after Jon accepted her relationship with Victor, Victor gave her keys to his place. There was no pomp and circumstance, no critical pronouncements, no declarations of love or any tomfoolery of the sort. He just handed her a ring with two keys and didn’t bother asking if she would behave in kind. A week later, Nedra gave him a keycard for the garage and a key to her apartment. Again, it was done with no announcements, proclamations or explanations; she simply stuck the keys in Victor's back pocket while kissing the back of his neck. They merged their lives almost seamlessly. And so it was.
A/N: And this is where the Muse left me. I'm grateful she blessed me with a visit. Am I satisfied with this ending? Somewhat, because I can’t see anything beyond this point and to try and force it simply won’t work. This fanfic is about 70,000 words, which is to say that it’s long enough. So this must be it.
Hope you enjoyed the read, Dark Dilettantes. I enjoyed the writing.
“Forever in My Life” -Prince
“He Loves Me” –Jill Scott
“The Perfect Drug” –Nine Inch Nails
“Passion” –Dionne Farris
“Killing Strangers” –Marilyn Manson