Places Bright and Dark




Place Bright and Dark (Lilyland Book 2)

About: Lily and Charlie are married. After a devastating loss, Charlie’s issues threaten to undo their marriage and their personal and professional relationships. They are constantly in the media’s spotlight. Finally, Lily faces a choice critical to her wellbeing: is he worth it?

Chapter 1 Wedding Night


“Welcome aboard, Mrs. Winston, Mr. Winston,” the pretty blond attendant said as we stepped onto the private jet I chartered for our honeymoon. “I hope you’ll find everything to your specifications. I’m Hilary. My colleague is Christopher. We’re here to make sure you enjoy your flight.”

My eyes wanted to flit back to young Hilary’s smooth face, and my hands itched to undo her pinned-up hair. But that was my old way of living. So, I simply kept my eyes on my lovely new wife.

“Holy cats, Charlie,” Lily whispered, eyes wide. “This is wonderful. Where are you taking me?”

“Tokyo, first.”

“Tokyo?” Her eyes popped even wider as she clapped her hands over her mouth. Then she squealed and twirled once like a girl, her wedding dress floating in a circle around her.

“Let’s see the rest of the jet while the pilots do their final checks,” Christopher said. “Then we’ll be on our way.”

“To Tokyo!” Lily said dreamily.

Following a smooth takeoff, we retired with champagne to the jet’s bedroom. Lily looked at me with a bit of anxiety, biting her lip. “Are there other clothes in here?”

“What do we need clothes for?”

“Well, I’m not exactly an expert on Japanese customs, but I do think they will expect us to be wearing something when we deplane. You did remember clothing, didn’t you? Since you wouldn’t let me pack anything.”

“I had expert assistance. Do you need help with your dress?”

She turned her lace-encased back to me. “Thank you. It has a hundred little buttons.”

“So it does. I better get busy then.” I kissed her neck and shoulders as I worked the ridiculous buttons. She smelled faintly of lavender and sea air that still clung to her from our wedding at the oceanfront home of our friend Sophie. Her soft skin and hair aroused me until I ached. It was only a matter of minutes. All the months, hours, seconds of excruciating abstinence would have their redemption.

The buttons finished, I pushed the strapless top down to her waist and stepped around to Lily’s front where her hands crossed her chest. “Why are you so shy?” I asked. “I’ve seen you in bathing suits. You’re beautiful.”

She nodded, smiled, humoring more than believing me.

Maybe she knew somehow that images of nude bodies pounded my brain. I closed my eyes, but they came faster, so I looked into those of my bride. “You are the most beautiful woman in the world to me, Lily. Body and soul and mind.” I drew her hands to my mouth, kissed each, then eased the dress off her hips to the floor, watching as her body revealed itself to me. She wore white lacy panties, a garter belt, and hose. Pleasure surged through me. The faint real tan lines didn’t bother me; she didn’t like artificial tans. “So lovely,” I whispered.

“Thank you.” She blushed.

I knelt and kissed her navel, and she giggled. She didn’t push my head away as I thought she might but sighed and combed her fingers through my hair. That was almost enough to undo me, so I held the dress down, and helped her step out of it. I smoothed it out and draped it over a chair.

“Let me help you with your shirt,” she said.

“I can manage. Walk to the door, please.”

“What?” She squinted one eye at me.

“I want to see you walk.” She shrugged and took the few steps. “Beautiful. Now turn and stay there.”

“All right, mister director.” I could see she felt awkward, not used to parading around for men. She didn’t realize how sexy she was. I undid my cuff links and shook the shirt from my shoulders, then pulled my tee shirt over my head.

“Now we’re getting somewhere.” She semi-strutted her way back to me. Without the dress, she felt smaller in my arms, delicate and in need of protection. Our lips met, our tongues touched and explored. She made small sounds of pleasure as her body tensed deliciously in my arms. “I want you so badly,” she purred.

My erection was still trapped under layers of clothing. I didn’t trust it enough to let it out. We fell together on the bed, Lily on top, and she ground her groin onto mine. I moaned but made her stop. “Let me take off your stockings.”

So, she lay on her back and extended a leg upward, toe pointed. I tossed the shoe away somewhere before I unclipped the stocking from the belt. My hands massaged her thigh which I kissed as I rolled the hose toward her toes. The scent of her wetness invited me to slip a finger into her panties, eliciting a wide-eyed squeal.

“Next one, quick,” I said.

“Here you go,” she said, kicking the other leg around, almost cracking my nose.

“For that you will pay!” I tickled her sides, causing gasping laughs. She swatted me anywhere she could land one.

We fell to kissing places we never had until then. We had set the prenuptial kissing limit to the face and neck for the sake of my sexual sobriety and the mutual decision to save intercourse for our wedding night. She worked my belt and unfastened my pants. “I’m ready anytime you are, baby,” she said. “I love you so much. I waited for this for so long…”

I helped her wiggle out of her undies, noticing she had a bikini wax, something else she normally eschewed. While I took off my pants, she sat up to watch. She licked her lips when my boner, released from his prison, bounced with glee like a puppy let out of its crate.

“Yum!” She reached for me. “Go easy.”

My breath came in shallow pants, and my heart threatened to destroy my chest. I focused on the moment to keep my past at bay. I leaned over my wife, and she wrapped her legs around my hips. Every part of her invited me in. Her hands on my hips pressured them toward hers. Her mouth opened in a soft pink circle that I entered with my tongue. I closed my eyes and prepared to open her. I envisioned me separating her, anticipating the soft, moist heat…


I was nothing. What had been painfully large, throbbing and hard was now limp and useless. I didn’t have to touch myself to know. It was gone.

I cursed under my breath.

“Charlie?” Lily’s eyes grew wide. I scrambled off the bed and into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind me. I pounded things with my fists until I realized I might be scaring Lily. Muttering, cursing myself, thinking it was payback for all the thoughtless screwing I did throughout my life, retaliation from the universe and God for all the women I leered at and used, for all the masturbating I did, all the porn I watched. Being in recovery from sex addiction and working the 12 Steps wasn’t enough. The damn universe wanted my wedding night.

Following a soft tap, Lily’s voice sounded through the door. “Baby, are you okay?”

I couldn’t answer.

“Please, Charlie, grunt or growl or bang something if you’re okay. I’m concerned.”

“I’m okay,” I forced for her sake.

“I don’t pretend to understand everything you’re going through, sweetheart.” Her voice caught, but she forced strength into it. “I miss you. We don’t have to make love. There’s no law that says we have to. Let’s just lie together. We can see stars from the skylight over the bed. Would you please open the door?”

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t let her see me like that. It was a while before she spoke again.

“Charlie, I’m proud of what you’ve accomplished for yourself in rehab and after. You’ve grown into a wonderful man. I’m proud to be your wife. I’m exhausted, so I’m going to go lie down. Come to bed soon. I want to sleep with your arms around me.”

I couldn’t even grunt. She didn’t say anything else, so I assumed she went to bed. I slipped silently from the toilet to the floor. My long legs stretched almost to the door. I twisted with the need to hurt myself. My body had never been anything but trouble to me.

The words of my friend Jim who had counseled and married us came to mind. He had said this might happen. “Penises have been known to fail on wedding nights. Plus, this is a new type of sex for you Charlie, where you’re giving more than your body. If the old boy doesn’t rise to the occasion or if Lily’s flower doesn’t bloom, so to speak, how you handle it can have a huge impact on your sex life for a long time. Be gracious.”

The word gracious had puzzled me. But now I knew. Lily waited for me as I was, erectile dysfunction and all. I was being ungracious and keeping us separate.

Minutes later I emerged to a near dark room. Our wedding clothes were put away. Lily huddled on the bed, looking out the window dressed in the short silk nightie and robe I had chosen for her.

“There you are,” she said with a soft smile. “Your night clothes are on the end of the bed.”

I joined her after dressing.

“The stars are so beautiful from here,” she said. “But still so far away. Except for the one you gave me to wear on my finger.”

She entwined her fingers with mine.

“I’m so sorry,” I croaked.

“I know, baby. It’s so unfair, isn’t it? I kind of yelled at God.”

“Is it a good idea to yell at God?”

“He knew how I was feeling. I was just being honest.”

Sometimes her faith was so childlike it seemed wise.

“Are you ready to sleep?” she asked.


I lay down and she rested alongside me, her head on my chest. My arms went around her. A sigh escaped me as a feeling like home entered my soul.

Her fingers stroked my chest. “Thank you for putting up with all the wedding details. Sophie had so much fun planning everything. It was hard to keep her from going way over the top. Your parents absolutely glowed, didn’t they? And Jim and Josie are so happy for us. And David. I never saw a guy so proud of his friend. Annie even seemed happy for me. We have such wonderful friends and family, don’t we?” She broke from my arms and leaned on an elbow. Thoughtfully, she pushed in my nipple. “You know, we have forever now. We’re bound to get it right once or twice, don’t you think?”

Stars reflected in her earnest eyes, and I smiled in spite of myself.

“That’s much better,” she said and lay down again.

I held her close, feeling her breath on my cheek as she fell asleep. I asked God to forgive my anger and self-hate and thanked him for my wife.

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