The guilt of what Harry did sunk in as they were sitting around the dinner table that night. It was the first time he’d seen Julia since he kissed Niko and he felt like an asshole for doing it. He was married for Christ’s sake. He was sitting around a table with not only his wife and his two kids, but also the girl he just made out with on the Santa Monica pier. And god—she really was just a girl. She was ten years younger than him. What was he even thinking? Apparently, he was only thinking with his penis. His deprivation was really starting to get to him.
Harry looked up at his wife, who was rambling on about god knows what for the last ten minutes. She really, truly was a beautiful woman. He missed all the things they used to have with one another – including sex. When they first started out, their sex life was absolutely amazing. Her sexual appetite was insatiable and he lived for it. Now, it was like the thought of him made her physically ill or something.
He bit at the inside of his lip, staring his wife down.
Was that it? Was she completely un-attracted to him now? Somewhere down the line their marriage deteriorated into the shambles and something had to be the cause of it. Was it because she was no longer attracted to him? His heart sank with the realization that his wife could have possibly lost all interest in him altogether. He started to think back on every memory of every interaction they had lately and it only made his heart spiral further.
What broke Harry out of his devastation was Niko snickering to herself as she pushed her food around on her plate with her fork. He had no idea what she found so hilarious, but the fact that she could find amusement in their blasé family dinner made him smile. He watched the smirk linger on her lips. The lips he just recently kissed. And she kissed him back with just as much passion. God, she wanted him. She really, truly did.
Niko looked up, meeting her eyes with Harry’s – as if she felt his gaze burning holes into her flesh. He didn’t look away. He needed to see the way her eyes focused solely on his, how her face softened at just the sight of him. She said so much with just her eyes. It made his entire body tingle. The feelings she made him feel were like an addiction. The need to be wanted and adored hit him with a vengeance. And the fact that she was doing both of those things sent waves of desire through his entire body.
Oh, he desired her alright. He just didn’t know if he had the balls to truly act on those desires. Kissing was one thing, but sex was on a whole other level.
As Harry lay in bed next to Julia that night, he could almost feel the weight of the distance between them in their king sized bed. He could have reached out his hand and still not have touched her body – that’s how far apart they were. It was rather symbolic since it pretty much explained exactly how their relationship had been for months and months.
“Julia,” Harry sighed.
“Hmm,” she hummed out in the dark, her back to him.
“What happened to us?” He asked quietly. She was silent and it tore at Harry’s heart.
“How did we turn into… this?” He asked sadly.
“Turn into what?” She asked, turning over to look at him through what little moonlight that shone through the bedroom window.
“We barely speak or touch or kiss or love each other anymore,” he said, coming straight out with it.
“I love you, Harry,” she told him. Her words made his heart beat a little faster, even though he wasn’t entirely sure if they were genuine or if they were just spoken out of habit.
“I love you, too. I just… I just feel like we’ve grown so far apart from what we used to be,” he said, looking over at her. Julia sighed heavily.
“Baby…” She breathed out. Harry bit at his lip as he felt the sting of tears in his eyes.
“Sometimes I just… sometimes I get really wrapped up in my work. Like this deal I’ve been working on. I swear, this one will be the death of me. It’s taking everything I have,” she explained.
“I’ve noticed,” he said dryly.
“I’m sorry, Harry. I really am. But in order for everything to go smoothly, I need to give it my all,” she told him.
“At the expense of your family?” He asked bitterly. He hated that to her, work was the end all and be all of her life. Like, her family was expendable in comparison.
“Harry…” She sighed.
“I just… I just feel like you’re not doing enough to be a part of this family, Julia. I think we should come first every once in a while, ya know,” he told her. He was trying to keep things light, not wanting to cause an epic war between the two of them at twelve something in the morning.
“Harry, I love you and those kids, okay. You are my family, and I love you,” she said. Again, he couldn’t read whether or not her response was scripted to comply with his feelings or not.
“Are you still attracted to me, Julia?” He asked bluntly, needing an answer before he exploded.
“What? Harry,” she scoffed.
“It’s a serious question, Julia,” he said as he gritted his teeth together.
“Am I still attracted to you? You have got to be kidding me,” she laughed uncomfortably.
“Why are you drawing this out? It should be simple. Either yes or no, Julia,” he demanded, feeling the annoyance building up inside of him.
“Harry! Of course I am! You’re my husband,” she laughed lightly and he scoffed. Because he was her husband? Like she had an obligation to be attracted to him or something. Like their marriage license was just a contract she signed and must abide by.
“Is this because of the sex?” She asked seriously.
“What sex?” Harry scoffed, letting out a dark laugh.
“Harry, I swear I’m going to make it up to you. This deal… it’s just so exhausting. I don’t even know why I am still awake right now,” she said with a huff.
“Is that the real reason, Julia?” He asked.
“Of course it is,” she said, running her hand across his chest. Her touch felt foreign to him and he didn’t know how to feel about that. He sighed, placing his hand over hers.
“Get some sleep,” he breathed, patting her hand lightly.
“I love you, Harry. I really, really do,” she said, placing her hand on his cheek while kissing the other.
“I love you too, Julia,” he told her.
Not another word was spoken as Julia rolled back over to go to sleep. Harry laid there for a while thinking over everything. Thinking of how nothing was how he planned it to be when he was younger. How he was stuck in his marriage and he felt like he was drowning. He just needed to somehow catch his fucking breath.
Harry pulled himself out of the bed, padding across the hardwood floor to the bedroom door. The entire house was still as he made his way down to the kitchen. When he turned the corner through the doorway, he noticed the light from the refrigerator. He hoped to god he didn’t just stumbled across Mary. He really didn’t want to deal with her awkwardness any more than he had to. But when he saw the long, lean bare legs sticking out from beneath the fridge door, he knew it was Niko.
His heart beat wildly in his chest at the thought of another run-in with her. They hadn’t spoken to one another since they got back from the pier. There was so much on his mind regarding her. It was hard to keep it all internalized.
Harry heard her grumble as she pulled back from the fridge, shutting the door.
“Nothing appealing?” Harry asked.
“Jesus Christ!” She yelped, holding her hand over her heart, startled by his presence.
“Mary would have your head on a stake if she heard you use Jesus’ name in vain like that,” Harry chuckled lightly.
“That girl needs to get laid,” Niko said, rolling her eyes before smiling at Harry.
“Not before marriage!” He said, feigned outrage. Niko’s giggles filled the stillness of the kitchen, which made him smile.
Mary wasn’t the only one who needed to get laid. And the fact that Niko brought up sex really made it harder than ever to not think of her in that light.
“So seriously, is there nothing to eat?” Harry asked her, stepping up next to her to pull open the fridge himself.
“Not unless you want to eat lettuce plain or butter from the container,” Niko chuckled.
“Yum,” he said, letting the word drip with sarcasm.
He really hated his wife’s ridiculous rule of not keeping leftovers in the fridge. Seriously, leftovers were almost better than the real meal. For someone who ate out a lot in their life, leftovers were like a god damn gift from god.
Niko jumped up to sit on top of the counter, dangling her bare legs over the edge. She was only wearing a short pair of shorts and a tank top – the minimalism of the outfit, not lost on him. He could see her nipples protruding out of the fabric and it did things to him that it shouldn’t have. He shook his head lightly, trying to push the thoughts out of his head.
“So… why are you awake at twelve-thirty in the morning?” Harry asked her as she watched him with a smirk on his face.
“I couldn’t sleep. And of course, I was hungry,” she shrugged.
“It would have helped if you actually ate dinner,” he pointed out and she chuckled lightly.
“I had a few things on my mind… like your wife’s mind-numbing chatter about her business deal,” Niko scoffed playfully. Harry groaned at the memory. Julia really didn’t know when to shut up sometimes.
“Why are you awake?” Niko asked, reversing the question on him.
“Couldn’t sleep,” he said, giving her an uneasy look.
He watched as her gaze dropped down to her legs and he let his fall there too. She took notice of his fingertips touching her bare thigh. He didn’t even notice he was touching her until she did. What was that about idle hands being the devil’s play thing or something?
Niko’s eyes met his and they just stared at each other for a few weighted moments. Harry wanted to kiss her again so bad. He wanted to touch her more than anything. His brain was a jumbled mess as he leaned forward, planting his lips straight on hers. She kissed back immediately and his desire grew and grew. His fingers came up to tangle in her hair as his tongue moved fluidly with her own.
Harry moved to stand between Niko’s legs as she wrapped her arms around his neck. Their kisses took on a life of their own – ranging from sweet and playful to hard and desperate. Harry didn’t want to stop. She was so amazing. He wanted to touch her everywhere and letting himself be a little bit naughty, his hand trailed over the perfect peak of her breast.
That was until he heard a noise come from out in the hallway.
“Someone’s coming,” Harry breathed against her lips, breaking the kiss.
Niko’s eyes widened as he took a large step back. She was on her feet seconds later, making a dash for the back entrance to the kitchen, hiding herself away. Moments later, Julia popped into the kitchen. Harry’s heart was beating in his throat as his wife stood there with her hands on her hips, staring at him.
“Harry? What is going on down here?” She asked sternly.
“Uh… I was just looking for something to eat,” he stammered, coming up with a quick and easy lie.
“You of all people should know that eating before bed is not good for you,” Julia immediately scolded him.
His fear of her finding out he was just making out with the hot nanny dissipated and was replaced with an annoyance that built inside of him for months on end. He wanted Julia to get the hell out of his face.
“You’re right. I’m just going to grab some water. I’ll see you upstairs,” he said, shooing her toward the kitchen door.
“Alright,” she said, pursing her lips together, before she turned on her heels and disappeared out the door. Harry watched her ascend the stairs, going back to bed. He sighed before he turned back into the kitchen.
“Whew…” Niko said, playfully wiping at her forehead with the back of her hand as she walked back in from the opposite door. She was being comical, but Julia put him in a mood and he was unable to fully appreciate the humor.
“Close call,” she said.
“We really shouldn’t do that again,” Harry said, shaking his head, keeping himself from looking at her. Because he knew if he looked at her, he’d want to kiss her again, to touch her again. And he knew it shouldn’t happen.
But Niko had other plans. She tip-toed straight over to him, purposely ignoring the distance he kept between them.
“But it’s just so much fun,” she smirked, grabbing on to the back of his neck, planting her lips straight on his.
Harry’s fingers dug into the flesh on her hips, pulling her to his body as close as he could get her as their lips moved heatedly against one another’s. It was exactly what he felt like he needed. He needed to be wanted again. He needed to feel the closeness of another human being again. He needed the touch of a woman again. He just fucking needed it. And Niko gave him exactly that.
“You really are trouble,” he told her with a laugh when he broke the kiss, resting his forehead against hers.
“So are you,” she smirked back, before she turned on her heels and disappeared to her bedroom.
So much fucking trouble.
“Dude…” Harry breathed into the receiver of his cell phone. He stood pacing the floor of the pool house the next morning as he called Louis.
“What?” Louis asked.
“I think I fucked up. I mean, maybe. I mean, I don’t know. I mean, fuck,” Harry grumbled.
“Whoa. Slow down, Harry,” Louis told him quickly. Harry sighed, wiggling his free hand at his side in an anxious motion.
“What did you do?” Louis asked.
“Niko—” He started.
“Oh, Harry. You didn’t,” Louis breathed lowly.
“No. No, I didn’t do Niko. I just… I kissed her. And then I kissed her again. I mean, we did a lot of kissing. Two different times,” Harry explained.
“Harry…” Louis said with disappointment in his tone.
“Don’t judge me, okay. When Liz stops fucking you, you can judge me, okay. When she stops acknowledging your existence, you can judge me, alright,” he snapped at Louis.
“Alright. I’m sorry,” Louis huffed. Harry took a deep breath, trying to dispel the flash of anger that shot through him.
“So, tell me what happened,” Louis sighed, resigning to the fact that Harry needed someone to talk to, even if he didn’t approve of his behavior.
Harry went on to tell him all about the pier and all about their little impromptu make-out session in the kitchen and how everything inside of him wanted more of it, even needed more of it.
“Sounds to me like you’re getting in over your head, dude,” Louis told him.
“I can’t help it. I wish you could meet her. You’d see just what I am talking about. She is absolutely gorgeous, Louis. And she is smart and funny and just… ugh,” Harry groaned.
“Harry?” Louis’s voice was quiet and questioning.
“What?” He asked.
“You need to make up your mind. You need to make a choice. You can’t start something with this girl and keep Julia around. Things don’t work that way,” Louis told him. Harry bit his lip and shook his head, feeling the anger come back.
“It’s not that easy,” he grumbled.
“It’s going to be the hardest thing you have to do. But you need to think long and hard about what you really want. Is your marriage what’s really best for you? Or are other things?” Louis asked.
Harry sat down on the couch with a huff, contemplating his words.
“Julia… Harry, she’s not who she used to be, dude,” Louis said finally. Harry was painfully aware of that fact. He didn’t need Louis to point it out like that.
“You need to make a choice on whether or not you should keep struggling or to…” Louis sighed, cutting himself off.
“It’s not that easy, Louis,” Harry growled through his teeth.
He had more than just their feelings as husband and wife to think about and Louis knew it. Jackson and Avery would be devastated if he and Julia were to get a divorce. They were so young. He couldn’t even think about what it would do to them.
“Eventually, Harry… eventually it will all catch up with you. And I know exactly what has you so reluctant to make such a drastic decision. But Jackson and Avery will learn to adapt, Harry. They’re kids – they’re naturally resilient,” Louis went on, like he could read Harry’s mind.
“Do you even hear what you’re saying? They’re naturally resilient? This isn’t just a decision I can come up with overnight, Louis. This is big shit, okay. You’re talking about me ending my seven year marriage. That is heavy shit, man,” Harry growled, getting angry with Louis.
“Harry, I know. I know. And I’ve been hearing from you for a long time about how you’re not happy, about how Julia doesn’t treat you or those kids right, Harry. You’ve mentioned divorce yourself, you know,” he pointed out.
“I just… god, man. I just… I can’t think about that right now,” he said, running his hand violently through his hair.
“But you can think about fucking the twenty year old nanny?” Louis shot at him.
“Oh my god,” Harry growled, rolling his eyes.
“Sorry,” Louis’s voice came through the line meeker than before.
“No, you’re right,” Harry sighed.
“Just think about what you’re doing,” Louis said finally.
By the afternoon, by the time that Niko was in his presence again, Harry put his conversation with Louis to the back of his mind. Niko – with her bright smile and beaming presence. He just wanted to spend all of his time with her. When she asked him for a quick recap of the directions to the soccer field, he started to convey them, but stopped himself and asked if she just wanted him to just show her again. With a bashful smile, she told him yes. So, the three of them headed out once again.
Jackson wasn’t even phased by it and ran off toward his new friends once they arrived at the soccer field.
Not wanting to go back home, Harry took Niko down to Hollywood, where she transformed into the most intrigued person on the entire planet, which intrigued him. He loved watching her whole face light up when they saw landmark after landmark in downtown Hollywood. He loved showing her new things. He loved her reaction to everything – the way she smiled and giggled and threw her arms around him in a hug unexpectedly when she found something to be utterly amazing. She was a great girl. She really, truly was.
“Thank you,” Niko said, smiling over at Harry as they walked back to the car.
“For what?” He asked, giving her an odd look.
“This. Everything. I would be stuck at the house if it wasn’t for you,” she said, smiling wondrously.
“Too bad there’s only one more day this week of Jackson’s soccer practice,” Harry smirked at her.
“Yeah. Too bad,” she said, but it got lost in the wind as she opened the passenger door of the SUV and slid inside.
As they drove back to the soccer field, Harry felt a sense of dread wash over him. Their day was coming to a close and he hated that so much. He was beginning an infatuation with this girl and he just wanted her all to herself. He wanted her so bad.
As he parked the car in the parking lot to pick up Jackson, Niko grabbed for the door handle to get out, but Harry placed his hand on her knee stopping her. He didn’t know what to say and he couldn’t look up at her, but he didn’t want their time to be over just yet. Jackson was still running around with the other kids, Harry knew they still had time.
They just sat there for a few moments, his hand still on her knee. She was staring at him and he was frozen in apprehension. There was so much he wanted to say, but he couldn’t find the words. He knew he needed to do something, to say something.
“I haven’t slept with my wife in months. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember the last time,” he spoke, his voice low, but he knew she heard him.
“She’s so wrapped up in her work that she doesn’t even realize our marriage is falling apart. From the outside, we look like such a happy family, but that’s not how it is. Not really. You can have sex without love, but you can’t have love without sex. There’s just that bond that gets broken without it. There will always be a need,” Harry went on to explain.
“Are you… are you getting it elsewhere?” Niko asked to satisfy her own curiosity, her voice startled him.
Harry slowly shook his head to tell her no. She just stared at the side of his face, but he couldn’t bring himself to look up at her.
He felt her hand cover the top of his hand that was placed on her knee. He jerked slightly at her touch, only because he wasn’t expecting it.
“I could be that for you,” she breathed lowly.
Harry felt sick to his stomach from her words, because he felt pure and utter elation from them. His vision finally met with hers to gage her reaction. To see if she actually meant what she said, or even understood what she was suggesting. When she gave him a slight nod of her head, his lips crashed into hers without warning. He kissed her for a few frenzied moments before he pulled back again, realizing where they were.
“We shouldn’t be doing this… not here,” he told her.
“Yeah…” She breathed.
“Tonight?” He asked her hopefully, feeling the excitement and anticipation bubbling up in his stomach.
“Tonight,” she confirmed with a nod of her head.
Harry nodded too before he pushed open the car door and got out to go get his son.
Tonight. He couldn’t wait.