May 31

The Institute

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I’m glad I didn’t kill Kenya.

After 12 years of a beautiful marriage I knew we were in a rut. Stevie was a saint of a man for putting up with me and I suppose I was a pretty damn good wife for tolerating his oft misplaced laundry. Like any honeymooners we had an amazing first couple of years. Even after the kids got here we had no real signs of slowing down. Even when money was tight we were happy in every way.

But about 10 years in I noticed that we had to make an effort to keep the flame alive. Honestly, he made the effort. I had fallen well off the cliff and he held on. I can’t say it was the work or the kids or my attraction to Stevie that became the problem. But if we didn’t have sex for a week I only noticed it when Stevie got moody. Then we’d do “something” and get on with our lives.

I can’t put my lack of interest on our kids or my work because that just wasn’t the case. And I didn’t notice any lack of interest on my part because we had sex of some sort regularly and I came 90% of the time.

Yet there was something missing.

Until Kenya sent the invitation to the institute.

I knew Kenya in college but we weren’t close friends until we found ourselves in the same city after graduation. We were an odd couple. I was the level-headed planner. She was the free-spirited adventurer. I had a ten year old before she had a job.

But Kenya always followed her gut, which lead her to a number of entertaining business ventures and a seat at the big-boy table. Go figure.

Kenya worked at some high-tech venture capital firm and they were looking to invest in some couples research facility. I can’t say that Kenya and I ever discussed the rut Stevie and I were in, but she could probably guess given how much she knew about me after college and the early years of our marriage. “Can I get a threesome one day?” she would joke after I showed up to brunch with a stain on the back of my dress.


The institute was just outside of Atlanta so we could drop the kids off with Stevie’s parents for a few days. I assumed the whole thing was just a couple’s retreat where we’d do some yoga, talk about our communication issues in front of the other bored couples and then get to head to our quiet rooms for whatever.

I guess I should have read the website a little more in-depth before I showed up.

As we rolled into the sprawling 25 acre estate I remember thinking that this would make a great celebrity rehab facility. The two-story buildings were all glass but surrounded by trees and bushes. The winding sidewalks connected each building as labcoated interns bumped into each other while staring at some phone or tablet. “Nerdgasm,” Stevie joked as we exited our black SUV.

Stevie and I laughed with each other as we entered the lobby. The diversity in the room was not what I expected so I was definitely more at ease. There were black couples, Asian couples, Latino couples, white couples, interracial couples, gay couples, lesbian couples, a lady in a wheelchair, a guy who was at least 90 years old and a woman with an eyepatch.

As the other couples rolled in behind us Stevie gave me a kiss on the lips and said ,”Good luck!”

Before I could figure out what he was talking about this beautiful Swedish fellow stood before me with a wristband. “Thank you for trusting us this weekend,” he confidently exclaimed with all of his Swedish accent. Then I was whisked out through a side door where I was handed off to Sajani and then to Alek. In my confusion I watched as Stevie was being herded in the opposite direction. My growing fear was dampened by the ease with which he smilingly walked off with his escorts.

As I fumbled through my purse to get my phone I was brought to my room where I was asked to change into my robe. That’s when I realized I had a roommate.

“Hurry up and get that last text out because I think they collect our belongings in about a minute,” said the tall blonde with a nervous smile.

I wasn’t planning a text. I was looking for Kenya’s email to explain what the hell I had actually signed up for.

The room was like a 5-star hotel at first glance. Two king sized beds with a 50 inch flatscreen and a wall-to-wall window of the lake dominated the space. The decor was minimal but modern with ebony wood floors and a glass encased bathroom. Between the two massive beds was an equally massive love seat and ottoman covered in olive suede. Part-business suite, part-brothel, the couples retreat was well designed.

But the room was missing a few details. There was no closet for clothing nor were their curtains or mirrors. Beside my bed was a digital tablet with my name and on my bed was a long, silk robe. There was also a pair of house slippers next to the bed.

“That’s what we’re wearing?” I sheepishly asked my smiling roomie as I noticed her blue robe barely covered her thighs.

“Easy breezy,” she nervously replied as she stared at my confusion. “Sorry,” she blurted as she turned away to give me some sort of privacy. bahis firmaları “My name is Lake and I’m guessing your surprised look means you didn’t exactly read the intro letter.”

As I began to undress I had to bottle my desire to kill Kenya so as not to scare my new friend Lake. “I just assumed this would be a typical couples retreat,” I quipped. “I thought Stevie and I would be…” I began when I noticed Lake’s privacy attempt was for show.

Her innocent eyes were frozen as my freshly trimmed vagina was transferring from thong to robe. I assumed that the awkward pause would snap her out of her trance but I was wrong.

“How do you keep your hair so neat?” she asked without blinking.

“A razor and a mirror,” I answered with realization that this is what the next 3 days could be like.

“I either wax it all off or let it grow like a jungle,” Lake cheerfully admitted. “Want to see?”

I gulped. I did not.

“Orientation is in 10 minutes,” came a voice from the hallway to break up our show and tell.

“So I guess we’ll find out what they found out about us,” Lake said as I placed all of my belongings in my weekend tote. Like Lake I hopped on my bed and decided to just roll with it.

As we traded less graphic details – age, place of birth, favorite reality TV star – the television turned on with what I recognized to be some of my social media posts combined with what had to be Lake’s

We laughed as we explained photos of our kids and reposted articles of whatever entertained us. I was clearly into baking and beachfront vacations while Lake was heavy into music and baseball. We laughed as we noticed how much we had changed over the years as the occasional photo from high school would flash by.

While we laughed a young man in a buttoned up shirt and khakis entered the room with a smile. He didn’t interrupt us as he took my bag to the hallway where I noticed him lock it away.

When he returned he closed the door as we continued to laugh. “My name is Eddie,” he said as he shook our hands and began watching our online presence with us. Eddie was a small, effeminate man with a pompadour and glasses. He sat comfortably on the ottoman between our two beds.

Strangely, after 15 minutes of these quick glances I felt as though I’d known Lake her entire life. I was definitely going to give her shit about staring at my trimmed bush now.

“Now that we’ve become close friends wading through shallow waters,” Eddie began as the images and quotes kept us laughing, “let’s head to the other end of the pool.”

With the remote control he made a menu appear with four buttons – Lake, Farriq (her husband), Stevie and my name. He smiled at us both as though he was apologizing in advance for ending the laughter. Then he clicked on Lake’s name.

“…yes, i liked it i liked it,” scrolled across the screen.

Though I was completely confused by the words, the look on Lake’s face completely matched the look she was giving my trimmed crotch. But before I could question her shock, Eddie was clicking on my name.

Cropped squarely in the center of the 50″ monitor was a picture I hadn’t laid eyes on in 20 years. The blurry photo captured a well- manicured hand wrapped around a substantial dick. I knew those hands. I knew that dick.

“Who goes first?” Eddie gently asked.

As I attempted to process where they could have possibly unearthed that photo of me, Lake interrupted my thoughts with “Thomas from Germany” as tears started to form.

“We met online,” she continued, seemingly for my benefit alone. “We were going to move in together somewhere one day. But just before our 2 year anniversary he died in a car accident.”

“I’m so sorry,” I offered.

“His funeral was the fifth time I’d ever see him in person,” Lake said with a smile. “His family welcomed me as though we had been married 20 years. Like I was their daughter.”

“We saved our sexy chat times for his Wednesday evening. My morning,” she smiled beneath the tears. “He would send me sex toys and I would try them for him. That was our thing.”

Eddie was focused on Lake as he reached for her hand. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be that open, but Lake wasn’t finished.

“When I unpackaged one of his gifts I always responded, ‘Yes! I like it!’ because his gifts were so thoughtful,” Lake explained. “But after a while it wasn’t enough. And I knew I wasn’t going to move to one of the amazing cities we said we’d move to. It was a fucking fantasy. No one does that.”

I knew something extra was coming so I braced myself. The sun from the window was glowing in Lake’s tears as she paused.

“I loved our weekly escapades,” she laughed. “They were the freakiest toys I could imagine. I lost all of my inhibitions because of those toys and his delight.”

“But you weren’t in love,” Eddie added when Lake’s eyes closed to stop the tears.

“If I was really in love I would have told him that I was married,” Lake answered.

My heart sunk.

“I never told another kaçak iddaa soul about Thomas while his family treated me like I was their fucking daughter,” Lake cried out. “I didn’t want to admit that he loved me because I didn’t want to believe that I loved him.”

For what felt like 5 minutes we sat there while Lake cried.

Then Eddie turned to grab my hand. I’d forgotten that I had a turn coming.

“So,” I started confidently, “those are my beautifully manicured hands wrapped around that equally beautiful dick.”

“And who was taking the picture?” Eddie questioned as though he already knew the answer. Twenty years hadn’t erased the shame of what I had done so I was slow to answer.

“Welllllll,” I dragged out. “My best friend Victoria took that photo of me holding her boyfriend’s dick.”

I could feel Lake’s tears being damned by her curiosity.

“John, my boyfriend at the time,” I continued, “wasn’t giving me the time of day because he was studying for his finals. I was cruising through our final semester so I had lots of free time and needed some attention.”

Having told this story a few times before, I knew where the shock would come so I cleared things up quickly.

“John wasn’t shocked by the picture or betrayal,” I laughed unconsciously. “We actually kinda stayed friends after.”

“But Victoria’s offer to show John what he was missing by using her boyfriend’s dick as a prop was supposed to be a one-time occurrence,” I explained. “Instead, he fell in love with me sucking his dick. And I really loved sucking his dick.”

I paused. I paused hard.

I had never ended that story like that.

I had never said that I loved sucking his dick. I’d never loved sucking anyone’s dick.

I enjoyed sex but it was always a chore to me like working out or cooking. The body needed it but it wasn’t something I’d ever said I’d loved doing.

But that picture of my hand wrapped around his dick reminded me of how I used John’s studying to get my best friend to share the dick she’d showed me on her phone one night while we were studying.

For nearly twenty-years I had convinced myself that Victoria’s boyfriend was blindly infatuated with me for no reason when, in fact, I had been manipulating him the entire time.

Because I loved sucking his dick.


How could I not have seen that? How could I not know that Victoria was mad at me more than her stupid boyfriend. My betrayal was deeper.

Oh shit.

For years I tried to apologize for her man not being able to stay away, when I was inviting him into my mouth the entire time. God, how I loved sucking his dick. I loved every hair and every vain and how he came in three spurts every time.

I hated admitting that I loved sucking his dick.

I was happy to reciprocate oral in any relationship – even on a one-night stand. But I totally detached her boyfriend’s dick to the point that I don’t even remember his fucking name. Long ago I simply referred to him as Richard so I’d feel less shame.

But good God I loved sucking his dick so much that it embarrassed me. I was getting wet right then and there thinking about it. And I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t love sucking my husband’s dick as much as I loved sucking Richard’s. Could his dick have been that mesmerizing. And how many times was I going to say the word dick?

“Are you okay?” Eddie asked, interrupting my awkward realization.

“Ummmm,” I began as I returned to reality, “I’m really sorry that I hurt Victoria.”

With a knowing look, Eddie replied, “We aren’t here for Victoria.”

I gulped.

“As you can see,” Eddie continued as he returned the monitor to our more mundane social media posts, “our research analysts have gone through every digital trail connected to you to determine who you might be. Sexually.”

“After analyzing thousands of couple’s data and then meeting them, we are quickly able to identify what ails their sex life and what solutions have the highest rates of success. We understand that sexual compatibility and enjoyment are key indicators in a successful relationship, yet an individual’s inability to properly diagnose what makes themselves happy reduces the overall odds of the couple’s happiness.”

“We are trained not to sugar coat the message, but we have learned that some solutions are better left unsaid. We simply ask that you trust our data and go beyond your comfort zone.”

“As you know, your roommate was chosen based on your needs of a confidant beyond your analyst – that would be me – to provide a secondary opinion.”

Eddie then stood and checked each of our tablets like a doctor looking over a patient’s clipboard.

“Please rest until our evening session. Your lunches will be here shortly,” Eddie finished with a smile. With that he strolled out as our prepared salads were rolled into our room.

My assumption of an awkward meal was quickly shattered by Lake’s demonstrative assertion – “Rabbit hole, here we come!”

Salad in hand, Lake jumped kaçak bahis onto her bed and reached back for the remote control to our TV. As she fumbled through the buttons, she muttered to herself “what else have they got?”

Soon enough she clicked on her button and scrolled through a parade of images – many of which were now self-explanatory. Toys, toys and more toys.

“So, you like toys, huh?” I casually tossed out – realizing that if I’d been in her shoes I would snarkily retorted “as much as you like sucking dick!”

But Lake wasn’t me.

“I miss my toys,” Lake admitted as she scrolled through a seemingly endless queue of intimacy.

But her digital history included more than toys. There was also an abundance of tasteful porn involving men fucking women – mostly from behind. The doggie style some might call it.

Though there were more than enough images of other graphic acts, it was clear that her two major themes were toys and doggie style.

“So fucking true,” Lake blurted as she scrolled aimlessly. “Some of these are from when I was with my first husband.”

I damn near choked on a crouton.

As she slowed her scroll I recognized that the beautiful young starlet in some of those homemade videos and photographs were of a younger Lake.

“He, my first husband, posted them – anonymously, of course – because we thought it would be hot to know strangers were jerking off to us,” Lake candidly admitted. “But it’s a bummer when you only get 7 and a half stars from what you think is your best performance,” she half-joked as she shook her head at the screen.

“Well, you are wearing socks,” I joked back.

“Ahhhhhhh!” Lake screamed in laughter. “My feet get cold cold!”

Frustrated, Lake returned to the main menu. I wanted to throw my amazing grilled salmon salad to the floor and dive for that remote before she clicked on my past. I didn’t have any other personal porn out there, but I wasn’t sure what else might pop up.

But that salad was amazing.

When Lake reached the main menu, she hardly lasted 2 seconds before she clicked on Farriq.

“Dominique’s Dungeon.”

The first 30 images – all watermarked with Dominique’s Dungeon – were textbook dominatrix images. Nothing too graphic. Just some ladies in spandex and stilettos whipping and paddling men in their boxers. It was pretty corny and PG compared to the Lake Show I’d just finished viewing.

Mixed into these photos was what looked like a screen name: f-texas. I deduced that the “f” was from Farriq because she mentioned he’d had rough time being in a Muslim family growing up in Texas.

I was all set to make a joke about whips and toys when I realized Lake had that deer-in-the-headlights look.

“Soooo,” I pushed knowing she was going to blurt it out anyway.

“He’s never mentioned this,” Lake said to herself while I eavesdropped. “Not once.”

But as she kept scrolling, the thematic was pretty obvious.

“Maybe he’s shy?” I offered for comfort.

“Farriq is super religious,” Lake explained. “Our first time was his first time.”

I gulped.

“On our wedding night,” Lake continued.

“Wow,” I released without realizing it.

“Missionary,” Lake continued as she gritted her teeth. “For 6 fucking years.”

“Wow,” I continued in my eloquence.

Then, without notice, she dropped the remote and bolted for the glass encased bathroom. The glass was etched so you couldn’t see details, but I could make out that she was crying while she sat on the side of the tub.

As I mustered up some encouragement beyond ‘Wow’ I began to talk about love and respect and sharing and some other nonsensical blabber. I’m not really sure what I said because I was too busy trying to figure out how to work the remote I grabbed from the foot of her bed.

While Lake sobbed and my mouth rambled, my fingers finally got the remote to get us back to the home screen. I told myself that I was merely trying to remove the disturbing imagery of the corseted brunette with the whip, when really I wanted to know what was behind doors three and four.

As I clicked on Stevie’s button I continued to tell Lake how beautiful her family looked and how happy they must have been on their road trip through what I thought was the Grand Canyon.

But just as the first image from Stevie’s scroll popped up, our room door slowly opened as Alec looked in. “Massage time,” she joyfully announced.

I looked back toward the bathroom to see Lake coming out to join us.

“Better?” I quietly asked.

“I guess,” Lake replied with very little enthusiasm. But a slight smile came across her face as she looked over my shoulder toward the TV screen. “They’re cute.”

I spun around to see the image as Alec pulled me by the hand out the door. Indeed, Stevie was cute, but the look in the photo was of total guilt. A guilt I hadn’t noticed the first 50 times I’d looked at that photo that I’d taken. But now it was as plain as day. And the cute girl in the picture wasn’t me.

It was Kenya.

Through her alligator tears Lake couldn’t see that behind the same giant mane of curls was a slightly darker face. Kenya and I had been mistaken for each other or as sisters on many occasions.

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