Tae watched Clare and her date, a tall, attractive older African American man. Jealousy clawed at his insides. He was there alone. Wen had broken off their engagement. He had followed Clare’s advice and had come clean with her. Wen was devastated.
“So, all those times when we were having sex, it wasn’t with me you were having it with but her?”
He nodded, his expression drawn. “Yes,” he admitted and was rewarded with a hard slap across the face. “I’m sorry.” He gingerly touched his cheek which was smarting.
“Sorry!” she exclaimed. “You’re sorry? I’m the one who’s sorry. Sorry I ever met you. Here, take your ring back. I don’t want it. You can give it to your other woman.”
“Wen, I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Well, you did and I hate you for it, Tae. Get out!” She opened the door and literally pushed him out of her apartment.
He stood in the hallway for several minutes, feeling like a total heel. The last thing he had ever wanted to do was to hurt her. They had had a great relationship and were happy until…he closed his eyes. Until he started developing feelings for Clare. She was the other woman. It was her face he saw whenever he closed his eyes and made love to Wen. It was her he made love to. He felt guilty every time.
He suggested that to Wen that they made love with the lights off. He thought that maybe in the dark, he could keep his eyes open and Wen wouldn’t notice but they always closed of their own volition, giving him over to his insatiable hunger for Clare.
“Hello, Tae,” she greeted him now with her date in tow. “This is Barry. Barry, this is Tae.”
Barry held out his hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Tae.”
Tae forced a smile and shook his hand. “Likewise,” he replied. His eyes shifted to Clare who was watching him. She looked amazing in the red dress. It flattered her beautiful dark skin. He felt his body respond and he quickly glanced away. His face felt hot and his heart was pounding.
“Barry, would you mind getting me something to drink?” Clare asked.
He smiled. “Sure. What about you, Tae?”
Tae shook his head. “No, thank you.”
Barry excused himself and left them.
“So, how are you doing?” Clare asked Tae. He looked so handsome. She wanted to reach up and touch his face.
“Fine. What about you?”
“I’m fine. I heard about Wen. I’m sorry.”
“Well, it was to be expected. Which woman would marry a man who fantasized about another woman while they were having sex?”
Clare lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see the distress and jealousy in them. “You had to tell her.”
“Yes. And now she hates me.”
“She doesn’t really. She’s just very hurt and angry. She’ll get over it eventually.”
“I hope so. So, how long have you been dating Barry?”
“This is our first date.”
“Where did you meet him?”
“At a co-worker’s barbecue.”
“Are you going to date him?”
“I don’t know. He’s a really nice guy.”
“Yes,” Tae grudgingly acknowledged.
“What about you?”
“What about me?”
“Have you figured out what you’re going to do about the other woman?”
“How come? She’s the reason for your broken engagement. Don’t you think you should try to resolve this thing you have for her?” Even now she was trying to be a friend when it killed her to do so. The last thing she wanted was for him to hook up with the other woman.
Tae dragged his fingers through his hair, his eyes frustrated as they met hers. “You’re the other woman, Clare,” he muttered tightly. “It was your face I saw every time I closed my eyes and it was you, not Wen, I made love to. That’s why the sex was so different.”
Clare gaped at him. She couldn’t believe what she had just heard. Was Tae really telling her that she was the other woman?
Before she had a chance to say anything, Barry rejoined them. Tae excused himself and walked away. They didn’t have another chance to be alone for the rest of the evening and he left before she did. All evening, she kept going over and over in her head what he had said. When Barry dropped her home, she apologized for being so distracted.
“It’s Tae, isn’t it?” he concluded. “I sensed that there was something between you two. Even though he was polite I could tell that he didn’t like seeing you and me together.”
“But, we’re just friends,” Clare told him.
“The way I saw him looking at you, Clare, it was obvious to me that what he feels for you goes way beyond friendship. And I can see that you feel the same way about him. The two of you need to come clean with each other.”
“You’re right, Barry. I’ll go and see him tomorrow and tell him how I feel.”
“He’s a very lucky man.”
“Goodbye, Barry and thank you for being such a great sport.”
“Goodbye, Clare. I wish you both all the best.”
She watched him walk down the hallway until he disappeared. She let herself into her apartment, her mind whirling. It all seemed so surreal. She hardly slept a wink that night. She kept seeing Tae’s face and replaying their conversation, especially the last part of it. Both shock and relief washed over her that she was the other woman. She couldn’t help feeling badly about Wen, though.