I’d moved back home to Henderson, Nevada from Los Angeles three weeks ago after Vince told me to leave our marital home. I’d like to say it was a complete shock, but it wasn’t. Things hadn’t been right between us for over a year. There was the fighting, which could get vicious because Vince doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and there were the hectic work schedules that exhausted me to the point I just wanted to drop into bed at the end of a twelve-hour workday. And yes, there was the fact it was just easier to lay on my back and let him bust a nut so I could just go to sleep, but I didn’t think those were things that would unilaterally lead him to call it quits.

There was no discussion.

Just a resounding “no” to my offer to go to counseling.

Hell, I even offered to go to sex therapy with him, but he said he needed space to figure things out.

God, I was confused, and pissed, and depressed, and when it became apparent he really wanted me to leave, it hit hard that my marriage was over.

Elena, my best friend since childhood, was there for me with open arms. Her apartment door was open as well when I arrived with my tail tucked between my legs, a small U-Haul full of boxes that represented almost eight years of married life, and three suitcases. Elena was thrusting a set of keys in my hand before I even crossed the threshold, telling me we were going to be best roommates forever and ever.

I had no family left in Henderson. My mom died during childbirth and my dad when I was seventeen, which meant my older brother Micah got custody of me for a little less than a year before I came of age. I left home at eighteen to go to college in Los Angeles, met and married Vince there, and made a home in sunny California.

It was a little weird coming back to Nevada. Micah lived in San Francisco, and sure… I could have gone there to crash with him and he would have loved it. But I needed a woman to talk to. Someone like Elena who I could shamefully admit to that my husband just didn’t find me sexy or thrilling in bed, and that’s why he kicked me out.

No way could I ever tell Micah that.

For the past three weeks, Elena has let me live with her rent and obligation free of doing anything other than moping around. I told her all the dirty details of my fall from marital grace, and she assured me Vince was the one fucked in the head, not me.

I didn’t believe her, so Elena had a more novel idea to get my head out of my ass.

She suggested I come with her to a sex club she visited on occasion called The Wicked Horse. I was originally horrified at the idea of having casual sex with a complete stranger, but I was also strangely turned on at the same time. That told me that at twenty-eight, my ovaries weren’t dried up the way Vince implied they were. In fact, as I mulled over her proposition for a few days, I may have overheated my vibrator with fantasies of what it would be like.

Elena told me all about The Wicked Horse and its various rooms where people could have guilt-free sex in an accepting environment. She explained that vanilla or kinky, one on one, or one on five were only a few options. I could be paddled or gang-banged if I wanted.

From her description, it was my fantasy waiting to happen, and eventually, I just said what the hell and decided to do it, although I was pretty sure it would only be vanilla for me.

Oh, and it helped that tonight is a masquerade event. Not only is it causal sex with a stranger, it’s also absolutely anonymous.

It was beyond fun getting ready. Elena and I picked out slutty dresses to wear, mine being nothing more than an electric blue tube dress shot through with silver thread that hugged every inch of my petite five-foot-three frame. Elena chose a slinky gold dress with spaghetti straps and a plunging neckline.

Best of all were our masks. Elena is a hair dresser, but she’s also insanely crafty in all things. Instead of a ready-made mask, Elena glued an elaborate design of sapphire blue feathers to my face, interlacing the ends of peacock feathers at my temples. She put my bobbed hair under a tight cap, and then glued feathers all over it as well. My green eyes, which I’d done heavy with smoky shadow, my nose, and my lips were all that were visible. The feathers even caressed my jaw and brushed down along the sides of my neck. It was exquisite, and I wanted to wear them forever and ever. I’d gotten several looks from both men and women, and I felt sexy, mysterious, and beautiful.

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