Chapter 26 — ‘Frequent, Intense, and Wonderful’
The bold-faced newspaper headline in section two the Tampa Times Sunday Edition read:
“Frequent, Intense, and Wonderful”
The article delicately described the discerned lifestyle of the men and women in the Circle and their polyamorous relationships. After describing the lifestyle, including heavy allusions to the open sex, the article went on to point out how ‘normal’ the group was — stable, professional, mature, not at all ‘flaky’, not at all hippie like, responsible, smart, friendly, and clean cut. Several paragraphs were then spent on the Prentiss family alone talking about seven people — one man (a new CEO for a major company) and six women (each in important and socially acceptable roles) — having special relationships that even transcended the others in the Circle. Fortunately, the last name wasn’t used, but first names were. That was all over the press because Scarlett had mentioned Dave’s full name when she confessed to being in a long-term committed relationship with not just someone, but someones — one male and five other females.
Scarlett’s story, with full names, appeared in the Entertainment section of the same paper. The article referenced the ‘Frequent, Intense, and Wonderful’ article to indicate how she was now living her life when she wasn’t in L.A. or around the world someplace filming a new movie or making appearances.
Dave laughed. The article built up his professional stature with words that separated him from the common man and made him stand alone, like an Zeus and Adonis, high above all other mortals. This was necessary, the article stated, in order for Scarlett to deign a romantic relationship with him.
A sidebar in the paper by the ‘Frequent, Intense, and Wonderful’ article was entitled Gateway to Divorce or Delight. It was a well-written and well-researched piece that presented the counter-intuitive case that plural relationships were less prone to end in divorce compared with ‘normal’ marriages, contrary to the opinion of many highly judgmental people. Several notable sociologists were quoted in the article. There proved to be a longer list of items supporting loving multi-partner relationships than for monogamy.
The comparable piece in the main Atlanta newspaper blended what the reporter had learned from Dave during the press conference with snippets from four other polyamorous situations the paper had also interviewed and researched. There appeared to be little difference in the feelings the people in the various relationships had regarding their interactions and emotions with and about the others, other than the Circle was the largest group discussed.
The Jacksonville paper took a decided moralistic and admittedly ‘Bible Belt’ approach to the Circle, casting significant dispersions on the members and their ‘errant approach to relationships and sex’. They had a number of quotes from some local evangelical church leaders condemning the practice of polyamory, stating that sex for purposes other than procreation in God’s name, and talking about how such behavior was against God’s way and how those practicing such sins would burn in hell for the rest of eternity.
The Washington Post had a feature article about polyamory and didn’t mention the Circle specifically, except as a disguised example to make a few points. In reading the article, Dave could tell the author wanted to say more about the sex enjoyed in such relationships but held back. There was only the obscure reference to ‘other pleasures’ such plural relationships provided.
Erin had a hand in writing the piece that appeared in the Sarasota Herald. She also got it adopted by AP as a background piece for other similar articles across the country that used that news source instead of other reporters who had been at Dave’s press conference. Her approach had been to tilt the news towards the Circle being more of a professional commune, with intimate, highly educated, and highly motivated members. The many professions of the Circle were mentioned along with the drug-free environment.
She told the Circle that her editor wanted some carefully worded paragraphs that talked about the sex enjoyed by members of the Circle. Erin scrubbed through the Tampa and Atlanta newspaper articles but built her own story, going a little bit further towards describing a typical Friday or Saturday evening from the time a stereotypical Circle member showed up for cocktails and fellowship with the other members, to when they went to sleep hours later, ‘sated after intense and wonderful, multiple and creative intimate interactions’ with a ‘few others’ in the Circle, and how they were cuddled and loved throughout. The ‘love theme’ prevailed.
Scarlett took the greatest additional press coverage. The coverage anchored her to the Circle in no uncertain terms, and further cemented her multi-sexual relationship with Dave and his bisexual wives. Some of the articles speculated gaziantep escortlar that Scarlett also had sexual relationships with the other men and women in the Circle, since that was the ethos of the group that she’d affiliated with. Dave had ducked those questions during the press conference, leaving them for Scarlett to reveal in her own way.
Even the Hollywood press pilloried her for her ‘errant and outrageous sexual behavior’ in the Circle. Although many other Hollywood entertainers were known to be open bisexuals and in flagrantly open marriages, this was Scarlett’s week to be in the stockade. Dave guessed that she was glad to be out of the country in relative obscurity depending on which scenes the studio was filming. She reported that the studio was overjoyed with the news because it got her name out and in the spotlight in a controversial and racy way.
Dave talked to Jason Riggs about whether the articles or the Circle’s behavior was any cause of concern regarding government groups such as Children’s Protective Services. He reminded him of the attempts by Alice, Julie, and Karen’s parents to wrest the younger Simon children from their parents.
Jason and Robyn spent a couple of days and ferreted out multiple cases and judgments in Florida and other states where somebody had tried to invoke communal living as a basis for removing children from the community. All had failed unless there were other extenuating circumstances, such as drugs, and ultimate decisions regarding child rearing had been left to the parents.
Dave asked Jason about the nudity as a possible basis, but Jason laughed. Several of the cases had been based on families living in nudist colonies, one only about ten miles from the Circle compound. CPS and the petitioning grandparents lost that case, too.
Jason spoke at the monthly general membership meeting about how to treat and speak to anybody from the police or CPS showing up with any kind of warrant or other official or unofficial document regarding the children or anything else going on in the community. His words were reassuring and empowered everyone to stand-up to the authorities until legal help arrived on the scene.
After the original articles appeared in the papers around the southeast of the country, there were various flurries of Letters to the Editor of the various papers. The papers tried to print letters that were both pro and con the Circle or polyamorous lifestyle. That said the Circle took a beating.
Several days after the Tampa and Sarasota articles had appeared some handcrafted signs and graffiti about sin, hell, and damnation appeared taped on the main gate into the Circle. The signs and incidents were reported to the police. A guard had again been posted at the gate for several weeks.
On Wednesday and Thursday, late in the afternoon, Circle members spotted a couple of drones flying over the property, no doubt taking pictures.
After consulting with Jason about the legality of the act, Dev appeared on Thursday afternoon with a twelve-gage shotgun. He set up a stable platform right inside the door to the core living room where a drone was less likely to spot him. When the drone made its slow pass over the Circle patio about fifty feet off the deck, Dev shot the thing out of the sky. A second drone succumbed to antiaircraft fire about five minutes later.
Dev and Dale recovered both damaged craft and further neutered the electronics in them. They were both high-end drones of the type hobbyists used, each probably in the one to two thousand dollar price range. Losing them no doubt sent a message to those trying to either freak out Circle members, which they did, or just satisfy some lascivious curiosity.
Some Circle members got some hate mail. Others got some letters from friends stating their support and continued friendship. That all lasted only a few days and seemed centered on the weekend feature articles.
The following Saturday, after Dave and several of the others had served breakfast or brunch to the rest of the Circle, Dave sat around with Scarlett — who’d arrived the day before from Paris; Cricket — who’d come on the same flight; Owen, Alice, and Dale. They were chatting about Dave’s new job, and the renovations underway at what had been a large bakery to turn it into a prototype manufacturing plant for special batteries.
Dave spotted Joyce coming across the patio. He was surprised to see her, since she lived nearby, had been initially enthralled by the Circle and his plural marriage, but had been missing for several weeks since just after he’d come back from his honeymoon trip to St. Croix. He’d even thought of her the day before and wondered what had happened to her.
Joyce appeared sad and downcast. She looked ashen, and her body posture was stooped and lethargic. Her eyes were red and she’d been crying. She shuffled slowly in short steps to the group with her head down and shoulders slumped directly to the group. Once in front of the group, as they greeted her, she held one hand up to stop their friendly words of welcome.
As people grew quiet and waited for her to say something, Joyce pulled her top over her head and threw it aside, leaving her naked from the waist up. She then kicked off her loafers and pushed her shorts and underwear down her legs until she was fully naked. She knelt in front of the group and then put her head down in her hands. She started to cry in choking sobs.
Joyce was a pretty middle-age brunette, with pert breasts that had yet to sag with age. Her skin had a pink blotchy appearance, and Dave suddenly understood that the coloring came from her agitated state and worry. She was intensely nervous and bodily shook as she cried. Dave and Scarlett got up to help her. Everyone wondered what was going on.
Joyce spoke through her hands but remained downcast, “I am not worthy of your welcome or friendship. I have come today to beg for your mercy and forgiveness before I leave and never come back. I did a very bad thing that created what I am sure is no end of grief, consternation, and trouble for you all. I am the source for the news articles that appeared initially in the various newspapers and that forced Dave to have to go in front of the press and Scarlett [sob] I’m so sorry. I apologize with every cell in my body. I’ve done nothing but cry for days since I realized what had happened. I’m so sorry for what I did.”
Joyce bent forward until her forehead touched the patio stone and remained in that position as huge racking sobs made her body shake and quake. Her tears fell to and puddled on the pavement beneath her.
Dave and Scarlett stroked her naked back and said soothing words.
The group looked at Joyce, each person wondering what to say or do based on her confession. She had created no end of trouble for everybody in the Circle. Several members had worried about losing their jobs. Scarlett was besieged by the paparazzi both in Europe and the U.S. There was the hate mail, drones, and signs on the road leading to the Circle compound.
Dave knelt beside the sobbing woman and said, “Joyce, get up. Stop! Get dressed if you’re uncomfortable. Do you want to tell us how you happened to communicate everything about us to the media?” He pulled her into a position where she was sitting on her heels.
Joyce sat back on her haunches but kept her head down as tears cascaded down her cheeks and across her breasts. She looked a mess and Dave noted how red her eyes were from crying for a long time — long before she arrived at the Circle. She continued to look at the ground. “Marty Roberts at the Tampa Times is a friend of mine — WAS a friend of mine. We were having dinner a few weeks ago and he asked me where I was spending my time and that morphed into what was the most interesting thing I’d seen in the past month, since we’d last gone out.
“I got going and told him everything about the Circle. I didn’t realize I’d learned so much or said so much until later when the articles started appearing. Then I realized that he’d been interviewing me and ferreting out more details about the Circle. He even called me back a few days after our dinner and asked more questions, and I answered like a total dunce. I was so stupid. I should have guessed that he was writing a story, but I didn’t. I knew so much about you, and I know you’d all trusted me to keep my mouth shut, but I just couldn’t. I’ve always been fascinated and in love with your lifestyle since I learned about it. I’m so sorry for what I did — for what I said to him.”
Joyce’s racking sobs returned again, and she threw her face against Dave’s shoulder and held onto his arm as though it were a life preserver in heavy seas. Dave patted her shoulder and said a few comforting things to try to get her to stop.
Dave glanced at Alice and Scarlett; they both shrugged and shook their heads indicating that they held no animus for Joyce. Owen even voiced his care for her as he knelt a couple of feet away.
Scarlett said loudly to penetrate through her sobs, “Joyce, there’s a saying around L.A. you should hear. It goes ‘Let me tell you a secret about Hollywood, there are no secrets in Hollywood.’ I never had any doubt that my relationship with Dave, his wives, and the Circle wouldn’t become public knowledge. It was a sure thing. The only uncertainties I had was what would trigger that news becoming public and when that’d occur.”
Dave nodded, “I had the same feeling about the Circle and our lifestyle. It wasn’t a matter of whether the news would ever become public but when.”
Alice, Owen, Dale, and Cricket nodded and spoke in agreement with what had just been said. Joyce glanced around at the others with her face contorted in pain and agony. She remained ready to break out in another crying jag. She sobbed, “But I was the one that did it.”
A few others on the patio came over to see what the wailing was about.
Alice said, “I never mentioned it to you, but everybody here knows; my career in pornography came to the attention of my CEO. I was called on the carpet. Fortunately, a couple of my friends here stood up for me, and it blew over, but it’s well-known around Knightsbridge Manufacturing that the best MILF in the adult film industry works there as an executive in finance. I get looks all the time, and I know most of the men would like to fuck me. I am their fantasy MILF — and probably more so now that they know forty other guys get to have my pussy.”
Owen laughed. “I am certain that my tainted relationships with multiple women are also well-known in town. I am always showing up with hot women from the Circle at one event after another, many of them married to someone else. Eyebrows are raised, but everyone is polite. I had eighteen-year-old Bridget at a charity ball four weeks ago, and that started all sorts of rumors about what a cradle robber I was and that I liked young pussy. It eventually blew over especially after I showed up with someone over thrice her age at the gala three days ago — specifically, Dave’s mother.”
Dave teased, “That’s because everyone hopes a million or two will fall out of your pocket as loose change.”
Owen smacked him in the shoulder comically. “You’re probably right, but I like to think it’s all because I’m such a nice guy.”
“And a great tattoo artist,” Alice added as she pointed to the heart on her left breast. Alice, Scarlett, and Cricket were only wearing their monokinis.
Cricket volunteered, “After the news about the Circle got out, including that I was one of the poly wives, I got asked by four women and six men working on Crystal Clear what they would have to do to be able to join up. They considered the articles recruiting brochures.” She giggled. “Of course the guys wanted to hook-up with me, too, but that’s always the case.
Dave turned to her, “Were any of them our kind of people?”
Cricket grinned, “Yes, all of them. I told them what I was sure you’d tell them. It’s what you told Joyce and me, too, way back. Hang out around the Circle. Meet everybody. Learn our ethos and culture, and see if you really want to live in the Circle’s paradigm.”
Dave nodded, and looked back at Joyce. “And, Joyce, what do you think would have happened if one of those people started to hang out with us, became incensed with the wanton sex and sexuality of everyone already in the Circle, and went to the press with their story?”
Joyce spoke in a barely audible voice punctuated by a slight hiccup, “I guess there’d be a few newspaper and magazine articles about all of you, just like what I did?” She added rapidly, “It wasn’t intentional. I just didn’t know … I didn’t expect …”
“Precisely. You were merely a tool of Fate to make the inevitable happen. ‘Fate is what live deals you; destiny is what you do with it.’ Come and sit with us. You don’t need to deprecate yourself any further.” He stood and pulled her to her feet. Dale brought over a small bench and set it down. He sat and patted the seat beside him.
Joyce sniffed, “I should probably go and never come back. She stood, her nude body glowing in a ray of sunshine; the tracks of her tears glistening across her breasts.”
Alice said, “Nonsense. Sit and join us. There’s even a fresh cup of coffee here for you. We don’t want you to leave. We all value your friendship.”
Joyce looked surprised but tentatively sat next to Dale on the bench. She still didn’t want to make eye contact with anybody.
Dale said softly, “Do you want to get dressed?”
“No. My nudity is part of my penance. I know it’s normal for all of you, but I’ve usually been a very modest person. I’ve been trying to change. This is the first time anybody has seen me naked in a long time.”
Scarlett asked in a more serious tone, “Joyce, what were you thinking about the Circle when you spoke to your friend — your mindset?” She leaned forward, interested in the response.
Tears came back to Joyce’s eyes and she choked a bit before she spoke. “I was — I am — so enthralled by your lifestyle and how you all live. It’s so natural, so supportive, and so loving. I wanted to work up to joining you — to be like all of you. I’ve been trying to loosen up. Dave and some of the women gave me some challenges to help in that process.
“I’d been in some crazy relationships before in my life, but not for a few years. In hindsight, those were abusive. The Circle is so loving and caring. You’re all so nice and accepting, even now, but now I’ve blown it. I’m so sorry in so many ways.”
Several shook they heads, “No you haven’t blown it. Do you think that none of us haven’t done something to piss off somebody else in the Circle, if not everybody else? We have.”
Joyce mumbled, “I even got my STD test. I didn’t know about that until just before all this happened, but I went and got tested. God, I was so presumptuous that you’d want me. I took all of you for granted, and then I got taken advantage of — again!” [Sob]