Bets Ch. 01

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My daughter Sara leaned against the granite countertop and showed us the app. The TV was on and we had the back door open since it was a cool, crisp Sunday night. She acted like it was hardly something worth mentioning.

“It’s a site where people ask for people to do weird stuff. Some of it’s gross, some of it’s kind of sexual. They make a bid, and you can accept it. See?”

She leaned to my husband, Rick, who was sipping a glass of club soda. He peered at the app.

“I don’t get it?” he said, “There’s lots of dirty and crazy stuff on the internet. Why would someone pay money for more?”

Sara shrugged. She was wearing a tight nightshirt and her long, wavy blonde hair hung across her sizable breasts. When she shrugged, they bounced a little. I only bring this up because, at the time, I wondered if my husband was titillated by it. Just a passing, deep-down, weird emotion. I was sure that he wasn’t. He had to be immune to it, even for an incredible beauty like her. I never saw him show outward signs of an attraction to our daughter, at all.

“There’s a lot of obscure stuff. But, I mean, you can make a lot of money. Like, a lot.”

My husband shook his head, “If that’s where this discussion is headed, even if it’s just for fun, then it’s over.”

I knew it would lead to this. Nowadays, every discussion with my daughter revolved around obscure plots to make large sums of cash. For a twenty-four-year-old working on a PhD, she certainly had trouble grasping how hard it was to earn huge sums of money. But then again, maybe she inherited that from me…

It had been nine months since I finally put the brakes on what had been a short-lived gambling problem. A new casino in our town was the destination on a “girl’s night” and I played some penny slots over laughs and a margarita. Not long after, I was putting chips on a credit card, knowing the next roulette spin would make me whole again. Soon I had five payday loans out on our cars, and I emptied my retirement fund. For a family that lived an upper-class life, the debt snowballed into something extraordinary. Think thousands of dollars. Hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Sara had to accept that she would be paying off her student loans for the rest of her life, if she could even acquire the funds to finish school. She also had to commute two hours, to and from school, every day of the week, since room and board was too much for us to afford. My husband had to take out an extra mortgage on our family home. Our youngest, Paul, could never have a birthday party that competed with his friends. His clothes were second hand, his haircuts were cheap, his shoes were worn. I did hard, lasting damage to, and nearly ruined, our lives.

Each month was a massive struggle to pay bills. Without the faith and love of my husband, and a quality ten-step program, I would have simply killed myself rather than shoulder such burden on my children. I was eating a lot to deal with the grief. It was showing. I honestly questioned why such a wonderful man stayed with me.

“Well, it’s not all totally crazy or gross. Some of it is just taking photos. Like, not even dirty photos. Some of it’s for way more than our gap.”

The “gap” represented the amount of money we needed to avoid digging deeper into the debt hole. It was about 20% more than my husband and I earned. Rick was a successful financial analyst while I worked as a videographer for a local television station. After my gambling debt accrued, our daughter worked part-time, I took on a second job, and my husband did freelance work. We were barely, just barely, closing “the gap” each month.

Our conversation turned to other issues. I remember it being a light, fun evening. We made each other laugh and enjoyed the nice weather. Eventually, we all went to bed.

Monday night, I went to my support group. Tuesday, I went to my son’s soccer game. Wednesday, I volunteered at my church’s canned food drive. Thursday, I barely fought off the compulsion to gamble. Friday, I lost my job.

Things went from bad to worse.

Three months later, I walked into our living room to find my daughter sitting sprawled out on our sofa and my husband in the recliner. Rick sat upright, hands folded with elbows on knees, looking at the floor. My daughter was laid out in a tight camisole and cotton pajama pants, the edge of her midriff was on display. I remember feeling that her exposed skin was out of place. While she walked around in the camisole when it was just the two of us, she normally wore something to cover up when my husband was in the room or pulled her shirt down to show modesty.

“Hey mom, can we talk to you for a minute?” they asked.

I joined them and sat through my daughter explaining, once again, what the use of the app entailed.

“Yea, sure,” I said nodding my head, “I heard you mention this before.”

She sighed and sat up. She was cross legged, and her face took on a serious tone.

“There’s a way casino siteleri we can make the gap, and then some…two whole months of the gap…by taking a photo.”

I looked to my husband, who seemed to have foreknowledge of what was being discussed. I gave a muttering laugh.

“I can’t imagine anything on that site that would be worth twelve thousand dollars…”

They both sat in silence. My daughter seemed reluctant to continue. She cleared her throat.

“An anonymous bidder is offering that amount. For…a photo of a father and daughter in a risqué, sexualized pose.”

There was a deafening silence after she blurted out her idea. I didn’t even let it raise my blood pressure. Like a good mother, I dismissed the foolishness out of hand.

“What kind of pose…?”

She cleared her throat, “There’s a breast exposed. The man’s erect. There’s a certain look to the faces…the bid is very specific.”

I shook my head the second she mentioned an exposed breast.

“That’s complete insanity. You’re not going to suggest dressing like some slut and manipulating your father for money. That’s borderline incest and it’s one of the most disgusting, inexcusable things you can do in this life. Out of the question.”

I looked to Rick to respond. We always made a great team when we managed the kids.

“Rick? Tell her this is madness.”

To my surprise he looked around the room and sort of touched the tips of his fingers together, as though he were contemplating something.

“Rick? Come on now…”

He looked me in the eye and sighed, “I had the same reaction as you, when she first came to me with this…and I scolded her the same way. I thought the whole idea was disgusting. But…when she showed me the description of the photo…I don’t know, Denise. It’s not what you think it is.”

I threw my hands up, “I don’t care if it’s the two of you shaking hands! We don’t whore ourselves out to strangers on the internet for money! For twelve thousand dollars, I’m sure it’s something beyond terrible…I am absolutely not listening to-“

“See, mom,” Sara began, “That’s the thing. We’re coming to you out of courtesy, but you’re really just not in a position to dictate things here.”

I was aghast, “I am still your mother, you little bitch, even if I made a mistake.”

“Honey,” Rick said, “We can’t make ends meet. Next month I’ll have to default on the house. This is it. This is what we’ve got.”

I leaned forward, “Rick, I swear to you, I will have another job next month. I am putting in a resume everywhere I can-“

“That isn’t going to be enough, Denise. I’m sorry. I know that it’s part of your therapy for us to treat you like an equal in this house, and we’re trying to do that but…we are completely out of options.”

“We could go to my parents, or your-“

“I already did,” Rick said. I knew how much he had to swallow his pride to ask my father for money, much less his own. I could see how sunken his eyes were, “I asked everyone I could.”

I crossed my arms and sat back, shifting my head wherever I could. The anger and frustration were boiling up in me. The idea of my husband being sexual with my daughter in any way was the basement of my fears…and yet, here we were.

Sara took her tablet and handed it to me. I scanned the surface of it, unsure of what I was seeing. I finally made out the gist of the web site….and found the description of the “bid” that was placed. The title read: Custom F/D Incest Request, Photo Only

Looking for actual, blood-relative father/daughter. Must provide birth certificate, background check, and photographic proof, no exceptions. Blood vials preferred. Daughter should have model-esque good looks, blonde, blue eyed, size C cup or larger. No nipple deformities or non-symmetrical breasts. Father should be decently built, preferably athletic, with hair, and well equipped.

Daughter is on bed, in supportive black lace bra, one strap down, breast exposed. Father shirtless, jeans with big belt that is unbuckled, erection visible through underpants. Daughter’s hand on father’s chest, pushing, has look of reluctant concern. Father has look of aggressive lust. Father’s left hand on bed for support, right hand pulling down side of panties. Erection pushes against panties.

Photo must be professional and well lit, magazine worthy. Half of amount in escrow upon submission.

To say I was appalled would be an understatement. I couldn’t understand how two of the people I loved the most in the world could see this as a feasible way to pay a couple of months’ worth of bills. And yet they stared at me with puppy dog eyes, waiting for my approval.

“I…. have to try to put this in the strongest words possible. Never in my life would I look at the relationship I have with you, my daughter, as human capital that I could convert into money. Ever. It’s the most precious thing in the world for me. And I can’t express the slot oyna level of disgust, and terror, that I feel knowing that you even think this is a good idea. Even with my mistakes, even with our debts, bankruptcy, austerity, destitution, anything would be preferable to a loving father looking at and touching his flesh and blood daughter in a sexual manner. Anything, and I-“

“We already took the photo,” my daughter said, defiantly. She couldn’t look me in the eye when she said it.

“Wha…what?” was all I could gasp.

“We didn’t want to do it without you, but we were afraid of losing the bid.”

As the blood rushed out of my temples, I looked over at my husband of nearly thirty years.

He cleared his throat.

“I can assure you, it was a very unpleasant day for both of us. It was surgical, like a doctor’s visit, and we were efficient about it. But it’s over.”

I started to breath heavy and I thought I would faint. I did the only thing I could think to do. I ran out of the house with my hastily grabbed car keys in hand and left.

Three days later, I was leaving the motel, dressed in a cheap set of clothes from a local big box store and toting a plastic bag full of random sundries. My husband waited a full day before texting me, pleading with me to come home and to talk things out. I didn’t respond. I just laid in the room, with the TV droning on, as I thought back to when my baby girl entered the world.

The time I shared with Rick was so warm and so tender before she was born. We became as close as two people could be. And when he held her in his arms, I knew I had made the right decision. I knew he would never harm our family. Not intentionally.

I still felt, maybe not thought but felt, that this was still true. He was the one with the power in the situation, but at the same time, my sins had pushed him into a powerless situation. Our daughter was just trying to help. Twelve thousand dollars was like a bucket of ice water in a desert for our family. And, as I kept telling myself…the photo didn’t sound that horrible. The moment I let that thought enter my mind, I started to fly into a rage. It wasn’t my responsibility to rationalize what they had done. The burden shouldn’t be on me.

Then again…I put the burden on them…every time I played a $300 hand of blackjack.

As part of my rationalizing, I googled “incest” and the results shocked me. Besides one or two Wikipedia entries, each listing was about incest-based porn, something I didn’t even know existed. Having watched perhaps ten minutes of pornography in my adult life, the clip that I watched was bizarre and gross. Two obviously unrelated people, in a high-production value setting, pretending to be brother and sister, making love in a barely plausible hypothetical situation. Even when I channeled my inner pervert, I couldn’t figure out how people were aroused by the stuff.

Every porn site I came across with a Top 20 feature had incest porn taking up a dozen entries. People paid hundreds of dollars for custom clips that were barely five minutes long. I could see, reluctantly, why the market demand for my daughter’s depraved idea was so high. It didn’t make it any less sad or tragic…just more understandable.

I told them I would come home, but only if I could talk to my daughter, alone. They agreed.

After a short drive and sitting in the driveway, full of dread, I walked inside. I found my beautiful daughter in a bathrobe, sitting at the kitchen table. She had prepared me a hot coca, which was my beverage of choice.

“Hi mom,” she said, a little apologetic and meek, “I missed you.”

I sat down. The air of awkwardness was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. We went through the cursory apologies and airing of grievances.

“I know, I know, keeping it from you was the worst part,” she said, “But the bidder only gave us 24 hours to deliver after we had to send blood …we had to act fast.”

“You sent a vial of your blood to a stranger halfway across the country…and neither of you thought it was odd? How did you even do that?”

My daughter shrugged, “YouTube. Twenty bucks worth of diabetic stuff at Walgreens…?”

I shook my head, “The planning that went into this…it’s so sick.”

She agreed with me and lauded me with apologies. I told her that I saw how popular incest porn had become and related how sickened it made me feel.

“I find it really, really, really fucking disgusting,” she said, sincerely. “I knew guys in college that drunkenly whacked off to the stuff and bragged about it. I think it’s appalling.”

I didn’t see her as a hypocrite. Not when I saw how sincere and calm she was. She did something she, personally, found very unpleasant to help our family.

“Sara,” I said, taking her hand, “You can’t come into intimate physical contact with another man without having feelings for him. I know you’ve been sexually active, but…”

“Twelve,” she said. I gave canlı casino siteleri her a confused look. “I’ve been with twelve guys, mom. I haven’t gone two weeks without getting laid for years. Longer than you would like to know.”

Shell shocked, I don’t know if I was as dismayed as I should have been.

“I think I had feelings for one, maybe two. Ronnie, who you met, and a one-night stand who never called me. Point being, having dad hover over me like that was just off-putting and weird. Nothing more.”

I jostled her hand, “But baby, was it worth it? Was it really worth it?”

She smiled and sort of shook her head as she furrowed her brow, “Oh…my gosh, I would do it again tomorrow. For twelve grand? I mean, the hard part wasn’t the situation, it was the time.”

I was confused, “The time?”

Her eyes lit up with a nod of her head, “It literally took us three hours to do. It was getting a professional looking shot…you have no idea…I mean the instructions were so specific…”

The normalizing of it was disturbing me, but I was intrigued.

“We had to use a timer,” she said, “so I was, you know, basically naked, running to get into the pose and Dad had to-“

She stopped as she realized she was about to nonchalantly describe her father keeping himself hard enough to jam his clothed penis into her lace panties. There was a middling silence.

“I never want to see it,” I said, “And I never want you to do anything like this again.”

She nodded and put her hands up in surrender, “Never. I promise.” She then gave me a deep, lasting hug.

Later that night, the conversation with my husband was brief. After thirty years, we had the cycle down. If I did something naughty, or when he did something upsetting, we had to get back to balanced. He assured me nothing like it would happen again. I told him I understood how desperate we were, and that his options were thin. The thought that he contacted our parents and solicited money told me everything I needed to know. He was a reluctant player in the whole fiasco.

“If there was another way, baby, I would have done it,” he told me. “In the end, it was like a doctor’s appointment. It was sad. It was a sad, sad day, and I feel like I hurt our baby girl.”

I found myself in the odd place of consoling him. He gave me a deep, reassuring tongue kiss to settle my nerves. I really believed it’d been a transactional, sad thing that my family had been thrown into. I felt it was my fault, and that I’d caused them pain.

Or so, I thought.

Curiosity got the best of me. I found my way to my daughters unlocked phone when she was in the shower, and found the photo in her cloud backup, along with five dozen failed snapshots. Initially, the shots were awkward and clumsy. From their facial expressions, they looked a bit terrified. Some snapshots they had their eyes accidentally closed, some had them in the wrong positions or completely out of focus. Most of the time, my husband was failing to make contact with her panties or to have his finger hooked into their sides by the time the camera shutter closed.

The later shots told the rest of the story. Eventually his bulging crotch found it’s mark every time, snuggly pressed into her mound. There’s no way he didn’t feel her heat, and no way she didn’t feel his hardened girth. In some photos they were smiling. In a few, they made eye contact, but with happy expressions instead of hitting their dramatic marks. Nothing makes your day brighter than seeing your husband smiling into your daughter’s eyes as his hand hovers inches from her nearly exposed pussy. In one, my daughter was laughing with both of her breasts exposed, and my husband leered at her chest with his erection grinding into her.

They got comfortable. They had a fun afternoon. I don’t know if they were now simply ashamed, in denial, or merely keeping it all from me.

The photo that finally went to the bidder was spot on. They really looked like two lovers in a sadomasochistic struggle. My emotions ranged from hysterical jealousy that my husband was lusting after another woman to one of terror for my only daughter, confronting her father as a sexual being. On some level, it made me hate them both, even if it was “just a photo.”

I did what I had to do to put everything behind me. It was over.


Three months later, I was bringing in decent money doing freelance video editing. Financially we were still in peril, but the dark cloud had lifted a bit. I was in the car, driving with my daughter.

“Can we talk about the photo?” she asked, out of the blue.

“Sure,” I said.

For a time, she was silent, and then she spoke.

“It wasn’t as easy as I made it out to be.”

I was contemplative, “I imagine it was hard on you, in a way.”

We let the engine purr and the road run underneath us.

“It would have been different if it was just a fifteen-minute deal, like I thought it was going to be. If we just got it over with.”

I didn’t respond. I just let her sit and think through what she wanted to tell me.

“Human nature is what it is. I mean…being in close proximity to someone will bring out…it’s hormonal…”

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