The Wife Coach, part 4 “Red Sky”
Coffee sounds excellent. I would love to meet you and get a better sense of what you are looking for in a “coach.” There’s a quiet cafe I like to visit on the corner of 8th and Jackson…if it is to your liking. When would be best?
How about Thursday afternoon? I can get off work a bit early, and I’ll already be near that address. 4 o’clock?
That will be fine. I look forward to meeting you. How will I know it is you?
I’ll be wearing tall black boots and will likely be hiding behind a book.
What are you reading right now? Quite a few people read books in coffee shops. I might need to glance at the covers to know which one is you.
Savage Beauty. It’s a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay. And it has a striking cover…a large black and white photo of her face. Hard to miss.
I’ll see you then…
Jaime sat at the counter by the window, looking at the busy street and the rain drizzling down the window in front of her. Her black coffee breathed soft grey steam from its white, ceramic mug. She put her hands around it to warm them and glanced down at her boots. They were impractical for the weather and for the day. Suede. The heel too high and thin for work. Kurt had questioned her choice when she left that morning, his eyebrow raised as he scratched his bed-rumpled hair.
“Got a hot date?” he inquired, with a comfortable and teasing smile.
“No!” she’d responded, much too quickly…her chest tightening with guilt. She laughed to lighten the clipped answer and added, “I just felt like wearing something sexy. It’s such a dreary day, and these boots make me feel better.”
Kurt had left it that. He’d probably thought much less of it than she assumed he did.
Now she sat here, on a stool across town, legs crossed, the ivory sweater dress just short enough to show her patterned tights. Reaching into her bag, she found her book and placed it next to her cup of coffee. She stared at Edna’s beautiful face…her chin propped in the palm of her hand…her eyes seeing too much of what was in Jaime’s soul.
What the fuck am I doing?
“Jaime, I presume?” A deep, smooth male voice interrupted her reverie, and she jumped a bit as she peered up.
He looked the part of the classic professor: grey tweed coat, black slacks, black scarf, and a black, wool driver cap. His features were softened by age, and his face was shadowed by a day’s growth of facial hair. His grey-blue eyes and easy smile made her skin prickle with a unexpected heat.
He held out his hand. She reached out her own to shake his, but he pulled it forward gently and bent to kiss the back of it, right above her middle knuckle.
“May I sit?”
“Oh! Of course…of course, how rude of me!” Jaime felt like a flustered teenager, and suddenly felt ridiculous in her clothes, like she was pretending to be an adult, wearing her mother’s boots. She ached for her jeans and a quiet corner in the library where no one would notice her.
Swallowing her feelings of inadequacy, she took a sip of her coffee and licked her lips. She hoped he would do all the talking, because she felt very much like clamming up and burying her head in her book. Thankfully, he jumped right past the pleasantries and small talk, which she had always handled poorly.
“So, my dear, tell me a bit about your husband and why you placed that ad. I get the strong sense that you are uncomfortable, and often we are put most at ease by talking of those things we know best. I’m an outstanding listener…” He looked at her with the eyes of a counselor or father, the type of man who naturally sets others at ease, making them spill their deepest, darkest secrets, often amidst relieved tears. She found herself beginning easily…
“Well…Kurt and I met in college. We were in a film class together, and the whole group of us met once a week to watch a film that we would later talk or write about. Each week, he sat just a few chairs closer to me until, finally, we were right next to one another. I was shy, and he was adept at circumnavigating that shyness. He just had a quiet way of seeping into my life. Before I knew it, we were spending most of our time together…”
Jaime lost herself in the story. Before she knew it, Everett had ordered another round, and she was almost in tears, trying to explain where her marriage had gotten to. She lowered her voice and leaned in, as if telling him a secret.
“We just don’t have very much sex anymore. And quite honestly, I don’t want it as much as I used to.”
She looked down at her coffee in sadness and shame.
“But he does…is that the problem?” It was the first he’d spoken since she began telling her story.
“Yes…I wish I did, though. I love him. I don’t want to lose him. And I feel like I will if I don’t figure something out. Something big, and marriage-changing. We need a catharsis. But it has to be subtle and slow, otherwise, I know he won’t trust it.”
“My simple advice worked last time?”
“It did. In fact, we had the most amazing sex we’ve had in a long time…and all I did was say I want you.”
“It’s more about your openness, I think, than just your words. From what you’ve told me, he’s just waiting to refill his role. If he’s going to be something….anything…you have to show him what that is going to be. He sounds like a quiet leader, coming into his own; and it seems as if he once had much more sway over you that he does now. Let me guess, you don’t much like to be told what to do in the real world, do you?”
“No,” Jaime smiled at that. She was rather proud of her willful independence.
“But, you like it when he takes control sexually?” He looked at her directly, as if making an assessment, or trying to read her mind.
“Most of the time,” she blushed a bit and looked to the side briefly to break eye contact.
“Therein lies the problem. He’s a man. He needs consistency. He needs to know what to expect. And he needs to know that you respect him.” He paused briefly, and took her hand. It felt as if an old friend were reaching out to her in sympathy, and that softened the direct words that he spoke.
He continued, “And that must be all the time.”
Jaime remained silent, biting her lip a bit. She felt nervous, because…here he was, telling her exactly what she needed to hear. He was beginning to take the conversation and turn it in to a lesson.
“In your ad, you wrote that you needed to be told what to do. But, I think you just need to let yourself be told what to do by him. You need to give him the opportunity to take over. Have you ever asked him for that?”
“Actually, we did try a few times to explore a Dominant/submissive lifestyle. But it never quite worked.”
“Why is that?”
“I guess I just never committed to it like we agreed. I wanted all the parts that benefited me, but as soon as it got uncomfortable or inconvenient, I just railed against it and gave up. I didn’t want it all the time.”
“So really…you were in control.” It wasn’t a question. It was said with more of an Ahhhh….so that’s what is really going on here sort of way.
“I think I know what needs to be done. But it might take a little work on all of our parts. And definitely, as you say, some time and finesse.” He leaned forward, put his elbows and the table, and placed his chin in his right hand. Stroking his stubbly chin, be breathed in slowly and looked directly into Jaime’s eyes, disarming her further.
“My dear, you need to learn to let go. Your Kurt may need to learn how to lead better, but you need to learn how to follow better for him to do that.”
Jaime uncrossed and re-crossed her legs in nervousness.
“How do I do that?”
“That is the question of the day, now, isn’t it?” He sat back and looked up at the ceiling in contemplation for a moment, then leaned forward again, elbows on the table, his palms together as if in prayer. He let his fingers interlace and looked back at Jaime again.
“You will start by buying a stunning piece of lingerie. Not something you like, so much as something you know that he would like. It can’t be something you already have lying around. It must be a statement piece. This is a transitional item of clothing that will set a tone and open a door. It needs to say, visually, that you are willing and that you are doing this for him.”
Jaime was quiet for a moment. Lingerie was not a new idea. But the weight and symbolism of this lingerie was.
“How will he know it’s transitional? How will he know it’s meant to be more than just lingerie?”
“He won’t, likely. But men are visual creatures, and this will trigger something in him. If the piece is right, it will put him in the correct frame of mind.”
“This feels vaguely manipulative to me,” Jaime suddenly had the feeling that the two of them were conspiring to bend and mold Kurt in ways that may lead to a good result, but she didn’t feel good about it. If Kurt was supposed to be in control, how was having another man be in control, even for a short time, going to make things better?
“I sense your reticence. And yes, you could think of it as manipulation…or you could think of it as an invitation. He’s a natural leader, yes?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
“And you naturally follow him…most of the time?”
“Well, then, this is simply a step toward bringing him back to the helm. And I’m helping you do that. When he finds his sea legs, and you let go of the sails, the two of you can head off in to the sunset, leaving me in your wake.”
“Why would you do that?” she inquired, genuinely interested and concerned.
“Because, just as you are a natural submissive, I am a natural Dominant. I miss guiding my wife. And you remind me of her. Just brazen enough to show up in those ridiculous boots, looking sexy as hell, and just insecure (or maybe sensible) enough to feel silly doing it. Your confidence is wrapped up in his leadership. And his confidence is wrapped up in your unwillingness to let him lead. Neither of you is doing a very good job at making your ship go forward.”
“But we haven’t sunk yet,” she noted, feeling like a school girl defending her half-hearted attempt at an assignment.
“And, if I have anything to do with it, you won’t.”
She looked down at her watch.
“You should get going…you have a lot to digest.”
She smiled and sighed, as if resigning herself, “And apparently, I have some shopping to do, as well.” She stood up, donned her coat and scarf, and slung her bag over her shoulder. “I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for.”
“Actually, Jaime, it sounds like you know, you just haven’t accepted it yet. Acceptance is the first step. When that happens, it really is just a matter of opening yourself further than you ever have before. And breathing. Breathing is important.”
“You sound like my yoga instructor…breathe…let go…just be open to what the world is offering.”
Jaime laughed and blushed a bit.
“Your yoga instructor sounds wise. Maybe you should listen,” he smiled up at her, confident, calm, and relaxed. He knew she would do what he told her to do. She could see that in his eyes. He was not accustomed to being ignored. He led quietly. And that thing within her that longed to follow did just that.
She walked out into the dreary twilight. The red sky made her recall a saying she’d once heard. How did it go? Red sky at night, shepherds delight?
Apprehensively, Jaime turned and walked toward the bus stop. She had much to consider.