Dear Tara,

Today was filled with fear.

I don't know what happened to you. I haven't hired a private investigator or paid $19.95 to an internet snooping service. I did a Facebook search, twitter, instagram. I googled your name. All turned up nada. I left it at that, guessing you don't want to be found. I understand and respect that desire.

You never posted here. Never knew about e2.

This may be a conceit.

This may be therapeutic.

This may be nothing but a way for me to speak to myself about the hard truths self-denial buries so I can get on with my day.

I wonder if you're dead. I wonder if you're alive. I wonder if you've grown like me to become at once less and more than you were.

I am less arrogant. I want to believe you'd appreciate that. I remember how my arrogance turned you on, how the confidence in my ability to fly made you want to hold on so you could also swim through clouds. Then you left, I learned I was human, struggled with my lack of immortality, then came out the other end a greater man.

Are you ok?

Am I ok?

I have days like today, when I teach my son the word dystopia and show him scenes from Blade Runner 2049 so he can see what climate change would (will?) look like, what unregulated pollution will wrought, what nuclear fallout will lay to waste. We watch fields of synthetic food. We watch cities choked with smog. We watch vast deserts with dead trees and nothing green. We watch Las Vegas turned into an irradiated ghost town. I note that he will be my age in 2049. I tell him this is just a possible trajectory based on our worst fears. He says he understands and promises to help build a better world, then goes off to play video games.

I open twitter and read our reality TV president threatening nuclear war because he thought a bellicose dictator implied he had a small penis.

Remember when anxiety was about getting into elite grad schools and how we could arrange a threesome?

I wonder if we're already living in a dystopia.

My SO is my Rachel, but the memory of you is my Joi. It's the only way I can get on in this world.

I suspect it's the only way any of us can.

This morning I woke up and thought about calling to tell my PT I wouldn't be in today. I made myself go, but since I was awake for most of the night, it was probably one of the worst sessions I've had. My ankle was sore, I couldn't focus, but at least the music was good. I hadn't worked with the tech I had today, in the past she's kind of annoyed me, but I got to know her better today and now that I'm more comfortable with her, I actually prefer her to some of the others. After PT I wanted to go home and crash, I think people could tell I wasn't myself, but I made myself go to work and buy groceries. I'm always on the fence about whether to go when I'm there, or wait until my mood and preparation levels are higher. I spent more money than I would have liked, but at least now I have that crossed off of my list. Since one of my resolutions was to take at least one class per month I thought I should get started on that. I used my handy dandy phone to look up things in the area that I wanted to do, years ago I had seen the local art studio near the bank, but for whatever reason I had dismissed it previously. When I learned that they would let a random person who had little to no actual art skill walk in off the street and use their facilities I knew I had found my place even though there's an art gallery that offers classes less than six blocks from where I live.

My choices were glazing prefired ceramic pieces, making my own clay object, glass fusing, or painting. They have a wider selection of services, but my understanding is you need to call ahead for those. Since I didn't know what I was doing or what I wanted, just walking through the door reminded me of how I had failed seventh grade art, thankfully there was a younger woman who seemed very nice and that helped ease some of my fears. I decided to paint since that seemed like the least intimidating choice. Once I had my canvas I realized I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I met the owner of the studio when I was searching for a ruler, I didn't know what I was going to do with that either, but once I had it I found that I could at least put some lines down and that made me feel better. I hated geometry when I was in school, geometric art isn't what I prefer to look at when I go to the museum, but apparently that's the only thing I really know how to do so that's what I did. I put a pencil frame around some shapes, dipped my brush into the green, and was immediately disappointed because the color wasn't as intense as I had hoped. Blue was a better choice, I liked red, but black became my favorite because it covered the canvas so solidly. 

The woman I had first met brought me another bowl of water and told me that acrylics junk up the brushes. I could have gotten fancy and mixed colors, but I didn't see the point in that since I wasn't really sure what I was creating. Once I got the extra bowl of water I found out that thinning the paints changed the viscosity, I played around with diluted colors and found that I preferred most of them to the more opaque counterparts. The two women left to go in back when a third woman arrived. She was more encouraging than the first two had been. The table in front of me had a family that was up from Iowa, the table across from them had two daughters and a mother, it was busier than I thought it would be, the time passed quickly, for the most part I enjoyed the music and my time there. Nobody is going to mistake anything I did for the world of an old master, but it's a start and I'm proud of myself for venturing in, this is the kind of thing that I think would be a fun first date, you could get to know each other and talk, but have something to occupy your time so it isn't too intense or awkward. They serve beverages, I didn't catch the prices, I'm going to take Jill and Jane there and see what they would like to do.

I can see this turning into a habit, but I also think this type of thing is very important. This morning when I was at work my boss said how clearing creative work was for the mind. After my time there, I have to agree. Periodically I find that there's a task I perform better with my left hand. I shoot pool left handed, I'm a switch hitter, and I can paint with my left hand in a way that I can't with my right. My left hand was better at going along the edges, I'm sure someone with more experience would have done better than myself, but I thought my piece was not terrible for someone who hasn't painted much of anything since grade school. The studio was very mellow and chill, you can stay there for as long as you like which is also a really nice feature. When I was done the woman who helped me told me that my piece reminded her of Georges Barque, an artist who was new to me. I had heard of cubism as an art term, but that was about the extent of my knowledge. She told me to go to the art museum and study the pieces up on the third floor so I could get a better appreciation for what she was talking about. The other woman I had been talking to earlier told me about her friend who does a lot of geometric art with masking tape. Next time I'm going to try that because it does bother me that my lines aren't very straight. 

Even though my time there passed very pleasantly, it was also tiring, by the time I got home, put my groceries away, and ate lunch, it was almost time for therapy. I had my car keys, set them down somewhere, and then spent a couple minutes trying to find them before I left. Fortunately I was ahead of schedule, my therapist tends to run late, I've learned that about her so I had time to flip through the January edition of Cooking Light. I've learned to treat magazines like that as a form of art therapy, I know that despite my best intentions I won't make the recipes they suggest even if I do have the ingredients on hand, or go out and buy them. I tend to treat recipes as a starting point, and then go about doing what I would have done anyways regardless. I think part of this stems from food being interesting and a form of art to me, it also gets very difficult to come up with anything somewhat resembling the original recipe when you or someone in your family can't have certain ingredients. I got to the 'why bother' part quickly after I realized that the world of food intolerances is remarkably complex, and way beyond my ability to navigate without my stress levels sky rocketing. I can do gluten free, and dairy free, but to make a dessert that is gluten, dairy, egg, and banana free that still tastes like something a real person actually wants to eat becomes more effort than it is worth.

Since I hadn't seen my therapist in a while we had some catching up to do. I had been low level dreading this appointment for a while, but to my surprise it could not have gone better. I try to be very honest with her, even if I wasn't she would sense or know that I was lying. I dumped everything, and one of the things I really like about her is how she sizes up a situation even when I feel like I'm not communicating very effectively. I'll start at the end and work backward. She told me she was impressed with how well I was doing emotionally. I think this is probably one of the best sessions I have ever had with her. My relationships with the girls are stable and probably better than they were since I saw her last. She agreed that the chiropractor had crossed a line he shouldn't have with a patient and although I could have handled that better, she said that I had good boundaries in place which was a welcome accolade. When I told her about my friend with the crush she agreed that I had a right to a good PT, we didn't get into the two women at work who give me a lot of trouble as much as I would have liked. She focused on my boss and my unicorn friend, and I gave both of them credit for helping me get to where I'm at emotionally.

It's kind of funny, even though it was a horrible thing to have gone through, I wouldn't be where I'm at today without the HR incident, and in a way, I am grateful for what the experience taught me as I don't know that I would have learned these things about myself and others in any other way. An interesting observation of hers was that I had the ability to detach from some of these painful situations, she said I wasn't taking things personally, at first I didn't think that this was a big deal, but then I started thinking about what she was saying, and what others had said about how someone else would have reacted given similar situations, or circumstances. I guess I can see how others may have tried to hang onto guilt or spread the blame around. Rarely do I view conflict as solely one sided, when I was in After School Care I would listen to what one party had to say, listen to the second party, and the third or fourth if there was one involved, then I would bring the children together and ask them if they felt like they could move forward. Most of the time it was one child apologizing to another, sometimes both needed to sit with me while they watched the other children playing. I like this form of resolution because I think everyone deserves a chance to tell their side of the story, people feel heard, and it gives the mediator time to collect facts and form opinions as how to proceed. 

I'm really proud of myself today. I feel like I've done a lot of the things I said I would and wanted to do. There is always room for improvement in everyone's life, but today I feel like I got some recognition for the work that I have been doing for many years. My therapist is a former neighbor so I've known her for years. She told me that she thinks my job is good for me, and I should try and stay there for a while if I can swing it financially. She took me back to the time before I had gotten the job and where I had been mentally, physically, and emotionally back then, I had kind of forgotten how bleak and desparate my life was back then. She was happy to hear that I had gotten into the personality profiling system, I told her I was going to use that more going forward, it hurt when she asked about the guy I had been seeing, but it was reassuring to hear that she felt like I had done the right thing in letting him go. I told her that right now I'm trying to focus on myself, she always thinks I should get out and date more, but when I explained that I want another intuitive type, and I seem to prefer the thinkers to the feeling types, she felt that made sense since apparently these are the men I'm super attracted to and most of the others tend to annoy, repel, or confuse me. She likes my plan to keep reading up on the types, I'm going to concentrate on INTJ, INFJ, INTP (according to an article I read this is some sort of award winning think tank trifecta), and INFP. I also like ENTP, ENFP, and ENTJ, I'm not sure I know anyone who is ENFJ so that will be a new category for me.

When I asked her if she thought I could really tell who these people were right away she agreed with that. She said that I am very intuitive, and I should continue trusting that since it seemed to be a predictable and reliable system for me. I told her about the airport interview and she felt like something was off, this is one of the reasons I just love her. I couldn't explain what it was, she wasn't sure, but she accepted my assessment without challenging it. I like that she trusts me to tell her the truth as far as I know it, obviously I'm going to tell things from my perspective, she did question me on one or two things, but when I could explain myself, she seemed to understand and readily adapt. I can't even explain how much better I feel about everything. I guess I had really been worrying about trying to find a different job, I'd still like to go back to school eventually, but now I have more time than I thought that I did which doesn't mean I want to let myself get too comfortable with how things are now. When she asked what it was about the other intuitives that I liked so much, I told her that they operate with a certain degree of predictability that makes me feel safer than the S types. S types seem to give me a lot of trouble for some reason. Even when I like them, they just don't make sense to me. She totally got how me and my former PT can have a comfortable and supportive nonverbal relationship, I told her I think it's because I have a private inner world and I understand that other intuitive introverts want that part of their lives to be respected, sheltered, and nurtured. 

Since I'm at the library I'm going to see what sort of books they have on the personality types. My INFP aunt is an English professor who tells her students what she thinks they will be good at or enjoy. I want to be able to better use this type of information in a more practical setting. For instance, if I know someone is a certain type, and I'm hiring for a position that calls for a certain skill, or I know a certain type of person will hate a certain job based on their personality type, doesn't it make sense to use this system to avoid future mismatches? There are limitations to the system, but I think something like this could be very powerful. Sometimes I don't agree with how someone types, I feel like my friend with the crush and my next youngest sister are both S types, but they both got N when they took the test. Now since they didn't take the official test that could be the reason, I could be wrong, always a possibility no matter how much I would like to think otherwise, the company my mom works for has done things with various systems. Maybe I just like this kind of thing and feel like the benefits outweigh the costs. I wish I would have had this sort of thing available to me when I was a hiring manager, and now I can see why I had trouble with some of the people I did now that I know more about myself and who is likely to rub me the very wrong way.

This is also very helpful to me as an author. I wrote the following as a way to think about and compare types. Brad is an INTJ, I used to have Lana as an INTP, but I recently decided she was more INFJ. I think Brent is ENTJ, and I remember writing down what I thought Gretchen was, but I left my chart at home. Natalie started out being INTJ, but I think I'm going to do some more research since she's more of a hands on person and is less concerned with the theoretical aspects of life. I know that Ryan is an extrovert and an intuitive, but I'm less certain about the other two letters. I want to say he is more P than J and more F than T, I wish I was as good as my friend is about this. He always seems to know who is who and has helped me figure out a lot of other people. I don't always know and even when I think I'm right there's room for ambiguity. I also think you can game the test to a certain extent, and sometimes people don't know themselves as well as they could. Regardless, it's been fun for me and has seemed like a major game changer. During the drive here I was thinking about my peak growth moments from 2017 (in the order that they occurred) and I think they can be summed up as follows: Learning to write poetry. Being told to go to the lake. Being told to stop overthinking things. Discovering how to apply the MBTI system to myself and people I know. I want to learn more about the Swedish art of Death Cleaning, art in general, and continue to build on the lessons previous years have taught me. Also, I like sex and writing about it. If I'm not getting any myself, at least my characters are.


Brad's bedroom was dark when he entered, out of habit his left hand reached for the light, then he remembered the text he had received. "Lana?"

"Yes dear?"

"I almost forgot and turned on the light. Where are you?"

"I'm in bed. Waiting for you. I thought of a game we could play, unless you're too tired."

"I like games. What are the rules?"

"All tell, no show. It's like Show and Tell except you can't show me anything and you can't touch me either. You tell me what you'd like to do, I'll start the timer, when you're done I'll tell you what my plans for you are. Whoever gets the other person to beg for it first, wins."

"I see. Interesting. What are you wearing? Am I allowed to get undressed, or do I have to stay in my clothes?"

"You can get undressed. But you have to stay on your side of the bed. No touching the other person. Not even accidentally."

"Am I allowed to get beneath the covers, or do I have to lie down on top of them?"

"You can get under the covers. I'll pull them down and fluff your pillow for you because I'm the best wife ever."

"That's for sure. These people who are opposed to marriage baffle me."

"Do you need help getting undressed?"

"No thanks. I can manage. I appreciate the offer though. Just out of curiosity, how would you help me if you can't touch me?"

"The game hasn't started yet. I can touch your clothes, but I have to keep my hands away from you."

"I see. How did you come up with this game?"

"I was just thinking about that time when we were in Florida and we tried the No Hands game. I thought it would be fun if we tried not to touch the other person at all. I'm sorry it isn't very kinky. You'll have to take a lover if you need a more exciting partner."

"What if I tell you my plan is to tie you up?"

"You can only win if you make me beg you to touch me, or I start touching you."

"You know I would never do that to you. Even if I think it would be kind of fun to try something like that. Just to see what it would be like."

"I'm already helpless."

He laid his shirt across their bed as he spoke. "Considering the shape my wrist is in I'd say I'm more helpless than you are. What did you say you were wearing?"

"I didn't say."

"Nice. Is that part of the game?"

"Perhaps. You can start whenever. Or you can wait until you're lying down."

"First I think I would take a bunch of pictures of you when your arms are over your head and the moonlight is coming through the windows. I'd make sure the room was nice and warm so you're not cold, this is a good game. I like it already." He said as he slid beneath the sheets. "Let's see, I think I would like to kiss you after your bath. I would love to rub oil into you and I'll get either your parents or mine to watch Parker and Grace so we have a nice long evening ahead of us. Your pajamas are cute, but I like it when you're nude, this game is harder to play than I thought it would be. Well done. Let me think, I would like to kiss you for a while, then I'd start moving down. I'd see if I could figure out exactly where the edge of your breast is and, wow, this game is really something. I'm having trouble concentrating on what to say next. I'm picturing the look on your face when you start getting close even though I know we have a ways to go. Once your nipples were hard I'd start kissing my way down again. I'd see if I could tease you a little, then I'd, this is a lot harder than I imagined it would be. Are you turned on at all?"

"Are you?"

"I was. Not being able to see you, or touch you, or taste you, is, challenging."

"Do you want your turn to be over?"

"I guess some feedback would be nice. Do I get another turn after yours, or is this it for me?"

"You can have another turn after mine if I fail to win."

"Go ahead. I want to hear what you have to say to me."

"I just got done deep throating you. You aren't wearing anything, my bra and panties are lacy and black. How do you feel now?"

"I love you. I lose, you win. I'm not even mad. Does this mean I can touch you now?"


Brent yawned as he rolled over and put his arm around his wife. "What's the matter?"

"Nothing." Gretchen said as she sniffed into her pillow.

"Don't give me that, tell me it's none of my business if you don't want to talk about it, but don't lie to me. What's going on?"

"I don't know what to do about Parker."

"What do you mean?"

"He's such a weirdo. He's not normal. He's not like other kids his age."

"Yeah, well look at his dad. What did you expect a kid of Brad's to be like?"

Gretchen wiped at her eyes and sighed. "I thought he'd be adorably cute and quiet. I'm a terrible parent. Grace is perfect. Benji is, I wanted a girl. I love him, but I really wanted a girl. Can't we try for one more baby? Please?"

"And then you'll want another one if that kid is a boy. Be happy that Benji takes naps and eats well."

"I am."

"Good." His hand smoothed down the material covering her hip. "Are these new pajamas?"

"I've had them for a while. Since right after Christmas."

"Any chance of me getting you out of them?"

"We can have sex if you agree to try for another baby."

"Not tonight. Maybe when Benji is older. I just think you should take a minute and review your wedding vows, remember the part about you wanting to love, honor, and obey me? Because I think I could use some loving tonight, and you could too."

"No baby, no sex."

"No sex, no baby. Two can play that game."

"I'm not in the mood."

"You don't have to be. That's the great thing about sex. It can happen no matter what the mood is, I'd prefer it if you wanted it and you were in a great mood, come on sweetie pie, you'll feel better when we're done."

"No I won't. You will. I'll have to go to the bathroom and clean up."

"I'll pull out."

"Then it will be all over my back or stomach and I'll still have to get cleaned up when you're done."

"I love you."

"It's not going to work. Nothing you say is, stop it, don't tickle me, you know I hate that."

"Sorry. I forgot."

"You did not. Jerk."


"You knew I was a bitch when you married me. Stop it, I'm not in the mood. I told you that."

"I didn't even do anything."

"You were thinking it."

"Really? Now you can read my mind? This should be interesting."

"Your cock is hard, I'm not reading your mind, it's shoved up against me. It doesn't take an advanced degree in psychology to figure out what you want."

"Brad is recovering from a major illness and he still gets more sex than I do. How is this fair?"

"You should have married Lana if you wanted your wife to play sex games with you."

"I'd lose them all on purpose. Then I'd have to get divorced again because my second wife was just as annoyed with me as my first. That's why I love you so much. You understand me better."

"You're still not getting laid."

"I know."

"No matter what you say or do, it's not happening."

"I said I know."

"Stop it."

"What? I'm agreeing with everything you're saying."

"You're doing that deliberately to make me want to have sex with you."

"Is it working?"

"I'm sorry I was a bitch."

"I forgive you. I'm sorry I called you names."

"Are you going to kiss me?"

"I'm so freaking hard, this is not going to take long sugar pie. You want to climb on top?"

"Hurry up, what is taking so long?"

"It's these damn pajamas, never wear them again. Get these fucking things out of my house tonight."

"They're brand new. Calm down. What the fuck, these stupid things are all twisted. Help me out honey, please, don't make me wait any longer."

"Hold still, Put your arms out, there, that's better. Can we lose the bra too? Or is milk going to start squirting out at me if I try and take it off?"

"It's not going to kill you. Lie down. I want to be on top."

"Can I go down on you?"

"Please honey, I need this so bad. The boys were just, it was an awful day. Do you want me to blow you while you're going down on me?" His hands tightened on her thighs. "I'm already pretty close. I'm probably already leaking all over the place."

"I'll clean you up, mmm, I just love licking droplets off of you. Makes me so horny for you, just give it to me now."

"Are you ready? Or do you need me to play with you first?"

"I'm ready. Try me."

"Are you going to be on top?"

"Do you want to do behind first?"

"We do that and I am done. No lie."

"I don't mind. As long as I can be on top after you finish."

"Okay. Just remember, you agreed to this. Hop to it lady."

"Give me a minute, okay, I'm ready. Fill me up, but go slow at first. I'm wet, but not too wet."

"I can still go down on you."

"No, that will take too long. For crying out loud, just stick it in there already. I don't have all night. The boys are going to be early and I want to get some sleep."

"Hold still. I feel like I need a little taste of you first. Please Gretchen?"

"No, come on, hurry up, you're driving me crazy." His fingers teased her before they were replaced. "Oh my word, I love you so much, pound me now."

"I am, trust me. Come on lady, do your thing, get whatever you need now, you set the pace. You lead. I'll follow."

"Are you going to slap my ass?"

"Don't I always?"

"Most of the time you do. Oh man, you are rock hard. What brought that on?"

"My wife laying in bed next to me wearing next to nothing. Give it to me Gretchen. Come on girl, you can do it."

"Just go ahead. I know you're close."

"I can hold out for a little longer. You go first."

"I have to be on top. You know that."

"Sometimes you have orgasms this way."

"You go too deep when we do it this way. On top after you have an orgasm is better. Then you're not as hard and, oh man, yes, please, take me now."

"I'm trying not to go as deep this time. Tell me if it gets too painful."

"It's fine. Just go, please. Now."

He pulled her hips against him, put his hand in the middle of her back, and gasped. 

"Are you done?"

He sniffed and nodded. "Yeah, thanks sweetie. That was fun. I'm sorry I came inside of you. If you get pregnant from that, well, I guess that's what you wanted anyways."

"It's okay. It's not the right time of the month anyways. I love you."

"I love you too." He said as he laid back down. "Come on cowgirl, ride me."

"I don't think I'm going to have an orgasm tonight."

"Seriously? After all that?"

"I'm still upset about Parker. He's so cute and so weird. Being his parent isn't easy and Brad makes it harder by encouraging him to be a nerd."

"Hey, it worked for him. Now he's got his wife and his daughter, I feel bad for Parker. He was an only child and now he has a brother and a sister. That's hard on him. His dad was sick and that's rough on a kid his age. Who cares if he's weird? Half of his family is, just let him be a kid. Don't pressure him to be someone he isn't. My parents did that to Brad, you can see how well that worked out."

"Honey, he's never going to have a girlfriend if he keeps this up. He's a freak."

"He's three. He likes music and he eats his vegetables. Women will love him. I personally think he's hilarious."

"You wouldn't think it was so funny if you kept having to take the scissors away from him because he was going to cut something else. Lord a mercy I'm tired."

"Go to sleep. Get a nanny for him if you can't handle him."

"I can handle him just fine thank you very much. Brad is the one that's being difficult."

"What did he do now?"

"He told Parker his favorite color is black and now Parker says that's his favorite color too. What if he grows up and only wears black? I'm going to cry so hard."

"What if none of that ever happens and even if it does, who the fuck cares what he wears? Brad is in his thirties and he owns part of two companies. He has a nice house that's close to the lake, he drives a cool vehicle, he's got money in the bank, he goes on nice vacations, he eats well, and he gets laid. This is like the dream of many men. Parker could have worse role models. Brad respects women and that's huge. Lay off the other stuff. Parker will want to be like the other kids more when he starts school. You'll see. He's just idolizing his dad because that's what kids do. Their parents are cool until they get to school and then they have new ideas. You're fine. Parker is great. You worry too much. Be grateful for what you have. Seriously. It could all be gone tomorrow and that's no lie."

Gretchen sighed as she snuggled into him. She knew what he was saying was true, but it did little to ease her fears.


Natalie rolled over, walked down the hall, and checked on her sleeping children. When she was back in bed her husband was stripping off his shirt so she stopped to admire his back. "Did you finish your project?"

"I think I need a new server."

"That sounds like fun."

"The one I have is old. A new one will be more powerful. Less downtime too."

"Do you want to have sex?"

His eyes widened and he reached for her, kissing her thoroughly while one hand grabbed her ass and the other tugged at a nipple. Natalie put both of her hands on his shoulders and leaned into him. "I'm going to offer to watch Parker a couple afternoons a week. Gretchen is too stressed out by him."


"I might need your help. Three three year olds is a lot."


"She's worried that he's going to turn out like Brad."

"Parker's cool. So's his dad. What is Gretchen worried about?"

"She wants Parker to be more athletic and less nerdy. I don't think he's nerdy. He just doesn't have very good hand eye coordination yet."

"He seems fine to me. Whenever he's over here, it seems like he's having fun."

"Gretchen just doesn't appreciate him. He is very smart. I think he might be smarter than Gretchen."

"That wouldn't take too much." Ryan said as he yawned. "He can go to school and start teaching her things she didn't learn."

"Stop it. She is very worried about him fitting in and I kind of can't blame her because Brad was a very difficult child to raise. We all were. My poor parents. I do feel bad for Parker, but I also feel bad for Ethan. He isn't as cute or as smart as Parker and he already knows that."

"I think he's fine. Parker's a cool kid. Ethan is just quieter. Nothing wrong with that."

"I just worry." Ryan smoothed her hair back and started kissing her again. Natalie shoved her pajama pants down, unbuckled his belt, and started stroking him. "Gretchen really wants another baby. Brad does too. He hasn't said anything to Lana, but I know it's already on his agenda."

"Don't worry, he isn't going to try until next January. I saw his calendar. He has the conception scheduled for the fourth. He's waiting until after the New Year so he doesn't have another winter baby."

"You are terrible." Natalie said with a smirk. "Are you kidding, or did you really see plans for another baby on his calendar?"

"He really has Lana's name on that date. I don't know why. I just made the part about the baby up, it wouldn't surprise me though." He entered his wife and marveled anew at the simple joy of coming home to a willing woman after a long day at work. Even though their daughter was adopted, they had a son together, his business was growing, and his life was much fuller than he had ever imagined it being. When they were done he went into the bathroom to brush his teeth, Natalie followed, slapping him on the rear as she passed. "Goodnight Ryan. I love you."

He turned to kiss her again. "I love you too. Try not to worry about the kids. You didn't think we'd have any and now we have two."

"I know. I'm just kind of jealous. Brad and Gretchen both just had babies and they're already talking about trying for more. Knowing them they'll get them too. I wish Brent liked being a parent better, but at least Lana takes Benji sometimes. That poor kid. I feel worse for him than I do for any of the other kids sometimes."


"He gets compared to Grace and that's not fair. He can't help being a boy. Neither can Parker. Brad and Gretchen are obsessed with wanting girls. They should shut up and be happy they can have more kids without going through what we did to get them. It just pisses me off that they're so ungrateful."

"You can remind them tomorrow. You have a girl and Gretchen doesn't. Maybe you should shut up and be happy that we got Moriah as easily as we did and we got her when she was a baby so she hasn't ever known any other parents besides us."

Suddenly Natalie felt guilty and ashamed. "You're right. Sorry. It's late and I'm tired. Are you coming to bed?"

"I'll be there as soon as I'm done in here." Natalie nodded, yawned, and walked back to their room. But the hollow longing in her chest was still there when she woke up the next morning.


Me: "How was your weekend?"

Him: "It was fine, we went out to eat, there was this couple that we couldn't stop watching. They were all over each other. I mean, I remember my first kiss too, but they kept going at it outside the restaurant."

Me: "Events that happened yesterday are usually still fresh in people's minds."


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