Excerpt of The Fifth Step By Bill Wetterman

Excerpt from The Fifth Step

(Missy Alcott discovers her husband’s porno films)

Lil stretched her legs and gave Missy an awkward smile. “You look tired. Doug’s at a meeting in Asheville. Why don’t you relax in his office?”
“Sure,” Missy said. “The kids won’t be out of school for a couple of hours.” She wheeled seventeen month-old Douggie through the door and into Doug’s office. “I’ll nurse Douggie in here and then let him sleep.”
“I’ll guard the door,” Lil called out as Doug’s office door swung shut.
Missy spread a towel over her breast and edged down on Doug’s burgundy sofa to nurse her son. Once he was sound asleep, she moved him into his carriage. As she did, she noticed a package unopened on Doug’s desk.
She called to Lil. “What’s in this package?”
“If it doesn’t come in the mail, and it’s on Doug’s desk, I’m not allowed to open it. It’s his rule, not mine.”
Missy picked up the package and shook it. He’d written, Revealing Truth Audition Tape on the top. Doug needed to delegate more of these little chores. She could help with items like DVD auditions. The cord on Doug’s computer stretched to the couch. She could screen this for him. Placing his computer on her lap and opening the package, she loaded the DVD and hit Play.
Missy sucked in air. She pushed her back flat against the sofa pillows without bumping her sleeping son and stared at the screen. This had to be some mistake, some cruel joke. She sat immobile trying to catch her breath. The longer she sat, the more furious she became. A tension knot formed between her shoulders. If this was a Revealing Truth audition tape, she was Mother Teresa.
Lil isn’t allowed to open these. He’d handle the packages himself.
She pulled open Doug’s desk drawer looking for more films. She slammed the drawer shut—nothing unusual there. She grabbed his computer and checked My Photos, My Videos, and Internet History. She found no pornographic sites. No pornography was stored on his hard drive. The emails he’d received deleted every twelve hours. He’d saved only five.
If I were going to hide pornographic films, where would I put them?
A sick clamminess poured over her. She looked over at the closet. Maybe Doug could outsmart the world, but not Missy Alcott.
Taking a deep breath, she marched over to the closet with her key in her hand and opened the door. At first glance, it looked like a normal closet. Coats and scarves hung in an orderly fashion. Two large files labeled Ministry Finances sat on the shelf above the clothes.
As she reached to close the door, she caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye. Several shoeboxes set pressed into the back of the shelf. All the shoes Doug owned were in their master closet. She pulled one of the boxes out and shook it. Clacking like plastic against plastic grated in her ears. She stiffened and opened the shoebox. Ten pornographic DVDs lay inside. Missy grabbed the closet door to steady herself.
Dear God, what was Doug doing? Wasn’t she enough? Didn’t she satisfy him? She poured her being into their marriage. What had she done wrong? Why would Doug Alcott be watching pornography? She’d failed him as a wife. She’d failed her sisters and brothers. She’d tried to change her mother, but only made things worse.
Missy dropped to her knees and rocked unsteadily on the floor. There were no words to pray, only regret and fear. Missy Alcott added another failure to her long list as she clutched her chest.
Her Latin temper gripped her. If Doug walked in now, she’d attack him. She needed an explanation. She needed to watch those filthy DVD for some clue as to why Doug watched such things.
Shoebox in hand, she brushed herself off and marched to the phone. “Lil, I’m going to sleep for an hour. Buzz me if Doug comes back.”
“Are you okay? You sound out-of-breath.”
“I’m tired. That’s all.”
“Relax then. He won’t be back until five, Honey. His meeting’s fraught with issues.”
Doug had a worse issue right here. Her hands shook and her eyes moistened. Missy put DVD after DVD into Doug’s computer. She played segments from four or five movies. For fifty minutes, she slumped at the computer watching. Her emotions reeled between fascinated and nauseated. Four o’clock approached and Douggie still slept. The DVDs had one thing in common. The star actress was the same in every film.
Who is this Jasmine Clyne?

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