One Ring:Suncoast SocietyBy: Tymber Dalton
Derrick unlocked the office door. The lights were on, but no one was inside. He stayed behind in the office while Marcia led Mel inside. They found Jenny in the main space, in the kitchen area, organizing and arranging things for the evening.
Marcia made the introductions. “Jenny, this is our friend, Mel. She’s going to be staying with us for a while, and she’s going to help out here, too. She’s completely new to the lifestyle.”
Jenny brightened. “Nice to meet you!” Mel loved the collar the woman wore around her neck, a piece of iridescent, round metal rod with a ring in the front. “Has she filled out paperwork?”
“She did the last time she was here. She sat in on my 101 class.”
“Okay. So let’s go get you a volunteer badge and I’ll show you from the ground up.”
“Jenny’s a taskmaster,” Marcia playfully called out behind them.
“And you love it, ma’am,” Jenny called back.
“Didn’t say I didn’t.”
Mel chuckled. The playful, light, airy feel to their banter was such a relief from the heavy cloak of seriousness she normally felt at home.
When was the last time she and Mike had joked around? About anything?
The rare occasion she could pry him out of the house to go out to eat, all he wanted to do was listen to the radio. When she tried to hold a conversation with him, she received one-word replies, if she was lucky.
Holy crap, my life is fucked up.
Jenny got Mel a volunteer badge and started showing her the computer system while Derrick shuffled a few chairs outside, presumably for smokers. Mel tried to focus on what Jenny was showing her, but one thought kept intruding.
She was done waiting around for Mike. It was a quiet certainty inside her, not a still vaguely possible outcome.
She knew she’d be filing for divorce, as soon as she could.
She needed to make her life happen. And she was the only one who could do that. For too damn long, she’d let her life be dictated by what she thought a “good” wife “should” do.
Those days were over. If Mike had even been willing to make a few small changes, she wouldn’t be at this point. If he made her feel like he still loved her.
If he made her feel like she wasn’t alone.
How long was she supposed to keep trying and beating her head against a stone wall of resistance, with a man who had outright said he had absolutely no desire to change and thought there was nothing wrong with their marriage?
Life was too short.
At dinner, Mel had learned about a past friend of Derrick and Marcia’s—and friend to many there at the table—who had passed away not too long ago. Basco had been young, only a couple of years older than her.
She didn’t want to realize she was about to die and had wasted her precious time on the planet.
Maybe eventually she’d find out BDSM wasn’t for her. She didn’t know. From Marcia’s class, she learned there was a wide variety of participation levels and types of play. It intrigued her, and she was done with not doing things because of Mike.
She wanted to explore. She wanted to learn. She’d felt…stagnant for so long, she needed to free herself from the mental and emotional mire.
If nothing else, she wanted some damn friends who liked to laugh, and these people fit the bill quite well.
Fortunately, Jenny didn’t throw her to the wolves with the computer system. She showed Marcia how to run the tablet they used to process credit cards, and assigned her to that task, as well as making sure people signed in and got wristbands once they’d paid.
That she could handle.
The nice thing was she got to meet everyone as they came through the door and started learning their names. In the first hour, she’d met at least thirty new people, a few who’d been at dinner and some she remembered from her visit a few weeks earlier.
And a couple of those people remembered her, too, which gave her a secret thrill.
How stupid is it that I’m happy people remember me?
That was something to stick in her mental process later inbox to deal with. Not right now.
She decided she would shut off the comparisons, the self-pity, the slowly smoldering anger at Mike over what she’d let him do to her, and to them, over the past several years, and focus on being present, on the now.
On what was shaping up to be one humdinger of a night.
* * * *
After the initial crush of new arrivals, Marcia had another volunteer switch off with Mel. She then took Mel inside and showed her the main tasks that would crop up throughout the night, easy stuff that was so vanilla it struck her funny bone from the irony.
Substitute a church social for the kinky stuff, it’d be exactly the same.
Except without a naked woman wrapped in a rope harness scooping herself a helping of balled melons onto a paper plate.
“The other reason I wanted you in here,” Marcia said, “is to watch. Crawford is about to start a fire cupping demo.”
“Watch.” Marcia pointed to where a guy had a massage table set up in a corner near the bathrooms.
Tall and willowy, he had brown eyes and long, black hair streaked with grey that he’d pulled back into a low ponytail with a piece of leather cord. He almost reminded her of a wizard, not from his manner of dress—jeans and a black, long-sleeved button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows—but from his manner.