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Annette knew she had been away too much. Jason wasn’t complaining, at least not verbally, but they grew a bit more distant and more irritable when they were apart for long periods. This exhibited in less talking about anything other than daily logistics, less touching, and less time together when one of them wasn’t sleeping. She could feel this right now as she finished her morning cup of coffee while reviewing her messages from the office. Jason was just across from her, doing the same thing, probably thinking similar thoughts and holding similar fears and hopes, and yet she couldn’t think of anything to say to him.
She did not see much hope for a reduction in her travel commitments, too much of it off planet to other judicial offices around the system that left her gone for weeks at a time, so she had been on the lookout for something that might help bring her and Jason some gentle togetherness. If they could not reconnect, they might start slipping towards losing sight of each other entirely. And what then? Why had she become so bad at this? She used to be so in tune with Jason and could almost anticipate what he would say to her. She was just about to put down her tablet and go for a walk when she noticed a more familiar message from one of her colleagues pop into view.
* * *
You and Jason have to go and visit the new massage place across the river near downtown. It’s called Tausa. I think it saved our marriage! It was that good. Ask for the “couples meld” package. It’s expensive, but worth every penny. Call me if you have any questions. I swear you won’t be disappointed.
* * *
Annette’s eyes flicked up to Jason, but he continued to sit there sipping his coffee and focused on his messages slightly scowling every so often. She and Jason had enjoyed massages in the past though it had been years since the last time they had shared that experience together. They had their artificially intelligent massage chair at home, of course, but that was a pale imitation of human touch.
She wasn’t sure about Jen’s over the top praise of this particular establishment. That was not at all in line with her mildly cynical and sarcastic style. But, this had come at an opportune time. She and Jason really did need something, so perhaps fate was playing a hand here. Annette tapped a few buttons and opened Tausa’s virtual site to check it out.
The virtual site seemed to have the typical imagery of relaxing settings and vaguely eastern icons with a few shapes and images from African locales. They had apparently opened a few months ago, but Annette had been too busy lately for this kind of thing, so it hadn’t come to her attention. Requesting information on services offered, she saw and heard a wide variety of massage techniques listed, including a few couples massage packages, but nothing about a “couples meld” package. Maybe Jen had gotten the name mixed up with something else.
There was no automated appointment booking, so she copied Tausa’s live call number to her phone and stepped outside to the front porch to make the call.
“Thanks for calling Tausa, how may I help you?” said a smooth and efficient feminine voice.
“Hi, I was interested in scheduling a couples massage,” Annette said.
“Do you know which package you were interested in? We have several different ones available. They range from 1 to 3 hours. I can describe them, if you’d like, or you can review all of the offerings on our website,” the receptionist said.
Annette responded, “Well, my friend recommended a ‘meld’ package, but I didn’t see that on the website.”
“I see,” replied the receptionist. “May I ask for your friend’s name, please?”
“Sure, her name is Jen or Jennifer Baker,” Annette replied.
The line was quiet for a few moments. “Ah, yes. Thank you. Did your friend describe the experience for you?”
“Not really, she just said that it saved her marriage and was worth every penny.”
“Alright. Well the ‘couples meld experience’ package is one of our premium offerings offered only to trusted clients and their closest friends. It is a two and a half hour appointment that includes a 30 minute relaxation ritual, one and a half hour couples massage in our meld suite, and a 30 minute deep connection ritual at the conclusion. The cost is $2,500; we require a 20% deposit, and we currently schedule these experiences only on Friday or Saturday mornings from 10:00am to 12:30pm.”
Wow, $2,500! Jen wasn’t exaggerating when she said expensive. Annette wasn’t sure what to think, but if Jen had been so enthusiastic, she thought that they should take the chance. It wasn’t like they lacked money, so much as they lacked meaningful time together. If this could really put them one step on the path back to reconnecting then it was probably worth it.
“Ok, what dates do you have available?” Annette asked.
The line went quiet again for a few moments before the receptionist responded. “We did recently have a cancellation for this Saturday, so that day is open, otherwise, most of this month is already Keçiören Escort booked, but you could schedule for the day of your choice beginning in 6 weeks from this Friday.”
That expensive, and so many bookings? She and Jason had been planning to go to the gym this Saturday morning–it was already Wednesday–another shared activity that they had recently let fall by the wayside, but she was in the mood to go now. She could sell this to Jason, and they could catch up with their workout later.
“Ok. I’d like to reserve the appointment for this Saturday,” Annette said, somehow feeling more nervous and unsure after saying it than she had before.
“That’s wonderful! I will forward a link to this number so that you can submit your 20% deposit, unless you would prefer a different number?”
“No, this number is fine.”
“Ok. Then, you should receive a call from our meld therapist Thursday evening, that’s tomorrow, with instructions for you and your partner.”
“Instructions?” Annette replied.
“Yes, there are some general preparations before you arrive on Saturday, and the therapist can answer any questions you may have about anything involved with the experience. Thank you very much for your call. We look forward to seeing you. Have a pleasant day.”
And then she hung up. Annette didn’t even have a chance to say ‘goodbye’ or ‘you, too’. Well, that was that, she thought. She felt excited and nervous, not sure what they were getting into, but as strange as it seemed, she could feel that it was the right step. She walked back inside to the dining room to find Jason finishing his coffee and about to head into the office.
“Hey, I think we should change our plans for Saturday morning,” Annette said, watching Jason carefully.
“Our workout? Why? What did you have in mind?” he replied, sitting back down into his chair.
“Well, Jen was raving about how an experience at the new massage place, Tausa, had saved her marriage, and so, I just booked us an appointment for Saturday morning.”
“Jen said that? I guess that makes me intrigued… Sure, sounds good, you know I can’t pass up a good massage,” Jason said.
“I think it might be more than the traditional massage, but Jen didn’t tell me much about it. They called it the ‘couples meld experience’ and it lasts two and a half hours. They are supposed to call me tomorrow evening with instructions; I’m not sure what kind of instructions; I guess about things we are supposed to do before we arrive; and, it’s really expensive.” Annette rattled on, for some reason listing all the possible excuses to back out.
“Annette… ” Jason said, getting up from his chair and walking over to put his hands on her shoulders. “I’m even more curious now. I’m sure it will be great. We could certainly use something to take the stress away.”
“I… just know that we’ve been apart too much lately. I thought this would help us reconnect,” Annette said, in almost a whisper.
“I’m sure it will. If it’s amazing, we’ll feel great, and if it is crazy and weird, we can bond over that. Either way, it will get us to take our clothes off before we’re exhausted at the end of the day, and only good things can come from that.” He bent down and kissed her forehead. “I’ve got to run or I’ll miss my meeting.”
“I know. Thanks. I’ll see you at dinner.” Annette leaned her head against his chest, and then took a step back and watched him pick up his bag and walk out the front door.
Annette busied herself the rest of the day between resolving minor emergencies for her colleagues to fitting in time to write the last 4 pages of a proposal that was due that night–she didn’t quite finish that one. She never happened to run into Jen, so she didn’t have a chance to ask for any more information about Tausa and this ‘meld experience’. She made it home just before dinner time to find Jason chopping up vegetables for a salad.
“I’m sorry…” Annette started to say, but Jason interrupted her. “Shh… Dinner’s ready. Let’s eat while everything is hot.” Jason pulled two plates out and put pieces of salmon and roasted asparagus on them before carrying them to the table. Annette brought the bowl of salad and the bottle of white wine, and sat down with him to eat.
“Did you run into Jen today,” Jason asked.
“No, I didn’t… Everything was so hectic, I didn’t have a chance to walk by her office, and I never saw her in the halls.”
“Well, I guess it will just have to be a surprise, then.”
Jason and Annette continued to talk over dinner about their plans for next week, and finding a weekend to get away before the summer travelers made things more crowded. They usually seemed to agree more about the future than anything else. It was a subject that made them both feel good.
“I’m sorry, but I have to finish this proposal tonight. If you leave the dishes, I’ll finish them in the morning.” She got up, Jason watching her. She walked to her office upstairs pensively. In the past, she would have walked up to Jason and kissed him in that situation, Etimesgut Escort but now it felt so awkward. She did love him. She hoped he knew, but it was so hard to show it, for some reason.
Annette finally finished her last page and sent off the document to be checked and submitted at 12:42 am. She left the office passing through the kitchen to get a drink of water before heading to bed. As she filled her glass, she noticed that Jason had finished all the dishes himself.
When she climbed into bed, Jason rolled over and put his arm around her. He was asleep, she could tell, breathing deeply. But, she still liked that he reached out to her. A place inside her ached that they couldn’t be like this more during the day. She was going to do what she could, almost anything, she decided. She just needed a little help.
The next day passed uneventfully for both of them. Work happened to be a little calmer, and Annette picked up takeout from the new Szechuan restaurant on her way home. They made small talk while they ate and decided to just listen to music and read afterwards and get away from their electronics for the evening.
After dinner she and Jason sat on the couch. Jason was reading and drinking a glass of red wine, while she was looking at a science magazine and idly turning the pages, but really just waiting for the expected call. At 8:00pm, her phone buzzed, so she put in her earpiece and pressed the button to accept the call.
“Hello, this is Aminah, from the Tausa massage studio,” the voice said, clear and strong. “I’d like to discuss your ‘meld experience’ scheduled for this Saturday at 10:00am.”
“Yes, of course,” Annette replied.
“I need to ask a few health and medical questions and complete the legal consent process, and then provide you with some pre-arrival instructions. It is better that we do this now, rather than break the intended mood on the day of your session.”
“Ok, sure. That’s fine. Go ahead.”
“What is the height and weight, gender, and dimensions, for both you and your partner?”
“Oh, um, 5 feet 4 inches tall, 118 pounds, female, 34B chest, 27 inch waist, 36 inch hips. My partner is 6 feet 1 inch tall, 175 pounds, male, 42 inch chest, 32 inch waist, 33 inch inseam.” Jason looked up at her with a raised eyebrow.
“Do you or your partner have any history of cardiac or respiratory conditions?”
“Do you or your partner have any history of or current skin conditions?”
“Do you personally consent to certified therapists and trained treatment staff viewing and manually touching any part of your body during the appointment?”
“… Yes.” That did sound different, but she wasn’t sure yet if that excited or scared her.
“Please pass the phone to your partner, so that I can verify his consent.” Annette switched off her earpiece and handed the phone to Jason and he listened for a few seconds, and also responded affirmatively before handing the phone back to Annette.
“Ok, now I will proceed with the pre-arrival instructions. Do you have more than one comfortable bed in your home?”
“Yes, we have three. Only one is used most of the time.”
“Excellent. Please, each of you should sleep alone on Friday night.”
“You will receive a package from Tausa on your doorstep on Friday evening. This package will contain a set of clothes for each of you, two pieces of incense and two tubes of lotion. In addition, there will be a sealed box that will contain fruit and tea for your breakfast. Please refrain from any alcohol consumption after 8pm on Friday, until after your appointment on Saturday. And for breakfast the day of the appointment, only eat the provided food and drink.
“On Friday evening after dinner, please refrain from any sexual activity whether together or alone. Shower or bathe prior to retiring to your bedrooms for the evening. Once there, you should not put on any clothes or pajamas, but open the tube of lotion and apply it over all of your body, only avoiding your eyes and nose and the hair on your head. Then, following the application of the lotion, light the piece of incense with the provided match, and then lay in the bed. Use any sheets or blankets you need to feel comfortable, but do not wear any clothes while sleeping. If you do not fall asleep right away, feel free to read or meditate until you can.
“When you awake in the morning, wash your face and hands and brush your teeth as you normally would, dress in the provided clothing, and eat the provided breakfast, the tea is best served hot, but you may prepare that to your preference. If you find it more palatable sweet, you may use the packets of honey for that purpose. Then, leave at an adequate time to arrive for your appointment at 10:00am. Being 5 or 10 minutes early is recommended.
“Once you arrive, I will meet you in the lobby. Tausa will be empty except for the therapists involved in your appointment. No other customers will be scheduled to arrive before 1:00pm on Saturday. You will each separately undergo Demetevler Escort a relaxation ritual in private rooms with a guide for approximately 30 minutes. Following the conclusion of this ritual, you will both lie down beside one another in the ‘meld’ suite while you each receive a massage from our therapy team. Once your massage is complete, I will guide you in a deep connection ritual to conclude your time with us.
“I recommend that you do not schedule any physically or mentally demanding or stressful activities for the remainder of the day, but we do recommend spending time with your partner, fresh air, and light exercise, or anything else you may find enjoyable.
“What questions do you have?” Aminah asked.
“Umm… this sounds very intimate…” Annette stammered.
“It is. The focus of this experience is for you and your partner to deeply connect with one another, and that does involve intimacy. The goal of our team is to bring calmness and focus to you both, so that those desires for connection come to the surface and then are fulfilled in each other.
“Our therapists do remain clothed, and you will be touched with only fingers, palms, forearms, and elbows. During the connection ritual at the end, you may touch or be touched by your partner. If there is any physical or emotional discomfort at any time, you are free to indicate this to us, and we will adapt to your preferences.”
“Alright. We look forward to seeing you, then,” Annette said, somewhat reassured.
“We look forward to guiding you in your journey together this Saturday,” Aminah said. “Goodbye.”
Jason did not say anything to her after the call, but he was watching her closely. She seemed lost in her own thoughts.
* * *
On Friday evening, around 8:00pm, they heard a knock on their front door. Jason opened the door and found a brown paper package tied with jute twine laying on the doormat with a tag indicating that it came from Tausa.
Jason cut open the package with a knife, and unwrapped it on the kitchen table. There was a cardboard box marked ‘breakfast’, some clothing, a textured fabric in a light tan or off while color that looked to be raw cotton or linen, and two small plastic bags that each contained two matches, a small cone of incense, a small clay dish, and a tube of lotion. Though each bag looked the same, they were individually labeled, one for Annette and one for Jason. Annette picked up the clothing, which was tied together with a cotton string and a tag with the words, ‘do not put on until Saturday morning’. She untied the string, and started unfolding the pieces. There appeared to be a long skirt for her with a drawstring, and a single pocket, a long sleeve top with a boat neck and a back with a split from the waist up to about the shoulder blades. The clothing seemed to be exactly her size. The clothes apparently for Jason included a simple long sleeve shirt, a pair of loose pants with a single pocket and a drawstring. There was also underwear for both of them seemingly made of the same raw cotton or linen material: small briefs for Jason, a bralette and thong for Annette, again matched to their sizes.
“I guess this is why they asked for our sizes,” Annette said. “These do look comfortable, at least.”
“This does appear to be a ‘full service’ kind of experience, doesn’t it?” Jason said.
“Probably more than you know…” Annette replied.
“Aminah described the experience as being very intimate, though it sounded like maybe we would be touching each other. Maybe they are going to help somehow or just get us ready? It wasn’t very clear. Do you think it will be ok?”
“I think if we are there focused on each other, then everything will be fine.” Jason reassured her. “Now, I think I’ll read a little, take my shower and prepare for bed according to ‘the instructions’. I’ll take the guest room. You can have our bed.
“I’ll see you in the morning,” Jason said, as he wrapped Annette in a strong hug and kissed her cheek.
After Jason finished his shower, he dried off, and then walked in his towel to the guest room. He opened the plastic bag, and removed the contents, placing the clay dish on the nightstand. He picked up the tube of lotion and read the print: ‘apply to dry skin, cover all of your body in an even layer, avoiding eyes and nose and head hair, stand until absorbed without touching other surfaces.’ He opened the tube and sniffed. It was lightly scented, herbal and spiced, like mint and cloves maybe. Jason shrugged, pressed some of the lotion out onto his hand and began applying it to his body. It was smooth and comforting. Jason didn’t often use lotion, so maybe it was often like this, but the quality here was evidently good, not oily, or odd-feeling. He finished working the lotion into his skin all the way down to his feet and stood up.
Inhaling deeply, he felt both relaxed and refreshed as he inhaled the scent. Strangely, he noticed that he was rapidly hardening and becoming erect. After another deep breath, his erection was throbbing and almost uncomfortably tight. He knew that according to ‘the instructions’ he wasn’t supposed to satisfy himself, so he just stood there, and hoped his erection would soon subside. After a few more deep breaths, it was like there was a flash in his mind, like a wave had crashed over him. He looked down to find that his erection was completely gone, and overall his body felt newly relaxed.
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