back to bookshelf

A Sordid Past
A Hotwife Novel

by Arnica Butler

When Greg's wife returns to the small tourist town of her early adulthood, she begins to behave strangely: dressing down, wearing her hair in a bun, avoiding all the local businesses.

His suspicions are fueled when he goes to the town watering hole himself and meets some of the town's denizens. When he explains what has brought him to Walla Beach, the characters in the bar seem to think his wife Beth is a woman named Liza - and Liza had quite a reputation.

When a mysterious envelope - containing only a USB key and a dozen video files - arrives at their doorstep, Greg opens a Pandora's box: he has a cameraman's view into his wife's past, in all of its sordid details.

It's a conundrum, because whoever left this footage left no explanation and no demand, leaving Greg to navigate the collision of the past and present, with his future on the line.

This is a full-length, stand-alone novel, with plenty of details about a wild past, and a couple's journey into hotwifing in the present. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

In my line of work, you get to thinking you know people. Don't ask me how I ended up where I am; I don't even know. I didn't even think of applying to law school until I was almost finished with university, and that decision was pretty much a whim from a night of too much drinking at The Sink. I met this ambulance chaser who'd made millions, and I had no better prospects in life, and no real idea what I actually wanted to do. But I was smart and I could get a good score on the LSAT without doing much, and going to school for another three years seemed like an easy way to put off making a real decision. Yada, yada, yada, I got drunk some other night at a law school cocktail party and all of the sudden, I'm a criminal prosecutor. After a while, that job is like the inverse of The Matrix: you see the real world with your eyes, but it’s instantly transformed into their life story. I don't see redheads, blonds, or brunettes. I see three-time offenders, addicts, and ten-year mandatory sentences. I see pimp rolls a mile off, gangbangers from even further away. Dress an addict up nice and put him in the docket on the twelfth week of his sobriety, looking like a respectable citizen, and I still see him for what he is, still see the little glint in his eyes, blinking forever, reminding him of what he really wants. I still see the kind of glint in his eye. Coke, meth, booze, sex, ponies, whatever it is. And then it just all rolls out from there: I see it on a yellow legal pad in my own writing. Their next court date, two years in the future, what it will be for, and what they will get for it. Maybe Beth has her own superpowers. Maybe she blinded me with her small, curvy body and ludicrously long limbs, her big eyes nearly the same color as mine but darker and luminous. Her even-keel temperament, her poise, her tameness in general. Maybe I just didn't look because I didn't want to see anything but what she seemed to be: perfect, out of my league, for some reason enthralled with me. Whatever it is, I can say this with confidence: Beth, and Beth alone, of all the people I think I've ever met, surprised the fuck out of me.


"This doesn't seem so bad," Greg said.
It was a typical beach-town bar and grill. The food smelled fine, the patrons looked happy, and there were quite a few of them, which was always a good sign.
"The way you described it, I expected there to be fish guts and vomit all over the floor," he added. Beth rolled her eyes and pushed past him. "Don't write your review until forty-eight hours have passed," she snarked. She was looking around, her arms folded over her chest. When she turned back to him, she seemed a little less annoyed, perhaps even relieved. "I think maybe it's under new management," she told him. "They got rid of the carpeted floor, so that's a bonus."
A spritely blond high-school aged girl appeared and escorted them to a table. A waitress, slim, a little older, and mildly disinterested in her job, took the drink order.
"Pretty average," Greg commented, leaning across the table. "I'm kind of disappointed."
His wife leaned on her hand, putting her elbow to the outside of the booth. As she did, she removed whatever had been holding up her bun and let her hair fall to the side of her face. She grinned at Greg and fanned the plastic menu up and down. "Don't get too excited, cowboy. It's the same menu."
For a moment, looking over at Beth, Greg had a flash of inquietude. Something was off about her, and it wasn't just her clothing choices. Her hair was piled up in a bun - which she professed to hate, finding it the "height of slovenliness" - and she was wearing cutoffs from an oversized pair of jeans, several sizes larger than her small frame required and which came down to her knees, her glasses, and an oversized shirt he had never seen before that seemed to be splattered with paint. She had no make-up on, but the prettiness of her face - smooth, fair skin; alluring, boxy nose; oversized lips; wide, olive-colored eyes - could not be hidden, even with her large, round glasses.
"What's with the outfit?" he had asked, jokingly, upon arriving in Walla Beach. Beth was a stunning beauty with a lithe body on a small frame, curves in all the right places, and she had a way of making anything she wore look sexy. While she didn't tend to wear low-cut shirts or tiny shorts, there was something about her proportions that made almost any casual outfit look scandalous. But it could have just been that Greg was hopelessly in love with her, and painfully aware of his good fortune.
This getup, however, which she seemed to be uniformly wearing in Walla Beach, was the only thing he'd ever seen her wear that did her no justice whatsoever.
Beth rolled her eyes. "It's just some crap I found in the house."
Secretly, he wasn't entirely displeased: at least she wasn't out trawling men in that getup. He was back in the city a great deal of the time - a necessity of his job and political aspirations - and Beth had remained here, "cleaning up" the ramshackle "estate" her aunt and uncle had left to her after passing away in a car accident.
She had provided, and clearly would not provide, more explanation than that for her clothing. Greg had quickly chalked it all up to the cleaning, including the glasses. She wouldn't want dust in her contacts. He guessed... never mind that she barely needed them and went without them, or glasses, at least half the time.
So the clothing was one thing, but there was something else, something in her gestures and attitude, and he couldn't really put his finger on -
"See?" she said, tapping a finger on the menu. "Same misspelled words and everything."
Greg looked at where she was pointing on his own menu. "Icee Tea. Shoot, I thought that was like a tea slurpee or something."
Beth put her other fist to her cheek and hinged from the cheekbones to peruse the menu. "God. They literally have not done anything to this in like, what... almost twenty years."
"Chicken teeners," Greg read off, chuckling. When he looked up at Beth, she seemed unsettled again. She had pushed her hair to cover her face and was peering through the loose strands. She looked like a very bad investigator on a stakeout. Her eyes moved quickly, scanning the room, and then she turned back to Greg. "Don't get those," she said, very seriously.
"Here we are," the waitress broke in, her voice facilely cheerful. She set two beers on the table. "Y'all ready to order?"
As if to emphasize that they had better be, she took out her pen and order pad as she asked, and stabbed the pad with the tip of the pen at the end of her question.
"Have the wings," Beth said, pushing her menu toward Greg. "They're deep fried, so less likely to kill you."
"Heh," the waitress said, a real smile flashing across her face, gone just as quickly.
"Wings it is," Greg said. "And some...?" He looked at Beth, who waved at him dismissively.
"Fries, I guess," she mumbled.
"You don't want anything?"