One Night Three Hearts by Adele Allaire
Thirty-five year old unemployed Rose struggles with unemployment, weight gain, and now an infertility diagnosis that requires expensive IVF treatments she and her husband can’t afford. Her obsession with becoming a mother before her biological clock ticks down allows ovulation kits to completely dictate marital relations with Jason, her loving husband for over a decade.
Desperate to reignite the fire in their marriage, Jason goes to the one person he thinks can help save his marriage — his long time friend, Matt. Unknown to the couple, Matt has an exotic motive that will either tear the couple apart through his manipulations or reunite them with a shared determination to expose their buried desires.
Rose flung the thick manila envelope on the passenger seat. It landed with a thump on top of the mail she collected earlier: an overdue energy bill, the latest Woman Within catalog that seemed to occupy her mailbox every other week, and what appeared to be a birthday card from her mother. The large envelope containing the in vitro fertilization cost estimates and related paperwork dwarfed everything it covered as a stark reminder of her situation.
Nothing simple ever comes with that many papers to sign, Rose thought to herself before sliding into the driver’s seat. She pulled hard on the car door and slammed it shut.
She placed her worn Coach handbag on the Toyota’s console between the two seats. The bag was a birthday gift from her husband Jason five years earlier along with his bouquet of flowers that shared her name. It promptly fell over from the weight of its contents on to the passenger seat after she pulled the car’s door shut.
Rose stared at it and related to the marred leather bottom as she reached for the seatbelt. Tears of frustration welled in her eyes as she yanked the seatbelt across her torso. It stopped short and got stuck at her midsection. Frustrated, she pulled hard on it again to extend it to its limits in order to finally fasten it into place.
She gazed over the steering wheel at the late afternoon sun streaming through the eucalyptus leaves hovering over the car’s hood while reflecting on the events that led to this point. They were happy five years ago when she was thirty years old; she and Jason brought home good paychecks, they purchased their three-bedroom condo, and agreed the timing was right to start a family. She started charting and they had sex multiple times in one week per month. Jason would laugh at her every time she would put her legs up on the wall afterwards as if gravity would help the situation.
Two years passed without a positive pregnancy test, and the day after Jason gave her the birthday gift of a bouquet of roses that numbered her years, they decided to take it more seriously. Rose bought ovulation kits and spent her mornings urinating on test sticks. The amount of sex eventually dwindled to the day the testing device displayed a smilie face.
The buzzing sound emanating from her bag snapped her out of her thoughts. Rose reached over and rummaged through it to find a text message from Jason waiting for her on her phone.
She pushed her hair back to prevent it sticking to the cold sweat on her forehead. They didn’t have $18,000. They didn’t even have the money to pay that overdue gas and electric bill sitting next to her on the passenger seat until Jason’s next paycheck.
The year Jason gave her thirty-three birthday roses was when she lost her job at the accounting firm, and Jason’s employer laid off hundreds of people. The financial crisis peaked, and the stress resulting from their money worries took its toll on their marriage. The arguments increased in frequency and intensity, and Rose still couldn’t get pregnant.
Her gynecologist ultimately recommended they consult with a fertility specialist, and the only affordable option presented to them was an artificial insemination series. Rose filled her empty days fruitlessly searching for a job, reading other women’s infertility tales on internet message boards, or watching television. She developed a sedentary routine that transformed her from a size 16W to 18W. Due to their financial constraints, Jason canceled their gym memberships, and the only eating out they did consisted of fast food with the exception of their traditional birthday and anniversary dinners.
Months crept by without any kind of sex unless it surrounded a treatment, and even then it seemed forced and hurried. The absence of marital and physical joy hung like a thick fog between them, muting any discussion about their predicament. Rose felt unfulfilled and empty during this harsh low period in their lives, and Rose disguised it to her husband using the best abilities she could muster. If Jason had any complaints, then Rose never heard them, making her believe that he was perfectly fine with it all.
She consoled herself that it wasn’t his fault. Rose loved Jason and couldn’t imagine a better, more loving husband. He did everything out of love and respect for her. But the only thing that gave her the release she sought was when she remembered the private conversations with her husband’s college roommate, and that dialog ceased long before the infertility mess.
Matt existed in her mind solely as text and sounds of struggled breathing on the other end of a phone in those early years of her marriage to Jason. Regardless of the medium, Matt would share one juicy fantasy after another, and urge her to share one of hers with him. He made her feel sexy, wanted, and it helped that he never asked for recent photos from her; there was an unspoken rule about that.
He had an uncanny way of making her feel desirable, and she started to look forward to those naughty chats. They eventually became weekly occurrences, and then ultimately daily ones. She scheduled her workday breaks after he texted her something arousing, and none of her coworkers realized it wasn’t a brisk walk that made her return to the office with a flushed face. She found herself in her car or home alone listening to that voice commanding her to push herself to the limits of her imagination. It was like she had her own adult phone service without the credit card charges.
Matt grew bolder with his suggestions over time, and she couldn’t get enough of those secret sessions. Each conversation was unique, and every time they spoke exposed another dark layer of Matt’s complicated desires and her own.
She reluctantly ended it after Matt begged her for one secret night with him. All of a sudden, the mental candy wanted to become a dangerous reality that threatened her marriage. It was no longer something like reading a book or watching an adult video because there was a real person on the other end of the line that physically wanted her. And she wanted him.
Such a realization snapped her out of the hidden fantasy they shared; Rose couldn’t bring herself to hurt Jason like that. The guilt was too much for her, and she realized that as much as she desired Matt, she didn’t love him. She loved her husband and she had to focus on her marriage. And so Matt faded from her daily activities, but she played out their conversations in her mind over and over again years later.
Rose never confessed or even hinted to Jason about what she did, and she was confident that Jason remained completely oblivious. He continued to talk with Matt about football, and they played video games online together practically every night until Matt’s career took off. Rose heard Matt’s voice emitting from Jason’s gaming headset in his office, and it took every ounce of willpower she had not to pick up that headset and talk to him again while Jason was in the bathroom or getting a drink from the kitchen.
She found an excuse whenever Jason asked her to join him and Matt for drinks, a meal, an event, or whatever it was. She couldn’t see Matt. The last time she saw them together was the day she married Jason, and she didn’t want her eyes to betray her past. She didn’t know what would happen, and she decided to avoid him completely.
Thoughts about Matt always stirred something inside her with its reminders of long ago conversations, and this time was no different. She looked down to see her hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly that her stark white knuckles contrasted her slightly tanned skin. The memory of his loud groans echoed through the phone’s speakerphone, stuck in traffic on the way home, her fingers holding her entire weight forward over the steering wheel…
That was Matt’s lasting impression on her. The familiar longing for release fought to be the foremost thought in her mind as she put the key into the car’s ignition, and stopped short of starting up the car to drive home.
Her last unemployment check arrived last week, and Jason agreed she would use its entirety to spend it on whatever she wanted. Rose wanted to look and feel desirable to Jason this Saturday when he presented her with thirty-five roses for her birthday. She couldn’t remember the last time they had unscheduled sex, and Rose figured she would surprise him with her first full Brazilian wax. The process was embarrassingly painful, and she couldn’t believe how smooth she was when she showered the next morning.
It was the unfamiliar nakedness, coupled with the spark of desire from her deeply hidden memories of Matt’s conversations, which caused her to furtively scan the empty parking lot before unfastening the top button of her jeans. She pulled on the lever to drop the back of the driver’s seat, and eased her body down beneath the line of the car windows.
Excerpt: One Week Three Hearts
Rose pointed to the one inch thick stack of paper bulging out of a legal file
folder on the kitchen table next to a half-opened box from Amazon. âWe need to
talk about that,â she said.
It took her two weeks to finally make sense of the roller coaster that was her
internal dialogue about what happened the night of her birthday, and she
didnât want to back down no matter how hard Jason tried to brush it aside.
Rose kept mentally kicking herself for naively thinking this strange set up
between the three of them would somehow magically work out. Invigorated
determination woke her this morning. They were going to talk about what happened
come hell or high water.
Matt was an ocean and several time zones away in China. Suspecting he wanted to
resume their conversations about one subject only, Rose concluded their previous
behavior as juvenile. She didn’t want to add such a complication into their
daily lives again.
How awkward would that be? “Oh, sorry Jason. I can’t help you bring in
groceries right now. I’m on the phone with your best friend, but I’ll get to
it in about fifteen minutes. And after we bring everything in, you can go shoot
zombies online with him like nothing happened.”
Not that Matt even tried to talk to her directly since that night; his limited
contact was in the form of the contract and that box Rose barely opened last
night after Jason brought it in. No phone calls, emails, or text messages. Jason
didnât mention speaking with him. Matt’s silence was an unspoken topic
neither of them could bring themselves to address.
“Now? It’s seven in the morning,” Jason said as he propped his foot on one
of the dining chairs to tie his scuffed shoe. “Honey, really. I need to get
to work. Those papers are a stack of good intentions anyway.”
Good intentions? I read it through at least ten times. Matt wants no part of
this. He waived his paternity rights, and wants nothing above or beyond a
typical anonymous donor. Well, except that bizarre clause about how he gets sole
custody if we divorce or separate for longer than six months. And the lab said
there was essentially no difference between Jason and Matt in that department,
so what is the point to all of this? It’s not like we’re adding something
new to the equation.
Rose probably gave her husband a look because he sighed, visually checked
himself, and called in a car trouble excuse to his bossâ voicemail.
“All right, letâs talk about this,” Jason said with little enthusiasm as
he leaned back into the chair. “What’s preventing you from signing those
papers so we can deposit that check and get going with the process?”
Rose sighed, and turned to rinse out her coffee cup in the kitchen sink. Not
facing him gave her a necessary confident shield to get through this
conversation. “There isn’t anything stopping me from signing them. Iâm
still trying to understand what happened that night, and why you never
confronted me about Matt.”
Really, I had to bring that one up first? Asking why he wasn’t jealous like
that was my motive for speaking with Matt all those years ago?
“He was flirting with you, Rose. I was jealous at first, but then you ended it
with him,” Jason said nonchalantly. “You always came back to me. I knew all
of that meant nothing. You love me and you ended it before he could finish you
off. I forgave you a long time ago. Come on, we were barely married six months
when all that happened.”
His chair made a scraping sound against the tile, and Rose heard his knees pop
as she mindlessly scrubbed the sponge against the bottom of the coffee cup. The
first few months of their marriage were rough after the honeymoon phase wore
off. At one point, it felt like they disagreed on everything. One time, she went
positively nuclear over how he left his socks everywhere except the laundry
hamper. She smiled to herself wistfully thinking about when socks mattered as
much as the larger issues they faced today.
“I loved you, but I didn’t know how to be married to you then,” she remembered as Jason slipped his arms around her waist.
It occurred to Rose that Jason might be consciously avoiding a discussion about
the past with his subtle focus on the present. “I guess later on, I realized
he fulfills one piece of you â the one I can’t. Won’t,” he admitted.
“I can’t do to you what he did that night. I couldn’t give you what you
wanted. I tried once; I got all prepared to do one of those things you both
talked about, and I just couldnât do it.”
I couldn’t ask you to, or even tell you about it.
Her husband’s hands roamed over her stomach at a leisurely pace while he
nuzzled the place where her neck met her shoulders. His fingers tracing the
robeâs lining momentarily froze Roseâs thoughts on the small hope she
desperately tried to bury in order to get through the day: the possibility of
Insatiable since that night they shared with Matt, Jason initiated a physical
scenario reminiscent of those first few honeymoon weeks all those years ago.
Each evening and almost every other morning, Jason’s gentle affirming touches
transformed into urgent indicators. Clothes were pushed away to make room for a
hungry mouth or hastily shrugged off. A worn bra haphazardly draped from the
kitchen chair Jason pushed aside. The lingering throb from the toe Rose stubbed
on the bedroom door served as evidence of last nightâs impatient act.
“Watching Matt with you made me see youâ¦ really see youâ¦ for the first
time in years,” Jason said. “You are a beautiful, sensual creature, Rose. I
could watch you with him for hours. I can’t stop thinking about that night,
and I want more every time I do. Look what he brought to the surface for us
before, and now again. We needed this.”
Jason paused his caresses at the top of the loose bow that held her bathrobe
closed, and slowly pulled the bathrobe’s terrycloth belt away from her body.
The dense collection of tree leaves blocked the kitchen windowâs street view
as the kisses on Roseâs neck intensified. His hands found the bare skin of her
torso. The simple motion of wrapping her arms around Jasonâs neck acted as a
silent affirmation for him to continue.
Leftover steam from Jason’s second morning shower escaped through the ajar
bathroom door. Rose glanced at her husbandâs cutoff silhouette before grabbing
her phone from the nightstand; she forgot to change her ovulation date from her
birthday back to her usual one.
Well, that little trick did what it was supposed to do â and then some.
Something about her husbandâs behavior that night still gnawed at Rose now
that she had practically a daily comparison. Except for the increased
spontaneity like this morning and how just opening the box last night caused him
to drag her to the bedroom, Jason reverted back to his standard bedroom routine.
It was enjoyable but she found herself craving that edge Matt added each time
Jason initiated something. She tried everything non-verbal she could think of to
get him to be a little rougher, and Jason would be all sweet and playful
The way Jason cut her off from asking about his history with Matt set her mind
speculating. Since the blunt approach worked earlier, Rose decided it was
necessary for Jason to display all his cards before dealing with everything
still left on the kitchen table.
“Jason, what was it like living with Matt when you two were roommates?” she
asked him through the door before picking up her robe from the floor and
replacing her phone to its spot on the nightstand.
Her husband emerged from the bathroom and grabbed his shirt off the armchair
that seemed to be the constant repository for his clothing. “He was on the
swim team. Matt had girls crawling all over him day and night,” Jason said.
“It was hard for me to sleep or get any studying done.”
Rose pushed a little further and asked Jason what he meant by that.
“A constant rotation of girls all the time with very few repeats,” Jason
said without pausing in buttoning his shirt. “You have to understand I watched
the guy read Plato’s Republic while he fingered a girl on his lap. That’s
Matt. He is a psychological adrenaline junkie. Women are like an exposed
vulnerable nerve to him, and he just wants to poke at them with everything they
think they want. Then he is off like a shot to the next one.”
Matt said he loved me.
Rose’s protest remained silent even though the temptation to defend her
feelings was difficult to resist. In their new reality, how appropriate was it
to discuss with her husband the bond she shared with another man? Hearing all of
this from Jason puzzled her. Adding Mattâs feelings for her to the pile of
things to mull over, she fiddled with a loose fiber dangling from her bathrobe
sleeve as Jason continued detailing the reasons why Matt would never commit to
“I watched him do it for four years as his roommate, then he went off to grad
school and I met you,” Jason said. “He is my best friend, and there is no
one else on this earth besides you Iâd give a kidney to except him. Although,
I wouldn’t give him the kidney because what if you needed it?”
My husband and his totally inappropriate analogies he uses to make a point. I
“That agreement on the table is probably the most unselfish thing he’s ever
done,” Jason said as he tied his shoe, then walked over to where she sat on
the bed and put his hands on her shoulders. “Please sign it so I can deposit
the check. Promise me youâll do it today.”
His pleading expression coupled with the light comforting squeeze melted away
some of Rose’s doubt, but she couldn’t let the one nagging issue about the
contract go. “That clauseâ¦ the one about custody,” she said. “Jason, I
donât know how I feel about that.”
Jason’s immediate laugh seemed almost forced. “Oh, please! The last thing
Matt wants is to be a father. The known donor agreement is just his crazy way of
saying he wants us to stay married. Come on, we’ve been together for ten
years, and I’m sure we’ll be together for a lot longer than that. Why would
that be an issue? Besides, we donât have to use his, um, stuff if we don’t
want or need to. I love you, but now I need to get going because Iâm already
two hours behind.”
He kissed her on her forehead. “Stop over-thinking this and sign the
papers,” he said over his shoulder before heading out.
Rose sat on the bed for a few more minutes and replayed the conversation in her
head. Something about what Jason said was off, but she couldn’t figure out
what exactly caused her unease. Nothing could be considered normal from this
point on. How would they fit Matt into their life, especially now that he
spelled out in black and white that he didnât want to be a part of it?
It’s a known donor agreement, not an anonymous donor agreement. Focus on
Tightening the slipping bathrobe belt, Rose entered the kitchen to stare at the
pile of papers before grabbing a pen from a catch-all drawer. Jason’s initials
in blue ink stood out against the stark white paper on the bottom of every page
next to the blank line awaiting hers. Rose realized he signed all of it a while
ago, and tenderness touched her heart.
He wants this baby as much as I do. And he deserves to be a father more than
anyone. Money for the treatments isn’t exactly going to fall from the sky;
we’ll probably take out a second mortgage to finance the rest. Thatâs going
to be hard on one income, and our health insurance doesn’t cover any
treatments. He’s right â this is the only way to go, and Matt is being
Even though the clause still bothered her, Rose concluded that if her husband
was okay with all of this, then she was too, and worked her way through the
documents. When she got to the page with the custody clause, the pen seemed to
hesitate for a full minute before she could write her initials. Pages flew by
quickly after that, and she signed her name next to her husband’s with a
flourish on the final piece of paper.
Before she could change her mind, Rose shoved the stack of papers into the
priority mail envelope addressed to Matt’s lawyer downtown, tightened the
bathrobe’s belt around her waist again, and went outside to the condo
complexâs mailbox in her bare feet. The outgoing mail slot was just big enough
for her to push through the bulky envelope. It landed inside with a thunk.
The too small belt loosened from her movement’s friction. A passing neighbor
might catch an unrestricted view. Holding the bathrobe together, she ran back
into their condo. Breathing heavy from the short sprint, Rose went back into the
kitchen to deal with the box on the table.
Everything seemed still and quiet as she grasped each of the cardboard box’s
flaps and ripped the remaining packing tape apart. Pushing the air-filled
plastic bags aside, several individually wrapped SD memory cards were arranged
on top of some other smaller boxes and a metal rod type thing tucked in between.
Puzzled by the contents, she pulled out the memory cards to reveal a box
indicating it held a high-end camcorder as its contents.
The other small boxes appeared to be various accessories for the camcorder: two
extra large capacity batteries, a remote, a package of AA rechargeable batteries
with a charger, and something else in a small plain black box. The metal rods
turned out to be a lightweight travel tripod type thing. A white envelope was
the only remaining item in the box, and Rose sucked in her breath when she
pulled out and read the three words on the enclosed card:
SHOW ME YOU.
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