The Appointment

Gary glanced at the digital clock on the dashboard. He was going to be late. Maybe, the universe was telling him to turn around and go home. Right, the same universe that told him to make the damn appointment in the first place.

Gary had been perfectly happy to leave suspected pockets of his psyche unexplored. Okay, not perfectly happy, but certainly, perfectly accustomed. He wasn’t one to knock the tried and true. It was comfortable, predictable, safe.

Boring.

Not boring, precisely, but lately—lately, since his forty-fifth birthday three months ago—Gary had been feeling…unsettled, restless, like he was running out of time.

Classic mid-life crisis, yeah, Gary got that. Didn’t make him feel any better, though, and the classic pop-culture coping mechanisms weren’t his style.

Gary had no desire to blow a fortune on a luxury sports car, no intention of starting an affair with the new intern in the office, and there was no way he’d be sporting a ponytail anytime soon.

No, Gary’s solution to this mid-life malaise was to make a fool of himself. In an attempt to answer a question he should have asked twenty-five years ago, Gary had made this appointment. The appointment he was going to be late for because that’s just what he needed, as if the nerves chewing on his stomach lining weren’t enough.

Gary presented his credit card at the registration desk, receiving a key card and instructions for the hotel’s Wi-Fi. He took the elevator to his room, and worrying that eight minutes late was too late, he texted his room number to a man he didn’t know.

Gary had checked the guy out, of course. He was new at this, but he wasn’t an idiot. He’d spoken to people who’d worked with guy. He’d been careful, the way he’d always been careful, which was why he was in this mess in the first place.

God, he was too freaking old for this.

A rap on the door and Gary shook hands with a man about his height, but at least, ten years younger. Brown eyes, a friendly smile, and a confident set to his shoulders. But then, this man would be confident, wouldn’t he?

“Gary, we’re just experimenting here, finding out what works for you and what doesn’t. Take a breath, relax. We’ll start with something simple, okay?”

“Kneel.”

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