“I created an online profile and everything. It seems legit. You have to pay a membership fee in order to attend. They have rooms that you can have sex in while people watch.”

I stared at my husband who had to have lost his mind. “What? I’m not going in there.”

He tilted his head at me. “I thought you liked that. Like with Aaron.”

“I—” I took a moment to collect myself and tried to work through the complex web of reasons why what had happened in Vegas was completely different than this strip mall with a bunch of random strangers. “This—this does not turn me on.”

“Let me pull up their site and show you the pics.”

“E.” I put my hand over his phone. “Stop. I appreciate you doing this, but please stop. This doesn’t do anything for me.” This would never do anything for me.

There was an audible click as he locked his phone. “Fine. Okay. Sorry.” He reached back and pulled at his seatbelt, then fastened it into the latch.

I looked out the window and watched a plane come in, my BMW’s seat vibrating from the turbulence. “I wish I could explain it to you. It’s just… different.”

He pulled out of the lot and accelerated hard through the turn. For the fourteen minutes it took to get home, we rode in silence and I regretted every single thing I had told him.


We undressed in stony silence, each sound magnified. The clunk of his watch as it hit the dresser. The scrape of the hanger against the rod. I pulled off my dress shorts and tossed them toward the hamper, falling short of the basket. He sat on the edge of the bed, toed off his boots and left them where they fell. Wayland slunk under the bed and hid, his tail sticking out.

“I’m going to take a shower.”

“Sure.” He didn’t look at me. I was pulling the bathroom door shut when he spoke. “Wait.”

I waited. I would always, forever, wait if he asked me to.

“Come here.” He reached out his hand. I came, and he gathered me against him, his arms around my thighs, his face buried against my stomach. I ran my fingers through his hair and he looked up at me. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry. You were trying to do something for me and I reacted poorly to it.”

“I’m lost, Elle. You won’t tell me what turns you on, so I’m guessing over here. You won’t let me talk to Aaron, and won’t tell me who else turns you on. You don’t want a stranger from a club, so who? Who do you want?”

“You. You turn me on. I don’t need anyone else.”

“Yeah, well. You also say you don’t need a baby. And I can’t give you that. Or…” he threw a hand in the general direction of the rest of our house. “Or fix up this house. Fuck, Elle.” He pushed me a step back and stood. “I can’t give you anything. But I can give you this.”

I looked at him, horrified. “I don’t want you to do anything because of—”

“It’s not just that.” He rested his hands on his hips and stared at the floor. “It’s also because it turns me the fuck on to see you in your sexual element. It makes me feel this raw need to hold you down and fuck a dozen orgasms out of you. And thinking about watching another man have you—it shouldn’t turn me on but it does. Fuck, it does. I hate it but now it’s in my head and I don’t know what to do with it.”

I wanted to believe what he was saying. I wanted to embrace my feelings with the belief that we were turned on by the same things, but everything he just said terrified me.

Was this what he wanted? Or was he just trying to—in one aspect of our lives—give me what he felt I deserved?

I reached for him and slid my hands up the pinstripes on his dress shirt, then gripped it at his collar. “I don’t know that you’d feel that way if it actually happened. I don’t know if I would feel the same way. It’s too risky. We can’t undo something like that. You won’t be able to erase the image of me with another man. You told me that you’d kill another man who touched me. That the thought made you crazy, even though it turned you on. What’s changed since then?”

It was a vomit of every fear I had. I spewed it all out, and then desperately wanted to take it back.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “It still makes my blood boil, but it’s like that anger, that masculine fury—like it makes the thought even hotter. The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I can’t stop thinking about it.”

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