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Heather Loosens Up

by Arnica Butler

It begins at a seedy bar in their town, when a playful game gets out-of-hand in all the right ways. But Toby is sure his uptight wife Heather has gotten as loose as she will ever get, and Heather seems to regret it. He's content to live with the memory, until they're on an out-of-town trip, and Heather does the unexpected. Heather lets go more than Toby thought was possible... maybe even more than he's comfortable with.

Chapter 1

Toby’s scowl made almost three bulges of skin in his forehead as he surveyed the dim street to the left and right of his truck.
Force of habit.
There were parts of town where you could leave your vehicle unattended, provided you had enough cash on hand to buy your tools back from whoever had stolen them. It was the price of doing business in certain parts of town, and Toby didn’t even get worked up about it anymore: he just carried the cash.
There were other places in this city where leaving his truck parked on the road could possibly invalidate his insurance policy. At first glance, the area around Salty’s Haven gave off a bit of that vibe.
The neon sign (reading only “Saltys,” no apostrophe) was partially illuminated, the first “s” a bright, flamingo color that drained away to grayish-pink by the end of the word, reminding anyone who looked at it of stale meat. The outline of the martini glass that followed the final “s” was more corpse-colored, once having glowed blue. The tropical color scheme, faded or not, was spectacularly out-of-place in the Midwestern climate, below freezing for six months of the year. As if to punctuate the joke, someone had set a palm tree, made of plastic and tinsel, next to the entranceway.
“Hooooly shit,” Toby said under his breath.
He looked at his phone again, re-reading the text message from Heather: yes, this was the place. Salty’s Haven on 17th and Sheridan.
The picture began to look less ominous as he crossed the street: the cars in the parking lot were new, but affordable, family cars. A sign of respectability. If the cars were old, this was a shit part of town. And if the cars were new but unaffordable, tinted and tricked out, then it was a good idea to – in the parlance of some inhabitants - “bounce.”
Toby opened the door to Salty’s Haven and relaxed even more. The clientele as evidence, Salty’s was clearly one of those bars that delivered the ambiance of a dive-bar to suburban mid-career “suits” who worked in the office parks several blocks away.
Toby scanned the room quickly and located his wife among a throng of loud, drunk women. He typed her a message to let her know he was there. She was caught up in a story, and if there was one thing Heather hated, it was to be interrupted. He decided to wait at the bar.
The bartender was a young, brown-skinned, good-looking guy. Clean-shaven and athletic in appearance. He approached Toby right away, with one wary eye on the table of women, who were being fairly rowdy and looked like they might boil over into table dancing or stripping. Something about the kid’s haircut and police-face said he didn’t let that kind of noise go on in his bar.
He sized Toby up with a quick up-and-down. The two men had an instant impression of each other, both athletes who would recognize the other as such. They were both stars of soccer and hockey, wily forwards who relied on skill and speed, but Toby had the small paunch of a man who didn’t take it, or himself, quite as seriously anymore.
The bartender was still ripped. Give it time, Toby thought.
“W’can I get you?” the bartender asked, leaning on the bar with his arms spread open wide, an unconscious demonstration of his physical prowess. Toby leaned on the bar. He was past his own prime, starting to feel it in his knees, had a rotator cuff injury that would never heal, and he couldn’t spread his arms out like that anymore. He felt the electric tremor of competitiveness kicking around in his gut. He’d have liked to have shown this kid a thing or two on the ice or the field, but it was eleven o’clock on a Thursday night in Toby’s world: a babysitter was being paid for, his wife was drunk, and he had to be up at five in the morning.
Toby turned on what he was calling his middle-aged man charm instead. “I just need your finest, cheapest beer, good man,” he said, in a jovial tone he had cultivated for situations like this one.
Probably because they were cut from the same cloth, even if it had been tailored twenty years apart, the kid smiled and the rapport became instantly friendly. “A Budweiser man?” he suggested. “Or MGD?”
“Coldest,” Toby said. He was also a man who was long past debating the qualities of shitty beers. A peal of laughter, of the kind unique to groups of middle-aged women who have stayed out way too late on a weekday with too much wine, erupted from the direction of another table, where yet another group of ladies was cloistered.
“Ladies’ night?” Toby asked the bartender, who grinned as he removed the cap of an MGD bottle with an expert motion.
“This place is right by the hospital, man,” the kid grinned. “Medical staff, admin ladies. Nurses. Line ‘em up, knock ‘em down.” He shook his head and looked down at the bottle of MGD, as if disappointed in it suddenly. “You want a glass for that?”
Toby swiped up the beer and shook his head at the same time. He took a generous swig and swiveled to face the table where his wife was sitting. His phone was in his left hand, ready to send a second message and get her out of here without having to be introduced, in turn, to each of the crowing birds Heather was entertaining.
But Heather was already standing up, an unusual smile attempting to crack through the typical seriousness of her mouth. It was clear from her smile, her bright eyes, and the slightest wobble as she took a first step, that she had consumed too much alcohol. For her, that probably meant two glasses of wine. Five foot six (eight in heels), very slender and well-toned, Heather’s body size was easily saturated by a single glass of wine. Added to that, her generally uptight nature forbade drinking in most situations. Heather was a cheap, but infrequent, drunk.
Toby smiled over his beer as he took a swig, thinking of what he would say to her. He was annoyed by having to come pick her up, but Heather’s tipsy walking and loose smile changed his sentiments immediately. Maybe this was one of those nights that Heather would let loose and be fun.
It could even lead, he dared think, to sex.
On a Thursday night.
But Heather was up to more than simply being drunk this evening. Making a sharp turn toward the bar when she reached it, stopping far short of where Toby was sitting, she leaned provocatively on the bar, one leg crossed over the other. She gave a flirtatious toss of her shoulder-length blond hair, and the bartender dropped Toby like he was dead weight.
Smiling, obviously flirting, he approached Toby’s wife. “Whatcha need, pretty lady?”
Toby rolled his eyes and took another swig of beer with his eyes closed.
When he opened them, the bartender and Heather were leaning toward each other over the bar, their heads almost touching. The bartender said something, and Heather’s mouth turned up in a smile just before a tinkling laugh spilled from her lips.
The sight of it was so jarring that Toby misjudged the distance to the bar and set his beer down with a too-loud crunch. Neither one of them looked over. Heather tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and smiled at the bartender.
Toby’s cock thickened with a single pulse as a slow-burning sensation, equal parts jealousy and arousal, filled him as though it had been poured down his throat like hard liquor.
Had she not seen him sitting here? he wondered. A slew of partial thoughts burned through him, settling in his chest and his cock, fluttering like butterflies in both places.
The bartender pushed himself away from Heather and went around the bar to fetch something. Heather turned to look at Toby point-blank, finding him with her eyes, right where she expected him to be. She had seen him, all right.
Mystified, Toby stared at her.
“What brings you here?” she asked, putting her hand on her hip and leaning against the bar as she rolled her body to face him.
Heather was wearing a charcoal-gray suit with a blue blouse. The top button was undone, something Toby noticed right away because having a top button undone was not Heather’s thing. Heather used a lint brush every morning, and they didn’t even have a pet. Buttons did not get loose on Heather's clothing unless Heather let them get loose. Which she did not do.
It wasn’t a lewd open button; most women, in fact, would wear their blouse opened that far, but on Heather, it looked sloppy. The blouse folded down on the button side, revealing a glimpse of the curve of her small, taut breast.
Toby laughed, a low, almost adversarial laugh. “What are you doing?” he asked.
Heather emitted a sound, a kind of sharp laugh that disintegrated into a lopsided smile, tucked the same strand of her hair back around her ear, and shook her head. “I don’t knoooow,” she purred. Toby’s gut went cold as Heather stepped closer to him, sliding an empty glass along with her. “I had three glasses of wine,” she whispered loudly. “And a gross cocktail.”
Toby was just making a gesture with his head, narrowing his eyes in confusion and giving a nod of disbelieving approval, when the bartender popped back with a bottle of red wine and a glass. “One Shiraz for the lady,” he said charmingly. A smile was plastered on his face but he was looking back and forth from Heather to Toby, a definitive glimmer of possessiveness in his eyes.
Heather was amused by this, because she gave her shiny hair a shake and smiled.
It was at this specific moment that Toby glanced at her hand and remembered that her wedding ring had been taken in for repair. Her bare fingers were long, neatly manicured, and only the slightest pale shadow of the ring marred her finger. She looked, quite suddenly, very young and very available. Toby’s chest felt tighter, and his cock strained against the confines of his jeans. Heather extended a hand to Toby as though he were a stranger. “Heather,” she said.
Flummoxed, Toby took her hand, and shook it limply in his confusion. “Coop,” he said. Coop was the inescapable nickname of all men with the last name Cooper, and even Heather had a tendency to use it when she was around his friends, who may have been hard-pressed to remember his given name if asked. Heather’s eyes glimmered, and she smiled for him, as if he were precisely what he wasn’t: a stranger in a bar. She grinned, and it was sexy. “Chris,” she said, leaving her eyes on Toby for just a moment too long before swinging them toward the bartender. “Thank you for the wine. Put it on the tab. Very nice to meet you, Coop.” She gave Toby a sidelong, very sexy glance, and rolled away from the bar. The two men watched her leaving: a tight, small ass in a dark, shape-hugging skirt that came to just above her knees.
Toby’s mouth was falling open, so he closed it by taking a sip of his beer. Just moments before, he had wanted to get home, but now he was intrigued by whatever it was that his wife was doing and didn’t mind sitting there to watch it.
Whatever it was.
What the fuck was it?
The bartender leaned on the bar, close enough for Toby to hear him over loud top-40’s music that had very recently begun but which Toby only heard just then. “Hospital admin,” he appraised. “Line ‘em up, knock ‘em down.”
Toby looked at the kid incredulously. “Seems a little old for you,” he said.
The athletic swagger erupted inside the bartender, and he stood up to his full height. He was an average height, maybe 5’ 10,” but his abdomen was flat and his muscles were hard in all the right places. He shook his head as if he almost lamented that it was this easy for him to reel the ladies in. He lifted a glass overhead and slipped it onto the rack. “Even better. That one, she’s a suit. Uptight as hell when she first got here.” He leaned back down, closer to Toby. “But those are the hottest ones. Uptight, hasn’t had a good lay in years, a little tipsy... she’s putty in my hands.”
Toby raised an eyebrow. “Oh yeah?”
It was an inappropriate response, and he knew that, but he thought it would be funny when he finally collected his uptight wife and took her home. If there was one word that least described Heather, it was “putty.”
More like steel-re-inforced concrete, buddy, he thought.
The bartender nodded sagely, and then, grinning, leaned on the bar again to confide in Toby. “This whole group of ’em, they’re hospital girls...” He pointed, not even trying to hide it, to each one in turn. “Hospital - slept with her - admin, admin – boned her - hospital, slept with her, her too, admin, that’s who I was after next... and then you have…” his finger ticked to the right and pointed toward Heather. “The Suit. Sales, probably. She’s got a corporate credit card and no limit. Got a little too drunk, see how her hair’s out of place, but you can see…. it isn’t ever like that, usually. She is lookin’ for a good time.”
Toby stared at the bartender. What an arrogant ass.
Although he had to admit – bitterly – that a large portion of the bartender’s assessment appeared to be correct. All but the last part, of course.
Toby finished his beer and flicked it toward the bartender with the back of his fingers, pondering his final comment. She’s lookin’ for a good time.