A Romantic Wife Sharing Novel
Jo never talked much about her past, so Nate is naturally curious about her secrets when they move back
to her hometown to save the family business. It isn’t long before he realizes that Jo may be the woman he
married, but before she was Jo, she was T.J.
And T.J. was... well, someone else.
Now Jo is surrounded by ex-lovers, and potential younger lovers, and Nate’s imagination is running wild.
He’s supposed to be writing the Next Great American Novel, and instead he’s penning filthy stories with
his wife in mind as the main character.
But when life starts to imitate art, and art starts to imitate life, Nate becomes unsure of how much of
his fantasy is fiction, and whether his marriage to Jo was ever what he thought it was... and whether it
can ever be the same again.
“The Laughing Goat?” Nate said, turning the wheel
and peering out from under the sun visor to make
sure he was reading the signs correctly.
Jo was blankly looking out her window, lost in her
“Hon?” he asked, putting a hand on her knee.
Jo snapped her attention to the windshield,
looking ahead, squinting. Making, in Nate’s
opinion, a big show of being interested in his
question, to cover up the fact that she had been
miles away. Whenever she pretended to have been
paying attention, she blinked more than usual, and
made a thin-lined grimace out of her mouth. It was
an expression she never wore in response to
But he no sooner had these negative thoughts than
he dismissed them: these were tough times, and he
should be cutting his wife a break. He had to stop
thinking only of himself, and his feelings. Jo,
self-possessed and cucumber-cool as she was, had
every right to be having trouble with... this.
“Uh, yeah,” she said, in a lilting voice that,
like her grimace, was only for this particular
situation. “Laughing Goat. I don’t know. This is
all... none of this was here when I was here. It’s
like, a completely different place.”
There was a silence while she looked out of the
passenger window theatrically. It was almost like
she was starring in a play, and the stage
directions were: Jo looks wistfully out the window
at her old town.
“So... you want to go there?” he asked, slowing
the car and braking his impatience as well.
“I don’t know,” Jo snapped, obviously lost in
thought again and irritated to be shaken out of
it. “I mean... sorry. I don’t know. I guess.
It’s... sounds kind of hipster, doesn’t it?”
She was trying to make up for being snappy with
that last bit. She was smiling, pushing her long
bangs from her forehead, tipping her head against
her hand with her elbow on the car door. “What’s
their logo look like?”
She looked behind them, appraised the sign
swinging from the porch of The Laughing Goat, and
said: “Huh,” with a shrug.
Not bad, the shrug meant.
“Maybe Sayville is just a nice place to live now,”
Nate suggested, and he couldn’t keep his own
desperate hope – that Sayville was, in fact, a
nice place to live now – from cracking through his
Sayville, Georgia, a stone’s throw from Tennessee,
was a town surrounded by beautiful landscapes and
full of dark shadows everywhere. There were signs
that Sayville was being infused with a little bit
of money, but an air of decay and hopelessness
still hung about the place. There was a
Southernness to it that made it all the more
depressing, but Nate supposed that was because he
was not from the South: everything in the South
seemed like it was either dangerous or tragic to
But it wasn’t just the town. There was the matter
of his wife, and the change coming over her, like
something was seeping back into her, the way the
water seeped into the wood-framed houses.
He had turned the car around, because he was
hungry, and there was not much left of Sayville’s
three blocks of half-shuttered downtown. This was
the kind of place that closed everything but
antique shops on Sundays, and since he had never
lived anywhere but a city – his high school had
more students than the whole of Lee County – he
found himself extremely agitated by the lack of
“Oh, are we going there?” Jo said, but not like
she really even wanted to ask, or like she cared
about the answer. She was looking out the window
They rolled right up to the curb next to the
restaurant, and Nate leaned on the steering wheel,
searching for “No Parking” signs.
Jo was already stepping out of the car. “There’s
no rules about parking,” she muttered.
There’s no rules.
It wasn’t a big deal. He wasn’t a Grammar Nazi.
This was the kind of speech-level mistake that he
knew Jo would never write. But in the twelve years
he had known her, it had also been the kind of
thing he would have bet large sums of money on
never hearing her say.
The inside of The Laughing Goat was unexpectedly
pleasant. Dark green billiards tables matched dark
green lamps, brown leather booths and dark wood
completed the classic pub appearance. Things
looked new, taken care of, and – and this was
crucial – not trashy at all.
“Not bad,” Jo said, removing her sunglasses.
Not bad – but, as was usual in Sayville, customer
service was on more of a geological timescale. No
one appeared behind the bar, or from the kitchen,
and two other patrons were stirring melted ice
water in empty glasses amid the remnants of a very
large meal that no one had yet bothered to clear.
But there was air conditioning, which was a big
bonus. It was not very good – probably half as
much as was actually required to drain the Georgia
air of water and heat – but it was something.
Jo plopped into a booth, not seeming to notice the
lack of customer service at all. Jo, in fact, had
acquired a monumental level of patience – not
typical of her at all – since they crossed the
And patience, it seemed, was what was required.
A waitress sauntered out of the kitchen, surveyed
the dining room, crossed over to the messy table,
picked up half of the dishes, and very s-l-o-w-l-y
“Can I get y’all anythin’ else?”
It was another ten minutes, during which time the
waitress disappeared again, and the patrons
continued sitting, and the air conditioning
continued huffing as hard as it could, before she
reappeared and – slowly again – took their drink
“I’ll have tea,” Jo said.
“What kind of tea is it?” Nate asked.
He already knew the answer, because there was only
one kind of tea served in Sayville and it was
technically cold syrup with a tea flavor, but he
enjoyed asking the question because he enjoyed the
fact that it made everyone screw their eyes up in
confusion. It really hadn’t been his thing to fuck
with people in this way since his adolescence, but
he couldn’t help himself.
Jo shot daggers at him, while the waitress
scrunched her eyes together in an attempt to
fathom the question.
“It’s... tea,” she said finally.
“It’s sweet tea, darlin’” Jo said, in an
extra-thick drawl. Her eyes glinted at Nate, and
he backed down. The waitress looked from one to
the other, unsure of what to say.
“I’ll have a beer,” Nate said, smiling.
She looked at him, and while it would have been
fun to see how long she would have done that, he
could feel Jo glaring at the side of his face.
“What kind do you have?” Nate prompted her.
“Kinda what?” the waitress said.
“Kind of beer,” Nate said patiently. “What kinds
of beer do you have?”
“Uh... we got... Coors and then some kinda special
“Have that one,” Jo said to Nate, and her voice
“I’ll have that one,” Nate said, smiling broadly
at the waitress.
The waitress was now confused, so a long beat
passed before she took a deep breath and asked,
very genuinely: “You want me to find out what it
He smiled with closed lips. “That’s quite all
right,” he said grandly. “I’m sure it’ll be good.”
“Bless her heart,” Jo said, after she’d
There was another one. “Bless your heart.” Jo had
never blessed so much as a sneezing child in her
life, and now she was walking around Georgia like
she wanted to be Pope.