HPBT + Excerpt: Three Hearts Trilogy by Adele Allaire

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 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. “We need to talk about that,” 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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 boss’ voicemail.

“All right, let’s 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. I’m 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 — 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 couldn’t 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 robe’s lining momentarily froze Rose’s thoughts on the small hope she desperately tried to bury in order to get through the day: the possibility of being pregnant.

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 night’s impatient act.

“Watching Matt with you made me see you… really see you… 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 window’s street view as the kisses on Rose’s neck intensified. His hands found the bare skin of her torso. The simple motion of wrapping her arms around Jason’s 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 husband’s 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 — and then some.

Something about her husband’s 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 instead.

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 Matt’s 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 one woman.

“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 I’d 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 love him.

“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 you’ll 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 clause… the one about custody,” she said. “Jason, I don’t 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 don’t 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 I’m 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 didn’t want to be a part of it?

It’s a known donor agreement, not an anonymous donor agreement. Focus on the known.

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. That’s going to be hard on one income, and our health insurance doesn’t cover any treatments. He’s right — this is the only way to go, and Matt is being extremely generous.

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 complex’s 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:


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About the Author:

Adele Allaire writes sensual women’s fiction steeped in dramatic symbolism as an escape from her copy editing day job.

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