Ch. 31 Laying It Bare

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***Russell

Never before had Russell experienced the surge of animal protectiveness that he felt now standing between Beth and her ex. He would do everything in his power to ensure she didn't walk away with this asshat. Not normally a jealous a possessive lover, he'd never had the urge to knock a man's teeth on the ground before, and he told himself he wouldn't start today. Unless he had to in order to make Beth see that Brian was not an option for her happiness.

She was free to not choose him, especially after all he had put her through in Hawaii and his clinging to Erica's memory. But damned if he would let her choose Brian.

Blood pounding in his ears halfway drowned out the crap that Brian was spewing, but he caught enough to understand it would sound like a sweet deal to Beth.

He could be patient, though. He had to let Beth act first.

***Beth

Beth reeled with conflicting emotions. Brian wanted her back. Memories of the happy glow of love they had shared at the beginning of their relationship hurtled against the ache and pain of the months he neglected her and made her feel ashamed of her body and who she was. But he said he had changed.

"Let's go inside, sweetheart, and get you warmed up," Brian said, reaching towards her.

"Wait," she said. Her thoughts, her emotions, her soul itself were flying apart in the wake of this new side to Brian. Old habits die hard, and habit had her reaching to take his offered hand and to let him lead her inside. There was the undeniable attraction of the comfortable and the known that Brian exuded; the love and caring that they had shared in the beginning that could possibly be hers again. Here, life was handing her what she had wished for in a gift wrapped package—she had only to accept and she would not be alone anymore. She only had to step around Russell and take Brian's hand.

"Can you explain something, Brian?" she asked. She wanted to be on equal footing with him.

"Inside. I'll make you a Bailey's and coffee and we can talk all you want."

"No. First, I need you to clarify what you meant by each of us making one mistake," she insisted.

"It means you forgive me for leaving you like a complete jerk and I forgive you for...for letting this man take advantage of you...in Hawaii on the beach. It doesn't matter; I forgive you and you forgive me."

"You forgive my one mistake and I forgive you for cheating on me for months and months?"

"And I will spend all the remaining years of my life making it up to you. Bethany, please let me be your husband."

"But the problem is, Brian, he didn't take advantage of me and I didn't make just one mistake. I want to come clean with you; I made a big, long, drawn out mistake on the beach, yes, but I made another time consuming mistake in a tent—"

Brian's mouth opened slowly in confusion. It was a wonderful feeling to come clean about everything she and Russel had done (again), and to see her cheating husband hit with the truth.

She continued. "There was a quickie mistake in a stand of palm trees, a couple of hours worth mistake in a bungalow—"

"Stop!" Brian waved his hands. "I understand; you had an affair—"

"There's one more I want you to know about," Beth interrupted.

"The plane," Russell said.

"What?" Brian asked.

Beth nodded. "On the plane during the flight back....We had incredibly orgasmic sex in the bathroom on the plane. Could you ever truly forgive me for all these mistakes compared to your one? Why don't we both agree that you should be with someone who deserves you? Because you really don't deserve me."

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