Sequel to Fighting for Love
Two years into his marriage to Eduardo, Nathan is happy. His career is taking off, and he’s scheduled to be the keynote speaker at an upcoming architecture conference. Eduardo and Nathan have weathered a few storms, and their relationship is stronger than ever. That is, until Nathan’s dark past finally catches up to him.
Nathan’s perfect life is thrown into chaos when Shane, a slimy older man from his college years, resurfaces with a menacing motive. Shane wants to leverage explicit photos of their time together two decades prior. Before he knows it, Nathan is being blackmailed as Shane says he will release the photos unless he’s paid. The worst part is Nathan hasn’t told Eduardo about his painful past and he fears how his husband will react.
Not only do Shane’s photos threaten to undo Nathan’s successful career and loving marriage, they threaten to undo Nathan himself. Having to confront the shameful memories from that low point in his life may be too much for him to bear. Will Nathan have the courage to face his past and prevent Shane from ruining everything he’s built? Will Nathan finally let Eduardo see the broken parts of himself and decide to trust love?
I glanced over at the clock -- 6:38, almost a full hour before the alarm went off. I turned to Eduardo lying beside me. I usually loved seeing him asleep. He always looked so peaceful and handsome with his messy bed head.
But my sleep had been fitful, and this morning, I was sick with dread at the thought of checking my email. Last night while Eduardo trimmed his beard and brushed his teeth before bed, I snuck to the kitchen and grabbed my phone off the counter where it was charging next to Eduardo’s.
He was a big proponent of not keeping phones in the bedroom after listening to some podcast about sleep hygiene. I gave him crap for it, but I actually think it had been helping us sleep more soundly.
I had to take a deep breath to keep my hands from shaking, as my fingers typed a response to the surprising and very unwelcome email I received during dinner with Daniel and Alicia at the restaurant.
What do you want?
My thumbs hovered over the keyboard. The cursor blinked at the end of the sentence. I had a hundred more questions I wanted to ask: Why are you doing this? Why now? What gives you the right to barge into my life after all these years, when I’ve changed so much, when I’m so much better now?
I also had a hundred more things I could have said -- namely, Fuck off -- but I wanted to keep it brief. I didn’t want to give him any more ammo than he already had.
I hit the send button and my one-sentence email shot off into the ether. I nervously waited a few minutes, my body jittery and leg shaking as I sat at the kitchen table. I refreshed my email again and again, but there was nothing yet. When I heard the sink turn off from the bedroom, I knew Eduardo was finished, so I returned my phone to the charger and hurried back into the bedroom.
This morning, the clock now read 6:41.
Might as well get up. I’m definitely not getting any more sleep, I thought.
Doing my best not to disturb Eduardo, I snuck out of bed and got ready as quietly as possible. I considered making breakfast but thought better of it. I wanted to leave before Eduardo woke up and besides, my stomach was twisted in knots and couldn’t handle food right now.
My phone buzzed, notifying me of an incoming email. I couldn’t bring myself to open it with Eduardo so close. The entire exchange made me feel dirty, and I wanted to keep it as far from my husband as possible.
Outside in the early morning air, I started the car and pulled out of the driveway. After I left the neighborhood, I pulled into a fast food parking lot and turned off the car.
I let out a sigh and opened the email app on my phone. Here we go, I said to myself. I scrolled through a few work emails until I saw the response and hurriedly clicked it.
My sweet Nathan. I want to reconnect of course. We have so much to catch up on. We can reminisce about old stories (I have a lot of fond and very vivid memories of our time together). Plus, I need your opinion on what I should do with the photos. I only sent you one, but I have several and some are even more ... enticing. They’re so good I’m tempted to share ... Let’s meet at East Street Pub at one P.M. xoxo Shane
My eyes flew through the message and my chest constricted when I read it again, not believing the message I held in my hands. How is this happening?
My heart beat so intensely, it felt like it was trying to escape up my throat. I felt my face flush with shame and the familiar cold sweat from the other night return.
This is worse than I thought. Way worse. My mind raced and then abruptly stopped on a thought that made me want to puke: What would Eduardo think? If he found out, then ...
I pictured everything I had with Eduardo vanish, and everything we built together the last three years disappear. It could all get washed away by this torrential downpour from my past. I thought our marriage was built on a firm foundation, but was it? Sure, our marriage had been tested, but how thoroughly? Did I want to risk it?