During our courtship, I had come to know that Doly was always considered a talented painter, but because her family was not very well off financially, she could not pursue her dream of becoming an artist too seriously. Since I earned more than enough for us to live lavishly, I suggested that after marriage, Doly should quit the dead-end receptionist job and work on her art, something she was delighted to do. So Doly would stay at home, do household chores, and attend painting lessons at a local college three days a week. Although she was always a good artist, I saw the lessons make a difference as her art evolved from a competent-but-amateur level to more sophisticated.
We lived in a big house that used to belong to my late parents, so we converted the store room into her "studio", with paints, brushes, canvases, easels, and everything. Doly spent most of the day in her studio painting some thing or the other, and soon the houses in our walls were adorned with a lot of different landscapes and still life paintings.
Then her lessons moved on to the final phase - portraits. To complete her course and have her paintings displayed in the college exhibition, she had to draw a life-sized portrait of someone. Her first choice was me, but the subject would have to sit in front of her for hours, for days at end, and my work hours as a sales managers were demanding and erratic. So Doly reluctantly agreed that I could not be a subject. She started asking some of her other friends, and some of or relatives, but they were either too busy or lived too far away to come to our house and sit in Doly's studio very often.
Finally Doly had run out of all possible options and was getting very distraught, when one evening I said to her,
"Hey, what about Pravin uncle?"
"Who is Pravin uncle again?" Doly asked with a furrowed brow.
"He is an old family friend of ours who lives down the street. You remember that big green bungalow on the corner?" I said.
"He lives there alone. He is retired, his wife is no more, and his kids are all in the US. I am sure he will be free and willing to help you out."
"Hmmm...but Arun" Doly countered, "Just his being free isn't enough. He should also make a good subject looks wise, you know."
"Well, he is no Adonis..." I said.
"No, I don't mean he should be handsome or good looking. He should look...oh how do I explain.... never mind. I'll see him and decide." she said.
"You know, he was at our wedding. But since we had so many guests, you might have forgotten his name." I said, getting up, "Let me get our wedding album and show you."
I went to the shelf, got our wedding album, flipped the pages until I reached a picture of us with Pravin uncle, and showed it to Doly.
"See, he is no Greek god." I said as Doly studied the picture. And he wasn't. Pravin uncle was almost bald, dark skinned, short, with a big paunch and stubby legs.
"Yeah... I didn't want a Greek god but this man is... well... no offence since he is your family friend, but he is ugly." Doly said with her nose crinkled.
"Hahaha." I laughed. "Yeah, I know. You should have seen his late wife. So pretty and graceful even in her older days. Me and the other guys in the neighborhood had a crush on her, and always wondered how he managed to bag her."
"Hehe, anyway, I'll continue looking for other subjects."
Doly looked and asked and requested and pleaded. But she wasn't able to get any commitment. And days were passing by fast. So finally one day she came to me and said,
"You know Arun, looks like I have no choice but to go with your Pravin uncle. If I don't start painting soon, I won't get enough days to finish the painting by the deadline."
"Okay, but what about his ugliness?" I asked, with a smile.
"Hehe. Maybe I'll call it the picture of Dorian Gray towards the end." Doly joked.
That night we both went over to Pravin uncle's house. He was a family friend, but more close to my parents, so ever since they had passed away, I had not met him too regularly. In fact only once, when i went to invite him for the wedding. So he was happy to see me. We spoke about this and that. He asked us about how our married life was. Other small talk. And then I broached the subject of Doly's portrait. When I asked him he started laughing,
"Me? A portrait of me? Are you two pulling my leg? I am an ugly old man." he guffawed.
"No no Pravin uncle, nothing like that. You are very distinguished looking. Isn't he, Doly?" I said.
"Yes yes." Doly said politely, "In fact you are an ideal subject for a portrait with your unconventional looks."
"Haha, you are obviously being polite, but never mind. Sure I'll do it. I don't have much to do all day anyway. I just hang out with some other retired friends, read books, watch TV, and that's it. Modeling for a portrait sounds interesting. When should I come over?"
"Any time during the day is fine. You have our home phone number. This is my cellphone number." Doly said, giving him a card.
And so the portrait painting started. He always came over in the afternoons when I was hardly home. A couple of times he came over on weekends too, and he and Doly were in the studio while I watched TV or napped. The social ties between us improved a lot too. He would come over for dinner or tea, and sometimes invite us over to his house. Doly and Pravin uncle seemed to have a pretty good rapport.
I would check out the portrait every day, and it seemed to be coming along very well. It looked good.... well as good as a subject matter like Pravin uncle could be painted. Finally, a couple of weeks later, the painting was done. It was submitted, displayed in the 2-day exhibition, and Doly got her course completion certificate with the grade A. And Doly decided to take a month long break from painting.
So far so good, right?
Now we come to an afternoon a week or so after the exhibition. I had gone on a sales call very close to my house, and by the time it got done, it was 1 pm. As I was driving back, I realized I was very hungry, so I decided to head home for lunch and then go back to the office. I thought of calling up Doly, but the police in our city had become very strict in fining drivers who talk on the phone while driving, so I decided to just send her a short SMS instead - "cmng home fr lnch 2day". After I sent the SMS, I realized I was just five minutes away from home, and if Doly was taking a nap as she often did in the afternoons, there was a good chance I'd reach home before she even read it.
I got home, and parked the car on the street instead of inside our garage, since I would have to leave after lunch anyway. Locked the car, grabbed my lunchbox, and walked towards my house. I opened the gate, walked to the door, and unlocked it using my key and stepped inside. I thought of calling out Doly, but the house was silent, so I assumed she might be taking a nap. I coed the door quietly, and walked to the kitchen, to warm my lunch.
As I stood there, I heard a sound of feet approaching and some voices. I was about to walk out of the kitchen when suddenly,
"Okay, go now, please." I heard Doly say in a worried voice "Arun can get home any minute."
I heard that and instinctively moved sideways, behind the wall, so I was not visible. Who was she telling to go and why was she worried about my getting home, was the question that popped into my head.
"Yes, I am going, but you owe me!" that was Pravin uncle's voice, I realized.
"Yes, ok, fine. Go now! I beg you!" Doly said in a pleading voice. I heard the door open.
"Pravin!!!" she suddenly said in a raised voice and I thought to myself - just Pravin? No Pravin uncle? At this point I could not help myself and I strode out of the kitchen. I saw them and they saw me. I don't know which one of us was more shocked and alarmed.
Here's what I saw. My wife was standing at the door, wearing just a t-shirt and shorts. Pravin uncle was at the door, dressed in a shirt and knee-length shorts, one foot outside, one foot inside, and both his hands on my wife's boobs. As I walked out their eyes turned to me, and got as big as saucers.
"What's going on?" I said in a raised voice and started advancing towards them.
Pravin uncle immediately took his hands off Doly's chest and walked away, or should I say ran, towards the gate. I ran to the door and shouted,
"Wait, you son of a bitch!", but he was already running down the street. For a moment I contemplated running after him, catching him and beating the shit out of him. But that's when I felt Doly's hand on my shoulder.
"Arun." she said in a trembling voice.
I turned around, furious and looked at her,
"What??" I yelled.
"Arun, please.... I am sorry... just calm down." she said.
"Calm down? Calm down??" I yelled, shaking her hand off my shoulder. "What the fuck was happening here? What is this? How..."
I fell silent, feeling my rage overcome me. Doly looked at me with tears in her eyes and tried to hug me. I pushed her away, and yelled again,
"Please Arun, close the door. The neighbors..." she said.
I banged the door shut very loudly and glowered at her. I now noticed something else. The outline of her boobs and her nipples was visible through her t-shirt. She was not wearing a bra! She noticed me noticing, and immediately folded her hands in front of her boobs, as if it was any use now. I was still shaking with anger, just standing there.
"Arun, please... sit down. Calm down. I'll tell you everything." she said, pulling me towards the couch.
I walked with her and sat down on the couch. Again, she tried to hug me, but I pushed her away.
"Alright, I want to know..." I started talking when suddenly, my cellphone started ringing. Out of habit I took it out of my pocket and immediately answered it,
"Hello." I said, suddenly wishing that I had just ignored it and let it go to voicemail.
"Arun, this is Shastri from BTL Systems. We just met a few minutes ago? I think we can finalize the whole deal today." the voice from the other end said.
"OK...." I said, still a bit dazed.
"Yes, I just have a couple of clarifications about your proposal. If you have it with you, could you turn to page 9?" he said.
For a moment I considered making some excuse and hanging up. But the sales guy in me realized the importance of this call. This was an account I had been trying to win over for almost two years. And finally I was about to succeed. Maybe I should talk to him.
"Yes, Mr. Shastri, just a minute, it is in the next room. Please stay on the line." I said and got up from the couch. Shot Doly a dirty look, and went to the kitchen where I had left my bag. I took out a copy of the proposal, and started referring to where Shastri wanted me to look. Then there were other clarifications and some negotiations. The whole call lasted about 20 minutes. By the time it got done, Shastri was convinced and was going to fax the order to my office.
Done with the phone, I came out to the living room again. Doly was sitting there on the couch with a sullen look on her face. I noticed that while I was on the phone, she had changed out of the shorts and into jeans, and had put a bra on under her t-shirt. My temper had cooled down a lot by now, but I was still upset. I went and sat next to her.
"Okay, talk." I said.
"Arun, I am so sorry. I know how it looks. And I have made a mistake. But it is not as bad as it seems." Doly said.
"Not as bad? What does that mean?" I asked.
"I mean, you might be assuming certain things. It's not like that. I made a mistake, and I won't make it again. Please forgive me." she said, again on the verge of tears.
"I don't get it. Explain." I said.
"I mean I have crossed some lines, for which I am sorry. But I haven't crossed other lines, and never would have." Doly said, starting to cry. I sighed, and sat back, looking at her.
"Has he fucked you?" I asked in a calm voice.
"No! Come on, how can you even think that?" Doly said, crying even harder.
"OK. Then, have you sucked his dick?" I went on.
"Arun!!! No!!!" she said.
"OK, what then?" I exploded "I catch my wife, braless, with an old man fondling her boobs, and her wanting him to go before I come home. It's clear you two weren't playing chess! What happened then? What lines have you crossed? Has he gone down on you?"
"No, no no no!" she said and started crying harder. I sighed with frustration and said,
"You'd better start at the beginning. When did this start? When did it go past him being just a subject for your portrait?"
Doly wiped her eyes, and stopped crying, or rather brought her crying down to a lower level.
"It is tough to exactly say when it started. I guess it started towards the end of my painting him. By then we had developed a good rapport and we started talking about a lot of things.... personal things. He also started paying me a lot of compliments. And he can be very charming. I also noticed that a lot of times, when he thought I wasn't looking, he'd check me out."
"Check you out?" I asked.
"Yes, like when I turned around and bent to pick something up, I could see from the corner of my eye that he was staring at my ass. Or if I was wearing something with a slightly revealing neckline, I'd notice him check out my boobs."
"Okay, and you liked that?" I asked. She stayed silent. "Well, did you?"
"Yeah, it felt nice being admired by an older man. Made me feel special. Reminded me of the days when I used to work and guys would shower me with attention all the time." she said.
"Okay, so what next? How did it reach the stage that I saw today." I asked.
"Well, after I noticed him looking, I guess I started teasing him." she said.
"Teasing him. How?" I asked.
"I'd bend over a lot even when not needed. I'd stay bent for a longer time." she said.
"Wait, what were you wearing when you bent over so much?"
"Initially, I'd wear jeans or trackpants or loose knee-length shorts, and t-shirts. You know, the clothes I usually paint in. But then....." she paused. "... then I started wearing... smaller shorts, and loose skirts and tank tops and...." she paused again "and halter tops."
"You painted wearing skirts and halter tops? How come I never noticed it?" I asked.
"I always changed before you got home." she admitted.
"Okay... so how did he react to your change in clothing?"
"He seemed to like it. He stared longer, and would often fidget and seem uncomfortable."
"Tell me when you crossed what you think was the first line." I asked.
She looked towards the ceiling, as if trying to remember. Then she looked down towards her knees and said in a low voice,
"With the thongs."
"I'm sorry...what?" I could not believe what I had just heard. Doly hardly ever wore thongs. she said they rode up her ass crack and made her feel uncomfortable. So she only wore them on occasions that she wore formal trousers or skirts, to avoid panty lines.
"I started wearing thongs... with those tiny skirts you like." she said. I knew the tiny skirts. They were quite small, about six inches above the knee, and pleated. I always loved how one got a glimpse of her panties when she bent. But she had never worn them with thongs.
"Ok... so he...must have liked it?" I asked.
"Yes. In fact.... he liked it a little too much." she said.
"What does that mean?"
"After I bent over a few times to pick up stuff from the ground, I noticed a bulge forming in his pants. He was me notice, and tried to hide it with his hands. And looked very embarrassed."
"He got an erection?"
"Yes. And that made me feel even more.....bold." she said.
"What did you do? Did you take it out of his pants?" I hissed.
"No!! Come on Arun!! I just.... I went close to him using the excuse of having him change his pose. And then..." she stopped.
"Then I dropped my brushes which were in my hand, in front of him on purpose. And I bent over to pick them up. The skirt rode up and my thong-covered ass was right in front of him."
That's when I realized, with a shock, that I felt a twitch in my cock. The image of my sexy wife in a tiny skirt and a thong, revealing her ass to an old man was turning me on.
"And then.." she continued, "..he touched it."
"While I was bent over..... he reached out with his hand and touched it. I was....surprised that he took the liberty and I just froze like that, bent, in shock."
"Really? In shock or to tease him further?" I asked. She ignored my question and continued,
"After a few seconds I got up and asked him what he was doing. He started apologizing, and said he was sorry. He had gotten carried away. I got angry and told him to leave at once. And he did."
'Then he called me up after a while saying he was sorry and could he come over and explain his mistake. I said OK. So he came over, and said he was a lonely man, and had not had any female companionship since his wife died. And he enjoyed looking at me, because I was pretty. And liked the revealing clothes I wore. That it made him feel young again. But he should have just limited himself to watching, and not touched me."
"OK....what next? Clearly things progressed further." I asked.
"No. That's it. After that I stopped teasing him. And nothing happened. The painting got over. And today I was just taking a nap, when he came in, saying he had been missing me. I was trying to get rid of him. Then I got your SMS. And you saw what happened. That's it." she said and fell silent.
I stared at her for a few minutes and said,
"No, I am not!" she protested.
"Yes, you are. I can see it from your face. You are lying. Something more happened. Tell me honestly, Doly. Or I swear, I'm filing for divorce." I growled.
"Arun, please, why do you want to know all these details? I have told you the main thing. I made a mistake by teasing him. He felt me up a little. can't we leave it at that?" she said.
"No, what other lines did you cross? Why did he say you owed him?" I asked.
"That's the only line, of teasing him and letting him touch me. Even if he touched me more later, why does it matter? It won't happen again!" she said, raising her voice.
"I want to know!" I said.
"You asshole!" she hissed, "You just want to know because it is turning you on, isn't it? You are one of those men who enjoy the idea of their wife being a slut? Which is why you hope he fucked me? Is that it?"
"What? No!" I said.
"Then what is that?" she said, pointing at my bulging crotch. Sure enough, the twitch I had felt in my cock had now turned into an erection. "Please Arun. I said I am sorry. I told you the main thing. If you want to divorce me, fine. But I am not talking about this any more. It's over."
She got up, ran to the bedroom and slammed the door shut behind her. I sat there, wordlessly, unsure of what to do. Two things were sure. I loved her. And that whatever she had done had turned me on. As I thought more about it, I remembered how I always loved it when we went out together and other guys checked her out. Sometimes, she got propositioned when she was out, and she'd tell me about it jokingly. I had liked those stories too. So what was I to do about this situation?