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‘I didn’t used to like you, how did we get here?’

‘I couldn’t stand you.’ He whispers it like an endearment; it makes her laugh, because he really can’t begin to imagine or understand how mutual that feeling was between them.

‘You’re just saying that now,’ Anne teases, though she knows it’s true. Just as she knows, if she were to say it now, in the present tense, it would still be true.

She really can’t stand him at all.

* * *

The first time she caught them together, it was the middle of the afternoon, the sunlight piercing the room and the sounds of traffic in the street incongruous upon the scene Anne had found when she had dropped by the upper floor tenement office that had become Stephen’s campaign headquarters not two weeks previous. The rented space had come with two desks, a scattering of chairs, and little else; she argued that even some potted plants would do wonders, but such things were well below Stephen’s notice or concern, content as he was to sustain his political career from the depths of cardboard boxes and the occasional whisky bottle.

She firmly blamed Cal McCaffrey for the latter. That, and this.

This was Cal McCaffrey surging over the territory of her husband’s body, all lithe limbs in loose-fitting clothes that had never seen an iron and were becoming helplessly more wrinkled by Stephen’s hands grappling beneath layers with a savagery that took Anne aback, kept her frozen in the doorway, stricken by the spectacle. This was Cal McCaffrey’s clever, snide mouth biting at Stephen’s pale skin, increasingly exposed by Cal McCaffrey’s equally fervent hands.

That, however, was Stephen’s hand, her husband’s hand, gripping that boyish mop of hair, guiding Cal McCaffrey’s head further down to take his cock into his mouth.

Anne held her breath while she watched, unable to believe that Cal McCaffrey could find room to breathe while he worked Stephen in and out of that suddenly-so-pink mouth, sucking and licking with lewd, wet sounds that made Anne blush simply for the hearing of the thing. Deep, desperate growls poured from Stephen’s mouth, sounding somehow more pornographic than any noise he’d ever made in their own bed, and she realized that she had never seen her husband like his, sprawled in an office chair with a disheveled abandon better suited to a Roman noble than an English parliamentarian, both controlling his pleasure and utterly lost to the whims of the man kneeling at his feet.

She recognized the moment of his orgasm by memory as well as the workings of Cal McCaffrey’s long, elegant throat as he swallowed down her husband’s release. Something sparked in her numb mind, Stephen commending Cal McCaffrey’s managerial strengths - he’s a professional, that one - and Anne had to walk away before the delirious laugh had a chance to break free.

She made it all the way downstairs before breathless, bitter peals of laughter overtook her. The potted plant was still firmly grasped in her shaking hands.

* * *

‘Well I was, um… I was Stephen’s campaign manager, and… you made me feel like his bitch.’ Cal is smirking as he says it, in lips and in voice, and Anne smiles back, laughs softly as she leans in for another kiss. She is satiated, satisfied that Cal is so observant where Stephen never was, able to read her judgments so well.

She knew full well, after all, that Cal was her husband’s bitch through and through.

* * *

After that first time, Anne learned the art of silence and made a habit of drifting back to campaign headquarters whenever Stephen pleaded another bout of long hours working with Cal on strategy, always armed with an errand in case she were caught out, but she never was, because she was so silent, up the stairs and through the door but always stopping short of the inner office.

Often, they made noise enough to cover her own indiscretions. She learned quickly that the occasional soft moan or shuffle of clothing on her part were nothing to the deep, throaty groans and harsh slaps of flesh echoing from those empty walls and bare floorboards. Sometimes, if Stephen took Cal bent over the desk, the heavy scrape of furniture scarring the hardwood floors would cover the peak of Anne’s pleasure, the high-pitched cry that would escape her throat while her fingers slid erratic and wet over her swollen clit, working herself hard through the first orgasm before easing into slow, teasing circles to await the second.

The things Cal did to Stephen, the things Stephen did to Cal, always left time for that indulgence, the least she deserved for all the greed they demonstrated in each other’s bodies. By coming quickly the first time, she could play herself at leisure, languid compared to the ruthlessness with which Stephen would flip Cal onto his back, dragging his hips to the desk’s edge and sinking into his arse again, white-knuckled hands spreading his legs indecently wide. This was the part that pleased Anne most, when Stephen would fuck Cal the way he might fuck a woman, or a whore – either comparison was strangely gratifying to the lingering edge of her bruised ego, and she would brace her head against the door frame, peering more intently through the narrow opening while the fingers of her left hand began to tease a hardened nipple through the coarseness of her woolen jumper.

Sometimes she would watch Cal, the way he transformed into something softer and more sensual whenever he took Stephen’s cock like this, writhing and moaning as though he had only ever needed a decent shag to become a better person. Sometimes, it was the sound that got her going again, like that first day, except that the raw noise of sex had lately been shot through with words, with Cal’s breathless taunts for harder and faster, damn you and with cruel names the likes of which Anne had never thought would emerge from her husband’s lips, things like dirty slut and cheap cock-sucking whore.

And now, watching Stephen pumping faster into Cal’s body, the words were coming harsh and strong, breathless demands of take it, bitch, take it all, god knows I pay you enough, filthy little fuck-toy and Anne could tell Stephen was close so she worked her fingers faster inside her knickers, driven on by the brisk brutality with which her husband was using Cal, transfixed by the redness rising on the backs of Cal’s thighs beneath Stephen’s gouging fingers, by the sheen of sweat flashing beneath Stephen’s open shirt, by the lively twist of Stephen’s mouth as he snarled into orgasm and Anne followed him over in the same moment, pulsing hard against her own fingers, biting her lip to stifle a cry that would have been altogether too loud.

Anne didn’t linger long enough to witness Cal’s orgasm, inconsequential as it was. Cal McCaffrey was little more than Stephen’s whore. Their whore. A mere means to an end, given time enough.

* * *

She knows him from his shadow behind the fleur-de-lys glass, and makes no move to hide when the door opens. Her hand tightens on Cal’s heated thigh, and maybe he’ll remember it as a protective thing, even as a pleading touch, not as the staying gesture of one who wants to put him on display, to make his cheapness visible.

She wants Stephen to see the things that she has seen.