Perfect Nine

by Fable

Tags: Ma/Fa, Romantic,

Desc: : This is a story about recifying a mistake, regardless of what it takes. How far will Jen go to get even? How far will Jerry let her go?

I phoned Jen to apprise her of our situation.

"We've set down in Denver. The pilot says we'll be on the ground about an hour before another plane can be made available," I explained, trying to make the conversation a brief one, not knowing how long I could hide the anguish gnawing at my insides, like heartburn, only more painful...

"Oh, my god, what was wrong with the plane you were on?"

"Someone said they saw flames from engine number three but I doubt if he even knows which one is number three."

I was certain she had heard my voice waver and wondered if she was contemplating when to confront me about it. Or was she saying a silent prayer because I was alive? I broke the silence. "Gil wants to know if you'll call Julie and give her the news."

"Of course, I'll do that," my wife of eight years responded without hesitation. As if she had detected nothing out of the ordinary in my voice. I half expected her to ask, "Why doesn't he call her himself? Is he afraid to talk to her?" But Jen said no such thing for which I was thankful. She knew all about the ups and downs in their marriage. Instead, she told me she would check on our ETA and be waiting at the gate when we landed.

"See you soon," I said, anxious to end the call. "Love ya."

"See you soon, take care," she answered and I heard the clicking sound at her end of the line.

She knows, I thought. She fucking well knows.

It was 10 A.M. mountain time so we settled for coffee instead of slugging down a couple of drinks in one of the airport bars. Gil was unusually quiet and that suited me fine. We didn't discuss the night before although he did make a half-hearted attempt to apologize for the 'do not disturb' sign on the door of the hotel room we had shared. I waived him off; telling him it was not an issue, taking some solace knowing he assumed I had spent the night in the downstairs lobby. I was contented to let him continue to think that I had slept in one of the overstuffed chairs with my feet propped up. I knew he wasn't sorry for any discomfort his indiscretion may have caused me.

Gil and I have been working together ten years and know each other pretty well. I've never liked him. I've tolerated his blustery humor and braggart personality but I've never trusted him or counted him as a friend. We are very competitive; he never lets me forget that he has seniority over me in the company. His payroll number is 50 while I am 51 because he accepted the job about four hours before I did. We entered the company as grade level seven and moved up together to level thirteen. He likes knowing we are the same level because it makes him feel superior, being two years younger than me. I like having my level expressed as a number because that's how I relate to things, numerically.

After the second cup of coffee Gil said he needed to use the men's room and I volunteered to watch our carry-on luggage while he went. I believe he resented my being along on the trip and I couldn't say I blamed him. San Francisco was his territory; I was the intruder. I would have felt the same way if he had been ordered to tag along to a city east of the Mississippi River. But getting the Pan Indio, Inc. deal was important to our company and when Fritz told me to go I didn't argue that it would hurt Gil's feelings; I went. We wowed them and got the order.

It had been my input that sealed the deal and it was me who received the pats on the back when we shook hands at the end of the day, while Gil sulked. The S F office manager invited the Pan Indio people to have dinner with us. Naturally, most of them declined his offer. Gil's mood improved when one young lady from their side accepted the offer. He winked at me like he already knew he had this one in the bag, or the sack as it were.

We boarded the last leg of our flight and although our shoulders were only inches apart, our thoughts were distant. I suspected he was savoring his conquest of the previous night. I wondered how he could fall asleep, guilt free, while I was wide awake, contemplating the questions Jen was sure to present and how to best answer them. She would be hurt; there was no way of avoiding that. My only hope was to minimize the damage if possible.

Jan loves to tell people that we met on a double blind date. A mutual friend set it up. Blind dates had never worked out for me before but Sofia was very persistent. She wanted me to meet Gloria who, like me, was new in town and like me, was a frequent visitor at the coffee house where Sofia entertained.

But there were conditions. Gloria was not a fan of blind dates either and refused to meet me unless it was during daylight hours and in a public location. I never did learn if there was a bad experience in her past, a stalker perhaps that fueled her cautious nature.

Sofia said she knew another girl who was also new in town and charged me with the task of bringing an eligible male to make it a foursome. While this pacified Gloria it presented a problem for me. The only single guy I knew was Gil and I had to beg him to go because he claimed to have all the sure-things he could handle. That was Gil for you. We had been in town the same length of time and the only new friend I had made was Sofia, a fifty-something year old vocalist. According to Gil he had a stable full of fillies.

It was a Saturday afternoon near the end of March 1996. We were to meet at an ice skating rink of all places. As we approached the two girls huddled next to the railing surrounding the ice Gil said he would take the tall one. I didn't argue with him because I could tell by Sofia's description that the vivacious little creature with a dimple in her left cheek was Gloria, my date.

We shook hands and were soon laughing and talking like old friends while cautiously revealing little things about ourselves. The four of us had a few things in common; we were new in town and three of us had met Sofia by accident, or was it destiny? Oh, I guess we all shared a fondness for the relaxed atmosphere that the coffee house offered and the jazz, folk, blues or whatever slots that the songs Sofia wrote and sang fit into.

"What shall we do? Anyone got any ideas?" I was becoming bored with the small talk and wanted to go someplace else. The ice made me feel cold.

Gloria shot a look at me that said, "you idiot." We watched as she unzipped a patent leather case to expose the chrome plated blades on a pair of ice skates.

"I thought we were going to meet here and decide what to do," I said, making me sound even more foolish. Sofia had picked the place for its convenience, saying it was central to where we all lived and met the 'public location' requirement.

It was apparent that Gloria intended to skate that day. Gil suggested that we could rent skates.

"You guys go ahead. I'm not keen on using rented skates," the taller girl named Jennifer said, including me in the 'you guys, ' grouping. This seemed to be agreeable to Gil and Gloria.

"I'll watch too," I offered. Rented skates did not appeal to me either. Especially since I've never even attempted to ice skate was the overriding reason that I was glad to have an excuse not to embarrass myself on the ice.

Jennifer looked indifferent but the others were relieved that she would not be left alone.

Without further coaxing Gil and Gloria headed for the entrance gate while Jennifer and I stood motionless, both confused as to how we would get through the next hour or longer. How long does an ice skating session last? What if she got bored and decided to leave? We watched Gil pay for my date's admission to the rink and I wondered if he would expect me to reimburse him.

"Would you like a hot chocolate?"

Jen leaned towards me, a characteristic I've always adored about her, and nodded. The way she does it is so personal, like she has something confidential for my ears only. It makes be feel special because I've never seen her lean towards anyone else. We can be at a crowded party or alone together in a room. She leans in. I headed for the concession stand and was surprised to see her tagging along. At least she wasn't leaving.

"What's funny?" She must have seen me grin when I thought of something. I answered truthfully; a practice started that day that we've kept throughout our years together. We've always expected and accepted complete honesty between us. I've never made up a story or lied to her and I doubt she is capable of lying to me.

"Gil paid for Gloria's skating and I'm buying you hot chocolate. I was just wondering if that would be a fair tradeoff," I explained.

She laughed and that broke the awkwardness that we both felt about spending the next hour or more with a stranger. We sat on bleacher seats and watched our dates enter the rink, Gloria first with Gil close behind. It was evident they were experienced skaters. They had shed their parkas and were dressed appropriately. Gloria's outfit was a white sweater and a short pleated skirt. Gil was wearing dark slacks and a colorful ski sweater.

"They're good," Jennifer acknowledged when they turned the first corner and Gil took Gloria's hand. And when they passed by us Jennifer shouted, "You're both good!" They waved and smiled at us.

"I can't skate for shit," Jennifer admitted, and then blushed when she realized how she had put it.

"I can't either," I said, trying to reassure her that her language did not shock me.

We sipped our drinks and watched the skaters. Gloria was skating backwards, in front of Gil who was acting as her eyes, giving warnings when she was in danger of colliding with another skater or the railing that surrounded the rink.

In my mind Gloria was an Eight Five Eight but it was a preliminary score based solely on her physical appearance, subject to change after I had a chance to talk to her. I have this habit of rating women the moment I meet them. It started back in high school when I was trying to decide whom to invite to a dance. My scoring system was developed out of necessity. There were three girls I was interested in taking but I was running out of time. Assigning a numerical rating to each prospective date was the only way I could differentiate between the three girls.

All three girls were nice looking although their physical assets varied between well developed breasts, a shapely pair of legs and a very attractive smile. I charted their features and rated them, all tens. What I needed was a tie breaker. Which one of the three would be the most fun to be with at the dance, and afterward? Which one would draw the most attention from the guys who stood along the loser wall and drooled? Did I want them comparing the girl I was with to some hot chick they dreamed of while they were masturbating? I ranked the three girls based on my preferences and invited them to the dance in that order.

All three turned me down.

"I would just <smile> love to go <smile> with you if <smile>I didn't have <smile> other plans Jerry, <big smile>" the one with the gorgeous lips said, displaying her even teeth between each three words.

The long legged girl scoffed at me, "Where were you two weeks ago?"

And the one with the oversized breasts was just as rude. "What am I, your third choice?"

I revised my charts that night, placing more emphasis on sincerity than looks. Physical assets were still important to me but I didn't like the way the girls turned me down. They didn't know it but their scores would suffer.

Standing with my back to the loser's wall and watching the girls who had turned me downdance with their dates made me turn to Al Fitzsimmons and proclaim, "There's no such thing as a Ten." Al didn't understand the finality of my statement; I had just downgraded all females, discounting for human frailties by ten percent. From that night on I've searched for The Perfect Nine.

Refining my scoring system has always been a serious endeavor. The guys at college often scoffed at my system as my folly but I persisted. Over the years I've had to adjust my system to encompass the vast variety of body types, temperaments and the female psyche. But one thing has remained constant; the perfect score has always been Nine.

"I can almost hear the wheels turning in your head," Jennifer interrupted my scoring thoughts.

Plenty of guys have tried to knock holes in my system but up until that day I had never tried to explain it to a female. To her it was probably just a way of killing time but I was delighted to have her attention. I used the next half hour in earnest, explaining why there is no such thing as a perfect ten in my system. Ten is impossible because of human frailties. "Nine is the closest anyone can come to perfection and I have never scored anyone Perfect Nine."

To illustrate my rating method I even divulged Gloria's preliminary score, with qualifications of course. I predicted the score was sure to go up once we had a chance to get better acquainted. By this time my scoring system had undergone many changes and refinements. The total score had been broken down into three categories, physical appearance, personality and sexual appeal. The overall score could be rounded up or down based on how each category compared with the other two.

"What you're saying is that a dog could score high if she's good in bed," Jen said, astounding me with her analytical perception.

"I didn't say that," I shot back. "Sexual appeal doesn't mean she has to prove her prowess in that area." But she had nailed it. A 'Six', looks-wise, with a lively 'Seven' personality, could raise her overall score if she fucked like an 'Eight.' The 'Eight' would bump the 'Seven' to 'Eight' and that would increase her total score to 'Seven.' Conversely, if she was a cold fish in bed it would round down her middle number and possibly affect her overall score. All Nines would be a Perfect Nine but I had never found one.

Every time I think back to that conversation I shudder to think of how Jen could have reacted. She should have said, "You an arrogant sexist fool! What gives you the right to judge others? Look at yourself, judge yourself!"

Our first official date was not until a month later; it came about at Gil's urging. He came to me wanting to trade girls. I was very receptive to the idea because I had thought a lot about Jennifer, so much that I was having trouble raising Gloria's score.

We've remained friends with Gloria though, much longer than her relationship with Gil lasted. It wasn't long before Gil was ready to move on. Our company was growing and we had a new hire in our department. Sandy was to assist both Gil and me. She was cute, stacked and sassy. After getting to know Sandy I pegged her as an Eight Five Nine with an overall of Eight. I didn't object when Gil took it upon himself to indoctrinate her on how we operated 'on the road.'

Jen and I bonded immediately. She never complained when an emergency trip caused me to cancel a date nor did she try to alter my preoccupation with scoring every female I came into contact with. Jen even became so interested in my hobby that she helped me develop my perception skills from a woman's point of view. She was the first Perfect Nine I had ever met. After dating for three months we had sex together for the first time. Three months later I suggested that I move into her apartment. My place was way too small.

"First, I need to know my score," she said, leaning towards me as if we were in a crowded room and she didn't want anyone else to hear. It surprised me that this subject had not come up before.

"I thought you knew how I feel about you. You're my Perfect Nine of course." There was nothing about her that I would have changed. The strand of gray hair was part of her, outweighed by the self-assured way she knew it was there but accepted it. She overlooked nothing, tolerating my flaws without trying to correct them. Her easy way conformed to my ideals. I melted when she leaned in, "You're my Perfect Nine too."

Three months later when I presented a ring I told her the same thing again. "You're my Perfect Nine."

Gil met Julie at our wedding. They arrived with dates but left the reception together. Three months later he came to me wanting to transfer Sandy to me. The reason he gave was that he had proposed to Julie and was planning to change his ways. Sandy presented a temptation that he wasn't sure he could resist. His promise to reform appealed to me. I wanted his marriage to succeed so I gave him one of my people in exchange for Sandy.

Poor Sandy, in the next three years we must have transferred her between our work groups a half dozen times until she became so frustrated with our different management styles that she left the company to go with a competitor.

Unfortunately for Gil, one of the Sandy trades was for an Eight Seven Nine redhead that I gladly gave up because of the temptation she presented to me. Gil succumbed. Naturally, Jen found out that Gil was sleeping with the redhead before I did. She and Julie were closer than Gil and I.

Jen took great pleasure in patching things up between her friend and Gil. "He told Julie that she is his Perfect Nine," she said with satisfaction.

"That's crap," I said to my beautiful wife before I thought what I was saying. Gil had always ridiculed me for assigning numerical values to differentiate between members of the female species. Now he was using my expression to appeal to his wife for her forgiveness.

Jen paid no attention to my outburst, content to believe in Gil's sincerity.

A month after we bought our first house Gil and Julie bought one too. Their house was newer and in a better neighborhood than ours. Gil and I made the same salary but they could afford to pay more. Julie was still working while Jen was staying home because we were expecting our first child.

As promised, my wife was waiting when our flight arrived. The kids were there too, so excited to see me that their mother had to restrain them from running to greet me. Jen threw her arms around me but evaded contact with my lips. "I'm so glad you made it home safely," she said before greeting Gill with the same enthusiasm she had shown me.

Jen insisted upon driving, saying that I must be tired after my grueling week and the flight home. We drove south on Route 294 to 80 and headed west for a few miles until we reached the turnoff that would take us the Gil and Julie's house.

My wife and Gil carried on a conversation about our trip. He was happy to fill her in, talking jovially about our successes in Seattle and Portland before heading to San Francisco where we assisted the sales guys in making three sales in two days. "Your hubby saved my bacon yesterday. We made a mega sale because of him reminding me of a minor detail I had overlooked. I'll not forget how you did it buddy. It was like our ship was heading for disaster when you took the wheel and steered us clear of a giant black hole." He was too giddy to notice Jen ignoring that I was in the car.

'Saving his bacon, ' was putting it mildly. I had saved his ass but with the kids sitting next to him in the back seat Gil toned it down. I had spoken up just in time to avert what could have resulted in an embarrassment later if not a cancellation of the order. "Last time I checked that was still in beta at a three customer sites. But the tests are running smoothly and at this time it is scheduled to be incorporated in the second quarter. To play it safe it could be Q3," I interrupted Gil when he made the claim that the feature in question was already included in our software. At first he glared at me but only for a second because our attention was turned to the customer's IS director. He was sawing off a steam of vulgarity, claiming our sales gal had been deceiving him from the beginning.

What saved us was the IS director's boss, a Vice President with a common sense solution to the problem. He quieted his subordinate by clearing his throat before speaking. "You'll be in test mode in Q2 and not ready to take the new software live until Q3 anyway." He looked directly at me. "Jerry says the release will be Q3 and that's on the conservative side." He held his gaze on me while he asked his IS director if he could live with a Q3 release date. The answer was begrudgingly given, yes. It was after seven P.M. San Francisco time and we had missed our flight home. But, we had a sale and that was all that mattered.

Gill called our hotel to say we would need the room for another night while I phoned our office to confirm the beta tests were still going well and that Q3 was a realistic delivery date. He was successful in securing the room but I couldn't reach anyone as it was after nine in the central time zone and every one had left the office, even software engineering. Perhaps they were just not answering the phone. After all, it was Friday night.

Our San Francisco office chief invited everyone in the room to have dinner at a place on Fisherman's wharf. But the customer's employees said they had other plans, except the assistant IS manager who exchanged a glance with Gil as she said she would like to have dinner with us.

"Don't keep her out too late," the Vice President, who had, without saying so, entrusted me to deliver the product as specified, said as he shook my hand. Was he charging me with the responsibility of escorting the assistant IS manager home too? I could already see Gil maneuvering for that task.

At the restaurant Gil paid more attention to our lone guest than to what was on his plate and the young lady showed no signs of dissuading him. I wondered if they had discussed his marital status. Gil never wears a wedding ring. This could be double trouble, I thought. But I was too preoccupied with what was going on under the table to bring Gil back into line. A small foot was persistently rubbing the inside of my leg. Why didn't I say something, "Gil, show everyone a picture of your kids." Why didn't I produce photos of my own kids and pass them around the table? I could have mentioned our wives' names in conversation. But none of these schemes entered my mind at the time.

Jen came to a quick stop, bringing me back to the present. She hopped out of the driver's seat and ran around the car as if she was going to help Gil with his luggage but that was not her intention. Instead, she ran up the walk to embrace Julie who had come out to welcome her husband home. This gesture surprised me. Had they been talking while we were away?

"Scoot over and drive," she ordered when she came back to the car.

"Buckle up tight, dad's driving," I heard Tommy warn his sister in the back seat.

We waved goodbye to Gil and Julie and I pulled the car away from the curb. Then I heard a sniffle and looked over at my wife.

"Was she a perfect nine?" Jen's voice was muffled but I didn't have to ask her what she said.

Well, shit, I could have predicted that was coming. I shook my head no. If our relationship lacked anything it was not complete honesty between us. We had always been truthful with one another and I was not going to deviate from that custom. "Eight Six Seven," I said with as much conviction as I could muster. Even I could hear the noticeable quiver in my voice.

My wife nodded to indicate her understanding. She knows my scoring system better than anyone. Over the years she has helped perfect it. Her shoulders were shaking and she was doing her best to keep from bursting into tears. Damn, I thought, if she starts sobbing I'll break down too. Somehow she kept her composure for the kid's sake.

She didn't cry until we were alone in our bedroom. And then she bellowed. I had never seen Jen like that before. All I could do was watch and wait. There was nothing I could say that would reduce her agony. None of the clichés that came to mind would be acceptable to her. "It meant nothing. Can't we put this behind us? It's just something that happened. I made a mistake. Please forgive me, I promise it will never happen again." I knew better than to say any of those things.

"I'm sorry," I said. She knows me well enough to know I don't say things I don't mean but even saying I was sorry fell on deaf ears. She bawled harder.

Nor was this the time to blame Gil for my indiscretion. I loathed him for locking me out of my own room. I abhorred the despicable way he had taken advantage of me by assuming he could hog the room while I camped out in the lobby or found some other place to sleep. I detested his treatment of Julie and her for permitting him to deceive her. I hated myself for using Gil's actions as an excuse for my own injudiciousness.

"What made you mark her down?"

"What?" I asked, surprised that Jen had regained her composure. She was sitting on the bed, a box of Kleenex in her lap, her eyes still dripping tears.

"Eight, Six, Seven doesn't sound like someone that would appeal to you. Only a Seven in bed? I want to know about her defects. I want to know what did appeal to you."

Did she really want me to give her a breakdown of the score? At least she was talking to me. And this was a discussion we had had a thousand times, about a subject we both understood. We often entertained ourselves after a party by comparing scores we had awarded to beautiful women. We often had heated debates about a female's attributes and what made us increase or lower her score based on what we each noticed. Jen was often more critical than me because she was more perceptive.

"Aggressiveness, really," I said, stepping toward the bed. Jen put up her hand to signal for me to stop. I stood near the end of the bed, keeping my distance.

"Which number did you mark down for being aggressive? I hope it was the middle score? Isn't that a little extreme?"

"She's in sales. They tend to be that way," I said, trying to justify the deduction without giving a detailed list of all the little things that contributed to my calculation.

"How do you mean aggressive? Was she too aggressive in bed?" Jen looked like she was going to cry again.

"You're right. That is too extreme. By aggressive I was referring to how she played footsy with me while we were having dinner. Aggressive should be a deduction of only One from the middle score, not Three."

"That's more like it. What's her name?"

"Jen, please, do we have to go into that kind of detail? I made a mistake. I was wrong and I admit it but please, what difference does her name make?"

She started to cry again and I caved. "Okay, okay, her name is Patty," I said, hoping it would satisfy her.

"What does Patty look like?" Jen was looking at me between blowing her nose and drying her eyes.

"I don't remember," I said, not wanting to think about the girl I had spent several hours with the night before.

"Describe her. Tell me what you found unattractive about her. Tell me what made you deduct a point. Were you deciding her score while you were fucking her?"

This pissed me off and I went ballistic. I would have said something stupid if it had not been for how Jen had rolled her body into a ball on the bed. I crawled up beside her, put my arm around her and felt her body shake. She didn't protest my being there.

I began to talk, something I would have done eventually anyway. "Patty's the top sales person on the west coast. I've been hearing about her for two years but this was the first time we've met. At first I thought she was just being friendly but when I looked in her eyes it was evident she was rubbing her foot on my ankle to get more than my attention. I panicked when I saw the look in her eyes and realized her intentions. Things like that don't happen to me. You know that."

"Is Patty married?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Were you wearing your wedding ring?"

"Of course, I never take it off. You know that."

"Then she knew you were committing adultery. Did you deduct points for that?" Jen straightened her legs and wiggled her butt to get more comfortable but she resisted my attempt to pull her closer.

"For being an adulterous? No, I was the adulterer. I deducted a point for promiscuity. You know my feelings towards women who flaunt their sex."

"Wait, I'm confused here. How does flaunting one's sex relate to promiscuity? Isn't flaunting just taking harmless flirting a little too far while promiscuity is actually following through with it?

"You weren't there. She left harmless flirting in the dust and went right to flaunting, promiscuously," I said in earnest, trying to make my wife understand the predicament I had found myself in. I felt her tummy shake like she was laughing at me.

"Still, a full point is taking it to an extreme, isn't it? I've never known you to deduct that much for flaunting before. Did she have a lot to flaunt?

"She had plenty, believe me."

"You're right, I wasn't there. Enlighten me." I got the impression that Jen was tormenting me for her own amusement. Perhaps I had it coming. At least she was speaking to me.

"It was the way she looked into my eyes, centering her concentration on me alone. She speared a cherry from her drink and held it between her lips for at least a minute. Everyone at the table saw that, except Gil. He was too preoccupied with the female from our customer's company to notice Patty sucking on the cherry. I'm sure there was no doubt in anyone else's mind as to what she was doing. I think they sympathized with what was happening to me. She was wearing a red suit with a black silk blouse. Several times I thought she had swallowed the cherry but then it would reappear, perched on her lips like it could go either way. When she tired of the fun she was having with the cherry she turned in her seat and stuck out her chest. With a flick of her eyelashes she directed my eyes to her open blouse and the black lace bra. She then turned back to face me, a contented smile on her lips."

"Alright, I've heard enough. You were quite right to deduct the point for promiscuity."

"Thank you for agreeing with me," I said, hoping the cross examination was over.

"But you must admit you didn't have to let her hold your stare. You could have looked around the table and opened a conversation with someone else. You could have moved your feet, couldn't you?" Jen's body was shaking again. I felt like I was going to cry too.

I waited for her next salvo but it didn't come. We both dozed off, her back to me with my arm draped loosely around her. At one point I awoke, got up to shuck my shoes and find a blanket to spread over us.

It took what seemed like hours for me to go back to sleep. My wife was hurt and I was to blame. Would we find a way to repair what I had done? Or had one night of indiscretion caused me to ruin our marriage bliss that I had taken for granted? Down deep I was adult enough to know it wouldn't be easy. But on the surface I was naïve enough to hope for the best.

We had breakfast with the children, both doing our best to maintain the casual atmosphere that we were accustomed to. Jen nodded her approval when I said that I needed to go to the office to check on something.

It always amazes me how many hours software engineers spend at the office. The overhead lights were off but a few desk lamps cast enough light for me to walk down the main aisle without tripping over the occasional box or stack of magazines that littered the aisle. A pair of engineers was huddled in one of the cubicles, talking quietly, the female sitting on the floor and the male sitting in a chair with his feet propped casually on the work surface. They looked like they had been there all night.

I found the guy I was looking for, the project leader for the product enhancement beta tests that were under way at three companies. At first he guarded the information I was seeking like it was top secret but after I explained how important the status of the tests was to a big sale he brightened and brought me up to date. The news was encouraging; the tests were on schedule.

I sent an email message to the Information Services Director and copied his boss, the VP who had spoken up at the right time and to our San Francisco Office Chief. As an afterthought I copied Patty. She was the sales person of record and had the most riding on the timely delivery of the order. For a fleeting moment I wondered if her attention to me on Friday night had been payment for my participation in making the sale a reality. Was that what it was to her, a reward for a job well done? If we ever met again I would tell her she had some change coming because she had done more than fuck me. She had fucked my life.

Next I wrote a memo to the Human Services V P, strongly suggesting a change in the company travel policy which stated same sex level thirteen managers and below would room two to the room. I urged him to review the policy and permit level thirteen managers to have their own private room while traveling together. I stressed the comparison to the home office policy that rewarded level thirteen managers with a closed office. I sighted a manager's standing in the company and his need for privacy, avoiding stating the real reason for my sudden stance on the subject. I carbon copied Fritz, my boss.

Writing the memo did nothing to relieve my conscious. The travel policy was not to blame for my cheating on my wife, I was. It was me who relished the attention from a very promiscuous Eight Six Seven. It was me that let it happen. The travel policy was not responsible for my damaging of the most precious thing in my life, my relationship with my wife.

Jen was calmer and more reserved when we retired behind our bedroom door on Sunday night. Her questions sounded rehearsed as if she knew the answers in advance.

"I'm interested in how you calculated her score at Eight Six Seven. So far we have deductions of one point from the sex category for promiscuity and one point from the personality category for being too aggressive. What made you deduct a point from her appearance? Please explain."

I could have offered to sleep on the couch but I didn't. That would have meant I was giving up, throwing in the towel on everything our marriage stood for. I decided to stay and face the music. "She has a gaudy side. You know how much I detest the cheep look."

"Yes, I know something about your tastes. Please explain what you mean by her gaudy side." Jen was standing some distance away, only looking directly at me when she wanted to see if I was paying attention to her demand for an answer.

"Her hair is cut short and dyed black." I drew an imaginary line behind my head to show how short Patty's hair was cut. Jen gave me a blank stare, 'So what?' So far, I was not conveying a 'cheep' image.

"Her lipstick and fingernails matched, dark red, much darker than the red suit she was wearing. The combination, red suit, black blouse, dyed black hair, dark red lipstick and fingernails, the whole thing looked cheap to me," I stammered and seeing Jen's look of dismay I added, "Did I mention that her skirt was very short and she was wearing very dark stockings?"

"For that, the combination as you call it, you deducted a full point?" There was a mixture of amused disbelief in her voice.

"No," I stammered. "Only seven tenths of a point was the deduction for cheap. There was another three tenths of a point for thick ankles. I noticed them as we were getting into her car. The interior light..." I stopped talking. Jen was giving me an evil stare.

"Getting... into... her... car?" Her words were spaced, uttered through quivering lips.

"Well, yes, Gil had already left in a cab and Patty offered to give me a ride and..." Jen was shaking her head as she left the room. I tried to explain that everyone else had gone their own way and I was not seen getting into Patty's car but it was evident our talk was concluded. During the night I put my arm around her when I heard Jen whimper but she moved away and told me not to touch her.

On Monday Gil arrived at work with a smug look on his face. "I hope Jen was as happy to see you as Julie was to see me," he boasted.

I was somewhat prepared to continue the questioning on Monday night. I had decided to answer all her questions as long as she wanted to ask them. At least we were talking. But I had no way of predicting what she would ask next.

"I only have two questions tonight Jerry."

"You know you can ask me whatever you want to."

"You always say that you have to hear a woman talk before you can finalize her score. Did your conversations with Patty have no affect on her score? Did you find her vocabulary acceptable? Did she use big words when you were fucking? Or were you too busy to notice when she said, 'Fuck me big boy. Come for me?"

"I thought you only had two questions tonight," I said mockingly. Jen's line of questioning was uncharacteristic. I had never seen her like this, morbidly sarcastic.

"That's only one question. You can have all the time you need to prepare your answer. In the meantime, here's the second question. Oral?"

"Oral?" I repeated, thinking I knew her question but not wanting to commit without being sure.

"Yes, oral. Did she suck you cock? Did you go down on her?"

"Yes," I said, wanting to avoid another confrontation about how many questions she was allowed to ask.

"Yes to which one?"

"Both," I answered without stopping to think how my answer, though truthful, would be received. Jen crumpled over and when I went to her she turned her back on me and limped into the bathroom as if she was having an appendix attack. She came out of the bathroom wearing a short silk nightie.

"You look spectacular," I exclaimed, having difficulty believing my eyes. The material clung to her like a soft shell, moving with her as she slipped into bed.

"Perfect nine?" She asked, smiling.

"Perfect nine," I agreed, overjoyed at seeing her smile.

"I have one more question," she said as she got into bed. "Is that permitted?"

"Granted," I answered, slipping into bed next to her. "Fire away."

"Have you been checked out?"

"What do you mean?"

"It's not a complex question Jerry. Are you taking appropriate precautions when you travel around the country? If not, you're placing yourself and me at risk. Do you carry a supply of condoms? If not, have you gone to a laboratory and given a sample of your blood and urine? That's what getting checked out means," Jen said as she turned her back to me, not waiting for me to answer her last question. My silence told her what she wanted to know.

The next two nights Jen was polite but distant. We didn't talk. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was for the mess I had made of things, for hurting her, for the damage I had done to our marriage. Was it beyond repair? But I had to respect her need for a moratorium. My pain was great but her pain was obviously more severe.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Romantic /