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Love To Swap
CHAPTER ONE - Mutual Fun at the Exchange"Sitting in the air-conditioned office while I waited for Fred to finish his call so we could hopefully slip away for lunch, I grudgingly admitted to myself that there was a certain stir of excitement to the business. I'd been waiting close to an hour for my husband to be free, but call after call kept him at his desk, and each call seemed more important, more urgent than the last. I tried to decide whether that made my resentment of Fred stronger or lessened it slightly."I'd talked about it to Charlotte, whose husband Lew was Fred's partner, and she agreed that being married to a stockbroker was slowly driving her wild."Sure, the money's fine, and I'm glad Lew doesn't have to do work he detests or anything, but sometimes I think I might just as well not be there, for all he notices or cares. No, that's not exactly fair, I guess. Lew does care. It's just that I run a poor second to business. The market fascinates and stimulates him, and I can't. Wonder diets and daily workouts not withstanding.""I knew what Charlotte meant. At thirty-three she was a knockout. An ex-stewardess, Charlotte had kept her trim figure, but desperation had pushed her a step further. Exercises, expensive facials, the finest of hairdressers, expert grooming and beautiful clothing combined to do the utmost for her. She was tastefully sexy, but with class. Any man would be proud to have this red-haired woman for a wife, and Lew was, I suppose, in a distracted sort of way. But as far as giving the kind of attention all that trying deserved, he and Fred were equally guilty."Not that I'm hard to take, either. I modeled bathing suits at one of the best department stores in the city before I met Fred, and that kind of work requires a good body. While I'm not what you'd call a perfect beauty, I know how to enhance what I have, and Charlotte's shown me a thing or two about creating something nature didn't give, such as a beautiful cap of blonde curls in place of my naturally brown straight hair. At thirty I get as many propositions and whistles as I did at eighteen. I'm never ignored at parties. But when it comes to Fred, I'm just . . . there. We've reached the point where nothing much was happening in the relationship. Oh, we loved each other. It wasn't that. But there was no excitement in our lives. The living together part of it. That's where the resentment came in. Fred and Lew had something stimulating in their world. It was different for them. All day long they dealt with important things, moving and directing the flow of economy, remaining swept up in a moving world while we stayed in limbo, our world having stopped when we got married."The worst of it was we couldn't help seeing their point of view about things when they showed no desire to come home and show us a lot of attention. The pressures and strains of their high-powered days at work left them drained, and, though it hurt, I knew it was difficult getting up a lot of excitement towards the women they had been sleeping with for ten or eighteen years. Not that the knowledge made any of it easier."At first I tried hard to pretend it wasn't a sexual need I was feeling. I chose to think of it in terms of a family problem. Our daughter Sandy went to school upstate, and while she couldn't feel the lack of a father from that distance, it did affect her when she was home. Charlotte had two kids, and Lew had little energy for them, either, so it was easy to call our situation a family problem."Who are we kidding?" Charlotte said one day while we were lunching in town. "It's sex, April. Nothing but raw, delicious sex. Or, in this case, the lack of it.""I think it's a little more complex than that," I began to argue, but Charlotte shook her pretty head impatiently."Sure. It's a dozen or more other things, too. Everything's complex. But it's the sex that really bugs us. How long has it been since you've had an orgasm?""With anyone else I'd have turned a delicate shade of red, but I was used to Charlotte's outspokenness. "A week or so," I answered after a pause."How was it?""How was what? It just was, you know?" There were times when she exasperated me, much as I loved her."She looked at me for a moment, and though I expected her sudden, flashing smile, it didn't come. "Don't play games with me, April. I'm asking for your own good. How long has it been?""Seeing that she was serious I gave the question some real thought. For some reason I seemed to be having trouble thinking about the two of us in bed together, which was crazy, because sex had always been so good for us. "I don't know, Charlotte. A month or so, I'd say.' A sudden flare of heat licked between my thighs as I remembered that last time. We'd gone to a party and Fred had had too much to drink, and he'd used his tongue on me for the first time in a long while."That's about what I thought. Me too. And you think sex isn't our big problem? Ha!" She tapped her long fingernail on the rim of her cocktail glass. "They're tired of us. It's that simple. They get variety and stimulation at work each day, then they come home to a comfortable rut. It's a wonder that they haven't located themselves a couple of mistresses.""I tried to imagine Fred with another woman. "What can we do about it?" Nervously I tried to imagine Fred with another woman for a wife. I could just see some smart girl looking at him as a fine passport to a life of comfort and ease. It could happen. It had happened to more than one of our friends."I have an idea, April, dear. It has to do with throwing in a little variety and stimulation. Come over to my house this evening for dinner, you and Fred, and afterwards . . . well, just follow my lead, huh? And be prepared for anything.""There was no getting her to say another word, so I returned home curious and thinking harder about my marriage and sex life than I ever had before. Charlotte had left me with one question as I'd gotten out of her car: 'What's your biggest fear about Fred making love to another woman?" When I didn't answer she told me hers. "Some little bitch might try to take him away from me. For a nice, cushy future. If our husbands have to stray a little in order for them to regain an interest in sex, what say we choose partners for them, huh?""I took a long, worried bath, my mind playing with Charlotte's words. Finally, unable to stand it, I toweled myself dry, slipped into a robe and headed for the phone next to my bed. She answered at once. "Come on, Char, what have you in that little sneaky mind of yours? I've been thinking about what you said and the way Fred's interest in sex with me has gone downhill in the last year or two, and I think you're right, damn it. He is bored, and I don't know how long he'll stay bored before he does something about it.""April, if Lew was going to make love to another woman I'd want her to be someone who wouldn't try to take him from me. I'd want it to be someone I liked and trusted. Someone like you.""In the background I could hear the nervous tapping of Charlotte's fingernail against something wooden. "Do you mean. . . . ""Wait, let me finish. It's only a matter of time and you know it. There are just too many available girls. And once they start playing behind our backs it's all over. The guilt on Lew's part, and the suspicion on mine, would kill our marriage even if the cheating didn't. It's true for Fred, too. But if we give them variety right at home, so to speak, what could we lose? I find Fred attractive and sexy, but I wouldn't want to take him away from you. And I know Lew would never take Fred's place with you.""I opened my mouth to speak, then closed it again. I had to think about it. Finally I told Charlotte as much, then I hung up. The bed looked inviting with its silky spread and I stretched out on it, letting the robe fall open. I didn't know if Charlotte had gone crazy or sane, but the thought of Fred making love to Charlotte was very different from the concept of Lew making love to me. Lew looked like a man who knew what to do in bed. The thought gave me a fluttery feeling in the pit of my belly, and I could almost feel his hands on me. Shivering, I pulled my robe closed and tried to imagine Fred with Charlotte. I knew he thought she was attractive, and I also knew that certain things she did, like the way she incessantly tapped her fingernails, drove him up the walls. But I also knew he'd most likely adore making love to her."It was difficult to feel overly threatened, though, since Fred knew Charlotte so well that all the mystery and most of the romance would have to be gone even if they did a bed scene. It wouldn't be like his going off with some strange woman. . . . Charlotte wasn't creating problems out of air. I knew how passionate Fred could be, used to be, and how much he loved sex. It had to be the sameness which was affecting him, and what affected Fred, affected me. Was that why I'd noticed a slight depression lately, I'd wondered? Charlotte was right. It had been a long time since I'd had any good sex, and I was far too young to give it up."By the time Fred came home I'd done my hair and nails and carefully shaved my legs. I was slipping into a new, attractive dress with a dipping neckline and a figure-stressing cut. I was putting the finishing touches on my makeup when he came into the bedroom. He kissed my cheek vaguely, then took a second look."Hey, you look ready for a big night. Are we going out?""I nodded. T called you earlier, remember? Honestly, Fred, I don't think you listen to me half the time.""Oh! We're having dinner at Lew's, right? Damn. I was hoping I'd get a chance to see that new TV show.""I couldn't help smiling. "Oh, I don't think you'll be too bored.' It was funny, but now that I had had a few hours to think about it, I was more than a little excited at the whole idea. Somehow the thought of being with another man had never really come to my mind. At heart I was an old-fashioned girl who put aside such thoughts when I accepted my marriage ring. But I was beginning to see that times had changed and I hadn't. Charlotte was a sophisticated woman who wasn't afraid to try new things when she could see the old ones weren't doing a good enough job. Without her ideas and prodding I would have been willing to mindlessly let things progress to the point of such boredom that Fred would have found himself some excitement which had nothing to do with me, and that would have been that. This way, well, if I couldn't keep up with Fred at work, I sure could keep pace with him after work."The knowledge of what might happen was so exhilarating that it made me look and feel like a kid again. Fred kept looking at me as if I were crazy, but at least he was looking at me. That was one point ahead, already."Charlotte didn't look half bad, either, and I could swear Lew had taken a careful second shave since coming home. From the way his eyes touched mine during dinner I knew Charlotte had told him her idea, and it was pretty obvious he was all for it. His gaze followed me around the room, and I have to admit that it was flattering. Lew was not only a successful man, he was also quite attractive, with dark hair and eyes and the body of an athlete. He wore his suit well, and for the first time I found myself checking him out closely, wondering why I hadn't noticed how appealing he was before this."Dinner was delicious, and the maid served it and disappeared. I ate lightly, only enough to appease my hunger, and I drank a little more than usual. A sharp tension filled the room, and only Fred seemed his usual self. It seemed unreal to me that he didn't sense something different in the air, but he ate and talked shop as usual, and if he noticed that Charlotte was especially delicious herself, he didn't say anything."We had coffee and brandy in the playroom later, and Fred and Lew shot a game of pool while we watched. Even that was different. Lew kept asking me if I wanted to take his shot, a thing he'd never have done before, and Charlotte kept brushing up against Fred and raving about every good shot he made. The whole thing was so sexy, in an unspoken way, that I felt myself getting all hot and wet, and I kept finding my mind drifting off to images of myself in bed with Lew, and I wondered what he liked, and if he'd like my body. . . ."It was Charlotte's show, all the way, and when she began to tease Fred about his long-ago promise to show her how to do a trick dive he knew, Lew and I encouraged Fred to teach her immediately. Lew even got him a pair of trunks so he'd be without an excuse. Fred changed and the two of them went out to the pool."Shouldn't we have gone with them?" I asked, smiling nervously at Lew. He seemed very big now that we were alone."Then what would have been the point in sending them away?" He took my drink and his and led me to the large plush couch. "I think this is a fine idea, April. I always did think Fred was the luckiest man I knew.""He kissed me then, softly at first, getting me used to him, and then his lips closed more firmly over mine."I wasn't surprised at the strength of my reaction to his kisses. It had been a long time since I'd been this close to anyone other than my husband, and it had been a long time since Fred had made me feel this way. It was the newness, the strangeness of what we were doing, and I felt excited and like a teen-ager with her first man. When he began to play with my breasts over my dress I was glad I'd not had to wear a bra and that my nipples hardened so swiftly to his touch. I was feeling very sophisticated and daring, and I was far readier than I should have been from a few touches and kisses."I'm not insane for this couch bit. We'll leave it for them. Let's go get comfortable.' Lew stood up and pulled me to him. We kissed again, slowly and deeply, our tongues merging while our bodies stretched and pressed together, fitting themselves in preparation for what would soon happen. The crotch of my brief lacy panties dampened as if I'd sprung a leak somewhere."In spite of all the times I'd entered the bedroom in this house it was never like this. Everything looked new and strange, mostly because I'd always thought of it as Charlotte's bedroom, and now it was suddenly Lew's bedroom. "Where will they go?" I asked, thinking of them for the first time."He shrugged. "Probably over to your house. While the kids and the maid never wander around at night I doubt they'd want to stay out by the pool or use the couches or even the guest room which doesn't lock. Are you worried about it or them?""I giggled as he kissed the back of my neck while his fingers fumbled with the zipper. "No. Not really. I just.. . I just wondered if we were taking the best room. . . . ""We sure are. Isn't it fun?" The zipper hissed open and my hands automatically flew up to keep the loosening dress in place. Gently but firmly he removed my hands. "Let me see, April. I've always been curious about those beautiful things.""I sat still as he pushed my hands out of the way and eased my dress down to my waist. My breasts were full and very firm, and they stood sharply away from my ribs, shadowing them and making them even larger looking by contrast."Lew touched one of the large nipples and rolled it between his fingertips as if in awe. I felt a stab of pride, because no matter how beautiful Charlotte was, she didn't have a bust line which could hope to compete. His mouth closed over one immediately, even while his fingers were still tugging on the other. I love having my nipples sucked and nibbled, love it, go absolutely wild over it, and Lew was doing it so nicely that I just had to moan a little and let him know how much he was turning me on."He was instantly so turned on I couldn't believe it. After eight years of knowing Lew as Charlotte's husband and a friend of Fred's, it was disconcerting, to say the least, to see him turn into a lover. His sucking mouth was attacking my breasts furiously while one hand dropped to my leg. He shrugged the dress aside and slipped his hand over my smooth skin until his fingers were at the edge of my panties. While he pushed them aside at the crotch I got so excited I found my own hand on the hardening bulge under his fly. We rubbed each other and Lew began to tickle the fine hairs of my pussy with his fingertip."I was so worked up I could hardly breathe, and that was the moment when the bedroom door flew open and all hell broke loose. . . ."Sigmund Freud once pointed out that "American men don't know how to make love.. . . American men step into marriage without the least experience for so complicated a business, and the ramifications of such ineptitude are often observed. No able Wall Streeter would think of investing in any stock without adequate preparation, yet the same man enters the vastly more complex institution of marriage with little more background or plan than a child.Like Fred and Lew, he knows that his life will continue to be active and stimulating, and a consideration for the function of the wife is too often as limited and isolated as if she existed only to make life as comfortable as possible for her husband.Due to his business success and the ease with which he moves through the world of commerce and his peers, this sort of husband is often very willing to be the silent or passive partner when it comes to his marriage. He is inadequately prepared for dealing with this part of his life, and he tends to allow others to set the pace and maintain the standards, which is why he is so frequently an ineffectual father to his children and a desirable consumer. He does as little as possible with the children and is happy to place the discipline and the responsibility on the wife and mother. He buys whatever the family next door appear to have, and if he can afford it, he rarely questions the necessity of these purchases. Women and their non-logical needs and desires confuse him and perhaps even frighten him somewhat, and he prefers to take an active stand in his business, where he understands the games and needs. Hendrik M. Ruitenbeek, in his book, The Male Myth, speaks of this passivity:Frequently, when the male cannot maintain his preferred attitude of non-involvement, he tends either to retreat from women or to let them make the decisions.In effect this is what Fred and Lew have allowed to happen with their wives. Their non-participation in their marriages and sex lives have left their wives frustrated and hostile. The wives recognize their resentment and, although attempting to excuse their mates, don't hesitate to take matters into their own hands. The women decide to broaden their sexual outlets in the hope of generating some sexual response, and, less close to the surface, they cleverly scheme to assure themselves of a little sexual gratification while they go about stimulating their husbands and preventing the possibilities of eventually losing their mates to other women.A factor which gives their decision strength and a sort of legitimacy is provided by the swiftly changing sexual mores. Charlotte dares to suggest such a plan to the less sophisticated April because she knows that April is uncertain of what is required of her in present day society. She expresses this concern and confusion when she says:"I was beginning to see that times had changed and I hadn't. Charlotte was a sophisticated woman who wasn't afraid to try new things when she could see the old ones weren't .doing a good enough job. Without her ideas and prodding. . . ."