Fourteen Day Programbytoomuchinmyhead©
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fantasy story contains scenes of a sexual nature, including extramarital sex, unprotected sex, and group sex, and a man watching his wife with another man. If these ideas offend you, please feel free to move on to another story.
Thanks for reading!
"Before we go to get her, there are some things you need to know."
"No, we should leave, now. Now."
"Tom, no, please listen to me." Darla walked him to a chair, guided him into it. She pulled the ottoman closer and sat on it, facing him. "Tom, please", she started, but he was distracted, thinking about Liz. She reached out, touched his face, turning his head towards her. "Tom, please, it's important that you understand before we leave." She looked him in the eyes, wondering if this was going to turn out the way it was supposed to. She took a deep breath, tried to keep her nervousness from showing.
Tom Raines struggled against his desire to leap out of the chair and storm out of the house. He glanced at Darla, and quickly turned to avoid her eyes. He didn't want to lash out at her; she was his only connection to Liz right now. Darla was Liz's best friend for almost ten years, since before Tom and Liz were married, and Tom trusted her, knew her and her husband.
Two weeks ago Liz had gone out on Friday night with Darla to celebrate Liz's 29th birthday. "Girl's night," they said. "Out with friends," they said. Liz had seemed preoccupied, but he had put that down to getting close to thirty.
She didn't come home that night.
The next day Darla was at Tom and Liz's house early in the morning. "Liz is OK," she assured him, "she's fine, she's not hurt or in trouble or anything." Her voice, normally confident and cheerful, was guarded. "She, uh," she told him hesitatingly, "needs some time to, um, find some things out," she stammered, "about herself."
In the almost decade Tom had known Darla and her husband, he'd never seen her so reserved and controlled.
"No, you can't see her, or call her," she'd replied to Tom's question. "She's fine, like I said, but she needs to be, uh, she needs to be away for a little bit." Her expression changed to a horrified panic when she saw Tom's face, and she quickly added, "No, not like that, nothing like that, Tom, no, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." She smiled, and for a second Tom saw the Darla he knew, the smiling optimist. "She misses you already, I'm sure, no, she's not leaving and she loves you, you can count on that," she assured him. "She's not like, running out on you, or in detox, or anything. No. Nothing like that." He voice tailed off at the end, returning to the careful, slightly nervous delivery. "She just needs to sort some stuff out." She paused. "I know you miss her." Another pause. "I'll hear from her every couple of days, you know," she added, brightly. "I'll stop by and let you know how she's doing, if you want." She read the eagerness on his face. "I'll do that, then, when I hear from her, I'll stop by." She kissed him on the cheek as she always did. "You'll see, she'll be fine. She'll be better than ever, Tom. Two weeks is all, just two weeks." She was walking back to the car, and turned to call out before she got in. "Don't you worry, sweetie, she'll be fine."
Four times over the two weeks Darla had stopped by to reassure Tom that she'd heard from Liz, that she was fine, doing well. Was feeling good. Was coming along. Was having fun. Generic, non-descript statements. Liz could have been at a spa, a hospital, a camp or a hotel. The first report was welcome, was upbeat, and encouraging. The second and third were just frustrating, and started to feel too vague, like a cover-up, and not a good one. By the last one he was so scared and angry he nearly yelled at her, but by then there were only a few days left, and he didn't want anything to ruin Liz's return. He stressed, and internalized, and rode it out.
And now it was Saturday morning, two weeks had gone by, finally. And Darla was here to take him to Liz.
"Liz is OK, I promise."
"You told me that before."
"Tom, please. You have to listen." She took another breath, started again. "She's fine. I know you've been worried," she paused when she heard him grunt, but she kept on, "and that you're anxious to go get her, to bring her back." She watched as he took a deep breath, and he seemed to relax. "But really, she's fine, she's happy. You have to trust me." She watched him for a reaction. He was listening, but he was trying hard not to be convinced.
"I know it's been tough for you without Liz, being alone, and being worried, not knowing where she was or what she was doing. Who she was with. Or why." She put her hand on his knee. "Believe me, I know it's been tough for you. But soon we'll go, and in two hours we'll be there, and you'll see for yourself. She's fine, really. The people who have her would never harm her, or mistreat her, or anything."
"You said, 'the people who have her'. Not the people she's with. Have her. Like she's being held."
"Oh, no, it's not like that, not at all," she explained. "She's not being kept against her will, or anything like that. No," she shook her head, waving her hand dismissively, "no, nothing like that, don't you worry. She wants to be there, you'll see when you talk to her. She wants to be there."
"She wants to be there. Not here, with me." He turned his head, resisting again.
She leaned in closer, speaking softly, more urgently. "Tommy, honey, don't you even think that way. She loves you, you know that. And you love her, or you wouldn't be so worried about her." She rubbed his leg, gently, feeling the muscle flex beneath his pant leg. "She's my friend too, remember. Do you think I would let anyone hurt her? Ever?" She let her hand linger there, reached with the other and turned his head back to face hers again, gently. "She is fine, she's happy, and she loves you. You have to believe me." She sat, leaning towards him, both hands on his thighs now. "I can't let you get in that car until I'm sure you're all right. I need you to relax, it's a two-hour drive, and I want to be sure you're relaxed before we leave."
Two weeks without Liz, she thought, I bet he's tense. Poor thing.
Tom tried to hold her gaze, but couldn't. His mind was racing with anxiety and frustration. He was half elated to see Liz again, and half furious at her leaving. He was angry at Darla for defending her absence and grateful for the information she brought, but confused by her role in this. He imagined she wanted to come back to him, didn't want to come back, would come back changed, a different woman than who he married, wouldn't love him anymore. All these thoughts and emotions kept his brain under a constant barrage, distracting him, making it hard to concentrate, stopping him from thinking clearly.
He struggled again to focus on her, to listen to what she was saying. He knew she wouldn't bring her to Liz until he was under control.
"I'm having a hard time with this." He tried to keep the tension out of his voice, but failed.
"Of course you are. You miss her, and you're worried about her, even though I've told you that she's fine, and happy. But then you worry because how could she be happy away from you for so long? Right?" She recognized the relief in his expression, and his face relaxed. "Sure, I understand, but you need to understand that she's doing this for you. For both of you. Because she wants it for both of you." She leaned in closer, held his face in her hands, focused his attention on her words. "You are going to love the change in her. She's the same person you love, the same one I love, only better for her, and for you." She looked into his eyes, and finally felt the tension slip out of his frame, saw his face de-stress. He was ready. "We're going to go now. When we get there, you have to promise me you'll listen, and not be angry, or lose your temper, and behave yourself. She's nervous about what you will think, and she needs your support." She was standing up, grabbing her bag, heading for the door. She stopped before she opened it. "You're nervous, because you don't know what she's thinking or doing. She's nervous because she doesn't know how you'll react. She has a lot at risk here, and it's important that she get your support."
Tom followed her to the cars, closing the door as he left. Needs his support? My support for what? New imaginings crowded his brain as he got into his car, and got ready to follow Darla, for the first half of a two hour drive, trapped in the car alone with his thoughts.
As they had arranged prior, after driving mostly west for about an hour, Tom followed to a parking garage, where he left his car. He came back out to the street, and got into the passenger seat of Darla's car. "Sorry, Tom, but it's the only way they'll let me bring you." Tom remembered their conversation as Darla wrapped the scarf around his head several times. The people, this organization where Liz was, did not want him to know their location. A secret religious cult? Political dissidents? Darla tightened the scarf at the back of his head, and then he felt another one wrapped over that one. "Just making sure," she said, "we want to make sure they allow us in without trouble."
Darla put his seat back down, reclining him. "Just so you're out of sight until we get back on the highway," she told him. She felt him pull away, and he receded back into his thoughts of his wife. He didn't notice when they left the side streets, or entered the highway. He had no awareness of time passing. He didn't hear her occasional comments and questions. He remained calm and blind for the next hour. He finally heard her tell him they were about a mile away. Not long after that he heard the tire sound change, felt her drive, slowly, for a minute of so, then come to a stop, and turn off the engine.
He heard her door open, and she said, "You can take that off now, we're here." He yanked the scarves off his head, blinking into the sudden late-morning light. He looked around as she approached his car door. They were parked in front of a house, large and old, but well-kept, possibly refurbished. The circular driveway they were parked in had a section leading off behind the house, but the main exit curved away into a break in the trees. The property that he could see was neat and expansive, but surrounded by a line of woods that blocked all view outside. Or in, he assumed. Whatever this place was, you'd never see it from the road.
He was getting out of the car as she came around from the side to join him.
"Are you ready?"
"Sure. I think so." He suddenly had misgivings. Should he be not ready? "Is there something – you said she was OK. Is there something I should know?" he asked as the climbed the steps to the front door.
"No, just stay calm." She rang the bell. "Remember, if you lose your cool and freak out, they won't let her leave. So stay calm, no matter what."
"What? What do you – you never said that they would keep her – why would I freak out? Is there something you're not telling me?" He heard the door knob turn, lowered his voice. "What is this?"
Darla lowered her voice as the door began to open. "Liz will explain it. Just remember not to get angry, or you'll be going home without her." Her voice trailed off as the door swung open and she greeted the person inside.
"Darla, good to see you, dear. Come on in. And this must be Mr. Raines?"
"Yes," Darla answered, "Tom, this is Will, he's one of the supervisors here."
"Associate, actually, but we try not to focus on titles. Mr. Raines, welcome. Robert is inside, he's anxious to meet you, and I'm sure you're anxious to see Liz." Will extended his hand, and Tom found himself shaking hands with a handsome, smiling man, slightly older than himself, maybe late thirties. He was dressed casually, and carried his well-built frame easily. He had one of those momentary pangs of male jealousy guys get when they see another male who is ...more. But it passed.
"Uh, nice to meet you, Will," he blurted. "Is Liz here? Can I see her?" Will cast a surreptitious glance at Darla, and stepped back from the door, leading them inside.
"Yes," he said slowly, "Liz is here, and you'll be seeing her soon. We have some folks to meet first ..." he trailed off, this last part more to Darla than to him.
"Oh, no problems, Tom is just a little eager, is all, he misses her dearly."
They had arrived in a room off the entryway, and Will directed them to chairs facing a desk. "Well," he said, smiling again, "I'm sure Liz feels the same, and we'll have you two back together and on your way shortly." They sat, and Will headed for the door. "I'll let Robert know you're here, Mr. Raines. Darla, you and Mr. Raines relax for a minute."
He left and the door closed.
"Darla," he turned on her, and edge in his voice, "what is-"
"Tom," she interrupted, sternly, but in low softly. Tom saw an intense look on her face that made him sit back, and her tone, so serious, made him stop and listen. "Tom, you listen to me, and listen good. Do not make these people nervous if you want to take Liz home today. You listen to what they say, and do what they tell you, and agree with them, and everything will be fine, understand? If they say something you don't like, then pretend you're all right with it."
"No buts, Tom. I'm serious. If you make them nervous or uneasy, you will be driving home alone, and Liz will stay." She took a deep breath. "Tom, I know I am asking a lot of you here, but you have to trust me, please. It will be fine, I promise. Better than fine. But please, relax, accept what they tell you, and don't challenge them." She paused. She was still speaking softly, still insistent, but almost pleading now. "Please, promise me."
Completely confused now, he surrendered. "I promise. I will accept what they say, and I won't cause any trouble. I just want Liz home."
"I know sweetie, and you'll have her home."
"Is it all right if I ask questions?"
"Sure, just as long as they don't feel you are challenging, or objecting, or anything."
"All right, Darla, I am in your hands. I'm trusting you." He sank back in his chair, resigned to behave, and take Liz home.
As if on cue, the door behind them opened.
"Ah! Darla! Wonderful!" Tom turned to see a somewhat older man, mid-forties, he thought, enter the room. The door closed behind him, and a few lively steps brought him to the desk even as Tom was standing. "No, no, don't get up, really. Mr. Raines, yes? Robert." He offered his hand, "I'm the general manager here. So good to meet you. Liz will be ready to see you in about fifteen minutes," he smiled as he shook Tom's hand. Tom sat back down as Robert bent to kiss Darla on the cheek. "Darla, so wonderful to see you again. Lovely as always." Then he stood, walked behind the desk and sat in the large leather chair.
"Well, Mr. Raines, as I said, Liz will be ready in a few minutes, and we'll take you to see her. Until then, we can-"
"Robert, is it?"
"I didn't catch your name?" Tom said. He was trying to control himself. "You said Robert? Robert what?"
"Actually, I didn't say." The man paused, suddenly cautious. He sat forward in the chair, then and rested his forearms on the desk. He appeared to be in remarkably good shape. "Robert will do for now. I hope that won't be a problem." He smiled, but Tom noticed the glance he gave Darla. Tom looked at her, and she was, well, fidgety.
He looked back at Robert, and then turned to Darla, and said, "I'm fine. Relax." And back to the man behind the desk. "Robert will do. I just want to see my wife, and take her home."
"And so you will. Let me give you an idea of how this afternoon will go. The three of us will chat in here for about fifteen minutes, while the staff brings Liz down to one of the conference rooms. While we're here, you'll learn a little bit about us. When we're done, we'll bring you to Liz, and you and she will spend some time alone, about a half hour or so." He inclined his head, gesturing as if to ask, is that okay with you. "You two have a lot to talk over, and we want to be sure that there are no problems before she leaves." He beamed a smile, and against his will, Tom felt himself smiling back. He didn't want to like this guy, at least, not yet. But he was disarmingly friendly. "Once the two of you have had the chance to talk, I'll join you, with a few of the staff, and we'll have our exit debrief, maybe another forty-five minutes to an hour, and you can be on your way. If all goes well, and it feels like it's going to, we can have you back on the road in two hours." He smiled again. "Sound good?"
"Yes," Tom started. "But can I ask you something?" He noted that Darla, who was silent and still during Robert's speech, sat forward a little when he spoke.
"What is this place?"
Robert chuckled good-naturedly. "Perfectly reasonable, Mr. Raines." He sat back in his leather chair. "We are a private organization developed to help people to overcome challenges in their lives." Tom nodded, hoping for more, and got it. It was sounding like one of those new-age self-indulgent personal realization places. "People come to us because they have seen something in themselves that they want to change. We assist them through that change, and help them to realize the new potential in themselves." He wasn't smiling now, not the salesman anymore. More serious.
"What kind of challenges to your clients need help overcoming?"
"I'm not at liberty to discuss the private concerns of our clients," he replied, gently, but without room for discussion, "not even Liz, until after she has spoken to you. Discretion and complete privacy are our reputation. We deliver excellent results, and are completely professional." He paused. "Part of your time with your wife today is actually a part of the program. It's important that the client feel the changes in them, that they own the process, and the result. So she will be telling you why she is here, why she came here, and what she has gained in herself." He leaned forward again. "It's critical for her to take ownership. But I ask you please, to be as supportive as possible during your time with her. She is still a little fragile, and she needs to know that you believe in her, that you love her, and are with her in this." Again, no longer the salesman. More of a doctor. Or lawyer. Or judge. "Can I count on you, Mr. Raines? It's almost time. Liz should be on her way down now."
"Sure. Of course." Tom felt himself agreeing without really thinking. Robert stood from behind his desk, came around, extended his hand as he approached Tom.
"Great, just wonderful, I can see what she likes in you Mr. Raines." Tom stood, took the offered hand and shook it. "She's anxious to see you, but a bit nervous, as you might imagine, so your support is critical to her. To us all." He started walking Tom to the door. Darla stayed in her seat. "Let me get you escorted to Liz, and we'll join you in about thirty minutes." Robert's hand, assuring and confident, was on Tom's back steering him to the door, which he opened for him. William was there, along with an attractive pleasant looking woman. "You've met Will, this is Ann," he said indicating with his hand, then turned to the pair. "Mr. Raines is ready to see Liz. Could you take him to Conference Three?"
They smiled, "Come right this way, Mr. Raines," and Tom went with them, down a short carpeted hallway, and heard the door close behind him. They passed several other doors, all of which were closed. At the end of the hallway it turned, and another hallway extended into what must be an extension off the back of the house, not visible from the front. The décor matched the real hallway, carpeted and paneled. Unequal numbers of doors were on both sides, all closed. Anne and Will stopped at the third on the left. A simple number 3 was mounted on the closed door. Anne reached for the knob, and opened it, stepping aside.