One Ring:Suncoast SocietyBy: Tymber Dalton
Mike had, predictably, hated it.
“Makes you look like one of those New Age witches or something,” he’d said.
So no wonder it was the one piece of clothing she made sure to wear tonight. Loose and flowing, it would look perfectly in place at the restaurant or later, at the club.
Not like she’d be playing at the club, anyway. Just watching.
She wasn’t about to cheat on Mike, even if the marriage was effectively dead. All she wanted to do was feel alive for the night, like there were actually people out there who didn’t mind talking with her or spending time with her.
All this started with a book club.
She couldn’t even remember how that conversation had started with Marcia, but she’d ended up hooked up with Shayla—who turned out to be one of Marcia’s kinky friends in the lifestyle—and their book club group.
Just being with people had made her feel lighter every week.
And then she’d bought a Kindle and started buying recommended reads they’d already devoured.
Wasn’t like she had any other hobbies at that point. Until she’d brought up her dissatisfaction with her marriage, Mike hadn’t had any problem with her going to book club meetings, or buying the Kindle, or any of that. It meant more time he could spend, in peace, in front of the TV.
She was ready to leave for dinner when Derrick and Marcia were. “Do I look okay?”
Marcia hugged her. “You look beautiful.”
“Thank you. I’m glad someone thinks so.”
Whereas the first time Mel had dinner with Marcia and Derrick and their friends a few weeks earlier, she’d been too busy listening and asking questions to really observe.
Tonight, she almost felt like an outsider.
And not by any of their doing. Everyone was very nice and trying to keep her pulled into the conversations. The last time she’d been so overwhelmed that there’d been no time for her to process. She’d been mentally body surfing through the tsunami of information and people and truths and realizations without any time to really process what was going on.
But with the truth settling inside her, she realized these people might be the only friends she had left by the time Mike got done with her, if he made good on his threats to tell what few friends she still had about her “pervy” habits.
And hell, that threat had come from when she’d mentioned to him books she’d read, and suggested they try spicing up their love life.
If had Mike reacted like that over books, she had no clue how ballistic he’d go in real life if he found out she really was interested in pursuing this.
Ed and his wife were there, even though they weren’t going to the club later. “Call my office first thing Monday morning,” he said. “I’ll leave a note for my receptionist to make sure to work you into the schedule early this week.”
This made it real. It sealed it in her mind.
Now, she just needed to make sure she followed through and didn’t back down.
They left the restaurant before anyone else. As they headed to the club, Mel rode in the backseat and tried to make some sort of sense of her thoughts.
“Are you doing okay?” Marcia asked her.
“I don’t honestly know. Not that I didn’t have fun at dinner,” she quickly added. “Everyone has been wonderful. You have no idea how much I appreciate this.”
“It’s a lot to take in,” Marcia assured her. “You’ve got a lot on your mind.”
Derrick chimed in. “If at any time tonight you feel overwhelmed and want to leave, just let us know,” he said. “I can always run you back to the house.”
“I appreciate that. I’d rather stay and watch. Or, can I help out? Do you need any volunteers or anything?”
Derrick chuckled. “Oh, boy. Another sacrificial lamb.”
“We can always use volunteers,” Marcia assured her. “Out in the office and inside. Doing things like keeping an eye on the garbage cans, wiping tables down, making sure we have sodas and ice and all those kinds of non-kinky stuff.”
Mel relaxed. “Oh. I’d be happy to do that for you.” That would easily keep her busy and doing something. She didn’t mind helping out. It was the least she could do considering her friends had taken her in—literally and metaphorically—to help her through this life transition.
In fact, if it hadn’t been for the fortuitous timing of her arrival at Marcia’s house that one day, and if she hadn’t seen what was on Marcia’s laptop at the time, she might still be struggling to decide what to do with Mike. Might still be agonizing over a decision.
Might be stuck there, letting him convince her she was “wrong” and “sick” for even thinking what she was thinking.
Might have let him talk her into thinking she really did need counselling because he was the one who was “normal,” not her.
There was already one car parked in the lot outside the club when they arrived.
Derrick chuckled. “Good ole Jenny.”
“Who’s she?” Mel asked.
“She’s a gift from heaven,” Marcia said. “She’s our head volunteer, and she’s amazing. We couldn’t run this place as easily as we do without her. She can’t be here every weekend, but she helps organize all the volunteer schedules so we know we have plenty of help every week. And she helps out at several of the coffee times and munches as either a host or making sure she goes to talk about the club and our events to help bring newbies into our 101 classes.”