"I'd like to outsource our lovemaking."
I choke on my steak and reach for my wine to wash it down. "That's funny," I say when I recover.
"Or rather, I want to outsource my part in our lovemaking."
I look at her and she isn't smiling. I think that this must be a joke, a bad joke, brought on by the stresses of her job. Instead, there's a look of intent determination on her face. Her brow is furrowed. I've never noticed how her brow furrows. They must have come on gradually, I decide, something that only time-lapse photography would have revealed. The burden of success has etched her face. Her mouth, which used to curve into an easy smile, is now set in a firm, pink line. She's still beautiful, but the fullness of her face has eroded too, revealing a leanness that wasn't there years ago.
"I'm serious," says Leslie, my wife of several years. "I'm worried that the quality of our relationship is suffering."
"So you want to outsource sex?"
"I know it sounds bizarre, but yeah. Don't get me wrong: I love you and want to be with you. But I've come to the realization that I can't do it all. I mean, you're always complaining about quickies, and that's about all we have time for any more. You know as well as I do that there aren't enough hours in the day, and even when we are willing and there is time, the energy is often lacking. It's not fair to either of us. So I was thinking that if I outsource the sex part of our relationship, it would satisfy your needs and would give me more time to do other things with you."
I shake my head. Leslie has always been driven, but in the arithmetic that governs the allocation of time and effort, I never thought sex would be the thing to be sacrificed. If anything, I thought that she might choose to work less. That's where we're different, I suppose. I'd willingly give up a staff meeting for a roll in the hay. Leslie, on the other hand, would wonder what she was missing at the office, even in the event that the stars aligned and she did indeed have an orgasm. Leslie is right about one thing: I am getting sick of quickies, those frantic coital sprints that leave you winded but strangely unsatisfied, like viewing scenery from the cockpit of a supersonic jet.
"Why not just part ways then?" I ask, reasonably I think.
Leslie looks horrified. "I don't want to break up." Her green eyes grow shiny, like she's about to cry. She places her hand on mine and gives it a reassuring squeeze. "I just want to make sure that your needs are fulfilled while accommodating my needs, of which sex doesn't really rank that high."
"So you don't like having sex with me?"
"I like it..."
"But..." I prompt.
"But it's not the most important thing. Maybe later, when work settles down a bit, my libido will come back."
"Oh, God." My ego is bruised. I signal the waiter for another bottle of wine. I might not be able to arouse my wife, but ordering wine -- that, I can do.
"I don't want us to be the kind of couple that drifts apart because we can't come to terms on something as mundane as sex."
I'm still turning her last three words around in my head when she continues.
"We have history, and shared goals and happy moments, and well... history. At least with outsourcing, everything is out in the open. No sneaking around. No maudlin scenes. You're happy and I'm happy."
"And you'd be happy with my happiness?"
"If you're happy, I'm happy."
The waiter can't come with the wine soon enough.
"It's like the housekeeper; we outsource housekeeping don't we?"
"Yeah," I say slowly.
"It's like that."
I'm getting frustrated. "But I don't want to fuck the maid." I've startled the diners next to us, so I say more quietly, "It's entirely different."
"Not for me."
I get it now. Sex is a chore for Leslie. Or perhaps it's a chore to have sex with me. Admittedly, I'm no GQ model, but I never thought it was that bad.
Leslie ignores the sudden pallor that I'm sure has appeared on my face. "There are companies that specialize in outsourcing, you know. You could argue that they're even more qualified than I am. And they offer their services at a very reasonable rate."
My God, I think, she's researched it. Somehow, I'm not surprised. "I'm not paying for sex."
"You wouldn't be; I would. It would be like a surrogate. You'd be getting pretty much the same thing you get from me, but more of it, and maybe better, even. More bang for the buck, as it were."
"I can't believe we're having this conversation."
"Tell me you'll think about it."
"Whatever." The waiter has arrived with the wine, and I have resolved to get as drunk as possible.
I admit that I am initially bewildered and hurt by her proposal. We avoid each other in the house. I wonder whether I have some kind of carnal leprosy that makes me a candidate for banishment from the pillow top playground.
Then I remember a conversation we had months ago, one of those hypothetical minefields that couples navigate from time to time to gauge the depth of their compatibility. Or to torture themselves. If (so the scenario went) one of us were incapacitated or horribly disfigured in a car accident or mauling by a pit bull or as a result of the ravages of some terrible disease (it really didn't matter for the sake of the discussion), would it be alright for the other to seek comfort in the arms of another, or would the sanctity of the relationship and those little post-coital promises whispered into each other's ears forever blight the carnal landscape for the remaining, healthy half of the couple? I remember now that she never answered, and that I tried to exhaust the conversation with a multitude of questions. Would she be paralyzed or just mutilated? Would she have her wits about her or not? Would she still have the use of her mouth, hands, or any of her orifices? In the end, I had to admit that I would possibly, after a heroic struggle with monogamy, succumb to the urge to unleash months or years of pent-up virility on some willing partner.
Maybe that was the beginning.
For the next week, the subject of outsourcing doesn't come up again. I attribute the bizarre notion to the demands of Leslie's job and perhaps that the line between work and life has eroded somewhat. Her business has outsourced a lot of work over the last several years with uncertain success. Maybe that's where she has gotten the idea. Maybe the competitive business pressures are getting to her and she's getting a little loopy.
We find the time for two quickies that week, which is one more than the average. That being said, I still long for a leisurely screw, the kind we used to have before Leslie got so successful and busy. A long naked afternoon of wine and incidental penetration. But I know that is unlikely to happen.
I return home from work, divest myself of my bag and jacket, loosen my tie, and wander to the kitchen. At the table sits Leslie and another woman.
"There you are," says Leslie with a smile. "Just in time. I was just about to present Anna with our statement of work."
"Statement of work?"
Anna nods and reaches for a sheaf of papers. I didn't realize that we were having work done. I pour myself a single malt and sit down and study Anna. She, like Leslie, looks every inch a successful businesswoman -- silk blouse beneath a red power jacket, slim knee-length skirt, black pumps with modest heels. Her blonde hair is fastened in a loose bun, and wisps of hair float free. She wears makeup, but not too much, only enough to accentuate her green eyes, high cheekbones, and fullness of her lips.
She scans the text, making occasional notes in the margin.
I look at Leslie and she smiles back at me with a little wink. I get that sinking feeling.
Anna removes her glasses and places them on the table. "I commend you on a thorough document. Everything looks to be in order. I just want to confirm some of the terms."
I wonder what's going on. And then I get my answer.
"In terms of work activities," says Anna, "oral and vaginal are not a problem. Anal is possible, but requires a specialized skill set and is therefore offered at a premium."
That work, I think.
"I understand," says Leslie.
Anna turns to me. "Are you interested in fetish activities, bondage or S&M? Watersports?"
"With you?" I blurt.
Anna laughs and sets her pen on the statement of work. "I'm flattered, but no. I'm the project manager. It's my job to match suitable resources to the client's needs."
"Escort agencies have project managers?"
"That's where you misunderstand," says Anna. "We're no escort agency. We're a full-service resource provider. We carefully vet our resources, ensuring that they are both physically and intellectually suitable for our discerning clients. We cater almost exclusively to executives whose work and responsibilities preclude them from performing certain tasks for which our resources are better suited. We strive to establish long-term relationships with our clients based on the quality and cost-effectiveness of our work."
"So, how about fetishes?"
The women look at me expectantly. "Uh, no. Not at the moment."
"Very well. As for deliverables, we guarantee complete satisfaction, of course."
Leslie says, "At the beginning of the contract, I will be responsible for quality assurance."
Anna turns to me. "What are your expectations regarding frequency and duration?"
When I don't answer, flummoxed as I am, Leslie speaks for me. "Rick would be happy with every second day. The duration depends, but we could start with an hour." Leslie looks over to me. "Or would you prefer two?"
"Let's say one and a half then," says Anna. "And here is our standard non-competition agreement." She pushes a page over to Leslie.
"Non-competition?" I ask.
"It basically states that we will not compete against the client for the affections of the subject. In other words, we will perform only the tasks that are outlined in the statement of work.
"Just so you know, anything above the stated frequency and duration is charged at time-and-a-half. Activities not included on the statement of work can be negotiated separately or performed-on-the-spot, at the discretion of the resource assigned to you." She reaches into her briefcase and extracts a folder. "I have many candidates. Their resumes indicate their backgrounds, qualifications, and experience. Perhaps you would like to review them?"
Leslie scoots her chair next to mine and we run through the resumes.
It's early Saturday evening. I've spent the day doing the odd task, but mostly loaf around the house. The doorbell rings and I hurry to answer it. For Leslie, Saturday is another work day.
A tall woman stands at the doorstep. Her large, brown eyes observe me expectantly.
"Yes," I answer. "You must be Naima."
She is one of the individuals that we'd selected from the stack of resumes. I take her leather jacket, hang it up in the hall closet, and lead her to the study where Leslie is buried in paperwork.
"Leslie, this is Naima."
Leslie waves absently, giving our guest no more than a passing glance. I, on the other hand, cannot take my eyes off her.
Her dark hair extends to the middle of her back and frames a face that bespeaks amazingly good genes or a truly merciful God, whichever way you want to prefer to think of it. Her eyes are large and almond shaped, wide-set over a fine nose. Full lips quirk in a faint smile, presumably at my reaction to her.
We move to the living room. She wears a simple white blouse and a short black skirt. Several buttons of the blouse are undone, revealing a generous expanse of cleavage. A slender waist flares into shapely hips and then into long, toned legs. Even without the heels, she'd be tall. Her curves are ample and well positioned.
Her resume didn't do her justice.
"I'm not sure how to go about this," I admit. "I haven't been involved in outsourcing before."
"You know why I'm here, of course; to do the job that another is unwilling or unable to do."
I nod, discomfited by the notion that being with me is a job and that Leslie is unwilling to do it, but unfortunately that's the case.
"Luckily for us, I take pleasure in the work."
The admission heartens me, though it might just be a line.
"Let us shower," says Naima, standing up and taking my hand.
Naima gazes at me earnestly. "I like my men clean and showers can be so erotic. I do my best work when wet." She calls to Leslie. "Would you like to join us? It would ordinarily qualify as a threesome, but I'll overlook it this time."
"No," says Leslie, scarcely looking up from the report she has been studying, "You go ahead."
Naima takes my hand and leads me to the bathroom. She closes the door and locks it.
I'm alone with a woman who isn't wife. Call me old-fashioned, but despite Leslie's consent, I feel a pang of guilt.
Naima places her fingertips on my chest and extends her arm, creating some space between us. Rapt, I watch as those delicate fingers undo the buttons on her blouse. Her eyes are closed and a faint smile plays on her lips. As her fingers work down her blouse, exposing more flesh, her hips begin to sway. Soon the garment falls to the floor, revealing the twin globes of her full breasts, tipped with large, dark nipples that grow erect as she runs her hands over them.
Her hands then follow the line of her waist to the curve of her hips. Never has undressing had so many superfluous motions, and I'm glad for it. Soon her skirt falls to her feet and she steps out of it daintily.
Naima is completely naked now, but for a thong.
"Perhaps you would finish the job?"
Tentatively, I approach and wrap my arms around her. I can feel her warmth and the softness of her breasts through my shirt and her smooth skin beneath my hands. The delicate scent of her reaches my nose. I lower my head and kiss her.
"So strong," she murmurs.
It's a lie, but I accept it. I kneel before her and remove her thong. Her hips and legs sway beneath my hands as I ease it down, revealing a narrow crown of dark pubic hair surrounded by velvet-soft skin.
"Your turn," she whispers.
I can't remember the last time someone has undressed me. Certainly I can't remember anyone having spent so much time doing so, lingering as much as Naima does. Her fingers work slowly, lingering here and there as I slowly shed my clothes. Her mouth trails behind her hands, nipping and kissing.
Finally I am naked and Naima turns on the water in the over-sized shower stall.
"Come," she says, extending a hand to me.
Naima fiddles with the controls and I take stock of the situation. Actually, that's a lie; I take stock of her butt and the dimples of her lower back. Soon the hot water cascades over us as. She leans her back against my chest. I'm a bit befuddled and tentative, what with Leslie in the next room and a stranger in the shower with me. There's a part of me that isn't befuddled and tentative, a part that has reacted to the nudity of a beautiful woman as nature intended, and I decide to take its lead.
I wash her first, running my soap-slippery hands over the fullness of her breasts, tracing their contours, kneading their softness, strumming the hardness of her nipples. My hands trail suds down to the well of her stomach, and then between her legs. I cup her mons and tentatively insinuate a finger within her. With a moan, she presses her ass against the growing hardness of my groin.
She finally turns in my arms and reaches for the soap. Lathering up, she repeats the process with me -- chest, stomach, legs, and finally up to the part of me that is by now aching for her attention.
She kneels and her dainty hands encircle my cock and wash it with firm strokes. I lean against the wall. "Pity to outsource this," she murmurs.
I'm tempted to disagree when her tongue flicks out and runs up the underside of my cock while her delicate hand firmly holds the base. She kisses the crown and then parts her lips to welcome the glans. Her lips tighten around it and I feel her tongue dancing on the taut surface of my head.
Naima is a magician and my cock soon disappears into her mouth. Her tongue undulates on the underside of my staff and my head eventually presses against the back of her throat. When her lips encircle my base, I can no longer restrain the moan of pleasure that's been building in me.
She works unhurriedly, in sharp contrast to the business-like efforts of Leslie in similar circumstances. I watch as her as her lips descend repeatedly on my saliva-slick length. Her hand works in exquisite counterpoint.
"I want you," I whisper.
Naima disengages her mouth from me and stands. "Then we should dry off."
"I want you now."
The corners of her eyes crinkle when she smiles. "I think we can do that. We're in close quarters though." She lifts her right leg to my side and rubs it up and down my flank. "Be a darling and grab my ankle, would you?"
I do so.
"Now raise it. That's it. A little higher."
I lift her leg. Though it moves easily, I wince inwardly. But she's flexible and soon her calf rests on my chest.
She winks at me and reaches beneath her leg and grasps my length, positioning it beneath the delta of hair that crowns her pussy. She places her hands on my shoulders and pushes down. I read the signal and bend my legs a little.
"That's better," she says.
She circles her hips, the head of my cock nestled in the softness of her labia.
Naima lowers herself onto me with a tantalizing deliberateness and I breach her.
"Mmm. You feel good," she whispers.
She wraps her hands behind my neck and leans back. The hot water sluices between her breasts and down her torso toward where I am joined with her.
"Fuck me, Rick."
I need no more encouragement. Her leg slips off my chest and I catch it and cradle it in the crook of my arm. I thrust slowly, her labia parting to embrace the length of me. She tightens herself around me, exerting the most delicious pressure.
My universe collapses into that part of me that occupies her. She whimpers with each thrust and grinds herself onto me. Our movements are perfectly synchronized and we meet each other with a slap of wet flesh.
Her whimpers grow louder and she digs her fingernails into my shoulders. Her head is thrown back and her breasts sway with each thrust.
Her strangled cry is accompanied by a convulsion and her fingernails dig furrows into me, but I'm beyond caring. She heaves and shudders, uttering a shriek that morphs into a low moan.
I hope that we're not disturbing Leslie.
I'm not far behind Naima; already I feel that tingling swell that presages climax. My motions grow erratic and Naima quickly drops to her knees and takes me into her mouth as I erupt. She drinks me thirstily while I jet my essence into her. Her motions slow as the spasms abate.
We dry off in silence.
"Are you satisfied?" she asks earnestly.
"What do you think?"
She grins and presses a hand to my groin. "Shall we see each other again in a couple of days?"
"If I can wait that long," I reply. "You... do great work."
We get dressed, emerge from the bathroom and I lead Naima through the house. I note that Leslie is still immersed in paperwork. I suppress another pang of guilt.
Leslie looks up and takes us in. "Well?"
"It was good," I say.
At the door I take Naima's arm and turn her to face me. "Why are you doing this?"
She gives me a frank look. "I enjoy my work. There is no shame in doing work that someone else is unwilling to do. I don't intend on doing this forever; I have ambition. Who's to say that I won't be in a position to outsource my own work some day? I doubt I'll want to, but it's nice to dream of the possibility."