To Sir, With Love

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“No one, not even Bobby, can make you feel small unless you let them. So if that’s how you’re feeling it’s because you want to,” her younger sister told her.

“What kind of new-age nonsense is that? Why would I want to feel like this?”

“Palmer, you’ve always been a people pleaser. With Dad, with your teachers, with every guy you ever dated, and with Bobby since you met him. You’ll do anything to make someone else happy, but you don’t know how to be happy yourself.”

“That’s crap, too, Elaine! How can someone not know how to be happy? Maybe I prefer finding my happiness by making my family happy. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing as long as you’re happy, too. But you’re not, Palmer. You’re miserable. And you let Bobby walk all over you because you’re afraid to stand up for yourself. But it’s not just you we’re talking about here. You have two small children to think about.”

“I am thinking about them. Ellie and Jax are the most important things in my life! You know that, Elaine.”

“Yes, I do know that. But ask yourself this. Where do you fit in? How important are you…to you? Don’t you deserve to be happy just like them? Don’t you deserve to feel the way you try and make Bobby feel? You know, the husband who doesn’t appreciate anything you do, and who also makes every decision for you while managing to make you feel worthless.”

“He’s just…busy. That’s all. He works really hard taking care of us. I have the privilege of staying home with my children because of that. So maybe he’s not the most romantic guy, but he’s a good provider, and he takes care of us.”

“For God’s sake, will you please stop defending that man? Yes, he makes a lot of money, and yes, you can stay home and be with your kids. But it’s more like you’re a prisoner here than…I don’t know…a princess.”

“A princess? I don’t want to be a princess, Elaine. Where is that even coming from?”

“I’m sorry, sis. I honestly don’t know. It started with ‘p’ like prisoner, and it was all I could think of so I said it. Look, it’s late. We’re both tired. I need to get home and you need to get some sleep. Bobby’s coming home tomorrow so…”

“No. No he’s not,” Palmer said quietly. “He…he called just before you got here and told me he’d be gone another two or three days.”

“What? Oh, my heavens! Palmer, what is the matter with you?” Elaine asked trying not to be furious with her sister.

Palmer shook her head, and that’s when the first tear fell.

“I…I don’t know, Elaine. I just don’t know. I can’t seem to make my husband happy, and I’m at wits end trying to do that. Maybe…maybe after I get the boob job things will be better. Bobby likes big breasts, and that’ll make me more attractive to him, you know?”

Rather than chide her even more for being such a doormat, Elaine put her arms around her sister and said, “You need to sleep. We need to sleep. We’ll talk more tomorrow. But unless this boob job is for you because you want it, don’t do it. Not for anyone and especially not for Bobby. Okay?”

She knew it was a waste of time because she knew her sister too well. Palmer blamed herself for everything wrong in her marriage when everyone else knew the problem was the demanding, arrogant, self-centered ass she was married to.

But Palmer Cunningham could never admit that because if she did, the entire house of cards her failing marriage was built on would collapse in an instant, and being Mrs. Bobby Cunningham was who she was and all she wanted to be. Well, except for being happy and as long as she believed that was tied up in the jerk she was married to, that would never happen.

Then again, to her 40-year old sister, Elaine Knox, being happy was an impossibility as long as her sister clung to the ridiculous notion that being happy meant making other people happy. But for now, she was too tired to tackle that beast yet again so she told her sister to go to bed then headed home to her loving husband and two wonderful children.

When the phone rang sometime after she’d fallen asleep, Palmer opened one eye and saw that it was a little after midnight. She picked it up and said hello.

“Hi. Is Bobby back yet?” a female voice asked.

“I’m sorry. He’s still gone on business. May I take a message?”

There was silence then the phone went dead.

Confused and then concerned she hit ‘redial’ and got an immediate answer.

“Downtown Bar, Jess speaking,” a male voice said.

“Oh, hi. Um…I just got a call from this number, but it was a woman,” Palmer said.

“Oh, yeah. That was…Sophie,” the man said.

“May I speak to her? Is she still there?”

Palmer heard a woman saying, “Hang up the phone, Jess! Just hang up.”

“Yeah. Um…sorry,” was all she heard before the line went dead.

She sat there in stunned silence. Elaine had told her several times she thought Bobby was having an affair, but there was no obvious evidence that was true. And yet a woman had their home phone number and had called asking for her husband by his first name expecting him to be back when he’d originally görükle escort said he’d be back.

She felt like she might throw up then immediately began wondering what she could have done to drive him to such extremes.

Palmer didn’t tell her sister about the call when she came back to visit the next day, but she did intend to confront her husband this time no matter how difficult that might prove, and for her, it was always extremely difficult to stand up for herself.

The two days passed, and Bobby had been home for maybe an five minutes when Palmer decided it was time. She’d happily welcomed him back then after bringing him a drink, she said she wanted to discuss something but not until the kids were asleep.

“You’re not backing out on the boob job.”

He clearly wasn’t asking her but telling her.

“Don’t even think about that. You know how important that is to us, right?”

Palmer couldn’t look at him as she quietly agreed.

“Then what is it?” he asked now getting testy.

“Let’s just wait, okay?” she said with a weak smile hoping to avoid a tirade.

“No, we’ll discuss it now! I don’t like the way you’re hemming and hawing around, Palmer. So just say it already,” he demanded.

Without looking at him she forced herself to say, “Are you…are you having an affair?”

“What? That’s insane! Why would you even say a thing like that?” he said getting loud very quickly.

“Bobby. Please. The kids.”

“I don’t give a damn about the kids!” he roared. “Where in the hell did you get this crazy idea?”

“Her name is Sophie, isn’t it?” Palmer found the strength to say. “Is she…bigger…than me?”

Bobby turned away as his raged faded.

“How do you know about her?” he said quietly.

“I just know, okay? So…is it true?”

Now getting angry again, Bobby got up and stood in front of his wife.

“Yeah. It’s true. But can you blame me? You’re never interested in sex. You don’t even make any effort. In fact, you go out of your way to find excuses not to have sex with me. Hell, for all I know, you’re givin’ it to someone else!”

“Bobby, that’s not true. I’ve never been unfaithful to you. I try to always look nice, I work out, I watch my diet, I wear nice…”

“Oh, just stop!” he bellowed cutting her off. “Sure, you go to your spinning classes. I’ll give you that. But you’re hardly what I’d call ‘hot’. You used to be pretty, but you’ve never been hot. That’s why we need this boob job. I need you to be attractive to me, Palmer. Can’t you understand that?”

That night as her husband took her hard and relentlessly, she didn’t feel anything but numb. She knew she’d forgive him, and she knew he’d want to…fuck her. And she knew she’d let him. The only thing she dreaded was having to tell Elaine, because telling her meant she’d have to endure yet another lecture on her need to stand up for herself.

“How did that feel, baby?” Bobby said after he came inside her.

“Wonderful, honey,” she told him not even caring if he’d used a condom with this Sophie woman as he shot his load inside her.

He rolled over and said, “Tell you what. You get yourself some nice D cups, and I’ll be all over you like that all the time. I promise.”

“Yes. That’ll be really nice,” Palmer said not really knowing what she was saying as she fought off the urge to cry.

Bobby was sound asleep five minutes later and Palmer got up to shower and douche and try and wash him away even as she found herself forced to admit Elaine had been right. But if she was what did that mean? How would Palmer even go about ‘standing up for herself’ when she had no real idea who she even was anymore let alone what she needed or even wanted?

She came very close to crying in the shower, but just couldn’t let go. For now she would get some sleep then talk to her sister and go from there.

The following morning, the kids were thrilled to see their daddy and Palmer pretended everything was just fine.

Ellie was four and a talker. She couldn’t stop telling him how much she loved him and missed him and all the things she’d done while he was away. Jax was two, and all Bobby had to do was ‘blow bubbles’ on his tummy to win him over. They had no idea their father was a colossal prick nor should they have to care about such things.

As much as this affair hurt Palmer, Bobby was still her children’s father, and she couldn’t begrudge them being happy to see him. She, however, was very happy when Bobby told her he’d be going back on the road again the next day after spending the day at corporate headquarters in Seattle.

Elaine came over about 10am after having dropped her kids off at school and gone to spinning class.

“Hey! Where were you this morning?” she asked her sister.

“How was class?” Palmer asked dreading ‘the talk’.

“Good. Like always. That hot young guy was right in front of me today! I just wanted to play with his tight little buns the whole time!” she said. “But no matter how fast I pedaled I never did catch up to him.”

Palmer laughed bursa escort bayan politely then said, “I swear. If I had a husband like Joe, I’d never say things like that.”

“Oh, come on! It’s just girl talk. I’d never cheat on Joe. He’s perfect for me.”

“Yes, he is,” Palmer agreed. “You’re very fortunate, Elaine.”

Her sister was three years younger, but had both of her children were older than Palmer’s. She and Joe had married relatively early but waited to have children because they loved being with each other so much. Bobby and Palmer were both over 30 when they married, but they’d waited to have children because Bobby didn’t want them. Palmer had had to beg him repeatedly for years before he agreed to have a child, and after Ellie was born, he’d demanded she get her tubes tied. She drug her feet for months, then when she’d gotten pregnant with Jax two years later, he’d blown a gasket and told her if she didn’t get ‘fixed’ this time, it was over.

So, four months later, she’d undergone major surgery to avoid Bobby having to get a vasectomy on an out-patient basis and be put out for a whole 72 hours or so.

And that’s when he’d really gotten onto her about getting a boob job. Palmer had very nice, full-B cups, but Bobby wanted more—a lot more. He wanted his wife to get E or even F cups, but she’d somehow managed to talk him down to a full D.

She already thought she’d look like a freak by making that big a change overnight as a ‘mere’ D, let alone the way it would affect her back and her ability to exercise. Even so, she was on the verge of finally giving up and scheduling the procedure when she learned of the affair.

“So…where were you?” Elaine asked again as she poured herself a glass of orange juice. “I know you weren’t in bed making love with Bobby so…what’s up?”

“I didn’t feel like going out,” Palmer told her quietly.

“You okay? Spinning class is your favorite thing. You never miss. What’s going on?” she asked.

“Bobby’s having an affair,” she told her sister directly.

“What? Are you serious?” Elaine asked as she sat down next to her sister.

“He admitted it. Last night.”

“That…fuck!” Elaine said. “Who is this…bitch?”

“Someone named Sophie. She called here and I re-dialed the number.”

Palmer explained what happened and how she got up the nerve to confront Bobby. Reluctantly, she also admitted how he’d berated her and turned things back around on her.

“And you forgave that bastard? Palmer, for heaven’s sake, what is wrong with you?” her sister said clearly exasperated.

And that’s when the tears came. Elaine couldn’t ever remember seeing her big sister actually cry except for when their grandfather died when they were very young. She reached out and held her close and let her cry without either of them saying a word.

“I…I just don’t know what to do, Elaine,” Palmer finally said.

“Yes, you do,” her sister said in a supportive tone. “You just don’t want to do it.”

“You mean leave him?” she said as though it was unthinkable.

“Ding, ding, ding! That’s the one,” Elaine told her. “I’ll be happy to help. If you need me to be there when you tell him, just let me know. I’d love to see that smug prick’s face when you finally do.”

“But…but what about the kids? I can’t do that to them.”

“In the kindest way possible…Palmer—stop being a martyr.”

“A martyr? Why are you being so cruel?”

“Cruel? I’m just being honest. Bobby is a dick. He’s conceited, self-centered, selfish, and frankly he’s unworthy of you. You need to do this, Palmer. You have to do this. Your marriage has been over for a long time. Everyone knows that except for you. There’s nothing here to save. And your children will be better off if their mother is finally happy. So, please, please do this. Tell Bobby it’s finished so you can start over. Please?”

“I don’t know, Elaine. I mean, what if I did get the boob job and things change? They could, you know,” Palmer said trying to talk her sister out of her belief the marriage was a sham.

“Palmer? Leopards don’t change their spots. Ever. The only choice you have—the only sane choice—is to get rid of him. Tonight. Do not put this off even one more day, you hear me?” Elaine said adamantly.

“I…I don’t know if I can,” Palmer said. “And what if I do, and then I never find anyone else? I don’t want to live alone the rest of my life, Elaine.”

“Oh, my God! Do you have any idea how beautiful you are? I wasn’t going to mention this, but the hot guy asked me where my gorgeous sister was today! And that guy is freaking gorgeous himself!”

“He…he was just being nice, I’m sure,” she replied quietly.

“Palmer? You have always been prettier than me, and you still are. In fact, you were the prettiest girl in high school and you still look amazing. I’d kill to have skin like yours! For crying out loud, people always think you’re my baby sister. How do you think that makes me feel when I’m three years younger than you? You look amazing for any age, but for 43 you’re just bursa escort insanely beautiful. You won’t be alone forever. I can promise you that. In fact, you won’t be alone for one day unless you want to. So stop hiding behind all the self loathing and shame. You’re gorgeous! Did I say I’d kill to look like you?”

Palmer finally smiled and said, “No, you said you’d kill to have skin like mine, but…thank you for saying that. I wish I could believe it.”

“Well, we are going to get you signed up on some dating sites, and then you’ll see! Trust me on that!”

“Dating sites? I’m not even divorced yet. I’m not even legally separated! What do you mean—dating sites?”

“A mere formality, my dear. There’s a world of difference between what Bobby just did to you—and this may not be the first time, Palmer—and dating someone before your divorce is final. Very few men will care, and you can trust me on that, too. Shoot, I bet Cute Guy from spinning class would go out with you in a New York minute!”

“Cute Guy? Come on! He’s what? Twenty-five? Maybe?” Palmer said actually kind of enjoying the conversation. Not that she’d ever go out with someone that young, but it made her feel almost alive to talk like this.

“So…can you do this by yourself?” Elaine asked getting serious again.

Palmer wasn’t sure she’d have the courage, but felt reasonably confident she could and told her sister, “I…I think so.”

“If you lose your nerve you call me. I don’t care what time it is. I’ll be here ASAP, okay?”

“Okay,” Palmer said. “And Elaine? I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Yeah, I know,” she said before offering her sister another big hug.

“Don’t you dare chicken out. You hear me?” Elaine said just as she was leaving.

Palmer had Bobby’s favorite meal ready for him when he got home, and Elaine had agreed to watch the kids for her. She was so nervous she thought she’d throw up several times, and when she finally heard him come in, she nearly did.

“Hey? Where are my kids?” he asked with saying hello or asking what smelled so good.

“They’re at Elaine’s,” she told him.

“Oh! I see. So…you’re finally making some effort to be available, huh?” he said giving her the once over. “You’d think by now you’d know to wear something I like, but, okay. I can work with this.”

All during dinner Palmer worked up her nerve as she politely replied to whatever thing Bobby was going on and on about at work.

When he finished he said, “Tell you what? I’ll load the dishwasher if you go change into something nicer. How’s that sound?”

He was smiling at her like he was really offering her something special when, suddenly, and for the first time—she hated him. Just looking at him disgusted her. She finally saw what Elaine and their mother had been telling her for years. Bobby was an insufferable ass.

“That’s okay. I’ll take care of the dishes,” she said coldly.

“Okay. Great. That’s your job anyway. I just thought I’d be nice. Let me know when you change into something I can stand to look at. Oh, that black number would perfect,” he said as he refilled his wine glass and turned to walk out.

“I want a divorce,” Palmer said firmly.

Bobby laughed as he turned around.

“Oh, that was good!” he said pointing at her. “You almost had me there for a second!”

“I’m not kidding, Bobby. I want a divorce, and I want you out of my house,” she said without shaking.

He walked slowly toward her then said, “Oh you do, do you? You want me out of your house?”

“Yes. Before the kids come home tomorrow,” she told him now feeling afraid as he towered over her.

He leaned down and hollered, “Who do you think paid for this house, you ungrateful slut? Who do you think makes it possible for you to stay home all day and take spinning classes and get manicures and buy all those expensive clothes you wear? Huh?”

He put his finger in her face then yelled, “Answer me!!”

Palmer somehow kept her composure and said calmly, “I am very grateful for everything you’ve provided for me and our children, but I’m through being made to feel like I’m worthless, Bobby. And I will not share my bed with a man who can so easily sleep with another woman. So while I admit you’ve given me a very nice house and many nice things, what you’ve never given me is love. You intimidate and you bully and you treat me like…garbage. And over the years, you’ve robbed me of dignity and self worth. So thank you for the things you’ve given me, but I want you out because of the things you refuse to give me.”

“Yeah? Okay, fine. I’ll move out. But I’ll take everything to include the kids. You’ll be left with an empty house you can’t even afford to pay taxes on, and I’ll be sleeping with one hot woman after the other—women I’m actually attracted to!”

He glared at her then said, “Just like I’ve been doing for years.”

Palmer forced her way around him, and as she left the kitchen Bobby hollered, “And you can sleep on the couch tonight. I’m sleeping in my bed! The bed I bought with my money, you ungrateful bitch!”

Palmer barely slept that night, and for the first time since she married him, she didn’t make breakfast for her husband that next morning. She did make enough coffee for them both, but she was done doing anything for him that a judge didn’t require her to do.

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