Dungeon Daddy by Golden Angel
How far down the rabbit hole did she want to go? She’d opened Pandora’s box and was already regretted it, but now that it was open, shouldn’t she discover what was inside?
Using the tracker on Jax’s phone had been a bad idea and a massive breach of trust, but after so many late nights and suspicious behavior, when her best friend Leah had told her that Jax had been lying about being at the gym on Sundays… she hadn’t been able to hold off anymore. She’d had to know.
Esther stared at the beautiful young woman on the computer screen, the blonde who lived at the house where Esther had tracked her husband’s phone. Michelle Cain worked at the University of Pittsburgh, same as Jax, but she wasn’t Jax’s TA. She was someone else’s. Which was kind of funny, in a cynical, not-actually-funny way, since Esther had sometimes been worried maybe his gorgeous teaching assistant, Suzie, would attract Jax’s attention. She hadn’t even thought about the danger coming from someone else.
After a moment of hesitation, Esther ran the search. The internet came back with more pictures and information about the woman whose house Jax was at when he’d told her he was working late.
Beautiful. Single. Asian, but Esther would guess Chinese rather than Korean, like herself. Friends with Suzie, Jax’s TA, which was undoubtedly how he’d met her. In her mid-twenties, just like Suzie. Slim, fit, and sophisticated in a way Esther had never been. Just looking at the pictures made Esther feel even more rumpled and less put-together than usual.
She looked down at the Hello Kitty t-shirt she was wearing, then back at the picture of Michelle and Suzie. They looked as if they’d stepped off a catalog page or maybe an Instagram influencer’s post. Not only were their outfits stylishly sophisticated, but their hair was flawless, and so was their makeup. They looked like the kind of woman someone like Jax should be with. Unlike Esther.
Over the years, Esther had struggled with knowing some of her needs were a little different from other women’s and that some of those needs made their way into her everyday life in a way a lot of men weren’t interested in handling. She needed a Daddy Dom. She wasn’t a full-on ‘little,’ considered herself more of a ‘babygirl,’ but unlike some littles she knew, she didn’t have a ‘big’ side because of that.
At the club she belonged to, there were littles who were powerful women with important jobs during the day, women who wore business suits and cocktail dresses with flair, and who could do their hair and makeup just as well as Suzie and Michelle.
Esther, though… she was 24/7 not that interested. She didn’t particularly like messing around with makeup, though she wouldn’t call herself a tomboy. She prioritized comfort over style—makeup, hair that required more than a band for a ponytail, any outfit that required pantyhose. Sometimes, she wanted to be ‘more’ and had tried but always ended up falling back into her old habits—a.k.a. her habit of not doing any of it.
Since her job had never cared about how she looked, other than following the business-casual guidelines in the office handbook, she went to work in slacks, a blouse, and her hair in a ponytail, no makeup.
Now that she was getting older, she wondered if she needed it more. Wrinkles had finally formed, mostly around her eyes and mouth. She’d always joked her half-Korean heritage had kept her skin smooth, but that was no longer as true as it once was. She’d been dying her hair for about five years, keeping the greys firmly covered. When she’d been younger, she hadn’t thought she needed the makeup and everything, but now…
Jax had never seemed to mind. He’d tease her and tell her she was the perfect trifecta—sweet, upbeat, and low maintenance. Plus, just enough babygirl to satisfy the Daddy Dom in him. Now they were older, and she didn’t look so much like the cute little babygirl anymore, but he was still sexy as hell. He worked out regularly, unlike her, so he still basically had the same body as when they got married. Maybe even more muscular. Unlike her. He had some grey in his goatee, but it was sexy. Silver fox.
Over the years, they’d had less and less time for the kinky stuff, especially after the kids were born. They’d kept saying, “When the kids are older,” but Jennifer was about to graduate high school, Daniel was a freshman, and here they still were. Rarely going to their club, the Outlands, and even more rarely doing more than hanging out when they were there. Their sex life had mostly dried up, and the little bit left was pure vanilla. Maybe he didn’t see her as a babygirl anymore. Maybe she just looked like an old woman, pretending to be something she wasn’t.
Or maybe Jax didn’t want to be a Daddy Dom anymore.
Maybe he was tired of having to take care of everyone after becoming a real dad.
Maybe women like this Michelle were more what he wanted. Young. Sophisticated. Ambitious. Getting her graduate degree. Someone who obviously took the time to take care of herself. The opposite of Esther in so many ways.
Esther stared at the photo, tears springing into the backs of her eyes. It hurt, yet there was almost a sense of relief and validation. Finally, knowing what was going on instead of burying her head in the sands of denial and pretending everything was just fine.
There was only one question left—what was she going to do about it?
* * *
There was something wrong with Esther.
Something more wrong, that was.
Over the past few weeks, he’d noticed something was wrong with her. A few times, she’d even wistfully said she wished he wasn’t so busy. Which was when he’d known he needed to bring the C&C campaign he was still running for Suzie and the others to a close. It wasn’t supposed to have gone on for this long.
Being the Dungeon Master had been so easy for a while and hadn’t changed anything other than his schedule, really…
Until a few weeks ago, Esther had seemed more wistful than usual as they watched their friends, Leah and Gavin, get back together. Jax had seen the effort Gavin put into winning his ex-wife back and had been happy for them. Esther had seen it and had started acted angry with Jax.
Which he got. Their relationship wasn’t like that. Jax would even say it was in a rut, and that was before he got to the fact they didn’t have as much time together as either of them would like. Which was his fault.
But now, something was even more wrong.
“Can you pass the peas, please?” Esther asked, perfectly polite, but her eyes didn’t meet his. She was sexually submissive, but she didn’t do the ‘downcast’ eyes thing much because she was a babygirl more than a sub. They didn’t do protocol of any kind and never had.
“Sure, here, honey.” He tried to angle the bowl so their fingers would brush against each other when she took it from him. Esther placed her own hand precisely where he couldn’t reach her, still not meeting his gaze. It was as though she’d withdrawn into her own little world instead of trying to make the most of the time they had together.
The anxiety that curled through his stomach made him nauseous, and the delicious dinner she’d made tasted like dust because he couldn’t enjoy it when something was so utterly wrong between them.
“Scott’s having a sleepover Friday night. Can I go?” Daniel, their youngest, wasn’t picking up on the tension between them, but Jax wasn’t so sure about Jennifer. She had been pretty quiet all through dinner, which wasn’t entirely unusual, but she also was more perceptive than her little brother.
After a beat—when Esther would usually look to Jax for his answer, but this time remained focused on spooning peas onto her plate—Jax responded.
“Sure.” He glanced at Jennifer. “Is there anywhere you’d like to go?” Maybe he could get both kids out of the house for a Friday night and have a date night with Esther. Get to the bottom of what was bothering her.
“Yeah, but Mom’s taking me. We’re having a mother-daughter night.” Jennifer grinned at Esther, who smiled back at her. There was still something a little off about her smile, but she seemed happy enough. Jax had to smile. It had been a while since the two of them had gone off to do something together. Jennifer was normally so busy with her homework, friends, and theater.
“Oh, that’s good. Sounds like fun. Maybe I’ll see if I can switch my late night at work to Friday instead of Thursday this week.” That way, he would be one of many out doing something on Friday instead of the only one missing Thursday dinner and evening. Thankfully, the campaign was coming to a close soon. He’d already told them he couldn’t run the next one. He shouldn’t have been running this one as long as he had.
No matter how much he’d enjoyed it.
Because he was watching carefully, he saw Esther’s lips tighten in reaction. Yeah, she didn’t like him mentioning his late nights at work. Guilt suffused him. Being DM for Suzie and her friends had put more strain on his marriage than he’d realized until recently. He’d told himself Esther was fine. Hell, she’d told him she was fine, and he’d accepted that answer because it was what he wanted to hear.
Thank goodness the campaign was almost over. He’d miss being DM and playing C&C with new people, but Esther was more important. She clearly had noticed his absence more than he’d realized.
* * *
It took everything she had not to react to Jax’s casual switching around of his schedule.
A few weeks ago, before she’d tracked his phone, she would have been relieved, even happy he wanted to spend more time with her and the kids. Now, it felt as if he was doing everything he could to cover his tracks. Esther was sure he wouldn’t be working late. He would be with Michelle.
Hopefully, for the very last time... if she had anything to say about it.
Pressing her lips together, she made herself focus on Daniel and Jennifer, who were arguing over the latest superhero movie, and ignore her husband. She was still thinking about what she wanted to do.
Sometimes, Esther wished she was one of those people who could make snap decisions, but she needed to think of things from every side, examine every angle. Only then did she feel as though she understood the best way forward. She didn’t want to jump and regret her decisions later, so she waited… even when it was killing her.
Looking at her two beautiful children, Esther felt the decisions she’d made solidify.
She wouldn’t follow the advice she would have given to a friend, which would be to dump his cheating ass. She would probably royally piss off her two best friends because they wouldn’t understand her decision.
Heck, she didn’t entirely understand it herself, but it felt right. She couldn’t give up on him. He was her person. At the end of the day, she wanted to know she had done absolutely everything she could to save her marriage.
That started with winning her husband back.