"Jeff! Your cab's here. You'd better hurry!", hollered Marie up to her husband who was just finishing his packing. He was running late. She knew it was because he didn't really want to go and he was doing everything he could to delay his departure. But it was time and this trip was too important.
He stepped to the top of the stairs and yelled back, "I'll be right there. Tell him to start the meter and I'll hurry." Marie signaled the cabby, shut the door and leaned back against it, waiting for Jeff, her husband of 23 years to come down. She didn't want him to go either, but she knew he had no choice. The merger was just about finalized and once completed, Jeff would become the newest vice president of the combined company. It meant money, position, and more time for them, something they both wanted. But it had been hard and a long time coming. And the price was one that could be too high for their marriage.
Jeff came rushing down the stairs, his long salt and pepper hair falling down over his face and his green eyes flashing with anger at this imposition. He was a tall, lean, well built man of 48, still handsome and virile. He worked hard at his job as chief financial officer for Baldwin Enterprises, an international financial institution that had a hand in several large international corporations. He was an expert in money conversions and with just a single phone call at the right minute could make his company millions. He was very good at his job and that required him now to be in Brussels within the next 24 hours. A corporate jet was waiting for him at Teterboro airport, just north in Bergen County, NJ.
He dropped his overnight, pulled on his wool topcoat, grabbed his briefcase from the table where Marie had placed it in anticipation. He cupped her chin with his free hand and tilted her face up to his. "I'll call you as soon as I check in and let you know the number there. I hate this, but if it goes well, it'll be the last for a while. I still wish you were coming with me."
Marie looked into his clear green eyes, the eyes she knew so well. "It'll be fine. Just hurry back and then we can make our plans. I'll miss you. I love you."
Jeff bent down to place his lips on hers and gave her a light, sweet kiss before pulling back. "I love you too. Be good while I'm gone. I'll call you at work."
With that he was out the door, the briefcase swinging as he ran to the waiting cab. He pulled the nearest door open, put his briefcase and overnight inside and walked around to the other side to wave once more before sliding in. The cab pulled away immediately, already having the destination. As it disappeared down the street of their subdivision, Marie shivered once, watching the cab vanish. She felt a small shiver of fear, added to the normal sadness she experienced every time he left. She wished with all her heart that he wasn't going this time.
Marie and Jeff Sullivan lived and worked in urban New Jersey, in close proximity to New York City and all of the benefits of the financial world that was Jeff's strength. They had been married for over 23 years and had raised two sons, both gone from the home now. Bill, the oldest was married and living in New Brunswick while Johnny was still in college, pursuing his master's degree in finance, like his dad. Jeff made a good living and they had successfully paid off the college loans they took for the boys and were financially secure again. They both continued to work, Jeff for their future and she for something to do.
She moved back inside and went up to get ready for work. She worked as assistant to the senior manager of Garden State Realtors, a firm that handled industrial real estate. She had been there just over seven years now and her boss, Janet Billings, was also a good friend. They had been together as the firm grew and expanded and now she was in a good position with a nice salary. While Jeff made more money than they would ever need, she enjoyed the freedom of having her own money for gifts, special purchases, and other things that she felt were personal rather than joint. Silly, but it gave her pleasure and Jeff didn't seem to mind as long as she enjoyed it.
She took more care today with her choice of what to wear. She decided on the white silk blouse with the scalloped neckline, the black skirt with the slit up the side and the gold chain belt. A thin, gold chain with a small, diamond crusted circle around her neck and a matching set of earrings. She carefully did her eyes and her lips and stepped back to evaluate the effort. Perfect! She was pleased that she had kept herself in shape over the years and her figure was still slim and firm. She used a small splash of perfume to finish the effort. Nothing more was needed. As she gave a last look, she saw the lines of worry before turning to go.
Back downstairs, she got herself a cup of coffee from the coffeemaker and sat down at the table to consider her day. She wondered idly where Jeff was at that very moment but knew that he was probably somewhere in the air on his way. She shivered again when she thought of him and what she planned while he was gone. She let her mind wander to Dan Plummer, the newest member of the Garden State team, and to the conversation she had with him yesterday.
Dan was younger than she by almost a dozen years. He was very good looking and he obviously worked out frequently. The girls in the office were all abuzz about him and had been since he arrived on scene six weeks ago. Several were single or separated and they all wished that he would make some move on them, but so far, nothing.
He was a very good salesman and Janet had asked her to lend him a hand on the proper procedures and paperwork necessary to meet local requirements. She had worked on several deals with him and she had noticed him looking closely at her on several occasions. She found the attention flattering at first, and found herself wondering about more. She felt warm and fluttery when he was next to her and on occasion when he touched her hand casually, there was a warmth where his touch met her skin. He also had a habit of reaching out to brush her hair back from her face which caused her temperature to climb. His eyes were a vivid shade of blue but when he looked at her, they seemed to darken with what she knew was passion. It was pure lust, and it flattered her more than it should. She was uncomfortable with the feelings Dan caused in her. She had no business thinking of any man other than her husband the way he made her think. It made her nervous but she couldn't stop those feeling and thoughts.
As the weeks passed, the feelings when Dan was nearby increased and became almost unbearable. She had almost decided to speak to Janet and ask that someone else be assigned to him when Jeff announced that he had to make a trip to Brussels, Belgium in a few days. It was at that time she wondered what it would be like to spend the time when Jeff was gone with Dan. The thought caused a flush to spread up her neck to her face and she felt her heart begin to pound. They was crazy! This was not right! She loved Jeff more than life itself and had never considered anything like this. What was wrong with her? Stupid teenaged infatuation, brought on by the all too frequent travel Jeff was doing with this crazy merger. She missed her husband, that's all it was. It would soon be over and they would get back to normal.
She had kept it all in control until yesterday afternoon. While she was talking on the phone to Jeff, asking him about his schedule once he was in Brussels, she noticed Dan listening to her. When she looked his way, he pretended to be interested in one of the listing brochures but she knew he was aware of her conversation with Jeff. She hung up and started to finish the letter she was working on when he sat down next to her desk and began to talk to her. She stopped, wondering what he was up to when he finally asked her a question that was to change her world.
"I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. That was Jeff, your husband?" Marie nodded and he continued. "I know that you'll be alone tomorrow evening and I wondered if you would like to have dinner with me. Just a quiet dinner? Just to get to know each other better." He reached over to brush her hair back as he did so often. She felt again that flush and that warmth where he touched her. She looked at the darkening of his eyes and felt herself nod.
"That would be very nice Dan. We could leave from here I guess. You could either bring me back after dinner to pick up my car, or I could follow you. Either way is fine with me." Just like that. Dinner with another man while her husband was out of town. No one would know and she could find out what it was like to be with him, even if just for a few hours over dinner. No harm, no foul. Isn't that what they say?
"Good. It's a date. I'll drive and we can come back for your car later. I know a great place just off the main highway leading out of town. It's got good food and a nice lounge. We can have a few drinks afterward and maybe do a little dancing. Would you like that?"
"Of course, yes, but this is just a friendly dinner. Nothing more, you understand. Just because I'll be alone for the evening. That's all. Just as friends."
.... There is more of this story ...