Chapter 1: From Pittsburgh to Denver

Copyright┬ę 2007 by thecelt

Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1: From Pittsburgh to Denver - The end of their marriage is only the beginning for both Billy and Stuart. Over the next years, both learn much and their ending is a surprise

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   Consensual   Romantic   Heterosexual   Tear Jerker   Cheating  


I left the Orange Belt, merged onto the Penn Lincoln Parkway, then exited onto I-79 South to Bridgeville at 10:30 that evening. My flight from Denver to the Pittsburgh International Airport landed at 9:00 but I was still on Denver time so it was not all that late at night for me. The rush hour traffic was over so the interstate was not very busy and I made good time to my dad's place just past Bridgeville in a little place called Cowden. He had lived there all his live and I grew up there. It was a great place for a kid and I loved it.

I was coming home to visit my dad who was not doing so well according to Mary, his friend and next door neighbor. I had enlisted Mary's help in watching out for Dad since she was right next door and had been good friends with my mother. She wanted me there to convince him to take himself into the hospital. He had cancer and was not expected to live more than another six months but he refused to go easily. Now he wouldn't take the morphine his doctor prescribed for the pain and he refused to go into the hospital where they could monitor the progress of his cancer. Mary tried to be his nurse but he was a lousy patient for her or anyone else. I didn't know what I could do but I was going to try.

While I made the trip back to Pittsburgh several times a year, it was usually a quick visit with the Manager of Research for coatings, and with my boss, Ryan Erinson. I stopped in to see my dad and spent some time with him but I stayed in the city if I had to be there overnight. It was easier and more convenient for me. This trip was different and personal so I was staying with dad at his place. He had continued to keep my old room available for me.

I left Pittsburgh over five years ago to take the job in Denver. At the time, I was in the process of divorcing my second wife Billy, after just four years of marriage. She and my best friend Mark Fletcher had been having a long term affair and during the period afterward, I realized that Billy was never going to be faithful. It was her second marriage as well and it was clear to me that she wanted more than I or any man could give. At least that was the conclusion I came to after giving her everything she asked for. It wasn't enough. And since both of my marriages ended in disaster, I had pretty much given up on any permanent attachments with those of the opposite sex.

For some background, my name is Arthur Davidson. I am 52 years old and currently Managing Director of True Wire Inc. and VP of Coatings for a fairly large company based in Pittsburgh, Pa. that makes and markets all types of wire. My division is based in Denver, Colorado and is the one that handles all of the coated wiring even though most of the research personnel are still in Pittsburgh. We do all types: insulated, stranded, twisted and solid conductors. The type of coating depends on the use of the wires. I had been in this position for about five years now and our division had grown by over 37% with the introduction of several new and unique products. I had several patents and I was very secure in my job. As a matter of fact, I was due for a promotion that could mean moving back to the Pittsburgh area.

I've been married twice, the first time to a wonderful woman who gave me fifteen wonderful years and a beautiful daughter. We were deeply in love but she was killed by a drunk driver six years before. My daughter and I grieved and felt the pain intensely but we both finally moved on. Penny, our daughter, moved to Germany with her husband and she's been there ever since. She loves it and has no desire to come back to the US. I visit with her to see my two grandkids but only about twice a year.

I poured myself into my job and slowly reentered society where I began to meet new people. That's when I met Billy, my second wife. She and I were both trying to find our way when we met. She had also been married once before and she was divorced. She never told me the reasons behind the divorce and I never pressed her for details. The only strange thing was that I never met her children. She told me she had two but neither lived with her and she had no contact with them. I respected her wishes and never tried to find out what happened, but I had my suspicions. She and I were married in a civil ceremony without fanfare.

All of this had happened many years ago. I realized that it had been ten years ago that my life with Billy started. So long ago. As I drove the dark interstate south to my old home, I thought back to that time five years ago when I discovered Billy's affair.

Billy and I had been married a little more than 4 years. As I said, it was the second marriage for both of us. We both had children from our first marriages but they were fully grown and on their own. My daughter Penny was married but lived now in Germany. My dad, Edward, lived nearby and we saw him fairly often. He liked Billy and she seemed to like him. I couldn't say the same for her parents, Violet and Ben Delong. What a pair. They thought no one was good enough for their daughter. I was a big mistake in their eyes.

Billy didn't work, preferring to stay home and spend her time with causes and crusades. She was currently working at a shelter for battered women and she seemed to be fully committed. This was her way with most things for a year or so. She would stay with it until she became bored. At the time, that was fine with me since I worked a lot of hours and it kept her occupied.

It was just a typical day for me. It was just after 2:00 in the afternoon when Paula came into my office. Paula was my secretary, my second mother, and my sergeant at arms. She had a funny look on her face as she shut the door behind her. She obviously had some juicy tidbit of gossip to spread and unfortunately I was her intended receiver.

"OK Paula, what's up? You look like you just found out there's a major conspiracy to take over the company. Give."

Paula pulled up one of the chairs in front of my desk and sat down, deliberately leaning over my desk to get as close to me as possible. This must really be big.

"Mr. Erinson wants you to meet him after work at Bennington's for dinner and drinks. Georgina told me that there will be two others there as well. She thinks they're both board members. Something's up and you're the star player. I know it."

Mr. Erinson was Ryan Erinson, President of General Winding and my boss's boss. Georgina was his secretary and Paula's inside source. I digested this little bit of information without any enlightenment. I knew of nothing that was on the horizon and no one had told me of any major changes coming up. I was at a loss.

"Well, I don't have a clue but I know nothing is happening that should concern me. Maybe there's some sort of problem with the coating division and he wants me to begin some sort of investigation. You know Ryan's always worried about something."

"Well, maybe, but I think it's something big. You just wait and see."

"We'll both wait. Would you please call Billy and let her know that I'll be late? I should be home about 11:00. We have no plans so it should be fine."

'I'll take care of it. And just remember: you let me know right away what's going on. Promise?"

I promised her and shooed her out of my office. I had no idea what was going on and nothing had come my way to offer any clues. Well, I would just wait. It would be explained to me at the meeting, of that I was sure.

I decided to finish the project report I was working on before closing down for the day. I considered calling Hugh Wilson, my direct boss first but it was getting toward time for me to leave for dinner. Bennington's was halfway across town and it would take me about 40 minutes to get there. I wish Ryan had picked someplace closer. I closed down the computer, locked my files and went into the washroom to freshen up for the meeting.

Paula had gone by the time I was ready to leave. She left a note saying she left a message for Billy since she didn't answer. That was fine. She would probably be home by the time I was due anyway and would get the message. I left for Bennington's.

I was shown into a private room at the restaurant to find Ryan there with two board members that I knew quite well. John Armitage and Harry Rollings were two of the original members and I liked both of them. We shook hands and we all sat down to dinner. Ryan had gone all out and it was quite good. Talk was loose and informal and Ryan indicated that we would not talk business until later. I understood and enjoyed.

When drinks were served, Ryan indicated that I take a seat across from him. John and Harry sat beside him. Ryan started.

"Stu, I need to tell you something that is confidential for now. I'm sure you know of a company called True Wire, Inc. You've dealt with them from time to time and I think you know the owner. Do you remember him?"

"Sure. That's Pete Higson. He and I go way back."

"Right. Well, here's the deal. We made an offer to buy True Wire and Pete's accepted. We've done all of the due diligence and our accountants have audited the books. The price is fair and we have agreed in principle. I want you to go out there and take our letter of intent and have Pete sign the deal. He's waiting for you and everything is set."

"Well sure, I'll be happy to go. It will be good to see Pete again and it will give me some time to visit and take stock. I assume that's the idea?"

"Yes and no. You won't be taking stock. You'll be looking at your new company. We are promoting you to Managing Director of True Wire and VP of Coatings. You are now a senior VP for General Windings. Congratulations Stuart!"

"Well, I'm totally shocked. But does Hugh know about this? Has be been told? I wouldn't like to start a new job with him as an enemy."

"Hugh recommended you once we told him of the acquisition. Actually, he is thinking of retiring and I probably won't replace him now that you're in this new position. You were in line for his job before but this one is even higher."

With that announcement, Ryan, John and Harry all got up to congratulate me and pat me on the back. It was one hell of a promotion and it would mean a whole new life for Billy and me. We would be moving to Denver and we could afford to go first class. Billy would be thrilled and I was looking forward to telling her the good news.

"One thing to deal with yet and that is your replacement. I'm assuming you would recommend Mark Fletcher to replace you? You have had nothing but good things to say about him. If you still feel that way, he'll take over when Hugh retires."

"Mark is a great choice. He can do the job and can get up to speed in short order. He'll do a super job. Can I tell him everything?"

"Yes. We have cleared it with Hugh so you can, but let him know not to mention it. Not for another two weeks. The deal will be final then and we can make the announcement."

He laughed before saying, "You can tell Paula of course since she'll find out from Georgina anyway."

We had a couple of drinks and Ryan told me that reservations for a flight out tonight were already made. It was just past 7:30 so I had about three hours to get home, get packed and to the airport for the flight. I decided to leave right away to give me time to tell Billy. I said my thanks and good byes and headed home.

As I drove home, I thought about the changes that this would make in our lives. I knew that Billy would be happy. She hated Pittsburgh and wanted to move somewhere else with better weather and more of a social climate suited to her tastes. She was alright with her social clubs and friends but she wasn't all that happy with some of their more liberal swings. We had discussed it to the point of thinking about a job change. This would accomplish all of that and more. I was thinking of a way to announce the new job and the new location with some sort of a flourish. I didn't call her since I had made up my mind that I was just going to blurt it out as soon as I came in the door.

I called Paula on my cell and left her a voice mail telling her that I would be out of town tomorrow and would call in and let her know where I was. I told her to make sure Mark had the proposal for the new coating lines on Ryan's desk first thing in the morning. I finally told her that she was right when she told me that things were happening and that she could talk to Georgina. She could fill in some of the blanks until I could talk more to her. I hung up and I turned into my driveway. I saw Mark's car there but that was not unusual. We were best friends as well as boss and co-worker.

I burst into the kitchen from the garage and was surprised to find the house apparently empty. I moved quickly through the downstairs rooms without finding either Billy or Mark. I thought maybe they had gone out with Patty and Fred from down the street. Well, I was disappointed not to be able to share it with her now but I could call her from the airport.

Without any more thought, I bounded up the stairs two at a time to our bedroom. I slid into the room in time to see Mark pumping away on a willing and vocal Billy. The doorway was to the side of the bed so my view was perfect. I could see Billy lying on her back with her arms around mark's neck. Mark was between her legs and he was supporting himself on his arms as he fucked her. Mark's hairy ass was pumping up and down and I could see Billy's legs wrapped tightly around his waist pulling him in as tight as she could. It was good timing as I heard Mark yell.

"Oh my God, I'm cuming! I'm cuming!"

Billy was grunting and making noises like I had never heard and she was also just about ready to let go. She let out one shrill scream and told Mark to let it go.

"Cum in me, cum in me, let me have it, do it! Oh, oh, oh my God!"

All I could do at that point was to turn around and slam the door shut behind me. I had seen all I wanted to see. I turned around and walked back downstairs to the living room. I sank down in one of the chairs and waited. I was stunned and my mind simply refused to function very well. My wife and my best friend in bed together. I couldn't seem to make sense of it. As I struggled with the sight I had just witnessed, my anger began to burn hot and bright in my chest. I let it grow since the heat of it was better than the cold of betrayal. That's where I was sitting when Mark came down the stairs. He saw me and came into the room. He stopped in front of me.

"God Stu, I'm so sorry you saw that. I have no excuse for it except to say that I have always loved Billy as you know. We never expected you to come home so early and things just got out of control. We never wanted to hurt you. You have to know that. It will never happen again. You have my word."

The words seemed to just wash over me without registering. It made no difference what he said. I knew what had happened and that was all I could deal with. But the heat from my anger was burning to be let out and I gave vent to it in words. I gritted my teeth and held on to my temper as I looked into the face of the man I now hated.

"I want you to leave my house now. I never want to see you again outside the office. I have to deal with you there as you will soon understand, but I never want to see or talk to you outside again. We are no longer friends; we don't know each other socially. I have no wish to hear your story or your apologies. Do you understand?"

"Please Stu. Let's talk about this. You don't mean what you're saying. You can't mean that. We've been friends for ten years. You can't mean we're over. Come on!"

"I won't ask you again to leave my house. I repeat: I don't want to see you again outside work. I don't ever want you to come to my house and if I ever see you near my wife again, I'll kill you. Please don't test me. Now, get the fuck out of my house!"

With that, I rose and moved toward him. I am a very big man: 215, 6' 2, and I pride myself on my appearance. I work out three times a week and I can press my weight without breaking a sweat. Mark on the other hand is shorter than I, weights about 30 pounds less and never had the ambition to improve himself physically. He concentrates on his slick appeal to women. He is a good looking jerk.

Mark took the hint and almost ran to the front door. He tried to say some more but I pushed him out the door and than shut and locked it behind him. I turned my back to the door and leaned against it trying to get control of my anger. I had done fine till now, but I looked up and saw Billy standing on the stairs watching me. She had put on a robe to cover her nakedness. As I saw her standing there, my anger began to burn even hotter. I felt the heat in my face and chest and I was suddenly afraid of what I could do. I shuddered and shook my head to try to clear the fury. After a couple of deep breaths and some very serious talking to myself, I began to feel some control returning.

I walked away from the door and went into the kitchen. I took a beer from the refrigerator and sat down at the table. I was concentrating on my breathing when she walked in. I didn't look up and I didn't acknowledge her in any way. I couldn't without losing my control. I took several deep breaths and a swig of beer. It seemed to help.

"Will you let me tell you what happened?"

"No. I have to pack a bag. I'm leaving tonight for Denver. I have to catch a plane and I don't have much time. Maybe we can talk when I get back."

"Why are you going to Denver now? We can't just let this go. You have to listen to me and we have to talk this out. You can't let it go."

"Yes, I can and I will. What you did is pretty clear. I saw it with my own eyes. Why you did it is not so clear. And why you did it with Mark is totally unclear. But none of that is important right now. I have to get ready."

With that, I threw the beer bottle against the kitchen wall where it shattered into a thousand satisfying pieces. As she cowered away from me I just looked at her.

"For your information, I told Mark that he is never to set foot in this house again. That's my decision and you have nothing to say about it. I told him, and now I'll tell you. If I ever see him here again, I'll kill him. Do you understand?"

Without waiting for her answer, I got up and walked upstairs to our bedroom to pack. I needed enough for three or four days and that was easy. I had done this a million times and I did it now by instinct. As I was closing the overnight, Billy walked into the bedroom and sat down on the bed watching me. I ignored her, picked up the overnight and my suit carrier and walked out of the room without a word. I carried them downstairs and out to the car.

When I came back into the kitchen, Billy was not there. I felt a sense of relief as I filled my travel mug with coffee. I looked around the kitchen, maybe for the last time and went out to the car, shutting and locking the door behind me. I drove away toward the airport without looking back.

I caught my flight on America West and arrived in Denver on time. I saw the waiting shuttle driver with a sign with my name and he took me to the hotel Paula reserved for me. I was not looking forward to a free night and wished that we could get right to it, but this late I didn't expect anything to happen. I checked in, went up to the room and lay down. I slept poorly that night.

The next morning after a mostly sleepless night, I went down to meet Pete for breakfast. He was the same cheerful guy I had met and worked with for the last few years. I liked him the first time I met him and we had become good friends. Mostly long distance but friends nevertheless. We talked over coffee and eggs and finally left to go to the plant. We met with several of the executives and we took care of business in just under three hours. That left a lot of time for me to just wander around with Pete, looking over the operations and reacquainting myself with his, or I should say my operations. We had an enjoyable afternoon and finished up early.

Pete asked me if I was in a hurry to get back and I told him no, but without any explanation. He invited me to have dinner with him and his wife and I accepted. I spent a very pleasant evening with them and didn't leave until very late. Pete took me back to the hotel after telling me that it was his recommendation that got me the job. He told me he had known Ryan for years and that Ryan asked for his recommendation. He wasn't aware of the VP offer though but was thrilled for me just the same. I was very grateful and told him so. We parted as usual, friends and professionals.

I went up to my room to find the phone message light blinking. I wondered who it could be since no one knew where I was except for Ryan and Paula. I got the message and it was Paula. There were several items on her list.

"Stu, it's Paula. A few things. First, Mark is up to speed on the proposals and he can make the presentation tomorrow. Second, he wanted to talk to you but I told him that I didn't have your number. Actually, I did. I got it from Georgina but since you hadn't called me, I wasn't sure you wanted him to have it. And finally, Billy called at least 5 times today wanting to talk to you. Now Stu, what's going on? Do I give her your number or not? And what about Mark? Call me, first thing tomorrow."

That was Paula. She was always looking out for me, even with my wife and my second in command. If I didn't give them the number, she wouldn't either, regardless of what they said. She was something and I was going to make sure she remained with me if she would relocate. I knew she was widowed so maybe. I somehow felt better after her message and I thought maybe I could sleep tonight. At least, I could try.

The next morning, I called Paula just after 8:00 her time. I knew she would be at her desk and she answered on the first ring.

"Hi Paula, it's me. Thanks for the message last night and thanks for not giving out the number."

"Stu, what's going on? Billy has called twice already and she is really beside herself. She's angry at me for not giving her your number and she was crying during the last two call. I don't like being in the middle of something I don't know about."

"I'm sorry Paula. It's personal and I didn't mean to get you involved. I'll talk to you when I get back but for now, no one gets this number. OK? That's an order so you can tell them it isn't your fault."

"I don't give a hoot about that, I just wanted to be sure you were OK. And by the way, congratulations on your promotion and your new assignment. Way to go!"

"Thanks. And by the way, how do you feel about moving to Denver? Would you?"

"Maybe I would. We'll talk when you get back. By the way, do you want to talk to Mark? He asked me to let him know when you called."

"No, I don't want to talk with him and don't give him this number either. He'll understand if you tell him I said that. Only Ryan. I'll be back in the office Monday. I need a few days away without anything to worry about. Can you handle the office for the next two days?"

"Take all the time you need. I'll deal. Call me tomorrow or Friday. OK?"

I agreed and hung up. I had decided on the spur of the moment to take the rest of the week off. I wanted to spend the time looking around Denver and this was as good a time as any. Ryan wouldn't care and I didn't want to face Billy or Mark right now. Let them enjoy each other while I was gone. They deserved each other.

I spent the next several days just looking around. I found a really neat little apartment downtown and close to the plant with a nice view of the mountains. I put a retainer on it and made arrangements to move in at the end of the month, just a couple of weeks from now. It was just right for one. I also found a couple of nice restaurants and one particularly nice bar. I was very relaxed by Saturday evening. I thought it was time for a phone call.

At about 7:30, I called home, or what used to be my home. I didn't think it was going to be that much longer. Billy must have been waiting since she answered on the first ring.

"Hello? Stuart, is that you? Stuart?"

"Hi Billy, yeah it's me. Paula said you called. Did you want something?"

"Stuart, where are you? Why did you leave like that and why haven't you called to let me know where you were? It's been days and I've been going crazy!"

"Didn't seem to bother you Tuesday evening. I wasn't home then either but you weren't expecting me were you? I guess that was the problem. I didn't keep to the schedule so it was my fault that you got caught."

"Stuart, please. It's not what you think. I was angry and Mark was there and it just happened. It was nothing. Honest! Please come home and let me talk to you and explain what happened. Mark doesn't mean anything to me. Please Stuart, come home."

"Billy, if you think that this is the way to get me to come home, you are sadly mistaken. You and Mark made me into a fool, but he at least had the courage to tell me the truth. You seem to want to continue to lie to me and treat me with a total lack of respect. Well, I won't accept that so I guess we have nothing left to talk about. When I come home, I'll arrange to have my things moved out of the house so you can stay there and do whatever you want to do. I don't care anymore."

"Stuart, no! You can't mean that. I'm not lying to you. I don't know what Mark told you but it's not true. It's not. Come home: let me prove it to you. I love you Stuart, not Mark. Never Mark! Just you!"

"Goodnight Billy. If you're interested in being honest with me, I'll be home Sunday night."

I hung up feeling satisfied with my performance. I had kept my cool, I hadn't yelled or lost my temper and I had hung up without giving her any more chances to lie to me. It hurt to know that she was going to continue to lie rather than be honest and try to find a way to work it out. Maybe she didn't want to work it out. I took a nice long shower, climbed into bed and was asleep before my head hit the pillow. I needed the sleep.

The trip home was uneventful and I got my car with only a minimum of delay. I drove home with mixed feelings. On one hand, I wanted a confrontation with Billy, if only to allow my anger to find an outlet. On the other hand, I wanted to play the cool customer and let her wring her hands and cry bitter tears begging me to take her back. I was all mixed up and the time away hadn't given me any answers. I needed to face reality in order to move forward.

I pulled into the garage next to Billy's little two-seater. The sight of it brought a surge of anger. It was something she just had to have and she hardly ever drove it now. I guess she had no reason to go out if she was fucking my best friend here at home. I got out, grabbed my luggage and went in.

She was waiting for me, sitting in the kitchen so she was the first thing I was. She had on a soft pastel blouse that fit her like a second skin and a skirt that was probably way too short. It was an outfit that I used to like her to wear when we were alone and in the mood. I wasn't in the mood now and I thought it a very poor choice. I just looked at her and turned away to put my overnight in the laundry room. I laid the suit carrier over the chair.

"Hello Billy. Ready for some action I see. Is Mark on the way over?"

She broke down in tears and ran out of the kitchen into the family room. For a minute I was ashamed of myself but then my memory of her and Mark kicked in. Rather than follow her into the other room, I walked over to see if there was any coffee. There was a fresh pot so I poured myself a cup and sat down to enjoy it. I added sugar and cream and sat back in comfort. Billy did know how to make good coffee.

While I waited, I glanced over at the phone on the kitchen wall. The call log light was blinking. It had a feature called 'call directory' that recorded the number of any incoming call that was answered. Fortunately, Billy never learned how to work it so it was full now. I pushed the c/d button and saw the last number calling was Mark's cell phone number. I scanned down to see what other numbers were recorded and found that she had answered at least seven calls from Mark, three from his office and four from his cell. I guess they were trying to get their stories straight.

I was enjoying my second cup when she came back in the kitchen wearing a sweat shirt and jeans. I thought this was more appropriate and just nodded my agreement.

"Can we talk now? Will you give me a chance to tell you what happened?"

"I don't want to hear your excuses. What I saw was very clear. You and Mark were in our bedroom, both of you in the middle of a great fuck, yelling so loud with your passion that you didn't even hear your own husband coming up the stairs. I believe you were both just about in the middle of a climax. If you hadn't been fucking him, you might have heard the car pulling in and me yelling. Now, tell me where I'm wrong."

"We just made a mistake and it was the first time for us. You have to believe that. I love you and only you. Mark is a friend but I don't care about him that way. I'm sorry it got out of hand but it doesn't mean anything. It will never happen again. Please Stu. You know I love you."

"I don't believe you. I don't believe this was the first time. I don't believe that you haven't fucked him before and if I hadn't come home, you probably would have continued for several more hours until I was scheduled to come home. I don't believe you love me or you wouldn't have been able to do this to me. You have torn my heart out and tossed it away like garbage. I don't trust you anymore and I don't know if I can ever trust you again."

"Stu, please. I haven't talked to Mark since you left. He means nothing to me, you know that. He's your friend and I never really cared for him. You know that to be true."

"I know that you and Mark have talked several times since I've been gone. Was that to get your story straight or were you making arrangements to get together again? If what you say is true, how can you fuck someone you don't even care for? What the hell kind of woman are you?"

Billy was now crying and shaking her head back and fourth. She was trying to deny the things I was saying but there was little she could say. The trust was gone, the love may still be there but it was struggling to survive the betrayal and the pain. The dark anger that I had the night I found them together was fading, replaced by a hollow, empty feeling. I was trying to find another emotion to keep me going but I couldn't. Pain and emptiness were my constant companions now.

"I'm going to put my things in the spare room. I'll sleep there for the time being until I decide what I want to do. I'll leave the master bedroom to you, cause I sure as hell will never sleep in that bed again. I'll get my stuff and leave you to it. Maybe your memories of your lover will keep you warm at night."

"You aren't even going to let me explain are you? You've made up your mind that I've been cheating on you with Mark and you're going to punish me aren't you?"

"I'm not punishing you. I came home with the intent of letting you tell me the truth and then try to decide if we could work this out. Instead of being honest, you tried to seduce me when I walked in the door and then you lied to me at least twice since we started to talk. You're the one doing the punishing. You really socked it to me. I'll give you credit. I don't know of any way you could have hurt me more than you did. Congratulations!"

I heard the sobs as I walked down the hall to the spare room. I shut the door on the crying, lying bitch and sat down on my bed. Tomorrow was a very important day for me. I had to begin to put things in order and I had to face Mark. I was not changing my recommendation of him as my replacement. Since I was going to be running the division, I needed people who knew their jobs. Mark was one who did. He and I would interact professionally but no other way. We were through as friends. Someday the chance to pay him back for his betrayal would come and I was a patient man.

I waited until I heard the door to our bedroom shut and then I walked down to the spare bathroom and washed up. I put my toiletries on the sink and went back to the bedroom. I shut and locked the door. I needed time to think. I didn't want to be distracted by Billy or by anything else. I knew what I was going to do.

I left the house quietly at about 5:30 that afternoon to go out to get a bite to eat. While I waited, I called my dad at home. I asked him if he could meet me for dinner and he agreed. I wanted to talk to him to get some sort of perspective. I wasn't thinking clearly so I needed help. Dad was always straight with me and wouldn't sugarcoat anything. That's what I needed now.

Dad and I had a good meal and we talked. He was great and took everything I said seriously and never once tried to patronize me. We talked for about an hour and then went back to his place and we spent the rest of the evening talking and drinking beer and just being comfortable with each other. I hadn't spent enough time with him since mom died. I regretted that but vowed to make amends.

It was clear to me that dad preferred that I try to make things work with Billy. He was very fond of her and was quick to forgive her transgressions. I argued with him but he was adamant. He blamed me in part for working too hard and giving her too much and spoiling her. He likened her to a spoiled child who was really a good person. I listened but couldn't quite accept his opinions.

I told him about Denver and he was excited for me. I suggested that he consider moving but he told me he had friends here and didn't want to leave them. We both promised to get together more often and we both pretended to believe it. He wasn't sure about the apartment though and told me so. He said it was like closing the door and having no intention of opening it again. I told him it was something that could change if need be. But in the back of my mind, I doubted it.

I went home just after 11:30 to a quiet house. I didn't know if Billy had stayed in her room or if she had finally gone to bed. I went up to my room and closed and locked the door. I lay down on the bed and passed out from exhaustion and depression. I slept the night.

Monday morning I was up and dressed and ready for work by 7:15. When I went downstairs I found coffee and toast waiting and Billy dressed and sitting at the table. I picked up the coffee and got a quick fix of caffeine but didn't touch the toast. I said nothing to Billy and she seemed inclined to let it go. I grabbed my briefcase from the hall and left without a word.

At work, I called Paula in and told her to close and lock the door. She sat down waiting for an explanation. Even thought she already knew about it, I told her first about the promotion and suffered through her congratulations and 'I told you so's'. I then told her that I would be heading up the division from Denver and asked her again if she had considered moving. She shrugged her shoulders but gave me no answer yet. I finally told her about Billy and Mark. She was angry at first, especially at Billy, but then she calmed down and wanted to know how I was going to deal with Mark. I told her that nothing was going to change except that we were no longer friends and he no longer had unrestricted access to me. He would go through her like everyone else. She would decide whether what he had to say was important or not. When I asked her if that was OK, she just smiled and said to let her handle it.

We talked some more, making arrangements and I did tell her that this was not common knowledge and to keep it to herself. Mark didn't know about the change yet but I would deal with him myself. I also told her I would accept no calls from Billy during working hours. Other than that, it was business as usual for the next two weeks. I dictated a couple of memos to her that had to go out and we were finished. She left the office and shut the door.

I worked intently and solidly for the next 3 or 4 hours and fielded a couple of phone calls from Pete Higson and Ryan. Pete and I worked out some arrangements and things seemed to be going perfectly. Ryan called once to congratulate me on the closure and see how things were going. I assured him and went back to work. I asked Paula to have some lunch sent in from the cafeteria and worked straight through.

It was just after 1:30 when Paula buzzed to tell me Mark was here and that I should probably talk to him. I told her to send him in but to leave the door open. She chuckled and showed him in.

Mark came in and shut the door, intended to have a conversation with me about his affair with my wife. I was not about to have it but before I could say or do anything Paula opened the door and glared at Mark.

"Leave the door open please. Mr. Davidson prefers it that way."

Mark looked back at her angrily and asked me.

"Do you want the door open Stu?"

"As a matter of fact, yes I do. Is that a problem?"

"Not for me but I thought maybe you might want to talk to me privately."

I looked at him standing there, waiting for me to agree to discuss his affair with Billy. I was in no mood to discuss it with him now and without bothering to wave him to a chair, I left him standing as I delivered my instructions.

"No, I don't want to talk to you about anything that is not business. I do want to go over some things with you since you are here. I want to let you know that you will be taking over most of the day to day affairs of the office beginning this week. You will be taking over for me immediately and then Hugh's position soon and will have full authority to make decisions about projects and priorities. You will continue to report to me just as you do now, but I will not be here in Pittsburgh much longer. None of this is for public knowledge. Do you understand?"

Mark was looking at me like I had lost my mind. He had no idea of what I was doing or how to respond. He was shaking his head back and forth as if in denial.

"No, I don't understand. Where are you and Hugh going and why would you give this responsibility to me?"

"Is there someone else who could do my job as well as you? Don't you think you can handle it? If not, say so. Otherwise just pay attention and do your job. Can you do that, al least?"

Mark looked stunned as if I had slapped him. But to his credit, he straightened his shoulders and replied.

"I can handle it. I'm sorry for interrupting. Go ahead."

"Thank you. I'm transferring to Denver. The company has made an acquisition there and I will be heading that operation as well as the Research function here. Hugh is going to retire very soon leaving his position and mine open. Ryan is choosing to combine them into one, reporting to me. That will be you. We have just two weeks to make the move. Is that clear?"

Mark nodded, accepting the news but not yet comfortable with it. But he was a professional, so with that, we went over the current projects, the department priorities and some of the more important personnel issues. We spent at least the next two hours going over those things, not much different from our normal routine but this time there were several differences and Mark understood.

When we were done, I told Mark to begin as acting department head immediately. I would not be making any formal announcement until later. Any problems with personnel, he was to have them see me. He rose to leave and then stopped.

"Stu, when can we talk? I am so damned sorry for what I did to you and I want a chance to explain it to you. Could we have a drink after work?"

"I told you I never wanted to see you outside of work ever again. Nothing has changed. If you have anything to say, say it now. Otherwise get out of my office."

Mark just stared at me with his face flushed and his eyes showing anger. He hesitated until I stood up, then he quickly turned and left.

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