Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Arthur: There is something exciting about an illicit affair

... even if it's not YOUR illicit affair.

I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time defending my position of having the occasional rendez-vous with Liz's boss while thinking Jake should be really careful about leading Josh on. It's about having a goal - when I have sex with Stewart, it's all about being able to leave Elizabeth Lee a note saying "your life is just how you left it" five months from now. When Jake brings someone Ashlyn had broken up with home to meet her parents, well, what are you trying to accomplish there?

That said - I am having sex with Stewart, once or twice a week. And I have to admit, I do enjoy it most of the time, at the time. Aside from the fact that we're physiologically wired to enjoy the process of procreation, I'm learning stuff - Stewart is an enthusiastic, talented lover. There's plenty of stuff that's not knowing the book, because when I'm myself again, I want it to be a part of my arsenal, rather than shared with anybody willing to part with twenty-four ninety-five. He's good enough that I think I really should have had an orgasm by now, but he's cool about that. I don't know whether he's viewing it as a challenge or he considers it nothing to worry about based on his own pleasure and my lack of expressed disappointment. But I think that what I like most of all isn't the actual sex or feeling like I'm helping Liz.

It's the secrecy.

Consider the irony, for a second - I spend pretty much all of every day, except the occasions when I'm writing this or meeting up with Jake, implicitly deceiving everybody around me. I feel bad about lying to everyone around me, but there's nothing I can do about it, and the tension from knowing I'm lying just makes me more tense. But, of course, showing that I'm tense would be terrible, because Elizabeth Lee has no reason to be tense and any attempt to explain it will just be shrugged off.

But when I'm with Stewart - I'm doing something I'm not supposed to be doing! I'm "cheating on my boyfriend", so I've got as much license to feel nervous and guilty and out of place as I want. Well, as nervous/guilty/out-of-place as I do at any rate.

So, of course, because it's okay to be nervous, I'm probably not as uncomfortable as I should be. I mean, sure, there's the whole "I can't believe I'm going to let him put that in there issue, but around that, when we're eating or "just happening" to show up for the same movie at the same time, I feel like I can actually let my guard down a little because any crack that appears in my armor has a routine explanation.

The really funny thing is, it's spreading into the rest of my assumed life - last night, Zoe thought I was being a bit weird. She was right; I'd gotten an email from Jeremy saying that "we" were off the ghost-writing gig, because pages were coming in late and short of the expected quality. That stung, at first, because I have been doing a fair amount of editing and re-writing of what Jeremy sends me, but I obviously can't put the same effort into that I could if I didn't have Liz's full-time job, Liz's "real life", and my own research project all vying for my time. It stings - I've got a pretty good reputation for professionalism, and I hate the idea of having a black mark on my record when I take my life back. Plus, some of the complaints are because I've only really been able to get a sense of what the client wants based upon the notes Jeremy takes in the interviews, and they suck. Plus, I don't have as much time as I'd like because apparently everyone involved has ceded the actual research on the Inn to me, and it's not a small task. I'd really like to hear from Drew, for instance - lawyers are good at research, and he's probably still got some Lexis access, which would make searching for information a whole hell of a lot easier.

As I said, with all that going on, the double-life stress is probably showing on my face more than usual. Zoe notices it, comments on it, and just as I'm thinking "how do I explain it?", Stewart shows up for his shift. Then the inspiration hits me - I don't have to cover for all that, or try to make it appear normal - I just have to cover for "secretly screwing my boss behind my boyfriend's back". I can do that; I admit without pride that I have cheated on a girlfriend in the past, so I know how to handle this situation for a while.

Only for a while, though. Still, I figure that under normal circumstances, Zoe or someone will realize what's up before May, and I'm not sure how to deal with that inevitability. It's something to write Liz about, because I really don't want to deviate too far from her wishes.

But in the meantime, it's nice to have a "regular" secret; it's great cover for the strange one.

-Art

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