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Relieved

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Part of her was glad Mark showed up when he did, but part of her was disappointed. She was glad for several reasons; happy to see him, happy that he was safe and alive; but she was also relieved.

If Mark hadn’t shown up, she would have invited Tareq up to her room, under the pretence of tea but definitely not for. Juliette had made the decision earlier in the day; to give in to her feelings, their feelings.

She wondered what it would be like to be with another man, as she’d only ever been with her husband. There was a comfort there, in knowing her partner so completely that there was only trust. She didn’t have that with Tareq, he was in many ways still very much a stranger to her.

But she didn’t care. Perhaps it was a freedom that came with age; her kids were grown and she was once more free to do as she pleased. Juliette wondered if people weren’t meant to be with one person for their whole lives. Her years with Mark were wonderful; they had a loving marriage and three beautiful children. Maybe that part of her life was supposed to be lived with one person and the next chapter in her life with another.

The idea was so foreign to her; she’d never considered leaving him or going a separate path later in life. Their grand plans were to travel the world together, see exciting things, and live out the rest of their lives in relative comfort and enjoyment.

She still wanted to travel, now even more so. Exploring Egypt on her own had been a perspective-shattering experience and she discovered parts of herself that she didn’t know were there before. Juliette always knew she was independent and decisive, it was part of what made her an excellent editor, but she never knew how that independence could be challenged in new ways.

Egypt had showed her what she could be on her own. And she wanted to explore more of that, see more things, and meet more people. She wanted a freedom she never knew she was missing.

Part of that freedom was to follow her instincts, her feelings. She’d found other men attractive before, she wasn’t blind, but she’d never been so attracted to another man other than Mark.

Tareq was beautiful and so very different than her husband. Where Mark was outgoing and social, Tareq was reserved and bound by cultural etiquette. She loved the way he took in everything around him before making a judgement, letting his observations stew in his mind.

For a man who was so reserved, he was incredibly expressive with his body language. The way he sat indicated his mood and changed depending on location and company. She’d seem him wrap himself into a chaise and sit with perfect posture; he was a chameleon with his body, blending in to the environment around him.

She loved his eyes, that was the part of him that grabbed her first and held her the longest. Their deep brown pools of swirling emotion, a window to the soul. She loved the way he could gaze at her with a look of utter respect and friendship, but then those same eyes could set her body ablaze from across the room.

Juliette wasn’t just attracted to him, she was lusting for him. It was a heady feeling she hadn’t experienced in ages and the powerful surge of it had left her overwhelmed.

She fought her physical reaction to him, pushed it aside, repressed it. She was a happily married woman and she would not betray her husband for temporary feelings. However, she’d spent so much time with Tareq over the past few weeks that she had begun to worry she was falling for him. The genuine sadness she felt at their parting was startling.

After she agreed to go see the pyramids with Tareq, she had all but committed herself to going down that path with him. She was going to bring him back to her room and give in. After all, she’d already broken a trust in going to the pyramids; why not break the final one.

She tried not to think of the consequences, that later that day when she laid in the arms of her new lover she’d probably be overwhelmed with guilt. She didn’t want to think about the look of remorse she’d see on his face and the strain of the what they’d done wearing him down.

Worse though, Juliette did not want to think about how she might not feel that way. What if she felt no remorse, no guilt, what would that say about her? Was she that easy to seduce?

No. She didn’t want to think about those things.

She wasn’t thinking about those things when she leaned into Tareq and kissed him, wrapping her hands around his head as his went to her waist. It was an exhilarating kiss, so familiar but yet so strange. He tasted like smoke and coffee, that perfect beautiful elixir he brewed in his café. His beard scrapped lightly on her face, his hands strong on her back, the heat from the rising sun warming her back.

It was a promise, for things later. For a future that was too illogical to consider real, but one they went towards anyways. As they meandered casually back into the hotel, it wasn’t the consequences they were thinking about, just the now, the possibilities.

 

Possibilities that came crashing down around them the moment they entered the lobby of the hotel. Mark was there, eager to greet them both, smiling, high with energy despite his obvious exhaustion.

She wasn’t sure what she should be feeling, the swirling of emotions, confusing. She was happy to see Mark but left with an overwhelming sense of longing for this new man.

Relief was the overwhelming feeling. Relief that circumstance stopped her from following her feelings.