All the King's Horses
Chapter 1

Copyright┬ę 2006 by Shrink42

Erotica Sex Story: Chapter 1 - The devastating discovery left three marriages in a shattered rubble, as far beyond repair as Humpty-Dumpty. This was not the kind of case Dr. Julia Waxman took on, and she was very busy with Transformations. However...

Caution: This Erotica Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Cheating  


"Dr. Waxman? My name is Will Crozier. I would like to set up an appointment with you for myself and two of my friends - as soon as possible."

"That's three appointments you need?" Julia asked.

"No, no. We would all like to meet with you together."

"Mr. Crozier, I am a therapist, not a counselor, and I don't do support groups. I run a very busy treatment organization, and I have limited time for my regular practice. I think you would be well advised to look for someone else."

"Please, Dr. Waxman. We have it from reliable sources that you are the best, and we have a desperate problem. My friends and I are..."

"Mr. Crozier, I don't need to get into specifics about your situation. You are not my patient, and that is confidential."

"The problem is, it may be very public if we handle this wrong. We three men are very close. Our wives are even closer - have been since childhood. We..."

"Please, Mr. Crozier. Do not tell me any more. As I said, what you are asking is just not something I do in my practice, especially in the limited time I have available."

"Dr. Waxman, I hate to beg, but that's where we are at right now. The fate of three families is very much in doubt. I don't think your run-of-the-mill marriage counselor will do it for us."

As head of Transformations, Julia Waxman had run into one unique situation after another. She knew better than to think she had seen it all, but even so, this was something else. The caring part of her felt instant sympathy for Will and his friends. She got so many patients after the fact, when the divorce was done. Here was a possible chance to keep some families from breaking up, apparently.

"I'll do this much, Mr. Crozier. Can you three come to my office tomorrow, Friday, right at noon. This will be just a discovery meeting to see if it makes sense to proceed farther. I may not be able to give you a full hour. Will that work for you?"

"We'll take what we can get. What can we bring you for lunch?"

"Before we talk about anything else, gentlemen, I need to make my position clear," Julia told the men Friday noon in her office. "Since I assume this has to do with marriages in jeopardy, I must tell you this. I am unashamedly and unalterably pro-marriage. I am also a realist, and I know that some marriages simply cannot survive. If you three are not willing, all of you, to go into this assuming that you will be reconciled with your wives, then we should just save ourselves the time and energy."

Will, clearly the spokesman, looked at each of the others, then responded to Julia. "The way we feel right now, I don't see how any of us can commit to reconciliation."

"That's not what I'm asking for. What I want you to believe is that over some amount of time, with a great deal of give and take on both parts, a seeming miracle will happen, and you will return to her. I guess the key is what you WANT to happen, not what you feel like right now. Do you understand the distinction? Can you work from that position? Since you insisted on meeting all together, I need to hear it strongly from each of you. "I want to be married to my wife and family, and I proceed with the assumption that that will happen.' How about it?"

Julia was a bit concerned that none of the three responded immediately. For the second time, though, she saw the looks and the silent communication between them. In her experience, that phenomenon was much more typical of women than of men. She decided that the three were close enough to have shared at a very deep, intimate level, and that was probably a good thing. Though not instantaneous, agreement did come from all of them. She made them say the words.

"I have appointments after lunch, so I can't give you enough time right now. I would rather wait until I can hear your full story in detail. I can clear tomorrow morning if you can come to my office at Transformations. There could be interruptions, but I will try to avoid them. Would that work for you? Plan on nine until noon. I will provide breakfast."

They all agreed, and she asked Will to stay for a moment and discuss the rate.

"I hope you gentleman realize how unprecedented it is for me to meet with multiple people who are not family members. Even with families, I work almost exclusively with individuals." Julia had just ushered Will, Trent, and Bud into her office for their initial meeting on Saturday morning. Transformations had a set of admin offices that opened onto a corridor to the outside and into the women's section. The door to the women's section was key locked, and two large windows were shuttered and locked.

"We really appreciate your willingness to meet with us," Will replied, acting as spokesman.

"I know you briefly mentioned why you wanted to meet together, but I would like to hear it in more detail. First of all, tell me what you discovered about your wives. Why don't you start from the beginning." Will nodded to Bud, who as the most experienced public speaker, began the story.

It was Trent who got the first small inkling that something might be amiss. It was after one of his regular dates with Sandy, this time at a dance club, that Trent mentioned to his pals something that puzzled him. On that night, Sandy had drunk much more than usual and the romp in bed was even more vigorous than usual. And make no mistake, usual was very, very good.

Going into more detail than he normally would, Trent told the others "Maybe I'm imagining it. I had a few drinks, too. But it was something we had never done - ever. And she just moved right into so smoothly! There was no hestitation, no fumbling. Her hands and... everything just went to the right places automatically. I just had this feeling that she had done it before."

Julia rapidly wrote a note after that. She had to find out why Trent was sharing information that intimate with his friends. That was unusual for men. How close were they? After she heard Will's next revelation, she just added two exclamation marks to her note.

The others did not ask what the exact move or position was, and Trent did not offer more detail. Will did respond, though. "Well, the night before, after our date, Val asked me about swinging. She was all giggly, like it was a joke, but it shook me up."

It was just two unrelated events involving two unusually inebriated wives, but none of the guys ridiculed the expressed concerns. They agreed to a higher level of vigilance - 'Defcon 3' as Bud jokingly referred to it. None of the men wanted to believe that anything was wrong, but some nagging doubts had been sown. Over the next month, they all became hyper-sensitive about their wives' behavior and comments, especially in bed.

Being careful not to let vigilance grow into paranoia, the group still came up with a number of little things that raised questions. By themselves, none was significant, but the sheer number of them made the men uneasy. Most of the signals were something like an unusual level of distraction, a couple of unexplained bruises, and one or two turn downs of sex because of unexplainable tenderness. All three men had noticed that some of the phone calls between the wives were more secretive than usual.

"What could be going on, anyway?" Bud asked. "I can't imagine they would actually cheat on us. If they're doing something we wouldn't like, it's probably going to a male strip club, or something."

Will, often the group's idea man, told the others "It goes without saying that if there is anything going on, they're all in it together. We need to follow them when they all go out in a group."

"Yeah, but the kids will know we're gone. They might tell. I don't want to make a problem out of nothing."

"We can arrange a fake call from work or something. What say we invest in a tracking device that we can put in whichever car they leave in?"

"Does anyone really think there is a real chance they are screwing around? I mean, come on, guys! We do our damndest to keep them happy. Speaking for myself, I just can't see Sandy cheating on me."

After some more fairly energetic discussion, it was agreed that one guy would be assigned to follow the girls each time they went out together. The designated spy would get a fake emergency call before the wives left, and be in position to shadow them. The tracking device was never purchased.

For three weeks, the spy job proved very boring, as five different group outings proved totally innocent. Trent and Bud wanted to forget the whole idea, but Will hung tough.

It was Will on the tail the next Tuesday night when the wives' group ended up at a house that he did not recognize. As he watched from a few houses down the street, several couples and a few singles entered the house. Will was probably the one most concerned that there really was a problem, and the situation he saw was just too strange.

"Get Trent and get over here right away," Will said on a curt call to Bud. He gave the address where he was parked. "Bring cameras and a full toolkit. See if you have a ladder that will fit inside the Suburban."

While waiting for the others, Will did a little exploring. The house was quite secluded, but the yard was not surrounded by a fence or a wall, except for the pool area. Apparently, there was no concern about discovery on the part of the owners. He found a way into the back yard, and made a mental note of all the windows that were lighted.

The walkout level had a patio door that was covered by drapes, as were several other windows on the lower level. The lot sloped downward from one side to the other, so the walkout exposure was on the end of the house nearest where they were parked. The pool deck opened off of either the kitchen or the family room on the main level. He could not see over the wall to tell for sure which it was. He could tell from music and laughter that there were a number of people already around the pool.

Once they were all together, they sat in the Suburban to strategize.

"Do we even know what we're looking for?" Trent asked.

"We know our wives are in the house. We want to find out what is going on in there," Will answered.

"I say we just walk in," Bud insisted. "We'll find out pretty quickly that way."

"And if it's a network marketing party or something, what will the women think?" Trent pointed out.

Ignoring the potential argument, Will said "Let's try the wall around the pool. Maybe there's a gap that will let us see into the house a little."

With at least that much of an objective, they headed back toward the house. Just as they reached the edge of the yard, the lower patio door opened and they all ducked behind some shrubs. Muttered oaths were mixed with groans as a naked man stepped into the side yard and lit a cigarette. It was a badly shaken trio that retreated to the Suburban once more.

It was two or three minutes before anyone said a word. Then, it was Will who once again took the lead. In a shaky voice he said "We need a plan. I think we should all act together, since the girls are together in this."

"Maybe it's not that bad," Trent said, the hope drowned out by the sadness in his voice.

"Don't kid yourself," Bud said angrily. "That's a swinging party going on in there. Do we bust in there and get them out, or what?"

"I think we need to know more," Will counseled. "I think Bud is right, but I would hate to jump to a wrong conclusion. Let's try the pool enclosure again."

This time, they were very careful, lest someone else come out the patio door and spot them. When they got to the pool area, they found that the redwood slats were old enough that there was some warping and there were some gaps. The gaps were easy to find because of the light coming through from the pool side. The gaps were all behind some very thick, prickly bushes.

Very carefully, working hard not to curse at the pokes and scratches from the thorns, they all got in position to look through a gap. What they saw made Trent turn violently away, ignoring the cuts and scratches he got. Only the moderately loud music piped out to the pool hid the sound of his vomiting. Sandy could be clearly seen, sitting naked on a lounge chair on the lap of a naked man. That was bad enough, but after a few seconds, she raised herself slightly and moved in a way that could only mean that she was impaled on his cock. Her facial expression verified that fact.

Val was standing just outside the patio door, talking to a man and a woman. All three were naked. In fact, not a single item of clothing was visible on the dozen or so people gathered around the pool and hot tub. As Will and Bud watched, Val reached out and took hold of the man's limp penis and led him to the pool. Once in the pool, the man sat up on the edge while Val moved in front of him and began a blowjob.

Around the edge of the pool away from the house, there were several pads scattered. On two of those pads were scenes of obvious intercourse. There was no chance that this was just a friendly skinny dip.

Cece was not in the pool area, nor could she be seen in the family room that was visible through the patio door. Trent did not return to his peep hole, but wandered unsteadily back toward the cars. Will and Bud watched for several more minutes, but Cece still did not appear.

Bud was the one to break away, but he did not go back to the car. Instead, he headed for the downstairs patio door, and Will followed. The door was draped, but Bud very carefully pulled on it and found it unlatched. Taking many seconds, he very slowly opened it enough to look into the room. There, on one of two leather sofas, he saw his wife. She was stretched out on the sofa with her head in one man's lap and her legs over another man's. Her hand was reaching back to fondle the cock that stuck up right by her cheek while that man teased her nipple. The other man's hand was busy with her pussy. It was apparent that they were watching a porn flick as they played. Will also came to the viewing crack and they both watched as Cece reached a small orgasm.

Bud had been transfixed by the sight until Cece came. Then, he stiffened, and Will knew that he was about to charge into the house and commit mayhem. He quickly squeezed himself between the larger, stronger Bud and the door, risking discovery as he pushed it shut. "Think, Bud! You know how much trouble you could be in if you go in there and start busting heads. Please! Back to the car!"

Will thought at first that Bud was going to punch him out to get into the house, but he suddenly went slack, and Will was able to lead him away without resistance.

Back at the Suburban, no one said anything for a long time, and Trent cried openly. Bud was panting, obviously struggling to control the anger that was returning full force. Will just sat, his unfocused eyes pointed out the windshield. Bud was the first to speak.

"Let's go and drag their cheating asses out of there!"

That jarred Will from his stupor, and he replied softly. "No, I don't think that would be a good idea."

"Why not?" Bud demanded.

"You're so angry right now, you might do something to land you in jail. We all might," Will explained.

"But we can't just leave them in there to... to... God damn it!!" Bud was nearly at the breaking point.

"Whatever they might do, I'm sure they have already done before, sad to say," Will told Bud. "I really think the best thing is to just leave, pack a bag, and go somewhere for the night."

"Why do you think that?" Trent asked.

"Well, it will give us time to settle down a little and think before we act."

"Thinking won't change what they've done," Bud spat out.

"No, but it could keep us out of trouble. Also, when the women realize they've been found out, what's the first thing they will want to do?"

"Explain it away, probably apologize. Maybe try to lie their way out of it. Try to talk us out of leaving them," Trent ventured.

"Right," Will agreed. "They'll want to talk. What better way to punish them then not allowing them to talk to us. I don't know about you guys, but I want to punish Val." The others agreed.

"So, do we send a message to them or something? Call this house? What?" Bud asked.

"Nope. We just disappear," was Will's answer.

"Do we tell the kids anything?" Trent wanted to know.

"I don't think so," Will responded. "First of all, I don't want to put the kids in the middle of this. Second, I want Val to have to explain. That will be a really good punishment."

When Will got agreement from the other two, he instructed them "Let's get back and pack bags quickly. Take enough for a few days. We'll go to the Concourse for the night? Oh. Cell phones off. We'll get some prepaids tomorrow so we can call each other." The other two just looked at Will in amazement, but went along with his plan.

As Will was getting out to go back to his car, Bud said "We don't have pictures or any other evidence of adultery. Is that OK with you two?"

"I can't live with Sandy and pretend nothing is wrong while we get evidence. We'll have to go with just knowing for ourselves."

"Um," Trent continued, "we shouldn't just leave the kids with no contact if something goes wrong. Leave the phones on. "I'll park so I can see when the girls come home. I'll call and let you know to turn them off."

"Good thinking, Trent," Will said as they parted.

Julia was moved by the shock the men had gone through. There was a lot of additional information she needed to have, and since their first appointment was for at least three hours, there would be time to cover some of it. Right away, though, she wanted to find out who the men were, what they were like, what their wives were like, and what their marriages were like. 'Had been like', she thought morosely.

Just from the way their actions Tuesday night had been described, she was getting a pretty good picture of their personalities, but she needed to be sure. Over the next forty-five minutes, she put it together quite well.

Will Crozier was a Human Resources Director for a medium sized local company. A very good athlete, he had not been good enough for the large university he attended, but he was still playing in some league most of the year. He loved to compete.

A psychology major, Will was the prototypical people person, perceptive, intuitive, and empathetic. Except in sports, he was non-confrontational. As a former quarterback and point guard, he thought well on his feet. He had dabbled in local politics, and was intrigued with the possibilities.

Emmett (Bud) Verbeek embodied some interesting contrasts. As a corporate lawyer, he was comfortable with the dry intricacies of the law. He had been on the debate team as an undergrad. Perhaps surprising, given his cerebral occupation, Bud had quite a temper, and a generally volatile, expressive personality. On top of that, he had a quick wit and natural comic timing. He was big and strong, and loved outdoor sports. To reduce the impact on his family, he went fishing very early in the morning whenever he could. He also took an extended Canadian outing every year.

Trent O'Connell was an engineering manager, and in many ways fit the common perception. Rather reserved socially, he could easily get lost working on or thinking about a project or a problem. He was a very good musician, playing drums and keyboard. Once his two boys got into the sports scene, he quit playing any gigs to avoid the time away from the family.

Trent had a self-confidence problem. Probably because of it, he was fanatical about conditioning and self-improvement. Each spring, he ran in a half-marathon, and had aspirations for the whole twenty-six miles.

Sandy O'Connell and Valerie (Val) Crozier were cousins, daughters of twins, who grew up next door to each other. Celia (Cece) Verbeek had lived a few houses away, and the three were about as close as any three women could be.

Sandy and Val had similar temperments. They were vivacious, gregarious, and bright, but with an underlying reserve that was recognizable to those close to them. There was always something that seemed to be held back or hidden.

Cece was as vivacious and gregarious as her friends, but without the reserve. With her, nothing was held back. She was at least as volatile as her husband, which made for some very interesting clashes. Those clashes, however, were always more cathartic than destructive, and the makeup sessions were off the scale. Cece and Bud did not need the battles to get great sex, but it invariably happened after they fought.

Will's approach to marital disputes was to absorb, deflect, and redirect. Sometimes, his 'bobbing and weaving' infuriated Val. When she wanted something to pound against, he just wasn't there. Instead, he was coming at her from a different direction, trying to defuse her anger with kindness and occasional humor.

In some ways, Sandy was just as infuriated with Trent when it came to controversy. He just gave in and would not fight. He had never really believed his great fortune in winning Sandy. There was always a lurking fear that if he did anything to displease her, he would lose her.

Despite what she discovered about personality and the handling of disputes, Julia found that controversy was not common in any of the households. She had always found that discussing how they fought was the most effective 'quick' way to characterize a relationship. From the men's standpoint, at least, they were three happy marriages with lots of genuine friendship, shared interests, mutual respect, and fulfilling sex.

The men had a strict 'date-a-week' rule that they enforced on each other. That had started several years back when the marriages of a number of mutual acquaintances began to crumble. Will was an avid student of psychology and relationships, and he encouraged the others to focus on specific activities to keep romance and excitement in their marriages.

All three men were achievers, and all had some travel demands on them. In part, the date nights were compensation for some very long hours at work during the week, and frequent nights away from home. They all thought they were striking the best balance they could, and the consensus was that the wives were all happy.

Variety was enforced, as well. None of the three had any financial problems, so premium events such as concerts, ballets, gallery openings, etc. were regular dates. Trips to vacation hotspots and exotic destinations happened less frequently, but all three wives had plenty to brag about. The awesome wardrobes needed to support so many events took a definite bite, but there were few complaints from the guys.

The most revealing part of Julia's investigation was about the sex in the marriages. Of course, she was only hearing one side of it, but it sounded awfully good. All three men told of vigorous, extended sessions, lots of variety, never being turned down, the wives initiating often, and loving, contented snuggling afterwards.

What Julia wanted to focus on next was what the men had done after the discovery. Trent described their week since.

Julia looked at Will, understanding that he was the spokesman, and asked "What is your reasoning for completely cutting off communication?"

"The first night, we didn't know how to react to them, or what to say. We thought it would be better to get away until we had time to think. But from the first, we wanted to punish them. We think that not being able to talk to us is the best punishment we can come up with right now."

"Why did you choose to come to me instead of divorce lawyers?" Julia asked. Instead of an answer, the men just looked at each other. "You were initially expecting to divorce them, weren't you?" That was definitely a baiting question, but she sensed that the time away had gotten them in a rut. She suspected they were not looking at their situation in the most realistic way.

"We purposely had not talked about divorce," Hal finally answered.

"That fits well with the pledge I extracted from you yesterday. Now, a difficult question. If you do hope to reconcile, is what you are doing now going to make it easier or harder? Will it make the resumption of your marriages better or worse?"

"Do you expect us to just walk back in there, forgive them, and pretend nothing happened?" Bud demanded. He looked like he was about to get up and leave.

"Please," Julia said, trying to soothe him. "I did not suggest that at all. I am trying to make sure you realize the impact of your plan. Now, you said you wanted to punish them, and that was part of the reason. Are there other reasons for separation?"

"I don't know about the others, but I don't like Sandy right now," Trent responded.

"Do you still love her?"

"That question has stolen all of my sleep since," Trent replied in a weary voice.

"Do you feel the same way, Will and Bud?" Both of them nodded.

"Tell me what hurt and what angered you about what your wives did? I must tell you that this is one of the places that I wish I could see you individually. It may be hard to admit or talk about some of your feelings in front of your friends."

"I'm not afraid to talk about it," Will assured her. "I've worked hard to be a good sexual partner, and I wasn't good enough."

"What do you mean you've worked hard?"

"I, uh, haven't told the others about this, but..." Will went on to describe what he had done to improve his sexual performance. There was some embarrassment on his part, but more than a little admiration from the others. He also described the things they had all done on the romance and dating side.

Julia found herself wondering when she was going to find the reason that the wives had strayed. The men must have done something very wrong, but as yet there was no inkling what it might be.

"Bud and Trent, do you agree with Will that you feel like you have failed sexually?" She got agreement from both of them. "What else hurt or angered you?"

Bud answered quickly. "I feel like the marriage didn't mean as much to her as it did to me. Cece is my first and only sexual partner. I knew I was not her first, and that was OK. I took my vows seriously and resisted some pretty strong temptations. She, apparently, went out looking for it. Was she lying at the altar?"

Trent could hardly wait until Bud finished before entering in. "I never thought I was good enough to catch Sandy. This pretty much proves I was right all along. Has she been laughing at me the whole time? Was she a slut in college and never told me about it? Am I just someone to take care of her until her dream man comes along? Are the boys even mine? What am I supposed to think? You know, I couldn't meet the entrance requirements at that club." Everyone knew exactly what he meant.

At that point, Julia got a call on her inside line. She called a short break, and not just to let the men settle down. Having handled the minor emergency in about ten minutes, she returned to her office.

"There are many more details I want to fill in, but I want to move in a different direction now. Here is a key question: Is the women's behavior an isolated phenomenon, or part of a pattern? I mean that in two ways: both their sexual activities and their attitudes and demeanor toward you, their husbands."

"Until Trent mentioned something a few months ago," Will explained, "we had no inkling of any cheating."

"That's what I had assumed, but I needed to be sure. Now, what about other sexual aspects? For instance, how do they dress: is it highly provocative? Do they habitually flirt with other men? Do they tell a lot of suggestive jokes and stories? What do they read? What movies to they go to?"

"I would say they are pretty normal suburban wives," Will answered. "At least what we knew about."

"Of course, we know that's not the whole story," Trent added bitterly.

"That's right, Trent, but what I'm trying to find out is if the big violation is unique, or if it is part of a pattern of sexual behavior. So far, it does not seem to fall in a pattern, correct?" She got general agreement on that.

"Were there any ways in which they showed disrespect toward you; indicated a lack of love for you; criticized or denigrated your sexual performance? This is another time when I would really prefer talking to you individually. For example, when you were arguing, did their verbal shots ever get sexual?"

The negative answers came back almost instantly. Julia could not help thinking that if these women were merely acting the role of faithful wives, they were very, very good at it.

"It seems, then, that we are dealing with truly anomalous behavior here - something that is completely out of character with the rest of their lives.

"I need to caution you, now, not to think that I am excusing or rationalizing the women's actions in this next discussion. That is not true at all. What I will do is try to examine some things that might explain why they did it. You may not think these explanations are rational, but I would ask you to bear with me. Please, don't get angry with me, all right?" Julia got some puzzled nods in response.

"The fact that their behavior seems to be anomalous is good news in the context of wanting reconciliation." She stood to call for some refreshments.

"Gentlemen, you should not be surprised that your wives have no idea what they have really done to you. We live in a culture that is severely skewed toward attention to the psychological needs of women while practically denying that men have any such needs.

"Lest you think I am exaggerating, go to a book store or browse Amazon. Make a rough count of the number of books on how to keep a woman happy and satisfied vs. those on how to do the same for men.

"Pick up a handful of women's magazines and look for articles on improving marriage. Almost exclusively, they deal with making the woman sexier. Almost never do they talk about how men tick. The exception is that they often talk about men's overpowering sexual drive.

"Look at sit-coms. Who is the boob - the butt of the jokes? It's always the man. Even a classic like 'I Love Lucy': she does all of these dumb things but comes out as lovable and well-meaning with a sort of instinctive wisdom. What about Desi and Fred? Totally clueless, every time.

"So you see, there is a pernicious, pervasive doctrine in our culture that says that men are simple bags of testosterone with no more true feelings than a pet rock. Feelings and emotions are strictly the province of women."

It was Trent who first responded for the men. "I... I think you've given that speech before, haven't you?"

Julia actually blushed. "Sorry if I got on my soapbox. My business is dealing with broken, screwed-up lives. I can't tell you how many of them, both male and female, are in shambles because of what I just said.

"Remembering that I am not excusing your wives, can you see how they could begin to believe that you had no feelings or emotions that they had to consider. I have seen this before. When they were thinking about whether to indulge in illicit sex, what went through their minds? Certainly there was guilt because of their marriage vows. They knew instinctively that you would be angry. I'm sure that somewhere was the fear that they might lose you. But I would be willing to bet that concern for your emotional well-being and your self-respect never factored into their decision."

"How can that be?" Bud asked. "It seems like everything I do, I have to be careful not to hurt her feelings. If I do, it's like a federal offense."

"You just made my point. Our culture exalts women's emotions and discounts men's. I have talked with faithful wives who love their husbands dearly. They honestly think that if their husbands get adequate sexual release, get their sports, get their toys, and get some carousing with their buddies that there is nothing else to worry about."

"Did we do something wrong to make them so clueless?" Trent asked.

"That's an excellent question. Don't take this a criticism because it is very hard to resist. I suspect you have been swept along by what I call the deification of the female psyche. The culture and your wives have impressed on you over and over that it is your most important responsibility as a husband to coddle and cater to her delicate, sacred, sensibilities." Julia did not try do disguise the sarcasm in her voice. "In other words, you just did what you thought a good husband was supposed to do.

"Actually," she continued, "there is nothing wrong with that. It can make for happy wives. What's wrong is that there is no expectation for her to reciprocate."

Julia called another break to let the men absorb what had just been discussed.

When they reconvened, Julia introduced some other explanations. "All three women are at or near forty, right? Well, that's a tough time for a woman. The implications of the 'Big Four Oh' should not be shrugged off. They can see the end of their child-bearing years approaching. Even if they have all of the children they want, that biological clock is a serious factor. One clarification from our discussion before the break: regardless of my comments about the imbalance in attention to men's and women's emotions, there is little question that women on average operate at a higher emotional intensity than men.

"So, 'Big Four Oh', increasing sags and wrinkles, biological clock, random grey hairs, waist and thighs thickening, eyesight changing yearly: what does it all add up to? Sexual confidence under severe attack. Add to that the fact that women are known to reach their peak of sexual desire in about those years, and what do you have? Women who are quite vulnerable."

"Yeah, but..." Trent stammered. "So they go to Chippendales, or a lingerie party, or do some horsing around. But, God! Orgies!?"

"This may sound strange, but an orgy is not the worst thing that could have happened to you," Julia stated.

"Huh?" came almost simultaneously from all three men.

"It's impersonal. There is no emotional attachment to any one man. Wouldn't it be even worse if your wife was sleeping regularly with the same guy - falling in love with him?"

"She's still giving away what's supposed to be only for me," Bud snarled.

Julia let out a long sigh and just sat and looked from one man to the other, obviously in deep thought. She jerked a bit when Will spoke up. "Go ahead, Doctor. Lay it on us. I don't think things could get any worse."

"Huh?" This time it was Julia caught off guard.

"I'd say you were debating whether to lay some really heavy stuff on us or not. I think the others would agree that you have been great so far," Will said, and the others nodded. "We are in the worst predicament of our lives. If there is something that could make it seem even worse, bring it on. We don't want any land mines left over for later." Both Bud and Trent seconded Will's request.

"All right," Julia said with another sigh. "I admire your courage. I cannot stress enough that this is conjecture, and I know nothing more in the way of proof than you do, understood?

"Now, as I understand it, you all believe this started no more than four to six months before you discovered it, right? And during that time, there were not very many times when the three were out together without you along, right?" She got agreement on both questions.

"It seems to me that women with 'normal' sexual backgrounds could not go from faithful suburban housewife to experienced swinger in that length of time with those few opportunities."

"Are you saying it was going on long before we got suspicious?" Bud asked.

"Well in a way. But long, long before. Probably in college."

"WHAT?" Kent almost exploded.

"Remember, this is just a theory, but here it is. For whatever reason, the three women were extremely active sexually before they met the three of you. They participated in a good deal of group sex."

"But that's ridiculous!" Trent almost shouted. "We heard nothing about any such activities. They would have had reputations. Their upbringing was unbelievably strict. They even went to grade and high school at the church. How could they turn into... into sluts in college?"

"Two things," Julia said in answer to Trent. "They would not have a reputation if they were very careful and only did things away from campus. As far as their upbringing: I cannot tell you how many cases I have seen where ultra-repressive parenting drove the children to the very things that the parents feared the most.

"Again, this is just a theory, but it would explain how they could get pulled back into group sex so easily. It's the only explanation I can think of."

"So the stuff about losing their cherries to high school boyfriends was bullshit?" Bud asked.

"If my theory is true, Val and Sandy, at least, probably left for college as virgins."

"That certainly fits all of the facts that we know," Will mused.

It was time for another break.

"We need to talk about what you men do now - how you deal with this situation," Julia said after the break. "The first question is this complete separation. Is it the right approach? Do you plan to keep it up? If so, for how long? What about the children? There are lots of questions."

"We've done little else but talk for the last few days," Will said. "We are agreed that we want to maintain complete separation indefinitely. You may not think it is the best approach, but I would ask you to work on eliminating the worst points, rather than trying to talk us out of it. Can you do that?"

"I didn't say I disagreed with it," Julia corrected. "Since you seem so determined, yes, I will work with you. First of all, why do you think it is the best way?"

"OK," Will said, "Guys, correct me if I say something we have not agreed on, but here goes. First of all, we agreed to honor your request and work as if we will someday reconcile. To be honest, though, we do not see how that can happen. I know, I know," Will held up his hand as he saw Julia about to jump in, "time changes things. We honestly hope it does, but today, we are not there.

"So, the first reason for complete separation is as preparation for the long term," Will stated.

"But if you divorce, won't you at least have to talk to them?" Julia asked.

"If we can ever talk without screaming and shouting," Bud interjected. "It will be a long time before I can do that."

"Now, I'm just an amateur psychologist," Will said with a forced grin, "but something is severely wrong with their thinking for them to do something like this. By staying completely away from them and having no communication, we eliminate any hint of normalcy. We force them to think about things in a whole different way. Isn't that some of the basis for this place?" He waved his arm to indicate the whole Transformations complex.

With a wide smile, Julia said "Touche! You have done your homework. Will, I cannot argue with your reasoning. Besides, you've made it clear that you are going to stick with it no matter what. All right, let's talk about implementation. I believe you have to get some kind of word to them. It is bordering on cruel if you don't."

"Yeah, and there's the kids to think about," Bud said. "I really miss 'em."

"If we communicate," Will said, "it has to be one way. We don't want to give them any chance to try to explain it away, or even apologize."

"I understand, but I think that is overly harsh. I assume your position will soften over time," Julia said. "Let's talk implementation, then."

"Wait a minute! Wait a minute!" Trent interrupted, to everyone's surprise. "Why is it overly harsh? Sandy always thinks she can talk her way out of anything. She'll want to explain it away. Then, when she's done that and I'm not OK with it, that makes me the bad guy. Instead of her being the villain for cheating on me, I'm a jerk for not forgiving and forgetting."

Somewhat amazed, Julia asked "Is that really the way she operates? Have there been other serious problems that have gone that way?"

"Well, we've, uh, never really had a serious problem... before. But any time she messes up, that's exactly what happens. Don't get me wrong. Sandy's a great person, but she's not perfect. She... Damn! I guess she's not such a great person, is she? Anyway, she never really thinks she's done anything wrong. Anything can be explained - justified."

"Do you feel that way, too, Will and Bud?" Julia asked.

"I guess I thought that was just SOP for wives," Bud sort of grunted.

"You have to understand, Dr. Waxman, that these three women are the closest thing to triplets," Will pointed out. "They show a lot of the traits of womb-mates, you know, like almost a common mind. I don't mean to make it sound like they're malicious about it, but they join forces against us pretty effectively."

"How do you mean that, Will?"

"If one of us has a dispute with our wife, she takes it to the other two, and together they work up a defense or an attack. It's never just me against Val."

"Does that bother you a lot?"

"Not really. Until now, all of our marriages have been exceptionally smooth. We're glad they have such close friends. There are some things a husband just can't supply."

"Will, you are more than just an amateur, believe me. Not a lot of husbands understand a wife's need for close, close female relationships. One question. Do they keep each other in line, prevent each other from doing something wrong?"

"Obviously not!" Bud jumped in. They other two just looked at each other and shrugged.

"OK. Back to the original discussion," Julia prompted. "You're afraid they will think they can explain this away as they've always done. You know that no explanation can make it right. When the explanations don't help you, they will get angry and try to make you the bad guy. Is that what you all think?" The men all indicated agreement.

"Something puzzles me," Julia said. "What you've just described is pretty devious, manipulative behavior. Yet, it took three hours and almost an accident to bring it into the discussion. It does not seem to be a big problem for you, other than right now."

Will thought for a while, the others obviously waiting for him to respond. "Look, Dr. Waxman, maybe we've overstated things. The girls have always been happy, loving wives and mothers. If they get together and pull our strings, it's just... never been that big a deal. We just thought that's the way wives are, if we thought about it at all."

"Was it that you just didn't notice, or that you chose not to make an issue of it?"

"Both, I guess," Will told her. "You know, typical clueless males."

"I see," Julia finally said. "Your thinking is that a cold, complete separation might convince them that this is something that cannot just be explained away. Tell me, are you concerned that they don't believe they did anything wrong?"

"If they thought it was wrong, why would they do it?" Bud demanded.

Julia gave a visible shrug of her shoulders. "If my idea of their college sexual experience is correct, the battle of conscience was fought twenty years ago. Won or lost then, depending on your viewpoint. They just reverted to old, old thinking."

"But today, as wives, it was very, very wrong," Trent pointed out. "They have to be made to understand that."

"And unbelievably hurtful," Will added. "Somehow, I think that might be harder for them to grasp."

"Oh? Why?"

"Like you said before: Women are not taught or encouraged to think about men's feelings and emotions," Will answered. "It's all the other way around."

"See, you aren't an amateur," Julia told Will with a grin. "Now, how can you make this separation most effective but least cruel?

"I have some suggestions. First, you have to communicate with them regularly. If you need it to be one-way for a while, I guess I can understand that.

"Second, I think you should move close enough to your homes so the kids can come to see you easily on their own."

"But then the women will just want to come and talk, talk, talk," Bud objected.

"You will have to convince them that they can't. It is really important that you be as accessible to your children as possible. This is not their fault, but I'm sure they will feel punished. You have to soften that as much as possible."

"I see your point," Will agreed.

There is one last question that I almost hesitate to ask. "Have you taken any revenge... or discussed it?"

"Revenge?" Will sounded puzzled for moment. "Oh, you mean cheating back on them. We discussed it for maybe three minutes, but none of us are interested."

"I had assumed that, but I had to ask. Please. Keep it that way. 'An eye-for-an-eye' just won't work here.

"And I have specific assignments for each of you," Julia said, to be greeted by some confusion. "Will, are they any more leagues that you could get into quickly. Ladder tournaments? Anything like that?"

"I guess I could always get into a raquetball ladder, and there are a couple of pickup basketball leagues that operate year 'round. I'm already playing softball."

"Your assignment is to get into at least one more sport per week, preferably two. Can you do that? This is a serious assignment, so work at it before we meet again." Will nodded his rather puzzled acceptance.

"Good. Trent, do you still have your musicians union card?" He nodded. "Still have some booking contacts?" Another nod. "Then I expect to be able to hear you play somewhere this weekend if I choose to go out." Trent was amazed, and was clearly about to explain the impossibility of what she had asked. "Come on, Trent. You're a problem solver. Figure out how to get yourself some playing dates. Regular dates would be best.

"And Bud, you should go fishing at least twice a week from now on. Not just in the mornings, either."

"I've been wanting to go out after work and camp overnight so I could get both evening and early morning time in," Bud responded.

"So it's just an hour out to the reservoir, right?" Bud agreed. "Do either of you children like to fish?"

"Cameron is so into football, wrestling, and baseball. He's never shown any interest."

"How about your daughter?"

"Francie? I don't know. She only twelve. It would kill the camping since I only have a tent."

"Your assignment is to spend two nights a week camping and fishing at the reservoir. The first time you go, I want you to take Francie. I think you should at least try Cameron, too. Your tent will hold two, won't it?"

The three men left Transformations just after noon that Saturday. None were sure they felt any better about their situation, but they had plenty to think about, and that was a big part of Julia's strategy.

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