Becky looked great in her black dress. Maybe she looked too good. I'm a pretty laid back type of guy, but I pay attention to things that are important to me. My wife is one of those things.
Over the past twelve months, I'd noticed that Tom Burton had a thing for Becky, my wife of 24 years. He was fairly careful about it, but it was obvious to me. I could read his mind like a book. Whenever we were at the same social gathering, he would somehow gravitate to Becky, especially if I was occupied elsewhere.
I know couples can't be at each other's side all the time. It isn't healthy to even attempt to be. One of the purposes of socializing is to meet and interact with people other than your spouse or close relatives. I also understood that Burton was just a tad too attentive to Becky. He was too gracious... too smooth. At 44, Becky was still a very attractive, vibrant woman and Tom Burton thought he'd like to try her on for size. I had different plans.
Becky worked as a nurse at the local hospital. Loraine Burton, Tom's wife, worked in the administrative offices of the same hospital. That fact brought the Burtons and us together at many of the same parties and fund raisers. That allowed Tom Burton the opportunity to chat up Becky on a fairly regular basis.
I didn't distrust Becky. I simply knew that ignoring Tom's agenda would be a very foolish mistake on my part. I would thwart him, at the very least. At worst, I'd kick his ass. I had no illusions about my ability to whip the bastard, but if he got too close to Becky and seriously threatened my marriage, it would be mine to do. I accepted that as a basic part of life, like breathing. If a man won't fight for his family, he just isn't much of a man. Getting your head handed to you will do more for your pride and self-respect than burying your head in the sand, especially when you are fighting for family and honor.
I was talking to Mrs. Zimmer and Becky was across the room. We were a retirement party for Doctor Wilkes, who had been a fixture at the hospital for over forty years. Mrs. Zimmer was a delightful woman and I usually enjoyed time spent speaking with her. I had dated her niece years ago. She never failed to bring that up at these parties. She must have noticed I wasn't giving her my full attention.
"Dave, you're not very good for my ego. You're barely paying any attention to my clever observations, let alone my numerous anecdotes. Becky is quite capable of taking care of herself," she allowed. "Loraine's husband might as well try pissing up a rope."
"Mrs. Zimmer!" I laughed. "I haven't heard that expression since my father passed away! I'm glad you think that way, but if you have noticed his advances, why hasn't Becky?"
"Do you think she doesn't realize he is drawn to her like a moth to the flame, Steve?" asked Mrs. Zimmer. "He's always chatting her up at these affairs. In my long life, I have come to disregard the concept of coincidences. There are none,"
"Well, don't look for an argument from me, Mrs. Zimmer," I agreed. "I've tried to diplomatically suggest to Becky that our friend, Tom, wants to get into her thong."
I grinned as the older woman raised here eyebrows at my terminology. Then she smiled.
"I guess Becky could wear a thong. That fashion idea came after any possible thong days for me were well past," she chuckled. "I'm afraid my goal now is to conceal and support, rather than expose and entice. It would have been a different story thirty years ago."
For some reason, my mind rebelled at the mental image her words were conjuring. I thought that I did a good job of preventing my thoughts from being expressed on my face. I gradually worked my way back to Becky's side. Tom Burton had mysteriously disappeared by the time I reached Becky. I realized that he must watch me as closely as I watched him. That only served to strengthen my opinion that he wanted to get Becky in bed.
"There you are, Sweetheart!" greeted Becky. "I hope you're having a good time since you have left me alone for so long."
"I know you weren't alone, Becky. Have you noticed that Romeo always disappears when I approach?" I asked.
"You're not going to start that again, are you, Steve?" demanded Becky. "Tom was just being polite. He excused himself to attend to Loraine before you were even in sight. Your paranoia is taking over again."
"Becky, the guy is working you. It's very obvious to another man. He's quite patient, but he's determined. I can see that quite clearly," I insisted.
"What you see is another man being polite to me and it provokes your jealousy," retorted Becky. "You're always talking to different women, but I don't accuse you of trying to seduce them!"
"That's exactly right, Becky. I talk to different women. I don't spend most of my time with any particular woman. Therein lies the difference," I countered.
"Tom and Loraine are happily married, Dave. You have to relax a little and trust me a lot more. I've made it through 24 years without falling off the fidelity wagon," argued Becky. "I'm not even a big flirt, like a lot of wives my age."
"I know that, Becky. I'm not accusing you of anything," I responded. "I just want you to understand that Tom is doing his best to seduce you. I want you aware of it and not allow him the opportunity to compromise your honor, because he will if he can."
A couple of Becky's fellow nurses stopped by to joke with us and the conversation about Tom Burton ended. I stuck a little closer to Becky the rest of the evening and Burton avoided us. As a man, he instinctively knew that I could tell he was sniffing around Becky. In my mind, his patience made him very dangerous.
Everything smoothed over for a couple months. I realized that was because we hadn't been anywhere to bump into Lorain and Tom. I knew that avoiding them wouldn't solve the problem. Either Becky had to understand that Tom was a threat to our marriage, or I'd have to persuade him that he was looking at a world of hurt if he pursued his plan for seduction of my wife.
I work for an insurance company and the owners always try to get the company's name in the local papers. I was scheduled to attend a training session to learn all about annuities. I was slated to be the company expert in that department. The seminar was in Jacksonville and would last a week. I'd have to leave on a Sunday and return on a Saturday. It was splashed around the papers, along with my picture. It was good press and the company made certain that people knew they would be able to take advantage of my expertise.
The story was on the third page of our little town paper. It came out the week before I was scheduled to leave and pretty much detailed my entire itinerary. I soon discovered that people do read those blurbs.
It was the Saturday afternoon before I was scheduled to fly to Jacksonville. I had been over helping my neighbor across the street work on his lawnmower. He didn't have a wrench we needed, so I walked across the street and into my garage to get mine. I noticed the light was blinking, indicating the phone was in use. For no real good reason, I decided to listen in on the conversation.
"It's just a dinner, Becky, honest. I'll be a complete gentleman. I would like to spend a nice evening having dinner with a friend without her jealous husband staring holes in me," said a male voice. "You know Dave won't let us hold a conversation without getting bent out of shape. Have you done something that has made him not trust you?"
"I certainly have not, Tom!" replied Becky somewhat heatedly. "His jealousy has no basis in fact. It's embarrassing how he always watches you, and tries to intimidate you."
It was that goddamn Tom Burton trying to charm Becky! I held my hand over the mouthpiece so my heavy breathing wouldn't be heard.
"Believe me, Becky, he doesn't intimidate me in the least," boasted Burton. "I'm too much of a gentleman to make a public scene and embarrass you. It would only aggravate things if I administered a lesson in manners to Dave. I think it's wiser to simply avoid him."
"Don't make the mistake of thinking Dave would be a quick learner if you're the instructor, Tom," cautioned Becky. "Don't take Dave lightly. He wouldn't give a second thought to mixing it up with you if he thought you were behaving inappropriately toward me."
"I know he has a temper. He doesn't know I hold a brown belt and would have little problem rendering him helpless. I just find that sort of bravado unseemly unless I'm provoked. I have no intention of harming Dave, so don't worry about that," answered Burton.
"Well, that's a good thing, Tom, because it wouldn't be easy and I wouldn't stand for it, even if it were," replied Becky.
Was Becky beginning to smarten up? Even she had to see where Burton was trying to take this. I made a mental note to have a heart to heart with the prick, and quite soon.
"This is all taking us away from the reason I called," continued Burton. "As I was saying, Lorain has to go to her mother's next weekend. Since you and I are both going to be alone, it makes sense that we get together for a nice dinner, no strings attached."
"I don't know, Tom. Dave would be extremely upset. I know that for certain," Becky correctly reasoned. "It could get ugly fast if he found out."
.... There is more of this story ...