Ben Holden fumbled with his key ring as he exited the building where he was a paralegal for Milford and Saxe. He had thought to go directly home, but was eyeing the donut shop across the street. It was 6:00AM and he was flat burned out and hungry. He'd been up all night with some of the rest of the M&S high priced staff preparing documents and making last minute calls overseas for the firm's top litigator Dirk Grimes.
To say it had been a long night would be an understatement of heroic proportions. Ben didn't mind the long nights though. The death of his wife the year before had left a hole in his existence that his work was being used to fill, or if not fill, at least mitigate.
Glancing left he noticed a figure huddled in the doorway. It looked like a kid. Lots of homeless in the area, he knew. The perception was that the high rent district offered a safer habitat for those who could not afford a roof over their heads.
Feeling a little bit guilty about his relatively high standard of living, he approached the figure preparing to offer him a picture of Alexander Hamilton.
"You okay," he said.
"Fuck off asshole," said a female voice.
Well, he'd been wrong about it being a boy and, whoever she was, she wasn't a kid. "Pardon me?"
"You heard me. Fuck off."
Looking closer now, he estimated that the woman was in her forties, small of stature, and woefully short of good manners. "I was just gonna ask if you wanted to have a cup of coffee and maybe a donut or two," he said indicating the donut shop across the street.
He'd had no such intention, but he had changed his mind on hearing the desperation in her voice. Without the slightest reason in the world to give a damn, he suddenly wanted to know more about this fortyish foul-mouthed child of misfortune.
She looked up at him. Struggling to get up she managed to stand. "Okay, Santa, I could use a cup of joe. But, no funny business."
Ben threw up his hands indicating that he completely understood her meaning and agreed to her condition. "Absolutely," he said.
They started walking toward the shop.
"It looks like it's gonna be another cold day," he said as they walked.
"Like what else is new," she said.
"You don't have a warmer coat than that?" he said as he appraised her raiment.
"You might've noticed; no limo came to pick me up," she said.
Ben was getting tired of the continued sarcasm, but for the moment had decided to write it off to a bitterness with life in general rather than anything directly related to him.
He stopped in mid-stride. The woman took a couple more steps before turning to see what the holdup was.
"I'm Ben. What'll I call you," he said.
"Melissa," she said.
They entered the shop and headed for the counter. A girl behind it was waiting on two other customers getting their morning caffeine fix.
"Whatcha like?" said Ben, as it became their turn.
"Can I get two of those?" she said, and Maybe a coffee.
"Hi Melissa," said the girl behind the counter.
"Hi Dot," said Melissa.
"You know each other?" said Ben.
"Not really. Guys sometimes by me coffee here hoping to get into my pants. I guess you could say I'm kind of a regular," said Melissa.
He collected their tray and moved to a booth at the back.
"Where do you stay? I mean really," said Ben.
"Around. Usually around here," she said.
Ben was thoughtful and she noticed it. "Look mister—Ben—I'm not into strangers banging me for donuts. Besides, what would your wife say?"
"Not married," he said.
"Divorced eh," she said.
"Wife died a year ago. I'm unattached," he said.
She eyed him. She figured he was telling the truth. "Sorry. Bummer," she said.
"Yeah, bummer," he repeated.
"Whaddya doin' on the street," he said.
She snickered. "What is anybody doin' on the street," she said. "I'm poor."
"Want a job?" he said.
"What kind of job?" she said.
"What can you do," he countered.
"Well, I don't do what you do," she said indicating his thousand dollar suit.
"Let's try again. What was your last job?" he said.
"If you mean my very last job, I was paid to fuck somebody in that building you just came out of," she said. "But, my last real job was grocery checker," she said. "Before you ask, I hit the till for a hundred and they caught me. How's that for telling it like it is."
"Checkers make pretty good livings. You needed a C-note that bad?"
"Yeah, I did," she said.
Ben looked down at his coffee and stirred the inky contents of the cup. He drank it black; the stirring was his way to suspend time while he made up his mind. He made it up.
"I like your candor," he said. "Wanna place to stay? No strings."
She looked at him steadily weighing his motives. "Whaddya want with an old broad like me?" she said. "Why are you offerin' me a place to stay? I don't do windows."
"I could use a housekeeper, and we can talk about the windows thing," he said grinning.
She grinned back at him. "Any pay?"
"Don't know. I haven't thought about it," he said. "But, you'd have a roof. Maybe some new clothes. And your food for sure."
She leaned back in her seat and bit her lower lip. It had been unseasonably cold even in the day time. She was hungry most of the time anymore, and the clothes she had, really her rags, were limited to those on her back. She nodded.
"Is that a yes?" he said.
"Yeah, I guess so," she said. "At least I won't be hungry all of the time."
"Finish your coffee. We'll go home," he said.
"Don't you have to work?" she said.
"As you noted, I was coming out of the building not going into it," he said. "I worked all night. I'm going home to crash.
"You on the other hand are going home to clean up and relax for a few hours. We'll talk this afternoon."
"Okay. I can do that," she said without a trace of sarcasm. "I should tell you though, I've never been a housekeeper. But, I can iron clothes and do dishes okay, I guess."
"That's a good beginning," he said. "I hate to iron clothes, and I'm definitely no good at it."
He liked the fact that she giggled at his last words.
They pulled into the manicured compound where he had his condo.
"That's it over there," he said as he headed for a two car garage connected to his two-bedroom two-bath self-contained unit.
"Nice," she said.
"It's okay. You'll have your own room and bath. I moved here after my wife died. Couldn't bear to be around the place we'd shared for so many years," he said.
"How long were you together?" she said.
He looked at her. "Twenty-two years. I figured we'd make sixty. I was wrong. Sometimes life fucks you up," he said.
"Yeah, I'm familiar," she said, seeming to grow pensive.
Going inside He showed her around the thousand square foot residence. Her bedroom was small and spare. But the privacy it promised appealed to her. She hoped she could trust the guy. She'd had little reason to trust anybody in the three years since she'd been released from jail. Six months in the county slam didn't sound like much in the sayin' it. But, the doin' of the time was not fun. Plus it had almost guaranteed that she couldn't get a decent job, or any kind of job. Spreadin' her legs for assholes was the only way she'd been able to make a few bucks since her release. Oh yeah, she really hoped she could trust this guy; trust was everything to her.
"I'll get some sheets and stuff so you can kick back in here when you get cleaned up," he said. "Then, I'm goin' in there and crash," he pointed to the other bedroom. "I really am dyin' right now," he said.
"Yes, that'll be fine," she said.
"Oh, and there's food and stuff in the frig. You can have whatever you want," he said. Mi casa su casa."
"Thank you, Ben. Say, what's your last name," she said.
"Trent," she said.
He'd set her up with the things she needed immediately, and, as good as his word; he'd headed for his own room, closed the door, and crashed.
She had time. She sighed and started to relax for the first time in months. She took a second look around. Small front room but nice, an even smaller dinette, a convenient kitchenette, and a built-in closet like service porch with a stacked washer and dryer hidden behind a pair of latticed doors. Comfortable, she thought, comfortable.
She threw her rags in the washer and headed for the shower. A half hour later, wrapped in a towel, she threw her now washed clothes in the dryer and went back into her bedroom and laid down while she waited for her clothes to dry.
She wondered when he would put the make on her. She sure hoped she could get through at least a few days before he tried. And, when he tried, and he would, they all did, how would she react? Take it one day at a time, she thought, just one day at a time; it was better than sleeping in the damn doorways.
It was 3:00PM before he emerged from the bedroom. He was washed and refreshed. He smiled at her as she sat at the dinette sipping a soda she'd found in the frig.
"How are you feeling," he asked.
"Good. Relaxed actually," she said.
"We' have to go out and get you some clothes, and I mean now," he said. "We'll get a few things today and more next weekend when I have more time." As he spoke the phone rang.
He went to it and picked up the receiver. "Yeah? ... Dirk! ... Yes. Certainly, Mr. Grimes ... By tomorrow ... You got it." He hung up the phone and returned to the table. "Business," he said. "It's a big deal. I did the research on it. The big man wants the final drafts by tomorrow. Piece of cake, but I will be gone for a little while tonight.
"Anyway, let's go."
She put on her badly stained baseball cap and followed him out the door.
The shopping spree took some three hours. Ben had not done much of this kind of shopping when his wife was alive, and didn't do much of it now. Without a second thought, he gave Melissa his credit card and told her to take her time, and to get a few outfits and join him in the Happy Hour bistro at the entrance to the mall they had decided to do the shopping in.
"Any dollar limit, mister?" said Melissa as she left to do her thing.
"A thousand. Get what you need in makeup or other stuff besides clothes," he said. "I know females have needs us guys know not of." He smiled encouragement to her and shooed her off.
Sitting in the bar, he ordered a vodka neat and a beer to chase it with: his favorite combo. He was pretty sure that the woman would spend most, but not all, of the $1,000 limit he'd arbitrarily imposed. He wasn't filthy rich but he had money. His hundred-grand annual allowed him not to worry overmuch about expenses; and, he was a good saver.
Ben Holden decided to commit himself to this woman's rehabilitation back into a decent life; it made him feel good about himself. Greta, his wife of twenty-two years would have approved. Her memory was half the reason he was going to do it. The other half of the reason was that for some reason the woman intrigued him.
He was on his third vodka and second beer by the time she arrived two hours and thirty-eight minutes later. He didn't recognize her.
"Geezsus!" was his greeting to her. "You look great," he said.
"I clean up pretty good," she said. She handed him back his card. "I straightened myself up and dressed in the rest room."
"Have a seat," he said. He signaled the bar maid over. "What'll you have?" he asked.
"A red wine," she said. "It doesn't matter what brand or kind." She had put all of the bags she was carrying in to the third seat at the table.
They talked for some time. He didn't realize it at first, but at some point in their conversation he began to think of his damsel in distress as something else: a very desirable woman.
For her part the feeling was slower in coming. She had a whole lot of suspicion and bad experience to unload before she would trust any man enough to genuinely care about her. But, that said, she was at the least genuinely grateful. She made up her mind that when he made a move on her that she would reward him; after all, he had bought her over nine hundred dollars worth of female clothes and accessories. Hell, she'd been wondering how she was going to get a package of tampons when he'd showed up and offered to buy her a cup of coffee.
"Ben, I don't know what to do with myself around here," she said. I'll be your housekeeper of course, as I said I would; and I'll do the windows too. But, at some point I would like to get a job. My record..."
"Let me see what I can do," he said. "I know a few people. But for the next few days just take it easy, watch a little TV, try and add a little weight," he said laughing. "And, well, do the dishes," he laughed.
"Very funny," she said, in mock anger. "I've been watching my weight, and now I find a man who doesn't appreciate my efforts."
Ben just smirked, "Right," he said.
Over the next several weeks the pair settled into a routine, at least as much of a routine as Ben's job would allow. And, during that time a bond began to form between them that neither had expected. Then, one afternoon Melissa was sitting at the dinette table and looking out the window at Ben talking to a neighbor.
For the first time she evaluated him as a man. Short, she thought, maybe five-seven. Muscular, a quick almost sudden way of moving, hair receding some, an intense expression that made one think of someone who was always very serious. She smiled at herself wondering what his cock might look like.
Entering the house Ben plopped down on the couch. Melissa eyed him from her perch in the dinette.
"Everything all right?" she asked.
"Yeah, Mark and Joanne are moving out," he said. "Mark is making it an issue because some guy has been hitting on Joanne. He's been burned before and thinks getting out is the answer. I don't know what he can be thinking; it'll be same wherever he goes. He isn't thinkin' straight. She's just one of those women who has constantly hot pants."
"You mean, you, he, thinks his wife would cheat on him?"
"She has. It almost broke them up. But, they got help, and it saved their marriage. Anyway, I guess now he's gun shy."
Melissa nodded. She stared at him oddly for some moments.
"What?" he said
"Why haven't you hit on me?" she said. "I'd like to know."
He thought for a moment. "I told you that first day that I would keep my hands to myself. I don't lie and I don't take advantage of people. Plus, I don't cotton to the possibility of having my dick cut off in my sleep," he said.
"We should go out on a date," she said.
"Huh? A date? But I thought that you..."
"That was then and this is now," she said flatly. "How about it?"
"Well, okay—sure—I guess so," he said.
"You sound unsure. If I'm off base here..."
"No, no. You just caught me unawares. Aren't I supposed to do the asking—I mean the guy?"
"Normally, but I want to go out before the second coming of Jesus of Nazareth," she said.
"Well, okay then," he said. "We'll go out—uh—tonight."
"Good, pick me up here at 7:00," she said.
"But—we live here. I mean I'm already here—I mean..."
She was laughing. "How very convenient then," she said. And, she went into her room, closed the door, and didn't emerge for two hours. When she finally did emerge she was dazzling.
His mouth was the second largest gaping hole on the planet—the Grand Canyon was significantly larger.
She wore a lavender evening dress with a plunging neckline and a hem two to three inches above the knee. It was strapless. Her brown hair tumbled wildly down past her shoulders and gave her a savage but very female look. Her lips were painted red; her makeup otherwise was perfect, and she smelled like a field of flowers. In fine, she was freakin' beautiful.
"Sweet Geezsus," he said, finally finding his voice.
She snickered and laughed at his appreciation of her efforts.
The dinner was exquisite, the songstress in the piano bar fabulous, and the sex afterward the best he'd ever had.
As they left the bar, she'd asked for the keys to the car. They had parked at the back of the dark lot because when they'd entered it was all that was left; it had given her an idea which she had kept to herself until now. He looked questioningly at her, but handed her the keys. She opened the car door, reached in and unlocked the back door on the passenger side, and relocked the front door once again.
"What's going on, Mel? I can't drive the car from the back seat," he said.
"No, but it's easier to drive that boner of yours into me in the back than in the front seat," she said.
He smiled. "Kinky," he said. Seated in the back, with the windows already steaming up in the cool of the evening, he held her close and lightly kissed her lips. His hand slid slowly up and down the length of her torso. She smelled great.
She was so pretty even in the dim reflected glow of the bistro's outdoor lights. His hand rested gently on her breast and she just smiled and patiently waited for him to take her. He brushed her hair from her eyes and kissed each of them.
He cradled her face in his hands and then slowly deliberately reached for the button on the back of her dress and undid it; he slid the zipper earthward. He peeled her dress down. She wore no bra and her nipples were stiff as rivets. He leaned in to kiss them. He fondled them for some minutes kneading their softness as though he were afraid that they might not be real. She purred at his efforts.
He finished slipping her dress all the way off.
She leaned back against the car door behind her and raised up a little, so he could slide her panties off. She was naked and beautiful and her beauty almost seemed to freeze him in time. He just stared at her, afraid to break the spell. She waited.
He started undoing his own shirt buttons and soon was able to discard it. His shoes, already kicked off, were followed by his pants. He started to yank his underpants down, but she stopped him. Hold on for a minute Casanova; let a lady imagine things for a bit before you do her," she said.
"You are so wonderful," he said. "I didn't realize until tonight just how wonderful."
"You're pretty all right in my book too, stud." She reached out and felt his cock through the material of his boxers. She looked up at him smiling. "Nice." She peeled his underwear down and off.
He leaned in and they kissed and cuddled for some minutes before the urge to do her became too strong to deny. He pushed her back flat on the surface of the seat and bent down to kiss her mound. He began to lick and suck and penetrate her with his mouth and tongue. In a short time she shuddered and jerked and stiffened as a wave of small orgasms seized her.
He loomed above her his cock swaying just above its goal. He guided it to her pussy lips and pressed for entry. She was so wet from his earlier oral ministrations that he literally slipped into her. He slammed his cock home in one merciless thrust; she let out a small scream. He slowly fucked her spearing her with some force.
Melissa began crying. She was happy but emotional as could be. Ben became worried.
"Mel? Are you okay?" His face betrayed his genuine concern.
"Oh, my yes," she said. "This is one of the happiest nights of my life."
"In that case..." He resumed fucking her but now with hammer like thrusts that brought forth guttural noises from him and gasps of desperation from her. Soon he was slamming her with a force that rocked the car. He jerked and spasmed as an orgasm of Olympian proportions engulfed him. He collapsed on top of her. It was now he who was gasping for air.
She forced him to switch places with her and she began to suck and lick him to hardness once more.
She positioned herself with her butt thrust back daring him to do her doggy-style. He obliged her, wrapping his arms tightly about her torso as he fucked her savagely for some minutes; she came again.
They fell into the seat and into each other's arms. "Wonderful," he breathed.
She held his chin in her hand, "Oh yes."
He pulled his pants back up as she fixed herself for the drive home. Still seated in the back, he turned to her; he had to ask. "Why in the car?"
"I planned it. No, not tonight. Not even since I met you. Long ago, a very long time ago.
"After I got out of jail, I had a look back over my life and tried to figure out where I had gone wrong and when. I never was able exactly to pinpoint that, but I was sure about one thing."
He nodded for her to go on.
"The last good night of my life that I can remember—until now, Ben—was a night with a guy in the back seat of a car. He was kind and gentle and loving and not too bad as a lover: we were young.
I wanted to start my life over again, when I got out, and I decided that if I ever got the chance I would start it over with that night in the back seat of a car and be real careful about my choices after that, real careful.
"Anyway, that's why—the car—us—tonight," she said.
"I see," he said.
That had been six years earlier. They had made the conscious decision to live together long term—really forever—without, however, getting married. But, in most respects their bond was more than any married bond could have been; it was based on mutual trust and dependence. She never did do windows and they had no children, but they had each other: he the recovering widower and she the former thief.
Everything went well, until three months ago.
Mel had become distant, bored, tired, and less than communicative. Ben became suspicious.
In the law profession, at all levels, those engaged in it become inured to the foibles of human kind. It is almost as if some among the gross of the population are incapable of reasoning or at least caring to reason and let themselves be suborned by outside pressures.
Melissa was not bored with her life though at times their routine could become problematical. And, nothing would have moved her to do what she finally did except for one singular happenstance: the arrival of Jerry Cummings.
"Melissa Trent," said the voice behind her.
"She turned and looked into the eyes of the man. He was a man now. But he'd been a boy then: the boy who had taken her in the back seat of that Chevy so long ago. She couldn't speak at first; she just stared.
"You remembered. That makes my day," he said smiling broadly.
"I moved here last month. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that you were living here. Looks like you've prospered," he said.
For a moment she was speechless once again. "Jerry—I—let's have coffee," she said. "I have a million questions. At least I think I do."
"Me too," he said. "You look great. You're married right? Otherwise we'll be getting a license before this day is out."
His last words should have clued her; they should have been a sign of impending trouble. But, she was so taken up in the circumstances and the shock of seeing him after thirty years that she wasn't thinking clearly.
"No, well sorta, Jerry, and I'm happy. He's a very good man; I lucked out," she said.
They'd been sitting in the restaurant for sometime brushing up on the five W's plus H.
"Too bad for me," he said. "I was kinda hoping..."
"Jerry, how did you find me?" she said.
"Do I have to say?" he said, smirking.
"Yes, it is so weird," she said.
"I hired a private investigator. The PI found out about your time in county. He also found out that you had recently applied for and gotten a new credit card; that made finding you a piece of cake, or so he told me. But, he said he couldn't find out if you were married or not; he concluded that you were not. What does 'sorta' mean, if I might ask," he said.
"I have an arrangement with my lover. We're not legally married as in a church or justice of the peace or whatever, but we are committed. Kinda common law, if you know what I mean. We've been together six years," said Melissa.
"Then the way I figure it," he said, "I have a chance."
"No Jerry, you don't. I love you to pieces, but not that way, not the way I love my Ben."
"Don't mind if I dream a little do you," he said. "I will anyway no matter what."
She laughed at his persistence. "No, go ahead and dream, Jerry; but Jerry, it ain't happenin'."
He just smiled amiably.
They talked for some time. "Anyway," he said, "my company, Software Design, has decided to open an office here, so consider yourself under siege."
"Well, anyway," he said,"
Ben and Melissa-part two
Six years earlier:
Ben came home with a huge smile on his face. He walked up behind her while she was doing the dishes and pressed himself against her butt. "I Got good news. Wanna hear?"
She turned, put her arms around his neck, kissed him, and nodded. "Sure. What good news?" she said.
"You, dear heart, have a job!"
"You're kidding right?"
"No, I put out feelers, and three companies are willing to let you start immediately," he said. "You just have to choose which one you want to favor." He hugged her tight and she gasped for air.
"I love you," she finally said.
He handed her the three written job offers, and she sat at the table and leafed through them" A print supply company, and public relations firm, and a supermarket chain—well, she'd had experience with the latter.
"I will choose by tomorrow, she said. And, that had ended the discussion for that night.
The next morning, she could still recall, she'd gotten up and put the coffee on. She sat at the kitchen table; Ben was still in bed; it was Saturday. She'd wanted to do public relations for a long time, even before she had met Ben, even though she really didn't have a real grasp on what that the job would actually entail. She and Ben had talked about it. She knew that if she went that way she'd be dealing with people and even companies and her life would be on track once more after having had it messed up pretty good.
But, now six years later, Software Design had bought out her company, and she was working for S&D same as Jerry, and he apparently didn't even know it yet. But, she knew from working with Harold Miller, her companies CEO that the news was still under wraps, which explained his ignorance. Harold still needed to lay it on his employees, some of whom were be laid off.
If she kept the "new" job with Software Design, Jerry would be around all of the time. She wanted to see him but only as a friend, at least so she assured herself now. And yet, if Jerry was never going to pose a threat to her Ben; then, why hadn't she seen fit to tell Ben about him. She suddenly knew why: she was vulnerable. Jerry was the only man on earth capable of seducing her, and she was certain he would try. She would fight him off, but deep in her subconscious mind she was mortally afraid that she would fail.
Ben woke late, almost 10:00AM. He was in an amiable mood when he came down. "How now snookums," he said. "Got any news for me? You gonna stay with the new company?"
She felt giddy as she phrased her response. "Yes," she said.
"Fine," said Ben, "I will call and let Alex know today."
"Whose Alex?" said Melissa.
"Alex Harnett. He owns the company, S&D. We've done some legal work for him in the past, and I became good friends with him and his wife Karen over the years. He called me some months ago and let me know that he was opening a base here. He actually offered me a job. I turned him down of course; I like my current job, in fact I love my current job. It was because of us, Milford and Saxe, that he picked up your firm instead of somebody else."
Melissa looked at him and her mouth hung open for several seconds. "You mean it's because of you," she said getting it.
"Actually, it was because of Dirk Grimes. But, I will take credit for mentioning the idea to him."
"Honey, you're not mad at me are you?" said Ben.
"No, no, I guess not. But, just how much influence do you have, may I ask," she said.
"I don't know. Alex and I are friends. If I give him a good idea he'll consider it, but he's got a company to think of. What's your point," said Ben.
"Ben there are thirty three employees in our company and as many as a third of them are in danger of being laid off. Could you do something about that?"
"Wow," he said without enthusiasm. "I guess I could try. No promises, the bottom line rules in most of these cases."
She nodded. The idea came to her that she might ask Jerry to help her with the situation too. She didn't yet know what he did for S&D, but if he were high enough up, maybe..."
"I just feel bad, especially in this stinking job market, for my coworkers," she said. "Please, Ben, do what you can."
He took her in his arms and held her tight. You are a good woman," he said. "I love the heck outta yuh."
"I love you too, big guy," she said.
"Say let's go out tonight, I have something to celebrate, and I want you with me," he said.
They way he sprang it on her made her suspicious, but she nodded her agreement. "Sure. You can't tell me what it is, I take it," she said.
"Hmm, I could, but then I'd have to kill yuh!" he laughed uproariously.
Working with Jerry would be so exciting, but so potentially risky to her relationship with Ben. She had grown very fond of her good man. Did she want to risk everything for the sheer thrill of working with her sexy guy? In the end, she could not resist the chance to work with her girlhood squeeze. And then there were the other employees, all her friends, that she would be abandoning. She decided was going to stay with S&D.
Her interview with the S&D firm, went well. They offered her good money, the best she had ever been offered, and the people seemed nice. She was still a little shaky though given the fact that she would undoubtedly run into Jerry and that very soon. It turned out to be sooner than either of them expected.
She was coming out of her interview when he spotted her. "Melissa?"
"Jerry. I guess we will be working together," she said
"You're working here? Here at S&D?" he managed to say.
"Yes, in public relations."
"My gawd! I love it. I gotta go. I have a meeting in three minutes, but we're doing lunch and you're gonna be doing a lot of explaining," he said, only half in jest.
She stood there sweating. She hadn't even been able to say yes or no. He just assumed she would go to lunch with him. This was not good. It was too soon. Too not within her ability to control. But, why was she worried; it was only lunch. Besides he hadn't said when, where, anything.
Jerry didn't show up for lunch that day, and she relaxed. She had a dinner or celebration or whatever to get ready for. She wondered what Ben was so excited about.
They'd arrived at seven. The Maitre 'D seated them in the middle of the room; she had no way of knowing, but Ben had arranged it that way. The restaurant was busy, and Ben wanted it that way too. He stood, walked around the table to her chair and knelt in front of her. He opened his hand and held it forth in front of her. The two carat ring he had purchased a few days before glistened in the light of the chandeliers. "Will you marry me, Melissa? Will you be my wife?"
The look on her face was a mix of shock and happiness. The emotions she was dealing with completely overwhelmed her. Jerry was forgotten, everything was forgotten.
"My gawd yes!" she said. Half the place applauded.
They danced for hours and kissed endlessly, and swore undying love, and it was wonderful.
The wedding two weeks later was small and nice and in a nearby chapel. Friends from both of their firms were there including Dirk grimes and Alex Harnett. In the middle of the reception, both Dirk Grimes and Alex Harnett got up to make a toast, well, it was more an announcement.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, family, friends: Mr. Harnett and I would like to toast our favorite newlyweds," said Dirk Grimes. "May they live long and prosper and support and love each other every day of their lives." Everyone touched their glasses and sent up the expected chorus of here-here's and yeah-yeah's. Then it was Alex Harnett's turn.
And, I'd like to say a word to the bride, whose big heart has touched my own.
Melissa looked at him and knitted her brow. What was this about, she wondered. She looked at Ben, but he looked innocent.
"I would like you Melissa to pass the word to your coworkers at Hadley and Tudor that all of their jobs are safe. My gift to you on your wedding day."
Melissa jumped up, still in her wedding dress, ran to the front, almost tripping on the way, wrapped her arms around the CEO of the company where she was about to start the second stage of her career with and planted a huge kiss on his shocked lips. Everybody cheered. Ben joined her up front and they all stood for pictures and then settled in for the party.
Everything was hunky-dory. They honeymooned in Cancun at Mr. Grimes' expense. And then, they went home to live the lives of a married couple.
It wasn't until about a year after the wedding that chinks began to develop in the Marriage. I had no idea what was causing Melissa to be ... something. I was only later that I discovered that Jerry had come home to roost, or more accurately to do rut.
Disaster struck on the fifteenth of the month a little over a year after our nuptials. I always had a meeting on the fifteenth; it was clearinghouse day for all of the cases we had completed the research for or had otherwise taken out of our hands—ours meaning the paralegals. Today's meeting had been cancelled.
I got home early. I parked in the driveway and keyed the front door loosening my tie and taking off my sports coat, all in one continuous motion. As I entered the living room and closed the door behind me. I heard laughter. It was coming from Melissa's old room, now the guest room, and the door, as usual was closed. At first I thought she was laughing into the phone. But, then I heard a male voice.
"How long do we have. Can we do it again?" asked the man.
"Yes, I guess so. It's still too early for Ben to be coming home. He always stays till after 4:00 on the fifteenth. You should know that by now," she said.
"Why do you stay with him? Why don't you move in with me?" said the male voice.
"Lover, I am still practically a newlywed, and he is my husband, and I love him?" said Melissa.
"Then why do you fuck me every fifteenth of the month?" he said.
"Because I love you; I love your cock. You do have a nice cock. You're longer than Ben," she said. Then they laughed again.
"Do you feel him inside of you after you've fucked me?" said the man.
"Yes, I guess. He's not that small. He's gentle with me; he's better than you in that way," she said.
They laughed again. "He's a wuss, and you're going to get it for that," he said.
"Promises, promises," she said. "And don't call him names; we've talked about that. Ben's a good guy; don't call him names."
"Okay, okay, but he's still wuss and not nearly enough for you regardless, or you wouldn't be banging me," said the man.
"Yeah, well maybe so, but I still don't want you bringing him up, okay. Now get busy and fuck my ass," I heard her say. That killed me; she had always denied me that particular item, and this really added insult to injury.
"Okay," he said. "And, remember this is for me only, no wusses allowed," and they both laughed.
"Ouch, go slower, big boy, that's my butt not my pussy," she said.
I was sick to my stomach and filled with anger and hurt to an almost unimaginable degree. But, I had been working in a law office far too long to engage in tantrums. I was not going to run in there helter-skelter and ruin my opportunities for revenge by tearing the asshole up and kicking my supposed loving wife out. No, this I had to plan for: I might be a de facto cuckold, but I was not going to be a willing cuckold. Not even. I left in a hurry. I got two blocks down the street and pulled into a taco-tia.
I called Rex, a best friend. Rex Coleman was a PI who worked for Adele Carter, one of our fellow members of the bar. Adele had worked with my Mr. Grimes on several cases and had loaned us Rex on as many occasions. He and I spent a lot of afterhours time hanging one on after a tough case, at least we had in the old days before Melissa and I had gotten ourselves married.
Adele Carter was a specialist. She handled divorce cases only, and only for the offended parties be they the husband or the wife. For my money she got the good guy award when it came to lawyers. The added benefit is that she was very, very good at what she did, and Rex was essentially her hired gun.
"Rex ... yeah Ben ... can you get over to the taco-tia by my place fast, like an hour ago ... yeah it's important. My wife's cheating on me in my own house ... yeah I fucking know it's only been a year ... okay, I'll be waiting." I hung up. Seven minutes later Rex was there.
We headed over to the condo. I let us in as quietly as I could. We heard them inside still getting it on. He put a stethoscope like item up against the still closed door, and punched the button on the recorder. He handed me the camera and told me to go outside and take pics of all of the cars and their license plate numbers.
Five minutes later he met me behind a dumpster near my garage. "I got what we need for the moment, Ben. You want me to stick around for a while?"
"No. I got it. I want the asshole followed though. I want to know who he is and where he lives, the works."
"You got it. Whaddya you going to do? Nothing stupid I hope."
"No, I'm going to call her and tell her I'll be home in fifteen minutes. That'll breakup their little party and give him a chance to escape."
"Then what?" said Rex.
"Not sure. I'll call you tonight and let you know," I said.
"Okay. I'll be waiting for your call."
We waved our goodbyes and I was on the phone before he was even in his car.
"Hi honey ... yes, it's me ... I'll be home in fifteen minutes ... the meeting got out early ... yes, me too." I closed the cell and waited. The house was only two minutes away.