Ari Ch. 02byohio©
[Author's Note: This is a sequel to "Ari", one of my favorite stories by Just Plain Bob, a story that stayed with me long after I first read it. Like a number of his shorter stories, it builds the bomb, lights the fuse and sets off the explosion, but without going on to show what happens after the dust settles.
I am deeply grateful to JPB for giving me his permission to post my own continuation, which will have two parts. If you hate what I've written, be sure to blame me and not JPB.]
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. He wouldn't stop and he wouldn't listen to me. I was crying, calling after him, begging for him to wait and let me explain. But he didn't even look back, he just strode off towards his car. Out of my life.
I cried for a solid hour, wept like I'd never wept before in my life—even when my mother died. You know the saying "you don't know what you've got til it's gone?" That's all I could think about.
Finally I pulled myself together, washed my face, went into Charlie's kitchen to make some coffee, and sat and thought. I had always been a good problem-solver; in fact, that's what had made me an indispensable assistant to Charlie, long before I started fucking him, long before I became a part-time whore for the company.
So now I tried to look at my situation as just another problem to be solved. A big one, sure—but just another problem. I loved Bobby, and I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life.
Bobby had worked hard to win me, and it had taken some real doing. When we met I'd been working for Charlie for about four years. For the first year or so I was just his executive assistant; then I became his part-time mistress as well.
Charlie is about fifteen years older than I am, but we were a lot alike. Neither of us was attached at the time (I'd recently broken up with a boyfriend who couldn't handle how much I was away because of work), and we both liked sex. My initial reluctance to jump in bed with him was solely because I was afraid it might complicate our work relationship, maybe even cost me my job.
On the contrary, it made things better. We were good together sexually, for one thing. Charlie was a no-frills, suck and fuck guy; he had lots of energy and a nice-sized cock, and we had a great time. And I found it made working together much better: he trusted me more, taught me more about the business, and gave me more responsibility (and a nice raise).
We both understood that the sex was purely recreational; there was never any romance or long-term commitment. When Charlie was dating a woman, he'd slow down with me—even stop completely if things got serious. And when he was unattached again, he'd be all over me, once a day at least. He had a private suite in our main office building, and I was in and out of it ten times a day anyway, so no one at the company ever saw anything compromising.
And as for my love life, nothing ever seemed to get serious enough with a man to get in the way. I was committed to my job, I made that clear to each new potential boyfriend right away, and none of them lasted more than a couple of months.
The first time I fucked a client happened about a year after Charlie and I had started sleeping together. We were in bed in Denver one evening after a tough meeting with a potental client, and as we rested after a lengthy 69 he said, "you know, that Jeremy Robinson from Altratech is awfully taken with you. You could probably save us two more days of difficult negotiating if you'd just let him jump on your bones."
I looked at him, surprised but not angry. "You want me to whore myself out for the company?"
"Totally up to you, Ari. We're already making a lot of money. I have no doubt that we'll eventually get Robinson to sign with us—maybe not for the number I'm hoping for, but for something we can make a nice profit on.
"It's just that I've watched him looking at you during our meetings. Like a fat kid eyeing the last jelly-doughnut on the plate. If you let him know you might be interested, he'd think his birthday and Christmas had arrived at the same time."
I was silent for a few minutes, thinking about it. Jeremy Robinson was a tall, good-looking guy in his late 30s; certainly a man I would have dated, had I met him under other circumstances. He was single. And he was in a position to make us a lot of money.
I pulled Charlie into the shower, then came back to bed and fucked him again. When we were done I said, "how exactly would this work?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, say I go ahead and fuck Jeremy Robinson to get his business. What's in it for me, beyond whatever fun I have while I'm doing it?"
Charlie thought for a minute. "Well, our top sales people usually get an 8% commission on the first $1 million of a deal, plus 2% of everything on top of that. Robinson's contract will probably be worth $10-12 million, so you'd be looking at a check for about $280,000."
"But you just said that we'll get his business anyway. You'd pay me the whole commission?"
Charlie smiled at me and licked a nipple, making me shiver. "Sure thing. First of all, it'll save us a couple of days of haggling and we'll probably get a better price. And second, it turns me on to think of him banging you. But you have to promise to come straight to my bed when you've taken the starch out of him."
So it was Jeremy Robinson who made a true whore out of me. Somehow in my mind fucking Charlie didn't count—I mean, I was working for him already. Sex with him was something we both enjoyed, but we both knew that's not why he paid me.
But I fucked Jeremy for the money—or, rather, for the business he'd give our company. Which meant, in turn, for the commission Charlie paid me. Jeremy was greedy and energetic. He was all over me from the moment I arrived in his hotel room, and we did it for half the night. He liked to be sucked, and he liked me riding him, and we did a lot of both.
And when I slipped out of the room early the next morning and into bed with Charlie, I was almost too tired to enjoy my triumph. I did say "almost"—I have always liked a lot of sex, and Charlie was so turned-on by having sloppy seconds (or fourths) that his enthusiastic fucking brought me to one of my best orgasms ever.
After Jeremy Robinson, there were a few more—never more than 3-4 times a year, and never anyone but an important client. Charlie was fine with it. In fact it turned him on, and I found it incredibly exciting, the idea that men wanted to fuck me so much that they'd give our company their business.
Naturally I was careful. I was on the pill, to begin with. And I made the men use condoms (all except Charlie—he absolutely refused); and both Charlie and I got tested regularly, just to be sure we were healthy.
Charlie and I soon worked out a system for my commissions: I'd take some of it in cash, and the majority in company stock. This was on top of my very good salary, so I was well on my way to building up a major nest-egg.
And then Bobby came into my life. We met in a fancy restaurant when I stumbled into a waiter, who poured half a bottle of expensive red wine all over Bobby's suit! I was incredibly apologetic, and before we went our separate ways Bobby had wormed my phone number out of me.
I figured our relationship would go pretty much like the affairs I'd had in the past: hot and heavy for a while, and then he'd get tired of my work schedule and my frequent traveling and we'd say goodbye. But several things were different with Bobby.
First of all, I found I cared for him a lot. He was smart and funny, but so were many of the other men I'd dated. But Bobby was also sweet and attentive and a terrific listener. My high-powered job didn't threaten him, it interested him. He loved to hear about Charlie and the company and the work I did (though needless to say I never breathed a word about the sex part). When I had to be away he was patient and affectionate; he'd arrange for flowers to show up in my hotel room, along with cute little love-notes. He missed me, but he never tried to make me feel guilty about my traveling. Instead he would come pick me up at the airport, take me to his apartment and make me a delicious dinner.
And sex with Bobby was the best I'd ever had. I'd always been a girl who liked it hard and fast—intense and energetic, and frequently if possible. Bobby could do it that way, and he'd fuck me as hard as I wanted if I asked him to. But the gentle side of him came out in bed too: he loved just to hold me and caress me, to kiss my hair and stroke my breasts, to tease me with his fingers and his lips until I was shaking with desire. Nobody had ever made me feel so loved in bed before—I guess because nobody had ever really loved me before.
After four months I knew I was in love and it scared me to death. I wasn't about to give up my career, and I felt sure that Bobby would demand that I quit. But he surprised me. A couple of months later he took me hiking, and at the top of a mountain in the bright sunshine he got down on one knee, pulled out a ring, and asked me to marry him.
And then, when we had "the talk", he surprised me again. I made it very clear that I was keeping my job—that I loved my work and was good at it, and I had no intention of quitting or even of traveling less.
"I know that, Ari," he said. "Your work is #1 in your life right now. I'm just hoping you'll let me be #2. And that some day—no hurry—we'll find a way to bring some kids into the picture."
I surprised him then. I threw myself into his arms, and said, "yes Bobby, yes I'll marry you". And I cried.
Our married life was happy, even joyful. Unlike many couples, we somehow found a way to keep the same spark we'd had when we were dating. I think that my traveling was part of it, actually. Being away from one another 10-12 days each month meant that we really treasured the time we had together. Every reunion meant a romantic evening together, and some energetic reconnecting in the bedroom. And our time together always seemed too precious to waste on arguing, so we almost never fought. To sum it up, I pretty much felt like the luckiest woman on earth.
And what about my whoring? In my mind, it was simple. My recreational sex with Charlie, and my occasional romps with customers of the company, were all part of my work. I'd made very clear to Bobby that I wasn't giving up my work, and he'd agreed. So to me, what I was doing never felt like cheating (or at least not much). It was part of my job, and—needless to say—I left it all at the office. When I was at home with Bobby, I was entirely his, and thoughts of Charlie or the other men I'd screwed didn't even enter my mind.
Did I feel guilty? Did I think Bobby was getting a raw deal? From time to time, yes, it bothered me. That's where the twelve-hour rule came from, and saving my ass just for my husband. But I also found a very simple way to justify things to myself. Did Bobby know I loved him? Did I make him happy? Yes and yes. Was there any way that my fucking other men for work hurt him or denied him anything, so long as he never found out? No. Case closed.
Except that now, after more than three years of a very happy marriage, he HAD found out. And I had a major problem to solve.
By the time Charlie got out of bed and wandered downstairs, I had dressed, packed and called for a cab. He saw the suitcases and said, "Ari? What's going on?"
I filled him in on everything that had happened since Bobby arrived. "I don't know if there's any chance at all I can save my marriage, Charlie, but I'm going to try. Consider this my resignation. I've really enjoyed working for you, but it's over."
I've never seen him look so shaken. "Ari, no! Please, don't rush into anything. How about if you just take a couple of weeks off?"
"No, Charlie. There's absolutely no way Bobby would ever even speak to me again if I were still working for you. This is the end."
"And what if you can't get him back? From what you've told me, he was pretty furious."
"To say the least! I don't know if I can get him back—I just know that I'm not working for you, or anybody else, until I've tried everything I can think of."
The cab ride home took nearly an hour, and when I got there a locksmith's truck was just pulling away. Not surprisingly, I found that my key no longer opened the door. I rang the bell, rang again, and kept ringing until the door finally opened and I was face to face with my husband.
"What do you want, whore?"
"Bobby, please, can't we talk? Won't you let me tell you how sorry I am?"
"Sorry for what—that I finally found out about your lucrative side-job? Just go away, Ari."
I felt the tears welling up again. "Please, honey—I love you."
He snorted. "If what you've been doing fits into your definition of love, then I guess I don't want any, thanks."
He started to close the door again. Desperately I cried, "wait, Bobby!"
He stopped and looked at me, and I said, "can I at least get some of my things?"
"I'll give you fifteen minutes. One moment longer and I'm throwing your cheating ass out the front door." He turned on his heel and headed down the hall to his study. A moment later I heard the door close and lock.
I cried as I hurriedly packed my computer and some clothes and my cosmetics; I cried as I dragged my boxes to the front door; and I cried as the cab carried me away, downtown to an anonymous room in a Hyatt Hotel—my new home, I thought.
And I cried most of that night, like I'd never cried before in my life. But by the next morning the other side of Ari was back in charge: the problem solver, the girl who knew what she wanted and needed only to decide how to go after it.
For six or seven years my job had been priority #1—I'd been damn good at it, and made a success of it. Now my marriage to Bobby was priority #1, as grim as things looked, and I was going to give it everything I had.
I spent part of Monday arranging to invest my money from Charlie's company. I had about $600 thousand in a cash account, and about another $2.5 million in stock options that had vested. I put those into a brokerage account. Clearly money wouldn't be a worry for a while. In the afternoon I rented a comfortable two-bedroom apartment, just so I could get the hell out of the Hyatt. And I made some phone calls.
The phone calls were to a number of male friends and acquaintances, to locate the best male shrink in the city. (I said it was for a troubled friend.) My plan was simple: To get past Bobby's anger at me and back into his heart, I was going to need a lot of help. And since Bobby clearly wasn't going to talk to me right away (if ever), I'd need someone else to give me the male perspective—to tell me what Bobby was thinking and I how I should proceed.
I saw Jonathan Erickson on Thursday morning. He was a slim, tweedy-looking guy with a scraggly beard, but he seemed pretty sharp, and I got right to the point.
"My husband has left me, and it's my fault, and I want your help getting him back."
"Is he willing to come see me with you, Ms...."
"It's Arrington Boswell--call me Ari. No, at least not right now. But what I'm hoping is that I can tell you all about him—we've known each other more than four years—and that you can help me understand what he must be thinking and feeling, and how I can reach him."
Dr. Erickson pointed out that this was a rather odd way of doing business, but he let me explain the circumstances of the case. I told him the whole long story—it took the better part of three sessions, and it was Monday when I finally finished. He sat back and looked at me in silence for a long time.
Finally he said, "Ari, you've been a prostitute behind your husband's back. He's just learned that everything important he believed about your marriage is a complete lie—that, far from being faithful to him, you've been banging several other men for money, not least (and on a regular basis) your boss, whom he knows personally.
"To be honest, why should I help you get him back? Why would he WANT you back? I almost feel like calling to offer him my services to help him get over you."
Ouch. I felt the tears come to my eyes. I said, "okay, that was pretty damn blunt. But Dr. Erickson, Bobby isn't your patient—I am. I'm the one sitting here and I'm the one paying you. You should help me get him back because that's what I'm asking you to do. I still think I can make Bobby happy, even if you don't."
Another long silence. Then he said, slowly, "all right. Let's begin with you telling me about your husband, everything you know about him."
Dr. Erickson and I met every weekday for more than seven months. I told him about Bobby's childhood and his rivalry with his big brother, now an Air Force captain; about his football career in high school, his two dogs, his first crush on a girl, everything I could think of. And of course we talked about our relationship and my career, how we had balanced things, the "rules" and lies I'd used to keep Bobby unaware of my whoring.
Gradually I could see a picture of Bobby taking shape in the doctor's mind—more and more as he spoke of Bobby he seemed to have a handle on what my husband would have been thinking or feeling.
And I began to grow a little more hopeful that, with Dr. Erickson's help, I could find ways to reach out to Bobby and get past his defenses. To get him to see what he meant to me, and that I would do anything for him.
"That's going to be the key," Dr. Erickson said one day. "He will need to know that you'll do absolutely ANYTHING for him, anything to get him back. From what you've told me, the important relationships in his life involved competitiveness, struggle, but also mutual respect and trust. With his brother; with his father, who sounds overbearing and forceful but extremely fair; and with the football coach.
"Bobby has thrived in situations where everyone knows what the rules are and everyone plays fair. He doesn't seem to like ambiguity or gray areas. In fact, one of the interesting things about your pre-marital conversations is how well he understood that your job would be priority #1, and your marriage #2. Most men would balk at that. But for Bobby it was clear, well-defined; it gave him security, something to hold onto.
"Now, of course, everything has been blown sky-high. At this point he probably sees your relationship as utterly false from the beginning, one in which you were never truthful about anything."
I started to protest, and he said, "I know, Ari. From your perspective you told the truth, just without one key set of facts—'by the way, I'm a whore for the company for time to time, and I have sex with Charlie regularly too; but otherwise I'm your faithful wife.' I've known you more than six months now, and I can see that that is how it worked for you.
"But for Bobby it feels like everything was one big lie. There is absolutely ZERO trust left in him, whatever love there may still be. And if we can even get him to start talking to you, you will have to prove yourself to him over and over again.
"He will test you and push you and try to trap you, in every way he can think of. That is, if he's willing to bother with you at all. The other possibility is that his anger and pain will simply fade into indifference, and he'll move on with his life. We'll just have to see."
It may have sounded grim, but I was elated. Like I said, I'm a problem-solver. As long as I can see a way forward and have some kind of plan, I feel like I've got a chance.
It wasn't that Bobby and I had had no contact during these seven months—just not much. At Dr. Erickson's suggestion, I'd done just enough to let Bobby know I still loved him, but without bugging him. No tearful phone calls every night, no oceans of letters or deliveries of flowers.