back to bookshelf

Only With You Watching Me

by Jason Lenov

Jeff and Lauren's marriage has fizzled.
Lauren has needs she hasn't shared with Jeff. Jeff is overworked and tired.
An intimate moment is interrupted by a knock at the door. Turns out Lauren forgot a few of the boys were coming over to move a couch.
Jeff's reaction to seeing his wife ogled by three strangers is perplexing. But when they return to the bedroom the situation turns explosive.
It turns out Lauren needs more than Jeff has been delivering.
Just imagining his wife with another man turns Jeff's crank like nothing has before.
And Lauren's got just the guy in mind...

Chapter One

It was hard to believe Christmas had come and gone so quickly. It seemed faster every year.
Jeff looked at Lauren standing next to him and staring out the living room window. She didn’t look nearly as sad as he felt. “You okay?” he asked, hoping to elicit a response that would reassure him he wasn’t alone in how much he missed Thomas already.
She glanced up at him and smiled. “Yes, strangely,” she replied. Turning to look out the window and down the street to where Thomas’ car had disappeared just a few seconds ago. “I’m not sure why. I thought I’d be in way worse shape.” “It’s crazy they’re all gone, huh?” Jeff asked. Her reply hadn’t been exactly what he’d wanted. Nor had she reciprocated, asking him whether he was alright. But sometimes women just assumed guys were fine, right? Just because they kept it all inside?
Lauren took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “It is,” she whispered. She turned to Jeff and bit her lip. “He’ll be back for spring break,” she said.
Jeff let out a wistful sigh of his own. In a way he was surprised by the intensity of his own reaction. It wasn’t like him to get emotional. But now they were all gone. All three of them. The nest was as empty as it would get. Somehow that stung. Made him feel…old. Or something.
“So?” Lauren asked.
“So?” Jeff echoed, still lost in his thoughts. He turned when he felt her staring. “You want to do a movie or something?” he asked, absently. “I think I might have a beer, actually,” he added before turning and walking toward the kitchen.
“Uh…sure, I guess,” Lauren said behind him. She followed him into the kitchen and watched him pull a cold one from the fridge and crack the cap off. “You’re drinking already? It’s two in the afternoon.”
Jeff grinned after taking a swig. “What? It’s still the holidays right?” he asked. “You want one?”
Lauren shook her head. “No. I’m good. I gained two pounds over the last two weeks.”
He caught her glancing at his gut. He looked down at himself. He’d definitely gained a few as well. Not that it mattered. He’d been cultivating his paunch for years now. He patted his tummy. “It’s the only baby I have left,” he said, looking up at his wife and smiling.
She flashed a weak smile. “They’ll probably have a special at the gym you know?” she said. “Catch the New Year’s resolution crowd and sign them up for a year. We could go together.”
Jeff laughed and shook his head. He took another pull on the bottle. “Yeah. No. Not my thing, remember? You married a nerd not a jock. No way I’m standing around with a bunch of meat heads lifting weights.”
Her smile faded. “They have a track. You could run. Or there’s the pool, too.”
Jeff shot her a funny look. He set the bottle down on the counter, walked over to where she was standing and put his arms around her back. He pulled her in for a hug. “What’s the matter? Am I too fat for you?” he said, his eyes full of mischief.
“I didn’t say that,” she replied. Her tone was more serious than he’d expected.
He leaned back and looked into her eyes. “Wait, are you serious? You want me to lose some weight?” he asked.
Lauren looked down at the tile floor. “I want you to be healthy.”
“I am healthy,” he said. He sounded more defensive than he’d meant to.
Lauren flashed another weak smile in his direction.
Jeff furrowed his brow. There was something wrong. She wasn’t acting like herself. “What do you want to do? We don’t have to see a movie if you don’t want. We could stay in. Watch something on TV. That sound better?”
Lauren arched her brow. “We could do that,” she said, stretching out the sentence.
“You don’t sound sure,” Jeff said.
Lauren put her hands up on his chest and played with the buttons on his shirt. “I was kind of thinking…now that everyone’s gone…maybe we could…you know…”
Jeff’s shoulders sagged. He hadn’t expected this. Maybe he should have. The last two weeks with everyone home had been a…reprieve, of sorts. He’d almost forgotten about Lauren’s renewed appetites. “Uh…yeah. If you want to. Sure,” he replied. Her hands fell from his chest as she pulled away from his embrace and turned around.
“Hey! What? I said if you want to then let’s get to it,” Jeff said, puzzled by her reaction. He watched as she pulled a chair out from the table and slumped into it. His chest went a little tight.
Two weeks of Lauren being too tired for much after endless days of cooking and hanging out with the kids had spoiled him. She hadn’t made a single overture, save for two days after Christmas when they’d both had too much wine. He’d been happy to oblige with a drunken quickie before they both fell asleep.
It wasn’t that he didn’t love his wife. She still looked fantastic. Had the body of a twenty-five year old. Lately though, he just hadn’t been feeling it. For whatever reason. He walked over to the table and put a hand on her shoulder. It stung when she shrugged it off. “Lauren? What? I’m sorry. Did I say something wrong?”
She shook her head and touched the tips of her fingers to her forehead. “No. You’re fine.”
“Then what?” He knew he wasn’t fine. They weren’t fine. Hadn’t been for months now. He’d even thought of couples counselling but never brought it up. It was about six months ago that Lauren’s…needs had increased. At first he’d been happy. But then it went from her wanting it once or twice a week, which was fine, to her wanting it almost every night. Which maybe, probably, should have been fine. Except Jeff just wasn’t into it as much as she was.
Now, standing there and looking at her, at how dejected she seemed, and all because he’d said “yes” the wrong way. It made him a little sad and it made him a little angry. He slipped into the chair on the opposite side of the table. “Lauren.” “What?” she asked without looking at him.
“Talk to me. Something’s wrong I can tell.”
She smirked and rolled her eyes.
“Don’t do that.” Anger burned a little hotter inside him.
She shook her head. “I’m sorry. You’re right. That was mean.” She left it at that.
A long silence stretched out between them, the prospect of sharing a pleasant afternoon with Lauren growing dimmer.
Jeff knew what needed to be done. He knew what conversation needed to be started. He just had no interest in starting it. It would end the same way the others all had. With them in separate bedrooms for the night. “You want to talk?” he said, fighting through his resentment at Lauren for making them have this kind of day again.
“No, Jeff,” she said, shaking her head again. “I don’t want to talk. I want…wanted to go upstairs and make love. Something which you seem to have no interest in anym…”
“Hey!” he barked, again far more harshly than he’d intended.
She clammed up and put a finger on her mouth.
Jeff sighed and looked down at the table. “I’m sorry.” He squeezed the words out like they were the last of the toothpaste in an old tube.
“It’s okay,” Lauren whispered.
“No. It’s not. I know it’s not. I know it hasn’t been for a long time,” he blurted, surprised by his own honesty and directness.
She looked up at him like she was surprised by it, too.
Maybe this is what they needed? To just have it out. No matter how difficult it would be. “It’s like things have flipped, right?”
“Flipped?” she asked.
“Yeah. Remember? It was always me that was begging for it. You were always too tired. Now it’s like…it’s like it’s the opposite. Right?”
A soft smile formed on her lips. At what? The memory of what they’d been once? “I guess,” she said.