Nights With Him(2)

By: Lauren Blakely

“Not one that’s been manhandled already.”

“That’s what the toy cleaner is for,” she said, reaching for a bottle of anti-bacterial cleaner from the edge of his desk and tossing it next. He caught it easily, snatching it out of the air.

“By the way, send Marquita my love. Tell her and Henry I say hi.”

Casey sauntered out of his office and Jack grinned, tsking her playfully under his breath. No way in hell was he bringing this device along, and it had nothing to do with being embarrassed, and everything to do with keeping it simple. He wasn’t a bag man; he didn’t want to tote his laptop to a meeting, along with a toy in the side pocket. A wallet, phone and keys were all he needed, so he left the rest behind as he stood up, pushed a hand roughly through his dark hair, and then jammed his phone into the pocket of his pants. He grabbed the cranberry-colored tie slung over the back of his chair and looped it around his neck, tying a neat knot. Best to look sharp for the team at Eden. New York was still very much a suit-and-tie town, and so Jack wore the requisite uniform.

He was about to step out of his office when Casey popped back in, the look in her eyes now intense and serious. “Don’t forget your appointment tomorrow at two.”

He held out his hands wide, and grumbled, “I know.”

She pointed at him and pursed her lips as she leaned in the doorway. “It’s important.”

“Yes, Mommy.”

“Oh, ha, ha, ha. But you need it,” she said, and she was right. Jack hadn’t been the same since he’d lost his fiancée a year ago, and he needed to get his head screwed on right. Correction. His heart. He needed to get that annoying organ fixed.

If it were even possible.

That was the question.

But tonight, his mind was on business, plain and simple, so he headed off to The Pierson to finalize the deal.

* * *

Michelle Milo had sex on the brain.

Dirty, sweaty, slick sex. Limo sex. Office sex. Swanky-nightclub-bathroom sex.

Unfortunately, none of these were positive images, because they had nothing to do with her sex life, but instead her client’s philandering husband.

And she was dying to shout, leave him.

She wanted to scream it, to slash it on the wall in orange paint, to get down on her knees and beg. But Shayla needed time to come to the realization on her own, even though it seemed patently fucking obvious that she should not only leave that cad of a husband, but kick him several times in the balls too.

“I just keep thinking about The Owl. It has these low lights, almost kind of a blue light, and the bathroom is all tiled in black, and I had such great memories about our time there,” Shayla recounted, referring to a club in Los Angeles where her husband had been caught having sex with his assistant last month. “It was our place,” she said, wiping a tear that had already streaked the mascara from her eyelashes, sending a black jagged line down one porcelain cheek. “Well, back when I used to want to have sex with him.”

Michelle reached for a tissue from the box next to her, handed it to her twice-weekly client, and waited as she dabbed away the evidence of her sadness. Shayla sunk lower in the couch, framed behind her by abstract prints on the wall of the Lexington Avenue offices where Michelle ran her psychology practice. “What is it that bothers you most? Is it that he slept with another woman? Or that he slept with her someplace where you did in the past? Or is it something else?”

Shayla bit her lip and looked away, perhaps not wanting to deal with the something else possibility that had brought her here in the first place. Not that it was her fault that her husband had a dick that needed to be locked up and sent straight to jail for its one eye that wandered ALL. THE. TIME.

Shayla faced a different set of challenges, and that’s what Michelle needed to help her with. She gently prodded her client, who sat frozen like a statue, her jaw set hard, as if she needed to hold all her fears inside. “Or is it because you think it’s your fault that he isn’t faithful?” Michelle asked cautiously.

“It is my fault,” Shayla squeaked out, insistent. “I haven’t wanted to have sex ever since we had kids.”

“And you think that makes it your fault that he’s cheating on you?”

“Isn’t it?”

Michelle shook her head. “Of course it’s not. He’s responsible for his actions, and only you can decide if you want to hold him accountable for them. But we also need to keep getting at the root of the why for you. We spend a lot of time focusing on him and his actions, but we need to dive into why you don’t want to have sex with him. Because you lost interest well before he started cheating on you,” she said. That’s why Shayla was here, to focus on her own intimacy issues, since that was Michelle’s specialty—helping patients work through relationship challenges and fears of closeness. Shayla’s were compounded because her husband was an ass. But first things first. There would be time to deal with him later.

“Let’s talk about why . . .”

Forty-five minutes later, Michelle flashed a small smile at Shayla, pleased that her client was making a modicum of progress. Some days, progress was glacial, and sometimes it was cheetah fast. All that mattered was that Shayla seemed to be moving forward. Michelle said goodbye to her, then checked her schedule for tomorrow on her laptop. It would be another full day, with a new patient appointment, too. The evening ahead of her was packed as well—she had a presentation to give at a sexuality conference, sharing some of her findings with other psychotherapists on sex and love addiction. She had experience in that area, having helped guide several patients through the throes of addiction and into recovery, and the president of the New York Chapter of the Association of Intimate Relationship Psychologists had invited her. Carla Kimberly had been a mentor to her over the years, and had referred patients to Michelle, so it was a double honor to have been asked to speak tonight.

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