By: darkangel - Published: 28th May, 2017
My name is Ashton Leigh, I've just turned 30 today.
If a hundred men were asked to describe my way of conducting myself in a relationship, most would describe it as rather inconsiderate, somewhat absent-minded, borderline selfish, but overall not too irritating.
They would also be lying through their teeth.
If the same number of men were asked the same question in the presence of their spouses or love partners, all of them would agree to a very long list of negative and derogatory adjectives.
Many have openly questioned how someone like me managed to put a ring on the finger of Athena Vaughn, one of the most splendid women i had the good fortune to encounter during my college days.
Athena Vaughn is the oldest of three siblings, and a remarkably high-achieving woman. Athena and I met in college, after Spring break, a year away from her completing a master's degree in Computer Science, and a few months from me dropping out of a four-year business program, to pursue what I had hoped to be a successful career as a luxury vacuum salesman.
When I turned 22, I announced to my parents my intention of dropping out of college. My monologue was so intense, I would have gotten a standing ovation for announcing fast-food menu items to a crowd of strangers. I sounded driven, focused, motivated and passionate, to a point where my lovely soon-to-be-wife took her first gamble, and invested three thousand dollars of her own college tuition money on my short-lived dream.
Athena's future, on the other hand seemed a lot more solid than mine, as her career began with the same company she works under today, only at a much different level than her original junior assistant position. In a few short years, she earned a name for herself as Clarke's Engineering's executive assistant of the CEO. No one was surprised. the only thing her family infrequently questioned was, why we still lived in a little apartment in the Bronx.
Of course that was part of our little unspoken agreement of... not making me feel like i'm not wearing the pants in the family.
As the only child in a upper-middle class conservative-leaning catholic family, to say that I grew up in a sheltered environment is an understatement. A bigger understatement would be to say that I had a moderate volume of opportunities available to achieve any goals I would have set my mind to.
What i always lacked, apparently, was foresight.
On a rainy Christmas day of 2005, my parents were driving on a wet expressway, on their way back to their home in White Plains, after celebrating Christmas with Athena and I in our little apartment in the Bronx.
A delivery truck driver lost control of his vehicle, while attempting to switch lanes without paying due attention, placing the top-heavy vehicle directly in the path of my dad's 4000 lbs Buick Lacrosse.
Sideswiped, the delivery vehicle tipped over and crushed both my parents inside their car.
By the time the paramedics reached them it was too late. Only the delivery driver survived.
My lack of foresight was greatly compensated by my father's, a man who knew all there was to know about contingency plans. One of the most successful legal advisors in the state of New York, my father's personal fortune was accumulated through hard work, from extremely poor beginnings.
I was never a gambling man per se, but if there was a football game I could put some money on, I knew I could count on a few friends from work, for some hard bets.
Soon after a massive loss as the result of the Giants being unexpectedly defeated in overtime by an unusually underperforming Vikings, I was only too happy to receive a call from the legal firm handling my father's last will.
As I soon found out, my inheritance, a measly 10% of the total residual fortune my father wrote off to his many charities, was barely enough to cover the fifteen grand I owed to Burton Riggs, a man with a bigger problem.
Burton and I are co-workers, and we met for the first time when i was hired at Crawford's Hardware, initially as a front counter assistant, while Burton worked at the warehouse in the back of the building.
Burton was by every definition a gambling man. He would bet on anything that walked, ran, jumped or crawled, so long as his money was good for it... and it always was. I couldn't believe the endless streaks of luck Burton had in all these years. Of course, this had an effect on women, or at least the type of women Burton usually goes for. Yet, one would wonder what Burton Riggs would do without his gift. Standing at an impressive seven and half feet, Burton was definitely more intimidating than attractive. In spite of the common assumption that mixed heritage produces great offsprings, this particular kind of mixed Puerto Rican and Ethiopian heritage was not a happy one.
Burton's facial features resemble very much those of a British Pug mixed with a heavyweight pugilist, or a mobster's bodyguard.
As many self-professed professional gamblers, Burton surrounded himself with people who would enable his behavior. I have never felt I was an enabler, then again there were many other things I was not seemingly aware of about myself.
One of those things was, yet again, my lack of foresight.
I may not have had foresight, but the few people who know me well are very aware of my talent as a rapid-fire bullshitter, a personality "trait" i owe my first sales job to, and after 14 years, i could tell Athena was one of them.
When we first met, Athena was not only a remarkably intelligent and a driven individual with a brilliant future, she was also stunning. Standing short of five foot and eight inches, her greek heritage bestowed her with fair and even complexion, deep and big almond-shaped eyes and naturally full lips framed by wavy and thick jet-black hair falling as far down as the small of her back.
A naturally positive mental disposition resulted from strong family values taught from an early age, has given her the drive to place the necessary emphasys to match a healthy body to a healthy mind; something that Athena never intentionally flaunted, but was always secretly proud of.
When word around campus circulated about Athena and I being finally an item, very few people were surprised. Some of my closest friends commented on the fact that my looks played a rather substantial role in Athena's decision as well. Standing a few inches taller than her, I have been described as the classic all-american handsome fellow, with chiseled facial features, a magnetic smile and a rather athletic build, most of which stood the test of time for quite a few years into our marriage, even without the exercise routine Athena never gave up on.
Fast-forward to today, I am here in my office, at the hardware store. It's 8:00pm. I'm working on a stack of paperwork that i could have taken care of yesterday... but i didn't. It's also my 30th birthday. The second birthday i am not likely to spend at home, on time to enjoy Athena's lovely dinner, and dessert.
Of course i could blow off the damn paperwork and go home to my wife. Sadly my loyalty to the New York Giants betrayed me once again, sticking me quite literally, in overtime, with a five-grand I-O-U to my good friend Burton. Begging my boss for a few hours of overtime was hard enough. Being given the choice between zilch and my birthday was literally the last thing i needed.
What i needed even less was a guilty conscience for sneaking five grand out of our joint bank account to pay Burton off. Yeah... talk about thinking on my feet.
The sudden buzzing noise of my phone fills my head, sending a jolt of electricity down my spine.
Athena is the type of person who hates shortening words, even when texting.
Are you coming home?
I look at the stack of papers in front of me.
I hear the door opening behind me, it's Burton, wearing his coat and holding a large folder under his left arm.
Hey man, I'm ready to go home!
I look at my phone, trying to think of something to text my wife back with.
Yeah... me too, it ain't happening though... Karl wants this stack in inventory by morning.
Yikes! Hey Happy Birthday, by the way!
Yeah... Happy Birthday to me!
I reply sarcastically, not really looking at Burton. The door slams shut. I'm still holding my phone.
When i finally gather up the courage of responding to Athena's text message, the phone buzzes again as i receive a second message.
you are not coming home, are you?
I look at the paperwork. I feel like a total shit. This is the second time i let her down like this. Guilt grips me, and yet at the same time i am torn by a situation i have brought on myself. If i leave work now, it's three strikes in a row. The boss won't take it lightly. If i stay and finish my work, i might as well not go home at all.
"Fuck it!" i mutter to myself, as i type a reply to my wife's message.
"I'm leaving now! <3"
I hit Send. Next thing i know, i'm walking out of the building and get into my car, as i feel my stomach cramping up.
As i turn the key into the ignition, i notice headlights turning on behind me. My boss has left the building at the same time as i have. I wait for his car to leave the lot. I bring the phone to my ear, as if i'm pretending to be in a conversation.
The brand new Cadillac moves slowly towards the short exit ramp and disappears into the nightly road traffic. Just as i throw my phone into the center console compartment, the screen illuminates with Athena's new text message: "I love you!"
I finally turn on the engine and drive out of the lot and on the way home.
I am almost racing through an unusually heavy traffic along the expressway. I notice police and fire department working around a small sedan sitting upside-down across the cement road divider, as the traffic slows to a crawl, bottle-necked even worse by gawking idiots who'd rather hold up traffic while taking a good look at the scene of an accident than minding their own business and move on.
I feel increasingly aggravated. I speed off, as soon as the traffic decongests.
By the time i pull into the driveway, it's been half hour.
I put a spring in my step as i walk up the staircase from the carport. I unlock the front door and everything is quiet. The entrance is illuminated, but the living room is dark. I know she's pissed.
“Hey babe, i'm home!”
I get no answer.
I open the bedroom door. It's poorly lit. Suddenly my heart sinks into my stomach and my eyes grow wide. A birthday cake is sitting on the wheeled tray by the bed, illuminating the room. Athena is nowhere to be found.
"Babe...?" i call out again.
Suddenly her voice resonates like a ghost in my head.
"Happy Birthday!" She whispers, in a half-mocking tone.
I began to finally relax.
"You got here just in time... another minute and you would have been in big trouble, mister!"
Right then i knew she was only half-kidding.
"I know... i'm sorry... work was brutal this week..."
I heard my own whining voice, pleading for forgiveness as i turned around.
Do i get a slice of cake?
I find myself almost begging, as Athena's eyes pierce through me. This is not the first time i keep her waiting. Another realization hits me... she went through some serious trouble this time.
"Wow... don't we look nice?"
I comment as i take a step back. I begin to feel awful, she really did her homework this time.
Athena is standing in front of me with her hands on her hips. Short black leather boots with six-inch heels leave a portion of her shins exposed as her legs are wrapped in a long black silky dress hugging her perfect shape. A generous portion of her cleavage pushes out proudly, held at bay by thin straps tied behind her neck. Her hair show slightly more curls as a result of a perm, and her nails are polished in a dark red shade. Her eyes hardly ever need make-up, yet a hint of eye-shadow and eyeliner make her mad look even more sensual... and terrifying. After 14 years, she knows what i like... she got me good, and once again, i've not returned the favor.
She says nothing for a full ten seconds, staring at me with her big brown eyes. I watch as her chest raises and lowers to let out a frustrated exhale.
"I have been waiting, Ash... i have been waiting and waiting... and sometimes it feels as if i am going to be waiting forever for you. Do you even care?"
I listen, speechless, as i detect her mood quickly deteriorating.
"...Well, do you??"
She pushes me in frustration, emphasizing her question.
Before i have a chance to react or respond, her perfectly manicured hand slaps me across the face.
"Do you have any idea what i have been going through today? I had my hair done, my nails, i spent five-hundred bucks so that i can look like a goddamned sex doll, and you get here an hour late!"
"I've told you i'm sorry... it's... work... there was an accident..."
I find myself babbling like an idiot. Part of me is trying to come up with a plan to get out of this mess. Most of me just wants to jump Athena's bones like a wild animal.
"I hope you are happy, Ash... Happy Fucken' Birthday!!"
She ends her monologue, then storms into the bathroom, locking the door behind her.
I'm torn, i have no idea what to do. Should i knock and try to talk to her or should i just let her cool off?
I sit on the edge of the bed, expecting her to change out of her clothes and get ready for bed.
I let the candles burn, wondering if i should blow them off at some point.
I decide to take my shoes off and lay down on top of the bed covers. I'm tempted to turn on the television. I decide not to, as i try to listen to the sounds from the bathroom.
I hear drawers being pulled and then slammed shut. I listen to the sound of the mirror cabinet clicking open and closed a few times. I hear the faucet running briefly. Then i hear the unmistakable sound of her heels, the clicking on the ceramic floor tiles.
Finally the bathroom door unlocks and swings open as Athena walks into the bedroom, still dressed, but with what seems freshly re-done makeup.
Her face has no expression. she doesn't even look at me as she grabs the keys to her car and hurries towards the front door.
I hear the front door slam shut, loudly.
Suddenly i feel hungry. I realize that i have not eaten all day. I blow off the candles, and whisper to myself:
"Happy Birthday, asshole..."
I can't remember exactly when i fell asleep, but by the time i wake up, still fully dressed on top of the bed, it's close to five in the morning.
I hear the television in the living room.
I get up, slowly. My shoulder is a little tight from sleeping in an odd position.
I walk to the living room. Athena is on the couch, sleeping. There's an empty bottle of Cabernet on the coffee table. I can smell it on her.
I pull a blanket over her and sit on the couch.
Athena's eyes open. She looks disoriented. With what seems a considerable effort, she makes herself sit up. She looks at me.
"Where did you go last night?" I ask her,
"Where?", at this point i feel like i’m prying,
"At a fucking birthday party. I'm taking a shower now...".
I watch her walk out on me once again. This time i have a feeling there is something more going on. I saw her mad before... but this is different.
I follow her to the bedroom. I watch as she closes the bathroom door behind her, and i sit on the edge of the bed.
I hear the shower running. Again, i listen every sound. My stomach feels inside-out. I watch the cake still sitting on the tray.
I walk to the kitchen and take off my shirt. I decide to take an armpit shower and gargle mouthwash from a shot glass. I wash my face in the sink. I don't bother shaving.
I pull some fresh clothes from the bedroom closet and get dressed for work.
I wait a few minutes, standing by the bathroom door. Maybe i should wait for her to come out and talk... maybe i should just leave and get to work early so i can catch up with what i was supposed to finish yesterday.
I decide to wait.
The shower stops running after what seems to be an eternal 20 minutes. I hear the shower door clicking open.
I sit on the bed, waiting for her to open the door.
Everything turns silent for about a minute. Then i hear Athena starting to sob.
"Athena, sweetheart... i'm sorry. Can you let me in so we can talk?"
She doesn't answer. I don't hear her sobbing anymore. I hear the faucet in the sink.
Then, the bedroom door unlocks. Athena is wrapped in her white bathrobe. Her wet hair drop on her face in long curly strands. Her eyes have almost a glazed look, as she stares straight through me.
"I need you to pack your stuff and get out of here before the end of the day."
My heart sinks into my chest like a brick. Athena looks into my eyes with a puzzled look.
"you have no idea what's going on, do you?"
"Well... maybe if you'd explain it to me instead of acting crazy? What's this about kicking me out?? This is my apartment too!"
Suddenly it dawns on me. I have just used the "C" word. I'm in deep now.
She pauses for a few seconds with a sour grin on her face.
"I went groceries shopping yesterday... and by chance i used our debit card instead of the Amex."
Suddenly it hits me.
I whisper to myself.
"Yeah... Holy shit! Isn't that right, Ashton! We had six grand in our checking account. My Holiday fucking Bonus!!"
The cat's out of the bag now... my mind is blank.
"Then i called the bank... and guess what i found out?? You made out a check for five-thousand dollars to Burton Riggs! Who the fuck is Burton Riggs??"
At this point, I'm literally panicking. If i tell her the truth, i'm a dead man. If i come up with a lie that is believable enough, i might just be able to buy myself some time...
Suddenly i feel a rush... the old Ashton is back, bullshitting his way out of another sticky situation.
"Ok... listen... i didn't want you to find out this way, but Burton Riggs works as a consultant for the IRS. I owed some back taxes... he helped me through it, but at some point i just couldn't make it anymore. I can't get a loan from the bank, and micro-loans are way too expensive... when i saw the money in the account i wanted to ask you first... but it was an emergency. I'm sorry... I really fucked up."
A moment of silence. Athena stares at me with her beautiful brown eyes, and no expression whatsoever. Then she finally exhales, pouting her lips for a moment.
"Ashton... this has got to be the stupidest story i have ever heard."
I freeze. "I'm so fucked" i think to myself, sweating bullets.
"You didn't think of telling me any of this! you just... helped yourself without asking! this is so typical of you, Ash... this... bullshit way to handle your problems! Why didn't you tell me? I would have given you the money!"
Finally... my cue to start breathing again.
I put my hands up, arch my eyebrows... and finally i feel comfortable enough to start believing in my own lie, just enough to make it real for her.
"I know... i don't know what to say... i need you to look at it from my perspective, i didn't want to disappoint you! I want you to feel that i can handle things... that everything is fine... for our future... I know i handled it badly..."
I'd like to thank the Academy...
Athena stares at me with a different look as i go on, apologizing. By the time i'm done, she seems slightly more relaxed.
"I wish you told me, Ash... My God... why didn't you tell me?"
I take my chances and begin to move in closer with my arms open.
She slaps me, yet not as hard as it felt last night. Then her hands reach behind me as she gets closer and tightens herself on me in a strong embrace, as she breaks down and cries.
"Gawd, you're an asshole..."
She whispers between sobs.
The routine is working. Suddenly a forceful giggle escapes her lips as she begins to calm down.
"I love you"
I feel her tighten her arms around my waist. I'm off the hook. I can almost hear a round of applause.
I feel her arms letting go of me slowly as she looks at me with a sweet little smile.
Then it hits me: i have work to finish... and a shitload of it!
"I... i got to show up early at work today... "
I let her down easy. She nods, blinking her beautiful big brown eyes.
She kisses me. The deal is sealed. I'm out of the woods.
As soon as i climb in my car, i look at the clock. 7:00am. I have less than three hours to get to my office and finish my work before the boss walks in.
Suddenly i'm a nervous wreck again. I hit literally every single red light on my way to the office.
Almost 20 minutes later i finally pull into the office parking lot... and i literally shit myself.
Karl-fucking-Crawford, owner and CEO at Crawford's Hardware, is getting out of his hundred-thousand dollar Cadillac, right in front of me as i'm walking through the front door.
"Ashton? It's kinda early! Hold the door for me, will ya? I need to talk with you briefly..."
I never like his tone. Today, i feel sick to my stomach at the mere sound of his voice.
I say nothing. I just hold the door.
"Thanks... So anyway... let's go to my office, i need to show you something."
I follow my boss into the elevator. Karl's office is at the third floor. I remember being there only twice: The day i was hired, and the day i was promoted from the front counter to the central inventory. Nothing changed about that washed out collection of late-90's cheap faux wood-grain furnishing. Only the old squeaky swivel chair was replaced by one of those larger leather executives from the Office Depot catalog. Ugly as hell.
Karl sits back in his chair, behind his ugly old desk. Ripped sticky tape marks are visible on the edges of the desk, adding to the cheapness of the style. Perfectly in tune with Karl's lack of taste.
"Here is the deal, Ashton..."
Karl pulls a stack of printed paper out of a drawer and drops it on the desk.
"... i guess what i want to know is... what the hell happened to our central inventory?"
I'm in the shit again.
"Mr. Crawford... i've actually completed most of it, i was coming early to finish everything!"
"Shut the fuck up, Ashton! It's the end of the first quarter. The numbers are in, and my customers can't find any new parts on our corporate website! This happened..."
"Mr. Crawford... I..." ... could just shoot myself in the face, right where i stand.
"... a week ago! You had a whole week to update our inventory. I went in last night and checked the database with one of our outside consultants. Nothing was up to date, Ashton. Nothing!"
My thoughts go immediately to Paul Brenner... a small time sneaky little shit making his money freelance by acting as corporate IT consultant up and down the East Coast. Little guy, big attitude. A penchant for getting people fired.
"Mr. Crawford... If i could get a chance to explain myself..."
Crawford looks at me the same way a lion looks at a gazelle.
"I have given you enough chances, you little prick!! What else you expect me to do? You lost me almost fifty grand in revenues from sales of merchandise that you had a responsibility to make available to our customers two weeks ago!"
Before i could come up with anything... the game is over.
"You are fired, Ashton. Box up your shit and get out of my building. ... and before you get your hopes high about unemployment checks, i talked with the labor board and told them how you fucked up! You ain't getting shit from me! Now get out!!!"
So there you have it. Is this the end of Ashton Leigh? Is there anymore that can be piled on? I would think not... yet again my lack of foresight proves me wrong.
An hour later, i walk out of the building. I catch my reflection in the glass windows. I look like a regular character from a movie, with my cardboard box full of stationery, calculators and a picture frame.
I stick everything in the trunk of my car and get in.
Just as i put my key in the ignition, i suddenly remember one more loose end. I get on the phone and dial Burton's number.
"Ash... what's up?"
"Hey man... got a minute?"
"Yeah... i'm working... aren't you supposed to be in the building?"
"About that... Karl just fired me. I got a bigger problem though..."
"Shit... Are you serious? Why did he do that?"
"Listen... it's not important... I need a favor... I'm walking the tightrope with Athena, she found out about the money. She was about to kick me out, so i told her... well... i told her that you work for the IRS and helped me out with some back-taxes."
A few instants of total silence, then suddenly i hear Burton burst into laughter.
"Man... are you fucking with me? This is un-real! You told her i work for the IRS?? What for? so she can call me when is tax season? What happens when she finds out?? You are out of your fucking mind, Ash..."
"I know! I know! I know... listen... this is important, Burton... she can't find out about the gambling! I'm going to be out in the streets!"
"Ok, man, don't sweat it... i'll help you out. If she ever contacts me, i'll put a little show and cover for you, ok?"
"Thanks man... now i can breathe... i owe you big, brother!"
"Yes you do!"
I hear Burton replying, jokingly. I turn on my car and drive off the lot.
I pull into the driveway nearly half hour later. Athena's car is not here. She must have left for work already.
I walk up to our apartment and enter the living room. I crash on the couch. I'm drained and unable to think.
I make myself a sandwich and turn on the television.
Suddenly my phone buzzes. It's Athena, texting me.
"I'm having lunch after work, then i have to go for errands all day, I'll see you home tonight."
That's not unusual... yet the timing does not sound quite right. I try not to let it get to me. I must stay sharp and focused. I'm out of a job. Bills are coming. I have to do something.
The Patriots are playing the Saints. New England has had a horrible first half of this season, and they are out of a line-backer... it's an easy bet.
Part of me is tempted to go ahead and place a bet. The rest of me literally screams in my head to start typing up my resume and go job hunting.
I dial Burton again. It doesn't even register how bad the timing is for this.
"Hey man, what's up?"
"Patriots Vs. Saints... this is going to be easy, man."
"What's wrong with you? Haven't you had enough of a bad day?"
"I'm out of a job! I need cash! This is an easy one! The Patriots are going through the worst streak of bad luck! ... can you put a couple of grand down for me?"
"You are bat-shit crazy... ok man, just this once. I'll talk to Leroy and see if he can get us a good payout."
"Who's the man!!"
As soon as i hung up, my eyes are glued on the TV screen.
The first quarter goes by without a touchdown. Then it happens: the Patriots get a lucky shot, tunneling through and dropping the first big one. My stomach is in my throat.
The Saints don't look good... i can feel it in my gut. My instincts kick in too late. Burton sends me a text message. The bet is placed... three to one. If i lose, it's going to be six grand that i don't have.
The Saints defense is reduced to rubble by a New England Patriot out for blood.
I watch, helpless, as a second touchdown happens before my eyes at the beginning of the second quarter.
It's literally the longest game i have ever watched.
For no apparent reason, i read again Burton's text. somehow i missed the most important line. He put down the whole five grand i just paid to him.
I grow feverish. I watch as the beginning of the third quarter starts with a third touch down in favor of the Patriots.
I leave the room, briefly. I spend almost ten minutes sitting on the toilet bowl. Doing absolutely nothing except shaking like a leaf.
I finally gather up the courage to return to the living room.
The score remains unchanged. the Saints are going to get butchered until the end. I can feel it.
By the time the last quarter begins, the score remains the same. 16 to nothing.
Finally... almost 20 minutes later, the torture ends with a fourth and final touchdown, followed by a field goal. The classic insult to injury.
By the time Sports Center comes on, i receive a new text from Burton.
"I just saw the score, buddy... the Saints got their asses kicked from the first quarter."
"I'm in the pits, man... that was my last shot."
"Don't sweat it man. Meet me at the house tonight. Let's talk."
Chills are sent down my spine.
Suddenly the word "blackmail" creeps into my mind. Is it really happening? I have nothing to my name... i can't think of a single thing he could ever want from me...
I'm still in the couch. I had nothing to eat. I have a knot in my stomach and i'm in a fifteen thousand dollar hole.
I hear the front door.
Athena walks in. She is wearing her long dark brown raincoat.
She kisses me briefly, as if nothing happened. She hurriedly walks into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.
Even with my mind still in a daze, i can sense something is odd.
"Babe... how was your day?"
She doesn't answer me at first. Then a few minutes later she walks out of the bedroom wearing a dark grey one-piece evening outfit i remember getting her for our anniversary a few years back.
"What were you saying?"
I look at her for a moment.
"How was... your lunch today?"
"Oh, it was ok, I'm not crazy about the company lounge, but i needed to go over a few things with... our new accountant."
I freeze for a moment.
"Our new... what?"
"Honey... we need all the help we can get, so i took it upon myself and contacted your friend Burton! I got his number from your address book on your phone... i know... it's sneaky of me, but i was really mad at you last night... By the way, we are going to dinner tonight at his place."
"Burton Riggs... right..."
I find myself not knowing what to say. Wasn't i about to find an excuse to be at Burton's tonight?
"You look nice, but... isn't that a little... over the top?"
"Sweetheart, i just want to make a good impression! I never thought you'd think any of it... if you are uncomfortable i'll change into something else!"
Part of me wishes she could change into a wrinkled 90-year-old with a wooden leg, just for the evening.
I remember very well why i bought that outfit for her... even if for the life of me i could never remember which anniversary it was.
I remember the day we went to Macy's, merely browsing, initially. Then a hot, slinky number popped out of a rack. I suggested her to try it on, with no idea how amazing she would look in it.
She disappeared into one of the changing rooms with the dress for only five minutes, until she called me from behind the curtain. Her perfectly manicured hand sneaked out of the curtain, clenching in her fist what unfolded in the pocket of my jacket as her black lacy underwear.
Needless to say, that was the first time ever for me to get oral sex in a public changing room.
"Well? Which one is it? Should i change?"
Athena prompts me, with a hint of impatience.
"We need to be there by eight... if i need to change i need to know now, honey."
"Uhm... well i guess it's fine... we should just go."
The expressway traffic past a certain time is a day-night difference. We hit virtually no red light, and most of the traffic is outbound, to the downtown area's clubs and restaurants.
We make it to Barton's house in good time, with almost ten minutes to spare.
Burton's house is impressive, yet not ostentatious. A completely restored colonial-style townhome whose foundations date back to the eighteen hundreds.
The driveway is a freshly redone blacktop, with perfectly trimmed hedges coasting each side. We walk up to Burton's french door, made of solid oak wood, painted white, with stained glass accents.
A few instants after my wife rings the doorbell, we hear steps getting louder behind the door.
Burton opens the door with one hand, while holding a bottle of wine in the other.
"Well, look who's here! You guys are just in time!"
Burton lets us in, and in the brief instant that takes for my wife to walk past him, Burton gives me a quick wink.
I nod in return and follow Athena to the plush living room.
Polished antique furniture can be see everywhere. Burton came a long way from his days as a storage manager. As of late, his new position as general manager bumped his paychecks way beyond my now former salary. Not to mention the stock options he regularly gambled away.
"Thanks for having us, Burton... i just wanted to thank you for helping out Ashton with his taxes..."
"I have known this cat for many years... it was the least i could do! Have a sip of this wine, 30 years old, and perfectly preserved!"
Burton proceeded to fill each of us a generous glass of wine from the bottle he was still holding in his hand.
I took mine and literally gulped down half of it.
"During our conversation today you mentioned something about Ashton... still having a few outstanding debts to settle..."
I feel paralyzed. I have no idea what went on during their conversation, or why Burton would keep me in the dark. I thought i could trust him... now i have no idea what is going on.
"I'm afraid you are correct. I was at the processing center yesterday. It's not too much, but i'm sure it's nothing that Ashton and I can't discuss at a later time. Besides... dinner's almost ready."
I watch as Burton moves to the kitchen.
"Burton seems to be a very nice person, helping you out like that. Funny you never mentioned him before... how long have you known him?"
For the first time ever, her questioning catches me unprepared. I used to be better than this. This morning i was better than this. My confidence was shattered. I had no ammo against this monster i have created myself.
"It's been... several years."
I’m stalling... desperately trying to buy some time.
I hear noise from the kitchen, then Burton walks into the living room with a covered casserole surrounded by smaller appetizer plates, on a wheeled tray.
"Time to dig in! I hope you are hungry!"
Burton announces as he invites us to follow him to take our seats at the dinner table.
"The lasagna smells wonderful!"
He replies as he picks up my wife's plate and serves a portion from the steaming casserole.
"Ash, let me get your plate! You are going to love this! ... Your lovely wife seems to enjoy it!"
I try my best to swallow every bite, even if a nagging feeling on the back of my head makes me want to grab my wife and run out of the door.
The Burton Riggs i have known for so many years is not what most people would consider an intimidating man. Some at Crawford's referred him as the "Gentle Giant". Of course everyone has a dark side.
For years, i thought Burton's dark side was his addiction to gambling, and i always found it amazing how he never seemed to get in trouble for it.
Evidently there are many things i have been in the dark about this man i now find very hard to call my friend.
The dinner progresses without a hitch, and without any real talks about "taxes" either. By the time Burton serves us dessert, i am somehow more comfortable, yet not quite, until suddenly, Burton gives me a direct look.
"Ash, do you mind giving me a hand in the kitchen for a minute?"
I turn to my wife.
"Is it ok honey?"
"Why... sure. Go ahead babe, i'll be fine."
I follow Burton into the kitchen.
As soon as the door closes behind me, a grin appears on Burton's face.
"You dog! I can't believe you have never introduced me! You are one lucky son-of-a-bitch, you know that?"
I try to smile and take it as a compliment, completely unprepared for what's coming.
"Ok, so... let's get down to business... here is the situation: you owe me fifteen thousand dollars."
I feel the entire content of my stomach begin to raise up my chest.
"Man... i have nothing right now. I'll come up with something, i swear, but... i don't even have a job!"
Burton's hand feels like a ton of bricks pushing down my shoulder as in what would appear to be a friendly pat.
"Man... i know! I'm a gambling man! I never lose! Look at this house, look around you, man... take it all in!... I never lose. You are a gambling man too... and you won yourself one hell of an old lady... i must say! I'm more mad at you for not introducing me to her in all these years, than about the fifteen big ones you owe me!"
"So... what are you driving at?"
"Let's put it this way... you help me out with a little project of mine... and I'll forget about the money. Deal?"
My mind goes blank for a second. My wife's voice snaps me back into reality as she walks into the kitchen.
"Hi guys! Sorry to interrupt... i actually need to be at work early in the morning, so i hope it's ok if we take off?"
"No problem at all! Ashton and i were just talking old times... I hope you guys had a pleasant evening!"
"You have been a wonderful host, Burton!"
As we walk through the front door, Burton pats me on the shoulder.
"You birds drive safe! ... and, Ashton, let's get together sometimes to discuss... details."
Athena and i get in the car. I glance back at Burton, who is still standing at his front door.
"Well, that was nice!"
I nod, seemingly unable to speak.
I drive off, without saying a word. I notice the glow of Athena's phone in the darkness of our car.
"How sweet! Burton says he's flattered that we appreciated his dinner and saved us a casserole. He'll drop it off at my work tomorrow."
At this point is clear. Burton is playing his little game.
I'm dead silent the rest of the way home, until we hit our driveway into the apartment complex.
"Are you ok?"
I don't know what to answer. I don't want to answer.
"It's nothing... nothing really."
"Something is going on... you have been acting weird all night, babe. Talk to me!"
"I'm just... still upset from this morning... i have been very worried all day."
"Listen... i was very upset this morning and last night. I was scared and didn't know what to think. Now that i know what happened, i'm ok with it. Burton explained everything! He's a great guy, isn't he?"
"Yeah... i guess you are right..."
"Look at me."
I obey. I stare into my beautiful wife's eyes. Her iris look jet black into the darkness of the car. I realize it's the first time i finally take time to notice her hair, cascading on the front of her alter dress.
She looks at me like everything is going to be alright. Blissfully unaware of the mess i am in. I want to cry and tell her the truth. It's too late now. The damage is done.
Her face closes in as i welcome her kiss. She's passionate, strong, and i can sense her desire, like an intoxicating scent, filling the air.
Her eyes wander for a minute, scanning our surroundings. No windows from the building face us directly, except for the empty and dark apartment manager's unit.
Not a living soul is in sight, and only some noise from an open window three story above us can be detected.
Suddenly, without saying a word, my wife places her perfect hand on my knee, running her nails up my thigh.
She smiles at me, as if to tell me that everything is ok. Her hand moves further up my leg, until her fingertips brush against the front of my denims, scratching her nails along the rough material covering my front zipper.
She looks at me. Her smile disappears. Her sweet brown eyes are now filled with desire.
Her fingertips find easy access to my zipper. She pulls the fly down. Her fingers dig inside my pants, and find the slowly growing erection within.
"Honey... are you sure..."
She does not bother responding. I watch as she leans forward. Her head dropping in slow motion onto my lap.
I suddenly forget everything. The feeling of my loving wife's tongue, teeth, lips and warm breath, playing with my manhood, makes me suddenly and temporarily oblivious of all the lies and trickery, all the complex web of deception i have created... all the nonsensical pattern of self destruction i somehow feel compelled to build every day.
My mind abandons all that, temporarily, as Athena's soft lips encircle my erection and suck it in, at a slow, steady pace... just as she used to, early in our marriage.
I find myself extremely aroused. It's an unexpected feeling, for which i am completely unprepared, judging by the way things have been.
It doesn't take long for me to near my climax. She senses it too.
I feel her pulling back. It's not unexpected. She mentioned several years back how much she hated the taste of semen.
Just as i am ready to burst... she holds me in place, as she sits up. she proceeds to cup the very top of my erection with her other hand. She begins to stroke me, as i feel the surge of my orgasm.
I can feel her wet hand, caressing my bursting member at the peak of my climax.
By the time it's over, i try to remember, even years back... i never experienced a climax so intense. So exhausting.
"I love you"
She tells me, as she cleans her hand with a handkerchief found in my glove box.
"Let's go home..."
I smile back at her as i zip myself back up and get out of the car.
I wake up in a cold sweat. I look at the clock on my phone. It's 3:00am.
I'm wide awake and unable to sleep. My thoughts are scrambled, hazy. I feel as if i am about to have a panic attack.
Then everything is normal again, except for the sinking feeling in my chest, gripping me like cramps.
Athena is asleep. She is usually a sound sleeper. I've always been the opposite. Sometimes, the slightest sound will wake me in the middle of the night. This time was no different, except that the sound was that of my own heart, palpitating from what i can only assume was a nightmare i can't seem to recall.
I make every effort to get out of bed without waking Athena.
I walk into the bathroom and wash my face. I look like Hell.
When i return to bed, Athena has shifted position, rolling over towards the edge of the bed.
I get back into bed and close my eyes. Thoughts clutter my mind. I'm completely unable to tune them out enough to go to sleep.
By the time i finally feel tired enough to sleep, it's 6:00am. I'm supposed to get up and go to work in two hours. Except that i have no job to go back to.
I'm on my side, towards my edge of the bed. I can hear and feel Athena waking up. I pretend to be asleep.
She gets up. I keep my eyes shut as i hear her walking into the bathroom.
the door closes behind her. I open my eyes. The bathroom light filters from under the door. The shower is running.
Suddenly i hear my phone buzzing. It's Burton. He's got some nerves calling me up this early. I let it go to voicemail.
I don't hear the voice mail buzz. He's left no message.
The phone buzzes again. This time i have to answer.
I pick up the phone.
"You took your sweet time. Get your shit together and meet me at my place. Now."
The phone goes silent. Burton just hung up on me.
I get up, like a good dog whose nose has been hit with the newspaper enough times.
I throw some clothes on and wait almost fifteen minutes for Athena to come out of the shower.
She opens the door and looks at me, almost surprised.
"Good morning hun, you are up early!"
"Yeah... i got a call from... work. Boss wants me in early today..."
I lie with a straight face. I feel number with every word that escapes my breath.
"Do you mind if i get in the bathroom really quick? I just need to clean up and it's all yours..."
Somehow i manage to fake a little smile, just for assurance.
"Of course babe... are you sure you are ok? You look ill..."
I can't believe someone like her cares about a lying piece of shit like me this much. I nod, without saying another word, and head into the bathroom.
I splash my face a few times with ice-cold water. I brush my teeth. I mouthwash, enough times to give me a hangover. I rinse my hair in the sink and dry them quickly with the towel only.
A few minutes later i come out of the bathroom, looking much better, but feeling only slightly better than how i was on my way in.
"I gotta go, i'll text you later, ok? I love you..."
I walk out of the apartment like that, without a kiss. I wonder in my mind if i should go back quickly and kiss her goodbye, or if i should just get in my car and drive.
As it turns out i still have some grey matter left, as my reasoning kicks in, prompting me to keep an eye on the loose ends.
I figure leaving like this will make her suspicious. I run back inside. She's still standing there.
I kiss her, as passionately as i can for now, in spite of my state of mind. I run out the door.
As i pull into Burton's driveway, i can see him standing by the front door, with a mad look on his face.
I whisper to myself as i get out of the car.
"I had to wait for..."
"Cut the shit. Get in."
I follow him into the house and into the living room.
I take a seat on the couch. He walks to a small desk by the liquor cabinet, pulling a drawer. He takes out a manila envelope and walks back, handing the envelope to me.
I pull a stack of papers from within the envelope. It's what looks like a contract.
"Read it quick, i don't have all day."
I begin to scan the content of the first page. It begins with "I Ashton Leigh..."
The five page document outlines what seems to be a convoluted version of a debt settlement agreement requiring me to pay the entire amount of fifteen thousand dollars in full, within 1 month, or within 12 months at a staggering 300% interest.
"You are kidding me, right? 300%... really??"
A wicked smile escapes from Burton's lips.
"I'm dead serious... and i agree with you! Interest rates for micro-loans are murder, these days! This is just wrong... yet, Leroy got his money back. It's only fair that i recover my losses somehow!"
"You expect me to recover your losses... when i don't even have a job? How much can you expect to recover from me?"
Burton explodes in a heart-stopping laughter.
"Nothing... zilch... not a cent, my friend. But there are other ways you can make me forget about that money. Now before I go on, i want to make sure you are a man of your word and sign these papers. After that, we'll talk about how we can make all this bad dream... disappear."
I'm speechless. My head falls. I look at the document in my hands. Trying to read between lines i can barely see.
Burton drops a ball-point pen on the papers in my lap.
"I said: I don't have all day."
I take a look at the document once more, incredulous. What if i refuse to sign... what if i just walk out... yet, what if i do sign the contract...
I pick up the pen. I sign my name.
He says as he grabs the papers off my hands.
I watch helplessly as he walks out of the living room. When he returns, the papers are gone.
"Now that we got the details out of the way... we can get to business."
Unable to speak, i listen on.
"As you are aware of, i have now, in a fireproof safe built into my bedroom wall, a document that says that you must pay me the sum of fifteen thousand dollars in full by the end of this month of august, 2012, or pay in monthly installments at a 300% interest rate."
I listen as his voice is calm, controlled, very different from the hurrying tone i witnessed earlier.
"...however... i am willing to waive the whole amount... just forget the whole thing... in exchange of a... favor or two. Once your tasks are complete, i will burn the contract and forget about that stupid game, once and for all."
"So... what are we talking about here?"
I finally gather up the courage to ask.
"You, sir, are a lucky man... and now looks like you rubbed off some of that luck on me too, my man! So here is what i want... i want you to be my... lucky puppet, for a while."
"My 'lucky puppet'. Yeah... you heard me. From now on, you keep that phone with you at all times... and you do exactly what i tell you. Now, you play nice... and you get a salary from me. Every month, the same amount old Crawford used to pay you."
I'm paralyzed. I can't believe how sick this man is. every second that passes i wish i could wake up from what i pray it's just a nightmare.
I repeat, in a whisper.
"Yeah... we don't want that sweet-ass wife of yours to know she's married to a jobless fuck with a gambling addiction..."
My eyes well up as i finally realize the amount of trouble i am actually in.
"What happened to you man? Crying like a bitch... you used to be better than this. Anyhow... this is where it's at right now. I have to be at Crawford's in 20 minutes. The boss is all bent out of shape about fixing the mess you left behind."
We both walk out of the house. I rub the tears off my eyes.
"Remember: keep the phone with you. If i call you, you call right back. If i text you, you text back and acknowledge. Are we clear?"
I nod. I get in my car.
I hear Burton shouting from his car.
"My man, Ashton!"
He speeds off into the morning traffic.
I quietly get on the road, with no idea what to do. I try to rationalize the situation. I realize i am for all intended purposes a modern-day slave.
I suddenly remember. Burton will meet Athena at her work to bring her his damn casserole.
I drive home, with a lump in my throat.
Athena has already left for work.
I crawl on the couch. I feel feverish.
I lose track of time.
Next thing i know, my phone illuminates. It's Burton. I don't want to open his damn message. I feel sick.
It's not just a text message. There is a file attachment.
Once the download is complete, my eyes grow wide.
It's a picture of Athena. She's smiling. She looks absolutely stunning. She is sitting across her desk at Clarke's. Her office outfit is a slightly low-cut white silk top with a smart jacket. Son of a bitch...
A few minutes later, i receive another picture. This time it's obvious that she was not aware of him taking it, as it's a diagonal view of Athena's crossed legs from under her desk. I want to kill him.
I want to throw the phone across the room. Instead, i just sit here. Impotent. Unable to react.
Another text appears on my phone. This time is from Athena.
I am a lucky man... but for how long?
I lay on the couch, almost in a fetal position.
Burton texts me again.
"what did i tell you about acknowledging, bitch?"
"I got your texts..."
I reply back.
Complete silence for a few hours. Suddenly i hear the front door opening.
I open my eyes. I can barely look at her. I force myself to.
"Hey... how was work?"
"The usual... brutal. By the way, Burton came to bring us his casserole as promised! He's such a sweetheart, i should fix him up with one of my friends, don't you think? Is he single?"
I take my time to answer.
"Yeah... i think... i don't know."
"Oh... he asked me to give you this envelope... some documents i think. I didn't open it."
I take the envelope. It's very similar to the dreaded manila envelope i saw at Burton's in the morning.
"I'm jumping in the shower."
"Yeah... you go ahead, i'll fix us some dinner."
"Thanks babe, you are an angel!"
Athena disappears in the bathroom. As soon as i hear the shower running, i open the envelope.
It looks empty at first... then a small button-like object falls through my fingers and on the floor.
I pick it up and examine it.
I stick my hand inside the envelope. There is a note containing brief instructions. It's typed... but i know who it is.
"Stick it on the back of your phone. Leave the phone anywhere for more than five minutes and the deal is off."
I obey and stick the device on the back of my phone. Once applied, the rounded and smooth surface of the device it's almost seamless with my phone.
Suddenly my phone lights up. It's not a text. A message appear.
That's all i need to know. I can only assume now Burton has a copy of every bit of data existing on my phone. Every message, voice mail... and photos. Lots and lots of Athena's photos.
Just when i thought i couldn't feel anymore ill...
A text from Burton appears shortly after.
"You have reservations for two at Luigi's. 6:00pm."
I call my wife as i hear the shower no longer running.
"I actually made reservations at Luigi's tonight... i'm sorry i forgot to tell you..."
"Oh, my God... really? Well... i guess i could change quick enough... it's only five..."
"I'm sorry... i should have told you... it was one of those last minute things... and i know you like Italian, so..."
"You are so sweet! Of course i'm not mad! We haven't gone on a date in a long time!"
I'm relieved. No questions. No fuss.
I get dressed. I double check my phone in my jacket's inner pocket.
By the time Athena is ready, it's almost 5:30pm. She looks even more amazing. I suddenly feel underdressed, with my casual slacks, white shirt and leather jacket.
I can't think of many women who can wear pumps the way Athena does. The shape of her legs flows like a work of art, unbound by stockings, even in the slightly cooler than usual evening weather. Her outfit is simple, a soft pencil skirt, enveloping her perfect thighs a few inches below the knee, with a slit on her left side, riding half-way up, giving way for a teasing glance of her left leg's smooth complexion. Her upper body and cleavage is complimented by a strapless black top and a light and short grey evening jacket matching the same shade as her skirt, and showing off her trim mid-section.
We barely make it to the restaurant. It's literally packed.
We walk inside and we are immediately greeted by a young woman holding a clipboard.
I heard of Luigi's from a few people at Crawford. The owner has been in business nearly forty years, and still handles the business as if his father were there. While most other restaurants use touch-screen reservation checkers, Luigi's still handles reservations with a plain old fashioned clipboard.
I give the waitress my name. She invites us to follow her, while she picks up two menus. She walks fast.
Next thing we know, we are sitting at a corner booth, enjoying a beautiful and very expensive view of the waterfront.
I check my phone, trying not to appear too obvious.
Then it happens. My phone lights up. A message appears. It's not a text message. Yet... it's meant from me. It's Burton again... playing his game.
"A waiter is coming. Order the appetizer sampler."
This is ridiculous... i can't believe i can't even order my own goddamn food.
As promised, the same blonde server who greeted us at the door is now standing by our table with a notepad and a ball-point pen.
"Good evening! My name is Sandra and I'll be your server for the evening! Can i start you off with something to drink?"
"Yeah... how about a couple of Mojitos?"
I suggest, glancing at my wife for approval.
"Sounds great, sure."
"Burton just texted me, he suggested the Appetizer Sampler... what do you think honey?"
I ask Athena, trying to sound natural.
"What's in it?"
I didn't even look at it in the menu. Sandra is quick on her feet and promptly answers Athena's question.
"It's a lovely ensemble of four prosciutto-wrapped asparagi, four bite-sized crab cakes and six of the freshest oysters on a half shell!"
"Sounds lovely! We'll have that."
"Great! I'll come right back with the Mojito's, and the platter will take about ten minutes."
Sandra hurries back to the kitchen. As surreal as it is, i find myself glancing briefly at the server's round and firm rear-end, only for an instant before my phone lights up again. I casually look at the new message. At this point i'm expecting anything. Then again, i wish i had a dime for every time i thought that.
"Do not touch the oysters."
A few minutes later, our server Sandra comes back with our drinks, along with an unexpectedly quick order of the Appetizer Sampler.
"Are you ready to order a main course?"
I instinctively check my phone for further... suggestions. I look at the oysters, while Athena is folding back the menu.
"I'd like to try the seared salmon."
"Same for me..."
I answer without thinking.
The server scribbles quickly in her notepad and walks to the kitchen.
Suddenly, almost in slow-motion, i watch as Athena picks up one of the oysters and puts it on her plate. I observe, mesmerized, as she pushes a tiny fork into a slice of lemon and squeezes the juice in generous drips onto the oyster. My mind is completely absorbed in her actions as i wonder why i am not allowed to eat the oysters.
Finally, Athena's lips close in on the edge of the shell and slurp the muscle in one swift motion.
I wait for something... anything to happen. I can hardly bring myself to breathe. Did i just let Burton poison my wife? What's in the oysters?
Everything seems normal.
"How's the oysters, honey?"
Athena takes her time to savor the fresh seafood, then she takes a sip of water.
"Oh my god, they are great! Too bad you are not much for oysters... you are really missing out, babe."
"Yeah... it's just not my thing..."
I must secretly admit, i have always been curious about it, i just never tried. Something tells me tonight it's not a good time to experiment.
As the evening progresses, Athena has emptied all six half-shells, but left most of the appetizers, which i brought myself to swallow, mostly out of keeping an appearance of normalcy.
Athena is visibly happy, radiant, much like in the early years of our relationship. I can tell she needed this date. I only wish it didn't have to happen under Burton's control.
I sporadically glance at my phone. No messages. Nothing. I begin to relax. Maybe he's done terrorizing me for the evening.
Almost fifteen minutes later, the salmon arrives. The plates look great, and identical. I take notice at the stunning attention to detail of the presentation. The two salmon cuts match perfectly in shape, texture and ingredients, from spices to seasoning herbs.
The taste is remarkable and we both comment on it to each other.
Half way through our main course, i notice Athena falling rather quiet, yet her appetite doesn't seem show signs of attenuation.
I'm about to add further commentary on our meal, and right then, my phone illuminates. My eyes grow wide. Burton must be out of his mind.
"Tell her to open her legs. Stick your hand in there and make me proud."
This is insane. What happens if i refuse to do this? Why does he want me to act like a jerk? I have never done anything like this and it's completely out of character. I'm torn at the idea of complying with such risky request.
Alas... he knows i will do it, or suffer the consequences.
I lean towards my wife. I try to sound and feel as natural and casual as possible. I look around as Athena looks at me.
I almost stutter, gathering up the courage. I take a gulp of what's left of my mojito.
"Would you do me a favor... and part your legs for me?"
Her reaction almost gives me a cardiac arrest. Her eyes grow wide, as she looks at me like a madman.
Then, the unexpected happens. A grin appears on her face. I can't believe it. Then a smile. She chuckles a little... then she bites her lower lip.
She looks around... then it happens.
This is insane. We are sitting at a table in a public restaurant. I suddenly become aware of every reflective surface around. Every chromed table piece, every window, every mirror. I feel my heart pounding in my chest. This is nowhere near making out in a dressing room. This is something else.
Almost under hypnosis, my hand disappears under the table.
I rest my palm on my wife's knee. I begin to move up her left thigh. I look at her. She is game, and i am high on adrenaline alone.
My hand glides along her inner left thigh. I force myself not to tremble. I feel the warmth. Then suddenly, i feel the thin layer of satin bikini underwear separating my fingers from her soft mound.
Then i feel her hand on mine. I feel her guiding it lower. My jaw drops. She is literally soaking wet.
I look at her in disbelief as she grins subtly. Then i notice something else. Her expression changes.
It's almost an expression of pain. Her lips part slightly as i notice her perspiration.
I instinctively draw my hand... she won't let me. she keeps my hand between her legs. Her fingers press on mine to almost push the satin material inside her.
Her thighs suddenly come together, clamping my hand. Her entire body stiffens.
Her eyes suddenly shut. I finally know what is going on. I just can't believe this is happening.
I simply sit here, in this popular public restaurant, enjoying fine cuisine, while my wife is sitting besides me, experiencing what seems to be a massive spontaneous climax.
"Oh my God... Oh God... "
She whispers, as she is finally coming down from what seems to be a spectacular high.
Her legs finally part, freeing my hand, wet and partly sticky. I dry it on the napkin on my lap.
I watch as she pushes her napkin between her legs and summarily cleans up herself.
"Are you ok honey?"
"Yes... I'm fine..."
She replies as she suddenly becomes aware of what just happened. She sips the rest of her mojito. I can sense she is now self-conscious. This is not her. this is whatever Burton had put in her food. Some sort of chemical drug. I'm sure of it.
I have mixed feelings. Part of me feels awful for serving as an accessory to intoxicating my wife. Part of me is exhilarated and dying to know what's going to happen next. I can't believe this... but i am now looking forward to what Burton has in store for me... and for us.
By the time we end our meal and wait for the check, Athena has not spoken a word since her experience.
I'm sure she detects something odd, yet i'm sure she's far from suspecting what i am well aware of.
The check comes. I pay in cash and glance towards my wife.
"Are you ready?"
She doesn't answer. She simply nods, as she slowly stands up, instinctively feeling the back of her skirt.
By the time we reach the car, she is dead silent. Her face has no expression.
We climb into the car. I start the engine and drive off.
Five minutes into traffic, i notice she is looking at me.
"Are you ok babe?"
"Did you put something in the food?"
Time to put my game face on.
"I did notice... that was... wild. I have never seen you like that babe. What happened?"
Her voice raises.
"Ashton! Look at me! Did you put something in the food??"
She questions me, putting an emphasis on every word.
"Listen... i have no idea what you are talking about... i'm as surprised as you... seem to be..."
She turns quiet again for a minute. Then her tone finally normalizes.
"I have never felt that way before. It was almost... forceful. It was sudden. It wasn't natural, Ashton!"
"Do you think... i mean... maybe the restaurant? Someone in the kitchen maybe put some viagra in the food or something?"
I hear Athena exhaling.
"Ashton... i swear God... if you had anything to do with what happened in that restaurant... you better tell me!"
"I had nothing to do with what happened! I swear God, Athena. I have no idea what went on in there."
I can feel her slowly calming down.
"When you asked me to open my legs... you didn't know i was drugged?"
"I swear! I... it's been a long time since we went on a date... i was excited and i might have detected some signals from you... i felt adventurous, i guess, i don't know... but as i said, i had nothing to do with whatever might have been in that food!"
I notice Athena looking out her window, falling silent again for a bit. Then she turns to me again.
I look at her with the corner of my eye as i spot the driveway into our apartment building.
"I know you wouldn't have done anything stupid like that... but i just want to explain how it felt. I felt out of control. In a scary way. I felt as if it didn't matter where i was... or..."
She cuts herself short. I fear what could be the rest of what she means to say.
"It's ok... we'll never go to that place again. You have my word."
As we enter our apartment, Athena walks straight into the bedroom.
"Oh shit... i hope nobody noticed this..."
"Are you ok?"
I walk into our bedroom and find Athena looking at the back of her skirt into the tall mirror at the corner of the room. A damp dark patch covers a visible area of her skirt, reaching almost to the hem.
I watch Athena's face, blushing, as her eyes start welling up.
"This is so embarrassing... God... i feel like a whore, Ashton!"
I move in closer, with open arms, only to be rebuffed.
"Please... don't touch me... I'm sorry... i just don't want to be touched right now..."
I say nothing. I walk to the kitchen and pour myself a shot of whiskey.
I hear the bathroom door closing. I hear the shower running.
I bring the glass with me into the bedroom and place it on my night stand. I disrobe and get into bed.
Just as i instinctively reach for the TV remote, i hear Athena... exhaling deeply and loudly through the thin wall separating the shower from the bedroom.
I hear that sound again after a few instants. Shortly after, the frequency increases, as the length of the exhaling.
If my mind didn't naturally wander in that direction... i wouldn't honestly be suspecting my wife of doing what i think she is doing... until a louder and rather obvious moan filters through the wall... followed by heavy breathing.
I feel awful... but i can't help but smiling wickedly.
I wipe the smirk off my face as i hear the hair blower going off.
Athena's face has no expression as she exits the bathroom. She climbs into bed and lays towards her side.
My phone illuminates.
"Give it to her now"
My heart sinks in my chest. This is too much. I can't bring myself to act so thoughtlessly. Or can i? How can Burton expect me to tune out Athena's feelings and act like a complete asshole? this is absurd...
I look at my wife, in the silence of our bedroom. I turn off the lights.
Suddenly i become aware of my own erection. It's impossible to ignore.
"I love you..."
I whisper to my wife. She doesn't move or say a thing. She's under the covers up to her face. Her body laying on her side.
Against all advice and good judgement... fueled only by fear of what might happen upon disobeying Burton's orders, i move in on her.
I sneak my arm around her waist, under the covers.
I say nothing. My erection wedges in between her glutes.
I see no reaction.
My hand cups her right breast.
My shaft stiffens as it wedges in further, between her legs.
Then, a powerful instinct, primal and wild, takes over. A dark, almost evil version of myself pushes me over the edge. I draw my hand from her chest, and move it on her rear. I squeeze her cheeks, running my fingers on the back of her thighs.
I see no reaction.
Then as i get bolder... i finally bring my middle and forefinger to probe her opening from behind.
My fear subsides completely... turned into lust, as i detect considerable wetness dripping from inside.
Her hand reaches behind her. Her nails dig into my hips.
Effortlessly, i penetrate her generously lubricated sex, pushing myself deeper and deeper.
Slowly, i feel Athena matching my movements, as i thrust in and out of her, slowly, steadily, as a constant smacking sound is heard from between our bodies.
I climb on top of her, positioning myself between her legs. Using my knees as leverage, i watch my own body rocking back and forth, as my erection is gripped and quickly brought to near-ecstasy by my wife's renewed arousal state.
Not merely a few minutes into our chemically enhanced love-making, i can feel her body stiffen and begin to squirm, and so her abdomen, as her eyes are tightly shut, her lips are parted and her breathing is suddenly held.
Her eyes open, as her face is flustered and blushed. A whimper, followed by a gasp... followed by a deep liberatory exhale, signals one more climax washing over her entire body like a crushing wave.
Right then i realize i was so focused on her that i almost disregarded the need to reach a peak of my own.
Then, with the corner of my eye, i see the glow of my phone... close enough for me to read as Athena's body is still in semi-shock.
Right then, i realize how much control Burton really has over me.
I pull my very hard erection from inside her. She looks at me. It's not an expression of love. It's an expression of lust. It's the same expression i had a thousand times, whenever i came before her only to fall asleep.
Right then i realize it was a lesson for me to learn. I doubt that's what Burton had in mind when he came up with this plan. But that's how i manage to rationalize it, as i pull myself from her and lay beside my wife, as she is still coming down from yet another intense orgasm.
I hear her breathing heavily, after nearly twenty minutes. She's asleep.
I manage to fall asleep too, but only after several hours.
When i wake up, it's almost nine. Athena is gone.
I get up. I check my phone. Five messages. Fuck! What does he want now?
(8:05):"I bet you had fun last night. It's not over yet."
(8:30)):"Meet me at my place in five minutes."
(8:45):"You got some nerve... where the fuck are you?"
(9:00):"That's it... you got this coming... and remember: you brought it on yourself."
Damn it... what now? I feel like my nuts are in a vice. They might as well be, physically.
I leave the apartment and drive over to Burton's place.
I knock on his door. I hear Burton's heavy steps coming to the door.
"About fucking time. Get inside."
We walk into the living room.
"Sit down. I got something you want to see."
"What is it?"
"You are gonna like this..."
Burton turns on the 80 inch flat panel TV hanging over the fireplace. The screen in completely black. Then i watch it flicker briefly, as the words HDMI 2 appear on the bottom left.
I'm now looking at a view from what seems to be a device held by a person walking on a sidewalk.
The camera suddenly is raised to eye level. Whoever is holding on to the camera is not alone. I hear multiple steps, perhaps three or four people.
I recognise the street, it's a side street running parallel to Athena's work.
I see the rear parking lot.
I hear male voices mumbling something. Some sound muffled.
I watch as the camera gets close to what seems Athena's car. Yes. I recognize it.
I hear one of the men talking on the phone in a strong latino accent.
"Yes... Miss Leigh? Yes this is UPS, i have a package for you, i need your signature, can you please come down to the parking lot? I cannot move the truck to the front... ok... ok... thank you, i will be here."
"What the fuck is this? Who are these people?"
"Shut up and watch. this will teach you a lesson about not responding when you are supposed to."
No more than five minutes pass, until i hear the clicking noise of Athena's heels on the blacktop of the parking lot.
It seems as though whoever is holding the camera is trying to conceal it, as it never point directly at her, rather lower, at hip level.
The camera shakes and shifts repeatedly, as the auto-focus keeps adjusting.
I hear the same voice again.
Before she can answer, i'm watching as suddenly i hear noise of a physical confrontation ensued between my wife and multiple attackers.
"What is this? Tell them to stop! why would you do this??"
Burton is grinning from ear to ear, ignoring my pleas.
Finally the camera shows my wife. A sack made of some sort of cloth has been pulled over her head and bound with a rope. I watch helplessly as they drag her into a nearby van.
The camera follows her into the back of the van, as masked men proceed to tie her wrists behind her back, and her ankles together with duct tape.
"If you do anything to her, i swear i'll kill you, Burton!"
Burton looks at me, with an icy stare. Before i know it, his large and heavy arm extends, and his hand hits my face like a hammer, drawing blood from my lower lip.
He says nothing after that. His eyes are glued to the screen.
It's a long ride. Almost 10 minutes. I can only imagine how Athena is feeling right now. How would she feel if she knew it was all my fault? I feel nauseous. Tears run down my face as i watch the camera moving all over my wife. She's a fighter. I watch as she trashes and squirms, trying to helplessly free herself from her bound.
"You are one lucky bastard... you enjoyed my little gift? She must have been wild! Damn... i would know... i listened to the whole thing!"
Burton went on as i tried my best to tune him out.
Finally the vehicle seems to be coming to a halt.
I watch Athena, still blindfolded, being dragged out of the side of the van, into some sort of garage. They cut the rope that binds her wrists, only to pull her arms over her head and bound her wrists again. I watch as she is being hoisted up and the rope that binds her wrists being hanged on a hook on a cement wall. the illumination is dim, but everything is sharp and visible. I can hear Athena's muffled screams through what sounds like some sort of gag. I can't see her face, but i know she's scared beyond anything she has ever experienced in her life. The pain tears through me like a knife. I wish i were dead right now.
My eyes grow wide as i watch the masked men, one by one, lining up beside her and removing their clothing, as they reveal semi-hard erections.
The one closest to my wife reaches for her ankles and cuts the duct tape, freeing her legs. Instantly she begins to kick the air, until another thug lets her feel the cold blade of a knife against her arm, whispering something to her ear.
She stops moving, as she quietly sobs.
Another thug moves in on her and uses a knife to slice off her skirt. Suddenly i hear the thugs exploding into laughter as they realize Athena is wearing nothing underneath. She desperately holds her legs closed tight.
Once again, the thug with the knife whispers something into her ear. She slowly parts her legs under the pressure of armed threat.
I see the camera being set on some kind of prop, as a fifth man enters the picture. His face is also masked.
He walks towards Athena, then he kneels down, lining up his face with her crotch. Then, as his back is turned to the camera, he pulls his mask on his forehead. His hands grab the back of Athena's legs as the thug forces her to push her sex onto his face.
He starts what is painfully obvious, while the others cheer around him, as they grab and slap my wife like a piece of meat.
I'm watching her squirm, yet bound by fear, she eventually seems to come to terms with her situation.
Taunting sounds surround her as her body gives in to the torture.
Suddenly i notice Burton with the corner of my eye, briefly typing on his phone.
"Time for some more of my good friend's Paul Brenner 'Love Potion'..."
I look at Burton as rage is mounting in my eyes. He was the one who got me fired.
Burton looks back at me with a smirk on his face.
"I swear, man... Brenner is a modern-day Pandora's Box. The things he can come up are un-be-lievable! ... you know, you ought last night's wild ride to his chemical expertise..."
My eyes return to the screen. I watch as one of the masked men disappears off the screen, only to return a few moments later with what seems to be some kind of large band-aid.
I watch as he applies it on Athena's arm.
"In patch form is not as effective as it is when ingested... still very powerful. Brenner is a great guy, just not great at explaining things..."
As i listen to Burton, i notice every bit of energy powering Athena's struggle has disappeared... replaced by what seems to be an almost sinuous movement of her mid-section.
"I think he said something about... Oxytocin... and some other shit. Whatever it is... i can never get enough of what it does! Watch this..."
My eyes are already detecting what i barely noticed the night before. Within seconds, Athena's body begins to stiffen... Her abdomen is increasingly taut as the man who is kneeling below still has his face buried between her thighs.
Then, the moment arrives, like a hammer on my heart. I watch as my wife's body tenses and relaxes several times, matching the pace of her own heavy breathing, only to tense up one final time.
The man beneath her draws back and pulls his mask over his face again, stepping away as he allows for a view of my wife's inner thighs, as her seeping wetness drips down her legs and onto the floor.
When her orgasm finally subsides, the men burst into laughter one more time.
I watch as they cut her down from her restraints. She stumbles on her feet, yet doesn't fall.
"I bet she's got a big smile on her face under that hood... want to find out?"
I look at Burton. I'm at a loss for words. In my mind i almost beg him not to show me her face.
"Yeah... let's find out..."
He taunts as he types on his phone once again.
I watch as one of the men walks behind Athena and grabs the top of the hood covering her head.
I close my eyes for an instant. Then i hear a voice. This doesn't make sense. A voice i do not recognize.
"Wow... that was amazing!"
I open my eyes. I can't believe it.
"I went through a lot of trouble to put on this show for you, asshole. I hope you enjoyed it."
She is chuckling. She's flustered... and she's blonde. Athena's identical body type... height... skin tone...
It was an actress. A remarkable resemblance with Athena from the neck down.
That's all i can say.
"Let me tell you something... this stunt costed me a lot of fucking money. So i want to make sure the message is clear:"
Burton looks at me straight in the eyes.
"Don't fuck with me. You got me?"
"Go on, get the fuck out of here... and keep that phone with you."
I leave Burton's place without saying a word. I get in my car and drive home.
In my mind, i contemplate all possible scenario i can think of in which this situation can dissolve. None of them seem remotely plausible unless they involve me ending up in prison for murder.
I decide to make a stop at a drive-thru and get something to eat. For some reason, fast-food is all i'm comfortable eating right now.
There is some static coming through the intercom, as the college kid's voice filters through asking to take my order.
"Yeah... I'll have a number 6, no onions, and small fries... and a drink! Dr. Pepper if you have it... small."
The line is not too bad, only a SUV driving a bit slow. The female driver takes her time, talking away on her cellphone about something i don't really care about, yet i'm forced to listen to anyway, even through glass.
When i finally reach the window, i'm greeted by an older guy, probably a manager handing me my food in a white paper bag with no label, followed by my beverage.
I drive off and by sheer chance, just as i'm about to re-enter traffic, i spot what seems to be Athena's car, driving in the opposite direction. At this point i feel i could swear seeing my wife everywhere.
I notice a large shopping mall on the opposite side of the expressway. At this point i might as well find a place where to regroup for a few hours before going back home pretending i have been to work.
I find a spot in the crowded parking lot on the far end of the mall, away from the main roadways and sit in my car, eating my food.
There is cars everywhere, driving in and out of the lot. Yet i haven't felt this at peace in days. The shouting, the car horns, the noise of traffic and parking lot collisions. Right now it's music to my ears.
Of course my lack of foresight makes me forget of one little detail. I still do have my phone with me, and Burton is listening to it on the hour.
The screen illuminates.
"I am sending you an address. Plug it into the GPS and be there in twenty minutes. There is a small shop called Masquerade."
As promised i receive the address, and i am on the move again.
I walk in into a mall, in pursuit of something i am afraid to find.
A large black sign with bold silver serif lettering displays the word Masquerade. The window displays a variety of adult items from lingerie and outfits to toys and other products.
Just as i'm about to walk in, a voice stops me. It's loud. It's unexpected. It's Louie.
Louie Parker is one of my oldest gambling buddies. He fell out of the grid a few years ago, after taking up a job as a store manager in Jersey. A heart in the right place, a pair of ears and a mouth you don't want anywhere near.
"Lou... it's been a while..."
"You can say that again! How's work and everything? How's Athena?"
Pathetic little shit... i remember him lusting after her the minute i carelessly showed her picture in my wallet at a poker game.
"We are great... things are great... listen i'm kinda in a hurry... do you mind if we catch up another time?"
"Yeah, yeah! Sure! Hey, glad to hear about you kids! You take care now! I'll catch up with ya!"
The Hell you will...
I wait a few instants, pretending to look at my phone. As soon as i see Lou turn the corner i walk into the dimly lit store.
The place is like a halloween costume shop, if they replaced nose glasses with plastic genitals. Everything has a purple-pink-blue hue.
From behind the counter, a short slender young woman with long black hair and purple highlights is greeting me with a smile. A silver ring pierces her lower lip, while several others run along her ear lobes. Her pearly white teeth are framed by pouty lips covered by a very dark shade of red lipstick. An abstract tattoo of black flames covers most of her left arm, while more motifs wrap around her right one. A leather bustier and a long dark purple vintage skirt complete the gothic painting i am now intently staring at.
"Welcome to Masquerade, sir. Can i help you with anything?"
The screen illuminates again.
"You ordered a package. Tell her your name."
"I'm... Ashton Leigh... i have a package. ...i mean i ordered a package."
The lady grins softly at my accidental joke.
"Let me have a look... can i see an ID?"
I produce my driver's license and drop it on the desk, while my eyes roam the store's merchandise.
The woman checks my ID briefly and returns it to me, then she props a white box on the desk.
"It's an interesting toy... we had to special order it as we don't carry this brand... I'm sure your partner will be very happy!"
I have no idea what she is talking about.
"Actually... i'm picking it up for my wife... so i have no idea what it is..."
"Wow... then you are the lucky one! Would you like a demo?"
My phone illuminates again.
"Ask for a full demonstration... in the back room."
I feel i have no shame anymore... or anything to lose.
"Why don't you... umm... why don't you show me how this works... with a... full demonstration?"
I see the woman hesitate. Of all possible scenarios, i can't think of a single one that does not involve me getting out of this store in hand-cuffs.
Then i watch as a look of surprise appears on the woman's face.
"I guess... it could be arranged... would you mind following me please?"
I follow the woman through a door with a "Employees Only" sign, a few feet from the counter, partially hidden by a clothing rack.
The room appears to be used for storage and it's better illuminated than the rest of the store.
I don't see any surface where it would be possible to sit, let alone be used for the purpose i'm quite sure Burton lead me here for.
The woman, whose name tag escaped me several times, drags a step stool leaning on a wall and sets it in the center of the room.
She places the box on the topmost step and opens it.
As i peek, i discover the contents are mostly foam beans, except for a shiny black box with round edges and an electric blue stripe running along its mid-section.
"Would you mind removing your pants and underwear please?"
Her tone seems different now... more suited for a clinical setting.
I comply, and as soon as my pants and boxers are neatly set on the floor, my eyebrows raise.
"What the heck is this?"
I comment as i notice the woman approaching me with what seems to be a chrome version of a cup used by Football players. The straps don't seem to have seams or fasteners.
"It's a little heavy..."
I comment as i pull it up to cover my crotch.
Before i realize it, the woman is now fiddling with what seems to be a remote control, right in front of me.
I feel the waistband suddenly tightening, as i realize it's actually locked on my waist now. Instinctively i try pulling the band down, but the thick synthetic strap doesn't budge.
"Oh, you are the lucky one... your wife is going to have plenty of fun with you... By the way, i wouldn't struggle like that. The chastity belt is designed to respond with an electric shock when tampered with. the only way to remove it is with... this remote!"
"Chastity... belt? How fun... Can i take it off now?"
I know that look. This woman likes to be in control.
"My name is Lucy, by the way... i figured i'd just tell you since my name tag is the only place you haven't been staring at."
I watch Lucy turning towards the step stool. She picks up the box and places it on the floor.
Her movements are deliberate, natural, sensual. In spite of the situation, i just can't seem to find anything cheap or slutty about how Lucy is acting.
She sits on the stool. Her posture is straight, confident. Her legs are slightly parted under the long ruffled vintage skirt. I notice she is wearing what seems to be black leather army boots with heels a little taller compared to a man's size.
Her hands rest on her lap, interlaced as she holds onto the small remote.
"It looks very comfortable."
She comments, with a hint of sarcasm... and subtle cynicism.
"Why don't you try it?"
I reply, trying to sound serious.
"I fully intend to."
At that, i notice her left hand moves down, her fingers running through the ruffles of her long skirt, outlining her left leg's shape under the artificially aged fabric. Her right hand clutches the remote. Her eyes are locked on me. She bites her lower lip. A very subtle grin becomes a statement of her intentions.
Her left hand reaches as far as mere inches from her knee. This is where her fingers clutch the fabric of her skirt, and begin to collect more ruffled material in her delicate fist.
Slowly, inch by inch, the hem of her skirt rises up, uncovering more leather, revealing the knee-high boots bound by black straps all the way to the top. As soon as the hem of her skirt reaches her knee and unveils an underside portion of her left thigh, her hand stops, and a familiar stir becomes obvious under the chrome device designed to constrict my urges. Suddenly my uncomfortable feeling transpires through my face.
"Is everything ok, Mr. Leigh?"
I don't have a ready answer for that. All i know is that Athena better not have a clue about what's going on.
I hear a click. Something inside the device startles me as it begins to move. I become more uncomfortable as i recall Lucy mentioning some sort of electric shock countermeasure against tampering.
My eyes are transfixed on her hand, as her fingers tease the smooth, delicate inner left thigh, now partially exposed.
It's surreal, I've always been visual, but this is beyond visual. Every movement, ever so innocent, is now shifting into a dark place in my mind, where nudity and ostentatious behavior are no longer required, and where i am now turned into an exposed nerve, starving for stimulation.
Her right hand is still holding the remote control, as it climbs, stopping right below her breast, teasing the leather straps holding her bodice together.
"We can stop anytime you want, Mr. Leigh."
I still have no ready answer. I am curious now. I find myself unable to stop.
Lucy stands up from the step stool. Still holding on to the remote control, her fingers work the front of her skirt slowly, lifting it up as more fabric is ruffled into her hands. Just as the hem reveals the shadow of her lingerie, her hands move to the sides of her hips, as her thumbs tug at the thin bikini waistband, pulling it down, ever so slowly.
Her skirt is now straight again. Yet Lucy is now bare underneath. She walks up to me. She stops at few inches from me, staring up into my eyes with a mischievous look.
"Kneel for me, please."
I comply, as the uncomfortable feeling worsens, especially now that my erection is fighting desperately for real estate.
I am now kneeling down, at eye-level with Lucy's lower abdomen.
Her left hand reaches the back of my head as i feel her fingers stroking my hair. Her right hand lifts her skirt once again, this time, unveiling a perfectly smooth mound with a single strip of jet black hair barely accenting the top of her opening.
My mind is clouded. I begin to feel a slight dizzyness as I'm further constricted by the device. Instinctively my lips move in closer to Lucy's mound. My tongue extends and its tip run circles and paths over her skin, and downwards, teasing the increasing protrusion of her clitoris, barely peeking under her outer labia. I expose more of it using my tongue and my lips as i detect her hips gently rocking and swaying.
I barely hear her whisper as her breathing becomes more labored.
I feel as if i were paralyzed from the neck down. I'm just a head, doing the bidding of this luscious stranger. What's happening to me?
I suddenly stop. Lucy looks at me with lust in her eyes.
Unexpectedly, her left hand grips the back of my hair. Her left hand still holds her skirt up, while i see her thumb reaching for a button on the remote control.
I suddenly feel the cup tightening on me from the inside. The former uncomfortable feeling has now turned into pain.
"My dear... you are now going to finish me off... stick your tongue in there... and keep going... Mr. Leigh."
Suddenly everything is clear. Another one of Burton's damn little games.
As i show signs of renewed compliance by leaning forward, i feel the device easing its grip on me, trading the sudden painful sensation for the former mild discomfort caused by mere constriction.
Lucy's fingers still hold onto my hair, almost forcing my face between her legs.
Then, she pulls me away. Before i can understand what's going on, her left foot raises on my shoulder as she unceremoniously kicks my chest and forces me to fall back on the floor.
She now stands over me. Each boot a few inches away from my head. I watch her body lowering on me as she literally straddles my face, shifting her feet below my armpits and letting her shins find leverage on my shoulders until her moist vaginal opening makes contact again with my face.
"Mrs. Leigh... is a very lucky woman..."
I hear Lucy whisper, between moans, as i resume giving her my full oral attention.
Then i freeze. The door opens. My vision is obstructed. I don't hear voices. Yet, i don't feel Lucy seems to be startled at all. I have no idea who it is... all i know is that this is somehow part of the plan.
I hear heavy steps. It can't be. Not him. His voice sends a shock of electricity through my spine.
"You seem comfortable!"
I'm unable to respond as Lucy deliberately smothers me with her crotch.
"I'm very comfortable... "
I feel Lucy's skirt being lifted further. Her fingers pull it off my eyes. I am now allowed to see Burton, standing besides Lucy. I watch as she pulls down the zipper hiding the massive bulge underneath his denims. Her hand reaches in and effortlessly draws out Burton's erection.
She looks down, grinning at me.
"You were right, Burton... the belt fits him perfectly... there is no way you could wear it!"
"Yeah... it fits you right, Ashton! Just perfect."
At that point i'm frozen. I can't even think.
"Mr. Leigh... you are not doing your job!"
Before i realize it, a small jolt of electricity is sent directly to my hips. A muffled shout escapes me, as i am being forced to resume being Lucy's very own inanimate sex toy.
I look up, as Lucy's envelopes Burton's shaft with her hand and guides the tip between her lips.
As i go on, pleasuring this twisted creature, her hips sway and hump increasingly over my face, as she worships Burton's member, in an almost hypnotic state of lust.
Finally, the muscles in her inner thighs stiffen. She's close to climaxing. That is my cue to increase my pace, as i feel my tongue getting slightly numb.
Moments later, Lucy's entire body stiffen in orgasmic bliss, as i feel my face and neck soaked in her delight.
Even in the aftermath of her climax, her lips and tongue doesn't skip a beat, continuing to pleasure Burton's through wave after wave of post-orgasmic bliss.
Suddenly it occurs to me. What's going to happen when he comes? I'm still beneath her, and between them. Lucy is still clinging on the hem of her skirt, exposing my face from between her legs. I'm trapped in a suddenly disgusting grip. Gag reflexes suddenly find their way through my throat as i become aware of what might happen very soon.
The chips are down. I hear Burton's breathing becoming deeper and louder. I hear and feel Lucy's moving faster, engulfing him deeper, as i pray for her to swallow him and keep any of his disgusting ooze away from me.
I stare, mesmerized, as Lucy's mouth is relentlessly pistoned by Burton's shaft, swollen, ready to explode.
When it finally happens, my eyes are shut. I'm ready. I make every conceivable effort to tune out everything around me.
As i hear Burton's grunt signal his final release, i'm barely prepared.
My heart sinks as i hear Lucy's voice over Burton's moans and grunts. She's no longer holding him in. As i briefly open my eyes, she's furiously stroking him, spitting on his shaft, repeatedly.
almost in slow motion, i see thick, white streaks ejecting from his engorged member, hitting Lucy's face and chest. I watch helplessly as some of it drips onto my hair. It's disgusting. I am ready to throw up.
By the time Burton comes down from his climax, i am a broken man... in every possible way.
My eyes are shut. I feel tears rolling off and onto the floor as i am still laying down. Lucy finally stands up. I feel a click, and the chastity belt releases me.
I gather up my clothes and clean up as best as i can. I see Burton walking out of the room and into the store.
I follow Burton out into the store. I can't even look at him.
I see Lucy packaging the chastity device back up into its box and handing it to me along with a piece of paper.
"Don't forget the receipt, Mr. Leigh! If you have any problem, just give me a call... I'll be more than glad to assist."
I look around. There is other customers now. I feel as if i just stepped out of the Twilight Zone.
Burton is standing outside. I walk out of the store with the box under my arm.
"That's an expensive toy you got there. You do understand this is coming out of your allowance..."
I look down at my shoes. I nod.
"Nine-hundred bucks... i hope you enjoy it, Ash."
I walk back to my car. Before i can get in, i notice Burton walking behind me. He's wearing his shades, seemingly looking at the street.
"Another thing... look into the box when you get home. Also, make sure you hide it from Athena... we wouldn't want her to get a video message showing how good a muff-muncher you are. she might get jealous..."
I get into my car, without a word. I turn on the engine. I hear Burton's chuckle as he walks away.
As soon as i get home, i head into the bathroom to clean up. Next i open the box. Besides the device, i feel there is something else deep beneath the foam beans. It appears to be a large and rather realistic vibrator, accurately modeled to be as life-like as possible.
A new anonymous message appears on my phone.
"Find a nice ribbon for Athena's new toy. Leave it in the bedroom and wait for her in the living room."
I guess this isn't so bad... then again i have been proven wrong way too many times.
I look into the kitchen drawers for some old christmas ribbons. All i can find is bright red stick-on.
As i stick the ribbon onto the artificial phallus, i notice its weight shifts, as if it were filled with some sort of liquid.
Unable to open it or smell anything on it, i leave it on Athena's night stand, and move to the living room where i literally crash on the couch.
A few hours later, i hear the unmistakable sound of Athena's high heels clicking outside. She opens the door and enters the living room. She doesn't even look at me.
"Everything ok babe?"
She looks at me with a madder look in her eyes than the night of my birthday.
"Will you tell me what's going on? You don't look fine!"
"You are right... i'm not fine at all! I called Burton today to go over a few things about my tax returns... then we started talking about you... and how Burton advised you against injecting my oysters with Oxytocin and Rufalin!"
My reality spins out of control again.
"What are you talking about? I told you i had nothing to do with what happened! Why would Burton tell you that?"
As i say it, suddenly the answer is there, staring at my face.
"Maybe because unlike you, he has the backbone to tell me, instead of acting like a sneaky little shit!"
Before giving me the chance to defend myself any further, Athena storms into the bedroom.
In my mind, i am almost counting to the inevitable ultimate shit storm that's yet to come.
Everything is silent for about a minute. Then i hear her voice thundering again.
"And what the fuck is this? Get over here, Ashton! Here is something i'd really like to hear you explaining to me!"
I walk into the bedroom. Athena is livid, as she is holding the sex toy in her hand. The ribbon is on the floor.
"What am i supposed to do with this thing, Ashton? Maybe i should use it instead of you as a replacement! What do you think? Trading a tool for a better one?"
The two single words i manage to have in hedgewise seem to set her off even worse. I watch as she throws the toy on the bed and furiously hikes up her skirt and strips off her underwear.
"Is this what you want? Here it comes, Ashton! Finally a dildo that doesn't have to lie to get in my pants!"
As she continues ranting, her frantic hands reach for her night stand's bottom drawer and takes a small dispenser containing lubricating gel.
"This is what you want... this is what you get, asshole. Get comfortable, because watching is all you are going to be doing from now on!"
I observe, unable to move a muscle, as Athena climbs on the bed, kneeling down, as she keeps her skirt hiked up exposing herself, as her legs are spread wide. She coats the large sex toy with a generous amount of gel, and as she looks at me straight in the eyes, she proceeds to insert the device, inch by inch, inside her, until only a few inches of its base are visible.
"Athena... please stop! This is insane!"
I plead as she is simply not herself any longer.
"How about that! It vibrates too! This one's a keeper, Ashton! Unlike you, fucking wimp!!"
Then, before i can think of anything else i can do to try and stop this ridiculous situation... she drops it on me like a ton of bricks.
"Oh Gawd! You think Burton's this big? I would love to find out! I'd love to suck him right now!!"
I'm frozen. I wish i could sink into the ground and disappear... but i can't. Burton won't let me... and even if i do, he will follow me into the bowels of Hell and make sure to make it worse for me.
I'm watching my wife, paralyzed, as she keeps stabbing herself with this grotesque metaphor for male ego. She wants to hurt me. She wants to punish me... and she succeeds.
I am watching, impotently, as her fingers dial the vibration all the way up. It's no longer anger, i can tell. It's lust for revenge. It's the feeling of bestowing rightful punishment that's bringing her closer and closer to her climax.
"Oh... fuck... fuck yes..."
She lets out a final moan before her breathing comes to a sudden halt, for a few seconds... until she reaches her climax... while at the same time stabbing me in the heart... once again.
"Yes... Fuck... Burton..."
She whispers it with her eyes shut, loud enough for me to hear.
I see her body collapse on the bed. Her hand pulls the dildo out, as a copious amount of clear liquid seeps out with it, forming a patch on the covers.
My phone illuminates.
"Now i am the lucky one."
I want to throw my phone across the room. Smash it into pieces... then do the same with Burton's face.
Athena's eyes open again. Occasional spasms are still surging through her body, as her climax subsides. She looks at me.
"I fucking hate you..."
That's all she whispers to me. I believe her.
I walk out of the room. I turn on the TV in the living room. the Rams are leading the Bears by ten points, well into the second quarter.
By half time i hear Athena's heels thumping around the bedroom. She walks into the living room with a blank look on her face. She doesn't even look at me. As she walks into the kitchen, i hear her opening the fridge. She returns with a beer.
"Turn off the TV."
I power off the TV and look at her. She is staring blankly at the television screen.
As she drops the news, she still can't look at me.
"I'm leaving today. Burton offered to let me stay at his place until i find another apartment."
"Please don't speak. Just... don't be here tomorrow. I need to pack."
I have not heard from Athena for three weeks after that day... and oddly enough, i have not received anymore communication from Burton either... anonymous or otherwise.
It has been a month since i last paid the bills. According to our "agreement", Burton was supposed to send me a paycheck, as long as i "played nice". I danced to his tune until my world crumbled onto itself. I have yet to see a dime from him.
Rent is due tomorrow and i have no idea what to do.
I went into the bedroom's fire safe and unlocked a 22 caliber Athena and i once bought for self defense. We never used it once.
I'm sitting on the couch. the TV is off... the service was cut off a couple of days ago.
One by one, i load bullets into the small revolved. I take the safety off.
Just as i'm debating whether or not to point that sucker at my head and end it, my phone illuminates.
"Are you at home? We need to talk."
Fast-forward a few hours, i hear a knock on the door. Athena is standing on the walkway. Her hair is a little different, perhaps shorter.
"Can i come in?"
I let her in. I don't even realize i have just left the gun on the coffee table.
Her eyes grow wide as she notices the gun. She looks at me.
"I was just cleaning it..."
I look at her. My eyes are empty. Not a trace of emotions left.
"Congratulations. If you came looking for alimony you are barking up the wrong tree. By the way... i never got any papers."
"Burton talked me into not even going there..."
I grin, not too subtly.
"... he's great at telling people what to do. So, is it Burton's?"
She looks at me as if i just slapped her across the face.
I find myself with no strength left to react.
"I'm sorry... i got to know... did you and Burton..."
"Don't do this to me... you drugged me! You had sex with me while i was under the influence! What do you want me to do?? How dare you asking me that!"
I fall silent for a minute. This is what happens when somebody reaches the breaking point. Nothing matters anymore. It's like being invincible. Unable to be hurt.
"So... did you guys do it or what?"
I'm looking at her, like she's not even my wife anymore. She walked out... i have no idea what she wants from me today.
She's silent for a few moments.
"No. He never came onto me like that."
I'm looking at her... and right then i understand. she's looking back at me like i did a million times. She learned from me... to lie and cheat and feel nothing. She lied to me with a straight face, believable. It's like looking at a work of art.
I must admit i feel a little proud. In a sick... twisted way. Yet, there is still the matter of where to go from here.
"Do you want me back?"
That's an odd question. Part of me wants her back. Part of me wants to keep her away... for her own safety. She still has a future. I'm not going to turn my life around at this point. I'm a puppet in the hands of a madman.
"Would you want me back?"
I ask her, looking into her big brown beautiful eyes.
"We are going to have a child now... you need to tell me if you want this, or not. If not i will walk away. I will not ask you to pay for anything, or even be present. But if you choose to stay... you need to promise me: no more bullshit, Ashton! I swear God!"
On Christmas Eve of the same year, we finally moved to a better apartment. Athena is the breadwinner. I guess i will have to accept that for the time being.
I am sitting on the couch, watching TV. Alone.
I hear noises from the bedroom.
Drawers are being opened and shut. I hear Athena's steps, clad in her signature pumps, as she gets ready for the evening.
"It won't be long babe, i'll be back before ten."
I mumble as she walks into the living room of her new apartment.
She looks stunning in her heels and stockings. A black line runs all the way up the back of her legs. A short ruffled black skirt. A tight black long-sleeved sweater. A long winter coat, acting as a curtain for one spectacular show.
"You look nice..."
"Where are you going again?"
"Just this thing... i need to pick up at Burton's... I'll be back in no time and then we can have the rest of our evening together!"
She kisses me and she's out the door before i can ask any more information.
I haven't heard from Burton since Athena and i made peace. None of this makes any sense. I take one more sip of beer, while trying to focus on an already started old movie i have never seen before.
The movie has long ended, far into the 11 o'clock news, i hear Athena's steps outside on the patio. She opens the door and smiles at me as she enters the apartment.
"Hi, it's almost Christmas!"
"I know... i went to get your present..."
My eyebrows arch in surprise. What kind of present she could have possible picked up at Burton's?
"It's actually from Burton... and i would like you to open it right now..."
Athena hands me a white envelope bound by a thin red ribbon. The envelope is thick, containing possibly several sheets of paper.
"What are you staring at it for? Open it!"
She prompts me in an almost childish tone.
I tear one end of the envelope. I draw a stack of printed paper, then my jaw drops to the floor.
My name is printed on the cover. I recognize the signature at the bottom. It's Burton's contract.
I looks at Athena in utter disbelief. I am unable to speak for a full minute.
"How do you like your present?"
"I... don't understand."
Athena is smiling at me. My mind is spinning.
"I know... don't worry babe... i am going to explain it to you right now."
I'm looking at the contract, desperately waiting for an explanation... and fearing it at the same time.
"It's been 14 long years, Ashton... 14 years of waiting for you to turn into a responsible adult. 14 years of listening to the same bullshit. 14 years of wandering why you just can't get your shit together, Ashton. 14 Years of waiting to move out of that shit-hole in the Bronx and move on to something better... something I deserve! I have been watching you watch football, gamble our life away, blowing every cent i have worked hard for into bets with your friends!"
I am listening to her, perhaps for the first time, really listening to her.
"I know... i..."
I have no idea why i am even trying to get a word in.
"On the day of your birthday, you took it upon yourself to blow five grand in a bet with Burton..."
"Son of a bitch, i knew it..."
Athena suddenly pauses, as she looks at me in the eyes as if she could burn me to the ground with her mind.
"You knew... what, Ashton? Just what did you know?? You knew nothing!! How hard is it to check our joint bank account?? Do you really think i am this big an idiot??"
As the facts slowly come to light, i feel the ground breaking under me.
"Burton didn't have to tell me anything... but i did need a way to teach you a lesson. This is where he came in handy. By the way... turns out it's illegal to draw money from a joint bank account without authorization from both holders! Did you know? So... good news... you never lost my five grand... since i called the bank right away. Burton contacted me almost immediately, as it turns out gambling on NFL scores is illegal too, and so he literally begged me not to press charges."
Athena stops talking for a few instants, almost scanning my eyes for any sign of an epiphany.
"So... all this was you... the contract... the... the phone?? That too? Was it you texting me and hacking into my phone?? And what about the fake kidnapping??"
"You are only partially right... I gave Burton carte blanche, as long as he didn't cross certain boundaries... of course i couldn't watch him all the times. In retrospect what he did to you at Masquerade was definitely borderline... of course i can't lie and tell you i didn't enjoy it."
"... Who are you?? I don't even know who you are! What made you think it was ok to do all this? You have any idea what i went through?"
In my defense i did go through a lot. On the other hand I just couldn't refuse at least some of the blame.
"Oh honey... just stop whining. You had just as much fun as we did... and don't even dare denying it."
I'm looking down. My mind is in a daze, but i can see what's happening.
I look up at her. She is standing before me, with her hands on her hips, and a look of victory on her face.
"So... what else did you lie about? Is there a baby?"
Athena's chuckle takes me by surprise... and yet not quite.
"My God, Ashton... no... there is no baby... It was actually a good call on my part. Burton is an even sneakier little shit than you ever were and filled up the dildo you brought home with semen."
"Ok... i'm not sure i needed to know that..."
"Anyway... looks like i am the only one you owe money to, Ash... this whole operation costed me almost as much as what you tried to sneak out of our account... How should we settle this?"
I'm looking at her, knowing well that it's a rhetorical question.
I watch her as she suddenly storms into the bedroom. I hear a drawer being pulled and slammed back shut.
She returns in the living room, with a hand behind her back.
"Honey... be a doll and remove your pants."
I drop the papers on the couch. I look at her, while i try to figure out what she is hiding.
"Ashton... i promise you if you don't drop your pants right now i am going to make you."
I stand up and unbuckle my slacks, letting them drop around my ankles.
Her tone is commanding and almost frightening. I quickly pull down my boxers.
She finally produces a very familiar box.
"You know what this is, right? Put it on."
I know what that is. I open the box and take out the device i am still associating most of my nightmares with since that day.
I secure the belt around my waist. The cup covers my genitals completely.
"Great! Now put your pants back on... we are running late for the party."
"Party? Are you out of your mind?"
Right then... a gentle buzz warns me to... well... shut the Hell up and comply.
I can't see the remote anywhere... then it hits me as i notice Athena holding her smartphone.
"Yeah... they have an app for that."
Category: non-consensual cuckolding
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