The year 1999 was full of promise, despite the famous lyrics. And while most folks were scurrying around trying to predict any fallout from the "Y2K problem," Margie was busy trying to make her dreams come true.  Her job in advertising sales was quite fun, though not lucrative, thanking the Universe for the child support she received from her son's father. The local station was owned by a major broadcasting corporation, and seemed to be drowning in cash - a far cry from the tiny station she had begun working at in Portland. She had just landed a sales position, and used that experience to make the move back to Michigan so she and Ben could raise the children together.

Once back in her hometown, Margie began dating a Jewish comedian she’d gotten to know while taking improv classes years earlier. Coincidentally, these were the very same classes that Tom had recommended to her. Going out with Gabriel was fun. He would take her on long rides on his motorcycle, and she learned the basics of fellatio with an uncircumsized penis. She was beginning to really like him, it ended; when she found out he was seriously dating someone else. Someone he felt more comfortable having around his friends, someone he felt he could be "seen" with. She remembered Gabriel introducing her to the rest of the comedy team.

"Hey everyone, this is my girlfriend, Ann - say "Hi!"

The whole thing made her feel small. Like she wasn’t even there. You might say that he was the one who opened her eyes about the difference between what it means to be marriage material, and what it means to be girl-on-the-side material.

Margie definitely did not like being the "girl-on-the-side,” and told him so. They agreed to keep their relationship strictly professional. She had met him at his house so they could talk about possible projects they could work on together, when he asked her to come upstairs to his room.

“I’m going to take a shower.”

“Okay,” Margie shrugged, smiling, “you go ahead and do that. I’ll wait for you.”

Margie waited only a few minutes.  His intentions were made quite obvious when he walked out naked and stood in front of her, completely erect.  Margie gathered her papers, and declared, “this isn’t going to happen,” and left.

That was also the end of their “project.”

How utterly striking. The memory of being treated like that flashed before her, and suddenly she became quite aware of a particular memory – a glimpse of Phil walking out of Gabriel’s studio right after she started taking classes there. Margie thought it was her imagination – seeing Phil again several years after their breakup.  Still, it had rattled her. She had an anxiety attack in the driver’s seat of her car. Not able to move, not able to drive.  She called her therapist the next day and requested an emergency appointment.

“He’s just a bully, Margaret, remember that.”  Dr. Laurent seemed perturbed that they were rehashing this again. Margaret breathed a sigh of relief and told Laurent she’d wait to discuss it until her scheduled appointment.  Progress, Margie thought to herself.

Margie started talking to Tom again, soon after that. They went biking around the lakes and he took her out for drinks and dinner when she had the free time.

"No commitment, and no sleepovers" Margie voiced. Tom had just asked her about renewing their relationship, and so she took the opportunity to lay down some ground rules. Afterall, she didn't want to confuse her children anymore than they already were. For the next six months or so, Margie felt empowered. She didn't care that her advertisers (mostly gentleman's clubs and sex toy shops) cancelled their ad orders, she didn't care that once her Guarantee ran out, she had no income - she arranged to start teaching exercise classes again and work part-time at her fitness club. By the time Summer came around, she was back in a groove. It was wonderful spending more time with the kids, and she felt in the best shape of her life.  Maybe she wasn't climbing the typical "career ladder," but she was doing what she loved, and that made her happy.

Tom had been acting strangely, brooding around her kids more than usual; asking her about her past relationships, asking about the abortions she had.

One night, they had gotten particularly tipsy and made love on the couch at his place. Right before her orgasm, she could swear he whispered in her ear:

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