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Ultimate Betrayal Chapter 1

Chapter One

 

 

 

Summer 2013

 

Lara Beck smiled as she watched Rachel Mathis walk along the rose petal strewn path leading to the intricate gardens where they’d decided to get married. 

 

A flowing white dress clung to Rachel’s athletic body and there was no argument that Rachel made a stunning bride. Her hair fell in soft waves across her shoulders and shimmered in the sunshine as the highlights reflected the rays of the sun.

 

As Lara took Rachel’s hands in her own, she looked into sapphire eyes that reflected nothing but love. Lara felt like the luckiest woman in the world. Rachel had been difficult to ensnare, but she’d won her heart.

 

The only other time Lara had felt the same way toward a woman was eight years ago when she’d watched her first love walk down the aisle in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Her emotions had been so intense then that she’d almost convinced herself she would be able to remain faithful. Lara couldn’t help thinking about her first marriage, today of all days.

 

Lara shook her head to bring herself back to the present and the beautiful woman in front of her, who was ready to say her vows. They both had written their own words and Lara was excited to hear what Rachel would say.

 

“Lara, I never thought someone would capture my heart until I met you. Your relentless pursuit and never-ending passion takes my breath away every time we come together. I cannot imagine ever growing tired of you. I’m afraid our combustible desire for one another will burn so brightly that it will leave nothing behind but blissful ashes, but I’m willing to take the chance at a love that I suspect I’ll never find again. Thank you for never giving up your pursuit. I love you. Now let’s do this,” Rachel said.

 

Lara laughed and started reciting her own vows. “The moment I met you, I knew I had to make you mine. You were worth every bit of energy I put into wooing you. I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who sparked my interest quite like you. When we come together it is like poetry in motion—fiery poetry. I couldn’t resist circling your orbit because the gravitational pull was just too great. I love you, too, and will always celebrate the day I met you at that cheesy fundraiser.”

 

“Hey, I planned that event. There was nothing cheesy about it,” Rachel argued.

 

Lara chuckled. “Just teasing, hon. Can we get to the I do’s now, please?”

 

 

On the eve of her second marriage, Lara pondered what love, sex, and marriage meant to her. Of course, those thoughts didn’t make it into her vows.

 

Lara didn’t think there was anything wrong with using sex to further her business interests. In her opinion, too many people had hang-ups about sex. She’d been told that she was a lot like a man in her perspective, but to her, love and sex were not the same thing. She could have sex with someone and not love them. She was a healthy, sexually active woman who could appreciate that sometimes sex was just a means to an end or a physical release without the added complication of love. Of course, it was a bonus if you loved the person you were having sex with. She would concede to that point.

 

If there was one thing she despised, it was a double standard. It was 2015 and men no longer cornered the market on sex, power, and control.

 

Marriage, in her estimation, tended to suck the excitement out of sex, which is why men and women took mistresses. It was practically a requirement for ambitious, successful executives. Lara reasoned that, to maintain a healthy marriage, it might be necessary to venture outside the boundaries of matrimony and that had nothing to do with whether or not she loved her wife.

 

Deep down Lara adored her wife but humans were not designed to be monogamous. She’d listened to an anthropology professor lecture that only seventeen percent of human cultures were monogamous. That lecture stuck with her and helped justify her behavior.

 

She believed that if she had the stamina and the resources to keep multiple lovers satisfied, what would it hurt? Perhaps some might judge her and believe she had impulse control issues. Fuck them. She had the world at her feet and nothing would stop her from taking every bite out of life.

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Summer 2005

 

Sophia Torre squinted into the bright sunshine as she looked up at the familiar brick building. The City University of New York campus felt like home. She’d spent four glorious years here before attending Rutgers University for her doctorate. She was grateful to be back in New York but anxious about her interview with Dr. Francine Forester. She didn’t have anything against New Jersey, but it wasn’t New York.

 

Dr. Forester was her favorite professor when she’d attended CUNY, earning her undergraduate degree from the innovative LGBT studies program. She’d wanted to absorb every bit of information from the course and had managed to get a choice internship with the warm-hearted professor. Dr. Forester was instrumental in Sophia’s decision to pursue her doctorate. Now, Sophia was back, after the professor had  tracked her down to ask her to consider a position in that same life changing program.

 

Joy, her best friend, was delighted to have Sophia back in New York. During their conversation last week, she’d told Sophia that New York was where she belonged.

 

Sophia retrieved her cell phone from her purse when she heard the muffled ring.

 

“Hello,” Sophia answered.

 

“Hey, gorgeous. I just wanted to call and wish you luck. Not that you will need it. Call me as soon as the interview is finished and we can celebrate—just like old times. You, me, a bar full of hot women to choose from, and an intimate party back at my place afterwards. You’ve become a huge disappointment since starting grad school. Who knew Jersey would be so bad for you. They must have beautiful women in New Jersey, so what’s the deal?” Joy asked.

 

“Don’t start with me. Graduate school was not a walk in the park and I wanted to do well so I could return to New York. No celebration plans until I know whether I’ve got the job or not.”

 

“Oh ple-eze, she called you. Remember? You are going to rake in the little baby dykes. Their program will grow to epic proportions with a hot professor like you. That Dr. Forester is a shrewd one. She knows that you will draw in more students,” Joy insisted.

 

“Gotta go. I promise to call after the interview. Don’t buy the champagne just yet. Okay?”

 

“Righteo, but I got a good feeling and it’s about time you came back. I missed hanging out with my best bud. Talk to you soon. Love ya.”

 

“Love you too, goofball.”

 

Sophia closed her cell phone, took a deep breath, and walked up the stairs to face what she hoped would be her future.

 

 

Sophia’s high heels sounded unusually loud as she walked down the hall. The echo reverberated in the empty corridor. Students were always sparse during the summer term. She smiled as she trod familiar territory.

 

She knew her way around the building and like a homing pigeon she found herself in front of the door where she’d spent countless hours discussing everything from politics to religion, helping her favorite professor with whatever research project she was working on at the time. The small conference room was a short distance from Dr. Forester’s office.

 

Sophia knocked on the door.

 

The five foot tall prof, with curly brown hair that always looked disheveled, opened the door, and pulled her into a warm hug. “Sophia, you look wonderful. I am so delighted you are interested in our position. I can’t think of a better fit for our program.”

 

Dr. Forester was a quirky middle-aged woman who seemed to love every part of her job but obviously reveled in the energy and enthusiasm of her students. Sophia knew that, as a gifted teacher, Dr. Forrester would never completely give up teaching for a job that required her to spend one hundred percent of her time on administrative tasks. Sophia admired that.

 

 “Thank you for thinking of me, Dr. Forester.”

 

“Stop with the Dr. Forester. Call me Francine. After all, we are going to be colleagues shortly.”

 

Sophia chuckled. “I thought this was an interview.”

 

Francine waved her arm in the air. “Merely a formality. Come in, come in. Can I get you some coffee or tea?”

 

“No, thanks.” Sophia took a seat at the conference table.

 

Francine poured herself a cup of coffee and sat at the head of the table next to Sophia. “Let’s get right to it. We’d like you to start teaching some of the one hundred level classes in the LGBT studies program, but intersperse some of them with the upper level courses. I know the youngsters can tire a person out, so we’re not expecting you to take the entire entry-level curriculum. I don’t suspect it will take you very long to achieve tenure. The pay is horrific as an associate professor, but the hours are divine and eventually you’ll do okay when you become a full professor. We always have someone on sabbatical, so I can make sure you have a place to stay where you won’t have to pay an outrageous amount of rent. That should help with expenses for the first few years until you become a full professor. Any questions?”

 

“Am I to understand that you are offering me an associate professor position?” Sophia asked.

 

“Well, yes, of course. I didn’t track you down to have coffee. Although we will have to find some time to get together after all this is settled so we can catch up properly. I have a contract right here for you to sign.”

 

“Um, okay.” Sophia laughed. “Why the heck not? The program meant so much to me as an undergrad, I guess I can’t really see myself teaching anywhere else but CUNY. Just how crummy is the salary?”

 

“I pushed a little and got you sixty thousand to start, even though there is a collective bargaining agreement I was supposed to adhere to. Human Resources hates dealing with me because I pointed out that the union contract has a clause allowing the university to pay above scale. They spouted some crap about fairness and equity, but I went above them to the president.” Francine grinned and pushed the contract toward Sophia.

 

Sophia glanced at the piece of paper in front of her and turned to the final page, noting the line for her signature.

 

Francine handed her a pen and two minutes later, the deal was done.

 

“Welcome to CUNY. Oh, by the way, we have a couple of big fundraisers each year and it would be a crime not to take advantage of your good looks and charm. Can I count on you to attend both of them? There are a lot of prominent women who attend and a few of them have very deep pockets.” Francine waved her arm in the air. “I know, don’t lecture me on feminism and all that crap. Do you really believe that Gloria Steinem would have been as popular as she was if she looked more like me? Welcome to the politics of academia.”

 

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