6:30 AM, Jeanne’s alarm buzzed. She popped out of bed. It was her second day at her new job. Her starting time was 8:30. She didn’t want to be late. I got up with her. While I wasn’t yet ready to return to full time work, it was my first day at home in five months. I had a list of errands I wanted to complete. We effortlessly slipped back into the pattern that we’d followed for over twenty years. Jeanne showered first. That allowed her to apply her makeup while I showered. As soon as we were both dressed we went into the kitchen for our traditional breakfast. Jeanne made coffee and poured us each a glass of tomato juice. I made the toast. We read the morning paper while we ate. Jeanne took the front page and variety sections. I read the sports. For several minutes we ate our toast, sipped our juice and coffee and read the newspaper in silence. We weren’t ignoring each other, on the contrary, we were very aware of each others presence. We were a comfortable married couple. We didn’t have to talk. We could enjoy each other in relaxed silence. Jeanne set her section of the paper down and smiled at me. I smiled back. Jeanne said, “I’ve missed this. I’ve missed you.” “I’ve missed you too.” “Micheal, the sex last night was wonderful and I’m sure the sex we’ll have tonight will be just as wonderful. I’ve missed the loving, romantic sex I have with you.” “I’ve missed it too.” “But I’ve also missed this. Michael, I want to grow old with you.” “I understand. Sex can be a beautiful expression of love.” “But it doesn’t have to be.” “No it doesn’t. It can also be nothing more than physical excitement.” “Last night it was a beautiful expression of love.” “It was, but last night you were with Marty too.” “And that was just physical excitement.” “For both of us.” Giggling, Jeanne said, “I’m so glad that you feel that way.” “I do.” “But I could never do this with Marty.” “Have breakfast?” “Have breakfast like this. Don’t be difficult. You know what I mean.” “Yes I do and I could never have breakfast like this with any other woman.” “Not even Maureen?” “Do I detect a note of jealousy?” “Honestly Michael, I’m still worried about losing you.” “I came home.” “Yes you did.” “And I’m very happy at home. Jeanne, I want to spend the rest of my life having breakfast with you.” “Even if other men are fucking me?” “Especially because other men are fucking you.” “Michael, I love you so much.” “I love you too Jeanne.” I stood and walked around the table. Jeanne rose to meet me. I wrapped my arms around her. She pressed her body against mine. I held her tightly in my arms and then we kissed. After we kissed she whispered, “I missed you.” I answered, “I know, I missed you too.” Still holding Jeanne. Her body still pressed tightly against mine we stared into each others eyes. Jeanne said, “I bought a new dress yesterday, just for you.” “I can’t wait to see it.” Giggling, Jeanne said, “I can’t wait to take it off in front of you.” “I’ll like that too.” “It’s going to be a wonderful evening.” “Especially if you have a wonderful day.” Stepping back, Jeanne looked at me and asked, “What do you mean?” Grinning, I said, “I’m going to spend the day imagining you pleasuring your bosses.” Shaking her head, Jeanne said, “Michael, I told you the other day, I’m a legal secretary. I may be a slut and I may occasionally party with my employers, but during the day it’s strictly business.” I shrugged. “I’m sorry, I have my fantasies.” Jeanne laughed. “And I love those fantasies, but sadly, they are just fantasies.” “Okay, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…” “There isn’t any reason to be sorry. I told you, I love that you’re having that fantasy. It’s just that while I may be a slut, I still take pride in my work. I’m a damn good legal secretary. I don’t want any confusion about why they’re employing me.” “I understand. Please forgive me. I may be an accountant, but sometimes I still let my imagination trump my rational thought.” “And I hope you never stop doing that.” Jeanne smiled at me. “But Michael, if you’re going into your office today I suspect you’re going to be encountering another equally exciting fantasy.” “What do you mean?” “Are you going to your office today?” “I’d planned to stop in.” “David and Ruth have a fantasy.” Remembering what Jeanne had told me during almanbahis our telephone conversation the other night, I said, “I don’t know Jeanne. Ruth works for me. We have a professional relationship. I think this is similar to the situation in your office.” “No Michael, it’s not similar at all. Ruth and David are old friends. Ruth loves you, not as much as she loves David, but she does love you.” “And I suppose I love her too, but…” “Michael, they want this. Don’t let them down.” Chuckling, I said, “This might be the first time a wife has demanded that her husband let his sexy office manager give him a blow job at work.” “While I doubt it’s the first time, It’s probably not very common.” Jeanne giggled. “But I suspect we’re a bit more adventurous than most people.” “Just a bit.” I was grinning at Jeanne. “Michael, let them do this. It will make both Ruth and David very happy. They’re our friends.” “You’re serious.” “Yes I am. Didn’t Amy and Mel teach you that sex was about fantasies?” “They did.” “This is one of Ruth and David’s fantasies.” “I may be so nervous that I won’t even be able to get it up.” “Leave that to Ruth. Believe me, I’ve seen her in action. She has skills.” “Okay.” I was still chuckling at what I considered a surreal situation. Jeanne kissed me one more time and said, “Now I’d better get going. I’ll be home around 5:30.” “I’ll be here.” “You damn well better be, I bought a new dress and I have an appointment to get my hair styled during my lunch hour.” Grinning, I said, “Tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms and alien invasions won’t stop me from being here.” “Alien invasions?” “Damn right.” “Like from Mars or Jupiter?” “Maybe even Alpha Centauri.” Jeanne burst out laughing. “Michael Nolan, I love you so much.” “And I love you too Jeanne Nolan. Now get going or you’ll be late.” Jeanne kissed my cheek and said, “I’ll see you tonight sweetheart.” And then she hurried out the door to the garage. After taking a minute to tidy up the kitchen I followed Jeanne into the garage. She was already gone. I got into my Escape and backed into the street. My first destination was Iverson’s Garage. Iverson’s was a downtown parking ramp. My firm leased eight parking spaces there, four for employees and another four for clients to use when they have to come into the office. Last August I parked my Lexus in one of the spaces. It was time to retrieve it. As I was driving downtown I looked at my Escape. It wasn’t as luxurious as my Lexus, but it had personality and it had become a friend. Suddenly I realized that I didn’t want to part with it. It had carried me through my odyssey. Now it seemed like it would be an unconscionable affront to abandon it. I thought about my Lexus. It was a car, a luxury car, but that’s all it was. There was only one possible conclusion. I was keeping the Escape which meant that the Lexus had to go. I thought about selling the Lexus, but then I had a better idea. I pulled into a convenience store parking lot, parked, picked up my cell phone and sent a text to my daughter Jodie. “Call me when you have a free moment.” She was teaching high school English. I knew I couldn’t just call her. Just as I was about to start my Escape again my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID. It was Jodie. I answered the call. “Hi daddy, what’s up?” “Hi Jodie. Have you got a minute?” “Yes, you’re timing is perfect. This is my preparation period.” “Are you still driving that old Chevrolet?” “Yes, of course I am. I’d love to buy a better car, but I can’t afford it. I’m a first year teacher.” “What about Teddy? Does he have a decent car?” “Daddy he’s a first year teacher too. He drives an old Dodge.” “So the two of you could use a better car.” “Of course we could, are you in a buying mood?” “No I’m in a giving mood.” “I don’t understand.” “I’d like to give you my Lexus.” “Really?” Jodie paused and then she asked, “Why?” “Because I love you and I’ve become attached to my Escape. I don’t want to give it up.” “You’re serious.” “Yup.” “Does mom know about this?” “Your mother has her own car and if she’s not happy with it I’ll buy her a new one. This is between you and me.” “You really are serious?” “Yes I am.” “Your Lexus is a nice car.” “Yes it is. That’s why I want to give it to you.” There was a pause. Finally Jodie almanbahis yeni giriş said, “I don’t know what to say.” “Say yes, Jodie you’ll be doing me a big favor. I want to keep driving my Escape.” Laughing, Jodie said, “Okay daddy, I can only be so polite. Teddy and I would love to have your Lexus.” “It’s yours.” “Except…” “Except what?” “What about Tricia? This isn’t fair to her.” “Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to make it even for Tricia.” “Send her to Tucson to see Paul. That’s all she wants.” “Jodie, I wish I could do that, but I can’t.” “Why not?” “Paul’s not yet ready.” “Are you sure?” “Believe me, your mother and I are keeping a very close eye on this situation.” “I’m sure you are, it’s just that…Daddy, Tricia is ready, I know she is.” “Yes, I’m certain she is, but Paul has to be ready too.” “What if he falls in love with one of those dancers in Tucson?” “Then that’s what will happen. It’s Paul’s life. He gets to live it the way he wants to live it.” “I know, but if that happens it will destroy Tricia.” “No it won’t. Your sister is a strong woman. She’ll survive.” “Yes daddy, you’re right. Of course you’re right. She is strong and she will survive, but that’s not enough. I also want her to be happy.” “Your mother and I want that too, but Paul gets to choose his own path to happiness and while all of us hope that it will include Tricia, it is his choice. Jodie, this is a situation that has to resolve itself in its own time without our intervention.” “I know.” “Right now our job is to support Tricia. Amy and Mel are taking care of Paul.” “I understand. I just feel guilty that I’m so happy and Tricia is so sad.” “Jodie, you shouldn’t ever have to feel guilty about being happy. Life is a series of experiences. While some of those experiences make us happy, some make us sad and some are trials, all of them give life meaning. When we see pain, suffering and sadness we should do everything we can to alleviate it, but we should still enjoy our moments of happiness.” “Daddy are you and mom happy?” “Yes Jodie, I think we’re very happy.” “You were both sad for awhile.” “Yes we were. We were confronting change. Change can be difficult. It sometimes causes sadness.” “I wish that Tricia and I had done more to help you last August.” “I don’t think there was much you could have done. This was something your mother and I had to work out on our own.” “But you did work it out.” “Yes we did.” “I’m glad you’re letting her play with other men. Sex is fun. It should be freely enjoyed.” “I now agree with you.” “Daddy, that makes me really happy.” There was a pause. The conversation was becoming awkward for both of us. After a moment I asked, “So when do you want to pick up the car? It’s downtown at Iverson’s garage. It’s been sitting for five months so they’ll probably have to charge the battery” “That’s okay, Teddy and I don’t get home until 4:30. He’ll have to drive me. We could be there at 5:00. Do you think they’ll have it done by then?” “I’m sure they will. I’ll leave the keys with the garage manager. His office is on the street level next to the entrance.” “We’ll find it. Daddy this is exciting. We’re going to have a really nice car.” “Yes you are. We’ll take care of the details this weekend.” “Thank you daddy, thank you very much.” “You’re welcome Jodie.” After ending my telephone call to Jodie I drove downtown to Iverson’s garage, parked my Escape in one of the firm’s visitor’s spaces on the third level, took a quick look at my Lexus and rode the elevator down to the street level. Martin Keller, the garage manager was in his office. Well over fifty and a a fixture at Iverson’s, Martin once told me that he’d started working at the garage when he was seventeen. I didn’t doubt him. Overweight and balding, I was certain that Martin had emerged from his mother’s womb smoking a cheap cigar. He was also one of the most honest and reliable men that I’d ever known. I quickly explained the situation. Martin assured me that he would be at the garage until 7:00 and promised that he would get the keys to Jodie. Slipping a twenty dollar bill into his hand, I thanked him. He nodded. Confident that Jodie and Teddy wouldn’t have any trouble getting the car at five, I left the parking ramp, crossed the street to the Exeter Building almanbahis giriş and rode the elevator up to the eighth floor. As I stepped out of the elevator I remembered how angry I’d been the last time I walked down this hallway to my office. I smiled. Pride and our perception of what makes us look weak and what makes us look strong has such a significant influence on our behavior. When I reached the office door I paused. I suddenly felt like I was about to reenter an earlier life, a life I’d left behind five months ago. As I grasped the door knob I asked myself if I wanted to return to that life. I wondered if I could return to that life. I stood holding the door knob for several seconds. Finally I realized that I wasn’t starting an entirely new life. Much of my old life, notably Jeanne, my daughters, the people on the other side of this door and my profession were part of the fabric of my being. I could never reject those parts of my life. Jeanne was wrestling with similar issues. While she was now a slut, she was still a woman of substance. She continued to take pride in her professional prowess. She was a skilled, reliable legal secretary. I was a successful accountant with close professional friends. It was time for both of us to meld our old lives with our new values. Taking a deep breath, I turned the door knob and opened the door. Ruth, Jason Ridner, the accountant who been with me for over eleven years and a young man I’d never met were huddled over Ruth’s desk discussing a file. I assumed the young man was Bernie Kyle, the accountant they’d hired to fill in for me after I left. All three of them looked up. Jason stared at me. After a moment he smiled and said, “Damn look at what the cat dragged in.” I chuckled. Ruth walked over quickly and threw her arms around me. As she hugged me she said, “Michael Nolan, I’ve missed you so much.” “I’ve missed you too.” Jason shook my hand. “It’s good to have you back boss.” Bernie Kyle was discreetly standing back. I walked over, extended my hand and said, “You must be Bernie Kyle.” “Yes sir.” “I’m Michael Nolan. I’ve heard very good things about you.” “Thank you sir, I try.” “Before we talk about anything else, I want you to know that you are going to continue to have a job here.” A look of relief swept across Bernie Kyle’s face. “Really?” “Yes really. When you find good people, you try to keep them.” Now smiling, Bernie said, “Thank you sir, thank you very much.” I felt Ruth’s hand on the small of my back. It was her way of letting me know that she was pleased with my decision. Jason said, “Boss will you tell us a little about your trip? I’ve been so envious. I’d love to take a solo driving trip around the country. It’s kind of a fantasy for me.” Ruth asked, “Without Barb? Jason honey, how do you think she’d feel about your fantasy?” “She’d kill me, but dammit Ruth, a guy can still dream,” Chuckling, Ruth said, “Yes Jason, he can. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to allow reality to put a damper on your dream.” “Thank you.” Jason was smiling. I said, “Jason, there’s not really a lot to tell.” “Not a lot to tell? I heard you lived with two strippers in Tucson.” “For a couple of months.” “You did? You really did?” “Yes Jason, I really did. They’re now very close friends.” “Boss, in the fantasy world of happily married men you are now a god.” “Jason, you know a little bit about what happened between Jeanne and me.” “Of course I do boss. I was with you when it all blew up.” “So you know why I left.” “Yeah, I do.” Jason voice was now quiet and serious. “First of all let me tell you that Jeanne and I have worked almost everything out.” “I know that. Ruth has kept me posted.” I looked at Ruth. She quickly interjected, “About you and Jeanne, just about you and Jeanne.” I gave her a quick nod acknowledging that I now understood that Jason didn’t know anything about the change in her relationship with David. Turning back to Jason, I said, “Let’s just say that during my trip I not only met several interesting people, I was fortunate enough to meet people who were able to help me understand the changes that were occurring in my life.” Jason nodded. I said, “Amy and Mel, those are their names, are now good friends.” “I understand. I hope that I can meet them some day.” “I’d like that too.” Ruth said, “Michael, everyone who knows you wants to meet them.” “And maybe someday everyone will get the opportunity.” Turning to Bernie Kyle, I said, “We’re being rude.” Shaking his head, he said, “No sir, you’re not being rude.