Outsourced Ch. 02byktmccoll©
This story is the sequel to "Outsourced". While it perhaps can be read as a standalone story, it'll probably make more sense if you read Outsourced first.
I've given birth to a beast with two backs that's even now snuffling and snorting in my bedroom, whooping in carnal exultation while I'm trying to work.
I may have blundered, I realize now, thinking that I could outsource the lovemaking part of my relationship with Rick to the likes of Naima, a noisy she-devil with beguiling eyes, adolescent flexibility, and few inhibitions.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, this outsourcing. I've never been that keen on sex, never one to moan in slack-jawed breathlessness at having someone's overheated organ thrust into my tender bits. Then there's the orgasm face, shared by those who either fuck for a living or play air guitar. I'm too self-conscious to allow my face to dissolve into that screw-eyed rictus of gratification, too jaded to gawp with cross-eyed wonder at any man's erection.
I guess I'm a shrew.
These things I know about myself, and that is why the outsourcing of my carnal duties to my husband offered a perfect answer to his appetites and my inability to satisfy them. It had been a rational decision. I love my husband and had hoped that outsourcing would spare Rick and me the sordid face of infidelity – the furtiveness, the secrecy, and the stress of discovery. I am self-aware enough to know that infidelity would have been the inevitable outcome of our vastly different interest in sex. Rather than trap him in the prison of our vows, I chose to free him to exhaust his lust with a professional, for both his sake and mine.
That was the theory, at least.
There's a shriek from the bedroom and my uneasiness with the arrangement increases.
It's not that I've suddenly come to my senses or have realized the error of my ways. It's that I also agreed to be responsible for quality assurance. What had I been thinking? I should have outsourced that too. Judging by the noises that emanate down the hall, the quality of their coital gymnastics needs no assurance from me. At this point, I wish they would just get a room and leave me in peace. Normally, they schedule their sessions for when I'm not home, which is blessedly a lot of the time. Tonight, though, I'm home early, having forgotten that tonight was the night that a foreign and sweaty funk would invade my bedroom.
I'm distracted and the report I'm trying to read floats in the halo of my desk lamp. I can't focus. I should just leave and go back to the office.
But no, this is my house as much as his.
Good God, I think, they're going at it like teenagers. No, that's not quite right. Teenagers would be more quiet, afraid of discovery, of being caught doing the nasty or whatever they call it these days. Rutting hyenas, I think, that's what they sound like.
Ironically, I'm trying to study a cost-benefit analysis of my company's own foray into outsourcing. The numbers look good and the projects that we've outsourced are more profitable than those sourced at home. There's a simple, reassuring truth in numbers.
A high, warbling shriek emanates from our bedroom, followed by a quick tattoo of thumps. Must be the headboard hitting the wall, or maybe they've fallen off the bed. Serves them right, I think, for distracting me from my work.
I should ask them to keep it down. After all, I'm paying for it. The least they can do is respect my desire for peace.
But damn, it sounds like they're having fun in there. How can anyone be so uninhibited, so demonstrative in their pleasure? Obviously they have their eyes closed; otherwise they'd have seen their fuck faces and would have long since died of acute embarrassment.
Rick probably doesn't even realize that I'm here, I think. If he knew that I was working here, I'm sure that he'd keep things to a dull roar.
Frustrated, I get up and make my way to the bedroom, rehearsing my admonitions to them. Gentle but firm, I remind myself. Those are the two qualities that have served me well in business.
I tiptoe down the hall and hesitate for a moment at the bedroom door. My anger and courage dissolve and I feel as though I'm doing something dirty and illicit. I quietly open the door and though I know exactly what to expect, I pause. I see Rick's legs draped over the edge of the bed. The rest of him is hidden behind Naima, who is facing me, her back to Rick, straddling his legs. Her long, dark hair curtains her face, but I can see that her eyes are closed.
I knew it!
Delicate hands knead her breasts, small dark nipples peeking out from between slender fingers. She's riding him, her abdomen undulating slowly while her hips sway back and forth. She must be catching her breath because things are pretty quiet now. I enter the bedroom and open my mouth to speak the lines I have rehearsed. No sound comes out. I'm mesmerized by the gracefulness of her motions and think, uncharacteristically, that I've never seen anything quite as poetic.
Rick has never been so graceful in sex, but then, comparing a man's approach to coitus with a woman's is like comparing apples to oranges. Naima is an enticing apple, firm and crisp, while Rick is a plump orange. Maybe a grapefruit. I realize absently that I'm hungry.
I'm rooted in place, watching the physical artistry and focussed movements of Naima. There's a smile on her face and a peace about her, and I wonder whether there's something fundamentally wrong with me, what with sex being a duty, a task to be performed while the mind wanders, touching on tasks undone, alighting on problems to be solved, toying with the notion of blessed sleep if only he'd come already and get the hell off me and grant me just a little less exhaustion in the morning.
They're both quiet now, both intent on whatever sensations they are giving each other.
At length Naima opens her eyes, perhaps sensing my presence. If she's surprised that I am watching, she doesn't show it. She continues her movements upon Rick, but now it's a show for me. I see his swollen cock appear and then vanish within her like magic, the lips of her sex taut around his glistening circumference. She sways back and forth. I've never watched others having sex before until recently. The first time I'd walked in on them I was surprised. This time, I admit that I'm curious.
Naima motions to me without interrupting the hypnotic undulation of her abdomen.
I approach softly, with tentative steps, wondering what she wants until I am mere inches away from her.
She reaches out with both hands and grasps me behind the head, wrapping her fingers in my hair and drawing me toward her. Our lips touch before I can even think of resisting. They meet chastely at first and then with more heat. Before I can even connect the dots of what is happening, her mouth opens and her tongue darts out, teasing my lips and then parting them. Soon my tongue and hers meet, just the tips, the most fleeting of contact. It feels good, I realize with a start. She leans into me, or perhaps I lean into her, and soon our tongues are dancing, exploring each other's mouths as though there's nothing finer in the world. My heart races.
What the hell?
I find that my hands have found her waist. I feel the movement of her hips and in a strange flipping of perspective, it's as though I'm moving them rather than the other way around.
I change position slightly and note that I'm getting aroused by this woman.
I slide my hands up her lean, smooth torso to her breasts. I feel the weight and smooth ripeness of them in my hands.
What am I doing?
What is she doing? Her own hands have moved from my head. One is at the small of my back, the other has insinuated itself between my legs. I'm pinned between her hands. When did that happen? My pants have been unfastened and her fingers are sliding down and over my pubic mound. One finger nestles in the damp folds of my sex, pressing against my clitoris. Part of me is horrified. Part of me wants her to bury herself in there.
Rick moans and breaks the spell.
I come back to myself then, abashed and alarmed at what has taken place. A low and satisfied moan emanates from Naima's throat and I don't know whether it's for my benefit or Rick's.
I disentangle myself from Naima and take a step back. She gives me a little smile and a questioning gaze.
I flee from the bedroom and lean against the wall in the hallway.
What the hell was that? I ask myself.
With my heart tripping in my chest and a strange fluttering in the pit of my stomach, I return to the study to the security of my numbers.
Later in the week I meet with Anna, the project manager of the outsourcing company from which I have obtained Naima's services.
We chat for a few minutes, the obligatory dance before we get down to business.
"I'd like a different resource," I say finally.
If Anna is surprised, only a slightly raised eyebrow betrays it. "I thought you were happy with the quality of Naima's work."
"I am, but..."
Anna waits for me to continue and I fidget, struggling to put my feelings into words. "I'm concerned that Naima has obtained too much proprietary knowledge."
Anna looks at me quizzically. "I would have thought that knowledge would be a good thing."
I shrug. She's right, of course.
Anna places her pen on her notebook. I see that her fingernails are freshly manicured and make a mental note to do the same myself. What with work and all, I've let myself go. "You remember that we all signed a non-competition agreement," says Anna. "There's no concern about Naima using her knowledge for gain outside of the scope of the statement of work."
"Of course, but..."
"I strongly advise against replacing resources now. While it's true that Naima is now intimately acquainted with the subject, bringing another resource up-to-speed would require a great deal of time, and there's no guarantee that you, or Rick for that matter, would be as satisfied with her work."
Anna places her cool hand on mine. "Believe me, it's not unusual to feel some misgivings at this point in an outsourcing arrangement. You probably feel a loss of control, a feeling that you don't know entirely what's going on. That's not unusual. In fact, it indicates to me that you genuinely care about the quality and mutual benefits of the arrangement."
I nod. Anna is entirely correct, and has parried my thrust much as I would have. I seize on the next topic in my arsenal. "And then there's this line item on the invoice. Threesome."
"It was hardly a threesome."
"Naima's status report indicates that the three of you were intimately engaged at the same time in the same place. That's a threesome."
"I may have kissed her," I protest, feeling the heat rise to my cheeks. "But that's pretty much the extent of it." That's not entirely true, but I decide to risk the bluff.
"I'm sorry, Leslie. The statement of work is quite clear on this, and we have to guard against scope-creep. Once a billable activity is initiated, it is invoiced, even if the customer chooses to discontinue that activity before it is completed. I'm sure you understand."
I silently curse Anna. She's good.
So there's no way of getting rid of Naima short of cancelling the contract entirely and incurring a sizeable penalty and Rick's wrath. I admit that it had been a half-hearted effort anyway.
I accept the cliché that seeing Rick and Naima together, or that perhaps having had Naima's hands on me, has awakened something. During my college years when I still had time for such things, I'd read romance novels where a frigid woman would awaken through the rough treatment of a dark, mysterious cowboy or some brutish Viking. It is like that in a way. I find myself thinking of intimacy more and considering the things I could and perhaps should have done with Rick. These thoughts distract me and leave me fidgeting at my desk, flushed and overheated.
From time to time I think of Naima too, and while these thoughts would similarly lead my mind along carnal avenues and groin-tingling detours, it is something I'm reluctant to explore too deeply.
It's like a second adolescence, all heat and turmoil.
But this physical awakening is only part of it. I have to admit that these thoughts are accompanied by a growing uneasiness with outsourcing itself. I realize that it's addictive to get things done inexpensively, but that there's a false economy to accomplishing twice as much in half the time. There's always a hidden cost. Naima, perhaps outsourcing itself, is like a drug, requiring an ever-bigger dose to satisfy the demands of sloth. My own nascent preoccupation with lust suggests that I too have been hooked. I've come to realize that the real cost of outsourcing is not only monetary and a loss of control, but rather a disconnection from the simple pleasure and satisfaction of doing something for oneself.
I can see a time in which we won't be able to function without Naima, and that vision fills me with dread.
Ironically, since Naima's arrival in our lives, Rick and I have become somehow more intimate, though in a non-sexual way. For example, we now frequently take the dog for a walk in the evening. It's not that the lack of sex has opened a wellspring of dog-walking time for us, it's just that whatever tensions existed before Naima are now gone, allowing us to be more communicative and... well... intimate. Without the stress of unfulfilled desire and sexual tension, our conversations are now somehow free of the weight of expectation that lent undue significance to our words.
The dog is happy too with the freedom to apply his urinary white-out on other dogs' scents.
Tonight though, the superficiality of our conversation grates on me. This is what I'd wanted, and now that I have it, I find the lack of expectation empty and a little unsettling. We've become, I realize sadly, little more than friends.
It's not enough. So we walk, hand in hand, like a couple rather than the friends we have become.
"How are things working out with Naima?" I ask.
Rick gives my hand a squeeze. "Great," he says.
We walk a little farther in companionable silence. Actually, it's companionable for him; for me, the silence cloaks a sinking feeling. Unthinkingly, I ask, "What does Naima do that I don't?"
Rick slows. "You don't do anything."
That hurts, but I suppose it's true. I take a deep breath. "I'd like to."
"You'd like to what?"
Rick stops and the dog jerks against his lead. Rick's eyes narrow as he takes me in. "When you say participate, do you mean with me or with us?"
I wince that Rick's use of 'us' excludes me.
And I wince again that I hadn't anticipated his question. My plan was, if not win Rick back from Naima in one fell swoop, then at least to have him consider me as more than a friend again and allow the relationship evolve from that point. It was a half-baked plan, I admit. I really can't compete with Naima. I must be slipping to have entered into a negotiation like this without first having plotted out the most likely scenarios and the expected parries and thrusts. I just shrug. It's a good time to retreat, I think, and come up with a strategy.
But Rick isn't finished. "You're really something else, you know that? First you practically shun me in bed, and then you pawn me off on someone else. Then, for whatever reason, you want to take control again."
"Maybe I realize my mistake."
He knows that it's a big admission for me. In a novel, the male protagonist would have melted at this point, reduced to the misty-eyed realization that what was lost had been found again, grateful and not a little bit aroused by the notion that he could once again possess the woman who'd been denied him. But here, there's a moment of surprise followed by the onset of anger. I recognize the anger and it heartens me a little; indifference is what I'd been most afraid of.
"What if I'm happy with the way things are now?" he says. "Maybe your mistake is one of the best things that has ever happened to me."
That stings, but at least now I have a better idea of what I'm up against. I could point out that I'm paying the tab for Naima and that I don't want to any more. I might mention that another man – a better man – might have refused my proposal in the first place, might have fallen on the sword of his vows. But escalating this conversation to that level wouldn't get me what I want. I realize negotiation is futile and runs the risk of having us become entrenched in our positions.
I have to try another approach. I have to better lay the groundwork. It was naive to think that my words would sway him. Actions, I remind myself, speak louder than words.
I'm at work. It's Friday night and my colleagues have left. The cleaning crew has come and gone as well. I know that Rick is meeting Naima tonight. I know also that I need to act, but have no idea of how to go about it.
After the unnerving debacle of Naima's last visit, I'm reluctant to go home. That said, I'm also distracted and unable to work, thinking that they will soon be together. They might as well be fucking in the office next to mine for all of the work I'm doing here.
My intention to formulate a plan has not evolved beyond intention. I'm great in the boardroom and among managers, but campaigns of intimacy are beyond me. But it's clear to me that I can't act from my desk at work. It's unclear to me how I might act at home, but something draws me there. I quickly pack up my things and hustle to the car.
I see Naima's car in the street and curse her punctuality and my own uncharacteristic impetuosity. I sit in my car, deliberating and feeling like a stranger from my own home.
I slip into the house. Initially, silence greets me. Then I hear that the shower is running. I'm drawn to the master bedroom. From the ensuite, I hear voices, muted beneath the hissing of the water.
I stand in the middle of the bedroom and imagine what is taking place within the clouds of steam. Are their hands on each other, slippery with fragrant soap? Is she perhaps on her knees before him, servicing him while hot water cascades over them? Or has she contorted her supple body into some impossibly inviting configuration in the confines of the shower, inviting him to take her in some new and exotic way?
The images course through my mind and I realize that if I can think these things, I can do them as well, perhaps fortified with a few glasses of wine. The fact is that I haven't thought along these lines for a long time.
It dawns on me to that while I have been standing in the bedroom with my unexpected fantasies, the shower has stopped.
As if on cue, Naima and Rick emerge from the bathroom, naked and smelling of soap and anticipation. Naima eyes me appraisingly. Rick is too surprised to speak.
It's too late to beat a hasty retreat and I have nothing to explain my presence here. So I hold my tongue and remain rooted in place. We regard each other for a long moment. My heart hammers in my chest, whether from acute embarrassment or something else, I don't know.
Naima grins and nods her head ever so slightly. She leads Rick to a chair in the corner of the bedroom and asks him to sit. He complies with a curious look on his face and his cock sticking out from between his thighs.
Naima then turns to me. She is a fine specimen, I think, fleeing into detachment because the reality is suddenly too frightening. Her breasts and hips sway as she walks, a languid, desultory movement that slowly closes the space between us, allowing me ample opportunity to take in her contours and exotic colouring. "Hello, Leslie," she says.
"Naima." Her name squeaks out of my mouth, small and furtive. I'm frozen in place, though I want to flee now that my unthinking actions have lead to a naked woman not inches away from me.