Georgia Plummer walked into the lobby of the four-story building, across the marble tile floors, past the polished limestone walls, and to the stainless-steel doors to the elevators. She didn't bother to stop at the information desk; she had instructions that told her that the office of Smith, Brown & Wilmott, Attorneys at Law, LLP, was on the fourth floor.
The security guard at the information desk, hearing the click-click-click of her heels as she walked across the lobby, smiled at her, although as she passed she didn't reciprocate. That didn't really bother him, he just appreciated the fine figure she cut anyway. She was a dirty blond with light brown eyes; he estimated her height as about 5' 4", with shapely legs showing beneath the bottom of her skirt, enhanced by the heels of her shoes. The heels also lifted her derriere, tightening it, which, along with the underlying panty-hose, gave her one of those almost perfectly heart-shaped asses. Damn, he liked a tight ass!
She was well endowed in the breast department as well, but the guard was cognizant that women have long known magnificent and deceitful ways for adjusting their apparent breast size to their needs of the moment. He thought that she was between a 34 and 36, residing in perhaps a 'C' cup. Her age, he guessed was mid-thirties. She was, in fact 42 years old. It took all of thirty seconds, from the time that she entered the foyer until she disappeared into the elevator.
When the elevator had delivered her to her destination, she exited and found herself facing the SB&W lobby. SB&W rented the entire floor, so there was no way to be lost — Georgia could only go one place, straight forward.
She passed through the glass doors with the SB&W logo embossed on it, treading on a sumptuous gray carpet, plush by commercial standards, she walked up to the reception desk. The light-blue colored walls were no doubt intended to warm the atmosphere.
"May I help you?" asked the young woman sitting behind the desk, looking up at Georgia through her fashionably small, ovoid-shaped glasses.
"Please. I am looking for," Georgia looked at the piece of paper in her hand, "Anne Wilmott. I have an appointment."
The receptionist flashed her professional smile at Georgia, who might, after all, be an important client, and then picked up her phone, dialing a few numbers and quietly speaking into the mouthpiece.
"Ms. Wilmott will be here in just a minute. May I get you some coffee, or tea? Or perhaps, you might prefer some water — we have bottles," the receptionist giggled, "they even have our name and logo on them," as she pointed to a half-empty bottle on her desk.
"Actually," Georgia, replied, "A water would be great," as she sat down in one of the plush burgundy overstuffed chairs in the waiting area. The young woman handed her a bottle,
"We're informal here, but if you want a glass... ?" she questioned.
Georgia just shook her head, twisted off the top and took a sip.
The question came from the side. It was a warm voice, soft and smooth, pitched a little on the low side for a woman.
Georgia turned her head, searching for the source of this seductive feminine voice, to see a woman walking towards her from the side hall into the waiting area.
"I'm Anne Wilmott, Mrs. Plummer," she said, as she came up, her right hand extended out.
Georgia stood, automatically took her hand, and found it to be a warm and firm, but completely dry grip, as they shook hands in that understated way that women introduced for the first time do.
In that single moment, Georgia took in Anne Wilmott, in a single glance.
People's opinion was split when they first met Anne Wilmott. Was her most striking feature the long, wavy, Titian-red hair, or the green eyes against her pale, but perfect complexion. Encountering her the first time, tended to result in a slightly extended pause, while they took in a first impression.
That was followed by the realization that even without her high heels on, Anne Wilmott would have been at least 5' 7", and that underneath the professional gray woolen skirt and jacket set, was a lean, well contoured body. Her breasts weren't as large as Georgia's, but they weren't small either, and she still looked like the swimmer that she had been through her university years, the upper-body strength transparent through her coat.
An aquiline nose, with high cheek bones, over a surprisingly full and sensual mouth, with lips that needed no enhancement, the second impression of Anne Wilmott was of a passionate woman.
Georgia hated Anne Wilmott on sight, and her lips, thin and at that moment rather bloodless, tightened.
"I want to..." immediately came from Georgia's mouth.
"Please," Anne smiled as she interrupted Georgia's immediate outburst, "Come into my office and we can talk there." Georgia followed in Anne's footsteps, her demands placed on hold.
Georgia found herself sitting in a red leather upholstered chair, across the desk from Anne Wilmott. The lawyer had asked if she could allow her a minute, while she spoke with her secretary, giving instructions not to be disturbed, as well as a few other directions. Anne left the room. Georgia heard her with half-an-ear, while looking at the degrees and pictures hanging on the wall.
If Georgia's math was correct, hardly ever a certain thing, Anne Wilmott would be about 36 years old, based on the undergraduate degree in its frame. Her law degree was dated several years after her undergraduate diploma, but Georgia really had no idea what the combination of Columbia and Michigan Law implied. Georgia had attended the state university for a couple of years, but found it unedifying, when not plainly confusing. The best she could say for it was, she met her husband there.
Georgia speculated about the photographs. One of an older couple, probably parents, given the man's red hair, and the woman's facial resemblance to Anne Wilmott. Graduation photos. Photos in front of the building with several older men in suits — presumably other lawyers in the firm. Finally, there were a number of pictures of a young boy, about ten or twelve years old. A recent school photo, a portrait of the boy with Anne Wilmott, and a photo of the boy playing soccer, taken at the moment his foot connected with the ball. The most interesting to Georgia was the lack of any pictures of Anne Wilmott with a man who looked like a lover or husband.
Anne reentered the room,
"Pardon me, but now we should be able to talk without a constant stream of interruptions," Anne smiled as she sat down across the desk from Georgia. "By the way, thank you for coming in, I know it was on short notice."
"I don't understand what is going on," Georgia stated, quite firmly, even petulantly, "I don't understand why I am here talking to you, and I want to know where my husband is. Where is Don? Do you know where Don is? That is what your email implied." Her eyes glared across the desk.
Anne didn't seem to notice Georgia's attitude, and instead shuffled around some papers on her desk, as if she were looking for one paper in particular. Then she found it, looked at it and seemed somehow satisfied.
"I know in general terms, Mrs. Plummer, but no, I don't know specifically where he is at the moment. I do know how to contact him," Anne concluded, looking the entire time into Georgia's eyes.
"Then contact him," came Georgia's peremptory command, as she suddenly sat more upright in her chair, in an attempt to display her displeasure.
"It's not quite so simple," Anne explained, "I need to ask you a few questions first. Your husband suggested that I should try and clarify what has been occurring in your relationship, before he reestablishes contact." Anne's voice had remained calm and even soothing the entire time that she spoke, but somehow to Georgia, there was something not right. She didn't bother to respond.
"Good. Now, as I understand it, Mrs. Plummer, you moved out of the house that you shared with Donald for the past 10 years, along with your younger daughter..." Anne glanced down at the page in her hand, "Elle, about a year ago. Your older daughter," she looked again, as if to refresh her memory, "Samantha, who would have been a sophomore in college, was living on campus, and consequently didn't accompany you. Is that all correct?"
"Yes. Donald and I had been having some marital disagreements, and I thought that a period of separation would be good for both of us to cool off and clear our heads," Georgia smiled as she responded, "So I moved into an apartment not far from my where my parents live — about fifty miles from here, in Greensville."
Anne nodded as if in agreement, although it was just acknowledging that she understood what Georgia had said. She went on to her next question,
"And, as I understand it this was not a 'legal' separation; Don paid for your apartment, continued to pay for your car and insurance; you and your daughter remained on his medical insurance, and, he also paid you an amount of money for Elle's expenses?" Anne looked very serious as she asked these questions, after all, not every husband would be so scrupulous looking after a wife's well-being, who wasn't living with him.
"That's all true, but I continued to work as well. I'm employed by an insurance company, and I was able to transfer to our Greensville office," Georgia admitted, "and it wasn't like Don couldn't afford it. You know, he owns his business, and makes oodles of money." Georgia unconsciously glanced down at the designer dress, the Gucci handbag, and Prado shoes she was wearing, evidence of both Donald's ability to make money as well as his largess towards his wife and her rather expensive habits of dress.
Anne looked at Georgia with the appraising eye of a woman who knows just how much the outfit and accessories would cost. Not that Anne's apparel had carried a lesser price tag, but she had earned every penny of it herself.
"I'll take your word for it," Anne replied, after a short hesitation, "And, correct me if I'm wrong, but you moved back here and into your home with Donald some four months ago?"
"Yes. After some discussion, I decided that we'd been apart long enough, and we came to an agreement with respect to our marriage with which I felt comfortable," Georgia answered the question easily enough, but to someone with Anne's training, her body language was crying out that she was concealing something, as Georgia crossed her arms and retreated back as deeply as she could into her seat.
"During the roughly, eight months," she caught Georgia's eyes to confirm the time period, "that you were living in Greensville, Donald saw Elle," her eyes sought the paper again, "three times?"
At this, Georgia was visibly fidgeting in the chair, uncomfortable about where the discussion was leading. Not surprisingly, her voice took on a defensive tone when she answered,
"It was very difficult to arrange things. Donald is always so busy. My schedule and his often conflict. And Elle had become a very active girl — school, sports, and boys, of course," Georgia's chin raised slightly, in that 'go ahead give it your best shot' pose, " So I suppose that he didn't see Elle as much as he would have liked. But that's hardly my fault!" The tone in Georgia's voice was provocative, and she was visibly irritated.
Anne let Georgia have a moment to collect herself, just allowing a brief quiet pause.
"Let's move on, then," Anne said to Georgia's great relief.
"You started calling around trying to find Donald three days ago?" the question Anne asked seem so innocuous, that Georgia answered without really thinking.
"Yes. Donald had driven our daughters back to school, they're both attending the same university now, and the drive takes about a day each way. They had one of those rental trailers that Don was towing with his SUV. The girls will be living together in an apartment at school this year, so Don was going to help them move in, and stay for a couple days to make sure that everything was working out for them — you know, in case there were any problems that he could fix before he came back. Then, he was supposed to return. But he didn't. Return, that is." She took a deep breath after the explanation.
Anne looked at Georgia with a somewhat skeptical look on her face.
"Wasn't he supposed to be back over a week ago?" she queried.
"Umm, I guess," came Georgia's non-committal reply.
"You didn't notice that he was at least four days overdue?" this time Anne asked with complete incredulity, her eyebrows raised in disbelief, "You didn't notice that his side of the bed was empty at nights?" At this Anne actually chuckled, while shaking her head.
Georgia pounced on that.
"We have separate rooms, and busy schedules. Not that it's any of your business." Georgia almost hissed at this irksome woman. This time she pressed on,
"I think it's time that you tell me where I can find my husband!" Georgia spat out, her eyes growing narrow, leaning forward in an aggressive stance.
But Anne didn't give any appearance of having heard her. She was holding a photograph that she had taken off the wall. A red-haired boy with incredible joy on his face, kicking a soccer ball.
"Parker," she said, as if that was an explanation.
"My son Parker. He's twelve now. I've been divorced from his father since he was two years old," Anne's words came from her mouth, but her eyes were staring into space, back in time,
"His father, Ted, was an alcoholic. A brilliant man in many ways, but a horrible man when he was drunk." She paused and took a breath, "The couple of times that he hit me, I took it. I made excuses for it. It was really my fault, I would say. I tried to get him to change, tried to get him to stop."
Suddenly her eyes were very focused on Georgia, almost making her shiver, "But the night that drunken bastard accidentally broke my babies' arm, MY TWO YEAR OLD BABIES' ARM, was when I realized that you can't change someone, make them better, force them to behave the way they should. There comes that time when you have to bite the bullet and cut the ties."
"I filed for divorce the next day, and since that time, I've never seen him again. After we'd been divorced for about six months, I never heard from him again, either," she concluded.
"But," Georgia asked, a little afraid of this woman after her outburst, "what does that have to do with my husband?"
"Your husband, Donald, is Parker's soccer coach." came the simple, calm, reply. "I'll bet you don't even know that he was giving his time a couple of days a week coaching a team, did you?"
Georgia just shook her head without saying anything.
"In fact, you don't know very much about your husband, because for all intents and purposes, you left him and your marriage over a year ago didn't you?" Anne's voice was becoming harsher now, and it was she leaning forward over her desk, the aggression visible in her lovely green eyes.
Georgia seem to almost shrink and wilt in the face of this verbal assault, saying nothing shaking her head.
"In fact, the story that you've told me today is a sanitized, self-serving version, a fairy tale, that you've concocted to portray yourself as a virtuous wife, when in fact you have been having an affair for over a year?" Anne pressed her hard.
"You didn't move out because you and Donald had 'marital disagreements' did you. Does the name 'Brian Cushing' mean anything to you?" Anne demanded.
"He works for the same insurance company that I do," was Georgia's almost whispered reply.
"Isn't the truth that you moved to Greensville so that you could continue to see your lover, Brian Cushing, who had been promoted to a management position at the Greensville office?" Anne continued to hammer at Georgia.
"No, no, no!" Georgia stammered, without conviction, tears filling her eyes.
Without a let up, Anne continued, "And while you were living in that apartment in Greensville, wasn't it convenient that you could send your daughter to your parents, sometimes for days at a time, so that you could entertain Brian Cushing in an apartment for which your husband was paying?"
Georgia was whimpering slightly, and shaking her head, but not answering.
"And all the while, Donald was calling you each week trying to set up times when he could come and see his daughter. But you would disappear with her — shopping, going to a movie, anything to keep him from seeing her. Worse, telling her that her father didn't care about her, that he didn't want to be bothered with her," Anne's face filled with contempt, as she spoke.
"But she didn't tell you about the cell phone that he gave her after the second time he saw her, did she? You never knew that she was actually able to speak with her father when she wanted, did you? Did you wonder why neither of your girls said goodbye to you when they left for college this year? Or did you even notice?" It was a pounding indictment that Anne was laying on Georgia.
"Then, four months ago, you suddenly decide to return with Elle. Did you think no one would understand the connection between your lover being moved back here by your company, and your sudden urge to return from Greensville?" Anne was almost laughing as she spoke, "The best part —your demand to Donald that you would return, but only on the condition that you would have an 'open marriage' — meaning you would continue to see your lover. Because you know Donald too well, and know that he wouldn't cheat on you, despite your behavior, as long as you were married!"
Georgia, though, was ready to fight back.
"You can't prove any of that!" she exclaimed, but her protestations didn't matter to Anne, who just continued.
"I don't suppose that you have even noticed that you haven't had, what we in the legal profession call 'conjugal' relations with Donald for over a year, have you. Did you ever notice that Donald stopped asking for, or expecting sex from you, from the time that you started your affair with Brian Cushing? That it was within days of when you initiated your sordid little liaison that Donald moved out of your bed and into the guest room? That he put a lock on the door to keep you out. Or were you just too self-centered to notice?"
Georgia, had tears streaming down her face, when she started to argue back,
"It is true that I haven't been paying attention to Donald like I should, but that's about to change. He's going to have more sex than he has ever..." she stopped in the middle of her sentence, as a sudden epiphany shattered her complacency.
She stared hard at the woman across the table from her, younger, beautiful, no — stunningly gorgeous woman sitting there, her faced flushed with emotion and passion. She wasn't some neutral party, she was a player in the game, fighting to win Donald for herself!
"You're in love with Donald, aren't you?" the question reflecting the horror in her eyes, "You are having an affair with MY husband." Suddenly Georgia started to assert a new confidence. "You won't get away with this. Donald is MY husband, and he's going to remain my husband." Her face visibly hardened, her eyes became slits, her lips two horizontal lines.
At that instant, Anne slid a document, stapled together, across the table, the print facing Georgia, in order that she could read the large "Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage" written at the top of the front page.
"I don't think so. You have been served." came Anne's quite reply, "Don is 'biting the bullet', 'cutting the ties', just like I did ten years ago." She sat back in her chair. There was a pause.
"I met Don shortly after you had moved out. He was coaching my son Parker's soccer team. He seemed like such a great guy, but there was also this deep sadness about him, when he wasn't working with the boys. He just loves coaching those kids," Anne explained, looking into space again.
"One Saturday, after a game, the whole team went out for pizza afterwards, and eventually Don and I were the only adults left, and we started talking. I told him my horror story about my divorce, and he told me about you and your affair. He couldn't help it, he cried. I think that I may have first fallen for him right then, a man who could love so deeply, be so hurt, and still struggle on each day. Even finding a place in his heart to be there for other people's children," her face had a sudden pensive look. But then, Anne returned to the matter at hand.
Her hand reached to the papers, and pointed out the stated cause: irreconcilable differences.