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Lauren's Black Box

by Arnica Butler

An engineer by vocation, Jason is used to having control over things in his life. He knows he's lucky to be married to Lauren, a sporty, daring, beautiful blonde - but she's the one thing he can't predict with certainty, and so he never dares to share some of his darkest secrets with her. There are events in her past that wave him off, and Jason doesn't like risks he can't fully assess, or outcomes he can't predict.

When Lauren gets a dark, handsome new client at her gym, Jason's demons rear their heads. He turns to the internet for support, but his failure to delete his history leads Lauren to encounter his secrets.

But how much does she know?
And most importantly: what will she do?


He saw them, immediately, when he walked in.
He took the guy to be another personal trainer, probably a specialist in basketball. He was noticeably tall, and it was more than just the typical illusion created when anyone stood next to the petite Lauren. His arms were long and stacked with the kind of non-bulky muscle that came from being agile and quick, and his hands were large and crisscrossed by bundles of veined fibers that would make palming a large ball an easy task.
He was also very, very black - and that was also not an illusion created by his presence in contrast to the Scandinavian palette of Jason's wife: ice-blond hair, pale blue eyes, porcelain skin tinted to a sandy-rose color by years of constant outdoor activity (conducted safely beneath an eternally refreshed layer of SPF 60+ sunscreen). She was in her gym branded, midriff baring top, hot pink sports bra very much visible and very tight shorts.
When he saw them in a corner of the gym, talking, he was struck by the thought that they looked just like a couple. The kind of hot couple, opposite in appearance and sporty by nature, that would have hot sex together, combine to produce perfect children, and probably also make excellent amateur porn.
They were obviously hitting it off, whatever their relationship to each other was. Lauren's large mouth was open wide, her nose wrinkled up so that her strangely attractive large nostrils flared, and her big, almond -shaped eyes scrunched up into crinkled lines.
He ducked into the changing room and opened up his locker for the first time in many months. He wasn't sure what motivated him to do this: he had a free membership there as part of Lauren's perks, but he wasn't a gym guy, and so rarely used it. He also hadn't come here intending to work out, but rather to see if he could get his wife to come home early, a task that could not be done via phone, because she was scrupulously adherent to her employer's no-phone policy while she was with clients.
He smiled at the contents of his locker: Lauren, always quietly "supportive" of him going to the gym, had washed his workout clothing and folded it neatly, along with a clean towel, over a pair of shoes she had purchased specifically to leave in this locker.
Go get 'em tiger was scrawled on a Post-It note stuck to the shoes.
Why was he changing into the gym clothes? He didn't know. Nor could he really account for the way he slinked into the gym strategically, moving behind weight machines to block Lauren's view of him, and made his way to a little-used corner, where he settled onto the bench of a machine he did not have a clue how to use. Or why he spent the next thirty minutes observing his wife from a variety of machines that he likewise had no idea about.
She was still there, chatting with him, when he left the locker room. Smiling, talking. Talking a lot.
Lauren had a way of touching everyone she talked to, so it was not necessarily indicative of anything out of the ordinary that she put her hand out on the man's wiry forearm as she was speaking. But the sight of her pale hand against the rock-hard darkness of his skin burned into Jason's retina, searing straight through him. A pleasing queasiness deep in his groin snaked around for a few minutes before his cock began to stir to life. So he sat, legs propped up on the machine to hide his erection, and watched as they circulated through the machines. They were taking turns on them, making Jason think vaguely that she must not be busy at the moment. He knew he should go over and make his presence known, because he was, to be fair, being a little bit creepy.
Just as soon as his erection faded, which wasn't happening any time soon. The elixir of jealousy and vague fantasy, the kind of banal masochism that he assumed was the appeal of his dark fantasies about his wife, was too strong. Images began to blossom in his mind, none of them helpful. In the meantime, Lauren continued to chat, to toss her ponytail, to crinkle her nose and smile, and to touch the man everywhere.
She was flirting with him.
She had to be.
The queasiness, cold and reptilian, grew, pushing outward, into his chest. He was starting to sweat a little, and a cool bead raced down his spine just as his wife crouched, laughing, next to a weight machine that the black guy was using, and ran her fingers along the underside of his thigh. A puff of air left Jason's lips, an incomprehensible syllable of nonsense, as though someone had punched him in the gut.
This wasn't really happening, was it? And then, the whole bubble exploded, as Lauren stood up, still smiling, and, as if she had known he was there all along and chosen the moment herself, looked right at Jason.
She cocked her head to the side and squinted, never losing her smile. Then she raised her hand and waved.
Not the actions of a woman who had just been caught flirting, very physically, with a co-worker, by her husband, who she should not have expected to be there at all.
Jason, engineer by trade, began to analyze, taking the whole scene apart piece by piece. The task diverted blood from his cock, at least, and by the time that his wife came walking over swiftly, smiling, ponytail bobbing, he had at least reduced his erection to a manageable state.
He did not, however, have his own cover story. An explanation for why he was "working out," instead of going over to talk to his wife.
He did not want to creep her out. That was a no-no.
"Hey," she said, still smiling. Her eyes scanned the machine he was on, and a flicker of confusion entered her expression. "What are you doing here?" He pushed with his legs, because that seemed like the thing to do on that machine. It was, however, set at an extremely high weight, and he had to strain to straighten his legs out.
Lauren looked at the machine, alarmed, as he spoke, groaning a little.
Whatever. Lauren liked his sense of humor. Or so she said.
"Safepro has a safety problem," he groaned, and slowly, at great expense to the integrity of his muscles, lowered the weight, as Lauren folded her arms across her chest and shook her head. "So I have the afternoon off. I thought I would come steal you," he said, and gulped for some air. Should he try to push the weights again? No sense looking like a pussy. Also, he needed one more second to figure out what he was going to say... Lauren put her hand down on his shins, her face terse behind a forced smile. "Don't," she said quickly. "Don't... do that..." She pulled the pin from the weight stack, and pushed against his feet when the whole contraption began to fly upward with the force he was applying. "You aren't even using this correctly," she cautioned, smiles returning.
Then she looked back. "Uh..." she began.
"I saw you were working with, uh... somebody," Jason blurted, and he felt a little lame. "So I didn't want to interrupt."
She was turned back toward him now, still smiling, still relaxed. "So you thought you'd break your femur instead?" she joked. "I'm almost done with Andre... were you thinking of stealing me away?" Andre.
"Is he new?" Jason inquired, trying to ask with neutrality.
She was already checking back on Andre, and she said, "just a minute," before jogging over to him. Jason dropped his feet to the floor on either side of the bench and scowled as his wife went back to chatting with Andre.