Chapter Four – Quandary

 

“I’m working late tonight hun.”

 

Jane fiddled with her hair and frowned, “Again?” she asked trying hard not to sound as irritated as she felt.

 

“Yes. Again. I don’t think I like your tone Jane.” Nathan replied coldly.

 

Jane clenched her fist tightly and pushed her nails into her palms. She focused on the pain in her hand as she clenched her jaw. “Sorry.” she said softly through her teeth. “I didn’t mean to–”

 

“You know it’s frustrating when you question me like this Jane.” Nathan cut her off abruptly.

 

“–I know. I–” Jane tried to interject but was immediately interrupted once more.

 

“Questioning me is a sign of disrespect Jane. I don’t tolerate disrespect from anyone, especially my wife.” he hissed.

 

Jane clenched her fists even tighter. “I wasn’t–”

 

“I’ll be home late and that is final. I don’t need to justify myself to you Jane. You should simply accept what I say and that is that.” Nathan continued. The condescension in his voice was revolting to Jane’s ears. She cringed and took a long slow breath. “I trust that when I get home you will have a better attitude.”

 

Jane sighed and shook her head slowly. “Yes.” she capitulated. Much to her own dismay she did it more out of habit then out of agreement.

 

“Yes?” Nathan curtly responded.

 

“Yes sir.” she quipped quickly snapping to attention despite her growing anger.

 

“That’s better.” Nathan replied roughly then disconnected the call.

 

“Love you too.” Jane seethed into the dead line.

 

Jane stared at the phone for a moment shaking her head. How could he talk to her that way? She grumbled and placed the phone back on its receiver. As she did so she caught a glimpse of herself in the hallway mirror. “What the fuck happened to you Jane?” she asked her reflection. “When did you become such a fucking pussy!” she shook her head angrily at herself. She looked down at her body, looking at her hands, her legs, her feet, nothing had changed on the outside. Is this what marriage does? Does it make you complacent and ignorant to the abuses you suffer? Why was she such a pushover now when she had never been before hand? She wanted to punch herself. She wanted to slap some sense into her own brain. And yet she found herself climbing the stairs to their bedroom and robotically going through the motions of cleaning up and organizing the house once more. What had become of her? How could Nathan, the once kind, polite, and sweet man be this same man that belittled her so nonchalantly?

Jane frowned and rubbed her eyes in irritation. She now regretted seeing Sarah earlier today. It was something Sarah had said that had put her into this funk. Now all Jane could see were all the inequities of her relationship. It was as if she had lived the previous ten years in a fog and Sarah was the stiff wind that blew it away.

 

Jane gritted her teeth and stared into the gaping walkin closet in front of her. Was this the distraction that held her in place? She looked through the volume of clothes, shoes, and accessories. Is this why Nathan thought he had the right to treat her like a dog? She frowned and slammed the door shut. “Fuck this.” she growled. “Fuck this.” she repeated to herself stomping down the stairs. She swiped up the keys to her car and strutted straight out the door.

 

“Sarah? Hey I was–” Jane stopped for a moment. “Fuck I didn’t realize I got your voicemail. Just–look. Call me ok?” she paused, “I need your advice.” Then she hung up as she stood in front of her car.

 

Jane looked at the cherry red vehicle, then back at the house, then at the keys in her hand. Was she going overboard? She winced and replayed the conversation in her head. Maybe she was being disrespectful. Was her tone bad? She thought to herself and looked back at the house once more. It’s imposing facade loomed over her with it’s modern castle like appearance. “I did sound like she was accusing him didn’t I,” Jane thought to herself. “No wonder he reacted like that.” she said aloud. After all he was working for her benefit wasn’t he? All of these things, the beautiful house, the luxury car, her clothes, her jewelry. Jane shook her head. He did deserve her respect. He did deserve to be called sir. He earned it. Jane sighed and looked back down at her phone. “Shit.” she exclaimed again and quickly dialed Sarah once more.

 

“Hey, Sarah this is Jane–uhh,” she struggled to find the words, “Hey just ignore my last message kay? I was being–dumb. So–ya. Bye.” she hung up and put her cellphone back in her purse. Jane turned back to the house and made her way across the ornate paving stone path to the threshold of the large glass front door. As she reached down to open it she suddenly had a brilliant thought.

 

Abruptly she changed course once more and took off towards her car. Once inside she pulled out her cell to look up restaurants in the area of Nathan’s downtown office. Finding a suitable one she keyed in their phone number and began driving off down their driveway heading towards the security fence.

 

After a couple of rings a polite voice answered the phone. “Maestro’s, please hold.”

 

Immediately she was listening to soft classical hold music. She took the mild annoyance in stride and after making her way down the driveway and through their security gate Jane turned in the direction of downtown. She tapped away at the steering wheel to an enchanting piece of Mozart. She couldn’t remember the exact title but seemed to recall it had something to do with Turkey. For a few blocks she thought hard but still couldn’t come up with the answer. A block later she exclaimed “Turkish March! Fuck ya!” Jane laughed at herself and remarked how drastically her mood had changed. She no longer felt like she was sitting at home waiting for Nathan to show up. She was being proactive and strong. She was taking the initiative to set up a small romantic dinner with her husband and she knew in her heart he would appreciate it.

 

As the Turkish March came to one of it’s crescendos the music cut out briefly. Jane looked down at her phone and noticed she was receiving another call. She hit a button on the steering wheel and the phone automatically switched to the second call. “Hello?” she asked, unable to view the caller ID now that she was in thicker traffic.

 

“Jane are you ok? You sounded–”

 

It was Sarah. Clearly she had heard the first message and called her immediately without hearing the second which was supposed to negate the first. “–I’m fine.” Jane interupted, “I just had a–”

 

“You didn’t sound ok Jane. Do you need me to come over?”

 

“No, I’m fine Sarah seriously. Besides I’m not at home right now.”

 

There was a pause on the other end of the phone before Sarah finally responded, “You’re not at home?”

 

Sarah was understandably confused. Jane rarely went out alone. “Ya–I’m–” Jane stopped for a moment to concentrate on merging onto an even busier street. “I’m on my way downtown.” Jane explained.

 

“Why?” came Sarah’s immediate slightly confused response.

 

“Nathan is working late today–”

 

“–again?”

 

“Uh–” Jane felt a wave of deja vu wash over her, “Yes. Again. What’s wrong with that?” she asked defensively.

 

“It’s just that–” Sarah stopped to gather her thoughts before continuing, “isn’t that what you were just complaining about today?”

 

“I thought you weren’t listening.” Jane stated coldly. “You said you didn’t want to hear about my crap any more.”

 

“I said I didn’t want to, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t. It’s my job Jane. That’s what I do. I can’t help but listen.”

 

“And judge–” Jane interrupted.

 

“I’m not judging Jane. I’m not.”

 

“It sounds like you are.”

 

“No I’m not. I’m just–concerned. That’s all.”

 

“Well there’s nothing to worry about Sarah. If you must know, I’m heading downtown to surprise Nathan and take him to dinner at Maestro’s.”

 

“Oh–” Sarah stopped for a moment, “Ok. So you’re fine then? For sure?” she asked, mostly to reassure herself that she had done everything a friend could do.

 

“Yessssss.” Jane hissed in annoyance. She felt like everyone was treating her like a child and it was becoming quite irritating. “I’m fine.”

 

“Ok hun.” Sarah replied softly. “Call me later and tell me how it went then?”

 

“Sure.” Jane responded, “Talk to you later Sarah.” and they mutually hung up.

 

Jane looked up at traffic ahead of her and smiled. She was making fantastic time. Grabbing her phone she keyed a couple of buttons and had it redial Maestro’s once more.

 

“Maestro’s please hold.” came the same polite voice and once more Jane found herself on hold.

 

She still felt a little irritated at Sarah. As much as she might have been trying to be a friend all she ended up doing was questioning her decisions. “This must be what Nathan felt like when I questioned him.” Jane thought to herself. “No wonder he was annoyed at me.” She quickly shoulder checked and moved into the exit lane before slowing and taking the gentle turn to the right.

 

The polite voice returned, “Maestro’s can I help you?”

 

“Yes,” Jane replied quickly not sure how much time she had before getting thrown back into the hold loop. “Yes I’d like a reservation for tonight for two please.”

“I see.” the voice responded now dripping in snarkiness. “You’re calling right now for a reservation for tonight?” she said, confirming what she already knew.

 

“Yes.” Jane responded, annoyed, but simultaneously worried that her impromptu plan would be torn to bits by something as simple as reservations.

 

“Let me see what I can do. Hold Please.” she responded.

 

Before Jane could reply with a, “Thank you.” she was listening to classical music again.

 

Jane frowned to herself as she navigated through the complex grid of one-way streets downtown. It would be terrible if she came all this way to take Nathan out with her only to find they couldn’t get in to eat anywhere. She knew that would upset Nathan. He liked everything to be planned out in advance. If Nathan found out she came downtown and then left again he would be quite angry. A growing wave of guilt and dread crept into Jane’s stomach.

 

“Hello? Yes we’re quite busy at the moment. Can I take your name and number and call you back if I can secure a table?” this was a completely different voice from the first and Jane was thankful for that.

 

“Oh yes, certainly. That would be fantastic if you could do that.”

 

“Mmhmm” the voice responded, “Name?”

 

“Jane.”

 

“I’ll need your last name love. I can’t just put ‘Jane’ here on the register.”

 

“Sorry, Jane Vargas.” she responded quickly.

 

“Thank you Miss Vargas. Number?”

 

Jane once more quickly responded with her cell. There was a momentary pause while the friendlier voice jotted down the number. On the line Jane could hear some scuffling in the background. The two voices were discussing something with the phone covered then the snarkier voice came back on the line, much to Jane’s dismay.

 

“Is your husband Nathan?” she asked irritatingly.

 

Jane paused before responding. “How could they know that?” she asked herself.

 

“Ma’am, is Nathan your husband?” she repeated.

 

“Yes, Nathan is my husband. Why?” Jane was thoroughly confused.

 

“Your husband already called for reservations Miss Vargas.”

 

“He did?”

 

There was a loud sigh on the other end of the phone before she responded, “Yes. I’ve got him here. Table for two, 7:30pm. Special request for the quiet booth in the back corner.”

 

Jane pulled over to the side of the road and looked incredulously at the phone. “Wait, what?”

 

“You already have reservations ma’am. See you at 7:30. Thank you.” then she disconnected the line.

 

Jane stared at her phone then picked it up looking at it’s screen half expecting it to explain what just happened. “How did he know I was coming?” Jane asked herself. “Was that why he was being rough with me on the phone before?” she stopped and thought for a moment. “He must have known I was going to come down to surprise him and he surprised me first.” she reasoned.

 

Jane looked at the clock on the dash and saw that she had plenty of time before the surprise reservation. She pulled away from the curb and drove a little ways before turning into a small mall near by. The mall itself was semi-deserted. Most of the shops were empty but for a few straggling customers. Jane wasn’t looking for anything in particular though, she was merely biding her time while she waited for the dinner reservation.

 

After proceeding down to the end of the mall, she turned around to walk back the direction she originally came from. As she did she noticed a small shop with darkened windows out of the corner of her eye. It was an odd site in comparison to the rest of the shops with their brightly lit displays and merchandise proudly displayed in the window. Instead this shop was entirely the opposite. It wasn’t welcoming, it was foreboding. It looked like once you passed through the entrance you would need to recite some secret code, or perform a bizarre handshake. Jane looked down the hallway, then back at the dark shop, bit her lip, and decided she had the time to investigate this curiosity.

 

She placed her hand on the door handle, took a quick breath and pulled it open towards her. As she did there was a whip sound effect that announced her presence followed by a moaning scream. Jane’s eyes opened wide and she jumped in to the store, immediately embarrassed. The door quickly shut behind her and she turned to look into the darkened room. It was surprisingly sisable. There were all manner of displays of items for purchase, but as yet Jane couldn’t quite make out what they were. She looked closer at a display to her right. It looked like a strange selection of necklaces. Jane reached down and picked one up. It resembled a chain of pearls, but these pearls were larger, purple in color, and made out of some rubber like substance. She rotated the necklace in her hand, furrowing her brow as she attempted to figure out how it was supposed to clasp together. Jane looked closer at the display just as a creaking voice came from behind her.

 

“Oh those are very nice.”

 

Jane jumped and quickly replaced the item on a random hook as she turned around. She was face to face with a bright eyed, heavily make-uped twenty something woman. She had four piercings on one ear, and eight on the other. Her jet black hair was short and curved into an impressive pompadour. Jane looked her up and down before responding. If she had to categorize the woman’s look, it would be ‘Sandy’ from Grease meets goth chick from any 90’s movie. Despite the initial shock value, Jane couldn’t help but be impressed by how attractive the overall look was. “S’excuse me?” Jane finally responded.

 

“You’re into ass play then?” the woman asked frankly.

 

Jane tilted her head to the side and looked at the woman like she was from an alien planet. “What?” she couldn’t be more startled by a question.

 

The woman pointed back at the display and immediately Jane’s jaw dropped and she started giggling like a mad woman. The ‘necklace’ she had been holding was according to the display, “The perfect set of anal beads for the experienced ass play lover.”   “Oh shit!” she exclaimed before giggling.

 

“No pun intended?” came the sales woman’s response.

 

Jane turned back to her and laughed, “I’m sorry. I’ve–never been into a store like this before.” She looked around the shop once more with different eyes. Inane objects that didn’t seem to fit together suddenly made sense in this new context. Jane found herself giggling at each display, but couldn’t help but be interested.

 

“Ah I see. Well, I’m Tabitha,” she stuck out her hand in Jane’s direction and instinctively Jane grabbed it and shook it enthusiastically.

 

“Jane.”

 

“So what are you into Jane?” Tabitha asked politely.

 

Jane looked around, then back at Tabitha. It was such a simple and direct question that Jane realized she didn’t honestly have an answer for. “I–I don’t know actually.”

 

Tabitha smirked and nodded. It was clear that Jane wasn’t the first person to enter her shop accidentally. “No worries hun.” she said softly, “I’m sure we can find you something fun here.” she winked and Jane smiled nervously.

“Um–ok?”  Jane replied still slowly shaking Tabitha’s hand.

 

Tabitha turned and pulled Jane gently through the store. “We have all sorts of items for all sorts of varieties.” she stated proudly. “If you’re into sex of any kind, we can find you something to enhance it.” Tabitha turned to Jane and smiled.

 

Jane smiled back and continued to look around the shop like a child entering Disneyland for the first time. “Oh–ok?” she responded glimpsing a collection of furry handcuffs.

 

“If you like to be in control we’ve got any number of restraint devices for him,” Tabitha explained pointing to a display that contained ropes, handcuffs and some other unusual plastic device.

 

Jane looked closer and finally figured out that it was a chastity device for men and she giggled loudly turning to look at Tabitha for confirmation. Tabitha smiled and winked back at Jane. “Oh geez.”

 

“–and if you like to be controlled we have a very large selection for our female customers.” Tabitha pointed to the far larger display area containing a large variety of handcuffs, ropes, whips, chains, riding crops, spurs, and all manner of repurposed hardware. Jane’s eyes grew wide and she found herself staring at all the items in awe. Tabitha took one look at the surprised woman’s face and knew she had found the right section for Jane. “I’ll be over here if you need me.” Tabitha told Jane softly, running her hand over her back before turning and walking back to the till.

 

Jane stood wide-eyed looking at the plethora of items. It was like peeling back the curtain to reveal this whole other world. She picked up a pair of cuffs and twirled them on her finger before returning them to their placing. She looked over the ball gags, the ropes, the sex swing in the corner and despite her lack of intimacy with these devices Jane could quickly see each in use. She imagined herself being tied down like the women on the packages, naked and vulnerable as some studly god ravaged her. Jane dreamt up a scenario in which Nathan was chained to the wall and forced to watch as Jane was teased and tantalized to a excruciatingly beautiful climax. She could see the look on his face as he watched her. The look of terror turn to a look of disgust and finally dejection. Jane smirked to herself thinking about the chastity device. For all the times she was left needing more every night Nathan deserved a night of hopeless craving.

 

The quiet reflective moment she was having suddenly became interrupted as she heard the same whip crack as she had when she entered the store. Jane wheeled around and felt herself ducking behind a display as she looked to see if she knew the person coming into the store.

 

“Jack!” came a shriek from her right and she saw Tabitha hold her arms wide and hug the tall athletic looking man dressed in a track suit.

 

“Hi Tab.” came his gravelly response. “It’s been a while hun. Sorry. Here these are for you.” He produced a fresh bouquet of flowers from inside his track suit and Tabitha shrieked again.

 

“Aww—that’s too sweet of you.” she exclaimed excitedly, quickly smelling them as she swung her body from side to side.

 

“Anything for you Tab, you know that.” he winked and Tabitha giggled. “I’ve got to hurry though.”

 

“Meeting someone?” Tabitha asked excitedly.

 

“Yep.” he answered quickly before winking at Tabitha and walking towards Jane.

 

Jane looked around and tried to hide herself in some manner by staring at a display of riding crops. Despite her best efforts the man was walking directly towards her, he smiled as Jane looked up and accidentally made eye contact. His blue grey eyes drilled a hole through Jane and she felt herself quiver uncontrollably. “Hi there.” he said softly.

 

“Uh–hi.” Jane responded quickly, stammering awkwardly.

 

“I’d recommend this one.” he said gently. The words rolled off his tongue oozing masculinity. He pointed to a riding crop that was adjacent to the one that was in Jane’s hands.

 

She looked back up at him and stared. Her eyes locked onto his as if she was hypnotized. “Oh–ok.” she nodded. Not thinking for a moment she put back the crop she had and grabbed the one he had suggested.

 

“It’s a better quality one. It’ll last longer and it won’t fray like the other one.” he explained soothingly. Jane nodded as if she comprehended what he was saying but in truth she was wondering how his lips tasted.

 

“Thanks.” she said and walked up to the till where Tabitha was waiting for her.

 

“Isn’t he fucking hot?” Tabitha whispered to Jane quietly.

 

Jane nodded slowly, handing the crop to Tabitha.

 

“Don’t you wish you could be his little toy tonight?” she continued.

 

Jane nodded, and handed Tabitha a fifty dollar bill, still watching the man selecting a number of sections of rope. “Uh huh.” she mumbled thoughtlessly.

 

“Your change?” Tabitha said finally.

 

Jane reached out and grabbed the money, tossing it into her purse before grabbing the bag in Tabitha’s waiting hands. “Thanks.” she croaked.

 

“See you soon.” Tabitha responded and Jane slowly walked out of the door.

 

After exiting she felt like she was returning to her own body finally. The spell of the man’s aura was finally lifting from her head. She blinked a few times before looking back down the hallway and walking off back towards her car.

 

Once she was seated back in her vehicle she closed her eyes for a brief moment. The face of the man was imprinted in her mind and she recalled it instantly. The way his hair was styled, the rough stubble, his strong jawline, and those eyes. Jane took a big breath in and sighed, shaking her head as she did. “Wow.” she whispered to herself, vowing to remember him for later when she needed to take care of her own needs. She looked over at the passenger seat where the riding crop rested and laughed. It wasn’t returnable and Jane had no idea what she was going to do with it.

 

She started the car and looked at the clock on the dashboard. It flickered elegantly back at her, 7:00pm. Jane smiled knowing she was in for a nice surprise romantic dinner and she drove towards the restaurant, waiting for her husband’s call.

 

A few blocks later she had arrived at the restaurant, but still had not received his call. She took a ticket from the valet and stood in front of Maestro’s confused. Pulling out her cell she called the restaurant.

 

“Maestro’s please hold.”

 

“–uh?” Jane tried to interrupt but she was once more listening to the same Turkish March as before. She stood irritatingly in front of the restaurant as she waited for the music to stop.

 

“Yes can I help you?” came the voice back on to the line.

 

“Yes, you can.” Jane responded dryly, “Could you tell me if my husband has already arrived for his appointment?” she asked.

 

“Certainly, what is the name?”

 

“Nathan Abbot.” Jane responded.

 

“Oh yes, Mr. Abbot and his guest have already arrived. Did you want me to leave them a message?” she replied after a moment.

 

“–and guest?” Jane responded, confused.

 

“Yes.” replied the increasingly irritated voice. “and guest. Did you want me to leave either of them a message?”

 

Jane was seething. How dare he! How could her husband be such an ass. “He tells me he’s working late and now I find out he’s at dinner with another woman!” Jane thought to herself angrily. “His–guest–can you tell me what she looks like?” Jane asked instead.

 

There was a protracted sigh on the other end of the phone, “He’s with another gentleman ma’am. Did you want to leave a message or not? I can’t occupy this line forever.”

 

Jane opened her mouth, then closed it again. “Sorry, no–No message. Thank you.” she responded finally.

 

“Thanks.” the voice responded before disconnecting the line.

 

Jane looked at her phone, then at the restaurant, then back at her phone. She shook her head, annoyed at her apparent paranoia. Clearly Nathan was at a business meeting and Jane had stupidly interpreted things all wrong. She felt the immediate need to call Nathan and apologize. She felt guilty for being untrusting of him. Considering how she was oozing over the complete stranger in the sex shop not 45 minutes ago, Jane felt especially bad. She quickly keyed in Nathan’s cell number and waited as it rang.

 

A few moments later Nathan’s voice was on the line, “What is it?” he asked angrily.

 

“Hi hun. I just was wondering how you’re doing.” she asked nervously.

 

“Fine. Just at the office right now like I said before.”

 

“You’re–you’re at the office–right now?” Jane replied, now very confused.

 

“Yes, I’m finishing up some reports then I have some other paperwork to take care of. Didn’t I cover this before already?”

 

Jane looked at her phone and then back at the restaurant. “Did you get anything to eat yet? Do you want me to bring you something to the office?”

 

“No. Don’t come to my office. I’ve already eaten. I have to get back to work now.” he disconnected the call without saying goodbye and Jane stared at her phone once more.

 

“What the fuck?” she said aloud.

 

Jane turned to look at the restaurant as she ran numerous thoughts through her head. “How could he say he’s in the office when he’s in the restaurant? Why did he say he already ate when he’ll be eating soon again? What the heck is going on?” Jane felt her body moving towards the entrance despite her not consciously desiring it to do so. With her head swimming with questions she found herself standing in front of the woman she had just spoken to on the phone. “Could you tell me where Mr. Abbot is sitting?” she asked politely.

 

The woman at the front desk turned, looked at the back of the restaurant and pointed to a booth. “Over there.” she answered.

 

“Thanks.” Jane responded, “I just had to deliver something to him.” Jane lied before walking by.

 

She weaved her way between tables and around waiters before she finally made out the outline of her husband and the person he was with. She got a little closer and in the dimly lit room she managed to see her husbands arm resting on the table. Across from him was a younger attractive blonde haired man that looked like he belonged on a beach with a surfboard and not in this fancy restaurant.

 

Just as Jane got within a few yards of the table she saw the younger man move his hand, and place it on her husbands. He stroked Nathan’s hand idly and Jane stopped in her tracks. Nathan turned his hand upwards and the two held hands on the table in a manner that could only be described as lovingly. Jane’s stomach turned and her mouth open wide. Nathan was indeed cheating on her, that much was clear. The shock however, was that he was cheating on her with another man.

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