s-td-ss-rollofthedice3This is the first chapter of my book A Roll of the Dice (Suncoast Society 9, MF, BDSM). What happens when a couple has been happily married for twenty-five years, and then one of them throws the other a curveball? Two average, everyday, normal, middle-class people.

I’ve seen this exact scenario play out many times in real life, and decided the story needed to be told for those who are just now discovering this side of themselves, or for those who have finally reached a point in their lives where they can honestly acknowledge that side of themselves in a way they never could before.

Blurb:

After twenty-five years of marriage, Jenny wants to try something new with her husband, Mike. Her book club’s been reading BDSM fiction. It’s piqued her curiosity enough to make her want to brave a local munch and try things with her husband.

Mike loves Jenny and would do anything for her. But memories of the abuse his mom suffered haunt him, and he refuses to be “that” man. When Jenny tells Mike she wants them to try BDSM, he attempts to keep an open mind despite his personal issues about it.

While meeting people from the local community, Mike makes an effort to give Jenny what she needs despite his desires warring with his conscience. Once his shock and surprise wear off over who he discovers is involved in the alternative lifestyle, Jenny and Mike start forging a new path. But will that journey lead them apart, or bring them closer together?

Chapter One

Michael Kennedy closed his eyes and listened. Inside the dungeon, their group had already taken heavy damages. Some of their party members were barely hanging on and in desperate need of healing. There were still three Drow to defeat. They’d killed five of them and the remaining ones were wounded but still up and fighting.

Throw a spell? He could lob a fireball at them, but being Drow, he wasn’t sure what their magic resistance was. He probably wouldn’t be able to get an arrow off at them.

Charge with my sword?

Axel cleared his throat. “Earth to Mike. You asleep, or thinking?”

Mike opened his eyes. On John’s dining room table lay the dry-erase battle grid map, their figures set out in position. Axel had used a dry-erase marker to mark the locations of the dead Drows’ bodies, little stick figures with x’s for eyes. Their party was huddled in an alcove that had been used as quarters by the Drow.

Then, the solution hit him. He smiled at their DM. “I throw a spell of Sanctuary.”

Across the table, Eliza hooted. “Atta boy.”

Axel looked confounded. “Roll it.” Because of some things that had happened early in this campaign that affected all of their party members, Axel had a house rule that all spellcasters had to roll a D20 to see if they could even throw the spell, as well as roll for spell failure percentages.

Mike selected his D20 from his crystal blue set of polyhedral dice, breathed a silent prayer, and rolled.

Natural twenty.

Eliza hooted again. “Mike da man. I mean, Mike da dwarf.”

Axel’s consternation hovered around him like a cloud. “Roll magic failure percentile.”

Mike grabbed his percentile and D10 dice.

Ninety-six.

Mike thought Eliza might fall out of her chair if she laughed any harder.

Axel let out a sigh after making a halfhearted DM roll of his own. “The Drow ignore you,” he muttered. “Lucky bastard.”

It was Eliza’s turn next. Being an elf, she had various tricks up her sleeves, including a bow that could launch five arrows at once. She hit all three Drow, reducing their hit points even further.

Next came her husband, Rusty. His barbarian character went into rage mode and he launched a two-handed attack.

After the dice had been rolled to tally up the damages, Axel scowled as he removed the three remaining Drow figurines from the map and replaced them with drawn stick figures.

“Initiative,” he grumbled.

“There aren’t any other Drow in the dungeon,” Eliza said.

He scowled at her. “Nobody asked you.”

From down the hall, a man yelled, “Somebody roll for me.”

Mike, Axel, Rusty, and John all yelled, “No!”

Eliza let out a sigh. “Come on, guys. He can’t help it.”

“He can help it,” Axel said. “He knows better than to eat Taco Bell for lunch.”

Taking pity on the missing man, she reached across the table to where their friend Milo usually sat when he wasn’t suffering a burrito-induced IBS episode. She grabbed his D20 and rolled it in the square, felt-lined box he used for his dice. “Fifteen,” she called out.

“Four modifier,” he called back.

John propped his chin in his palm, his elbow parked on the table. “You realize this is gross, right?”

“That’s nineteen for Milo,” Eliza said after sticking her tongue out at John.

A whooshing, wheezing noise filled the room. Axel picked up his cell phone and glanced at it. “Sorry, kids. That’s ten o’clock.” He shut off the alarm on his phone, quieting the TARDIS landing noise. “I have an eight o’clock meeting in the morning, and a bunch of stuff to do tonight when I get home.” He started gathering his dice, manuals, and notes.

“What?” Milo called from the bathroom. “What happened?”

“Axel is turning into a pumpkin,” Eliza called back.

“Dammit.”

Mike took pictures of the grid map before they removed the game pieces and rolled it up. Tonight they were playing at John’s house. The roving game rotated through their residences depending on everyone’s schedules. Next week was Mike’s turn to host it because his wife, Jenny, would be out at her weekly book club meeting.

Milo was still in the bathroom as everyone else called out their good-byes to him and made their way to the front door.

“So what are you throwing at us next week, Axel?” Eliza asked.

“Guess you’ll just have to wait and see, wontcha?”

She rolled her eyes at him and turned to Rusty. “Take me home, barbarian.”

“Ugh,” he grunted with a smile. It was a running joke between the couple.

Mike had to wait for Rusty and Eliza’s car to pull out of the driveway before he could leave. He’d actually managed to get out of work on time from his job at Asher Insurance, where he was a database admin. Usually he was running late most Thursday nights and scrambling to get to the game on time. Tonight his boss, Tony, had stayed late to train a new employee and had cut Mike loose a little early.

At least John lived in Bradenton, only a few minutes away from the campus where Mike worked. As he hit US 41 and headed south toward Sarasota, he tried not to let his mind drift into work mode again.

Sometimes, it felt like all he did was work, the weekly DnD game he played with his friends the only relaxation he had anymore.

Well, we’ll get Mikey moved out this weekend and that might finally free up some time.

Their nineteen-year-old son would be starting as a freshman up at USF in Tampa and living on campus in a dorm. Until now, every weekend had been filled with Little League, or soccer, or Pop Warner, Boy Scouts, or shuttling Mikey somewhere, until he got his driver’s license and started working part-time during his senior year of high school.

Then Mikey’s senior year had been filled with weekend trips to visit colleges, handling college apps, Mikey’s Eagle Scout project, and himself taking over lawn chores that had been Mikey’s domain when their son’s schedule had made that impossible.

And besides her own full-time job as an office manager for a physician, Jenny had been up to her armpits involved in PTO, Boy Scouts, the booster clubs for Mikey’s sports—hell, there had been plenty of week nights where they barely saw each other awake for more than ten minutes a day.

It wasn’t that he wanted to get rid of their son, but after twenty-five years of marriage that included the past nineteen of parenthood, he was ready for some alone time with Jenny for a change.

If she doesn’t want to go slogging up to Tampa every weekend to visit him.

Hell, it’d be nice just to be able to walk out to the kitchen naked first thing in the morning to get his coffee instead of worrying about pulling on a robe first.

No more being shushed by Jenny over her fears of them being a little too loud in the sack. No more Jenny giggling and pushing him away when he got frisky with her in the kitchen, afraid Mikey would walk in on them.

No more Mikey walking in on them with his uncannily accurate cock-blocking radar. If he had to guess, Mike would estimate over fifty percent of their attempted romantic interludes had been interrupted in some way by their son. He loved his son, but he wouldn’t deny it’d be nice to have their privacy again.

Hell, now they’d be free to spread their DNA all over the damn house without worrying about their son walking in on them.

They’d be free to throw clothes in a suitcase and drive to the Keys for the weekend, if they wanted to.

He’d miss their son, sure.

But he’d missed them as a couple even more, especially the past few years when it felt like Jenny had time for everyone and everything…except him.

And that had been something he’d never felt like he could vocalize to her without coming off sounding like a selfish shit in the process. She ran her ass off, between work, Mikey, and taking care of the house. He got that, and he didn’t resent it. He worked his ass off, too, although usually at work, and now picking up the slack with chores.

Saturday. That was when they’d be loading Mikey’s stuff up in the U-Haul trailer he’d rented and hauling him and his crap up to the USF Tampa campus dorm.

For his part, Mike was hoping for a nice romantic evening with his wife Saturday night when they returned home. Maybe not even leading to sex. Just a pizza and some beers, and the couch, and the two of them free to snuggle and be together, alone.

Naked, if they wanted to be.

* * * *

Jenny Kennedy closed the front door as the last of her eight fellow book club members left. Next week, the book club would meet at Marcy’s house. Michael’s gaming group would meet at their house.

Well, at least now I won’t need a calendar to keep track of those rotations anymore. Or book club.

The past three reading selections they’d discussed in their little book club still stirred an uneasy, but not unpleasant, disquiet inside Jenny. Not because she’d objected to them, or because the erotic romances had offended her.

Not at all.

Quite the opposite.

As she surveyed her empty living room, a preview of things to come with their son leaving for college that weekend, her mind couldn’t help but wander.

Going along with the current bestseller trends, her book club had decided to read three popular BDSM books that had topped international bestseller charts. By three different authors, and taking three different approaches, they’d provoked quite a bit of discussion with them, and more than a few nervous, red-faced titters amongst the group.

And they’d frequently deferred to Shayla Daniels, their newest member, who was a reporter for a local magazine and a coworker of one of their other members. Shayla had written a well-researched series of articles two years earlier on the topic of BDSM. She’d been appointed their book group’s de facto expert as a result, and had provided real-world guidance on what was pure fiction and what was realistic in the three BDSM books they’d read thus far.

Next week, yet another erotic BDSM book was up for discussion.

At this rate, Jenny wondered if their Kindles and Nooks and tablets would melt from the increasing heat levels in the books they were reading. Three of their members had eagerly reported they wanted to keep reading more of the BDSM genre, because their husbands or partners had reaped the benefits of the smexiness.

For her part, Jenny had remained quiet on the subject despite having devoured her fair share of them in private, too. She had a solid marriage of twenty-five years, a loving husband who worked his ass off to provide them with a good life, and a son now leaving for college.

The last thing she wanted to do was upset the apple cart. Yes, their sex life had gotten a little stale over the last few years, but that didn’t matter to her. She wasn’t going to do something stupid like push her husband to change just to fit some fictional role she read in a book.

Besides, books were books. It didn’t matter what Shayla said people did in real life. Shayla was also a relative newlywed and didn’t have any kids. She and her hubby could probably boink like bunnies whenever they wanted.

In the real world, people had responsibilities. Families.

Stress out the wahzoo.

Sometimes, satisfying had to be defined in terms of snuggle time in front of the TV before falling asleep instead of the number of orgasms achieved in one night.

Jenny walked into the kitchen to wash the glasses their group had used. She realized that after sending Mikey off to college this weekend, her schedule would look relatively empty compared to what it used to be comprised of. She’d also given advanced warnings to all the groups she volunteered for that she would be leaving them. Over the past couple of weeks, one by one, her schedule had started freeing up.

It was amazing how easy she now found it to keep the house tidy. Like she’d suddenly gained another life’s worth of time to get chores done.

After this weekend, all she’d have in her life would be work, the book club, and puttering around the house. Although she’d gotten more reading done over the past couple of weeks than she had in the last couple of years.

Maybe I need a hobby besides reading.

They had some friends. Mike had more friends than she did, even though he had less time for them. He’d grown up in this area and she hadn’t, and he’d never lost contact with some of his high school and college friends.

After finishing the dishes, Jenny walked back to their bedroom. Mike would be home from his game soon, and Mikey was out at the movies with some of his friends and wouldn’t be home until midnight.

She tried not to think about how empty the house would feel without their son living there. About that night being a preview of the near future.

About the gaping void that would now comprise a large swath of her life.

Empty nest syndrome?

She’d always thought, while immersed in the stress and hurry of all the activities she participated in for Mikey, that she would love it when she finally had time to herself.

Time to breathe.

Time to relax.

Now faced with the reality of all that empty time to fill, she was at a loss on how to better spend it, other than with books.

Maybe I just need time to decompress.

Not having to start every morning by making sure their home calendar was synced with her phone so she didn’t miss any events was an odd new reality for her to deal with.

What do I want to do with my life now?

She supposed that was something she’d need to decide.

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First Chapter: A Roll of the Dice (Suncoast Society 9)
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