I was whistling to the radio tune negotiating the last few blocks home. The day has been perfect so far and I would be home early. Normally I arrived after my wife but today I probably would be first home. I turned right into the cul-de-sac where we lived and parked my SUV in its place. Sure enough my wife's cute compact wasn't anywhere to be seen, so she didn't arrive yet.
I looked at my watch. A few minutes after six. In half an hour or so she should be back. I opened the door and was received by Mr. Pooh, our old cat. He demonstrated his happiness that somebody was finally home by rubbing his back on my trousers, his tail and head high. I scratched his ears and back and investigated the kitchen.
Tina, our day maid left the dinner ready to be warmed in the oven, so I flipped the switch and checked the flame. The kitchen table was already made for two, so I added a candle and took a Chilean Carménère from my small wine storage and poured it into a crystal decanter to let it breath. Mr. Pooh mewed so I made sure that his water and food dishes were replenished.
I changed my clothes into more comfortable ones and settle on the sofa to wait for my young wife. I met Jennifer on her high school graduation party. The beautiful brunette was a friend of my niece and we fell in love. I was much older than she, past thirty to hers eighteen and initially her parents weren't in favor of our dating, but when they recognized our real love, they gave us their blessing.
We were married for six years already. She graduated in business administration and was working on a demanding job pursuing her career and earning a very good salary. I was self-employed, so at times her steady income was very important towards our ability to settle our bills. We were trying to get her pregnant, but our efforts weren't successful yet. After two years trying we went to a doctor and confirmed our ability to generate children. The doctor recommended patience and we were still trying. Today I was intent on try once more.
I clicked the TV on and started the channel surfing. I glanced on the watch. A quarter to seven. I checked the food and decided to lower the setting to minimum. At seven o'clock I started to get uneasy. Butterflies in your tummy, you know. Although recently Jen started to get home a little later, I couldn't remember her coming home after seven.
At quarter past seven I stationed myself near the window looking at the street. A stupid thing to be sure. Our cul-de-sac was quiet and a car coming in would be heard from the sofa. The butterflies were making havoc inside my guts. I have been playing with my cellphone for a while. Finally I decided to call.
Driiing... "The cellular you're calling is either turned off or outside the service area. You're being directed to the voice-mail box, after the tone, your call will be charged." There's nothing more frustrating that a mechanical voice telling you that you can't do what you want to do. "Hi, it's Jen, I can't take your call right now, please leave a message and I'll call you as soon as I can."
"Jen, it's me. Please call me as soon as you pick my message."
Seven thirty. Soap on TV and I was starting to get really worried. What could have happened? I went to the kitchen and turned off the oven. I scratched Mr. Pooh's back. I sat at our home computer desk and logged in. I checked my e-mails — only spam, surfed a little on the news sites — nothing special. I logged out. More soap on TV. I opened our agenda and looked the home number of Alice, Jen's closest co-worker.
A deep male voice answered the phone identifying himself as Paul. "Hello Paul, this is Bob, Jen's husband. She isn't home yet, I would like to check with Alice if she was detained at the office."
"Hi, Bob, it's Alice. I went home a little after half past five. Jen told me she was winding down a few things. She should have finished by now, but why don't you try the office?"
"Thanks, Alice, I'll do it." I kicked myself mentally for not trying Alice's office first before bothering her co-workers. Jen's direct line ringed twice, then ringed a different tone which the system does when it transfers a call. "Grooms and Barkley, good night."
"I would like to speak with Ms Jennifer Springs."
"Sorry, this is the night guard; they all left the office for the day."
"Could you tell me at what hours Ms. Springs left the office? It's her husband, she didn't arrive yet and I'm worried."
"I'm sorry, Mr. Springs, I don't know. I took over at eight and there was nobody left by then."
At eight? Shit. I looked at my watch. Half past eight. Something definitely happened. I thanked the night guard and tried again Jennifer's cellphone with no better luck. I gritted my teeth and called her mother. "Hello June, this is Bob." June was forty going on fifty and trying to look thirty something. She loved when people mistook her for Jennifer's older sister. There was no way to try to find if she knew something about Jennifer's whereabouts without leaving her worried so I let her have it straight.
"June, do you know where Jen is? I am home and she didn't arrive yet, and she didn't leave any messages, so I'm worried."