Laura's Dark Side
A Wife Sharing Romance
Laura and Chris have an ordinary marriage. Like most ordinary marriages, it’s missing something.
They have ordinary friends, too. Or, at least they thought they did.
When Laura and Chris see firsthand that Jenna and Rob have their own solution to the marriage blahs, they
have wildly different reactions - at least outwardly. But behind Laura’s shock and disappointment in her
friends, she’s hiding a very dark secret... one she doesn’t want to admit, even to herself.
Luckily for her, Jenna has a stable of dark men who know just how to unlock the needs of a woman like
Is Chris ready for the ride?
Laura had the menu up for a long time in front of
her face. It was made of hand-pressed paper and
printed with some kind of rough stamp and smeared
ink. The menu seemed to have been designed,
expressly, to be difficult to read.
It was the sort of hipster thing, that along with
a lot of the other hipster things at this
restaurant, was making Chris regret seeking the
advice of the only young, female, “cool” person
working at his company. He had asked Avery for a
“good, sophisticated restaurant,” perhaps
overestimating how much their definitions of
“good” would overlap.
He had wanted something special for this, his and
Laura’s first date in probably five years, a
celebration of the end of summer and the fact that
their eldest child could reasonably be expected to
babysit on his own. Chris could have asked one of
the guys where to go, and they would have likely
done as he predicted and suggested a chain
restaurant they deemed “sophisticated” because it
And they probably would have been a lot more
comfortable at a place like that.
There were a lot of mirrors in this place, Bourbon
and Feast – referred to by Avery and other people
her age a simply “Bourbon.” In many corners of his
vision, Chris had a full view of himself and
Laura. An out-of place couple, circling around
forty, somehow over- and under-dressed at once.
They were glaringly out-of-place against the
exposed brick, out-of-place in their slightly aged
clothing, out-of-place with each other.
The choppy silence of a twelve-year marriage was
between them on the table, like a cement block.
Laura was trying to break through it, lobbing the
occasional attempt at him, and he supposed he was
trying as well. But it was tough going. It was
hard to make a joke anymore: they didn’t share
enough of their time together to have private
jokes. It was hard to talk about something new and
interesting: they didn’t do anything new enough to
The kids had been a good glue, for a long time.
Interestingly, they had also served as a wedge
between them. But now that the kids were older,
had their own interests, and had returned some of
the time they had leeched away from their parents
for so many years, Laura and Chris found
themselves with not much left to talk about.
And creeping around every corner was the terrible
thought, the one he liked to stay away from as
much as he could: what if there was nothing
between them anymore, or worse yet, there never
had been? What if Laura had only married him
because she had gotten pregnant, and there was no
other reason than Liam, and then Chris Jr., to
keep her tied to him?
And then, looming just ahead of that thought, a
terrible abyss: And what would happen would Liam
and Chris moved out and started their own lives?
Laura let the menu fall away from her face. She
was shaking her head slightly, a frown turning
down the corners of her mouth. Chris smiled: the
menu was probably giving Laura fits. It was too
sloppy, too illegible, too disorganized for her.
“I can’t read anything,” she stated.
She looked up at him. His spirits buoyed. Here was
something they could talk about, ground on which
they could meet. Should he suggest they ditch the
place and go eat at the Chinese restaurant across
the street? It almost seemed more romantic, with
its tasseled lamps and red interior, its menu of
terribly photographed food and place mats with
Chinese horoscopes on them.
Nostalgia seized him.
Laura was a monkey, and he was a horse. It was so
long ago that they had huddled in a dingy Chinese
restaurant, on the same side of the booth,
reading the descriptions and laughing.
He was nothing like the horse of Chinese
calendars, and she was nothing like the monkey.
“I... cannot... read anything.... on this menu,”
It was not too late to suggest that they go. A
light rain was falling outside, the yellow and red
fluorescent sign beckoning them to the comforting
anonymity of yet another restaurant named Jade
Garden. They could dash through the drizzle and
pile into a booth together, drink some plum wine,
share Kung Pao chicken and drop things with their
At Bourbon, where they were trapped instead, a
waiter appeared. He looked not much older than
their eldest son, and his presence made the
distance between the present and the past yawn
“Can I tell you guys our specials tonight?” he
drawled, in the overly-casual, aloof and mildly
incompetent voice that all kids from his
generation seemed to use for all communication.
“Please,” said Laura, dropping the menu on the
table. She tucked her dark, silky hair behind her
Her hair was down, yet another oddity in the
evening. It had been so long since she had worn it
down that she seemed wildly uncomfortable with it,
continually pushing it away or back, obviously
wishing it was pinned up, as she did for work.
Her tucks and fidgets were endearing. Laura was a
slight, dark beauty, with the sort of pretty
features that occasionally soared to stratospheric
heights of beauty in the right light, or at the
right moment. She was taller than most women at 5’
10,” which was not a problem for Chris, who was
6’1.” Laura had been a bit on the thin side when
she was younger, and she had developed a set of
gawky gestures and habits from her years as an
angular, too-tall teenager. Her body had since
plumped nicely to slender curves, her features had
softened, and she was quite striking.
But she never played the part. She hunched over to
reduce her height, brushed her hair from her face
or bunned it away, and dressed in such a way that
she gave off the distinct impression that she was
a mousy-haired, bookish, average-looking girl.
(She wasn’t: her hair was dark and shiny, falling
in long waves if she let it; her eyes were light
brown and glittering, and her figure was the sort
most women her age would kill for).
The waiter, meanwhile, seemed to instantly regret
his offer to tell them about the specials, and to
forget the specials completely, and to be quite
annoyed at Chris and Laura for even asking. He
picked up the menu and began to read from it, his
voice a monotone best described as sarcastic. Then
he let it flop onto the table as though it were
“You need some time to decide,” he half-asked,
half-observed. “I’ll get you some drinks. Wine?”
Laura looked at Chris.
“Uh... white?” she said, timidly.
“I have a Pet-Nat, a Muscadet, and a white Merlot,
but do you really insist on white? Because I have
Laura looked bemused.
“The Cinsault sounds perfect, we’ll have a
bottle,” Chris said quickly.
The waiter looked pleased, then immediately
disappointed. “It’s just... you’re not having the
foie gras mousse are you?”
Laura looked at Chris, who had nothing to offer by
way of opinion, and then she told the waiter –
uncertainly - “Nnn...no.”
“It’s ethically sourced,” the waiter objected,
suddenly defending the foie gras mousse.
Laura’s mouth hung open, and she widened her eyes,
as though she could understand better if she did
“I don’t think so,” Chris said, smiling at Laura.
The waiter nodded, his faith in their choice
completely restored. “The Cinsault, then. I’ll be
right back with that.”
They leaned in toward each other. “What is that,
even?” Laura whispered.
“The wine, or the waiter?” Chris retorted.
Laura smiled. “Both. Either. I have no idea what’s
going on.” She leaned back in her chair, looking
at the menu. “I feel like our waiter is really
disappointed in us,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” Chris told her. “And... I’m sorry
about this place. Avery recommended it, so I’m not
really sure what I expected.”
Laura was holding up her water, a slightly tinted
beverage in a strange glass, which had been served
with dishes of gelatinous probiotics.
The time was ripe to ditch this place, to run back
in time to when they were young, not successful,
about to get married because of a pregnancy, and a
time when nothing on any menu had been turned into
“I think I’m going to order that mousse,” Laura
said, smiling. “Just to vex him.”
This took Chris aback a bit: it wasn’t like Laura
to be mischievous. Maybe she was in the sort of
mood to go for Chinese, maybe she was in the kind
of mood to be a little carefree, a little
naughty... maybe even to have sex?
But it was too late: the waiter was coming back
with the wine, the bottle was open, and there was
no way back to a simpler time in a Chinese
restaurant. It was 2018, they had been married
twelve years, they had steady jobs and a mortgage,
a financial adviser and new sofas that matched the
rugs and the drapes.
There was no other life.