Today's Reading

Geneva was faultless on that count, which was odd to note in a moment like this. But Selena had really appreciated that Geneva wasn't one of those nannies that tried to be the mommy. As soon as Selena returned home in the evenings, Geneva took her proper place, eagerly leaving as soon as she could, sometimes before Selena even came back downstairs from changing. The house was always clean, the boys were usually calm-ish—as calm as boys five and seven could ever be. But they weren't wild like they were when Graham was at the helm. On the rare occasions when Graham had the kids for the day, they'd be filthy, overstimulated, out of routine—desperate for order and a way to calm themselves. Graham thought he was one of them, acted more like a corrupting older sibling than a parent.

Like now. As he boned the nanny in the playroom while his young sons watched television downstairs.

Why wasn't she angrier about this?

It had been a buzz in the back of her head since the first time she'd watched them three days ago. A barely audible thrum, something she pushed away and pushed back, down, down, down. Why wasn't she weeping with anger, the sting of betrayal, jealousy? Why hadn't she raced home after the first discovery, raging, and tossed him out, fired Geneva? That's what anyone would do.

But Selena was only aware of a kind of numbness that had settled after the first time, a mean, heartless apathy. But no. Beneath that numb layer inside was something else.

Now, Geneva had her head back in pleasure. Graham wore that helpless look he had right before he was about to climax; he kind of lifted his eyebrows a little, lids closed the way violin players did sometimes when they were rapt in their music. Selena realized she was clutching the arms of her chair so tightly that her hands ached.

She was distantly aware of another feeling, one she deeply pressed down for a good long time, long before this. At some point after the birth of their second child, Selena had started to dislike her husband. Not all the time. But with shocking intensity—the way he interrupted her when she was talking, hovered over her in the kitchen micromanaging, the way he claimed to share the housework when he didn't. At all. Surely it was true of all couples who had been together for a long time. Then he lost his job—sort of gleefully, it must be said.

Oh, well, I was looking for a change. And you said you were missing work.

Had she said that? She didn't think so, since she hadn't been missing work.

At some point after that, when she'd come home to find him in the same athletic pants two days in a row, or when she checked the browser history on the computer and couldn't find a shred of evidence that he'd been looking for a job at all, she started to hate him a little. Then more. That svelte and charming man in the tux, the one who made her laugh and shiver with pleasure, he seemed like someone from a dream she could barely remember.

Now, as she leaned in to turn up the volume again and heard him moan beneath Geneva, the depth and scope of her hatred was primal. She understood for the first time in her life how people might kill each other—married people who once loved with passion and devotion, who once cried happy tears at the altar, and went on a magnificent honeymoon, conceived beautiful children, built a lovely life.

That thing lurking inside her, it was pounding to get out. She could hear it. But she couldn't quite feel it.

She'd been on autopilot with Graham, going through the motions, rebuffing his advances. If he'd noticed her distance, he hadn't said anything. The truth was, it wasn't the first time he'd cheated. But she thought they'd moved past it. There'd been counseling, tearful promises. She'd—foolishly it seemed—forgiven him and allowed herself to trust him again.


The voice startled Selena, snapped her back to the present moment.

Geneva had climbed off Selena's husband, already pulled her skirt down. Both times there had been hasty dressing afterward, averted eyes and frowning faces. At least they had the decency not to lie around after sex, not to luxuriate on the playroom floor.

"This has to stop," said Geneva. Selena heard the notes of shame, regret. Good. Good for you, Geneva!

Graham had pulled up his pants, sat on the couch and dropped his head into his hands.

"I know," he said, voice muffled.

"You have a nice family. A beautiful life. And this is—fucked," Geneva said, her face flushed.

Oh, Geneva, thought Selena crazily, please don't quit.

"I think I should give notice," said Geneva.

Graham looked up, stricken. "God, no," he said. "Don't do that."

Selena laughed out loud. No, it wasn't love. He wasn't afraid of losing the lovely young Geneva. He was terrified that he would have to be the primary caregiver for Stephen and Oliver while he "looked for another job."

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